Tuesday 24 September 2013

AshesToAngels - With Tape and Needles Review

AshesToAngels are a 4 piece synthy punk band hailing from Bristol, led by the effervescent Crilly. This is their second, self-released full length album, cryptically titled "With Tape and Needles" (9.5). The album is produced by William Frances under his solo name William Control.
The album kicks off with the "Highest Choir" which serves as a thirty eight second introduction to the album, with an electronics backdrop Nine Inch Nails would be proud of, gang vocals and Crilly singing "Ashes to Angels".

Dolls Dolls Dolls has a thudding beat, pounding bass and call & response chorus of "We are , We are" which is custom made for audience participation at gigs.

The unmistakeable piano introduction of “Dorian” gives way to Falco's frantic riffing signalling the beginning of catchiest of tunes penned by AshesToAngels. Crilly vocals reminiscent of Davey Havok from AFI. The chorus of "Goodbye Dorian, The Gray sky mourning, Youll be free" is sure to be lodged in your head for days.

The whole album slows down for “Lumi” with Crilly plaintive singing to a more relaxed soundscape than the high octane initial songs.

“Wintervention” is a bit of theme tune for AshesToAngels, which begins with Crilly singing in front of an electronic intro before the band burst in to life. Crilly then alternates between chanting, singing and screaming along, with an intense mixtures of crunchy guitars, thudding bass/ drums and synths.

Another live favourite is “Elsinore”, with its spikey down picked riffs, machine gun drums and The Cure inspired vocals. The album never outstays its welcome and through the 9 tracks mixes tempos, grooves to keep the listener interested and wanting more. The song has a very catchy eletronic outro, showing the bands clever programming skills.
The album ends on the chugging “Ghost Frequency” with Crilly sounding like early days, Brian Molko fronting a goth punk band. Again the band combines  call and response vocals with half sung / half screamed vocals.

This is a must for anyone who likes Fearless Vampire Killers or AFI. AshesToAngels have managed to create an album that captures a lot of the live magic that makes their live shows unforgettable. To quote the band themselves “we put ourselves into every note”.

Ashes to Angels will be performing at the White Rabbit, Plymouth on Saturday 5th October 2013 for tickets visit http://ashestoangels.bigcartel.com/product/wintervention-tour-september-20th-29th-tickets-vip-passes

Thursday 12 September 2013

Harry Radford w/ support from Hill Valley High and Propeller 10th September 2013 The Cavern, Exeter

The night kicked off with South West based band Propeller(7.5) who only formed in April 2013. If these guys were nervous, it did not show, they owned the stage playing to high standard with a lot of passion. The band's sound is indie with a harder edge. They played mainly original compositions including "Mister, Mister", "Heartbreaker" and "HGD".  They also played an impressive cover of the Arctic Monkeys track "Fake Tales of San Francisco". Their set ended on their catchiest song to date "Shine a Light" which they should record as a single immediately. They are a young enthusiastic band, who were most effective at their heaviest. This is definitely a band to catch live. You can see them next at The White Rabbit, Plymouth on Saturday 14th September performing as Biffy Clyro for the "Stars In Their Eyes".

Up next was Hill Valley High (8) who played with huge amounts of enthusiasm despite a couple of their members being down with illness.  Their brand of catchy punk rock was just what the evening needed to get the crowd ready for the main act. If anyone could bottle Phil Marsh’s swagger then they would be a millionaire. They played mainly songs off their new self-titled 6 song Mini Album including "Call The Shots", "All Fall Down" and “Sweet Talking Melody". The band were not only a very tight unit but friendly and approachable offering hugs at one point. The highlight of their set was "We Learn" with its catchy chorus and crunchy guitars which is surely a hit single in the making. Their set ended on the "Move Closer" with its chanted chorus and many new converts to the Hill Valley High.

Harry Radford (9) strolled on to the stage with his carefully assembled touring band, this was definitely his night. From the very first song "Cherry Lips" it was clear that Harry's songs benefit from the extra fire power of two live guitarists and a bassist. Next up was "Black and Blue" with its catchy lyrics of "twenty two still black and blue from all the times I thought of you". In addition to the live instruments each song was seamlessly accompanied by an electronic backing track. The first of two new songs was "I Need a Fix" had a pumped up dance vibe and audience participation.

The whole night slowed down for sing-along favourite "Gallery" with spot on haunting vocals from Harry; definitely a lighters in the air moment.

"Hide and Speak" is awesome on record but with guest vocal from Hill Valley High, lead singer Phil Marsh it took a new more intense form. Harry beforehand stated that this was the music he wanted to make, it is the music we want to hear.

The set closed with an amped up version of "Bite the Bullet" which had the whole audience moving and singing the chorus. Hopefully we will see a full album from Harry Radford incorporating the spirit and guitars of his live performance. Everyone left the Cavern excited but satisfied.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Harry Radford - Pressure Makes Diamonds EP Review

 Harry Radford - Pressure Makes Diamonds (8)
Harry Radford is one sixth of the Post Hardcore band Yashin, he provides the clean vocal counterpoint to Kevin Miles unclean vocals. This is his first solo EP.
The album kicks off with “Black and Blue” and the first thing that is noticeable is that there is very little in the way of guitars, this is a more synth and beat affair. “Cherry Lips” adds a more pronounced synth riff and some chugging guitars into the dense mix. The songs are catchy upbeat tunes to get up and dance to. Harry Radford’s vocals are stand out showing he can hold a whole track together.

The whole thing slows down for “Gallery” a slinky piano led ballad with Harry plaintively singing against a backdrop of strings. The EP hits it high point with the insanely catchy “Bite the Bullet” which is a well-crafted modern rock single. The songs start off with Harry singing to a synth beat before exploding with guitars and a chorus that will get lodged in your head for days.  

The tempo is upped on “Hide and Speak” which mixes up element from the previous songs and delivers much more. This is not a pop album but a perfect slice of synthy alt-rock. Hopefully live Harry will introduce a bit more crunch in the way of heavier guitars.
Harry Radford is currently touring the UK and appearing at The Cavern, Exeter tonight!!