Butch Walker’s new release ‘Afraid Of Ghosts’ is a record to cry to.
While he may fear demons, he’s certainly not afraid to show his feelings. Once his soft soul voice enters your sonic surroundings, gentle melodies penetrate the heart. Love, heartache, despair – it’s a sweet catharsis for your own trouble. In a way, Walker is a martyr of sentiment; suffering so the listener’s pain can be soothed.
Twenty years on from the era defining Britpop movement, many of its key players are still proving themselves to be a creative force.
Damon Albarn continues to tick off an endless list of musical projects, Noel Gallagher is readying the release of his second solo record and the Manic Street Preachers are still going strong.
Yet, what about the occasionally overlooked Supergrass? Well, to update you: former frontman Gaz Coombes has just written the finest song of his post-Supergrass career. The track, ‘20/20‘, from new album ‘Matador‘ is a big fat shot in the arm for Coombes connoisseurs and immediately shrugs off any fears that his new release is in danger of falling victim to ‘second album syndrome’.
On first listen, ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ sounds like a corny ode to Disney-inspired romance.
Father John Misty’s voice is full of feeling as he sings over music that alternates between being idyllically soulful to operatically dramatic. And the album’s title certainly doesn’t help. Its allusion to sugar-coated fluff only adds pink to the apparent dream, when in fact its message is the opposite.
More of a fairytale gone wrong, the record’s true face shines through on further listens and deeper engagement with the lyrics. The heartfelt, sometimes whiny sound is simply a charming wrapping for cynical wit.
The Grinch is wearing a lovey-dovey mask.
‘Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance‘ is to its very core a Belle & Sebastian album, while at the same time being absolutely nothing like a Belle & Sebastian album.
It has the usual beautiful Nick Drake dripping, pastoral flourishes that present stories of the small lives that people really live in the most beautiful of hues, whilst managing to explore and push their own sound and style in very new and unexpected directions.
This is Belle & Sebastian’s ‘dance’ album, which aside from seeming like a massive oxymoron, is also a little misleading. Don’t expect phat beats and massive dubstep rhythms. This isn’t Diplo or Agnello destroying your speakers, it is Belle & Sebastian’s own form of “doily-disco”: twee, shuffling and almost intangible at times.
Mike McGranaghan: Rhythm guitar and lead vocals
Jamie Clarke: Lead guitar and vocals
Joe James: Bass guitar and vocals
Charlie Jennings: Drums and vocals
Those searching for a handle on how far John Grant has come as an artist had a timely reminder at the end of last year, when a retrospective collection of songs by his former band The Czars was released at broadly the same time as this concert was recorded.
Grant himself has often in the past been critical of the body of work it was drawn from, claiming that out of all of their half-dozen albums, a diligent listener could’ve scraped together merely a single Czars effort that he himself would’ve been happy with.
Listening back to the ‘..Best Of’ (there were of course no greatest hits, in fact no hits at all), it was immediately apparent however that the singer was being cruel to the point of self flagellation; littered with gentle, lovelorn stories played out in front of at times exquisitely understated Americana, it showcased a group whose work stood on its own fascinating merits.
The period during and immediately after Grant’s time in the band was personally desperate for him, but the results ultimately cathartic. The man who harnessed the bigotry and ignorance that littered his young adult life is now the same John Grant that after all collaborates here with the old lady Beeb’s 60-piece Philharmonic Orchestra, a spectacular feat for someone of whom tokens from the establishment are both amusing but equally of more than symbolic importance.
The run up to Christmas was all about Essential Listening for us here at Live4ever, and now with the turkey, Brussels sprouts and other festive cliches out of the way, we’ve handed the reigns over to some of our writers to single out their own personal favourite of the year just before 2014 leaves us.
Don’t forget, you can catch up with Live4ever’s Essential Listening Series 2014 in full at this link, and your own favourite album of the year can easily be shared by leaving a comment below.
We’ll see you in 2015!
Live4ever’s Essential Listening 2014 series comes to an end today with The Albums.
It’s been a year when albums have once again come under attack from the established order, described as ‘edging closer to extinction’ by George Ergatoudis. He of course being the man behind Radio 1’s lamentable playlists so a quick look at the state of the station’s output and its uncanny resemblance to the current Christmas singles chart shows just what he’s doing with an undue level of influence over mainstream music.
Fortunately, despite being shunned and undermined by those who could make a truly positive difference, the most traditional format of them all, vinyl, has only gone from strength to strength once again this year. With Pink Floyd offering up new music for the first time since 1994, Royal Blood concocting one of the most popular rock debuts of recent times, and high profile re-releases from the likes of Oasis and Led Zeppelin, sales on vinyl have raced past the one million mark for the first time since 1996 in the UK, justifying all the campaigns which have given a timely boost to long players since Record Store Day was first dreamed up in 2008.
Most importantly though, 2014 has also shown there’s still a mountain of soon-to-be classics out there to discover if you’re prepared to look hard enough. We’ve picked out just 20 of those for our final Essentials list of the year; a few you’re no doubt already familiar with, some you might want to re-visit, and perhaps others you’ll check out for the first time.
Catch up with Live4ever’s Essential Listening 2014 in full at this link.
Another year, another twelve months when hundreds of bands have been showcased on Live4ever via reviews, New Tunes Guides, interviews and Presents features.
Here, our editor Dave Smith has picked out 20 of the best for you to revisit or perhaps discover for the first time, be it the ‘naive enthusiasm’ of Wild Smiles, the ‘raucous, foot-to-the-floor, blink-and-you’ll-miss singles’ of Slaves, or the ‘sense of joy, of wonderment’ that underpins Trampolene‘s ‘I Don’t Know‘. Tomorrow, Trampolene will be talking us through ‘I Don’t Know’s origins and their plans for 2015.
Don’t forget, you can catch up with our Essential Listening 2014 series so far at this link. The final installment, The Albums, is coming next week.
There is a certain warmth to Los Campesinos! that cannot but appeal.
Which, considering that much of their output recounts the difficulties of love, has always been unexpected. Charm feels like an odd approach to heartache. And live this charm is not lessened, but is actually even more, well, charming.
Over the years this likability has served them almost as well as the quality of their output – tonight is no different. The audience are not just here for the music, but for the sense of community. To those gathered in Manchester, this is a gathering of old friends.
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