Category Archives: Album Review

Ryan Francesconi and Mirabai Peart- Road to Palios

This beautiful album was ensured by a trip to a Greek Island. It’s a perfect getaway record. Listen to it in the middle of a bustling city and you will be transported to a quiet paradise. The record is completely instrumental, with beautiful rich arrangements for guitar and violin.

It’s out now on Bella Union and is an essential for these winter months.

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Album Review: Hannah Cohen- Child Bride

It’s a rare and beautiful thing to find an album, and fall completely, unconditionally, head over heels in love with it. This is how I feel about this record, Child Bride, the first release from Hannah Cohen. This LP arrived on my doorstep on Saturday and has not left my turntable since. I cannot listen to anything else at the moment, nothing sounds as good as this. She has created pure beauty.

The album weaves between tear drenched tracks, soaked in emotion and guaranteed to spark something in you, tracks like ‘The Crying Game’, ‘Sorry’ and opening track ‘Don’t Say’. There are more upbeat numbers like the summery sounding ‘California’, and ‘Boy + Angel’ a cover of a Doveman track, who produced the whole record. There isn’t a track which shies away from the limelight, each deserves its place and its the connections between the tracks on the record, and the atmosphere it creates as a whole album that is so beautiful. The production is flawless, earthy yet ethereal, dark yet light. Hannah collected some of New York’s best musicians for this project and it pays off. The clarinet works incredibly with her voice, especially on ‘Don’t Say’, the strings, horns and orchestral flourishes never override the songs, only compliment. But it’s her voice that gets me so much, she sings so simply, so elegantly, yet heartbreakingly so.

Go and buy this record, soak your heart in it and I hope you find as much love in it as I have. And buy it on vinyl, it deserves vinyl.

‘Child Bride’ is officially released on April 23rd via Bella Union records. There are a few places online selling limited exclusive copies of the record, you can find these here. Hannah will also be playing at the lovely End of the Road festival in September.

5/5

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Album Review: Lana Del Rey- Born to Die

Every person in the modern world seems to have an opinion about Lana Del Rey. I have already declared my love for her in various other posts, and that love continues on the release of her (sort-of) debut album, Born to Die. However, after receiving this album earlier this week, and pressing play, something unexpected happened. I didn’t know how I felt about this record. I’ve spent a long time thinking about it, trying to work out if she is a genius, a puppet or just a bit fucked in the head. Since everyone else is sharing their opinions, I thought I would too.

The first thing that grabbed me about this album is the melodies. Golden, golden melodies and brilliant pop song writing that is about ten thousand times more interesting than any pop record that’s come out, at least in my life-time. But despite the melodies, one thing you can’t ignore is the lyrics. It’s the lyrics that has caused people to question the brilliance of this album, and I think for some people, it’s just a bit too much. It’s not just that the lyrics are dark, they are beyond that. They are somewhat disturbing and if anyone was wondering why Lana Del Rey has been called ‘controversial’ listen to what she is singing about.

One third of what Lana is singing about is materialism, how it controls society and how we are all driven by money. In National Anthem she sings ‘Money is the reason we exist / Everybody Knows it / Kiss Kiss’. The other third is about men, how men control women and how far in love you can fall. But everyone writes love songs right? No, not like this. Lana sings about how love can drive death, as she sings on Dark Paradise ‘Your soul is hunting me / And telling me that everything is fine / but i wish i was dead’. It’s taking love and obsession to the next level.

The other third of this album is about fame. How fame can destroy you, something that was first glimmered at in the clip of the actress falling over in the video for Video Games. This is the third I find the most interesting and makes me think that Lana has a whole lot more genius than certain people are giving her credit for. Lana Del Rey has been one of the biggest victims of sudden fame, criticism and hate more than any musician I can remember. She has become unavoidable over the last 4 or so months. Every move she makes, every comment in an interview, and every note she sings live has been criticized, mocked and written about in someway or another. The character of Lana Del Rey has become music’s No. 1 fame game.

While you could say that Lana may be being naive about love and money, I don’t think you can say that about fame. Which makes me think that maybe she is just being extremely clever about the whole thing. Money, love to the point of obsession, and fame are three things which are fundamentally wrong with modern culture. Maybe Lana is trying to open everyones eyes to that. She has become everything that is wrong with modern culture, but it’s purposeful, and maybe the whole ‘Lana Del Rey’ phenomenon is just trying to teach us something about our obsessions with fame, money and love and then more fame, money and love.

She may be as manufactured, as blank and puppet-like as everyone wants to make out. But maybe the girl who went to university to study metaphysics, who can write melodies as beautiful as these, has a little more substance to her then we are all making out.

Now, because no one is talking about the music on this album. I shall. The production is exquisite. Luscious strings and orchestration mixed with hip hop beats and Lana’s truly unique swooping voice. Each song is a star in it’s own right. Video Games is the strongest but I don’t think anyone expected anything to top that. Off to the Races, Diet Mountain Dew and National Anthem seem to come directly from Lana’s more urban NYC influenced side whereas songs like Radio, Carmen and Million Dollar Man have a more torch song influence with stunning fairytale-ish melodies. Lucky Ones, a bonus track, is also a highlight for me, and I think works as a perfect end to the album.

I think the Lana Del Rey character is a landmark in pop music, she actually makes the genre interesting. This album, if taken in the right way, is really quite stunning. Just don’t play it to your 11 year old daughter. A reader commenting on the Independent’s review of the album, calls to mind Jessica Rabbit’s words ‘I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way’. Take it as that, if you will.

Best Tracks: Video Games, Born to Die, Million Dollar Man, Radio, Lucky Ones.

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Why I Love #2: Sibylle Baier- Colour Green

There are certain albums in the world that effect a lot of people, from Joni Mitchell’s Blue, to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, to newer albums like Bon Iver’s For Emma and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. These albums, and so many more obvious examples, had a big effect, both emotionally and musically on a lot of people’s lives.

Some albums however, get lost in transit a little and so don’t reach the ears of millions and so don’t have this same impact and attention. But for those who do hear them, they really get something special out of that record. This is how I feel about this album, ‘Colour Green’ by Sibylle Baier. You may have never have heard of Sibylle Baier before and that doesn’t surprise me. But by the end of this I hope you will go away and maybe also find something special of your own in this record.

Sibylle Baier wrote and recorded the songs from this album in the early 1970’s in Germany, where she is from. They were never released and Sibylle chose to spend her life raising a family in America. Some 35 years later, her son found these recordings and sent them to the independent record label Orange Twin Records, who released the recordings as Sibylle’s first album ‘Colour Green’. Slowly, people began to discover this album, and praise for the record grew. Sibylle is very over whelmed by all of this and so it is still her son who runs her website etc. Since the release of the album, she has started writing music again and so a second record could be possible.

The songs on this record are dark, dreary and have a mysterious quality about them. All incredibly simply recorded and most very short tracks, it’s the level of emotion in her voice and words that gets me about this album. The songs ring echoes of troubled longing and love lost. The doubt a young woman has about her life, yet still with a hopefulness and sense of love at life. Their is also an intimacy about the tracks, it sounds like no one was ever meant to hear these songs, she wrote them for herself and so it is an incredibly honest record.

I listen to this record quite often, and at 10:05 on a Sunday evening, I had an urge to listen to these songs again, which is why I decided to share them with you. I hope you get something out of them as I do.

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EP Review: Suukei- Saint Saviour

Saint Saviour is releasing another EP, entitled ‘Suukei’ and it is yet another gorgeously original set of songs with her soaring Kate Bush esque voice showing how unique of a talent she continues to be. First track ‘Red Sun’ mixes percussion and electronic sounds with the psychedelic melodies which her voice sours up and down. ‘Here in Me’, for which you can watch the video of below, continues to evoke the heavy percussion element of the first track, but the prettiness of the melody provides an overall more soft sound to the track. ‘Some Things Change’, a gorgeous piano ballad with layered voices and emotion in the bucket load, a stunning track.

The final track from the EP is a Kate Bush cover of ‘Army Dreamers’ which you can grab a free download of below. On Soundcloud you can also listen to an Accapella version of the track which I love. I believe that her version more than does justice to the original. Saint Saviour has produced yet another gorgeous EP, proving she is an incredible talent, and I still have hope that more people will realise this soon!

‘Suukei’ is released on October 3rd. You can purchase the EP on limited edition hand stamped CD from the official Saint Saviour shop. It wil also be available in HMV stores.

Best Tracks: Here in Me, Army Dreamers

Rating: 4.5/5

Army Dreamers free download

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Album Review: Living with Ants- Mechanical Bride

I first heard of Mechanical Bride way back in 2008 when a striking cover of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ started getting some blog hype. The song came from Lauren Doss, aka Mechanical Bride. Her debut album ‘Living With Ants’ has been a long time coming, but listening to the finished product, 10 delicate tracks of wonderful storytelling and an incredibly unique sound, you know its been well worth the wait.

Opening track ‘Magpie’ begins with soft dissonant piano chords setting the scene for the dreamily soft album you are about to hear. Doss’s voice is haunting but beautifully placed amongst sounds of brass and strings. The song has a slightly offbeat jazz feel about it and is also reminiscent of early Bat for Lashes tunes. ‘Young Gold (You Stole My Heart)’, is more folky and more melodic but its Doss’s voice which keeps that stunning sound weaving though the songs.

‘Colour of Fire’ was the first single to be taken from the album, its melodic ambient sound is wonderful and the video which accompanies it is also worth a watch. The repeating line ‘Shouldn’t you be somewhere, shouldn’t you be alone’ circles round the song and then round your mind. Next track ‘Peach Wolves’ is my personal favorite from the album. Its more folk than the rest and reminds me a lot of a Blue Roses track, but with a completely different voice. ‘By Night’ is a dark haunting number, which features Doss speaking and the whole track is incredibly Natasha Khan, more than any other on the album.

Continuing on, ‘Lakes’ is a haunting piano ballad, and ‘To the Flight’ adds a contrast with its fast paced pizzicato strings and vocal harmonies. ‘Walk into the Forrest’ is jazzy and sweet number lasting just over a minute and a half. It offers quite a contrast from the rest of the album tracks but that darkness still remains.

‘Demons’ continues the jazzy feel, with its very upbeat but slightly haunting feel to it. It sounds like it could fit perfectly in a 1920’s horror film. Last track ‘Boom (Shine A Light)’ is one I remember from her live show at The Great Escape, and it works very well live and also on the album as the final track.

Mechanical Bride has created an album of true beauty and the simple, soft sounding outcome has clearly been the result of wonderful song craft, beautiful melodies and the hauntingly dark voice of Lauren Doss. The Mercury nominations are just round the corner and I really hope this album gets a consideration, they do occasionally spot under the radar albums. I hope this is the first of many brilliant albums to come from Mechanical Bride.

Living With Ants is out now on Transgressive Records. Catch her at the following events…

July 20th- St Giles in the Fields, London

July 22nd- Truck Festival

Best Tracks: Colour Of Fire, Peach Wolves, Boom (Shine A Light)

Rating: 4.5/5

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EP Review: Things Will Change- Treetop Flyers

This band just continue to go from strength to strength, and they show no sign of slowing down with this EP, ‘Things Will Change’ which features the single ‘Things will Change’ and three other songs. This is the second EP from the band and will also be released on Communion records on May 23rd. Its quite different from the first EP ‘To Bury the Past’ which was a fairly delicate listen. ‘Things Will Change’ is filled with country rock songs, harmonies and brilliant musicianship, as always with this band. ‘Rose Is In The Yard’ takes us back a little to some delicate guitar fingerpicking after the wonderfully catchy ‘Things Will Change’ and harmonious ‘Long Cold Winter’ (grab a free download of this below). Last track ‘Disappearing Kind’ is has some lovely country melodies and very nicely ends the EP.

This band have some great things coming for them, catch them at the following dates or on Saturday morning of Glastonbury Festival on the Other Stage. I’ll see you at the front?

Rating: 4/5

Best tracks: Things Will Change, Disappearing Kind

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