Holy Fire

foals-holy-fire-480x480When Foals first hit the scene with debut album Antidote you would have been hard done by to spot anything about them that separated them from the bland indie scene, they broke out with hit single Cassius a song with a chorus so catchy it still haunts my mind, going back to these, quite frankly, boring album its incredibly hard to understand what happened when they followed it up with the superb Total Life Forever. Their second album garnered a Mercury nomination and took the band to a whole new level in the industry, creating songs so beautifully layered the more you listen to them the more you get from them. As Holy Fire is released next Monday the question left to answer is whether that album was just a fluke or whether Foals can continue to push boundaries and rise in power atop the indie scene.

The first single from Holy Fire was release a few months back, Inhaler is a power punch of a tune taking the signature rippling guitars from Total Life Forever and combining them with grunged-up Black Keys style riffs, it is one of the best songs I’ve heard in years. On the album there’s one track that surpasses even though; the juggernaut that is Providence follows a similar structure to Inhaler but the stops and starts make the excitement multiply even more. The rest of the tracks are more similar to the calm nature of their previous album but still have a bit more of a bite. There’s much more distortion to be found here amongst the masterfully produced layered guitar sounds making for a similar sound but ultimately making the album slightly more raw and gritty perhaps signalling the band might move into a more rock-y root in their future.

While I wish not to like Foals because they all seem like twats really, its impossible to deny that they are creating music of the highest quality around today. Holy Fire beats Total Life Forever at its own game and the two tracks I’ve spoken about show how much pent up potential is still within them waiting to come out, I’ve got my fingers crossed that the heavier route is the direction these guys choose to take these twats know their shit.

 

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Only Revolutions

OnlyRevolutionsSo Biffy Clyro’s new double album, Opposites, will be upon us in exactly twenty days meaning the time has come to review their last studio effort, Only Revolutions and thus leave you with a review on every Biffy album to date. Released back in 2009 Only Revolutions had the almighty challenge of following up the bands most successful album, Puzzle, making it their first release as a huge commercial band. They had the task of pleasing their old fans and new ones in an album that was expected to be a big commercial success.

It has since become the bands biggest selling record further cracking the mainstream and bringing the Scottish trio to the forefront of British music. It received good press as well, the album has a score of 79 on Metacritic and was nominated for the Mercury Prize in its year of release which further boosted its sales. Despite all this, though, I have to say it is my least favourite album of theirs. My friends who knew back when this came out may call a hypocrite now because when it came out I made a rather rash statement that it was their best but like me explain how my mind has changed over time.

Biffy’s first three albums all had a much more raw underground sound that gave their music a lot more depth making it more rewarding on repeat listens. With Puzzle a lot of their more heavy sounds were no longer present but the record itself worked as a whole better than anything they’d done before which sort of made up for the lack of hard rock. Only Revolutions on the other hand, seems as if the heavier stuff is still missing and the album is not as much a complete piece as Puzzle feels. It is their only album of theirs which has some dud tracks such as Many of Horror and Know Your Quarry both of which are bland and far too normal to portray Biffy’s famous awkwardness, perhaps pushing the band in a more mainstream less interesting direction. Having said that there are tracks here as well that are quite the opposite fully showing how weird the group can be making for much more interesting and unique listening, Born on a Horse, Cloud of Stink and Whorses for example but all of which still lack the real visceral punch that was present on Infinity Land and its predecessors. It comes as a surprise as well that despite said tracks giving you a bit more of a taste of authentic Biffy the stand-out track is the acoustic track God and Satan a song which features some of Simon Neill’s most interesting lyrics to date but it seems a shame that a band I previously loved for their heavy tracks have lost a certain edge making the album as a whole feel disappointing.

From some things I’ve heard from Opposites I think we can expect a good mix of old and new Biffy styles, perhaps the choice to make it a double album will provide the band enough scope to fully flesh out both of their creative sides, perhaps Opposites could be the bands true masterpiece, we shall have to wait and see, watch this space for my review once the album’s out…

 

Plumb

The second Mercury Prize nominated album that I felt obliged to listen to last week was Field Music’s, Plumb. After listening to the single ‘(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing’ I was drawn in to their slightly old fashioned style of indie. I was surprised to find that Plumb is actually these guys fourth album and I can’t really understand why I haven’t heard of them before.

Plumb is short, sharp and cutting edge. It often sounds like an old Beatles record but with even more up to date experimentation. I’m not saying its quite worthy of being compared with The Beatles but it often sounds a lot like them. With most tracks clocking in at less than three minutes the album’s over before you know it but during that time you find yourself lost within it. Most of the tracks blend into each in a continuous stream making the album flow a lot better than most. The group know when to strip the music down and build it up and do so effectively throughout creating a very mature, well-rounded record. They also know when to throw in their experimentation to keep listeners on their toes and to keep the sound fully fresh. This is prog-indie in many ways and they set themselves apart from other indie groups by wearing influences of bands like The Beatles and at times Pink Floyd on their sleeves. The lyrics are incredibly original and manages to tap into genuine traits of the human condition.

It is, overall, a very mature record indeed. Every element has clearly been meticulously crafted but when listened to sounds simple on the surface creating an album that is easy to listen to but when concentrated on deeper works on a more serious level. I’m definitely intrigued to get listening to the guys older albums, you should check this one out.

 

Lost Love at Moonrise – 31.10.12

It seems this week I’ve actually managed to keep to my blogging schedule which has been fairly slack recently. I’m also pretty pleased with my merged title so things are looking good.

This week I was incredibly excited to have finally been able to watch Lost Highway, it was one of the only Lynch films I hadn’t seen so here’s my review for that one https://musicmoviesgenerallifeandsuch.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/lost-highway/. Then another film I’d been waiting to see for yonks was Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson’s latest comedy https://musicmoviesgenerallifeandsuch.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/moonrise-kingdom/. Then finally I reviewed one of the Mercury nominated albums seeing as the award will be given tomorrow evening so here’s my review of Lianne La Havas’ debut Is Your Love Big Enough? https://musicmoviesgenerallifeandsuch.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/is-your-love-big-enough/.

In the spirit of the Mercury prize I’ll leave with a song by Field Music look out for my review of their Mercury nominated album, Plumb in the next day or two:

Is Your Love Big Enough?

So with the Mercury Awards just a couple of days away I thought I’d check out some of the artists I hadn’t yet heard. Having a flick through various of the artist’s singles I was grabbed by Lianne La Havas’ ‘Forget’ which I was fairly sure I’d heard somewhere before but hadn’t realised quite how good it was. So I decided I’de give her album a go, bearing in mind most Soul records I’ve listened to in the past few years I’ve been astounded by the singers’ voices but bored by their records, could this one be different?

In short, yes it can. La Havas has an unbelievable knack for finding a catchy soulful hook within most of her songs that make her immediately more listen-able  than others. This is exemplified with the aforementioned ‘Forget’ beautifully sung, well crafted verses flow perfectly into the insanely catchy chorus that gives the song just a good edge of pop. There are other less pop-y songs on the album but the hooks are rarely missing. She reminds me in many ways of Adele the way she has the power to make you empathise completely with her. ‘Lost and Found’ is, for me, the stand out track; it has the most angst ridden yet soulful lyrics and is sung in such a beautiful way its impossible not to be transported back to a time when you had similar feelings and that is the sign of genuine artistry.

Is Your Love Big Enough? is an album that brings the Soul genre a brand new breath of life in the wake of the success of people like Adele who have incorporated part of the genre in there more singer/songwriter style Lianne La Havas manages to make an album that sounds far more unashamedly Soul music with her own pop twist. With her debut she has placed herself firmly on the map as a maverick in her own right.

 

Babel

Sigh No More, Mumford and Sons first album, took the country by storm a couple of years ago, earning a Mercury prize nomination an devoted fan base who responded to having a different kind of music played to them. The album was great, the bands rock-folk style seemed fresh and vibrant and had simple yet quotable lyrics that demand singing along. So a couple of years down the line with Babel, their follow-up, can they find the magic again?

Well mostly the answer is no. When listening to the record most of it managed to just pass by me and I didn’t really notice much of what was going with the exception a few tracks. Namely the opener ‘Babel’ and ‘Lover of the Light’ which both contain some of the bands heavier elements and easily provide the most entertaining listening on the record. But the problem is with those two tracks included it all sounds far too similar to their last album, there’s nothing here that’s different. The choruses are the same, the instrumental sections are the same, the singing’s the same and it ends being a bit boring. The best thing about their first album was it was something unusual, something new on the scene an with Babel it’s not new any more and they haven’t really one anything to make it different. You can still listen and enjoy and live the tracks will probably be great.

It’s not the worst thing ever created it just falls short of what the first album gave us. I’m hoping their third album at least has something different in it and this album was just a stepping stone because it’s just not up to standard.