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.”
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.”\
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.”
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.
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.
Read the rest of the review.