London-based trio Distant Bonds brings forth something so different and original with their single “Defender.” Amazing, acceptable, adequate, satisfactory, catchy, and classic are just a few adjectives used to describe the song as a whole. Aside from their tailor made catchy hooks, and awesome instrumentation, the group as a whole presents an awesome dynamic. Their vocal presence is unique, and each voice blends perfects with the other. What intrigued me the most about this band is there inept ability to tell a unique story.
“Defender,” is a well written musical masterpiece. The track is a subdued tale of a hero, who is also simply human flaws and all. I love the play on words, the lyrical intensity and the vocal arrangements. The song hits a few climatic moments which really bring the piece together. Overall, beautiful sentiment of good versus evil, done via the soundtrack of an amazing band.
If you draw a Venn diagram of exploratory music, where the intersection between technical metal, progressive and post-rock occurs you won’t find a whole lot of bands, but you will find Colors in Mind. With their latest release, Yugen Peaks they build their sound on a wonderfully fluid post-rock template, one that eschews the 4/4 signature and rigid verse-chorus ethic of traditional rock and instead wanders its own musical journey, often lingering in one lush musical landscape before flitting through more minimal territory, languishing in gentle, bucolic beauty and then climbing dramatic peaks.
It isn’t hard to see this approach as a modern day progressive classical music, the instruments may have been updated from the traditional format but the symphonic nature of the music is obvious to all. And l it tells its story as much through symphonic sound as it does the lyrics, it maybe be a less obvious, less direct method, but it is no less heart tugging, emotive and effective. It is music of the heart and soul, requiring total immersion. Whilst most music contains its own user manual amongst its beats and notes, one that tells the listener exactly how to interpret the message, this is more about osmosis, a vibe to be soaked up and ingested.
Be courageous. Be honest. Be compassionate. Be Talented. Most importantly be yourself. This has to be Miles Blue Spruce’s mantra, his passion for music exudes in every aspect of his journey. In another era; he would have been an endearing but soulful – rock front man at least twenty years his senior. Lucky for us, he wasn’t and we can enjoy the powerhouse singer, amazing showman, and incredible musician who’s also a pretty amazing audio engineer.
I recently had the pleasure of listening to an original piece entitled, “Flame,” in the musical realm Miles may have succeeded where others have failed, in authenticity. “Flame,” is a beautifully written contemporary rock that brings to mind passion, love and unrelenting passion. The song opens with some exceptional guitar riffs, dynamic tones, and it even utilizes some classic rock chords, patterns, and traditional tempos. The exceptional vocal melodies provide accessible and dynamic tones as it builds at full length in intensity and energy. There’s a slight stream of consciousness in the lyrical delivery which only enhances the classic feel.
Miles’ voice, although light and crisp provides such an intense trance that seems to seamlessly pull you in with just the right amount of riffs and adlibs. Production and arrangement wise this song although similar in quality is slightly above what you may be used to with indie artist. It’s crisp, very clear, there’s no oversaturation of reverb, there’s no unnecessary enhancements to the vocal patterns only pure artistry. The song keeps a basic arrangement through several distinct sections with only some fine adjustments to the bass line and slight additions of a few blues infused chords joining the ever-present classic guitar. This piece has been perfectly molded into a well-orchestrated symphony of diversity. Its classic, it’s modern, it’s soulful, it’s harmonious, it’s authentic, it art, in short, its music. Although the piece is classified as; “rock,” the rich vocal presence coupled with the dulcet driven guitar easily provides this song with a mass crossover appeal.
“Flame,” incorporates elements of alternative rock, blues, and even a slight hint of country while remaining rooted deeply in originality. If this song is at all a hint of what’s to come from Miles Blue Spruce, then I expect to hear quality music for years to come.
With an evocative title like King on the Cross, you know Mystic Tears are cooking up some kind of trouble. Structured like a sing-along and performed with a blistering disdain directed towards theological figures and the atrocities performed in their names, King on the Cross brings up some of what music lost when psychedelic rock fell out of fashion. There’s something really ear-catching about the juxtaposition of simple, repetitive verses underscored with sinister themes and Mystic Tears know just how to capture that haphazard magic and shoot it with intent and precision.
The bassline walks tall and confidently while vocals echo through the halls toward a distant, menacing distorted guitar. Despite the atmosphere, there is no energy lost. Harmonically rich sound effects via the guitar keep things nice and interesting and the building layers of vocals climax but always come back for more. This is a song that doesn’t only seek to make its point. It doesn’t stop until it’s left you haunted. Whether preaching to the choir or converting new members of the congregation, King on the Cross is sure to draw a crowd for Mystic Tears.
NewWaves, with their vibrant energy, strong melodic phrases, and a rhythmic drive which is precisely on point, are an alternative rock band from Sweden who have a captivating presence evident in their music along with a very distinctive sound. Right after the first few seconds of listening to the song you can immediately tell this should be a radio hit and a song that everyone will be singing and dancing to in live events. As the chorus of the song hits, it is very difficult to resist moving along to the groove, and its catchy melody is something which you will definitely find yourself singing or humming after first listening to the track.
One thing that is so striking about these guys is their ability to play with rhythm and use it creatively in their work, which gives their song structure a lot of drive and stylish sense of variation. This is not the only thing which makes them sound so authentic, though. “In The Clouds,” with its strong rhythm and melody along with a very particular vocal tone colour and use of digital effects is definitely a song which captures NewWave’s cool energy and artistic vision, making them a band which you should keep an eye out for.
If you are one of those people who still thinks that music based on studio beats and music made with big, loud guitars are mutually exclusive forms, Craysco is the last word and full stop at the end of that debate. Built on a lazy electronic groove, skittering beats and peripheral studio details, the track is quickly overtaken by powerful guitars and pounding backbeats. And it is this ability to meld to worlds together which is the real selling point.
Take the guitars out and you have classic, confrontational, slow hip-hop vibes and cutting edge rap styles. Take those elements out and you have dark, futuristic alt-rock with some wonderful psychedelic noodling thrown in. But thread the two together, as Craysco has so eloquently done, and you have the perfect sound for the modern post-genre world. All the raw familiarity of music’s past glories coupled with everything that makes today’s musical expressions so unique, together making a wonderful sound for the future.
Under the title of Invisible Dears, Thomas Baud mixes a strange and heady brew. It is part post-folk, part neo-psychedelic, part retro and nostalgic, part futuristic and forward looking, part dream like and part driving and anyone who can do all of that in just one song is someone who you really need to get to know better. If Syd Barrett’s story had been a less tragic one and he had carried on making music, this is the sort of sound I imagine he would have gathered around him.
But whereas Barrett would have arrived at his musical destination through a series of random accidents or via belligerent non-conformity, Baud’s approach seems much more deliberate, intricately planned, deftly crafted and purposeful. Barrett would have sprung his version on you as a joke, which only he was on the inside of, Baud, delivers his with not only fine precision but also a knowing wink. If one song can cover so much ground imagine how great a full Invisible Dears album is going to be.
Vandenborre is an independent band with a truly unique approach to their music. Their sound blurs the lines between trip hop, alternative rock and experimental music in a truly special way. Their recent song, “The Unstoppable View”, is a masterfully produced track that has some fascinating atmospheres and hypnotic sonic fabrics.
The clever and unusual melodies of this song make me think of artists as diverse as Bjork or The XX, but Vandenborre also have a slightly old school feel, which echoes back to the sound of great 70s rock music (including bands such as Pink Floyd or Tangerine Dream, just to mention but a few).
The most striking thing about this production is definitely the oneiric feel of the composition, and the way the understated and elegant recordings managed to capture the group’s stunning artistic vision in full. The artwork also deserves a special mention, as it truly speaks volumes about the tone and feel of the music itself.
Vandenborre managed in the hard task of combining different musical influences into a formula that can unquestionably be identified as their own.
“The Unstoppable View” is a song that feels dreamy and ethereal, with cascading melodies and stunning vocal harmonies that add depth and presence to the whole arrangement.
It’s always nice to hear a band that truly appreciates the bass. This instrument can be so neglected in mixes, but when it’s unleashed in just the right way, it can set a truly powerful foundation that enhances everything around it. State of Ember is a three piece band that knows how to make the most of their rock trio. While alternative rock isn’t what it used to be, it’s honestly refreshing to hear some strong drumming and some dynamic guitar work. Lead by a strong yet relatively reserved vocal, Ghost of You is a song that doesn’t need to scream or fight the listener in order to feel like a commanding presence.
There’s a lot of effort here for a song that honestly won’t break too many rules. The structure is sound, the dynamics have peaks and valleys without whispered or blaring sections, and the overall themes are consistent. This song could sneak onto many a playlist without risking being too anomalous. While some might not be able to recognize edge that isn’t skin deep, State of Ember has composure and control where many fringier bands can only flail and hope they hit their target. Ghost of You is a song that knows what it’s doing and makes me miss some of the fantastic alternative rock songs of days passed. Is there more to come? Can we revive the spirit and bring this back into fashion? With State of Ember, we just might have a chance.
There is a wonderful understatement to No Secrets, one that is unusual in this world of bravado and bombast, glitz and glitter. Whilst their peers are writing anthem ready pop in the name of indie, Nobodies Birthday are the masters of the slow burning, brooding meander, never giving away the goods too quickly, never falling for gimmickry or losing site of the song in the name of a quick buck.
Even when the choruses do kick in it is more a series of musical plateaus rather than the mountain peak meaning that as the song crescendos its way to the finish it gradually pays off as it goes along rather than having one music punch line which is often followed by an anti-climax. Nobodies Birthday are the masters of restraint, slow unravelling and heightened anticipation, which means that whilst others may be described as anthemic, they manage to be majestic.