‘alt-J (∆) – Left Hand Free’ Track Review

 

Last month I reviewed alt-J (∆)’s new track ‘Hunger Of The Pine’. A track which included Miley Cyrus and the heavy use of horns, which resulted in a song that this grand epic feel to it. Whack in a hip hop beat and you get an alt-J (∆) that has grown up and continues to impress. For a more in depth review check out my review of it here https://nothingleftunsaidblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/alt-j-%E2%88%86-hunger-of-the-pine-track-review/.

Now alt-J (∆) have released another track off their upcoming album ‘This Is All Yours’ in the form of ‘Left Hand Free’. ‘Left Hand Free’, much like ‘Hunger Of The Pine’, is a different sound to what we’ve come to expect from alt-J (∆). This worked well with ‘Hunger Of The Pine’ but I’m afraid to say it’s not worked as well for ‘Left Hand Free’. Since it’s release earlier today it has been compared to The Black Keys for numerous reasons. It has this 70’s blues vibe to it that has been associated with The Black Keys over the years. However there are elements that sound like tracks off Django Django’s debut, like ‘Hail Bop’ and ‘Default’.

But enough of comparisons, let’s talk about the track itself. According to the band, the track was written in 20 minutes to appease their American label because they believed that ‘Hunger Of The Pine’ wasn’t good enough. It begins with twanging guitars that seem peculiar to be part of alt-J (∆)’s music. The vocals from frontman Joe Newman sound like they are being played through an old record player. They have a crackly vintage sound to them, just like the tracks off Jake Bugg’s debut or the hidden track ‘Hand-Made’ off alt-J (∆)’s album ‘An Awesome Wave’. It’s like the track has been given an an Instagram filter placed on it to make it sound old. The guitars then turn into a sequence of chords that play throughout which give it’s Django Django feel. Then around the 1.35 mark we have a ‘keyboard solo’ (they’ve got to be ‘quirky’ somewhere, it’s alt-J (∆) for god’s sake). Then transformed into elongated synths which are accompanied by a smattering of drums. These lead into the final part of the track which mirrors what we heard earlier in the track and finishes with a rather abrupt ending.

Alt-J (∆)’s attempt at trying to please an American audience falls short in comparison to ‘Hunger of The Pine’. It’s a good song but it just lacks that alt-J (∆) vibe to it. ‘Hunger Of The Pine’, despite being different, still remained alt-J (∆) at it’s core. Left Hand Free’s lack of atmosphere is where I think it falls down. I think personally that alt-J (∆) should ignore their American label and just create music that they want to. Even though it’s not their best, it’s still a brilliant track.

These two different sounds that alt-J (∆) have shown us has got me even more excited for their album, as I can’t wait to see what other sounds they’ve experimented with. ‘This Is All Yours’ is out the 22nd of September and you can listen to ‘Left Hand Free’ below.

 

Liam Egan

 

Holograms Interview

 

The other day I had the pleasure of talking to the frontman of Swedish post-punk outfit Holograms Andreas Lagerström and he kindly answered some on my questions. Let’s crack on shall we?

In 2012 you released Holograms and in 2013 you released Forever, are we likely to see a third album this year or will we have to wait abit longer than usual?

We have already recorded an EP last Winter. These songs are quite different from the two albums, I don’t know when it’s going to be released. We’re working on artwork right now. I don’t think we are doing an album any time soon as we are a little tired creatively if you know what i mean.

Earlier this year you teamed up with Beach Fossils’ Dustin Payseur and Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum to form the group The Snow for Record Store Day, how did that come about? was the recording process any different to the way you’d usually record tracks with Holograms?

I met Dustin in Paris in 2012 and really hit off. I love him a lot, he has great taste in music and is an all around great guy. He sent me some tracks that summer and asked if I wanted to record some vocals on them so I did it in my bedroom here in Stockholm. I had now no idea that Jack played Bass on the track then.

You’re signed to Captured Tracks, how does it feel to be signed to a label that’s roster consists of such great artist such as Mac DeMarco and DIIV?

We don’t really reflect on it too much and try to do our own thing. We met Mac in Stockolm once and he was great and cool.

Which song/songs do you like preforming live the most? and why?

Right now I like performing new songs that the audience hasn’t heard. I want to see their reaction, sometimes they love it and sometimes they hate it which is ok too.

You’ve grown quite substantial fanbases here in the UK and the US, what’s the reception been like in Sweden?

I still don’t know. In Sweden people are not really celebrated for “making it” so you don’t know if you’ve made it or if people like you. Sometimes people stare at me.

What artists are you currently listening to?

Robbie Basho, Lower, IBV(Video below), Jaqcueline Du Pré

 

Finally, can we see a Hologram tour coming to the UK anytime soon?

Probably, but I don’t know when!

 

 

Thanks again to Andreas for taking the time to answer the questions.

‘Grimes – Go feat. Blood Diamonds’ Track Review

 

It’s about time we heard some new music from Grimes right? After her amazing album Visions that she released back in 2012, we’ve been waiting desperately for more (well I have anyway). Well wait no more because she’s back with a new track called Go, which features musician Blood Diamonds.

Straight away you realise Grimes is taking a new approach. The vocals are clearer and it doesn’t sound like Grimes in all honesty. Grimes sings her way into a trap drop that with no doubt will be embraced by the mainstream. I’m not saying it’s a band thing because, as dance tracks go, this certainly is  good one. It’s incredibly polished and the production value is brilliant. Go will be insane live and I hope to see it one day but I just feel a tad disappointed by it.  If I had heard Go and not been told it was by Grimes then I wouldn’t have known it was one of her tracks. I know artists should develop their sound but Go at times sound like too much of a change from Visions and her previous work. Grimes shouldn’t have to rely on trap drops and such, she’s a good enough musician without them. I don’t know, this whole situation has got me confused but the more I listen to Go the more I like it. I’m sure the rest of her new album, scheduled for next year, will be amazing and by then I may love Go.

But hey this is just one man’s opinion and I’m sure lots of Grimes’ fans are happy. Listen to Go below, which also features a download link.

Liam Egan

 

 

 

 

‘Black Honey – Sleep Forever (Demo)’ Track Review

 

Black Honey were first brought to my attention only a couple of hours ago by Owen Riddle (fellow musical enthusiast who writes for the blog Don’t Look Down… at the URL http://musicandotherthingz.com, should check him out).

Sleep Forever is the debut track from English band Black Honey and , from early indications, I can’t wait for what else they have in store for us.  The track begins with a guitar twanging away in what feels like desolate surroundings which, with no doubt, will be compared to Lana Del Rey tracks such as Blue Jeans. Then the lead female vocals swoop in and are sung so naturally by the vocalist that it just oozes cool and everything sounds unbelievably tranquil.  They reverberate through the air and totally captivate you. At the 2:40 mark the instrumentation takes control and creates this musical interlude that has an ethereal quality to it and it’s truly wonderful. The simple melodies of the shimmering guitars and uncomplicated percussion grip you and it leaves you wanting more.

A lot of people are going to be comparing Black Honey to Lana Del Rey and I don’t think that’s really fair because Black Honey have, in my opinion, created a track that’s better than anything Lana Del Rey has ever produced. Also did I mention, it’s only a demo. Now that’s really exciting.

Liam Egan

 

‘Lucy Rose – Cover Up’ Track Review

Lucy Rose’s debut Like I Used To arrived back in 2012 and instantly became one of my favourite albums of that calender year. It was an album you couldn’t help but fall in love with. It was an album full of heart and one that really rooted itself into your emotions. But since then Lucy Rose has been quite absent from the music scene. Apart from popping up on festival bills occasionally and featuring again on Bombay Bicycle Club’s latest full length, Lucy Rose’s whereabouts has been rather unknown. Then out of nowhere Lucy treated us to us a new song and guess what? IT’S FREE!  It’s called Cover Up and it’s the first glimpse of what direction Lucy has taken for her sophomore, which she promises to be released early next year.

Straight away you notice a real departure from Lucy’s earlier work and that is the heavy use of drums included in this track. It’s not like drums were completely missing from her previous work but here they are a lot more prominent. It gives the whole track a HAIM vibe to it. Not just because of the pounding drums but also the vocals. They flutter through the air like a moth and the entire track has great similarities to HAIM’s Forever. These similarities at the end of the day aren’t that greatly obvious and it’s probably just me nitpicking. One element that I’ve still not mentioned is a melody that seems to be played by a Chinese Guzheng that plays throughout the track. It adds this East Asia feel to the track that i’m guessing Lucy picked up when she was working with Bombay Bicycle Club and their latest album So Long, See You Tomorrow. Also the fact she’s been travelling the world may have helped a tad.

So I have to say I really like Cover Up. It’s a departure from her usual style but i’m really buying into it. The bellowing drums in particular give Cover Up a really lively feel to it that i’m sure will be a real treat when seen preformed live. So just more of this please Lucy, that’ll be great.

Listen to Cover Up below and download it for free.

Liam Egan

‘Courteeners – Summer’ track review

Before we get started let’s get one thing straight, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Courteeners. Granted there are a few tracks in their back catalogue that I really like such as Are You In Love With A Notion, which came from their third album Anna, and you can’t deny that Not Nineteen Forever has got tune written all over it. But apart from these select few songs, I never really ‘got’ the whole Courteeners thing. However being from Manchester, isn’t it the law for me to be in love with them? This isn’t the case and I class myself as a casual fan.

When I heard that a new Courteeners song had graced the world, I was optimistic. I hoped for something in the same vein as their track Are You In Love With A Notion. Sadly this wasn’t the case.

Summer is certainly a tune crafted for the summer and festival season. Everything just casually plods along without a care in the world. It’s a pleasant track but there is nothing really special about. From the first beat to the abrupt ending, Summer never seems to go anywhere. It fails to grab your attention. Courteeners have created a track that seems like it’s not bothered if it doesn’t get listening too. ‘Fine if nobody wants to listen then we’ll just keep strolling on without a care in the world’ is the attitude this track gives off. I was hoping Courteeners would come back with really catchy track that shouted ‘LOOK AT ME!!!’. Unfortunately this didn’t happen and we were given a track that I can’t help but feel disappointed about. Also two and a half minutes in there is this awful whistle solo that just adds nothing to the song. It’s like Liam Fray was walking around the recording studio with his hands in his pockets thinking of what to put in this part of the song and he randomly started whistling as he thought and was like ‘That sounds mega like, let’s stick that in’.

Hopefully the rest of their 4th upcoming album Concrete Love doesn’t continue like this and I’m sure it’ll produce some absolute tunes. As for the album artwork for Concrete Love, the less said the better.

Also for those Courteeners fans I’ve most likely pissed off, remember, it’s only my opinion.

Liam Egan

‘alt-J (∆) – Hunger Of The Pine’ Track Review

After a relatively successful 2012 and 2013, alt-J (∆) are back with some new material and one less member. The now three piece (much more fitting in my opinion seeing as it matches the number of sides of their logo) haven’t released any new studio material since their track Buffalo in 2012 and the first glimpse of their sophomore album has only been heard by those who saw them at festival season last year when they included a new track called Warm Foothills in their set. On the 9th of June alt-J (∆) revealed that their second album This Is All Yours will be released 22nd September and on the 18th of  June Hunger Of The Pine was first played by everyone’s favourite New Zealander, you can judge if that’s sarcasm or not, Zane Lowe.

One thing you notice straight away that is different to their previous material is that Joe Newman’s vocals are much more easier to understand and you no longer find yourself having to listen again and again to actually know what he’s singing about. But, despite being able to hear him more clearly, the lyrics are still full of cryptic metaphors that I doubt even other members of the band understand. Hunger Of The Pine has the usual ‘Oooohs’ from Joe and the whole song still remains very minimalistic. However the track includes horns throughout that create a vibe that makes this whole song seem like a grand spectacle. Also the beat has a very hip hop feel to it that hasn’t ever been present in their work. They are still sticking to their less is more approach but are developing it and are taking it in a different direction. I love that they are doing this as it still remains the alt-J (∆) that we’ve all come to love yet they aren’t just bringing out new material that is a carbon copy of their debut An Awesome Wave.

Now for what everyone is talking about, Miley Cyrus is sampled in the track. None of us saw it coming and it could have been a huge mistake for alt-J (∆). Thankfully it pays off and the lyric ‘I’m a female rebel’ slots in nicely, even if it is a bit pointless.

Hunger Of The Pine then ends with some French lyrics, ‘Une immense espérance a traversé la terre, Une immense espérance a traversé ma peur’, that polish the track off nicely.

Overall alt-J (∆) have returned on form and continue to impress. The huge success of their debut doesn’t seem to have daunted them and they right on track to making an even better sophomore album. The 22nd of September couldn’t come any quicker.