An artist’s ability to transform personal pain into sonic pleasure is often their greatest asset. A band that know a lot about that process is Slim Loris. Formed in Sweden around 2009, the band comprises of singer/bass-player Mattias Cederstam, guitarist Robert Barrefelt, drummer Jonas Ellenberg and singer/guitarist Leon Lindström. Their earliest releases veered towards to the darker side of life, both lyrically and musically- and that doesn’t even account for the darkness that was manifesting off the record.
This article was originally published on Lightning Nation, continue reading here.
Not many artists can say they’ve outsold legendary acts such as Earth, Wind & Fire, except for Canada’s own Crack of Dawn who are back with Spotlight, featuring a collection of classic tracks.
With other titles such as being the first black band to be signed to a major label (CBS) as well as being picked up by Otis Redding’s producer, Crack of Dawn were anticipated for bigger things, though word from them remained quiet… until now.
Returning with a selection of re-recorded classics from the band as well as some new tracks, Crack of Dawn’s Spotlight is an authentic return to the classic funk and soul sounds of their era.
The overarching theme of the album seems to be nostalgia and sentimentality, what Spotlight does exceedingly well is maintain an authentic sound throughout; it does not do anything out of the ordinary and the album is actually not that adventurous – and that’s fine.
For funk fans, there is something for everyone, from the strong Stevie Wonder vibes on one of the lead tracks ‘Booby Ruby’ to the falsetto vocals on ‘Keep the Faith’ that allude to a sound similar to what the Ohio Players had on their album Honey.
The album opens up strong with the classic and unmistakable funk sounds, ‘Crack of Dawn’ does a great job in laying out what the band is capable of, from the jazz inclined funk virtuosity to the soaring synth melodies and strong bass grooves. The first four tracks of the album maintain that uplifting funk quality as seen with their contemporaries, what Spotlight manages to capture in the earlier parts of the album are different flavors of funk from their era, ‘Somebody’s Watching’ features almost a 1970s “cop-drama” tonality to it with the wah-heavy guitars with a catchy descending riff during the chorus.
Halfway through the album with ‘It’s alright’ changes the pace with an authentic funk ballad that heavily enforces the theme of sentimentality and nostalgia throughout the album. The theme reaches its pinnacle with the track ‘Ol’ Skool’ which sounds like it could have come straight out of the late 70s, the track also pays homage to their contemporaries through the years within the lyrical content, ‘Ol’ Skool’ comes across as a a labor of love and defines the bands mission.
Whilst the album remains authentic to its sound and doesn’t deviate from its purpose, its biggest flaw is the length in which the album tends to latch on to the sentimental ballad sounds. Tracks five through to nine are all sentimental ballads with only slight variations on how they approach the stereotypical funk-ballad sounds, and whilst the dynamics of the album are thoroughly consistent, by track nine the ballads become exhausting, despite how well they are crafted. With only one track left of the album there is very little opportunity to pick up from where the album started.
‘Changes’, the final track finally picks up the pace and invokes a big finale to the album, bringing it back to the big, groovy funk tracks that started the album and brings a full circle to what the band can do.
Spotlight is a great album because it’s an authentic return to funk. In a time where experimentation is key to surviving in the music world, it’s nice to hear something new and modern that throws the listener back to the 1970’s and the dawn of funk. Spotlight is not adventurous and doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, and that’s okay – because it’s a nostalgic throwback to the times where they outsold Earth, Wind & Fire. It’s the bands opportunity to reminisce the good old days.
You can keep up to date with Crack of Dawn and purchase the latest album by following their social network links below;
From Guildford to Rio, Mosaic are adding their stamp to the British indie-rock circuit with their track ‘Rio’.
Based in Newbury, Mosaic are throwing it back to the party anthems of yore and providing a contemporary take on sounds that any indie veteran will recognize.
The bouncing rhythms and linear guitar melodies will instantly be recognizable to fans of the Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party, combining the two influences for that synonymous garage-rock aesthetic.
What makes ‘Rio’ more relevant than it’s predecessors is its lyrical content, which contains stories within university settings, making the music not only more original but more relatable to its audience whilst making the songs less romanticized and more personal.
Craig of Mosaic’s vocal style is also rather unique within the genre with it’s higher register and almost has a Bret Anderson of Suede texture to it, which is a welcoming change to the over-accentuated and stylized vocal performances that are stereotypical within Indie.
Whilst ‘Rio’ does try to put its own mark on British indie music, the song sounds too familiar within the genre; indie veterans are going to feel at home when listening to the tune. However, you are not going to find anything too abstract here for those looking for something new.
Overall, ‘Rio’ is a welcoming addition to the Indie circuit and does its job in keeping the genre relatable to new and upcoming fans whilst keeping the customary bouncy rhythms and guitar melodies.
‘Rio’ is out now, you can keep up with Mosaic on their social networks below;
Four piece Norwegian band The Nave Blues have a sound that takes what you love about traditional blues rock and alternative rock and melded it together, all apparent in track ‘Possess You’.
The blues revivalists who have already covered and released what is considered an epic rendition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Thank You’ are showing they mean business when it comes to reviving a genre as legendary as the Blues.
Armed with the authentic instruments, the four piece have nailed a sound that is both contemporary and pays homage to the genre. It couldn’t get any better with a harmonica player such as Nave Pundik, who opens the track with a blistering solo.
‘Possess You’ is a thoughtful blend of contemporary rock and traditional blues, though leaning more towards blues rock as opposed to delta or traditional blues. The song definitely has an alternative rock feel to it akin to Soundgarden, almost.
The song takes from the alternative sound as well as obvious influence Led Zeppelin, where the song shines is its dynamic changes, what starts of subtle proceeds to blast the listener with some catchy riffs.
‘Possess You’ also takes advantage with its mix, the raw aesthetic brings out the most in the track, particularly the harmonica solo which defines the grittiness that is accustomed with Blues Rock.
Overall, ‘Possess You’ is a great track that blends both traditional blues rock and alternative rock into a familiar package, whilst not shying away from showing off the sound that The Nave Blues have crafted.
You can keep up to date with The Nave Blues on their social network links below;
When would happen if you took classical music and mixed it with something as niche darkwave? The answer could be in Michaela Polakova and Natalie Kocab’s latest collaboration.
Both hailing from the Czech Republic; Singer & lyricist Natalie Kocab and composer Michaela Polakova join forces in a testament to experimentation, which also features a helping hand from The Verve’s guitarist Nick McCabe and Lou Reed bassist Fernando Saunders.
The album consists of ten tracks and provide a variety of tones and textures, with influences from Patti Smith to Nick Cave, all the way to My Bloody Valentine and The Cure.
The album opens with one of three lead singles ‘Underwater’ which does an excellent job of setting the tone for the rest of the album, providing a strong opening and a strong vocal performance accompanied with poetic lyricism from Natalie which remains consistent throughout the rest of the album. The song features an atmospheric soundscape with a jarring middle eight, comparable to albums such as Pornography by The Cure.
The album then follows into ‘Kiev’, which changes from a soundscape-like structure into something more post-rock influence, with what sounds like a slight oriental twist to the composition. The song follows through with a crescendo; a big finish maintaining that post-rock attribute.
‘These Years’ which is the second lead single changes the atmosphere a bit, the orchestral side to Michaela’s compositions are more apparent here followed by opening with a 90’s or early 2000’s pop melody showcasing its contemporary elements; though like a facade this changes a minute into the track where the melody completely juxtaposes and becomes jarring, maintaining the authenticity to the album.
The album is a collective of melancholic and jarring pop tracks followed by experimental, post punk influenced tracks, Nick McCabe’s guitars compliment the classical compositions and just like Kevin Shields and Patti Smith’s collaboration in 2005 and 2006, vocalizes the instrument.
Tracks that follow such as the title track; ‘Ellis Island’ and the third lead track ‘Social Affair’ are more of a radio friendly take on the sound that Michaela & Natalie have crafted, contemporary structures whilst maintaining a certain melancholy that is not too drastic or dissonant, ‘Social Affair’ features a more alternative rock take on their sound.
‘Zadnej Kod’, which is performed in Czech is again a more orchestral track, which features haunting tonality, the track picks up and features almost an operatic rock dynamic to it.
I do feel however, following Zadnej Kod that ‘Feeling Falls’ and ‘Carry On’ could have been positioned differently on the album, ‘Feeling Falls’ feels very similar melody-wise and Carry On feels slightly anti-climatic in its positioning. And whilst ‘Feeling Falls’ does well in its minimalist, spacious approach it’s light dynamics into a crescendo came too soon after ‘Zadnej Kod’.
The album concludes with the track ‘Backstabbers’ which unlike the aforementioned two tracks is positioned well and conclude the album perfectly, whilst yet another pop oriented track among the final three, the dynamic changes with acoustic guitars at the forefront mixed with the whirling, wall of sound like tonalities of the electric guitars, the song also features lounge-like spoken word vocals, which adds a nice, conclusive shift from the powerful vocal performance which remained consistent, to something that tones down the album.
Whilst the album features a plethora of musical styles and experimentation, it does not sound messy one bit, Michaela’s work on the compositions make the album sound consistent and authentic whilst making the album interesting throughout, the album does not go off on a tangent nor does it become monotonous: It’s a fresh and relevant take on experimentation that rivals the likes of recent contemporaries.
Natalie Kocab’s vocals are personally one of the biggest highlights of the album, the overall vocal performance was powerful and suited the music that was accompanying them,.
Overall, the album genuinely offers something for everyone, a welcoming form of experimentation that is not to alien to the average listener yet interesting enough to keep die-hard alternative music fans listening throughout.
Ellis Island is out now, you can purchase the album from this link; https://wmcz.lnk.to/ellisisland
To keep up to date with Michaela Polakova and Natalie Kocab, you can follow their social networks below;
What do you get when you combine the immaculate harmonies of the Ohio Players and the easy-listening soul of Lionel Richie? Lawrence Preston.
San Francisco Bassist and vocalist Lawrence Preston delves into a throwback of the funk and soul peaks with his single ‘Something For You.’
The track features a combination of influences and styles that will be sure to catch anybodies ear and peak interest, from smooth gospel-like harmonies, to jazz flavorings on the bass (in the same way contemporaries such as Thundercat) the song is a fresh and modern take on a cemented genre.
An artist can take a genre and reinvent it by putting their own mark on it, but where ‘Something For You’ shines is the authenticity to modern music, it deserves in place alongside the contemporaries – with influences from the original days of funk with the guitar licks, all the way to early 2000’s soulful RnB love croon, the track is a collective of Lawrence’s influence and proves that he has honed his craft.
However, whilst the track stands alongside contemporaries, it’s also a very familiar sound, for right and wrong reasons – it’s not going to alienate fans of the genre, the sound or Lawrence’s music anytime soon, yet I feel like I’ve heard it all before, it doesn’t achieve much in terms of shock and awe, bar a few tasty bass licks thrown in every now and then, which shows off some of Lawrence’s virtuoso tendencies.
‘Something For You’ is a track that not only shares passion that Lawrence has for his craft, but also shows the skill that Lawrence has as a musician; a man of influence.
‘Something For You’ is available now, you can grab the track on the links below as well as keep up to date with Lawrence Preston on his social network links;
From the U.K to Japan; harpist and vocalist Julia Mascetti has given a hint of what’s to be expected from her upcoming E.P. In Distance, Everything Is Poetry.
The track ‘In Bloom’ gives us a taste of what’s in store in Julia’s upcoming E.P. in the form of a dark, fantastical soundscape.
‘In Bloom’ presents us with the essence of mythical storytelling, what can be described as celtic-folk roots all the way to the soundtrack to a fantasy epic; ‘In Bloom’ sets a dynamic and paints a musical picture that inspires thoughts of mythology and legend.
Julia’s siren-like vocals over a haunting and melancholic harp creates a depressing yet captivating scenario; it’s dreary tones creates suspense in such a minimalist way, yet alongside embellishments from what sounds like bells and a stringed instruments it still retains it’s melodic qualities.
The song is essentially part melodic and part concept, with the timbre of the instrumentation it manages to balance these two sections perfectly, without alienating the listener. The change of arpeggios to sustained notes in each section add for diverse textures in the song.
‘In Bloom’ tells a dreary and melancholic story, the mixture of instruments elevate the texture and song stays true to itself throughout, I feel that some of these instruments could be more apparent in the mix (what sounds like a tsugaru shamisen, could be a bit louder) but overall, the diverse instrumentation compliments the song.
The E.P. In Distance, Everything Is Poetry is out on the 11th of November, you can keep up with Julia’s social networks at the links below;
Canada’s answer to Earth, Wind & Fire; Crack of Dawn are preparing to step back into the ‘Spotlight’ with the upcoming release of their new single.
The track ‘Spotlight’ is a reflective return to the band after a period of absence, with melodic, soulful vibes in a modern take.
The band hold the mantle of being one of the first black bands to be signed to a major label (CBS) and outsold their funky contemporaries; Earth, Wind & Fire.
The new track ‘Spotlight’ is a ballad through & through, it’s a safe comeback and yet a sentimental sound that ticks all the right boxes.
The aesthetic is laid as soon as the rolling drums hits the first beat, along with the chunky sounding guitar coupled with a faint “siren-like” synth playing a counter melody alongside the the repeated opening phrase.
The song then goes straight into the nostalgic sounding soul-ballad, held by a strong vocal performance and with stops to keep the listener on their toes, adding dynamic flair.
As with virtuoso soul/funk artists, the harmonies are impeccable, keeping that notorious smooth texture; with a belted main vocal being supported by harmonies that present no flaw.
‘Spotlight’ is Crack of Dawn’s attempt at standing on it’s own two feet, in a world of neo-soul and the evolution of classic genres, ‘Spotlight’ proves that Crack of Dawn’s modern evolution of their sound can stand up in the funk & soul scene of today, and this track is assurance to the fans that they’ve still got what it takes.
‘Spotlight’ is out on the 19th of November, you can keep up to date with the band on their social networks below;
Album, The Futures Mine to Make, to follow August 11th
Alternative rock group, Pavilions, have release debut single ‘Futures’ off their new album The Futures Mine to Make. The band, hailing from The Wirral, has taken their local area by storm with their post-hardcore sound influenced by musicians such as Don Broco, Sleeping with Sirens and Emarosa.
‘Futures’ begins with a lingering, flawlessly crafted vocal and guitar riff, exploding into an exciting upbeat rock track – a sound the band have become known for and accentuates their musical talent. The single sums up the whole vibe and direction of the album namely that it is about making the most of your time on this planet and the realisation that the past will always stay the same but you have the ability to shape the future you want.
Check out the video for the track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXOn1YWgLEE
Pavilions’ have certainly found their musical direction with new album The Futures Mine to Make, seeing exciting collaborations with the likes of producer, Dan Lancaster (Don Broco, JLS, Rita Ora, Little Mix) and track features from Johnny Craig and Violet front man, Charlie Bass.
Their career highlights include a support slot with Jonny Craig and playing to an almost sold out crowd supporting Fearless Vampire Killers and the o2 academy in Liverpool. They have also played a whole host of hometown shows supporting the likes of Deaf Havana, Alkaline Trio and Lower than Atlantis.
With such charisma and dedicated support, the potential this band has is colossal and 2014 is looking like it could be their breakthrough year.
“absolutely excellent. A good blend of melody with a hint of aggression… they fed off one another to give a thoroughly enjoyable show”
Natalie Humphries – Soundscape
“Finding pure, unadulterated talent like this is rare”
Claire Sheridan – Bring the Noise
Tezz Roberts – Vocals
Ryan ‘Coop’ Cooper – Guitar/Vocals
Tel Earthey – Drums
Matty Daley – Bass
Alexander Headen – Guitar
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