Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Gross Magic - Yesterdays



Gross Magic, aka Sam McGarrigle, has been combining ELO-esque pop sensibilities with nods to a grunge revival via Ariel Pink style production and some falsetto vocals to create a potent mix. Currently touring with Yuck, the Brightonian pleasantly surprised the blogosphere with his ace Teen Jamz EP(which was surely unlucky to miss out on a place in our top EPs of the year list). ‘Yesterdays’ aptly demonstrates that this was no one off. Keeping the spaced out vocals from Teen Jamz, ‘Yesterdays’ heavily turns on the grunge vibe which Gross Magic have become known for. It's the kind of song that sounds ten times better when you’re high, as barely discernible lyrics are mixed in with various ‘na na na’s  but if you’re not careful the song slips past you. The trick of Gross Magic is that you instantaneously want to hear it again. 

By Jessy Parker 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Teeth - U R 1


Teeth’s Whatever has been a vodka shot in amongst the heavily diluted releases of 2011. Quicker than Pacman trying to get away from ghosts and definitely not the kind of racket you’d enjoy your housemates waking you up with in the morning, Teeth use bleep synth loops and shouty vocals that creates music not far off Crystal Castles/Heartsrevolution. ‘U R 1’ starts off with crunching synth lurches and robotic vocoded vocals that sound like a computer slowly breaking down and carries on at the same pace; making it probably the most downbeat song on their debut. Short broken-down lyrics that don’t follow a rhythmic pattern serve to compliment the instrumental; similar to the abrupt nature of the synth loop. ‘U R 1’ is a strangely romantic song from the East London trio that recalls the juxtaposition of electronic beats and love themed lyrics from Daft Punk. 

By Aurora Mitchell

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Odonis Odonis - Hollandaze


Originally starting off as a solo project, bandleader Dean Tzenos recruited Jared Gibson (Drums, Electronics, Vocals) and Denholm Whale (Bass, Vocals) to help him perfect his sound whilst on tour; then the buzz went through the roof with FatCat Records being quick to snap them up, adding them to their list of already impressive acts.

An early highlight of Toronto’s Odonis Odonis’ debut ‘Hollandaze’ is debut single ‘Busted Lip’ with its bumbling bassline and reverb turned up all the way to 11, it has the feel of Black Wire and the aggression of Big Black. Like Busted Lip before it ‘Blood Feast’ is a track with a bassline that just bounces along accompanied by enough reverb to keep any lo-fi shoegazing punk satisfied with the simple but effective drumbeat just hanging around.

‘Handle Bars’ is another highlight of the album, with a doff of the cap to early Queens of the Stone Age 3 minutes of boisterous bedlam. Elsewhere ‘Ledged Out’ makes the listener immediately aware of its brilliance with the beefy bass, pounding drums and high pitched guitar working cohesively to deliver a radiant lo-fi pop song.

You can clearly see the influences that have gone into Tzenos’ work but you never get the feeling that Odonis Odonis are out to just imitate with this lo-fi debut bound to make noise in more ways than one.

8/10


By Aaron Lewins

Childish Gambino - Camp


Donald Glover can pretty much do it all. Actor, comedian, writer, the list goes on. However, with his alter-ego Childish Gambino, he takes on the rap game. In comparison to his many other achievements in entertainment, writing songs about different topics isn't one of them. The album is plagued by the same old lyrics basing themselves on girls, being the lonely black kid and struggling with his childhood. That's not to say the album is a bad one, it's just after a few listens all the way through, you only really need to listen to certain songs to get the message Glover is trying to portray. Key examples of this are in 'Heartbeat' in which he raps about a lost love and how he's fucking her behind her current partner's back. Romantic! However, the line "69 is the only dinner for two" instantly wins the title of 'Lyric of the Year'.

Whereas Drake gets away with the soppy lyricism and heartbreak, the production is too hard for the lyrics for Gambino. With jarring synths and heavy drum beats, the two just don't work together. In addition, after watching his stand-up routines and episodes of Community, it's just hard to take this project seriously no matter how hard he tries to portray himself. He needs to take down the serious levels a little bit for it to all work. Overall, the album is a very bland rap album but has some really good lines. In final track 'That Power', there's even a nod to French film director Francois
Truffaut, which is pretty special.

6/10

By Robbie Baxendale

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Crystal Stilts - Radiant Door EP


Despite their name involuntarily adopting them into the family of crystal related bands (think Crystal Antlers/Fighters/Castles) it’s good to see Crystal Stilts pave their own way through 2011’s music scene with their unique style, not stopping to rest after the release of their second album this year.

Opening with ‘Dark Eyes,’ the EP starts well with a steady syncopation to lull the listener in, and whilst the seemingly lost voice in the darkness is soothing, it begins to become droning and repetitive three quarters of the way through. Not to be disheartened though, sticking with it, they make the smart move of opening up the ‘Radiant Door’ on their second aptly titled track. The promising chord progression is certainly radiant underneath the veil of nonchalance of Brad Hargett’s crooning, evident of the band’s clear grasp on the importance of the balanced juxtaposition between the two. Still As the Night,’ is anything but static, like a musical time machine, it conjures up imagery of a crowded house party and a room full of socially awkward teenagers who are too cool to dance, bobbing their heads while smoke from their cigarettes rises as fluidly as the music. Can’t you just picture it?

Unfortunately, while ‘Low Profile’ isn’t unpleasant to listen to as such, it’s just comparatively disappointing, almost like the soundtrack to the end of the aforementioned party and the throng of teenagers abandoning it in search of something a little more powerful. That said, you have to give them credit for the continuous balance of sulky vocals and optimistic synth, which seems to be the key ingredient to this EP. It seems as though ‘Frost Inside the Asylum’ marks the end of the evening, like a haunting lullaby, it ties the EP up with a catchy melody, a difficult feat to achieve with a slow song, yet Crystal Stilts’defy conventions of shoegaze-lo-fi post-punk-pop or whatever other combination of styles you want to apply to them, and the ‘Radiant Door’ EP is a testament to that.

]It’s almost indefinable genre highlights Crystal Stilts’ impeccable ability to draw inspiration from so many areas of music yet produce a completely original sound that would be almost impossible to recreate, (who would have ever anticipated the possibility of the sound of a sonic Johnny Cash & Joy Division collaboration?) is really what sets them apart and proves that the three year wait since their first album was definitely worth it.

8/10

By Bella Roach

Howler - Back Of Your Neck


I'll get this out of the way straight away, it's been mentioned before but it's nigh on impossible not to comment on the fact that Howler sound a lot like American indie poster boys The Strokes. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing on this new cut from their forthcoming excellently titled debut LP 'America Give Up'.

It's the sort of song you don't quite want to like, as Howler's rise to adoration is going to be almost unavoidable next year following extensive coverage in magazines like the NME, and touring with fellow benefactors of hype driven success The Vaccines around the UK this year. But anyway, 'Back Of Your Neck' is indeed promising and bounces with carefree rebellion. Singer Jordan Gatesmith's drawl is a moodier teenage impression of Julian Casablancas, and the guitars that simmer behind it are basic yet gloriously infectuous and slightly rockabilly. It's a short, sharp adrenaline dose, and the album looks set to be the most harmless fun indie music will have in 2012.  


By Toby McCarron

Monday, 21 November 2011

Islet - This Fortune



Well then Islet, you took your sweet time didn’t you? Over a year since they released their still-great second EP ‘Wimmy’, they return in the manner most befitting them. No, not a sneaky red herring to lure us into believing that with time had come maturity, or at the very least some Ritalin, but instead Islet have sharpened their corners and streamlined their sound into something bigger and brasher and more glorious than anything to ever grace your ears. The percussion, so key to the allure of earlier material, still remains and whilst it now resides further back in the all-encompassing melee it still provides the propulsion that makes listening to Islet such a thrill. Couple that with walls of stomach churning groans and vocals that bounce and undulate, at once woozy and terrifying. From a band whose trade is throwing everything at the wall and not giving a shit if it sticks comes something that is lean and streamlined but still resolutely monstrous. 


http://isletislet.com/discography/this-fortune-12/ This Fortune is available as a free download on Islet's website now!


By Ned Powley

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Dum Dum Girls - Always Looking


Say hello to the scuzzy bedroom rock of girl band Dum Dum Girls. But then again you probably already have done. 2011 has not been a bad year for Dee Dee, Jules, Sandy and Bambi, with the release of their ‘He Gets Me High’ EP (which made our top EPs of 2011 list and featured the best cover of a Smiths song you will ever hear) and second album ‘Only In Dreams’. Considering their debut album was only out last year, you can’t fault them for a lack of output.

‘Always Looking’ is the first track off ‘Only In Dreams’ and is just over 2 minutes long. Full of feedback and ace bass riffs, it’s romantic in the same vein as Best Coast and even bares similarities to Summer Camp. But you can’t help but find it a bit forgettable. Sure the chorus is catchy and would be fun to dance to at a festival but this isn’t the song to move mountains. Girl bands are definitely back and Dum Dum Girls have proved that they are at the forefront of the revolution, which only leads me to think that they can do better.

By Jessy Parker

Echo Lake - Alisa


Until you get a feel for the song, there’s always that second you hold your breath when listening to a cover; will it ruin the original? And let’s face it you can’t re-write a classic, although there are the bands who have tried - failing miserably. So thank god Echo Lake chose a perhaps in-famous track to cover. However I take my hat off to Echo Lake for totally reinventing Ariel Pink’s “Alisa”.  First impressions were maybe the atmosphere was a bit of a mish mash, and the vocals didn’t quite click into the creative noise of the guitars, but once the tension built and the beat picked up, you get to the good stuff! Wispy guitar melodies, dreamy enchanting vocals, along with Echo Lakes tribal touch and overall shoegazing effect, gives the cover a whole new element. Not a tune to be listened to 10x over, however on a whim “Alisa” is a solid track with a lot of depth and a spooky persona.

By Ailsa Morris


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Jane's Addiction - The Great Escape Artist



As one of the many disappointed fans at Reading and Leeds festivals this summer when Jane’s didn’t make the stage (I stayed stunned on the fence for a good twenty minutes); I had a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth before listening to this album. However this turned to sweetness pretty soon as I realised that Perry and the boys had produced yet another brilliant record.


A lot of older Jane’s fans might disagree when I say this could be Jane’s best album yet; but The Great Escape Artist is the work of a talented band who are very much moving with the times, and constantly drawing influence from all that’s around them. Blending these influences with their classic dark and raw rock sound and Perry Farrell’s soaring vocals, they’ve created an epic soundscape to rival any of their previous work.


The Underground gets things underway. It sounds very much like an extended intro to the whole album, but is a really good track in its own right, and contains one of many catchy choruses throughout the record. Then comes End to the Lies, the first single from the album. The first time I heard this track I knew I was going to buy the album. I’ve already mentioned the word epic, and I shall do so again, this song IS epic. The sound is a bit more ‘simplistic’ than tracks on Nothing’s Shocking, and has more of the intense modern sound of Strays. (Jane’s fans, what is wrong with Strays? I hear nothing but bad comments about it!) That’s not to say it’s stripped back. However, It’s been built on more than any of the tracks from Strays; heavy echo effects are present throughout, and little tweaks and sound effects from the guitar and elsewhere give it that extra edge.


Curiosity Kills is a decent track, but I can’t write too much about it because I need the space for... Irresistible Force. Certainly an appropriate name for the sweeping sound of the chorus in this track, with a tantalising minute of build up right before it breaks. A song that might sound oddly disjointed at first listen, but one that quickly grows into a firm favourite.
Sadly, the album does tail off ever so slightly (not much!), though it’s hard to live up to the two singles on this record. I’ll Hit You Back does run them close, and I greatly enjoyed ‘Words Right Out of my Mouth’ (although this may be because the interview snippet before the song begins seems to reference Jane’s cancelled shows at Reading; I could be wrong).


‘Ultimate Reason’ reminds me more of Filter (see ‘Hey Man, Nice Shot’) than Jane’s, showcasing a more industrial sound for portions, but the variation from the older Jane’s Addiction style is something that sets this album apart and keeps it feeling fresh every time I listen to it. A record well worth buying.


8/10
By Ewen Trafford

Constellations Festival 2011 - Review

For those of you who don’t know, Constellations is a day festival at Leeds Student Union with bands playing throughout the day at different rooms in the building. It’s almost like the little sister of Live at Leeds (LAL uses the same concept but instead of different rooms it’s different venues all around the city)




After picking up my tickets and heading into town for something to eat I only managed to catch the last two songs of wonderful Wild Beasts’ tour buddies, Dutch Uncles. Singer Duncan Wallis showcased some amazing dance moves during the funky “Cadenza” but the audience weren’t as enthusiastic and only a few heads bobbed.




Head bobbing seems like the only acceptable way to dance at Constellations. As Elizabeth from Summer Camp draped bed sheets on the stage, Stylus gradually filled up. People were obviously as eager as me to see them live and hear songs off their 2 week old album. Having seen them at Lancaster Library 3 days before I knew what to expect but that didn’t make it any less special. They play a mix of album and EP songs which are all accompanied by montages from films such as The Red Shoes, Pretty in Pink and Breakfast Club. Elizabeth and Jeremy play off each other, almost like they’re acting, in songs like “Losing My Mind” and “I Want You” and even dance together. Despite the un-enthusiastic crowd, Summer Camp delivered an energetic, short and sweet set.



Next up in Stylus was Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks. I was especially looking forward to them (despite the odd mid-evening slot they had) as I missed out on Pavement’s reunion tours and witnessing one of my heroes in his other band was the next best thing. The crowd was beginning to look significantly older and more bearded as The Jicks took to the stage. They opened with “Senator” which induced mass sing-alongs to “what the Senator wants is a blowjob”, easily everyone’s favourite line. They raced through a set of friendly, slacker Jicks songs including “Tigers” and (sadly no Pavement!) which were accompanied by anecdotes about Portland and bassist Joanna Bolme confessing her love for the amount of girls in the audience “there’s never been so many!”



I was looking forward to seeing Yuck in a smaller venue after witnessing them in a huge, damp tent at Leeds festival in summer. But they launched into their first song only to have their sound abruptly cut off. After 10 minutes or so of faffing around, they started back up again as enthusiastically as they started. The set included the usual “Georgia”, “Get Away” and “The Wall” but also “Milkshake. Even though they played a lively set of fuzzy pop songs the hubbub of the huge crowd made the quieter moments such as “Suicide Policeman” seem less…special.




After a quick run in with the one and only Stephen Malkmus I headed for the bus home after a ridiculously fun packed day at Constellations and the reassurance that I will definitely be returning next year for more antics.

By Eden Young

Sunday, 13 November 2011

We Have Band - Visionary


It can be annoying sometimes, when a band has a truly awful name to muster up enough willpower to actually warrant them a listen. Having a stupid band name often puts extra pressure on a band as you already have a preconceived notion that they will suck, and most of the time they do suck (French Horn Rebellion, Beady Eye & Razorlight to name a few)

Fortunately We Have Band conquered their name in style with their 2009 debut WHB, a diverse record with sparkling electro-pop mixed with many an indie dancefloor favourite. 'Visionary' then is the first track to be released from their 2012 bound difficult second album. The song is a slight departure from the WHB of 2 years past, but shows signs of maturity and flourishing into a more progressed band. It doesn't quite hold the same fun factor as signature hit 'Divisive' but instead goes down a more grandiose route, with big synths and a pulsing Joy Division bassline.

It's a more polished effort and the siren style synths keep the listener's attention throughout. The only thing the track really lacks is a great big stomping chorus, but it's certainly enough to leave fans wanting more from this under-rated yet very promising band.

By Toby McCarron

Los Campesinos! - Hello Sadness



If you hadn’t already guessed from the title, ‘Hello Sadness’ is as bleak as the album cover suggests. The fourth offering from the Welsh band, Los Campesinos! have become a firm fixture in everyone’s mind with an almost cultish following of fans. Since being elevated to the lofty status of the band soundtracking the Budweiser advert, love ‘em or loathe ‘em, they’ve been impossible to avoid.


‘By Your Hand’ and ‘Hello Sadness’, the first two songs which have been released from the album are the obvious stand out tracks. The simple synth motif of ‘By Your Hand’ leads into one of the most singalong verses of the year and ‘Hello Sadness’ is full of a poignant lust, toned down from the rampant sexuality of previous album ‘Romance is Boring’. This same confident lust is also apparent on ‘Songs About Your Girlfriend’, which barely fits in as one of the few upbeat songs on the album.


Despite being recorded in Spain in the summer, the majority of the album could easily be set in the English countryside in the middle of winter. Lead singer Gareth Campesinos perfects his fragile sounding lyrics on ‘Every Defeat A Divorce’ and ‘To Tundra’, a song which he described as the most sincere one they have ever written. ‘The Black Bird, The Dark Slope’ shows off the incredible vocals of Kim Campesinos, whose contribution to the band seems too often neglected. ‘Hate For The Island’ and ‘Life Is A Long Time’ are overly sentimental and blatantly the low points on the album. But ‘Baby I Got A Death Rattle’ affirms the brilliance of Los Campesinos!’s cheerful misery before the end of the album.


Sure the album takes a few listens to get into and sure it’s not the best thing they’ve ever written, but ‘Hello Sadness’ will be adored by fans and charts a step further away from the twee beginnings of the band. It’s rare to watch a band mature as impressively as Los Campesinos! have. At first it is easy to skip over the darkness of the album but as you continue to listen the ten short songs will be a more than appropriate soundtrack to the winter.



7/10
By Jessy Parker

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Sissy & The Blisters - Interview


Coming from Guildford, this new energetic four-piece have created one of our favourite EPs of the year. Here's a quick Q&A with the band discussing future plans and the importance of radio play.

Q: How did you guys form?

A: We met in a pretty grim club in town. We were the only people there, so it just made sense.

Q: What was the genesis of the name ‘Sissy and the Blisters’?

A: All the good ones were taken.

Q: Did you have any of you have prior musical outfits before Sissy & the Blisters?

A: We've all been in a bunch of different bands growing up.

Q: You’ve gained a fair bit of radio attention from stations like BBC 6music, how important do you think stations like this are to new bands?

A: Massively important. Radio still has a big influence on music and can help bands like us get heard without people having to sift through all the shit that's on the internet. There's also a certain glamour to radio. Radio interviews and having your music played out worldwide can be a little more exciting and personal.

Q: You use a lot of organs on the EP, what is it about the organ that appeals so much?

A: It's a great instrument for melody with quite a distinctive sound. Most bands have guitars, bass and drums - it's nice not to have to stick to that.

Q: Do you prefer recording or touring?

A: I think every band kind of fluctuates between the two. It's fun spending ages in the studio, but after a while you get an itch to go out and tour and our live shows are definitely what define us.

Q: Do you have any other commitments despite being in the band?

A: James was almost committed...

Q: What is your favourite out of all the songs you have released so far, and why?

A: Everyone's got a different favourite and they're all conveniently on our new EP.

Q: What’s next for the band?

A: We've got a couple of tours coming up, but after that we're going to be working on a lot of new material that will hopefully be released in the new year

By Toby McCarron

Friday, 11 November 2011

Bands to look out for #12

Azealia Banks
The music world is packed with solo female artists at the moment, so why not add another one into the mix? Although you might think that club friendly '212' is the first musical output from Banks, she's been building up her reputation for quite some time and been through rejection and hardship that have lead her towards the buzz that's been surrounding her music lately. Being a solo female artists nowadays seems purely about being different and eccentric to establish yourself from the rest of the pack, but Banks has stayed true to herself and despite having a spat with a certain record label, she's come on top and is ready to prove that she's here to stay. '212' is lyrically dark, shot with potent energy and Banks' spunky attitude shines as she spits each line out before you have time to digest the meaning behind the lyrics. A new generation of hip hop has arrived and Azealia Banks is the artist at the forefront of people's minds. 

By Aurora Mitchell

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Top 5 EPs of 2011

The end of 2011 is fast approaching, so what better time to look back on the best music to be released in the past year? This list looks at the EPs that got us here at Sound Influx excited and enticed us furthur into the worlds of these excellent artists.

                     5. Dum Dum Girls - He Gets Me High

This transitional EP between excellent fuzzy debut 'I Will Be' and the rather disappointing 'Only In Dreams' is a short but sharp treat for the ears. The scuzzy guitar riffs and bratty girl group attitude still rings out all over the 4 tracks on the EP. Title track 'He gets me high' is a standout, combining surf rock sensibilities with a laid back Best Coast stoned-out-of-their-eyeballs vibe. Elsewhere hints towards the more morbid lyrical themes explored on 'Only In Dreams' are explored on slow burner 'Take care of my baby' and a rousing cover version of the most quotable Smiths song 'There is a light that never goes out' no doubt capitalising on the runaway success of indie-cringefest film (500) Days of summer which popularised Morrissey's famous ode to being run over by a double decker bus.

                     4. Sissy & The Blisters - Let Her Go

Guildford based Sissy & The Blisters are by no means an original band. But with songs as good as the ones on this EP, they don't even need to be. Plucking elements from Garage-Punk bands like The Dead Kennedys and Indie poster boys The Vaccines & The Horrors equally, it's a delightful mix of growling instant fix pop songs. 'Got No Home' features Faris Badwan mirroring vocals lamenting over being 'So damn tired of being surrounded by you young people' over swathes of organ and backgrounds hollers of "Hey Hey!". While title track 'Let Her Go' sounds like a more desperate and exciting version of 'If You Wanna' by The Vaccines. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this EP is that it is their debut as a band. Exciting things lie ahead no doubt.

                          3. Toro Y Moi - Freaking Out
This EP is an excellent example of an artist proving all fans that doubted them completely wrong. Following a lukewarm reception for sophomore effort 'Underneath the pine' (which I personally think is genius) 'Freaking Out' well and truly set the record straight for Toro Y Moi fans. It took the funk from 'Underneath the pine' and combined it with the sheer dancability of 'Causers of this'. Opening track ' All Alone' sounds like the best disco in the world on acid, while 'Saturday Love' is affectingly open yet wonderfully easy to move to. 'Freaking Out' is a definitive reminder if need that Chaz Bundick is one of the most talented and innovative musicians in his field.

                          2. Alex Turner - Submarine
Despite being released all the way back in January, Alex Turner's Submarine EP has held up beautifully throughout the seasons. As well as being an EP packed full of wintery love musings, it's also the soundtrack to the independent film of the year, Submarine. Whilst Arctic Monkeys' Suck It And See was one of the hugest disappointments of the year, Alex Turner's solo career has shown that Turner is one of the most talented songwriters of our generation and the EP compliments the themes of Submarine as it shows that some teenagers think about love pragmatically and should probably have more fun instead of constantly worrying about the consequences.

   1. Fixers - Here Comes 2001 So Let's All Head For The Sun
I'm going to come right out and say, not only have Fixers made the EP of the year but they are quite possibly one of the most exciting bands to come out of the UK in the last decade. I may be slightly biased because I am pretty much in love with this band, but 'Here Comes 2001...' is mind-blowingly diverse and brilliant. 'Another Lost Apache' features deceiving barbershop harmonies at the start before erupting into a glorious blast of noise with vocals recalling singer Jack's all time hero Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. 'Crystals' is a turgo charged nugget of pop gold, sounding like what MGMT should have done on their 'Congratulations' album. Closer 'Passages/Love In Action' is a completely bonkers exploration of rhythm in which the band plee in unison "We are the sun, we are the moon" over and over untill you believe them.

Alongside excellent yet criminally overlooked singles 'Swimmhaus Johannesburg' and 'Iron Deer Dream' Fixers single handedly out classed every other new band in the UK and it is clear that Jack Goldstein has more ideas in one song than many frontmen do in their whole discographies. With another EP released in Decemeber, with 2 already highly addictive cuts released online, it's surely only a matter of time before these musical geniuses take over the world.

By Toby McCarron

The Field - Looping State Of Mind




Swedish minimalist artist Alex Wilner comes back to the scene with third album ‘Looping State of Mind’. The Field sticks to the same tried and tested methods of heavily sampling and continuous looping that burrows into your mind. Whilst not being too different from his other two releases, Looping State of Mind has it’s own distinct style that makes the album stand out. Early promo single ‘…’ uses a piano as the main instrument continually looping the same melancholy beat. Rather than dabbling in solely electronic instruments, Wilner begins to embrace a much more natural sound.


However, the album does begin to feel over stretched and begins to become quite tedious as the same drum patterns seemingly play in each track. Even though credited as a strong influence in the minimalist genre, this album definitely lacks the same effect that previous releases had on release. Rather than progressing from minimalist dance beats, The Field has begun to sound quite outdated and bland.


6/10
By Robbie Baxendale

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica


Oneohtrix Point Never is not only a difficult name, but a difficult sound. Daniel Lopatin, the man behind the bewildering alias, uses samples from 1980s adverts and feeds them through synthesised soundscapes on his latest release, a concept that works better than you’d actually think. From the first listen of "Replica", the title track of his sixth album, the substance of the track is questionable. However, if you’re willing to give the track another listen, it’s haunting beauty comes to the fore.

The video released with the track contains a handful of short, slowed-down clips from the violent, Soviet cartoon ‘Nu pogodi!’, an animation series similar to ‘Tom and Jerry’ but with a hare in place of a mouse, and a chain smoking, law-breaking wolf in place of a cat. Lopatin’s references to popular culture seem to be of an acquired taste, but yet again, a concept that works. There is something incredibly harrowing about seeing a cartoon wolf electrocute itself over and over, set to the eerie piano sample of this track.

The music itself focuses around this piano sample whilst surrounding noises fade in and out. For something that is so minimal and basic, it sounds and feels like it’s been crafted and developed over a number of years. With every listen, "Replica" blossoms, and its beauty becomes more and more evident each time. Those who are willing to explore its allurement will definitely be rewarded.

By Calum Stephen

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Rizzle Kicks - When I Was A Youngster


Relatively new duo Rizzle Kicks come back to the scene after the highly successful ‘Down With the Trumpets’ with their second official single ‘When I Was a Youngster’. The track doesn’t really have the same fun effect as their debut single, but is still a good song which will no doubt ensure they maintain their fanbase which they have developed. Whilst not being a standout single from their debut album ‘Stereo Typical’ it is a good bridge single between ‘Down With the Trumpets’ and their forthcoming single ‘Stop With The Chatter’ which will be popular if current chart trends continue.

It’s a fun track, but lacks the power to cause a wave in the charts (it only charted at number 8) however it’s still a track that’s bound to go down a treat live.


By Robbie Baxendale

Monday, 7 November 2011

Cher Lloyd - With Ur Love


Do you remember that kid from the Frosties advert? The one that sang "they’re gonna taste great"? Rumour has it that he had to emigrate to Australasia somewhere to avoid the notoriety and bullying he incurred for inflicting that god awful advert on us. That said, he made a lot of money from it and has probably been set up quite well for the next few years of his life due to selling his soul to Tony the Tiger.

Now this situation’s a bit different. For a start, I don’t think Cher Lloyd has a soul (so I will refer to her as ‘it’ from now on), yet it’s still somehow been put in a position where it can sell thousands of records and top the charts with its god awful yelps that it calls songs. Secondly, I don’t condone bullying, the same way I wouldn’t enjoy being bullied, however, if I were to call someone’s mother a female dog who exchanges money for sexual favours and who ate a large amount of fast food to the point that it had an impact on their weight, then I should surely expect the punch in the face that would follow. Now I managed to avoid most of the X Factor and am lucky enough to have avoided most of Swagger Jagger’s radio play, but Lloyd’s offensive and audibly damaging singles still make their way to my ears in the same way my insults would to the person who knocks me to the floor. Next up, did anyone notice all the new Sony MP3 players in the video and the colourful balloons not too dissimilar to that of that Sony Bravia advert with all the bouncy balls going down the street? On the video for someone signed to Sony Music? Why not shave the Sony logo onto the side of it’s ridiculous undercut whilst you’re at it.



In addition, I don’t know who Mike Posner is, but if he thinks that this is a good career move, then he really needs to sort his mentally deficient head out. Don’t even get me started on his stupid giggle.

And one more thing, that god annoying da-dadada-dum dum bit on either sound of the track sounds like yet another brain cell vacating the building only to be greeted by Cher Lloyd and her fake friends saying something about swag.

They’re gonna taste great, think about it.

By Braden Fletcher

Gary Numan - Dead Son Rising


If you’re a Gary Numan fan, this album’s been a while in the making. After a few stuttered efforts at full LPs in the last decade in the form of ‘Jagged’, ‘Hybrid’’s remixes and ‘Pure’, which simply tried too hard, the anticipation towards ‘Dead Son Rising’ wasn’t exactly one of baited breath. That was until The Fall’s video landed in August. Its bombacity certainly proved that Numan still has something under his belt, and so came Dead Son Rising.

The Fall starts the second half of this record with such power that you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d changed record. After Not the Love… it’s just the energy boost you needed. Both halves of this record have a few things in common though. Firstly, they’ve got a distinctly electronic side of Nine Inch Nails about them. It’s a kind of industrial sound that Trent Reznor and co took from Numan as their own trademark and after playing together two years ago, and splitting up, Gary’s taking that title back. Album opener Resurrection could be something at the beginning of Transformers, and Big Noise Transmission may as well be the title of one. Listening to ‘Dead Son Rising’ is something different in this respect. In the last few years, Gary Numan’s become relevant again. Having collaborated with everyone from Little Boots to Battles and even appearing on The Mighty Boosh, he’s now managed to put together an album of comprehensive proof that he’s more than Are Friends Electric and Cars.


There’s nothing of the calibre of those two legendary tracks, but the godfather of electronic music definitely has good cause to go out and prove to doubters that Dead Son Rising is worthy of their time.

7/10

By Braden Fletcher

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Summer Camp - Down


From She and Him to Slow Club, boy/girl duos are at their all time peak of popularity and Summer Camp are surely going to end up defining the genre with their innate charm and several layers of synthesisers. Having sent journos and music fans alike into thralls of excitement with their early tracks and Young EP, the band marked Halloween with the long awaited release of their first album ‘Welcome to Condale’ and latest single ‘Down’.

‘Down’ is easily one of the stand out tracks from the album and Elizabeth Sankey’s omni-perfect vocals douse it in syrupy gorgeousness. Synths filled with feedback provide the catchy background, making dancing irresistible, and the background repetitions in the chorus make it feel like a release from a 50s girl band. The song was complemented with a video from possibly the weirdest Halloween party of the year, demonstrating the quaint charm of a band who seem like they wouldn’t care if nobody listened to them. Summer Camp are making kooky a good thing again. And everyone’s listening to them.

By Jessy Parker

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Patrick Wolf Live @ Manchester Ritz 26/10/11


Support for the eagerly anticipated Patrick Wolf was from the poptastic Cocknbullkid, whose intelligent pop songs sounded much better live than on record. Singer-songwriter Anita Blay impressed with her rich voice and cool attitude. Highlights were ‘Asthma Attack’ and ‘Hold On To Your Misery’, in a set full of cool, upbeat pop songs.

As well as playing many songs from his fifth album, ‘Lupercalia’ (well, it was the ‘Lupercalia’ tour...) Patrick Wolf also treated fans to some perfectly chosen oldies, including ‘Gypsy King’, which he dedicated to the Dale Farm struggle. We were also lucky enough to get an insight into Patrick’s new material, as he debuted a few verses of a new winter solstice dedicated track, ‘Time Of Year’.

Also included were ‘Accident and Emergency’ and the perfectly autumnal ‘Bluebells’ from ‘The Magic Position’; ‘Hard Times’, foot-stomping barn-dance ‘The Bachelor’, a dance version of ‘Who Will?’ and ‘Tristan’ from ‘The Bachelor’. ‘Tristan’ especially was a highlight, Wolf playing it ‘as it was originally intended’ on the ukulele, having found an old notebook with the original chords in recently. Despite the more serene --maybe sophisticated – exterior of Patrick Wolf’s new image (including the suit that he came on stage wearing, but later shed in favour of a Morrissey-style open shirt, showing off his famous unicorn tattoo), his stage presence was still, in true Patrick Wolf style, dramatically weird. This was even more salient during ‘Tristan’, a wonderfully angry declaration of existence ("Don’t ask me what I was on when I wrote this, or what kind of day I was having..."), and ‘The Bachelor’, (which, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again) is such a foot-stomper, during the line ‘no-one will wear my silver ring’ Wolf bit his own engagement ring- thank god, he’s still weird!  As a multi-instrumentalist, Patrick played the violin, piano, harp on the glorious, defiant ‘Bermondsey Street’ and a strange slide-guitar style instrument used during the tear-jerkingly, beautifully tender ‘Armistice’.

The ‘Lupercalia’ songs sounded even more joyous and life-affirming live than on record: ‘Time of My Life’ brought me to tears because of the beauty of Patrick’s voice and  that, along with the rest of ‘Lupercalia’, it is so defiantly happy. New single ‘The Falcons’ was also greatly uplifting, and once again got the audience dancing.

Mr. Wolf really knows how to work a crowd. Looking happy to be there and never focusing too much time or attention on one part of the audience, he glided from one side of the stage to another, reaching his hand in to sing to members of the front row. During ‘Together’, after a costume change into a glittering gold sequin top, Patrick jumped off stage and into the crowd to party with us. Before climbing over the barrier, he sang into the face of a 6-foot guy on the front row before giving him a massive snog. Wolf found his way right to the middle of the crowd, he snogged a few more guys, too, prompting someone near me to comment ‘there’s a lot of guy-on-guy action going on over there’. When asked whether we would prefer ‘more songs or less songs and a costume change’, the crowd overwhelmingly went for ‘more songs’, prompting Patrick to compliment our "excellent taste".

Choosing to close with two of his happiest, ‘The Magic Position’ and ‘The City’ were another wise decision, and a perfect sing-along way to end a simply wonderful evening. Hats off to the wonderful Patrick Wolf for lifting each and every one of us out Manchester into another place, beyond the drudgery of a mid-week evening.

By Holly Read-Challen

UK Top 40 watch - Edition #1 (Lana Del Rey, LMFAO & Rihanna)

The UK top 40, the beacon of glory all budding pop artists and bands dream of penetrating. The top 40 acts as a comprehensive check on the public's musical purchases, and is traditionally the place to find all the hottest sounds. Well, not so much any more.  In a time with more musical genres and sub-cultures than ever before, the top 40 is less of a consensus for the masses than a representation of those who download things on itunes (because lets face it, sales of CD singles are hardly breaking the banks) and generally, the stuff people buy on itunes is absolute crap.

Although we at Sound Influx like to focus on the more 'alternative' side to music, this new feature will help navigate you through the myriad of shit in the top 40, critiquing the bad stuff and shedding light on the songs that are actually listenable and hell, maybe even pretty good.


Best Song Of The Week:
Lana Del Rey - Video Games

 

No doubt probably 2011's most talked about song, is riding high in the charts at number 13 as it damn well deserves to be. In writing this I'm very much mirroring the praises of many before me, but the fact is Video Games is such a beautiful anomaly in a chart full of cretins like The Wanted. Unlike many modern pop songs, it has lyrical and musical substance, any listener can immediately feel the emotion Lizzie Grant exudes as she coos in her soon to be trademark sultry tone "It's you, it's you, it's all for you, everything I do, I tell you all the time heaven is a place on earth with you". Grant's vocals have a remarkable ability to not become grating after repeated listens (unlike female pop contemporaries Florence & Adele) which is an impressive achievement indeed. It is a song of such sweeping and utter devotion, which will be treasured for a long time to come.


Worst Song Of The Week:
LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It


'Party Rock Anthem' wasn't too bad. The processed beeping present on nearly every modern floor-filler was present, but managed to be uplifting in small doses and taken generally in good humour, I mean they must know their music is a bit of a joke, their name is LMFAO for christ's sake. 'Sexy and I Know It' isn't a massive shift in sound, but it does certainly feel like the joke is getting old. Essentially it sounds like a couple of frat-boy tools attempting to impress girls (who they would most likely refer to as 'bitches' or 'honeys' as many morons do) with a series of hollow boasts over the top of the most basic and drab club synths. The lyrics could have been written by a horny 12 year old boy "Girl look at that body, I work out!" and nearly all of them would make anyone with any sort of taste or decency cringe so much their neck collapses. A few years ago LMFAO would probably be a one-hit wonder, but unfortunately their ringtone happy fans seem to be genuinely buying into it. But for those of us maintaining a degree of sanity, AVOID LMFAO AT ALL COSTS.

The current number 1:
Rihanna - We Found Love


I have to admit, Rihanna is one of my guilty pleasures. With Lady Gaga and Beyoncé both releasing records this year about as memorable as Joe McElderry's pop career, Rihanna is surely by default the new queen of pop (I mean it's hardly ke$ha is it?). However Rihanna has more claim to being queen bee than just being more tolerable than the others, she's actually got tons of super catchy mega-hits under her belt and probably many more to come. 'We Found Love' then isn't her best, but has the kind of chorus you think nothing of at first but cant help humming to yourself the next day. The real testament to Rihanna's power here though, is that having Calvin Harris on the song doesn't completely ruin it. The instrumental to the song isn't the most notable, but this allows Rihanna to fully take flight and stamp her sassy romantic story-telling all over the track as she wails "We found love in a hopeless place" over and over. It's perhaps not deserving of the number 1 slot, but certaintly isn't a bad song, and will no doubt get many a fan's hunger for forthcoming album 'Talk That Talk' palpable.


By Toby McCarron

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Zambri - Glossolalia EP


Zambri are a New York five piece with sisters Jessica and Cristi Jo Zambri on vocals. Sounding somewhere between an apocalyptic Warpaint (especially on ‘On Call’) and a more understated Sleigh Bells (with less guitars and more rusty metal sounds), this intriguing EP contrasts abrasive, industrial sounds and metallic drumbeats with soft, beautiful vocals. With such a reliance on those metallic beats, Zambri could be in danger of becoming repetitive. No fear; they manage to keep interest with varying beats, such as the multitude of handclaps on ‘News’.

‘Glossolalia’ may at first be a strange listen. Understandably, this music is not going to be for some. A lot of people probably won’t ‘get’ it. However the EP is in fact full of hooks and pop sensibilities, despite the harsh exterior. It’s actually quite orchestral at some points too, with beautiful harmonies between voices and music, especially on ‘To Keep Back’. As well as the contrast between the music and the angelic vocals, the lyrics are also quite tender: ‘take care .../ on call’ (‘On Call’), ‘my heart is jumping / right out of my skin’, ‘time doesn’t exist’ (‘To Keep Back’).

The hip-swaying, sultry ‘Heather’ with the purring lyric ‘you can call me Heather/ or whatever’, off beat drums and strange raven-like noises is a highlight, but so too is the ‘other’ mix of ‘On Call’, named ‘On Call (biddibiddi)’. The downright creepy ‘biddibiddibom’ at the start of the track only adds to the slightly uneasy feeling this album imparts; Zambri create such a spooky atmosphere. This too-short EP definitely leaves me eager to hear more.

8/10

By Holly Read-Challen

David Lynch - Crazy Clown Time



When David Lynch announced that he was to release an album the world collectively shat it’s pants. “Finally!” they cried, “the man who singlehandedly changed 21st century popular culture is to bear his soul through music! Oh happy days!” And then came Good Day Today, a slice of grim electro pop delivering it’s fucked up sermon through gun noises and a vocoder. Tragically, it appears that it was a red herring, a gorgeous red herring that promised so much. Crazy Clown Time is by no stretch an easy album nor is it in anyway rewarding for it. Though Lynch has a history for being deliberately difficult and obtuse, the idiosyncrasies that litter the record are needlessly wacky and devoid of any real depth. Case in point: the seven and half minute spoken word piece Strange and Unproductive Thinking, Lynch (again speaking through a vocoder) rambles about higher beings, enlightenment, the future and the link between the “sub-conscious and the supe- conscious” minds until the message shifts into a lecture regarding the role of good dental hygiene in the progression of society and humanity. Sure, on paper it sounds a quirky interlude from everyone’s favourite fucked up sexagenarian, but when in reality it’s a plodding, lifeless dirge that manages the mean feat of daring the audience to continue whilst simultaneously boring them to death.


Musically, it’s a painfully one-note affair. Every track (save for Good Day Today, a beacon of light that is extinguished quickly by it’s placing second in the tracklist) sits uncomfortably on a bed of jazz drums and meandering slide guitars who never change drastically in pitch between tracks. Pretentious to the point of parody, it is not only a blemish on the near-spotless career of one of the world’s most fearless auteurs, it’s a hideous sign that maybe, just maybe, Lynch might just be losing his edge.


4/10
By Ned Powley

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Johnny Foreigner - Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything


The crashing guitars and cutting lyrics of Johnny Foreigner have always seemed the perfect definition of a generation of teenagers getting drunk, making out and listening to obscure music and the stories which are told on ‘Johnny Foreigner vs Everything’ are no different. With an album title which suggests the band fighting the world, it is hardly surprising that the record takes a stand against being pigeonholed as anything more complex than what they are. Seventeen songs of yelled mottos , boy/girl choruses and spoken word ramblings make for an album so unassuming , its remarkable. For the fans, this will of course be no surprise, but new listeners will surely be shocked to find a band this good but still so untamed and underrated.

Launching in with "if I’m the most famous boy you’ve fucked, then honey, yr in trouble" and "with who, who and what I’ve got", the band create whirlwinds of sound which wrap the listener up as it moves so fast only brief snatches of lyrics can be heard and it is impossible for your attention not to be grabbed. The guitars and drums and vocals combine into three minute bursts of noise which are blink or you’ll miss them moments.

Johnny Foreigner’s ability to make intimate, heartbreaking songs is as impressive as the sonic walls they create and "johnny foreigner vs you" will haunt everyone who listens to it as lead singer Alexei Berrei mumbles that he’s "feeling the distance" and chants that "somewhere there’s a party that you’re not invited to". Similarily ‘(don’t show us) your fangs’ sees the band turn everything down a bit, with more acoustic guitars and xylophones pushing a calming wave through the record.

The spoken word double of ‘concret1’ and ‘concret2’ are placed on the album very aptly as they are people talking about the effect songs have on them emotionally. Sounding almost like a documentary they allow the listener to take a step back and think more about how the record and music in general can shape lives and moments, and leave emotional imprints.

Bands are put through a lot of pressure to develop or grow up and inevitably this leads to a lot of shit albums from bands trying to take a ‘new direction’ so it is both refreshing and pleasing to see Johnny Foreigner simply just continue doing what they do best. And my goodness, it’s good.

8/10

By Jessy Parker

Constellations Festival - Preview

Although Constellations Festival has only been running for two years, it has brought some of the most sought after acts to Leeds University with one of 2011's most hyped bands The Vaccines and popular glitch electronic artist Gold Panda being just two of many exciting bands to feature on last year's line up. This year the festival is back with some of the most interesting acts around including Wild Beasts and The Antlers who've both released critically acclaimed albums this year, the latter being The Fly's album of 2011! 


Alongside the festival, there's a 64 page tabloid newspaper being sold online that not only shows you the line up for Constellations Festival but also has some exquisite designs. The festival commissioned fifteen exceptional studios and illustrators to create a poster based on the theme 'Constellations'. The result is a complex and professional tabloid newspaper that can be previewed and bought over at Constellations Festival Store


Above: an excerpt from the newspaper. 

Not only is the artistic side of Constellations Festival showcased in the above newspaper but within the university at The Terrace Bar, which is becoming a new home to the screen printing and poster exhibition that proved popular in 2010. As well as artwork, they have teamed up with WARP Films to create a special program of moving image work that's going to be shown in their new 'pop up' cinema. Read more about The Terrace Bar over at The Terrace Bar

Back to the music side of things, here are 5 bands that you really can't afford to miss at Constellations Festival:

1. Wild Beasts

2. Braids

3. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

4. Islet

5. The Big Pink

Look at photography from 2010's Constellations Festival here: Constellations Festival Flickr

Where to buy tickets for Constellations Festival:

Contact

The Vaccines - Wetsuit / Tiger Blood


As an owner of 'What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?' you’re automatically drawn to say "I didn’t expect much actually. Spot on prediction." This leaves you with both a feeling of self-assuredness and also the "why did I buy this and leave myself open to the wave of abuse that comes with it?" The answers are in plain sight. The Vaccines are a hype band who make music of little originality, lack-lustre lyrics and showcase barely a fraction of the art that front-man Justin originally made as Jay-Jay Pistolet. Worse still, The Vaccines are catchy, they must be stopped.

So is this double A side single their transition to a ‘proper’ band? Choosing Wetsuit , one of the standout tracks from their debut album suggests maybe. A melancholy and enjoyable four minutes from the short and snappy record, even the new instagram-styled video makes you dream of the summer and relive those ‘Glastonbury moments’. It’s sun drenched and reminds you that you kind of don’t want the Vaccines around during cold days, but they’re kind of nice on sunny weekends. Tiger Blood is on the flip side though and with all things taken into account, from pretty much every angle, it’s awful. The title makes you think of Charlie Sheen’s drama, whilst the intro and verse ooze tour boredom. The chorus is borderline offensive in both production and musical merit and don’t even get me started on the awful Albert Hammond Jr imitation of a guitar line. At least it’s short at 2:02. "Take it easy on me" sings Justin Young on Wetsuit. I’ll leave that one open.

By Braden Fletcher