Category: Music

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.

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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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MUNA – “Loudspeaker” EP

EP, Music, Reviews May 13, 2016

Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (12/05/16).

Being on the cusp of change, on the brink of no return that is burgeoning adulthood, it is tempting to latch tooth-and-nail onto the vestiges of your adolescence to avoid the discomfort of growing up. Formed in their college days in an autumn bunk up in their university dorms, MUNA is, first and foremost, a sisterly bonding experience between three friends who are in the middle of crossing that void, with a detour via heartache. Except where many of us left that experience at bitching over pizza and singing Fleetwood Mac songs into our hairbrushes, the trio – namely, Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson – picked up their journals and synths and put our own sanctimonious wallowing to shame.

In this manner, the journey through their debut EP Loudspeaker is akin to flicking through the pages of your sister’s diary; you know that you shouldn’t, but its impulsive reading, so yes – just one more page, and you’ll tuck it back under the mattress like the good sibling you are. It is a confessional compilation of pop songs; you can relate to the pangs of longing and hesitation when your object of desire looks that hot in that shirt, until you remember how much of a douchebag they were when they said that thing the other day, and – in your defiance – you come to the conclusion that they’re really not worth it.

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White Lung – “Paradise”

Album, Music, Reviews May 3, 2016

This piece was originally published and is still available in its entirety on The Girls Are (02/05/16).

Common consensus dictates that if you’re going to do punk, then you’d better be perpetually pissed off about something – or everything. There is no harm in that, of course; the majority of us would much rather hear a voice stout and passion-fuelled over a blathering Bieber-lite any day, but what if you just got sick of being the vessel for vital issues? What if those issues are no longer your own? What if you just weren’t as angry as you used to be?

Being content or, god-forbid – happy – can be make or break for a band that has constructed their identity from its antithesis and were you even just to flit around their back catalogue to date, Canadian trio White Lung would have sat comfortably inside that vein – until now, for whilst their unchecked fury of yesteryear has seen them obliterate our perception of what modern-day punk is or should be, their fourth album, Paradise, is extracted from a more peaceful place.

That is not to brand it mellow (definitely not); the band attacks its imaginary adversary with true grit and relish. Cramming ten songs into 29 minutes is 29 minutes well spent when each track is as well-crafted and deliberate as the ones that assemble Paradise. The vigour of Anne-Marie Vassiliou’s drumming is paralleled only by Kenneth William’s squealing/whirring/gurning guitar (delete as applicable) and through songs like the rampant savagery of ‘Dead Weight’ or ‘I Beg You’, vocalist Mish Barber-Way is a steadfast and commanding presence; if the full-throttle melodic riot has failed to grab you by the throat, then she is pinning you to the floor and ramming it down your until you change your mind or be damned.

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School of Seven Bells – “SVIIB”

Album, Music, Reviews February 25, 2016

Originally published and still available at The Girls Are (23/02/16).

Each of us have experienced the merits of what a healthy relationship can provide, be it romantic, familial, or that of nurture and support, however it is one of a rare nature that seemingly transcends these virtues into the realms of spirituality. School of Seven Bells was built around this very supposition. Originally hailing from New York as a three piece comprised of the remnants of two bands, Alejandra Deheza (On! Air! Library!) and Benjamin Curtis (Secret Machines) struck an instant and intangible connection that would tie their lives and visions together for almost a decade. Now, it is time for their circle to close with their fourth and final album, SVIIB.

Deheza described the summer of 2012 as ‘one of the most inspired summers of [their] lives’, but in a swift and tragic turn of events Curtis was diagnosed with a rare form of T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma just months later, and died in little more than a year following his diagnosis at the age of 35. Recouping through the devastation at the loss of her best friend and writing partner, Deheza relocated to Los Angeles to work with Justin Meldal-Johnsen, her aim being to finish the last project she and Curtis had started together in his memory, using as much of his contributions as possible.

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