Album Review: Half-Waif – form/a

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In the opening track of Half Waif’s EP ‘form/a’, soft and simple rhythms build up into an electronic sound, obscuring Nandi Rose Plunkett’s singing. The artist – who wrote, recorded and produced this album –  presents us with a full sound and evocative layering of different pitches of her voice with mechanical, fuzzy sounds as well as Celtic influences.  

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Album Review: Miman – Nicole Sabouné

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Saboune pays as much dividends to her late Joy Division and early New Order influence as she does (oddly) to Amy Lee and the late Lisa Johansson on her operatic post-punk Miman. Originally scouted from The Voice, Saboune’s grande contralto drones push through the slowcore and synth touched goth rock backing to convey themes of loss, heartbreak, and nihilism throughout this above all depressing list of pop songs.

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Album Review: Bon Iver – 22, A Million

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Since the beautifully crafted debut album For Emma, Forever Ago of 2007, that was the product of frontman Justin Vernon’s isolation to a cabin in Wisconsin, Bon Iver has consistently produced inventive and atmospheric music, that can be instantly recognizable because of his hauntingly unique indie-folk vocals. 2016 brought the album ’22, A Million’, and with it a shift to the more obscure and at times experimental, whilst still maintaining the magical essence of Bon Iver in Vernon’s voice. In the opening track for example, ’22 (OVER S∞∞N)’, the manipulated vocals of the ‘Queen of Gospel’, Mahalia Jackson, are sampled and intermingle with distorted vocals and electronic accompaniment, as the lyrics project: “It might be over soon”, that, despite making up the first song, seem strangely existential, and an insight into Vernon’s perspective.

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Album Review: The Virginmarys – Divides

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With many artists nowadays tending to remake the same track over and over again for ‘new’ content, many recent albums tend to captivate me less; they are merely the bed for one or two hit songs. I have found however that this is very far from the case with the Virginmarys’ album the ‘Divides’. The latest album from the Macclesfield-bred band has such a diverse feel to it that it could very well be a compilation album.

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Album Review: Abendrot – You Blew It!

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In You Blew It!’s new, short, sweet, and generally backstabbing LP, they reach back into the Midwest Emo movement of the 90s for a final reinvention. Some bands, Mooseblood being prominent, have attempted revival and come out as nostalgia-fests, however this LP’s progression, individuality, and above all, in-group synergy have brought it above the usual critique.

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Live Review: Bear’s Dean

03/11/16 – O2 Academy

The first time I saw Bear’s Den was at the Vondelkerk in Amsterdam, June 2015. The atmosphere was magical when the three bearded men with chequered shirts and guitars, occasionally joined by a fourth with a trumpet, played their folky songs in the gorgeous converted church at the edge of the Vondelpark. Tonight, the O2 Academy provides a heavily different environment, more suitable to the band’s new sounds. What remains the same, however, is the incredible quality of the live performance and the honesty with which the songs are brought. And the beards, fortunately.

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Live Review: Crystal Castles

07/11/16 – The Garage

Toronto electronic duo Crystal Castles are back post-breakup with the kind of warped screams and off-kilter beats that’ll kill your grandad’s pacemaker. Given the controversy surrounding instrumentalist Ethan Kath’s revisionist history of the group following vocalist Alice Glass’ departure in 2014, Kath’s new Castles are on top form, perhaps lending credence to his claims.

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