#NewMusicFriday: ‘White Star Liner’ by Public Service Broadcasting

After exploring the Welsh coal mining industry in their third album Every Valley last year, retro-alternative trio Public Service Broadcasting turn their attention to the sinking of the Titanic with their latest track, White Star Liner – the lead track taken from their upcoming EP of the same name.

With an almost Kings of Leon-style sound, the single has a driving drums and tight guitar melodies guiding along the speaker’s description of the ill-fated ship. Chronicling the launch of the vessel, the London group once again capture all the expected emotions that were felt at the time.

Fast-paced and loud like Go! but also tight and restrained at times, White Star Liner encapsulates the excitement of the Titanic setting sail, as well as what was likely to be some concern about how successful its first voyage would be.

Public Service Broadcasting’s new EP, White Star Liner, is set to be released on digital and CD on 26 October, and on vinyl on 7 December.

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Why ‘Kiss’ is the stand-out track on Pale Waves’ monotonous debut

Hard-hitting drums and buzzing guitar melodies makes Kiss the punchiest track on Pale Waves’ repetitive debut album. Here’s why…

When it comes to breakthrough releases, the best show off the range of the artist or band, flirting with the fringes of their talent, whilst also strengthening their familiar, traditional sound. For this Manchester goth-pop group, My Mind Makes Noises is just more of the same.

Save for a few stripped-back songs such as SheWhen Did I Lose It All? and the emotional Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die), most tracks follow particular structural motifs. If it’s not tight bass notes introducing a track, then it’s sharp snares. Heather Braon-Gracie’s howling vocals are more monotonous than explorative, and there’s always a brief pause before the chorus in a bit to make it more impactful than it actually is. It’s a sense of rigidity and structure which strips each track of its creativity and much-needed ‘oomph’.

Then, when you consider the fact that single Kiss is one of Pale Waves’ older songs, written when Baron-Gracie was in her late teens, one can see why this packs a punch many of their newer songs lack. If one was to adopt a popular criticism of most bands, then Kiss is the band’s vibe before they were associated with The 1975 and launched into the musical mainstream and its focus on having one specific “sound”.

Here, we see instrumentals which are much more wedded to each other than their own individual part of a song. In the verses, drum and bass work together, along with Heather’s unconventional lyrical structure to give the song a slight driving rhythm on what is a rather steady tempo. Guitar solos feel so much more creative and expressive than just a simple filler, and as such, the drums feel so much more present.

A sophomore album isn’t easy for any musician or group, as it offers a choice of similarity or a whole new direction. Yet, when it comes to Pale Waves and their debut, a return to where it all started may be the answer to creating fresh, catchy and exciting music.

My Mind Makes Noises is available now on Apple Music and Spotify.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Woman of the World’ by Amy Macdonald

With empowering Scottish soul, the This is the Life singer returns with a strong lead single from her upcoming greatest hits album.

Amy Macdonald has been one of the few one-hit wonders to stick in one’s mind over the singer-songwriter’s 11-year career. Now, the musician reflects on the journey with a new album, Woman of the World – of which the title track is out today.

Traditional and impactful, a driving beat and underlying electric guitar give the track a punchy, gritty kick which serves the meaning of the song well. A beautiful chord progression provides the soft tone for Macdonald’s lyrical delivery, which comes packed with emotion and a hint of sass worthy of a confident break-up hit.

Woman of the World: The Best of 2007-2018 will be released on 23 November 2018.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Broken Sleep’ by Fickle Friends

Hot off the heels of their debut album release and a string of summer festival performances, Fickle Friends explore new ground on the driving pop track, Broken Sleep.

It’s time for some new directions for the Brighton band. Leaving Polydor Records to start up their own record company, the five-piece are back with an evolved pop sound ahead of their new EP out later this year.

Their first album, You Are Someone Else, was a strong introduction from Natti Shiner and co. Colourful instrumentals and soft vocals on a slow beat cemented the group as a band with a clear, distinctive sound, and room to experiment.

Listening to the lead single of their new EP, this traditional sound remains, but it feels different. While hits from You Are Someone Else packed a punch with a slower tempo, Broken Sleep has a driving rhythm which is much more urgent and excitable. If we’re seeing Fickle Friends move towards faster, poppier hits, then the band is heading in a very exciting direction indeed.

Broken Sleep is available now on Apple Music and Spotify.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Villains’ by Emma Blackery

Bold, impactful but also incredibly personal, Emma Blackery’s Villains is a confident debut from the Essex-born singer-songwriter.

A vlogger on the video-sharing site YouTube, the musician has been involved in a fair bit of online drama over the years. Much like her previous EP, Emma’s album Villains chronicles another period of reflection for the singer, as she went through what she describes as “personal relationship issues”.  Her 11-track debut is just as honest as Magnetised – except this time, with a side order of sass and one heck of a punch.

In a tweet ahead of the launch, Emma described the record as a “concept album” – the linear narrative clear from the start, with Villains Pt. 1 and Villains Pt. 2 discussing Blackery’s list of “good and bad” and serving as two very different bookends to the artist’s many emotions across the tracks – moving from the colourful, confident hits DirtAgenda and Fake Friends into the more stripped back sounds of Icarus, Petty and What I Felt With You.

The bold tone of the album has already attracted comparisons to Taylor Swift’s reputation era (which Emma shorty responded to on Twitter after the lead single Dirt was released), but there’s also some slight Madonna and Charlie XCX vibes – on Fake Friends and Take Me Out respectively. The latter in particular warranted a few more listens before becoming a catchy hit.

Alongside Fake Friends and What I Felt With You, Blackery comes into their own on the track Third Eye. Her interest in electronic music on full show, the track offers up pulsing synth and sharp vocals. As the artist prepares to go on tour in October, this is one which is likely to get the crowd going in a concert environment.

As a whole, Villains breathes confidence. Even on the chilled electronic track What I Felt With You – arguably one of the stand-out songs on the album – Emma is in her element as she takes a more delicate approach to the song, something we’ve already seen her accomplish on the hit Magnetised. There’s also the small matter of the high notes at the end of Villains Pt. 2, a final demonstration of her vocal talents and an indication to fans and to anyone else listening that she’s here and ready to rock.

Rating: 4/5

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Love Me / Love Me Not’ by HONNE

With a mixed bag of punchy grooves and chilled, hazy electronica, HONNE’s sophomore album Love Me / Love Me Not is as bilateral as the name suggests.

The London electronic duo HONNE (consisting of friends James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck) have clearly taken their creativity to another level with their latest release, deciding to release 10 out of the 12 tracks on five double single releases. It’s a stylistic decision almost reflecting the two sides of a vinyl, and Love Me / Love Me Not is certainly an album for the turntable.

Photo: HONNE.

A year and a half since their debut album, Clutterbuck has truly refined his vocals – still offering the unique, raspy soul of before, but with more flair and variety across the tracklist. His voice also works perfectly with the record’s featured artists, with newcomer Rebeka Prance (known simply as BEKA) and hit jazz musician Tom Misch both fitting in nicely with HONNE’s established, stripped back vibe.

It’s here where the pair really shine through, their song with Misch – Me & You – being the stand-out track of the album with the artist’s traditional guitar melodies working beautifully alongside HONNE’s normal soul sound. Other notable collaborations include I Got You (feat. Nana Rogues) and Location Unknown (feat. Georgia) – the weakest being the slightly dragging track Feels So Good (feat. Anna of the North).

Outside of these five tracks, HONNE slip back into their normal tone, with only a few tracks packing a punch worthy of your full attention. Sure, this album is mostly one for casual listeners, but for those hoping that there would be more tracks like Someone That Loves You and Coastal Love from the duo themselves, they may be disappointed.

With that being said, Day 1 offers a bouncy dance hit, Shrink shows off the pairs vocal and instrumental talents and Sometimes will be enjoyable for fans who like Mako’s style of electronica. Tracks to miss include 306, which despite the sentimental meaning of the track itself, falls flat with its unusual vocal distortion in the chorus.

For those looking for a break from the loud and heavy mainstream electronic sound, HONNE offer up a chilled record for lazy evenings in the form of Love Me / Love Me Not, a creative second album with something for everyone.

Rating: 4/5

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Promises’ by Calvin Harris feat. Sam Smith

Sam Smith adds a wonderful jazzy dimension to Harris’ new funk sound on their track, Promises.

Sam Smith’s fuzzy, lower vocal range is an interesting rarity in his music when a softer, clearer and high-pitched sound is often at the forefront. Yet on his latest venture in the world of EDM – this time joining forces with veteran hit maker Calvin Harris – this particular style is centre-stage, and the results are fresh, smooth and razor-sharp.

There’s an American jazz production to the track with bouncy drum beats, short piano stabs and pulsing bass – a combination which soon allows for a more traditional, albeit chilled, EDM track to come through. It’s a sound far removed from the loud, punchy sounds of Summer and How Deep Is Your Love, but continues the Funk Wav Bounces era in a refreshing way.

As for Smith, the Money On My Mind singer further proves his competency when it comes to performing on dance tracks, except this time there’s more variety in his vocal range. What’s particularly impressive is the bridge to the track, where high notes, aided with a little bit of bass, come with a degree of warmth which really solidifies the track as a cosy, relaxed listen.

Hot off the heels of his hit One Kiss with Dua Lipa, Harris develops his new, stripped-back sound, moving from funk to jazz and showcasing a new vocal side to Sam Smith in the process.