REVIEW: RIPPLE GREEN – ‘TIMEPIECE’

Having worked with Ripple Green for a few months last year, I was excited when they contacted me informing me of the release of their latest single ‘Timepiece,’ and upcoming EP of the same name, being released on Dice and Drum Records. ‘Timepiece’ is a track that I heard when it was in its formative stages, and it’s safe to say that their time in Europe had some input on their song-writing and overall sound. The song remains at the roots of Ripple Green’s alternative sound and vision, yet pushes it into a new area, likely to attract a larger audience than some of the band’s prior releases. And it’s definitely a summer road-trip track.

Hailing from Oklahoma, the boys from Ripple Green have known each other since Kindergarten, and the bond they share is clearly apparent both on and off stage. When performing live, all three members seem to have control of the same energy, staying tight and proving that they are a band who know how to play off each other. Their recordings, whilst capturing the core essence of that energy, take the sound of the band one step further and sound professional with high quality production supplementing the edgy sound they aim to deliver. ‘Timepiece’ is no different from previous excursions, save for the fact that the quality seems to have improved ten-fold, and suggests that the band are seeking to add an extra element of pop-sensibility to their tracks. Including funky, interesting off-beat rhythms throughout, and an incredibly catchy chorus, it’s a track that I know Ripple Green were easily capable of producing, yet it’s great to see it so brilliantly executed. Indie influencers such as Jack White and The Flaming Lips are noticeable in the track, yet Ripple Green appear to have a unique element that is likely to attract music lovers from across a number of genres.

Accompanying the track is a video that encapsulates the spirit of the song. Ripple Green have said that ‘Timepiece’ started out as a track about longing for the Oklahoma sun, but developed into a song about the interconnectivity and interaction between individuals as they move through life. The video was shot through the night at Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice in 2014, and is a vivid representation of the energy and fun enjoyed by the thousands who attended that night. Again, the video looks incredibly professional and perfectly represents the vision Ripple Green aim to deliver in everything they publish.

Aww

Aww

It’s a satisfying listen from a band who have worked incredibly hard for the past few years, still striving to perfect their sound. There’s no question that they’ve matured as songwriters and musicians even in the short period of time I’ve known them. A solid, professional release that’ll get stuck in your head for days, ‘Timepiece’ is a great single from an EP that I’m very much looking forward to.

Check out Ripple Green on:

Their Website  []  Facebook  []  Twitter  []   Instagram  []   Soundcloud


Ryan Ottley-Booth

Twitter: @R_Ottley_B

ello: @ryanob

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Apple Music: Flexing Money, Hating Musicians

I’ve been incredibly inactive for the past few months, mainly due to other uni commitments. A poor excuse, I know, but I had to give my opinion on the “saviours of the music industry.”

After much speculation about a streaming service, Apple have finally unveiled their aptly named ‘Apple Music.’ That imaginative bunch also revealed what they were going to be doing with the Beats brand that they acquired; ‘Beats 1,’ a 24-hour radio station that will supposedly be entirely curated by expert DJ’s. Alongside their announcement, they released a video that’s hard to take seriously. In the video, Apple attempt to represent all ethnicities, showing how diverse and understanding they are of global cultures; they’ve even included the token ginger-loner-kid on the school bus. Bless. My biggest gripe though was something made apparent to me in a class discussion yesterday; do Apple expect us to believe that those guys sailing up the remote jungle river will have the money to buy their products, have mobile phone signal/access to internet data, and also the money to afford the Apple Music subscription? Furthermore, are Apple aware that, globally, they have an extremely small market share compared to Android? (see below). Admittedly, Apple are a somewhat aspirational brand; most celebrities (excluding Rita Ora) seem to own an iPhone, and the high price points seem to convince consumers that they’re incredibly high value products. Why, though, with such huge profit margins and brand awareness (mainly in the West) have Apple decided to enter the streaming market?

It seems odd that Apple have taken so long to enter the streaming market. As the company that were the first to introduce a platform for people to access digital downloads, it’s surprising that Apple didn’t attempt to compete as soon as platforms such as Spotify and Deezer surfaced. It seems likely now that they’ve arrived a little too late to make any real waves in the market; their service offers nothing particularly new (similar price points for subscriptions), and arguably people have become comfortable with the platforms they already use. Although Apple boasts an impressive 800 million iTunes accounts (plus all those users’ details), I can’t really see them convincing those customers to buy into their streaming service. That also begs the question; who are they marketing to? If they’re marketing to middle-aged people, they’ll only grab those who haven’t already downloaded Spotify, (who, by the way, revealed they now have 75 million active users). Tech-savvy young adults living in LA are probably already using some obscure 4D music consumption app, and teens are, more-than-likely, using YouTube to MP3 software or Torrent sites. It’s unlikely that Apple Music will see a massive uptake past the free trial period, unless they pull an Amazon and don’t tell you you’re actually paying for something you didn’t know about.

No clue

No clue

Let’s talk about Beats 1 now. A 24-hour radio service that won’t rely on algorithms, but ‘expert DJ’s,’ including the (now American) Zane Lowe. So instead of algorithms analysing the charts and telling radio shows what to play us, these DJ’s will analyse the charts (and possibly music blogs) and tell us what to listen to. Which they’ve been doing for decades. Is anyone going to want to listen to a radio show that, according to Apple’s diverse and cultured Beats 1 video, will encapsulate all the sounds of the world? If you like EDM, are you going to want to hear a piece of music created by an African tribe? Probably not. If you’re a fan of death metal, are you going to want to be interrupted mid-headbang by Mr Lowe introducing Taylor Swift’s latest hit? I can’t see it. Of course I’m making broad generalisations here, and wildly speculating, but my main point is that most people have their own preferences, and don’t like being herded into a room and having unfamiliar music blasted at them. People should also be cautious though when looking at Beats 1. Is Apple trying to take over radio completely? If cars continue adopting digital applications and features, such as an integrated Spotify system, Apple could follow the same practice and try to introduce Beats 1 into every car in the future. It may sound a bit sci-fi, but who knows what’s in the heads of visionaries like Tim Cook? Domination of radio is somewhat immoral, because it could shrink the market of successful musicians; if there’s only one radio station playing only what the DJ’s like, what chance is there for new musicians to be heard?

beats 1

Finally, it’s important to look to the future of the music industry. Some speculate that there is no future, which is a horrifying prospect for somebody just looking to enter it. There is a future, I believe, but it’s one that will be vastly different from what it is now. Of course, physical sales have been declining for years (I’m so bored of saying that), and digital downloads have started falling recently. Streaming may be one of the models that stabilises the industry, whilst new revenue streams are exploited, and current areas (such as the live sector) continue to grow. This is Apple’s main problem though; if they were really about saving the music industry and helping artists through this transitional period, surely they’d want to pay them some royalties? It’s been reported that Apple are planning to pay 0% royalties to artists through free trials, and only 58% from subscription revenues. Spotify currently pay out 70%, and although they’re not perfect, I’d rather put my faith in them. Freemium, I feel, is not a good thing for the industry, but neither is trying to dominate a music market when all you care about is selling overpriced hardware to a global market share of 18%. As someone who cares about the rights of musicians and artists worldwide, it pains me to see businesses giving such disregard for those who create art.

Hey, Apple:

middle finger

Ryan Ottley-Booth

Twitter: @R_Ottley_B

ello: @ryanob

What happened to house parties?

It’s been many years since the main motive for the weekend was going out to a house party. Maybe it’s because as my friends and I have gotten older, we’ve become accustomed to heading down the local or venturing into town if we’ve got a bit more money to spend. However, I often find myself looking back fondly on the numerous house parties I attended growing up, wishing for more nights like those of old. I’ll be honest, I miss the taste of cheap cider and trying to act clever whenever the police showed up, because it reminds me of the time during which I was making friends I’ll have for life, whilst concurrently making me a more sociable person. Perhaps it’s just a pang of nostalgia that causes me to miss the old days, or maybe it’s because now I’m officially an adult, I have to start acting responsibly. As you grow up, you grow out of things, but it is a shame that we can’t drink WKD without embarrassment anymore, or that we can be mocked for bringing roll-ups to a night club. When did we all become such arseholes?

house party 4

I particularly miss fancy dress

The main thing I miss about house parties though, is the music. Although the majority of the time, the host’s iPod shuffle was working its magic, there was the rare occasion that a band showed up, a half decent DJ was playing, or the night kicked off with an acoustic set in the living room. It can be a lot of work putting on a live gig in a house (I tried to sort it for my last one), and arguably it’s the logistical restraints and not wanting to piss off the neighbours too much that makes it so difficult. Parties with live music always had a better vibe though, even if the acts playing weren’t all that great. There was a sense of being involved in something different, something new and exciting. These were the parties you’d be talking about for years to come. Then, as soon as awareness increased and they seemed to be happening all over the country, they seemed to vanish. I’ve had friends play the odd house party or basement gig, but there don’t seem to be half as many of these as there were only a couple of years ago. Maybe I’m just not in the right social circles, or maybe I don’t follow the “right bands”, but it seems as if people are more interested in student nights now. Companies dedicated to living room gigs, such as Sofar have taken the idea to a much bigger audience than before in recent years, but there’s something crushing about a company employing the idea of guerrilla gigging as a business plan, (yeah screw the corporations, man).

WKD and K Cider were rife

WKD and K Cider were rife

On the other hand, I am still young and I’m sure I’ve got many more house parties left in me, but it is somewhat frustrating going through the same motions every weekend. Although we all arguably enjoy the familiarity of the pub or our favourite light-up dancefloors, I’m sure most of us prefer nights that are less expensive, with people whose company we actually enjoy. “Gatherings” or “quiet drinks” have become popular, but they don’t quite hold the same air of excitement that stems from 50 people stuffed into a semi-detached. Furthermore, I don’t think I’m the only one sick of elbowing my way through a crowd of strangers to pay through the nose for a watered down drink. I do love going out to gigs though, and have no problem paying for a ticket, but I hate spending £4.20 on a pint of flat beer, only to have it knocked over me by someone who’s pre-loaded too heavily. Though, all of this is only my opinion, and I am getting older and increasingly bitter with each passing day. In all honesty, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m cheap, and think people should return to having a house party every weekend. Also, I may be begging for an invite. Maybe.

Ryan Ottley-Booth

Twitter: @R_Ottley_B

Ello: @ryanob

SINGLE REVIEW: JOE BOOLEY – ‘NOT A FAIRYTALE’

An ethereal, if not slightly empty couple of tracks, the latest release from Joe Booley explores the theme of love, ultimately offering the listener a positive outlook on the prospects of enjoying life with a loved one.

Both ‘Not a Fairytale’ and ‘Love is a Story’ reflect on how some consider love to be a lie, but Booley suggests that this is not the case, as long as you find the right person. Unfortunately, I’m something of a bitter old man so the same values do not ring true for me, but it’s always interesting to hear other opinions on the topic.

In areas, production on the tracks could be tighter, for example when the drums enter in ‘Not a Fairytale,’ and at times it sounds as if Booley’s voice is shaking slightly. However, I feel this contributes well to the overall sound of the two tracks, complementing the feeling of uncertain positivity.

Although I feel the two tracks could be improved in terms of melody and lyrical content, the harmonies ring true throughout and overall they are proof that Booley is keen on developing his songwriting skills. There is a lot of potential for this young songwriter, and I feel he is moving in the right direction. His sound is quite similar to many others in the singer-songwriter market, so it is important that he works on something that will allow him to stand out among the rest.

Buy the tracks here, or find them on iTunes, Spotify, or any other digital store/streaming service

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joebooleymusic?fref=ts

Ryan Ottley-Booth

Twitter: @R_Ottley_B

Ello: @ryanob

ALBUM REVIEW: IN THE ATLANTIC – ‘TEENAGE LIGHTNING’

In the Atlantic are a four-piece alternative rock band hailing from Portsmouth, England and on December the 3rd, they released their new album, Teenage Lightning. Although the album is not particularly my favourite style of music, it is a polished release that has been created by four talented musicians, complete with high quality production.

ITA2

Whilst listening to the album, I felt a strong sense of nostalgia that took me back to the mid-noughties, when American alternative rock was big on my radar. It is clear when listening to Teenage Lightning, that the band have drawn on influence from some of the biggest artists of that era. Elements of AFI, Bowling for Soup and The Get Up Kids can be heard throughout, and these influences have allowed In the Atlantic to craft an energetic LP that engages and excites throughout. Though the melodic elements on the lead guitar and keys are interesting, I do feel that the vocal melodies are a little predictable in places and I would have liked to have heard a little more exploration in the voice. That isn’t to say that the vocals aren’t good, because they really are. Lead singer Sam Ray has a wonderful voice and the harmonies throughout are near perfect. It is clear that Ray takes influence from singers such as Gerard Way, both in singing and lyrical style.

ITA4

Songs that stand out for me on the album are ‘Faraway’, ‘Lost’ and ‘Teenage Lightning’, after which the album is named. ‘Teenage Lightning’ would probably be the most likely to succeed as a single, because it arguably has the most pop sensibility. Although other songs such as ‘Running Away’ have similar elements, ‘Teenage Lightning’ has a chord progression and melodic line that is easier to follow somewhat, making it a track that will please a wide range of listeners. ‘Faraway’ was one of the tracks I was most impressed with, mainly because it the most experimental. With soaring vocals and open, ambient sounds provided mainly by the keys, it does well to engage and keep the listener guessing. ‘Lost’, the album’s final song, stood out because it did what any good closing track should do; it encapsulated the sound and story that the entire album was attempting to achieve, by being explorative with the lead instruments, accompanied by a thumping beat throughout

ITA3

Overall, Teenage Lightning is a highly polished album, executed brilliantly by four extremely talented musicians. It sounds as if the band have put a lot of time and hard work into the LP, and it is definitely a piece of work they should be proud of. I would like to see In the Atlantic pushing their musicianship more in their next released, because I feel that they have much more to give. Having said that, it is clear that the group are beginning to explore and experiment, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with next.

Buy the album here, or find it on iTunes, Spotify or any other digital store/streaming service.

Visit In The Atlantic’s website here

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IntheAtlantic/

Email the band: intheatlantic@outlook.com

Ryan Ottley-Booth

Twitter: @R_Ottley_B

Ello: @ryanob

REVIEW: ‘The Troubadour Manifesto’ – The Small Society

After completing their first live UK tour in November, folk-punk trio The Small Society released their debut EP The Troubadour Manifesto yesterday. A heart-thumping, foot-stomping mixture of political dialogue and auto-biographical content, from start to finish the 4-track record engages and inspires with intelligent lyrics and high quality performances from all three members.

Greg Ryall

Greg Ryall

Based in Guildford, The Small Society is fronted by Greg Ryall whose lyrics throughout the EP serve as an insight into his experiences of young adult life in the UK. Set against a backdrop of a frustrating economic climate and uncertainty about the future, the lyrics draw on sentiments that are sure to resonate with listeners who have feared reaching adulthood. For my dissertation, I considered writing about the importance of protest music in the current market and how there appears to be a distinct lack of it. The Troubadour Manifesto is a record that has extinguished my concerns, as it is apparent that there are still musicians looking to protest through music. However, the EP does not serve as a bold political statement that calls for revolution, nor does it come across as a young adult simply complaining. Instead, the record is an intelligent representation of the hardships people face in finding work and dealing with the pressures of growing up in a world focused on technology and social media. The Small Society have previously expressed their disdain for people’s reliance on social media as an outlet, and ‘One Step Back’ is an enjoyable communication of anger aimed at selfie culture and society’s love for smartphones.

Neal Ritson

Neal Ritson

What is most refreshing about the record is Ryall’s take on current issues surrounding young people, with ‘Political Songs Don’t Sell Anymore’ and ‘When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Troubadour’ focusing heavily on unemployment, commercialism in UK pop culture, and facing the horror of not being able to afford a pint. That horror is something I’m sure we can all relate to. The lyrics also incorporate biographical elements, with ‘So Apparently I’m Folky Now’ giving the most insight into Ryall’s past. This assists in making the EP an interesting story for the listener to follow, whilst also supplying the political views and feelings of frustration that Ryall feels. Supplementing the lyrics is the music, with Neal Ritson on bass and Emma Hiley on drums perfectly complimenting Ryall’s clean-cut voice that also provides an occasional roughness, perfectly suited to the style of music. Having seen the band live a number of times, I was a little worried whether or not they would be able to capture the raw sound that has made them so captivating on stage. Their energy and passion, though, are clearly locked into this record, and it sounds as if the trio all share one mind as they play. As a folk-punk band, it could have been easy for The Small Society to focus on heavier riffs and louder drums, but for their debut EP, they have relied more on the folk aspects, providing an incredibly clean, high-quality sounding record. You’ll want to move some part of your body when you listen to The Troubadour Manifesto, as it is infectiously upbeat and entertaining.

Emma Hiley

Emma Hiley

Overall, The Troubadour Manifesto is a triumphant début EP from a relatively new band, sure to engross audiences who have faced similar fears of growing up and the challenges of the big bad world. Without relying too heavily on attacking “the system,” the record is smart at picking out certain aspects of modern culture and expressing the frustrations felt towards them. Although the release of the EP was slightly delayed, it was well worth the wait, as all the instruments sound perfectly balanced against Ryall’s voice. It is apparent that Ritson, Hiley and Ryall are all brilliant musicians who are well in-tune with one another, and it is safe to assume that they will continue performing together for many years to come after a successful UK tour, and fantastic début EP release.

The Troubadour Manifesto is available to download or stream on a number of services, including iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud.

You can watch The Small Society’s video for ‘Political Songs Don’t Sell Anymore’ here. 

Follow @thesmallsociety on Instagram and check out their website here.

The Small Society at Bar Mambo, Guildford

The Small Society at Bar Mambo, Guildford

Ryan Ottley-Booth

Twitter: @R_Ottley_B

Ello: @ryanob

A Week Away

I haven’t had the chance to write my own blog post this week, as I’ve been doing an internship at Music Gateway. You can, however, read some of the work I’ve being doing for them this week below:

Read “Why did Taylor Swift take her music off Spotify?” here.

Read How to Plan your First Tour: 10 Things you Need to Know” here.

Read my “5 Top Tips for Songwriters” here.

I should be back to writing my normal blog by next week. Cheers!

Ryan Ottley-Booth

Twitter: @R_Ottley_B

Ello:@ryanob