THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM ROLLS & TUMBLES

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

If you’re a blog junkie or an avid fan of actual music, you will find three words popping up in your search history: The Gaslight Anthem. Yeah, I have reviewed them in the past — a few times to say the least — so you can naturally call me bias. However, I’m not here to plead a case or defend a band that I’m passionate about; I’m simply here to talk with the minds that are interested in their craft.

A few weeks back, New Jersey natives The Gaslight Anthem released their first single off of their soon-to-be-released LP Get Hurt. The track, entitled Rollin’ And Tumblin’, is ironically the exact movements I made when I heard rumors that their new album was done (you’d be surprised what a girl can do after a few glasses of Pinot). They decided to work with Mike Crossey this time around, which is really exciting news for people who analyze producers. If you’re a fan of the Arctic Monkeys you will recognize his art, or even artists that may be somewhat newer in the game to you, like Jake Bugg.

There are few words that I will never say about this band, that their sound is in typical Gaslight fashion. Any article that I read reviewing this single will immediately be passed on if that phrase comes about. No hating here, just stating the facts. This band continues to reinvent themselves as their career progresses, which is how it should be done. However, don’t get it twisted, I don’t think that is what they are setting out to do. It just happens. People grow, things change, and any fan of real music would appreciate that with the utmost respect. In a fan’s world, you’ll naturally see people boasting that they’ve changed or that their sound is different now. Honestly, yes, the only thing that is constant is change, which is portrayed in a band that cares about their work. I think this track leaves a lot to the imagination, which I hope is the theme to the whole record, however, the sound isn’t way out there — there’s still some familiarity for Gaslight diehards.

Rolling Stone recently debuted the title track Get Hurt. This song takes Gaslight fans in a new direction. It left me not wanting to think, but to listen, and that’s when I know a song is true. Let’s be honest, a fan is never going to actually be in tune with what a band is thinking entirely when they’re crafting a record, but there’s one thing for certain: This band is in tune with who they are, and what kind of sound they want to make.

I think Get Hurt is a great lead-off single, for its radio friendly while compiling a ragged howler that any fan of true rock and roll can appreciate.

There is a sincerity and passion in this group of guys that I have not only gotten to experience on an interview level, but through my speakers as well. This time around I hear more nuance, more layers, and of course, some damn well polished tunes.

These two tracks are the perfect appetizers to lead fans on without disappointing anyone or completely blowing minds.

Let’s bask in the ambience of their glory, shall we?

MS MR

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“Didn’t know what this would be”

I’ve been looking. I’ve been getting bored. It’s become routine tedium: listen, like, review, forget, with little regret, unthreatening pop and riding crops and not enough fantasy.

“I jumped the gun, so sure you’d split and run, ready for the worst before the damage was done”

I need music that breaks and builds me. It has to understand where I’m coming from. I still pine for bouncy, sweet light, but from this point forward, there will be days only Ms Mr will suffice.

“Welcome to the inner workings of my mind”

They are intelligently designed, infinite darkness, subtle (that is, ripping) explosions.

“Keep my eyes open, my lips sealed, my heart closed and my ears peeled”

Music should let you be sober. Music should let you be anything. Sound is a spiritual experience- when done right, at least.

“Dig up her bones but leave the soul alone”
“We found a way to escape the day”

But I’m confused: Ms Mr doesn’t seem like the typical duo I’d like. They’re brand fucking new (Secondhand Rapture, a flood of genius, was released in 2013), they’re music school graduates, clean and tight and signed, New York based with gorgeous faces.

I thought genius was over. I thought music couldn’t be composed if it was mixed. And here I am, so happy to be proven wrong.

“How could you be what I wanna see, when my reality could never live up to the fantasy”

We’ve gotta be open to experience anything worthwhile. Your soul mate may be dressed up in the last persona you’d expect.

“The world is gonna burn as long as we’re going down”
“Baby, you should stick around”

I’m affronted by a strange, cerebral kiss: tribal, indelible, healing, mystic. There are so few bands I think, burn and bathe in. It would take me twenty-six hours of constant exposure to get remotely drained. Even then, as soon as they drop me off, I gotta turn it on again.

Love is both scary and beautiful when it gets compulsive.

“Hard to believe this could cause me harm”

What I love most about Secondhand Rapture (their first album, in case I’m too euphoric for facts to translate) is how many layers it explores. Music should be psychologically complex. This is!!!

I’ll try to talk human for a bit: What kind of music do they play? No clue. Wikipedia tags them under indie pop, alternative rock, dream pop and dark wave, which is about as useful as any genre explanation. When are people gonna get science is magic, and magic is subjective? I don’t care what you call it; I love it regardless.

“You only picked me up to bring me down”

They remind me where it hurts, and close my wounds by helping me open up.

“It didn’t come easy; I’m glad it was hard”

When I first heard them I thought (among many, many things): “This can’t just be music! Oh wait, music’s everything.”

I’m so lucky they were given to me. Thank you.

AMATUS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Amatus is a bard for the modern age, accompanying her tales not with lutes, but synthesisers.

She produces, writes, and performs her own vision, with others offering additional instrumentals (such as Nate, Butter, Matt, Jared, Vince, and Mikaal), while Andy Baldwin and Jamie Segal mix the tunage. The result is an act reminiscent of M.I.A; Amatus portrays those same hypnotic, gotta-listen beats with the air-tight seal of poppy persuasion.

A self-proclaimed nerd and music junkie, Amatus has made music studios her natural habitat since age 14, absorbing lessons from either side of the glass. But it was only after Meshell Ndegeocello (a critically acclaimed songwriter and bassist) lent her a sequencing keyboard that Amatus truly began to emerge as an artist.

Now Broken Compass is her first solo step into the music scene: a five-piece party favour, freshly wrapped and crisply orchestrated. It reconciles R&B with electro and breezy hip-hop, any remaining cracks plugged with indie pop.

This Brookyln babe’s gotta good thing going.

RAS XIX

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Music is meant to bring us together. It is the bridge on which any colliding personalities can meet, and meet in peace.

Ras Xix knows the only way you can master music is by approaching it via different perspectives, and he’s been doing so, travelling to soak in new cultures and funnel them into his production.

Enter his eponymous album, the first accumulation of his efforts, and an overall lush experience. The lyrics are simply refined, with adept guitar and a chilled beat massaging the centre. The production’s neat, the effects sweet. Even when he ups the rock (as in Over), the takeoff is gentle, the landing sleek.

Most compelling for me was Las Arenas de Cartagena, written on the shores of Boca Grande in Colombia. While I can do without the cliche video (wherein a frustrated waitress finds freedom by stripping down to a bikini- blame LA?), the chorus is almost enough to sweep me off to the ocean.

DAMIAN WILDE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

My first impression of Damian Wilde: Wow.

Regarding his history, character, and music, there’s a lot of Wow-worthy points. Firstly, and perhaps most interesting was his exposure to troubled souls at an early age. He remembers: “My mother was a nurse at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital and she used to care for those who were on their way back to the ‘real world’ and had trouble adjusting. They became my carers and my friends.”

Years later, this open-mindedness and sensitivity is clearly reflected in his art. May 20 heralded his first lil’ slice of magic: Nouveau Noir, a five-track EP with enough flicker to burn any heart. He’s been described as alternative R&B, but to me, this is poetry. Poetry transcends labels.

Damian unblinkingly dissects the darker corners of “the fucked up state of being human”. His voice is sexily stripped, lone, sad, and minimalist, aching echoes, curling knuckles. This music is perfect for tears already shed and ones still to come. If you’re in that awful spot (and we’ve all been there) where you’re convinced nobody could understand, listening to Damian Wilde may grant gentle commiseration.

There are these perfect moments when you hear nothing but hungry fingers limping across piano keys, with Damian’s voice swelling air pockets in the skull. By the time percussion is introduced, you’re already paralysed. Damian’s world is one of mistakes and cigarettes, slanted brims, tired eyes, lonely barmaids, crippling honesty.

Sit in the smoke.

THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Want some hard, ripping rock to channel through the cosmos? Adjust your antennae to The Age of the Universe. They’ve got enough psych, prog and alt rock to last you all the way home.

This isn’t my usual flavour for a fix, but you’ve gotta give credit where its due. Singularity is a haunting debut, and I’m sure it’ll stick on the right ears.

But why waste time when their press release says it all for me?: “Think members of Pink Floyd jamming with someone from Muse and Black Sabbath.”

Spot on.

CHER LLOYD RELEASES THE BEST POP TRACK OF HER CAREER #HUMAN

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

It’s been almost three years since Cher Lloyd released her rambunctious debut album and regardless of sales or chart positions, her brand new sophomore release, Sorry I’m Late, is no fall from grace. In fact, this is a more polished, mature Lloyd, and the album is a solid piece of popography from an artist whose talent is apparent and evolving.

This is an album you want to buy. The track Human alone is worth the money. It sits on top of the heap as one of the best pop tracks released in 2014 and certainly the best in Lloyd’s career. Yes, I said it.

A+

THE DEVINE XPERIENCE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Electronica’s a funny thing. I always expect every act to sound the same, because really, how much can one do with remixes, samples, and synthesizers?

Turns out a lot. The Devine Xperience, recently signed to Keoki records, are birthing alternative realities with their time-defying, super-charging, futuristic melodies.

Anything with the “dubstep” tag used to be met with my immediate suspicion and scorn. Yet The Devine Xperience softens the hard-hitting bass lines typically associated with the genre by infusing a slough of musical movements, such as trance, acid, and electro. Plus, Vanessa’s voice keeps my ears rapt with attention.

Robert (who writes all the music) has this to say of the project:

“I try to take listeners on a journey into their innermost senses, almost as though I’m acting as a musical shaman.”

That goal is unequivocally reached! This album is right up there with chakra chants and Korean meditation music for hitting the sweet spot of a vision quest. Seriously: during Completely In A Trance, close your eyes right when Vanessa says so. Your lobes will fuzz!

Disorientation is made surprisingly soothing with this dimension-bending, pleasantly unique release.

ODD HOURS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Internet, meet Odd Hours. I’m sure you’ll get along.

Natasha: vocals/keys. Tim: guitar. Clint: bass. Randy: drums. The details are more difficult to put in word-y terms. At first listen you may think “it’s just another rock act”, but the instruments lend a druggy distortion, adding an extra kick to the set.

Mostly it leaves you confused, which I think is what they want. They take creative cues anywhere from NIN to Siouxsie and the Banshees (Natasha does have a similar look…)

I’ll let the video do the talking.

LOVESICK SAINTS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Lovesick Saints feel familiar. My first thought when I saw the name was, “Don’t I know them?”

Well, I do now!

They seem to sit amongst the “new” faces of punk, a radio-ready strain pioneered by acts such as Hot Water Music and The Gaslight Anthem. A softer edge, but a tighter set. Even their latest EP title speaks to popular appeal: Dia De Los Meurtos. (My Etsy feed is saturated in sugar skulls!)

Though they aren’t as raw as my preferred acts, they have just enough spice to make you sweat. They’re dry skin on the outskirts of Vegas, ice flushed through the eye. When I listen to them I see half-dead desert highways, signs bleeding neon on the stars.

All in all they stick to the expected, enough that you feel at home in the sound. With long-ish instrumental spaces, it’s easy to find lulls between the vocal-doubled, emotive choruses. Before you know it, you’ll be tapping your toe in your sleep.

Check out War Story, a surprisingly poignant tribute to lost soldiers.

MANGOSEED

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I just got back from the UK, and I’m already missing it. I was missing it soon as the plane landed. Okay, before that.

It’ll be a while before I can afford another plane ticket. So what better way to “get back” than through my speakers?

When someone resonates with a particular culture, nation or location, their music feeds off the spirit in their blood. Then you can listen, and tap in to where you wanna be.

But enough yammering! Let’s steer the spotlight where it belongs: on Mangoseed, a Brixton-based band thriving in reggae, ska, and funky rock n’ roll. (I hardly saw any of Brixton when I was in London, but the lil’ bit I saw was wonderful. Sad and rough, but gorgeous.)

On paper, Mangoseed are a traditional four-piece suite: vocals, guitar, bass, drums. But they take so much from so many influences, stirring that into their own magical brew. Their lyrics are saturated with all the pain and brilliance of history. An area like Brixton is rife with human struggle and human triumph, dangers, dreams, delicacies. The uniqueness of Southern London combines with their Jamaican, Australian, Irish and Trinidadian roots. The reggae melts the rock; together they fizz with electricity. It’s an intelligent, bracing, spiritual current, and it hits hard!

I can’t believe Basquiat is their debut. How long were they stacking this talent?! Lioness is a shocking opener, Careful smooths the curves but “keeps it movin”, and on. And on. And on.

I love music that teaches me something about my limbs. Mangoseed makes me move in ways I wouldn’t expect. I’ll catch a glance of myself in the mirror and think, “WHAT are my legs DOING?” This album makes me twitch and flail like a giddy freak.

What more could I ask for?

POETICAT

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Hailing from London and Lisbon, Poeticat is an experimental band who has successfully created a genre all their own. With comparisons ranging from Tool to The Slits, Siouxsie, Pussy Riot, Super Furry Animals, Lightning Bolt, Kate Nash, Plan B, Future of the Left, Art Brut, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Scroobius Pip – Poeticat’s sound is weird, eclectic and one of a kind.

The group recently released their debut EP, Smash The Floor.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of their sound. It’s different. It’s interesting. And it’s new.

Listen to the EP below and decide for yourself.

POP TITILLATION: ROBYN + RÖYKSOPP

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Ring the alarm! On May 26th, Scandinavian pop heavyweights Robyn + Röyksopp will release a collaborative mini-album entitled Do It Again. And if the lead single (of the same name) is any indication of what to expect, we’re in for something spectacular. But again, not that surprising considering the fact that Robyn is known for crafting some of the most intelligent, infectious, thought-provoking pop of our time.

Robyn and the Norwegian pair will also titillate audiences this summer on the Do It Again tour. Yes, titillate.

Can’t wait!

Listen to the first release below. Hashtag I freakin’ love Robyn!

IGGY

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Young rapper of the moment, Iggy Azalea, is out with her full-length debut The New Classic. The 23-year-old may be Australian, but judging by her Southern drawl, new listeners might mistake her for a girl from the streets of Atlanta, an obvious influence of her sound built from a mixture of Southern hip hop and T.I., who is often credited for mentoring her to stardom.

And although the album is getting mixed reviews, through 15 pop-coated tracks, Iggy makes her mark in a male-dominated field.

Walk The Line, the sparked-up opener, is a personal favorite.

Take a listen below.

[Related Post: Epic Combo: Iggy Azalea Feat. T.I.]

ON HEAVY ROTATION: PLUMB – ‘DON’T DESERVE YOU’

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

You’re the first face that I see
And the last thing I think about
You’re the reason that I’m alive
You’re what I can’t live without
You’re what I can’t live without

You never give up
When I’m falling apart
Your arms are always open wide
And you’re quick to forgive
When I make a mistake
You love me in the blink of an eye

I don’t deserve your love
But you give it to me anyway
Can’t get enough
You’re everything I need
And when I walk away
You take off running and come right after me
It’s what you do
And I don’t deserve you

You’re the light inside my eyes
You give me a reason to keep trying
You give me more than I could dream
And you bring me to my knees
You bring me to my knees

Your heart is gold and how am I the one
That you’ve chosen to love
I still can’t believe that you’re right next to me
After all that I’ve done

I don’t deserve your love
But you give it to me anyway
Can’t get enough
You’re everything I need
And when I walk away
You take off running and come right after me
It’s what you do
And I don’t deserve you

I don’t deserve a chance like this
I don’t deserve a love that gives me everything
You’re everything I want

I don’t deserve your love
But you give it to me anyway
Can’t get enough
You’re everything I need
And when I walk away
You take off running and come right after me
It’s what you do
And I don’t deserve you
And I don’t deserve you

[Related Post: Plumbness]