Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Album Reviews - 31/10/07

Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

He’s music’s been described as many things, but this time around US song smith, Devendra Banhart and his backing band have opted to strip things right back with their latest instalment of psychedelic trips in “Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon”.

After the drug induced freak-folk haze Banhart has instilled over the past couple of years, this album is certainly the comedown affair of the bunch and when you listen to it, you will totally get this feeling.

The two sticking points begin with the epic ‘Seahorse’. It twists in your stomach with it’s musical foray of psychedelic nostalgia and mind tripping lyrics that all start from the song title itself. Although ‘Saved’ has a stripped backed feel to it, an injection of soul ventures into the background of the song, which is a nice change for Banhart and one that many will be surprised by.

“SRDTC” has to go down as Banhart’s most accessible album to date. Despite people wanting a more obscure aesthetic to dote over, this is an album that the hippie-esque songwriter was destined to make. Although I can see listeners having a slight distaste for it, it’s an album that you can relax to, and this alone makes it different from any other work Banhart has rendered to his audience thus far.


Simon K

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Good, the Bad & the Queen - The Good, the Bad & the Queen

Never had Damon Albarn tasted as much success with the Gorillaz then he did with Britpop sensations Blur, in which some Gorrilaz fans not even knowing who he is. Now the mastermind behind the Gorillaz, set his sights on another project which in mid to late 2006 became of the most anticipated records on the calendar for 2007.

Recruiting members from other familiar bands such as the Clash's bassist Paul Simonon and the Verve's Simon Tong, without the public knowing too much about the project, what was know was that it was said to be quite the departure from his previous endeavours. To descirbe their sound is quite a challenge as the album conveys quite an original sound. I can only liken them to parts of the Beta Band and bits and pieces of the Gorrilaz.

The album never seems to reaches it's goal, a greater portion of the tracks are slowburning and have a moody atmospheric quality, Albarns vocals included are as melancholy as the music. The album contains interesting compositions though they just lack a certain zest, so interest is lost in the making even if the sometimes elegant and gloomy soundscapes are occasionaly ravishing. Even with Dangermouse producing the outcome is still on an average level.

"The History Song" sets the tone for most of the album. This is a very ambitious set of songs and for that matter and fans have seemed to lost interest with only a handful endlessly defending it. "Kingdom of Doom" gives us the first taste of the band finding there footsteps before leading into the almost epic "Herculean" the first single lifted and easily the best track the album offers. The rest of the album seems to meander not really portraying the effectiveness of the few brilliant tracks. Filled with lush orchestrations and multi instrumentation, which are a pleasure to the ears, there is just something missing.

If its elegance and a well produced intriguing album is what you're after then this is a must, though if your hoping for a fun catchy pop record sadly this isn't for you. Never amazing, though not entirely unsuccessful, Albarn uses this project as an outlet to vent and continues to establish himself as an artist. Thankfully finishing on a high note with the much diverse title track, the longest and most rewarding song here, not all is lost. If the boys decide to get together again I'll be surely interested in what they come up with.


Sean B
Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger

Easily one of the most prolific artists of our times. Ryan Adams has released an album every year since 2000 (which was the year of his inception of his post-Whiskeytown solo career) except for 2006, in which he was absent probably due to the release of three albums in 2005. Also upon the release of this album their was a disagreement over which title would be put on the album as it was intended to be a Cardinals record though record company executives disagreed to Adams disdain.

Apart from his tendency to release copius amounts of material he seems restrained lately, with the release of only one album and the recently released Follow the Lights E.p this year. If not mostly known for his productive energy towards songwriting it's in the direction he follows with the material which makes it interesting. Albums of the past have been filled with different genres, leaving the fans constantly guessing on what to expect next.

Covering fields from country, rock, blues, folk etc on his ninth record Easy Tiger, it seems like a culmination of all his past works, the album features everything you might of heard before like a condensed version of his 2005 releases: Cold Roses/Jacksonville City Nights/29. Where "Goodnight Rose" has the blues rocking tones that could have appeared on Cold Roses, or "Tears of Gold" ripped straight from Jacksonville with the steel guitar taking the lead role throughout the song and the deep and dense quality of "I Taught Myself How to Grow Old" fitting perfectly upon 29 no doubt.

Adams has seemed to almost work out his patterns for creating music and here he seems to of chosen a select group of songs from each and thrown them together creating a mould for which his sound has become. "Halloweenhead" is the tongue in cheek, rip roaring rock track, "Two, "The Sun Also Sets", "Off Broadway", "Rip Off" and "Everybody Knows" are the soft ballads in which become the make up of the album showcasing Ryan Adams talent as a heartfelt, bittersweet and melancholy songwriter, which all work magnificently.

Ryan Adams seems to lament his way through the album with only a few exceptions. He borders on brilliance if only held back by a few mediocre tracks and the inconsistency of the style of songs selected for the album. Easy Tiger shows an artist at his working best, displaying all his known strengths as a musician, singer and songwriter.


Sean B
The Go! Team - Proof of Youth

Off the back of their fresh sounding first album, Thunder, Lighting, Strike, the Go! Team return to 2007. Said to infuse indie rock, hip-hop, dance, funk and cheerleading chants etc, a fair sum up of their sound. Here, led by Ian Parton the band offer up 10 new songs in the vein of their debut. From the beginning "Grip Like a Vice", "Doing it Right" and "Titanic Vandalism" all display that frenetic energy the band are known to enforce and they don't at any time disappoint.

"My World" seems like an update of "Hold Yr Terror Close" a 2 minute instrumental of chant less charm. Again vocalist Ninja is hidden in the mix, with vocals more prominent from other members. "Keys to the City" is a highlight with the constant chanting delivered by a collective it seems, with brass over the top and a surf riff to top it off. "Fake ID" and "The Wrath of Marcie" provide catchy structures, keeping in touch with the albums flow of vitality. Fans of Public Enemy will be sure to enjoy "Flashlight Fight" featuring rapper Chuck D.

Where Thunder, Lighting, Strike was a breath of fresh air and practically original, it feels that Proof of Youth is just a copy of the main blueprint of the band's sound. While that sound is already quite impressive, there's not enough evidence shown to qualify this as a progression from their previous statement, more of a Thunder, Lightning, Strike part two if you will. Still with all said this a very likeable album and proves to be exciting after numerous amounts of listens, even if it doesn't outshine the quality of material executed on the predecessor.


Sean B
White Stripes - Icky Thump

Album number 6, for one of the world's most revered rock and roll bands. Since released it's been heavily noted in the media on the duration of the recording sessions, clocking in at just under 3 weeks. The longest amount of time compared to their other stints on previous albums. As the Stripes are known for their brief studio outings.

The title track was the first single to be taken from the album, it was a taste to come with a very zeppelin-esque style riff, the world were in awe and anticipation of what the Whites had on offer this time around. In all honesty though this isn't just a White Stripes record it's the next step in evolution of Jack White as musician/frontman/singer/songwriter etc.

The album relentlessly twists and turns and doesn't hesitate whatsoever to get where it's going, forgetting it's past destinations especially displayed on 2005's Get Behind Me Satan. Jack and Meg hit us with the stripped back rock sound we have come to know and love throughout their career. "Rag and Bone" and "Little Cream Soda" are clear representations of the aforementioned sound, raw, direct and effective. The latter shows an example of White at his most exciting and effective on the guitar. "Conquest" is either love hate with that kitschy feel to it though which ever side of the fence you stand on you cannot deny the appeal of the horns displayed throughout the track. There is no real balladry here only in spurts in occasional tracks, forgone with the intent on a full focused rock event."You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do What You're Told)" and "A Martyr For My Love For You" show the band at their full songwriting powers.

Icky Thumps strengths are it's weaknesses, it's a thoroughly consistent effort where each track is just about as good as the last, though no song tends to stand out more than it's peers. Some fans of course just can't get enough of White's bluesy rock sound but I'm one for pushing the boundaries of the modern rock sound. Where, Get Behind Me Satan was an intriguing affair, and the most experimental and enthusiastic set of songs the band has put to disc, I feel that Icky Thump pales in comparison with it's lack of freshness and zest, Icky may stand the test of time through it's consistency but on the back of such a terrific effort i can't help feeling at tad disappointed.


Sean B

Monday, October 29, 2007

Album Reviews - 29/10/07

Liars - Liars

New York/Berlin/L.A./(20 other places in the world) innovators Liars continue to make their audience think, but this time a more simple approach has been scratched to disc with their self-titled fourth album. Unlike previous efforts, where concepts are at the forefront of what the band has produced, those methods have been left behind this time around.

The title of the album suggests a more straightforward approach and judging by the sound, this is very much a forgone conclusion. This album also witnesses frontman, Angus Andrew, in a new light with his falsetto vocals (’Plaster Casts Of Everything‘, ‘Houseclouds’’ Cycle Time‘, ‘Protection‘) adding yet another dimension to the slew of variation the Liars already hold within their arsenal.

Andrews also uses his brooding vocals that we’re so used to hearing on the band’s previous material (‘Leather Prowler‘, ‘What They Would Know‘, ‘Freak Out‘, ‘Pure Unevil‘, ‘Clear Island‘), and although some may say this albums is of two halves based on the vocal range of the twisted Aussie, musically, this album is just an indie rock affair from a band that loves to create something different and awe-inspiring every time they enter the studio.

Although “Liars” isn’t the band’s best effort, all plaudits must be given to a band that hold a profusion of innovation and intelligence. No band this era has shown more diversity, musically and lyrically, than Liars and this album is just another bending chapter of the story this band continue to create. The ride will continue to change dramatically in the years and in truth, that‘s the exciting thing about it.


Grinderman - Grinderman

Nick Cave and his mates have ditched the emotional attachments that his music so often contains and have gone for the more in-your-face, ear-splitting adventure; this time under the moniker of Grinderman.

Although the majority of members comprise from the Bad Seeds, the Grinderman make a more visceral and direct approach with their debut self-titled album.

The harsh narrative splurge that kicks the album off during ‘Get It On’ basically represents the album as a whole. The feedback and distortion through album highlight, ‘No Pussy Blues’, is straight up rock ‘n’ roll that will make your ears bleed. It’s typical no-bullshit-straight-up-in-your-face rock ’n’ roll that Cave rarely dabbles upon through his solo material.

‘Depth Charge Ethel’, ‘Honey Bee’, ‘When My Love Comes Down’ and ‘Love Bomb’ all follow on in much the same vein, with Cave and Co. rocking out like the old campaigners they truly are.

Less poetic and more direct, Grinderman have made a visceral collective of sounds, where it’s evident that Cave has entered the studio to have some fun with his mates and what’s been created is just that and some.


Simon K

Friday, October 26, 2007


Babyshambles - Shotter's Nation

Possibly the most controversial musician of our times, Pete Doherty sucks up all the media attention and delivers us Shotter's Nation. Stephen Street is behind the desk this time and reports have stated that there were several close calls for him leaving the project, though after several disagreements, Doherty convinced him to stay on.

Where debut "Down in Albion" had standout tracks this is a much more cohesive effort. Beginning with the incoherent but effective guitar work on "Carry Up The Morning" and the sharp and effective radio hit "Delivery". "Crumb Begging Baghead" is a solid rocker with some doorsesque organs taking it on home. "Deft Left Hand" showcasing Pete at his near best. Ballad and closer "Lost Art of Murder" features folk legend Bert Jansch, in producing possibly the best track on the album. Throughout, Doherty slurrs his vocals and the occasional guitar part, really adding to the murky aura of the record and his character. The song titles and lyrics appear to be apart of the dialect of his home. Not every song here is excellent but there are bits and pieces at every corner to keep the listener satisfied.

Love or hate Doherty, you can't take away his talent for writing good songs. This could be one of the best set of songs he ever releases. It rocks, it's occasionally melancholy and has that beatnik poetic edge to it. One of the better rock records of the year.


Sean B
Expatriate - In the Midst of This

The Sydney based indie rock outfit released their debut album to a fair amount of hype amongst the Australian music community. Since then the band have succumbed to mixed reviews and a somewhat average response from the fans. Front man Ben King is an efficient vocalist even if he's virtually still unknown. The interplay of the guitarists is an integral element to the band's sound. "Crazy", "Shooting Star" and "Get Out, Give In" display the band at their best. "Only Wanna Love Ya" is clear ambition for commercial success with it's many hooks. It's not that this is an entirely bad record, it's just rather dry, patchy and applies the same methods throughout, leaving the listener a little underwhelmed and bored. Not to worry though as there are hooks aplenty and there's only hope that this band will take their sound to a more interesting destination next time.


Idlewild - Make Another World

Another album in for the Scottish rock and rollers adding a brand new batch of tracks to their catalogue. There's no beating round the bush the band are accomplished at what they do, but they just don't seem to have what it takes to evoke world wide acclaim. I mean i'm sure they seek it but they just haven't seemed to have found any. Make Another World may not be their strongest statement but they sure do a great job of entertaining us, from disco rocker "No Emotion" the catchy "Everything (as it moves)" and showing the power of their songwriting talents in the title track. Wearing their influences on their sleeve with the R.E.Mesque "Once In Your Life" and "Ghost In the Arcade", it'll be a surprise if no Michael Stipe comparisons are made. The album keeps a consistent flow throughout, though the main problem is that most of the tracks are forgettable. In such a huge calendar of music every year Idlewild seem to get lost in the crowd.


Field Music - Tones of Town

Consisting of past members of the Futureheads and Maximo Park comes the second album from Field Music. The Brewis brothers bring us a collection of over 30 minutes worth of fine crafted pop sounds. Not as popular as the former mentioned bands but clearly have themselves a somewhat distinctive sound, slightly reminiscent of 2006's Guillemots. They employ are vast array of instruments and sometimes use them to full effect, but usually the execution could be better. Sometimes Tones of Town just doesn't go anywhere, leaving the excitement out the door on most occasions. It's a fair effort just a little lacklustre.


Athlete - Beyond the Neighbourhood

Continuing in the same fashion of their previous effort "Tourist". Athlete return with the next set of coldplayesque songs. Continuing with their balladry, Athlete seem to forget that there is an audience that has to listen to it, and why listen when there are better models out there? I was optimistic of this album, hoping they would employ a better direction from the likeable Tourist. Though what we have here is a lifeless affair with constant monotony. Appearing earlier on the record "Hurricane", is the most energetic track here but still quite uncaptivating. Athlete are in the shadow of thier contemporaries Coldplay, Travis and Embrace. Athlete seem to be always looking for that uplifting effect in every moment. Lacking in most areas that count, this is a pure disappointment.


Pagoda - Pagoda

Featuring in Gus Van Sant's "Last Days", up and coming actor Michael Pitt takes his performance art in a different direction with the release of his debut album, released on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace! record label. Pitt travels back to the early 90's employing all the Seattle grunge rock ethics, not entirely a Nirvana rip off but if you're open to hear something similar this will be your fix. Instead of coming off like the 100s of terrible post-grunge bands of today, there is a rawness and certain amount of credibility within, and it occasionally works. "Lesson Learned" is a solid lead in track, the intro laden with strings bursting into patterns of palm muted guitars. The album continues in the same raw fashion, guitar riffs plucked from the past with the occasional string work which provides an interesting back drop. Pitt pulls it of as a competent front man, the album on the other hand is no way near perfect but it's worthy of your time.


Charlotte Hatherley - The Deep Blue

The former Ash guitarist steps into the limelight with her sophomore effort after leaving her band to pursue her solo career. No doubt there is a touch of originality and sensuality scattered all through the album, her soft sweet distinctive voice provides the blueprint for the music. There is definitely something very majestic about The Deep Blue, from the elegant beginnings of "Costeau" all the way towards the end even if it drops off a little. "Be Thankful", "Again", "Wounded Sky" and"Behave" all swirl with pop delicacy, here she crafts some of the finest songs of the year, quirky and charming. Keeping things interesting she employs her more devilish side with the more rock orientated "Very Young" and anthemic " I Want You to Know". It's clear she played an integral role in her old band, but now it's her time to shine. The Deep Blue is evidence Hatherley is on already her way to a bright career.


The Noisettes - What's the Time Mr Wolf?

Following in the paths of band's like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, comes the debut album from the London rock band. The music involves the angsty feminine vocal delivery, sometimes seductive and the sharp and decisive rock riffs. These guys will probably stand in the shadow of the similar sounding artists but clearly have the upper hand in that the quality and catchiness of the songs are unmatchable in comparison to acts like the Gossip. Riff rocker "Don't Give Up", searing melodies of "Bridge to Canada" and bass driven "Scratch Your Name" give evidence of a young band at the heights of their ability. Straight to point the Noisettes get the job done, though where's the hype?


Sean B

Album Reviews - 26/10/07

Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew - Spirit If…

The first of a series to be recorded by members from the band, it’s only fitting that the co-founder and lead vocalist of the band, Kevin Drew, be the first to deliver his works and he has done so in fine fashion, with “Spirit If…”.

Although various members of the band gave the Canadian maestro a hand with the instrumentation, the music itself was written by Drew and has been for some years until he was persuaded to record it.

Musically, the album is a little bare in comparisons with BSS material, but as this is a different project many were expecting this. The lyrics rank among some of Drew’s best work to date, with the melodic force of ’Tbtf’, the elegance of ’Safety Bricks’ and the heart felt ’Gang Bang Suicide’ leading the race for the album’s finest moments. ’Back Out On The’ caps off a brilliant rock ditty, with J.Mascis from Dinosaur Jr cranking out one of his trademark riffs, as the track flows like any good single should.

A good concept by The Broken Social Scene and with Brendan Canning the next in-line, many will look forward to what he has to offer. For now, though, Kevin Drew has come up trumps and if the material he has produced with the BSS wasn’t convincing enough, the sounds of “Spirit If” certainly will be.


Interpol - Our Love To Admire

New York’s finest dressed quartet shook the second album monkey off their back, producing the solid “Antics” back in 2004. There’s always something though, isn’t there? Third time around, their success led them to signing for a major label. Can you hear alarm bells ringing?

Okay, so “Our Love To Admire” certainly doesn’t lack the sound to that of contemporaries Kings Of Leon’s latest effort, but it’s needless to say that Interpol’s third opus isn’t their best effort going around the traps.

It’s clear that Paul Banks and Co. have added little bits and pieces to their very simple formula of song writing (see album opener ’Pioneer to The Falls’), but with all simple formulas, there comes a time where insipidness rears its ugly head and during parts of this album, it’s certainly evident.

After multiple listens, lead single ‘The Heinrich Manoeuvre’ is a classy number, while ‘No I In Threesome‘ and ‘Pace Is The Trick’ are two tracks that could rank amongst the best work the band has done. Sadly though, Interpol have produced good songs and an average good album that seems jaded and lacklustre after a while.


Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist

Okay, so it’s been a few months since this was released. Now that all of the Bill Corgan fan boys have calmed down and stopped proclaiming that this is an amazing album, let me bring something to people’s attention. Old band-broke up-reformed. You thinking what I’m thinking? You’re right. Money Making scheme! Make no mistake about it, folks.

All that aside and to the music. Corgan and his mate Jimmy Chamberlain seem to have gone through thick and thin together and the latter continues to walk in the shadow of his bandmate (just go to one of their live shows). Added is replacements for James Iha and Darcy Wretzky and end product is “Zeitgeist”.

There’s certainly a more polished feel to this album, but it’s a sound that lacks James Iha’s virtuoso and sadly that’s what lets this album down. It’s a progression from the Pumpkins’ previous works and although this is a moral victory to Corgan himself, nobody will really care in a couple of months.

While the lead single ‘Tarantula’ surprised many, it grows stale - like the rest of the album - after a while. The track with staying power is the rip-roaring beast that is ‘Bring The Light. No doubt, the finest track on this album and really the only ditty that weighs up to any of Corgan and Chamberlain’s back catalogue.

It’s not the worst album this year, but to make it was unnecessary. “Zeitgeist” was made for all the wrong reasons and while Corgan couldn’t let sleeping dogs lie, the result is this album and although he maybe satisfied with it at the moment, in 20 years he will come to regret the decision of returning to the studio as the Smashing Pumpkins in 2007.


Simon K

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Album Reviews - 25/10/07

Low - Drums and Guns

Can this band do no wrong? It's starting to seem that way in a career now spanning over 10 years. "Drums & Guns" isn't as abrasive in sound as it's predecessor "The Great Destroyer", but it lies somewhere in the middle of this great collectives catalogue of finely tuned jams.

The mix on 'Drums..' is different to any other the Minnesota trio has created, which may anger some listeners, however Low have never been an act to rest on their laurels. Guitar bending and feedback slowly draw as undertones with opener 'Pretty People' and the raw surroundings of 'Breaker' are the best examples of this new leaf taken by the band. 'Violent Past' is Low in their prime, and it's only fitting that this is the closing track off the album.

Although multiple listens are needed to appreciate in full, Low have done it again. The undercurrents of virtuoso are evident during the neatly structured craft they design. The irony plays it's part as the themes hint towards darkness, yet a blissful journey none the less prevails.


The Horrors - Strange House

Never judge a book by it's cover. Yes, The Horrors fall into this category. Let's be honest. They look like art wankery, where a decent wash, feed and educating wouldn't go amiss. All that bullshit aside, their music is a bit of a different story.

Their debut album, "Strange House", is something fans of The Birthday Party and the like thought they'd never hear again. Guitars that are a complete mess and vocals that creep and crawl with haunting obscurity. Yup, this effort is a complete and utter shambles of creepy noise!

The drenching guitar screeches and kooky keyboards during 'Sheena Is a Parasite' see The Horrors in their finest hour, while 'A Train Roars' is something that modern day horror films would want howling in the background of a murder scene.

Taking off where The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster started. At the moment, Britain has too much rubbish clogging up its airways and not enough dangerous mess that The Horrors employ. It won't be the best 30 minutes endured all year, but it won't be the worst.


Dinosaur Jr - Beyond

Perhaps the most anticipated "comeback" album of the year, Dinosaur Jr have created something that begs the question "did they ever go away". Cliché, I know.

However, if you want a good reform album, then you're going to have a tough job pinpointing one as good as "Beyond". All the D’ Jr traits manifest themselves during this adventure of straight up no-nonsense indie rock.

J Mascis puts his right foot forward in the lyrical stakes not to mention his awe-stricken guitar nous, while Lou Barlow plays the perfect support role knocking out the notes and evens some jaw-breaking chords, on bass. There's no need to look any further than the opening beast that is 'Almost Ready'. The whole album continues on in this abrasive fashion.

Solidarity. Something Dinosaur Jr have always managed to deliver. With Sonic Youth and Nirvana gaining a lot of the plaudits back in the '90s, it's time for Dinosaur Jr to finally be given some of the praise that was lost on them all those years ago. "Beyond" is the perfect reference point.


Pelican - City Of Echoes

Post metal pioneers Pelican return with their third full-length album, "City of Echoes" and although, unlike their two previous ventures, "...Echoes" takes a little longer to hit the spot.

The themes instilled into Pelican's music are still very much at the forefront of this post metal beast, while the guitar prowess shown by Trevor de Brauw & Laurent Lebec is some of the best works Pelican have made thus far into their career. Look no further than the melodic brilliance of 'Far From Fields', while the title track and 'Lost In The Headlights' also establish the brilliant build-ups and break-downs that this band has made a living from creating.

However, that said, the rhythm section during "..Echoes" and in particular the drumming, leaves a lot to be desired, as it's just not strong enough to carry the weight of the almighty guitar riffs that de Brauw and Lebec respectively posses.

Despite one side of the band failing to weigh in with their side of the bargain, Pelican's music is still enough to attract wanting listeners. The guitars are the loudest they've ever been, however the drumming just doesn’t weigh in with the likes of the band's previous two albums, especially "Australasia". If you have the time, there's still enough solid music on this album to keep listeners intrigued, though.


Simon K

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Rooney - Calling the World

Several years have passed since Rooney's first effort, which was quite a success due to it's connection with popular television show The O.C. After scrapping numerous amounts of material throughout the last few years they finally settled upon Calling the World. Where the first album was effortlessly breezy pop rock this time around they seem much more desperate to regain the same spark.

From a weak opening with the Weezeresque title track to the uninspiring lead single "When Did Your Heart Go Missing". Even if the album is a lapse in progression it's still a reasonably fun listen from time to time, with the blatant hooks and melodies that are occasionally executed. Sporting the very retro Beatles/Doors inspired artwork and usually wearing the Beach Boys influence on their sleeve Rooney head in the direction of a more 80's power pop groove, especially in "Are You Afraid" and "I Believe in Me" with the use of synthesizers and the cheesy knock off riffs you just know you've heard before.

It's upsetting that the band couldn't successfully follow up the likes of "I'm Shakin" and "Blueside" which are some of the best work they've produced. Not to come away empty handed in this inferior effort. Robert and the boys supply us with some pop gems in "I Should've Been After You", strings induced "Help Me Find My Way" and riff rockin' "Don't Come Around Again". Hopefully next time they don't leave it too long between sessions and return more focused.


Marilyn Manson - Eat Me, Drink Me

It has to be said, ever since Twiggy left or was fired, whatever, things in the Manson camp haven't been quite the same. The quality in songs have dwindled substantially and he seems to of lost his relevance in today's music scene. Has Marilyn Manson lost his mojo? It certainly appears so, though Mike Myers ended up getting his back, being the character he is or portrays I wonder if he'll ever return to form.

With John 5 gone pursuing a solo career, ex-German industrial outfit KMFDM member Tim Skold has taken over the reins as Manson's main collaborator having the main creative output of this record. Quite a departure from 2003's Golden Age of Grotesque pop industrial feel, returning to the more traditional rocking roots of his previous efforts only lacking that suckerpunch edge which made the predecessor's so effective. This is the first record in over three years, with many stories and reports citing his ongoing personal problems. With a new muse at his side in Hollywood actress Evan Rachel wood, strangley enough he picked himself up and began writing new material.

The album sticks to a certain substance/structure leading off with "If I Was Your Vampire" almost boring but entertaining enough if you're game enough to presevere. Gone mostly is the cheesy generic riffs of GAOG exchanged for solos and more effiecient guitar work. "Heart Shape Glasses" is the catchy single while slowburning "Just a Car Crash Away" and pop fused "Mutilation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery" could be the best the album has to offer. This is a standard rock affair in which newcomers will be sure to relish, though less edgy and provocative than his 90's records, some say this is a return to form and the start of a new creative tenure.

Sadly Eat Me, Drink Me is mostly style over substance, lacking any real long lasting masterpieces. Now a shadow of his former self or persona, Manson seems to be drowning in his own post-relevance, with most of the core members of any of his strong periods either now gone or fired it's just not the same.


Sean B

Sunday, October 21, 2007


The View - Hats off to the Buskers
Hailing from Scotland, the View are yet another copycat rock and roll band stuck on repeat. Since being released the album has spawned a number of singles and in particular "Same Jeans", has scored them an adequate amount of attention with it's annoyingly infectious vibe. "Coming Down" is a decent beginning to the album, balls out rock and roll that doesnt miss a beat. "Wasted Little DJ's" is a standout track for its many hooks, displaying their strength in songwriting.

"Skag Trendy" is a delight with it's upbeat tempo and for that it gives bass player Kieren Webster a shot at the mic, giving the sometimes annoying frontman Kyle Falconer a rest. This isnt an album that oozes confidence, there isnt anything risky or particular exciting about it in anyway apart from their inconsistent catchy hooks. Changing it up occasioanlly with an acoustic track here or there.

The View are hardley original, it seems instead of trying to come up with an entirely interesting body of work they have relied on the sounds of bands from the now and before to craft their sound, forming a somewhat varied collage of britpop and beyond. Comparions will be made without doubt, but I shouldnt forget that the album is indeed worked around the title Buskers if that means anything. For anyone who likes the idea of that then this is definitely for your ears, just not mine.


Sean B

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob
Garnering massive amounts of attention with 2005's Employment comes a very confident sophomore effort. From the get go the hooks are aplenty on "Ruby", showing they havent forgotten how to pen a catchy tune and aren't afraid to re-establish their trademark kitsch rock riffs. Like many of the Chiefs contemporaries, they have all tasted a certain amount of success and though they are a forerunner they are only topped in popularity by the likes Bloc Party and the Arctic Monkeys.

After a solid start to the album, especially with "Angry Mob" things tend to regress into mediocracy. Lacking the energy and flair of the first few tracks which have been released as singles which isnt a suprise. "Love's Not A Competition" keeps the casual flow rolling as it has that Kaiser signature spark even if there is no light around.

It's quite ironic in track "Everything is Average Nowadays" cough displaying a cocky frontman Ricky Wilson in his swagger, with the possibility of the title being used against him. The album soldiers on in it's bluster continuing to thrust out hooks to captivate the conservative listener, "I Can do it Without You" is a great example of that. The albums flow is spoiled on more than one occasion due to banal material which ruins the albums groove. It's true without the singles this album would probably fall apart at the core.

The album is indeed jubilating, though after a few listens tends to lose it's edge with the constant cheap hooks that sometimes can be mistaken for something great which in turn is easily just as simple and ordinary. There is clear ambition to become an arena rock band, it's just not as good as it could have been. Besides the few catchy singles Employment reigns as the more consistent outing.


Sean B

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

"Seems just like yesterday we heard the fast paced, rip roaring “Monkey Wrench”, which would be an introduction to a wonderful journey that the Foo’s took us on “The Colour and The Shape”. So when I heard that the producer behind that album, Gil Norton, had come back for “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace”, I was immediately pleased.

Upon first listen, I came to the conclusion that it is the same producer, but this isn’t 1997. Gone is the freshness, free flowing straight out Rock that we once knew. In it’s place is a disjointed, typically flawed out LP that has mainstream written all over it. “The Pretender” is a good way to start off things with a calm build up that leads into a monster of a chorus, but towards the end we hear a bridge that awfully sounds a lot like one of their previous hits. That being said it’s still a good choice of a first single to let your fans know that you’re back. However hearing the opening guitar of the noise angst “Let It Die”, it sounds like we’re back on the 2nd disc of “In Your Honour”.

Things pick up again during the chorus, but it seems the former Nirvana skins man has decided to put that “Build it up then Scream!” formula into overtime, making it a little stale. “Erase/Replace” brings back a little essence of the older days, with Grohl telling us to “Pay Attention!” during the crunching riffs and strong thumping beats that have became a Foo’s trademark. Alas tracks such as “Statues”, “Long Road To Ruin” and the rodeo sounding “Summer’s End” cater to the new fans who would’ve gotten into the boys from the played to death “Best Of You”. The one song that does cry poise is the foot tapping “Stranger Things Have Happened” which asserts that the acoustic guitar can still produce a hard edged guitar solo when done right.

Overall it’s an album that has been watered down to please the new recruits that will call themselves Fighters of the Foo, but will still have the long time fan wanting to hear those brief moments of greatness that we know Mr Grohl can produce. "


Mark L

Reviews - 16/10/07

Art Brut - It's a Bit Complicated
If you liked what you heard on 2005's Bang Bang Rock and Roll, then you'll certainly be satisfied with the latest offering from the cheeky Brit band. Like many similar bands circulating right now it's hard to have your own distinctive sound.

Art Brut have seemingly established themselves to a certain degree with vocalist Eddie Argos unmistakable voice, moreso than the music which becomes quite lacklustre after the 20 minute mark. At least the first record was more straight to the point.

This album has a more mature feel to it which is probably a bad thing, rock anthem "Direct Hit" is the only track that seems like it could have been ripped from Bang Bang. "People in Love" is ever reminiscent of Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers lyrical theme. Like the Hives, entertaining outfit, rocking and put on a good show but at the end of the day probably leave you wanting just a little more. With all things said, Art Brut rarely stray from their popular formulaic song structure keeping it neat, tidy and easily digestable.

Sean B

Monday, October 15, 2007

Reviews - 15/10/07

Hard Fi - Once Upon a Time in the West
Following up their 2005 debut "Stars of CCTV", Hard-Fi hit back with a slightly more ambitious set of songs. "Surburban Knights" the first single and opening track sets the direction in which the album follows. It's catchy enough, though rather cheesy at the same time.

Throughout the 40 minutes they go back-up singing crazy and the melodies become unavoidabably grating, getting tedious soon after the first listen.

Lacking the zest and emergency of their first album, Once Upon a Time in the West faces the sophomore slump, as it treads similar area but tends not to really experience any new ground. There is the occasional fun to be had in heavy bass riffer "Close My Eyes", the piano laden and Blur influenced "Television" and swaggering "We Need Love". Sadly the album as a whole is quite disengaging at most times, fans need not to worry as a handful of catchy tracks are present in which listeners can sink their teeth into.

Sean B