Thursday, 21 August 2014

Late Night Tales: Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand are here to tell a Late Night Tale.

And where other artists in these series of compilations have a tendency to kick back and recline in the fine company of some chill-out records, the veteran Scottish Art-Rock group have committed to this mixtape the sonic equivalent of being invited back to their very own decadent multi-roomed 'Stately Home'-party.

Picture the scene, perhaps a raucous post-gig after-party has spilled out of the venue’s own late bar, and all the liggers and groupies and hanger-ons and drug dealers are treated to a private performance as Franz keep the night going in spectacular fashion, in the lavishly decorated smoking room you catch the band indulging themselves with a set of eclectic cover versions before you follow the faintly sweet smell that definitely isn't nicotine to the attic full of stoners commandeering an old record player and putting on a lazy, hazy run through of the Beatles 'I'm Only Sleeping' before laying back on their beanbags and floating upstream...

As you shake off the lightheadedness and venture back to the party in full swing you stumble and pass through different rooms and differing vibes, each housing a small soundsystem in full swing, from happy clappy hippies to loud and lairy rock'n'rollers, you throw shapes to funk and reggae, a mixture of seemingly disjointed styles reminds you of drinks you have been mixing all night and into the wee hours of the morning.

You've popped, you've rocked, you've skanked, you've pogoed, you've puked and you've pulled and you've had the time of your life in this maze-like house, but the light has been trying to stream through the heavily curtained windows for at least a few hours, and maybe you should try and get out now, go home, sleep it off.

But with the grand oak front door finally in sight you make your way past that same smoking room from earlier, where Alex Kapranos now holds court over a room of cross-legged or passed-out former revellers, reciting poetry and telling tales and providing the perfect counter to the debauched and divergent party that you thought would never end.

His soothing accent lulls you away from the hectic night and the fuzzy memories of frivolity, it lulls you deeper into the pile rug on which you share with the most fastidious Franz followers, and finally his soothing accent lulls you into errant sleep.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

an appreciation of Justin Bieber like no other....

when posting my first video review last year I have had every intention of making it a regular occurrence...

unfortunately time constraints and the logistics of recording and editing were stretching my capabilities somewhat, I had the ideas but the limitations I bumped up against were outstripping my power to push ahead with vlogging projects.

then 4music's Vlogstar competition came along, a competition that would land the winner a whole new bunch of hi-tech equipment, why not have a crack at it?

in a video of 30 seconds or less you had to deliver upon your full potential, I checked out the other entrants to see the what I'd be up against... and time and time again I found I'd be up against the same things... straight to camera, blah blah blah, thank you...

my first crazy thought was to deliver a metal style review in a slipknot style mask, of course I left the whole thing to the last minute.... no time to make said mask, but i instead went with making a little extra effort, composing an accapella ode to Justin Bieber to be delivered in my best metal voice...

face paints, bare chest, screaming.... all captured through the lense of my smartphone.  It may not win me the prize, it may not even be picked as a finalist, but I'm sure it will stand out against the rest and I had a hell of a lot of fun doing it

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Groundislava - Frozen Throne, album review

the email subject header promises a 'dancehall infused single', it apparently has a video of people dancing to the track on the streets of New York, i download the album and get a few tracks into a safe, and ultimately dreary, female vocalist and multi-instrumentalist going through the motions.  did i hear anything 'dancehall infused' before turning off?

no. i did not.

and on to the next album in my hastily decided upon 'to review' pile.  thankfully it engages almost immediately.

i skim read the premise of this album, in much the same way i skim read the press release of the last.  the terms 'concept', 'dreary world', 'producer' were the initial hooks, enough for me to hit download.  once the music has spoken for itself, there will be plenty of time to go back if i need any more info.

aurally, Groundislava's Frozen Throne boasts results that could have been cobbled together by an on-trend collaboration of Frank Ocean dabbling in production duties for Bastille, sheer gossamer future-pop that rides a wave of current trends without sounding like it tries too hard, a teaming of two 21st century chart-breakers would surely breed this strain of soul-synth-pop magic.

in fact, the collaboration is between the two LA based entities, producer Groundislava and band Rare Times, on 6 of the 10 track set, and the album is furnished with a wonderful eighties sheen that crackles with George Michael-eque big money charisma as it takes the retro sound to tell a tale of a man falling in love with a virtual girl and retools it with a new nobility lifted from beats, breaks and those three dirty letters.... EDM, as we follow the narrative into a digital world, to escape the bleakness of real life and embark into a constructed world that appears to be far more fulfilling.

(see, i told you i'd get round to ready the press release properly)

Despite sounding like the plot of an 80's special effects laden cult classic movie, the issues of what we truly perceive as 'reality' in a post catfish-effect world teaming with internet trolls are thoroughly relevant in a time when simply setting up an online profile can allow you to live your life as whoever you choose to be.

Past, present and future stories collide as Groundislava basks in the glory of his own terraformed landscape, welcoming travellers on a pilgrimage for new pleasures, greeting listeners that may have already discovered M83 after cutting their teeth on the familiar top 40 sounds of CHVRCHES, Aluna George and Disclosure.

In an uncertain modern world, Groundislava provides the perfect soundtrack.