North Carolina’s Some Army fought to make their debut record, One Stone and Too Many Birds. After the success of a self-recorded EP, recording of a full-length record stalled. Deadlines passed by and band members started new projects. But Some Army persisted, with songwriter Russell Baggett left studios behind to finish the record is a daisy-chain of DIY settings. The resulting record has the kind of effortless sound and confidence that only comes organically out of a shit load of effort and questions along the way.
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Evan Sawdey: Those looped drums on the opening sound straight out of ‘90s rock-based electronic music, but once that melody hits and those synths wheeze, holy hell are we on to something special. Even with too-worn lines about minimum wage making you a slave, Rukhsana Merrise’s new single “Money” is something to behold, moving beyond the warped-acoustic beauty of her Soundcloud-released September Songs EP from 2014 and showing a pop production prowess that is radio-ready and engaging throughout. Killer, massive hooks like these don’t come out every day, much less do you come across a song that has soft-loud dynamics down so perfectly that the first thing you want to do after listening to it again. There’s very much a throwback vibe for those who remember the better parts of the late ‘90s UK charts, but for everyone else, this is just a treat, and one of the best singles to come out this year. [9/10]
Emmanuel Elone: “Skeleton Crew” is the musical equivalent of walking inside a dark, eerie cave. The wonky synths are moody and glitchy, as they form these unnatural rhythms within the track. Slackk maintains this dimly lit atmosphere throughout the song, but that’s the real issue. “Skelton Key” encourages us to enter this dungeon, but leaves before we even get to see and understand why we entered in the first place. Sure, the synths are nice, but they lack the climactic ending to bring the song together. Slackk made a decent track, but it could have been much improved with a few minor tweaks here and there. [6/10]
London indie folk ensemble Passport to Stockholm knows their way around a hook. The group creates memorable, pristine, addictive folk pop. Chris “Barney” Barnard and Tom Piggott have been playing music together since they were teenagers and they formed Passport to Stockholm and promptly added percussionist Henri Grimes and classically-trained cellist Mariona De Lamo. These four musicians belong together as you’ll hear on their new single “Better Days”, which is underpinned with gorgeous cello lines below crystal clear harmonies and a chorus that Bastille would kill for.
Canadian rock band Sulfur City‘s new album features frontwoman Lori Paradis enjoying a bit of musical ecstasy, an image that evokes a Janis Joplin LP cover. It’s a clever strategy in making that connection as it highlight the band’s greatest asset, their superlative lead vocalist. Thing is, Sulfur City really are a rawk band, not blues/soul band, so Grace Slick is really a better comparison point as Paradis shares Slick’s graceful enunciation and more restrained sense of energy and drama. Did I mention this is a serious rock ‘n’ roll record, something that’s vanishing faster than bees these days? Sulfur City is a really honest to goodness working class rock band, the kind you can unwind to with beers and pool games at the local pub. Paradis even possesses the requisite career history as she’s been a construction worker, house painter and trucker. Those are careers that make you tough and give you the right rock ‘n’ roll mindset.