Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Simple & Sure/Eurydice

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart are genuinely one of the blog's favourite new bands to have emerged in the past five years. They first grabbed our attention with their scruffy, lo-fi, yet brilliant self-titled début album, then completely blew us away with their more polished follow-up, "Belong", an album which in "Heart In Your Heartbreak" has given us one of the finest indie-pop anthems of recent times, and which ended up as our favourite of 2011. In spite of this, there seems to have been some uncertainly surrounding the release of album #3. Its release date appears to have shifted several times since it was first announced, and it wasn't until yesterday that it was even confirmed for release in the UK (we'll be getting it a few weeks after our American brothers).

So should we be worried? If the first two singles from the album are anything to go by, we really have nothing to fret over. "Simple And Sure" has been floating on the interwebs for a few months now, and is a deceptively straightforward example of The Pains' knack for a indie-pop brilliance. In "Eurydice" however, they really do have something extraordinary in their possession. Taking its name from a character from Greek mythology, the song is the nearest to a straight-up rock song the band has given us, and has all the hallmarks of a classic - its expansive yet measured production, it's soaring, infectious chorus, and that wonderful moment 3 minutes into the song when the counter-vocals come in. Just when you thought the band couldn't match "Heart In Your Heartbreak", they just go and shoot it out of the water.

The first album from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart got a few complaints from people who though it was too under-produced. Their follow-up received criticism for being too over-produced (something we don't happen to agree with, incidentally). Will their new album be their 'Baby Bear' record, one that is 'just right'? I don't think we've got anything to worry about at all - if "Eurydice" isn't this blog's top song of 2014 come December, and the album isn't jostling for the number 1 spot, then I will be very surprised.

"Days of Abandon" will be released in the UK on June 2nd on Fierce Panda Records.

Photo is (c) Shervin Lainez. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Silent Noise Parade - Fears

It's not usual for TMB to feature two bands from Limerick in the space of a week, but sometimes that's the way the metaphorical cookie crumbles. Five-piece electro band Silent Noise Parade already have one album under their belts, and as the band gear up for #2 later in the year, they have just released a brand new single, "Fears".

In the past week, "Fears" has picked up more than its fair share of love on the Irish blogosphere, which should come as no surprise, as it's a pretty great tune. The song is a dark and glacial, yet catchy electronic song characterised by a forceful yet memorable synth riff. It calls to mind a little bit of Prides in terms of its structure, but oddly enough also sounds a little bit like a more synthetically focused Linkin Park as well.

Silent Noise Parade's début album didn't really excite us when it came out last year, but if they can keep up the quality they've shown on "Fears", them number 2 is going to be rather exciting indeed.

"Fears" is available to download from reputable music download stores.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Meadowlark - Family Tree

Plymouth based Meadowlark are probably going to be getting compared to London Grammar a lot, given that they're both female-led trios with vocals that pull firmly on the heartstrings. However, that is more or less where the similarities end, at least if "Family Tree" is anything to by.

Unlike LG, whose sound is quite electronic and stripped back, Meadowlark offer something more earthy, organic and expansive, as singer Kate McGill sings of familial angst over a sparse piano line, which blooms into something more cinematic by the time we reach the 4:30 mark. They've got something special here, just don't let the lazy comparisons put you off.

"Family Tree" is taken from the band's début E.P "Three Six Five", which will be released on May 26th. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Clameens - Don't Judge

A couple of weeks ago, I headed up to Derry to see The Clameens play a showcase gig organized by Tom Robinson in Sandinos Bar, alongside fellow purveyors of great music Best Boy Grip & Ryan Vail. Because of the size of the venue, they were playing a stripped-down acoustic set, which given their rather rocky sound on record, seemed like an odd decision. Nonetheless, the band put in a great performance, and just showed how much potential this young band have, and showed that even when stripped down to the bare bones, they sure know how to write a decent song.

One of the songs they performed on the night was "Don't Judge", which the band have now released as their latest single, with some visual accompaniment. The song is a short sharp tune about youthful defiance, as the band put up two fingers to those who have preconceived notions of people just because of their age. It's another strong track in The Clameens' arsenal.

"Don't Judge" is available to purchase now.

Album Review: Shonen Knife - Overdrive

It's been two years after Japanese trio Shonen Knife released "Pop Tune", showing that more than 30 years into their career, they still have the knack for crafting crackingly good pop-punk tunes. Now in 2014, the band give us "Overdrive", their 20th release in all. This time around, the band have expressed their desire to pay homage to 70s hard rock, and as such the album takes a back-to-basics approach, with no computers or keyboards in play, just guitars, bass, drums and vocals. So does this mean that this isn't a typical Shonen Knife album?

Thankfully, the answer is no. The tone may be different, but this is still the same band that we have come to know and love. The album kicks off with "Bad Luck Song", a song that owes a certain debt to Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town", yet has a playful tone to it as lead singer Naoko wonders if songs that are supposed to be bad luck actually might be the opposite. Next up is "Black Crow", and a rock song title like that, you might imagine that the titular crow might be a harbinger of doom, or a metaphor for the destructive habits of mankind. But no, the worst thing this bird does is keep Naoko from falling asleep.

Shonen Knife have been known to write songs around two main things - food and cute animals, and unlike "Pop Tune", this album has plenty of songs about both. "Ramen Rock" sees bassist Ritsuko tell of her love of post-gig noodles, "Fortune Cookie" is about the titular biscuit and their precognitive powers, whilst the best of the food trilogy is "Green Tea". The song features one of the most memorable, bad ass ascending/descending guitar riffs on the album, as drummer Emi sings about all the food she loves that contain green tea, including ice-cream, cookies and chocolate.

On the animal front, we have "Like A Cat", a great little song in which Naoko imagines what it's like being a feline. There aren't many bands that can get away with lyrics like "Meow meow meow, spend your days like a cat", but it is a testament to the charm of Shonen Knife that we love them all the more for it.

"Overdrive" may be Shonen Knife's version of a heavy-rock record, but at its heart, it is still a Shonen Knife album - full of all the fun, silliness and good times beneath its sludgier veneer that one comes to expect from the trio. It might not be as strong an album as its immediate predecessor "Pop Tune", but it still a worthy addition to the band's catalogue.

Released: 14th April 2014

Highlights: "Bad Luck Song", "Shopping", "Green Tea"