Good Luck, Kid: Joseph Interview

Portland-bred sister trio Joseph are getting ready to release their latest album, ‘Good Luck, Kid’ which comes out on the 13th September. I had a chat Natalie from the group about it, touring in the UK and more. Their lead single for the album was ‘Fighter’ – I started off by asking why they chose that as their first taste from the album, and then their inspiration behind the track.
“Fighter takes us from hushed intimate moments to explosive sonic heights.”
“Meegan’s voice soars. It’s an exciting song to us in that regard and it also is really special because it came from a personal story. When I just want to check out from the world and its problems this song asks me to stay in the fight. We wanted to lead the album out with that invitation. “
“Fighter came from a moment between the three of us where we had to decide to keep going. “
“In any relationship you can slowly slip away – not bring your real feelings and self to the table – or you can say the hard thing and work through it to stay connected. That is what happened to us. “
I asked Natalie if the group had any favourite songs on the album, and if the album has a specific sound; if the singles they had released so far were similar to the rest of the project.
“My absolute favourite song on the album is Room For You because it encapsulates everything I wish for the audience and for everyone on this planet.”
“Right this second though, I’ll say Presence because I’ve been practising the guitar riff and it’s going to feel SO good to play it through a loud PA. Half Truths is a standout to me because I have watched Allie do amazing work overcoming anxiety and this song captures that so well. “
“And also Revolving Door is a heart-wrencher. A very brave song for Meegan to write. I love this album, wow. “
“Every song on this album is totally different and has different tones and textures but what this song does say about the rest of the album is that the dynamics are vast.”
“The album is about getting into the driver’s seat of your life and each song is part of that journey. We’re so excited for it to come out!”

The band are touring in the UK later this year, I asked Natalie what their experience has been like over here in the past.

 “We adore the UK. Adore it! Everyone there has been very good to us.”
“We’ve made so many good British friends over the years from touring with James Bay and Michael Kiwanuka, and from playing festivals like Barn on the Farm and British Summer time that the UK is very dear to us.”
“Maybe part of that is because the Pacific Northwest shares a very similar climate so it feels a lot like home, but more exciting because everyone has an accent! Also, every time we go to London someone recommends Dishoom and this upcoming tour is our chance to finally try it!”

 

Joseph’s album ‘Good Luck, Kid’ is out on the 13th September via ATO records. Check them out on Twitter here.

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Metronomy – Metronomy Forever Album Review

‘Metronomy Forever’ is the group’s 6th album. Most groups would have run out of ideas by then, but this album proves that Metronomy are still one of the most inventive, consistent bands in the world, with the project bearing several of their best songs to date.

The album kicks off with a short, dreamy instrumental piece called ‘Wedding’, with distorted church bells and synths being foreshadowing for the themes of this album, and one of it’s strongest tracks. ‘Whitsand Bay’ opens the album proper, and it’s a perfect blend of Metronomy old and new, with a low key, spoken chorus over an ever-shifting instrumental.

‘Insecurity’ is one of the highlights on the album, Joe gets straight to the point about said insecurity and the feeling that it could be one of the only constants in his life. A bursting guitar riff and catchy synth lines throughout the track make it really difficult to shift from your head. ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’ is almost annoyingly good. It sounds like a mixture of Crazy Frog and Mika, but it’s one of the best tracks Metronomy have ever put out; it’s a perfect pop song.

‘Lately’ is another of Metronomy’s best ever songs in my opinion. The layers of instruments build up throughout the track to an amazing shower of synths, and the off-kilter melody in the chorus is nothing short of magical. Another great track comes in the form of ‘Sex Emoji’, a bittersweet tale of an online relationship told through a groovy synth-pop tune.

There are a handful of instrumental tracks on ‘Metronomy Forever’, and the standout for me is ‘Miracle Rooftop’, which is perfect to completely zone out to and look out the window, and I mean that as a great compliment. ‘Wedding Bells’ sounds almost like Metronomy doing a Bruce Springsteen song, and it works amazingly, and is another absolute earworm.

It’s so refreshing to see a band at this level in their career improve with every release. This is the best Metronomy album to date. Metronomy Forever indeed.

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Post Malone – Hollywood’s Bleeding Album Review

Post Malone has become one of the biggest names in music in an extremely short length of time. He released his debut album in 2016, and as of September 2019, he is the 6th most streamed artist in the world on Spotify, with his latest single ‘Circles’ gaining over 50 million streams in around a week. He just headlined Reading & Leeds festivals in the UK to great reception. It’s an understatement to say there was a lot of anticipation and hype for his latest album, and unexpectedly, he exceeded those expectations.

The title track kicks off the album, and immediately sets the gloomy, sad tone of ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’. Sadness and loneliness have been consistent themes in Posty’s previous releases, but this project is his most cohesive, and consistent to date. Most of the tracks on ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’ sound like they could easily be singles, and Post seems the most focused he has ever been.

‘Enemies’ is the first track of the album that sounds positive; a really upbeat, peppy and extremely catchy melody runs throughout the track but the lyrics maintain that solemn attitude. ‘Used to have friends now I got enemies, it’s so sad’ hits things right on the head.

‘Allergic’ is an album highlight for me, and shows off what Post Malone does best. Blending elements of several genres together to make a straight up catchy banger. An almost doo-wop beat and melody mixes in effortlessly with rock and trap, and the harmonised acapella vocals that close off the track are genuinely lovely.

Many of the tracks on the album deal with the theme of fame, and how it has affected his life. Some lines like “You see me on TV, you know I’m a star, You say you don’t know me, but I know that’s false” from ‘A Thousand Bad Times’ leave no room for speculation, but tracks like ‘Circles’ make you read between the lines, and show a deeper side to Post Malone. ‘Circles’ is one of my favourite tracks Post has ever done, with it’s jangly guitar and plodding bassline making it almost sound like a single that a Blossoms could come out with mixed with a bit of Tame Impala. It’s extremely catchy and hasn’t left my head since I first heard it.

There are a wide range of features on the album, from the likes of Halsey, Future and Sza, but perhaps the most surprising combination is Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott, both of whom feature on the track ‘Take What You Want’. Perhaps even more surprising is that it works, with Ozzy’s vocals providing a really dramatic atmosphere, and Travis puts in a decent verse before the song explodes into an over-the-top guitar solo.

‘Staring At The Sun’ with Sza is a really pleasant track, and whether this is due to the pair’s history or not, it really does sound like the song that would play at the end credits of a superhero movie. The fact that it is followed by ‘Sunflower’ taken from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, only furthers this in my mind. It’s good though, and Sza and Post work really well together.

‘Internet’ is a weird one. Written by Kanye West, it’s almost interlude length at just over 2 minutes, and is a string heavy, short and sweet ballad about how he doesn’t use the internet much anymore. It’s nice enough though, but the extremely lush instrumentation does seem a little out of place.

When I first listened to ‘Myself’ I thought that it sounded a bit like Father John Misty in the melody and lyrics; “Oh, I’m sick of believing, All of this American dreaming, Oh, let’s not give a fuck ’til Giving a fuck has no meaning”. The track was in fact co-written by Post and Josh Tillman (FJM’s Real Name), and is another of the album’s best points.

Closing off with ‘Wow.’, which is by far the most braggy of all the tracks on the album perfectly sums up Post Malone. He’s made it, and he’s going to keep pushing forward and surprising people with his success for as long as he can.

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‘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.

 

Little Simz – Grey Area Review

Leading off with the brilliant, urgent single ‘Offence’ is a brilliant way to start off Little Simz’ latest album, with it’s pure confidence and witty lyrics perfectly setting the tone for the rest of the project. This confidence is completely matched by her skill, making for one of the freshest rap albums in a long time.

‘Venom’ shows Simz at her fiercest on the album and it’s really impressive to see her attack a track at that speed, but the album isn’t all fast paced and hard-hitting, with tracks such as ‘Therapy’ and ‘Sherbert Sunset’ seeing her really open up with introspective lyrics.

‘Selfish’ features a really smooth, catchy hook provided by Cleo Sol and a really funky percussion beat and light piano backing that just sounds really luscious and full; the whole album sounds like it could be being played live.

Simz has picked her featured artists on ‘Grey Area’ very well, with Little Dragon and Michael Kiwanuka providing well-placed guest spots that provide softer, more soulful vocals that pair really with Simz’ harder hitting verses.

This album proves all of the hype that is surrounding Little Simz at the moment, showing an artist at the top of her game with a brilliant, bright album.

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Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next Review

This is Ariana’s second album in under 6 months. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this might mean the quality of the album wouldn’t be up to scratch compared to those she has spent more time on. She’s managed to make 2 albums in such a short space of time; her last was one of the best of 2018, this will probably be on year-end lists this time around.

The singles in the lead-up to this album were all up to her usual standard, with the title track being one of her most commercially successful to date, and it’s not hard to see why.

 

NASA and Bloodine are examples of what Ari does best; Confident, catchy pop tracks with great vocal performances & infectious hooks. ‘Thank U, Next’ has her strongest vocals to date throughout; keeping those breathy tones that make her voice distinctive but proving she has real vocal power. This is a more confident Ariana than we saw on Sweetener, with this being a completely solo effort with 0 features at all; quite apt for an album with self-love as one of its main themes.

‘Ghostin’ is one of the strongest cuts on the album; really showcasing Ariana’s voice with haunting, soft strings and spacious production. ‘Make Up’ is a bit of a forgettable track, and sounds like a left-over from her previous effort.

The album’s closer ‘Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored’ has the difficult task of following big singles ‘7 Rings’ and the title track, and it doesn’t quite fit in with the flow in the tracklisting,& would have been much better suited to the middle of the album if anywhere, it’s a rather generic trap-inspired song that doesn’t amount to much at all; ‘ Thank U, Next’ would have been the perfect closer.

Overall, ‘Thank U, Next’ is a very solid pop album that should ensure Ari’s place at the top of pop for the time being.

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Nina Nesbitt – The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change Review

This is Nina’s second album, and it’s been a long time in the making. With a myriad of record label troubles and other issues plaguing her path so far, it must take someone tough to come through and eventually put out an album, especially one like this.

‘The Sun Will Come Up..’ is a focused, brilliantly produced pop album with Nina’s crisp, controlled voice and new found confidence cutting through each and every song.

‘Is It Really Me You’re Missing’ is an honest, open point on the album that shows off Nina’s Voice with minimalist production and a soft piano backing, and the title track which closes the album is another example of great storytelling by Nina.

The run of tracks from ‘The Moments I’m Missing’ through to ‘Somebody Special’ show the quality of the songwriting on show here; most of the tracks here feel like they could be singles but the album still flows very well as a whole.

A great album that shows real promise for the future from Nina.

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