Rhythm and Views: George Ezra- Cassy O’

I don’t want to jinx it, but I think summer’s coming. I’m actually writing this sat outside (as far outside as my wifi allows) with the sun beating down and it’s awesome. So  with this unseasonably beautiful weather, we of course need some perfect summer music to accompany it, which this week comes in the form of the bluesy tones of twenty-year-old, Bristol-based George Ezra.

IMG_1773dFor those of you that read my blog post on Monday, you’ll know that I was lucky enough to see George twice in the last week at Record Store Day events. I also met him at the first one, and he was genuinely one of the loveliest and funniest singers I’ve met- it’s lovely to see artists that are actually still down-to-earth and up for actual conversations with those who come to see them. George mainly performed songs from his second EP, Cassy O’ which was released last month, and so I thought that’s what I would talk about today.

IMG_1836There are four tracks on the EP, the first of which being the title track and definitely the most upbeat of them all. It’s unusual though, really unusual. Its lyrics are far-fetched and humorous yet somehow he manages to make it into an incredibly catchy summery song that I know I will have on repeat.

Next is ‘Get Lonely With Me’ which is probably my favourite track off the EP, with plenty of opportunities to show off those incredible gravelly tones of his voice that you only really get to truly experience when you see him live. Especially in such a small place as the Friska Cafe, with the speakers turned right up- the only way to describe his voice is truly penetrating, and pretty mind-blowing.

The third track, ‘Over The Creek’ is another catchy tune that is somehow upbeat yet chilled at the same time, and really just reminds me of summer. The EP ends with ‘Coat of Armour’, certainly the most melancholic with an intro that’s reminiscent of M83 and a sing-songy style which brings lyrics that are surprisingly woeful after the eccentricity of those of the previous tracks.

So I think it’s pretty clear that I’m a big fan of this EP, and I’m really excited to see more from him- I’m especially intrigued to see what his debut album will be like. If I had to sum up his sound in a sentence it would be this: beautifully energetic, kookily clever, unreasonably catchy and oh so very ‘BBC Introducing’.

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Rhythm and Views: Supermodel- Foster The People

It’s very rare that a band releases a debut album that defines them immediately, but this is exactly what indie-pop heroes Foster The People managed back in 2011 with ‘Torches’. Songs like ‘Houdini’ and ‘Call It What You Want’ became the songs of the summer; the perfect aftermath of a collision between half of the genres under the sun. It was completely original and oh-so-very-Foster; there’s no mistaking those dreamy  harmonies and dulcet tones. Not to forget, of course, ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, the hit that rocketed them to fame and became something of an anthem that even my parents recognise and sing along to on the few occasions that I get control of the dinner music.

So after a success like ‘Torches’ that I’m still listening to regularly 3 years later, it was inevitable that a follow-up album that lived up to or even exceeded those standards was a pretty big ask. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that I’ve hotly awaited their second album to see what they’ve managed to concoct this time. After only a few listens, I must say that ‘Supermodel’ doesn’t fail to please.

The album kicks off with ‘Are You What You Want To Be’, which I’ve heard many people rightly point out has a very Vampire Weekend-esque feel to it, matched with their compulsory catchy sing-along style chorus. The pace slows down for ‘Ask Yourself’, a song that takes you to sunny-beached summer holidays as Mark’s silky vocals glide over the dreamy lyrics. ‘Coming of Age’ is the next song and is arguably the most reminiscent of ‘Torches’ whilst still definitely acting as a move away from their roots- although a move towards what I am unsure as of yet. It seems Foster have used this as a chance to ignore the pressure to fit into a genre and to push the boundaries and find their own place in the music industry.

Skimming past the unassuming yet charming ‘Nevermind’ we hit the real stand out track on the album- ‘Pseudologia Fantastica’. At five and a half minutes, it’s the longest  song, and it seems just like any other FTP song until you hit the fourth minute and it starts to slowly descend into a psychedelic frenzy. And I mean that in the best way possible. This is picked up again by the almost choir-like interlude that comes in the form of thirty-three-second-long  ‘The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones’. Leaving you sitting there confused, no time is wasted before leaping into the opening riff of ‘Best Friend’ in a way which is very atypical of Foster, before continuing towards a chorus and bridge which is much more familiar, yet somehow still fresh.

Following this you find the wonderfully new and original ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying the Moon’, which hides it’s unusually thought-provoking lyrics behind electronic undertones and the only track on which their full display of vocal range is displayed (plus I can’t help but note the fantastic song name). This is succeeded by ‘Goats in Trees’, which I have heard many people call the low-point of the album, yet I can’t help but find the simple, almost country-like feel of it rather charming. Not something you’d be playing on repeat but it slots into the album nicely, fully proving that Foster have indeed done some growing up in the past three years.

The penultimate track is called ‘The Truth’ and is possibly the epitome of the dream-like state which the album induces, with layer upon layer of refined vocals paired with a toned down backing beat that is an absolute pleasure on the ears. As if they hadn’t varied enough in the tracks so far, the final track ‘Fire Escape’ is almost heart-achingly beautiful. We finally get a chance to hear Mark’s exquisitely raw  vocals with no pretenses to hide behind; a totally unexpected yet warmly welcomed acoustic conclusion that somehow just works.

So is it better than their debut? I would have to hesitate before affirming this since I loved ‘Torches’ and it still remains firmly in my most-played pile of vinyl, but I feel like ‘Supermodel’ is one of those albums that will just keep growing on me. Whilst I can’t help compare its relatively laid-back feel to the makes-you-want-to-dance aspect of their debut that I loved so much, I’m definitely excited to see how the new tracks will translate live when I see them at Reading in August. So well done boys, you’ve done it again. Not half bad.

Best Tracks: ‘Ask Yourself’, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying the Moon’, ‘Pseudologia Fantastica’ and ‘Fire Escape’