Saturday, 30 July 2011

Joss Stone - LP1

LP1 is Joss Stone's fifth album and brings together her distinctive 'soul singer' voice with some twangtastic American-style guitar. I'd say it's more blues than soul, but then I've never been great with my genres.

You should know that I quite like Joss Stone. It seems like everybody either likes or despises her, and I'm definitely not in the latter category. Sure, her Americana speaking voice is a bit weird and she's a bit of a Mariah-Careyesque warbler, but she's actually not too self-indulgent about it.

Joss's vocal performance is typically a powerhouse, and even at what might easily be full throttle, you get the feeling she's holding something back in case the song needs to go to the next level. LP1 is no exception - it's a long time since I've seen a Joss Stone single hit the shelves, but any one track from this album could stand its own as an independent release.

LP1 - Joss Stone

Friday, 29 July 2011

Torchwood - Miracle Day

Torchwood is back for a ten-part series, Torchwood - Miracle Day, produced in collaboration with US broadcasters and with the big budget you might expect as a result of that fact.

John Barrowman returns as Captain Jack Harkness, while Eve Myles is Gwen Taylor, the pair having spent the time since the end of the previous series getting over the deaths of their colleagues and now reunited, ironically, by an apparent global inability to die.

American co-stars add to the line-up, including Independence Day's Bill Pullman in what, three episodes in, seems to be significantly more than a walk-on cameo. However, we're yet to discover the role that his character, Oswald Danes, might play in the shake-out of the Miracle Day story arc.


Saturday, 23 July 2011

Hyde & Beast - Never Come Back

Hyde & Beast is a side project of David Hyde, one quarter of post-punk geniuses The Futureheads, with Neil Basset formerly of fellow Sunderland group Golden Virgins. Both drummers by trade, they have combined to make music they describe as a "sprawling, gentle psychedelic mess". It's hard to argue with any part of that description, so let me just add that the result is charming, warm and stupidly easy to listen to.

Never Come Back is Hyde & Beast's debut single to be taken from their forthcoming album, appropriately titled Slow Down, and should be enough to make you fall a little bit in love with the diminutive Hyde (or the hirsute Beast, depending on preference).

There are elements of Futurehead-esque vocal harmonies, but the main touchstones here are from classic 60s American rock groups, think The Band, or the Allman Brothers and you won't be too far off.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Rebecca Black - My Moment

Oh yes, it's here - the wait is over! Rebecca Black's new video (and song) My Moment has just hit the world and, at the time of writing, has had 300 views on YouTube. I'm guessing it'll be more like 300,000 by the time you read this.

As you might expect, it's a squeaky-clean and upbeat affair - and starkly defiant to all the naysayers from the Friday days. Rebecca Black's going to have to work hard to really progress from that song, but My Moment makes a good effort of it.

Check it out below - it sounds like a talent show winner's song, which in itself makes it something of a fresh start. And the best part is, it's good for any day of the week - not just Friday.

More from Rebecca Black on Rebecca Black.

Jennie Sawdon at The Sanctuary, Manchester, July 17th 2011

The Sanctuary's live music night has firmly claimed its place on the calendar of cultural events taking place in Didsbury week by week, which is testament to the commitment of its organiser Sara Dowling and some very talented musicians who provide the entertainment itself.

At Popsiculture, we've become firm supporters of the wonderful Jennifer Sawdon, a wedding singer turned recording artist who recently took the brave step of going it alone and self-producing her debut album.

So we couldn't say no to a return to The Sanctuary yesterday evening as Jennie once more took to the stage to perform her own songs and a couple of well-known favourites.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing, out September 12th

The PR machine's already in full swing for Blitzen Trapper's upcoming album release American Goldwing, due out on September 12th.

You can check out the title track below - and if you're willing to give up your email address, you can even download it for free. This is a third-party widget so you can probably expect to get email updates on the album's progress. We'll never see your email address here, so we couldn't misuse it even if we wanted to.

Check back for more about this slice of Americana over the months to come - for expectant fans it could turn out to be a long and impatient summer.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Wye Oak - Holy Holy free download

It's Friday, so time to welcome the weekend with a bit of Wye Oak. We like to give you stuff on a Friday, but this week it's not just a stream - you can download Holy Holy for free from City Slang's SoundCloud page.

Those of you who read my review of Wye Oak's album Civilian, released in early March, will know that I reported a disc of surprises and stark variety - so every preview counts, if you're considering buying the album!

See what you think of Holy Holy and hey, even if it's not for you, it's still a free track at the end of the day (and the end of the week...).

Civilian (Bonus Edition) - Wye Oak

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Sound of Arrows - Magic, out July 25th

The Sound of Arrows continue their quest to make mini-movies, rather than simple music videos, with the wondrous four-minute story of Magic.

In a world whose adult inhabitants have vanished, we see events through childlike eyes as Lucas and Ana do the things normal kids might do - trash some stuff, raid the shops, and write a message in a bottle ("Mama and Papa, wherever you are, we are safe.").

Watch the video for the fairly astounding last two minutes of Magic - and try to make some sense of it for yourself. I found it strangely moving and very uplifting.

That's not all - because we're so generous, you can also check out the Chad Valley remix of Magic below. It's quite different from the original, but if nothing else it's a chance to work out some of the lyrics that aren't so easy to hear on the single version.

Head over to the The Sound of Arrows SoundCloud page to download the remix for free.

The single release of Magic is due out on July 25th.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Japanese Voyeurs - Yolk

This is certainly not a week for the faint-hearted, as Japanese Voyeurs follow up the recent single release of Cry Baby with their new album, Yolk.

Prepare to make the neighbours complain as you crank up the volume and blast out some original but very traditional hard rock - a dozen songs of big riffs, crashing drums and snarling vocals.

It's little wonder that Yolk is claiming its territory in some corners of the online music community - Japanese Voyeurs are hard to ignore, to say the very least. Look out for more single releases in the months to come, as this is one of those albums where any one track could hold its own without the support of its tracklist neighbours.

Yolk - Japanese Voyeurs

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ganglians - Free Track 'Sleep' and Tour Details

Ganglians fans will be counting the days until September 17th and the start of the group's European autumn tour.

Kicking off in the Netherlands, the tour lands in the UK on September 18th for two nights, returning on the 26th for a further four.

In honour of the upcoming tour - and ahead of the August 29th release of Ganglians' album Still Living - the track Sleep has been made available to stream and download for free online.

You can preview it below, or head over to Soundcloud for the free download.

UK Tour Dates:
Sep 18th: Split Festival, Sunderland
Sep 19th: Night and Day, Manchester
Sep 26th: Harley, Sheffield
Sep 27th: Nice 'N Sleazy, Glasgow
Sep 29th: Corsica Studios, London
Sep 30th: Prince Albert, Brighton

Moon Duo - Fallout

Moon Duo's new single Fallout might not be at the top of the charts, one week on from its July 4th release date, but that doesn't mean so much these days. Downloads have changed everything, with songs like Aloe Blacc's I Need A Dollar and Adele's Someone Like You sticking around in the Top 40 for weeks, and weeks, and weeks.

It's the age of the slow burner, so it would be great to see Fallout make its way up the rankings over the weeks to come - Moon Duo's album Mazes already has its place in the Popsiculture CD collection so we'll be keeping an eye on this one.

You can do your bit to get Fallout to its well deserved place in the UK singles chart by heading over to iTunes for a sneaky download - at over five and a half minutes long, it's definitely value for money.

Fallout - Mazes (Bonus Track Version)

Monday, 11 July 2011

The Joy of SFX

I love sound effects. From the rumbling bass of an airborne Terminator appearing over the horizon, to the shrill wheels-on-tarmac squeal of a Transformer as it adopts vehicle form, the SFX have made some recent action movies into more than they would otherwise have been.

But there's an important element in this love affair that deserves closer attention, and the Logitech Z-5500 speakers pictured top-left of this post are a clue to what it is. I'm talking about surround sound.

All the SFX in the world couldn't help a movie out if it weren't for the ability to place them in a realistic direction from the viewer - or listener, in the case of the audio. And while so many people overlook the quality of the soundtrack to a movie, for me it's an integral part of the experience.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia

Patrick Wolf has succeeded in a rare feat, producing on his new album Lupercalia two songs that I'll listen to for the rest of my life.

Since its single release earlier in the year, The City has been an essential component in my weekend preparations, at once an upbeat anthem and an emotional appeal.

Now I have Armistice to carry me through my contemplative times - a genuinely astonishing, subtle yet soaring anthem for anyone who ever felt alone.

Lupercalia - Patrick Wolf