Friday, 24 September 2010

Amelie: The Soundtrack

I feel inspired to write a short piece just sharing the most beautiful soundtrack to a wonderful film. Amelie is a fantastic piece of French cinema, possibly the most popular and accepted of my generation, and I've included a couple of tracks below that really hold their own without playing second fiddle to the scenary you're supposed to be concentrating on, or the characters you're supposed to be watching. I hope you enjoy them, and if you haven't seen the film I urge you to do so. The fact that it's in French with subtitles puts a lot of people off, but you get used to it and besides, it's so well shot and indeed crafted you find youself often not taking notice of the words at all but instead getting lost among the alien tongue.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

EP Review: The Sharps - Midnight State

Drawing inspiration as far between Bruce Springsteen and Jimi Hendrix and described by Norwich Playhouse as "One of Norfolk's most exciting bands", The Sharps are an energetic 4-piece pop-rock outfit who describe their music as "combining solid driving rhythms and riffs with catchy and melodic tunes and harmonies". Fresh out of the studio after having recorded their latest EP, Midnight State, the boys last night officially released the CD in Norwich with an EP launch show. I've had a listen to the 3-track offering, and include my usual track-by-track guide below.

1/Midnight State - This honed and polished song sits proudly as the title track to the EP, and rightfully deserves its crowning spot. The driving rhythm section push alongside occasional funky stabs of guitar whilst the vocals are confident and strong throughout the verse. When pushed, and I'm not sure they'll particularly like the comparison, the vocals remind me of Danny Jones from McFly but that's not necessarily a bad thing! The chorus is fantastic; sloshing hi-hats and a great riff as the vocals keep everything grounded and really get my foot tapping. A definite highlight of the song for me is syncopated alternate-panning guitars after the first chorus, leading into a slight solo break before dropping into the second verse, where backing vocals are explored and help to build the song further still. This band sound brilliant; really tight and totally aware of how to construct a song and I'm sure their live show reflects this. The solo is cool although short-lived and the break-down section has a great relaxed feel to it whilst the energetic tempo is maintained well throughout. If there's one song that sums up the band this is it, definitely worth a listen.

2/Pull Me Out - The bass takes centre stage as it begins the song alone, before being joined by a great funky wah-wah guitar. The verse is equally as strong and energetic as its predecessor and a chorus that I can't really compare to any other sound. I love the feel when the guitar drops out leaving the drums and vocals to primarily carry the groove and the syncopated rhythm explored after this is sure to get the crowd moving. If the band are to be credited for anything, it's surely got to be their song-writing. Another great solo, this time with a little help from a Cry Baby, wails out before we're back around for another final chorus, where you can't fail to notice the driving distorted guitar and soaing ooh's in the backing vocals before finishing up on a vocal note that's sitting right at the top of the tree; this guy's range is great and again only adds to the band's sound.

3/Is He A Fool - This band is all about the lead guitar; the lead lines are ingenious and add years onto the tender age of the musician, displaying a talent that sounds so professional. I get a bit of a Chili Pepper's feel with this final track, with a great sounding chord progression used in the verses and a driving yet ballad-feel in the choruses. The solo break before the second verse made me smile, it just sounds that good! The falsetto vocals and supportive backing vocals really strengthen the minimal choruses and I love the sweeping cuts after the second chorus in the following section. It's been threatening to burst out since the first few seconds and this song definitely needs to release the lead guitar along a long, winding road which, to round off the song and indeed the EP, it does. My only criticism is of the very last note that the guitar slides to at the end of the solo as it sounds slightly brash and was seemingly already resolved but nonetheless this EP is a great showcase to a brilliantly tight and imaginative young band.

I urge to have a listen for yourself to the Midnight State EP, either by visiting the band's Facebook page or their Myspace page where you can also check out their latest gigs. Although hailing from Norfolk, they are in fact situated all-over the Country so are sure to be playing near you soon!

Friday, 10 September 2010

New Artist Alert: All About Flux

All About Flux are a great young pop-punk band from the South West, with loads of gigging and recording experience all over the UK. Check out their awesome video of their first release, On That Night; catchy and lots of fun I'm sure you'll agree!

For more info on the band, check out their website here!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Greatest Hits Sleeve

Bon Jovi released the sleeve for their Greatest Hits CD via Facebook today, plus an interesting picture of Jon and model Michelle Alves sporting the design on her top. Tonight promises the release of the double-CD track-listing. It's a cool cover and definitely suits the 'greatest hits' feel; a real classic colour scheme although I've always been a fan of the more complicated heart and dagger graphic over the simplified, cartoony one used below.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

New Artist Alert: Amy Heffernan

Currently living in Alberta, Canada, Amy Heffernan started out her musical life as a drummer. She has since switched the sticks for her great sounding vocals; one that I've recently been indulging myself with. Her self-titled debut EP was written whilst living in South LA, whilst her latest offering - a full album titled 'Being Awesome' - was written in sunny California. Heffernan cites Robyn, Juliet and the Romantiques and Lady Gaga as inspirations to her; the latter offered an honorary nod to the tune of a Just Dance cover on the album. The vocals displayed here are confident, with hints of both a raw-folkish feel and a strong pop influence; it's definitely well worth a listen.

The title track, Being Awesome, is a punchy, upbeat pop/rock number and leads the album well. The vocals sound quite different which I like, not your stereotypical sound but something that really needs to be heard first hand to be appreciated. The chorus maintains the song's overall punch with a radio-friendly undertone and a well built structure. The song doesn't allow much chance to subside; its relentless drive is infectious and powerful, constantly maintaining the listener's interest. Even the breakdown/bridge section holds onto the 'four-to-the-floor' foot-tapping groove before bursting into an uplifting modulation (that's a key change to any non-musos!) for a final go round the chorus. It's got quite a Pink feel to it but I get the Lady Gaga reference in there too. Overall a really strong pop/rock tune.

Another stand-out track on the album is 'Used To Be A Light'. With a cool palm-muted guitar pattern and driving hi-hat groove, Heffernan's vocals sound fantastic over the first verse. The chorus is once more full-on and catchy, but it's definitely in the verses that the vocals stand out for what they really are; it's a slightly more intimate side Heffernan is letting us see. The breakdown is also great for this; her band sound fab and the vocal performances on the album really set this off as an overall great listen for fans of anything from the female pop and rock acts of today. She's definitely a versatile and widely-appealling artist.

To check out Amy Heffernan's digital press kit, and to have a sample listen to the album and her debut EP, click here or, alternatively, check out her Myspace page for a tour date near you.