Sunday, 30 September 2012

Live Review: Deaf Havana

Live Review: Four Year Strong

Hildamay Interview

Album Review: Enter Shikari - A Flash Flood Of Colour

St Albans, known as an affluent suburb of London and the home of many of the city’s rich and successful, may not seem the most obvious of starting points for one of the UK’s politically vocal acts. But old Albanians Enter Shikari, since their breakthrough in the middle of the last decade; have evolved from hyped post-hardcore teens, into one of the most socio-conscious acts plying their trade on the scene today.

The jump in tone between the band's debut album 'Take To The Skies' and their 2009’s sophomore record 'Common Dreads' took some getting used to. It’s a topic that proves divisive to this day among their fan base, some of which are uneasy at having such angsty ideals hollered from their speakers. But, for every fan disillusioned with the evolution of Rou Reynolds and co, there are more that see Shikari as one of the only true innovative bands around, and hang on every provocative word.

And, in truth, it’s not simply the subject matter that’s changed as we reach 2012 and the release of their third full-length offering 'A Flash Flood Of Colour'. The 4-piece’s sound has shown a dramatic development from its dance-core origins, with less emphasis on Reynolds' course screams that marked their early work, replaced by more audible vocals and constant nods to the thing they call ‘dubstep’.

It’s a blistering start, gargantuan tracks ‘Meltdown…’ and lead single ‘Sssnakepit’ propelling 'AFFOC' into action. The former especially has a powerful anthemic edge, and yearns to be performed in a live setting, the cries of ‘it’s not too late, it’s not too late’ inspiring a unity that’s, surely, best achieved in a seething mosh pit, the type that Shikari do best.

The record is a string of venomous attacks on the governance of planet earth and the issues of the modern day. Whether it’s the sordid international fight for oil on ‘Arguing With Thermometers’, or the contradictions of the establishment and society on the brutally forthright ‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’, Enter Shikari have pulled no punches.

And the Hertfordshire boys aren’t afraid of trying their hand at something a bit more subtle, and in the rousing closer ‘Constellations’ they have penned perhaps their most thoughtful work to date. A final push towards the band’s ethos of unity, the track is beautifully judged and imaginatively built, providing a sense of finality for the record that fits perfectly.

Music so often details subjects and stories that have been told time and again in one way or another. With the major label machine so concerned with limiting the creative spark of their artists and dumbing down their products to create and dictate their own markets, it’s energizing to hear artists who have purpose and ethos, something that critics of Enter Shikari’s style would do well to remember.


Liam McGarry

'A Flash Flood Of Colour' is out January 17th through Hopeless Records.

(link to article)

Album Review: A Loss For Words - No Sanctuary

One of a growing number of acts to come out of the musical hub that is Boston, Massachusetts, A Loss For Words are, like the proverbial tortoise, slowly going about their business and in doing so creeping into a more mainstream conscience. After an eclectic set of releases since 2005’s debut 'These Past Five Years’(including a split, an acoustic EP and last year’s moderately well received Motown cover album) the 5-piece return with full length studio offering ‘No Sanctuary’, which very much continues where 2009’s ‘The Kids Can’t Lose’ left off.

In an interview earlier this year, guitarist Mark Dangora explained to ATP! the bands’ vision for 'No Sanctuary', stating: “We want the record to be big sounding, loud guitars and catchy vocals.” And, true to their manifesto, AL4W have delivered on just about every level.

Immediately, we’re introduced to the band’s thrusting, full throttle manner; ‘Honeymoon Eyes’demonstrating their heavier side early on. Commendable though, is how seamlessly their varying styles merge, with ‘Pray for Rain’s chirpy, melody driven indie/pop punk sound sitting well with the opener and the likes of ‘The Hammers Fall’, the grittier tracks on the record.

It’s notable too, that there are no obvious weak links in their armor. There’s no filler. And but for ‘Jetsetter’,a rather lifeless slower number (the type that has seemingly become obligatory on rock records) every track has its own individual appeal. Whether it’s the devilish hook on 'The Lost Cause I Used To Be', the thudding hardcore intro to the album’s title track or the delicate vocals that conclude ‘Wrightsville Beach’, the record is teeming with standout moments.

‘No Sanctuary’ should be the release that sees A Loss For Words make their mark. A notoriously hard working band, they’ve got a split EP with New Yorkers, Such Gold in the pipeline, as well as a UK stint with pop-punk supremos Four Year Strong, and any successes to come will be very well earned indeed.


'No Sanctuary' is out October 25th through Rise Records.

Liam McGarry

(link to article)

Album Review: The Cinema - My Blood Is Full Of Airplanes

The love child of Lydia front man Leighton Antelman and the Arizona indie rockers' long time producer Matt Malpass, The Cinema bring a sound reminiscent of Owl City, through a side project comparable to that of Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard and producer Jimmy Tamborello with their work as The Postal Service. Combining floaty light synth with thrusting beats and Antelman's mesmerizing vocals, 'My Blood Is Full Of Airplanes' is far more than, as has been mentioned elsewhere, a rip off of Owl City (the irony being that many critics saw Adam Young's venture as riding the wave generated by The Postal Service and Death Cab.) No, it's better than that. Built on an endless electronic backdrop, The Cinema's universe is completed by Antelman's lyrical, and vocal sincerity which gleams through on every track.

Opener 'Satellites' is not simply an introduction to the record but a baptism, an induction into The Cinema's world. It sums up the band's sound, gives us an indication of things to come with it's anthemic, accelerating chorus. The album is brilliantly quotable, with almost every track possessing a line of interest, constantly provoking vivid imagery. 'The Wolf' ('I played the wolf, and left it to the sheep to figure out') and 'Say It Like You Mean It' ('I picture her in the street light, barefoot for the whole night').

A slight qualm rears it's head in the fact that by half-way through the record you're not really sure how many songs you've navigated your way through. The songs beginning to blur, a common ailment suffered by the garage pop, mac generated sounds associated with the genre.

But, individually, every song has it's merits and the remainder of the record holds as much quality as it's beginnings. 'Kinetic' has an energy, an excitable rhythm that manages to sit perfectly next to the more subtle, docile tones of 'She's On My Arm Now'.

The final, title track, serves as a beautiful comedown for an upbeat record, bringing to album to its conclusion in a softer, yet just as potent fashion.

It wont be to everybody's taste but, if you ever feel like giving the electronic indie-rock genre a go, you wouldn't go too far wrong with this.


'My Blood Is Full Of Airplanes' is out now.

Liam Mcgarry

(link to article)

Album Review: The Cab - Symphony Soldier

The line between pop-punk and just pop has undoubtedly become finer as the genre has made its way into a more mainstream conscience. And The Cab's second full length offering would indeed be just as likely to sit on the shelves alongside Justin Timberlake as it would New Found Glory. 'Symphony Soldiers' has taken its sweet time to grace our ears. For fans of the Nevada 5-piece, the three year wait will be of minimal importance compared to the record Alexander DeLeon and co. have created. For everyone else, a couple of chirpy radio friendly tracks do little to disguise it's mundane and repetitive sound.

Opening twosome 'Angel With a Shotgun' and 'Temporary Bliss'initially provide some optimism, especially the latter which (despite some shudder inducing lyrics) rises and falls in all the right places whilst possessing a sound reminiscent of early Maroon 5. But beyond this promising beginning, only the sickly pop 'Intoxicated' had any real strength, with a great pace and easy on the ear sound. The problem though, is that even the better songs on the record are nothing that hasn't been done before, both musically and lyrically. Not much of an omen for the weaker songs on the album. 'Lovesick Fool' is a unnecessarily soppy Backstreet Boys-esque ballad that takes you from relative happiness to pining for a blanket and a tub of Ben & Jerry's in just over four minutes, whilst 'La La' is enough to send you ga ga and piano driven 'Endlessly' is a 90s pop ballad throwback that can't end soon enough.

Despite the record's obvious faults, there's no doubt that The Cab's progression toward the mainstream will only increase their popularity. Marketed the right way, this type of friendly guitar driven pop can garner a large and dedicated following, and with a list of co-writers including Bruno Mars to Pete Wentz, there would appear to be big plans for this band's future.


'Symphony Soldier' is out now.

Liam McGarry

(link to article)

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