Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Death of Pop - Mirage

Last month, this blog introduced Bournemouth jangle-gaze band The Death of Pop with their spectacular single, "Whenever". So taken was I with the song and the band that I instantly purchased the accompanying E.P, "Fifths", which wasn't due to be released for a few weeks yet. Well, yesterday the E.P arrived, which came in the form of a download code, a fanzine which features the lyrics and chord sequences of every song on the E.P (the former being very useful for music like this, where the vocals are usually buried 20 feet in the mix), and a physical copy of one of the E.P's tracks, "Mirage", in a very special format -

For the uninitiated, that's a Flexidisc, which is about the thickness of a piece of paper, with grooves that allows it to be played on a record player. The format was popular up until the 80s, as its size allowed it to be easily included as a giveaway in music magazines, before it fell out of favour as CDs, and later MP3s, took over. However, in recent years the format has started to reappear alongside the revival of vinyl, for reasons of not just nostalgia and novelty, but also economy (it is about three times cheaper to print a Flexidisc single than a comparable 7", "solid" vinyl). The one drawback of the format is that due to its slightly flimsy nature, the sound doesn't usually come out right, with a tendency to skip uncontrollably.

So, how does the Flexidisc of "Mirage" fare? There's only one way to find out -

Actually, there were several, but the option
 I went for was this one.

The good news is that the song managed to make it all the way to the end without skipping once. The even better news was that the sound quality was comparable with a standard, "solid" vinyl, with only a slightly more noticeable crackling sound.. If I hadn't bought the thing myself, I would never have known the difference. 

And the best news? The song on the Flexidisc by The Death of Pop, "Mirage", is a ruddy fine song indeed, very much reminiscent of the best shoegaze-y tunes that Ride ever recorded. You can listen to the song digitally below, but if you are able to, I very much recommend tracking down a copy that you can play on a record player, as the warmth and depth of the song is much better than in the stream. It's available to buy now from Art Is Hard Records, but given that it's a limited edition of 250, if you want to get it, you'd better be quick.

So, is Flexidisc the format of the future? It does have its limitations - music can only be pressed on one side of the disc, and although "Mirage" has held up well, other singles I've used on the format have been rather temperamental. Also, the use of the format could be seen as a gimmick which can detract from what should be the most important aspect - the music itself. 

However, it's a light and easy transportable product, and it is more affordable nature over "solid" 7" singles would make it handy for an artist on a budget to get their music onto record. Even so, we're probably not going to get an onslaught on artists releasing on the format in the foreseeable future, although if that did happen, I for one would not complain. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

TeamRKT - Cat Island

Portstewart based chiptune-pop duo TeamRKT continue to extend their reach to the stars above with the release of their new single, "Cat Island". Presumably taking its name from Tashirojima, an island in Japan with an usually large stray cat population, the song continues the band's pechant for mixing guitars with beats and electronics sourced from Gameboys to create something that is fun, easygoing, and somewhat euphoric.

To coincide with the single's release, the band have released a neko-tastic music video to accompany "Cat Island". The rather bonkers promo features the band's cat quitting its job to go on a globe trotting adventure, and is well worth checking out.

The "Cat Island" E.P will be released in August, with the single available to download now.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Andrew Montgomery - After The Storm

It has been a long time coming, but more than a decade after the wonderfully underrated Britpop band Geneva split, their frontman, Andrew Montgomery, will be releasing his first album under his own name. The album has been produced by Sean McGhee, and features guests such as Suede guitarist Richard Oakes amongst others.

Taken from the album is "After The Storm", a song that reminds us of why many of us fell in love with him in the first place - quite simply, there is no voice in music quite like his. It is equal parts beautiful, soulful and plaintive, a voice than can hit dizzy heights and mournful lows, and can touch at the very fabric of our being. Its piano and woodwind-led production might be rather different to the sounds of his rock days, but it just gives his voice the opportunity to shine through even more.

"After The Storm" is taken from the debut album of Andrew Montgomery, "Ruled By Dreams", which will be released on October 5th.

Photo is (c) Stuart Peck Photography.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #29

Despite summer normally being seen as a quiet month for new releases, it's good to see that there's quite a few new tunes coming out at this time. Here's a couple of new songs from Northern Ireland that should float your Metaphorical Boat this month - 
Sister Ghost - Scent

Last year, Derry band Vanilla Gloom picked up a lot of praise on the basis of their sole E.P "Lemons & Wine". Solid radio play, as well as festival appearances and a tour of Scotland followed, before the split up rather out of the blue just before Halloween. For all those who are still getting over their sudden demise, you'll be glad to hear that their former frontwoman Shannon O'Neill is back with a new project, Sister Ghost. She plays all the instruments on her debut single, "Scent", a song very much indebted to the grunge/alt-rock boom of the early 90s.

LORIS - Do It Right 

Following on from a well received debut single, "I've Been Quiet", Belfast electro-pop trio LORIS have just released their follow-up, "Do It Right". It's a sweet, yet somewhat ice-y gem.

Robocobra Quartet - Artbook Flipping

And now for something completely different. Robocobra Quartet are an experimental "chamber-punk" band who mix improvisational jazz with acoustic hip-hop to create a sound that is quite unique (although there is slight hints of Melt Yourself Down, not that I'm complaining mind) . Have a listen to their dual saxophone-led single "Artbook Flipping", and find yourself sucked in to their world.

Goodbye Nola - Testified 

Closing out our round-up this week are Goodbye Nola, a Belfast band that came to our attention this month after Ash frontman Tim Wheeler tweeted a link to their music, and we're not going to argue with the taste of the man who wrote "Kung Fu". "Testified" is taken from their first E.P, which is a rather nice, straightforward rock and roll tune.

Friday, 18 July 2014

CuT - Let's Go

This blog was first introduced London four-piece CuT last month after coming across their rather great spacey rock track "Time Traveller" through the Blog Collective. They've ridden the buzz of that track rather well, and are now releasing their follow up single, "Let's Go".

"Let's Go" is a more standardised version of the tried and tested poppy garage-rock sound, very much in the mould of The Vaccines and The Ramones (RIP Tommy). It's sharp, fun and straight to the point, which sometimes is all you ever need in a song. Plus, top marks for the well utilized yet underrated use of the humble handclaps.

"Let's Go" will be released on July 28th.