Slight Change of Plan

I did say that when I was off, I would start writing a lot more, and would be publishing a lot of reviews. In that time, two things have happened, and that’s why this blog has stayed relatively dead.

Last Monday, I had an email from AltSounds, letting me know I had a place as an intern writer for them (I had been in contact with them for a few months). AltSounds have about 2800 likes on Facebook (This blog has 3), so they have a lot larger audience and I prioritise them over my own writing. You can see what I publish on Altsounds here.

The second thing to happen was an idea. Whilst driving to London last weekend, I decided I was going to set up an online magazine, written by teenagers, for teenagers. That was when Whippersnapper was born. I have a good team already, and we are looking at getting more writers. We will be launching as soon as possible, although we have yet to buy the domain. The magazine will have a lot of different content, not just music, so I will get a chance to write about other topics. I will still be writing reviews and news for the magazine. I will post a link once everything is in place.

I am sorry for more reasons for my lack of writing, but you’ll be able to find my work in other places, and I will try to update this blog with my progress.

Review: Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Alt-J are the ultimate hipsters. While I write the term ‘hipster’, I have a cringe on my face but, at first glance, they fit the stereotype. Alt-J is the key command for the delta sign (Δ – a triangle*) on a Mac keyboard – you can’t find a hipper name. In photos, they refuse to have their faces showing – maybe looking at the camera is too ‘mainstream’.

*(For those unaware, triangles are the chosen shape of hipsters)

However, I may be a little harsh by throwing the ‘hipster’ term around so liberally. The peculiar race is known to have a love of the past and everything retro but Alt-J are not like this; so much current music just re-shapes past sounds, yet Alt-J seem to have created a whole new sound, codenamed ‘folkstep’. It describes their songs well; they are sort of peaceful dance music with acoustic sections. This is fresh and different, something a hipster will never be, no matter how hard they try.

An Awesome Wave is Alt-J‘s debut album, yet it seems to mature and well-rounded to be their first shot. It is all built upon and around the drum beat. Thom Green (the drummer, obviously) drums like he’s a machine; he is the beating heart of the songs. On top of this are the twangy guitar rhythms, synth tunes, and multi-layered harmonics to complete the sound. In songs such as ‘Fitzpleasure‘, the dubstep part of ‘folkstep’ becomes quite clear, with the wobble bass reverberating in the background, constantly supported by the tight drum line. This is topped by harmonics that mirror those of Django Django and, in all, something unique is created.

Alt-J – Fitzpleasure

Alt-J made their album available to stream three weeks ago (That was at the time of writing – by the time this is published, it was probably about two months ago). With the songs, they provided a quick insight into the lyrics meanings (while it may take the skill of interpretation out, it does make my life a lot easier). The most interesting of these stories is, possibly, ‘Dissolve Me‘. It is about one of the band member’s bedtime routine with their mum. Together, they would describe a day at the beach, and the band member would fall asleep to the mum making sea noises. It is such an amazing song- the story behind it just adds another dimension. Whenever they sing the line “She makes the sound, the sound the sea makes, to calm me down“, it is a peaceful break, one in which slipping into a dreamy realm is promoted, much like the sounds did for the child of the story. It is like a poem, something magical.

Alt-J – Dissolve Me

The album contains three ‘interlude’ tracks that are around one minute long, quite an unusual feature. The first is called ‘Ripe & Ruin‘, and is just vocals, one long harmony. The later are called ‘Guitar‘ and ‘Piano‘. They provide a rest in the album. ‘Guitar‘ is literally just a guitar line, with the sound of a road and some voices faintly drifting in from the background. ‘Piano‘ is similar; it is like a fifty second duet between a piano and a voice. You could quite easily listen to the album and not notice it, yet it’s so beautiful.

An Awesome Wave surprised me. I expected to like it, but it really blew me away. It is special. For a debut album, Alt-J couldn’t have done better. They are an exciting band, which is a rarity among today’s mundane mainstream music.


Good News!

My exams are basically dealt with. I shall be off on holiday as of next week, and will free for about three months. Of course, I’ll only be able to write during gaps in my busy social life, so in the end, I’ll only be able to write for about 99.9% of that time. I have a massive list of albums to review, and more keep getting released each week. I shall try to get all of them written, but seeing as my list extends back a few months, I’m not sure how many I can do. I also have a Slow Club review to finish, I think that will be the next post I will publish.

Last night, I manage to write about 500 words on very little. I think it probably coincides with my internet being turned off. The blog post is here.

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I will now attempt to write something deep and meaningful, I will probably end up sounding pretentious.

Music is often referred to as a drug; such a slogan is regularly written across t-shirts or other attire. I always have found this concept weird, so the ‘music = drug’ cliché has become one I don’t partially like. Yes, music is addictive and one can often feel like something is missing when going for a long time without it. Yet music can do little damage. One never reads of tragic stories like “A man’s life was ruined when he became addicted to reggae”, or “Teenager dies of dubstep overdose”. To me, music has nothing but positive implications; while I do think some music is rather unpleasant, it is never really harmful.

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This Week’s New Band: Pale Seas

I am just taking a quick break from my revision to write this post. I am still writing up the Slow Club gig, I am struggling a bit, but I am pleased so far. I only have about two weeks of exams left, so I should be back to full-time writing soon.

This week’s new band is called Pale Seas. They are so good! I had to take a break from important revision to write about them. I first heard them only about thirty minutes ago. I nearly didn’t press play, but clicking that button was the best decision of today. I heard them on Flying With Anna, and since then have listened to all the songs I can find (that number is still only six, but I have listened to several versions of some).  You can download their current single (released on March 8th) ‘Something or Nothing’ with its B-side ‘Amour’ for free of their Facebook page.

Their music is dreamy folk, with magical, glorious harmonics.  I am in awe a little now. The music is so beautiful; the acoustic guitars, vocals, and other little twinkly sounds just combine into something amazing. They give me that feeling inside, the one that great music gives you, almost a feeling of euphoria.

Sorry For The Short Break

Sorry, I have not posted anything for over one month. I am coming up to a period of exams and, due to external reasons, I have not be able to/allowed to write anything for a while. During revision breaks, I have been writing up a review of a Slow Club gig, and I shall post that when it is done. I will not be able to get back to writing properly until around June 1st. Until then, this blog shall remain desolate.
You may of also noticed that I have just given the blog a bit of a spring clean and a make-over, I hope you like the new layout.

This Week’s New Band – Alt-J ∆

I loathe the amount I have published recently and I know that I find myself apologising on every post. I am currently finding difficulties reviewing the albums I have set aside to write about. Hopefully, the new La Sera album, which comes out next week, shall kick my brain back into form.

This week’s new band is Alt-J ∆. They were supporting Wild Beasts when I saw them last Thursday. I wasn’t so sure of them at first, but I always have an element of doubt when listening to new music. Once I let myself submerge into the music, I found myself un-able to resist their hooks and addictive beats. They are the sort of band that makes dancing inevitable, even if you have never heard their music before.

At the moment, I can only find two songs to purchase online, as well as a few remixes of those tracks. ‘Matilda’ is the infectious single; it’s the type of song that embeds its self into your head, providing a soundtrack for the next few days. ‘Fitzpleasure’ is the other song off the EP. It echoes the sound of Django Django, with layered vocals and deep, bassy synths. Both songs are built upon an amazing drum beat, which sounds like a drum machine, but is all thanks to an incredible drummer.