Review: Killer New Single ‘Along The Way’ From Survival Code

The new single ‘Along The Way’ from duo rockers Survival Code is a banging track from the off with a pounding, fast beat that sets the intention clearly.  This is rock but with a slight nod to pop and comes across as somewhat less gritty and more of a track to put on repeat instead of being some sort of power rock ballad.

There are plenty of strong chords, and quick instrumentation that couples perfectly with the lyrics layered in hooky harmonies.  Think Blink-182 and Green Day here.  You will find yourself singing along in agreement to where the lyrics lead at an increasing pace.  This isn’t cloying rock and has just enough strength with a bit of bite to it.  You can hear the weighty strong riffs and fast paced rhythm to guide the track ably along.  There is an unfortunate tendency for bands falling into the  rock genre to get a bit distorted by the sheer roughness and unfinished texture to their content but you definitely won’t find that here.

What is evident with this track is how deftly this has been arranged and written to fully rock out on.  It is punchy and the structure is succinct and tight.  More importantly, this track is a great indicator and representation for the rest of the album as a whole.  What’s even better, for the entirety of the their album, Hopelessness of People, you get more of the same with every track.

With upcoming dates in London and Dublin, this is definitely a band not to miss.

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Dissecting Donegan – 1st XI Reviewed

My favourite albums all have a few things in common:

1. Great tracks – and no duds.

2. work as a coherent whole end-to-end.

3. include enough variety to keep you going (with softer and more upbeat numbers too).

4. Start in a way to draw you in and end with an epic.

5. Would sound awesome played live.

Those pressures don’t square with today’s world of online streaming and it’s therefore most encouraging to report on British band Donegan’s new album “1st XI”, a true tour de force of an album in the fullest sense of that phrase.

“Donegan” is an eponymous family band: songwriter Thomas sings and plays piano, organ, guitars and synths, with Emmet on guitar, mandolin and vocals and Martin on percussion. The new album and its singles prosper from collaboration with renowned producer Chris Coulter, who recently took Arcane Roots to no. 1 in the UK Indie charts and various other guest musicians credited.  Followers of the underground music scene will already have heard “Reminisce” and “Candles” and so will be aware of the broad array of musical influences and genres affecting this band’s music.  With melodies and harmonies dominating over bass, the album reflects songwriter Thomas’ classical training and passion for melodic rock music.  The variety of musical influences on display here is extraordinary: rock, indie, folk, pop, classical – albeit generally with a piano rock / alt rock vibe.  The album in part pitches up somewhere around where Radiohead left things around 1996 and in part somewhere near Billy Joel or Keane.

To kick things off, opening track “Requiem” is an orchestral film-score kind of piece, forewarning us – in this study of love – that “All must fall”.  From there, we move to a series of love songs.  Donegan’s acclaimed single “Reminisce” deals in the joyful sparks of first love.   This catchy, radio-friendly, synth-rock track is simultaneously uplifting, reflective and insistent.  “Around the World” is equally catchy, based around broken piano chords and a piercing lead guitar solo.  For the album, Coulter remixed Donegan’s debut single from a few years ago, “Waking”.  This synth dominated love-song wears its heart firmly on its sleeve – a more passionate and earnest exposition of true love in a happy couple would be hard to find – and may be too much for some.  Completing the love-song end of the album’s spectrum, “I wonder” may be its strongest track, a beautifully produced piece featuring more of folk musician Emmet Donegan’s influence than the others, being led by acoustic guitars, mandolin, harmonica and his backing vocals.

From there, things get darker.  “Democracy” pitches an anthem on the sad current state of politics, lamenting politicians, whether they stand for remain, leave, war, tax or change (“they’re all just after number one” … “didn’t want it, don’t support it”).  This is another classical-piece-turned-synth-rock, with interesting chord modulations and a heavy brass bass-line.  This, and the next track, “Television” are metaphors for argument – and add notable variety to the album. The latter is an outspoken critique of the media and another Coulter remix of a little-known previous Donegan b-side.  This is quite an audacious track: a waltz piece in three-time (quite unusual for a rock track now or ever) using church organ, strings, a Latin cow bell and bongos, without an electric guitar in sight.  And yet, it blew me away as a piece of rock music.

From there, the album turns darker. “Falling” is a synth-dominated break-up song, featuring some impressive chord combinations, key modulations and instrumentation.  “Human Behaviour” would sit easily on Blur’s Parklife – satirising a desperado chatting up women in a bar.  This story leads into “Candles”, the second single from this album.  This dark song tells the story of a difficult conversation after the night out depicted in the previous track, addressing darker themes such as anguish, conflict and regret, with an engaging narrative and symbolism built alongside yearning melodies.  Finally, “The End” terminates things quite appropriately with a bombastic rock epic, featuring no less than three simultaneous lead guitar lines, plus bass and two rhythm guitars, as well as a brass section.  This reflective break up song is quite more upbeat than “Candles”, reminding us that it is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all.

So what did I not like?  Well, the concentration of three love songs at the front-end may be a bit too much for some.  And the better tracks are at the end meaning that some might not get there.  Secondly, whilst lead singer and songwriter Thomas Donegan’s voice is adequate in terms of having a decent range and having an interesting husky quality to it, it does not compare to some of the great vocal talents that dominate music charts today – and in the post-X Factor world generally – in lacking a bit of depth or feeling and its somewhat nasal quality.  This is counter-balanced by musical arrangements which activate all the senses and hit all the wavelengths: like the album’s whole tenet, this is something of a throw-back to times when the music came first and the personalities were secondary.

All in all, this album presents a quite extraordinary musical and narrative journey.  Turning to my criteria for a great album: 1. These are 11 great tracks – no duds in sight.  2. They tell an interesting coherent story. A concept album studying love sounds fairly banal and unoriginal even, but this deals in experiences of a whole adult lifetime from the good to the bad in a quite engaging way.  3. Musical variety – be it instruments, genre variation, key modulations, track length, song structure – is extraordinary if not unprecedented – and keeps you wanting to hear the next track without the album ever verging near disinteresting experimentalism.  4. It hooks you in and sends you off: this starts with a film score and ends with a rock anthem featuring one of the best guitar solos I’ve heard. 5. I’d really like to hear these guys live.  So, “1st XI” ticks all these boxes for a great album and some.

This album’s tracks were composed over more than 20 years.  It’s been a long gestation period, but it’s really been worth the wait!

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/1st-xi/1350991442

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0CDlwG8LzNxLQAuJcgSbhj

Website: https://donegan-music.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/donegan_music

All Hail-er Nele Needs a Holiday!

After enthralling the European mainland, Nele Needs a Holiday are finally releasing their album, Love Yeah, in March. Rolling up to join the likes of Amanda Palmer and Adam Green, Nele’s (not pronounced Nelly but Nailer) heart is in her lyrics, the kind of involved, introspective observations which feel like diary posts as much song lyrics. As such, her wry observations of life and, specifically on this album, love, are not the kind of processed, cliches you’ll find in a zillion other songs but instead darkly comic, personal and sometimes acerbic.

Marrying up with her sound, Nele Needs a Holiday have a touring band of 7 female musicians, the whole cast appearing in matching costumes – this is entirely in keeping with their slightly cabaret, strangely English image (somewhere between the Bonzos and Divine Comedy), which is all the more confusing given they’re from Belgium.

Lead track, ‘We’ll See’, is, to throw a spanner in the works, is a far more poignant, reflective piece, with a nod towards soul as well as classical female singer-songwriters. Equally impressive is Nele’s expressive voice which is completely huggable and lovely. Check out the track above and look out for the album, a classic in the making.

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1BCRY2szkW4oM4aOFSRDLQ

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/NNAHoliday

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/NeleNeedsAHoliday

Twitter: @NNAHoliday

Instagram: neleneedsaholiday

Website: www.neleneedsaholiday.com

ALVA NOTO & RYUICHI SAKAMOTO announce new album ‘Glass’

 

“There are few locations more emblematic of contemplative modern aesthetic than Philip Johnson’s 1949 residence, a transparent box stripped of much beyond its focused proportions and structure. And that seems a fitting location for the exposed materials of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto.” CDM

‘Glass’ is a recording of an inspired live improvisation by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto at the architect Philip Johnson’s hallowed Glass House, in the bucolic setting of New Canaan, Connecticut.

The structure’s transparency and seamless continuity with nature was given another dimension by the addition of this performance, whereby the building, location and audio coalesced into one perfect, harmonious whole.

Stylish, stunning and elegantly minimal, the duo’s architectural sound design evokes and synergizes with the space creatively, acoustically and literally – by using the building’s fabric as an instrument.

This is the sound of glass and of glistening condensation. Pristinely fresh audio stratus float amorphously by, unfurling from a meditative calm into an evocation of sparkling wonder, like a baby observing raindrops on a nocturnal window for the first time.

Although the work is largely tonal, textural and spatial, fleeting moments of melody appear towards the end, which despite their scarceness, achieve a profoundly moving effect.

Built between 1949 and 1995 by feted architect Philip Johnson and exemplifying modern architecture and the International Style, The Glass House hosted this site-specific event. It was commissioned by Curator and Collections Manager Irene Shum, who recalls the experience”

“The emotional drama of the forty-five minute performance was echoed in the natural environment. A sudden rain storm forced the evening’s guests into The Glass House at the start. During the performance, the storm cleared into a dramatic red and pink sunset and concluded in nightfall.

Rehearsing only one day before, Sakamoto and Nicolai experimented with a keyboard, mixers, singing glass bowls, crotales, and the architecture of the building. Contact microphones were attached to the surface of The Glass House, and using various weighted gong mallets with rubber heads that were gently but firmly dragged along the surface of the glass, they transformed the walls into an instrument, creating wistful sounds of contemplation and longing.

Similarly, Nicolai played two sets of high and low octave crotales with a horse hair bow. The pair improvised in what could be described as an intuitive call and response manner.”

To celebrate the 10th season open to the public and the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth, Irene Shum invited the 87-year-old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama to exhibit at The Glass House, resulting in the installation ‘Dots Obsession – Alive, Seeking For Eternal Hope.’

Once the finishing touches to the exhibition were made, a party was thrown in the artist’s honour, which featured this private performance by Ryuichi Sakamoto (who was responsible for connecting Shum to Kusama) and Alva Noto. “When I was offered to perform at The Glass House, the first idea that came to my mind was to use the house itself as a musical instrument”, recalls Sakamoto.

“It was completely musical and 100 percent improvised, as that’s what we usually do”, he adds. “Looking at the beautiful landscape through the glass wall with Kusama’s dots was something, and it affected me, affected us, I should say, a lot. It’s a strange mixture of natural, nature, and artificial things, art.”

This intimate evening brought Ryuichi and Carsten back together for their first live collaboration since Sakamoto’s cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2014. Prior to that, Nicolai and Sakamoto had worked together on and off since 2002, releasing 6 albums as a duo.

Having met in 1999 during Nicolai’s first trip to Japan, the following year he was commissioned by the magazine Code Unfinished to remix a track by Sakamoto and impressed by what he heard, Ryuichi sent additional tracks to Carsten. This back-and-forth developed into a creative exchange that birthed their first long player ‘vrioon’, which was voted electronica album of the year by The Wire in 2004.

Most recently, the duo scored the music for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s hit film, ‘The Revenant’ which won multiple Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Critics’ Choice Awards.

Born in Karl-Marx Stadt, Saxony in former East Germany and based in Berlin, Carsten Nicolai studied architecture and landscape design before pursuing art and music, when his interest in David Toop’s ideas on the structural and spatial qualities of sound inspired his own endeavors.

In 2000, Nicolai adopted the pseudonym Alva Noto for his growing experiments in sound and music, to distinguish them from his visual art, for which he uses his own name.

Nicolai is part of an artistic movement whose work explores the intersection between art, science, sound and music, with a strong adherence to reductionism and a development of their own theories and sonic, acoustic and visual symbols/codes.

His musical oeuvre echoes in his work as a visual artist; Nicolai seeks to overcome the separation of the peoples’ sensory perceptions by making scientific phenomena like sound and light frequencies perceivable to both eyes and ears.

Influenced by scientific reference systems, Nicolai often engages with mathematical patterns such as grids and codes, as well as error, random and self-organizing structures. His installations have a minimalistic aesthetic whose elegance and consistency are highly intriguing – and using the principles of Cymatics – he often visualizes sound.

Nicolai has participated in important international exhibitions like documenta x and the 49th and 50th Venice Biennales, and performed or created installations in many of the world’s most prestigious spaces, including the Guggenheim, Tate Modern, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sónar and Club Transmediale.

His extensive catalogue and diverse musical projects include collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ryoji Ikeda, Mika Vainio, Scanner, Bjork, Iggy Pop, Tarwater, Michael Nyman and Blixa Bargeld from Einstürzende Neubauten. He has contributed to compilations in tribute to Andrei Tarkovsky and Iannis Xenakis and remixed Björk, Hauschka, John Cale, Kangding Ray, Ludovico Einaudi and Pantha Du Prince.

Nicolai started the independent label NOTON between 1994 and 1996. A collaboration with RasterMusic began the same year, and by 1999 the two labels had merged into Raster-Noton, which operated until May 2017. Now Nicolai runs NOTON separately, although all parties will continue with special collaborative projects and activities under the name Raster-Noton.

Musician, composer, artist, and environmental activist Ryuichi Sakamoto was born in Tokyo and has been based in New York City since 1990. Sakamoto studied music composition and ethnomusicology at the Tokyo University of the Arts.

He pioneered electronic music as a founding member of Yellow Magic Orchestra with Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi, then expanded into other genres in his solo career – ranging from pop to classical piano composition, to feature film scores with full philharmonic orchestras.

He is the recipient of numerous awards including an Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy and BAFTA for ‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence’ (1983); ‘The Last Emperor’ (1987); ‘Sheltering Sky’ (1990), and ‘The Revenant’ (2015).

In 2009 he was inducted into France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2016 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Belgium’s World Soundtrack Academy. He has collaborated David Sylvian, David Byrne, Thomas Dolby, Iggy Pop, Taylor Deupree, Christopher Willits, Jaques Morelenbaum and the Geisha Girls.

He released a new solo studio album this year called ‘async’, which received critical acclaim, including an 8/10 review on Pitchfork.

Alva Noto plays The Barbican (solo) on 4th March Info.

www.carstennicolai.de
www.alvanoto.com
www.noton.info
www.sitesakamoto.com

CHOLESTEROL JONES: ‘SATAN’S IN HEAVEN’

The story behind Cholesterol’s new single ‘Satan’s in Heaven’, which is taken from the EP of the same name is about the election of Donald Trump – fans of the great leader may want to look away now!

A is a jaunty gospel/country singalong that catches your attention and kidnaps it indefinitely – a hymn to idiocy, if you will.  The accompanying video is an artistic triumph, the perfect mixture of day glow laughs and acerbic criticism.

You can watch the video here:

 

Cholesterol was born on a US army base in Bavaria before moving to Boston, where he spent his formative years. After a period of twenty years living in New York City, he now splits his time between London, Boston and Cape Cod, his observations of the world around him keener than ever!

You can find more from Cholesterol here:

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/cholesteroljones  

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6k7mwh5t1p771vkWad10KY

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_FUIRHFOjIPFNoQbgeBv_Q?view_as=subscriber

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CholesterolJones

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CholesterolJone

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cholesteroljones/

Website: https://cholesteroljones.com/

 

 

 

 

 

OLISHA NAIKER: MEET THE ARTIST WHO SANG ‘STRANGERS’

Creating classic pop songs for a generation and bored with manufactured bands, Olisha Naiker has taken things into her own hands as she debuts her new single ‘Strangers’.

Olisha Naiker debuted her new single ‘Strangers’ and wants the world to hear her beautiful talent.

South African and having an Indian heritage, Olisha, is certain she has every control over every element of her music from writing to performance to production.

‘Strangers’, her new debut single, has a cool, atmospheric video to accompany it, Olisha wants to influence her audience with her strong alluring voice.

Olisha has added, “I want people to focus on the song and the message, the message of trying to let someone go who is now a stranger to you.”

You can watch the video to ‘Stranger’ here:

She has no other hobby other than music, for her, music is a way of life and she wants to share her wonderful talent with everyone!

Olisha’s music is a combination of today’s modern pop with influences from artist such as Michael Jackson and Jay Sean.

You can follow/ here more about Olisha:

http://www.facebook.com/olishanaicker

http://www.twitter.com/olishanaicker

http://www.instagram.com/olishanaicker

http://www.olishanaicker.com

 

 

 

Lawrence Preston Has Got ‘Something For You’ In Brand New Song

 

Lawrence Preston is back, even bigger and better than ever. Make way for an artist who knows the business, and who can provide some of the smoothest tunes going.

Lawrence Preston’s impeccable song-writing is partnered with his extraordinary talents as a performer, bass player and producer; culminating in a beautifully arranged single ‘Something For You’, which has proven that age is no factor when song writing is involved.

Lawrence was born in the San Francisco bay area, where he was first introduced to music through his grandfather Gospel, of which his parents were are part of. They were labelled as ‘The Sensational Travelers’, and as Lawrence was gaining a keen interest for music, he asked if he could join, at the early age of 5 years old!

 

 

After many years of playing live, including being bass player in Dorothy Morrison’s gospel band, he kept on exploring his talent, all while founding his independent record label, and releasing his first full-length album, Lawrence was definitely heavily active during this time.

Now ready to show audiences the smoothest, most sincere side of himself, he is sure to be a name not to miss.

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@law_preston
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lawrence.preston.37