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May 17, 2019

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by Bethany Wilson
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by Bethany Wilson
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by Ask AC
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by Lillian Appleby

CultureShock (89)

William Matthews is a well known singer-songwriter and bonafide TV addict since the age of 3. He is a avid reader and consumer of all things music, pop culture, political and spiritual related. 

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Marmalade Sky are a four piece British rock band from Bristol, their newest EP is quite rightly titled ‘British Boy’. Whilst the band is unsigned, anyone who takes the time to listen to them will be greeted with true great British rock and roll with influences such as The Rolling Stones and The Who.

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Alex 9

Alex Clare is a musician based in London; he recently released his debut album ‘Lateness Of The Hour’. The record is a bag full of surprises, containing soulful voice comparable to the likes of John Legend and James Morrison, he also presents some pretty deep lyrics that will touch the listeners. However all this is shrouded with generic dubstep beats, which have become all too common to today’s music listeners. Now this isn’t to say that there is something wrong with dubstep as a genre, but this kind of feels like an attempt to grab extra fans, which is a shame as this album had some real potential.

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The Vaccines

The Vaccines are the latest craze in the ever-increasing British indie music scene. The release of their debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? was welcomed to widespread acclaim, reaching number four in the UK album charts, not bad for a band that released their CD only ten months after forming.

The band claims to have many musical influences, such as 50s rock ’n’ roll and C86, and have also had comparisons drawn with the likes of The Ramones. These different musical styles can really be heard throughout the different tracks. One rather strong point on the record is the vocal ability of lead singer Justin Young, who not only has one of the most distinctive voices in the industry at present, but is also slightly reminiscent of White Lies lead singer Harry McVeigh.

The album itself is a prime of example of good indie rock, full of catchy guitar jingles and dark lyrics all strung together with an upbeat tempo. However it shouldn’t be treated as yet another commercial indie record. It is well thought out, and what make The Vaccines really special is that they don’t rely on just a single aspect of the band’s skills to make it worth listening to. Instead, each song switches its strongest point from good, meaningful lyrics, such as the song “Post Break-Up Sex,” which shows the bands more hard-hitting emotional side, with lyrics that many who have had break-ups can relate to, to the fast-paced, rhythmic song “Nørgaard,” which shows the airy classic indie talents the band possess and will get stuck in your head for days on end. This is one big positive about the record—the rich amount of variety the CD contains. It really separates the band from the rest. No two tracks are quite identical and will evoke a different emotion in their listeners.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011 09:39

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

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PJ Harvey is a well known English Singer/Songwriter, a veteran in the music scene making her professional debut in the 1990’s. Harvey has been known for changing sound with each new album she releases as to not repeat herself twice. Her newest eighth studio album ‘Let England Shake’ is no exception; we see a very unique idea for an album, one that can only be described as courageous with an artist that has a big following.

The album, which was recorded over a five week period in a church giving a slightly airy feel to it, entered the UK album charts at #8. Harvey sticks with one main theme throughout the CD and that is the sense of ‘English Pride’.

It contains strong undertones of patriotism; with one of the titles itself named England. You really do get this sense of English pride from the album, without the pretentious ‘we are better than everyone’ attitude. The artist claimed she researched historical conflicts whilst creating the record, this influence is made very clear by tracks such as ‘The Glorious’ with bugles playing in the intro. On the whole it seems to give off a slightly more upbeat and less folksy Laura Marling ‘I Speak Because I Can’ vibe. On the downside the album does start to get a bit repetitive as it nears the middle, and transcends from an individual and bold CD of Glorious England into one long list of why England is good.

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Samuel Bazan is an unsigned singer/songwriter from Olympia, WA; now living locally in NoHo, who recently recorded his debut album ‘Slow Down’.  With many unsigned artists who release their first album, wonderful things can’t really be expected, but Samuel does a very good job of bridging the gap between amateur and quality, recording some catchy alternative rock tracks on the record.

The album, which was self-produced by Samuel, is full of well thought out love songs, with a vocal style and lyrics that will remind his listeners of a young Rob Thomas and guitar skills that are Santana-esque. Some stand out tracks on the CD are ‘Tell Me’ and ‘Forgiveness’ which I think set the general feel of the record. One thing that really stood out above the rest was the lyrics. There are no sound effects or pretentious ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ that you find in so many pop songs; just a man and his words with a good firm musical beat to back him up.

Samuel has certainly made a very solid album and the passion and hard work that has been put into making it can be felt. With more coverage he could have the potential to revive what seemed like a forgotten market in the industry, and with talent like that it is hard to imagine why this guy isn’t signed.

I urge everyone to give this Samuel Bazan a listen, just click the link below:

http://www.facebook.com/samuelbazanmusic

 

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Benjamin Francis Leftwich is a twenty one year old English Singer-Songwriter from York. His debut album ‘Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm’ hit shelves recently. Whilst this studio album may be the first time a lot of listeners have heard his music, many will feel familiar with it as he is very reminiscent of the late Elliott Smith.

The main strengths of the album are the lyrics, they aren’t just commercial pop songs - they're enchanting heartfelt poems and each track tells a story. Comparisons could be drawn with Damien Rice with the way he makes the listener feel as if they are being allowed to share his personal thoughts.

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The new track ‘Holla’ is collaboration between UK artist Priscilla Angelique and US rapper Major D. The song is very unique in its own sense adding something new to the seemingly plastic and repetitive dubstep scene.

What makes the track so enjoyable is the fusion of different influences that make up the song; the dark and grimey bassline/dubstep beats blended with the fast paced West Coast Hip-Hop lyrics. They have taken two very different genres and made them flow surprisingly well. The use of synth sounds are also a nice addition to dress up the music. It isn’t just the sound of the music that makes it good, but the vocals themselves which are very fresh. Priscilla Angelique has that Ms. Dynamite ‘Fire’ feel about her and Major D has a distinct voice and sounds like the track was made for him. This song is perfect addition to your playlist on for a night out and would fill any dancefloor.

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They say the sophomore slump is an uphill battle; these words have never been truer than with the release of Reading based band ‘Pete & the Pirates’ new album ‘A Thousand Pictures’. After the critical reception of their first album, great things were expected from the indie boys, but it seems that they have failed to deliver results.

Technically the album can’t be faulted; it contains everything that a good British indie album should have, depressing subject matter and the upbeat sound to go with it. For some reason however, it just has no spark. Perhaps it the way that the record feels like nothing new, just extra songs left off their old album. The band has seemed to have made literally no progression since their last album. Don’t get me wrong though, it is a good listen, but it lacks drive and gets boring and repetitive within a few songs.

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Every now and then you come across a band that once you’ve heard once you are instantly a fan of their music. GSPT are definitely one of those bands. I had the pleasure of hearing this band live last New Year’s Eve, and since then I’ve been hooked on them.

GSPT have blended alternative & Hip-Hop very well to produce a completely unique sound and are able to collect many different types of fans. All that mix of different sounds have paid off because they have really created something special in their mixtape ‘A Band Apart’ and it’s hard to think why they aren’t internationally known.

Sunday, 15 May 2011 02:11

The King Blues - Punk & Poetry - London

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Artist: The King Blues            Album: Punk & Poetry            Location: London

The King Blues are one of the, if not the most, underrated bands of current time. With a unique blend of Punk, Ska, a set of raw vocals and some of the most thought provoking lyrics you are likely to find, they have all the ingredients to be a terrible band, but instead they have pulled it off and created some of the best music I have ever heard.  They are back with their third album ‘Punk  & Poetry’ and have comeback hard.  Tracks such as ‘We Are F****** Angry’ shows the society questioning, anarchist side of the band that fans have grown to love; whilst songs like ‘Headbutt’ show their lighter playful side.  The King Blues are one of the few bands that are continuing to evolve in their music and their lyrics, and deserve way more credit than they get. This album is a must for any music fan, anarchist or anyone who generally questions the government. Go out and by it now, you won’t be disappointed.

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Artist: Chipmunk       Album: Transition    Location: London

Chipmunk, one of the king pins of Grime is back with his new album ‘Transition’; and what a transition it is indeed. Little Chip Diddy Chip has grown into an international, chart topping rap star, but is it a good change for his music? I think the answer is yes and no. He is with no question a very talented artist and has created another album of hits and catchy songs, such as the anthem ‘Champion’ featuring Chris Brown; but the switch to mainstream seems to have taken away some of the more grittier sounds and lyrics that made chipmunk great and unique. For new fans it is a change that will not be noticed or cared about, but for some of the older fans it is an obvious change and one that probably won’t be favoured, as he is just becoming like every other Urban artist out there. However, this is still a very good album with some prominent artists featuring on the tracks, and definitely worth a listen. I just hope Chipmunk doesn’t forget his roots and start to cater for a mainly American audience.

 

Friday, 22 April 2011 11:56

Katy B - On a Mission - London

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Atrist: Katy B                        Album: On A Mission                        Location: London

I like to think I have a wide music taste and I’ll admit Katy B’s singles before the release of her debut album ‘On A Mission’ were pretty good. She mixed powerful female vocals and dubstep beats perfectly. When I downloaded her CD, I was expecting something new and upbeat but when I listened to it I felt that she is a bit of a one trick pony. Her track ‘Broken Record’ sums up her album very well, it is just blends into the same noise, which becomes very repetitive and boring quickly.  I’m not saying she doesn’t have talent, her wide range of vocal chords and soulful voice shouldn’t go unnoticed but it’s as if she got praise of her singles, and stuck to that sound with no variation. I would defiantly give this album two thumbs down, and wouldn’t recommend purchasing it, unless you are a DJ and looking for some good beats to play. Besides that though you are just wasting money.

 

 

 

Thursday, 07 April 2011 03:55

White Lies - Ritual

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White Lies are one of those rare bands that sound like no one else out there and never leave you bored. Naturally when I first heard they were releasing a new album I was extremely excited. On my first listen of ‘Ritual’ however it was a different story. It seemed that the band had simply produced a new album that sounded more or less exactly the same as their last one and hadn’t evolved as artists. When I gave it a second listen though it grew on me quite a bit. White Lies have kept their original sound, which is what make them great. They have dug deeper into their emotions than before and pulled out something much more lyrically sound than their debut album. ‘Ritual’ is another prime example of how truly talented the British music scene really is, and the unique vocals of Harry McVeigh will leave you playing their music over and over.

 

 

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When Bobby Long released his debut album ‘A Winter Tale’ I don’t think many people expected it to be this good. The 24 year old from West England will remind his listeners of an early Bob Dylan. Bobby generated popularity after writing the song ‘Let It Sign’ for friend and actor Rob Pattison to perform in the twilight film. Long has continued to produce musical gold and has captured the true essence of folk perfectly on his first album. He is one of the few artists that don’t get the recognition that they deserve.

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