Monday, 3 June 2013

Latest music discoveries (II)

Burning Condors’ distinctive, back-in-time sound immediately caught my attention the first time I listened to them.

What I admire most about band members Tommy (vocals), Matthew (guitar and backing vocals), Churchy (bass and backing vocals) and James (drums and percussion) is that they seem not to be influenced at all by any 21st century mainstream music trends, but instead enjoy diving into the rawest form of pure, black and white 50s rock excellence.

Having a reputation as one of the best live acts in the London scene, the rockabilly quartet have already been touring extensively both in America and the UK. Their unique blend of rock ‘n’ roll and punk, accompanied by some amazing vocals, results in a breath of fresh air that makes its way through most of today’s sound-alikes, having even given an extra ounce of angst to Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”.

The band has already launched the two first singles of their debut album, Round Our Way, which will be released later in the year and will feature performances by some legendary guests, including Dave Roe (double bassist for Johnny Cash’s band Tennessee Three).

Burning Condors’ first single "Honey Trap" is an epic, sensual mix of blues and rock ‘n’ roll that will give you goosebumps. Their second single, the double A side “Knockout”/“Riot inthe Streets”, has been recently released and features two complete opposites. “Knockout”, enchanced by a mysterious, film noir atmosphere, adds to their first single’s female evil nature. “Riot in the Streets”, on the other hand, makes reference to the 2011 London riots and expresses their chaos through more thunderous punk guitar and drums:

You can listen to Burning Condors on Soundcloud and buy their new double single on Amazon and iTunes. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter and don’t miss their news!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Song of the month (XVI)

Only one week has passed since I came back from Spain but I’m already missing home after being there for three weeks. I miss the sounds, I miss the air and, above all, I miss the sun!

It’s the smell of wet dog fur, the smell of warm dust, the smell of a renewed childhood. Another hello, another goodbye, another lapse of happiness in my life.

Do you know when you’re having a really pleasant dream and then you wake up wishing it had never ended? Well, mine sounded a bit like this...

Friday, 12 April 2013

Latest music discoveries (I)

To me, a great deal of the magic of the Internet lies in the discovery of new and/or unsigned bands that, in most of the cases, are struggling to get out there and build a wider audience that recognises their talent. Isn’t it frustrating to see these committed artists give everything just to have the chance to be listened to, while sometimes less talented people are topping the charts? No need to say it all sadly depends on budget availability... but that’s another story! In the Latest Music Discoveries post series I aim to share the UK music gems I find on my way... just because they’re worth it.

This is the case of The Bedroom Hour. Precious melodies, a raspy voice and their heart on the palm of their hand, that’s all these five Londoners have left when they play one of their songs. So much so, that I believe the band’s slower, more melancholic creations have the power to bring light to any darkened soul out there.

Causing a range of emotions, their compositions are delicate and vulnerable, almost heavenly when played in acoustic. Through a combination of synth, guitar and well-written lyrics, "their mission is simple; to put the ‘credible’ into incredible music," as they themselves would say.

Ladies and gentlemen, have a listen to this inspiring band and don't dare say that these guys don’t have true potential. They do tick all the boxes to become one of the more accomplished bands in the UK, their repertoire ranging from more upbeat tunes to darker melodies, shining all the way through their brilliant acoustics.

Just listen to the following version of “Nocturnal” and you’ll see what I'm talking about!

You can listen to The Bedroom Hour on Soundcloud and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Song of the month (XV)

Discovering my dad’s music collection has to be the best thing that happened to me during my childhood. I remember sneaking into my parents' bedroom and ‘stealing’ the music tapes that my dad treasured in the lower drawer of his bedside table. The collection was mainly made up of a variety of 60s and 70s pop & rock artists, his idolised Ennio Morricone and, of course, The Beatles. Thanks to my dad, I was introduced to different, definitely more mature sounds than those that a 10-year-old kid would normally listen to, and I do cherish that.

One of the songs I found in his music collection was "California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & the Papas, which still remains as one of my favourite songs ever. It wasn’t until very recently when I listened to the song again that I realised how much I actually identify with the lyrics these days.

This month I wanted to bring back a piece of my childhood, and I’m pretty sure that this cool version of the above-mentioned song by Bobby Womack won't let me down.

Hope you enjoy the listen!

(written by Michelle Gilliam and John Edmund Andrew Phillips)

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I went for a walk
On a winter’s day

I'd be safe and warm
If I was in LA
California dreamin’
On such a winter’s day

Went through the church, just me
I stopped along the way
When I got down on my bended knee
And I began to pray

You know the preacher digs a call
Cos he knows I’m gonna stay
He knows I’m gonna stay, I told him so
California dreamin’

Oh, somebody hit me know
I wanna go so bad, yeah

Cos all the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey, yeah
I went for a walk
On a winter's day, oooohhhhhhh

I’d be safe and warm
If I was in LA
California dreamin’
On such a winter's day
Such a winter's day
On such a winter's day, yeah, yeah, woahhh

California dreamin’
California dreamin’
Gotta, gotta, gotta get some sunshine
Can’t believe I blew my mind
Gotta get some sunshine
California dreamin’
California dreamin’
Ohhh, gotta get some
California dreamin’, ohhhhhh
Gotta get to LA
Get some sunshine every day
California dreamin’

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Random notes (IV)

I tried to understand. I really did. I tried to sew it, glue it, tie it, hide it. For days, for months, for years. But then I realised there is nothing to be understood. Trust is not meant to be broken. Hearts are not meant to be broken. People are not meant to be broken. Full stop.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Song of the month (XIV)

February was my own ‘independent film month’. Probably because of the extremely cold weather forcing me to stay in most of the time, during the last month I’ve been watching even more films than usual and, for some reason, most of them were independent films, which I absolutely adore! It might be the unpredictable or unexpected endings. It might be the real-life, down-to-earth characters I can identify with. Or the fact that the films aren't just embellished stories but do actually have a soul, no matter how low their budget may be. Whatever the reason is, their warm imperfection fascinates me like no other films can do.

This month's pick is an amazing track that belongs to the soundtrack of Once, one of the little jewels I've watched recently. And guess what – the whole soundtrack was written and composed by the film’s two main actors!

(written by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)

If you ever want something
You call, you call
And I'll come running to fight
And I'll be at your door
And there's nothing worth running for

When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There's no point trying to change it
When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There's no point trying to stop it

You see you're just like everyone
When you share your falls
All you want to do is run away
And hide all by yourself
When there's fall, there's fall
There's nothing else

When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There's no point trying to change it
When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There's no point even talking
When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There's no point trying to fight it
When your mind, your mind

There's no point trying to change it
When your...

If you ever want something
Then you call, call
Then I'll come running

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Chinese New Year Celebrations

As you all may now, today is the beginning of the Chinese New Year, which gives way to the Year of the Snake. That means that today thousands of the Chinese and non-Chinese citizens in the UK have taken on the streets to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Manchester, with the second largest Chinatown in the UK, has had an Oriental blast today, hosting its popular Dragon Parade and Lion Dances, as well as a variety of Chinese street markets and a firework display. All in all, the Chinese can’t say that they haven’t started the year on the right foot!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Song of the month (XIII)

I know, I know, almost one month has passed since my last post and now it's the turn for the song of the month again! The reason for my being so absent-minded recently is because, since the year began, I’ve had to deal with some health issues (nothing serious though), followed by my return to reality after a lovely stay with my family in Spain. Also, reality reminds me that today is the birthday of a very special person that kissed us goodbye three months ago... And because reality can’t be changed but may be sweetened up with some good music, I dedicate “Reality” by David Bowie to those of you who are brave enough to have “never looked over reality’s shoulder”.

(written by David Bowie)

Tragic youth was looking young and sexy
The tragic youth was wearing tattered black jeans
Bearing arms and flaunting all her mischief
The tragic youth was going down on me

And I swear
Woo hoo
Yes I swear

I built a wall of sound to separate us
And hid among the junk of wretched highs
I sped from Planet X to Planet Alpha
Struggling for reality

Ha ha ha ha
Woo hoo
Ha ha ha ha
Whoo hoo

Hey, now my sight is failing in this twilight
Da da da da da da da da da
Now my death is more than just a sad song
Da da da da da da da da da

And I swear
Woo hoo
Yes I swear
Woo hoo

I still don't remember how this happened
I still don't get the wherefores and the whys
I look for sense but I get next to nothing
Hey boy welcome to reality

Ha ha ha ha
Woo hoo

I've been right and I've been wrong
Now I'm back where I started from
Never looked over reality's shoulder

Ha ha ha ha
Huh ha ha ha
Woo hoo

Huh ha ha
Woo hoo

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Song of the month (XII)

It  would be impossible for me to describe the past year in one word, so I’d rather say that to me 2012 was... confusing. Too many ups and downs (more of the latter, I’m afraid), some sad and uncomfortable personal situations and the pursuit of my yet-to-be-fulfilled professional dream made me tumble and question many things and people. On the bright side, however, I’ve made some amazing friends and have actually started to take charge of my own life, which is giving me a newly-found sense of freedom and confidence. It feels like I’ve been gaining momentum to hopefully take off soon.

That box of emotions must be the reason why it's been impossible to find the right song lyrics to summarise my year. Now I know why – the music is there, I've already created it, but the lyrics haven't been written yet. I guess they will just be added all throughout the coming year when I have the answers to my questions...

And if I had to choose a song with no lyrics that could express the mixed feelings scattered across 2012, I know it could be no other than the incredibly beautiful Comptine d’un autre été – L’après midi by Yann Tiersen. Delicate and intense at the same time, just like my year.

Friday, 28 December 2012

A very talented (sleeping) giant

Made up of singer/songwriter Greg Matthews, producer/musician Neil Treppas, session drummer Lee Bradbury and guitar player Michael Reed from Mutineers, Manchester band Bauer have recently released their first album, Sleeping Giant. It is a delicate album full of tasty melodies and warm lyrics that are soaked with emotions. Bauer’s songs transport you to a peaceful state of mind and let the imagination soar. The following interview with Bauer’s guitarist Michael Reed reveals more about this unique band and the long gestation of their amazing debut album.

1. I ask this question in most of my interviews as I am always very curious about the origin of bands’ and albums’ names. Why Bauer and what are the connotations of your album’s name, Sleeping Giant?

We were originally called Barfly but had legal problems with the chain of music venues that had the same name so had to change the name fairly swiftly. More than anything "Bauer" is just a cool word and looks good in print... Also it's not a million miles away from "Barfly" in sound and look so it was a pretty easy changeover in terms of both fanbase and artwork. I think the sleeping giant thing comes from the fact that the album has taken such a long time to get out and probably should have been out there making hay quite a while ago. It's major label music made on an indie budget but musically, soundwise and melodically it's as good as, if not better, than anything out there.

2. I find your songs very cinematic. To me, Sleeping Giant could easily be part of an indie film’s soundtrack, and definitely is the kind of music I would listen to while contemplating the landscape on a train journey. What is most characteristic of any Bauer song is that they seem to be made of a contrast between the electronic and the melodic, and no matter how strong and powerful the sound may become in some of the tracks, the singer’s voice always remains calm and peaceful. Is that the kind of atmosphere you were pursuing when you created this album and what would you say are your musical, lyrical and vocal influences in that respect?

I think it's just the sound that we make when we get together and thrash it out in a room. There's a wide range of influences but the main thing is that there's always got to be a memorable riff or hook. Of course we love stuff like the Lost in Translation music that Kevin Shields did and more recently the film stuff that Trent Reznor did for The Social Network soundtrack and we've actually written quite a bit of unreleased film type music over the past couple of years. The next album is of course going to have a lot of melodic songs and poppy anthem stuff that so many people love about the band, but I think that soundtrack-ish sort of sound and feel is a direction that we're probably heading towards.

3. You have already recorded the music videos for “Feels like Heaven”, “Connected” and “Starting Again”, which is something that many indie music bands choose not to do or can’t afford to do. To what extent do you think music videos are a good way to engage a potential audience and create a fanbase?

It's just cool for people to have that option to see what the band is about in a visual sense, as to whether it gives us any more kudos in a commercial sense or even helps us sell more albums I'm so so sure.... We're into the stuff that Anton Corbijn has done for Depeche Mode and some of the Joy Division and Factory Records visuals, so it's just another side to things for us. In the future if we make more music videos I think they’ll be less of a band performance thing and more of a mood and visual thing, mainly because we're not all 21 and in our first flushes of youth... and also because the music lends itself to that sort of thing to a degree. 

4. Speaking of the videos, I was checking them out on your YouTube channel when I noticed they have been there for a good while already, so I assume that the making of Sleeping Giant has been a long road. What kind of constraints did you face in terms of song composition and the recording process?

Well, as we sort of touched on earlier, the album had a long gestation period so you'll notice that the videos and the early EP’s and singles came out a while ago. If anything, it gives it a little more interest for somebody new that gets into the band; if you work hard enough you'll find a whole wealth of material and cool stuff about the band to divulge.

5. It is still unbelievable to me that many great bands will never be in the limelight, even if that may not be the goal for some of you. The lack of financial support sometimes means the end of a band and, subsequently, the creation of more good music. Do you also feel any lack of support on the part of the audience, most of whom tend to follow the mainstream bands? And that leads me to the following question: Are people brainwashed by commercial music radio stations or are they just losing their taste in music?

A lot of it is obviously based around money and also there's still a ridiculous stigma attached to bands if they've been around a while and haven't had that hit record or bit of commercial exposure. I think if you look at the history of a lot of bands that are so-called “box fresh”, you'll find that the main players most of them had been around in previous incarnations or projects in the past. Certainly with the likes of Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand. The good thing for us is that the internet and social networking has opened things up a little for us and put us on almost a level playing field like some of the major label or larger indie label bands. If you work hard and have excellent music, you'll find your audience even if it isn't on the scale of the likes of Coldplay.

6. Almost any musician will agree that their favourite thing about being in a band is playing live. What are your expectations in terms of touring and future gigs? Is touring abroad a possibility?

We've already played in Denmark, where we had a bit of National Radio airplay a while back but that's certainly an aim. We'll probably concentrate on the UK in 2013 but if any opportunities present themselves then obviously we'll be up for it.

You can purchase Sleeping Giant on iTunes and listen to the album on Soundcloud. Check out Bauer’s YouTube channel to see their videos and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!