Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Enemy To Give Away New Single

The Enemy have announced plans to release their new single, Gimme The Sign, off their upcoming third album, for free. The single will be out sometime next month (the video will be shot on the 16th February), and can be obtained by liking the band's Facebook page.

The band's third album is due in spring this year.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Generation Freakshow Delayed?

Some reports are suggesting that Feeder's new album (their eighth), Generation Freakshow, has been delayed by four weeks. While the original release date was 26th March, some pre-order sites are now showing the release date as 23rd April. However, this remains unconfirmed.

At any rate, the first single, Borders, was released today.

Preview Morning Parade

Morning Parade's debut album, which is self-titled, is now available for 90-second previews on iTunes. Just go to the link here and click on 'View in iTunes'. If you are in the UK, the previews will be available.

The album is due for release on 5th March.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Klaxons To Start Recording New Album

Klaxons have announced that they will begin recording their third album next week. The album follows their fantastic 2010 record Surfing The Void, and is expected to be released towards the end of 2012.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Feeder - Generation Freakshow


1. Oh My
2. Borders
3. Idaho
4. Hey Johnny
5. Quiet
6. Sunrise
7. Generation Freakshow
8. Tiny Minds
9. In All Honesty
10. Headstrong
11. Fools Can't Sleep
12. Children Of The Sun

The album will be released on 26th March.

The album is the band's eighth, and follows on from 2010's Renegades.

The first single is Borders, due out 30th January.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Morning Parade Post Album Sampler

Morning Parade have uploaded part one of an album sampler, featuring the first six tracks from their debut album; Blue Winter, Headlights, Us And Ourselves, Running Down The Aisle, Carousel and Half Litre Bottle. You can watch it below:

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Album Review: Enter Shikari - A Flash Flood Of Colour

I've been a fan of Enter Shikari ever since their first album came out. I'm not a fan of metal or the heavier end of rock as a general rule, but their blend of electronics and many other genres was somehow very appealing. Three albums in and they've expanded ther style even further. A Flash Flood Of Colour takes a slightly more poppy turn in places but heavier and more powerful in others. The political and world-weary lyrics have fully taken over this time; every song has them which does take a bit of getting used to. After the release of Destabilise and Quelle Surprise, two fantastic singles (not on the album!) came Sssnakepit, back in September, and Gandhi Mate, Gandhi a couple of months later - and on first listen, I genuinely hated both. After the latter one came out I thought maybe this album wasn't worth a try. But I gave in when the two singles grew slowly on me (Gandhi... is now one of my favourite Enter Shikari tracks) and I am pleased to announce that Enter Shikari have crafted something absolutely mind-blowing.

So, we open with the opening duo System... and ...Meltdown. The former starts off the same way as Common Dreads, but then gives way to some programmed strings and lead singer Rou flying into a political rant (get used to that, he does that a lot). Towards the end you can hear it building and building... and then with the whole band shouting "our future!" the heavy guitar of track two smashes in. Meltdown re-uses some of the strings from its partner track but this one is far heavier and faster - very recognisable as Enter Shikari - with some epic drops to boot. Compared to the rest of the album, it's actually the weakest link for me, as it seems to just go in circles with a few changes here and there. But it's still a great track and I still love it, it's just that the other 10 tracks are a bit better.

Sssnakepit, then. The other weaker link. I've never been massively keen on Sssnakepit, but it has grown on me a lot since its release. It has a monster of a chorus that feels slightly free of the madness and politics dominating the lyrics of the rest of the album - "come and join the party, leave anxieties behind" - the verses unfortunately leave a little bit to be desired, however. The most recent single, Arguing With Thermometers, is far better. Making itself known instantly with the heavy guitar announcing itself along with the vocals, it gets straight into its stride. It takes a slightly dubby turn here and there, but you can tell the band were having fun being let loose with all the synths. It's a very catchy tune.

The other single is Gandhi Mate, Gandhi, the most ludicrous and oddest thing that the band have ever done and may ever do. It begins with a 40-second rant ending with "we're sick of this shit!" before flying through about three or four other sections that sound completely different from each other and yet manage to fit within the four minutes and a half it occupies on the album. The first section ends with the band trying to calm their outspoken lead singer down - "Gandhi, mate, remember Gandhi". At least you can't say they take themselves too seriously. Soon after follows a fantastic lyric, "yabba dabba do one son!" and another verse before flying off in another direction - this song does not sit still for a second. It gets heavier at the end before it descends into synth madness as "emergency frequencies" is repeated slowly until the song's end. It's such an unbelievably odd song, it's not really a shock that I couldn't stand it first time. But given time, it's actually very good!

The heaviest moment on the album comes from Hello Tyrannosaurus, Meet Tyrannicide, the penultimate track on the album. The first word I would use to describe it is apocalyptic. Opening with a menacing string instrument (no idea what) and the declaration that "empires always fall" before the guitar comes in at full power with some sort of air raid siren, then onto the verse which is not sung, but screamed as loud as possible. The chorus, on the other hand, takes the song skyward - the heaviness drops a bit but the background music accompanying it is just so epic.

Another heavy moment comes from Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here, even though it doesn't sound like it at all. The first half of the song is one you can sing along to, starting off with just a drum and then a lone guitar before building up a little bit. The chorus is, of course, epic - even if the lyrics are just the title repeated! After going for round two, the song changes (it even tells you it's changing with the words "transformation in progress") before the guitars build allowing Rou to scream "a flash flood of colour!" over the top, although his voice has been restrained in the mix. And then comes the previously mentioned heavy moment... one of the most thunderous, massive guitar riffs I have ever heard. Seriously, this thing is an absolute beast and is without doubt the best moment on the album and the band know how strong it is, allowing it to be repeated again and again. The song also features an unexpected fade out to end it - very un-Enter Shikari!

Following on from Warm Smiles... is another favourite, Pack Of Thieves. It's maybe the most poppy venture they've ever had, but it's still clearly the same band. Starting off quite summery and happy, as the chorus is sung over the top, the song then of course adds the customary big guitar sound and lets the bouncy, incredible verse loose. When the chorus returns, it has of course been given a huge boost by all the instruments, and is another great moment for the album. It will guarantee mass sing-alongs at gigs - it's exactly the kind of song for the job. The other poppier moment happens earlier in the album in the form of Search Party, again a sing-along type of song with all the band on vocal work for the chorus, with some crowd-baiting "whoa! whoa!"s. It takes a break halfway through leaving Rou and something sounding like a glockenspiel in quite a peaceful moment... before (naturally) heavy guitars dominate proceedings for a huge middle-eight section, and then it all kicks back into the big chorus and slowly lets itself out, having made its mark on the album.

Lastly, there are two songs on the album that allow you to catch your breath and are the quietest things that the band have done. The first is Stalemate, which is an acoustic ballad (yes, I'm serious) that slowly builds up its instruments before heading into rockier territory towards the end. The two things that may annoy are the fact that the lyrics do not fit the song and at the start they may sound a little odd as they manage to fit millionaire, billionaire (twice) and trillionaire into the first ten seconds (!) and the second is the overlong outro which doesn't end when it should do - the band are usually masters of knowing when the right time is to stop something in a song, but here it's a little off. The second song I mentioned is the closing track, Constellations. Again, it's a beautiful piece for the first half, before everything comes in for a truly huge moment to close the album - it's serious "put-your-arm-round-your-mates" stuff. The lyrics even become incredibly moving when you listen to them, especially in the second half - it's rare that lyrics give me goosebumps, but right at the end of the album, Enter Shikari manage it. Their greatest closing song, and one of the greatest I've heard in a long time.

This is by far the band's most listenable album - it may be heavier in parts but there are also some fantastic sing-along moments and catchy parts. It's a very rare combination but Enter Shikari have genuinely struck gold here. The lyrics do take a bit of getting used to, but sometimes they just work fantastically, as I explained when talking about Constellations. Again, it's good to know that they aren't taking themselves too seriously, and they do have a very unique style to them, both musically and lyrically, which they must be given credit for in a world where the charts are dominated by everything sounding like everything else. Even if you don't like the singles and are an Enter Shikari fan, get the album. There are some massive, massive moments on here - a true masterpiece. Let it grow on you like I did, it'll be worth it. And if nothing else, you can't deny that the band have some of the greatest song titles of all time!

FAVOURITE TRACKS: Search Party, Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here, Pack Of Thieves
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACKS: Meltdown, Sssnakepit

PREVIOUS ALBUMS (as I would rate them now): Take To The Skies (4/5), Common Dreads (3.5/5)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Album Review: Hitchcock - Running From The Sane

I discovered this duo via One Night Only, seeing as singer Matt Terry produced a couple of their B-sides from the last album (Daydream and Hurricane). I instantly loved all three singles I could find (Never Said A Word, Smack Boom and Villain) and made me excited for a debut album... it's been a long time coming. Featuring reworks of the previously mentioned three tracks, along with eleven others, it's finally here, and even if it is just a release by a very unknown band only available on iTunes, it is definitely worth a listen.

The album opens with an odd spoken word intro by some evil-sounding man (who turns up on the final track as well) randomly talking about 'adjusting your vibe to the required level' and 'plugging yourself into the groove matrix' but then it morphs into a beastly pop song, Don't Give Up, with a massive chorus and a rhythm to make you move. If this band were better known, it would be a massive single. It's a great way to start off. The band then follow this up with Cuban Heels, which sounds far more like a closing track than one that should turn up three tracks in, but we'll let that slide. This one features another grand, if not a little repetitive, chorus which has a slightly sparkly element to it. Choruses are already clearly something that Hitchcock can do brilliantly.

We move on to Homecoming. I found a preview demo of this song ages ago, and it was very different. On first listen, this version sounds more like a remix of their own song that took a bit of getting used to, but if this is your first listen, it's got a very dubby feel to it, with little synth-y sparkles turning up in the background. And it's got a soaring chorus - I may already be starting to sound like a broken record but their choruses are just fantastic. Remedy follows up, starting out with a rapid electronic pulse that takes a while to get used to. This time, the chorus flows nicely in from the verses unlike the past few tracks when it smashed its way in and made itself known. Here it's probably for the best, as this is quite a catchy track when it comes down to it!

And now for something very familiar - Villain. It retains the synth-drum stabs that were present on the single, except designed as more of a build-up (including a police radio excerpt to kick it all off - 'subject is under the influence of narcotics'). It retains its energy from the single, which is appropriate considering the lyrics of the chorus ('roll, roll, roll with the energy') which in turn is a sing-along moment. There's also a fantastic new break section involving something which sounds like a guitar that wasn't there on the single, that improves the song even more. At over one minute longer than its single counterpart, it retains all of the good things and adds to them.

Now we come to a duo of slightly weaker tracks, unfortunately. At 14 tracks lasting just over an hour, this album is far too long, and if there are two that could go, it would be Blind Side and Ghosts. The former tries to slow down the pace rather than keep up the energy, which, in my opinion, was not the right thing to do when this album is at its best when it's energetic. As a song in itself, it's quite good, but if I was in charge of cutting this album down, it would have to go. Ghosts is a mostly instrumental piece that seems a little unnecessary. Again, it's not bad at all but sometimes the good tracks have to go to make way for great ones. It's a catchy piece of music with a powerful drumbeat and a great synth riff - it's a song I could imagine soundtracking one of those time-lapse sort of moments that you see in films or TV programme - poorly described, I know, but then again I don't do this for a living! Buy the album on iTunes and see for yourself!

But after that marginal dip, we're back with a monstrous track entitled Katie. This is a slower, darker track that slowly builds up to another masterpiece of a sing-along chorus after being underpinned by a glimmering synth background tune and a heavy bass. It's definitely one of the highlights of the album. Following that, we have the slightly odd (but still great) duo of Taking Care Of Business and the title track, Running From The Sane, which sees a bit of experimenting. The former takes a while to grow on you, but the chorus (yes, I am using that word again) packs another powerful punch when it really kicks in the second time that it appears. Afterwards, the song fully hits its stride - turning into an incredibly infectious dance-y track. The other song, Running From The Sane, opens with a bit of brass before moving back into a more laid back, atmospheric sound that comes slightly unexpectedly. Nonetheless, it's still a great track, even if it takes a while to really get to you - nothing massively jumps out even after several listens, but it's quite a good chill-out track for the most part. It sounds slightly out of place on the album again due to its lack of real energy, but this one works slightly better.

Then, finally, we get the other singles - I have no idea why they've been left until the end but oh well. They've both had a rework and been extended by about a minute each, but this time it seems a little unnecessary, it feels a little overdone but maybe it's just me being used to the originals. Nonetheless, they both remain brilliant. Never Said A Word is pure energy, a song to really make you move, and Smack Boom, although now feeling a bit overlong, retains its sing-along style and still makes you feel like clapping along or even singing along! It's incredibly catchy.

Lastly comes the closer, Hand To Hold, clocking in at over seven minutes, although it surprisingly doesn't feel that long. Starting off with a light synth and drum combination and gradually adding to it via vocals, a slightly more powerful beat and more synths, it gives way to another infectious, danceable tune designed to excite. The chorus, when it comes for the first time about two minutes in, is, as expected, epic, complete with some 'ay-oh-ay-oh's and the sing-along 'heads up, eyes to the sky, cos you make me feel aliiiiive!" It then descends into a long outro, which goes through a few sections, one with the lyrics "this is how we roll" which is probably the least interesting part of the song, but it gets good at the end again with it's "we all need a hand to hold" declaration. It all ends with the evil-sounding guy mentioned earlier speaking over the top, ending on the album's title 'we're left running from the sane'. Slightly ruins the work going into closing the song and the album, but it's not hugely annoying.

SUMMARY: This album was definitely worth the wait. It is packed full of electronic pop masterpieces with, as I'm sure you've noticed, massive choruses designed to get you going and feel like singing along. However, as I've also mentioned, the album is way, way too long - it can start to feel like a chore listening to it - Blind Side and Ghosts are the weak points in my opinion, the former ruining the flow of the album and the other one not really playing to their strengths, at least not for long as the song quickly gets a little boring and repetitive. I admit that on their own, they can stand up well for themselves, but this is the album I'm reviewing, and I feel that they've slipped past the cutting board when they shouldn't have. I also feel that the album's order isn't quite right, what with some of their greater, more energetic tracks turning up towards the end, when some maybe should have been put near the start but it's not gone horribly wrong and doesn't detract from the enjoying of the album. Although all that sounds negative, this album is genuinely great. The eleven tracks that would remain if I was let loose on cutting the album together are all huge songs that are very impressive for a band that remain complete unknowns to the general public. Try it if you like this sort of music, I'll be amazed if you don't find at least one track that gets into your head. Hitchcock really have potential to be massive, as they've already proven their skills with the music.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: Don't Give Up, Katie, Never Said A Word

Album Review: The Maccabees - Given To The Wild

The Maccabees' first album was likeable enough, but really failed to capture the imagination in parts, despite its catchy set of indie-pop songs. The follow up, Wall Of Arms, was, by contrast, an absolute masterpiece. They kept up the poppier element of their sound but applied a darker mood and generally better tunes. So, where do we find them on this album? They've added an electronic element to the sound, but never so much that it's overdone. A lot of the album seems more restrained and is slightly lighter on the guitars. And they've created another great album - not perfect, as it has its pitfalls, but still very good.

The album opens with a two-minute intro which doesn't really serve as much other than an introduction to Child at track two. It works nicely but maybe goes on a minute and a bit too long, as singer Orlando Weeks croons the album's title and various other lyrics from Child over the top of an atmospheric, slowly rising synth sound. But then Child itself kicks in - a slow-burner filled with a fantastic guitar riff running through the whole song and there's brass instruments galore as was explored on Wall Of Arms. It picks up tempo towards the end as it moves quickly towards an epic climax as the last words 'and now it's all that's left' ring out. That's how you open an album.

So, where do the singles fit in? The first single Pelican finds itself after the middle of the album, slightly unexpectedly - it seemed like something that would come on the record quite early - but comes in nicely later on, its stabbing guitar riff running through the whole song. However, it's not one of the highlights of the album; it seems far too simple and as such, was probably a good idea for a first single, but when you compare it to some of the other songs on offer here, it pales in comparison. Feel To Follow, which has only got a video so far, is slightly better, taking on more of a build-up style, which culminates in an epic ending which some fantastic guitar work. However, that too remains one of the less interesting songs on the album.

The song that follows Feel To Follow, entitled Ayla, is the greatest one on the album. Starting off with tinkling piano that gradually builds towards an epic chorus, the song experiments with brass again and the vocals go deep and dark as was heard on their previous album. This song has to be a single, it's fantastic, especially the couple of moments when it all stops for a second and then smashes into the chorus. Another highlight is Grew Up At Midnight, the closing track, which starts off quiet and minimal, slowly adding bass to Weeks' high vocals and launching slowly into a chorus that repeats throughout the song and, on its last round, is sent stratospheric in a mad explosion of guitars and rolling drums. Then it all halts abruptly and sends the album out on the quiet notes with which the song began, leaving you gobsmacked.

The more electronic elements on the album are probably most visible on the songs Glimmer and Went Away. The former starts off with a drumbeat that gives way to a floaty, atmospheric guitar line. It doesn't really go anywhere, but is quite a beautiful song to behold. On the latter, a synth opens it up before Weeks' vocals reach new heights (in every sense) - so much that it doesn't even sound like him for the majority of the song. This one does end up going somewhere massive towards the end as they launch into the climax. The Maccabees are masters at closing their songs, if nothing else. The greatest moment is about two and a bit minutes in, after a chorus all the madness stops, allowing a drumbeat to come to the forefront, before launching back into the vocals "...and if you go to sea again".

There's also a bunch of slower tracks. Heave comes midway through the album, and is reminiscent of older Coldplay stuff at times. The string section on the song is absolutely gorgeous, and the layered vocals are peaceful and relaxing. It does result in a slightly stunning switch at the end as this song leads into the stabbing sound of previously mentioned single Pelican. Also on this list of slow songs is the appropriately titled Slowly One, which is the penultimate track, and is probably the weakest track on here. One of the pitfalls of this album is that it's overly long, and it seems that by the time you reach Slowly One, you're getting a bit bored and feeling it's all been done before. But it's not that great a track in itself unfortunately - it's not particularly memorable, and even the chants of 'little by little' fail to spark much interest, and it doesn't really go anywhere. The last on this list is Forever I've Known, which starts off with a slow drumbeat followed by a slightly screeching guitar. It's a high point of the album with its chorus sparking off emotion in spades, and gradually adds instruments to the fray before it goes huge, then calms right down, then goes mad again. It ends kind of suddenly to make way for the strings of Heave, which doesn't work fantastically - I think it would have been better to let the songs have their separate intros and outros rather than merge them together, but that's just a minor problem.

The remaining two songs are Go and Unknow. The former is another weak point - it seems like they were striving for another epic monster of a track with its programmed beats, which they sort of succeed in, but it's definitely spoilt by the sheer length of the album and the fact that it sounds slightly overdone by this point. It does have a lot of build-up points, either when it's transferring to a chorus or a just introducing a new instrument to the collection, and that part is done fantastically. The other song, Unknow, comes straight after, and features another vocal that doesn't sound at all like the normal Weeks vocal, but at least this one genuinely treads new ground for the band. It's slightly reminiscent of some quieter Lightning Seeds tracks, particularly in the vocal department. The song is fantastically and beautifully layered with a chugging guitar riff running through the whole thing, with female vocals popping up at the end to join the thousands of other vocal tracks running through the background of the song. This one genuinely sends you somewhere else, it's so well done, and it's not really ruined by the album going on for a bit too long.

SUMMARY: The Maccabees try something new and succeed for the most part. I think it's just about ahead of Wall Of Arms, but they're two very different beasts. This is a greater sound which sends you to several different places, compared with Wall Of Arms' slightly more constrained sound (but no less epic). The main pitfall with this album, as mentioned before, is that with an album like this, when things move slightly slower and take time to build up, 13 tracks and 53 minutes is far too long. There are two songs that instantly pop up in my mind that the album could have done without - Go and Slowly One - maybe due to their late placing in their album, but at least Go tries something new. That said, I still love both and don't usually skip them unless I'm on a tight schedule! Maybe the intro and title track, Given To The Wild, could have been shortened to under a minute, as they've done previously (such as the Maida Vale sessions performance of the track). But overall, this is an incredibly strong album that should pave the way for a fantastic fourth one.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: Ayla, Went Away, Unknow

PREVIOUS ALBUMS (as I would rate them now): Colour It In (2.5/5), Wall Of Arms (4/5)

Monday, 9 January 2012

Enter Shikari To Air New Songs

Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show has Enter Shikari's new album, A Flash Flood Of Colour, as the album of the week for this week. This means that a new song will be played every night on Radio 1 between 7pm and 9pm GMT today and up to Thursday.

A Flash Flood Of Colour will be released 16th January.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Preview A Flash Flood Of Colour

You can preview the eight unheard songs from Enter Shikari's upcoming third album, A Flash Flood Of Colour, below. Each song has a 90-second preview except for track 1, System..., which is
only 30 seconds on account of its short length. The songs Snakepit, Gandhi Mate, Gandhi and Arguing With Thermometers are not included as they are all out already.

Also, you can check out a band-made teaser here.

Preview Given To The Wild

If you can't wait for two more days to hear the Maccabees' new album, Given To The Wild, there are 30-second previews of all 13 tracks up on the Universal Music website, available here.

And if you've been following the XFM(the Mary Anne Hobbs show) and Radio 1 (the Zane Lowe show) 'Album of the Week' features, you will have heard these songs (if you haven't, go to the 'listen again' features on the respective websites and go to the times given):

Child (Monday, XFM, 1:26:04)
Glimmer (Wednesday, Radio 1, 1:24:04)
Forever I've Known (Tuesday, Radio 1, 1:48:22)
Went Away (Thursday, Radio 1, 1:55:48)
Grew Up At Midnight (Wednesday, XFM, 1:29:12)

Pelican and Feel To Follow were also played on both shows, but they have been released.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Killers Announce Return

Well, everyone's coming back this year! The Killers have announced they are recording a fourth album. The album is set to include tracks such as Battle Born, The Rising Tide, The Slot Tech and Runaways. It is also set to be released later this year - lead singer Brandon Flowers has stated that there will definitely be a Killers release this year, probably around the second half of 2012.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Enemy Update On Third Album

The Enemy's lead singer, Tom Clarke, has taken to blogging about the band's upcoming third album. The album follows on from their 2009 effort Music For The People. He says that the sound is rawer than that of their previous album, and also that they think that same album was 'too serious'. It looks like we'll be seeing a return to the style of their debut We'll Live And Die In These Towns.

Confirmed song titles (from both the aforementioned band blog post and from various sources) are:
This Is Real (a demo of this song is here), Melody, Like A Dancer, Marion, Come Into My World, Miss Behaviour, Give Me The Sign and Bigger Cages Longer Chains.

Bloc Party Confirm Return

Bloc Party have confirmed that they will be returning in 2012 with a new album. They reportedly have recorded two songs so far, with another seventeen demos ready to be worked on. This follows their last album, 2008's Intimacy, and lead singer Kele Okereke's solo project which produced an album (The Boxer) and a more recent EP (The Hunter). The album is expected in late summer to autumn this year.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Enter Shikari Have Another New Single

Enter Shikari are set to unveil their new single, Arguing With Thermometers, on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show on Thursday morning between 7am and 10am. The song has been played live already, and has even been featured in a Radio 1 session, but the album version has yet to be heard. You can listen to the Radio 1 Maida Vale session version of the song here. The album, A Flash Flood Of Colour, is due out 16th January.

The single follows previous singles Snakepit and Gandhi Mate, Gandhi.

Maccabees To Air New Songs

The Maccabees have been chosen as Zane Lowe's album of the week, which means one song every day up to Thursday will be aired on Radio 1 - although as it is part of some Radio 1 takeover, the tracks will be aired sometime between 7am and 10am (GMT). They began today with Feel To Follow, which had already been released, and can be seen in the 'Song of the Week' box at the top of the blog sidebar. If you don't fancy getting up for that, you can listen again on BBC iPlayer.

The band are also album of the week on XFM, and that will be happening from 8pm. You can listen online from the XFM website.

The album itself, Given To The Wild, will be released on January 9th.