Band Appreciation Friday – Bombay Bicycle Club

I could be home by now

First off, I want to apologize that this post is a day late. I have been so busy with finals and various other things this week that I haven’t had time to work as much as I wanted to on this blog. I think of this blog as my job, so it’s disappointing to miss a deadline I’ve set for myself, one of the things being Band Appreciation Friday. So, whoever reads these, know that with this post I am now back on track! Thanks for understanding. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I have decided to talk about Bombay Bicycle Club for this week’s Band Appreciation Friday because I’ve been so obsessed with their newest album So Long, See You Tomorrow recently. Also, I’m seeing them in concert soon, so it only seems appropriate.

FlawsBombay Bicycle Club is just one of those bands that constantly surprises you. They’re innovative, creative, and incredibly original. Their music is heard with the ears, but directly felt with the heart. I first heard Bombay Bicycle Club’s 2009 album Flaws about two years ago. I adore it’s effortless folk vibe and quirky, yet incredibly heartfelt lyrics. It was funny to me how a band that relied so heavily on rock and punk pop influences for their first album went full on acoustic and folk inspired for their second album. It was a bold move, but there was no time or reason to complain. Bombay Bicycle Club delivered, and Flaws, along with the band’s new persona, were embraced. John Steadman, lead singer and front man, quickly adapted to the change. The album starts out with the Simon and Garfunkel esque song “Rinse Me Down,” which shows off the band’s abilities in fleet style guitar melodies and colorful tonal imagery. The soft and delicate song “Dust on the Ground” is the perfect gateway into the band’s most successful single, “Ivy and Gold”, which houses some of the most beautiful guitar melodies I have ever heard. and John Steadman’s voice quivers and trembles in the best way possible. There’s a brilliant, gentle nervousness to his voice, which only adds to the passion and meaning to each and every song on this album. “Flaws,” the track the album is named for, is definitely the deepest and most depressing on the album, but has a stunning duet and radiating guitar plucks. Some might call the lads (John Steadman, Jamie MacColl, Suren de Saram, and Ed Nash) a bit fickle for changing genres so rapidly on only their second album, but hey, these boys are still, well, boys. They are young enough to get away with jumping around to different styles, yet mature enough to rise to the challenge and deliver promising results. They proved they could take on the folk vibe, now it was time to get serious.

homepage_large.41985a75A Different Kind of Fix was released in 2011, and was worlds apart from Flaws. This album was more indie than what was being made before, and therefore a bit more experienced and impressive. Bombay Bicycle Club showed with A Different Kind of Fix that the band was more refined and more in tune with their own strengths, which is incredibly attractive as a relatively younger indie band. “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” is the track that was meant to wow their loyal audiences, in order to pull you in for more and show off their new and improved style. It definitely delivered, with repetitive, vibrant guitar riffs and wonderfully spastic drumming. “Your Eyes” and “Take The Right One” brought more alternative style guitar and energetic drumming, but were toned down some and muted somewhat by John Steadman’s mellow voice. “Shuffle” is the stand out track from this album, simply because the lyrics are meaningful and where I believe John Steadman shows off a different side of him vocally that was never seen before. The song is made playful by the childlike piano melodies, and the bouncy feel it gives off is infectious. The melancholic, delicate, yet haunting song “Still” closes the album, with their audiences craving more. Luckily, they didn’t have to wait too long. In fact, they were in for a massive surprise.

homepage_large.c2d96c17So Long, See You Tomorrow was released at the beginning of 2014. In my opinion, this album proved that the band had finally found their niche. Flaws was mellow and nostalgic, A Different Kind of Fix was fresh and more mature, but So Long, See You Tomorrow is extroverted and electronic, something I never thought I would see from this band. The band shows off their so called “evolution” with their lively and exuberant song “Carry Me” where vibrant drums propel the band’s reputation to new heights. It’s impressive and dynamic, along with the more mellow and soft “Home By Now,” one of my personal favorites. John Steadman’s voice is simply perfect in that one. “Feel” pays homage to the band’s name by providing their audience with more exotic instrumentals and vocals that are filled with passion. Overall, this album had more electronic, indie pop influences, and was more aggressive. The band has finally settled into their respective genre, and I believe that this is where they belong – evoking positive, happy feelings with the occasional sentimental song that makes you think. Bombay Bicycle Club always manages to inspire me and remind me that you can bounce back from any hardship. I adore everything they have done, and can’t wait to see what they will surprise everyone with next time.

 

P

 

 

The Maccabees – “Ayla”

The-maccabees-given-to-the-wildThe Maccabees are an indie rock band from London. They have a bit of an edgy alternative side, as seen in their song “No Kind Words” from their second album, Wall of Arms, but also have a sweet, romantic side, as seen in this song titled “Ayla.” It starts off with dreamlike vocals from front man Orlando Weeks, but then erupts towards the end with vibrant, shimmering guitars and energetic, elemental drumming. The Maccabees have been extremely successful, with three albums released so far, each one being better than the last. “Ayla” is from the Maccabees’ third studio album Given to the Wild, which was released in 2012.

 

P

Wye Oak – “Glory”

ShriekWye Oak is composed of guitarist/vocalist Jenn Wasner and drummer/keyboardist Andy Slack. They emerged in 2008 as a indie folk band with a bit of an alternative edge. Since then, they have released three successful studio albums, with another one on the way. Their music surrounds their evocative and often times deeply expressive lyrics, and the end result is extraordinary. The instrumentals that the duo cultivates are rich and flush with sound, and give their music that dark, moody edge that is so satisfying. Their song “Glory” has all of these components, which make it such an amazing song. It’s powerful and emotional, and the guitar and bass lines are spectacular. “Glory” is from Wye Oak’s fourth studio album Shriek, which will be released on April 29th of this year.

 

P

Favela – “Easy Yoke”

a2197745013_2Favela is a 21 year old musician from Leeds, England. He is a relatively new artist in the indie electronic scene, but based on his gorgeous song “Easy Yoke,” there is a huge chance he will be extremely successful in 2014. “Easy Yoke” opens with a colorful, melancholic violin solo, then the synth beats propel it into the atmosphere. His voice is beautiful, and meshes well with the outstanding electronic instrumentals. The song has a depressing, yet mesmerizing effect, which definitely has to do with the well-written lyrics and Favela’s remarkable focus and control. “Easy Yoke” is from Favela’s debut EP of the same name, which was released January of 2014.

 

P

Cloud Boat – “Carmine”

artworks-000074061893-rpvz75-t200x200Tom Clarke of Cloud Boat has the sort of voice that can only be accurately described as hauntingly beautiful. It manages to express and articulate many different emotions in a few amount of words, which is a quality that proves how innovative a band really is. Cloud Boat is composed of duo Tom Clarke and Sam Ricketts, whose dreamlike electronic music is a breath of fresh air. It takes after James Blake’s ambient, minimalist style of music, which is not that surprising considering that I read that they’re childhood friends! Their single “Carmine” is gorgeous, and the vocals are passionate and incredibly meaningful. It has an overall painful and nostalgic feeling to it, which only adds to it’s intense beauty. “Carmine” is a brand new track and almost like a follow up for Cloud Boat’s debut album Book of Hours, which came out last year.

 

P

 

Public Service Broadcasting – “Everest” (Song of the Week 4/22/2014)

PSB_IEE_Packshot-1440x1440Public Service Broadcasting might be one of the most impressive, brilliant examples of experimental music that I’ve heard in quite some time. Public Service Broadcasting is the brainchild of London based duo J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth (which are probably the coolest names ever), who play a medley of instruments. They seek to “inform, educate, and entertain” their audiences, and they do so uniquely and intelligently. Basically, Public Service Broadcasting digs up old, grainy video footage from century-old propaganda films, educational tapes, and obviously, public service announcements. They then overlay their beautifully composed and constructed instrumental music on top, and the result is something magnificent. My favorite track so far is the mesmerizing song “Everest,” where gorgeous, almost futuristic guitar melodies take center stage. The drumming propels the guitar into the atmosphere, where it drifts seamlessly in the air. The song gives off the feelings and ideas of hope as well as nostalgia and sadness (along with the comforting, informative narrative about the wonders of Mount Everest) without the use of sung vocals. Public Service Broadcasting aims to “teach the lessons of the past through the future of music,” a concept that is just so unbelievably awesome to me. I mean, if I had videos like this to both teach me about history and inform me about the glory of music when I was growing up, I would love history a lot more. Their song titles include “ROYGBIV,” a song about color and imagination with bluegrass and Mediterranean influences, “The Now Generation,” a more technological song, and “Spitfire,” a song about the legendary aircraft. Overall, Public Service Broadcasting has really opened my eyes to more experimental music and what they’re doing is incredible, which is why I picked their song for song of the week. “Everest” is from Public Service Broadcasting’s debut album Inform – Educate – Entertain, which came out in may of 2013.

 

P

 

Clean Bandit – “Extraordinary”

Clean Bandit - Dust Clears (Video)I love Clean Bandit. Their energetic songs filled with glorious synth, repetitive drumming and piano chords, and of course, gorgeous violin and cello melodies always put me in a better mood. I have already talked about their song “Dust Clears,” but I feel like it’s necessary to write about their newest track “Extraordinary.” It’s ethereal at the beginning, with contemplative piano and seamless vocals by Sharna Bass, but then slowly erupts into this breathtaking wall of sound that is exuberant and joyful, making it perfect for summer. The violin melodies are beautiful and tie the whole thing together. Clean Bandit are continuing to wow everyone with their amazingly directed music videos that showcase their genius compositions. Hopefully they will release an album soon!

 

P

Prides – “The Seeds You Sow”

prides-the-seeds-you-sow-ep-cover-press-300Prides is a highly energetic, vibrant synth-pop indie band from Glasgow. The three-piece band have really sprung up out of nowhere, but I’m glad I found out about them. Their song “The Seeds You Sow” from their upcoming EP of the same name can be described as a sort of anthem, propelled with rhythmic drum beats and repeated vocal chants. Singer and keyboardist Stewart Brock explains that the song is about realizing that everything that happens around you is a direct result of your own actions, and that the chorus of the song is all about letting go and losing yourself in the process. “The Seeds You Sow” is from Prides debut EP of the same name, which was released earlier this year.

 

P

River Tiber – “Atlantis”

artworks-000071507884-hj54mf-t200x200Tommy Paxton-Beesley is a 23 year old singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who started the band River Tiber with the goal of producing dark and gritty electronic sounds that were still original and raw. He recorded everything himself for his debut EP, only inviting other musicians to join him when he performs live. When you listen to the recorded tracks, it really is remarkable that one person can do all of that (singing, playing multiple instruments, editing, producing). The Toronto musician released his EP The Star Falls at the end of last year, and has just recently showed off his brand new song titled “Atlantis.” It’s a song that you can lose yourself to, with it’s free-flowing guitar melodies and delicate, passionate vocals. It mellows out towards the chorus where gorgeous vocal harmonies take center stage, and the melancholic overtones are quite nice and relaxing.

 

P

 

Band Appreciation Friday – Passion Pit

And I believe in gentle harmony

Passion Pit is one of those electronic indie pop bands that have something for everyone. Even if you’re not that familiar with the intensity of electronic music, Passion Pit eases you in gently and carefully. The infectious energy in their songs breaks apart from the norm and everything from the intense synth beats to the creative lyrics pull you in for more. I was introduced to this wonderful band about four years ago when one of my best friends showed me their debut album, and my liking for them has only grown since then.

homepage_large.775d9e10The band was formed with the members Michael Angelakos, Ian Hultquist, Xander Singh, and Jeff Apruzzese. They were all attending Berklee College of Music, with the exception of Michael Angelakos, who went to Emerson College. Hultquist discovered Michael Angelakos at one of his solo shows, and asked him to collaborate. Shortly after, Passion Pit was formed and the band got to work. Passion Pit released their debut album Manners in 2009, and it was the anticipated follow up to their impressive EP Chunks of Change. “Make Light,” the album’s first track, pays homage to the EP and houses delicate, sweet-sounding keyboard riffs, as well as focused drumming. “Little Secrets” and “The Reeling “(my personal favorite from this album) utilizes synth a bit more, and brings the album alive. This is also done with Michael Angelakos’s unique, sharp, and often times flinty falsetto voice that almost seems to pierce the thick layers of texture brought by the overpowering instruments. “Folds In Your Hands” sounds like synth savvy band Hot Chip and brooding, intense band Daft Punk did a collaboration, and is definitely the most exotic, eclectic track on this album. And of course, Manners has the popular track “Sleepyhead,” where eerie vocals take charge with chimes that seem to dangle and dazzle in the air like diamonds. Overall, Manners was an incredibly extroverted, exuberant album, where Passion Pit makes clear their strengths and their intent to be something beyond themselves; something that resembles both the exhilarating joys and the inevitable wickedness and sorrow of life and love.

homepage_large.5cfdc584Gossamer, Passion Pit’s second album, was released in 2012. This album was a bit more refined and luxurious compared to their first, which was refreshing, considering Manners was a more synthetic and dark. “Take A Walk” opens the album, and it’s bouncy, often ambling beats mixed with overlapping vocals make it an amazing, addictive song. It’s delightfully overwhelming as the first track of the album, and it really gets the ball rolling. Passion Pit wastes absolutely no time getting their point across, and from there, the album erupts with sound. Fans of Michael Angelakos’s falsetto voice hear sides of it that were rarely heard in Manners, and get to indulge in his softer, more delicate side, as seen in “I’ll Be Alright,” and “Carried Away,” songs that are both fast paced and extremely catchy. The lyrics are simple, but effective, which add to the major, mass broad appeal that Passion Pit undoubtedly possesses. “Constant Conversations” seems like it pays homage to a  more laid back style, with apparent R&B influences. “On My Way” is the closest thing to a romantic song that you’re going to get, with the radiating chime-like notes and an anthem style chorus with chords that seem to expand and fill the room you’re in. The lyrics are semi sarcastic yet charming, and sits well as Gossamer’s half-way point. The album continues with the classic Passion Pit sounding songs “Two Veils to Hide My Face” and “Love is Greed,” which strengthen the album and give it a sense of continuity. “Where We Belong” closes the album, and the collective orchestral section gives it a nice, well rounded sense of completion. The re-introduction of Michael Angelakos’s beautifully changeable voice is also something to marvel at. Overall, Gossamer sent a different message than Manners. It housed happier, brighter sounds despite the overbearing feelings of confusion and anxiety, and Michael Angelakos assures the listener that things will change, because he is going through the troubles of life as well.

Often times, Passion Pit’s electrifying music can be a sort of veil that hides the dark, often times deeply haunting lyrics – meaning that the infectious harmonies and addictive dance beats can mask and distract the listener from the personal, vulnerable vocals about the severity of life – and that’s what makes them both brilliant and wonderfully intimidating. The fact that they can make the listener feel like they are feeling happiness while at the same time really trying to evoke a sense of helplessness is genius, which makes Passion Pit that much more of a relatable, intuitive band. They really find ways to help you through your problems, reminding you that it will all be more than okay, and in the meantime, to smile through your sadness.

 

P