Tuesday, 31 May 2011

H-T-A EXCLUSIVE: New Music/Video from Fairweather Academy

Last year, I had the great pleasure of becoming hastily acquainted with the work of Solomon's Hollow, whose 'Genre Studies' release was an exercise in the soothing beauty of stripped-down acoustic guitar. Also worthy of note was that both this release and its predecessor were made available entirely free by the good folks at Barn Owl Records.

Well, after being busy behind the scenes for the first half of 2011, those same fine chaps have another treat, exclusive to the readers of this humble online music organ. 

MP3: Fairweather Academy - A Well Traveled Man Pt. I 
Taken from the first in a series of songs and media to be released in support of 'A Well Traveled Man'.

Musically, the first release from Fairweather Academy feels like a more reflective, less apocalyptic take on early Murder By Death, with the ominous influence of the cello and swooping viola adding great depth to the sound. Setting off gently, the song bursts into life atop anxious drums and proceeds to ebb and flow across an all too short four minutes, whetting the appetite for part II to come.    

Committed to wider artistic ends, the band have created the first video (directed by Joshua R. Malan, who will also direct the final installment) to accompany what will be a series of song releases. The series will also feature journal entries composed by fiction writer Joshua Hale and a new video for each song released, setting up a variety of media supporting the concept behind the music.

According to founding member Jay Saenz - drawn in to play with other founder Matt Dalley after several promising early jam sessions at Boise State University - "Our aim is to create a natural, cohesive progression through the story", which seeks to chronicle the experiences of an individual moving through various stages of life.

You can follow the twists and turns of what promises to be an intriguing journey, including the aforementioned journal entries due from Friday, via both these here pages and the music release page over at Barn Owl Records. You can also be an early adopter by liking the Fairweather Academy's Facebook page and/or following on Twitter.   

These adventurous concepts and creative collaborations to spread music into wider artistic communities resonate well here and, I believe, provide an intriguing take on how the digital age has toppled boundaries for creators. Hopefully you agree, check out these releases, and share your thoughts accordingly on any of the various social media above.

Stay tuned for more...

Sunday, 29 May 2011

REVIEW: PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

This has been long in the offing and far too delayed for a record of such decadent glory. All the same, the additional time allows me to confirm that 'Let England Shake' isn't simply an intriguing flash in the pan, but a bona fide contender for album of the year and, further down the line, 'classic' status.

All of which comes as a surprise to me, as I've unforgivably afforded Polly Jean Harvey precious little attention up to this point.

MP3: PJ Harvey - Written On The Forehead
Taken from 'Let England Shake', out now

Buy it at Insound!

By all accounts, the enigmatic songstress is something of a chameleon, so it's entirely possible that previous works simply haven't flipped my switch. 'Let England Shake', however, with its probing critique of my native land and engrossing songwriting depth, was always destined to change that.

The album has to be taken as a whole, which in and of itself is high praise as we find ourselves again in period where the single track is king. Fully realized, coherent albums still have a firm place in many of our hearts, though, and this is an example of why we love them so.

Across twelve engaging tracks, Harvey holds not only her country but the Western ideal up to a blazing spotlight. Equal parts acerbic wit and calm reflection, she channels renowned poets and artists to deliver judgement on war, history, and national identity, in uniquely styled vignettes. From the initial forward-thinking, off kilter bars of the opening title track, to the timeless classic slant on final track 'The Colour of the Earth', no genre boundaries limit 'Let England Shake'. Rather, it flows naturally across any style that fits the mood at hand, be that upbeat or down tempo.

In many ways I'm pleased to have little frame of reference against other works of Polly Jean. It allowed this one to simply wind its way around my synapses, exciting and intriguing in unexpected ways that few other releases have managed so far this year. More importantly, it's still doing so now. 

If you haven't been exposed to this lady's music as yet, I'm confident that 'Let England Shake' is a sound place to begin the adventure.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Time For Ambition, As earthtone9 Return To Action

A full summary post of all the cool business my ears came across on the return home is in the works for this weekend (SO many tunes to fit into one post), so let's just focus on the brand spanking new material from returning heroes (to me, at least) earthtone9.

Entitled 'The Tide of Ambition', it's a suitably pulsing, vicious track interspersed with the melodic, semi-soothing vocals of Karl Middleton...at least until he relents to inner urges and unleashes that fearsome roar again. 

MP3 (Download Widget): earthtone9 - The Tide of Ambition 

It seems impossible that almost a decade has gone by and, yet, these chaps can get  back together and resume such a tight knit, forward-thinking sound. The full release is funded and ready to go, so I'll be catching up properly with that in the coming weeks. 

I missed the return concerts happening this week but the hope is that the band will continue to go from strength to strength this time around. If you love and live British metal, you can help keep that hope alive by supporting this release

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Back to Blighty, Back to Biffy (Clyro)

Journeying back home to England in the last few days has given me a chance to catch up with some long overlooked Brit acts (Brooklyn can be something of a musical bubble, if you weren't already well aware). The first - and most far reaching - of these artists is Scottish outfit Biffy Clyro.

Longstanding alternative noise merchants with a penchant for massive hooks and glorious chorus singalongs, Biffy have built their career steadily over the last decade and are now a significant force in the British music scene. Having played Webster Hall in NYC not long ago and signed on for more significant distribution and marketing in North America, they're also taking steps to export this success across the Atlantic.

Newest album 'Only Revolutions' was released to great fanfare late in '09 and went on to be nominated for last year's Mercury Prize.It's a stirring, anthemic beast with depths that take several spins to mine and unearth, as I'm slowly finding out as I excavate its many splendours this week. Well worth a belated introduction for anyone Stateside and needing to be shaken from the fading chillwave bubble.

For more info, check out the band's website here.