Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One to get them talking

UP-AND-coming rockers A Silent Film could well do well following in the wake of Elbow's recent success.
For the Oxford-based group's debut sound is closely aligned to Guy Garvey's group, as well as adding hints of Snow Patrol, Athlete and even Pablo Honey era Radiohead.
A slew of epic, emotive piano-driven rock that gets grander as the album goes on, debut offering A City That Sleeps is never going to break down any musical barriers, and is a little naive at times.
What A City That Sleeps might do however, judging by fine nuggets such as the magnificent You Will Leave Your Mark, is wake up the record-buying public rather fast.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Buy Belleruche

ONE that passed me by on it's inital release last year was Belleruche's debut, Turntable Soul Music.
Penned by dj Modest, singer Kathrin deBoer and guitarist Ricky Fabulous, the album is a fantastic halfway house between Cut Chemist and Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings.
If the London-based trio's album, a collection of rich, soulful trip hop, did the same to you, check it out now.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

LOTP interview

I MENTIONED in a previous post that an interview with Late Of The Pier was in my pipeline.
You can now see the result of this chinwag on the Loughborough Echo site by clicking here, or in this week's paper, you skinflints.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's a steal!

FOR their fifth studio release, Washington DC-based trip hop duo Thievery Corporation are about to go global.
Sadly it's unlikely to be global in a Baby One More Time way - instead the group have enlisted the help of international talent ranging from Brazilian vocalist Seu Jorge to Afrobeat artist Fela Kuti to Indian sitarist Anushka Shankar for their latest LP, Radio Retaliation.
Melding trip hop, hip hop and dub with a world of other influences, the album is political without aggression, and without losing their trademark chilled out charm.
In short, Radio Retaliation is one i'd recommend you tune in to.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shri delight

LEADING British Asian musician Shri, full name Shrikanth Sriram, releases his third solo LP Seven Steps next Monday, marking an expansion as a solo artist.
And listening to the album, it's clear these steps are onwards and upwards.
Having worked with leading lights of the scene such as Nitin Sawhney and Talvin Singh, as well as notably teaming up with DJ Badmarsh, as well as putting out two LPs alone, Shri is now a producer as polished as a showroom car.
Fusing sturdy breakbeat and electro with rich, textured subcontinental instruments and influences, tracks like Just For A Minute and Pulse show Shri is equally at home in both fast and slow gears.
There are a few blips on this track list - the sketchy Mad B-Line for instance - but for the most part, Shri's latest is Seven Steps in the right direction.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rap from the Bay area

HAILING from Cuba's Guantanamo, yes, that Guantanamo, Madera Limpia - duo Yasel Gonzalez Rivera and Gerald Thomas Collymore - mix traditional Cuban music with modern rap.
It's a kind of Buena Vista Social Club meets The Roots.
And it's absolutely fantastic.
Granted, the duo rap in Spanish - and the only Spanish I know I've learnt from my daughter watching Go Diego Go - so I have no idea whether the pair are addressing social ills or undressing Cuban chicas in their lyrics.
But musically the mix of traditional Cuban styles, all brass and dance, with menacing beats and growling basslines lifted from hip hop and rap shown on La Corona just fits.
The album, the group's second, really is a crowning achievement.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Young Knives shed light on LP three

ECCENTRIC rock three-piece The Young Knives have revealed their third album's working title as Royal Daylight.
The group, who hail from Belton and Ashby-de-la-Zouch, are currently writing for the album, the follow-up to this year's supurb Superabundance.

Max out


BRITS Max Pashm's new album may have been created in a London studio, but the sound is a little more exotic than that.
The group, which describes their sound as "KlezmerBalkanGreekGypsyPunk with Electro-beats", is a melting pot which fuses influences ranging from Robert de Niro speeches to Zorba The Greek-style traditional tunes to contemporary breakbeats.
Sadly the result on Never Mind The Balkans... is not always as exciting as it sounds, if that makes any sense.
Too often, for example on Anarchy and The Tongue, Max Pashm take the whole thing too far and it's just a bit cringeworthy.
That said, for the best part the album is an inventive take on the traditional music of a region not normally given much of an airing on these shores - for example on Once Upon A Time In Hellas and I Nervo - and it works really well.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cold War Kids hot stuff

LESS obvious than Kings Of Leon's release, today also saw the sophomore album from Cold War Kids go on sale.
Loyalty To Loyalty is the follow-up to the magnificent Robbers And Cowards - an album I emplore you to check out - and it sees the group's ramshackle blues-indie continuing with vigour.
Probably best demonstrated in the stomping I've Seen Enough and the White Stripe'd Something Is Not Right With Me.
Perhaps a leveller for the band - less peaks but less troughs too - Loyalty To Loyalty won't disappoint the group's loyal following, and might perhaps gain them a few more to boot.

Kings Of Leon are rock royalty

THIS post is the first in a two-part series today, of paranoid American bands whose timbers are too shivered to send out promo CDs for fear of pirates.
I would normally not bother if an album's been released in this situation, unless it's something special.
However I've been on tenterhooks waiting for them both and had to part with my own hard-earned cash to buy both Kings Of Leon's Only By The Night and Cold War Kids' Loyalty To Loyalty, so I'm going to blog about them now, even though they're already out.
Luckily Kings Of Leon's fourth album is worth every penny.
Although continuing the band's evolution from garage rock to stadium rock started on Because Of The Times, the latest LP shows the group sitting more comfortably and assured in this changed role.
Traks like album opener Closer, single Sex On Fire, Use Somebody and Be Somebody literally swagger over the speakers.
You can currently listen to the album for free on Last.fm to see for yourself - but if you ask me, you should only buy Only By The Night.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wallet friendly unit shifter

EVERYBODY loves a bargain - that's probably why I put in all of this effort blogging just for a few promo CDs.
So why don't you get in on the action as well by snapping up a copy of Nick Catchdubs & Mr Ducker's online mix album Radio Friendly Unit Shifter.
It's a 38-track grungey nostalgia trip through songs such as Nirvana's Sliver, Soul Coughing's Super Bon Bon, Primus's Wynona's Big Brown Beaver and Weezer's El Scorcho, and it's free.
Click here to get a copy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Worth a look

WEBSITE Worth 1000, which runs regular contests for photoshoppers, held a rather good competition recently for people to put together pictures representing band names, as shown above.
You can see the entries they recieved by clicking here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stately Stateless

IT'S probably a bit late for a full review - as this LP was released in July - but I'd like to point you in the direction of Stateless's awesome Stateless.
The album is a trip-hoppy halfway house between emotive indie rockers such as Coldplay and Athlete and the turntablist hip-hop of the likes of DJ Shadow.
Championed by the likes of Roots Manuva and Shadow - who featured vocalist Chris James on his last LP The Outsider - the Leeds-based band's debut LP is well worth checking out.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hawk aye


IF YOU don't know what to expect from Glaswegian group Mogwai by now, then Mogwai not.
Because if you don't love them by now, you probably never will.
The Hawk Is Howling, the group's sixth studio album, doesn't break their introverted, instrumental, in the dark mould, ranging from slow-burning shoegazers like Local Authority to metal barrages such as Batcat.
And of course, nobody does this sort of thing better than these five Scots, the standard bearers for instrumental post-rock.
Where other acts of their ilk attempt to scream and shout, Mogwai howl – and that is precisely why this LP is completely engrossing for more than an hour.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cool Iglu And Hartly


CALIFORNIAN five-piece Iglu And Hartly, the hitmen behind single In This City, are something of a odd mish mash.
On And Then Boom, keyboard players Jarvis Anderson and Sam Martin lead the group through a collection of new wave synth pop as '80s as Alf.
But then, as unexpected as Tears For Fears dropping a junglist beat, the ivory tinklers light the fuse of their debut LP by rapping over the top with a flow mixing equal parts Doseone and Eminem.
Luckily, like Neon Neon's Mercury Prize-nominated Stainless Style earlier this year, this unholy union of alternative hip hop and '80s pop is riotous fun, and hopefully this means And Then Boom will explode into the charts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bloggers Choice Awards

JUST a quick beg and plead - Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice has been nominated in the Bloggers Choice Awards 2008, so please click here and help to give me a few votes.

Rolo pretty sweet


ROLO Tomassi desribe their sound as "a joyous explosion of melody, noise, anger, youthful exuberance, getting into the groove, not feeling the need to compromise or make music for any other reason than the drive to create something unique, messy and wonderful, a love of science, experimentation and punk/hardcore/what-the-hell-is-that-core".
Kind of makes my job as a reviewer a tad redundant, don't you think?
Nevertheless, I'll soldier on.
An unlikely union of hardcore punk, freeform jazz and ambient, the Sheffield group's debut LP Hysterics is as hard to pin down as a greased hog.
Flitting from thrashabout punk to The Doors-influenced freakouts to serene ambient and back to throat-ruining hardcore again, the album balances precariously between experimental and just plain mental.
And on balance there are more moments or brilliance than otherwise on Hysterics - so go nuts.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tapping into the charts

LATE Of The Pier, Castle Donington's finest rock experimentalists, are set to re-release Bathroom Gurgle as their next single.
The track, taken from debut album Fantasy Black Channel, will hit stores on October 27.
This will be the second outing for the track, which had a 500-copy limited edition 7" release just over a year ago.

Classic fifteen - Knockout Glassjaw


COUPLING influences ranging from acts such as Helmet to lead singer Daryl Palumbo's irritable bowel syndrome with an experimental urge to combine incendiary punk and hardcore with anything from jazz to ambient, Worship And Tribute was always going to be that little bit different.
New Yorkers Glassjaw's second LP, the 2002 release saw the group deliberately maturing their explosive post-hardcore sound honed on Everything You Wanted To Know About Silence.
As well as being both challenging and intriguing musically, Palumbo's engaging, acerbic style is also more melodic here.
As a result songs such as Mu Empire and Ape Dos Mil have almost mainstream twist, whilst remaining fiercely unique, creative and raw.
As I alluded to in a previous post, fans like myself are still awaiting a follow-up to this album.
But for the meantime this LP is worthy of both worship and tribute.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Perry poor


AS HER album title would suggest, cherry chapstick flavour pop tart Katy Perry wants dearly to be One Of The Boys.
However despite her flair for novelty and an obvious vocal ability, and a legion of hitmakers behind her, this debut LP seems to smack of a desperation to be centre of attention – it's the musical equivolent of car crash television.
Either Perry is trying too hard with her Avril Lavigne-style pop rock - as in I Kissed A Girl or Ur So Gay - and just ends up a bit embarrassing, or she's not over-egging it - Thinking Of You or Mannequin - it's not worth looking at all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Definately Maybes?


MAYBE it's because I can't stop listening to Metallica's ferocious Death Magnetic, released yesterday.
Maybe it's because I've dusted off no less then three classic albums by the greatest exponents of Liverpool-penned rock, The Beatles, over the last week.
Maybe I'm just being overly critical.
But something about debut LP from The Maybes?, Promise, just doesn't make the grade for me. The Scouse band's lead singer Nick Ellis has a real Kings Of Leon drawl to his voice, and their accomplished songwriting confidently struts from epics a la Keane to Primal Scream-style blow outs.
The Maybes? album is titled Promise, and a hell of a lot is demonstrated here, but at the moment, on listening, the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
Maybe it's a grower...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ne-Yo the perfect Gentleman


HAILING from Las Vegas, you can bet Ne-Yo knows a thing or two about showbusiness.
Dressed in a suit sharper than a pointy piece of lemon, the R&B sensation's introduction in the form of chart-topping hit Closer boded well for this release, Year Of The Gentleman.
But despite being stylistically influenced by the Rat Pack, musically this LP doffs it's Panama hat more to the pop-soul of Micheal Jackson than swingers of old.
Either way, with refined modern R&B production over Motown-based soul, there's the distinct whiff of the classic about it - not surprising for man who's penned hits for Rihanna, Beyonce and Mario among others.
Standing out amongst a glut of ballads so polished you can see your face in them are the Prince-meets-Usher Fade Into The Background and forthcoming release Miss Independent.
At times Ne-Yo can be too slick to get a firm grip on, but with hits in his locker of this quality, 2008's Year Of The Gentleman could well should see Ne-Yo nicely into 2009 as well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Classic fourteen - Hearing Los Lobos


COLOSSAL Head, the 1996 album by American-Mexican rockers Los Lobos, barely tickled the charts this side of the pond.
And the album, which was a return after a four-year hiatus for the LA-based group, whose name means The Wolves, is regarded by fans of the band as one of their weakest releases in their 30-year history.
However I think Colossal Head really should be bigger.
Mixing Spanglish vocals over a funkier brand of Latino rock than on other Los Lobos albums, the songs here are inventive and intelligent, without being overly weighed down by the blues of the group's standard social commentary schtick.
While Everybody Loves A Train and Mas Y Mas are driving stompers, others like Revolution and Can't Stop The Rain have a understated quirky appeal.
Although you can play spot the influence here - jazz, funk, avant-garde, roots rock, R&B, Latin, blues, country and traditional Mexican - the overall output is far greater than the sum of its disparate parts and deserves to be more than a footnote in the band's history.
I'd go on, but I'd give them a big head.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Metallica alive and kicking


FIVE years after the disappointing St Anger, 2008 will likely be a memorable one for rock legends Metallica.
Following heralded live performances, the Rick Rubin-produced Death Magnetic hits stores this Friday - and boy will it hit them hard.
After a cursory listen - as promos have only been released today - from the heartbeat start to the comeback LP, you can feel this is going to be an epic - and with an average song length of around eight minutes, fans will not be disappointed with the effort put in by the band here.
A flurry of furious, frantic metal that has become the band's trademark over the last 25 years, opening combo That Was Just Your Life and The End of the Line sets a fast pace that doesn't relent throughout.
Top 20 single The Day That Never Comes and The Unforgiven III stand out in an album that's high on tempo, high in quality and hopefully high in the charts come next week as well.

Little Man Tate a little disappointing


WHEN it comes to spawning cutting edge guitar music, Sheffield has proven to be one the most fertile places of late.
But unlike gritty realists like Arctic Monkeys and Richard Hawley, Little Man Tate sound determined to have a bit of fun.
Sadly it's this streak that lets the band down on Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy, who at points during their sophomore album shine like a leading light of the city's scene.
For example where the anthemic Money Wheel opens the album brilliantly, single choices like the cheesy Hey Little Sweetie leave the listener scratching their head.
At points Little Man Tate seem capable of amazing tracks, but for the most part they seem determined to churn out second-rate indie that's just not good enough, chaps.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A new me

AS YOU may have noticed, I'm looking a even more attractive than usual today.
That's because graphic designer Jon-Paul Kaiser has kindly given me a makeover, so you no longer have to look at that awful picture of me.
Thanks Jon, on behalf of my long-suffering readership.
• If you would like to see your artwork on Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice or even in the Loughborough Echo, send your pictures of Isaac to -
Isaac Ashe, Loughborough Echo,Princes' Court, Royal Way, Loughborough, Leicestershire, England, LE11 5XR, or e-mail them to Isaac_Ashe@MRN.co.uk

Monday, September 08, 2008

Here come the girls

TOP pop group Sugababes will be performing at Loughborough University's Freshers' Ball on October 4.
Also added to the line-up coming to the venue this year will be The Hoosiers on October 5 and Noah And The Whale on October 19.
However Ida Maria's visit on October 9 has been cancelled.

Ten out of Ten Kens


WHEN putting together the classic album In Utero, Nirvana's Kurt Cobain used a broken amp to create the distinctive "brutal" sound employed on the album.
In Utero's producer Steve Albini said: "He had to keep it away from the technicians that they toured with because he was afraid that they were going fix it and then the sound would go away."
And for me, Canadian band Ten Kens' Arcade Fire-meets-Amusement Parks On Fire sound has the same rare, raw "broken amp" quality about it.
The original release that brought Ten Kens record label attention was recorded by the four-piece themselves in a rented townhouse, and this eponymous studio-debut LP has the same feel about it.
From the ramshackle Downcome Home to the raucous singalong The Alternative Biker to the Pixies-esque Worthless And Oversimplified Ideas, Ten Kens is like listening to a live set.
A blistering, assured debut, Ten Kens gets a worthy five out of five.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Battle of the Bands

LAST night your favourite music blogger - me - did his best Simon Cowell turn as a judge at a Battle of the Bands at Loughborough Town Hall.
I was really taken aback at the quality of the bands taking part - namely piano-driven False Impression, brutal Please Nurse No, energetic Red Light Rebels, head-banging Evangelion and winners Shortly After Sunrise - it was such a tough choice and I felt sick to my stomach having to agree a winner with the other judges, and can fully understand why Mr Cowell has a phone vote to decide his X Factor type shows.
Apart from the wads of cash he rakes in, of course.
Check out the Loughborough Echo for a full report later in the week.

Pope music


NAMED after the world's only female pontiff, who reigned for less than three years back in the 850s, Brighton-based band Pope Joan may be around for a bit longer than that on this showing.
The angular avant-pop band's new mini-album, the eight-track Hot Water, Lines And Rickety Machines, showcases a band warming up nicely.
With the likes of The Futureheads and Pigeon Detectives as obvious reference points, the group's cheese-grater guitar work and artrock vocals spliced with keyboard stabs bash out a collection of above average indie finishing with a really annoying hidden track of feedback noise.
Obviously here the up-and-coming band are still a little rough around the edges, but overall Pope Joan's Hot Water, Lines And Rickety Machines is no papal bull.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Gig Guides

DID you know you can see a Gig Guide compiled for the Loughborough area each week online at the Loughborough Echo's site?
Well click here to have a gander.

Haus' music


HAUSCHKA, real name Volker Bertelmann, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of rising star and labelmate Max Richter with his new release Ferndorf.
And this LP, inspired by the German-born contemporary classical composer and pianist's relationship with his hometown of Ferndorf in western Germany, has a lot going for it.
The work is led by Bertelmann's prepared piano - a version of the instrument with innards modified in a variety of inventive ways by Hauschka, such as wedging cork between strings or covering hammers with aluminium - as are his previous three releases.
However where before Hauschka was experimenting, here there is a depth to his work, with strings and electronica backings used to great effect.
As a result, Ferndorf is a place I'd recommend you to visit.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Best of British

THE Young Knives have been chosen to tour South America as ambassadors for British music.
The Belton group, currently writing for their third album, will play dates in Sao Paulo in Brazil, Buenos Aires in Argentina and Santiago in Chile during October.
Henry Dartnell, singer in the trio, said: "We are incredibly delighted to announce that Young Knives are off to South America with our mate Johnny Flynn and the Transgressive posse.
"The trip has been organised by the British Music Council in order to spread the word about British music and like the lucky swines we are they picked us."

Little Jackie


ALTHOUGH this is Brooklyn-based duo Little Jackie's debut album, The Stoop is the latest in a long line of projects for the pair.
So no surprise that programmer Adam Pallin, whose CV boasts work with American Idol Elliot Yamin and ageing Welsh sexpot Tom Jones, and frontwoman Imani Coppola, who has previously worked with Digable Planets, Mike Patton's Peeping Tom and as a solo artist, have created a slick release.
Mixing a Motown vibe with hip hop production and presentation, The Stoop is a collection of genuinely credible pop tracks.
Not least in the list are current radio frenzy The World Should Revolve Around Me, the brilliant 28 Butts, and Katy Perry-trumping Guys Like When Girls Kiss.
But despite this plethora of singles, the album still retains, for me, the feel of one hit wonders a la Bran Van 3000 or Len.
Yes sirree, the whole world should revolve around Little Jackie - just not for as long as they might expect it too.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mates of their peers

CASTLE Donington band Late Of The Pier have hand-picked their favourite bands to come on tour with them.
The group, riding high on the success of current LP Fantasy Black Channel, selected the finest support acts around to travel with them to cities such as Glasgow, Bristol and Manchester in October.
Acts taking to the road with the local band include Munch Munch, Midnight Juggernauts, Cock'n'bull Kid, Micachu, Digitalism and Erol Alkan, who produced their debut LP.

No Metronomy for me


IF YOU'RE looking for someone to twiddle your knobs, and you're looking for someone to twiddle them good, then currently Metronomy, real name Joseph Mount, is your man.
One spin of Roots Manuva's Metronomy-produced Let The Spirit, the standout track from his 2008 Slime And Reason release, will testify to that.
But despite being an in-demand remixer - having previously fiddled about with the likes of Gorillaz, Klaxons, Franz Ferdinand and Kate Nash - with a blank canvas to work from, as on sophomore LP Nights Out, Devon-born Metronomy is left floundering.
Clearly Mount can pull a beat about with the best of them, but here there are just not engaging enough beats with which to do it.
A mash of squelchy fart basslines and '80s synth strings, everything up until about half-way through Radio Ladio is an absolute shambles.
That said there is some good work here - the pumping Heart Rate Rapid for example.
Overall the album's concept is based on wanting a good time and having a disappointing one, albeit on a night out - sadly this album encapsulates that theme a little too well.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

New chapter for Young Knives

BELTON band The Young Knives are hoping to open a new chapter in their career – by penning a book about life on the road.
The band revealed to BBC 6music that they are putting together a book about their touring experiences.
The successful group, who are currently writing their third album, plan to put together the book based on their travels, as well as the points of view of other groups, roadies and other music industry personnel.

A point in the direction of Southside


WHO'D have thought grizzled experimental rock, folk and blues singer-songwriter Tom Waits was a swinger all along.
For the Grammy Award winning musician has teamed up with similarly grizzled singer Southside Johnny and La Bamba's Big Band for Grapefruit Moon, a tasty trip through the singer's impressive songbook.
A brassy, ballsy electric big band take on Waits's cinematic and often intimate songs, Grapefruit Moon is an interesting, engaging and fruitful party, destined to boost interest in all parties concerned.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Overwhelming Underoath


IF I had to guess, I would say that Christian post-hardcore band Underoath probably prefer the angry, vengeful Old Testament version of God.
Because listening to new LP Lost In The Sound Of Separation, they sound pretty cross.
A caustic bludgeoning barrage of a metal album, the band's sixth offering sees the group's previous emo tendancies buried beneath a wall of sound.
A heavier, darker take on the group's sound, the album starts at a blistering pace and doesn't even begin to relent until Emergency Broadcast :: The End Is Near, four tracks in.
It's not an easy start, but as the album progresses they do start to find their old groove and it's no surprise the LP's best tracks are closing trio Desperate Times, Desperate Measures, Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear and closer Desolate Earth :: The End Is Here.
Overall it's a good effort, but perhaps next time it should be a case of "may I remind you that you are Underoath" to restore the balance.

Talking Faff

THE Faff, whose bassist Joe Tuson studies at Loughborough University, have released a new single, That's A Nice Glove?.
You can read an interview I carried out with about it him here.

● All blog posts published on this site are owned by myself, Isaac Ashe, and may not be reproduced without written permission. You have no right to copy.