Saturday, 9 January 2010

TUMBLR-ing down all the stairs

http://jigsawvolcano.tumblr.com

for all your stef needs.

i'm off to buy a tambourine x

p.s. this blog is closed until further notices

Monday, 3 August 2009

Review: Frankmusik - Complete Me




Catchy electro pop, complete with a tonne of 8bit computer game-esque stutters and sounds? Great! Frankmusik's previously released singles have all carried this brilliant little charm, all three of which are found on this album. The singles in question being the loop-driven "In Step", the hook-filled "3 Little Words", and of course, recent hit single "Better Off As 2", and they are all brilliant, brilliant upbeat dance pop songs. Fact.
Unfortunately, something slightly sinister seems to have happened at Island Records, as current single "Confusion Girl" has gone from being a brilliant 8-bit-drum-laden pop song, to a bit more of a laid back daytime tv pop song. Possibly almost ballady. Bad times. All in the space of time between the album sampler and album proper being released. (About two months).
This sinister plot to make Frankmusik more like Frankmusak (wit) can also be found with two tracks found nestled in the middle of the album. Namely "Wonder Woman", which sounds like it should be a Mika b-side, and the title track "Complete Me", which is a truly upspectacular ballad. The annoying thing about this "watering-down" of Frankmusik is that his "glitchier" tracks are good enough to get on the radio anyway and has seen him appeal to a fairly wide audience already. Obviously, by removing these 8bit-drums and putting a few more lacklustre ballads on an album, Island are probably hoping to appeal to a lot more people. Good luck to them with that.
It's not all bad though, tracks such as "When You're Around", a glitchy gameboy-esque take on The Stranglers' Golden Brown, and "Gotta Boyfriend" are brilliant examples of what FM does best - upbeat electro pop tracks.
That's not to say that Frankmusik can't do good ballads - "Done Done" is a great album closer, with it's slow tempo stuttering over the chorus proving to be a euphoric way to finish. If only the rest of the downtempo tracks offered this emotional depth, this album would be greatly improved.
Overall, it's by no means a bad debut album, the singles are worth getting this for alone, and even the watered down version of Confusion Girl is still a good pop song, even with it being needlessly watered down. The slower songs are very hit and miss though, and you get the feeling that Frankmusik - already a fairly established remix artist as well - should stick to writing the upbeat electro dance pop that he is so good at.
Rating: B-
(Sidenote: Ok, so far, Little Boots, La Roux, Frankmusik. All electro-pop acts, all of which have been tipped highly by the BBC this year, but none of which have produced a truly amazing album this year. Can anyone recommend a brilliant electropop album this year? Use the terms "electro" and "pop" as loosely as possible, I just want to see if it's possible for there to be an album of such music without half of it being rubbish ballads/unoriginal songs. Something exciting!)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Preview: fun.



The first band in ages to follow that old adage of "it does what it says on the tin", fun. are a new band formed out of the ashes of fantastic US should-have-been-bigger-than-they-were(-even-though-their-last-album-on-vinyl-regularly-fetches-over-£100-on-ebay)-indie-rock-band, The Format, with an ex-member of the-near-perfect-live-indie-orchestra of Anathallo, and it's the most cheerful indie-pop-rock band you'll hear this year.

Out of the few songs floating about online, "Walking The Dog" is a perfect example of fun.'s toe-tapping calypso-pop, with its cleaner-than-clean guitar lines being accompanied by cute little squealing synth sounds, and singer Nate Ruess's familiar vocals filling the entire song with hooks; Whether it's the "na-na-na"'s, or the middle section borrowing from the old Don Henley classic, "Boys Of Summer", you'll have learnt the words in no time.

"At Least I'm Not As Sad As I Used To Be" starts on more of a somber note, with Ruess asking if we have ever "wondered about our old nu-metal friends, and what became of them" over some understated piano. Of course, things then pick up again straight away because, hey, they aren't as sad as they used to be! Some absolutely lovely female vocals add to the casual upbeat nature of the song, which I'm sure has steel drums in the background, further adding to the happy-go-lucky music.

Comparison wise, if you took the afrobeat styles of last years big hype band Vampire Weekend, but replaced "Vampire" with "Sunshine", and "Weekend" with "Holidays", then you are almost there. It's music to be relaxing on a beach to, or even to be having fun to. (If there is ever a band called "Awesome", I think i'll be doomed when writing about them..!)



fun.'s debut album "Aim and Ignite" can be preordered on vinyl at
http://hellomerch.com/shop/index.php?page=shop.browse&category_id=25&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=57 and you can hear some songs yourself at http://www.myspace.com/fun

Aim and Ignite is released on August 25, 2009.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Review: Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone





Hey Everyone is one of the most out-there fun records of 2009. Fact. The Scottish septet sound so upbeat and energetic that you can’t help but get taken in by the all-or-nothing rock music on this CD.

Things start off by building up to the absolutely brilliant “Watch This”, with its introductory group vocals of “Da-na-na-nan-ayk-royd!” leading into a cheeky little “Hiya! WATCH THIS! WATCH THIS” vocal, and that’s it. Hooked. The rest of the song is a brilliant little jagged pop song, and a great starter to the record.

Standout track number two is easily recent single “Black Wax”, which demonstrates the band’s ability to take their collective feet off the gas for a while, and create a slow burning singalong anthem. The energy is still there however, with group “woo”’s and quite lovely guitar work.

Talking of lovely guitar work, enter the brilliant “Infinity Milk”, which we given a preview of as such on previous Ep, “Sissy Hits”, with it’s 1-minute long finale of “Infinity Milk (Outro)”. Basically that one minute? Only the beginning of the ride, with it’s fantastic guitar riff building up to a collective group vocal of “Oh, my, god!” and bam, we’re away again, on another whirling, jagged pop song. Highlight of the entire record comes around 2 minutes in, with the little verse segment about atoms – “She, looks up and quietly says, “are these atoms?” “these are atoms” “I’m holding them” “ that just comes across so full of cheeky Glaswegian spirit. It’s a brilliant song. Fact.

Honourable mentions also go to former singles “Pink Sabbath”, and “Totally Bone” both coming with such awesome group vocal opportunities, that the band outline which lines you should sing along to in the lyrics booklet. Now that’s just lovely.
In total, Dananananaykroyd have delivered a brilliant debut album for jumping around your bedroom to/someone else’s bedroom to/the whole wide world to. You’d be honestly stupid not to give this record a chance. By far the most fun you can have on an indie-rock album this year.

Rating - A

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Review: Discovery - LP

Discovery is the side project from members of indie elite bands Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot, and is a brilliant little mix of pop, r & b and hiphop beats, combined with white-boy indie of course! Musically, it's not a million miles away from the output of mainstream american hiphop artists like Lil Wayne, as opener "Orange Shirt" demonstrates, with it's stuttering synth arpeggios, and almost falsetto processed vocals.

"Osaka Loop Line" continues in much the same way, with the stuttering synths almost competing to see just how stuttery they can get, before a 4/4 beat kicks in with a wonderfully understated chorus, complete with breathy vocals.

Things get amazingly poppy with the female vocals in "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend", which is a vocal hook doomed to stay in your head for a long time afterwards. This is followed up with standout track "So Insane", a seemingly disjointed track, with drumbeats seemingly creating themselves up until 56 seconds in, where the chorus goes all half-time, and you find yourself slowdancing on your own, or you know, with whoever's in the room. It's that good.

Things are rounded off with a chilled out electro-pop cover of Jackson 5 classic "I Want You Back" and then brought to a close with the eclectic "Slang Tang", ending a really weirdly good album. The only major complaints are that the tracks can seem a bit same-y, but stick this on loudly on a really nice summer day, and I'm betting that's not something you'll care about.

Rating: B

Review: La Roux - La Roux

The debut album from hotly tipped duo La Roux, aka singer Elly Jackson, and producer Ben Langmaid, is full of bitcrushed drumbeats, synth lines, and amazing vocal hooks from start to finish.

However, after the opening triple-punch of singles "In For The Kill", "Quicksand" and "Bulletproof", there is a feeling of musical deja vu, with highly repetitive choruses, and the odd chord change here and there that has the ability to almost make you think you've accidentally skipped back a few songs.

Standout tracks are easily "I'm Not Your Toy" and the aforementioned singles, but unfortunately the rest of the album tracks don't leave much of an impression, even though they really try to.

Overall, it's a fairly good pop album, but it suffers from the same fate as similarly-tipped Little Boots' debut, "Hands"; Some killer, but mostly filler.

Rating: C-

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Review: Sam Isaac - Bears



I wrote a few words about this album a month or so ago, but I feel like it's worth highlighting again just how amazing "Bears" is.

For the uninitiated, Sam Isaac is a singer-songwriter from Malvern, and writes big buzzy pop songs that manage to be triumphant and uplifting without ever breaching the line of "tweeness", and as summer approaches, his debut album "Bears" might just be the album to have on in the sunshine.

The opening track on the album, "Bears", is a perfect starter, starting little, with acoustic guitar and a little delay-laden synth line, it soon grows to a huge crashing anthem, complete with group vocals, massive guitars and drums, and lyrics that just manage to place you into an entirely earnest storyline. The first half of the album is full of these little anthems, featuring past singles "Sticker Star and Tape", "Fire, Fire", and the song that gained him a tonne of mainstream attention, "Sideways", and all of them sound absolutely huge compared to their previously recorded counterparts. Lead single "Come Back Home Tonight" is also a beautifully triumphant song, with it's chorus bound to stay in your heart for days.

Side 2 of the album (sure its a CD, but a guy can dream) kicks off with the ebbing flow of "Berlin", which grows and grows and grows into a wonderful refrain of "I'll see you in Berlin", highlighted with an uplifting trumpet line. This is followed by possibly the standout track on the CD, "I Traded My Friends For You", which is a brilliant little story of new love, and Sam amazingly manages to keep it from sounding trite. One thing worth pointing out is that everything on this record is there for a reason, and this song basically showcases that, with little occasional piano lines, and group vocal "ahh's", and perfectly understated drums, that all add to the song. Really, REALLY, good stuff.

The album comes to a close with "What Good Did That Do?", a heartfelt song full of romantic strings and acoustic guitar, and big closer "Apple Tree", with it's intricate piano melody holding the whole song together, and everything reaching a huge finale.

It really is worth highlighting just how Sam manages to write a whole album of uplifting pop songs, yet manages to avoid the whole thing becoming too much. "Bears" manages to follow the rules, yet not sound cliché'd, and the underlying romanticism behind all the songs just makes it a rewarding listen everytime. Definitely an album you should listen to.

Bears is released 22/06/09