Empire Kings: Self-Titled Album

“This band could have you singing along in no time…”

-Rio Connelly, Salt Lake Underground Magazine

London based indie rock band Empire Kings definitely leave their mark. The band consists of Colin Rivera on vocals, Josh Gishi on bass and backing vocals, Jimi Scandal on lead guitar and Paul Mortimore on drums. They have dominated the London music scene and beyond, even playing V-festival in 2015. What stands out to me is their dedication to creating real, raw music.

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Photo Credit: John Hughes. Instagram: @boscoppa

Listening to their self-titled album I get a sense that I’ve heard their music before. It sounds familiar but that doesn’t mean it sounds like an imitation. On the contrary, their originality is what keeps me listening. I am not always a great fan of indie rock, it takes something special in this genre to make me really want to listen. I don’t dislike indie rock, it just often doesn’t quite capture me. This is where Empire Kings break the mould. With a sound like they’re recording in a big hall, their catchy riffs and hooks, they kept me listening the whole way through and I already had favourites after the first listen. They clearly cater for more than just the genre they somehow neatly fall into but push the boundaries of.

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Photo Credit: John Hughes. Instagram: @boscoppa

 

The third track on the album, called Secrets, firmly planted itself as a favourite and I instantly added it to some of my playlists. The balance between the bluesy verses and the sudden bursts of rock makes this track stand out to me. Other tracks such as Rain and Say It Like You Mean It also make their way onto my list of favourites, but I feel like the list will keep growing as the band does.

A mature and solid approach to their music puts Empire Kings on a path that can only bring good things. The overall vibe of the album is real and raw but still easy to listen to. To check out the album and find out more, visit the Empire Kings website or check them out on Spotify.

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Photo Credit: John Hughes. Instagram: @boscoppa

For any enquiries or recommendations, email me at dontstayinside@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you.

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Wicked Bears: Self-Titled EP

Wicked Bears started in Salt Lake City in September of 2015, when Casey Keele (bass/vocals) saw that he and Nick Fleming (guitar) were listening to Masked Intruder on Spotify. After talking about it, they decided to start a band that was similar, and recruited Ken Vallejos on the drums. Thus, Wicked Bears was born.

wicked bears EP coverAnchor Music News said Wicked Bears’ new EP sounds like something “straight out of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”. And I can’t help but agree. Instant nostalgia hits me and takes me back to my early teens when I play the self-titled EP. Back when the only genres I could differentiate between was pretty much pop, rock, country, rap and classical. I’m not entirely sure if they would like to be compared but hearing them gives me flashbacks to listening to blink-182 on my CD player. They are clearly draw influences from 90’s pop punk. The whole EP just feels to me like a revolution. Wicked Bears are joining the fight to bring back music that isn’t about being manufactured and clean. Every song on the EP makes me picture the guys rocking in an open suburban garage, but performing like they have a packed venue.

When I was given the EP to listen to I honestly didn’t think I could fully enjoy it because I thought my days of listening to “rough around the edges” pop punk were behind me. I was wrong and I’ve listened to the whole track list multiple times. I definitely have my favourites (Do You Remember? and The Weekend) but all the tracks hold their own. In short, this is a fantastic EP and I wish every success to Wicked Bears. I look forward to hearing more and I hope it happens soon.

The new EP has been released by Hidden Home Records on April 30th and can be bought on CD HERE and on cassette HERE. You can also check out the EP on bandcamp HERE

For any enquiries or recommendations, email me at dontstayinside@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you.

These songs belong in movies: the pensive journey scene

I listen to music all the time and one of my favourite things to do is find songs that sound like they belong in movies or videos. I often match songs to a specific scene in my mind, so that’s what I want to share with you. I have combined my love of sharing music with my habit of matching music and video to give you scene specific songs. Today I want to do songs that you would hear at slow moments of the film. These scenes can be romantic, sad, happy, any emotion really, but they just are calm and slow scenes. My favourite to picture is a journey on a train or in a car with beautiful landscapes and that calming music. So here we go, I hope you enjoy.

Bon Iver – Perth

This song just calms me. This is one of the ones I can’t help but picture someone sitting on a train, lost in their thoughts, as it covers miles of stunning scenery. Even the drum beat would fit so well with a moving train. Bon Iver managed to paint a similar picture with a lot of his songs but this is one of my favourites. Whether it was used as an instrumental or vocals were included, this would make a fantastic addition to a movie soundtrack.

Clem Leak – You’re So Very Far Away

This track relaxes me so much and I feel like it would fit a scene with any mood, just as long as it’s calm. Imagine someone walking at early dawn, low lighting and a slow pace. They’re strolling through a quiet and peaceful place, whether it be some woods, or an empty city street. I can just see this scene so clearly in my head thanks to this song.

Rogue Wave – California

There is a definite beach vibe to this one. I can’t decide what is going on in the scene but I can most definitely see rolling waves and a sandy beach. Regardless, this track just places itself firmly on the list.

The xx – Angels

One of the more romantic ones, this song is so beautiful and calming. Probably fitting for a romantic scene of some kind, even though it has a sad tone to it. This is another where I think the song would work well with or without the lyrics, although they are lovely.

James Vincent McMorrow – Cavalier

I’m really not sure what to picture for this song but I know I can hear it being in a film. The way it builds but still manages to stay calm is so good. And how does he get his voice that high?

Chet Faker – No Diggity

Skate video. Enough said. For real though, this song has a beat but it somehow manages to be so chill. We all heard our fair share of No Diggity covers in 2012 thanks to Pitch Perfect, but this is by far the best one.

Kodaline – All I Want

Another romantic one here. This song has “post-break up scene” written all over it. The lyrics, the tune, everything.

Ben Howard – Depth Over Distance

This song starts off slow and simple which in itself fits in with a scene, but the emotion really kicks in near the end. Give it a listen all the way through.

Phosphorescent – The Waves at Night

I see this working for driving a car at dusk. It is just swamped in a slow sunset feeling. it wouldn’t fail to bring a really peaceful feeling to the scene and just bring it all together.

If you think I missed out any tracks or you have any additional suggestions let me know in the comments below. What kind if scene would you like me to create a playlist to next? Make sure to tell me what you’d like to see and hear. To get access to the playlist on Spotify CLICK HERE

The Japanese House double review : Pools to Bathe in // Clean

Amber Bain, the musical genius behind The Japanese House, creates music filled with synth, vocal layering, and salient lyrics. There isn’t much information out there on The Japanese house, except a few interviews and articles. But this only seems to add to the appeal of London based artist. So far she has released two EPs, supported The 1975 on their recent tour, and is even with the same record label as them.

Pools To Bathe In


The first EP released, Pools To Bathe In, begins with a track with the same title. Background sound effects and then a catchy riff bring in the song, showing us a signature of Amber’s music. The use of multiple layers creates an auto-tuned or electronic effect on her voice that somehow still feels raw and real. Probably because it is simply layers upon layers and not vocal correction. The song takes the listener through what may at first seem to be an unstructured path of lyrics and sounds but as you let the song sink in, it forms a smooth but interesting route built straight from the mind of the artist. Each song holds poetic writing and excellent use of sound but my favourite track on this EP, and maybe even in the whole of The Japanese House’s current collection, is the 3rd track named Still. From the slow rhythm of the verse to the expressive words that open up Amber’s head to the audience, this track allows anyone hearing it to be taken somewhere other than where they are.

As you listen to each song in this EP, there is somehow a unified sound yet every song has its own impact and signature. It is rare to find an artist who can deliver music that can hold broad appeal yet stays true and doesn’t feel manufactured.

Clean


The same could be said for the latest EP release, Clean. Holding firm to her unique style, but with a less intense electronic feel and more conventional instruments, Amber treats us to another slice of her talent. And what a slice it is. The first track somehow manages to take the listener to that same ethereal place in our mind despite the more upbeat feeling to the track. But I think that is something everyone who listens will grow to recognise as The Japanese House’s defining ability. To harmoniously bring together the pleasant and bright mood of the music with the melancholy of the lyrics.

Cool Blue is undoubtedly the catchiest track on Clean and somehow fills me with nostalgia despite not sounding like anything I listened to when I was young. The tone changes for the last two tracks, the light mood of the music replaced by a sound that seems more appropriately matched with the lyrics.

The way the EP is balanced shows to me the immense talent held by Amber Bain. The music made by The Japanese House manages to fit multiple moods and occasions. I look forward to a full album from a mind that has already provided such great music.

The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

 

 Today I am reviewing Brand new’s album The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me which, even 10 years after release, I believe should be a staple of many a person’s music collection. Brand new formed in 2000, consisting of Jesse Lacey, Vincent Accardi, Garrett Tierney and Brian Lane. They released their album Your Favorite Weapon in 2001 which set them firmly in the punk rock genre. Their clever lyrics and catchy hooks made for an exciting first album. 2003 brought the release of Deja Entendu and a big change for the band in terms of style. Deja Entendu is French for “already heard” and was a playful quip at music fans who compare new music to old saying that it’s all the same. Many considered Deja Entendu to be a more mature album than Your Favorite Weapon, moving on from the angst of breaking up and onto more serious matters of regret and control.

 

Instagram @dontstayinside

 

 Fast forward three years and that brings us to the release of The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. This review is unfair in some ways as it comes so many years down the road that I have had the chance to personally attach to the record. It is one of my favourite records and always will be. This could be because in true Lacey fashion, the lyrics feel personal and you wonder as you listen, what he could have gone through. The words come out as a poignant reminder of specific times in your own life, sometimes without even relating directly to those experiences.

The first song on the album, called Sowing Season (Yeah) provides a calm, almost acoustic feeling verse. This mellow aura is abruptly torn in two by the heavy chorus, giving you an immediate taster of the album to come. The whole song prepares the way for the rest of the album but holds its ground as a song that stands out. Millstone, the next song on the album, continues to lay the path with statement lyrics. Everyone will undoubtedly find something in this song that hits home.

Unmistakeably the principal song of the whole album, and my personal favourite, Jesus Christ shows Jesse Lacey’s ability to write about more than broken hearts. Speaking directly to Jesus, the band asks questions and makes declarations that are compelling and heavy. Whether or not the listener has questioned religion before, they most certainly will hear the importance of this song.

The haunting music and palpable melancholy continue to hold fast through the next few tracks, occasionally interrupted by bouts of aggression and anger backed up by loud, dramatic, but somehow melodic arrangements. You Won’t Know and Welcome to Bangkok deliver a something that is a little harder to swallow, causing the album to fall ever so slightly short in the middle. With the insight afforded to me by reviewing an album so late after it has been released, I can now see that these songs are a preview of things to come in the next album, Daisy, which was at best, tough to listen to. Even Lacey stated in an interview that it was uncomfortable album to listen to.

Brand new brings the audience back with another favourite, Not The Sun and continues strong right up to the end. Overall the album is a success, if you consider an album devoid of any hope or happiness a success. It is clear throughout the entire album that the band were struggling in their lives but they managed to transfer that into a fantastic album full of emotion and honest lyrics. Perhaps not every song lived up to the overall standard of the record but overall the boys should be applauded for creating a song that somehow plants its feet firmly within not only the emo genre but also reaches out and appeals to so many others.

Thank you for taking the time to read my review, please comment below and let me know what you thought. Tell me what your favourite song was if you listened to the album or even let me know if you would like me to review your favourite album. I hope everyone who reads my blog took up my challenge to listen to the album and give music a chance even when it isn’t to your taste and let me know if you managed that challenge!