First of all, Glass Animals are English (and gorgeous). They’re an indie rock band. And they’re from Oxford.
Are we up my alley, or are we? But regardless, these guys are still solid musicians. For once, I don’t want to rush through an entire album for you to get a taste of these guys’ sound.
I want to talk about “Gooey,” on the June 2014 LP ZABA, because this one track captures the real essence of what Glass Animals’ sound is and what they’re about.
First of all, this song is full of sexual innuendos, so if you’re awkward about it, kindly step off. We’ve got lyrics like “Ride my little pooh bear and “You just wanna know those peanut butter vibes,” but you know what? The lyrics are smooth, and supple and lead vocalist Dave Bayley’s slippery falsetto snakes around seeping basslines and psychedelic beats.
This song feels like you’re in a dream, with these sleek, texturized lyrics and lullaby sounding instrumentals. It’s strange listening to this song, because you feel like you are personally being crooned to, with Bayley’ vocals whispering in your ear, “While my naked naked fool/Fresh out of an icky gooey womb.”
There is a level of sophistication with these guys, and I’m not surprised, when you have Dave Bayley as frontman, with a degree in neuroscience from London’s King’s College. What intelligent man wouldn’t know how to perfectly craft together such a beautiful combination of intricate beats, trippy vocals, and mellow interludes of R&B? Listen, and tell me you won’t fall in love.
Because what’s not to love when there are other tracks like “Toes” that are equally as brilliant with smooth harmonies and complex lyricicsm. You’ve got this lingering swagger that is the essence of the song, with sparse percussion and underlying bass. It’s slow-tempo and it’s stripped down, lacking lots of synth and lots of energy, but it’s what makes the song great. It’s these little nuances that make Glass Animals distinctive.
Any band that’s touring right now with St. Vincent, and was signed by brilliant producer Paul Epworth (think Florence & the Machine, Bloc Party, and Adele) is a band worth listening to. And you’ve got that opportunity to, with an upcoming show at Neptune Theatre on May 24th.
It’s been rough lately, and honestly I should be writing a paper, but I’d rather write about music, so let’s just procrastinate together.
I’ve fallen in love, recently. It’s that time of year, you know? And I realize that I fall in love quite often, I’m a romantic, but this guy is worth it, I’m telling you.
Let’s meet Taylor Berrett.
As I write this, I literally can feel myself become giddy,it’s almost unreal. It’s crazy. Is this how love feels?
Okay, so this is actually really strange because I first
discovered Berrett a couple of months ago when I went to an Alex Clare show at Neptune Theatre (remember that show
preview?). He was the opener, and I remember, at the time thinking, “He’s good,
young, but this kid’s got it.” I took a couple photos, swore he was going to go
far, and then just vaguely forgot about him. Here’s a photo of him performing,
he’s a pretty rad guy.
But anyway, then I followed him on Facebook, just for news
updates and slowly Berrett began to come out with more of his own music. When he
performed a couple of months ago, he had a couple of his songs, so I knew he
could write, but I was basing his vocal ability off his Beatles covers.
So I knew this kid has talent.
It’s a little crazy I’m reviewing
this guy so soon because his debut album doesn’t even come out for another two
weeks, but the tracks and the EP that he has out now are just too good to not
talk about, and I expertly assume they will be on his debut album.
But let’s talk about my favorite
tracks first, which aren’t on his 2012 EP Anchor
Chasing. “Those Days,” a track that he just released this year, starts off
just the way I like it: with some finger snaps, simple acoustic harmonies, and a raw,
The rhythm on this track is so brilliant and the lyricism that
this man has is so natural, I am reminded of singer-songwriter (and one of my
favorite musicians) Kris Allen. We
start off easy with “Slow down, turn around/Tell me what’s tearing your heart
out baby,” building up the main chorus “Everybody has, everybody has those
days/ Feeling like an ocean, having trouble making waves.” As we build up to
the chorus, we get a little trumpet and sax into the mix, and my heart drops into
my stomach. Then bam, xylophone, and the world just stops.
It’s this perfect mix of acoustic
folk with jazz and it just feels easy
you know? You get the feel of just chilling on the beach with this guy,
drinking some margaritas, with a guitar and a guy playing saxophone in the
background. When we get to the sax solo, you know Taylor Berrett is a classy
musician and not one to be reckoned with. He knows instrumental composition,
and he knows it well.
Okay, so now for my absolute favorite
track that he has out so far. “The Heat,” a track that he released,also, just a
couple months ago is just a game changer.
It’s a little more upbeat, but it’s probably, and this may be a stretch, a
track that I would say is one of the best new singles I’ve heard this year. He starts drumming out some awesome beats,
leading in with some great vocals that just has excellent rhythm and a sense
of, once again, jazz and blues. Listen to the part when he sings his chorus, “Got
no place that I can go/ Got no money to my name/ Got no scars that I show/ Got no
bad luck I can blame.” The way he weights his vocals rhythmically is not just
catchy. It’s brilliant. The electric guitar mixed with his drummer is all so
cohesively in sync with his vocals, that you would almost expect Berrett to be
someone who’s been in the business for years. Taylor Berrett labels himself as acoustic pop,
and definitely, I can see why he would want to brand himself that way; he wants
to be commercial. But don’t let that fool you, this guy knows solid blues. He
knows solid jazz. He is catchy, but he is skilled and talented. You see it in
the last track I discussed, you see it in the bridge of this track when he
sings “They say man take it easy, enjoy it while you’re free/ I said the heat I
can stand is, is standing still against me.”
And the acoustic version is even
better. Here’s a look.
This voice. Please. There is
control, there is great tone, there is great pitch, and there is just a
When I listen to this guy, a smile
forms on my face. Is this what love feels like?
Maybe it’s the combination of the fact
that I’ve seen this guy start it out live, and then have listened to his more
matured singles, and maybe it’s the fact that I know he is the real deal
because I have seen him sing. I’m not
sure. But this is probably my favorite artist
to review thus far, and I love a lot of musicians.
But anyone, one more, let’s talk.
Let’s take it back two years, to another
track, also not on his EP. I like his EP, and we’ll get there, don’t worry. But,
honestly? I really just dig these tracks that he chooses not to publicize as
much. They’re rad. “Fair Warning,” takes it back a little bit more to his folk
roots, but he still rocks it, like usual.
You get this banjo, tambourine, campy
feel, but once again, his lyricism of, “Call me the wanderer/ Write me away/ I’ll
be the mountain you cannot escape,” never fails. This a track I’m pointing out
just to emphasize Berrett’s versatility as an artist. I’m sorry, but I don’t
care how campfire folk he gets, the man has vocals and the man can write. And
why is it surprising? This 22-year old singer from Virginia started writing songs at age 13,
so he’s had plenty of practice.
Quick note on his EP, Anchor Chasing, because I feel like I
should comment. It’s alright; I’m not trying to disregard his first published
accomplishment. Style wise, it’s more lowkey than the other tracks I’ve talked
about, simple. When you listen to it, you can hear in his voice that he still
very much new, and hey this is an EP from two years ago, so it’s
understandable. We all mature as artists.
Of the five tracks on the EP,
there are only two that I truly love and know will make it to his full length
album. “Whole Heart” is definitely a track I love best and a song I think
Berrett is exceptionally proud of especially since he keeps promoting it. It’s
full of those beautiful piano melodies that you all know I love, so points
right there. It’s two years old, but I think this is a solid original
composition of his, and personally, I’m proud. “Pomegranate Sky,” another great
one on his EP is dreamy and acoustic, but solid with some violin and piano in
the background. You feel relaxed listening to this. You have to let his voice just
take you away, and he does, successfully.
By the way, please, please, check out all his music on his soundcloud here!
All in all, this man is going to
top charts. I’m not predicting that, I’m guaranteeing it. He knows what he’s doing,
and seeing as he is already signed to Warner Brothers, and seeing as his album is
about to be released mighty soon, it’s only a matter of time.
I’m a simple girl. I like some tunes with a guitar, a piano, and some solid vocals. I’m not too fancy, I don’t always appreciate all the extras that go into a record, especially when it takes away from the vocals.
Not with James Vincent McMorrow. It’s a whole new ball game.
Let’s back up. When I heard James Vincent McMorrow was coming to town this Sunday, I became much, much too excited. An Irish singer-songwriter, McMorrow is one of my favorites. Just releasing his second album Post Tropical last winter in January, McMorrow’s sound is indescribable. Compared to his debut album of 2011, Early in the Morning¸ which had a stereotypical folk sound of straight guitar and voice, Post Tropical mixes different sounds to create this unique, cohesive juxtaposition of R&B, soul, folk, and hip hop. It helps that McMorrow’s surreal songwriting and ability to play practically every instrument is demonstrated within the album.
Mix that with his beautiful falsetto and you’ve got yourself a solid deal of music.
I’m excited for this brilliant show at Neptune Theatre, Sunday, November 16th, at 8 p.m. and see how it pans out. Personal favorites?
Pretty stoked for “Cavalier,” the opening track on Post Tropical. A beautiful piece of work, it slowly builds from hushed keys and hand claps to soaring sounds of bass, drums, and of course his gorgeous vocals.
Also, hoping to God and crossing my fingers that he pulls out “We Don’t Eat,” from his 2012 EP, because although it’s an oldie, it’s a goodie. Opening the track up with a quiet repetition of one piano key and soft drums, it escalades into this track with incredible depth.
I like the way this man builds up his jams, because man, it gives me shivers.
Basic point: Go to this show. You don’t need to be a fan of soul or indie or folk to like this man. The mixes on this album are incredibly complex and conversely inspired with different influences that anyone can fall in love with him.