aXk Music Blog

Stornoway – I Saw You Blink

After their enticing debut song of “Zorbing”, Stornoway have released their third, equally beautiful, single “I Saw You Blink” from their debut album “Beachcomber’s Windowsill” due to be released May 24th. 

They have a Noah and the Whale feel to them, with soft relaxing songs, and relying on feel-good summer melodies. Everyone loves a feel good summer song, so I’m not complaining. It lacks an overly catchy, stand out riff, but the melodies in this song are wonderful to say the least. 

Front man Brian Briggs has a lush voice, reinforced by the harmonies from the rest of the band. The music is kept relatively uncomplicated, with the use of an acoustic guitar to highlight the simplicity of the song, and the emphasis on the smooth vocals and lyrics about a girl called Lucy. 

It’s a great follow up to “Zorbing” and “Unfaithful”, especially with Spring ending soon, I can see this being the perfect song for an advert trying to associate themselves with the coming summer months. It just has that exquisite summery feeling. 


Foals - Spanish Sahara

Following on from their successful debut album, the Oxford quintet precede the release of their second album with the free download “Spanish Sahara” coming from the new album “Total Life Forever”, being released May 10th. 

Pretty much for me, what defined their debut album was their distinct jingly guitar playing, which always psyched a crowd up, making them dance whilst screaming along to the music. 

Spanish Sahara takes a different approach to what they did before. The song is noticeably different, with the single of the song taking around two minutes to start to peak. There’s no high-tempo, energetic guitar to dance like crazy to. It’s as if, the imagery they’re trying to create is that of being in Saharan desert, under the pounding sun, slowly moving through the sands. That is, until the song finally kicks in. Then it feels like you’ve discovered something breathtaking. 

This is a different Foals from whom we once knew. It feels like they’re telling us that the new album is going to be more of a musical experience, instead of having the same formula for all their songs which would make them slightly boring. Yes it’s not a poptastic song, but at the same time, it’s nice to know that some bands can add new dimensions to their music, and do a pretty good job of it. 


Shy Child - Disconnected (Single)

Disconnected is the first single to be released from Shy Child’s fourth album, “Liquid Love”. On first listen, it’s quite different from their earlier music. They’ve toned down a lot, especially in comparison to songs like Noise Won’t Stop and Generation Y, two fantastic songs off their previous album.

The new single feels like Shy Child have changed everything about themselves, the music feels a lot more connected than disconnected (see what I did there?) from their previous work, the vocals aren’t as wild, and it feels a lot smoother than their older music.

I really do like what they’ve done, they appear to have matured musically, and now gone on to not being heavy on the synth like they’d previously, and vocally it’s accommodating with the music. It’s a song for anyone, not just for those crazy nu-rave kids which was the trend a few years back.

It might be seen that it’s not necessarily be maturing, but rather moving with the times. I realise that this can be interpreted as the same thing, however if the nu-rave age is dead and buried, it’s time to move to the next trend right?

The music is similar to MGMT; the jovial, easy going, crowd pleasing, soft electro-synth music.  If they’re going for the crowd pleaser angle, it’s probably going to work. You can’t hate this song, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to even dislike it. You’d find it hard to control your body from dancing a little to the music.


Yeasayer – One (Single)

I’d never heard of this band before I’d heard the Simian Mobile Disco song “Audacity of Huge”, which featured Chris Keating from Yeasayer.  His vocals on that song were superb. Needless to say I was excited to listen to “Odd Blood” album which was released earlier this year and also attracted lots of attention, given rave reviews by a large number of critics.

O.N.E doesn’t actually feature much of Keating’s vocals, it’s mainly Anand Wilder who takes the lead in the song; a song which sounds like Caribbean drumming can be intertwined in the song to give it an extra kick, like what Friendly Fires did with Jump in the Pool.

The song is psychedelic in a way, perhaps influenced by the drugs being used which resulted in the album being written, also, seeing this song performed live was a pretty surreal experience. However, the song is nonetheless catchy, and doesn’t get too carried away in that other dimension that drugs can often lead you towards.

The synth is fairly funky, the beat is dancey and the vocals are lush. What more could you want from a song?


Vampire Weekend – Giving Up The Gun (Single)

Called their most ambitious song to date, Giving Up The Gun is set for release on the 29th March from their second album- “Contra”. Lets just start by mentioning the rather peculiar video, , which includes Joe Jonas, Jake Gyllenhaal, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and Lil Jon and a tennis match. The fact it has one of the Jonas brothers in it, isn’t attracting a great response from a lot of people. But hey, it’s all about the music right?

So then, onto the music. If anything, it’s typical Vampire Weekend stuff really, Ezra singing perfectly over the top some uncomplicated music (in this case, a rather lovely xylophone). Saying that, it’s not as catchy as say, “A Punk”, “M79”, “Walcott”… in fact, it’s not really a catchy song if you compare it to those songs. If it’s not for the video, there’s a possibility you’d just forget about the song pretty quickly. If it’s typical Vampire Weekend stuff, what’s different then? From a band which stood out straight away from it’s distinctive sound, what can they do to be different this time?

The song is pretty bare music wise; lack of variation of musical notes, lack of numerous overlapping instruments. What you get is Ezra (and that rather wonderful xylophone). You can listen and admire Ezra singing, but the song still isn’t that catchy as a lot of the songs off the debut. 

Nonetheless, just because it’s not catchy, doesn’t mean it’s not a good song. It’s a great song. It’s Vampire Weekend. It’s simple, it’s sweet, and I love the use of that xylophone.


The Drums – Best Friend

Named on the shortlist, before being named in the top 5 artists of the BBC’s Sound of 2010, and supporting Florence Welch on her Cosmic Love tour in May, The Drums seem set for big things this year.

Best friend is feels like a pleasant summery song, with parts of the song sounding like they could fit perfectly into a Cure song. Pierce’s vocals however, don’t seem to fit the song possibly being too heavy on recording. Moreover sounds like he’s fighting against his vocals, trying to keep in tune and straining to increase the strength of his voice in certain parts.

But the music is playful, it doesn’t feel profound, nor does it feel nonchalant. It’s simple summer music, being light, warm and something to playfully dance around too.

I’ve only heard one other song of The Drums so far, “Lets Go Surfing”. The above description actually describes that song pretty well too, however this song posses what appears to be an attempted catchy whistling bit. Like the one Peter, Bjorn and John had, or even the one Noah and the Whale whistled, but much shorter. My point is, that this song feels much more natural, less strained and more suited to the style of music you can tell they’re aiming at- the laid back summer music. It doesn’t make you think too much, just something to tap your foot too and chip in with parts of the song that you’ll remember.

With that in mind, I don’t think Best Friend was a great single, however from other music I’ve heard from The Drums, I wont be discarding their music away automatically. If they’re going to make chilled out summer music, they need to ensure that the vocals follow suit.


Wild Beasts - We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues (Single)

With their latest album ranked #41 on NME’s top 100 albums of the decade, the Leeds based band release their 3rd single from their second album- Two Dancers.

The song starts off with a bit of wailing, a slightly eerie opening, which comes from Hayden’s “falsetto” vocals. It’s then followed up by a silky and reassuring voice, and just chilled out, laid back use of instruments. Nothing heavy, nothing over complicated, just simple, accompanying music to accommodate and emphasise the vocals. I’ve always been a big fan of pianos being used in songs, it’s more prominent in the beginning of the song to help set the foundations for everything else to build off. Then the other instruments develop on this, progressively building up to give the song depth in sound, but still being kept uncomplicated.

It’s not a song to dance wildy too, it’s a song where you lie back, gaze into the sky and appreciate the beautifully crafted music.


Twin Atlantic - Lightspeed (Single)

Twin Atlantic are a Scottish rock band quartet from Glasgow, releasing their new Single “Lightspeed” on the 1st March 2010, from their mini album “Vivarium” which was released last year.  Also on tour with Enter Shikari currently, and have toured with bands such as Biffy Clyro, Thrice and Smashing Pumpkins in the past.

McTrusty’s vocals has a heavy Glaswegian accent, but the tone of his voice is quite light, as opposed to a low pitched, dull Glaswegian accent. So he doesn’t sound as miserable as James Allen from Glasvegas. The music sounds quite happy as well. They’re doing better than Glasvegas already.

Lightspeed is a pretty good indie/rock song, it won’t be an anthem, but has a good chorus to sing along to, if you can work out what the chorus is first. And you’ll no doubt put on the Scottish accent like we do for most Scottish bands, the Proclaimers being a beautiful example of that… Nonetheless, there’s nothing much you can really fault with the song, aside from the chorus being a bit repetitive, and maybe lacking the killer instinct into making the song into an absolute killer tune, however it’s adequate enough to enjoy on a regular basis.


Marina and the Diamonds – Hollywood (Single)


With what’s being called her most poppy song so far, Hollywood is Marina’s latest single to be released from the upcoming album “The Family Jewels” being released 15th February.

The song is about how Hollywood can affect people, making them want to live the “American Dream”, and Marina has stated that the song is about her in a way, as she was bitten by the bug to wanting to be an American Queen.

The trend of Marina songs often starts with her strong vocals singing over the piano, developing further into the captivating songs she normally does. This time she starts off with a much quieter opening, with the line “American queen is the American dream”, which sets the scene of her story. Vocally the first verse has Marina reaching for a range of notes before the chorus kicks in, which feels American.

The chorus is captivating, typical of Marina’s qualities as a writer and performer, and probably a defining song in her career. With the way it’s been produced, you can tell this song is aimed at the masses, whereas previous songs were tailored to Marina’s taste.

The way the song has been written, sang and recorded makes it feel American. Maybe I associate it too much now- since the song is about in Hollywood, and I’ve seen the video which is draped in the red, white and blue. Speaking of the video, it’s been beautifully directed by Kinga Burza, who’s also directed music videos for La Roux and Kate Nash to name a few.

It feels like Marina’s intends to take over the music world, and she’ll most likely succeed. You can’t fault anything she does, everything is musically perfect. Hollywood is the start, next stop world domination.

You can watch the video for Hollywood here.

Here’s a list of date’s she’s playing during February, tickets are selling out pretty quickly!

14 - Norwich, Arts Centre 
15 - Brighton, Audio 
17 - Nottingham, BodegA 
18 - Newcastle, Digital 
19 - Glasgow, Òran Mór 
21 - Manchester, Deaf Institute 
22 - Bristol, Cooler 
23 - London, Bush Hall


The Courteeners - You Overdid It Doll (Single) (2010)


You Overdid It Doll, is the first single to come from the second album, named Falcon, of the Manchester band The Courteeners.

Does the single signify a change in the band’s approach to music?

With songs like “No You Didn’t, No You Don’t”, “What Took You So Long?” and their biggest hit to date- “Not Nineteen Forever”, which were all cheery, poppy, “indie” Radio 1 songs, I wondered if they’d progress from that sound. Their debut followed a trend of bands from previous years, such as The Enemy, The View and even Pigeon Detectives.

On first listen, the tone of the music has changed. Gone is the overly poppy music, and in comes what feels like more thoughtful music- similar to that of Reverend and the Makers. In fact, Rev Jon McClure would be able to pull this song off perfectly as well.

Do I like the song? Well yes. I wasn’t really a big fan of their debut stuff. It was defining for them as it was popular, it got them known, now they can play the music which isn’t as poppy, but music which is more meaningful, which incidentally is the music I prefer. Not saying that the music isn’t catchy, but it’s going to be a hard song to dance to until a good remix has been done.

I love the guitar riff as well in three quarters of the way through the song, it really compliments the song by giving it more of an edge. It feels like the band are making a point to all their critics, that as a band, their music is maturing.

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