Saturday, 19 May 2012

Empty White Circles - Adventures - First Listen

Today I have a little treat for you all. Oxford-based Indie/Folk collective Empty White Circles have recently made their first single available on-line and this post will be covering it because it's exactly the kind of thing we like. This site is always on the lookout for quality, new, interesting music crafted with emotion, and this fits the bill perfectly. The band only formed a matter of weeks ago and already have this delightful journey of a track out in the open.

The acoustic guitar tip-toeing over a ghostly, shimmering sound scape subtly introduce vocalist Kevin Duggan's vocals and forms the foundations for him to deliver a sincere, moving message. Adventures was originally written in 2009 about getting out of town to greener grass, both to progress and to forget. It seems the lyrics also communicate a shade of life's humble truths, of growing up and the lessons some of us are yet to learn. I've heard nothing but praise for the track from those in the area, and many are looking forward to further releases.

Empty White Circles are:
Kevin Duggan
Callum To
Matt Hill
James Walker
Matt Stallings

The band are set to record and release an EP with a good variation of tracks this summer between touring and other commitments. (Both Kevin and Matt study Recording & Audio Production at a local University).

I'd love to hear what you think. Listen to the track below.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


Guns 'n' Roses, The Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers (amongst others) were all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this weekend, but the build up to the big event did not come without controversy. The high profile inductees were all without a key member for the ceremony, each choosing not to attend for their own reasons. This week G'n'R's infamous frontman Axl Rose wrote an open letter to the hall of fame:

"I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorized nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me."

Axl Rose has always been a difficult individual with a rocky relationship with both colleagues and fans, but it would seem he wasn't missed. The first mention of his name was met with boos from the impressive crowd.

Higher Ground - RHCP with Slash, Ronnie Wood, George Clinton and Billie Joe Armstrong
The Red Hot Chili Peppers' most dominant creative force over the years also refused to attend. Ex-guitarist John Frusciante, who left the band in 2009 after 2 stints and 5 of their best recieved albums, didn't feel comfortable with the whole affair. His friend and frequent collaborator Josh Klinghoffer replaced him as the band's guitarist in 2010 and last night became the Hall of Fame's youngest ever inductee. Stevie Wonder held the previous title, he was inducted 6 years older than Klinghoffer.

Adam 'MCA' Yauch of the Beastie Boys also pulled out with short notice, meaning a planned Beastie Boys performance had to be cancelled.

The ceremony took place at the Rock and Roll hall of fame & museum in Cleveland, Ohio last night. All the original members of Guns 'n' Roses were in attendance to accept induction, and to knock out some old jams. Ohio's rock fans turned out in their hundreds to hear classic anthems and old stories from the key inductees. RHCP and G'n'R of course both emerged from the sunset strip in the 80's, both with hard rock influences, but ultimately turning down very different musical avenues from there on in. 

It was a tale of two coasts of course, Beastie Boys emerged from New York around the same time. Mike Diamond and Adam horovitz were the 2 members on hand to accept the award, and thanked the city of New York for helping raise, and give them the music they grew up with. Other inductees included Freddie King and  the Scottish Donovan of 'Mellow Yellow' fame.

Despite missing figures the night was ultimately a success. The show ended with Red Hot Chili Peppers' cover of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground, featuring George Clinton, Billie Joe Armstrong, Ronnie Wood and Slash. I think their better days are past them, but a fantastic look back to the Hollywood 80's was more than welcome. All brilliant artists in their own right, all certain to produce interesting work until they are no longer physically able.

Monday, 2 April 2012

NEW ARTISTS - Things to come

I was contacted today by a local artist who are this week releasing their debut single. Empty White Circles, who have been involved gigging in the Oxford are and have recently been billed on a BBC-Introducing covered event will have their single covered in a review shortly.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


The 2012 radio and record industry in general happens to be bumper to bumper with countless songs that convey the same message, in the same manner, with the same style of sound. A lot of us these days are left wondering exactly where the 'creative' part of being an artist actually lies. Maybe it's in the album artwork.

So, what do we need? A game changer. Who's going to change the game? The Mars Volta, that's who. The duo of Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez have always been ones to try and do something different. Long gone are the days of At The Drive-In. The post-hardcore outfit that imploded (personnel wise) just before they were to due to explode in terms of popularity. At least so we thought until the group announced a reunion to take place this year. You'd have expected the guys would have too much on the table to release a new studio album, but evidently not. Noctourniquet will arrive on March 2.

Opener 'The Whip Hand' isn't a million miles away from home for long time fans of the band. An irregular drum beat coupled with Cedric's melodic wailing quickly changes to something a little more frantic and desperate sounding, with the inclusion of a heavy synth that wouldn't sound out of place in a Lady Gaga single. 'I am A Landmine' he shrieks at the climax, backed through multiple vocal layers. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is not quite as prominent as some might expect.

He certainly makes up for it in 'Aegis' and 'Dyslexicon, however. Two of Noctourniquet's hardest rocking tracks. Omar's chord pattern in 'Aegis' forms a brilliant platform for Bixler-Zavala to lead the way with one of his finest vocal performances yet. The chorus is astonishingly good.  'Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound' is as close to a commercial ballad as The Mars Volta will make. A sparse guitar is matched by Cedric's gentle vocal melody, but soon enough turns into an epic slow, but soulful explosion of sound to end the song. The stand out track on the album is truly haunting. 'The Malkin Jewel' harks back to Captain Beefheart with an almost spoken word vocal and a funky on-the-upbeat rhythm section swagger.

Lapochka's drum beat is almost incredibly satisfying. A little teasing in fact. Try nodding your head to it, you'll see what I mean. One of the catchiest (if not the) most radio-freindly song. In Absentia is classic, frantic TMV, before dropping into a ghostly outro with Cedric's sirenesque weaving through reverb keys.

The album is just completely different to anything I've heard. It's incredibly original, and at all times is emotionally convincing. It's been received extremely well by fans and critics alike, so if you're still on the fence just go and do it. Open your mind and let Noctourniquet do it's thing. Give it time, perhaps a little patience too and you won't be disappointed. Album of 2012, so far.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Strokes Begin Work On Album #5

After headlining several summer festivals this year, many hints were dropped by various members of the Strokes that a 5th album is on the agenda. With 5 year break between First Impressions of Earth and Angles, it would appear that the follow up will arrive in a much shorter amount of time.

Bassist Nikolai Fraiture tweeted
Number 5 is alive! (No disassemble)

The Angles sessions were somewhat troubled; the band didn't seem to be recording as a unit but as 5 seperate parts being pieced together. Vocalist Julian Casablancas often recorded his vocals separately and kept his distance from the other members, supposedly to encourage them to bring more to the table. (Casablancas has sole writer's credit on almost every Strokes song before Angles)The 4th album really divided fans, with some claiming it to be the band's best work and others writing it off as garbage. Overall the opinion on Angles seemed to be positive though, I'd say it was the 2nd most well received record after the game changing Is This It. It'l be interesting to see what methods of writing and recording the band use this time around.

Three members of the band are on twitter:
@N_Fraiture - Nikolai Fraiture
@Casablancas_J - Julian Casablancas
@alberthammondjr - Albert Hammond jr

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Gorillaz to collaborate for new Converse ad

You may or may not remember the converse celebration advert starring Pharell Williams, Santogold and Julian Casablancas. The three artists basically collaborated and came up with a tune fitting of the Converse image for their Centennial .The Times called it "a three-headed Frankenstein monster of coolness". You can find the 2 and a half minute video for the song here.

Now we are fast approaching the next instalment of Converse's '3 artists, 1 song' campaign. This time Gorillaz lead the way, with Andre3000 and LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy eventually being announced as the collaborators after much speculation. 'Do Ya Thang' will be released on February 23 internationally.

It sounds like a delicious combination, but this could go either way. Every one of them have been, at least once, released some pretty sub-par work.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Mars Volta - The Malkin Jewel - First Listen

As previously covered, The Mars Volta will release a new album on March 27. They have now unveiled the lead single from the album: The Malkin Jewel. If you're an old fan of the band you'll probably enjoy it. Very, very interesting modern take on rock.

Let us know what you think, I'm already getting quite into it on my second listen. I Can't wait for the album release now!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Good evening.

To fill in the gaps, I'm at university studying Audio. Over the last few weeks the course has intensified greatly, with many deadlines and exams coming up one after another. I never saw myself taking the education route after how much I hated school, but after some dead end jobs I saved the money to go to a high level private institute.  It was completely worth it, meeting new people and pushing myself to perform has been a game changer for me.

After the next couple of deadlines I should be back to normal with album reviews.


Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Hey everyone, hope you're managing to wade through this tough month. I suspect I'm not the only one taking a financial and psychological kicking. Anyway, let's talk about music.

There has been a resurgence in lo-fi style 'bedroom' pop over the last couple of years and today from that genre, I'm going to talk about my favourite album of the 2011 calendar year. Youth Lagoon is the stage name of a rather talented American musician called Trevor Powers. The Year Of Hibernation gives us an insight into his life, in a stripped to the core, emotional journey.

In early 2011 fans were granted an early insight to The Year Of Hibernation with the track 'July'. It generated quite a buzz, with praise even being received from the much loved (and much hated) Pitchfork. The track itself is gentle journey of quiet keyboard chords and angelic ah's before the identity of the song and the album  presents itself. A brilliantly simple, effective 4 chord piano part emerges from the mist over a simplistic bass heartbeat. The vocal verses arrive and the heartfelt lyrics are delivered in a sublime fashion. YL sounds like child sat in the corner crying his eyes out as he sings 'I made a bridge between us then I slowly burned it, Five years ago in my backyard I sang love away, Little did I know that real love had not quite yet found me' I realise that sounds like a derogatory comment but believe me it isn't. The delivery is so incredibly honest, and touching.

The album is decorated with similar moments of pure emotion, that above all, are completely believable. In 'Seventeen' he sings 'When I was 17 my mother said to me, never stop imagining, the day that you do is the day that you die'  and 'Posters' recalls an even earlier age 'When I was only nine years old, I had a poster, and with that alone I had the education, the motivation, I knew what I wanted to be'. Finally in For a first release of a young man, The Year Of Hibernation is remarkably strong in terms of lyrical prowess. I don't think there's a single throwaway line.

Daydream, Posters, and The Hunt all have great simple guitar riffs, written in a textural style to help embody the songs, rather than a more prominent solo over the top fashion. As well as this, there is never a sense of self-indulgence or over-production. Sometimes it can't be easy to truly know when a record or track is complete, but Trevor has escaped attraction of going back and fiddling any more than required.

It's so pleasing to hear someone who isn't an insanely good multi-instrumentalist convey such emotion into their work. This was not achieved by accident, the record itself is not chock full of producer's tricks and witchcraft, but interesting methods of recording experimentation. The vocals for example were recorded normally and left dry, then played through low quality speakers into a garage. Only with great mic placement re-recording the vocals were the final results achieved.  The friends who aided production did a fantastic job. The talent that Trevor has is a gift which I believe he will use to even greater effect in the future.

In short, the album is seriously good. It's by no means perfect, in my opinion there are some bland instrumental areas, but not many. It took me a few listens to let it get to me, but once it does you can feel every word.

Listen to: All 8 tracks

Friday, 20 January 2012

TMV Announce Return

El Paso prog-rockers The Mars Volta have announced their anticipated follow up to 2009's The Octahedron. The news comes just days after At The Drive-In confirmed they would reform after a 12 year absence. A cryptic tweet stated 'This station is now operational'. This is of course relevant due to the 2 groups sharing lead guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez, and lead vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala. TMV was born from the ATDI split, with 2 halves forming 2 different bands. Sparta being the other, overall less successful of the two.

So here's the cover for Noctourniquet which will debut worldwide on March 27.

The album is said to tell the story of a character inspired by Superman villain Solomon Grundy and the Greek myth of Hyacinthus. Well, what else did you expect? This is the volta we're talking about!

Touring in support of the album will have to be done around At The Drive-In's expected dates. They are already confirmed to play both weekends of Coachella in April and are expected to add more shows throughout the year.

Here's the track listing, Zed and Two Naughts has been confirmed to feature on the MLB 12: The Show soundtrack.

'The Whip Hand'
'Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound'
'The Malkin Jewel'
'In Absentia'
'Trinkets Pale of Moon'
'Zed and Two Naughts'

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Coachella 2012 Lineup Announced

Yesterday was a big day for this year's music. After much speculation, (which is pretty much guaranteed every year) , Coachella have announced their first double weekend lineup for this year's festival in Indio. The two weekend long shows will be in April. First weekend from 13th to 15th, and the second a week later from the 20th to 22nd. Here's the full poster:

Senstaionally, At The Drive-In make a return after splitting up 11 years ago. No new material is expected, but some kind of tour defnitely is. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

This Year's Best Prospects

Hello and happy new year everyone! 2012 is looking like a major year for music. To be honest I felt the majority of mainstream releases last year were a little lacklustre. Everyone went mad on Adele around March, Foo Fighters and The Strokes put out something a little different, Coldplay stuck to their guns. I was personally disappointed by RHCP's latest effort, I'm not quite sure if they ever will reach the Blood Sugar / Stadium Arcadium heights.

This year we can expect studio album number 4 from The Killers, who are apparently moving back to the more guitar led sounds of Hot Fuss and Sam's Town, after the rather mellow, electro-tinted Day & Age. I think that sounds like a good move for them. They have been incredible since getting signed but many (myself not included) felt that their last album couldn't quite match the first two.

The Vaccines, who hit the UK scene pretty hard this year with an album recorded before their fame are expected to return in 2012 with a follow up to What did you expect from The Vaccines?

It is also possible Muse's follow up to the Grammy award winning The Resistance will surface toward the end of the year, although in all honesty we can probably expect early 2013 for that. Pictures have been posted by the band from the studio, mainly on front man Matt Bellamy's twitter page.

Usher, Madonna, Green Day and Mumford & Sons are also due back. With the latter of those four I'm eager to see if they can take their sound to a new level. If not, the 'one trick pony' tag could stick for good.

Away from the charts, Tame Impala, who's debut album Innerspeaker I reviewed last week are rumoured to have already finished album #2. Ex-Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante is also back in the lab again after a 3 year break. He has been collaborating with R&B vocalist Truth Hurts amongst presumed others.

Is there an upcoming release you are looking forward to? I'd love to hear your views.

Stay tuned for a good year for music in 2012.

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