First Aid Kit ‘The Lion’s Roar’ Review

The two Swedish sisters who became You Tube sensations drop their second album and is possibly one the better Americana albums produced in the last few years.  They have finally stepped out of Fleet Foxes shadow and moved to a more country orientated sound, highlighted beautifully by ‘Emmylou’. Perhaps due to the input of Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis the song writing has shifted from characters and folktales to self narrative and reflection “And I’m a God damn coward then again so are you”; however it is important to note that the self-reflection is used occasionally throughout a song so that it never feels gloomy or depressive but still has enough power to convey their story. The vocals have matured as well; they are now much easier to listen to, though it is a little heavy-handed on the reverb. The instrumentation has become lush and filled with confidence and charm. The only disappointment is the end song ‘King of the World’, it never  goes anywhere and just seems to go round in circles, whilst the warbling voice of Conor Oberst doesn’t sit well next to the two delicate sisters; this leaves a very dissatisfied finish to the album. Despite the final song this is a much bigger and braver album that places the Sodenberg sisters in their own light.

Key Songs: Emmylou, The Lion’s Roar and Blue

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The Maccabees ‘Given To The Wild’ Review

The Maccabees return with their third album, their previous albums were perfection in indie with dark pop elements, but the third album sees the band mature and grow with confidence to an album that might be their defining sound and is certainly their masterpiece. The album itself is concise and consistent with each song blending beautifully into the next, there isn’t necessarily a standout song but it is an album which should be listened to as an album. The album also creates a rich and beautiful soundscape which conjures up imagery of landscapes and the wild, this makes the album title aptly named. Orlando Weeks voice is a beautiful falsetto which washes and blends effortlessly with the instrumentation. Whilst the album is as gentle as a summer stream, it does provide some upbeat moments such as the songs ‘Unknown’ and ‘Pelican’. Whilst The Maccabees previous albums were ‘perfection’ they now certainly feel like they were stepping stones to ‘Given To The Wild’, an album which shows maturity and a band brimming with confidence. A real gem.

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Essential Tracks: Really must be listened to as an album

Birdy ‘Birdy’ Album Review

Birdy or Jasmine van den Bogaerde has chosen some fantastic covers from Fleet Foxes to The Postal Service; whilst her cover of ‘Skinny Love’ rivals that of Bon Iver’s for beauty. However, too often it doesn’t feel like she has stamped her identity well enough onto songs but merely covered them with a piano; a prime example is that of ‘Young Blood’ (Naked and Famous) where the structure of the song is unchanged, whilst her voice on Terrible Love attempts to replicate that of Matt Berninger (The National).

The highlight of this album has to be ‘Without a Word’, the one song on the album written by Birdy, it clearly shows the potential of the young women and the album would have benefitted from more of her own songs. Both ‘Without a Word’ and ‘Skinny Love’ benefit from the delicate vocals and piano, however, after an album of this it does become a little repetitive. There are also some clear comparisons formed between Birdy and Adele and it feels a little bit of the record company trying to capitalise on this.

There are some beautiful moments on this album but it is mostly an average affair. However, she is only 15 years old and with some better direction she could create something quite wonderful.

Key Songs: Skinny Love, Without a Word, I’ll Never Forget You and People Help The People

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Coldplay ‘Mylo Xyloto’ Review

I have never been much of a fan of Coldplay, there has been the odd song, but I felt they were pale imitations of bands like U2, Starsailor and in particular Death Cab for Cutie. I also felt they created songs for commercial release not because they actually meant something. But what of this album? Well it is Coldplay’s strongest, yet nothing much has really changed.

The band adopts heavy synthesisers for most of the songs, which are broken up by acoustic and electric guitars, creating a very rich and colourful instrumentation, but these do become very tiring after a while, as all the songs use the same tricks of acoustic guitar mixed with heavy bass and synthesisers, whilst the electric guitar occasionally makes an appearance;  whilst these are not used in a diverse enough way and so the album becomes repetitive.  It is, however, very pleasant to hear Coldplay embracing a more upbeat sound which is juxtaposed with some really lovely and tender slow songs. This creates a very well balanced album.

Coldplay usually have very clichéd lyrics; this album provides not only clichés but very poor ones: “I turn the music up, got my records on, I shut the world outside until the lights come on”, in fact these aren’t just poor, they are lazy; however this song (Every Tear is a Waterfall) does provide the strongest and most interesting instrumentation; using and blending synthesises with the sparingly used electric guitar. Rihanna’s vocals are very good on ‘Princess of China’ but Chris Martins voice pales in comparison, whilst it is the weakest (and most annoying) track off the album. Furthermore, the short interlude of songs doesn’t add any new depth to the album.

This albums seems like Coldplay are still trying to hold onto their commercial fame, firstly the collaboration with one of the biggest pop stars at present then they adopt the very current trend of synthesisers. So, whilst Coldplay have moved on from the shadows of U2 and Death Cab they still haven’t found their own identity. This isn’t a bad album and is the best I have heard by the band, but this year has provided some truly excellent albums which should be heard over this.

Key Songs: U.F.O, Paradise, Major Minus

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Radiohead To Record New Album and Tour

 

Thom Yorke of Radiohead has revealed the band intend to head back into the studio this December and January. The singer also revealed that one new song, named ‘Come To Your Senses’, has been partially wrote, he continued “we have this version of it… it has the essence of what we need”.

He also announced that the band is planning to tour next year and said of the album: “it would be fun to have them ready when we go to play next year”, he continued “it would be nice to make it all part of the flow and just enjoy it”.