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Astral Project announce new single Athena

It’s not long now until the release of the debut single Athena from Manchester psych rock band Astral Project. The band have noticeably been working hard on this and are excited to finally let us have at it. it will be available to us all on Monday 14 August on iTunes and Spotify.

The band consists of Abbi Parcell on vocals; Scott Woodcock on guitar; Jack Biggs on drums; Emma Rosson on bass; and Sophie Erasmus playing the Keyboard. They formed almost a year ago with Scott and Jack knowing each other from a previous band.

A few of their influences being Sonic Youth, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Mazzy Star and The Who, you really get a feel of that as soon as the fuzzy opening guitar riff fires in. The song gets straight to the point and you can certainly hear distinctive aspects from each of their influences and it’s all combined flawlessly.

With a catchy, hard-hitting drum beat and swirling guitar leads, there comes Abbi’s raucous vocals which immediately make me think of Band of Skulls’ Emma Richardson mixed with a little bit of Tess Parks. They have said themselves that the song is a flashback to 60s rock, and that if Jefferson Airplane and The Who had a love child, they’d be the result – and you can definitely sense that.

They recorded the single at Hope Mill Studios in Manchester, and within just two days they had recorded and mixed the whole thing – Jack states it was done on a “wave of euphoria”.

Towards the end of the song, after building and building – the tempo swiftly changes and creates a much calmer and somewhat hypnotic atmosphere. The song as a whole is upbeat yet mellow at the same because of the laidback guitar rhythm alongside Abbi’s strong vocal delivery. They carry a very intriguing sound and I’m interested to see what else they have to offer in the near future.

Astral Project will be playing Night & Day Café in Manchester on 19 August to celebrate the release and you can buy tickets here.

Review by Sharna Barber.

 

Linkin Park vocalist: Chester Bennington reported dead.

Absolute devastating news about Chester Bennington, the late frontman of one of the most influential rock bands of the 2000’s; Linkin Park.

As a generation, we have lost a music inspiration and spokesman. The singer has been reported to having sadly committed suicide by hanging himself. At only 41 years young, the news has shocked many.

Chester Bennington influenced many people with his performance as frontman of Linkin Park and is a huge name to remember within the music industry.

Fans are in bits. His voice has and always will be a talent in which cannot be replaced. Emphasising pain, anger, politics and underground punk, Linkin Park were an incredibly influential and loved band.

Understandably, this news has had a real, traumatic impact on his fans, his band and his friends and family.

I place respect to the rest of the band members in Linkin Park, for they have lost a music genius. And big love to the family he has created and to his own.

Chester Bennington: A man with many talents, who sadly died on the 20th July, 2017, due to struggling majorly with his mental health.

We at UCA want to reassure you that you’re not alone. For those who are battling with anxiety, depression, or more, you can contact this helpline if you ever need to speak to anyone:

1-800-273-82550. #You’renotalone.

“Linkin Park was the soundtrack to our teenage years, very sad.”- Jordan Fann

 

“RIP Chester Bennington. Actually can’t believe it. My thoughts are with his friends and family. Absolute icon, you’ll certainly be missed.”- Kelly Ronaldson

 

Top 10 must-see acts at Electric Castle Festival 2017!

Electric Castle is a five day Festival in Romania, inside the walls of a 15th Century castle. Encouraging great music, great food and booze from prices as low as just $2. Summarising what you can imagine to be a great summer atmosphere.

Each year the Festival announces a handful of some of the best acts. This year the line up includes a of variety of music genres from some of the most must-see artists.

Starting on Wednesday 12th-16th July, the 24 hour music policy Festival is destined to give you a great experience.

Furthermore, here are the TOP 10 ACTS NOT TO MISS at this year’s Electric Castle Festival:

  1. Deadmau5: Deadmau5 will be headlining the festival, bringing to you a collaboration of urban house tracks that you just simply cannot miss.
  2. Slaves: Kent based duet, Slaves, are a charismatic act full of everlasting energy and are certain to give you that ‘feel good’ adrenaline rush for your upcoming weekend.
  3. Alt- J: Originally formed in Leeds, the indie trio have gone from strength to strength. Dabbling in indie rock and folk, the sweet Alt-J are definitely ones to see at this year’s Electric Castle Festival.
  4. Franz Ferdinand: Scottish four-piece Franz Ferdinand, are a indie pop group who in 2004 published their earworm track ‘Take Me Out.’
  5. House Of Pain: Hip Hop legends House of Pain, are back in the music scene and will be making an appearance  at Electric Castle this year.
  6. Duke Demont: Duke Demont, another house inspired DJ that you can’t miss at Electric Castle Festival this year. In 2013 he released ‘Need You 100%’ which reached over 150 thousand likes on YouTube. He has since released a number of house bangers.
  7. Eats Everything: Showcasing fun, psychedelic dance music, Eats Everything are at the forefront of transcendent beats and are definitely an act you want to see at Electric Castle this year.
  8. Zedd: Solo musician, Zedd, will be kicking off  day one at Electric Castle alongside Slaves, Moderat and many more. Playing his set at the main stage at 12:30am.
  9. DJ Sneak: In the words of DJ Sneak he is happy to present you with heavy “house music all night long!”
  10. Nero: Finishing off with Nero. Those in which are Famously known for their futuristic and unique music videos and are essentially the heart of dubstep. If you’re like myself and are a fan of electronic or drum and bass then Nero are 100% a must-see act for you this year at Electric Castle.

 

Make sure to like/ follow the Festival on social media:

Electric Castle Festival Facebook

Electric Castle Festival Twitter

Electric Castle Festival Instagram

Words by Laviea Thomas

 

CHARLI XCX – NUMBER 1 ANGEL (MIXTAPE REVIEW)

Since her mainstream breakthrough in 2013 Charli XCX has quickly become one of the most interesting British pop stars of the decade. The last 12 months have been a new era for XCX her infamous Vroom Vroom EP resulted in her stealing the title of PC Music’s poster girl from Hannah Diamond.

But unlike Diamond Charli XCX is no angel regardless of what this mixtape’s title might suggest. Despite the list of Producers working on this project including Life Sim, Danny L Harle, Easyfun, SOPHIE and A.G Cook, Number 1 Angel doesn’t sound like a typical PC Music project. In fact this record takes a lot more from the quirky style of Trap that artists like Lil Yachty have been splitting critics with. Charli’s voice is sugar coated in glossy autotune on tracks like Blame it On You and Drugs, which compliments her singing style as she sounds like she may have been listening to Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert whilst recording this project. It’s no surprise that the most interesting instrumentals here are provided by SOPHIE, the track Roll With Me contains one of the most infectious dance beats he’s ever produced whilst Charli’s vocal cuts through the high pitch synths resulting in electro pop perfection. This song is held together by a powerful 808 bass and is sprinkled with SOPHIE’s trade mark squeaking and screeching noises which could prevent this song from having any chart success.

The closer Lipgloss is also a highlight with a vocal hook that only the most conservative music fans wouldn’t want to sing along to and Cupcake’s adds some hilarious verses with sexual innuendos about Whinie The Pooh and Flavor Flav. On the track Emotional Charli sounds at her most vulnerable delivering a Bjork esc chorus. The track ILY2 is a much needed 2000s throwback track with Charli bringing a vocal hook that could have come from Avril Levine at the peak of her popularity, but this kind of melody on top of a Danny L Harle Production is a genius move. Even though she shows her softer side Number 1 Angel is still dominated by Charli’s powerful and boastful lyrical themes and delivery the opening line of the record being “I’m a Dreamer step step out the Beemer”. Maybe on this record she is not as ferocious as she was on the Vroom Vroom EP, but her more down to earth persona here is a much welcome change for Charli. Moments like Babygirl and 3am wouldn’t sound out of place on a Carly Rae Jepsen record which is possibly the biggest compliment you could give in a pop review.

The truth is you’re probably not going to hear a better pop album this year it’s a perfect blend of fun and obscurity and it’s the best thing XCX has released thus far.

(Written by Aimee Armstrong)

 

[LIVE REVIEW] THOUGHT FORMS AT LEVEL 3

Slap bang in the middle of Melksham’s post-rock titans Thought Forms’ UK tour, a stop on the winding road at Swindon’s Level 3 proved to be and incredible and breath taking evening of power and sound.

The evening was opened by The Hound on The Mountain, a solo project in the process of becoming a full live band, featuring Jack Moore on drums, delivered an outlandish alternative rock sound with an abundance of style. The carefully constructed songs navigated through sounds reminiscent of Jack White and Talking Heads. It delivered a taste of something that was new, raw and undoubtedly different.

Now it was time for the main event, the moment that the 50 strong crowd had been waiting for. From the moment that the first chord was hit, Thought Forms were a powerhouse, delivering a wall of sound that gave the audience a euphoric and captivating feeling. They were locked in a tornado of sonic splendour, while the band danced around the stage as if they were possessed. They were a tight nit unit, doing their jobs perfectly.

At times you would lose yourself in a trance of sonic waves and occasionally forget where you where because everything was perfectly timed it felt like you were listening to the songs on record. Songs like Landing, Forget my name and the final song Burn Me Clean standing out as some of the most powerful moments of the evening, not to mention Ghost Mountain You and Me which was a hypnotizing display of the ability, passion and craftsmanship of Thought Forms. The band stand out as a group that pour their heart and souls in their work and everyone who sees them live will knows that a Thought Forms gig is more than a gig, it’s an experience.

Words by Rob Mckelvey

[FEATURE] FROM HYPE WILLIAMS TO BABYFATHER: THE FORM DEFYING ART OF DEAN BLUNT

It must have been frustrating following the career of Hype Williams. With memory of life prior to the internet feeling increasingly foggy, any fact which isn’t a quick Wiki search away begins to be treated with the utmost contempt. How dare you not divulge accurate information? What do you mean you’ve joined the nation of Islam? How the fuck did you both meet watching Oasis at Knebworth?

Details of the project’s inception are shrouded in mystery; supposedly an art relay project, each incarnation taking hold of the helm for five years. This particular manifestation was domineered by the elusive artists Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland, although neither of those names turned out to be genuine. To this day the backgrounds of both artists remain relatively unknown, with just fragments of dubious claims emerging – such as Dean Blunt actually being an ex-boxer.

The music itself became notorious for its post-modern bricolage; steeped in irony, with the line between fact and fiction, sample and composition, utterly blurred. Loosely associated with the post-hypnagogic underground, Hype Williams filtered the history of electronic music, movie dialogue, and long forgotten pop through a stubbornly lo-fi, crackled facade, adding dub dynamics and pitch shifted vocal trickery. The sound – like their persona – consistently evaded clarity, revelling in the distortion of perception. As Chal Raven noted whilst writing for Dummy back in 2012, “No amount of quasi-academic scrutiny can reveal the “answers” to Hype Williams. The music is its own armour.”

It’s a curious contradiction; the elusive nature of Hype Williams seemed to run against a vital internet mantra – ‘share everything’ – yet conversely, so much of the groups identity seemed utterly dependent upon digital culture. From crediting the artwork of their album Black Is Beautiful to Danny Dyer, to releasing an output of such gargantuan size that it would put Mark E Smith to shame. This hyper exposure to culture – as well as a hyper production of their own – makes them a quintessential embodiment of the digital avant-garde. With an over-saturation of music within our daily lives, what unavoidably emerges is a state of demystification. In the case of Hype Williams, the duo managed to re-achieve a sense of mystique through relentless dishonesty.

Prior to the release of their two most widely available albums – under the Hype Williams moniker – the duo had already forged one of the most potent articulations of their sound. 2010’s Untitled comes across as if it were formed from an impromptu jam session, the track Untitled 4 building steadily around a central trudging drum procession, with a seasick drone growing increasingly erratic. Meanwhile the albums opener, Untitled 1, miraculously achieves a kind of vitally modern, ambient pyschedelia; an ambience that stems from the manic bombardment of endless information.

They followed Untitled with two more full lengths as Hype Williams, though neither were truly able to achieve a similarly bizarre concoction. Both 2010s What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, and Star Gettin’ Real and 2011s One Nation felt largely lost within a foggy miasma, unable to take a truly worthwhile form. In 2012 However, the duo released the album Black is Beautiful, under the names Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland. Though Black is Beautiful shares much of the woozy demo-esque sound that defined both One Nation and What Happens When…, where the album differs is its altogether bolder feel. The project in no way harnesses or tames the ardent experimentalism, but manages to make it all the more impressionable. The misshapen, battered footwork of 12; the garbled flow of 9, which sits atop a kaleidoscopic Casio jam, sounding simultaneously cheap and cosmic; or the LCD laced digi-dub of 10, with Copeland seemingly attempting a ritualistic incantation, whilst wildly mutating synths screech and wheeze in the background. 

Black is Beautiful marked the dissolution of Hype Williams, and the emergence of Dean Blunt as solo auteur. On his mixtape The Narcissist – later re-released as The Narcissist II, with alterations on the tracks – Blunt’s baritone first truly emerges, largely becoming the musics foreground. The Narcissist II and his 2013 debut album, The Redeemer, offer dual perspectives on the same destructive relationship; one in the midst of the carnage (Narcissist) whilst the other delivers some form of reflection (Redeemer).
Both The Narcissist II and The Redeemer have been compared to a play or soap opera, with The Narcissist II being flat out cinematic – journo cliche, I know. It provides a voyeuristic scurrying through various dimly lit city flats, conjuring images of couples bellowing at each other, whilst lower floor neighbours screech in dismay at chaos unfolding above. The music of The Narcissist II is a sludging, beaten ‘n’ bruised R&B. A kind of knackered soul persists, the genre worn thin and drained of euphoria, a narcotic induced hysteria taking its place. Documenting the bitter demise of a relationship, The Narcissist II is relentlessly pessimistic. A dour, rain drenched account of modern romance, identifying the point at which extreme passion teeters over towards acts of jealous violence. Despite the turmoil and anguish seeping out of each faulty synth stab and shattered vocal, in the title track we find a song destined to achieve classic status. The devastating interplay between Copeland and Blunt; its melodicism submerged in an ocean of tape hiss; a symphony of sirens ebbing in and out of this deeply unflattering private affair.
The Redeemer may very way be Blunt’s greatest achievement to date – an album spoken of in hushed tones among certain circles. Throughout, Blunt deceptively adopts the role of dishevelled crooner. A semi-competent mimicry of the heartbroken troubadour, his voice overreaching and cracking at regular intervals, it being impossible to discern between yet another sly divergent tactic and feelings of genuine heartache. The Redeemer may toy with the confessional singer songwriter archetype, but its fragmented – wholly disjointed – narrative stubbornly evades any cliches associated with “the breakup album”, able to inject absurdist humour within deep spats of lethargic depression.
Despite The Redeemer’s title – obviously suggesting a shift in morals or desire for personal growth – surface level perception has never really been at the height of Dean’s goals. There are unavoidable questions that demand positing. Is this relationship genuine? If so, what about his account? Blunt is as much playing with the form (breakup/emotionally redemptive album) as he is attempting to find emotional catharsis through his art. The Redeemer – though equally open to melodrama – is a more solemn affair than The Narcissist II, the instrumentation stripped bare, Blunt’s voice withering to a hazy drool.
 
Sonically the instrumentation deceptively mimics the more confessional tone, with fake midi strings sitting across various samples, Joanna Robertson adding finger picked guitar work – all building up these seemingly more honest songwriting tropes. What is perhaps most endearing about the project is its scope and ambition relative to its actual technical ability and resources. The desire to say something grand or epic, despite not having the tools at hand – which an acclaimed/famous composer would have access to. This also comes across on the accompanying mixtape/album Stone Island, a release supposedly made entirely in a Russian hotel room. The most breathtaking example would be on track 6, which samples an iconic portion of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, adding almost absurd levels of drama to Blunt’s forlorn narrative.
Despite the acclaim Blunt had achieved by this point, he was dismayed to discover the reach of his art. “I made this stuff so black people would be impressed”, he confided to The Wire, “I didn’t know white people were gonna get in on it. But it’s mostly a bunch of sexless guys that buy my records.” The subject of race has always been a crucial aspect to Dean’s art, but on both 2014’s Black Metal and his work as Babyfather, it became its most prominent topic.
Black Metal was themed around the black appropriation of dead white tropes, with Blunt believing this to be a regressive act, as those who are truly radical should venture into something new and undefined. It may then seem odd to discover that the albums first half is comprised of nothing but white tropes – musically anyway. Chiming, sun-kissed indie; rustic folk explorations; Blunt continuing to develop the string laden balladeer persona; its only when we arrive at the mid section when we start to delve further into genres like dub or hip-hop – although even then they’re given titles like Punk or Country. In regards to his decision behind all this, well… as always with Dean, its difficult to decipher within interviews whether he’s providing helpful context or further blurring the picture. What the album does do is bring in to question a number of key issues young black artists face, issues to do with wider appropriation and pressures to assimilate rather than investigate your own culture. But unlike a thinkpiece or social realist art piece, the album isn’t simply providing a straightforward critique of real world issues, rather exploring these themes in an engulfing surreal environment.
The last two years have found Blunt drifting towards a far more overtly hip hop sound, coming into full fruition on 2016’s “BBF” Hosted By DJ Escrow. More pirate radio transmission than album; mixtape-like in it’s fluctuation in sound; grime beats sit side by side with brutalist noisescapes, whose layers of corrosive static leave a molten mess in their wake. The utterances of DJ Escrow give shards of narrative, a hopeful MC worn down the pressures of inner city life; meanwhile Blunt’s detached flow reveals a thinly veiled rage. The near instrumental Deep – with production aid from Arca – threatens an inevitable combustion; lysergic synths wail, replicating a woozy bent out of shape string section; an oppressive atmosphere, Escrow intersecting with desperate lines, doom laden utterances, a claustrophobic insistence that he’s “in too deep.” His most politically engaged, radical release, “BBF” was considered a novelty endeavour by some; understandable given his reputation as a prankster, but there’s a crucial lesson to be learnt with Blunt… he might sometimes be taking things seriously.
Words by Eden Tizard

BEACH FOSSILS ANNOUNCE FIRST ALBUM IN 4 YEARS WITH NEW SINGLE ‘THIS YEAR’

Brooklyn’s premier C86-cum-dream pop revivalists Beach Fossils have announced their first album since 2013’s Clash The Truth with a brand new single by the name of This Year.

The album ‘Somersault’ will be their first after a lengthy break, and their first for Bayonet Records, a label started by the band’s frontman Dustin Payseur.

Of the single, dream pop kingpin Payseur said “This Year” is about facing mistakes you’ve made, aiming to work on it and better yourself, but ending up making the same mistakes again. It’s kind of an endless loop. People always aim to make New Year’s resolutions, get a fresh start, but ultimately fall back into these old bad habits.”

The nostalgic tone of the jangle-pop gutars is certainly reflective of this, but the album promises a diverse range of “immersive soundscapes” contrasted with “bright guitars”, and will even feature an appearance from Rachel Goswell, the frontwoman of shoegazing goliaths Slowdive.

Somersault is out June 2nd via Bayonet Records

(Written by Cal Cashin)

[ALBUM REVIEW] SLEAFORD MODS – ENGLISH TAPAS

Regardless of your political stance it’s indisputable that we are living in dark and dangerous times. With rise of the alt-right, England leaving the EU and of course the election of Donald Trump you could be forgiven for wanting a good cry. With the seismic shift of the political tectonic plates however there comes emergences in the form of musical brilliance and Sleaford Mods are the mother of all volcanoes. Since 2013 vocalist Jason Williamson and producer/pint holder Andrew Fearn have produced molten hot electro-punk hits.

2017 sees the release of their fourth album English Tapas and if you thought there was a chance they might have mellowed you’d be very, very wrong. Opener Army Nights it’s very much Mods by numbers but it has it’s gems “They call me Dyson I fucking clean up”. Over a drum machine and a thudding bass line, it’s not a particularly dangerous start but it’s an assured one.

The bitter wit follows on Just Like We Do, it opens with Williams mocking pretentious music fans and mumbling about music recorded in the “black forests of Germany”. As Sleaford Mods first post-Brexit record it’d be rude for them to not acknowledge it and they do “Scratching my head as the people burn for what they wanted” sings Williams on Snout.

Nobody is safe from Williams laser sharp deconstruction of them, on Dull he takes aim at NME “Try scrolling down a website, the NME, without laughing, I’ll give you ten quid if you can keep a straight face, Honestly, just fucking try it, mate”. On BHS Williams kicks it up a gear and this time his eyes are fixed on the company’s owner Philip Green. “We’re goin down like BHS while the able bodied vultures monitor and pick at us” sings Williams.

Musically English Tapas can be a bit of a labour of love, Sleaford Mods are sadly victims of their own success and the simplicity that makes them so brilliant also leaves them a bit stuck. It does feel like the Mods are running out of ideas on this album but if you can see past that and appreciate the lyrics that are as brutal as ever then you can take something from this record. There’s no shortage of twats in the world and whilst they exist the Mods will call them out on it like nobody else can.

(Written by Jack Winstanley)

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