Friday, 8 October 2010

Riverkids - The Seed

'The Seed' opens with a great beat, and when Pete Lawrie starts his soft rapping it promises to be something special. Fast forward to the chorus though, and, while its still pleasant on the ear drums, it’s just not the something spectacular you were waiting for. Listen to the first twenty seconds or so and its great: listen to it all and it’s OK. Still, keep an eye on these two because they’ve got what it takes to make really great music, it just hasn’t happened with this one. At the moment, a song for when you need a bit of background noise but nothing to pay too much attention to.

Rachel Hill

Rihanna - Only Girl

I’m grinning from ear to ear right now, and I’ll tell you why: Rihanna has returned musically to that shiny, happy place that brought us the likes of 'S.O.S' and 'Rude Boy'. This delightful, cheery tune is a massive contrast to the sound of her previous, darker studio album “Rated R” and showcases her talent for producing addictively catchy records whilst simultaneously changing hairstyles more than most would change their underwear! The best way to describe the ecstatically charged pop energy of this song is to imagine you are merrily eating piles of candy floss whilst flying over a rainbow on a sparkly, pink unicorn (called Sally)!

Owen Bull

Tina Lie - Twilight Hour

Tina Lie’s strong country vocals dominate her new single suggesting an alternative Americana feel to her music. However, her voice is the only element of originality on the track. The melody is upbeat and momentarily catchy but it is a generic tune – bland and indistinctive. Her lyrics are disappointing, amateur and typically ‘pop-rock’. They lack any sort of personality and are in places cringe worthy - she sounds almost as bored singing them as I was listening to them. Tina’s strongest asset is her rich, powerful voice, and it’s a real shame that it is undermined by this forgettable, mundane melody.

Marianne Dick

Robinson - That's All I Really Want

In Robinson’s ‘That’s All I Really Want’, Andy yearns for the simple life: "I want a place by the sea with a record player, with an old beaten up guitar with a pub down below just to stumble back home". Thanks to the melodic string accompaniment, our concentration is diverted away from his wishy-washy lyrics and the track provides a decent listen.

Joelle Lerner

Warpaint - Undertow

There’s a beautiful balance at play within Warpaint’s new single ‘Undertow’: the delicacies of the all female vocals set against a tougher, more urgent drum beat creates an inviting intimacy. It’s definitely not hard to see why Warpaint were chosen to do an opening slot for The XX’s forthcoming Autumn tour - like the breathy closeness of The XX, there’s a comparable use of responsive vocals going on, with the vocalists of Warpaint echoing over one another to create something ethereal and powerful. Combined with their use of Tegan and Sara-style angsty riffs, and I’d say you have something close to a winner.

Ros Fraser

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Everything Everything - Schoolin'

A perfectly pleasant piece of indie-pop following the same formula we hear every week of jaunty construction aiming for unique and hitting generic. This one has some not so novel whistle melody thrown in alongside the seemingly compulsory falsetto vocals. Some of their other tracks are half-decent but all lack longevity - and this is no different.
I can’t help thinking they are going down the same route as the Twang. Couple of good tracks, make a small impact through a few high profile people hyping them then disappearing for too long and coming back with a lacklustre second attempt considering the break. Bit early to call that? Maybe but just in case best book them for some desperate comeback attempt at Newcastle freshers week 2014 then.

Max Beavis

The Parlotones - Push Me to the Floor

Take The Script, add a bit of Snow Patrol (the not so good stuff) and make the result South African. What you are left with is something pleasant but bland and utterly forgettable. As good as it was to have a local band play the World Cup concert I would be very surprised to encounter them again.

Max Beavis

The Xcerts - Slackerpop

Signed to Xtra Mile, home to Frank Turner and Fake Problems, The Xcerts are in good company producing punk for the modern music landscape. Fast pace and simple melodies make a palatable record. It won’t be playlisting any radio stations but if you like Xtra Mile’s roster it’s worth a look.

Max Beavis

Marner Brown - Dirty Weekend

Take a simple, effective riff and a glance into a familiar, hedonistic lifestyle - naturally succeeded with regret ("sitting in my bed trying to wash away the weekend") - and you get a pretty decent indie rock and roll crowd pleaser. An infectious, radio-friendly chorus and a littering of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the up-and-coming London band’s latest single suggests future festival potential.

Sean Peacock

(Never Mind The) Stars - France

A promising start and a welcomed finish, but 'France' manages to make a catchy tune quickly become repetitive and monotonous. Of the thirty seconds one could initially enjoy, the single offers nothing enticing, except for providing a little amusement when listening to the lyrics. It does achieve “non-pretentious musical fun,” but if not eating the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream that the single will soon help advertise, this is one to skip over when on shuffle.

Aliena Haig

The Bridgeheads - The Best One

Despite The Bridgeheads claim to "rich guitar textures, variations in dynamics and complexity of drumming" the ironically named single ‘The Best Ones’ conveys a sound that is bland and empty of imagination. The single begins with some ill-mixed drums and guitar which eventually develops in the chorus: unfortunately, at this juncture the singer launches into some tuneless falsetto and listening becomes unbearable. ‘The Best Ones’ conveys a failed attempt to imitate Radiohead, but without any of the skills and creativity that the latter naturally possess.

Becky Such

Tigers That Talked - 23 Fears

A likeable release from the Leeds based band Tigers That Talked, attempting to be melodramatic and epic simultaneously – and succeeding, just. A little forgettable and irrelevant, it takes a few listens to get your teeth into ’23 Fears’, but it’s pleasing and enjoyable nonetheless. Think Kings of Leon’s 'Notion', absent of heavy guitars or swagger. The dance remix is similarly good, but nothing spectacular.

Sean Peacock

The Perfect Crime - Everything Else Can Wait

I’m not sure what the sound effect at the start of track one, ‘Hailstones’ is, but it is certainly not hailstones. It is something far more disturbing, and not in an altogether positive way. It is clear from the adventurous and complex rhythms (‘Are We There’, for example) and dynamic confidence that the band have been together from a young age: this Cambridgeshire three-piece definitely know how to make a huge sound. Unfortunately, the lyrics lack subtlety and are littered with obvious rhymes, taking you back to the nauseating teenage emo stage in your musical education that most people would rather not re-live, frankly. Take for instance the lyrics "Let’s go back to the start again, Let’s go back to when we were friends" in ‘Hounded’...not exactly ground breaking stuff. None the less, there are moments of real promise, but sadly every time one of their intricate and harrowing melodies has grabbed your attention, it is interrupted by lead vocalist Adam Mortaro’s scream, that can only be described as ferocious barking. It’s powerful stuff... maybe I’m just not angry enough.

Rose Spittles

Feel My Method - Blackpuddin'

Blackpuddin’ is one of the strangest creations I’ve ever listened too, an unsettling mix of Yamaha keyboard sound effects, vulgar lyrics and the occasional scream. Almost every song sounds the same. I suspect one of their musical influences may be The Prodigy - they’re obviously attempting to reproduce a similar Rap-Rock-Electronic combination Liam Howlett and co. have mastered so well. Sadly, Feel My Method fail miserably. The most listenable track on the album, 'No Soul', is almost catchy and danceworthy but some bizarre occasional grunting sounds ruin the nearly achieved effect. The lyrics are slightly more comprehendible than the mumblings which characterise the rest of the album, but sadly this isn’t enough to save them. ‘No Soul’ is followed by their ballad track 'Hold On’, Feel My Method claim "you gotta have the ballad", I beg to differ. After 6:33 minutes of warbling I’d barely managed to hold on to my sanity. I can safely say I never want to feel, see or hear Chazegge’s method ever again.

Rebecca Hollingdale

Andy Lucas - Weekend Millionaire

Darkly humorous lyrics and macabre subject matter made up my first impressions of Andy Lucas’s debut effort, Weekend Millionaire. Song titles such as 'Miserable Musical Prostitute' and 'Einstein and the Taxi Driver' are immediately eye-catching - however, while his songs are often lyrically amusing (“It’s easy to be flippant when you’re zombie-ed on Prozac”, or Einstein snubbing Newton as a “jammy little apple-finding fuck”), his music is often simply not as striking as his words. In his liner notes, Lucas describes his “music and stories” as “a little untamed slice of madness”; 'Birds' and 'Burn' exhibit trailing and tripping melodies, and 'Talk Of The Town' offers a melancholy cello strain, but for the most part “Weekend Millionaire” it is yet another jazz & blues influenced pop record. If swirling arrangements and sardonic lyrics are what you seek, Andy Lucas is unlikely to disappoint; but while not altogether unoriginal, Weekend Millionaire is relatively recycled.

Rachel Belward

The Union - Black Monday

Comprised of Thunder guitarist Luke Morley and ex-Winterville members, The Union offer a razor sharp taster of their self titled debut album with the release of their single, Black Monday. What starts of as an acoustic piece soon erupts into a vibrant dose of electric rock that simply oozes passion and cool with every note. If this classy number doesn’t convince you to check out the rest of the album then give it a listen anyway, you won’t be disappointed.

James Fairfield

We're back...

After a nice summer break, NSR's back and ready to broadcast. We'll be keeping the blogs updated with all the reviews, interview and opinions of our music team. So, without further delay, the articles...

Ben Lowes-Smith and Mark Corcoran-Lettice