When it comes to innovation and originality in music, the concept seems to be a lost art. Why be original with your music when you can easily rip off a currently successful formula? I mean, how many bands today sound so similar that you can’t even tell the difference? It is much easier for bands to take their influences within music and incorporate them into their sound; which in effect, is really just some slight variation of their musical influences. It happens all the time. It can best be addressed as an endless cycle that now includes prepping yourself with an image, a face-lift, and a makeover in hip clothes and crazy hairdos. It is becoming tiring and with each passing day, originality is fading away down a dead end road.
All is not lost. There is one band that is abruptly turning the car around and that band is Letter Kills. The music on their Island debut, The Bridge, offers a combination of inventiveness with powerful, potent melodies and sing-along choruses layered over guitars and music of early rock and roll.
The first thing that jumps out at you with Letter Kills is the double guitar combination that brings you back to the rock and roll days of AC/DC. Timothy Cordova and Dustin Lovelis, the guitarists of Letter Kills, really have carved out a guitar-driven hard rock sound that pound away relentlessly. The guitar work incorporates a pinch of punk infused hardcore that makes the sound a little sterner and a tad more gripping than 70’s style rock and roll. They also integrate some thriving guitar solos into the mix, which also bring up that nostalgic flair of the genre. It is a neat sound that definitely energizes the vigor and intensity of the music. The drums and bass lay low throughout the release but they do enough to keep everything stable while holding the music together; which is not overlooked.
The vocals of Matt Shelton really sit in a class of their own. His voice perfectly compliments the music behind him. The vocals are razor-sharp and unforgettable yet compelling enough to add some fire on top of the rock and roll bashing guitar sounds. Shelton’s vocals also have a tendency to speed up really quickly in machinegun like fashion. This really makes his vocals innovative and special. I’ve never heard anyone pull off his quick change of pace vocals in such an easy listening fashion.
Letter Kills have definitely brought originality back to the front burner of music. Fresh and exuberant, sound they had a mission in mind to provide some change and originality from the often watered down music that fills the airwaves. The ironic part of it is- if a band wanted to resemble Letter Kills, they wouldn’t know where to start. It’s safe to say that Letter Kills and uniqueness go hand in hand.
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.