Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Reviews Part 2

Click artist names to link back to site;
click song titles to hear the semi-plagiarism on Spotify

Midas Fall - Eleven, Return And Revert

Edinburgh-based quintet Midas Fall are out to impress on their debut LP, with their brand of ethereal alt-prog rock.

The quintet rely heavily on Elizabeth Heaton’s lead vocals, working their instruments around her range to create a sonically tight swell into dream-like soundscapes. There is definitely something ‘late 1990s’ about this LP, which may make it difficult for the band to prove that they are contemporary and current enough to appeal to those who just missed the birth of '90s alt-rock, but that all remains to be seen.

Throughout the record Heaton’s classical-sounding vocal falls somewhere between Amy Lee of Evanescence and a sort of British Shakira, thick with the O-shaped tone hammered into the minds of classically trained singers. This perhaps lets down the band at times when a more textured voice would lead them well - if she cooed more like Emily Haines of Metric, for example, this record could soar further. The richness of arrangement on tracks like ‘My Radio Star’, introspective ‘17’ and ‘Bright Lights Will Harm No-One’ still demonstrates the band’s abilities well.

Ignoring the niggling sense that this record should have come out twelve years ago and the riff-robbery on ‘Nautical Song’ (A Perfect Circle are no doubt waiting for their cheque in the mail, courtesy of ‘The Package’), this is still a strong debut. It’s not spectacular, but if atmospheric and murkily dark is what you’re after, this will please.

3 out of 5 stars
Released 26th April 2010 on Monotreme Records

The Futureheads - The Chaos

And so the Sunderland boys are back. With two shaky albums under their belts following their eponymous debut, they seem to have decided to strip back to their raucous roots and dish out something with a sense of recklessness and wild abandon.

Released on their own label, ‘The Chaos’ seems out to reclaim the independence they lost while signed to a major. They’re not only addressing political issues of instability and confusion, but scaling up their sound so it lands a harder blow on the ear.

The band hammer out their typically short songs, venturing only as far as the four-minute mark in most cases. And lest we forget, these guys were reviving the use of barbershop-style four-part harmonies before any of the Mumford & Sons/Local Natives/Fleet Foxes crowd sank their teeth into them in the mainstream. They’re still sounding as tight as ever, pounding the point home on title track ‘The Chaos’ as well as ‘Heartbeat Song’ and ‘The Connector’. Perhaps energy slackens and the album starts to lag into its closing quarter, but it’s hard to argue they’ve not put the effort into arranging an LP that is honest and reflects a greater level of artistic freedom.

Some attempts at creating a rough-round-the-edges punk sound are at times rendered redundant by the high standard of post-production on the record, but the sentiment remains. Without it, this record probably would never have been made.

4 out of 5 stars
Released 26th April on Nul Records

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