Dead Nature Interview

I spoke to Tarek Musa, ex-Spring King front man & drummer, about his new project ‘Dead Nature’ and what life is like solo. We kicked things off by discussing why he chose that name for his solo project.


“The phrase Dead Nature (which literally translates from the word ‘Still Life’) struck a chord with me. It represents a time in my life where it felt as if time stood still, and not much was going on.”


“A lot of the songs I have written for this project already touch on the subject of loneliness, self-reflection and space. It had an emotional response that I took something from.”


The first Dead Nature EP, ‘Taking My Shadow’ released back in July to a great reception, but Tarek isn’t rushing to make a full-length project, but there will be one in the future.


“I’m writing a lot of music for the project and with time it’s only going to grow further. “


“Part of the process for me is in taking time to enjoy the natural growth of the music whilst creating in an inspiring environment. There will be an album at some point.”


‘Rookwood’ is my favourite from the debut EP from Dead Nature, so I asked Tarek about the inspiration behind that track.


“‘Rookwood’ represents a time in my life that was filled with highs and lows. It captures a time of complete stillness that I hope listeners can relate to in their own way.”


“I wrote the track to help explore old feelings from over fifteen years ago, and what came out of it is some of my proudest work.”


As well as making music himself, Tarek has been producing and engineering for the likes of Circa Waves and The Big Moon;


“When I work with other artists, helping to produce their music, I feel I have a level of understanding with how they may be feeling in the studio. “


“I’m lucky to have experience on both sides, which really helps in making a band or artist feel comfortable when i’m working with them.”


“It’s different in the sense that when I work on my own songs I know exactly what I want them to sound like. Getting to the sound I have in my head is a lot easier to achieve, it’s instantaneous.”


“Producing for others has given me a huge respect for the struggle of artists, and a reminder to myself that what we do as musicians, producers, songwriters and artists is not achieved over night. “


“There is so much time and effort put into what people hear, and sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves of the amount of dedication it takes to get a finished song over the line.”


You can listen to the debut Dead Nature EP below.

 

 

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New Release Roundup 9th August 2019

Oddity Road – Night Like No Other: This new single from Sheffield indie lads Oddity Road is their strongest yet. Strong 2000s pop-punk influences here, with heavy riffs and pounding drums on the chorus, which is extremely catchy. Very nice. 80%

Katy Perry – Small Talk: A forgettable track here from Katy, sounds like an album filler track that she could knock out in a few minutes. Like a phoned in performance for a movie soundtrack. 30%

Temples – You’re Either On Something: I have had this song in my head constantly since I first heard it’s main hook. ‘You’re Either On Something’ has amazing vocal production over a trademark Temples catchy melody but with a more focused sound than their previous efforts. 91%

Nikita Bassi – Satin: This is the debut single from Nikita, and ‘Satin’ shows real promise. A beautiful, low-key ballad with a soft twinkly instrumental paired with Nikita’s strong but delicately controlled vocals makes for very pleasant listening indeed. 90%

Keane – Love Too Much: This is very, very bad. Keane had a few (2) good singles back in the day but this sounds like a Take That album track. 10%

Spector – Half Life: This new Spector tune, their second single this year, is a great, shimmery piece of indie synth-pop. It really bops along with bouncy synths and a groovy bassline; very promising for a potential new full length project from the lads. 82%

Mystery Jets – Screwdriver: An amazing new single from Mystery Jets, Screwdriver sounds massive. Could almost be a (good) Bond tune kind of massive. Gritty riffs and poignant lyrics and constantly shifting speed and tone, this is simply great. 95%

The Big Moon- It’s Easy Then: A great grower of a comeback single from The Big Moon here! With a slightly fuller sounding, mellower production than their debut album, “It’s Easy Then” makes me very excited for a new project from them. 85%

Love Fame Tragedy – Backflip: ‘Love Fame Tragedy’ is a new project from Matthew, frontman of the Wombats, Gus from alt-j, Joey from Pixies, Matt from Soundgarden and Lauren Aquilina. ‘Backflip’ is an understated perfect piece of groovy indie-pop that lives up to the hype all those names bring. More please. 90%

Nykki – No Cry (Stripped Version): This stripped version of rising Czech pop star’s debut single ‘No Cry’ shows a different side to the track, really highlighting her strong vocals and the strength of the song at it’s core. 80%
Dram ft. H.E.R. & Watt – The Lay Down: The combination of these three together and a really soulful, chill instrumental backing makes for extremely smooth listening. One of the strongest R&B tracks of the year so far, with the vocal harmonies on the cut being exceptional. 91%

Papur Wal – When He’s Gone: This new tune from Welsh indie outfit Papur Wal starts off as a really intimate, acoustic ballad before bursting into a wall of lo-fi, distorted riffs and off-kilter vocals. Love it. 83%

CRAY – idontwannatalkaboutlove: This new single from Cray is an essential synth-pop bop. Irresistible synth grooves and loops back Cray’s smooth, but powerful vocals. It’s not too over the top either, a really great, focused track. 92%

Leadley – Chic: Her first single since last year’s self titled EP, ‘Chic’ is a smooth, catchy new single from ‘Leadley’, with the minimalist drum backing and subtle synths peppered throughout highlighting the strength & tone of her voice. Nice. 90%

‘A Healthy Earth’:Peaer Interview

I spoke to Peter from very good Brooklyn based indie band Peaer, about their imminently releasing second album ‘A Healthy Earth’, due out on the 16th of August. Here’s what he had to say.

First of all, I asked why they went with that title for the album.
“We went through a lot of titles when we were trying to finish this album and nothing seemed to really stick. “We wanted to imply on the concept of “scale” with the title, since the subject matter of the record goes between interpersonal and global ideas.”

“We wanted a title that could talk about the small stuff and the big stuff at the same time. “A Healthy Earth” is actually from a line in our song “Multiverse” – and once we started throwing that around it really started to stick, it was catchy and not too wordy, and it also works aesthetically with the rest because of the repeated “ea” lettering.”

“Conceptually, ‘a healthy earth’ sparks questions in my mind – what makes a healthy earth? do we live in one? is it possible to make one? Its a question, its a call to action, it provokes thoughts.”

 

The album art for ‘A Healthy Earth’ is a rather nice photo of a model railway, and I wondered what the significance of this was:

 

“The train set was built buy Thom (our bassist) and his father some of years ago. Thom’s dad has been part of the local model train society in Westchester, NY, and the train set still resides in the basement of Thom’s parent’s house.”

 

“When I first went to Thom’s house years and years ago and I saw the train set, I immediately started taking pictures and thinking “this would be perfect for the new album (3 or so years before it was completed).”

“Last summer Thom and I went back to the house with some DSLRs and took a bunch of photos with the intention of using them as album artwork. It works really well with the “scale” theme I spoke about in the first response, and its a very beautiful model.”

 

‘In My Belly’ from the album features Indie-Pop icon Shamir, and Peter discussed what it was like collaborating with them on the track, and it turns out they were already friends.

 

“Shamir and I have gotten super close since we toured together in December of 2017, so asking them to sing was something we were eager to do.”
“It was remarkably easy since their voice is amazing and they have an incredible ear for harmony. We simply sent them the song and they sang parts in a studio with their engineer, and we took those tracks and blended them into the recording.”

 

“We knew we wanted another voice to make the middle section of the song shine and Shamir was the perfect ask. I basically just told them to “go wild” and they did!”

 

Second albums are apparently difficult to make, but definitely come with a lot of attention and hype from critics and fans alike; did Peaer go about making their second album any differently? Peter said so and I have no reason to not believe him:

 

“The first LP was very much so a snapshot of time – the band had been playing a bit in college and had these 7 or so songs ready to go, and before we all graduated and lost access to the nice studios we had at college, we decided to lay everything down.”

 

“It was much more hands-off experience. We tracked it all and then I gave it to Jeremy (not in the band yet but still engineered the whole record) and just said “okay make this sound good” and he did!”

 

“This time around we were much more intentional. We took our time with the tracking and pre-production of it all, and generally spent more collective time with the album as it was being made. Editing, re-tracking parts, adding and trying out new sounds and things in order to make the record more involved. We definitely treated it as a more substantial piece.”

 

I asked Peter what artists were inspiring the band while making ‘A Healthy Earth’:

Off the top of my head it would be the production and careful writing of (Sandy) Alex G, Pedro the Lion, the non-chalant-yet-daring nature of The Dismemberment Plan, the eclecticism of Duster’s Stratosphere, Pinback, The Lemonheads, Life Without Buildings. A lot of the same sort of artists that have always been there for me.

‘A Healthy Earth’ comes out on the 16th August, and you can pre-order it here.

 

Track Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – This Is The Place

Following on from his subdued, groovy ‘Black Star Dancing’ EP, Noel has just announced another EP, with ‘This Is The Place’ being the title track from it.

Similar in vein to ‘Black Star Dancing’ ‘This Is The Place’ is very groove based, with a deep bassline being the heart of the track.

The layers of percussion, synths and backing vocals slowly build up throughout the track to create a song that is a brilliant fusion of northern soul and modern dance music.Very much a toe tapper, this one.

This is a complete change from his first two solo albums which seem drab and predictable in comparison to his last full length and subsequent singles. Noel’s voice sounds as strong as ever, and judging by his current output, his creativity and talent for songwriting hasn’t faded either.

85%

The Lion King (2019) Movie Review

When the first trailer for this ‘live action’ remake of The Lion King dropped, I was extremely excited, especially so due the amazing voice cast and how much I had enjoyed Jon Favreau’s previous effort with The Jungle Book, which was a vivid re-imagination of the Disney classic that went about telling the tale in a new, creative way. This is not like the Jungle Book.

This version of the Lion King is essentially a by-the-book remake, with updated visuals and a new voice cast. The voice cast bring mixed performances, with Beyoncé and Donald Glover obviously being great, but those two are going to perform annoying well with anything they are given. John Oliver brings little to the role of Zazu and the usually eccentric and off the wall Eric Andre is underutilised.

Image result for kimba the white lion comparisonThe songs and set pieces of the 2D animated Lion King relied heavily on exaggerated, colourful scenes, with the likes of ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ and ‘Hakuna Matata’ being full of life. In this version, due to the commitment to extreme realism, these scenes seem sapped of all the life and excitement they originally had. The scene in ‘Hakuna Matata’ where Simba, Pumba and Timon where Simba ages as they walk along dancing together is now replaced with them just walking along.

The visuals are amazingly detailed, with the animals and environments all looking incredible and the this is definitely some of the most advanced, prettiest CGI ever and the animation team should be applauded but it just isn’t right for this story. The characters needed to be able to show emotions rather than just looking exactly like a real lion.

The soundtrack is way too good for the film it accompanies and is so obviously just another money-grab from Disney and it makes me angry. The original Lion King is just a rip-off of Japanese cartoon ‘Kimba the White Lion’ anyway so looks like they rarely have any original ideas anyway.

Don’t bother watching this in the cinema, just watch the original. Also, for some reason ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ takes place completely in daylight. Yeah.

30%

 

New Release Roundup 2nd August 2019

Elbow – Dexter & Sinister: Manchester’s nicest band return with, as is usual for them, a nearly 7 minute long track. However, ‘Dexter & Sinister’ sees Elbow going back to the sound of their earlier albums whilst also sounding reinvigorated; Guy’s standard lovely vocals are paired with an instrumental that sounds spacious and cinematic but also a great deal of urgency, with the track’s long run time zooming by. 90%

Foals – Black Bull: This is the first track revealed from the second album of Foals’ ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’ double album and they aren’t playing around. It’s an absolute banger, and one of the best tracks Foals have ever released. Heavy, angry and precise, this is what rock music needs right now. Very excited for this album. 97%

Ariana Grande & Social House – Boyfriend: Ariana continues her streak of great releases with this new single with help from her Thank u, Next co-writers Social House. ‘Boyfriend’ sees Ari and Social House both deliver very smooth vocals over an almost electro swing instrumental, with a catchy hook and great chemistry between everyone on the track. Will Ari release a bad song any time soon? Hope not. 93%
Haim – Summer Girl: The first new track from Haim since 2017’s ‘Something To Tell You’, ‘Summer Girl’ is a very chill, jazzy and aptly summery number which has an insanely catchy ‘do do do do’ based chorus that is very hard to shake from your head. Very pleasant indeed. 90%

Brockhampton – I Been Born Again: The world’s greatest boyband™ drop yet more new music, with ‘I Been Born Again’ being a straight up rap banger. As is usually the case, each member of the group brings a great verse to the track. This gives me more Saturation vibes than Iridescence so there’s no real telling where they will go next. 80%

Newmoon – Collide Into Me: ‘Collide Into Me’ is a rather lovely piece of dreamy indie-pop from Belgian band ‘Newmoon’. This is the first track to be revealed from upcoming album ‘Nothing Hurts Forever’, coming out in October. Can’t wait. 83%

Raye – Love Me Again: This new single from Raye is unfortunately a bit forgettable. It’s nice enough but doesn’t stand out from the crowd at all and sounds a bit like a bad Sam Smith song. 50%

Tove Lo ft Alma – Bad As The Boys: This sounds like a reject Marina & The Diamonds song & sounds like so many other tracks out there at the moment. Very forgettable. 20%
Mermaidens – Millenia: This is the second track to be released from Mermaidens’ upcoming album Look Me In the Eye, out September 6th, and it’s a great shoegazey, gloomy, groovy tune with captivating vocals and a really addictive drum beat. 80%

The S.L.P. – The Youngest Gary: Another great tune from Serge Kasabian’s upcoming solo project! ‘The Youngest Gary’ is a more synth-driven track than the previous 2 releases but it’s still got that trademark Serge groove and his unique vocals work really well here. Looking forward to this album a lot. 75%

Ava Max – Freaking Me Out: ‘Freaking Me Out’ is a solid, v catchy pop bop from Ava here with a really great vocal performance. 69%

Husky Loops – I Think You’re Wonderful: This is really horrible. The sample/hook on this is really abrasive to listen to and the verses sound over-sentimental. Sounds like Imagine Dragons and Lukas Graham at the same time. 5%

The Best albums of 2019 (so far)

-We’re about halfway through the year now, and already we have had a lot of amazing albums. Here are my faves from 2019 so far (in no particular order)

Little Simz – Grey Area 

Grey Area is one of the most focused, brilliantly produced albums I’ve heard in a long time, never mind this year. Simz brings the sharpest wit and brilliant delivery throughout every track. This will be VERY hard to beat this year.

Self Esteem – Compliments Please 

Rebecca Lucy Taylor previously of Slow Club comes through with banger after banger on her debut solo effort, with unapologetic, honest lyrics paired with great melody, harmonies and production.

The Japanese House – Good At Falling 

Slick, groove-filled indie-pop bangers are the flavour of the day from Amber Bain on this polished, thoughtful album with introspective lyrics about a tough breakup, with each track telling a personal story.

Vampire Weekend – Father Of The Bride 

The New York outfit return after far too long with a vibrant, summery album with features from the likes of Danielle from Haim and Steve Lacy. Good to know that they haven’t lost it after the big break, with tracks like Harmony Hall and Sunflower being amongst their most memorable to date.

Lizzo – Cuz I Love You 

There was a lot of hype and anticipation for Lizzo’s debut album with killer singles  ‘Juice’ and ‘Boys’ leading up to its release. She delivered on the hype and then some, delivering one of the strongest debuts of the year.

Mark Ronson – Late Night Feelings 

Mark’s last album, 2015’s jubilant and funky ‘Uptown Special’ was his most successful to date, and I was wondering what he would do to follow it up. According to Mark, ‘Late Night Feelings’ is an album of ‘Sad Bangers’, and it’s hard to argue with him honestly, with killer collabs with Camila Cabello, King Princess, Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys all bringing the sad party vibes.

Tyler, The Creator – IGOR 

IGOR is Tyler’s best album to date; Introspective, cohesive and creatively produced with heartfelt tracks over some great beats and carefully selected and curated features that all actually bring their own energy to their respective tracks.

Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? 

Perhaps the most anticipated debut of the year, Billie pulled through on ‘When We All Fall Asleep…’ with a brilliant, creative, dark pop album.

Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next 

Coming less than a year after her last album, I wasn’t expecting too much from Thank U, Next, but this is Ariana’s best album to date and perfectly encapsulates the year she has had.

James Blake – Assume Form 

‘Assume Form’ is a brilliantly written and produced, introspective record from James, with his most solid collection on tunes to date and some great features.

Sigrid – Sucker Punch

A shining, soaring debut album from Sigrid who delivers pop banger after pop banger with really strong vocal performances throughout. A new pop star with real personality and talent.

Slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain 

One of the most poignant albums of the year also manages to be one of the most unique albums, with Slowthai’s personality shining through on every track with ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ being amazingly produced with sharp and witty bars equally balanced with poetic, story telling verses.

Anderson.Paak – Ventura 

Continuing his run of great projects, Anderson followed up the amazing ‘Oxnard’ with the equally great ‘Ventura’, with great features from the likes of Andre 3000 and Smokey Robinson, Anderson still manages to shine through and continue to be on the top of his game.

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising 

‘Titanic Rising’ may be the prettiest sounding album of the year so far, with every track being produced beautifully and Natalie’s vocals sounding otherworldly all the way through the album.