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Month: January 2007

2007: Time to Bring in the New Guns!

2007: Time to Bring in the New Guns!

From my perspective, 2006 was a great year for music. It gave us the instant classic You See Colours by UK band the Delays and saw the return of many of my favorite bands with killer follow-up releases. And, best of all, 2007 may just end up trumping the entire year. In addition to an upcoming release by my favorite band in the world (The Ark… check them out, I beg of you), there are many other albums and bands to look out for. Recently on my blog I highlighted my top ten new artists to watch this year. I have high hopes for all, yet I really have faith that my top three are unstoppable. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you will soon.

1. Mika (UK)
No other artist on this list is quite as exciting as Mika. I seriously believe that he could become the biggest star the world has seen for quite sometime. All seven of the songs I’ve heard so far are of equal greatness. The guy just oozes with charisma and that impossible-to-describe x-factor. Judging from the Mika hype around the web, he’ll have no problem garnering a vast army of fans. Honestly, I’ll wish the guy good luck, but I don’t think he’ll need it. He’s one of the contenders for 2007 album of the year before he’s even released it.
Best Track(s): “Love Today” / “Relax, Take It Easy”

2. Alphabeat (Denmark)
Alphabeat’s debut song, “Fascination,” may be the most joyful piece of music I heard in 2006. From its incredible success so far in Denmark, it’s pretty much a given that these guys will be huge when their full-length is released. A second song, “10,000 Nights of Thunder,” proves that they’ve got ample material to follow up “Fascination.” If they can keep this going, their success will spread outside Scandinavia with ease. Definitely one of my most anticipated albums of 2007.

Best Track: “Fascination”

3. Lucky Soul (UK)
Upon hearing “Lips Are Unhappy” for the first time, I knew that this band was one to watch for 2007. It’s the kind of song that’s impossible to dislike, and with a voice like Ali Howard’s, there’s no way Lucky Soul can fail. Their sound (think Cardigans-brand pop/rock mixed with influences of Motown) is completely different and refreshing and should win them fan after fan next year. I foresee them becoming absolutely massive.
Best Track: “Lips Are Unhappy”

– Nick James

JamesN65@gmail.com

After the Sirens-What I Have to Give, Let it Be Enough

afterthesirensBand Name: After the Sirens

Album Name: What I Have to Give, Let it Be Enough

Best Element: A rare gem

Genre: Post-Hardcore

Website: http://www.afterthesirens.com

Label Name: Blue Duck Records

Band E-mail: sirens@afterthesirens.com

After the Sirens’ What I Have to Give, Let it Be Enough is a rare gem in the post-hardcore genre. From start to finish, this is an album that is polished to perfection, both in musicianship and production quality.

First and foremost, the music is absolutely stunning. Frontman Ryan Heidorn has a smooth, emotional vocal quality that just takes your breath away with its sensitive soul. The music is intricately written, beautiful and soothing all at the same time. And then there are the lyrics.

What I Have to Give, Let it Be Enough is so eloquently written that there is not a bad song to be found. Each song is a brilliantly written, moving, and thought-provoking poem that just tugs at your heartstrings and won’t let you go. It brings you into the moment, and then gently transitions you into the next one, keeping you captivated from song to song, until gently letting you go at the end.

With this album, After the Sirens has created a genuine masterpiece that is not to be missed.

-Andrea Caruso

Sunshine131@gmail.com

80th Disorder-Transform EP

80thdisorderBand Name: 80th Disorder

Album Name: Transform EP

Best Element: The title track’s unbelievable catchiness.

Genre: Synth-Wave / New-Wave

Website: http://www.myspace.com/80thdisorder, http://www.80thdisorder.com

Label Name: Melotrik

Band Email: vesku@melotrik.com

Born of the same lineage that produced Ultravox, Joy Division, and Depeche Mode, Finland’s 80th Disorder offers a new voice to new-wave’s spin-off synth-wave movement. The four-song E.P. Transform witnesses its namesake: change. At four tracks, one would expect a tightly unified sound, but 80th Disorder opens a window on the variety synth-wave’s critics often beleaguer it for not displaying. This is good… this is very good. In a genre where many bands seem to be a re-casting of three or four immediately preceding it, 80th Disorder is willing to test out its own sound techniques while still relying heavily on the genre’s roots.

The Finnish quartet toys with vocal samples in “Transform” and “Sympathy One.” These are mixed low enough to create interest, but high enough not to be overwhelmed by the dueling synthesizers and guitars. They close out “Desolate Journey” with a bit-crunched implosion that subsides with the low rumble of a rocket prior to take-off, before ending it with a television-zap.

Vesa-Matti Pekkola’s voice hovers across the mix with a resonant and drawn-out tone. At times Pekkola nearly speaks his lines—a la Ian Curtis in “Love Will Tear Us Apart”—though he is at his best when he carries across a phrase (witness: the closing lines of “Death in Venice”). At times the reverb used on the recording detracts from his tones, but overall it’s not a serious issue.

The album’s title track—“Transform”—fades in from a cymbal and ambient synthesizer to a calling guitar laced over a simple high-hat and kick-drum beat, dropping to the trademark rich-toned bass-tones that unite this album. “Transform” is, by far, 80th Disorder’s most catchy tune on the disc. I can imagine this song receiving some play time in the clubs that feature Brit-pop and 80’s revival music.

Let me pause for a second and speak a word on the bass: Marko Pyhähuhta’s bass-lines are not only fit perfectly to each song, their tone in the recording is exceedingly well engineered. The only more fitting bass-sound that comes to mind is the tone Rage Against The Machine achieved on Battle for Los Angeles and Evil Empire.

Transform closes with “Death in Venice,” which is as close to epic as any synth-wave song I’ve yet heard. A pressing yet simple piano line timed to a repetitive slow-motion waterfall of toms, undercut by a two-chord alteration on a soft, droning guitar builds throughout. The mood rises three-quarters through the song, at which point the key jumps and Pekkola puts on the album’s most powerful and lonely vocal performance. “There’s a hiding place for cowards,” he braves during the song’s death throes, “for people… people… people like me.” Epic? Yes… but quietly epic. Bleak? Yes… but reassuringly bleak.

-Tim Avery

the_kitchen_sinks@yahoo.com