Mermaidens Interview

New Zealand trio Mermaidens have just released their third album ‘Look Me In The Eye’. I had a chat to Lily from the band them about it! Kicking things off, I asked her why they picked that album title.

“The overarching themes of the album are confrontation and human relationships. The title comes from a song off the 7” we released earlier in the year – ‘You Maintain the Stain’. “

“The song was written at the same time as the album songs and lyrically has the same themes. The title has a double meaning, it speaks to both confrontation and intimacy between people.”

One of my fave tracks from ‘Look Me In The Eye’ is ‘Millenia’. I asked Lily what the inspiration behind the tune was.

“Millennia is a deadpan dig at the masks we wear.”

“As a band trying to connect with people, using social media is such a necessity. So, I wanted us to explore this mess of feelings around that twisted meeting of media and identity as a group. There’s an implication that we can’t be successful without this system, despite it not being that much good for anyone’s well-being.”

“The song is a big faker too – it’s all pep and pop hooks, but it’s a sad story. The title is a personal joke about feeling old at 25, it was always meant to be the temporary title as it’s not exactly subtle. But after recording, when the song turned out to be so melodramatic, it stuck.”

This is Mermaidens’ third album, and I asked Lily if the band had approached building the project any differently.

“We approached this album wanting to experiment and push ourselves. James Goldsmith had recorded our previous albums, we have a great friendship and during recording we were really comfortable to try wild ideas. “

“Another difference was that the songs were far less refined going into the studio and really came together with production rather than our usual months of jamming.”

Above is the striking album art for ‘Look Me In The Eye’, I asked Lily about the meaning behind it.

“I wanted to create a hazy person, like they are still forming and have been caught in-between wearing masks. “

“The image was made with the faces of a few friends layered over one another. The rest of the art around the album are stream of consciousness drawings inspired by the way our dreams and thoughts meander and connect. I wanted the record packaging to feel intimate; it’s red and pink and scrawled all over like a diary.”

‘Look Me In The Eye’ is out now on Flying Nun Records. You can buy it here, or listen to it on Spotify here.
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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.

85%

 

 

 

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%

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%

New Release Roundup: 17th May 2019

S.L.P. ft. Little Simz- Favourites: This is the first song to come out of this new project from Kasabian’s Serge and it sounds like a mix of ‘Empire’ era Kasabian and early Gorillaz; with an infectious groove throughout and the raw energy that Serge usually provides giving this track a massive sound. As usual, Little Simz shines on her verse and she matches the vibe of the track perfectly. 92% 

Biffy Clyro – Balance Not Symmetry: The Biff are back and sound the most energetic they have in a long time. ‘Balance Not Symmetry’ is a perfect mix of old, heavy Biffy and their newer stuff. This is apparently a song from an upcoming soundtrack to a film of the same name. It’s going to have a belter of a soundtrack then. 95%

Charli XCX and Lizzo – Blame It On Your Love: Charli proves again that she is one of the most consistent voices in pop on ‘Blame It On Your Love’. A rework of ‘Track 10’ from her Pop 2 Mixtape but with added Lizzo (who, of course, smashes it), this is a straight up pop banger. I expected a bit more from the two of them but can’t really complain. 85%

Kim Petras- Sweet Spot: ‘Sweet Spot’ sounds like if Daft Punk and Kylie collabed in about 2006; this is pure dance-pop at its best. This continues the run of great singles that Kim has had over the past few weeks, and if they carry on like this then her album is going to be rather good. 90%

Two Door Cinema Club – Satellite:  The beginning of this new track from TDCC sounds like the lads doing an impression of The Human League, but it soon expands into a shimmery discoy chorus. It’s standard Two Door stuff but with more of a new-wave twist than usual, and I think it works. 80%

Lana Del Rey – Doin’ Time: A nice, chill cover of the Sublime song isn’t what I expected from Lana, and I’m not sure we really need it, but it’s actually really well produced and the melody really suits her voice so, fair enough. 75%

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Black Star Dancing: A slow, groovy number from Noel and the lads. It’s a bit of a grower, but it continues Noel’s experimental phase and his run of releasing some goood tunes. 75%

Snowblood – Into Your Heart: A really catchy song from Dani here; the lyrics are a bit repetitive but the instrumental has a really funky synth line. Simple but effective is the name of the game on ‘Into Your Heart’. 80%

The Black Keys – Go:  It’s certainly The Black Keys! It’s good, but its exactly what you would imagine it to sound like. Very advert friendly and toe-tappy. 60%