Tag Archives: Music

REVIEW: Wild Beasts – Smother (10/10)

It’s always good to see a band come back fighting. Wild Beasts were pipped to the Mercury Award Music Prize from The xx less than a year ago, but no matter they’re back with another album that once again provides promise, beauty, poignancy yet with enough modesty to leave us coming back for more and shows why we fell in love with them in the first place.

Wild Beasts have never been one to hide away from living up to their name, at least lyrically speaking anyway. All of their work has showcased themes of sex, lust and desire. Difference is this time around they relish singing about the idea that sex can be bad. There are no romantic ideals from Thorpe this time, that is to say all emotional ties go flying out the window. Yet later on in the album we do see Fleming, on the track “Invisible” contrast these thoughts with small specks of the fact that relationships based on sexual intent, be it bad or otherwise, can sometimes come back to haunt us unless both people are on the same page (emotionally at least) “you have walked through my dreams, I want you to see this”. As well as on “Deeper” where he laments “The breakfast is all laid out/ Waiting for you to arrive”. His quivering vocal suggests he missing something, or someone once lost and this is a perfect way to really convey that sense of absence.

Thorpe’s prowl on “Lion’s Share” is reminiscent of Kate Bush’s draggy vocals. We feel the vulnerability here as showcased by uneasy piano coupled with Thorpe’s predatory lyrics “I take you in the mouth, like a lion takes it’s game”.
“Bed of Nails” is another personal favourite. The opening drum pattern as well as when Thorpe’s falsetto kicks in easily suggests a Hercules & Love Affair comparison. It’s here where Shelley’s Frankenstein influences really come to light “When our bodies become electrified/It’s alive, it’s alive, its ali-e-i-e-i-e-i-i-i-ive” layered on top of swooning guitar; it makes for a beautiful track.

“Smother” is ,without doubt, very deserving of every plaudit and praise that comes their way. They have taken observations of the landscapes of lovers, delving deep into the detachment of unabashed wanton desire. If ‘(500 Days) Of Summer’ and ‘Blue Valentine’ took the love story and turned it on his head, then ‘Smother’ has looked at the love song from a different angle. As much as it leaves you cold with their blunt observations, this album is also an invitation to listen to the beauty of exactly what happens “post-break up sex”.

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Click here to stream the album and listen to it in its entirety, on The Guardian’s music website

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: 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.

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

EPIC DECKS: 25 Most Recently Played on iPod

My friend who works at King’s has blogged about her most recently played on her iPod so I thought I’d do the same…

Feel free to judge:

1. Going to California – Led Zepplelin
2. Distant Lights – Burial
3. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
4. Not in Love (Album Version) – Crystal Castles
5. Dismantle Me – The Distillers
6. Ghosts (Toxic Avenger Mix) – Ladytron
7. Solar System – Crystal Fighters
8. Beautiful Trash – Lanu
9. Best in the Class (Soulwax Remix) – Late of the Pier & Soulwax
10. Thou Shalt Always Kill (De La Soul Remix) – dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip
11. Headlights Look Like Diamonds – Arcade Fire
12. Bring the Light – Beady Eye
13. Bubbles – Biffy Clyro
14. Sinister Kid – The Black Keys
15. Yeyo – The Bloody Beetroots
16. Galvanize – The Chemical Brothers
17. Moar Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff – Deadmau5
18. Some Chords – Deadmau5
19. Desire Lines – Deerhunter
20. Traynor – Dinosuar Pile-Up
21. Building Steam with a Grain of Salt – DJ Shadow
22. Kill The Music – Every Time I Die
23. Dan’s Song – Frank Turner
24. Here’s Looking At You, Kid – The Gaslight Anthem
25. Dare – Gorillaz

Record shopping

I love shopping for records, something about actually holding something in your hands sure beats clicking away on a computer in iTunes, YouTube, Napster or some other torrent.

I spent many of a day in my local HMV (Maidstone), browsing for some bargains – measured to my taste, occassionally nudged by a member of staff towards something to keep my tastes progressing.

Now though, obviously, I’ve since discovered vinyl. So everytime I’m in London I’ll try to tootle along to Rough Trade East (I was introduced to this by the Ifor Evans music geeks – they know who they are – Tash, Cat, Ollie, Kris with a K) and some other record stores in Soho.

It’s the feel of the plastic wrapping in your hands, the longing to get home and burn it your mp3 player or hear it crackle in the speakers. To hear the needle scratch. Hear it hiss on the edge of the pressing as it finds the right groove. Or even rip it from the jewel case waiting for to load, deciphering the lyrics from the booklet. Nothing beats it. Sure you leave the store poor, but you leave happy and soon to be educated.

I’ve a lot to thank to my local HMV, but also to Sean B-Mc, Caylee, but more recently Anna and some of my other new and old friends.