Sunday, 10 April 2016

Quality Not Quantity: The Gray Havens - Neighbourhood Youth - Basement Revolver

The Gray Havens - . Ghost Of A King.

Background promo - Three words. That’s how it started. Three words that teased the start of a story, a story that became a song and a title track for an album that was originally only supposed to be an EP. Three words that hint at a bit of mystery: “Met a ghost….”

There’s already a touch of mystery in the name of Dave and Licia Radford’s band, The Gray Havens. It provides a moment of recognition and camaraderie for Tolkien fans who know the reference to the mythical seaport where ships sail away to a far country. Beyond the reference, the name helps the listener learn what to expect: this is music meant to take us somewhere.

The Gray Havens’ third studio release, Ghost of a King, finds the husband-wife duo in fine form, stretching musical boundaries and writing some of their most personal and powerful lyrics yet. Dave notes an important difference this time around: “The last two records both have songs on them I wrote in college, so I feel like I've been making records with both myself and my college self. These songs are all very new, just recently written, so they feel very current and representative of where we're at in life.” That present station in life has changed quite a bit with a move to Nashville and the arrival of Simon, a beautiful baby who’s already seen more time in a recording studio than most aspiring musicians.

Not only does the album surround the listener with immersive soundscapes and lyrical imagination, it shows off the couple’s vocal prowess. Dave’s voice was first heard on a national stage when, as a high school student, he made the top twenty on American Idol Season Five. It’s probably better now that more people know him for The Gray Havens than for Idol, since the band’s music is so far removed from the standards he crooned a decade ago.

Today, The Gray Havens are making the most well-crafted music of their career. The partnership with Shive seems especially propitious; the band and producer have crafted music that deserves the finest speakers or headphones. If Tolkien’s seaport (the Grey Havens) is a launching point from which the traveller sails toward a distant holy shore, then Ghost of a King is travelling music. This collection of expressive songs speak wisdom into the here and now even while they cast a watchful eye toward the holy shore.

The lead track from the album 'Ghost Of A King' is a wonderfully crafted song, that gives the listener a good feel for this ten track album, released just a couple of days ago. The songs all have a precious and personal feel, with the listener allowed to sit in on, and be part of the story. Music and vocals are crisp and quite engaging, and the songs vary in tempo and power, with a fine mixture of instruments and sounds adding to the variety.


Neighbourhood Youth - Atlantic.

Background promo - It‘s hard to anchor indie rock collective, Neighbourhood Youth, to a particular time or place. After bursting back onto the scene in 2015 with the highly driven ‘Feel Our Cold’ and ‘For Nothing’, the Melbourne quartet today unveil ‘Atlantic’, the final single off their upcoming, sophomore EP.

‘Atlantic’ sheds light on the raw life cycle of the Atlantic salmon, who ultimately meet their demise after laying their eggs, so that their offspring can feed off them and survive. The tale carries an underlining appreciation for the sacrifices our loved ones make for us, while also revealing a new found confidence in the band’s lyricism.

In true Neighbourhood Youth fashion, ‘Atlantic’ carries a ton of grit and power, but it is the way the boys comfortably steer the track that truly highlights their progress as not only musicians, but songwriters. Recorded at Tender Trap Studios with long time producer, Greg Rietwyk (Tully On Tully), the latest offering from Neighbourhood Youth is their boldest, most composed work to date, sparking what is sure to be an exciting 2016.

This is a pleasing song. Musically the band pack a punch, however they also know when to soften things and allow the raw, passionate vocals stand out. It's my introduction the band who clearly have already established a level of maturity and direction within their music.


Basement Revolver - Johnny.

Words from the band - 'Johnny' is the debut from our new band Basement Revolver. Nimal and I grew up together, we have known each other since we were about eightish, and even dated for a brief two months in High School. Somehow we both ended up going to different schools in the same city where we both fell in love with the city and it's people. Nimal met Brandon our drummer at college in their music program they both attended.  We're now all out of school and wanting to get this project out to world!  'Johnny' is my attempt to rationalise difficulties with my past partner and all the heartache and angst that comes from having a really bad time.

I've noticed we work really well as a band in the writing process, it never happens the same way, but somehow our best work comes together when we are all in the same room.  We are very excited to release our first EP this July 2016. In the meanwhile we'd love to hear what you think of our debut single. - Chrisy, Nimal & Brandon of Basement Revolver. 

It's a case of finish the weekend, or if you prefer, start the week, with something good. I say that because 'Johnny' ticks an awful lot of good boxes for me. There is a powerful 'classic' pop come rock timelessness, that matches so well, the genuine and really beautiful vocals, complete with story and the emotions of heartache. Actually on reflection this is more than 'good' - it's superb.


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