Review :: Kyla La Grange – Ashes

“Channeling the past great women of rock, Kyla’s vocals evoke the ghostly, tormented lyricism and harmonics of a Stevie Nicks not yet bitter with the world”

The second and third albums are said to be the trickiest to deliver. Especially after a success that was perhaps never fully expected. That certainly has always been the case in the tospy-turvy, often fickle world of the music industry.

Although it may have undergone a series of radical changes within the last decade, the industry as a whole still proves to be a place where young artists are desperate to break into. Come hell or high water, there are legions of singers, songwriters, bands and soloists from all the different corners of social and economic backgrounds that wish to ply their trade and become the next global superstar.

As the circles of genres and subgenres tighten, the digital availability of music and instant, thro away culture has given birth to a new breed of artist aching to be discovered. The latest in a long line of these is one Kyla La Grange.

Her debut album, Ashes, offers a unique and well rounded approach to the single female vocalist who yearns to tell a story. Standing at eleven tracks long, the album marks another chapter in this young woman’s musical adventure and another piece of work ready to be thrown into the jaws of the baying, music buying public

But this is no glitzy pop number or electro infused dance track. Instead, La Grange reaches out to the more discerning musical tastes and brings a piece of work suited for those who enjoy lyricism, imagery and grand sound. Lead singles, “Been Better,” and “Heavy Stone” display a mature approach to a musical passion that can sometimes be overlooked and unfairly ignored in modern markets.

Channeling the past great women of rock, Kyla’s vocals evoke the ghostly, tormented lyricism and harmonics of a Stevie Nicks not yet bitter with the world. The tributes to previous trailblazers continue throughout the album.

“To Be Torn,” demonstrates Kyla’s enormous vocal range in a more than blatant tip to the ethereal qualities that made Kate Bush an international star. Where La Grange differs, however, is the distinctly 21st century styling and delivery. Oozing with glossy production that drips from every track of Ashes, this is music for the contemporary adult.

Bearing her teeth, quite literally at times, this album yields an edgier quality often amiss from artists of this persuasion. Tracks like “Vampire Smile,” the third single, combine the savage beauty and fragile, folkish charm that is set to propel La Grange into the mainstream in a flurry of accolades and praise.

All too often a softly spoken, eternally innocent yet well travelled female singer has come along and failed to live up to expectation. In the digital age of self-production, self promotion and sky high self assurance, the market place is clogged with those who emulate Diana Vickers and Pixie Lott. Indeed, the competition is now of such a high caliber that a revolving door policy seems to exist with even those who are sought to be established members of the industry.

Barring the monumental success of Adele, the female singer wearing her heart on her sleeve, soul bared for all to see, is at a premium in the 21st century. Not that it should be the case but it is with great surprise then that an album like Ashes offers what can only be described as a genuinely enjoyable, substantial and artistically credible piece of work.

Kyla La Grange is about to make a big splash in the music scene of 2012. Ashes is as strong a debut album as any that have been released this year and within recent memory. With the backing of her label, the ever impressive and imposing Sony, great things are expected from this young woman from Watford. Released on July 30th, the proof will, as ever be in the pudding when the general public get their hands on it.


Kyla’s official website has details of availability and tours.

Songs To Cure Depression :: Tom Jones – ‘Treat Her Right’

“I’ve never kissed two sisters”

Having very little recollection, but still feeling the effects, of an evening over 72 hours ago and trying over that 72 hour period to dull down the anxiety, depression, and head aches by, no surprise, drinking more it seemed as good a time as any to give up the booze for a while.
“Did I really fall over in front of all those people?”
…and if so, and that’s what I remember, then what else?
We should be changing the name of this article to ‘Songs to Cure Being a Massive Drunk’ but lets just keep it as it is because, as any real boozer knows, there’s a heavy time of dark melancholy after every occasion where the binge gets out of hand and your brain tells you,
“QUIT, YOU BASTARD! OR IT’S AN EARLY GRAVE!”
…though it might very well still be.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of Tom Jones. In fact, if anything, I think the guy is scum. Nothing but a giant abscess in the dental work of the music industry, but instead of rooting out the puss-filled bastard and attempting to remove the remaining dead pulp that’s been left over with a filling of something with an actual reason for being and a shred of remaining talent, I mean, how hard can it be to find another mediocre singer who isn’t as old as time and space, and doesn’t sport a face that looks more like a cow that had a stroke than a human being? It can’t be that difficult. Not with the 83,746 talent T.V. shows out there (one of which, our favourite Manatee featured, sheep fucking, crooner now presents).
Anyway, we’re going away from the main point here, this is supposed to cure depression, not give some sad over-the-hill fart a heavy dose of it (not that he ever read this) so here we go. Yes, it’s Tom Jones. Yes, he is a shit. But watch this video and, as long as you’re not some ardent feminist (and maybe even then), you will LOVE this. This is sexuality at its peak. The guy has hips like a perpetual motion giro. His arms are two cobras snapping with a rabid fury at the air, searching for some illustrious field mouse in the sky so as to rips its heart from its tiny little chest. His head, well his head look like someone shaved their pubes and stuck them to a bobble-head doll. BUT. Other than than, this guy is lightning.
Hell, after watching this even I wanna have a few dances at the ‘in the bed disco’ with the old ball bag.

Advanced Album Preview :: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Its a Corporate World

© Warner Bros Music 2012

“A living detachment exists between the music and listener”

It seems there is a renaissance afoot. Amongst the musical community, the resurgence of indie infused psychedelic, electro pop has never been more popular.

As much of a mouthful as that seems, the oncoming summer months seem to bring out such bands like midges from a mossy log. Throwing their hat into the ring with debut offering It’s a Corporate World are Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

For those UK fans unfamiliar with the band. Formed in Detroit, Michigan, the duo takes their name from American Indy Car racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. who, according to some sources, is a reputable fan of the band. Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott have sky rocketed their reputations amongst fans and music critics alike since their formation in 2007.

Branding themselves as psychedelic, electro and Motown influenced, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. appear to be on the cusp of domination of the indie, elector scene. This debut album, It’s a Corporate World arrives as the total of maligned performances, side projects and other dedications that have prevented the two members from publishing their collective work. They bring the haunting, wistful vocals and soft guitar hooks that have established them as a stand out indie outfit to what will presumably be a much wider audience, possibly globally.

Tracks “Simple Girl,” “When I open My Eyes,” and the eponymous “It’s a Corporate World,” showcase the band’s eclectic, anathema style. Drawing clear influences from late Beatles and their own brand of psychedelic pop rock, Epstein (coincidentally) and Zott mesh seamlessly together both vocally and musically.

None more apparent than the harmonic, toe tapping “Vocal Chords.” A fun, catchy, high tempo track that lends itself perfectly to the up coming summer months, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. know their audience and how to effectively win them over new listeners.

This stellar rise amongst their own scene and the music industry as a whole raises some suspicions amongst the more skeptical listeners. And therein lies the problem with both Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and this debut album. It’s a Corporate World is, quite simply, a clean cut, glossy, over produced album that would be more suited to a band’s second or third offering.

Following their various EP releases and a loyal fan following of their energetic live performances, this fully fledged debut album arrives amongst a sea of publicity. None more apparent than the highly touted select UK appearances on Club NME and HMV Next Big Thing. Surprising, surely, to those indie electro groups from native shores who are still scratching around on their home turf all begging for that big break. More importantly, with substantial discographies behind them.

Fundamentally, the band’s ethos and material seems oddly unoriginal enough to warrant this lavish production. Although by no means a poor piece of work, it is exactly that that makes for suspicious reasoning. They may sing of heartfelt, unrequited love and psychedelic jaunts through golden fields, albeit with the looming presence of a disapproving chaperone lurking somewhere in the background. It’s fun but well supervised fun.

A living detachment exists between the music and listener. Begging the question, have Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. sold out before they were even in? Suddenly the album’s title takes on an altogether more sinister and frightening meaning.

Jonathan Whitelaw


The album is released on May 24th. All info on the band and availability can be found, as ever, on the official website, www.daleearnhardtjrjr.com/.

Songs To Cure Depression :: Wheatus – ‘Anyway’

“…even if I’m luck I’ll amount to zero, but I thought that you’d love me anyway.”

As I sat at the goddamn desk, sipping at my second coffee and wondering what the hell I was doing with my life and if any of this would ever lead to anything close to a wage, I felt a strange sense of something, not quite satisfaction or contentment, that is best described with the word “apathy,” a less crass way of describing the sentiment “I don’t give a fuck.”
Which to most might not seem like a good way to feel, but it was better than the 100 tonne anchor of depression pulling me into another week long black out binge session where I achieved very little apart from a few scrawls here and there. Yes, apathetic was progress, I had so many deadlines and so little enthusiasm to do them, but at least I wasn’t going under. But how did I get to this place? I sure as hell didn’t feel like this a few hours ago. Was it the fresh air I’d taken in on a stroll? The 30 minutes of meditation I had just recently done? Or was it the music? The beautiful music that has saved me from the jaws of that bastard death-shark more times then I can recount. A dose a cheesy indie-pop was just the ticket. Wheatus had been my guilty pleasure for so long that it wasn’t even a secret anymore, so much I just admitted it to anyone who inquired. And why shouldn’t I? As much as they will always be tarred as “that teenage dirt-bag band” (shockingly, they have other songs) Wheatus were in fact a group of talented, fun loving, song writers who could spin a mood from minus to plus within three minutes of high-pitched vocals, bouncy rhythms and tongue-in-cheek lyrical content (I mean, BMX Bandits is about jerking it to 16 year old Nicole Kidman) and there is few other examples of Wheatus at their best then the song “anyway.” I have no clue what the hell this video is about though, but it was the best YouTube had to offer.

Gig Review :: Pressure Kids – The Vic Inn

“…Charlotte untangled her microphone lead, as if unleashing an excitable puppy, and jumped into the crowd…”

Far from kicking back, Pressure Kids have continued to work hard since winning Tamworth Battle of the Bands in 2011; rehearsing, writing and performing numerous gigs across the Midlands.

Following on from the success of their self-titled E.P., featuring four of their studio-recorded tracks, they have committed to energetic and exciting live performances at venues including The Flapper and the O2 Academy 3 in Birmingham. Their most recent gig was held at the Victoria Inn in Derby. Pressure Kids were billed as ‘support’ for a touring band called “The Hype Theory”. Sadly, the headliners flailed into the shadows of the effervescent and vivacious Pressure Kids, who, once again, demonstrated true showmanship, impressive musicality and showcased two great new songs.

The room boasted the biggest crowd of the evening as Pressure Kids took to the stage and the band fed of the atmosphere created by the anticipating crowd. Charlotte Lombardi is every inch the dynamic lead singer, a powerhouse who charms her way around the stage. She knows her craft and therefore never fails to captivate the audience with her charismatic and energetic performances. Heard commenting “Who needs the gym? I’m knackered!”, she never fails to commit 100% to every performance.

Her bandmates offer the perfect support for her unique style, physically bouncing off one another on stage, their chemistry is blatant. Each talented in their own field, the guitarists give the tracks depth whilst the strong bass-riffs pulse through every song. The drumming is always energetic and powerful, allowing the crowd to tap their feet and clap their hands; audience participation is a must!

The stage at ‘The Vic’ was somewhat restricting in terms of size, yet never ones to succumb to any kind of restraint; Pressure Kids overcame their boundaries by simply ignoring them. The bassist climbed onto the edge of the stage, playing and balancing in tandem whilst Charlotte untangled her microphone lead, as if unleashing an excitable puppy, and jumped into the crowd, dancing with ‘fans’ who were singing along to their popular songs.

As well as the ever-increasingly recognised tracks such as ‘Monster’ and ‘Rocking Chair’, the band played a new track called ‘Lioness’ and another new song called ‘CBA’. The former is a guaranteed hit. In fact, I’d put money on it. The chorus is unforgettable, catchy and musically fantastic whilst the lyrics have everyone in the room hooked on Charlotte’s every word. Their older, better-known songs didn’t disappoint, successfully delivering the guitar-driven pop they claim to offer. Pressure Kids essentially produce feel-good music with a gritty edge, pop to sink your teeth into.

Following rapturous applause, the band headed off-stage to ‘mingle’ with the crowd who received them with open arms and congratulations. Not only have they concocted an impressive repertoire of incredible tracks, they have the likeability factor. They are proud of their music, rightfully so, and never fail to impress with their performances.

Following one signed band and preceding another signed band, neither of which packed the kind of punch Pressure Kids do, I fail to see how the amazingly talented likes of Charlotte, Simon, James, Dan and ‘Danimal’ remain unsigned. I beg of you, spread the word and share some Pressure Kids love!

Pressure Kids can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/PressureKids and their E.P. is available on i-tunes.

Photograph, used with permission, by ‘Reality Control’ photography: https://www.facebook.com/realitycontrol

[J]

Gig Review :: Pressure Kids

“Pressure Kids” are a talented band of twenty-somethings hailing from the West Midlands who would like to introduce you to a world of guitar-laden pop and a happy-go-lucky attitude to the world of music.

Having solidified their line-up in 2011, they are now a strong, experienced 5 piece with a charismatic and professional female lead singer, giving the band an interesting dimension.

The band are currently working on an EP which they plan to release in late 2011 and are currently performing in their local music scene and beyond.

They have recently played a series of gigs, including their local ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition, in which they have reached the final. I went along to the heat gig and the semi-final and thought their performances on both occasions were incredible.

For the Semi Final, the band opened with a stripped down cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game”, with a spotlight on the lead singer and a single guitar accompaniment; a delightful and touching homage to the late soul singer with Pressure Kids’ frontwoman paying her respects perfectly with soulful and powerful reflections on Miss Winehouse’s sassy and haunting vocals. As this cover faded out, the band kicked into their own repertoire of tracks. With effervescent energy and a great rapport on stage, the band certainly engaged the audience where heads were bobbing, toes were tapping and plenty of people were dancing. Their sound is full and profound with hard-hitting percussion and edgy guitar riffs. The vocalist has a strong tone and has great control of her voice which compliments the intelligent and witty lyrics perfectly. The set ran smoothly and the band received a great reception from the crowd once their slot was over. The 5 accomplished and talented musicians gelled on stage and were a genuine pleasure to watch and listen to. There was no pretention or angst, but plenty of raw ability and star quality.

The reaction from the audience was extremely complimentary and excitable, with a general hubbub of interest in the band. Once the audience vote opened, a swarm of fans headed to place their votes for Pressure Kids who were, in my opinion, champions of the evening and thoroughly deserving of their place in the final!

A selection of the band’s songs include “Monster”, with a catchy-chorus and fun lyrics and their new track “Blinded”, which will undoubtedly be stuck in your head after listening to it (video of live performance below!). “Robots Break Hearts” is another great upbeat track whilst “We never really got on anyway” offers a slower, edgier take on ‘Pop’.

I recommend, no, I URGE you to head over to the band’s Facebook Page and show them some support. You can download their first EP for free and acquaint yourself with a fantastically talented and interesting unsigned band! You can find Pressure Kids at: www.facebook.com/pressurekids or www.youtube.com/user/pressurekidsmusic

[J]

But It’s Cheaper Online! :: The High Street Price Point Of Music

 

Inside you’ll find a plethora of ‘2 for £10’ offers…sometimes even ‘3 for £10’…many titles at just £4.99 and Gaga’s ‘The Fame’, Michael Jackson’s ‘Gold’ and JLS’ self titled all available for £2.99…

Yes, the likes of HMV can seem like a world of bargains for the average pop fan and this likely explains how the music retailer has managed to keep a high street presence despite the fact that online retail is increasingly becoming the hotspot for seeking the best deals. If you happen to like music by bands and artists that – for the most part – escape public consciousness however, you are far less likely to be happy with the in-store RRP’s of those album you wish to add to your collection.


And in many respects, this is rightly so. Independent artists can struggle to make a living (or even, a profit) from their music and so it makes ethical sense to part with a larger amount of your money for titles by such artists. But in the wake of money saving services such as Spotify, Last.FM, and illegal file sharing (naughty!), paying a premium for new music is becoming increasingly unattractive to consumers.

I had £30 of HMV gift cards saved up and so last week, I decided to visit my local store to spend them.  I seemed to walk around the shop for a good half hour in what seemed to be an endless looping motion, uninspired by the racks of disks that surrounded me. I spotted several titles that I would have bought had they have had a lower price tag, including Baddies ‘Do the Job’ (priced at £13.99), Shpongle’s ‘Nothing Lasts But Nothing is Lost’ (also £13.99) and mewithoutYou’s ‘It’s All Crazy, It’s All False’ which had the colossal price tag of £16.99.

I had previously seen each of these titles retailing for far less on various online outlets.

Even though the items wouldn’t have cost me anything thanks to my gift cards, I still felt that blowing them on just two albums would not equate the best of deals. I eventually left the shop with a £7 copy of Frank Turner’s ‘Love, Ire and Song’ (which I felt was more than fairly priced) but I decided to pocket the rest of my credit for use another time.

One might argue that if I loved said music enough, I wouldn’t complain. But hey, I do have to pay rent and eat! Besides which, my annoyance with these high price points is further stimulated by the fact that HMV’s in store and online prices also differ greatly. When I arrived home, I noticed that the Frank Turner CD I had just bought was available for just £4.99 from the online store (including free delivery). I also noticed that many titles from Deftones’ discography were also available for just £4.99 online, whereas in store they carry a significantly higher price tag.

This is possibly a direct result of brick and mortar stores having higher overheads to cover but I can’t help but feel cheated.

I think in the future I will continue to use the internet to source the best prices for music. I would not be surprised if in just a few years time everyone is forced to use their debit and credit cards to do the same but equally, there is something to be said for the convenience that local HMV stores provide shoppers. To purchase and item and to have it immediately in your hands equates instant gratification for customers, unlike the delay experienced when waiting for the Royal Mail to delivery an online order.


You can follow the author of this guest post – Kat Cole – on Twitter @DeadBoomerang.

Album Review :: Nerina Pallot – Year of the Wolf

Pop Rock STILL looks good


Nerina Pallot - Year of the Wolf © Geffen Records

Following from the release of the first single “Put Your Hands Up”, Nerina Pallot’s eagerly anticipated fourth album has at last arrived despite delay. Year of the Wolf follows on from the strong potential that “Put Your Hands Up” promised, the added bonus of the gleaming production values and specifically aimed lyrics and harmonies that only big record labels like Geffen can create.


As previewed in May here on Moon&Back Music, Nerina Pallot has become one of the most underrated although established pop rock femme fatales in the music industry today. With her charismatically soft vocals tempering the often thrashing, almost maelstrom like rock piece behind her, Pallot has established a wonderful balance between delicacy and strength. Two stereotypically stalwart characteristics of supposed “pop rock”, the term itself somewhat of an unhappy juxtaposition, Pallot has the ability, and now track record to prove it, that there is indeed the possibility of breathing some creative and enjoyable life into this dying horse.

It is with a rather cynically smug attitude then that Year of the Wolf fulfils the expectation that the single “Put Your Hands Up” was a rather unfair and typically mass appeal effort of a single and not a fair reflection of the artist. With an almost unrecognisably different sound to the aforementioned single, Year of the Wolf delivers much more of the bitter/sweet, almost folk infused rock soft enough for mothers to enjoy that has been a staple of Pallot’s rise.

With tracks like “Grace,” “All Bets are Off” and “This Will Be Our Year” the agonisingly adorable voice of Pallot is measured, calculated and immaculately executed to make even the most cynical of listeners crack a little smile. Lyrically, Pallot weaves a magical and intricate storytelling ability to the most famous of pop subjects, facing adversity, lost love and the rise and rise of her own stardom. Indeed if such overly sugared topics are ever to be heard then they should be from the confident but still brutally fragile tones of Nerina Pallot.

To justify the tag of pop rock, the riff heavy tracks “I Do Not Want What I Do Not Have” and “I think”, the later even including a purposely “generic electric guitar 1” produced solo that would not sound out of place on a 1970s kids TV show about the future effects of global warming. Yet there seems to be an infectious, strangely satisfying softness to these tracks that make the listener smile once more, tapping their feet to the audio friendly drums and percussion.

Year of the Wolf is the album that fans of Nerina Pallot have been expecting. With nothing vastly different to her previous work, although the artist herself claims that this was her hardest album yet due to the adverse effects of pregnancy, the album is a satisfying, if a little flat addition to her growing discography.

Not to be confused as a classic or genre defining piece of work Year of the Wolf is an album that deserves any credit that it attains. For easy listening, beer garden on a warm afternoon background music then it is doubtful that any other album released this summer will match it. The easy on the ears lyrics and soothingly slow pace of the album as a whole make it the perfect compliment to a British summer by Nerina Pallot arguably the undisputed beauty queen of pop rock.

Jonathan Whitelaw


For tour dates, availability and everything else Nerina Pallot check out her website: http://www.nerinapallot.com

Album Review :: Panic! At The Disco: Vices And Virtues

Panic! at the disco are back with the new album Vices and Virtues. They maybe half the size due to the recent departure of guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist John Walker but they still have the same eccentric, baroque pop flare.

Vices And Virtues offers a lot more of a pop/rocky feel to it using heavier guitar lines and  some understated synth work. The Albums first sneak peek was in the form of a youtube video entitled ‘Overture’.  this features (vocalist) Brendon Urie, (drummer) Spencer Smith and a group of circus like people packing to leave a town. During the video Brendon says goodbye to two ghosts in a bar, and ends up alone with Spencer after the crowd of circus people leave they then self admittedly “let go” of material things  ( whether these things are allusion to the ‘old’ Panic! we will never know for sure but it definitely seems it)

The albums main tone to me is one of not only nostalgia with songs like “memories”  and “the calendar” but also apprehension – “Ready To Go”, shown mostly through the fast tempo of the album of the album. An exception to this is the stripped down, almost serenade-like “Always”, but still it has a sentimental feel.

All in all Vices and Virtues shows us how although ‘artistic differences’ (whatever that means’)   can be upsetting for both band and fans. Artists can still make an emphatic, lively and reflective record.

By Choo Cooper

Podcast :: Under The Bridge #17: “I Hate Bitches!”

“Why does Thom York spell his name with a ‘H’, is he a wanker?” – Ian Critchley

Wouldn’t a tattoo of an aligator wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigar saying “I hate bitches” be great? We seem to think so. In this latest dose of Under The Bridge we’re joined by, GamerWok Entertainment editor in chief, Jeff Clemens for more offensive and insightful musings about music. In this episode we have an interview with Giles Bidder (a.k.a Cynics), talk about the new Radiohead record and discuss colloquial terms for English and Canadian money.

Go on, have a listen:

Under The Bridge #17: “I Hate Bitches” (right click/ctrl + click to download or Subscribe on iTunes)


Music

Cynics

  • You’re Alright
  • Stones I’ve Thrown
  • Be Excellent To Eachother
  • Knightcap
  • 14 Coleman Street

News

  • Frank Turner Minute
  • Thursday to play three pre-Groezrock shows
  • Justin Bieber gets shot on telly
  • The Menzingers to play Warped Tour
  • Trio to “reimagine” old tracks for new release
  • Lady Gaga says ‘hollywood parties’ won’t change her/compares new songs to heroin
  • Matt Skiba and Atom Willard form From Hell
  • New York Dolls playing London
  • Kayne causes Epilepsy
  • Austin Lucas announces European tour
  • Michael Jackson’s kids talk about him all the time
  • Moving North 15 in Manchester

Main Topic

  • Cynics Interview

Outro

Questions/Emails

  • Send your emails to underthebridge@gmail.com

Where Can We Find You On The Internet?

Anthony

Ian

The Podcast

Moon & Back