Friday, 28 October 2011

NEWS: Listen to the first 'Charlotte's Web' cloudcast

If you missed the radio show on NSR this week, then check out the Week 3 cloudcast here:
 (NB: following shows may appear now too)!

Brand new tracks from Dimbleby & Capper, The Black Keys, Coldplay and Mazzy Star, as well as some great tunes from Spotlight Kid and Little Dragon...

Shows will be uploaded on a weekly basis at Mixcloud.

The lovely, Chris Scott, will be hosting the next three shows.


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

This week, it's all about...

LIVE: NME Radar Tour 2011

With the crowd sparse in attendance at this year’s NME Radar Tour at the O2 Academy Newcastle, it was up to Malin Dahlström of Niki & The Dove (Sweden’s first – no second – perhaps even fourth lady of electro-pop, with the likes of Robyn, Fever Ray and Lykki Li before her) to pull the punters in. And she didn’t disappoint. Her powerful, shrill vocals, swathed in groggy synth, constantly demanded the attention of the somewhat bemused crowd who were
clearly captivated by her Kate Bush-like immersive dance routine. The drum rumbles and trance hooks in ‘Mother Courage’ sounded flawless live and Malin Dahlström’s strange, animalistic glottal noises made it a solid, if not disturbing performance.

Storming onto the stage next with angsty self-importance was London’s post-punk/krautrockers S.C.U.M, opening with their fantastic single, ‘Amber Hands’. The chiming octave guitar chords, pounding beats and eerie fairground synths, or as the band like to put it, ‘machines/press’, were astonishing to hear live. Thomas Cohen’s Bowie-meets-Molko vocal is an instrument in itself, jittering against the onslaught of off-beat drums, cryptic sounds and jaunty bass lines in upcoming single, ‘Whitechapel’. The band are true performers - especially circus ringleader Cohen - with his spindly fingers casting a spell over the crowd.

Headliners for the evening, Wolf Gang, however were the most comfortable on stage, or should I say was, since Max McElligot is credited as the sole personification of the band. God knows why - there is astonishing chemistry between him and the other four members. Besides this, MGMT and the 80s electro-pop nuances of Talking Heads immediately sprung to mind. McElligot’s songwriting style is very advanced for his short time being recognised as an NME rising star; his choruses never fail to worm their way into your brain, with thunderous pianos, delayed guitars and sprightly falsetto harmonies. Wolf Gang are clearly the most conventional band of the night, but this is no discredit to them, since they at least got the crowd jumping to the up-beat indie pop of ‘Lions In Cages’ and swaying to the crystal-clear, angelic sounds of ‘Suego Faults’. What is refreshing overall is that NME can host a gig that shows a wealth of diverse styles breaking from the underground, and many onlookers will have left with their bellies full of wonderful, new music.

*Originally published for NSR (24/10/11)

Monday, 24 October 2011

REVIEW: Wild Beasts - 'Reach A Bit Further'

Notably inspired by the Romantics and the sublime scenery of their hometown of Kendal, Wild Beasts are certainly modern –day Lake Poets in their own right.

'Reach A Bit Further', the next single taken from their critically-acclaimed third album, Smother, shows the band submitting to this identity; with strong, lyrical metaphor exploring the vast complexities of modern romance. The quartet, however, also shuns expectations with strange, exotic syncopated drumbeats and pitchy guitars that chase each other amongst chiming xylophones. The vocal call-and-response between Hayden Thorpe’s startling countertenor and Tom Fleming’s warm Cumbrian burr is also utterly charming – Flemings’ voice is supremely reminiscent of Elbow’s Guy Garvey’s comforting tone – and the song has, however rare an occurrence, a wonderfully repetitive core. It is an absolute delight to hear.

*Published for NSR Music Blog (24/10/11)!/notes/newcastle-student-radio/wild-beasts-review-by-charlotte-krol/10150340872229195

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

NEWS: Tune in to 'Charlotte's Web' on NSR

'Charlotte's Web' has entered another dimension. You can now listen to the associated radio show live on Newcastle Student Radio, 10am - 11am on Friday mornings:

Podcasts will be uploaded onto my NSR Mixcloud account following the broadcasts:

The show will feature many of the bands/artists that I write about here.

On another note, a review of Wild Beasts' latest single and the NME Radar Tour 2011 will be posted here soon...

Monday, 17 October 2011


GIVERS are exactly what their name states; the Louisiana quintet relentlessly pump happy-go-lucky pop euphoria into every inch of their upbeat debut LP, In Light, which makes you want to embrace any unassuming stranger passing by. But is their colourful patchwork quilt of afro-pop, indie, ska, punk, nosie rock and disco all too suffocating for its fifty minute running time?
     ‘Up Up Up’ introduces the band’s cosmic, eclectic sound, with a magnetic off-beat drum snap, billowing flutes and angry synths behind an impossibly catchy chorus. When you think that the song has finished– you guessed it – GIVERS keep on giving (pun intended) from hand-clapped breakdowns and compressed vocals, to ceremonial blast beats and grand guitar slams.
     Upcoming single, ‘Meantime’, offers an equally attractive chorus, with a calypso jingle in the verse and Vampire Weekend-esque guitar solos, but ‘Saw You First’ is arguably a better choice for their next single release, for it demonstrates GIVERS ability to tone down their music and envelop it in a more rustic sound. Country acoustics are complimented by subtle, ghostly synths and a warm bass, while Tiffany Lamson and Taylor Guarisco’s harmonies and hopelessly romantic lyrics simmer over stomping rhythms.
     After the warm and fuzzy nuances on the first few tracks, there appears to be a pattern of sounds emerging. In short, experimenting with as many instruments as possible isn’t a guarantee for musical variation. In addition, rarely has a more irritating chorus existed than found in ‘In Light’. Criticisms aside, it is promising to hear a band channelling remarkably buoyant sounds through a generally solid debut.


*Published for The Courier  (17/10/11)- edited version found here:

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

REVIEW: Lanterns On The Lake - 'Gracious Tide, Take Me Home'

The putrid debauchery of the lads and lasses on MTV’s hit reality-show, Geordie Shore, has sent shockwaves around the globe in recent months and it has reportedly outraged those closer to home in Newcastle, leaving us with a fairly biased image of the people in the North East. Further away from the city lights and from the mouth of the River Tyne, however, surfaces Lanterns On The Lake, with their elegant debut album, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home. The record brims with nautical imagery and deeply poignant lyrics – a far cry from the cries of “on it like a car bonnet” – and radiates extremely elevating music, which varies from nu-folk, chamber pop and shoegaze, to post-rock and classical sounds. The creative sextet is certainly a little hard to pigeonhole, which is good news for the fixed media portrayals of the Tyne and Wear.

‘If I’ve Been Unkind’ is a perfect example of where the band are complicating current perceptions of the recent ‘nu-folk’ scene. The track lingers with traditional folk guitars, picked beneath Andy Sykes’ solid Geordie hum and archaic talk, ‘When you went missing, I looked almost everywhere, I sailed the seas, You were never even there.’ It all seems very predictable until bowed guitars, classical piano and giant reverb creeps in; creating a wholly new sound that shifts any nu-folk Mumford & Sons comparisons right over to the sonic-size reverberations of Sigur Rós. The immediacy of ‘If I’ve Been Unkind’ also contrasts vastly with the strange, experimental electronic glitches and scurrying tick-tocks in album opener, ‘Lungs Quicken.’ While Hazel Wilde’s celestial whispers take a little while to adjust to, glowing harmonies soon trickle in and add a beautiful gravity to her voice, which gently introduces the band’s contemplative sound.

The relaxed pace of the first three tracks (‘Lungs Quicken’, ‘If I’ve Been Unkind’ and ‘Keep On Trying’) does begin to stagnate, but this is entirely contrasted by Wilde’s Sean-Nós-like solo singing in ‘Ships In The Rain’, which laments the true story of a Tynemouth boy who went missing at sea, with only fragile drones and ‘oohs’ looming in the background. ‘A Kingdom’ explodes after the silence of ‘Ships In The Rain’, with galloping rhythms, American slide-guitars, meandering violins and low and high octaves bouncing between Wilde and Sykes. It possesses a different kind of energy that intelligently breaks the album up and boasts the sextet’s diversity with its vibrant and warm country pulse.

The weaker points in the album are where stripped pianos that accompany Wilde’s vocals are the centrepiece . ‘Blanket Of Leaves’ and ‘I Love You, Sleepyhead’ both feature a piano that overpowers Wilde’s delicate vocals, and, by nature of the multitude of instruments used on the majority of the record, the keys are simply too lacklustre. Thankfully, ‘You’re Almost There’, with its lower piano bass notes , addictive high-note Massive Attack key progression and accompanying creaky violins render it poles apart from the previous tracks.

Conversely, nestled between the sleepy pianos in the latter part of the record is the impossibly breathtaking, ‘Tricks’. Celtic violins ebb and flow with twinkling glockenspiel melodies, and tribal beats carry the boom of the bass and piano notes before the song swells in a shimmering wave of gigantic ethereal sounds. It is undoubtedly the most stunning track on the record, where the sextet’s experimentation falls perfectly into place and resonates with you for hours, just like the core of the album.

Lanterns On The Lake have hand-crafted a diverse record that overflows with all the maturity needed to mend some of the cracks in the media’s portrayal of the images and sounds of Newcastle. There is certainly scope for them to push the boundaries of their musical identity even further in any later releases, and here’s to hoping that they produce an even more beautiful record than this wonderful debut.


*Published for the Oxford Music Blog (4/10/11)