Bill Wyman – Back To Basics review

Back-to-BasicsYeah, you read that right. The ex-Rolling Stones bassist will be releasing his forth studio album on June 22nd, his first release in 33 years. Since quitting the Stones in 1993, Bill Wyman has been very busy indeed. He’s written seven books, founded the succussful Rhythm Kings, become a globally exhibited photographer and even a metal detecting expert with his own brand of metal detector (didn’t see that one coming, but sure). Now, he’s back with another music venture in the form of his brand new solo record, Back to Basics.

Opening track What & How & If & When & Why is already enough to transport you back to 1960’s America, yet somehow bears a resemblence to American Analog Set’s Hard to Find. Tracks such as I Lost My Ring and Love, Love, Love hint towards that 50s rockabilly sound, while Stuff (Can’t Get Enough) is so accidentally disco that it almost hurts. Throughout tracks such as Seventeen (the sickly-sweet toe-tapper) and I’ll Pull You Through (the seemingly heartfelt love song of the record), you can hear the country-esque influences, mashed together quite brilliantly with the simplistic rock ‘n’ roll of the 70s. Just A Friend Of Mine, probably the best track on this record, takes a summery approach with an acoustic guitar and an up-tempo drum beat to back it up, while album closer I Got Time takes us back to that country-blues atmosphere again.

Consider Back to Basics the musical equivalent of a time machine, taking us back to experience some of the best in 60s & 70s rock ‘n’roll. Nostalgia-fuelled, upbeat and packed with meaningful lyrical content, there are some notable moments on this record, but it’s Wyman’s vocal work that really lets him down. Granted, the guy is 78 now. However, while (musically) nothing has changed about that original Stones’ talent, perhaps four solo records is enough.

They Might Be Giants – Aaa review

In 1983, Dial-a-Song was created from John Flansburgh’s Brooklyn kitchen via a consumer answering machine. Now, with a little help from modern technology, They Might Be Giant have reinvented the concept by posting a track a week across the internet. The 21st week of this campaign sees them with new single Aaa, a part of their new album, Glean, which was dropped via Lojinx records on April 20th.

The new single, which you can check out below, does a mix of proposing some rather intriguing questions with a sharp, accomplished sound. Accompanied with a video that’s mostly Blair Witch Project style footage, it’s fair to say that the track’s a bit weird – but is that ever anything to complain about? Like Bowling For Soup meets Slaves, they’ve given a fresh blast of bizarre alternative rock.

You can check out the video for Aaa below.

The Acorn – Vieux Loup review

THEACORN2The past five years have seen The Acorn scattered across Canada on an unofficial hiatus, but next Monday (June 1st) sees the release of the band’s new album, Vieux Loop. Several years back the band were touring across the world with the likes of Elbow and Bon Iver, and it would come as a surprise if this were a world the band were likely to return to. This eight track offering was introduced with lead single Influence, which piqued our attention and became our track of the week when it was released.

Several of the tracks’ titles, such as opening Rapids, link with sublime nature, and there’s a certain vastness to the sound that makes this remarkably appropriate. Beginning with a chunky, earthy instrumental that encompasses a mix of experimentation and minimalistic rock, Rolf Klausener’s vocals blend into the music and its folky embellishments.

Nature plays its part again in Palm Springs, the alluring vocals pairing with the sweeping atmosphere of the music to forge a gentle four minute masterpiece – though that’s a phrase that could easily be applied to the majority of the album. Three minutes into In Silence (Enantiomers), the delicate sound that has so far lead the album breaks open harshly, in itself somewhat of a spectacle.

This level of control is a striking feature of the album, present again with fifth Cumin through the sparse and hollow yet powerful instrumental – though the vocals work perfectly and couldn’t be more fitting, there’s a feeling that if they were taken away, the instrument would create the moods and emotions with the same power, such is the strength of the work.

The two and a half minute title track allows the vocals to take the focus of the music, a modern folk side to the music shimmering through, again showing up in the second half of Dominion, with a laid back pop sound touching the edges of the song. Five minute closer Artefacts returns to the understated folky rock sound of the album, seeing the record come full circle.

I’d argue that this is one of those albums that better deserves to be listened to as a whole, and that something is lost when the tracks are taken on an individual basis. With a sound that ebbs from delicacy to force so neatly, it’s easy to sympathise with the wait that has preceded the album, and it’s been worth the time taken.

Listen to Influence below.

The Effect – Love, Hate And All That’s In Between review

Later this year, The Effect are set to release their debut album. We’ve previously been huge supporters of their work, with their third EP Running With The Wolves, released last year, being graced with a fair bit of praise. It would seem the band are set to keep their standards high with new offering Love, Hate And All That’s In Between living up to the reputation they’ve built themselves, and as the lead single of their forthcoming full length, I’ve high hopes for the end product.

Influences from radio rock are prominent, and it wouldn’t be a far comparison to match them up as a lighter version of Mallory Knox with the undertones of Twin Atlantic. Though they don’t have the complexity of these bands, the catchy hooks are bound to be a hit with fans and new listeners, and even at the most defeated points (“no good will come from this”), there’s a strain of optimism. Oh, and the video will be sure to send your mind spiralling.

Watch the video for Love, Hate And All That’s Inbetween below.

BoyMeetsWorld – Become Someone review

BECOMESOMEONEWords: Ryan Leith

The first thought that may come to mind with this band is the 90’s sitcom of the same name. Perhaps that’s not what they wanted, but it’s hard not to think of since there’s always been an obsession with TV references in band names (Fall Out Boy, Chunk! No Captain Chunk! The Wonder Years, just a couple examples), but maybe that’s an obvious observation to make.

Unfortunately, like the band name, the music itself isn’t all that original. Not to say that the music is bad, but there just wasn’t much to take from this album honestly, not much stuck with me. Now I know that this style of music is rarely original but there are usually some catchy hooks to take away from them (Chumped did it fairly well on their debut last year) but this album didn’t have many at all. They kept it quite safe and stuck to the usual pop rock album formula throughout (The slower ballad type track, You I Belong To, the “I’m sick of my job song”, and the repeated “woah oh’s” throughout the album). Again this isn’t a bad thing as there is an audience for this album, and is sure to expand once they’ve played Warped Tour this summer. However, there are so many albums in this style that it’s just boring at this point to hear more of that sound, and this band doesn’t put much of an interesting spin on the genre. There are similarities to early All Time Low and New Found Glory, and other bands that use the break down moments which really haven’t sounded good in any song ever but particularly don’t sound good when the band is opting for more pop flavoured music. Even when this band embraces their pop punk influences like on Where This Road Leads or Still I Think, there isn’t any melody backing the song and it sounds like a mess.

The lead single (similar sounding to something from Tonight Alive’s debut, I’d recommend it for fans of that) Best You’ve Ever Had which goes for the “you could’ve had me / I was the best option but you didn’t pick me” shtick which is admittedly self-centred but if anything it’s just overused, only last year We Are The In Crowd used this on their lead single as well. It is one of the better choruses on the album however. Then again, Moving On has a fairly bouncy chorus that with the right crowd, it could make for a decent live song.

All of this may seem harsh considering it’s a debut, but it seems like another band jumping on the bandwagon and playing the same style that somehow audiences haven’t gotten bored of yet. I’ll give it to the vocalist for not sounding as whiny as most in this style though, but I honestly couldn’t pick him out of a line-up when distinguishing his voice from other pop rock bands.

“Maybe I’ll get introspective, and take on a new perspective”, hopefully this will happen to this genre one day, but for now, it doesn’t seem like that’s gonna happen.