Music Recommendation – Single – Sirena, “Chemicals”

sirenaSwedish Indie artist Sirena (The not-metalcore one) released a song called Chemicals a couple of months ago that I had saved for ages to post about. I am now just getting around to it, but hearing it again, I can still say that this is a rather good song.

The vocals and sound seriously resemble those of Sia or ultimate synth-pop bae of mine, CHVRCHES. The bass is gentle in the first verse and Sirena’s voice just seems to drift until it explodes in the chorus. The second verse is low-key similar to the first, and does not use the chorus as an anti-depressant drug like most songs do to spice up the second stanza.

My only complaint about the song is how misplaced the vocals feel in the chorus. Either downsize the bass and what sounds like the beat sneezing. It just feels as though too much is going on throughout the hook and both sounds just mesh together.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

9/10

This is definitely my favorite Sirena song. The electro-pop sound is catchy while remaining low-key and mellow. You can go ahead and check out Chemicals below:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – DF3, Tell Me

DF3DF3’s debut single Tell Me left me wanting more. The artists/producer trio began work on their first album this year, and Tell Me is a preview of the Alternative-synth-pop sound of DF3. Sound familiar?

Despite residing in the same genre as Bastille, this group’s sound is distinctive in the vocals and heavier reliance on the synth-aspect of their music. Tell Me gets a bit chaotic and hard to understand at points, but you cannot say it isn’t catchy.

DF3 almost reminds me of a male CHVRCHES, really. The only difference is that the male vocals aren’t like listening to a cheese-grater rubbing against a production and voice-editing set. The hook features a huge build-up, while each verse has a consistent outline that makes it easy to pick up the tune. I find this song easy to listen to and replay, especially when the chorus explodes out of the first couple of verses.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

9.5/10

This is an excellent step forward for DF3, and this track should be shared. The Synth-Pop/Alternative trend is coming alive and an excellent example of doing it right is Tell Me. I definitely recommend not sleeping on it.

To get a bit more info on the group’s bio and more, check out their article on MuzicNotez.com here. You can support DF3 by downloading the song on iTunes here. Don’t worry, this one will be going on the new Current AMP Favorites playlist soon enough (emphasis on the word new, announcement coming soon). You can stream the debut single below:

-Austin Heath

Album Review – PVRIS, White Noise

I have so many albums that I still have to review, but I felt as thought PVRIS’ White Noise had to be shared first. The group’s debut album just released nationwide today and definitely requires a recommendation. The album is extremely well-balanced and focused, yet each song is interesting in its uniqueness and individuality. I have a lot of good things to say about this album.

With every review comes positive and negative like peanut butter and jelly (okay, bad example, both are delicious), but let’s save the fun (and not-so-fun) stuff for the track-by-track breakdown:

1. Smoke – Smoke starts the album with a bit of an attitude in the emotion of the lyrics. The song identifies with Alternative music but adds a touch of synth-pop that does not outweigh it’s purpose. Smoke provides a good preview of what several songs on the album will sound like, but leaves room to wonder about the upcoming music. 8.75/10

2. St. Patrick – I have been listening to this song several times in the last couple of weeks, and while the song has the Alternative feel of the rest of the album, St. Patrick is defiant and grittier than most of the pieces on White Noise. I always get fooled by this song into thinking it ends earlier than it actually does, as the bridge sounds like it would make a better closing out to the song. This song marks a difference in the rest of the music I tend to enjoy, and gives me a sense of attitude and pride when I hear it. 9.5/10

3. My House – Along with St. Patrick was My House in the group’s original singles, followed by the White Noise single. My House has a similar sound to St. Patrick, but conveys more vulnerability than dominance like the previous song does. While defiant and righteous, My House is inspiring for anyone suffering in a relationship and is probably the most relatable song on the album. The words do feel a bit muffled out a lot though, which takes away from an otherwise enjoyable track. 9/10

4. Holy – Holy shows off the slowed-down parts of the album. This track is much more reflective than the first three and emphasizes the lyrical presence by distorting the guitar and percussion and focusing on the voice of Lyndsey Gunnulfsen in the first two stanzas, and especially in the bridge. The change in pace on the hook is a bit abrupt, but otherwise a solid song. 8.75/10

5. White Noise – White Noise was released only a couple of weeks ago, but really embodies the whole sound of the album in one song. It has the slow, reflective Alternative sound while encompassing synth-pop effects and presenting emotion in every lyric. The bridge gives the other bandmates some limelight to fade out the song and transition into the final hook, which is fine and dandy except is is practically empty. While this could be the best song on the album, its empty bridge makes it repetitive, and takes away some points from the song’s rating. 8.5/10

6. Fire – Probably the “popiest” song on the album, Fire cannot seem to figure out what it wants to sound like. It goes from slow and calm to angry and loud to repetitive and pop-y. I still appreciate the song, but the whole thing just feels indecisive. Otherwise sound, though Lyndsey’s voice sounds a bit rough at times. The guitar and drums on the bridge sound incredible though, I would just recommend for that portion. 8.5/10

7. Eyelids – At five minutes long, Eyelids is one of those songs that could be playing in the background and you would probably not notice it. I mean that in the way where you work and listen to music at the same time. It chimes and slowly shifts into electric guitar on the hook, and does not seem to quicken the pace too fast. The track is genuinely easy and smooth listening, yet it still captivates the listener and is worth listening to in full. 9.25/10

8. Mirrors – I immediately thought of CHVRCHES when I heard this, despite trying hard not to make the comparison. Of course when bands share genres, it will be easy to compare, but PVRIS has always had its own uniqueness. However, if you like CHVRCHES, I would doubt that this would not appeal to you. It is low-key and synth-y (for lack of a better word), and the bridge only proves it. I absolutely enjoy it though, might be one of my favorites on the album. 9.25/10

9. Ghosts – I said in the beginning that the album is very well balanced, and this song proves it. The pace switches from Alternative to Synth-Pop to the almost Indie-pop sound of Ghosts. This song really kept me listening and has a mellow sound. Then, all of the sudden, it switches up and goes crazy. The transition is rather abrupt, but the listener can keep up and it does not go any stronger than any of the other songs. 9/10

10. Let Them In – Similar to St. PatrickLet Them In is tough and conveys attitude. It ends the album with a note of “we’re not stopping here” and is the defiant sound of PVRIS that I enjoy most. It does not do what St. Patrick does, but it is a great way to end the album and makes me want to hear more soon. 8.75/10

So that averages out to just slightly under 9/10. White Noise is an excellent start to the Lowell, MA band, but it is hard to tell what sound the band is trying to convey. At times it is reflective and distorted, and other times it is defiant and self-righteous. I like both but I would prefer the stronger, independent attitude than the first. Any comparisons to Paramore or even CHVRCHES on the other songs seem a bit pushing it though, as they are very original and provide an enjoyable album for both focused listening and background music.

In the end, I have to admit that I cannot wait for more. I would recommend to any music fan listening at least to anything rated 9 or up. Go ahead and stream the album below:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – CHVRCHES, Dead Air

If the song is by CHVRCHES, then assume I will post about it. Dead Air will be part of the new Hunger Games soundtrack, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1 aka Hunger Games: We’re Splitting This In Half For More Money. Unfortunately, the latter name was too long and honest for the movie industry.

So this is the second new CHVRCHES song in the last month (unless you include a couple recent covers the group did), the other song being on the new Drive re-score, Get Away. On that song, however, I harped on how disappointing the song starts out and my worries about the future of CHVRCHES music. Dead Air either kills those worries or gives me something to take my mind off of them for a while with an excellent combination of synth-pop and pure, unedited vocalization.

Normally I would complain that the effects and bassline makes the song feel a bit excessive, but that is the appeal of CHVRCHES music. However the echo on the hook makes turning up the volume a frequent occurrence. If the chorus was just a bit louder and not submerged in instrumentals and synthesizers, it could easily be the best song on the new Hunger Games soundtrack, which is notable for good synth hits (see Elastic Heart).

So overall I would rate the song at 9/10. The song seriously reminds me of a more low-key Recover, one of my all-time favorite CHVRCHES songs to date. You can go ahead and give the song a listen below:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Bastille, The Driver

In case you could not have guessed, The Driver is a song for the soundtrack of, you guessed it, Drive. I promised myself I would not write about anymore music today, but when I saw that Bastille unveiled a brand new song today, what choice did I have? Why do you do this to me, Bastille, I need to sleep sometime!

So I will keep this brief and with as little sarcasm as possible. The Driver is a synth-pop influenced song that is shows effort from every band member (especially Will on guitar, who provides some serious excitement to this track). You will probably remember that Drive features another song of interest, the CHVRCHES Get AwayThis soundtrack looks impressive, but let us focus on Bastille’s contribution to this movie’s score (a group who many said did not belong on this soundtrack, at whom I laughed and shunned miserably for being arrogant fools).

Dan sounds like the usual Dan Smith, if you did not like his voice before then not much has changed. It is his signature voice, featuring the beloved high snyth-influenced hook. However I have little complaints with the song other than how chaotic it gets by the end of the hook.

So I promised myself two things, both of which I broke: First, I would not write anymore tonight. Caffeine will be my friend tomorrow though. Second, I would try and stick to writing about lesser-known artists for the next few days. I know of late I have been informing listeners of people they already know of in a time when I am trying to find new artists all over the place. However, I know that Bastille is one of those groups that even the most pretentious hipster can enjoy.

So overall, I would rate The Driver a solid 9.5/10. The song gets a bit crazy but every contribution defines this song and shuts up the naysayers against the band being present on the Drive soundtrack. So go ahead and give the song a listen below:

-Austin Heath

P.S. Oh yeah, I said I would keep it short. That did not happen, sorry. Also, this could be considered a “Hear It First” for being released within the last several hours. It just so happens that I really like it and cannot stop listening to it so I consider this 400-word wall of text a recommendation.

Music Recommendation – Single – HAERTS, Be The One

Right away, when I heard HAERTS’ Be The One, I knew I liked the tune. The first stanza is a little bland but the instrumental start is great and the hook is worth the wait. The sound compares to that of CHVRCHES or Paperwhite.

The love song Be The One is the second single for HAERTS’ upcoming self-titled debut album, due for release on October 27th. Overall, I would rate the song at about 8.75/10. The whole song is a fun yet calm track that I find enjoyable, and cannot wait to hear more on the upcoming album.

Give the song a listen below on SoundCloud (link won’t embed on here for some reason):

https://soundcloud.com/haertsmusic/be-the-one

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – CHVRCHES, Get Away

CHVRCHES is back, putting a song on the soundtrack for the upcoming film Drive. CHVRCHES fans, including myself, have been on the edge of their seats waiting for CHVRCHES to even vaguely whistle a new tune. It is unknown where this song will land in CHVRCHES discography, but it is very worth talking about.

I was kind of skeptical about the song when it began, as the beat almost sounds like “loo, ray-ray” over and over again. The vocals also sounded way too edited in the beginning. Overall I was pretty disappointed until the chorus at about a minute. I took a breath of relief as I remembered what the real CHVRCHES sounded like. After that the obnoxious beat and synth don’t really bother me, and in the second stanza both aspects seem to calm down a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the mixing capabilities of this group. Their mixing is as professional as a cement truck, but I was just taken a bit off-guard by the first minute. That is why I recommend listening to the song throughout to enjoy it fully.

Overall, I would give the song a 8.75/10. I think I’ve already said enough, so go ahead and give it a listen below:

-Austin Heath

Album Review – CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe

CHVRCHES released their debut album slightly over a year ago, and the Scottish band left their mark on the music industry. Unfortunately, they are not very widely known in the United States. A British friend of mine and fellow administrator on Brickimedia.org introduced me to the album, and though I am usually skeptical on listening to whole albums at a time, I was glad I did not skip over this one.

The Bones of What You Believe is probably one of the most well-rounded albums in current pop. There are so many albums with huge singles while the rest of the tracks feature little effort or passion. CHVRCHES really showed off their musical talent in this LP and I have listened to it several times over to confirm that. The Bones of What You Believe had a long build-up but seems to be worth the wait to me, with its sound reminding me of early 2000’s hits.

I want to go through each song briefly and rate them, so here we go:

0:00 – The Mother We Share – The start of the album, The Mother We Share gives us a good idea of the sound we will experience in the album. It was also their first single, released back in late 2012. Song is confusing lyrically but catchy and sounds excellent. This is one of my favorites on the album. 9.5/10

3:12 – We Sink – This was the final single, added after the album would dropped (months later) for FIFA 14. I like the utilization of all vocals instead of simply Lauren Mayberry, though the bridge is way too edited and robotic. Sadly the bridge is just disastrous to me. Not the best way to end the releases for this excellent album. 7/10

6:46 – Gun – Gun was the third single and, despite feeling a little rushed at parts, is a good song. Catchy phrases and nice lyricism, band all-together sounds excellent. 9/10

10:40 – Tether – Tether is the first non-single song on the album, but does not disappoint. Electric Guitar is utilized and Lauren Mayberry’s vocals are smooth as they echo throughout the song. Seriously though, this one features a lot of echoing. The hook features a successful build-up and the song is a decent length at almost five minutes. It rises as you get further through and keeps the listener’s attention as it drops again at the [repetitive] bridge, then picks up with a huge hysteria of instruments and autotune. Psychologically it makes for a good song, and is very entertaining throughout. 9.5/10

15:27 – Lies – Single #4 would be Lies, released after the original album came out. It is super catchy and I love singing it. Despite more rushed transitions between sentences and a beat that gets a little old after the first verse, the song is very fun to listen to and has a higher pace than the previous songs. 8.75/10

19:08 – Under The Tide – Under The Tide actually excludes Lauren Mayberry’s vocals for the most part, but the group pulls off the sound quite well. Though the sound gets a bit boring after a bit, the track is still impressive. Despite different singer, the song retains the same sound or the band that you come to enjoy at around this point of the album. Unfortunately my only complaint is that the hook is a little bland and repetitive. 8.5/10

23:40 – Recover – This is most likely my favorite song on the album. Recover was single #2 from the band and, though chaotic, is a very good song with excellent lyrics and a great sound. Not much to say but good about this one. 9.75/10

27:26 – Night Sky – Another one of my favorites, Night Sky really brings out the talent of all the vocalists on the team. The song has a solid hook and calm bridge that, though is out of pace with the track a bit, does not last too long. 9/10

31:16 – Science/Visions – Not so sure about the name, but more spaced-out echo-y Lauren Mayberry is common in Science/Visions. The hook is interesting, I can’t say I hate it but I feels like an experiment to see how listeners respond to the muffled sound. 8/10

35:15 – Lungs – Sounds similar to Gun, first couple of seconds are a little odd but the flow of the vocals are consistent. The beat-drop is pretty intense for about ten seconds, but I like it. Not a song I would get excited about, but still a good song. 8.75/10

38:18 – By The Throat – I really like the hook to By The Hook, sound is similar and gets a bit boring at this point of the album but the track definitely keeps up with keeping your attention with rises and falls and more rises. It ends quite nicely to me, definitely one of the nicer songs on the album. 9.5/10

42:27 – You Caught The Light – On to the last one, which slows down even more than the slower songs on the LP. You Caught The Light caps the album smoothly with little vocals and shows off the bands instrumental skills. Not much Lauren Mayberry, but the song still says goodbye in the CHVRCES style, but reminds me seriously of Coldplay. Melodic and calming before we finish up. Placed well in the album for sure. 9.5/10

So overall, that averages out to approximately 9/10. Solid, well-rounded album, just a little skeptical on how edited some of the verses are. I definitely recommend a listen below:

-Austin Heath