East India Youth – Culture of Volume

8 04 2015

eastindiayouthCulture of Volume, the second album from East India Youth, opens with The Juddering, an instrumental that starts off spitting out a synth- line reminiscent of Bowie’s title track to Station to Station, before the big synths take over.

Culture of Volume is not an instrumental album, the majority of the tracks feature vocal performances, the first of which, End Result, sneaks in some Duran Duran sounding synth flavours, and displays an intelligent, expansive arrangement.

Beaming White, though driven by mid-80’s sounding synths in the intro, has a feel of Delphic‘s Acolyte album. And that’s a key point with this album – William Doyle (aka East India Youth) is clearly influenced by the 80’s sounds of Kraftwerk, David Bowie, Ryuichi Sakamoto, John Foxx and Soft Cell but he writes songs that are contemporary, with vocals more inspired by Wild Beasts and Everything Everything than his apparent 80s influences.

Hearts That Never is one of the more up-tempo pieces, with a great bass-line and rolling percussion. The hands-in-the-air anthem Entirety is lifted by the sweet keyboard lines towards the middle of the pacey, at times industrial track.

The stand-out song for me is Carousel, which has shades of The Garden era John Foxx, and a real 1980’s 4AD feel in the use of long, spacey reverbs. Beatless and beautiful, it’s a moving piece of music, especially the slowly distorting outro, which has a little of the feel of The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski.

The straight-forward pop of Don’t Look Backwards has a dreamy treated piano and strings ending, which plays perfectly into my second favourite track, the 10 minute plus Manner of Words. Slow-burning textured pads and lead lines give way to disintegration and decay.

The album closes with Montage Resolution, another instrumental soundscape built from layers of jagged reverb-heavy lines underpinned by a deep synth.

This is the first music I’ve heard from East India Youth, and its piqued my interest enough to seek out their debut album, Total Strife Forever.

Buy Culture of Volume CD or download on Amazon

Buy Total Strife Forever on CD or download at Amazon

Gavin Castleton – It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times EP review

12 10 2014

It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of TimesPortland’s Gavin Castleton has released a new 5 song EP via his BandCamp page. The EP is a collection of songs about unconditional love and loss, but with a twist. If you’ve followed Gavin’s music over the years, you will know who he is singing about, and I won’t need to explain.

If the language of love is universal, then the same thing can be said about loss, it crosses borders and species and it always cuts deep.

Underestimate Me is a piano (and 1950’s sounding guitar) ballad that sets the scene – welcoming the subject of the EP, and the playfulness of youth and the promise of the future is echoed in the instrumentation during the middle section, before the final two lines hit home, signalling that this is an EP reflecting on memories tainted by loss.

“So I’ll just remember how you made me forget the world all around me
while the world still reminds me of you.”


Watering the Soil is a beautiful song, with the sounds of night-time crickets providing the rhythm to the saddest of sad songs.

“I put you in the ground tonight
out beside the house
by the window light”

Where is the Fire? is the darkest lyric on the EP, riddled with regret and wishing you could go back and re-live some of the better times.  I love the subtle reverb on Gavin’s vocals on this track.

Expensive Love is a much fuller arrangement than the live take in the video below, but the EP version makes it clear that this is simply one of the best songs Gavin has written.

Rhodes and a nagging beat drive the song, which has some wonderful Venus as A Boy recalling strings underpinning the later verses.

“But then you got much worse when I took the job –
I had to leave work late and get up at ungodly hours to get out of all the debts I owed.
Maybe you couldn’t see the man for the brand new clothes…”

If you have ever experienced deep loss – whether it was the loss of a parent, a relationship, or a close companion or friend, this song will surely resonate. There are no cliches in Expensive Love – no trite “I’m missing you” – the song serves up some of the raw truths of the cost of love, which can be paid in an emotional and a physical sense.

“I knew you had to go but didn’t know how much it’d cost me”

Image by Carrie Vonkiel

The EP ends on an uplifting song in Team Love – with it’s multi-layered vocals and hand-clap beats.

“I’ll be fixing up my inputs and my outputs
I will learn to love and be loved from any direction”

The change in mood at the end of the EP might suggest that if you are going through the worst of times now,  hang in there because you never know, the best of times could be just around the corner.

Gavin Castleton – It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Timesbuy the EP on Bandcamp

Visit Gavin Castleton’s website.

If you’ve not heard Gavin’s music before, take a listen to his cover of Frank Ocean‘s Swim Good (mixed with the sublime Roads by Portishead).

I also recommend the Home (a zombie love story or is it?) and For the Love of Pete albums as good starting points in your journey. You will become hooked, trust me!

Laura Groves – Thinking About Thinking EP

29 09 2013

"Thinking About Thinking" EPLaura Groves (who previously recorded under the moniker Blue Roses) has released her first new solo material since 2009, with the digital (and vinyl) release of the Thinking about Thinking EP on Deek Recordings.

The opening track, Inky Sea, has a real late night feel, with the dark rhodes piano and layered 80s keyboards reminding me of Cliff Martinez‘s Drive soundtrack.

The music has progressed from 2009’s mostly acoustic Blue Roses album, and benefits from a much wider production palette.

After the beatless opening song, Pale Shadows is driven by a tight drum machine track, and back to the 80s again, has hints of China Crisis The Cocteau Twins in the instrumentation, topped off with a very Robert Smith like guitar riff. It’s probably my favourite of the 4 tracks, with hints of Fleetwood Mac in the chorus (always a good thing!)

Sadly, a by-product of the post-CD age, it’s impossible to tell who is playing on the tracks as there are no liner notes with this digital release.

“When the walls break down, it’s a beautiful thing”

Laura Groves

Easy Way Out sneaks in a crafty bossa-nova beat and a strong bassline to underpin the complex, ever-evolving arrangement, that grabs you after repeated plays.

The title track of Thinking About Thinking slows down the tempo of the EP, and has a real USA West-Coast vibe, with hints of mid-70’s Todd Rundgren seeping through to my wise old brain.

At times, the close harmonies remind me of Prince‘s sublime Sometimes It Snows In April from the Parade album.

I hope the EP is a taster for a new album in the not-too-distant future. If you liked the Blue Roses album, or are a fan of early Kate Bush, this EP will be something you will want to investigate, so go on, treat your ears.

Buy the EP

Buy Laura Groves – Thinking About Thinking EP from Bandcamp

Other releases

Buy the Blue Roses album from Amazon

Buy the Does Anyone Love Me Now? EP (featuring Grammatics) and the excellent First Frost Night on Amazon

Buy the I Am Leaving Single (featuring the wonderful Moments Before Sleep) from Amazon

%d bloggers like this: