Bastille – Flaws
A mash up of indie-rock and electro-pop, with a definite reggae-style beat; Bastille’s ‘Flaws’ is a punchy Poppy song that boasts frank lyrics and an almost irritatingly catchy tune. Released on 21st October 2012, the single is highly commercial, and strays from the tracks ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Sleep Song’ that employ more electro-orientated methods. ‘I originally wrote in my bedroom and then it’s kind of grown from there’ is what lead-signer/songwriter Dan Smith told Gigwise. There is a sense of charm about a band that have written and created a song independently. There is layer upon layer of depth to the track – from the raw concept to the polished radio edit, which allowed ‘Flaws’ nearly half a million YouTube hits.
The single was used in the emotional scenes of E4’s ‘Made in Chelsea’, and was played repeatedly on radio one prior to its official single release. Some would argue that the tune lacks some of the individualist musical integrity of Bastille’s other more alternative tracks, yet the song definitely appeals to a mass audience (as does most catchy pop-music), and has therefore done very well for itself. It has perhaps changed the perception of the four-piece band Bastille, but just because it challenges the band’s previous ventures, doesn’t make it any less creditable. Laced with chip-tune melodies and rhythmic drumbeats, the song is a bittersweet elegy to a flawed relationship, which instantly makes it relatable and therefore likeable. A personal quality resonates within the track – the love-story muse is enchanting, not because it is elaborate, but because it is simple, frank and honest. The lyrics allude to a personal imperfection, and it is this admission that makes the tune likable; ‘You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve / And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground / Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started /Dig them up, so nothing’s left unturned.’
The lyrics sound like a hybrid of indie/folk/electric, and so ‘Flaws’ is much more than a simple re-creation of the synthesised pop genre. It does not lend itself easily to catagorisation – it has part of the juiciness of pop, and is commercial, but still retains a unique quality that makes it memorable and instantly recognisable.
If you are interesting in seeing the band live, Bastille tours in Reading on 6th December, Coventry on the 8th December 2012, and Liverpool on 28th February.
—- Sophie Grace Barrett
Folks – Say Something
Folks, a six-piece band whose self-proclaimed ethos is to ‘kick against the pricks with rock ‘n’ roll’ have recently been hailed Manchester’s best-kept secret. Feeling sheepish that I’d never stumbled across Folks before, my initial judgements rested entirely on the look of the single and the list of artists they have toured with on a sticker on the reverse. Unfortunately both clues were annoyingly conflicting. The cover sleeve is very pretty, sort of psychedelic and artistically composed, whereas their list of tour partners (Noel Gallagher, The View and Miles Kane) have a northern, British grittiness that gave me the impression they’re the kind of band likely to be played in Sugar on a Wednesday night.
The single itself was sadly nothing like the well-made cover sleeve. Yes, it sounds like it’s produced fairly well but the generic arrangement, lyrics and whiney vocals sound like the result of a GCSE music composition project. ‘Say Something’ is almost weirdly The Coral-esque, yet more formulaic with predictable turns of sickening cheeriness in the tune which grates quite a bit. When actually bothering to decipher the lyrics from what I’d call ‘vocal noise’ there’s actually a pretty dark element to the song, with references to dancing on graves, laying people down to die and so on and so forth.
Folks seem nostalgic; with an aim to take their single back to a previous age. With instrumental styles reminiscent of the 60’s and influenced perhaps by Beatlemania (though ‘Say Something’ is no ‘A Day In The Life’, don’t get me wrong) I suppose the psychedelic nature of the cover’s artwork is therefore sort of relevant, but at the same time ‘Say Something’ sounds by no means wildly distorted or influenced by hallucinogens, so is a bit of an odd choice.
The common, unwanted feeling of ‘Oh god, this is going to be in my head all day’ occurred for me at the chorus where the vocalist’s repetitive whinging reached a headache-inducing peak; although I found to my complete delight that about 15 seconds after the song ended I had no idea what it even went like anymore, only confirmed the fact that I did not enjoy it.
It’s not all that bad though, I mean, the instruments are played well and the person who made the CD art and wrote the text in fancy squiggly handwriting deserves some kudos. I’d give it a solid 3/10 – although, hey, it beats anything by Take That in my eyes so maybe they shouldn’t give up just yet.
—- Lucy Smalley
Heaven’s Basement – Fire, Fire
British hard rockers Heaven’s Basement offer up their latest single, ‘Fire, Fire’ in preparation for the release of their forthcoming album, ‘Filthy Empire’ in January 2013. It’s a hard hitting powerhouse of a track perfect for getting your blood pumping; your head banging and putting on that ‘rock-God’ face you’ve been practicing in the mirror.
It is easy to hear where Heaven’s Basement gets their influences from. The track is an arena filler, think a more classic rock tinged version of Shinedown or Breaking Benjamin and Aaron Buchanan’s vocals are reminiscent of Justin Hawkins of the Darkness, although his lyrics are of a slightly more serious nature. There is also a hint early Axl Rose (Guns ‘n’ Roses) knocking around.
Picture yourself blasting down the motorway (obviously sticking to the speed limit…), on a road trip with your mates and the wind blowing through your hair (we can all dream of owning a convertible right?) and then ‘Fire, Fire’ kicks in. With its tough relentless guitar riff, it instantly sets itself up as one of those perfect driving tunes that spread a massive grin across your face, you know the one. The chorus is cleverly written as it bursts in with the catchy hook to which the song is named after, a smart move there to get everyone singing along.
‘Fire, Fire’ is not only well composed, incorporating the musical genius that every member of the band possesses, but is crafted around a simple but powerful meaning, about getting away from somewhere that it’s time to move on from, a feeling we have all had at some point or other.
The single was produced by John Feldman famed for working with high profile artists such as Papa Roach and The Used and I feel he has done a solid job of recreating the riotous, rebellious and infectiously addictive sound Heaven’s Basement whip up night after night on stage. “We put every ounce of our blood and sweat into each track on the album, and the release of ‘Fire, Fire’ is a timestamp and a mammoth statement from Heaven’s Basement” says Buchanan.
—- Jonathan Doyle
Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
This stunning track is the second single release taken from Bat For Lashes’ new album ‘The Haunted Man’ which hit stores on the 15th October 2012. With its rhythmic beat and introduction that is strangely reminiscent of Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, this song is one that can definitely be defined under the category of ‘easy listening’.
If you have never listened to Bat For Lashes, the stage name for Natasha Khan, before then it is difficult to find similar artists to compare her to. She has a unique quality that is hard to find in this age of music where everyone is trying to sound distinctive from one another but in doing so sounds the same. Therefore, I suggest that if you are looking for something original or even perhaps something completely different from the rest of your iTunes library then you needn’t look any further.
Khan’s music since arriving on the music scene has taken a twist and as opposed to her previous works which consisted more of haunting compositions – like in Two Suns cut ‘Daniel’ – this album is the ‘most autobiographical of Khan’s records’ so far and in doing so this has established a much more upbeat method of song composing. For Khan, born in Brighton, this album is a reflection on the rediscovery of her roots and much-loved home which her previous works never focused on.
At different intervals within the song there is the appearance of what can only be described as kind of electric guitar/piano sounds that penetrates the beat and compliments it at the same time. An odd blend but when combined with the phenomenal vocals of Natasha Khan it works as a layering effect that reaches a climax as the chorus is delivered. It is this magic and creative song writing that has contributed to Khan’s two Mercury prize nominations for her previous albums, Fur and Gold in 2006, and Two Suns in 2009.
From beginning to end you are transported by Khan’s use of different types of vocals, to express a variety of emotions that the lyrics are pointing at. The repetition of ‘you’re a good man’, although somewhat monotonous, acts as a grounding to let the listener understand the emotions that Khan is emphasizing in her song. Added to the music this makes for fantastic listening and I can only hope that Khan is nominated for the Mercury Prize again next year.
—- Kirsty Lee
Conor Maynard – Turn Around
‘Turn Around’ is the third single from British singer-songwriter Conor Maynard’s debut album ‘Contrast’. At the young age of nineteen he is making a name for himself with a variety of YouTube videos and it is incredible that this single is in collaboration with R&B singer-songwriter Ne-Yo. This is therefore an indication of the outstanding talent that we are beholding in this song. Celebrating his 20th birthday at the end of this month, it is astonishing that such a musical flair exists without the aid of the X-factor. Although from rising as an internet sensation Maynard has frequently been compared to Justin Bieber, as the both have found stardom at such an early age, which the singer hates. This is not surprising as both singers are aiming for a different genre musically.
This electronic RnB track with its catchy piano riffs is definitely one that should be on your summer playlists, and even your winter ones too, to remind you that there will be some sunshine again, the future isn’t just rain. The track is playful and energetic with its euphoric electric beat that is guaranteed to lift you out of any bad mood and instantly put you in a good one.
Drawing from influences such as Chris Brown, Usher and even Ne-Yo himself; the artists which he used to cover on his YouTube channel, you can definitely pick out some similarities. Arguably you could say that this is pretty boring, and unoriginal, yet there is something within the music that keeps me entertained and engaged. Maybe for those who aren’t fans of RnB this track could just blur into the background along with all the other RnB artists, but for those of us who like this genre of music there is a definite difference despite the similarities.
The lyrics of the song are repetitive, but again this adds to the catchy-ness of the song. If you were to only catch a small segment of the song on the radio for instance, it will certainly be memorable, hopefully for the right reasons.
Some people will be quick to judge this song, but I suggest a listen before deciding that Conor Maynard isn’t for you, you might surprise yourself and find that you are playfully singing along unintentionally. But that is the musical genius of a song like this. Having won the MTV’s Brand New For 2012 Award, I can say that I am excited to watch this space to see what else Conor Maynard has is store for us in the near future.
—- Kirsty Lee