Posts by Kyle Copier
Cover songs present a slew of issues-from trying to make an original song sound original again to avoiding sounding different just for the sake of sounding different- and somewhere in the midst of those issues lies some sort of a sweet spot, a sweet spot Utah superduo Oh, Be Clever have set up shop in for the entirety of their cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World”.
From the onset, singer Brittney Shields’ voice (which I have at this point given up trying to find more superlatives for) takes up a haunting tone to pair with Producer/Writer Cory Layton’s ideal as always soundscape while the record presents a caressing yet cold tone. The contrast between the lullaby-like tone of Shields’ vocals and the dark lyrics she recites captures the essence of the song in ideal fashion.
Layton’s work on the instrumental gives new life to the record. The grim overall sound of the instrumental plays out at a slower pace than the original, lending to that aforementioned contrast as well.
Listen to “Mad World” here:
When Oh, Be Clever released “Love You Now” around the beginning of the summer, I was majorly impressed by the way Brittney Shields’ vocals sounded over the softer soundscape Cory Layton had put together. “Love You Now” was something very different from the duo, and I praised the versatility present in the record. For reference, here’s that original track:
But I know what you were wondering. “What if this track, being one of the more laid back Oh, Be Clever songs yet, was even MORE laid back? Like ‘haven’t moved from the couch in hours’ kind of laid back?” Well that’s where Jeff & Philo come in.
This remix sounds like one of those looped vine videos of someone riding a bike behind some super bright summer video filter. The synth work on the instrumental sounds scientifically designed to force you to chill, and the non-offending drums lend to that feeling. I could imagine playing this remix for around 2 days in a row without finding the motivation to stop it- partially because of how good it is and partially because of how calm I feel listening to it. The added genius of this remix lies in the way Jeff & Philo took a genre which usually ditches vocals for instrumentals and still allowed Brittney Shields’ vocals to play a major part in the overall sound.
This Viola Beach posthumous album is a review I’ve struggled with for a few weeks. How do you review a debut album that also happens, by way of terrible circumstances, to be a final album? What do you say about the talent of a (by all accounts) joyful, warm group of artists who came on to the scene just as quickly as they left it with something as impressive as this album? When I first heard “Swings and Waterslides” last year, I fully expected to be celebrating a big album release from Viola Beach at some point this year, but I obviously never expected these to be the circumstances under which the album was celebrated. The good news is, if there’s anything to be said about this album, it’s that the members of Viola Beach really left us with something special.
Those familiar with the name will warmly recognize “Swings and Waterslides”, the mammoth of a summer song Viola Beach first introduced themselves with. Despite the situation of what materialized from its release to now, the song still holds its warm vibe, and takes familiar listeners back to the first time they heard it.
“Like a Fool” carries the feeling from “Swings and Waterslides” and quickly establishes a Viola Beach standby: ear worm guitar work in the verses. So many songs on this album feature this kind of guitar work, and Kris Leonard’s vocals fit the vibe of this sound like a glove. “Go Outside” sits as my personal favorite among new tracks from the album for that very reason, as the catchy guitar riff is matched by the cadence of the vocals in the verse on the way to one of the group’s more different sounding choruses. Other pre-released standouts like “Boys That Sing” and “Cherry Vimto” gain a deeper sort of post release understanding when packaged together with the rest of the “new” tracks, and bring an unexpected feeling of cohesion to a project that must not have been entirely ready for release.
As a listener, we are left wondering just how much of the album was “finished”, or how many of these songs were entirely meant for an album with the untimely passing of the group and their manager, but it is just that uncertainty that adds tremendously to the overall feeling. Songs like “Get To Dancing”, which is marked as a BBC session, have a raw sound to them that shows us as listeners the truest sound of Viola Beach: uptempo, catchy instrumentals with lyrics just as standout as their presenter’s captivating voice. This will be how Viola Beach is remembered- as an unquestionably sky-high talented group deterred only by tragic circumstances. In a story marked by bad news, the silver lining is that the members of Viola Beach can live on forever through this collection of songs, a collection I feel the drive to recommend more highly than anything I’ve ever recommended on this site or any other. RIP.
From the opening of “Happy”, Annabel Jones employs an almost nursery rhyme like flow as her melancholy voice peaks and dips in a saw pattern over some delicate keys, quickly establishing her vocal control as a standout element of the record. This impressive control continues to shine over the duration of the track, as Jones’ clarity fits perfectly with the more expansive sections of the instrumental.
On the side of the instrumental, synth bass and other electronic elements augment an otherwise stripped down beat for a very interesting sound; production over this track switches from tranquil piano ballad to video game soundtrack at a quick pace without sounding forced.
Listen to “Happy” here!
In the years I’ve followed Utah superduo Oh, Be Clever, one thing that has impressed me a great deal has been their versatility; and it is again versatility that impresses on their new release, “Love You Now”.
“Love You Now” a bit of an exercise of the abnormal for both Layton and Shields when compared to the rest of their releases. For producer/writer Layton, the usual “big” sounding instrumentals have become a staple, but during the four minutes of “Love You Now”, the interesting kick pattern draws most of the attention for the beat as soft synths fill in the verses and a wavy guitar contributes on the chorus. The spacey overall feel of the instrumental presents an ideal backdrop for the vocals to shine on.
From a vocal standpoint, listeners are met with the softest sounding track from Brittney Shields yet. Shields usually switches between the powerhouse vocals of “Next To You“, the chilling vocals of “Blanket“, or even a potent mixture of the two, but the sound she creates over the instrumental of “Love You Now” is one that perfectly fits a theme that the duo doesn’t address too often. Oh, Be Clever love songs are often times crafted with a bleak outlook; songs like “Lost You“, “Next To You” (specifically the bridge), and “Paint Me Gold” can easily illustrate my point, but the coaxing tone of the lyrics match that similar vocal tone of “Love You Now” to create what sounds like the most hopeful love song the duo have released to date.
Check out “Love You Now” Here!
Lucian has been wowing fans with remixes for a long time, and almost a year after a previous Remmi collaboration, the New York based producer has again linked up with Remmi for another dream team performance in “Forever”, the first single off of the upcoming EP.
From the first second of “Forever”, Remmi (who you’ve heard here before) gives Lucian’s instrumental an ideal vocal companion to rock with, and by the time you’ve even processed the catchiness of Remmi’s vocals, Lucian’s wave of synth-heavy showmanship grabs your attention with just as many marks in authority as those chilled vocals receive in mesmerization. I never knew I could like such brisk changes in feel as much as I did in this track, but the way Remmi lulls the listener to sleep before Lucian hits them over the head with a barrage of sound works just that well.
Check out “Forever” here!
For those of you graduating soon, sizing up finding a job and the like, and looking to have a good time before you have to learn about the real world, Youngr’s new track “Out Of My System” is the perfect backing song for your “trip with friends to some other country” montage video. Or anything else, really.
Glowing synths open up an electro pop beat bursting with whirring sounds and deep bass where Youngr finds himself reflecting on the time he has to live the fun parts of life before he has to “go buy a shirt and tie”. Mellow vocals support the tone of the record which at times comes across as a conversation in Youngr’s own head and becomes a wise bit of advice to those in his similar situation. Where “Out Of My System” really works is in the way the vocals stay within the confines of the beat. There are no forced “big” vocal moments on the track, only methodical sound choices that fit perfectly together with the overall record. In the end, all that remains are spot on vocals, an attention grabbing beat, and a push of the replay button.
Listen to “Out Of My System” here:
Stockholm Indie-Dance artist Skogsrå (named with a nod to The Huldra, a “seductive forest creature found in Scandinavian folklore”- according to Skogsrå’s Facebook) may carry one of the most interesting names you’ve ever tried to wrap your head around, and with the recent release of “Out Of Time”, can also boast one of the hardest tracks to get out of your head.
“Out Of Time” starts with a guitar riff that challenges the catchy sounds of a “Get Lucky” type track and keeps its foot firmly pressed down on the “ear worm” pedal throughout the entirety of the record. Supreme vocals and pulsating synths thrive off each other over a dance-heavy drum pattern while the aforementioned guitar work swings in the background to create a vibe sure to dominate everybody’s summer playlist.
The genius of this track is in the way Skogsrå has mixed together these vibes that are seldom heard together to make a new combination that feels familiar. “Out Of Time” reminds you of some of your favorite summer hits while still sounding like something you’ve never heard before.
Listen to “Out Of Time” here!
Norwegian Electro-pop artist Astrid S made waves last year with “2AM“, an attention-grabbing showcase of vocal abilities, and after some time without an official solo release, she’s back with the recently released “Paper Thin”.
From the open of the instrumental, vocal shouts and bending synths set an interesting soundscape for Astrid’s glossy vocals to work with. Growling lower-pitched vocals are doubled underneath Astrid’s voice to create a contrast in the verse before more stabbing synths and drums in the chorus set a more up-tempo vibe.
The greatness of “Paper Thin” lies in the harmony between artist and production- Astrid’s vocals and the instrumental alternate between powerful and fragile at blink-speed in a way that perfectly compliments the strengths of both elements. This is especially evident in the transition from the bridge to the final chorus, where the vocals and instrumental build off each other to a gripping close.
Check out “Paper Thin” Here:
Over a release schedule spanning 3 years (at least on Soundcloud), Jazz/Soul Singer-Songwriter Isabel has been routinely supplying quality music, and her recent release, “Fences”, is a clear and definitive step in a strong direction for the Brisbane artist.
Riding uncomplicated and smooth production (a mainstay in her releases to date), Isabel’s sizzling voice stars among the keys and drums on the Steve Thornely assisted record, creating a stripped down feel. Lyrically, Isabel mixes unpredictability with just enough familiarity to create a stunning original concept. The final product is a resounding statement of intent from an upcoming artist with undeniable potential to make some waves in the near future.
Listen to “Fences” here!
Clever synth and drum work remains the name of the game on the part of Ben Marshall, as he mixes peaceful pumping synths with a like-minded kick drum in the verse, leading up to a colossal chorus sound complete with buzzing synths and stadium drums. Katie Marshall again returns with a glove-tight fit over her brother’s production, trading the velvety vocals she displayed in “Get Away” for an impressive showing of vocal reach in the chorus.
What continues to work so well for Paperwhite is the duo’s ability to change pace so abruptly, yet keep the cohesion of the record intact. Count Paperwhite for 2/2 on their last two releases.
Check out “Unstoppable” right here!
Known for a more up-tempo, dance-heavy vibe, French producer LeMarquis went in a totally new direction with his recent release, “Hurricane”, featuring top notch vocals from UK singer Alo Lee, and the end result is a dreamy, atmospheric work of brilliance from the two.
LeMarquis brings his usual production prowess to the mix, this time flexing muscles you wouldn’t even know he had if you’d listened to his previous releases. Clever drum work takes a more prominent place over heavy synth tones as LeMarquis creates a shadowy soundscape complete with echoing vocal shouts surrounding Alo Lee’s voice in the chorus.
Lee herself contrasts with the tone of the instrumental in flawless fashion, adding dreamy vocals to the nightmarish soundscape in a way that establishes an alluring harmony. LeMarquis said of the collaboration “when I started to look for a singer, Alo came straight to mind”, and it’s easy to see why.
Check out “Hurricane” here: