New-Zealanders, ‘The Naked and Famous’ are embarking on British shores after their debut single ‘Young Blood’ went to the top spot in their homeland. Frontwoman, Alisa Xayalith’s feisty vocals give this record a striking edge and the ‘yeah yeah yeah yeahs’ make it oh so catchy.
Jeffrey Kino is the alter ego of KLAUS, an acoustic singer songwriter who reached the final stages on Channel 4’s ‘Orange Unsigned Act’ in 2009. Nowadays, his sound is more upbeat but still is evident of his familiar mellow vocal.
‘Brother’ are 2011’s answer to Britpop. With their rugged guitar riffs and a vocal to rival Liam Gallagher, these Slough boys are giving the genre a fresher feel.
Now for some original Britpop at it’s very best. I’ve been listening to a lot of Blur during this recent period of decent weather, holding on to the hope that they will come out of their hibernation/side projects/cheese farming to tour again soon. You can’t say no to a bit of ‘Country House’ in the sunshine. Wahooo.
The King Blues – ‘Punk & Poetry’
Haven’t seen an album title this perfect in a while, ‘Punk & Poetry’ is what London band The King Blues are all about. Frontman Johnny ‘Itch’ Fox’s lyrics sound like political poetry. They’re blunt, angst-driven in ‘Set The World On Fire and’ ‘We Are Fucking Angry’ where Fox spits, ‘Cut the state, Cut the war. But they cut the poor’ to back up the aggressive accompaniment, publically stating their anger towards the current political situation. The record has a Ska and Reggae influence seen in ‘The Futures Not What It Used To Be’, which also even features an unpredictable Dance break, which fits surprisingly well. Though, through the fury, TKB’s appear to have a softer side, shown in, ‘5 Bottles of Shampoo.’ A slower meaningful effort, it draws parallels with ‘What If Punk Never Happened?’ the closing track of their last album, ‘Save The World, Get The Girl’ through the poetic honesty shown. It details the mistreatment of the female kind and gender discrimination, I might be being slightly biased when I say that it is quite something. The climax states, ‘Don’t you dare tell women what they can and cant do, when it was a woman who gave life to you.’ Open and straight talking, it brings home the realities in society. With the record’s energetic buzz and lyrical gold, it is their best album to date.
James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream
James Blake’s music is intriguing. The combination of the disjointed beats, drawn out synth sequences and Blake’s repetitive and echoed vocal compliment each other well, hence why his self-titled debut charted in the top ten in February.
The Vaccines - If You Wanna
London indie-rock band, ‘The Vaccines’, formed only last year have released their top five debut ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’ and are set to play at numerous festivals this summer.
Alex Clare – Too Close
I Saw the London Singer/Songwriter support Clare Maguire at London’s KCSLU last month. I love the soul to his vocal, with the distinct hint of Dubstep.
Frankie & The Heartstrings – Hunger
Don’t be put off by the ‘Noun & The Noun’ name, I know they’re cropping up left, right and centre what with, ‘Florence and The Machine’, ‘Esben and The Witch’ and ‘Marina and The Diamonds’ but trust me like the others, Frankie & The Heartstrings are worth a listen. F&TH released their debut, ‘Hunger’ in February and have been tipped for a great 2011.
Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting
Jamie Woon’s debut is as interesting as his surname. The fusion of soul, dubstep and R&B set the 28 year-old’s sound apart from the usual suspects who fall under these genres. Woon’s voice incorporates the soul aspect down to a tee. The beats have essences of bop-worthy R&B, especially ‘Lady Luck’ And how does dubstep come in to this you may ask, well it’s the chilled echoes of the sampler, which have somehow sneaked their way in and wrap themselves around the record, creating depth and diversity. ‘Echoes’ and ‘Shoulda’ have captivating collections of unusual tones and the repetitive lyricism in ‘Middle’ and ‘Night Air’ helps to formulate this contagious album, you’ll be humming it for weeks. With this worthy record creeping into the top ten, it looks like Mr Woon is in luck.
Clare Maguire – Light After Dark
‘Light After Dark’, is the debut album from Birmingham-born singer Clare Maguire. The 22 year-old started writing music and singing from an early age and desired to achieve her goals as an artist, quitting education aged 17. Her numerous demos, lifelong focus and hard work paid off when she got signed to Polydor. Hailed as 2011’s answer to Kate Bush, in her words, the album, released this week is full of ‘big sounds and epic production.’ It definitely is.
Maguire’s vocal is utterly flawless throughout the record, from start to finish. The album commences with, ‘Are you Ready?’ a short but sweet track with an emphasis drawn to the vocal. With no lyrics in site, just some warbling ‘woos’ and ‘woahs’ it showcases her incredible, beautiful tones allow the listener to be deeply enticed in to what the rest of the record has to offer. ‘The Shield and the Sword’ features Maguire stating repetitively over the stringed accompaniment, ‘I no longer love you’, an outburst of her emotions. The line, ‘I’m not afraid of danger in the dark’ boasts her resilient and strong personality. Recent single, ‘The Last Dance’ is a catchy effort in its lyricm, ‘I’ve got my life in my hands and your love in my heart’ is heroically recurring.
The other tracks on the album are equally uplifting in not only the vocal, but in the intense sounds of the instruments that back up Maguire’s voice on this ambitious record. The distinctive, individual percussion in title song ‘Light After Dark’ and ‘You’re Electric’ provide the upbeat track with a certain edge. Debut Single, ‘Ain’t Nobody’ highlights the magnificent use of strings on the debut, as they pulse evidently under the steady beat, in a constant manner. It closes with ‘This Is Not The End’, a summary of the essence of the record. ‘Big sounds and epic production’ lie in the mist of the powerful, inspirational voice that is Clare Maguire.
Light After Dark is out now.
Banquet Records pride themselves in being ‘more than your local record shop’ and they certainly stick by their word. Located in Eden Street, Kingston, the independent store had been running for a number of years under the name ‘Beggars Banquet’ before being taken over as Banquet Records. The store sells new releases, 7’’s, LP’s and CD’s of everything from dubstep to post hardcore. As well as in my opinion, being the best independent record outlet in the area Banquet also put on various club nights, gigs and instore events. On Thursday nights at The Hippodrome Indie and Alternative club night ‘New Slang’ takes place showcasing live bands and latest music. Past artists include Vampire Weekend, Foals and Example. Saturday night hosts ‘D.A.N.C.E’, also held at The Hippodrome. As well as playing the latest chart anthems from Katy Perry to Chase and Status live music in the main room has featured artists like Tinie Tempah and Professor Green. Instores held at banquet are mostly acoustic sets in the intimate surroundings of the shop. With a capacity of 100 they’re usually pretty special as its unusual to hear a notable artist performing an acoustic session live to a small number of people. Past artists include Two Door Cinema Club, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Laura Marling and You Me At Six. Gigs are also a popular feature of Banquet; shows are put on at local venues proving good value for money and the opportunity to watch your favorite bands in a small capacity venue. New Found Glory and Set Your Goals, Kids In Glass Houses and The King Blues have all played in Kingston venues. For more information click here or pop in to the shop, it’ll be worth your while!
In the last few years, We Are The Ocean have made a name for themselves, sharing the stage with big names such as Funeral for a Friend and The Blackout as well as picking up faithful fans along the way. Their progression is evident tonight at their sold out show at London’s Borderline. The intimate venue is the perfect setting for the boisterous affair with adolescent, frantic fans shoving each other in the pit as the band play their 45 minute set consisting of songs ranging from their debut to a couple of previews from the bands next venture. A highlight is ‘Confessions’, Liam Cromby’s heartfelt offering of his perfect vocals identical to the recording but still lacking no soul. The crowd reiterate the tender lyrics. There is a content atmosphere filling the room before Dan Brown cuts in with his aggressive take on the lyricism and the crowd returns to its frenzied motion. They play favourites, ‘Look Alive’, ‘The Days, I Have Nothing’, ‘Playing My Heart’ and new single ‘What It Feels Like’, all getting a positive response. As did the previews of promising new material, living up to their usual high standards. The five piece end with ‘Nothing Good Has Happened Yet’, a crowd pleaser for sure proven in their enthused movement and echoed voices of lyrical devotion. It’s an honour to see this band tonight in recognition of their successes and encouragement of their bright future.
Jessie J – Who You Are
Ever since Jessica Cornish (AKA Jessie J) catapulted in to the limelight, the hype surrounding her has been intense. The 22 year old had two awards under her belt (BBC Sound of 2011 and the Brits Critics Choice award) as well as a number 1 single before this album had even surfaced. In the case of Jessie J, you have to believe the hype. Her voice is incredible, powerful and even tear-jerking at points on this honest album.
‘Who You Are’ is a record of talent and perfection. Every song is equally brilliant in its own way. Whether it is the familiar upbeat chart-topping hits like ‘Price Tag’ and ‘Do It like a Dude’ or the potential hits, the very catchy ‘Abracadabra’ and ‘Nobody’s Perfect.’ The record has some deep undertones about Jessie’s personal life and current society which heightens the open nature of this album. It is an album of reflection and Jessie’s vocal and lyricism allows this to be expressed in a fun way in ‘Who’s Laughing Now’ and in a more touching way in ‘Big White Room.’ It’s safe to say that after 5 years in the pipeline, Jessie J has finally made it.