Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Pixies - Surfer Rosa

Once in a while, a band comes along and changes music. Pixies did just that in 1988 when they released their groundbreaking and incredibly abrasive debut album, Surfer Rosa. Backed by a set fund of $10,000 by (my personal favourite record label) 4AD in 1987, Pixies took on Steve Albini (who has just returned from recording the final Slint album) to work on low-fidelity and noise rock. The set up was just right, the mini album Come On Pilgrim blended what were to expect. Harsh, surreal songs with lo-fi recording and individualistic musicianship. Surfer Rosa has been noted as the album that sprung the 90's alternative music scene, including Thom Yorke and Kurt Cobain.

David Lovering plays a key part on this album. The drumming sound is quite unique and Albini has been praised for his involvement in boosting this album. The D.I.Y sound and abrasiveness of the instrumentation sends  a jitter of excitement and adrenaline through the listener. On 'Bone Machine', Kim Deal plays her riff individually before the guitar riff enters and Kim's bass has been turned down. The structure is quite phenomenal and Black Francis adds to the surrealism with his screaming vocal dynamics. The 'chorus' is a slowed down, simplistic "You're the bone machine". Kim sings back up and focuses on the right side of the speaker, where Francis is primarily on the left, creating that duo format and individual stance. 

'Break My Body' opens with a heavy beat and a drone guitar sound which sticks for about 14 seconds before Francis delivers his incestuous opening verse, "I'm the hard looser. You'll find me crashing through my mother's door. I am the ugly lover. You'll find us rolling on the dirty floor". It grabs my attention and so does the screeching lead guitar which Joey Santiago delivers with passion and thirst. The progression change and final 15 seconds make the track for me. It's the dynamic changes that create such a strong lo-fi and experimental feel. 'Something Against You' has an ear catching opening guitar riff which is used as the background base. The bass riff follows, as does Santiago's noisy guitar drone. it's simplistic and the layers create a lovely noise rock vibe. Francis sounds like he's screaming angrily, however this effect has been created by Steve Albini who filtered the aching Black Francis vocal through a guitar amp.

'Broken Face' is quite simply a 90 second fast paced track. The little guitar segments are fantastic, with vocal mixing sounding extraordinary even for Albini's standards. 'Gigantic' is the single and Kim sings lead. She opens with a simplistic bass riff, then a textural drum pattern follows with Kim's left sided vocals striking with layers and well recorded echo. The track was a 'single' and has a verse/chorus/verse structure. Her vocals sound experimental to say the least, the thunderous guitar towards the end closes the track with great venom. 'River Euphrates' sways in with textural guitar chords and slight notches every few seconds which have been recorded perfectly. The lack of studio effects create that alternative, D.I.Y Punk sound which the band obviously wanted. The guitar proves to be the secret ingredient, but the drumming steals the show yet again. The slightly reverb sound and hard hitting snare is mouthwatering.

As with albums of this kind, they need to have that one track which everyone knows. 'Where Is My Mind?' opens with an acoustic guitar riff and then the memorable electric guitar riff. In the background you hear Kim's simplistic bass riff which is completely separate but works in unison. Francis gives an exaggerated vocal with unusual lyrics and dynamical vocals. The track is widely known as the standout Pixies track and it's the 'Fight Club song' to others.

'Cactus' has that monotonous guitar sound and the bass follows the guitar pattern. Listening to the withdrawn vocals tells an unusual story, with Francis singing on the right speaker, sounding like Daniel Johnston in the process. Kim sings back up progressively and as you'd expect on the left speaker. 'Tony's Theme' has some great guitar structure and the drumming is again a focus. The loud vocals sound extremely unusual and the shouting mix between Kim and Francis sounds great. Then we hear the thunderous drumming on 'Oh My Golly!'. With an electric second section and cultural lyrics, the track stands out as one of the fast paced but effectful tracks on the album. The drumming sounds exquisite and the fast paced acoustic recording sticks out on the left.

Studio banter features on the track 'Vamos', with a conversation between Francis and Kim recorded (purposely) by Albini. It opens with an acoustic guitar riff which is simplistic and let's the Spanish vocals enter, before the monotonous drum beat enters and the electric guitar screeches on. Santiago comes into action on this track, playing parallel to the vocals between Kim and Francis. The instrumental segment towards the end speeds the track up and the bass comes into focus, with the drumming turning corners over the repetitive beat. Francis gives some screaming and his high pitched vocal segments are met with Santiago's comical guitar solo's.

'I'm Amazed' starts with the comical Kim Deal vocal conversation segment which sounds slightly gimmicky, but has realism in the following vocals performed by Francis and Kim. Their vocals have been recorded experimentally and are obscured by the thumping drumming ans lightning guitar work yet again. It's a fast paced track and paves the way for the final track, 'Brick Is Red', to enter. It's clearly an outro and the progression shows this. The guitar work is quite flat but sounds plucky and jagged. The drumming is compact and is stop, start much alike the bass. it's a great way to end the album and Francis gives a short vocal before they pull the plug on the 33 minute album.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Music Review Database Awards 2011

These are international awards. Winners should be very proud to rise above the rest in the eyes of Music Review Database. 2011 was a great year for music and it was very hard picking a clear cut winner for most categories.

Album of the Year  
- Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica
- tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l
- Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
- PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
- M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

Single of the Year
- Bon Iver- Holocene
- Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues
- M83- Midnight City
- PJ Harvey- The Words that Maketh Murder
- Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know

Best New Artist
- Iceage
- Wild Flag
- Julianna Barwick
- Braids

Oustanding Contribution to Music
- John Peel
- David Bowie
- Van Morrison

Best Album Artwork
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
- PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
- James Blake - James Blake
- Radiohead - The King of Limbs
- Cut Copy - Zonoscope

Best Female Singer 
- Erika M. Anderson (EMA)
- PJ Harvey
- Kate Bush
- Julianna Barwick
- Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs)

Best Male Singer
- Justin Vernon (Bon Iver)
- Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes)
- Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
- Anthony Gonzalez (M83)
- Peter Silberman (The Antlers)

Live Act 
- My Morning Jacket
- Foals
- James Blake
- The Kills
- LCD Soundsystem

Music Video of the Year
- Tyler The Creator - Yonkers
- Radiohead - Lotus Flower
- Battles - My Machines
- Destroyer - Kaputt
- M83 - Midnight City

Website of the Year
- YouTube
- Pitchfork
- The Needle Drop
- Stereogum

Best Festival
- Roskilde (Denmark)
- Glastonbury (UK)
- Coachella (USA)
- Primavera Sound (Spain)
- Pitchfork (USA)

Best Producer
- Kanye West
- The Weeknd
- Craig Silvey
- Paul Epworth
- Danger Mouse

Best 'End of Year' List
- Pitchfork
- Drowned In Sound
- The Wire

Music Review Database Award for Innovation
- Phil Spector

Critic of the Year
- Sasha Frere-Jones (The New Yorker)
- Anthony Fantano (The Needle Drop)
- Ian Cohen (Pitchfork)
- Laura Barton (The Guardian)
- Mark Edwards (The Times)

Unsucsessful hype of the Year
- Tyler, The Creator
- Radiohead
- Skrillex

Artist of the Year
- M83
- Kanye West
- Tim Hecker
- Jon Hopkins
- PJ Harvey

Songwriter of the Year
- PJ Harvey
- Kate Bush
- Erika M. Anderson
- King Creosote
- Tom Waits

Most underated Album of the Year
- Julianna Barwick - The Magic Place
- Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
- Tim Hecker - Ravendeath, 1972
- Destroyer - Kaputt
- WU LYF - Go Tell Fire To The Mountain

Most overated Album of the Year
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
- The Antlers - Burst Apart
- Tyler, The Creator - Goblin
- Radiohead - The King of Limbs
- Battles - Gloss Drop

Worst Awards Show
- 54th Grammy Awards
- Brit Awards
- NME Awards

Worst TV Show
- Glee
- Eastenders
- Big Fat Gypsy Weddings

Worst 'Pop' Single of the Year
- Katy Perry - Firework
- Adele - Someone Like You
- Lady Gaga - Born This Way
- Jessie J - Domino
- Lana Del Ray - Video Games

Worst Album 
- Jessie J - Who Are You
- Lou Reed & Metallica - Lulu
- LMFAO - Sorry For Party Rocking
- Chris Brown - F.A.M.E
- Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It

I'm not about to ride the machine train to copycat stardom. Perfume Genius released his debut in 2010 and has been hovering since then. His debut album was panned for it's lo-fi sound which was too fake. This album name could be stuck to any 1990's hip-hop release, but instead we're sticking it to an indie pop release in 2012, go figure. This album is just over 30 minutes long and it covers all the singer-songwriter basics, adding in the 'emotional' vocals and expected reverb. Just looking at the cover freaks me out, but reading the YouTube comments and his comments, I'd rather just look away and sit in a corner listening with my headphones, which I will now execute.

The difference between this and his 2010 debut is quite noticeable.. It's the sound production. With all the sweet vocals and progressions aside, Mike Hadreas returns with a mature sound. 'Awol Machine' opens with nine seconds of silence intended for lonesome listening. If you're putting this album on at a party, god help you. The second half of the track is much deeper and melancholy than the first. It has some striking synthesizer sounds which have been mixed well. The vocals sound faint, but they have that eerie effect many male songwriters tend to go by.

'Normal Song' is extremely basic, It doesn't do him any favours from my point of view. If I want dramatic lyrics and heartfelt vocals over the eerie sound of piano's, I'll switch off the light and listen to Anthony & The Johnsons. The same can be said for Bon Iver, Elliot Smith, Nick Drake and the long list of depressing folk/singer-songwriter albums post 1960. Normal Song just goes over my head. The chords are very basic and could be picked up by any new guitar 'player'. The piano is simplistic but the 'minimal' effect isn't present. His vocals have the applicable reverb but his actual vocal isn't clear. 'No Tear' follows and sounds like something Elton John would make. Mike sounds like Antony Hegarty, but without the vocal dynamics. The drumming is fresh and the uplifting second half is a change, it's a respectable track on the album. Same goes to '17'. It has some lovely string work, I wouldn't go as far to call it atmospheric, but it's certainly thought provoking. The piano is delicate and his withdrawn vocals settle in a layered format much alike James Blake's 2011 debut.

Drumming is almost always lacking on these types of albums, but on 'Take Me Home' we hear a completely different story. The drumming echoes around and puts the piano in focus. This is a very vague track and the lyrics are among the best I've read this year. 'Dinge' has a straightforward piano riff. The track has some nicely layered vocals and the vocal progressions are very eerie. The minimalism is present here and the vagueness of the track manages to give it something special and surprisingly full. 

'Dark Parts' is one of the few standout tracks to me. It has a rapid introduction, very Belle & Sebastian-esque (If you strip away the horns, the drumming, the bass.. What am I saying, this is nothing like Belle & Sebastian). It has a lovely fast paced vocal harmony which sticks out and the progressions and soundscapes are extremely catchy. 'All Waters' has a similar feel. It's slower and opens with a synthesizer riff which could be found on any synth pop album. The ethereal vocals are a lovely touch and the lack of piano is welcoming. It's glazing sound submerges above the previous few depressive tracks and creates that uplifting vibe listeners want to achieve from listening to this.

Two minute tracks need to be snappy in an indie pop format. 'Hood' does have some sort of climatic ending, but it's build up is rocky. Nothing upsets me more than pointless progressions which are appreciated way more than they should be. The first minute of Hood is just random. The piano sounds out of place with the vocals and the vocals are too withdrawn for the initial following minute. Of course the second half as a refined progression and the drumming adds to the climax. The vocals layer up and the lyrics are sad, yet allow the listener to compare themselves to Mikes previous experiences. It's a decent track but it's not my pick of the album.

Whoever tagged this as ambient on needs to be shot. Several synthesizer drones with pitch shifting and ethereal string sounds do not make something ambient. 'Put Your Back N 2 It' is the most melancholy track on the album. The tear jerking piano finale is the best piece of musicianship I've heard from Mike so far. The obscured electronic drum beat on the penultimate track 'Floating Spit', has been mixed to perfection. The layered harmonies work with the synthesizer and Mike's withdrawn and echoed vocal sound better than any lightly reverbed vocal used on the opening half of this album.

'Sister Song' closes the album with predictable piano progression. It's expected that the last song would be slow and have deep piano sounds mixed with the Johnny Cash-esque vocal. I'm not a fan of his this sound, but it does have a hint of sorrow. All in all, it closes the album respectfully without complaints. The 32 minute mark has been reached and the listener is left low-spirited. His vocals sway from reverbed perfection to clear cut bullshit, but overall, his vocals portray the lyrics with withstandable honesty. If you want something more exciting, more enjoyable and more emotional.. Listen to I Am A Bird Now by Anthony & The Johnsons.


Mark Harris - An Idea of North/Learning To Walk

Mark Harris is an experimental architect of soundscape compositions. Relying on natured 
 investigation and personal reflections - a feeling that comes across almost like that of a field recording - his tunes provide a more open and debatable quality in their deliverance. Quite fitting then (or unfitting depending on your interpretation) that on his new release, we find a five-movement mix of surreal discovery and avalanching interconnectivity that, Harris reveals, were inspired and based on a recent experience snowed-in and isolated in his log cabin which doubled up as a makeshift recording studio for himself.

So what formality, and indeed shape, of sound make up these compositions? Interestingly, though this is an album fortified in progression and transition, it's the very naturism and field at which these sounds draw from that take priority over anything synthetic or inorganic in construction.

'Softly Lies Sleeping' is almost totally devoid of any synths or computer-generated instrumentation - a faint hollow of a drone hidden beneath the crumpling of flowing water and tweeting spring birds that in reality, make up the majority of the sound's mix. The drone does pick up but never really takes full control. And even when it reaches its peak of performance, it still manages to keep the song's balance in check, nods to the work of ambient seniors Steve Roach, apparent for example.

'In Slow Motion She Falls' takes a more whimsical and unflurried shape to this sound thereafter. Field recordings faded, the drone begins to expand into multiple varieties of pitch and wavering delicacy. It's a pattern that feels almost looping on itself throughout, but the balance between the high and low sounds bring out a very broad variation on music that at times, may find itself limited to long and over-stretched single notation and heavily-drowned delay. Not that this is always a bad thing, but it does run the risk of feeling somewhat self-indulgent and indistinguishable from just being a continuation of one overall sound.

The album's self-titled piece - which here, becomes the stand-out highlight in track length, nearly twenty minutes to be exact - delves into, almost in response to this, more shadowy and confined lands. It's this section of the album that feels the most transitionary and transporting, rather. Starting off in a gleam of ambiance, the rumble and gargle of background noise soon sends this progression of sound drifting down a channel of lightly-tapped percussion bells and, for the first time, the use of key-based instruments, a la, the piano. The newly-appearing instrument doesn't bring about a drastic change, nor does it cement the sound's continuing context. Rather, it breathes new life into what may have previous run too linear and flat for any means of development. It's not something that's truly captivating or immediate to the ear, but it does give the composition some much-needed dimension to its character.

Returning to this frosty, ambiguous searching, 'A Place of Safety/All Things Will Change' is certainly the album's most darkest moment. Like previous sections, it uses the track's somewhat limited timeframe (even for an ambient piece, it's odd how such track-lengths may be considered short) to create an atmosphere of the unknown; of the immeasurable and yet the feeling of wanting to discover it. Beyond its swipe of orchestrally-moving change in pitch, the piece soon sails back to its normality of wavering drone. 'Towards An Ending And Reprise' is indeed more of an outro - and evaluation - than of an separate part to this forty-four minute composition. The signature pitched drone continues to trail off, leaving a somewhat timid execution of solitary background noise to fill the remaining two-and-a-half minutes.

There is a recurring theme running through this record. True, it may not be as easy to grasp, or even recognize, as a semantic for any given concept album or similarly-transgressive ambient album before it. But Harris hasn't set out to create something based on a subject matter he had thought up (or even experienced) eons ago. Rather, this is a piece devoted to the response of the now, the here and there of both the surrounding interior and exterior that lays beyond it. And beyond that distinguishable barrier of the visible outside is where this album stands more apparent. Call it a reaction, a premonition, or even a prediction...but much like this record, the World before us can be a surreal and at times, indecipherable place.


Julia Holter - Tragedy

Female vocals can be layered and effected to create that 'choir' sound, but not everyone can pull it off. 2011 saw Julianna Barwick release the beautiful The Magic Place. She brought back the new age sounds and dream pop characteristics Enya and Cocteau Twins left behind. Julia Holter is somewhere between Cocteau Twins elegance and Gary Numans dark wave.

Is this avant-garde? Yes, to a certain extent. The vague instrumental characteristics are experimental to say the least. Song structures have been wiped away and replaced by sonic textures of industrial noise. I imagine 'War of The Worlds' mixed with 'Atlas Shrugged'. Drones are borderline ambient but at the same time industrial and ragged. The ethereal sounds are clearly heard and that's enforced by the sweet synthesizer drones mixed with her layered vocals. 'Introduction' opens with soundscapes and striking strings. The layered vocal harmonies sound like a siren and the following industrial screech also sounds like a piece of machinery gone wrong. The track then has a classical sample used as surrealism imagery, then income the haunting strings and aged instrumentation which sounds like something from the 1920's.

What shall I compare this to? Who shall I compare this to? Why am I comparing this? Does it need to be compared to anything to rectify strengths and weaknesses? Why am I still asking myself these questions when the answer is on the tip of my tongue?... Laurie Anderson. If you don't know who Laurie Anderson is, check out Big Science. This vague sound is again heard on the cataclysmic 'Try to Make Yourself a Work of Art'. It opens with empty soundscapes before the 'cutlary' and experimental beat kicks in. It follows the same pattern for about four minutes without any dynamical changes or anything remotely ear catching other than the synthesizer to the left and the unusual industrial rhythm. Everything is out in the open, but it's not fully there. It's a half full glass and it's lacking that extra bit of power.. This album is like the first layer of cloud which a plane goes through before the second elevated layer.. It's never quite complete is it?

'The Falling Age' opens with the same ambiance the previous track ended with. Julia sings clearly, sounding like the recent Cat's Eyes album. Her vocals build up as the synth enters into focus. Her high pitched vocals sound delicate but at the same time minimal. Beauty surrounds this track and it's very dream pop-esque. The hazy synth riff enters and the track is covered by a black cloud. It suddenly turns cold and time slows down. The ambiance and minimal horn section takes place here, to agonising effect. I want more but it enters and leaves almost instantly. It sounds glum but at the same time epic, I love the following strings which sound ethereal and dreamy. The track brightens up, with the darkness fading as higher pitches synths enter and the vocal layers return. It's a little roller coaster track and the average listener will not be able to pick Julia Holter from any of Brian Eno's works.

Try and imagine what Enya would sound like if she was German.. Do you have that sound in your ear? Now listen to 'Goddess Eyes'. This track is one of the shortest, thus it equals 'single' status right? Not exactly, but it is the most played Julia Holter track on It has bewildering vocoder which is very Kraftwerk-esque. The synth riff and electronic drum beat only capitalise on that krautrock sound this track seems to have. It's like Tangerine Dream with Kraftwerk but with a female vocalist layering and using reverb to a comfortable extent. 

The second half is much more relaxed and it smoothens out (much like the mid point of air travel). Nothing captures my ear specifically except a few unknown instrumental segments which I just cant match to anything. Don't get me wrong, this isn't just some experimental piece done by a music technology student. It's energetic and it's electronic to the point where ambiance and dream pop collide.  That contemporary classical feel returns as images of Elder Scrolls come rushing back on 'Interlude' and 'Celebration'. Interlude is a two minute track which uses the organ sound well. It also has some strange singing saw type sounds among ringing bells and church-like (intended) atmosphere.

'Celebration' opens with a memorable string riff. It doesn't exactly expand on this riff, but the following classical arrangements follow the same riff and enter with more passion and composure over the lo-fi, rainy, sparse string riff. This lasts for about two minutes, then the track slowly turns Harry Patch and the out of tune instruments kick in to form a little warning or change over of some sort. Short vocal segments enter which sound increasingly strange and they're like something you would find a mental patient singing in a horror film. Piano enters as does layered vocals, a short three second break of silence occurs before the electronic drum beat and the vocals spread across the speakers. This is as close to 'full' as Julia Holter gets on Tragedy. She sounds like Kate Bush and the instrumental is certainly a 'winter' sound. This little explosion is very dreamy and the high pitch drone on the synthesizer is fantastic. Her vocals have been delayed and the beat plays between the left and right speaker like a table tennis match.

'So Lillies' is like the opening of a video game. Uncharted or Assassins Creed? I'm undecided yet, but the vocal sample mixed with the city soundscape creates this delicious urban atmosphere. three minutes later and we hear some of the best production of 2011. The vocal recording and effects have been thrown around and been delayed enough to create this blissful echo around the speaker system. The vocals are quiet but work with the rolling electronic beat which like the vocals, spread across the speakers. The track ends with a more vocal samples and a heavy synthesizer drone, it's a slow end to the track that started off so aimless, but turned into something memorable.

Why do final tracks always have to be uplifting? They seem to always leave the listener feeling at ease, as does 'Tragedy Finale'. It's what I expected, but it does have some standout progressions. The vocals are delicate but have a touch of freedom and peace within them. The darkness of the opening few tracks has left the area and the sun is shining. The birds are whistling and the wind is blowing. what we have here is the final puzzle piece, but it's found way too late. I wanted to complete the puzzle on track three or four, so I could enjoy it. Instead, I've found it right in the finale minute. It's the moment where clarity shoes through and emotions appear out of the shadows. The piano sounds extremely uplifting, as does the strings and the vocal segments which close the album. Julia then plays the 'fade out' card.

Julia Holter has the vagueness and same experimental characteristics as Arthur Russel, but she doesn't take charge of lead the way in innovation. This album is unusual, it's not amazing, but it's something peculiar which can only be enjoyed by a selective audience. My favourite tracks are 'Try to Make Yourself a Work of Art' and 'Celebration', they standout as the two that have a musical focus and strong structural textures. They're essentially the 'Wonderwall and 'Don't Look Back In Anger' of Tragedy.


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Pop Corner: fun. - Some Nights

"What have we done? Oh, my God," questions fun.'s lead vocalist Nate Reuss on his band's second LP. The chorus of "It Gets Better" is the title line repeated ad nauseum...and is a blatant lie. It did not get better. And neither did the rest of Some Nights.

If at least to save any wary listeners their time: the only worthwhile moments happen in first two tracks. "Some Nights" and its intro are downright impressive and worthy successors to Aim & Ignite, echoing the solemn starter of "Be Calm" and then exploding with color and whimsy: the utilization of vocoder effects form a background chorus to Ruess' powerful vocals, documenting the changes in attitudes between said some nights and a musing over what he stands for. Tribal drum beats and processed OH-OOH-WHOA's dominate over Reuss' hunt for a purpose or whatever there is to make life worthwhile, luring the listener into a trap, assuring that, "Hey, this might be pretty legit."

Hook, line, and sinker. From there, unfortunately, the quality falls through the bottom, splitting the rest of Some Nights into two categories: decent songs and outright awful ones.

"We Are Young" has given the band their biggest push to the mainstream forefront, undeservingly. While anthemic, it's largely generic, cliché, and could easily be lumped in with the likes of The All-American Rejects. Most offensively is the egregious misuse Janelle Monáe's talents, a vocalist who could easily match--even surpass--Reuss, potentially making a spectacle out of her appearance. Instead, the ArchAndroid herself is pushed into an indistinguishable and subdued bridge, buried underneath cloying NA-NA-NA-NA's. Speaking of abusing talent, "Stars" drags out far too long in what would have at least been a serviceable instrumental but instead is a vessel for Reuss' voice mutilated by more effects. From rambling to vocalizing wildly through auto-tune and filters, it's hard to tell if it's an homage or parody of Kanye West's "Runaway."

Plagued by obnoxious looped horns and grating vocals on verses and a surplus of "BAAAAAAD IDEAS," "One Foot" is nothing more than an endurance test. In terms of concept, perhaps the pseudo-swagger of the beat and bombastic vocals are supposed to represent the overcompensating facade of confidently embracing one's loneliness post-break up by way of awkward, directionless stumbling. Intentions aside, however, it does not stop the end result from being the second worst song of the album (take a guess at the first). In what must be some cruel punishment to fans and a play on their name, the seemingly intended-to-be-FUN songs are anything but.

But let's at least shift some focus to those previously mentioned decent songs. "All Alright" has one incredibly lazy chorus, written and sung with a pervasive air of defeat, wallowing in its hamminess, but overall saved by melancholic verses that are bound to resonate with many and amplify the otherwise dreadful mantra. Considering its neighbours in the tracklisting, "I guess it's all alright." Songs like "Carry On" show promise, acting as sister pieces to Aim & Ignites more poignant compositions like "The Gambler." However, "Why Am I the One" and the bonus track that seriously could have replaced ANYTHING else "Out on the Town" are pleasant enough, but lack any of the presence on even the weakest cuts from their debut.

It may be unfair and overdone to constantly compare a band's sophomore effort with their first. And yet, even on its own, Some Nights stands as a mess with nothing more than mediocre tracks given the illusion of merit by surrounding them with musical atrocities.


Friday, 24 February 2012

Vondelpark - nyc stuff and nyc bags ep

This cover is not just a random photo of a dog in a suburban British garden. It's an image of haziness and minimalistic, aesthetical visions of what Vondelparks music must entail. It's either something simplistic or it's on the verge of insanity, profoundness and perplexed musical thoughts. It is infact both of these. Details on Vondelpark are miniature to say the least. I know for a fact that they're a London based three piece signed to R&S Records. This is their second release after 2010's 'Sauna', which began the mystery that surrounds the trio. Pinning a single genre to this band would be idiotic as they clearly span several electronic and rock genres.

Sauna has a lo-fi vibe represented by the 2-step garage beats and Boards of Canada-esque ambiance. It's a very raw first release and some tracks sounded rushed. They released nyc stuff and nyc bags eight months later and what an improvement it is. 'TV' opens with a content synth loop, then enters the soaring guitars with eerie reverb effects plastered on both sides of the speaker. The vocals are rather simple but have been layered to add that extra dose of electronic perfection. The beat is minimal and spreads across the speakers well. The track is incredibly melodic and the general vibe can be described as sunny and relaxed.

'Feat B' is very smooth on the ear. It opens with the same guitar sound which is withdrawn. Obscured synth lines then follow on either side of the speaker before the beat enters. The beat isn't spectacular, but it does have some nice breaks towards the end. The keyboard sounds are hazy and the vocal harmonies are mysterious and mellow. This track borders R&B, making comparisons to The Weeknd, especially on this track.

Sigur Ros-esque sounds are heard at the begging of 'Camel'. This track received a deserved amount of attention on the blogs. The vocals enter and sound otherworldly. The beat is simplistic like the previous but it's not the focus, the focus is on the atmosphere and the spontantious guitar twinges that you hear on the left side every nine or so seconds. I feel relaxed just listening to this track, it's the standout on this EP and so far, the best Vondelpark track.

Vondelpark is like a romantic James Blake for the wine appreciators. They have sparse instrumentals which sound like a stripped back The Weeknd. 'Hipbone' is again very minimalistic and the soulful vocals add to the mood. It isn't quite ambient, but it's not far from Jon Hopkins 'Opalescent'. The final track is quite simply 'Outro for nyc'. It's a little under two minutes long and shows great looping and vivid synthesizer atmospheres. it creates a misty image which can be interpreted differently. I imagine a late summers day with the barbecue just cooling off, listening to Autechre. Then I imagine a cool winters night in London, listening to James Blake. This twenty minute EP isn't just a pre-release to claim hype for 2012's debut album, it's something different. Vondelpark are something different.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Chuckie G - Music For A Hyped-Up Generation

Last year I reviewed the post-London riot release 'The Exploits of Youth' by Lincolnshire lo-fi band Youth On Fire. Chuckie G played bass on that album. The 'high' of recording spurred his swift return on this Hip-Hop release. Rappers don't tend to come from Lincolnshire, so Chuckie G has his work cut out. At a first glance, the track listing is comical to say the least.

'Intro/Check Me Out' begins with a Justice sample. The sample used by countless boxers and several football teams to strike fear into opposition... It doesn't have the same effect in this context. It's short and introduces the beats and the Middle Britain accent we try and disguise to the world. Averageness, describes the Midlands. Check Me Out opens with a typical vocal introduction, before the swearwords enter. It's actually quite lyrical, "Yeah, I'm the freshest bitch" / "haters on the left, lovers on the right.. I'll be fucking this bitch all night".

Then comes the educational 'Beats, Then Hoes, Then Lessons'. Chuckie G is simply spitting his hierarchy of life. The track focuses around a strikingly beautiful bass synth which is 80's-esque. He talks about male genitals and girls. It's a very profound track and the fast paced verses allow the simplistic chorus to take effect.  'Haters (Gonna Hate On Me)' sticks out to me. The lyrics are very fresh and show teenage skill.  My initial response was 'what?', but after several close listens I'm able to appreciate this track for its imagery. Vocal repetition opens and closes the track, with Chuckie giving his distorted and obscured vocal as the chorus.

One of the ear catching moments from The Exploits of Youth was the Syd Barret-esque 'Mammoth'. It had fantastic bass work, which was in focus for the majority of the track. The structure was fantastic for a group of lads that barely accumulate 65 years of age between them. So where has this structure gone. 'Interlude: Trillwave Spaced-Out' has a nice little bass, but the synths sound dated and the drum roll is pretty standard. However, the sample is fantastic and the twirl on the tempo knob sets up the following track nicely. "Bitches", closes off this track.

'3 Girl Pussy-Time' has the same Grandmaster Flash sample. The beat is very formal and Chuckie G raps with venom. His simplistic chorus is back with the refrain of the song title. The outrageous lyrics return, "You're getting none, but I'm getting three", "I sneak in to her bedroom, three girls, gonna get my dick wet soon", "Right up to my balls", "Polaroid camera taking pictures for my bros". Some call it immature, others call it Chuckie G. Remember that Chuckie G is yet to reach the legal drinking age.

'I'm Jesus' starts with a vocal introduction 'bigging' up Chuckie G. This vocal effect is also used to end the track once again.  The actual rap is about Chuckie being the 2nd coming of Jesus. It uses a GZA/Genius sample and it's been well produced. 'Ginger $wag' has a lovely opening. The fast paced vocal is by far the best rap by Chuckie G on this release. The listener is faced with imaginative lyrics like, "your mother has a dick". The beat slows down unpredictably, then Chuckie G mentions this and begins to speed the beat up with yet another fast paced rap.

'Flexin Like A Gangsta' is the closing track. The lyrics are again, Parental Advisory. "Flexin Like A Gangsta, I shoot you bitch, Flexin Like A Gangsta, I fuck your bitch". Dr. Dre-esque synths swoosh before the chorus kicks in with melody. This track is the longest as well as my personal favourite. The synth line is aggressive yet content. The vocals are effected well and the beat doesn't fail to amuse me. All the tracks are very humorous, and they show great signs to even more releases by Chuckie G.
~Eddie G

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Frankie Rose - Interstellar

I'm officially making a prediction: 2012 will be the year of the half-hour albums. You know what I mean, records just a shade over 30 minutes in length, usually ones regarded as belonging to the tag of indie rock or indie pop or whatever else the hell you can deem "indie" in today's music World. Not that I have anything against that - there have been some great half-hourish records over the past two decades, but if the album is limited to roughly ten tracks, that works out roughly at about 3 to 3-and-a-half minutes each. Now that's either boldly genius...or despicably lazy.

Frankie Rose, the Brooklyn-based vocalist and instrumentalist, isn't shy on trying out new things, whether that be the role in a band, the band itself or here...having a go in executing a tightly-fitted record with more than enough glamour about it to keep the audience's eyes firmly away from its length time. 'Interstellar', Rose's first major solo outing, amongst other things - and much unlike her artistic naturism of the past - embodies this solitary ideal of a sailed layering of droned instruments and voice alike.

The self-titled introduction to this 30-plus sailing isn't shy (or rather, is shy enough) to let itself drift across a held-on drone of clouded organs and peaked keys. Rose's lyrics, which begin similarly gentle and withdrawn, soon burst into life as a flat-handed pounding of drums ups the tempo and ups the moral for the song to sail further through this valley of effect-laiden instrumentation and peaks of frosty synths that soon hop aboard.

'Know Me' by contrast feels down-to-Earth, yet still managing to maintain this sense of drifting to and fro on every level of its infrastructure. There's an uncanny optimistic pop approach to its deliverance, but it doesn't flicker too much into that of being distasteful - or rather, too sweet, it's sour. Tracks like 'Daylight Sky', which feel more shoegaze-orientated than integrated pop, expand upon the album's sound with high-flung synthesizers and more usage of effects on Rose's vocals.

'Had We Had It' brings more of an energetic and rustled integrity to the album, even if it comes across in some parts like an upbeat swirl of Bon Iver meets XX meets Arcade Fire. But to simply lay claim that this is reminiscent of such established sounds is rubbished quite easily by even more swoops of angelic synth lines and just-as-holy sails of keyboard work. It may not be a complete unification of delightful treats, but it's most certainly helped on its way. 'Apples For The Sun' drops and tails off with a swing of tubular-like chords, bringing with it a variation in the song's detailing, but again is dominated by the application of effects and alteration that becomes, at this point, maximized into a concept-like scale.

Indeed, the easy naturism of the sound's progression through these thin veils of droned effect-laiden instruments and vocals alike continues to appear not just as a recurring factor to the album, but as we reach the final third, becomes the dominant element; holding, meshing...even, guiding, this sound to its conclusion. 'Moon On my Mind' then is a welcoming break from this, instead relying on the bubbling hop of its lead bass line with Rose muttering away her almost-secretive vocals between strikes of elevatory booms of sound and the odd strum of guitar.

As stated, the album clocks in - upon inspection - at thirty two-and-a-half minutes, but as we see, is by no way a means to subtract from the album's execution of effect -laid application and play on collective arrangement of sound. For the majority, this album will indeed feel as if in the air; weightless and free. And though at points, it may feel almost too independent - and just as oddly, dependent on its own composite layout - becoming whimsically lost amid the flanger and the distortion alike, Rose's clever usage of her own delicate voice and choice of instruments makes this a worthwhile journey beyond and above. It's not cloud nine, but it may possibly be as close as one will get without the need to slip into obsession.


Joanna Newsom - Walnut Whales

This is Joanna Newsoms first official recording to be self-released. It was recorded in 2002 and released the same year. Recorded and produced by then boyfriend Noah Georgeson, this EP has a stripped back, sparse sound. Eight tracks of pure bliss, five of which were re-recorded for debut album The Milk-Eyed Mender released two years later.

'Erin' features withdrawn vocals and the 50/50 of Joanna Newsoms childlike vocals and her enduring harp sound which flows with perfection. This is basically indie-folk. The tracks here are very raw, thus incredibly appetising to hear since her matured sound formed on 2006's Ys. 'Cassiopeia' has some very original Joanna Newsom vocals. Instead of the molded flat sound present on some of the other tracks on Walnut Whales, Joanna uses her vocal range to her advantage. She sounds like a six year old wandering the garden. 

The Milk-Eyed Mender has several stand out tracks, one of which is the harpsichord track 'Peach, Plum, Pear'. The version on Walnut Whales is far more melancholy and less melodramatic. It's played on an electric keyboard here. The progression is exactly the same but on this EP the tempo is slower. The lyrics are different and it;s interesting to hear the song in it's intended form. 

'Clam Crab Cockle Cowrie' is again more melancholy than the re-worked album version. It has a colder feel and it Joanna sings strong, giving the listener something to focus on. The harp sound is extremely raw and isn't played to perfection, but has that passion listeners crave. 'Flying A Kite' is the same. This is one of the few original Joanna Newsom tracks that have not been re-worked for an album. This is played on a piano and has some magnificent lyrics. The general mood starts off sour but as her vocals become uplifting, the piano instrumental follows. Her vigorous vocal is enlarged by the hard hitting piano notes.

The next track is called 'The Fray', it has a very memorable harp riff which sounds very ethereal and medieval. Her vocal sounds 'cute' and it's desperate in places. When her vocals raise in volume, the harp raises in pitch. The track is fantastic and I'm surprised she didn't use this for The Milk-Eyed Mender. 'En Gallop!' has the same feel as The Fray, just with more venom and energy. It's one of the quieter and withdrawn vocal tracks Joanna has released. 

'The Book of Right On' is absolutely adorable. Her vocals sound fresh and work with the both harp riffs happening. She has great ability to compose, bordering modern classical music. Her vocals are not effected and sound miniature compared to the blaring harp sounds. Her vocals were of course bumped up for the album version and the harp is much faster and smoother. it's one of the best tracks on this EP and on it's one of the standouts on her debut. This EP is fantastic and showed great promise.. Inevitably leading to a successful and well received debut album. These early recording are enjoyful, they really are raw and passionate. The underproduction can be felt by the lack of layers and lack of alternatives to vocal/instrument on each track. This was covered on her debut album.


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

After 238 listens and 57 cups of tea, I think I'm ready to review Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. The truth is... This is a long album, but it's easy to digest. I'm surprised how anybody could review this album after one, five, ten listens. This is M83's sixth studio album and their most successful. It takes on a different sound to the previous shoegaze-esque albums. The layers have been replaced by synth lines and delirious vocals. M83 mixes synth pop with dream pop and the raw bone of electronic music. The outcome is quite spectacular and surprises the long term M83 fan such as myself. Those 'post-rock' days are now over and M83 have a mountain to climb to out-do this album.

The ambient opening on 'Intro (ft Zola Jesus)' sounds spectacular and the following synth line enters my ears with passion and light. The hard hitting vocal samples and the steady but strong drum beat enter as Zola Jesus gives a very appetising vocal sounding ethereal and gigantic as the track progresses and gains in volume and compactness. This sounds astonishing, something that you would describe 'other worldly', it belongs in a stadium audience with a ground breaking sound system and a filled with an audience of every age category. Bring your kids along, this music is friendly, but it's also very mature. The final two minutes stretches my ear drums as the bass enters and the vocal harmonies take place sitting obscured to the magnetic synth hooks on the left speaker and the twinkling hooks on the right. The tracks slowly comes to a stand still with a thunderous guitar strum, what an introduction.

Words cannot describe 'Midnight City'. You just have to hear it. The vocal riff is exquisite and recorded to perfection. The sound is so energetic yet relaxed. The following vocals sound eerie and are layered to an extent. The chorus is basically the synth line with a thunderous drum beat, it's spectacular. I don't usually parade tracks as such, but this track is one of the best from 2011. The saxophone solo at the end just adds the finishing piece. Without this solo and the track falls under the predictable category. It's those little details which create something mega, and that saxophone does just that. 

'Reunion' has a steady opening with 30 seconds of heavy dream pop guitar and hard hitting drums. The vocals enter as does the increased tempo and louder guitar work. The vocal sets the mood and the track ascends in to a genius electro-rock melody. The verse is typically slower and as the pace builds up, the vocals do the same. You can hear some great dynamics on this track, something which M83 take into serious consideration when recording. The next track 'Where The Boats Go' is a sort instrumental with heavy synthesizer bass and a small vocal segment of noise. The synths create a dense atmosphere and the synth lines twinkle as piano enters to close off the track.

The acoustic guitar filled 'Wait' is extremely melancholy and one of the highlights is the vocals. The song structure is brilliant, as is the left/right guitar sounds, but the vocals reach new heights and move the instrumental forward. The progression has been used in popular music many times before, it's a very mellow progression and allows the singer to use vocal dynamics without messy production. Then enters the sweet and Depeche Mode-esque 'Raconte-Moi Une Histoire'. This track is about a magic frog and is ready by bassist/producer Justin Meldal-Johnsens daughter. it's surreal and starts of childish but transforms in to a lovely concept and fit's the album perfectly, as does the brilliant instrumental and energetic bass work. The monotonous synth riff doesn't become boring and the more you listen, the more you understand and appreciate this track.

'Train To Pluton' sounds like Animal Collective with more reverb and better soundscapes. It's a short, reverb filled mid-point which separates the first quarter from the second. 'Claudia Lewis' then enters with another distorted vocal riff as it's base. The drum beat carrys this track forward as Anthony sings very clearly and gives his best vocal effort on the album. The track shines as it kicks in and the distorted bass rings clear as the left synths and right percussion breaks leave the listener confused on what to focus on. 'This Bright Flash' fades in and sounds very 80's. The tracks raises in volume and the drum beat kicks in. The sheer volume hits me and the shoegaze drones enter. The layers create something almost missing from the previous tracks. It's pure volume and bass focus leaves me feeling sad that this is only 2.21 in length.  'When Will You Come Home' follows with more ambiance and industrial, distorted sounds which create a melancholy atmosphere, leading in to the final track on side one, 'Soon, My Friend'. This track is uplifting and has a lovely acoustic guitar riff and a vocal refrain of "I'll be yours, Sunday". The bass hits hard and the strings add to the climatic sound. Reverse reverb is used in the final moments, fading out, side one, over.

Side two has more of a 'Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts' sound to it. The opening track is a ballad entitled 'My Tears Are Becoming A Sea'. It sounds like a melancholy and darker version of 'In Church' from the bands Dead Cities album. The drum beat kicks in as the King Crimson-esque sound rings loud. The progressive rock vibe is present as the synths shriek in unison once more, opening the second side of the album with menacing moods.

'New Map' is my favourite track on this album. It opens with a synth drone before the drum beat enters and the memorable, standout synth riff takes place much like a faster and more synthetic Midnight City. The song enters it's verse structure as the vocals sit well and have lovely left sided synths separating the layered vocals with the steady drum beat. The track has a little breakdown before returning to that opening synthetic sound and synth chorus. The vocals sit well on top as layers upon layers take control. Another breakdown has a saxophone solo and slower drumming and brilliant brass instrumentation which works a treat with the effectless electric guitar, fade out.

More vocal riffs occur on the following track 'Ok Pal'. Yet another heavy, 80's-esque sounding track. The high pitched synth sounds just work magnificently well with the beat. The vocals are again outstanding and sound very new-wave like. The chorus is brilliant and is split in to two parts with either synth taking the level beyond the simple drum beat. The refrain reads "Somewhere else", repeated twice to create a blend between climax and dynamics. 'Another Wave From You' is alike side ones 'Where The Boats Go'. It has a flowing ambient drone then the synths enter and sound fresh and almost cataclysmic. Every track on side one has it's 'sister', those being the tracks on side two, with the same progressions but different vibe.

The piano driven 'Splendor' has a saddening feel to it. the vocals are very deep and the reverb has been applied as expected. The ethereal, gospel vocal then enters as the low synth line shines. The melody is abstract and the track repeats itself with bass and heavier driven synthesizers. Vocals sounding much louder and breathtaking. 

'Year One, One UFO' is very ear friendly and bring backs the childlike visions of Raconte-Moi Une Histoire from side one. The guitar riff is very ear catching and the following drum rhythms are are fresh and very rock orientated rather than electronic. The atmosphere is uplifting and the track just sounds bright with ringing left sides chords which have been effected to a standard above my expectations. The riff returns as the childish vocals mirror the layered sound.

Mouth watering soundscapes appear on 'Fountains'. The late night jungle sounds work with the vocal screams and the 'Giorgio Moroder'-esque synth structure is thrilling. 'Steve McQueen' has a stylistic opening. The vocals are very light and dreary. The drum beat increase in tempo before smashing and the loud, spacious drones take place. This is one of the standout tracks and it has lovely vocal samples which have distortion lightly applied. 'Echoes of Mine' smashes and rings French vocal samples in to my ears. It's hard hitting drum beat is climatic and the synth layers are again present. It sounds slightly repetitive and is the only time I feel the sense of repetition on this album. 

The feeling of empathy takes place on these final three tracks. The previous hard hitting Echoes of Mine is very repetitive, but the following track 'Klaus I Love You', has some brilliant synth lines and ambient sound which create a synthetic atmosphere which follows between these final three tracks. The final track closing off the album, called 'Outro'. This track has some lovely string work and it's the summary. It's the closer, it's the cool down, it's the outro. The windy soundscape takes place in the centre before the strings and synths enter and explode, with an uplifting vibe. A technical drum beat is heard and the track yet again explodes with thunderous bass work and a climatic string ending, answering the questions left after the first track, intro. 

This concept is magnificent. The child-like imagery stands strong among the Midnight City vocal riff and the New Map drum beat. The little tiny details that make up this album have been produced magnificently well and effected adequately. Some tracks are lacking in memorability compared to others, but the overall strength to strength feel to the tracks outweigh those few repetitive, long winded tracks. The synth pop influences are present and his double album dream has come true here. This album is incredibly strong and easy to listen to (in some ways..). Album of the year 2011 for sure.


Interview: By The Rivers

Local talent is hard to come by in Leicester. When By The Rivers took to the stage in 2010, something drastic happened. The chain of events following their first performance were predictable but at the same time thought-provoking. Pretentiousness aside, I already knew this band would have a strong future ahead of them. The group has musical skill and they continue to impress month after month. Lead singer and guitarist Nile Barrow tells us about The Specials, Leicesters music scene and By The Rivers upcoming debut album.

Music Review Database: I saw both Jordan and Nile perform with M48 at the OBS Showcase almost four years ago. You had a strong fan base and blended Ska with Indie Rock, what made you turn to Reggae?

By The Rivers: We’d always had a passion for Reggae, but never really had the chance to fully express it through M48. Over time, the band began to fizzle out, and with that coming to an end, it gave me and Jord a chance to work on our Reggae songs.

MRD: I'm guessing you supported The Buzzcocks through your fathers contacts with The Swinging Laurels, was it their help that secured strong support act slots? 

BTR: No, not really. All the support slots we have been asked to do have been through venues and promoters getting in touch with us. Our dads have helped us in the way of giving us advice from their own experiences, but we have achieved the majority of our success off our own backs, which we’re proud of. 

MRD: How did it feel packing The Musician Stage at last years Summer Sundae Weekender? People were queueing from every entrance. 

BTR: It was incredible and really quite surreal! It really brought it home how much of a following we have in Leicester, and we loved every minute of it! Definitely one of the highlights of our Summer. 

MRD: Who contacted you about supporting The Specials? How did that evolve? 

BTR:  It all came about when we played a gig supporting Neville Staple from The Specials in Derby. After the gig, he asked me if he could have a CD, so I gave him a copy of our EP, and a business card. The next day, Neville rang me saying he loved the EP, and that he would pass it on. A few weeks later, I received a phone call from Lynval of The Specials, saying that he really liked our sound, and would try and get us on a date of the Specials Tour. The next thing we knew, we were being asked to support them on their whole 15 Date UK Arena Tour! It all came about within such a short space of time, it was incredible! 

MRD: You played some exquisite venues with The Specials. Brixton Academy, Manchester Apollo and Alexandra Palace to name a few. Which was your favourite? 

BTR: Every venue was amazing, we’d never played anything on that level before, and so each venue had its own character. I don’t think I can honestly choose a favourite in terms of playing, but I loved the character of Brixton Academy.

MRD: Do you have any stories to share from this tour? 

BTR: Loads! One of my highlights was when Lynval got on stage with us in soundcheck, and jammed along to our song ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’. That was pretty crazy! Also jamming acoustic songs on the Specials tour bus in the early hours of the morning is a fond memory. 

MRD: Who are your favourite Reggae artists? Do you prefer Bob Marley's well known material over say, Bunny Wailer? 

BTR: We have many different Reggae influences, new and old. Personally, I prefer a lot more of Bob Marley’s lesser known songs and albums. He’s not known as a legend just for the ‘Legend’ album. As a band, we’re big into our early Roots Reggae, such as Culture, Twinkle Brothers, Abyssinians, The Congo’s etc. But we have many different influences, not all Reggae. 

MRD: Where are you getting inspiration from? 

BTR: A lot of our inspiration for writing songs comes from our own experiences and our surroundings. There are a lot of issues that don’t seem to be addressed in modern music. I don’t think everything has to be political, but I think it’s important if you feel strongly enough about something, to have your say. It’s all about the feel at the end of the day, if you get that buzz from writing a song, then you know you’re on the right track.

MRD: Some of your songs are rather political. Will your debut reflect UB40's Signing Off?

BTR: I think the album will reflect the modern state of things through our eyes, although it hasn’t much changed since those times. It will be ours and the view point of the youth growing up with all of this happening. But not all of the album has a political message, there is a wide variety of songs. 

MRD: People have compared you to UB40, because you're from the Midlands and you're all white.. How does this sit with the band? 

BTR: I think that they are the only real comparisons between us, and it will always be something that we will be tagged under. But we have our own sound, albeit in a Reggae style, but I don’t think you can compare our sound to UB40. 

MRD: Have you set goals? Would you like to spark a Reggae revival in the UK? 

BTR: Yeah, we’d definitely like to spark a Reggae revival by bringing it back to the mainstream in a respectable way, and that’s what we aim to do. We’ve got a big year ahead of us, and a hell of a lot of planning has gone into making every release count. 

MRD: Reggae brought new life to Leicester in 2011. We saw UB40 return to DeMontfort Hall on the 30th anniversary tour. Then the legendary Toot's & The Maytals played Summer Sundae Weekender. Do you think the local music scene in Leicester is growing? 

BTR: I think Leicester has always had a strong music scene, it’s just always seemed to go unnoticed. There is such a wide variety of top quality bands in Leicester, playing all kinds of genres, and I think it’s about time Leicester was recognised for it. 

MRD: Have you set a date for your debut album? What direction are you taking? 
BTR: We haven't set a definite date just yet, but we’re looking at releasing it towards the end of the year. People can expect some revamped re-recorded tracks, some newly recorded songs, and some never before heard material. There will be a bit of everything in there, a bit of One Drop, Rocksteady, Ska and Dub! Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a Single release within the next few months! 

MRD: You must have withdrawal symptoms from being on the road for so long. Do you look forward to getting back out there travelling the UK? 

BTR: There’s no better feeling than being on the road. It’s only when you stop, that you truly realise how much you miss it. We’re really excited to get back out there and hit up as many places as possible throughout the year. We will have our first proper taste of touring again in April, when we will be supporting ‘The Slackers’ on a string of European dates including shows in Germany, Holland, and Denmark. Hopefully that will only be the start of what the year will bring for us! 

This is how you can check them out.. By The Twitter, By The Facebook, By The Website and.. By The Bandcamp. For some lovely acoustic tracks and more, check out the band's YouTube page here.