Archive | January, 2014

JULY CHILD – Contagious Summer Sounds

31 Jan

Do you remember the first time you heard The XX’s debut album? There was something so effortlessly cool about it. It wasn’t so much about what The XX tried to do, but more about what they left out that made it so special. It was minimalistic, and purposely quiet, but at the same time it was contagious and demanded your attention. Fancy experiencing that all over again?  Enter July Child’ – The North London duo have already released three single tracks, and are set to release their debut album later this year.

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(Photography by Chris Hoare)

Amber Clara, and Kiyon Samavat have not followed the generic, and often false path into the music industry. This is a grass roots project, and all songs are produced and recorded through their own music label – Paper Thin Records Ltd. July Child are all about hard work, and most importantly they are about creating a sound which means something to the both of them. They romanticise some of the most important human emotions, and experiences, through their own delicate and vulnerable lyrics.

The first release, ‘Liquid Form’, for example, is about letting your guard down to someone special and not holding back – ‘with a guard so low, my heart releases’. Amber Clara sings the haunting lyrics, whilst they sit upon a mid-tempo electronic backing track, composed by Kiyon Samavat. ‘Liquid Form’ encapsulates why Kiyon and Amber work so well as a duo. The song identifies the individuality of both the artists, yet exemplifies how their sounds complement one and other.

 Their second release, ‘Electric Chair’, is a stripped back acoustic single. The exposed approach corresponds perfectly to the pain that is behind the song – ‘be my electric chair, hold me down, and burn me to the ground’. Like the great Stevie Nicks, Amber Clara’s voice is able to depict the pain and helplessness felt from within the emotion of this song. Kiyon keeps the backing track to a minimal, allowing all ears to rest upon her effortless vocals.

Sometimes the true genius and originality of a band is tested the most when they attempt to do a cover. It is at this point they allow themselves to have a comparison, and this very quickly opens the flood gates to critical opinion. However, July Child’s cover release of dance hit Le Youth – ‘Cool’ has proven to be a huge success. So much so, even Le Youth himself sent them his approval via Twitter. With the number of plays continuing to rapidly grow on Soundcloud, July Child’s latest track is proving why they are the epitome of everything that is exactly how they sing it, Cool’.

These three tracks are only a small taster for what is to come from July Child. Their fans will now have to patiently await the arrival of their debut album. In the meantime, Amber and Kiyon will be preparing for live sessions, as well as working hard on even more material. Keep posted on all things July Child via their Twitter page

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(Design: Craig Black)

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New Music Court Writer – Katy Huke

31 Jan

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The Music Court continues to expand. We stay on the other side of the pond for new writer, Katy Huke! Keep an eye out for his first post … right now! Please help me welcome Katy!

I graduated with a degree in journalism and history from the University of the West of England in the summer of 2012, and have since been working as a PA. However, my real passion is music, listening to it, writing about, and talking to the people who make it happen. I will not close my ears off to any type of genre, because each one provokes a different emotion and feeling, however, my preferences are in the blues, and reggae. I was born and raised in London, and am grateful to be in a city which plays host to some of the most special music venues. I constantly attend gigs, and festivals – It is all I think about, and the only thing that get’s me through each day. 

 

 

Best Performance at the Grammys 2014

27 Jan

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While I’ve made my thoughts about the Grammy Awards clear before, I did happen to catch most of the show last night while I did some work, and, unlike in year’s past, the show actually sustained my attention and did not make me apoplectic. The big winners of the night were Daft Punk, Lorde, and Macklemore + Ryan Lewis, and I was perfectly fine with those artists cleaning house. Why? Musical aptitude. Simply, they are all talented, and I am a sucker for when musicians with actual talent are provided with awards – unfortunately, this is not usually the case. But enough about the awards. While the Grammys is an awards show (it is right there in the name), we all know that people tune in to see the eclectic pairings of music superstars perform to a crowd of awkward Taylor Swift, old Yoko Ono shoulder dances, robots, and Sir Paul. And while I was a bit angry that the Grammys did not have a performance tribute to Lou Reed – one of the most important musical figures in the rock era – most of the performances were on target. Of all the unique performances of the night, my choice for best moment may surprise some of you.

Was I the only one who though Metallica and Lang Lang absolutely killed it? “One” is a pretty sick song, and it does feature  one of the greatest breakdowns in metal history. The addition of Lang Lang’s frenetic concert piano added an odd and appealing element to the piece, and the solo exchange was on target and such a pleasure to listen to. Perhaps the performance was my favorite just because it was so darn heavy. The award show (which ended late) had been dragging on a bit, and Metallica woke every viewer (and audience member) up with this performance.

Ryan Martin is NOT a Hard Man to Love

20 Jan

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Ryan Martin is a musician’s musician. Originally from Los Gatos, California, Martin, a soulful singer-songwriter, moved to New York City and since the move has done everything possible to keep climbing the mountain to reach the musical zenith. Music is often viewed from the rose-colored glasses of the listener. We don’t realize how assiduous and indefatigable musicians need to be to get by in the industry. To succeed – well – it often seems impossible.

But when you have the ability you just know that you must stick at it and do what is necessary to drive yourself forward. It is the one instance of artistic intransigence that is essential. Martin has worked as, “a former pipe salesman, doorman at a tourist bar on Bleecker Street, mover of furniture, bar-back at a debauched Chelsea bar, campaigner for impoverished children, and cash register operator at Trader Joe’s” (Facebook page). He has slept on couches and in his car … until he had to sell it. All of this led up to his debut release – For All the Beautiful Losers – and the tireless effort put into getting to this point seems well worth it.

The album features a dozen delectable tracks that feature sincere depth, wayworn lyrics, and Martin’s gravelly, southern soul vocal. The music plays with several elements – combining the sultry sound of summery country with deep soul and eclectic piano. It is euphoniously complex. I enjoy music that hits you at all different angles, and Martin’s tunes do that.

“Hard Man to Love” lays down a concise rhythm over an effervescent keyboard. The track moves like an Amos Lee piece, slow but sure. The pre-verse guitar riffs are keen. The vocal is tight. There is some swooning country. There is a taste of sweet harmonica. The song is just so rich. And, if you hadn’t had enough, Martin employs a falsetto and strings to end the piece. Very impressive.

“Little Tramp” is just as complex as “Hard Man to Love.” Martin interweaves horns and guitar effortlessly, but still maintains this country-esque feel – almost like a Jay Nash piece. The music is just so enjoyable to listen to. You want to put the piece on repeat. Heck, there is even a little Springsteen in this ditty. Well done!

Track Martin’s work on his Facebook or Twitter. Check out the album on Bandcamp.

Headphones, Poplar Trees, and Adam Brock

13 Jan

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In the liner notes of his summer 2013 EP, Adam Brock writes “Everyone finds solace in song, regardless of age and circumstance. I hope this music serves that purpose for some.” Keen statement from the young musician from Oregon. Brock, a multi-instrumentalist with a sensational ear for melody, is the best kept secret in the Pacific Northwest. Heck, he may be the best kept secret along the entire Western coastline. With a whispery vocal that he skillfully layers to the euphonious instruments that he plays, Brock is the sweetest sound in Indie that you are not listening to … but will be soon.

I know I lay down a lot of praise on this blog, but I know when I should particularly highlight an artist. Brock is that artist. He is also humble and unassuming, which is a major plus in my eyes. This is a dude who not only knows music but also puts time and effort into perfecting the intricacies of his tunes. His small selection of music from last year was quite impressive, and it is all available on his Bandcamp for free, so I totally suggest checking it out.

“Poplar Trees” is from his 3-track release in January of last year. The first 30 seconds are a bit deceiving because Brock immediately provides this mystical vocal track that sounds like other Pacific Northwest bands like Fleet Foxes. This, of course, is not a bad thing, for I am a bigger fan of folk harmonies than most, but it is not Brock’s predominant sound. The consequent electric percussion and keys is more of Brock’s scene, and oh my does he sound like a young Death Cab for Cutie, does he not? The early 2000s Indie Pop bleeds from the song. Then, the bottom falls out of it and the song is carried by a halcyon picked guitar and Brock’s sweet voice. It is as the ultimate blend, and it is done masterfully.

“Headphones,” released in June, also maintains that Ben Gibbard sound (almost a minimalistic Postal Service). There is also some Bright Eyes and the Shins thrown in for good measure. Brock knows what he is doing. In this piece he even adds a Velvet Underground-like string section (cello, viola, violin). Honestly (and why would I lie), Brock’s music is excellent. He displays ability far beyond his years. There is only one question I can ask: why is he not touring the U.S.? Let’s make Adam Brock more known.

Check out his Facebook and Website.

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