A collection of new music projects from UWS – My Critique

Those of you who’ve been following the blog recently will know I recently completed a new free sampler as part of one of my Honours modules at UWS. This is my critique of some of the other submissions that I’ve heard. More may follow as they’re made available to me.

From The Land Beyond – Buds of Lavender

The first impression I got of these tracks was that they had a Midlake-esque lofi quality to them, but more inspired by Donovan and 60s psychedelia than Tolkien and folk tales.  The fairly minimalist arrangements and dry textures suggest a more old school approach to the production, but a spacey and vocal texture-laiden outro on the final track hints towards some more shoegaze-y influences. Melodically simple yet effective, it wouldn’t feel to out of place at Newbury Festival in ’69 or in the parlours along Haight Ashbury.

Holly’s Revenge – Ross.Loves.Music

When I first met Ross, he expressed a penchant for Nick Lachey et al. Having spent about five minutes listening to Holly’s Revenge, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a lifelong Prince fan. Part pop goth, part techno horror soundtrack, the tracks are beautifully melodic, with contrasting sections of HIM style block power chords and synth-fuelled dissonance. My only qualm with the album is that the master is very quiet, which, though perfect for not trying to give my mother nightmares as she sleeps next door, makes some of the more subtle parts of the mix fairly hard to hear. This minor technical hitch aside, overall this is a great little collection of songs (it also might replace the whale in my dreams, but that’s for another blog…)

The Young Courtesan – Emma McLaughlin

I wasn’t expecting this to be an instrumental album, for a start. Given the parameters of the module, lyrics seemed to be an unspoken necessity. With that in mind, this album was a pleasant surprise, with a lot of hooky guitar parts and rhythmic surprises. This, coupled with a mild case of genre hopping, kept the piece sounding fresh even after a few plays. However, I have some thoughts. The overall feel of the album was a bit shambolic, given that there seemed to be some timing issues, and I feel that the mixdown could have been tweaked to give the tracks a better sense of space, and so the important parts stood out more in the arrangement. The composition and arrangement do show a lot of promise, but the finished product needs a bit more polish.

That’s the end of round one, folks. Still waiting to get my hands on the rest of the stuff, so I’ll keep writing as I get the material.


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