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Graffiti on the Train Stylus Records

I’d read that Stereophonics had hinted in the loosest terms that they’d like to be considered for the next Bond song; it’s no wild idea when you think first of how well Chris Cornell’s growling vocal complimented the grittiness of the movie, and how Kelly Jones’ would do and second: they’ve been working with regular Bond composer David Arnold on this, their eighth studio album. Boy, can you tell – the album’s less of the grounded, paint by numbers rock that was only punctuated by Kelly’s inimitable snarl and turn of phrase, that we’ve come to expect in later ‘Phonics releases. Tis comes in, all strings blazing. Songs like ‘Graffiti on the Train’, the title track, with a few lyrical changes (exchange ‘Graffiti’ for ‘machete’ and ‘Train’ for ‘Nile’) could sonically underscore any Bond classic. It’s with tracks like ‘Take Me’, which has an eerie female backing vocal and melancholic lament and ‘Roll the Dice’ which journeys through fast and slow, hot and cold moments that you are able to appreciate how far this album has moved on from the formulaic fodder the Valleys boys had become known for. ‘Violins and Tambourines’ has a rhythm and blues swagger and careless lead vocal, before ‘Been Caught Cheating’ kicks in as a soulful blues chant. It then flips schizophrenically to the almost INXS-like ‘In a Moment’ before closing out the album. Tis is so much an album they wanted to make, not explorations of a blueprint set out for them, and it makes an interesting listen. Emma Garwood


Life After Depo Merok Records

Deptford Goth? Why, if that isn’t one of the best pop singer names of all time! Daniel Woolhouse describes his music as, “sitting somewhere between real and synthetic”, but he is neither from Deptford nor a goth. Just a young bearded chap who started off recording stuff on a 4-track tape player and messing around with it from a young age. ‘Life after Defo’ is his album of 11 tracks; it’s Tom Yorke at his most ethereal, Te XX at their most human, James Blake at his most lonely. Mr D Goth sounds like a single flower in a vat of nothing. Like the quiet of a modern art gallery. He sings about love, belonging, heartache, human feelings. Terhythms are syncopated and subtle if there at all; mostly it is very floaty, very minimal, rather repetitious, slightly more upbeat at times, like in tracks ‘Union’ and ‘Years’. He makes music where every single second of sound counts, every instrument or noise carefully chosen, rather like writing an orchestral score. It’s a very tightly woven soundscape and sounds very of the moment and modern, with even a few hints of 80s ballads in there. I like it. I do. It’s very clever and beautiful and well made. But for me it’s a little too much the same throughout; I could do with a few more changes in mood and tone in the album as a whole. Tis must be marvellous to see live, though you’d want it seated. Lizz

Deptford Goth

Balthazar Rats

Balthazar has encompassed the genre of indie to make an album that is simplistic in its effectiveness. Te slower pace of their songs does not appear to be boring nor does it encourage restlessness but works with them to create an enthralling album ridden with velvety notes and understated vocals. Te instruments are used to reach their full potential, being utilised in a range of different ways to make varied sounds for each song, constructing a versatile, diverse album that fits neatly into the parameters of its genre. Each instrument is delicately layered onto each other to create songs that are aesthetically pleasing to the ear; allowing each song to be individual and memorable in its own right, with one appearing momentous and the next seeming minimalistic and modest. Rats hints at jubilance whilst being subtly sorrowful, constantly scattering and artfully manipulating your emotions. Te musical creativity is exceedingly apparent, though not at first and has been cleverly applied to every aspect of the album, making it stand out within its genre. All in all, in 10 songs Balthazar has succeeded in compiling an album that is engaging, memorable and unique, a sure victory that should hopefully lead to another album that is just as good as Rats, or maybe even better.Hanna Huzel- Steele

40 /March 2013/

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