Thursday, 29 March 2012

Guest Post - Imogen Reed: Introducing Spector!

Imogen's first guest-post was so successful, we've invited her to do another! This time she's introducing Spector, a five-piece outfit from London. Enjoy! -G

Spector: Sartorial Sounds

Combining elements of everything that was glorious about pop music from the seventies and eighties (and leaving out everything that was bad) Spector are a five piece indie band from London who have been causing a real stir on the music scene in the last few months. Hotly tipped by the NME and receiving rave reviews for their live performances and sartorial elegance they are tipped for great things this year.

Who Are They?

The band comprises Fred MacPherson on vocals, Christopher Burman on guitar, Thomas Shickle on bass, Jed Cullen on synth and guitar and finally Danny Blandy on drums. MacPherson is something of an indie stalwart (well, as much as you can be when you’re still so young and fresh faced) having been in two other bands - Les Incompetents and Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man both kind of folky, punky, prog rocky outfits (yeah, nice mixture of styles there!). However, MacPherson left the latter along with Burman to form Spector in order to create something completely different.

What Do They Sound Like?

Completely different. Polished. Accomplished. Just a few of the words that spring to mind when hearing them for the first time. Considering they’ve only been together a short time, the sound they produce is nothing short of electric. MacPherson has such an assured and competent vocal – a rich, strong sound that really draws you in. That’s the sort of voice that can only improve over the coming years and it surely will (so long as he stays off the lemonade). As with any new bands comparisons have been drawn with all sorts of other acts – reviewers saying they sound like The Vaccines (MK II) or Franz Ferdinand (again MK II). There are elements of Roxy Music in there, for sure – a slight nod to Brian Ferry here and there in MacPherson’s treatment of the songs, the way he sings certain phrases.

Chevy Thunder is a real energetic pop stomp, brilliant punchy vocals – powerful synth vibes and it straddles so many genres it’s untrue – hard to know even where to begin with what it alludes and pays homage to. It’s the sort of thing you could imagine picking you up when you felt really bad – a stomping song.

Sartorial Matters

But aside from the music (at the moment, they’re writing and recording a debut album for release later this year) one thing has to be said about their look. In a society that’s becoming more and more obsessed with looks rather than sounds, Spector look the part. Smart Smart Smart. Dressed in sharp suits for their video performances as seen here:

They’re sharp haircuts and edgy moves just look so good. MacPherson’s geeky glasses make him look like the musical equivalent of Harold Lloyd. They just seem so out of kilter with the rest of the musical world, but in a good way. Sometimes it’s good to be different from the crowd and these guys are. It’s nice to be reminded that it’s cool to dress smartly and look the part as well as sounding the part. You could imagine them in a cliff hanging tense situation in a black and white movie – some sort of bank heist or share dealing scene, in which they’ve got literally moments to save the financial world from collapse and they do it with seconds to spare. And then get the girl. Or something.

Can They Cut It Live?

Oh boy, they can cut it live:

It takes real talent and strength to be able to not only sound good in the studio but to be able to replicate that in front of a live audience. They manage it so well. It’s hard to find a critical angle on them – some bands you see and you think they’re just OK; the singer wasn’t that good– off key, shouted rather than sung or whatever. Here, you’ve got a singer who can definitely hold a tune, not a flat note in the performance – seems so assured on the stage and oozes confidence without being cocky or full of himself. It’s a rare thing, but one to enjoy. Hopefully Spector will keep up the good work with the coming of their debut studio album this year. In the meantime, seriously, do yourself a favour and check these guys out properly. They deserve your time, your ears and your downloading finger.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

New Artist Alert: Lower Lands

New to both When We Were Beautiful and the I Am Mighty Records family are Lower Lands, a new alternative rock band from Lincoln, UK whose sound features some punk influences with an alternative rock undertone. The band have shared the stage recently with the likes of Iron Chic, Crazy Arm, Talons, Shapes and Deaf Havana and are set to release their debut EP entitled 'Growing Pains' on April 14th this year.

'Reality in Routine' is the lead-single and, ahead of the EP release, is enjoying exposure with thanks to the low-budget, garage-rock feel video accompanying it. The band's punk influences are evident in the track, which fuses more modern-sounding pop-punk guitar sounds that are clinging onto the older punk-sounding melodies. It's the same story with the gnarly vocals which hold a very English punk quality with underlying pop-punk backing vocals. The band have a great energy and an interesting and, most importantly, slightly different sound to showcase. You can enjoy the video for yourselves below:

You can have a listen to the EP for yourself here, but if you do have a listen be sure to pre-order a copy from I Am Mighty Records here and help to support up and coming talent. You can check out Lower Lands on Facebook here; try and catch the guys out on the road soon!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Guest Post - Imogen Reed: Introducing Lowline!

As I've said before, maintaining the blog has proven a little tricky in my final few months of uni where my workload has shot through the roof...that said I'm very excited to introduce When We Were Beautiful's first Guest Post! Imogen Reed is a great writer who has written an article below on Lowline. Enjoy! - G


Probably one of the more exciting new bands to hit the scene in the last couple of years, Lowline are steadily providing a brilliant alternative to much of the sterilised safe pop that’s currently flooding the charts. Still they are yet to get the chart success that they really deserve…

Who Are They?
Hailing from deepest, darkest Manchester (well, Stockport – that’s dark enough) they comprise singer/guitarist Robbie Rush, bassist Mike Hosker, guitarist Andy Hewitt and drummer Sam Clarke. Following in the tradition of other great Mancunian bands they want to make music that reflects the environment they live in, and they’re succeeding really well at doing it. Their self titled debut album released last year on the Deaf Radio label shows a host of amazing influences but still sounds fresh and incredibly unique.  Rehearsed and recorded over a period of eighteen months, you can see how much that has influenced the end result – still an alive and raw sound, but really accomplished. Considering they’re still only in their early twenties, they’re sound is much older (and that’s not a criticism either, that’s a really good thing in many ways – the only way they can take it is forward and keep maturing)

Their Sound

In the best tradition of all the great Northern bands – The Smiths, Joy Division, New Order – but taking inspiration from other genres such as Krautrock – Can, Neu and Kraftwerk they kind of occupy some sort of middle ground which gives them an incredibly rare sound, driving guitar rhythms and hard edged bass-lines which incorporate singer Robbie’s vocal so well. He is sometimes reminiscent of a younger Ian McCullough, a slightly less melancholic version of him, yet he still holds an incredible power that carries the lyrics really well. Their debut single “Monitors” shows a really mature strength and the video kind of matches up to that image:

It was shot at a disused warehouse in Ancoats in the band’s hometown, something which lends an extra edge of rawness to both their sound and appearance.
Also taken from the album, this song:
Which has such a crisp, catchy guitar hook the kind of thing that gets stuck in your head for days on end (in a good way, not a Crazy Frog way…). It just feels so reminiscent of everything that’s great about the Manchester music scene past and present. All Your Scars is another brilliant example of their sound, it’s almost slightly (eeeek) U2ish, but without tipping over into self indulgent, self congratulatory nonsense.
On first listen, you feel like you know all these tracks – that they’re somehow yours. The basslines are catchy, the vocals are accomplished and full of amazing power, but the more you listen the more you find something new in it that keeps grabbing on to you. Maybe it’s the fact that it feels like “coming home” in a strange sort of way,

What Else Have They Done?

Well, they do what other bands don’t. They don’t always take the safe option and play proper organised gigs in proper organised venues. They’ve started a trend for more or less DIY gigs in local places, disused warehouses and stuff, which rather than carrying lots of heavy publicity and expensive advertising has had the effect of their success spreading by word of mouth. It’s also set them up with a really loyal fan-base from the offing, something that you really don’t see that much of these days.
December last year though saw them supporting newly reformed Macclesfield band Marion on their comeback gig at the Academy in Manchester, the gig was critically acclaimed and really well received and won them a lot of praise for their tenacious play and ability to get the crowd going – also it’s seen them in talks to sign with Marion’s new record label Townsend Records, which could be a major step in them achieving the success and riches they deserve and maybe treat their parents to a holiday on one of the Fred Olsen Ships.
Really the only way for this excellent group to go is up, if they keep the standard of their debut going and follow on then success is surely theirs, a much wider audience need to hear how good they are and how they can keep the momentum going.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Ocean's Eyes - Rooms of Red: The Making Of!

You may recall my post back in January sharing The Ocean's Eyes great new video for Rooms of Red. If not, why not jog your memory? Ok, gottit? Good. Now that's fresh in your mind, why not take a sneaky peek behind the scenes of the shoot, where those pesky scamps offered their thoughts into making the video and also what jumping around too much in your jeans can do. It offers a great insight into a 'behind the lens' perspective; behind the scenes footage is always something I love to watch:

Don't forget, you can catch the guys on tour later this month as they head out with Room 94, for which tickets are availble for here.

15.03 OXFORD O2 Academy2
17.03 BRIGHTON Hydrant
18.03 NORWICH B2
19.03 BRISTOL Thekla
20.03 CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach
22.03 NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
23.03 BIRMINGHAM HMV Institute
24.03 MANCHESTER Roadhouse
25.03 SHEFFIELD Corporation
26.03 NEWCASTLE O2 Academy2
27.03 GLASGOW Cathouse
28.03 LIVERPOOL Elevator Bar
29.03 LEEDS Cockpit
31.03 LONDON King's College (KCLSU)