Sounds from the streets

Many years ago, I worked for my parents who own a video production company. Because it is a family business, you inevitably end up wearing many hats and being the czar of many different jobs. I mainly managed projects and worked as a video editor. On production, there were times that I was called on to work as an audio tech and was made to wear headphones on long production days. In those days, having a really good set of headphones that picked up every nuance of sound was essential to making sure the client got what they needed.

It’s safe to say that because of my unique professional experiences, I’ve tested out a lot of headphones.

First impressions.

Naturally, my first impression of these headphones is based off of the look of them. They have a classic over-the-ear style that is highlighted by a blue LED light that indicates the power for the noise canceling. The padding on the ear pieces seems adequate for extended usage periods.

They are wired headphones, but the 3.5mm stereo mini-plug cable is detachable. Something else I noticed right of the bat was the very nice carrying case that comes with them. It has a hard plastic exterior with a soft cloth interior that helps to protect the surface of the headphones from scratches. I never truly appreciated cases for headphones until I started carrying them from place-to-place. Now I can’t imagine not having a case.

A perfect fit.

Once I gave the headphones a thorough once-over exam, I tried them on. As I mentioned, they have a classic over-the-ear style and just looking at them, the padding on the ear pieces seem adequate and the peak of the headband seemed to be a bit lacking, but you don’t really know comfort unless you try on the product. So, I slipped the headphones on and found them to be exquisitely comfortable.

Quality.

Now that I had the headphones on my head, I was finally ready to plug and play some music. I plugged the provided cable into the jack on the headphones and then the one on my iPhone 6. Then I called up Pandora. I tend to have a very eclectic music purview and have many stations set up for different moods. From John Williams to Fallout Boy, the sound quality of these headphones was remarkable. There is an amazing depth of sound and incredible highs and lows that make listening to music a truly breathtaking experience.

In order to test how voices sounded, and the overall art of sound mixing, I pulled up Netflix on my iPad Air 2 and watched a few minutes of a movie to hear all the nuances of the film. None of them were lost. In fact, I ended up hearing sounds that I hadn’t heard before. Echoes…birds chirping…wind blowing through trees…breathing of the characters…it was very impressive what the headphones ended up bringing out for me.

I would highly recommend these to any sound mixing specialist.


ALBUM REVIEW: Makings - 'Cognition'

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Artist: Makings

Release: Cognition

Release Date: 20/02/15

Record Company: Unsigned

It is difficult to walk around Dublin these days and not find a live band in some pub or another banging out the same sounding alternative rock and not thinking to yourself that you've heard this all before! Ireland has been rehashing the same old, same old musical trite for years with varying musical success and a lot of musical failures. It's music scene is very circular in nature and doesn't react kindly to change. In fact, in some cases it doesn't know how to react to 'NEW' sounding bands, with new musical ideas! Makings are one of those 'NEW' bands that are changing the perceptions of Irish music, not only on the live scene, but with the songwriting and soundscapes that the band are creating in the studio. With wide musical influences coursing through every single track, the band have a canny knack of sounding relevant, but a new relevant!

Having recently finished up recording their debut album 'Cognition' and then managing to get one of the top producers in England, Chris Potter, who has previously worked with The Verve, Blur & The Rolling Stones, to pick over the production details, the band have been working tirelessly on the live circuit, perfecting their sound to hopefully catapult themselves skyward and breathe new lifeblood into the Irish music Scene and its fans.

On first listen to the Dublin based four piece's debut album 'Cognition' you can hear what they're trying to achieve. It is packed full of influences and, yes, it shows off the bands diversity in song writing and song structure but it also shows that these guys actually listen to their musical influences and they take on board what is needed to connect all of these influences together to make something interestingly 'NEW' sounding which is a very difficult thing to do these days. I can hear 70's Bowie and T-Rex  in all its Glam Rock finery, 80's Depeche Mode with their electronic drums and Synths, theres's 90's Creation Records experimental layered guitar sounds in there with new millennium Primal Scream pulsing through its veins! Theres also a nod to the modern day Dance Music Scene with the bands brilliant use of sequencers and samplers and the bands use of vocal harmonies, both in their live sets and in the studio, are second to none! Every member of the band sings on this album! Put simply, it has something for every single music fan, but it stands outside the box on its own merits too. Very few bands can say that in the modern Irish music scene. Which is something great and 'NEW' in my opinion.

The first track on ‘Cognition’ is iClone. Opening with a distinct, infectious Synth pattern, this track is the bedrock of the album and sets Makings Electro-Rock stall up with an assault on your senses from the off. The vocal arrangements by the band on this album are amazing and lead vocalist; Rick Burn’s vocal range is immense. You can hear why his vocal style has been compared to the brilliant lead singer from ‘Faith No More’, Mike Patton. But it’s the bands clever use of sequencers and keyboards, just sitting under the mix, that catch this listener’s ear. This is a welcome theme running right the way through ‘Cognition’ and should hold the band in good stead going forward. It’s very different to what’s going on in Ireland at the minute. It’s ‘NEW’, ingenious even? But this type of sound only works when you have accomplished musicians to carry the production either live or in a studio setting and Makings have them in spades. From Drums to Guitars, Bass and Keys, every section of the band knows exactly what they are doing at any given time and are hard working. That’s the difference.

You can pick any one of the tracks on this album and not find a flaw. Maybe that’s down to the production work of Chris Potter, maybe it’s down to the band, but it works for me. I love the distinctive influential sounds that you can pick out of each track. For example, my favourite track on the album is ‘Heart Attack’. A well-written and well-executed electro-rock tune that I can instantly relate to. I can hear Dépêche Mode and early Acid House style sequencing, albeit slowed down, all over it. Likewise on the bands latest single ‘DIG’, where again the band’s clever use of electronic instrumentation, with a steady drumbeat, pulsing bass, charging guitars and Rick Burn’s distinctive vocal style coming to the fore take the track by the scruff of the neck and force you to listen. In fact, you can listen to them all - Lunatic, Let’s Touch Me, 46a, Man On Fire, Suffocate, She’s Got The Lips, Mythomania, Icarus, The Woolgatherer, Nazarene and No Turning Back and I can guarantee that you to will hear different influences and styles from different era’s screaming back at you. It’s exciting to hear an Irish rock band doing something different. Not pigeon holing themselves in the ever-decreasing cyclical nature of Irelands music scene. This is a completely new animal for the Irish music buying public to get their teeth into and I for one hope that they do. I hope they support a band like this because in turn this will allow Makings to soar to the heights that I know they can go and I wish them well on their travels.

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Keep your ears and eyes out for them, go and see them live whenever you get the chance, because they wont disappoint you.

You can follow the bands progress on Twitter & Facebook  and check out two tracks by the band below:

Makings - Dig

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Makings - Heart Attack

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Makings are a Dublin based electro-rock band comprising of two Irish men, Rick Burn and Mr Reynolds, a Scott, Barry Shock and an Argentinean, Raul Marcos. After recording their debut EP ‘Lunatic’, which received “Full marks for exploring so far outside of the box” (Jackie Hayden, Hot Press) and proving to be “Extremely powerful in a live environment” (Shane Buckley, Music Review Unsigned) Makings embarked on the collaboration with legendary producer Chris Potter (The Verve, Blur, Rolling Stones) and ‘Cognition’ was born. This is a stunning piece of work by an Irish band that deserves respect.


EP REVIEW: Segrasso - Headaches

 

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Artist: Segrasso

Release: Headaches

Release Date: 09/02/14

Record Company: Unsigned

Somewhere in Dublin, there is a dark rehearsal room in a basement that once or twice a week witnesses a musical miracle! The miracle in question, is the miracle of Irish Shoegazing/Noise Rock through the medium of Segrasso! This Dublin 3 piece have not only recorded a masterful EP entitled 'Headaches', but have at last joined the wave of new homegrown acts that have brought about a balance in the unsigned, cyclical underground Irish music scene as we all know it!

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'Headaches' opens up with the brilliant 'Disused Shed', a track full of,  dare i say it?  60's connotations!!! There are hints of early Pink Floyd in there but with a distinct modern Shoegaze feel and there's a great little synth line that keeps your attention focused on the track and doesn't let you daydream or wander off in any way! It builds like a bloody steam train and then explodes, leaving you wanting to hear more!

This in turn leads nicely to 'Cell',  Track 2 on 'Headaches'. It is probably my favourite track on the EP. This is proper Shoegazing/Noise Rock! It starts off slow with a great vocal and smooth bass line, then builds menacingly, until your listening to a wall of sound and loving every single sonic second of it. This is the EP's centre piece in my opinion! And after hearing it repeatedly over the past few months, my faith in unsigned underground Irish Shoegaze/ Noise Rock is restored!

Fans of early ChapterHouse, Slowdive, Telescopes and Ride will instantly recognise, and love, 'Going To Hell' the third track on Segrasso's 'Headaches' EP. This is 7 minutes and 45 seconds of old school Shoegaze! Layered guitars and a great vocal sit on top of a solid bass and drum track and yet again I'm transported back in time to the early 90's! This is an excellent track, well written and brilliantly produced!

With a haunting vocal sitting on top of a great bass line, the forth track on the 'Headaches' EP, 'Thread', screams for attention! Add into that mix another fixating synth line and a steady drum beat and again we're building into something for the good. For me, the vocal build makes this track stand out and it helps 'Thread' scream into a raging tornado and again expresses how good Segrasso are at song writing and song structuring! You really need to experience this track via headphones to hear it in all its glory!

The EP ends on a mellow note! But a lull from the previous whirlwind is a good thing! 'Wheezer" is a brilliantly structured and well balanced track with a dreamy vocal and a solid acoustic guitar line all set into swirling synths sounds! It brings this epic EP to a fitting close and again it showcases Segrasso's songwriting and song structuring prowess!

Segrasso released the 'Headaches' EP on February 9th 2014 and I've had the pleasure of playing them regularly on my radio show 'The Quiet Room' over on Mixlr.Com/Primal-Radio ever since! I can't wait to hear what the band record and release next, but when they do, I'll definitely buy it!

 Lately, here on the little green island of Ireland, we've had a bit of a Shoegazing / Noise Rock / Dreampop  renaissance! It began in Cork with the brilliant Elastic Sleep and has filtered it's way to Dublin with bands like Galants, Otherkin and now Segrasso leading the charge! I think it's a good thing for the Irish music scene. It's a breath of fresh air in a stagnant pool of the same bands recycling the same old music genre's!

So, do yourselves a favour, make sure you check out Segrasso! Check out their 'Headaches' EP up on their BandCamp page, buy it, download it, support them and the other bands that I've mentioned and maybe then you can understand how excited I am at the prospect of coming across other Irish bands doing the same thing. This is a great time for Irish music and long may it continue.

You can follow Segrasso on twitter:

@Segrasso1

And you can buy and download their 'Headaches' EP and keep up to date with the band here:

Segrasso.Bandcamp.Com

 

Del Chaney - The Primal Music Blog - Dublin - May 2014.

 

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ALBUM REVIEW: High Low - Stuck In A Void

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Artist: High Low

Release: Stuck In Void

Release Date: 30/05/14

Record Company: Unsigned

In a time when independent musical creativity seems to be flourishing online and the availability of artists and bands to not only completely oust the dreaded Record Company puppet master but also write, record, produce, master, release and promote their own masterpieces to great applause from their fan base, the world of music as we know it is changing for the good. One such band have taken up the self release mantle and given me a warm fuzzy glow over the past few months by transporting me back to my youth and to days of queuing up outside record stores, in all weather, to buy the latest release on vinyl from my local store, rush home, put it on the record player and listen to a musical genre that, in my opinion, changed the face of music forever!

With a sound Infused with many influences such as Bob Mould's Sugar, Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth, High Low have grabbed me by the cranium and reminded me of the days of Fuzz, Grunge and Alternative Rock.

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Hailing from Southend in the UK, High Low have just self released a masterpiece. Full of heavy bass and guitar riffs, pounding drums and outstanding vocals, 'Stuck In A Void' continues on from where the band left off with their two previous EP's, the brilliant 'Raygun' and the powerful 'Forty', shaking the listener by the throat and making them focus, concentrate and listen! Put simply, this is immense!

From the opening track 'Night Drive' through to the first single to be lifted from the album 'CrashLand' and on to 'Mustard Man, Surf Tank, Already Alone, Machines, What Is It?, Altered Beast', the brilliant 'Burnt', 'No Light' and album closer 'Sneakers', this masterpiece is musical chocolate to the ears of a lost generation and should finally put an end to the doomsayers who still believe that grunge died with Kurt Cobain.

This listener is honoured to have been one of the first set of ears, outside of the bands, to listen to 'Stuck In A Void' but I'm also so pleased that I was able to interview them for 'The Quiet Room' and I will be following the trail of success that undoubtedly High Low will leave behind them with bated breath and I can honestly say that I am a High Low fan and I can't wait to stand in line, all over again, to buy their records.

You can order High Low 'Stuck In a Void' and find out more about the band here:

wearehighlow.co.uk

Follow the band on Twitter here:

@WeAreHighLow

Del Chaney - The Primal Music Blog - Dublin - May 2014

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