- Told You So – The third track on the album, this song is packed with great vocals, quirky tunes and sassy lyrics. It’s that type of song you can’t help but sway along to, and you can’t help but sing along too either. I think many can agree when someone says to you “I told you so” you just feel bitter, maybe even flick a glare their way (I know you know), and this song captures that perfectly with the lyrics. What I really love about this song though is the use of the bass and guitar throughout. They are very clearly heard and actually hold more of the beat than you think. The drums throughout are great, but they appear to incorporate more of an additional structure to the tune that’s within the track rather than being the heartbeat of the song.
- Fake Happy – This song is just unreal! It’s the fifth track on the album, and starts off so mellow and low, with soft lyrics and acoustic guitar strumming slowly building the song up which then, just stops. Out of nowhere, the funkiness builds! This song has a great contrast, as the tune is quite upbeat and happy, but the lyrics are deep and very meaningful. For me this is a clever touch on mental health. It may not be, but that’s the connection I’ve put with this song. There are people out there that will feel this way at some point for whatever reason, and this form of recognition is great. It gets it out there and helps to break down the stigma. I love it. But it being a banger of a song helps too. As I said it may not be about mental health, but if I can make the connection (and I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed) then many others may too. Which is how this stigma removal could benefit from this song. With lyrics like “I bet that everybody here is just as insincere” and “Oh please, I bet that everybody here is fake happy too”, helps to provide proof that you aren’t alone in this world, adding a support mechanism.
- Idle Worship – The slightly more heavier sounding track with hints of a very young Paramore filtered within, ‘Idle Worship’ is the tenth track on the album and I completely love it! This song is oozing with sass, its oozing with a powerful vibe, and brimming with some great music. The vocals in this song are amazing, with different pitches and projection, Hayley’s vocals definitely shows how talented she is within this song. The drums are equally as versatile within this song as they are either loud, yet tame beats or fast intricate ones. The guitar is just bang on! And exactly what I wanted to hear in this one, as it incorporates the new sound with hints of Paramore’s slightly older sound from back when they were throwing bangers like ‘Decoy’ out. I would like to point out that although this song isn’t as rock sounding as ‘Decoy’, it has a hint of that vibe which has been very cleverly mellowed out and incorporated into this new 80’s vibe. ‘Idle Worship’ is that song that I just blast out of my car speakers, and sing my heart out to! To the point where if you are unfortunate enough to be sat next to me at the traffic lights, I am probably going to be throwing some sassy (at least I think so) dance moves at the red light, followed with some pretty horrific singing. That’s how great a song this is.
- Rose-Coloured Boy – The second track on the album ‘Rose-Coloured Boy’ is another great song showcasing this new 80’s inspo sound, that Paramore are playing with at the moment. With a quirky backing vocal that sounds chanty, the sound has some serious 80’s elements within it including some synth. I can’t help but feel this is a song about someone who is very into believing on showing that they have no problems, that there are no problems out there, that there is no excuse for being sad. And I feel this song just hits that feeling you get from that, right on the head. With lyrics like ‘we can’t all be like you, I wish we were all rose-coloured too’ and ‘boy you ain’t ever seen my mind’, you can feel the emotion and the slight annoyance being portrayed perfectly. Again I could be completed wrong, but I just feel it is so cleverly done and it just fits so well.
- Hard Times – And last but not least, the first track on the album and the first release/introduction to the new sound ‘Hard Times’ is definitely within my top, top 3 favs off this album. From the video, to the music, to the lyrics, to the new vibe, I just love it! This is another one that I feel is touching on mental health/dealing with crappy times, yet in a very grown up way. The lyrics seem to come from both aspects of that feeling. With the chorus sounding like that thing that’s ruining your mood/day/month yet, the verses seem to be more centralised round the affected person and how they are feeling. Again a beautiful contrast with the funky, upbeat sound of the music and vocals, mixed together with the emotional filled lyrics. This track has great use of that 80’s inspo with synth and a killer techno sounding tune that sticks in your head for days. My favourite thing about this song is the guitar, its funky, its filled with upbeat happy chords yet isn’t overloaded. Both lead and rhythm riffs sound great within this piece, and the techniques used just add to the quirky beat yet showcase what Taylor can do with his guitar. Hard Times is a smashing first release and first track of the album.
The act of doing something that involves danger or risk in order to achieve a final goal.
Its something we all do throughout our lives that’s unavoidable. However, something I love is creative risk taking. This is when you put something you love to the test to push yourself and those around you further; and that brings me to this post…
Now you may have heard of a Midlands (England, UK) based band with a rather unusual name that have previously featured on this blog. I am of course referring to the five piece band Sextapes.
Sextapes’ sound was a mixture of grunge styled heavy/shouty vocals, entwined with melody driven riffs perfectly due to the balance of upbeat “happy yet moody” drums and soft mellow toned bass.
Full of energy, Sextapes performances were always captivating, displaying their passion for music. This made watching them a joy rather than a task and their music more enjoyable.
As you’ve probably guessed from the past tense language and talk of risks, that Sextapes are no more! They now go by the name Half Asleep, which also brings through a new sound. This sound is quite different to that refreshing tinge to the hardcore scene that they brought through as Sextapes, but is equally as refreshing to the Midlands current music scene.
The Midlands is very heavily yet proudly displaying pop punk, punk and hard-core bands at the moment; all of whom show some serious talent!
Half Asleep however, consist of what you would expect from bands breaking through the Midlands scene over the last few years such as Peace and Swim Deep, whilst maintaining individuality by drenching their songs with shoegazey guitars and hypnotic dreamy vocals.
With their first single released, Half Asleep have further proved they have an endless amount of talent to display. By breaking down this new single, it makes understanding their new sound as well as get a real feel for why I truly believe that Relax & Distill was a very clever choice for breaking that Sextapes barrier.
When listening to the vocals it is clear to hear the change that has undergone immediately. The vocalist has transformed his vocals from harsh to a much softer approach which displays different tones compared to previous releases as Sextapes. When speaking with the vocalist about this change of technique he said “I can get much more melody into my words and it feels more natural”, something which is a key for vocalists to feel as strain to vocal chords can be damaging for careers.
Guitars have managed to keep their powerfully catchy riff technique but have now teamed them up with soft distortion and carefully structured “cheery” chords that bring a nice aspect to the music. By having two guitarists and different tunes throughout, there is a more structured and empowering vibe built in rather than just a sense of melody being played throughout.
Drums used in Sextapes were heavy, big and powerful; perfect for that grunge influence they were playing with. However, drums have now been switched up to a combination of fast paced and slow paced dynamic beats that work well against the shoegazey guitars and mellowed vocals. In this new single you can hear the drummers use of cymbals is not overbearing, but that he has incorporated them nicely against the new sound so that that previously edgier aspect is not heard.
Bass is structured and well blended within the song, keeping that basic structure within crisp and clean, whilst also with a touch of off balance enabling you to hear it.
All in all, Relax & Distill is a brilliant song that’s well structured and displays brilliantly that the boys really have thought about their music. This goes on to show how they want to progress, that this is not a hobby, but something they are all passionate about. Showcasing their talents for writing and producing, I can honestly say Half Asleep are some talented guys! I mean pulling off their breath-taking performances is a talent in its own, let alone being able to make tracks that stick in your head for all the right reasons.
Something I really like about the Half Asleep boys is that despite all this change, they are still humble to how they started. There are no bitter feelings towards the origins and being Sextapes, so much so that when it came to releasing their EP it only seemed fitting to incorporate something a little Sextapes with it. As best described by one of the guitarists as “an ode to Sextapes”, they cleverly titled their EP ‘Watching Sextapes whilst Half Asleep‘. Even better, to keep up with this quirky and individuality that they bring, you can purchase their EP on either standard classic CD or a retro cassette tape! Yes, you can purchase ‘Watching Sextapes whilst Half Asleep’ on cassette tape that has been beautiful crafted to keep Half Asleep in your mind (images of both CD and cassette tape can be found below). But honestly, trust me when I say I truly believe you will not be disappointed in this EP, as it features a few songs that were crafted whilst the boys were Sextapes enabling you to hear and feel the growth they have undergone as a band.
Now whilst checking these videos out you can also go over to their official Facebook page and give them a cheeky little like, which will help you keep updated on any exciting news or even check out their merchandise over on their Big Cartel site. Which to be honest, we know you’re going to do all these things because that’s what I’ve done!!
As always, its an absolute pleasure to have you read our blog. It means way more than you can imagine to me! Thank you for reading my thoughts and opinions, best wishes! Leanne xo