Monday, 29 November 2010

Soldier Blue

After making their live debut on television’s Mind The Gap last November things have slowed up slightly for this four piece rhythm and blues band.

In the year that has passed since their sole TV appearance (impressively performed after only two practices as a band) Soldier Blue have been quietly working behind closed doors to write what has become an extended back catalogue of original material while replacing long term friend and founding member, Rich Wilde, with Ian Barber on bass.

After comprehensively winning an Exposed sponsored battle of the bands Soldier Blue landed a spot at this year’s Tramlines festival before once again heading into their own musical hibernation to work on home recorded material.

Despite 2010 being a quiet year for Soldier Blue, it was always intended and David Beaumont (vocals, keys, guitar) begins to explain why: “We’ve been writing a lot, deciding what we want to do, cataloguing all songs and riffs, either by writing it down or getting it recorded.”

It’s made for quite the build up of as yet un-heard songs as Soldier Blue are looking at 2011 as the year to begin their showdown with the music industry as Beaumont continues: “We really wanted to get it right before we had a real pop, now we’ve got a demo we’re reasonably happy with, we can do that.”

There is an energy in their music that runs way back through the decades and is freshened with their own modern spin. Their demo, ‘The Best Of 1968-1972’, jumps from juiced up Indie in ‘Falling Out And Falling In’ to heavily fuzzed rock n roll blues for ‘Easily Pleased’ while organs and harmonies steal the show in ‘Scared Of The City Lights’ and ‘In Spite Of You’.

So when you next see flashing blue lights on the horizon, it aint the fuzz, it’s Sheffield’s new blues soldiers.

Catch Soldier Blue:

The Mean Fiddler – London – Dec 3

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Stereolab – Not Music

Out Now

Duophonic UHF Disks

When Stereolab convened at their studio, Instant Zero, in the summer of 2007 there were very few people who could have predicted it would potentially be the last time they would do so.

Not Music is the second part of what was recorded in Bordeaux that summer, the first going on 2008’s Chemical Chords before they announced their indefinite hiatus in 2009, after releasing eleven albums since their formation in 1990.

This is Stereolab’s twelfth album, a feat in itself, and while the band are no longer moving on, there’s still an ever present fresh feeling to their music. To say the band’s sound has his hit something of a plateau is probably fair but listening to them is still a rejuvenating experience.

Decadent harmonies are allied with poky synths and keys for opener ‘Everybody’s Weird Except Me’ before ‘Supah Jaianto’ continues the trend with jazz rhythms and horn breakdowns that are sucked into the Stereolab way of thinking.

The Emperor Machine remix of ‘Silver Sands’ is Not Music’s showpiece that stands at over ten minutes and in that time leaves behind the xylophone and horns of the Chemical Chords original to create synth heavy soundscapes that suit Laetitia Sadier's whispered croon down to the ground.

The melodic funk exotica that comes with “Two Fingered Symphony” is easy on the ears and as they push on towards the finish it makes you realise it would be a sad thing if this band were to never reform, they’re quite a lot of fun.

It comes to a fitting end with a remix courtesy of Atlas Sounds and ‘Neon Beanbag’ could well be the last of the bright lights you see from Stereolab for quite some time.

It’s a crying bloody shame.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Sleigh Bells – Infinity Guitars

Out Now

Mom + Pop/Columbia

Following the release of their critically acclaimed debut album, Treats, Sleigh Bells have chosen ‘Infinity Guitars’ to be the next representative from their curtain raising long player.

It’s with a fizz and crackle of heavy crunching guitars that Sleigh Bells let the party commence as this rebel rousing foot stomper slashes and bashes its way through what feels like an American high school protest that intrudes on every inch of your personal space.

The Brooklyn duo have left little to the imagination and the brash combo of crashing drums and raunchy riffs in ‘Infinity Guitars’ conjures memories of late night shindigs that leave a taste so pungent, you know they were good.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Terry Reid - Rich Kids Blues

Union Jackals – Universal Screenplay

Out Now

Mapped Out Recordings

The formation of this band was conceived in a dream involving other world abduction before they duly dubbed themselves Union Jackals because of their inclusive nature and an obsession with “canine beasts with a sixth sense to scavenge the good and the fresh from the myriad of rotten.”

Anyway, this has led them to their debut album, ‘Universal Screenplay’, an album that is looking on the large side of life, dreaming of what might be, what could be, what probably won’t be.

Union Jackals cross the different paths of their existence, and their weirdness, to overcome making this a song by song album. ‘Universal Screenplay’ is a theatrical long player that delves into classic Brit-pop synth, chill out and 80s psychedelia and doesn’t have workings men’s clubs, backrooms or support slots in mind.

It takes a while to get going with ‘We Are The Human Race’ and ‘Press Reset’ barely getting close to the realms of exciting and it’s not until ‘Prologue’ instrumentally meanders it’s way to the acoustic ambience of ‘I Am The Sun’ (“I lose myself making plans, release yourself while you can. I Am The Sun, burning the sea, rolling as one, holding the key,”) that this 
London trio briefly begin to shine.

It doesn’t last though and the immediately preceding ‘Racing A Horse’ falls back into their monotony and ‘Red Channels’ is a spaced electronic affair that dabbles with a creepy voiceover that continuously insists: “Join with the jackal pack.”

Frustratingly, while Union Jackals desperately try to avoid it, they’ve fallen into the category of being a star gaze synth pop band looking lovingly back towards the 80s and 90s. ‘Universal Screenplay’ continually tries in vain to draw you into their other worldly mindset and get you on board with their so called Jackal Pack but despite the theatrics, it’s really quite boring.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Myspace watch - Sarah Mac

Sarah Mac is Sheffield’s diamond in the rough.

After being specifically picked by the controversial former boxing champion Naseem Hamed to provide the music for his upcoming biopic (tipped to be a box office smash,) Ms Mac has been writing and gathering material to make up what will be her debut album.

While drawing inspiration from Hamed’s stories of his own hero, his father, Mac provides a little inspiration of her own as the jazz blues balladry of ‘Don’t Give Up’ hits special places in your heart.

Mac’s quirky-come-beautiful vocals and her lone piano give her songs their own identity, as shown in the romance and heartbreak that comes with ‘Everyone Knows’ where she croons:“You keep falling back, you’re so defeatist, you can’t be bothered anymore, there’s no such thing to you as the final straw.”

Reet nice.

Catch her: 

·         The Forum – Sheffield - 18/11/10
·         The 100 Club - London – 27/11/10

Ulterior – Sex War Sex Cars Sex

Out Now

Speed Records

This is the preceding single to Ulterior’s as yet unnamed debut album that is set to follow in early 2011.

The dark rock London quartet have kept the long term collaboration with producer Zlaya Hadzic (Sonic Youth, Tortoise) and ‘Sex Wars Sex Cars Sex’ is a pounding story of a sexual cold war.

With talk of “the single most erotic moment of my adult life today” and the animal intensity of their musicianship, Ulterior paint a dark picture of human lust  through synths and crunching guitars, allied by an outlook that must be buried in the bleak landscape of a tormented heart.

Synths add darker shades to this song as they refuse to head down the pop route but the continued chorus repeat of “sex, war, sex, cars, sex” and continual build ups lead them on a road to nowhere with the thirst for what could be still remaining in their libido.

New Street Adventure - The Hurt's Still Here

This soul trio are out to break hearts and conquer souls.

This is their third unsigned EP and sees a distinct new direction for the unsigned London based trio.

New Street open by setting the record straight and rejecting their Mod revivalist tag in ‘Looking Sharp’ as front man Nick Corbin spits: “To all the whatsits in the hot seats and glams in the bands you should know it's not about being part of a gang.”

Their music comes from years of soul and Motown influence that’s shaved with a modern edge so sharp it’ll whip you into a hip swinging frenzy. ‘The Big AC’ begs the question of why you aren’t already in your dancing shoes as Corbin tells the story of his love affair with soul: “We’ll go to place where no one’s heard that you dance to the music, not just the words.”

Welcome your new love story.