Glastonbury & Hard Rock Calling see 2013's festival season move into full swing
Albums of the week... Following 2011's massively successful collaborative album with Jay-Z 'Watch The Throne', Kanye West makes a return with a new solo effort entitled 'Yeezus'. He proves yet again that he is one serious hip-hop artist as he introduces a brand new edge to his sound that has not failed to engage his devoted fans with a number one spot on six charts including the US, the UK and Canada. As Joe Wilde summarises, 'This may be his best album to date and is probably his most discussed one too, but one thing it definitely is, is a Kanye West album and no-one can do anything quite like what he can do.' Read the Yeezus album review here.
Another album that's gaining some serious attention is everyone's favourite Icelandic rock band Sigur Ros, whose seventh album 'Kveikur' has not left any disappointment in the wake of its highly anticipated release. Their sound remains familiarly ambient as on 2012 offering 'Valtari', though has definitely become noisier and a little darker. Our reviewer Jim Pusey had only good things to say, revealing, 'Despite all the darkness to be found here, Sigur Ros have managed to create one of their most compelling albums to date by embracing that darkness and quite literally shining a light on it.' Read the review of Kveikur here.
If prizes were given out for consistency then Sunderland's Frankie & The Heartstrings would surely be among the nominees. Ever since putting out debut seven-inch 'Hunger' in the closing weeks of 2009, they've always managed to tick most boxes with every subsequent release. Cleverly orchestrated hooklines? Check. Incessant choruses? Check. Intelligent lyrics with occasional subversive twists? Check. The list goes on, and even if some of the reference points are maybe a little too obvious for some people's liking, it would be harsh in the extreme to criticise Frankie & The Heartstrings for choosing to follow the lineage of many a great British band from Orange Juice and The Smiths onwards.
So, bearing all that in mind, it's perhaps something of a travesty that they haven't quite scaled the heights predicted for them. Maybe 2011's debut long player, also entitled 'Hunger', reminisced too much for some folks in favour of establishing an identity of its own? Certainly, the Frankie & The Heartstrings live experience offers a more rounded approach than casual observers have come to discover from their recordings. Watching frontman Frankie Francis deliver yearning heartfelt pleas as those on first album staples 'Want You Back' and 'That Postcard' instils a completely different set of emotions than sitting comfortably at home listening to the record. Indeed, that's part of the problem with many bands since the year dot has revolved around trying to create the atmosphere of a live show in the studio. And with all the greatest will in the world, despite having the legendary Edwyn Collins on production duties, 'Hunger' just fell short of expectation.
This time around, the five-piece have enlisted the assistance of Bernard Butler, and while it would be unfair to credit him alone for the results here, the vast improvement between 'The Days Run Away' and its predecessor is blindingly evident. Whereas 'Hunger' at times felt like a compilation of everything the band had written up to that point, 'The Days Run Away' looks and sounds as if it was crafted intentionally. Engagingly coherent from start to finish, it's a record to cherish in the same way as The Long Blondes 'Someone To Drive You Home', The Housemartins 'London 0 Hull 4' or Veronica Falls self-titled debut. From the quintessentially English doo wop pop of opener 'I Still Follow You' through to the sensual semi-acoustic duet with Let's Buy Happiness chanteuse Sarah Hall ('Light That Breaks') that closes the album, 'The Days Run Away' represents a masterclass in patience and dexterity.
Continue reading: Frankie & The Heartstrings - The Days Run Away Album Review
Frankie & The Heartstrings new single, Everything Looks Better In The Right Light, was released on November 28th, 2011. The B-side to Everything Looks Better In The Right Light is The Way That You Kiss, which was recorded and produced with the help of The Cribs member Ryan Jarman. The band are in the midst of a UK tour with The Vaccines that has seen them play venues in Manchester; Sheffield and Newcastle. The tour is expected to continue into December, with a special one off performance in their hometown of Sunderland on December 29th, 2011.
Frankie & The Heartstrings might sound like the house band from 'Happy Days' or something of a similar ilk, but the reality of their existence couldn't be further from the truth. Hailing from the not so rock and roll confines of Sunderland, their happy-go-lucky fusion of C86 infused melodies and bittersweet lyrics has brought them to the precipice of mainstream success. Furthermore, their relentless tour schedule has helped them become one of the most efficient live acts in the country at this present moment in time. Earlier this year, the band released their debut album 'Hunger' to a clamour of positive reviews, and with a non-stop festival programme about to kick in, the band aren't in a position to relax just yet.
Continue reading: Frankie & The Heartstrings, Interview