Wednesday, 28 January 2009

A Lightningheart Records Newsburst

So I thought i'd take this opportunity to talk about Lightningheart Records, my little record label that I set up last year!

So far, we've had 6 releases, 4 of which have been available as free downloads from, and 3 of which are available to buy as real CD's. Nice! My favourite release so far has definitely been the "Something Old, Something New" compilation, the packaging really worked out how I wanted it :D felt logos for the win.

In the next few months, I think I'm gearing up for 2 main releases. Firstly, my new album as teamABC, which is (still) going under the working title of "Hello Symmetry". It might actually end being called that you know! So far, it's gearing up to be around 11 tracks of alternative pop-indie, with instruments and hooks a plenty. It's going to be the first proper, proper, proper teamABC album, although Hurry Up, Hurricane was fairly proper. However, Hello Symmetry is going to see a proper physical release, and the packaging is going to be amazing. Trust me on that! You'll see concept images and stuff very soon. Good times! The album will also be available via all the usual download sites, iTunes etc etc, and there might be a free download single nearer the time of release. When's it coming out you ask? End of March. We'll say End of March.

It might be later than that. The artwork ideas i'm having at the moment might take a while to come together. Oh and finishing the music too. Haha!

Also on the agenda is the new release from Ben Forrester, formerly known as Testing Testing 123, formerly know as Ben Forrester ;) He will be releasing an amazing new EP around Easter time, and having heard some of the demos, I can say that it's going to sound amazing. More news to come on that as well!

Right, I'm going to have a mess with artwork ideas now... More Lightningheart News coming soon! 

Remember, for all of your Lightningheart related needs!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Stef thinks that if you liked MGMT, you'll love...

Passion Pit - Sleepyhead

This band are incredible. The track showcased here - Sleepyhead (from their 2008 Chunk Of Change EP) - is a brilliant amalgamation of synths, looped vocal samples, and a falsetto vocal that doubles in effectiveness when the bass backs up the chants of "sleepyhead".

This song is like a danceparty for your dreams, and (as said in the title) if you liked MGMT, you'll love this. I bet this is soundtracking an episode of Skins in no time.


Monday, 26 January 2009

BBC Sound Of 2009; An Intervention

This morning, I finally got round to checking out some more of the acts from the BBC's "Sounds Of 2009" picks for this year. Previous winners of their sound of 2009 accolade has been Adele and Mika, so you can bet any amount that whoever they choose will probably get quite big this year.

Anyway, Little Boots and Florence and the Machine both featured quite highly this year, and they are both fine acts; the former a bedroom pop star complete with tenori-on (it's the coolest musical instrument/sampler that you all want, i know i do!) and the latter a kookier-with-every-interview-but-still-less-weird-than-kate-bush Kate Bush for the new millenium. Kinda. Find their myspaces and make your own decisions - key tracks are Little Boots - Meddle, and Florence and the Machine - Dog Days.

Anyway, I digress!

Essentially the BBC Sound of 2009, who those aren't familiar with it, starts off with a shortlist of new acts, and then US - the general public - vote for our favourite. This time around, Little Boots won, and a lot of other acts featured quite highly in the top 10, but one name i'd noticed in the shortlist that didn't seem to be in the most voted was Frankmusik.

Initially, I gotta say, the name put me off a bit. It made me think of Kraftwerk, which is no bad thing, but I couldn't imagine what I thought could be a modern day version of Kraftwerk. (See:Europop)

Anyway! Fairly recently my good pal Corin Bryant send me a link on youtube to some music video which is basically a girl in her underwear hula-hooping.  That video was no less than Frankmusik's In Step. And it's a gloriously glitchy synthy pop track. Nice! Check that video out here:

Coming right up to date, today I saw the video for his new single Three Little Words. And it's absolutely brilliant. It's like if you shoved Alphabeat and Mika together into a blender and then put into a glass full of crushed Crystal Castles, and then Calvin Harris to drink it. Hold on, what the hell am I talking about? Time to go to work. Here's the video!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Stef Reviews...002) Pretty Girls Make Graves - The New Romance

Okay, all you fans of female-fronted rock bands take note. Whether you are a Paramore fan, a No Doubt fan, hell, even a fan of The Saturdays, you are doing it wrong. If we're seriously going to talk about front-women in bands then may I direct you to the fantastic Pretty Girls Make Graves, lead by the spellbinding Andrea Zollo.

I bet you're excited now right? A female lead singer to get excited about? Well sadly, the excitement will have to be slightly posthumous; Pretty Girls Make Graves split up in 2007. However, they did release 3 fantastic albums, and album no. 2 - The New Romance - is the record I want to talk about today.

Title track "The New Romance" acts as an introduction to the record in a way, even though it's all the way down at track 10. As Andrea sings; "It started in a basement, it started in a bedroom...there's a fire inside my head",  and you get an idea of the passion behind this music.

It's definitely worth mentioning that Pretty Girls Make Graves make absolutely brilliant music. Intertwining guitar lines, dancey bass guitar, drumming that continually innovates and improves upon itself. Each song is a little adventure with twists and turns-a-plenty.

The album starts proper with it's longest track, "Something Bigger, Something Better", and kicks off with lullaby-esque vocals and tribal drums and guitars, before it kicks into a synth-laden dance-punk track about a minute and a half in. This sets the pace for the next track too, before proceedings are interupted with a short synthy track "Mr. Club". Even for a short dancey instrumental, it does a good job at preparing you for the fantastic "All Medicated Geniuses".

This track is frantic to say the least. "Our ideas they die so quickly", sings Andrea over frenetically duelling guitars, and this rings true as the song constantly involves and changes, refusing to settle into a standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus end routine. Don't get me wrong, there are verses, there are choruses, but they all have a different flavour, a different rhythm, a different feeling. When it's all stuck together, it makes a brilliantly cohesive song.

"Blue Lights" and "Chemical Chemical" follow on from this, the former being a song split in two; one half an introspective, restrained monologue; one half extrovert confessional, with the trademark jagged guitars fighting each other to the death, and the latter being art-punk by number with hihat laden disco drum patterns playing host to playful guitars.

"This Is Our Emergency" is another big stand out track on this record. Like a more twitchy, energetic version of "This Modern Love" by Bloc Party, it's like an indie-rock call to arms, with Andrea Zollo stating, nay, DEMANDING that "This is Our Emergency", before the song explodes into life. This might be the most standard song in terms of song structure on this album, but that doesn't mean a thing, as it throbs with a determined longing, and has a certain feeling of triumph to it.

The album ends with the downbeat "A Certain Cemetery" featuring soaring vocals, and features a fantastic franz ferdinand-esque breakdown, before the track turns into a mess of fuzzy keyboards and music box, with the vocals taking a turn for the melocholic. The guitars kick in again as the track reaches an anthemic end, with a repetition of "When this is over...., it's  alright, it's alright", letting the listener know that all they have to do is reach for the play button, or turn over the record, and the whole journey can start again.

In conclusion, this is a fantastic record, and really worth your time. I can't recommend them highly enough.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Stef Reviews... The Wrestler

The Wrestler is a film that looks at the grittier side of wrestling. The high-gloss world of WWE this isn't! Mickey Rourke stars as Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a formely professional wrestler living in a trailer park, mixing amateur fights with a part time day job. The Wrestler explores Randy's personal relationships as his career starts to be threatened.

Overall the film does a fantastic job of exploring the psyche of a guy who doesn't know anything other than life inside the square circle, and builds up what I can only describe as an absolutely brilliant ending.

It's definitely worth a watch, and the new Springsteen song that plays over the end credits fits proceedings absolutely perfectly.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

First Awesomely Inspiring Song of 2009 - Emmy The Great - First Love

This song is absolutely brilliant. "First Love" starts off simple, with acoustic guitar and Emmy's bittersweet vocals being slowly accompanied with a skittering snare drum, and then builds into an uplifting chorus that channels Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". It's a subtle lovestory of a song, that builts into an ending that builds pace and takes you along with it until Emmy's final gasp of the title lyric. It borders on exhilerating. Video? Video!

The single "First Love" is released on February 23rd, but the album of the same name is released on February 9th, and is worth checking out. Expect a review of that sometime next week!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Stef Reviews... 001) Copeland - You Are My Sunshine

Copeland are a great little band that, until today, I hadn't heard from since their 2005 album "In Motion", which was an amazing collection of up-tempo, melodic indie rock tracks, with an almost lullaby-esque quality to singer Aaron Marsh's voice highlighted against beautiful soundscapes of chiming guitars and piano.

A few albums later (that I feel I should go back and visit at some point) and they have released "You Are My Sunshine", which is an incredibly amazing album. "Good Morning Fire Eater" is a definite highlight, featuring a slow, lovely build up of vocals, guitars and synths that explode into life via a perfect drum beat.

The dreamy vocals of Aaron Marsh are still a highlight of this record, with every line he sings sounding as perfectly dream-like as the next.

The album is wrapped up by the epic 10 minute closing track "Not So Tough, Found Out" which is a wonderous swirl of electronic bleeps and buzzes, drum machine, electronic piano, and beautifully phrased female vocals.

Overall, I highly recommend this album for the chilled out end of winter months; It complements the weather of the current winter months, plus has the staying power to make the start of spring seem as magical as possible


Sunday, 4 January 2009

Stef Reviews... In Bruges

Just saw this tonight and wow, such a great dark comedic film.

Short synopsis - Colin Farrell's character has just begun a career as a hitman, and finds himself and an associate hiding out in Bruges, in Belgium. And finding every single second of it boring. And from here a brilliantly written comedic film unravels itself, culminating in one of the best endings to a film i've seen in recent times.

There are so many quotable lines in this film too, most notable are a particular conversation/fight that happens in a restaurant, and of course, the multitude of "feckin' Bruges" that are littered throughout the film. Beware; There's a tonne of swearing in this film. There's even a feature on the dvd where it just plays every single instance of swearing. 

I'd give this 9 gold stars out of 10. Definitely worth a purchase.