Diagrams announces new album
Chromatics released 19th January 2015 on Full Time Hobby
New single ‘Phantom Power’ premieres with Stereogum
Stream ‘Phantom Power’ here
When songwriter and producer Sam Genders last donned his Diagrams hat, captive listeners found themselves truly stunned by the Streatham Hill artist’s imaginative and inventive arrangements that made up 2012’s debut album Black Light. Having now upped sticks from his London lodgings and settled in Sheffield with a new lease of life and wife, fresh pastures and friendships are what form the heart of Diagrams’ brand new album Chromatics.
“Relationships are a constant thread. In all their frustrating, exciting, mundane, beautiful, wonderful, sexy, scary glory,” reveals Genders of the album’s themes. “And there’s lots of hope in the songs. They shouldn’t be taken too literally mind you… in my head Chromatics is life in Technicolor; with all its ups and downs.”
Whilst Black Light fizzed with electronic effects, synth-bass, programmed beats and low-key funk grooves that brought about comparisons to the leftfield pop of Arthur Russell, Metronomy, Steve Mason and Hot Chip, it’s without doubt that Genders’ next offering falls closer to home comforts and marks the next step in Genders’ renaissance. Take lead track ‘Phantom Power’; it’s the track which truly sums up what it’s like to find yourself forever reassessing. “It’s about feeling like you’re losing a grip on your sanity at one moment, then feeling inspired and up for anything the next. Or frustration with yourself yet believing that it’s possible to sort yourself out,” explains Genders.
Stream the first track Phantom Power now: https://soundcloud.com/fulltimehobby/diagrams-phantom-power/s-NMNji
Live dates –
21st January 2015, The Lexington, London (headline) – tickets on sale now: www.kililive.com/artists/diagrams
The Mercy Alliance is a Washington DC based band led by talented singer-songwriter Joe Rathbone, whose latest album, Some Kind Of Beautiful Story, sees him collaborate with producer Thomas Johansen, along with drummer Steve Bowmen (ex Counting Crows) and bassist Brad Jones among others to create an emotive take on rootsy indie rock.
The album opens with a beautiful ode to Joe’s native Washington (called aptly enough Washington) that instantly showcases a dreamy melodic indie sound complete with shimmering guitars and woozy harmony enriched vocals, hinting at a 60’s psychedelic influence that again rears its head on the follow-up, Angel Of Mercy which again washes over the listener with layers of swirling guitar and keyboard, whilst Joe’s delicately refrained vocals seduce the listener further into the hypnotic sound of The Mercy Alliance.
All For The Love Of You changes direction slightly with fuzzy driven guitars replacing the aforementioned sedated swirls, bringing in a shoegaze influence that’s compounded with the synth undercurrent and chugging bassline. Whilst both This Is How They Know and I Can’t Do It, are both different again with Joe’s melodic vocals being joined by strings and twinkling keyboards further peppering his glorious vision, with the latter majestically swelling to a near orchestral finish.
Libertine is perhaps the most aggressive track on here, with Joe delivering a raw, gritty baritone, whilst the band kick up a storm of stomping beats and stabbing guitars, proving that The Mercy Alliance are equally adapt at traditional indie rock fodder as they are creating trance like epics.
Some Kind Of Beautiful Story is a varied, compelling and contagious album that covers a wide range of melodic indie from a hypnotic songwriter very much on the top of his game, if you’re looking for an inventive take on an otherwise stale sound, I highly recommend the mesmeric sounds of The Mercy Alliance
Rhythm & Booze Rating 8
The Rural Alberta Advantage are something of a new name for us Brits, however the three-piece band have been making great waves over in their native Canada since their formation back in 2006, whilst the likes of Spin, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Pitchfork have also picked up on the band.
To date the band have released two albums and an early EP, which has seen the group gain acknowledgement with two Juno Award nominations as well as receiving a a nod for the Polaris Music Prize.
Mended With Gold is the band’s third album and could be the one to see the band breakthrough on an international stage with the likes of Q, Uncut and The Line Of Best Fit queuing up to feature the band and their tales of loss, heartbreak and adventure.
Right from the album’s opening track, Our Love… it’s easy to see why the band are receiving such attention from the music media, right from the off Nils Edenloff’s weathered voice hits, over subtle percussion from Paul Banwatt, before big guitars kick in and multi-instrumentalist Amy Cole adds vocal harmonies to a hook-laden chorus. During the duration of the near three minute song guitars drop in and out of the mix leaving Nils vocals exposed over a subdued clatter of percussion before the vocal refrain and guitars crash back into focus, instantly captivating the listener and urging them onwards.
This City opens with a lonesome strummed guitar and Nils vocals showcasing a folky element to the band’s sound before the mix is joined by pattered percussion, drums and electric guitar to create a mix that sounds akin to the likes of lo-fi pop legends Neutral Milk Hotel or Olivia Tremor Control among others. On The Rocks sees piano pierce fuzzy riffs, whilst male/female vocal harmonies deliver a story of a relationship breakdown, before the band deliver a gorgeous wordless vocal hook that’s instantly sticks in the memory and could become one of those big holler along moments live.
Other highlights include the beautiful, autumnal folky lament To Be Scared, featuring delicate finger picked guitar, offbeat clicking percussion, a gorgeous lead vocal and seductive female vocal coos drawing the listener into a majestic dreamy spell, whilst All We’ve Ever Known is summoned in with a torrent of feedback before developing into a hard hitting indie anthem complete with marching drums and striking riffs, whilst the lead vocals are full of vim and vigor as the band flex their muscles. Whilst album closer, On The Run is a beautiful piano led ballad that drops out completely leaving just the stand alone fragile vocals of Nils and Amy intwined as one.
Mended With Gold is a stunning, magical album of indie folk ballads and lo-fi anthems, complete with soaring harmonies, infectious melodies, scattershot percussion and heart-wrenching vocals. Loss, longing and heartbreak has never sounded so appealing.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9