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Review: Weird Al Yankovic – Mandatory Fun

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4 out of 5 stars

 

Video certainly killed the radio star. When the internet came along, it seemed the video star would be dead too. Then came Youtube and rather than signal the death knell, it gave yet more platform for the visual form. Read the rest of this page »

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Band of the week – The Payroll Union

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History can be a tricky thing. It’s often referenced as “being written by the winners” but that ol’ bit of homespun knowledge overlooks how there’s always something more, a b-side to history’s greatest single. This is where the dark, American Gothic sounds of The Payroll Union come into play.

The band’s history is akin to a travelling troupe that changes members during the first years of the journey, until gelling into a somewhat solid (but not entirely cemented) monolith that moves as a landslide. Kinda like Dr. Who and his companions, but with less hanky panky and more sweet notes of Americana rock.

Their first EP, Underfed & Underpaid had songs about witch trials, family killings and the infamous Trail of Tears. 2011’s Your obedient servant was their second album, recorded at the great 2fly Studios, was both lyrically and musically stark, with nary an upbeat moment. Such is the dark side of history and the faster we are at peace with that, the better. Highlights from this second EP are ‘Jake the Pistol’, ‘1826’ and my personal favourite, ‘Julia died of cholera’. Again, all are short stories based on actual facts from American history.

Their first album was 2013’s The Mule & The Elephant, perhaps lighter in some parts (or is it?) but still chock-full of both obscure and popular facts from history. Particular highlights are the stark ‘South’, the wistful ‘Hard times’ and a re-telling of a duel called ‘Through the trees.’

Currently working with a second album in conjunction with the University of Sheffield’s History Department, The Payroll Union continues to strive into popularising a love for history whilst still keeping on sight that history is highly subjective and never objective.

If you are attending Tramlines 2014, do not miss The Payroll Union‘s gig. Main Stage, Sunday 27th, 2:30 Pm.

Want to contribute to their new album? Here’s a lil’ Pledgemusic campaign you might want to look at.

Previous coverage of The Payroll Union.

Words: Sam J. Valdés López.

Stream – AUXVJ

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Mr. Jonathan Arellano has many faces for his music. Sometimes he goes wild prog with URSS bajo el árbol. Sometimes he’s just part of a gestalt entity called Xavier, where all voices have equal weight. Other times, he ponders about love, life and madness with The Jonathan Arellano Project. And sometimes he’s just performing with a rip-roaring good all timers called Los Viernes Swing Band.

Not content with all those colours in his palette, his newest side-project (arguably : all of them are sides of the same dice) is AUXVJ, an free form experimental band, mostly born out of a love of live improv and arts. This is when I shut up and let you go into the piece, recorded live at Mexico’s Galería Alfredo Ginnochio as Jonathan interacted with two art pieces by Ramsés Olaya.

 

AUXVJ is part of Noise Affair, a Mexican collective of musicians doing some excellent experimental work. Check some of their stuff out here.

Words: Sam J. Valdés López

Review: Brontide – Artery

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Band of the Week: The Eastern Sea

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Sometimes the best surprises you get in life is when you stumble upon a band by mere serendipity. It was August 2012 and I was diving Scrooge McDuck style through that vault of musical riches called Daytrotter.

Many good bands were found, but a crown jewel came in the form of The Eastern Sea. The first song of theirs I heard was ‘The Snow’ and I got caught by them entirely:

Then it was ‘The Match’, which for a time I really thought it was their signature song. It certainly felt like a major moment in their sophomore album, Plague (review), which combines excellent chamber pop with 70s AM rock, you know the kind: complex, highly baroque and still deliciously catchy.

Eventually managed to get both their debut album and an awesome collection of Christmas songs (including two originals by them). Happy to report this Christmas album has knocked out the holy trilogy of Ray Coniff, Perry Cuomo and Bing Crosby from my family’s traditional listening habits during Crimbo. You can read more about Christmas and literature-influences in our interview with lead singer Matt Hines.

Currently, The Eastern Sea have pretty much left the past in the past and have been performing songs from a new album. These songs sound nothing like what they did before, but the band’s essence is there, caught in a Maelstrom of funky notes, slightly chilling keyboard atmospheres and Matt Hines‘ honeysuckle vocals. Safe to say I’m a big fan of theirs but if you’d seen them 4 times in a week (!), you’d understand how great their live show is.

Incidentally, they are still on tour and you can catch them if you live in Desmoines (July 7th), Wichita (July 8th), Nashville (July 9th), Little Rock (July 10th) and Dallas (July 11th).

Words: Sam J. Valdés López

The Eastern Sea WebsiteTwitterFacebookLast.fmSoundcloud.

 

 

EP Review: Irk – Bread And Honey

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Some things in life are synonymous with each other, like AFC Ajax producing talented young footballers, or American TV companies making super addictive shows. For the city of Leeds it is being home to an endless amount of heavy music. Read the rest of this page »

Album Review: Versus You – Moving On

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‘Fat Lip’ and ‘From Under the Cork Tree’ are just a couple of great releases that the genre of ‘pop punk’ gave us. However, it also gave us long, drawn out and downright whiny vocals. It feels like you could probably complete an ultra marathon and master 3 disciplines of kung-fu by the time Tom Delonge has finished moping about how you are already the voice inside his head.

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