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Review of ‘(Just Like) Flying With God’ album by The Valkarys — April 29, 2015

Review of ‘(Just Like) Flying With God’ album by The Valkarys

The Valkarys



The Valkarys on bandcamp
The Valkarys on Facebook
BlueSoapMusic on twitter

Formed in 2006, The Valkarys are an Edinburgh based psychedelic/garage band. Songwriter Scott Dunlop on lead vocals and guitar is joined by Craig Birrell on lead guitar, Colin Brennan on bass and Wayne Hoy on drums.

There’s a great vibe to this album. The Valkarys have a really solid tight knit indie sound, encapsulating different styles from surf guitar to a ‘Madchester’ type of sound too. The playing is really solid with great drumming and percussive rhythms to propel the songs along. There is also great variety of guitar tones for riffs and solos.

Meraki This song is embedded above. I really like the energy to this song which opens with a great riff with blues harp. The drumming is really tight and gives the song a great momentum. The vocals have a laid back style which suits the song really well and there are some great harmonies too.

Honey Hill This song has a laid back riff to open. It has a lamenting kind of feel to the vocals but the percussion gives the song a great momentum. The lead line that sits in the background gives a really good contrast.

Xylophobia This song has a great opening riff accompanied by trem guitar. Drums enter to give momentum and there’s a really nice tone to the lead guitar too. The vocals again have a laid back style which creates a nice contrast against the more uptempo elements. There are great harmonies again too. The lead line repeats through the song with a really nice use of wah in the solo.

Early Verve This song has a nice riff against a distorted trem guitar. It has a great laid back groove with a nice solo leading into the vocals. There are really solid solos between the verses and to round out the song too.

Waves This song has great distorted tone to open, a big sound with trem accompanied by a riff and shaker / tambourine percussion which is really effective. It has an almost lilting groove before taking on a double time feel with a great wah solo too before returning to the original feel. There are some great effects to end the song too.

We Are The World Slightly distorted jangly riff to open propelled by solid drumming and percussive rhythms. There’s a great momentum to the song, vocals have great harmonies again, really cool riff between the verses too.

For You Great distorted guitar tone against a more jangly riff. Again there is solid drumming and nice percussive rhythm to provide momentum. The vocals have a more spoken style and are very laid back. Great harmonies again, a solid groove and nice solo too.

Fistful of Dollars (revisited) A really nice chord vamp to open with vocals, the song evolves a great groove and drumming / percussion enter to propel it along with a great surf guitar riff. The song has an excellent momentum with another great surf riff and vocal harmonies which are repeated at the end of the song with a solo to round the song out.

(Lover) Don’t Go There’s a different feel to this song which opens with drumming and a more ‘choppy’ guitar. There’s great reverb on the vocals and another solid guitar solo too with a nice wah solo at the end of the song.

Starfish Great uptempo riff to open with great spoken vocals. There’s a really nice edge of tension to the song, some great harmonies and a great organ sound too.

Review of Wrap Your Bones album by Arcelia — April 26, 2015

Review of Wrap Your Bones album by Arcelia



Arcelia on twitter

This is a stunningly beautiful album. The songs have a simple elegance from great layering of sounds. The vocals are outstanding and a lot of the songs have a beauty edged with sadness, telling tales of loss, regret and unrequited love. There’s almost a male / female perspective on the situation too with some of the songs which is a really nice touch.

Wrap Your Bones is available to stream from bandcamp (embedded above) or is available to buy as a download from iTunes, Amazon and a CD is available direct from Arcelia’s website

45 Seconds Lovely acoustic riff and vocal harmonies to open with just a hint of country. The song has great piano playing and string bass, vocals are solid with a nice edge. The banjo is a really nice touch too. The arrangement is simple and by that I mean it’s not over-complicated but has great production.

The Long Man I featured the video on a blog post a while ago and have embedded it above. This song has another great riff and vocal harmonies to open with. The vocals are excellent and there is brilliant production to the song again. There is a sad edge to the song but also a hint of hope too.

Petal This song opens with a simple shaker rhythm, lovely acoustic riff and subtle bass. The vocals are excellent again, the song has great harmonies. Banjo suits the song really well and there are nice changes in feel through the song with a hint of jazz at times which works really well.

Cupid Great vibe to the opening of the song, a chunky chord based riff with subtle bass and really nice percussive rhythm. The vocals again are excellent, great harmonies and excellent arrangement again.

Busking Birds This song has a simple acoustic riff and great vocals. The song has a real edge of sadness, a longing but also hope for returning home.

She’s Not Lost Again a great acoustic riff to open, really nice piano too. The vocals are excellent, great harmonies. This is another song tinged with sadness but also hope for a new start.

Another Song This song has a more uptempo feel, a great chord based riff which has a great groove with nice changes in feel. The song is about trying to find closure following the end of a relationship but not being able to move on.

Blossom Another beautiful song with acoustic guitar and vocals to open with, evolving a slightly more uptempo feel. There’s a great edge of sadness to the song.

This Time Great harmonies, acoustic chords and string bass to open with. The song has great vocals again telling another great story. The song has a feeling of hope for a new start.

Save Your Soul Lovely harmonies to open with an acoustic riff. The song has a great percussive rhythm and subtle string bass. It is a song of unrequited love, almost could be the female perspective response to the previous song and has beauty with an edge of sadness again.

Lovely Bones Another great riff and solid vocals with a great lead line in places. Great arrangement to the song again. The song has hope of a new start but is there a realisation that it may be too late?

Heaven This song has a great uptempo riff, piano and lead guitar. It has the feeling of a relationship breaking down and you’re not really sure why. There are great lead guitar parts and backing piano.

Broken Solo vocals with a very subtle acoustic riff as the song evolves, establishing a nice groove. The song has great changes in feel and there’s a real nice edge of frustration / anger at times too.

Review of The Beginning EP by Chanel Samson including #2ubeXtra2015 video — April 23, 2015

Review of The Beginning EP by Chanel Samson including #2ubeXtra2015 video

Chanel Samson



Chanel Samson website
Chanel Samson on Facebook
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BlueSoapMusic on twitter

Today has been a very good day for Chanel Samson. Not only did she give an outstanding performance at the 2ube Xtra festival – the video is embedded above and does contain some bad language, Chanel’s performance starts at about 1:04:50 – it also sees the release of her EP The Beginning.

The Beginning will no doubt divide opinion. For me though it is brilliant, original and very clever. Chanel has a very refreshing and unique style and sound. There’s elements of 50s big band; jazz and show tunes led by Chanel’s excellent vocals which have a great energy and passion with a hint of anger at times too. But that’s not all, the subjects are personal covering some serious issues too but Chanel’s attitude deals with these in quite a positive and upbeat – flippant even – manner.

F U Matthew (Radio Edit) This is a great song, it has some suggestions of a 50s style with a big band influence but has a thoroughly modern indie production. The vocals are excellent and there’s a great attitude to the song, it has a kind of swing with the odd outburst for good measure.

The Old Guy (Radio Edit) This song has show type qualities at times, a smooth sound with a nice edge provided by distorted guitar. The vocals tell an all too familiar story unfortunately but again there’s a great attitude in the vocal style with some nice harmonies too.

Little Red Dot Great ukelele playing with a jazz (swing) feel, the vocals again are excellent. The song has a 50s country feel at times too with some great piano playing. As you listen the penny drops what the song is about and if you watch the video above Chanel explains the meaning of the song.

Worth the Gold An uptempo start to the song, great riff and really nice harmonies too. Excellent vocals again, has the feel of a show tune and there are really nice changes in feel through the song with some more uptempo parts adding a great energy.

A new perspective on chord progressions — April 20, 2015

A new perspective on chord progressions

If you find yourself stuck in a rut of using the same old chords and chord progressions, there are a few simple techniques that may help open up new creative avenues for you. This post assumes that you have a basic understanding of music theory, if not then some of my earlier blog posts on music theory may be helpful.

I’ve added a circle of fourths and fifths diagram and listed the chords in each key for easy reference below:




Tension and resolution

One point to bear in mind when trying these techniques is the principle of tension and resolution. Whichever key you are using the further away from the root chord – or tonic – you move, the greater the tension and the more the sound wants to resolve to the tonic. This isn’t a linear progression though, it moves in fifths through the key. So this gives a sequence from resolution to tension of I | V | ii | vi | iii. You can use this knowledge to add tension to your progressions.

Transcribing to a different key

The first technique is to transcribe your chords into a different key. This is simply a case of looking up a different key in the tables above and reading across to the new chords. The chord positions tend to be denoted by roman numerals with capitals for major chords and lower case numerals for minor chords. If we take a I, V, vi, I progression in the key of C, this gives us the chords of C, G, Am, C. If we pick a key from the circle of fourths, for example Db, this gives us new chords of Db, Ab, Bbm, Db. This can work especially well on a guitar where you can create voicings on parts of the fretboard that you’re probably not familiar with, opening up many new creative possibilities.

Modulating for the chorus

Another technique is to keep your original chords but modulate a flat third for the chorus. This gives us a progression in the cycle of fourths which will work for any key and you could also play through all of the chords and keys as a sequence for practice. Using an example of a I, vi, IV, V progression in the key of C gives us C, Am, F, G. The flat third in the key of C is Eb; the flat third in the key of Eb is Gb, the flat third in the key of Gb is A and the flat third in the key of A is returning to the key of C again. This is shown in the table below:

flat third modulation-page0001

For songwriting, you can use this technique where you play a I, IV, V progression for the verse and modulate a flat third for the chorus. Of course you can use the technique for any part of the song, it’s not just limited to the chorus.

Random chord selection

This technique doesn’t require modulation to a new key, instead you pick random chords from a given key rather than sticking to a particular progression. You can use 3, 4 or 5 chords in a repeating sequence and can stick with straight major / minor chords or use extended chords such as maj7 / min7 or maj9 / min9 chords. Another point to bear in mind is that certain chords within the key share 2 common tones. These are effectively interchangeable and can be swapped in a progression to add interest, tension or extend the progression. These are the I and vi; V and vii; ii and IV chords. On a guitar the essence is phrasing although this is still largely true for a keyboard too. You could also try chord inversions to give a different sound or even layer chord inversions over the top. It’s a great way to break free from routine patterns, add a bit of interest or surprise but still remain musical.

Extending progressions using the corresponding minor key

I must admit that I don’t often use minor keys as such, but when using a major key the corresponding minor key offers us an opportunity to extend our progression and add some tonal variation. The table below shows the difference between major and minor keys:


This means that a progression in a major key will sound different to the same progression in the corresponding minor key because of the difference in intervals. If we take a I, V, IV, V progression in C major and repeat this sequence in the C minor key this gives us C, G, F, G | Cm, Gm, Fm, Gm. These sequences can be used consecutively to extend chord progressions or alternatively use them in a chorus, for example. You could even reverse them if you wanted to.


The main thing to remember when modulating or swapping chords is to think about the bassline and other scales and/or modes because the modulation may mean that these don’t fit over your new chords. Sometimes the tension / dissonance will work well when you’re not expecting it, other times it will sound horrendous but you won’t know until you try so feel free to experiment and see what happens because making music should be fun, even if it doesn’t always work out as you’d hoped!

Review of Urban Fairy Tales album by Nystada on Mobius Spin (mbsspn019) — April 16, 2015

Review of Urban Fairy Tales album by Nystada on Mobius Spin (mbsspn019)


Nystada on twitter
Mobius Spin on twitter

Last year in Autumn, Nystada got inspired by the new sound pack “Spectral Textures“, designed by Uwe Zahn (Arovane) for Ableton. It’s definitely a big part of the album. Not only a lot of sounds you hear on “Urban Fairy Tales” come from this device based on field recording and sound manipulation, but also the inspiration it offered was huge.

Urban Fairy Tales is Nystada’s second solo album and it is an excellent release. It has really well crafted sounds and each song is excellently arranged and produced. There are some great sounds used in the percussive rhythms including impact type sounds and processed drum samples which have great definition are are often intricately layered. There are some great soundscapes on the album, often with a great edge or tension between the different elements.

Gewitterregen A great soundscape to open, a sparse rhythm and really well layered sounds create a really nice tension from industrial sounding elements against a more ambient sound. The synth adds a great element of tension which builds through the song, released at the end.

2049 Opens with a great rhythm comprising of excellent sounds which are really well layered. I really like the almost call and response feel at times between the lead line and bass / background sound effects.

d vuus This song has an acid bassline against a synth which creates a great tension which is increased by really well layered background sounds. I really like the evolution of the song, layered elements create great contrasts especially with the addition of an uptempo rhythm, this really gives momentum with a final release.

Futura Another great opening soundscape through excellent layering of sounds. The song has a really good momentum and nice variation.

Into The Woods This song has great synth sounds to open leading into an excellently layered rhythm. This creates a kind of organic feel which contrasts excellently against the more industrial sounding effects and the synth adds another layer of contrast. The song has a great tension and evolution with a final release.

Pamperhaus Great rhythm to open, really well layered sounds. The bassline is quite subtle but gives momentum. The synth has a great sound, providing a flow and tension at times.

Breath Sparse synth line against a breath type sound opens the song which evolves with different sounds against the lead line. Again there is great sound selection, layering and contrast between these elements.

Metallofon This song opens with a rhythm reminiscent of wind chimes leading into an excellently layered rhythm with great sounds. The drone works really well against the sparse chords creating a great tension. Really nice changes in feel through the song too.

Spectral Opens with a great rhythm against solid background sounds. The song has really good synth sounds which creates a nice tension and movement. Great layering of sounds again.

Zeitdehnung This song has a different feel to the others. A really nice riff, great percussion and great synth sounds. Again the layering is excellent and the song has great contrast and tension between the different elements at times.

Red Sun Great synth sound and sparse percussion to open with, the song has quite an edgy sound. The squelchy synth lead sound is great, the song evolves with this sound contrasting against background sounds and has a really good momentum.

Liverpool showcase – The 2ube Xtra Festival Launches Wed 15th April at 5pm BST — April 14, 2015

Liverpool showcase – The 2ube Xtra Festival Launches Wed 15th April at 5pm BST

The 2Ube Xtra Festival


The 2Ube on twitter
2ube Xtra on facebook
BlueSoapMusic on twitter
LIPA Liverpool on twitter

2ube Xtra – Liverpool’s first and only live streamed music festival – launches on Wednesday 15th April at 5pm from the Paul McCartney Auditorium in The Liverpool Institute for the Perfoming Arts (LIPA) to a live audience and online viewers around the world.

The event will feature the best Liverpool based emerging artists together with exclusive interviews and performances from the likes of Mark Ronson, The Wombats, Noddy Holder of Slade, Stealing Sheep and Echo and the Bunnymen to name but a few.

The festival will be streamed from 2ube Xtra’s youtube channel.

The festival running order with links to artists’ social media sites are as follows –

Wednesday 15th April:
4:30PM – LUNA
5:30PM – Gonzalla
6:30PM – Ingrid Frosland
7:30PM – Frances

Thursday 16th April:
4:30PM – The Hazel Empire
5:30PM – 69 Watts
6:30PM – Helena Johnson
7:30PM – Deliah

Friday 17th April:
5:00PM – Magnus Romo
6:00PM – Lives
7:00PM – Crooks
8:00PM – Breakfast Monkey

Saturday 18th April:
4:00PM – Jenny Strand
5:00PM – Novacrow
6:00PM – Satin Beige
7:00PM – Native Kings

Monday 20th April:
4:30PM – Alula
5:30PM – Nina G
6:30PM – Silje
7:30PM – Mave

Tuesday 21st April:
4:30PM – We Can Be Astronauts
5:30PM – Asterisks
6:30PM – Tiger Factory
7:30PM – Whitecliff

Wednesday 22nd April:
4:30PM – Jessie Solange
5:30PM – Mari Hajem
6:30PM – OhLayIndigo
7:30PM – Nora Konstanse

Thursday 23rd April:
4:30PM – Pre-holiday
5:30PM – Chanel Samson
6:30PM – Grace Hartrey
7:30PM – Emilio Pinchi

Friday 24th April:
5:00PM – Nighttime Revolution
6:00PM – Nadjia
7:00PM – Cloud
8:00PM – Moats

Review of Evil Dreams single by Elstow —

Review of Evil Dreams single by Elstow




Elstow on bandcamp
Elstow on Facebook
BlueSoapMusic on twitter

Formed by duo Jared Shaw and Chel Browne in July 2012 and borrowing the name of the building they lived in, Elstow quickly expanded to five members and released a five track EP titled ‘As the Sun Falls’ in 2014. Evil Dreams is the follow up single to the EP.

Evil Dreams has a great dreamy psychedelic sound. It has lush tremelo guitar to open with, accompanied by dreamy, ethereal vocals and a subtle organ backing accompanied by a solid acoustic guitar riff.

It’s a really laid back mesmeric opening to the song which evolves into a more uptempo feel in the verses which maintain a great groove before reverting to the great chilled vibe.

The song draws you in and it’s these really nice changes in feel and excellent harmonies through the song which give it a really captivating sound.

Review of Mono EP by I, Us and We — April 12, 2015

Review of Mono EP by I, Us and We

I, Us and We



I, Us and We on twitter
I, Us and We on Facebook
BlueSoapMusic on twitter

Jordan Doverspike, Evan Doverspike and Aaron Doverspike are brothers based in California who write and perform captivating dream pop they describe as “clean and unadulterated”.

Their EP, ‘Mono’, was recorded in their home studio and produced by Chad Marshman over the course of several weeks. Taking a collaborative approach, the brothers found that some tracks came more easily than others, but the advantage of recording from a home studio meant that they could act immediately whenever inspiration struck.

This EP has a great sound and vibe to it. The vocals are excellent having a great laid back almost dreamy quality at times which contrasts really well against the more uptempo and edgy elements. There’s great layering of sounds creating excellent soundscapes in each of the songs and a nice edge of tension too which really holds your interest.

Lanterns Great soundscape to open, a lovely synthpop sound with a driving bassline. The vocals have a great laid back quality which contrasts really well against the edgier, uptempo bassline. Great layering of background sound effects, the song also has a really catchy chorus and a great tension to the song.

Sunday This song has more of a laid back feel, a great opening with pad and string type sounds. The vocals on this song are really dreamy, sparse drumming compliments really well. There are some excellent background sound effects and a nice change in momentum for the chorus and through the song too.

Free Great opening with church bells leading to synth chords with a nice edge against the bassline. The vocals again are excellent, having a great laid back vibe which create a nice tension against the chords / bass which is released slightly in the chorus. The song has a great solo too which really adds to the tension.

Alive I really like the trem type opening leading to chords, bassline and some excellent background sound effects. The vocals add a great tension, a bit more upfront than other songs on the EP. The chorus again is catchy, contrasts really well with the rest of the song. There’s just a hint of glitch too which works really well. There’s also a great subtle guitar riff with excellent use of delay.

Cities and Memory Oblique Strategies Project Launches Today (10th April) — April 10, 2015

Cities and Memory Oblique Strategies Project Launches Today (10th April)

Cities and Memory Oblique Strategies graphic 1

Cities and Memory Facebook page
Cities and Memory on Twitter

Today on the 10th April, 63 sound artists and musicians from across the world will reimagine the sounds of the world, using Eno and Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies cards as inspiration. Cities and Memory: Oblique Strategies sees more than 50 source field recordings from 19 countries all over the world reimagined using only the Oblique Strategies cards to define their direction and inspiration. The project is housed on an interactive sound map here, featuring:

58 locations over 19 countries, from Bangladesh and China to the USA and Canada;
63 sound artists, musicians and field recordists taking part from across the world;
A total of 110 separate Oblique Strategies cards used in the creative process.

The sounds from across the world are as diverse as the clatter of vintage printing presses, a shimmering chorus of insects, Hawaiian waves, the clamour of an English football match, the busying thrum of an international airport, the calm of a Buddhist temple and the power of a driving thunderstorm.

The remixed versions range from musical tracks built from the original samples, drone and ambient pieces built from field recordings, abstract interpretations of the original sounds and frantic cutups elaborately constructed from the source sounds. An album of highlights from the project, entitled Cities and Memory: Oblique Strategies, has been released digitally via Cities and Memory Bandcamp page and is embedded above.

I’ve really enjoyed contributing to this oblique strategies project, having also contributed two songs to their previous Hamburg project and I also have a couple of other remixes underway. The great thing about contributing is that you get to choose a field recording which is a unique sound source and offers great scope for creativity in many different ways through manipulating with a sampler, stretching, adding effects like delay and so on.

My sound file was Oxfordshire Milton Common Tower Electrical Drones. The two strategies I had were : Do something boring and focus on the flaws. I took the sample and chopped it into 12 equal parts. The length of sample is 1m 27s = 87s so each section is 7.328 seconds. I subsequently found that not all lengths were equal and I have no idea why because all of the timings seemed ok.

I decided to join odd and even samples together i.e. 1&3; 2&4; 5&7; 6&8; 7&9; 8&10, 11&12. I started with the process but only realised afterwards that there was a flaw where pairs got wrongly assigned part way through the process. I then used a Paulstretch on samples using 12 intersections and 0.7328 interval in line with the numbers for the initial sections and then used one of these as a drone but the note is not continuous, it has more of a random pattern.

I used ‘Serenity Free’ VST with the Heart of the Statue preset and TAL Reverb 2 airy mono plate preset for a drone chord and played a simple melody over the top. I then played four of the joined samples in sequence twice with a series of different delays. I left them as they were without further processing.

The boring strategy was to use arbitrary lengths for the chopping the sample into sections and then joining the odds and evens together. I also used a number of presets without additional processing and randomly assigned delays to different samples. Because I didn’t edit the chopped samples to fade in / out etc these flaws from the arbitrary chopping are focussed on when these samples play.

The project is one part of a global field recording & sound art work called Cities and Memory, which aims to present and remix the sounds of the world through a global sound map in which every location has two sounds: a documentary field recording and a reimagining of that sound.

The project, which has had 170,000 listens in the past year alone, records both the current reality of a place, and also present its imagined, alternative counterpart – in effect remixing the world, one sound at at time. Every faithful field recording is accompanied by a reworking, a processing or an interpretation that imagines that place and time as somewhere else, somewhere new. The listener can choose to explore locations through their actual sounds, or explore interpretations of what those places could be – or to flip between the two different sound worlds at leisure.

There are currently more than 550 sounds featured on the sound map at, spread over 32 countries.

Cities and Memory has grown rapidly over the past year, with features on The Atlantic, Vice,, CBC national radio in Canada, Resonance FM in the UK and specialist sound sites such as Creative Field Recording and the London Sound Survey.

The project is completely open to submissions from field recorders, musicians or anyone with an interest in exploring sound worldwide. The field recording and sound art communities have embraced the concept: more than 100 field recordists and sound artists from as far afield as Calcutta, Los Angeles and Cape Town have taken part, providing field recordings and radical reimaginings of global sounds.

Cities and Memory takes its name and original inspiration from Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities, which explores how people can experience the same place in dramatically different ways.

“As this wave from memories flows in, the city soaks it up like a sponge and expands. A description of [the city] as it is today should contain all [the city’s] past. The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.”
– Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities.

Review of Come At Me Now single by King Kartel — April 9, 2015

Review of Come At Me Now single by King Kartel

King Kartel



King Kartel on twitter
King Kartel on Facebook
BlueSoapMusic on twitter

Formed in September 2012 the quartet, mainly hailing from Northern Ireland, wasted no time in taking the UK and Ireland by storm through a successful tour to support the release of their debut single ‘Stone Cold Killer’, which has now racked up an impressive 29,000 views on Youtube.

It’s easy to see why because Come At Me Now is an excellent single from King Kartel with 2 songs that highlight different styles. King Kartel have a really tight knit sound which comprises of great drumming and guitar playing and really solid vocals.

Come At Me Now This song has a great almost growling synth sound leading to a chord vamp to open the song which is propelled along by solid drumming and maintains a great momentum throughout with a great solo followed by a final chorus to round the song out. This is an infectious song which has great singalong qualities to the chorus – it would make a great live anthem.

Run This song opens with a really nice edgy riff leading into a solo. The song has a simmering quality to the verses which raises tension in the chorus which again has a great singalong quality. Solid vocals again, there’s also a great solo which builds a really nice tension into a chorus followed by another solo to end.