Silver Rose’s Influential Albums

Features, Music February 23, 2017

Originally published and still available on Born Music 13/12/16

Upon listening to the sun-soaked sound of SILVER ROSE, it is nearly impossible to ignore the rose-tinted homage that the delectable brand of rock pays to decades gone by. The music is the passionate love affair of songwriter and musician Carla Sariñana, who – over the past decade – has been writing songs and playing bass in her band Ruido Rosa, before turning her sights on Los Angeles.

“I just wanted to make my own songs and start a shoegaze or psychedelic band,” says Sariñana. “I wanted to stop depending on other people and be able to finish a song by myself and listen to it and feel the things I’ve felt with other records and songs I love. I wanted to make songs I loved listening to over and over again.”

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Shy Girls: Portland Scene Report

Music February 23, 2017

Originally published and still available on Born Music 2/12/16

“I record all the vocals in my closet and I don’t have an engineer so I literally run in and out from the closet to the computer in between takes” says, Dan Vidmar, better known by his solo moniker SHY GIRLS. “On this album, I enlisted a co-producer for a few tracks, but for the most part I do everything all alone in my home studio.”

The album in question is Salt, his debut as Shy Girls, and it has been a long time coming with Vidmar releasing his first single – ‘Under Attack’ – in 2013. Since then he’s been busy, having already released a buzzed-about Shy Girls EP – Timeshare – and the subsequent 4WZ mixtape along with collaborating with other artists. It’s all quite impressive for a man who likes to do everything himself.

“I think that [due to working alone] the album sounds like me through and through,” says Vidmar, who is creatively responsible for literally every aspect of the writing and recording process. “There are a lot of great albums out there that feel like a collection of a tonne of different people’s best ideas – and that’s cool; those albums tend to be more commercially successful, obviously. I think my album is much less polished than those but has a singular voice -from the drum production to the way I play the guitar solos, the lyrics, the arrangement, the track order – and that is something that is important to me.”
It’s not all plain sailing when working alone, however. “It’s hard because there is no one telling you when an idea is good or terrible. There is a lot of self-doubt.”

It is a small price to pay for not having to compromise on his vision in any way, and his personality permeates every note of his recent single ‘Trivial Motion’. A sultry slow jam, its smooth grooves are anchored in sensual synths and understated beats, though elsewhere Shy Girls detours into darker territory with ‘I Am Only A Man’. “I’ve always loved re-contextualizing the clean hi-fi feel of 80s soft rock into something more dark and lonely sounding,” says Vidmar. “There’s something eerie but comforting about it to me.”\

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Introducing: Lewis Fieldhouse

Features, Music, Uncategorized February 23, 2017

Originally published and still available on Born Music 2/12/16.

The past few years have been ones of discovery for LEWIS FIELDHOUSE. In 2013, the London-based singer-songwriter set off on a creative journey, one that began in his hometown and took him all the way to California before coming full circle, seeing him return a man with a new perspective on life, his work, and what he intended to do.

“[My time in California’s Central Valley] was absolutely vital to me as the musician I am now. I went out there to try and push myself musically, try to network more and just see what connections I could make, but it didn’t really go to plan,” says Fieldhouse. “I was dumped in the first week of my trip by a girl that I had fallen quite hard for, but actually, that opened the floodgates on something I think I had been depressed about for a while.” His mother had recently been ill due to cancer. “I’d been distracting myself, not dealing with the enormity of it. I think being so far from home really forced me to look myself in the eye and say ‘What the hell does this mean?’”

Fieldhouse spent six weeks in Central Valley trying to make sense of what was happening in his personal life, and this time spent in reflection also led him to question where he was going musically. “I’d recently released an EP and even though I was pleased with it, I knew it wasn’t really where I wanted to be going.” His moment of epiphany occurred unexpectedly one afternoon at a music festival in Los Angeles. “I was in Echo Park and ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ by Father John Misty came on through the PA (he wasn’t even playing there). It hit me over the head like a hammer and that’s when I knew where my direction lay.”

In the coming months, Fieldhouse would begin to construct the beginnings of a sound clearly influenced by Misty’s dusty rock and narrative-weaving lyrics, a development which culminated in the creation of his persona, Theodor Washington. “I’d say Theodor is more of an idealised version of myself that I can look up to, some sort of fearless warrior that transcends human airs and graces, a purer version of myself. He helped me to get out of bed in California when I was at my lowest,” explains Fieldhouse. “The persona allows me to be more honest about my life and to not be so caught up in the vast arch of a life story, but rather to focus on what is happening in front of me. I was on the trip of a lifetime; I needed to go out and make something of it, otherwise, I’d have ended up hating myself. He doesn’t just help me make music, he helps me live better.”

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Sleigh Bells – Jessica Rabbit

Album, Music, Reviews February 23, 2017

Originally published and still available on Born Music 15/11/16.

“The guy that made Treats would hate Jessica Rabbit,” so said Derek Edward Miller in a recent Rolling Stone interview. The guitarist of electro-rock duo SLEIGH BELLS is pertaining to their 2010 debut album, in which their brash aggression juxtaposed with a sickly pop core sliced through the indie rock’s more trivial pursuits. In the eight years and three albums since then, the band have bullheadedly battered onwards with their relentless barrage of sound, but with their latest release – the aforementioned Jessica Rabbit – breathing new life into their formula, Sleigh Bells are relinquishing the shackles of their own ambitions.

jessica-rabbit

Whereas the late noughties were bludgeoned by a crass stampede of wobbling dubstep and interchangeable indie-fodder that slid, ungraciously, into the abyss, Sleigh Bells stuck out like a sore thumb. Here was a band that somehow sounded nothing like what had come before, and even after the triumph of Treats, when it came to originality, the only competition they faced was themselves. Take but one listen of recent single ‘I Can Only Stare’ and it becomes clear that Sleigh Bells have shirked the self-consciousness and are wholly, willingly trying to shake up their own formula. It is a bold, booming, pop anthem, slick and streamlined in a way that wouldn’t go amiss if instead sung power-house style by Lady Gaga, yet with enough quirk in vocalist Alexis Krauss’ delivery to remind you that this isn’t made for the charts.

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Still Corners – Dead Blue

Album, Music, Reviews September 20, 2016

Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (17/09/16).

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Some believe in fate, others don’t. Fate suggests faith, and for those that don’t believe, perhaps serendipity would be better. From the moment they met some seven years ago, Still Corners have existed in a serendipitous cocoon, for their every decision seems to be a fortuitous twist of possibility.

Their well documented conception began in 2009 when Greg Hughes and Tessa Murray met by chance on a train platform on a commute to London Bridge where, when their train failed to stop at their destination, they bonded over a mutual love of books and music. She was now going to be late for choir whilst he, somewhat conveniently, had a position for a vocalist that needed filling. It was her turn on a double A-side that got the band signed, and since then they have been on a steady incline with their blend of electronica and dreamy pop.

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So, what’s the value of music to you?

Blog Posts, Music, Opinion September 20, 2016

I’ve recently started blogging on Medium! Follow my profile for my latest uploads and discover tonnes of brilliant content on the website itself. My first entry took a detour into my teen years to discuss the value of music in the present day…

Every so often, I take a trip down memory lane. Musical Memory Lane, that is — I mean, you can’t beat it, if you’re doing it properly.

Lately, I’ve regressed to the nostalgia of my teenage years (that’s right folks, despite how deceiving this baby face may be, I’ve actually been out of that arena for a while). It may have been Suicide Squad that set the wheels in motion; all of that Jared Leto can spark memories of questionable hair and eyeliner and screeching ‘The Kill’ down the street with your emo-homies circa 2005 (yeah, we had a habit of doing that). We were obsessed, with that song, with Jared Leto, and we all had an artful interpretation of how eyeliner should be worn. Mine only came out on special occasions. Probably for the best.

At that age, music was my life, and just like every kid at that age, that statement was not an exaggeration.

It all began when I was eleven. It was definitely before I started secondary school (or middle school for the American amongst thee); at times when I would find myself in my home on my own, I would immidiately punch in the number of the rock channels like it was some illicit activity and flick back and forth between Scuzz, Kerrang! and MTV 2 (yes, pre-MTV Rocks. Rip, 2. How we miss you). Like many, Linkin Park was the gateway, though my thirst was solidified thanks to Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’. I wished I could sing like Amy Lee, I tried to sing like Amy Lee, I failed to sing like Amy Lee, but I still went and bought Fallen and listened to it religiously twice in the morning before school (I did this for at least half a year). I’m not joking when I say that this was a serious endeavour, but as an eleven year old rock and metal fan, I felt like an island.

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NOTS – Cosmetic

Album, Music, Reviews September 20, 2016

Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (04/09/16).

Turmoil: a sense of unrest, disturbance, confusion. Two of these factors can apply to NOTS, though it’s safe to say that ‘confusion’ is certainly not one of them; there is no confusion here, just intent, attitude, and a shit-tonne of noise.

Memphis, Tennessee is not a place one normally associates with a bristling punk scene, but it proved the ideal place for the foursome to nurture their sound over the years, initially playing in multiple bands with NOTS themselves seeing members come and go via a near constant revolve of their door. Charlotte Watson, for example, shifted from the drums to wield bass only to find herself with sticks back in her hands once again shortly after, and – from an audience perspective, good! – for she certainly sounds at home there. The band could not claim to be the same were it not for her pummelling attack on their second album Cosmetic; it is, after all, the linchpin in their sound.

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FRANK

Film & TV, Nostalgia Review, Uncategorized July 31, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (29/07/16).

There is a moment, at about 12 minutes in, when Don (Scoot McNairy) looks into Domhnall Gleeson‘s eyes and states, “Look, Jon, you’re just gonna have to go with this”, and it’s true, he does. We all do. For FRANK – Lenny Abrahamson‘s ode to near mythical British musician and comedian, Chris Sievey, and his alias, Frank Sidebottom – is a film whose story you are better off accepting then attempting to deconstruct, later.

Penned by Jon Ronson, it is the semi-autobiographical tale of how – aged 20 and the entertainments officer for the Polytechnic of Central London’s student union – he answered a phone call that went a bit like:

Man: “So Frank’s playing tonight and our keyboard player can’t make it and so we’re going to have to cancel unless you know any keyboard players,”

Jon: “I play keyboards,”

Man: “Well you’re in!”

Jon: “But I don’t know any of your songs,”

Man: “Wait a minute… Can you play C, F and G?” [1]

If you have seen the film, you should be privy on this sounding familiar, for this pivotal bit of discourse spurs the start of a more fictional string of events. Here we meet the Soronprfbs, the cinematic equivalent to The Freshies. They are a bunch who take themselves and their art quite seriously; there’s Don (McNairy) the manager (of sorts), and Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who takes severe umbrage at the prospect of inexperienced newbie Jon (Gleeson) joining the troupe on a permanent basis. Guitarist Baroque (Francois Civil) and drummer Nana (Carla Azar) only converse in French.

Oh, and there’s Frank (Michael Fassbender) of course, the singular oddity that – somehow – is the glue that holds the Soronprfbs together. Whilst the film is carried by Gleeson’s naivety (his character is insufferably – yet relatably -#starryeyed), Frank is the real focal point; he persists in wearing a papier maché head 24/7 and none of his band members have seen him without. What would be a cumbersome grievance to many a lesser actor only serves to enhance Fassbender’s skill, for despite only showing his face for approximately ten minutes in the entire film, he manages to convey a full gamut of emotions ranging from ecstatic to frustrated by only using his voice and body language, yet it is in his character’s complex portrayal of mental health that he truly shines.

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X-MEN: Apocalypse

Film & TV, Latest Reviews July 26, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (29/05/16).

The team take on the original mutant in this overstuffed and overblown third instalment to the prequel series. ★★☆☆☆

By the time Jean Grey declares that “The third one is always the worst” about half way through X-MEN: Apocalypse, it is the final confirmation that what you are watching is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what you didn’t want to see.

Carrying on with the tradition of recent years, X-MEN Apocalypse begins one decade on from 2014’s Days Of Future Past. This is the 1980’s, and it feels it; aesthetically a little tacky or – if you prefer – style over substance. Apocalypse tries to be the full-throttle summer blockbuster that you so fondly recall from your childhood – which is fine, if executed correctly, and as unfortunate as it is to state, there is much about this film that falls short of the high bar set by its recent predecessors in the franchise.

One has to wonder what director Bryan Singer was thinking when he chose Apocalypse as the main antagonist following Days Of Future Past. The conflict in the latter film was largely devoid of a full-scale Big Bad assault. It was an internal affair, with the mutants uniting in the future timeline to rectify their failings in the past, ultimately to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating President Nixon (this was the 70s, guys) and adding fuel to the fire of Dr. Bolivar Trask’s (Peter Dinklage) anti-mutant defence programme: The Sentinels.

This was an intelligent plot and more complex than your average superhero film. The same cannot be said here, so much so that the world and characters in Apocalypse may as well exist in an entirely alternate universe to that of First Class (2011) and Days Of Future Past. This may as well apply to the director too, for despite being at the helm of both Days Of Future Past and Apocalypse, at no point does it feel like Bryan Singer is responsible for both. He commits considerable gaffes to his previous work in the franchise such as abandoning interesting plot threads (read: Mystique posing as William Stryker and fishing Wolverine out of the river) that were left hanging from the previous film completely.

Continue reading on Post-Modern Sleaze.

Watch the Throne: Game Of Thrones – “The Winds Of Winter” (Season 6 Episode 10)

Film & TV, Latest Reviews, Watch The Throne July 25, 2016

Originally published on Post-Modern Sleaze and still available in full (14/07/16).

“Wow!” is the first this that sprang to mind after watching the final episode of season 6. The second was “It was perfect.” It was paid into fan speculation and theory, surprised us and even underwhelmed us. The narratives of all the main players in this series were rounded up neatly (in this super-long episode!) as we feel the chill of the winds of winter.

We open at Kingslanding, and everyone is tense on the morning of the trials of Cersei and Loras Tyrell. Remember, previously, that King Tommen had abolished the right to a trial-by-combat under the instruction of the High Sparrow. This is a trial by the Gods, and we all know how fair that is. Loras (Finn Jones) goes first, overlooked by a court packed with people including Kevan Lannister, his father – Mace Tyrell – and his sister, Margaery (Natalie Dormer). He doesn’t hold out for long, confessing to sins such as homosexuality and laying with traitor Renly Baratheon. He swears to serve the Seven, denouncing his titles and right to sire children, a fact the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) is quick to solidify by having the Seven Pointed Star carved into his forehead.

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