After taking a leisurely yet well deserved vacation from my services for The Black Wax, I felt compelled to mark my return with a few tracks I have been digging over the past few months. There are a variety of rumours surfacing online that I was fired by the boss of the company for my non- compliment attitude and overly expanse music knowledge however this simply remains a myth. I felt that I had to step back and do some soul searching before I could give any kind of worthwhile opinion on the current state of music, so here I am.
Considering they were former child actors, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Long Island brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario know a thing or two about taking inspiration from others and elsewhere in order to help establish themselves. “Do Hollywood”, the debut album from The Lemon Twigs, is a tour-de-force of influences, and pays homage to rock musicians of the ages. The D’Addario brothers seem to know how the recipe works though, and leave enough room in the mixing pot to add their own ingredients into the concoction.
The album’s opener, “I Wanna Prove To You”, with it’s 50’s American diner doo-wop bop and it’s Alex Chitlon, heart-on-the-sleeves style vocal delivery, is sure to have you donning the imaginary microphone and slicking back the hair. “These Words”, with its Elton John-esque carbaret piano interludes and its soaring chorus that would fit nice and comfortably onto an early 70’s Todd Rundgren record, or “As Long As We’re Together”, with it’s traces of MGMT, affirm that The Lemon Twigs are more than happy to wear their influences in plain sight, if it means they end up sounding just as good at times. The Lemon Twigs add just enough of their own individuality and style to make things exciting though, ensuring this isn’t just another horrible mish-mash of conflicting and confusing styles, a musical jerk-off, thrown together distastefully.
Jagged guitars and cyber synth leads inhabit “A Great Snake”; the last song on the album, and perhaps the most techinally impressive of the arrangements on the record, it leaves a far greater lasting impression than any of the previous songs, probably because it becomes the greatest insight into where the band could head next musically. With “Do Hollywood”, The Lemon Twigs have succesfully laid their cards out on the table, new and old. Just like a great snake, maybe one day we’ll see The Lemon Twigs fully shed their influences, and show us just what lies beneath the skin.
Photo by: Ryan Jafarzadeh Khamneh
‘An impressive followup to an already spectacular couple of singles’
Liverpool Dream Pop duo Her’s new single ‘Marcel‘, could quite possibly be the perfect way to drift into the not so welcoming autumn breeze, now that the end of summer gloom is setting in. It’s dreamlike, relaxing and it almost makes you feel like you’re on the beach, but in autumn. The beach in autumn? You must be mad.
The production is excellent, the tone is superb, the baritone of the lead singer’s voice is absolutely perfect for this genre and there is literally no critique to be had. They are most definitely a musical duo to watch out for and there’s no doubt these two guys have talent. Just keeping making music and we’ll keep listening.
‘Marcel‘ is an impressive followup to an already spectacular couple of singles, ‘Dorothy‘ and ‘What Once Was‘, which you can listen to here.
Hot on the heels of making their continental gig debut in Germany last month, Darlingtonian indie-rock foursome The Circus Villains (comprised of guitarist/vocalists Matthew Fisher and Luke Taylor, bassist Daniel Skilbeck and drummer Bob Mackenzie) pop their musical cherry with Party Fodder, their first single release. Slightly more ominous than its moniker would suggest, this slice of mid-tempo surf rock draws inspiration from the cream of British alternative music, bringing to mind artists such as the Wytches and Humbug-era Arctic Monkeys. A bubbling bassline and considered drum rhythm underpin Turneresque riffs and Fisher’s confident vocal. The ‘get out, stay out’ hook seems to be a cheeky, clever crib from Bob Marley’s ‘Get Up, Stand Up’, subconsciously or not, and its straightforwardness ensures that it remains in one’s head long after the final reverb laced stabs of guitar fade out. With its solid bedrock of indie influences, one could imagine Party Fodder residing comfortably on an iPod classic a decade ago, or being blasted at one of those illicit, Facebook advertised house parties, in which thousands of pounds of damage were done to family heirlooms. With those heady days gone however, it is much more likely that this will become playlist fodder, the ideal tune for student pre-drinking or playing at a slightly unacceptable volume back at a gaff after a night on the razz.
Party Fodder is released on iTunes and Spotify on October 15th.
Becoming old is a frightening, often harrowing prospect for all of us. When we no longer shift through the higher gears as much as we used to, and the chain no longer cares if it’s well oiled or rattling against the closing corridors of life, do we become only a fraction of our former selves? Do we only emit an echo of our often more creative, fertile pasts? No, not all the time we don’t. Especially not on Leonard Cohen’s ever-ticking watch.
At the fragile age of 82, Leonard Cohen is still watching behind closed blinds, ready to shout ‘get off my lawn!’ with his voice of song whenever the grim reaper decides to come a-knocking. Marking his birthday with a gift to us all, Cohen has released the title-track from his new album, You Want It Darker, which will be released October 21st, and it’s a glorious gem wrapped in dark, black amber.
A reverb-soaked church choir of voices courtesy of Montreal’s Cantor Gideon Zelermyer and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir immediately sets up the religion-exploring tone of the song, and the repeated cries of ‘Hineni, hineni’ (Hebrew for ‘here I am’, in a complete, spiritual sense) fuel that same age-old question that a lot of Cohen’s songs dwell and dance around; that if God is real, where exactly is he hiding?
Ceremonious church organs and a sturdy, serving bassline give the song it’s skeletal frame, whilst Cohen serves up words of disatisfaction with the higher deity in question: ‘Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name/ Vilified, crucified, in the human frame/ A million candles burning for the help that never came’. Cohen’s gravelly voice, fresh from the smokehouse, has an air of extreme confidence to it, as though he knows things God could never, and that he would have the upper hand in conversation, if the time ever came.
The existence, or absence, of God is a mystery that we may never truly get to unravel, as we all hurlte towards old age and eventually, our end. What isn’t a mystery to us is our need to fully understand this puzzle called life before our time is up, offering our brave (and often in vain) attempts at reasoning, as we collectively piece together our thoughts, song by song, question by question. However, when the questions sound this good, do we ever really want the answers?