Monday, 18 June 2012

New Artist Alert: Seraphim

Seraphim are a 5-piece rock band from Chichester, UK who formed in 2010. Tags such as alternative pop and progressive guitar rock define the band who have performed at some of my old haunts including The Joiners in Southampton and The Railway Inn, Winchester and the guys have just recently released their 3-track EP entitled 'Awkward Silence' of which I've had a listen to.

The EP kicks off, or rather gently casts from the shore, with opener 'See You Again' with its steadily-embellished piano riff and conscious rhythm section. The vocals are pleasant though I feel rather a long-time coming; having said that they reflect the progressive nature of the track well which builds to its first chorus, driving well, but could maybe do with a little more from the cymbals department to help push the accents home on the kit. The guitar really opens up in the middle 8 section, muddying the waters and throwing down the gauntlet for the sloshy hi-hats and confident backing-vocals of the final chorus.

'Can't and Won't' is a nice, radio-friendly pop-rock song which features some lovely dual-lead vocals. The guitar sounds a little uncertain in the intro and could maybe benefit from borrowing some lead-lines from the keys or at least harmonising with them just to offer another layer and a little more texture but this is purely a personal opinion. The chorus is steady and, though doesn't pack too much of a punch, is nonetheless effective and the middle 8 is once again where the track really opens up nicely and it's great to hear a guitar solo featured as the song fades to the EP's final track...

...'Losing Run' is like the naughty, rebellious younger brother that the family are keen to hide from friends at gatherings with it's tainted, rockier edge and crunchy guitars. The female vocals take the lead for this one and sound great and, as an arrangement, the track really stands out. There's a lovely cymbal-wash fading into the second chorus to maximise the impact following the brief pause and a pulsing breakdown as the piano takes centre stage before the rest of the band rock a little harder to bring us home. The double-time is a nice touch in the last of the double-choruses as something was definitely needed for differentiation and the outro confidently caps off a great-sounding EP.

I really like Seraphim and what they're doing, and it's certainly refreshing to hear an unsigned band not be drawn into the pop-punk abyss, though I feel there is even more scope for an even stronger EP. The talent and song-writing ability is clearly evident, but with perhaps a little more post-production work on the recordings and some real work on the vocals the band could sound better still. Don't get me wrong, both the male and female vocals are great in their own rights but there was only a hint of them sharing the mic in Can't and Won't and I'd love to hear the guys really make a feature of the dual-lead vocals (I know it's cheesy, but think Alphabeat!).

Seraphim are ready and waiting for you to check them out on Facebook, and I urge you to try and catch them live soon.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

New Artist Alert: Charlie Played Cello

It's been a while as Staind once sang, but I've found a little time between two great holidays (Poland and Tunisia if you're interested) and moving house next weekend to have a listen to LA's Charlie Played Cello, who have just recently released their album 'Red'. The band's name is a nod to a friend of the band who sadly died in a road accident on the way home from one of the band's shows, and his cello playing is featured on the album.

Charlie Played Cello describe themselves as having a "unique and dynamic sound that spans from mainstream power-pop to sinister post-punk anthems, in the spirit of Weezer and Jimmy Eat World". Offering the opportunity of a reminiscent throw-back to my tender teenage, Kerrang TV-watching days, I was tempted to check out CPC and, sure enough, the hints of these iconic guitar bands are evident in Red.

'Memories Collide' packs a minor-feeling, garage-band punch with a unique vocal sound and throbbing organ poking through the mix. I feel the vocals might be a little 'marmite' for some listeners but the track plods along with help from the drum pattern as the snare hits stab on every crotchet beat throughout the verses. It builds to a cool guitar-solo section reminding me of Richie Sambora's feel-good country-inspired solos when Bon Jovi met Nashville.

'Run Away With Me' with its dense intro section packed full of melodies, instruments, and musical ideas settles into a grooving middle-of-the-road rock track which chugs along nicely enough. The chorus didn't hit me as hard as I'd like, with more emphasis seemingly placed on the main riff which features in the intro and the vocals sound a little strained but the backing vocals help to ease the slight tensity. The guitar sound is great in the short solo lick but I can't help thinking the chorus after this could have been really stripped back and sparse to create a bigger impact for the final chorus and outro riff. By all means a good rock song but one I feel could be even better with a brief trip back to the drawing board.

'Light Me On Fire It's Midnight' reminds me of the guitar-led Weezer and Jimmy... feel that drew me in in the first place and the chorus is great. The track is short and sweet and to the point though still finds time for a guitar solo which is fine by me, and feels like the memorable sing-along track that would have the most success with radio airplay.

Charlie Played Cello offer exactly what it says on the tin; it's no-thrills guitar-rock that rightly deserves radio-time and, although might not be something that appeals to an English audience as much as an American one (or at least not a young one) still has scope to offer the band success which I wish them in the future.

Be sure to check out CPC on Facebook whilst Red is available now on iTunes.