Tag Archives: album review

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: Metronomy – The English Riviera (7/10)

You can’t beat wackiness, especially in music. Metronomy, thus far in their career are no exception. What with working Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud for her debut album and the rather odd titles given to his bands bodies of work – Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe). Joespeh Mount has established himself to be a very much an off-centre sort of character. The dance-indie hybrid has been doing the rounds for a while now. Battles, Friendly Fires, Klaxons and Delphic are all however equally good, don’t come without their quirks. Staccato riffs mixed with synths and falsetto synths make for an original and intriguing initial listen.

It seemed apparent by the time they released ‘Nights Out’ (2008) that these random styles tended to get in the way of the band’s potential progression and development in their songwriting. The wackiness is noteworthy here, as it’s seems almost non-existent; out goes wackiness in favour of a more bold theme and concept which is seaside towns (James Mount is from Totnes in Devon, which is hardly coincidental) and a love of nostalgia.

Seagulls calls with violins playing over instantly pulls us in and sets the scene for an endearing and somewhat twee listen. “We Broke Free” features a meandering bassline that contrasts perfectly with Mount’s high-pitched vocals, “Everything Goes My Way” has a handclap driven groove showcasing the duets of drummer Anna Prior and Mount. “The Look”, however, is a definite stand-out track, about growing up in smalltown England – bittersweet nostalgia as its finest. When the 80s synths punches in, it just reaffirms the forgotten days of innocence in our backyard with blues skies, baking sun and birds tweeting in the distance; all of which drive home the ups and downs when taking a trip down memory lane.

Where The Libertines’ romantic view of England was groggy, hazy, gritty and bare to the bone rock ‘n; roll, Metronomy’s England seems deep rooted in old-fashioned summer holidays of the past, like a photograph bathed in sepia. Up against their earlier work it certainly is strides ahead and the album as such is major progression for the band. What can sometimes hold the album back from true greatness are his lyrics which can be hardly be described as inspirational or indeed exciting. Seems like he has going to Noel Gallagher for tips (“Champagne Supernova” anyone?) .

But on the whole creating a new sonic identity, especially whilst reshuffling members doesn’t necessarily work for every band but it seems that with Metronomy they have succeeded in mastering a new sound whilst attracting new audiences and keeping their old fans still intrigued.

Nice one.

REVIEW: Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting (7/10)

Jamie Woon makes use of the same minimalist aesthetic that has seen the rise of James Blake and has catapulted The xx to success in 2010. A Burial remix of “Night Air” only served to earn himself another stripe. It’s meant that there’s been no end of hype and his name being repeated on ‘Sound of 2011’ lists, but for every in-depth and enthusiastic article on this Brit School graduate there’s one scornful naysayer who’s critical of this exact qualification.

His debut effort ‘Mirrorwriting’ has been three years in the making and a lifetime in writing and recording. He has clearly paid attention to the details and simplicity that encompasses Burial’s work. Whereas Burial uses fresh beats to create an ambient and chilled soundscape to accompany an urban backdrop, Woon gives an album that offers subtlety without being withholding, enough emotion without being too earnest. Another notable difference between is that Jamie’s voice is framed front and centre throughout the album; tracks like “Shoulda” give the sort of minimalist serenity that would flowed quite well on The xx’s debut.

Yet tracks like “Lady Luck” is reminiscent of a slick r’n’b number; the sort you’d find on Justin Timberlake’s sophomore effort ‘Future Sex Love Sounds’. “Spirits” is another stand-out track; soulful crooning by Jamie as well as the sort of big beat (thats the sound not the sub-genre) production one would expect from Timbaland. ‘Gravity’ is a beautiful album-closer and takes things down to an even more chilled notch and accompanied by a soft acoustic guitar, it’s a track to unwind to.

Woon’s got soul, there’s no doubt about it. Stood up next to his contemporaries his sound is a lot more accessible.
It comes down to matter of preference, there’s enough here for the post-dubstep fan but it too often borders in territory thats not to my taste, hence the score has been dragged down. Which is a real shame as you can see the potential of Jamie Woon here, you really can. There’s moments of brilliance throughout just not enough to keep me coming for more listens.

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.