ALBUM REVIEW. The xx – I See You

Release date: 13 January 2017

Genre: Indie-alternative

Rating: ★★★

Words by: Martina Di Gregorio

The xx have been making headlines the last couple of months by releasing singles from this album, announcing world tours and breaking records for the most dates at a London venue showing how the influence of The xx has not diminished since their last album and the silence that followed.

I See You really hits the right spot with indie guitar pop, R&B, stripped down music with electro-pop influence of Jamie xx that really gives that extra kick to the sound that we all used to love from The xx. There are heavy guitar or bass drops, but the music gets stripped down to the core by making the real protagonists of the albums the vocal chemistry between Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft, as well as adding that extra dance vibe that makes Jamie xx’s solo work a blessing for The xx as he found that magic sound to really give the band a sense of purpose.

the-xx-i-see-you

The lyrics all revolve around all those dark emotions and heartbreak that people go through during their life, making this album a very powerful weapon for The xx to really make an impact in a world where poetic and powerful lyrics are very much outshone by catchy beats and a repetitive clichè choruses that make people feel safe.

The album kick-starts with ‘Dangerous’,which tricks the listener into thinking it might be a happy song as the melody starts with trumpets but slowly fades into darkness as Oliver and Romy haunting voices sing about an unsteady relationship that could break apart at any time but their refusal to let go, and their need to fight for something that maybe shouldn’t stay together. Other songs such as the ballad ‘Performance’ really showcase the hard work and thought the band has put into their sounds, with violins being used to give that sense of melancholy as well as absolute silence to really make a statement and show that sometimes less is more: there isn’t always a need for energetic beats to make a song great, sometimes just vocals are enough to show off talent.

Yet, although The xx discovered and played with many styles in this album, they seem to always focus on  their rough vocals, like with ‘Test Me’, which has scattered vocal samples and cryptic, gloomy noises that make it the darkest song of the album.

Overall, I See You really is about The xx growing and working with their sounds, as the vocals sometimes get lost in a sea of electronic noises and beats that take away from their poetic lyrics, which were what really made this band stand up. Although they do tend to go for a minimalistic sound in certain songs, it seems that Jamie xx’s solo work has made a huge impact on their sound and it is not clear whether it was really necessary. It gave the band a sense of purpose and, something that was lacking in their previous work. It was unclear what they wanted their sound to be like, but this change seems to have taken away a bit of the magic that we all loved from The xx. Nonetheless, the album is still able to strike a chord and show off the huge talents of the two vocalists, and although this is not a five star album, it will still live in the hearts of many fans for years to come.


Listen to the latest offering from The xx here
You can also keep up to date with the trio on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

MDG

 

SINGLE REVIEW. The xx – On Hold

Release Date: Out now!

Genre: Electro-indie pop

Rating: ★★★★★

It begins with the graceful, familiar voice of Romy Madley Croft, as it’s been so long since we have been graced with fresh material, her voice instantly brings any fan a feeling of satisfaction. This track is about grasping at the tail end of a failing love, in a desperate attempt of regaining momentum and making it work, “it could be love I think you’re too soon to call us old“. With some almost psych-pop sounds woven in, the song has very romanticized undertones while still keeping to the signature xx chilled-out sound.

 

img_2758In many ways, the xx have not changed, to the relief of many. With the same warm charm brought by the voices of Romy and Oliver Sim, as well as the distinct, simplistic guitar melodies and electro-ambient vibes that can only be constructed with just the right mix of elements. However, after the lyrics “when and where did we go cold, I thought I had you on hold“, there is a drop that reveals a whole new lease of life for the xx. During this energetic segment of the track, inspirations uncovered by Jamie xx during his solo projects of the past year materialise themselves, and the result is a refreshing mix of the chilled out, low-fi vibes expected from the xx, and the electro beats of the house scene Jamie often frequents. It sounds remarkable, and has also worked well live on the few recent performances of the trio on radio and US talk shows.

 

This long awaited new track from the London group has been met with warm welcome, and rumour has it we can expect more surprises such as this in their upcoming album ‘I See You’.


Book tickets to the 2017 headline tour

You can also connect to The xx on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

 

Baker out.

LIVE REVIEW. Tusks and Oh Sister in London

Date: 23rd November 2016

Venue: The Waiting Room,  Stoke Newington, London

Genre: Ambient/electro-pop

The Waiting Room is tucked within the basement of a pub in North London, like a secret hideout. Seeming slightly ominous at first when walking down the steep stairs to a wood-walled room, this venue actually turned out to be perfect to host Tusks’s headline London debut, as the space filled up, the atmosphere was totally comfortable and intimate.

 

Main support – Oh Sister

The evening was kicked off by the soulful melodic tunes of Oh Sister. A solo artist with a DIY sound and electric drums system. This artist brought the warmth that the room needed, with her raw but genuine tales of love and adventure. The opening track ‘Isn’t Love Used To It Yet‘ brought on nostalgia with a sort of new-wave jazz, full of romanticized heartbreak. A sort of ambient Winehouse vibe, but with more electric guitar and less drama. With her tantalizing, stripped back voice, Oh Sister managed to encompass the whole room, however at times lacked the control over her guitar necessary for such delicate set. With her voice alone, Oh Sister could bring any crowd to their knees with a full band behind her, allowing her to concentrate on what she does best, and experiment more with ambient, atmospheric sounds.

Headliner – Tusks

img_2746
Image: @charlie__mac_

An instant connection was made between Tusks and the audience and she stepped onto The Waiting Room stage tonight, and apprehension within her and her band was evident.

The first track of the set was a fan favorite ‘For You‘, however Tusks put her own twist on it. Now equipped with a full band of talented musicians, Tusks was able to break the popular hit down to its core elements and build it up into an accumulation of ambient sounds and thudding drums – it was at this point, it was clear to the crowd Tusks has more to offer in her performance tonight than ever before.

Poison Ivy‘ was the second song of the evening, and her voice sailed through it with grace, but we already expected this; what took us aback was the amount of power behind her voice. Tonight Tusks paired her soul-baring vocals with eerie guitar and dark bass lines, the  result was  all-encompassing and hugely graceful. It was touching to see Tusks explore the deeper possibilities within ambient and electro-pop music and the experimentation was made by her band. The thunderous drums and strong bass-lines brought a new level of power to the music, that just seemed to work.

Tonight Tusks took her time, putting in every delicate detail to every song. At times it seemed as though everything was in slow motion, until all musical elements were brought together at the point just before a satisfying drop.The crowd were gifted with a sneak preview of the new album with never-before-played-live tracks such as’Toronto‘ and ‘Bleach‘. An early solo track she wrote many moons ago was also showcased, which allowed Tusks to perform as she once did, with her voice pure and unaltered, and also showed how far she has developed since her first appearance. There is an air of true authenticity around Tusks as she performs, a connection is instantly made along with an atmosphere that is unbreakable.


You can check out Tusks’s most recent EP ‘False‘ here and give her some love on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Also make sure to check out Oh Sister and follow on Facebook and Twitter

All images: @charlie__mac_

 

Baker out.

EP REVIEW. Stevie Parker – Blue

Release date: 11th November 2016

Genre: Ambient/electro-pop

Rating: ★★★★

Stevie Parker comprises of a young artist from the West of England with a raw voice oozing wisdom and heartbreak. After building a substantial platform from her debut release ‘Never Be‘ on Soundcloud in 2015 and later performing alongside noteworthy British artists, especially in the Bristol Summer Series, Stevie Parker’s debut EP, ‘Blue‘ has been released highly anticipated and is seeming to gain success within the electro-pop world.

stevie parker press shot.pngThe EP begins with ‘Better Off‘, a sinister-toned tune with delicate vocals and an empowering message of realisation of worth in the face of sorrow.  Stevie’s vocals are reminiscent of a more energetic Lana Del Rey against the musical resonate notes of groups such as London Grammar. This is the perfect opener to set Stevie Parker aside from other up-and-coming alternative-pop artists, especially the young ones – who can often blend into one homogenous group. The title track of this EP takes a more heavy-beated, electro-pop turn. This foundation is well-suited to this artist’s hypnotic high-notes that are showcased during the outcry “I’ve been blue over you”. Despite being at risk of being slightly repetitive at times, this track demonstrates the versatility of Stevie Parker well, and is catchy enough to make you keep her music in your head all day.

Siren‘ is possibly the highlight of the EP, as it is the most distinct and complex track. With raw lyrics, telling a tale of desperate love and lust, Stevie Parker shows her human side for all to relate and sing along to. The graceful combination of thudding beats with warm piano melodies creates a sound that belongs to only her. We are shown a contrasting aspect of Stevie with the final track ‘Different For Girls‘. Whether this track is making a political statement, or simply expressing the emotions often experienced within a troublesome partner, this acoustic number shows a totally different song-writing style, one of simplistic and honest statements. This is an artist is wise and elegant, with the ability to get you both dancing and crying out in sorrow.


Hit up Stevie Parker on Facebook and Instagram, and listen to ‘Blue‘ over here

 

Baker out.

 

SINGLE REVIEW. Tusks – ‘Torn’

Release Date: 7th June 2016

Genre: Alternative Electro-pop

Rating:★★★★

 

Tusks, fresh from the Great Escape Festival with her beautiful voice that has moved so many, has released a new single ‘Torn’ ahead of the release of her second EP, ‘False’ (out tomorrow, 10th June).

 

This track represents Tusks coming into her own, the confidence exudes from the bass notes and somewhat elusive vocal range showcased by the young London artist. It is exciting to see her begin to experiment with vocals and the changing tone of her music. The electronic influences fused from the likes of Disclosure and The xx compliment Tusks greatly, the eb and flow of this track creates a stunning journey for all to hear.

We’re sure that if the rest of the EP is like this, then Tusks will prove to be an even more interesting live act than she already is. What is so noteworthy about this artists is that she is proudly responsible for every sound, beat, and movement within her music, she paints her music onto a canvas, organically building it up until we are given a full experience such as this single.

 

Listen to ‘Torn’ now below:

You can also connect with her on facebook and instagram.

 

Baker out.