Category Archives: music

REVIEW: Queens Of The Stone Age – Queens Of The Stone Age [Remastered Re-release] (9/10)

Somewhat belated review of their reissue Queens put out toward the end of March. Sorry guys but I’ve been a little busy. Is it pointless to review an album that has technically already been released before?

The answer is no. If you had asked me upon the re-release of ‘Rated R’ to review the album I would have said no, for the simple fact that at that point, before the re-release it was already in print and you could easily get hold of it in record stores and online for a decent price. Whilst we are on this topic Joshua Homme didn’t agree with the re-release of that album, but the decision was taken out of his hands as his band had already parted ways with Interscope by that point; legal issues etc.

So why review yet another QOTSA re-release? Are they quite simply living past glories? Have they run out of ideas for new material? Again, the answer is no. No-oen has heard the new material that they are recording at the moment and I’m sure we will hear at least a couple of new songs on the UK tour this May. There is no point pre-empting what the new material will sound like. Obviously it speaks volumes that there are large majority of the Queens who think that ‘Rated R’ was their first album. Then again for whatever reason this album has been out of print for ten years or so. Homme has said himself that there is a need for this album to be put out, it has been a very long time since the songs that feature on this album have been played live, plus you would have been very lucky before the re-release to have got your hands on a copy for a very decent price. I saw on Amazon that it was going for $79 and was put up by a further $20 when it was announced that they would be remastering this album from the original tapes for a re-release. So in short there is a need; these songs come from the same family as the most well-known albums ‘Rated R’ and ‘Songs For The Deaf’, whilst ‘Rated R’ is more varied and dynamic and ‘Songs For The Deaf’ has a beefier and clean sound in terms of production, as you’d expect – the debut album has a much more raw feel and just crackles with energy. It was refreshing, and still is, to hear tracks like “Regular John” (which is the best album opener I have ever heard) and “Avon” at their most visceral at their most heavy, without any overdubs. There’s no need for them. With simple effects and using the switches on your guitar and fiddling with the amp the band have created the typical Queens crunch which makes the overall soundscape of the album very different from what you might find on other albums of other rock bands.

Their remastered rerelease of the debut album is amazing. It’s warm and dry like the desert, it has grooves that are constantly switching up, notably on “Give The Mule What He Wants” and “Walkin On Sidewalks”. Even listening to the original tapes at the time of it’s release, there was no way of knowing where Josh Homme would go from here, it’s not even a snapshot of the late nineties; this LP is still relevant as what it was back then and it’s blows most of what’s around right now out of the water.

I love how the bonus tracks aren’t just added on to the end of the original track list and are merged with the the rest. Makes this an essential copy nonetheless. You get tracks from the era as well as a track from the Kyuss/QOTSA split EP, makes it a must have for any hardcore fan.

Not as good as ‘Rated R, which offers more in terms of a variance in different styles on that record, plus the presence of Nick Oliveri on ‘Rated R’ is one you can’t ignore (however I do like their earlier work and I know he’s not coming back -_-), so I’m going to give it a nine.

REVIEW: Gorillaz – The Fall (8/10)

It appears surreal to say the least to have another Gorillaz album drop less than a year after the release of ‘Plastic Beach’, usually there’s a four to five year gap between each record; more than enough time to truly digest each effort.

I suppose “surreal” is maybe the best term to use here, as in most respects this doesn’t feel like an album and more like a “P-sides”, primary reason being that this was recorded all across 32 days between Montreal and Vancouver on the Escape to Plastic Beach US tour last Autumn using various applications on an iPad and recorded mainly by Damon Albarn himself. So in a lot of ways this feels more like a solo album and less like a Gorillaz album.

I have no doubt that this album will be met with lots of criticism, most of which can be found just buy using Google and reading your typical music magazines and other related websites. But remember when it was first announced that Albarn would be forming Gorillaz, he wanted to cut out the nonsense that comes with being in your typical band that is moderately if not highly successful in the industry. He wanted to cut out the promotion, tour cycles and boredom of waiting on the road etc etc. You get the picture. What he does here is taking that notion but amplifying it to spread across an entire album. Hardly any promotion except word of mouth, dropping it as a “free” download around the end of last year and announcing that it would be physically released around the time of Record Store Day…I can think of only one other band that can get away with dropping releases purely out of word of mouth without being accused of pretentiousness in the slightest. And we all know the band I’m referring to here, right?

So is it a typcial, linear album full of typical song structures of verse chorus verse chorus? No. But it is still solid and consistent throughout and more than anything is an undeniable portrayal of how innovative and inventive a songwriter that Damon Albarn is.

Having said that I can tell you now that there are no “Clint Eastwood”s, there are no “Dare”s and there are no “Feel Good Inc”s; this is an album meant to be listened to and digested all the way through in its entirety. There aren’t any typical single-worthy tracks that one could so easily find on previous Gorillaz albums. However tracks like “Revolving Doors” will leave you humming along to hours after first listen

There seems to be far less pressure involved here. Slow, gentle and beautiful listens. Full of ideas and experiments from a man trying out the latest technology and what it could contribute to Gorillaz in the next chapter of their career.

Through lack of post-production and creativity bound by studio time and boundaries this feels delicate and unrestrained, slow-burning, relaxed and easy on the ears; in fact it could very easily fall into the category of easy-listening. “Joplin Spider” is another standout track, “Hillbilly Man” and “Little Pink Plastic Bags are other notable highlights but “Detroit takes you out your dream-like state and snaps you into a reality where you realise this was made with an iPad; which is shame really as Damon Albarn has been clever enough to craft it into something masterful and clever almost as if these were leftover sessions from mucking around whilst recording in the studio for ‘Plastic Beach’.

For all the criticisms that this album will no doubt receive, please ignore for a second whilst listening to this album and just let it wash over you. It really is beautiful and breezy. We can only imagine what this album would have sounded like if he had taken these, ideas and at times what feel like initial skeletons of tracks, into the studio and beefed up the production to turn it into a fully-fledged album. Maybe. But we more or less know that Albarn wanted a different feel for this and he didn’t want to turn out this album in the typical way.

Aside from a few minor flaws here and there, this is a good solid album considering the time and tools he recorded it with. I’m going to give this album an eight πŸ˜€

The King Blues – Punk and Poetry (7.5/10)

It has been said that a Tory government is good for no-one but the protest scene. Well, so says The King Blues frontman Itch Fox, and bringing his band into this theory is true to an extent. The King Blues have had a lot to protest about, whether it’s their personal circumstances within the band – one of their key members leaving – or the recent cuts, make no mistake they are “f*****g angry”. Despite the band’s internal struggles what you’re left with on this album is very raw. The album pairs the musical strengths of Itch and Jamie Jazz (guitarist) but what has stayed the same consistently throughout is Itch’s lyrics and delivery.

“Last Of The Dreamers’ kicks off proceedings and sets the tone of the album nicely; addressing the government’s victims and a call to arms if you will. It leads into “We Are F*****g Angry”, a protest anthem for the “students, workers and unemployed”. “Set The World On Fire” is a personal highlight as it harks back to their earlier work on ‘Save The World – Get The Girl’. Even “The Future’s Not What It Used To Be” brings back the reggae, ska flavour of their earlier work.

“Headbutt” and “I Want You” take a step away from the subject matter. It’s these couple of tracks, “Headbutt” that give a glimpse as to what the album could have sounded like had the band’s troubles not have occurred and had the sshambolic actions not been undertaken by the present government. However, as different as these tracks sound from the rest of album, they don’t stick out like sore thumbs and flow cohesively with the rest of the tracks. In fact they’re the most energetic songs on the record and stay with you long after the first listen.

As a pedantic criticism, “Dancehall” comes much to early for my liking. Usually interludes come at a halfway point but this song is number 4 in the trackl;ist which is more or less at the beginning of the album. However it slows down the pace of the album at that point very well after the fanfare of earlier tracks of “We Are F*****g Angry” and “Set The World On Fire”. Otherwise, it’s not simply good enough or punk worthy to clarify your punk stripes by constantly referencing how punk you are, whic The King Blues seem to do throughout. Emphatic swearing aside, which these days is common and not necessarily a bad thing, by naming the album ‘Punk and Poetry’ as well as affirming their anger on almost every track is again not punk enough and just comes across as cheesey, it hardly raises a few eyebrows. Otherwise there’s a fantstic musicianship present on this album, and Itch Fox is, at least at present, one of the very people not only in the industry but in the public eye ready to stand up and be counted. I can count few people on one hand who have the intelligence and eloquence to criticise and lambast the apathy and state of things to day. Can you count anybody one one hand after Scroobius Pip, Frank Turner, Nicky Wire from the Manics, Itch Fox, and Rou Reynolds from Enter Shikari? Ok maybe Billie-Joe Armstrong and Rise Against but at least anybody after that? No! Well there you go. There’s few other musicians after that who maybe rell off soundbites to just promote their album or tour, but those are hardly people who I can take seriously and make it believable from their world-worn experiences and standpoint.

There are flaws on this album, it’s not perfect. But politically speaking it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard in a while.

REVIEW: TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light (9/10)

It’s almost to easy to over-analyse a band these days. Fret over the reverbs, contours, effects pedals and whether it’s good to riff too much on an open string. Sometimes it’s good to just collapse after a long day at work or from propping up the bar (it can happen) and simply kick back and let the music wash over you and take it for what it is.

Sure TV On The Radio have shown stretched their musical palette from their EP, debut to their last record to their side projects – Maximum Balloon and Rain Machine – as well as twiddling the knobs behind the scenes for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; they have proven they don’t exactly rest on their laurels but push boundaries and stretch themselves creatively but these guys are fun, if you just listen for enjoyment (just the once Madame/Mr. Hipster – go on I dare you), the groove is definitely there.
‘Nine Types Of Light’ has to be their most fun party themed album to date “Second Song” is reminiscent of Prince, themes of weather and dancing are all undercurrents but its the slow burning 80s synths that really showcase this particular influence, but then the familiar TV groove is unveiled and they immediately come into their own. “Repetition” is a fine example of brilliant wordplay and clever lyricwriting “What’s the matter with your next door enighbour?/I heard he ha sex, drugs and danger?”, they’ve lost none of their charm or early twenties nostalgia. “Caffeinated Consciousness” is when the album really reveals it’s charm and the funk kicks in.
This is an album that will make the shoegazers listen and lose control in typical ‘happy feet’ fashion.

For those who are looking for a a satirical James Murphy fix now that he has has called time on LCD Soundsystem then you can look no further than this, but even then that would be too much over-analysing; a slow burner which evolves into a marvellous summer party romp.

REVIEW: Foo Fighters – Wasting Light (8.5/10)

By now most of you will have heard “White Limo” and “Rope”. Both songs being very different from other; “Rope” is you standard beer-chugging, hands in the air, fist-pummelling each other stadium-rock anthem whilst “White Limo” is probably the heaviest I have ever heard of the Foos.

It’s also worth clearing the reunions on this album. All merely coincidence and in danger of completely overshadowing release of this album; Pat Smear is now fully at the helm, Butch Vig who produced Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ is at the reigns this time, Krist Novoselic plays accordion and bass on “I Should Have Known”, and it has been twenty years since the release of ‘Nevermind’. But “I Should Have Known” is not about addressing the pink elephant in the room; it is not about Kurt’s suicide.
The geek in me was excited when I heard that the Foos would be returning back to basics for their new record. Recording straight to tape, working from analogue and recording in their garage. They’ve ticked every single box in their fifteen year career including a double album that was stretched pretty thin in places to be honest, so their last album left me wondering where could they possibly go from there; do they record and ‘Echoes…pt. 2’ or do they pursue in covering new (ish) territory and take their formula and turn it on its head.

The answer, I’m pleased to say, is the latter. Hanging out with Joshua Homme has clearly given Grohl a new lease of energy and creativity; I’ve always been a fan of the heavier Foos tracks (like Low and Have It All) and it seems they explore these avenues on this album, “Bridge Burning” has to be the album opener of the year with its gutsy riffs and drum rolls that will no doubt get all the kids jumping like loons at Milton Keynes bowl later on this year. Another notable example is “Dear Rosemary” where Nirvana and Foo Fighters influences are fully addressed by duetting with Husker-Du/Sugar icon Bob Mould; heavy in emotion and conveys a rawness never felt on previous work but carries enough restraint to truly showcase its warmth and beauty without feeling repetitive or cheesey.
“Arlandria” kicks in with a familiar groove and subtlety with its rhythm and throbbing bassline that wouldn’t feel too out of place on a Queens Of The Stone Age album, definite favourite here for obvious reasons.

This album benefits from painstaking production. A lot of time and care has gone into making this album sound good. It really is a disservice to listen to it on shitty laptop speakers, it has to be listened cranked to 11 on the your stereo speakers, you can hear the fretboard buzz, fingertips brushing strings, before the guitars cascade over you, without ever having the essence of a wall of sound scape like Muse. It feels like a friendship that was at a crossroads, what you fell in love with is still there but what has successfully worked has been turned into something fresh to engage old hardcore fans and to attract new listeners. The formula for good old fashioned rock anthems is still there and less cookie-cutter-y but this time with an omnipresent harder and faster delivery and this benefits all the more from it.

30 Day Song Challenge

Day 01 – Your favorite song
(No playlist would be complete with my favourite rock band. Ever)

Day 02 – Your least favorite song

Day 03 – A song that makes you happy
(Memories of Wireless 2010 with these guys headlining come flodding back with this baby)

Day 04 – A song that makes you sad

Day 05 – A song that reminds you of someone
(My friend from uni, Jason Peachey)

Day 06 – A song that reminds of you of somewhere

Day 07 – A song that reminds you of a certain event

Day 08 – A song that you know all the words to

Day 09 – A song that you can dance to

Day 10 – A song that makes you fall asleep
(Band that got me into indie music when I was 16)

Day 11 – A song from your favorite band
(Better than Oasis without doubt)

Day 12 – A song from a band you hate
(Hate the song and band, love Miranda’s involvement)

Day 13 – A song that is a guilty pleasure

Day 14 – A song that no one would expect you to love

Day 15 – A song that describes you

Day 16 – A song that you used to love but now hate

Day 17 – A song that you hear often on the radio

Day 18 – A song that you wish you heard on the radio
(actually my fave album of Kyuss’s is ‘Blues From The Red Sun’ whereas this track, “Asteroid”, is from ‘Welcome to Sky Valley’. But this was good live I just had to link it)

Day 19 – A song from your favorite album

Day 20 – A song that you listen to when you’re angry

Day 21 – A song that you listen to when you’re happy

Day 22 – A song that you listen to when you’re sad

Day 23 – A song that you want to play at your wedding

Day 24 – A song you want to play at your funeral

Day 25 – A song that makes you laugh

Day 26 – A song that you can play on an instrument

Day 27 – A song that you wish you could play

Day 28 – A song that makes you feel guilty

Day 29 – A song from your childhood

Day 30 – Your favorite song at this time last year