Thursday, 27 September 2012

FEATURE: Richard Walters

*Originally published for The Generator's Tipping Point blog (19/9/12)

Oxford singer-songwriter Richard Walters is one of those musicians with the ‘that voice’ effect; it has warm familiarity, ecclesiastical clarity and a gravity of tone that you cannot help but completely resign to. This autumn sees the release of his second album, Regret Less, following widespread praise from The Guardian, The Fly and Uncut for his debut LP, The Animal (2009).

The lead single from Walter’s new fan-funded album, ‘The Escape Artist’, shows off the workings of a classic songwriter, blessed as he is with a vocal range as agile as fellow Oxfordian Thom Yorke’s. Walters may not favour the forthcoming comparison, but the crystal-clear quality of his voice is also not unlike Tom Chaplin’s of Keane.

It’s fairly unusual to hear such basic and raw instrumentation during an age of heavy synth/beats-driven music and excessively layered ‘nu-folk’ balladry. Clean guitar and hushed violins run alongside Walter’s metaphors about the pains of love, but he does not overindulge in superfluous crescendos like all the Mumfords and Sons of late. In fact, the track’s safe composition forces you to focus on the lyrics and the dexterity of Walter’s voice – at once fragile and powerful, discreet and arresting.

Keep your eyes peeled for him playing at some charming little venues around the country this month, as well as the expected release date of his new album Regret Less on 15 October.

*Today's Generator tip comes courtesy of Matt Marlow (

Thursday, 6 September 2012

FEATURE: Spring King


*Originally published for The Generator's 'Tipping Point' blog (6/9/12)

Working under the alias Spring King since March, it seems prolific producer of Tipping Point faves Jethro Fox and Dan Croll, Tarek Musa and friends have been spending a lot of time hanging out with Ty Segall and The Black Lips, or, the more probable situation, wishing they had. Their first penned track, ‘Let’s Ride’, boasts a similar garage-punk sound but is loaded with a faster energy that has already gained attention from the likes of The 405 and Amazing Tunes.

It’s hard to believe Spring King hail from the UK when dusty, Americanized vocals shout over lo-fi riffs and tinny west coast surf solos. Bass and drum breakdowns characterise the verses, while root-note piano adds depth to latter part of their organised car crash of sound. They even manage to squeeze in a couple of whirring synth melodies before the song ends at a measly two minutes and fourteen seconds, but they have made their point and impressively stun us to silence.

Spring King’s aggression and energy on ‘Let’s Ride’ is bound to prick ears up and get people excited about guitar music again – but this time on our home turf.

Today's Generator Tipping Point comes courtesy of Rob Platts at Alan James PR

REVIEW: By Toutatis - Hero and Leander/World's Worst

*Originally published for (23/8/12)

Hot on the heels from their split EP with Dressed Like Wolves, Saltburn’s By Toutatis offer us a new double A-side single full of the swashbuckling shanties of their previous efforts, but with a lot more gusto. Tectonic-sized drum rolls, stoic root notes and quivering vocal vibrato work together to throw you into the midst of ‘Hero and Leander’s’ ferocious storm.

References come thick and fast to the myth of the same title, detailing Leander’s swim against the harsh tides of Hellespont sea to consummate his love with the priestess, Hero. Staggered harmonies echo Hero’s effort to guide Leander on his journey using a beaming torch, “There’s no better way to find her”, while fraught violins and thunder-clap drums accelerate the song to a dramatic conclusion.

‘World’s Worst’ eases you in more gently. Seething, archaic Celtic strings waft over bawdy vocals and guitars throng to the beat and pulse of the rhythm section. It’s quite difficult to discern the lyrics – perhaps due to unpolished sound levels – but the band’s superb song writing more than makes up for this with an infectious chorus and a lasting cacophony of dark, chamber pop sounds. 

If the journeys on this double A-side are what By Toutatis can muster at this stage, then let’s hope for an odyssey on the next.