Monthly Archives: December 2010

Norman Palm – Easy

Geeky looking Norman Palm from Berlin is due to release his debut album Shore to Shore in the UK at the end of February 2011.

Having released what he calls a “record-book-bundle” called Songs last year which combined his visual and sound art, Norman has finally been picked up by the record company known as City Slang which has allowed him to put together his first proper album.

I’ve been given his single Easy from the new album to listen to. Here’s my verdict…

Easy is not your typical dance electro song. When it starts you’re introduced to a soothing rhythm and melody that lets your head escape into a pleasant trance. Unlike the hardcore electro that’s in the charts, this tune has so much more to offer.

After graduating from two art schools, it’s left Palm with an arty farty mind but he uses it to his best abilities. It’s clear he sees his music as a piece of delicate art.

The repetitive bass drum beat and synth could become irritating but instead it lets the song breath, creating elegance through simplicity. It’s one of the most relaxing things I’ve heard in ages.

Norman’s voice is very closely matched to Brian Molko’s (Placebo) vocals. Even though he’s from Berlin, his voice is Americanised just as Molko’s is. Sometimes this can be an annoying trait but on this track it makes everything that little bit more calming.

Although the song is repetitive, with the melody remaining the same throughout as well as most of the other elements being kept identical, it doesn’t become boring. The tenderness of the vocals along with the simplicity of the music is all that’s needed to make this song great.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Norman Palm click here.

He’s also done covers of Boys Don’t Cry and Girls Wanna Have Fun (click to hear them – excellent stuff).

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Tu Fawning – I Know You Now

Tu Fawning are a new band from Portland, Oregon. Last week they released their debut single I Know You Now and already have their album planned for release on January 10 2011.

Things seem to be moving pretty fast for them, it’s a shame I can’t say that about their song too. I Know You Now is strange. It has spooky yet soothing vocals combined with disorientating music. It could be a masterpiece. Instead it’s boring and repetitive. There’s no need for it to be four and a half minutes long either.

The chorus “I know you now, I know you now, I know you now and I won’t forget you” is stuck on repeat as are all the musical elements within this mundane song. However, saying that I’d like to congratulate them on the vocals which are superb. Combining melodic yet distant and disturbing sounds and lyrics the vocals are definitely the highlight of this song.

As the track kick starts, you hear what sounds like a distorted old record with a 1940s blues voice shining through. This gives the impression that it’s going to be a fantastic record. A classic. For the first minute and a half you’re satisfied then after that your brain starts getting fuzzled and you become complacent.

Nothing happens. Nothing changes. It’s the same all the way through. I went from thinking “This is so original. It’s great” to thinking “When does it end?” in the space of a minute. There’s something intriguing about it but it also feels like it’s lacking something.

I Know You Now could be a triumph but instead it feels drab. Perhaps Tu Fawning will have some better things on their album. Who knows?

 

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Wye Oak – Civilian

Wye Oak sounds like quite an unusual name for a band but not for this indie folk duo. Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack are all the way from Maryland, Baltimore taking their name from their state’s former tree which was destroyed by a thunderstorm.

That aside, it doesn’t seem this band will fall to their death anytime soon. They are to release their third album titled Civilian in March next year and I’ve had the privilege of listening to the title track.

Wye Oak

Jenn and Andy - the dynamic duo

Civilian combines eccentric rock guitar with folk vocals and up tempo drum beats.

It carries traditional folk elements such as Wasner’s soothing Joni Mitchell inspired voice but mixes it up with extreme guitar solos and fancy electronics.

Starting off, it portrays a dark theme by combining sad vocals, somber guitar and a plain drum beat accompanied by a lonesome tambourine. You’re left feeling as if that’s all it is going to consist of. Nothing will change or develop.

But this is the point behind the song. It has a sense of desperation. As the texture goes from soft to fast and pleading, it feels like something is being searched for. The lyrics, “I don’t need another friend. When most of them, I can barely keep up with them” help to show the message.

The drums and distorted guitar kick in alongside this, lending the song to become part of another genre. All components of rock, folk and indie are showcased explicitly. This duo knows how to please.

The tender vocals capture the essence of folk music whilst the building drum beat and passionately played guitar opens the song up to indie. I’ve never heard anything like this before and it’s brilliant.

Don’t miss their album release on March 7 2011.

 

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Matt Wins the X Factor

It’s over. It’s finally over. We have a winner, Matt Cardle.

It comes as no surprise really. The bookies have been claiming for ages that he’d take the crown and he has. But what a song to choose for an X Factor release! Biffy Clyro. That’s not the usual ballad rubbish that comes from the show.

Matt has a strong voice and he sings with such passion. I remember seeing him singing The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face) at bootcamp and being blown away. He’s wanted this for such a long time and I’m glad he finally has what he’s always wanted.

Although the winner usually disappears from the face of the earth within a few months, I hope it’s different this time. This time there’s true talent and someone that really deserves success. Let’s hope that with When We Collide being released as his debut, Matt Cardle goes a long way.

Just incase you missed it, here’s the moment when they announced his name and he performed When We Collide for the second time.

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X Factor Final – Cher Lloyd

OK so it’s the X Factor final and Cher has just performed her first song of the night.

I didn’t like her at the start and still don’t particularly like her now but that was good. She’s a true performer. At seventeen years old she has so much confidence oosing from every pour in her body.

The only problem is that she comes across as cocky. Her performances are great. Her attitude and on-stage persona are exactly what they need to be. But what is she like when she’s off stage?

With someone like Cher their confidence can sometimes be taken the wrong way. She knows she’s good and that people like her. But this assurance in herself as a performer seems to seep into her off-stage personality.

If she wins, will the fame go to her head? Is she prone to develop a massive ego that will gradually grate on people?
For the first time, this week X Factor have dug deep to show Cher as a normal teenager. They’ve shown numerous clips of her in her family home and clips of how she dealt with people fighting to catch a glimpse of her. Here she seemed completely normal and down to earth, maybe even overwhelmed. It allowed people to see her in a different light.

But is it a bad thing that she might be too full of herself? I don’t think so. I mean it does get on my nerves but I think it makes her the performer she is. Without that ‘I don’t give a…’ attitude she wouldn’t be the Cher Lloyd everyone has become so fascinated with and she most certainly wouldn’t be in the final tonight. I say good on her.

 

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Wheels Are Turning…

Meet the four piece band from London called Wheels. Meet the band members: George Runciman (Vocals/Guitar), Felix Howes (Guitar), Yacob Andersen (Bass) and Stirling Mitchell (Drums).

Now meet their music. Feel About Me is their debut single released fresh today. It combines memorable lyrics with good old-fashioned Britpop guitars.

Wheels

Four piece band, Wheels

They’ve come along and woken up the dregs that once was Britpop but with a creative twist. With their influences spreading across decades from David Bowie to TV On The Radio their sound does feel new. But it also feels very familiar.

I’m not saying the familiarity factor is a bad thing, it’s comforting. You know what you’re going to get, there’s no big surprises. I like that. The simplicity of the vocals and music show they’re not trying to be anyone else, they’re just being them.

Staying pretty close to the rules of the genre is George Runciman’s very British rockstar voice. His vocals resemble that of Richard Ashcroft with a tinge of his London accent bringing some attitude to this otherwise clean cut band.

The typical guitar riffs capture the tradition of Britpop but the rest of the song produces something a lot more melodic and pop like than other bands in the genre. With a catchy chorus that repeats “You know yourself a whole lot better…already can see how you feel about me, feel about me yeah” this song is more uplifting than expected.

Although edging towards Busted over Blur at times they do chuck in something a little rougher towards the end. The guitars become more akin to rock which helps to turn the song around, taking it away from the comforts of pop to rock, before bringing it back down for the end.

It’s refreshing to think Britpop is gradually fighting for its rightful place in the industry again and these guys tick the boxes. They have the solemn attitude, the simplicity and the musical ability. They give you a great chance to escape from the typical sounds found in the charts today in search of something with a bit more originality.

(If you want to hear more, check out In My Head).

 

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The Rhythm of Love

I flicked on Radio 1 to hear a lovely summery song playing. I ignored the rain hitting the window and allowed myself to absorb the summer tune.

It ends. Jo Whiley tells me that it’s the Plain White T’s – Rhythm of Love. I’m surprised. The voice is different, the music more relaxed. The singer’s changed, on this track it’s Tim Lopez (lead guitarist).

I’ve never been a huge fan of this band. Hey there Deliah was great, a real sweet song. But the rest of that album (Every Second Counts) is a bit plain. There was nothing different from the usual generic sounds of an American pop/rock group.

However, Rhythm of Love, due to be released on their fifth album Wonders of the Younger, is different. It’s a bit Noah and the Whale-esque, a bit Jack Johnson like. It’s great! You won’t realise at first that you’re listening to them.

From the first note, I thought “Is this Jason Mraz?” I found myself humming along, feeling good, feeling like it was still hot weather outside and the smell of BBQs were filling the air.

If you need to get away from this cold weather and the hype surrounding Christmas, this song will let you do just that. Put it on and you’ll be whisked away to a beach in Hawaii.

When some bands change their structure and have other people singing, it doesn’t work. For the Plain White T’s it’s done them wonders. Let’s hope the rest of their album, due for release on December 7, is just as uplifting.

 

 

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