Thursday, May 3, 2012

Announcement: Indefinite Hiatus

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As of today, It's Raining Planes & Helicopters will be on indefinite hiatus. This is because of other commitments, both personal and professional.

Even though content on this blog has been gradually decreasing anyway, it's very sad to acknowledge that I do not have as much time as I first started to continue giving this my best. Inbetween work, Musical Mathematics, Muzikaliti, and several other projects, It's Raining planes & Helicopters has fallen on the wayside.

It's a sad day for me as It's Raining Planes & Helicopters had given me so much experience and so many opportunities, from making friends with bands, promoters and record labels, to getting free tickets and records, and getting an offer to write for Musical Mathematics, recording acoustic sessions with the likes of The Xcerts, interviews with my favorite musicians, and much more. What first started as a personal outlet for me to write about music then became something that gained a very small but very appreciated readership.

The first time a band came up to me at a gig to offer thanks for reviewing their record, I was astounded. The appreciation was very much mutual. Whenever a band linked my review of their record on Facebook or Twitter, I felt like a schoolchild. That feeling has never and never will get old. This is the same for whenever a reader shows appreciation for introducing them to their new favorite band.

These may seem like small things to be proud of, but I am proud of them nonetheless. As someone who is incompetent at making music, I am happy to make a mark, however small, with my writing.

I will continue writing, but not on IRPAH. At least not for a while. I will continue writing on Musical Mathematics, the Leeds-based zine collective I have so much love for. I will continue in my attempts to make Muzikaliti, a Brunei-centric music website, work.

It will no longer be raining planes & helicopters,

So long,

Jay


Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Luke Leighfield - New Season

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When I pressed play on Luke Leighfield's 'New Season', my first thought was how it brought me back to New Found Glory's underrated 'Coming Home'. Much like parts of 'Coming Home', 'New Season' brings on piano-led pop rock pleasers with a straight-forward approach to the lyrics and a knack for spirit-rousing melodies.

But that's where the New Found Glory comparisons end. Leighfield will probably be more comfortable being mentioned in the same category as Ben Folds, Jack's Mannequin, and Coldplay. For a 24-year-old, Leighfield is a very seasoned musician, with 3 albums and hundreds of shows under his belt before 'New Season'. This is evident from his songwriting, which comes off as well-polished and earnest with a maturity not usually seen at this age (this coming from a fellow 24-year-old). 


The whole album is filled with energy, embodying the orchestral powerpop ethic Leighfield claims to carry. Songs like 'Live For More' and 'It's You' drive the point home with rousing choruses and feel-good lyrics. Even when it takes its foot off the accelerator, the tracks still carry with them an unmistakably cheery, life-embracing sound that comes off as likable and even at times spiritual.

I've never been comfortable with the label 'singer/songwriter', as for me it carries the connotation of acoustic guitar-carrying singers peddling the same old songs, and trying to get away with as many Oasis covers as possible. Now I certainly can't place Luke Leighfield in the same category. This is an excellent pop album bursting with potential house party anthems which brings into it a depth and sincerity missing in so many other so-called singer/songwriters.

'New Season' is out on Got Got Need Records and also available as a digital download on Bandcamp, iTunes and Amazon. 


Official Website / Facebook / Soundcloud / Bandcamp / Twitter / Tumblr

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Musical Mathematics // Single Review // The Cast of Cheers – ‘Family’

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Irish outfit Cast of Cheers came out of nowhere in 2010 to stun absolutely everyone with their incredible (and incredibly, free to download) debut album, Chariots. Considered by many to be one of the best debuts of the year, their rise - which included being nominated in the Choice Music Prize and playing to a sold out Brixton Academy with Two Door Cinema Club – is definitely deserved. 





While we wait feverishly for their second album (and for their debut to be properly released this year), they have released their newest single ‘Family’. Before we continue with this review, consider this: Zane Lowe played the single twice in a row on his show on Radio 1. Think what you will of Lowe, but you certainly can’t blame him for that unusual act of approval. ‘Family’ is a rip-roaring good tune. 
Read the rest of my review on Musical Mathematics

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Tatterattles - Tatterattles EP

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Open e-mail. Read press release. Look at the name Tatterattles. Let images of Tera Melos and Battles come to mind. Play EP. Realise that it's definitely not that. Check it out anyway. Slowly fall in love with said EP. Write review. And now here we are. 

A single pluck in Handsmedown almost made me cry. Not a single note had ever done that to me before. It took a while to sink in. Maybe it's the thought of my girlfriend thousands of miles away for Valentine's Day. Maybe it's just me being overwhelmed by many of the things happening around me at the moment. So many maybes, and only one certainty. Damn you, Benjamin Fletcher aka Tatterattles, for your contributions towards my inevitable nervous breakdown. 


Other tracks aren't moments of relentless sunshine either. Take 'Alas, Alack!' for example. It's a morosely melancholic yet somewhat hopeful track, dominated by an endlessly repeated series of finger-plucking and vocals reminiscent of Stuart Warwick at his most brilliant. This comparison holds up in 'Dead Letters' too, evoking memories of Warwick's song 'Ex-Gay' in some parts.

It's a similarity most definitely a consequence of mutual influences more than anything, and by the time 'Learning How To Fly' comes along, Tatterattles are a little more upbeat. An unnamed female vocalist sings a not-quite-twee, simple and short song accompanied by bird whistlings and Fletcher's supporting vocals. It's a wonderful change from the melancholic start, even if the lyrics aren't all about the fine and dandy. 


'Too Soon' is the most folk-ish out of the five tracks on offer, but the essence stays the same. The overall sense is that you are listening to a man in a state of indulgent sadness, deriving both pleasure and pain from heartbreak. Emotionally, it's a very moving record. Your heartstrings will be pulled, tears will be shed, and sheds will be made into personal fortresses of solitude.

Cry your beardly tears, Tatterattles, it's okay. We are here for you, and we hear you.

The EP is due to be released on 18th February on Holy Ghost Records.

Twitter Facebook / Bandcamp

Monday, February 13, 2012

Musical Mathematics // Album Review // Love Among The Mannequins - Radial Images

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Let’s get this out of the way, Love Among The Mannequins features some big names. Members of Crooked Mountain, Crooked Sea, O You Broken Eyes, and Shoes & Socks Off all come together to release Radial Images. This album is littered with literary references and classical allusions, many of which I’m probably far too ignorant to recognise without a full-day googling session that is, and even that might not suffice.



While you knowledge of the lives and passions of such figures as Nikola Fyodorovich Fyodorov, Arnold Schoenberg or George Robert Price would provide insight into some of the themes, a listener doesn’t need to spend hours dissecting the song titles and lyrics to enjoy Radial Images.

At times a challenging listen, the album is mostly shoegaze punk with intermittent bursts of hardcore sound. As the members are so diverse, the sound of this record is hard to categorize.


Taken from MM Issue 6 - Buy it HERE

Words by Jay Johar


Read the rest of my review HERE.

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Music Video: Brontide - Colour Tongues

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Brontide have released their new music video for their latest single, Coloured Tongue.



The single is available on pre-order at Holy Roar Records.

Facebook / Official Website 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Album Review // Hyms - Cardinal Sins / Contrary Virtues // Musical Mathematics

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It’s always risky for a band to release a double album at any point in their career. To do it for your debut – as a two-piece, no less – seems nothing short of audacious. Further more, to call yourself Hymns, make use of church organs in your music and then describe yourself as atheist rockers smacks of intentional provocation. But despite all this, there’s no denying that Cardinal Sins / Contrary Virtues is a mammoth of a release.  


The first half – titled Cardinal Sins - is the more rock heavy disc of the two albums, with a venomous garage rock sound that’s very much influenced by the likes of Nick Cave. ‘Prologue’ begins your listening experience with a short, apt choral introduction flowing into ‘A Punch To The Temple’, the first single from the release that truly sets the tone to this epic piece of work.  

Read the rest of my review on Musical Mathematics

This review is published in issue #6 of the Musical Mathematics zine, which you can buy HERE

Monday, January 30, 2012

Top 50 Albums of 2011

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Alright, it's that time of year again. It's the time when pretty much every music publication publishes its albums of the year list, and I intend to follow suit. Wait, no it's not. I'm incredibly late to this party I've invited myself into. This is embarrassing. It's almost February 2012, and I've only just posted my Best of 2011.

This lateness is mostly out of being incredibly busy with my new job, and the whole settling back at home and finding my groove thing is another part of it too. I won't bother you with a long-winded introduction, like the one I wrote for 2010. Here's my top 50 albums of 2011.

Note: where available, click on the album title to listen to a stream of the album. [S] signifies you need Spotify. If you don't want to/can't register for Spotify, go search for the album in the legally-gray waters of Grooveshark. If you like the album enough, I strongly suggest you buy it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Album Review // Johnny Foreigner - Johnny Foreigner vs Everything

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Brummie noisemakers Johnny Foreigner’s Johnny Foreigner vs Everything seem to have purposefully named their album as a confrontation, and given frontman Alexis Berrow’s infamously outspoken blog that has been known to irritate the likes of Rick Martin of NME, it’s not a surprising choice. But what at first glance may seem to be merely the intentionally confrontational Youtube rants of a na├»ve, teenage, and self-described rebel, the band never does veer off into that abyss of cynical immaturity.


In fact, vs Everything is a record by a band that’s had their share of fun with the music industry while at the same time have also experience firsthand its failings. Nostalgia is hidden not so subtly in the noise, and the noise is, for the most part, an absolute joy to listen to. 



Read the rest of my Johnny Foreigner review on Musical Mathematics


Check out Johnny Foreigner at www.johnnyforeignertheband.com


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Musical Mathematics // Single Review // Blacklisters - I Can Confirm

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Blacklisters’s new single is exactly what you’d expect. It’s a mind-fucking, ear-murdering masterpiece of uncontrollable noise from Leeds’ finest. Taken from their upcoming debut album that’s due out sometime in 2012 (hopefully it will be before the world ends); it’s an excellent teaser to what will be one of next year’s truly skull-crushing releases. 






When we take it out of the context of the album though, it’s still a beast of a track. The unmistakably haunting, gritty vocals are one of the highlights of I Can Confirm





Read the rest of my review on Musical Mathematics.  

This was taken from zine issue #5, which you can order HERE

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Review: Knorx - Opportunity Never Knorx Twice

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Knorx knorx. Who's there? Knorx. Knorx who? Knorx featuring Joe and Jamie of Tubelord and Tobias Hayes of Shoes & Socks Off / Meet Me In St. Louis fame. Oh how wonderful, do come in. I was just boiling some tea.


So, Knorx featuring the Joe and Jamie of Tubelord and Tobias Hayes of Shoes & Socks Off / Meet Me In St. Louis fame, what brings you here to our quaint little house? I see you've brought some grungy, distorted sounds with you. Oh my, you really needn't to, but it's lovely all the same. That muffled voice of yours, I do apologise, but for someone hard of hearing like me, it's not easy for me to make out what you're saying. Saying that though, it's an intriguing trait. It suits you well.

 
Oh, did you say your parents are Tubelord and Shoes and Socks Off? I must say you don't sound much like them. I do see that little bit of resemblance though. You have Tubelord's yelpy and math-y influences in you, and Shoes and Socks Off's dark, bubbling undercurrents. Still, you are definitely your own person. That much is clear. 


You know, I wouldn't think your parents would marry and have a child like you, but seeing it now, it's a wonderful thing. I can't help but wonder if they're planning any more baby Knorxes. That would be quite lovely, isn't it? Oh, you're leaving already? But you've only just been here for 18 minutes. You must come over again some other time. Have a safe walk home, and do say hello to your parents for me.

Download it free on Bandcamp