Thursday, 27 April 2017

Those Handsome Animals - The New Renaissance, album review

There aren't many albums that people spend most of their adult life waiting for, but The New Renaissance is possibly mine....

A very brief history lesson first....  Despite entering into very few serious musical discussions in this day and age, MySpace was a prominent tool for a generation, not just for unsigned bands to share their wares, but also for fans of those bands to mobilise, and without it social media probably wouldn't be where it is now (make of that what you will).  

But what happens when one of your favourite MySpace bands never delivers a full album and that little music player in the right hand corner becomes a distant memory?

From the embers of a local band that ignited a North London suburb's suppressed live scene, Enfield's answer to Alex Turner, Thomas Millett, kept the dream alive with the formation of Those Handsome Animals, and those in the know have waited patiently since 2010, through fallow periods, role-call tweaks and false starts.

But enough self-indulgent reminiscing from this thirty-something reviewer, what does the album sound like?

It sounds like an album comprised of guitar, bass and drums should sound like, and more.



Limited palette does not make for limited returns, in the right hands it results in a creative use of the resources available and perhaps certain nuisances may be lost on the more casual listener, their discovery makes the listening all the more rewarding.  Those lyrics, that riff, this chorus... I understand that Spotify has spoiled you for choice, but repeated listening, dancing and shouting along is key to this release.

It's early Oasis rock‘n'roll with an art-rock yelp rather than Liam's trademark snarl, it's The Cribs at their singalong best, it's The Cure at their most pop, it's The Drums without the hype and it's Billy Bragg at his most acutely observant, it's all this and more rolled into a lean, but rippling, sub-40 minute running time.

It kicks off with 'Megadrive', a track urging the world to 'clear a space on the map’ for this band, it serves as Those Handsome Animal's theme tune, a 21st century alternative twist on 'The Monkees’ or ‘Banana Splits’, and in an awkwardly meta way, the theme of this album from the offset seems to be themes...  Pick almost any track and layer it over a montage of John Hughes movie clips and your provided with an updated take on romanticised teenage-angst and epoch-defining musical touchstones, if only John Hughes wasn't directing ’80s movies about American young adults but instead was the figurehead behind theatrical releases capturing the mood of London's Generation-Y urbanites.

And Generation-Y is an apt name, although perhaps Generation Why would be more appropriate.  This album questions Brexit.  This album questions modern relationships.  This album questions modern life.  In fact the title track goes as far as listing a number of current quandaries and shrugs them off with the frustratingly nonchalant refrain of 'that's modern life’.  This album speaks directly to a generation that are even questioning why Generation-Y has fallen from common parlance to the rampant use of 'Millennial' that we don't particularly feel part of, or even want to be a part of.

This album is downtrodden  but hopeful.  This album is essential but likely lost already in a marketplace of voices wanting to be heard.

This album makes my heart ache.  Not with romantic fervour but by connecting to my own crushed spirit.  

I identify with the simple joy of the release from my grip of my phones intrusive alarm when on holiday, I identify with being in the 48%,  I identify with having too much choice thanks to our prevalent connectivity, I identify with social media frustrations that didn't exist ten years ago, I identify with escalating house prices that are destroying the London I know and assumed I'd always live in.

I identify with this album in a way that I don't think music fans were able to identify with The Menace or Chinese Democracy.

This album speaks volumes to me, and I hope that it connects with more than just a niche demographic of white guys from the Northern outskirts of London that I'm all too aware that I belong to, but if it doesn't.... that's modern life.


And yes, it was worth the wait.



Friday, 7 April 2017

Harry Styles - Sign Of The Times, single review

It's possible that for some millennials (and for a clutch of Directioners in particular), a title such as 'Sign Of The Times' may not immediately bring to mind the unforgettable influence of Prince and his seminal, and similarly titled, album.

And so, already Harry Styles is on unsteady ground with a certain age group, as if having nice hair, considerable wealth, youth on his side and having previously dated Taylor Swift wouldn't be enough to tip the scales against you.  

What does this Enfant Incredible do next?  He channels the '90s, repackages it into some modern epic and embarrasses all of the elder haters who wished that he'd fail.

Zayn shunned pop with an on-trend R'n'B vibe, Nial went chasing the bankable Sheeran sound.... Whereas Harry Styles has his people put forth a song that starts off sounding like a throwback to the Stereophonics that surprisingly Radio 1 isn't too trendy to snub, progresses with an effort comparable to Sinead O'Connor, and then throws in nods to the Oasis' cocaine excesses of Be Here Now and slightly buried guitar licks that bring to mind the revered soloing of Slash's contributions on the power balladry of early '90s Guns N’ Roses uber-hit November Rain.

So despite the fact that he has a ready made audience ready to lap up even his crudest efforts, Harry Styles goes and tugs at the nostalgic heartstrings of a generation that music is leaving behind, here comes another wave of ’90s trade-ins to remind an older generation that, yes, they are older, and what goes around will inevitably come around, and a younger generation that this is something like what the present used to be like (don't worry, you can view it all on youtube).

No, it isn't 'Sign O' The Times'.  And no, it isn't quite as epic as the aforementioned 'November Rain’ at nearly half the running time, but in a world of 3 minute fodder, a five minute plus track played out on mainstream radio feels positively decadent.  But we've seen George Michael practically sainted since his sad passing for his charitable efforts as well as his musical offerings, and Robbie Williams has rode a roller coaster of self-medicating, self-loathing and rude-boxing to become a national treasure... 

Who's to say that Harry isn't next....  

(hopefully minus the usual British turnmill of emotional turmoil)

Monday, 20 February 2017

xxyyzz transmission episode 2 (february 2017)





February of 2017 brings with it our second edition of xxyyzz transmission, the new music podcast hosted by Glen Byford, and a chance to look at a number of artists that have released albums and singles since the start of the year.














To help keep up with all the artists featured in xxyyzz transmission episode 2, a full track listing features below, including relevant links to music streaming sites or social media accounts where possible.








1. Arcade Fire - I Give You Power feat. Mavis Staples
2. Recessive Genes - Common Cold
3. Sundara Karma - She Said
4. Loyle Carner - No CD
5. Disco Vumbi - Didi At Night
6. Donae'O - Black ft JME & Dizzee Rascal
7. Young T & Bugsey - What's That (Is It a Monster?)
8. The Automatic - Raoul
9. The Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster - Mister Mental
10. The Shimmer Band - Jacknife And The Death Call
11. Sit Down - Teenage White Boy
12. Al Bob Bidwell - The Dead Guy
13. Gorillaz - Hallelujah Money feat. Benjamin Clementine


Monday, 30 January 2017

New Podcast: xxyyzz transmission episode 1 (january 2017)

January 2017 sees the launch of xxyyzz transmission, a new music podcast hosted by Glen Byford with the sole aim of sharing and enjoying good music.

Below you will find an embedded stream and full track listing for Desperately Seeking Susan Boyle's brand new podcast

It felt like a natural progression from writing about music to actually filling your ears with music and talking about it too, so to mark the start of a new year we look at the one just passed, in the form of new music from new artists, new music from older, more recognisable artists, and older music from older artists still, those that are sadly no longer with us to witness whatever 2017 may bring...





Some of these artists have already been featured or reviewed on Desperately Seeking Susan Boyle, and others are sure to feature prominently as 2017 continues to unfold...

To help keep up with all the artists featured in xxyyzz transmission episode 1, a full track listing features below, including relevant links to music streaming sites or social media accounts where possible.

And thanks also go to Ian Byford Art for specially creating the artwork for our new podcast.

1. Warpaint - New Song
2. Annie Keller - Sandwishes
3. Catholic Action - Rita Ora
4. Idles - Well Done
5. Sit Down - Candy Bar
6. Beyoncé - 6 Inch (feat. The Weeknd)
7. Childish Gambino - Redbone
8. Centau - Over You (feat. Hanna Marie
reviewed on Desperately Seeking Susan Boyle
9. The Invisible - Dreamscape 
reviewed on Desperately Seeking Susan Boyle
10. Poet Palms - Opaque Motive 
reviewed on Desperately Seeking Susan Boyle
11. David Bowie - Little Wonder
12. Prince - Black Sweat
13. George Michael - Freek!
14. Mac McCaughan - Happy New Year (Prince Can't Die Again)
reviewed on Desperately Seeking Susan Boyle
15. Sagar - You're Free To Try Again
16. Rag'n'Bone Man - Human




Thursday, 26 January 2017

#ThrowbackThursday presents Tayalarz vol.6: Spectral Vapre (february 2014)

The Tayalarz mixtape series began life as a musical scavenger hunt, a quest to source free music and present it in the classic format of putting one song after another in order to create a customised recommendation of good music.

Now these mixes have found new life as one continuous, flowing mix upon the shores of mixcloud, and despite the passing of time I feel these still stand strong as seasonal soundtracks to the months that spawned them.

We now present, for the first time ever, the long lost 6th volume, due for release in February 2014, but delayed and derailed by errant artwork....

And so, embedded below is Taylarz vol.6, ahead of a new music project from Desperately Seeking Susan Boyle that'll be hitting mixcloud before the end of the month.....





From February 2014:

With enough wallowing in January done, we are now galloping ever forward with 2014 and, although it may be a little behind some of my contemporaries, the February edition of the Tayalarz mixtape takes a look at some of those tipped for big things this year, as well as featuring a few of some of our own discoveries and favourites that we hope to hear a lot more from as the forthcoming months progress

Only time will tell who will make it and who will be left behind, but for now let's just enjoy the majesty of their music, sourced for free via a number of blogs and websites and all compiled into a neat little list of links masquerading as the following tracklist

and for the last time, the artwork was provided by Ted Joyce, as it has been for the previous two months also, who not only has displayed his talent as a graphic designer, he also displays his musical skills as the lead singer of Decoy Jet who are featured in this very mixtape

1.  The Dexters - Oceans (demo)
2.  Decoy Jet - Georgia
3.  Circa Waves - Good for me
4.  Chloe Howl - I wish I could tell you
5.  George Ezra - You don't have to be in the army to fight the war
6.  FTSE - a little sumthin
7.  Foxes - White Coats
8.  Neon Jungle - Braveheart
9.  FKA Twigs - Water me (Hunchback remix)
10. Ancient Mermaids - luvu 2 pieces
11. Sheen - Lovelust
12. Guardian Ghost - The Wilderness

Thursday, 12 January 2017

#ThrowbackThursday presents Tayalarz vol.5: Lemons Rubik (january 2014)

The Tayalarz mixtape series began life as a musical scavenger hunt, a quest to source free music and present it in the classic format of putting one song after another in order to create a customised recommendation of good music.

Now these mixes have found new life as one continuous, flowing mix upon the shores of mixcloud, and despite the passing of time I feel these still stand strong as seasonal soundtracks to the months that spawned them.

And so, embedded below is Taylarz vol.5, ahead of a new music project from Desperately Seeking Susan Boyle that'll be hitting mixcloud before the end of the month.....