Transatlanticsm birthed a band (greetings Twin Atlantic) and remains in my opinion, Death Cab's best record. Sparse and slow, this album soundtracks late night winter drives and despite being released in 2003, remains a zeitgeist of Winter 2012 for me. The melancholic Title and Registration could be written in Stephen Chbowsky's prose, and the title track is nearly eight minutes of utter perfection. Death Cab are masters of the restrained; managing to hold back the pace of Transatlanticsm, building piano and guitar chords into the tensest crescendo in existence. When it finally gives, a sign of relief is tangibly felt. This incredible song (and album) is one that everybody should hear.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
A new year signifies the time when all the music press jump on the 'who to look out for' bandwagon, plucking the latest so-an-so's from obscurity. The fact of the matter is that the record companies with the most money dictate the bands that make the 'Sound Of' lists, and so those bands who've won radio play are the ones who'll obviously make it big in the twelve months that follow. Here at An Indie Ed I tend to choose bands that are just bloody fantastic. Here is Part One of my 'Bands To Watch Out For in 2014'.
You Me At Six-The pop-punk upstarts have blossomed into an arena-bothering rock band and seemed to have hit their stride on their recent tour with 30 Seconds To Mars. Pop-rock that could admit them to Glasto and Reading appears to be YMAS's forte and it's just a shame that they hadn't taken this turn earlier. Leaving their hardcore collabs behind, and with 'Cavalier Youth' out next January, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the year that the Underdogs usurp the competition.
Anavae- Anavae were a band that I've loved unconditionally for the past year and a half, but it wasn't until their Dimensions EP hit the Internet that I realized they really were due to become the next big thing. I couldn't remember the last time that there was a new band I'd found that had a distinct sound to offer, and Anavae seem to combine the high energy of my favourite pop-punk bands, with well-written songs, addictive riffs, perfect lyrics, and hey, that long-lost thing called originality.
The Republic Of Wolves- The Long Island quartet have only just hit my radar thanks to a recent recommendation, and despite being on hiatus since 2011, are due to release their second full-length album later this month. Perfect timing for anyone suffering from a Brand New withdrawal, as TROW first leaked their music under their name, causing hassle but drawing significant attention to their melancholic Jesse Lacey-meets-Death Cab-with-screams sound. Hopefully 2014 will see their songs being stocked in UK stores.
Tonight Alive-Offering a slice of heavy female-fronted pop-punk, Jenna McDougall brings another much-needed x chromosome to a male-dominated scene. Their latest album almost feels like their first, in that its cohesive sound seems like a good jumping point from which to hit the stratosphere. Or at least Reading Festival. Please Festival Republic, I'm begging you.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Analyse the connections between place and identity in any two texts studied on this part of the module: Quicksand and Song Of Solomon
In the novels ‘Quicksand’ and ‘Song Of Solomon’ by Nella Larsen and Toni Morrison respectively, place and identity are inextricably linked. This essay will aim to explore this connection and analyse how identity can be defined by location and, additionally, how changing location can affect one’s sense of self.
Protagonist Helga Crane sits contained within her room where she teaches at an American school, in the opening passage of ‘Quicksand’.
It was a comfortable room, furnished with rare and intensely personal taste, flooded with Southern sun in the day, but shadowy just then with the drawn curtains and single shaded light.
The third person narration signifies how Helga is not given her own voice in the text. Despite her ‘Southern’ origins, the modifier ‘shadowy’ implies that the character is not content with her current location and the ‘drawn curtains’ suggest that Helga actively seeks solace from the outside world. In isolation, Helga is a ‘rare’ and unique woman who uses interior decoration as a form of self-expression. The author’s inclusion of ‘intensely personal taste’ evokes the idea that Helga has developed a strong sense of self, but elects to keep it hidden. She is forced perhaps to internalize her exotic personality in a place that demands conformity. In this instance, location can repress individuality.
Conversely, the character of Macon Dead in ‘Song Of Solomon’ is named after a location and furthermore defines his identity through the pursuit and acquisition of property.
All of it’s not white people’s houses. Some of it’s nothing. Just land. Way over on the other side. It could be a nice summer place for colored people. Beach houses.
The prepositions ‘over’ and ‘other side’ signify how the ‘beach houses’ are aspirational for Macon. He associates them with ‘white people’, and aims to identify with their capitalist ideology as amassing wealth signifies success to the character. The unusual syntax of the first sentence helps evoke the image of a small section of homes left for ‘colored people’. Moreover, Macon’s defiant simple sentence ‘Just land.’ signifies how he feels he is still marginalised, and reveals how land bears a great significance to him. The conditional ‘could’ also reveals his ambitious personality; always reaching for some bigger and better place that will offer the insecure man a tangible sense of security. This security is gained from Macon’s association between property and his late land-owning parent. His sense of identity develops from knowing that he is following in the steps of his father.
Helga reunites with her family, overseas in Denmark. While in Copenhagen, her relatives cultivate a new identity for the woman, so that she’ll fit into the local art scene.
She was incited to inflame attention and admiration. She was dressed for it, subtly schooled for it. And after a little while she gave herself up wholly to the fascinating business of being seen, gaped at, desired. (Quicksand, p.74).
The repetition of ‘she was’ here clearly demonstrates how Helga ‘gave herself up’, and almost lost her true identity at the hands of her family. Far from the inconspicuous creature Crane has been depicted as, suddenly she is ‘dressed’ and ‘schooled’ into being an exotic spectacle. ‘Gaped at’ and ‘desired’ are used by the author to foreground Helga’s inaction, showing that she has allowed the inhabitants of this place to mould and change her. An immobile Helga is objectified by the alliterative ‘attention and admiration’, which demonstrate how her relatives used her individuality and ‘otherness’ as a means of turning a spotlight on themselves. ‘Incited’ suggests that she was encouraged to become ‘fascinating’, and this reveals how Helga was a reluctant player in this ‘business’ of forging identity.
In ‘Song Of Solomon’ Milkman embarks on a journey that will enable him to recover his roots. Unlike Helga, in his family’s hometown of Shalimar he finally feels at peace.
He ran back to Solomon’s store and caught a glimpse of himself in the plate-glass window. He was grinning. His eyes were shining. He was as eager and happy as he had ever been in his life. (Song, p.304)
Milkman’s eagerness to identify his forefathers is suggested by ‘ran back to Solomon’s store’. The shop bears the name of his great-grandfather, which signifies the importance between places and names that Morrison highlights in the novel. The author’s use of the present continuous ‘grinning’ conversely evokes a paused moment in time, where Milkman is framed by the ‘plate-glass window’. These concrete nouns evoke a sense of solidity and security, again linking Milkman to his father whose identity is defined by the property he owns. The ‘window’ could also connote a window to his past, signifying therefore that the ‘glimpse of himself’, is Milkman identifying at last as a part of the family he has rejected for so long. When he is reunited with his family’s hometown, Morrison implies that Milkman finally discovers his true, ‘happy’ self.
Morrison’s novel suggests that we are happiest in the place where we came from, however when Helga returns to the American South in ‘Quicksand’ Nella Larsen quickly makes it clear that the protagonist finds her oppressive hometown anything but freeing.
How, then, was she to escape from the oppression, the degradation, that her life had become? It was so difficult. It was terribly difficult. It was almost hopeless. (Quicksand, p.135)
Larsen is far from subtle in conveying Helga’s sense of being repressed. The repetition of ‘difficult’ foregrounds how challenging she finds emancipation; however the double negative as such suggests that the answers weren’t so hard to find after all. Perhaps it was Helga herself who was ‘hopeless’. Throughout the duration of the novel she seems to fail to express her identity, blaming it on each ‘place’ not being right. The trio of ‘it was’ perpetuates the idea of Helga blaming everything around her, and suggests that she is too apathetic to overcome her oppression. The modifier ‘terribly’ could be used to describe both Helga’s situation, and how she is dealing with it. All these negative connotations suggest that the ‘degradation’ has worn Helga’s sense of self back to the bare bones. She is a shadow of her former flamboyant self, or perhaps tired of always faking her identity to suit her surroundings. In the end, she concedes to the drudgery of Alabaman life, becomes a reproductive machine and loses her sense of identity altogether.
Both novels have a cyclical structure that entwines place and identity. In ‘Quicksand’, Helga journeys forward to new places, and tries out different identities only to return ‘home’ and realise that she is still the oppressed black female that she has always been inside. In ‘Song Of Solomon’ Milkman initially rejects his family, before undertaking a journey that literally and figuratively follows in his forefather’s footsteps. He searches for a sack of gold in pursuit of wealth like his father, finds comfort in Shalimar like Jake and finally leaps into the ether like Solomon at the end of the novel. Morrison suggests that our identity is ingrained in the lands of our elders, while Larsen’s novel teaches us that changing location can alter our sense of self, but both texts ultimately imply that our identity is defined by our past, and not the place that we’re in.
 Nella Larsen, Quicksand, (London: Serpent’s Tail, 2010), p.1. All further references are to this edition and are given parenthetically in the text.
 Toni Morrison, Song Of Solomon, (London: Vintage, 2006), p.33. All further references are to this edition and are given parenthetically in the text.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Panic! At The Disco's third effort, Vices & Virtues offered ten 'baroque rock' songs that fell into the genre of theatrical pop. With the feel of a dark, gothic musical, Brendon and Spencer proved that losing band members had not had a negative effect on their musical output. Hurricane, Memories and Trade Mistakes could be Glee material (if Glee was uber cool). As always, Brendon packed in the literary references (A Streetcar Named Desire, anyone?) that made Vices and Virtues the witty and fantastica record that it is. If any further proof of this album's appeal is needed: my mom is a fan. Did you get that? My mother approves.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Friday, November 22, 2013
2013 has been an epic year. When it comes to albums of incredible proportions, only three of my Top Ten were released in the last twelve months. New music on the whole isn't getting me all that excited at the moment, and so, I've trawled through an array of artist's back catalogs and waded back again with these brilliant efforts. They really are something else.
1. Sometimes: City And Colour
For Fans Of: Acoustic guitar, Reverb, Dallas Green, Being Wistful
Best Track: Comin' Home
Sentimental Value: Reminiscent of a New Year, and trudging through the snow to college
2. Transatlanticsm: Death Cab For Cutie
For Fans Of: Crescendos, Zoey Deschanel's ex-husband, nice lyrics
Best Track: Transatlanticsm
Sentimental Value: It reminds me of wintertime, dark nights, and rain-sodded trips to the cinema
3. Dimensions: Anavae
For Fans Of: VersaEmerge, Rock Music, Thought Provoking Lyrics
Best Track: Hang Man
Sentimental Value: The EP is the product of years of hard work which will hopefully result in success for an underrated, and incredibly talented band.
4. Crazy For You: Best Coast
For Fans Of: Surf Pop, Lazy Guitar Lines, Bethany Cosentino
Best Track: Our Deal
Sentimental Value: Sunny days, loafing around in the garden, feeling happy
5. Fidlar: Fidlar
For Fans Of: Narcotics, Wavves, Black Flag, Having A Laugh, Punk
Best Track: Cocaine
Sentimental Value: Reminds me of a good summer, a week in France, and finding some really cool music
6. Boxcar Racer: Boxcar Racer
For Fans Of: Tom Delonge, Blink182, Emo
Best Track: And I
Sentimental Value: It's all artistic and thoughtful Blink182, until you get to My First Punk Song
7. Your Favourite Weapon: Brand New
For Fans Of: Proper pop-punk, The Noughties, Angst, Jesse Lacey
Best Track: Secondary
Sentimental Value: The best pop-punk record ever, and an introduction to my favourite band
8. Paramore: Paramore
For Fans Of: Paramore, Cohesive Albums, Hayley Williams
Best Track: Daydreaming
Sentimental Value: The album reminds me of fresh starts and epic concerts.
9. The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Of Me: Brand New
For Fans Of: Biblical References, Jesse Lacey's Lyricism, Incredible Song-writing
Best Track: Degausser
Sentimental Value: It was the first Brand New album that I ever owned, and it is also one of Dan Flint's favourite records. He told me in person.
10. Deja Entendu: Brand New
For Fans Of: The Best Album You Will Ever Hear
Best Track: Play Crack The Sky
Sentimental Value: This album is everything
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
After an American, followed by a European Tour, You Me At Six are BACK in the UK in support of Thirty Seconds To Mars. Catch up with their tour so far, and catch a familiar face at the 1:44 mark.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Love Lust Faith And Dreams: You Me At Six and Thirty Seconds To Mars @CardiffMotorpointArena Part Two
Somehow, I seemed to recover from this *cringe inducing* fail of mine, and I rounded off the interview nice and swiftly. It was my first interview after all, it wasn't going to go perfectly. We took a quick picture for 'the website' and intended to leave. I had a very exciting evening planned; watching the Christmas lights being turned on. My flatmates were waiting for me. Dan said he'd see us later, and wished us a good time at the show. I turned around; "Oh, we haven't got tickets" to which he replied; "Oh, you're on our guest list."
NOW THAT MY FRIENDS IS HOW I RECOVERED. "Oh, by the way, high-five-fails-aside, you're seeing the show. For free. After you've met some of one of your favourite bands. No big deal, India."
Figuratively skipping with joy, we said bye and headed to the Traders Tavern for pre-concert vino. The night had just reached epic proportions. I really couldn't believe how good the day had been so far, and we were yet to see two of my favourite bands play live later that night. The evening inevitably progressed and after picking up our enveloped tickets from the box office, we got the drinks in and engaged in the obligatory pre-gig-convo with some strangers at the cashpoint. You Me At Six soon started up and we made our way into the Arena.
You Me At Six kept the new tracks to a minimum, playing most of their Sinners-era party hits. Lived A Lie, from upcoming album Cavalier Youth showed the crowd of Echelons that the band would be bringing a new 'anthemic' sound to the table in the future. YMAS proved that Arenas like Cardiff Motorpoint are now well within their stride, and that headlining them will be their inevitable future.
Thirty Seconds To Mars turned the vibe in the Arena from gig to theatrical show. Stage invasions, an extended acoustic section in the middle of their set, and a backdrop of short movies made the trio's performance very different to any other concert I'd been to in the past. Jared's vocals were pitch perfect, and the show was incredible and utterly fascinating from start to finish.