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As the last British record store giant faces insolvency, UnderSong looks at what this could mean for the future of the music industry.

"Last night a very sorry story started circulating online: that the British chain HMV was to go into administration. The news itself was not surprising: the company’s financial woes have been widely reported for such a long time now that it seemed to be a question of “when?” not “if” the chain would collapse. To be honest, even taking the economic climate out of the equation it’s really not hard to understand why this is happening. In general more and more people are turning to the internet to shop rather than braving the ugliness of the Great British High Street ‘pon a weekend, and who could blame them?

As a teenager, my go-to place to buy music was HMV (hello, Sutton branch). I’m horrified to admit that this was before the concept of downloading even existed. What I remember from those days is that most of the other clientèle there would be older men and other teenagers. Even without doing any research I can tell you that if the teenagers I know are representative of today’s teenagers as a whole, then they download everything. Some legally, some not so legally. CDs are an alien concept to them. Then there’s the obvious link between the old men-not-liking-shopping stereotype and the advent of the internet and downloading. So, common sense alone says there goes many of HMV’s primary customers.”

Read the full article here.

Originally published on UnderSong on 15/01/2013

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The UnderSong A-Z of 2012

All four parts of UnderSong’s A-Z of 2012 feature, plus a playlist featuring 75 of the best tracks from the albums listed as being UnderSong’s best of 2012.

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"It’s all about pure, simple good songs. That’s all you need in a band."

"The Fallows are a country-folk quintet hailing from Coventry, a city which having cultivated the Two Tone movement in the 1970s, spawning the likes of The Specials, arguably hasn’t made a huge impact on British music since (no, The Enemy do not count). However, having built up a loyal local following in their hometown, The Fallows are now starting to make waves across the rest of the UK with the release of debut album Face The Wolves at the beginning of September. Could they be the band to change this?

UnderSong met up with the band prior to their launch show for single ‘Front Row’ at London’s famous Monto Water Rats. The band are running late thanks to the joy that is London traffic, lead singer Ross Darby has been up half the night making sandwiches for the coachload of aforementioned loyal local fans coming down to cheer the band on tonight, yet they don’t seem at all stressed or worried about the upcoming gig. Instead the band appear relaxed, excited and eager to chat.”

Read the full interview here.

Originally published on UnderSong on 25/09/2012

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Fragile, powerful, honest and painfully beautiful: in short, a triumph.

"I will openly admit that the first time I heard Gossamer my reaction was one of disappointment. I felt that the songs were overproduced and messy, that the beauty of Michael Angelakos’ lyrics were lost amongst the cacophony of chipmunk vocal effects and heavy-handed synths. Compared to the instant gratification gained from the joyous electro pop of debut album Manners, Gossamer ironically felt weighted down and difficult to penetrate. Then the stories started appearing – the band were cancelling shows left and right, interviews and articles detailing Angelakos’ tragic mental health issues surfaced. I listened with fresh ears and a new perspective, and Gossamer broke my heart clean in two."

Read the rest of this review here.

Originally published on UnderSong on 31/07/2012

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A sweet and simple debut release, but one that lacks the requisite punch.

"Outside In, the debut album from relative newcomer Luke White is a simple, stripped back affair that perfectly shows off the young singer-songwriter’s pure and rather angelic vocals. It’s these vocals that are White’s strongest selling point, and he’s clearly aware of this as the production (by White himself) is centred around these. Smart boy. When an album is this stripped back, it’s essential that the artist’s lyrics stand up to scrutiny, which luckily for White, they mainly do. For the most part he thankfully avoids the pitfalls of romantic clichés without being overpoweringly metaphorical or peculiar. However, they do occasionally grate, such as on ‘Maybe She Is Magic’ and ‘Made Of Love’ – “Maybe she is magic, maybe she is from outer space” and “You move like you’re made of love” just seem a little too clumsy."

Read the rest of this review here.

Originally published on UnderSong on 31/07/2012

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Irritating egotist in produces-great-album shocker.

"As it has always been in music, sometimes to enjoy a record you really have to work hard to get past the phenomenal pretentiousness of the artist themselves (Bowie, anyone?). As someone who likes to try to understand what the artist is about outside of the music in order to understand the music itself, this poses a particular problem for me. Having not met Twin Shadow, aka George Lewis Jr. myself, my opinion of him is based entirely on what I have read, which is naturally flawed. But when the man comes out with such gems as “I considered death. I considered how important Twin Shadow is to the world. Does the world need Twin Shadow?” in a recent interview with Pitchfork – to which the answer was, of course, yes – one can’t help but feel that this is a man on one super ego trip which may or may not be justified. In the case of Confess, annoyingly, it is.”

Read the rest of this review here.

Originally published on UnderSong on 10/07/2012

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First-class honours for this Oxford-based band’s debut album.

"There really does have to be something in the water in Oxford these days. From quirky genre-bending acts like Jonquil to intelligent indie folk bands such as Stornoway, a considerable amount of the UK’s new musical talent seems to be emerging from the city of the erudite. Now, we can add Fixers to the ever increasing list of Oxford based artists releasing astonishingly good debut albums. After what appears to have been some drawn-out trouble with their label, Vertigo, the experimental, psychedelic five piece have finally released We’ll Be The Moon on their own small label. And it’s been worth the wait."

Read the rest of this review here.

Originally published on UnderSong on 03/07/2012

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Cincinnati foursome display flashes of brilliance on an otherwise distinctly average album.

"Walk The Moon sprung to prominence last year with the release of their insanely catchy single ‘Anna Sun’, which also features here on the band’s sort-of debut album. Sort-of, because while they may have released a previous album and two EP’s, this cobbles together songs from all three of these with only three previously unreleased tracks added.

I was one of those people hooked in by the fantastic ‘Anna Sun’, and consequently I can’t help but be disappointed by the inconsistency of this album. The majority of the tracks sound fine on the surface and are perfectly designed for dancing to, but listen a little closer and you are hit, time and time again, by some facet that stops each song from being great. Usually, it’s the lyrics. Some of this may be my own personal hatred of certain words, like ‘baby’, which unsurprisingly crops up a lot in second track ‘Lisa Baby’ and renders it unlistenable to my ears.”

Read the rest of this review here.

Originally published on UnderSong on 26/06/2012

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Top Ten... Songs For Euro 2012

A playlist feature originally published on UnderSong on 12/06/2012.

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“It feels at the moment like getting to the next level is the hardest thing…”

"Van Susans are a six piece indie folk band from South London consisting of Olly Andrews (vocals and guitar), Olly Groome (keyboards) Holly Mclatchie (violin) and Dullaway brothers Ed (lead guitar), Tim (bass guitar) and Rob (drums). The band released their first full length album, Paused In The Moment, at midnight on 4th June and spent the day traipsing the streets of London, playing impromptu gigs in famous tourist hotspots to promote the record. UnderSong caught up with Olly A, Olly G, Holly and Ed after the day’s festivities to find out more about Van Susans and their plans for the future. The band are tired – Olly A can barely speak – but they are in good spirits, and despite Olly G’s opening words to UnderSong being “Are you the Crystal Palace fan? Then I don’t like you” they come across in person as being as charming and as likeable as they do on stage. Just don’t compare them to Mumford & Sons…"

Read the full interview here.

Originally published on UnderSong on 11/06/2012