Singles of the Week
With the Euros just kicking off, it's pleasing to report that there's still room for one more major competition in the world. So before we all settle down and become Irish for the night, let's see what this week's singles have in store for us.
The lead track from the upcoming EP of the same name by James Mathé, AKA Barbarossa, 'Butterfly Plague' is intriguingly haunted. There's no denying the craft that's gone into it as synths positively swoon around the track while Mathé's vocals are suitably ghostly, it's just that even after a few listens, 'Butterfly Plague' remains a diverting oddity rather than something you'd willingly put on repeat. The video, featuring Zawe Ashton, is fittingly off-putting as well.
The duo return as cool as you like but with upgraded élan. ‘Do You Chew?', their first release since signing to Sony, dares to expand upon the minimalist electro precision of their debut Unicorn. If this is any indicator, Chew Lips shook their head at the chart dance pop conveyor and thought, Nah - this is how you do it. Song craft, sharp production and a chorus that takes a single play to make its mark. Beautifully insouciant , here’s a return that that flicks the v’s at the stars. Magnifique.
[b]Gojira[/b] are a great band live, as anyone who has seen them can attest, so a full-blown concert DVD is something of a no-brainer. Filmed off the back of [i]The Way Of All Flesh[/i], the live content of [i]The Flesh Alive[/i] is two shows in their native France filmed in glorious HD, complete with surround sound. Why the need for two near-identical shows is beyond me, but there is no denying that they sound terrific, and do as good a job of capturing the band in their element as it is possible in this format.The obligatory documentary however is a painfully dull hour of meandering nothingness. Covering from album pre-production through to their European [b]Metallica[/b] support slot, it's a repetitive cycle of the same footage with minimal dialogue, and only serves to highlight the monotony of life on the road, seeing the same things and people no matter where in the world you are. Whilst hardly an essential purchase, [i]The Flesh Alive[/i] is certainly a worthy addition to any [b]Gojira[/b] collection.
France's finest export brought to life.
On new EP [i]Clairvoyant Fortnight[/i], [b]Knifeworld[/b] have managed to pull off a clever trick of referencing just about every major prog band from the 70s whilst still managing to create something a little bit different. Described as "bubblegum prog", there is a large dollop of sickly sweet pop to hold together the unashamed borrowing of [b]Pink Floyd[/b] jams and [b]Genesis[/b] tomfoolery. Striking an appealing balance between melodious and technical, this is exactly the sort of record that should appeal to both sets of fans.With a few members of [b]Chrome Hoof[/b] now on board, [b]Knifeworld[/b] continue down that unhinged path with hints of freeform jazz and improvised musical skits creating an air of barely restrained chaos. But that sense of having heard it before is just a touch too strong; the opening of 'The Prime Of Our Decline' for example is lifted almost verbatim from [b]King Crimson[/b]'s [i]Red[/i] album. It is actually impressive how much is crammed into the twenty or so minutes of [i]Clairvoyant Fortnight[/i], a real pick'n'mix that should bode well for further aural adventures.
Bubblegum prog? Have a chew on this.
Let's Buy Happiness
The affected, wispy lead vocals might be nothing new, but 'Works Better On Paper' from Tyneside five-piece Let's Buy Happiness works so well on record that it's hard to be cynical. It's low-key epic indie by the book yet is so smartly judged that it lifts you along for the ride anyway. Highly promising.
LostAlone's sophomore effort I'm A UFO In This City swiftly became one of our favourite rock outings of the year on its release, and the third track to be taken from it showcases exactly why. 'Paradox On Earth' marries crunching riffs with a massive chorus, bolstered by a truly interesting and magnetic lead vocal. Superb.
'Stuttering Song II' is a thoroughly entertaining UK debut release from New York singer/poet Mike Tyler. It is a quirky, humorous and devilishly catchy slice of beat pop poetry that hooks you in with the imaginative kind of story telling you would expect from such an accomplished poet. Great stuff.
Reverend And The Makers
Following in the dance-rock footsteps of 'Bassline', the first single to be taken from Reverend And The Makers forthcoming third album @reverend_makers is polished if little else. 'The Wrestler' ultimately just proves a bit vanilla, striving too hard for that infectious dance anthem status, and while certainly an interesting change of direction for Reverend And The Makers, we'll reserve judgement on whether it's a successful one until the full album.
Tom Williams & The Boat
A beautifully glistening piece of pop perkiness that perfectly illustrates Tom Williams & The Boat knack for writing classic pop songs with sharp edged lyrics. The non-album B-side, 'Right Side Of My Head' is a superb bonus with its gloomy rhythms providing a haunting backdrop to an increasingly dark and affecting tale that stays with you long after the screeching violins have faded.
Single of the Week
Equipped with five remixes, Alpines' new single 'Empire' proves exciting enough in its original skin. Catherine Pockson's lead vocals are truly arresting, carrying a touch of a Kate Bush vulnerability to them, while the backing drums and piano are hard-hitting enough to match the dark joy of Pockson's vocal. We were fans of their recent collaborations with the likes of Maya Jane Cole among others, but 'Empire' shows Alpines are extraordinary in their own right.