Monday, 23 January 2012

Flynndie Reviews - Blog #23: The Low Suns - Never Gonna Care EP

Written 23rd January 2012:

The Low Suns – Never Gonna Care EP

The Band: Jack Berkeley (vocals), Ali Boyd-Brent (guitar), Si Clark (guitar/bass) James Durrant (keyboards/bass), Jarrod Pizzata (drums)

Today’s review comes from a new band I’ve only just recently come across via Twitter, The Low Suns, and the release of their debut EP the download only ‘Never Gonna Care EP’. Now at present, to be honest, I don’t know a great deal about the band but I will try and cover what I do know about them so far and of course try and do their debut EP some justice with this here review. Originally from LA, this five-piece band formed after a fire destroyed the recording studio used by childhood friends James and Ali, before moving back to London and subsequently meeting lead-singer Jack Berkeley through their shared passion for folk music. The band have moved on to big things quickly having previously supported Coldplay on tour and have now followed this up with the release of their debut EP, so let’s dip into it and discover what the band’s sound is all about then.

Track Listing

1. Never Gonna Care
2. Carnival
3. So Tired
4. Cyber Gospel

Opening with an upbeat electronic melody and the distinct, almost falsetto-like vocals here from Jack on opening title track ‘Never Gonna Care’, it’s quite clear from the start that the band aims to create a large and unique sound, something I feel their certainly achieve with this track. The electronic melody carries this track along nicely, before reaching the catchy, guitar-backed chorus with Jack’s high-pitched voice repeating the track’s song title throughout. It’s actually quiet an easy-listening track and even features almost ‘gospel-like’ vocals from the band towards the end of the track and overall gets the EP off to a good start.

‘Carnival’ follows next and starts with another electronic beat to it, albeit, a little less distinct than the electronic melody used on the opening title-track and Jack shows how much range he has to his vocals here, initially sounding a bit like Bono at the start of the first verse in my opinion, but certainly coming more into his own unique style by the time we reach the track’s loud, anthem-like chorus it’s certainly catchy to say the least. Getting started with a repeated light-synth jingle, ‘So Tired’ is the 3rd track on the EP and probably the most easy-listening track so far. With synths and percussion flowing smoothly from James and Jarrod on this track, Jack gives another master-class in crisp, clean, powerful vocals as the band capture yet another big sound here; this track could easily be a single in itself.

Final track ‘Cyber Gospel’ is a bit of a slowed-down burner to close the EP, again with gentle guitar and percussion steadily carrying the track’s cryptic lyrics, softly sung here by Jack, before the crescendo of another epic, catchy guitar chorus and vocals that tend to be a feature of this EP overall. It’s a suitable closing track to what is an impressive debut EP, one that certainly hints that there could be great things yet to come from this London-based quintet who obviously put a great deal of care and passion into their music and I going to rate this EP 8 Sunrises out of 10. So certainly worth downloading and checking them out at some point, it will be interesting to hear what grand sound the band builds around Jack’s very distinct and impressive vocals in my opinion upon a release of a full debut album later this year at some point.

Sunrise, Sunset ‘Flynny’

Track 1 ‘Never Gonna Care’

Track 2 ‘Carnival’

Monday, 16 January 2012

Flynndie Reviews - Blog #22: Howler - America Give Up

Written 16th January 2012:

Howler – America Give Up

The Band: Jordan Gatesmith (vocals, guitar), Max Petrek (keyboards), Brent Mayes (drums), Ian Nygaard (guitar).

So for today’s review, regular readers may notice I previously gave a taster of today’s band, Howler, recently when I previously reviewed their debut release the ‘This One’s Different EP’ back in mid-November in Blog #19. As I stated in that piece I very much fell for the band’s garage-rock, surfer-style EP instantly and have regularly been giving the EP a spin since its release last August and in doing so had built myself up high-expectations for the release of their full-debut album and today’s review subject ‘America Give Up’. I won’t cover too much on the band’s background as I previously did this in the Blog #19 for the ‘This One’s Different EP’, so let’s dive right-in and see how ‘America Give Up’ sounds:

Running Order

1. Beach Sluts
2. Back To The Grave
3. This One's Different
4. America
5. Too Much Blood
6. Wailing (Making Out)
7. Pythagorean Fearem
8. Told You Once
9. Back Of Your Neck
10. Free Drunk
11. Black Lagoon

Kicking off with a nice ‘beach-party’ guitar-riff, one that those that have heard ‘This One’s Different’ will be initially surprised that things are off to a slow start here, however, that soon quickly changes 30 seconds into the track, as the fast, frantic garage-rock that appeared on their debut EP crashes in on the album at 100mph, like a 20ft wave on the beaches of California with opening track ‘Beach Sluts’. The track is an early indication of the ‘surfer-type-vibe' that the band creates with their sound throughout the record. ‘Back to the Grave’ slows things down after the frantic opener, but has a very, deep bellowing sound to it courtesy of thunderous drumming from Brent Mayes and Jordan singing in a more deep voice on this track in particular. The track features a nice rocky-riff after each verse and overall complements the opening track very well on the album. Track 3 ‘This One’s Different’ as previously mentioned was the title track of the band’s debut EP, and quite rightly so in my opinion, as it’s one of the standout tracks on the album with its fast, catchy garage-rock sound, one of which I previously compared to sounding like early material by The Strokes but only if they had been up taking illicit substances through the night! This is probably the first most ‘instant’ track on the album for me and certainly a type of sound the band captures so well.

Next up we have ‘America’ and much like 2nd-track ‘Back to the Grave’ the band opt for another more ‘relaxed’ rock track here while still maintaining a very unique sound for it with the type of echo effect used on Jordan’s voice here and the simple, relaxed backing guitar riff used throughout the song to nice effect. ‘Too Much Blood’ casually turns up next on the record, with a slowed down electric guitar hand-holding Jordan’s vocals on this track and haunting-like guitars turning up in the middle of the song too, this is probably the most ‘menacing’ sounding track on album, which is generally fast-paced and upbeat throughout, though it’s reassuring to know that the band has these type of tracks in their locker also.

Things get a lot more upbeat and bouncy with the track ‘Wailing (Making Out)’, which was previously titled the excellent ‘You like White Women I like Cigarettes’ on their debut EP, though I’m guessing the band may have been requested to change this title for the album’s release hence new title ‘Wailing (Making Out)’. With a melody throughout the track that smacks of college students having a blast at a beach-party, this is again another more instant track on the record and really lives up to the surfer-vibe of the record as previously mentioned earlier. I can understand more why the title of the track was changed as lead-singed Jordon belts out towards the end of the track “I’m so tired of making out!” and this is another real standout track on the record for me. Track 7 ‘Pythagorean Fearem’ one of the more unusually titled tracks on the album, alludes more to the darker, menacing sound the band are capable of creating, with early parts of the verse reminding my very much of the sound the band ‘80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster’ were famed for, which is by no means a bad thing at all.

‘Told You Once’ is the 3rd and final track, that originally appeared on the bands debut EP and is another excellent track, with a more mellow feel to it and a backing acoustic guitar throughout. The band re-creates a sound that is usually found in movies of an easy-going 60’s Diner in my opinion despite somewhat downbeat lyrics “I wish there was something that I could do/Cause I hate myself more than I hate you” suggesting that the song implies a strain on couple’s relationship but this song has anything but a downbeat vibe about it and it is more likely you would just get caught up in the easy-flowing rhythm and sound of the track. Again it features, like many tracks on the album, simple yet catchy lyrics that you will soon find yourself singing along to without realising it (or maybe that is just me!)

‘Back of your Neck’ swoons along into the latter part of the album, with a nice opening guitar riff, and is possibly the most ‘surfer-vibe’ sounding and laidback track on the album overall and although I’ve used that comparison a lot throughout this review, it is more of a complement to the band’s unique sound on this record rather than a criticism. ‘Free Drunk’ starts with the screech of guitar distortion, before jugging away as a guitar track that coasts along and fills the album nicely but is arguably perhaps the ‘weaker’ track of an overall strong album. And so our fast-paced, fun journey through the band’s debut album brings us to closing track ‘Black Lagoon’ and in my opinion it’s a cracker! Another, frantic guitar track played at rip-roaring pace, with a really catchy bridge and a proper 60’s guitar-riff throughout the 2nd verse of the track, it’s a great fun track to close what is overall a fun and enjoyable debut album from these 4 young lads from Minneapolis that should be enjoyed for the light-hearted romp of a record that it is!

So, overall I think this album is a great a debut effort from Howler. I had really high hopes for the record after the obscenely, excessive amount of plays I had previously given their debut EP ‘This One’s Different’. The album overall lives up to my high expectations, although I felt it was a shame that they left off the opening track ‘For All Concern’ from their debut EP, as I always thought it was an amazing opening track. I also personally preferred the vocals used on the EP version of ‘This One’s Different’ however the vocals used here still don’t stop the track itself from being anything other than great and both of these points are minor criticisms. I think this is a great album for the band to introduce themselves to the UK Indie scene and I’m sure fans of bands like The Strokes, The Vaccines and even to an extent The Libertines will really like the record that Howler have brought to the table here and I’m going to award this album a very strong 8 Howls out of 10. Even if you didn’t hear the debut EP I’d still recommend give this album a go and would certainly recommend trying to catch the band play ‘live’ in the UK over the next few months while they are still playing smaller venues as I can only see bigger things coming up for Howler going forward into 2012!

Never Giving Up ‘Flynny’

Track 3 ‘This One’s Different’

Track 8 I Told You Once’