Friendly Fires – ‘Pala’
Pala. Situated in California it has highs of 33 degrees of present times. It’s also the fictional name given by literate Aldus Huxley to a utopian world in novel ‘Island.’ The combination of a hot climate and perfection is a spot on namesake for this record; it sums up its purpose and feel. It’s also an apt soundtrack to front man Ed Macfarlane’s hip swinging stage presence.
Friendly Fires are back this week. I know it was certainly the question on my lips whether the St. Albans trio would be able to top their brilliant self-titled debut. This album certainly has a different vibe to it; it’s an exotic fusion of dance, indie and is almost psychedelic, but ultimately, it’s still Friendly Fires. Mesmerising first single ‘Live Those Days Tonight’ starts the album as it means to go on really, drum fuelled and overflowing with delicate synths layered with a strong vocal echoed in tropical pride. ‘Blue Cassette’ has a pulse about it, tension building into an epic chorus of personified freedom. But for me, ‘Hawaiian Air’ is the track that sums up the beach-like essence of the record. With its echoed, eerie repetition of ‘Hawaiian Air’ it draws comparisons to ‘Jump In the Pool.‘ Tantalising synths stalk ‘True Love’ along a memorable refrain, ‘All I want is to feel true love.’ Honest and Romantic lyricism is apparent throughout, ‘Chimes’ states, ‘I can’t stop chasing your love.’ It’s quite beautiful in harmony with the enchanting, experimental backing, and it’s not at all cheesy, (like it would maybe sound if the words were coming out of the mouth of a boy band in some kind of ballad form.)
It’s a magnificent come back for Friendly Fires, a mature development of their sound and it couldn’t have been released at a better time, with holiday season fast approaching. Though a listen in winter wouldn’t harm, might even eradicate those winter blues.
My recent article in the ‘Woking Whack’ dedicated to who to look out for this festival season.
N.B: this was written about 5 months ago before it was published, therefore most of the acts are pretty well-known and now and have some big slots this summer. Either I’m psychic or they’ve all had much deserved success in the past six months (I think the latter.) If you’re looking for bands to watch on the smaller stages, check my ‘What I’m Listening To’ page. Enjoy!
The Vaccines released their debut ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ back in March and its safe to say that after hearing previous singles, ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ and ‘Blow It Up’ that the majority were expecting big things from the London band. The four-piece definitely delivered with an exhilarating album bursting with upbeat indie-rock and bop worthy tunes that set the bar high for future artists in the field.
They’ll be sure to whip the enthusiastic crowd into a frenzy of drunken dancing and reiterated lyrics this summer. Catch them performing at Isle of Wight, Glasto, T in the Park and Reading/Leeds Festivals.
As you can see, I have nothing but love for The Vaccines. This record is my favourite of the year so far.
‘All In White’
‘Post Break-Up Sex’
A Slice of indie electro for fans of Foals and Friendly Fires in its echoed words, experimental synths and prolonged intricate beat.
Formed from the ashes of The Automatic and Bloc Party, this trio are bringing a fresh feel to the Post-hardcore genre. Their heavy riffs and powerful vocal draw similarities to the likes of Glassjaw and The Used.
JOIA – Enough Of You
Expect BIG things from this band. They’ve been in the pipeline for a while now and have previewed a taster of what is to come with track ‘Enough Of You’ via their Facebook page. Lead vocalist, Athina Andrelos (formally of pop/rock Surrey outfit ‘Consort With Romeo’) showcases her flawless vocal over the support the polished backing complete with a classy guitar solo. Check it out HERE.
Also, take a look at their acoustic cover of Rihanna’s (Oh Na Na) ‘What’s My Name.’
The St Alban’s trio are back with their much anticipated follow-up to their 2008 debut. ‘Pala’ is bursting with indie electro hits and track ‘Hawaiian Air’ is the sums up the band’s essence perfectly. Familiar build ups and fast paced dance worthy tracks inhabit the record. It’s an evident progression and though they had a difficult task on their hands topping that brilliant debut of theirs (I’m talking about tracks like ‘Skeleton Boy’ and ‘Paris’ here…) it’s fair to say that they have just about done it.
Young The Giant – My Body
Formally known as, ‘The Jakes’ Californian five-piece ‘Young The Giant’ have been on my playlist this week. The gutsy voice of Frontman Sameer Gadhir accompanies the appropriate riffs and bouncy drumbeat for an alternative rock act. After seeing them perform on last week’s ‘Later Live with Jools Holland’, I was impressed by their stage presence and energy.
Miles Kane made up a third of indie band The Rascals before his departure, then he made up half of The Last Shadow Puppets and now in 2011, he is going it alone. This week saw the release of his debut, including previous single ‘Come Closer’ which is a track of pure indie joy in its strung out lyrics. Seriously catchy.
London trio ‘Is Tropical’ define their sound in their name. Their experimental, synth driven music creates a positive vibe, perfect for the summer (tropical) heat.
Hailing from Montreal, ‘Little Scream’ is the blissful voice of Laurel Sprengelmeyer. Her laid-back vocal effort and equally chilled backing sum up the essence of her mysterious sound.
Nashville rockers Mona have the familiar American alternative rock sound going on. With their solid vocal and a good ol’ ‘ah ah ah ah ah ah, whoa whaos’ along with some classic sounding riffs, they seem to have been influenced by fellow Tennesseans Kings Of Leon. And who can blame them for looking up to them after their success, Mona are definitely on the road to the big time.
Dutch Uncles – Fragrant
Indie band Dutch Uncles formed in 2008. Their intricacy defines their fresh sound. These lay in the mist of a deep baseline and beat, drawing parallels to the likes of Talking Heads and Foals. The delicate vocal and its varying pitch, compliments the deeper tones in the song.
Noah and the Whale – Tonight’s The Kind Of Night
Taken from their 3rd album ‘Last Night On Earth’ it shows how they have grown up musically since their debut single ‘5 Years Time’ with ex-band member and now Brit Winner Laura Marling. This album is full of beautifully crafted records that is still evident of their beloved folk elements, though now contained within some heavier bass lines and backing. One of my favourite albums of the year so far.
We Are The Ocean – The Waiting Room
The Essex post-hardcore mob released their second studio album last week and it certainly lives up to their past standards, beyond even. What makes WATO so listenable for me is their impressive lyricism along with the contrast between the vocalists. Liam Cromby’s voice is clear and flawless, with the purposeful strength to rival screamer Dan Brown. The layers and depth created through this are seen in other successful bands like Underoath and The Blackout.