Tag Archives: music mondays

Music Monday: Clock Opera

Clock Opera appeared on “ones to watch” lists for 2010. And 2011. And 2012. They finally released their debut album this past April, and it looks like the Clock Opera machine is now rolling full steam ahead. Early in their career, they got labelled “chop pop” and although frontman Guy Connelly seems uncomfortable with the tag, it’s about the only short description for their unique blend of chopped, remixed, smoothed samples and rather epic lyrics. I’ve been listening since late 2009 when they added to the lineup Dan Armstrong, whom I previously knew from his days with indie band The Rushes. Clock Opera started as the solo project of Guy Connelly, who released both remixes and original tracks under the name. Remixes released from Clock Opera continue to be Guy’s handiwork, and it was his remix of Marina & the Diamonds’ “I am Not a Robot” combined with the release of “Belongings” that really made me sit up and listen.

 

Their debut album, Ways to Forget, was released in both standard and deluxe versions. I have been waiting expectantly for this album for a couple of years now, and I have to say, if I had only gotten the standard version, I would have been disappointed. 6 out of the 10 tracks had previously been released as singles, and I think the versions on the cd suffer from over-production. It’s like they took somewhat disparate songs like the driving, angry Lesson No. 7, the beautiful crescendo of Once and For All, and the pop staccato of Belongings, and decided that they needed to sound more alike. Although CO’s songs tend to be slightly repetitive and formulaic, they are dern catchy and powerful, and the album versions lose that somewhat. Even Move to the Mountains, which people have begging for since it appeared in an episode of Chuck, loses a bit of what was hinted at under those lines of Chuck dialogue.

That said, my love affair with this album starts with track 8, and I think the Lost Buoys, Move to the Mountains, and Fail Better, all previously unreleased, would work for me as a happy ending. Fortunately, however, they decided to also release a deluxe version (at least in the UK). New tracks Ways to Forget (yes, the title track got dropped from the initial album lineup), New Arrivals, Glass Eye and Seven Hours add some diversity to the album, and I am SO glad they added the “under the floorboards” version of Once and For All. This song is truly lovely and the video proves all musicians ought to know how to play the piano:

 

 

Be sure and watch the music video for the original version of Once and For All as well – if that doesn’t make you cry then you have a hard, hard heart. D & I were lucky enough to catch them in Manchester last year and in New York this spring. For a while I had a hard time imagining how they could bring their sound to the live stage, but they put on a really good show, especially once they start breaking out the metal trays & kettles! Sadly, Dan said they don’t often play my favorite newer song, Fail Better, live because it requires a special setup for bassist Andy. I’m very excited, I already have my tickets for their November London show, although it would help if I had plane tickets too…

 

You can find Clock Opera on:

Soundcloud

Facebook

ClockOpera.com

Youtube (If you’re like me and are still a bit confused by the concept of “chop pop”, watch the “making of” videos where they put in context some of the everyday sounds they incorporate)

 Twitter

Music Monday: Brighter Fires

Andy Deane & Gopal Metro founded the goth/industrial/punk mainstay Bella Morte in the mid-90’s. Gopal left the band in 2007 but he & Andy have decided that they missed writing & playing music together, so last year they started a side project called Brighter Fires. Some have likened Brighter Fires’ sound to the Bella Morte of old, which makes sense because when Andy & Gopal write together it does seem to result in a pretty distinctive style. However, they’ve also been exposed to a wider range of influences in the past 15 years, and for that matter, Andy’s voice has matured and has a wider range now too. Please note that I did not say that Andy had matured, just his voice ūüėČ

My second job has been winding down since the middle of May, so I’ve been enjoying some relative freedom in my schedule. This allowed me to catch Brighter Fires three weekends in a row,¬†at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar in¬†Charlottesville (as mentioned in the Synthetic Division post & pictured below), at the Canal Club in Richmond, and at the Jewish Mother Backstage in Norfolk. For once, it’s nice to be appreciating a band that is currently active and located in the same country as I am! They also get huge bonus points for being friendly, passionate, talented guys! (By the way, if you use instagram, you should follow Rippingitdown for nearly live photos which I never remember to transfer to my computer so I can post here)

Although they appeal to goth clubs and refer to their music as “dark rock”, listen to closely to¬†songs like “Glorious” and “Sever” and you’ll understand why their debut album is an “anthem about enjoying life and… stuff”.

 

You can find Brighter Fires on:

BrighterFires.com

Facebook

Youtube

Twitter

Amazon

 

Music Monday: Carbon Leaf

Barry Privett, Carbon Leaf

My story with Carbon Leaf is a bit paradoxical. I always have a favorite band of the moment, and that has never been Carbon Leaf. That said, I’ve seen them more often, driven more miles for them, and own more of their CDs than any other band. So as far as my use of the phrase “favorite band”, well, I do not think it means what I think it means… Carbon Leaf are a Richmond-based band, and yet I didn’t start listening to them until I lived in England, and it wasn’t until last year that I’d actually seen them play in Richmond. They formed in 1996 and started off with a pretty heavily celtic-influenced sound. The Boxer is a great example of one of their early hits which they still play today, at least in Virginia, where they seem to include more of the celtic and folk style songs in their setlists than they may do elsewhere.

I’d say their more recent songs are a bit more mainstream sounding, but Barry’s voice remains pretty distinctive. One of the things that always strikes me when they’re setting up for a live show is the sheer number of instruments that the five of them bring onstage with them.

Carter - Carbon Leaf

I caught a great show from them in May as part of the Groovin’ in the Garden concert series at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA. They were in top form, playing for what seemed like forever and covering the highlights of their career. I also saw a shorter set earlier this month down in Newport News at Victory Landing Park’s Independence Day celebration. That probably makes about a dozen times that I’ve seen them now, but the Lewis Ginter show may always stand out for several reasons, but most particularly one special moment that a fan caught on video. Too sweet! (although that’s always an idea that could backfire badly!)

 

 

Below is one of my favorite photos from the Newport News show. You can see more pics of various CL concerts I’ve attended in my Carbon Leaf flickr set. I’d encourage you to give them a listen – if you’re interested in more of the celtic-influenced sound, Echo Echo is a must, or if you want to hear their more recent alternative/mainstream sound, I’d start with Indian Summer. They’re touring all over the US this summer, and I’m hoping to catch them next at the American Music Festival in Virginia Beach, VA, on 9/1. Do try to catch them if they’re coming your way. I’ve never left a show disappointed!

 

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Carbon Leaf – The Boxer

 

Carbon Leaf – Miss Hollywood

 

You can find Carbon Leaf on:

Soundcloud

Facebook

CarbonLeaf.com

Youtube

 Twitter