Wednesday, 24 August 2011

New Artist Alert: Thomas Neptune

When We Were Beautiful would like to introduce Thomas Neptune, a multi-instrumentalist who currently resides in Los Angeles and continues to 'carry the musical torch' as he follows in his talented family's footsteps. He may have been seen from time-to-time behind the drum-kit, but we all know that drummers are secretly envious of the attention deserved by the lead-singer and it's not long before we (and I use the term collectively!) crave more of the lime-light. Well, Neptune is one such soul, whose debut EP 'Down To Earth' features himself front and centre and I've been lucky enough to snatch a listen.

The prickly, picky and extremely-positive sounding 'Unbreakable' opens with a great uplifting feel and showcases Neptune's soulful, slightly rustic vocals early on. Wise move; this guy has a voice made for radio and his lyrical prowess and arrangements cry out for airplay. It's an almost boy-band sounding vocal but works fantastically against a less-contempary backdrop with swamping synths, bubbling electronics and syncopated rhythms. I'm not sure about the American market, but I'm thinking Neptune should definitely get his music heard by music mogul Simon Cowell as I think he's sitting on a goldmine in terms of an audience across the pond; UK pop fans would lap this up.

'The Good Times' features equally-feel-good acoustic guitar and I love the no-fuss attitude of Neptune's arrangements; no time-wasting in the intros, just get straight to it. The vocals are as confident and crisp as before and he picks fantastic melodies which are kind to the ear and lean towards his pop-friendly sound. The verses are minor and lift to more major-sounding choruses, reminiscent of artists as diverse as Nickelback to The Calling but the constant remains the same; the method works and sells records. The slight lead-guitar work in the second verse was a welcome addition and I love the vocal melody that leads into the choruses. The only thing the song feels it could do with after the short but complete breakdown is a key-change...cheesy perhaps but it just might work! Even without it though this track is great.

A brief listen to 'My Ohio' reveals a foot-stomping, hoe-downing, slide-guitaring party that could tap into an entirely new and different market in the American pop-Country charts that's becoming a little more accepted in the UK with similar artists such as Keith Urban and Taylor Swift. Neptune is certainly sitting on a goldmine, fingers crossed I'll be hearing him on UK Top 40 Radio before the year is out!

'Down To Earth' is available from iTunes here and Thomas Neptune is, of course, available to check out on Facebook.

Afterlife Parade, Reborn and Revisited

You may recall my post of April 6th, 2011 introducing Afterlife Parafe and their debut EP, 'Death'. I'm pleased to announce that I have since had a listen to the second in the two-part album offering, Death's proceeding partner 'Rebirth'. As explained in the previous post, 'Death' sought celebration in the passing of life and explored the emotions connected with this, so naturally the second-part of the album focusses on rebirth.

As you might expect, Rebirth is the exact opposite to Death in every way, including the arrangment and musicality of the tracks. 'Black Woods, White Beach' features a wonderfully uplifting chord-progression and folk/dance/electronic feel. Quinn Erwin's airy vocals are as present and strong as before, whilst the track builds and falls often with a great groove behind it. Soaring vocals and light, ascending melodies are prominent and help to lift the song, reflecting the positive message that Rebirth hopes to bring.

Another track on the EP, Cincinnati, is as equally uplifting and feel-good. The entire concept behind the album is interesting and quite original, to reflect life and death in such a way musically and lyrically. Cincinnati has a great driving pop-rock groove and feel to it throughout, lifted with synth sounds and assuring vocals. The track is fairly average sounding, in that it might not stand out on the radio, but it definitely wouldn't be out of place either; a perfectly-suited radio-friendly pop-rock track. Strangely the hi-hats are high in the mix and hog a lot of the sound-output; I found their level a little distracting in the final chorus as it drew my focus away from the lead vocals but this might be more the opinion of a drummer rather than a music reviewer! Either way, a safe but confident track.

Creating a concept-album with such differing sounds and themes is an extremely brave move; if fans latch onto your retrospective sound and regard you as a dark and soulful artist, they might hate the very opposite of what they loved about you if you counter all of your ideas and overall sound. It's a matter of taste, but I think it's a great idea and works really well. Rebirth is available now on iTunes and Afterlife Parade are on Facebook.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

'Drummers Are Natural Intellectuals'

According to an article in The Telegraph, a study suggests that drummers are naturally intelligent people, thus dispelling the age-old myth that we're all idiots!

The full article is HERE.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The City Calls - A Spark To Ignite EP Review

Fans of pop-punk's freshest hipsters The City Calls have a mere matter of days to wait now for the release of the anticipated 'A Spark To Ignite'. I was lucky enough to get an advance listen, and for fans of the band or simply the genre alike, I can tell you won't be disappointed.

1/Get Away/ An explosive start to the CD with loads of great guitar work going on parts for the fantastic and mature vocals that lead the way into the first verse. The space allowed by the rest of the band creates a great listening platform to really listen to the lyrics before the energetic chorus burts onto the scene, featuring key-lyric 'You'll never bring us down' teasing in the background. This becomes the feature of the track after a slightly-more relaxed breakdown and a sure-fire singalong at live shows.

2/Kings/ The band have definitely mastered the art of creating a hook, as the second tracks starts as explosively as the first, drawing us in with all guns blazing. The dual-vocals work great here, tipping their caps to their pop-punk knowledge knowing exactly what works and also, what people expect to hear. There's definite Panic! influences in the vocals as the imaginative pre-chorus parts way for another really strong sounding chorus. The track peaks and dips in all the right places; were it too relentless, the effect on the listener is that of being punched in the face by this constant wall of sound but TCC have got it just right. The outro is cool too!

3/Truth or Dare/ A key-sounding song placed strategically in the middle of the EP which maintains the listener's interest without having to stray too far from the overall sound of the CD. The song-writing is really showcased here with a great mix of original ideas and, again, the predictable parts which are equally important. The vocals in the chorus are fantastic; great lyrics and a melody that are once again sure to rouse a singalong and also stick in your head for the rest of the day. The progressive breakdown section builds steadily before leaving the listener dangling in the eye of the storm as one last chorus springs us back to life, setting the wheels in motion for one final go round. A truly great pop-punk track.

4/Kryptonite/ Surely only an exclusively-student band could release a track of this name, although I'm not sure whether it's more reflective of the radioactive element or the dodgy student-favoured cocktail. Either way, this train is showing no signs of slowing as it thunders along onto track 4 that still has my feet tapping and head nodding along approvingly. This track feels to be all about the vocals and it's a great performance which doesn't take away from the imaginative guitar work going on in the background. It's quite brave to feature such a long solo-drum breakdown that doesn't particularly build but it sets up the great-sounding call and response section between the vocals and their backing really well.

5/Lucky Start/ I love the sound of the guitar intro; quite different sounding to everything that's come previously before it, which can be said for the progression and overall sound of the full track that follows. It's evident that the band rely heavily on the use of huge-sounding backing-vocals which definitely pay their dues at live shows; the audience always feel an important part of the gig. I really like this track which stands out for all the right reasons and love the short drum burst before the final chorus.

6/Meet In The Middle/ Already the journey is ending; the station is in sight and I fear we're in for a sudden halt rather than a gradual slow and this sums up the EP as a whole. It's been an energetic ride which hasn't failed to showcase mature-song writing abilities and fantastic musicianship along the way. The final track doesn't disappoint, continuing the trend of the preceding tracks and drives along nicely. Another great mix of double-time and half-time feels to maintain interest in the track feature whilst lending their sound well to the genre and the drawn-out vocal note just before the end is fantastic. This is another great release from The City Calls who should definitely not be underestimated and are surely well on their way to greater things.

You can purchase a copy of the EP from I Am Mighty Records or via the band's BigCartel stores, or it will be available to download from 12th August from iTunes and other digital outlets. Happy listening!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Birds In Flight - Promo Shoot and Video!

Hi all, I wanted to share with you the photo-shoot from my band Birds In Flight that we did last week. We had a lot of fun on the beach in Bournemouth and have also compiled a behind-the-scenes video with some footage we shot on the day that features our track 'Biggest Mistake'.

We are planning to record an EP mid-September and will be back gigging from the beginning of October.

Behind The Scenes Movie 

Birds In Flight are available to check out on Facebook now.