Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Simon's Top Albums of 2008

Three words; hardest year ever. With downloading music (guilty as charged) at its optimum, this was the year that settling into anything became that much harder. Okay, so you get your main stayers, but even that becomes harder as you attempt to point your attention to as much material as humanly possible.

I usually only compile a list 25, but this year it's been stretched out to 30 plus honourable mentions. Not enough, you say? Well sorry, but that's all the heart can take. I thought a paid job was stressful?

Anyway. Enjoy, criticize, do what you like. I'm just glad the rigmarole is over...

1. The Constantines - Kensington Heights [Arts & Crafts]

2. TV On The Radio - Dear Science [4AD/Interscope]

3. The Gutter Twins - Saturnalia [Sub Pop]

4. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Real Emotional Trash [Matador Records]

5. British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music? [Rough Trade]

6. Mercury Rev - Snowflake Midnight [V2/Yep Roc Records]

7. Dead Meadow - Old Growth [Matador Records]

8. Boris - Smile [Southern Lord]

9. Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era. Cont [Kranky/4AD]

10. Mogwai - The Hawk Is Howling [Rock Action Records]

11. Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead Those That Can See But Cannot Feel [Kranky]

12. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! [Mute/ANTI-]

13. Destroyer - Trouble in Dreams [Merge/Rough Trade]

14. Portishead - Third [Island Records]

15. Bob Mould - District Line [ANTI-]

16. Okkervil River - The Stand-Ins [Jagjaguar]

17. Earth - The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull [Southern Lord]

18. Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea [Drag City]

19. Tapes 'N Tapes - Walk it Off [XL Recordings]

20. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago [Jagjaguar]

21. Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill [Type Records]

22. Cut Copy - Ghost Colours [Modular Recordings]

23. Blitzen Trapper - Furr [Sub Pop]

24. A Silver Mt. Zion – 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons [Constellation]

25. M83 – Saturdays = Youth [Mute]

26. The Cure – 4:13 Dream [I AM/ Geffen Records]

27. Daturah – Reverie [ Graveface Records]

28. Mudhoney – The Lucky Ones [ Sub Pop]

29. The Dears – Missiles [Dangerbird Records]

30 - Growing - All the Way [The Social Registry]


The Grey Daturas – Return to Disruption [Neurot Recordings/Heathen Skulls]
Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning - Something For All of Us [Arts & Crafts]
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – My Bloody Underground [A Records]
Tricky – West End Boys [Domino]
The Walkmen – You & Me [Gigantic]
Secret Machines – Secrer Machines [TSM Recordings]
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges [ATO/Rough Trade]
Harvey Milk - “Life...The Best Game in Town" [Hydra Head Record]
The Dandy Warhols – Earth To Dandy Warhols [Beat the World Records]
Sigur Ros - Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust [EMI/XL Recordings]
Spiritualized – Songs In A&E [Sanctuary/Universal]
Beck - Modern Guilt [Geffen Records]
Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing [ATP Recordings]
The Fall – Imperial Wax Solvent [Castle]
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive [Vagrant/Rough Trade]
High Places – 03/07 07/09 [Thrill Jockey]
The Drones – Havilah [In-Fidelity/ATP Recordings]
Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls [Mauled by Tigers]
Melvins – Nude with Boots [Ipecac]
Paul Westerberg - 49:00 [Self Released]

Simon's Top Songs of 2008

These are in no paritucular order. My album list did enough in terms of frying the brain, so to even consider a numbering system for individual songs would be a nervous breakdown waiting to happen. Think of this more of a mixed tape. Anyway, here you are:

Cut Copy – Heart on Fire
Grouper – Heavy Water/I'd Rather be Sleeping
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – Bells of Creation
Spiritualized – Soul on Fire
Mercury Rev – Dream of a Young Girl as a Flower
Atlas Sound – Bite Marks
Mogwai – Thank You Space Expert
Deerhunter – Never Stops
Boris – Next Saturn
The Gutter Twins – God's Children
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Trouble
Weezer – Pork & Beans
TV On The Radio – Crying
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – More News From Nowhere
Growing – Innit
Bon Iver – Flume
Okkervil River - Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed On The Roof Of The Chelsea Hotel, 1979
Constantines – Trans Canada
Death Cab For Cutie – I Will Possess Your Heart
The Grey Daturus - Answered in Negative
Sigur Ros – Festival
The Drones - I Am the Supercargo
Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning – Hit the Wall
Melvins – The Smiling Cobra
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Baltimore
British Sea Power – No Lucifer
A Silver Mt. Zion & Tra La La Ban – 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons
Daturah – Vertex
Destroyer – Introducing Angels
M83 - Graveyard Girl
Tapes 'N Tapes - Conquest
Portishead – Ripchord
Blitzen Trapper - Black River Killer
Bob Mould – Very Temporary
The Kills – Hook and Line
Fuck Buttons – Sweet Love For Planet Earth
Beach House – Turtle Island
Shearwater – Century Eyes
Secret Machines - The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Ladyhawk – S.T.H.D.
Tricky – Council Estate
Red Sparrowes - We Left the Apes to Rot, But Find the Gang Grows Within
My Morning Jacket - Smokin' From Shootin'
Mudhoney – The Lucky Ones
No Age – Cappo
Animal Collective – Street Flash
The Walkmen – The New Year
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Cobwebs
Conor Oberst – Souled Out
The Fall – 50 Year Old Man
Earth – Rise to Glory
The Mars Volta – Metatron
Glasvegas – Ice Cream Van
The Helio Sequence – Halelujah
The Dandy Warhols – Do You Love Me?
Gregor Samsa - Jeroen Van Akon
The Hold Steady – Magazine
Harvey Milk - Decades
The Black Angels - Doves

Monday, September 15, 2008


Hey guys,

Really sorry for the lack of updates over the past couple of weeks. We're taking a bit of a breather at the moment. Should be back soon, we some different ideas so keep checking.

Simon K.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Album Review - Torche

Torche – Meanderthal
[Hydra Head/Robotic Empire 08/04/2008]

Torche are yet another act that associate themselves with the alternative metal bunch kicking around these days. Although fishing in similar waters to their contemporaries, Torche seem to pilfer various parts from their metal cohorts, embedding these ideas into a fist full of sounds. Torche release Meanderthal; their second album, which once again to conveys a concept that the natives from Florida refuse to be pinned down or aligned to static a proportion.

The opening title track catches you completely off-guard, with it's dooming instrumental force posing the question of whether you're listening to the right band or not. 'Amnesian' is a little slow out of the box, with a bruising sludge vibe embellished through its core rather than the melodic seasoning one associates with this band.

We've established that Torche are at their best when they employ melody into their sound. 'Fat Waves','Across the Shields' and the album's highlight, 'Grenades', are true evidence to this notion. 'Sandstorm' draws from swelling riff-o-rama and space within the rhythm section presenting another strong trait for Torche.

Meanderthal zig-zags through various sub-genres, with metal the main aspect rooted down in Torche's resume of sound. Somewhat displaying an array the hard-nosed riffs, and melodic rhythms, had the band stuck to these basics from the outset instead of haphazardly experimenting with so many sub-genres in such a short space of time, things may have run more smoothly, resulting in one enjoying this album a little more.

By Simon K

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Album Review - Bardo Pond

Bardo Pond – Batholith
[Three Lobed/ATP Recordings; 01/03/2008]

Bardo Pond have been on the go since the early '90s, drawing influence from the 'earlier space rock and psychedelic movements which occurred around various continents prior to their own existence. Although Bardo Pond's influences can clearly be heard through their vast array of sounds, they do manage to convey a longevity that can be truly classed as their own. Modern artists such us Black Mountain have definitely taken a leaf out of the 'Ponds book, despite not sounding as fucked up as their older contemporaries.

Batholith is a bits-and-bobs release containing some of the bands live favourites that have never been conceived between the studio walls. Also containing some new cuts, the latest effort is a good indication of the band plying their trade. 'A Tune' (one of those old BP favourites) is full of druggy reverb through vocals and guitar while the wah-wah effect also plays its hand early in the piece.

Although one of the shorter listens on the album 'Push Your Head' signifies the Bardo Pond sound. With instrumentation that's slower than a snail's pace, vocalist, Isobel Sollenberger also struggles to deliver the vocals in a just-woke-up-can't-be-fucked kind of way, which typifies the Bardo Pond aesthetic.'Spint' is a correlation of guitar and effects pedals pounding strenuously to extrude a haze of noise. 'Slip Away' still renders a murky fuzz, but there's a soaring melodic quality to it that draws the listener in.

Batholith will please the long-standing followers of the band, who have been anxiously waiting to hear some of these tracks on disc as apposed to the sweaty walls of a dingy club. For those unfamiliar with Bardo Pond, this would be an adequate place to start within the band's catalogue of sounds.

By Simon K

Friday, August 15, 2008

Album Review - High Places

High Places – 03/07- 09/07
[Thrill Jockey; 22/07/2008]

High Places are yet another bank spawning out of the creative woodwork otherwise known as Brooklyn, New York. Mary Pearson and Robert Barber front this duo with a coalesced ear for sound. 03/07- 09/07 is the pair's debut effort of tunes that bend with the breeze and run at a parallel to your stock standard pop outfit.

High Places are a band that aren't adamant on cutting a single. This 28 minutes is a answers first, questions later stab in the dark that presents subtle undertones of cleverness. Barber's techniques of slicing up sounds and sparsely filling them through this effort is backed by Pearson's aloof vocal that has a firm grip on pop, despite burying itself into the shades of sound Barber distantly renders. Highlights include opening trend setter, 'Head Spins (Extended Version)', while 'Shared Islands' expresses a love for foreign beats, with a Caribbean undertone clearly taking a strangle hold of High Places' sound template.

O3/07-09/07 is the phantom of fellow crosstown rivals, Liars, while the nursery rhyme-esque weeps from Mary Pearson aren't too far away from Elanor Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces, but delivered with a finesse that's a little easier to swallow. Although things culminate within the blink of an eye, High Places may have just made the ultimate pre-bedtime album. One thing's for certain; it sure beats a glass of milk.

Lullaby Recommended

By Simon K

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lullaby's Song Scrobble

Song Selection #3

Melvins – The Smiling Cobra [Nude With Boots; Ipecac Recordings, 2008]

As statement in the recent rant regarding this fine band's new album, this is the pinnacle tune. Stoner rock defined, really. Screeching guitars that form into a stomping chord foray. When all is said and done, you only need to look at the song's title. The title, the song, the sound, it all points to an ear gouging mess.

Tom Waits – Clap Hands [Rain Dogs; Island Records, 1985]

A song that's a bit easier on the ear, Waits is arguably at his best when his songs flow, and 'Clap Hands' certainly rises to these attributes. That whiskey/cigar addled voice we've all come to love leads from the front, with the clanging of instruments and that out of tune bluesy guitar riff following closely behind. Add the trademark lyrics of the protagonist hanging around seedy spots in underground America and you have Waits seemingly in a nutshell.

The Hold Steady – Magazines [Stay Positive; Vagrant Records, 2008]

It borders on lameness, cheesiness and the rest of the things we throw in the basket and deem as mediocre, and let's be honest, it would be if The Hold Steady didn't deliver it. As I said in my latest assessment of Stay Positive they get away with murder and to be honest, good luck to them. It's good to see a band heaping praise for literal thinking. The tune itself is vintage Hold Steady.

Death Cab For Cutie – I Will Posses Your Heart [Narrow Stairs; Atlantic, 2008]

With a five minute instrumental that leads into the opening words from Ben Gibbard, it's an interesting selection for a lead single. The instrumental is an elusive bass line that glides in and out of a riff that symbolizes Death Cab's 'niche'. Those heart felt lyrics of love once again fail to escape the clutches of Gibbard's vocal chords, ending the song in fine fashion.

Bark Psychosis – Eyes & Smiles [Hex; Virgin Records, 1993]

Simon Reynolds was right when he coined this London collective as, “post-rock”. Although not in the modern conventional sense, Bark Psychosis are a brooding listen. The atmospherics in the vocals from Graham Sutton mess with your mind while the riff noodling evokes a quality deriving from funk and even the blues. This track is certainly the best the band have recorded.

Mercury Rev – Holes [Deserter's Songs; V2, 1998]

The rich vocal from Jonathon Donahue lays the platform for one of the 'Rev's finest songs. I guess with the anticipation of the band's forthcoming LP, that Mercury Rev have been getting some heavy play time around these parts. There's plenty of goodness within their catalogue of work, and this is somewhere near the top of it.

Tricky – Council Estate [Knowle West Boy; Domino 2008]

More high fives for literal thinking. Tricky delivers one of his latest album's finest cuts with rancour as he rants about his upbringing in the South of England. Not only an autobiographical insight into his childhood around the estate of Bristol, but perhaps his latest batch of sounds could form as an inspiration for others living a similar lifestyle to the boy once from the Knowle West.

By Simon K

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Album Review - Tricky

Tricky – Knowle West Boy
[Domino; 07/07/2008]

Tricky has been the subject of criticism ever since his 1996 landmark debut Maxinquaye. Many believe that he reached the height of his solo career in this period of time and everything else he has written pales in comparison. After a five year hiatus, the Bristol native returns with Knowle West Boy; a literal statement of lyrical venom that pays homage to the estate he grew up in.

Tricky's never been afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and Knowle West Boy probably represents this in the best possible way, shape and form. Once again, the female vocalists (many of whom are on Tricky's Brown Punk label) take the lead and from the opener 'Puppy Toy', a narrative mingle between Tricky and Alex Mills takes place alongside a splashy piano line, setting the tone.

'C'mon Baby' is an upbeat number that possess those emphysematous vocals from Tricky, while lead single 'Council Estate' is a literal tirade of Tricky's adolescence, jam-packed into two minutes and 39 seconds of overloaded sound cuts and a bass fuzz. 'Coalition' continues the lyrical sparks of literal proportions while a cover of Kylie's 'Slow' is also met with a grinding sequence of mental instrumentation.

Tricky was soon becoming the forgotten man, but as always, the discarded always find a way of coming back into the limelight. Tricky is no different, establishing this with with Knowle West Boy. The boy from Bristol has always used different forms of shock tactics to draw attention from the masses to his music. The literal resemblance that his music presents in 2008 may turn certain listeners away, but the fact that they listened in the first place is a victory for the artist, as his point has seemingly being made.

By Simon K

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Album Review - The Dandy Warhols

The Dandy Warhols – Earth To The Dandy Warhols
[Beat the World Records; August 2008]

Despite the apparent disdain a lot of people associate with The Dandy Warhols, they've always struck a chord when it comes to not really giving a fuck about anything. Their music is a source of having a good time and that's never changed. Courtney Taylor-Taylor's attempt to draw out the process and get a little zany within the music his band create rubs people up the wrong way. However, in saying this, it's always been enjoyable, which is that the primary objective isn't it?

Earth to the Dandy Warhols is the first Dandy's record since their departure from major label, Capitol, and the results are misleading. Despite many probably not even bothering with this release, the classic saying of 'never say never' is embroiled all through this Earth.... Some bands work well when a gun isn't held to their head at point blank range and The Dandy Warhols quite aptly fall into this category.

'Mission Control' is overloaded with Zia McCabe's twirling keyboard clusters and Taylor-Taylor's baritone of hypnotic vocals. 'Welcome to The Third World' rolls around a bass groove and funky guitar lick for Taylor-Taylor to wax a narrative platitude around. 'Wasp in the Lotus' is that catchy tune of drug-induced guitars and sluggish vocal writhes that always seem to embellish themselves on a Dandy Warhols record. 'Do You Love Me' flows as good as any song on the record with the Dandy's still proving that they can pen a decent melody.

Like the majority of later Dandy's material Earth to the Dandy Warhols is pleasantly all of the the shop. From pop numbers that could form into hit singles, to poppy drugscapes that hold a bold exterior, it's all here greeting listeners with its heart-on-sleeve attitude. The title of this album speaks for itself, really. With the relaxed environment this album was conceived in, it seems to have brought out the best in Portland, Oregon's phantom outfit. It's still messed up, but in a more focused sense.

By Simon K

Book Review - Douglas Coupland: Generation-X: Tales For an Accelerated Culture

Generation-X: Tales For an Accelerated Culture – Douglas Coupland
[St Martin's Press; 1991]

Yet another novel that finds itself on most bookstores recommended stands, Douglas Coupland's Generation-X: Tales For an Accelerated Culture kick started a new generation back in the early '90s where kids listening to Nirvana and Sonic Youth not only had modern musicians to look up to, but now one of their very own was tapping into a creative vein that was being lived at that particular time.

A lot of readers will see themselves through the characters Coupland shapes throughout this novel. A sense of 'getting away from it all' encapsulates everything people in “McJobs” (as Coupland describes a below-the-average wage earning job) feel and the Canadian born writer eludes to this through Andy, Dag and Claire; the three main characters who respectively find themselves in mind dulling jobs with the only way of feeling connected with the world is to retreat to the deserts of Western American, tapping into a sense of being without buildings and people hovering around them (well, in Dag's case, anyway).

Coupland's writing techniques and finger-on-pulse mentality certainly paves the way for writers like Irvine Welsh to seize the moment and expand upon the ideas that shaped this novel and for that Generation-X... will always been seen upon as a landmark novel. If anything, you should really keep this book at your side at all times just for the footnote definitions Coupland has constructed throughout the book's entirety. You'll more than likely be able to coin every single person you know with one of these definitions Coupland has constructed in extremely unique fashion.

By Simon K

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

EP Review - Red Sparowes

Red Sparowes - Aphorisms
[01/08/2008; Sargent House]

Forming out of back alleys of the clubs Isis and Neurosis made themselves respectively comfortable in, Red Sparowes continue this slice of post-metal fever in a slightly lighter shade. Having already released two full-length albums to date, the Los-Angeles outfit return with a three song EP that still has all the long titles and riff-o-rama to go with it.

Aphorisms is a leap forward inside the band's progressive sound space. 'We Left the Apes to Rot, But Find the Fang Grows Within' holds the killing opener quality that we look for in all opening songs. The six minute and thirty seven second beast is clear evidence that this band is moving into territory of finer quality. Guitar jaunts bruise from head to toe, with heavy breakdown patterns and beautiful shifts in tempo ending the song, while the listener is left gasping for more breathing space. 'Error has Turned Animals Into Men, and To Each the Fold Repeats' spikes a similar vein, but in more ear-catching fashion, with steel pedal guitar sounds giving the themes Red Sparowes embark upon a melodic geometry.

Although many people will see this genre as somewhat formulated and contrived, like most genres, it will still evoke quality. Rather than a sequence of sounds paying homage to your favourite artists, Red Sparowes actually render their own soundscapes without pilfering bits and bobs from their contemporaries. Aphorisms shows the Red Sparowes in their finest light and if the future for this band weighs up to anything like this, then there's hope for us all yet.

Lullaby Recommended

By Simon K

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Album Review - Primal Scream

Primal Scream – Beautiful Future
[B-Unique Records; 22/07/2008]

Primal Scream are the ultimate fun-time collage band. Since their existence, every album they've cut has pointed towards one thing; good times. Whether it be popping acid to sounds of Screamadelica or vacuuming powder through your nose to the shear noise of Xtrmntr or Evil Heat, good times have always been at the helm.

Beautiful Future fails to get sidetracked from Primal Scream's artful concept, yet again engineering a different sound that still adds the uplifting vibe one feels when encountering an album from the Scream team. If anything, this album booms with a pop swagger. Gillespie rehashes lyrics through respective songs, with a looping combustion backed by an easy-on-the-ear instrumentation.

As lead single, 'The Glory of Love' is the pure representation of 'Future and of the above notion. 'Zombie Man' is a dance swoon with Gillespie's druggy rasps accompanied by a backing soul sprawl through the chorus of guest-vocals. 'Beautiful Summer' has a darker edge about it, being the opaque number out of the bunch, with zoned out keyboards and a slower riff spooling through its entirety. 'Over and Over' sounds like Screamdelica's 'Damaged', that's just come out of the 'other side'.

Beautiful Future contains the underpinning of the Scream's direction from earlier on in this era, with a pop glee sprawling through the middle of their canon. Songs seem to flow into one another, literally fading out and starting again like smooth waves rolling into the beach front from the ocean. The sounds vary, but the lyrics from Gillespie are very repetitious, much the same as a cracked record. The simplicity of the record could segregate followers, but it continues to reaffirm the stance of a band that will not be pigeonholed. It's not the best Primal Scream record, but it certainly isn't their worst.

By Simon K

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Album Review - Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning

Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning - Something For All Of Us...
[Arts & Crafts; 21/07/2008]

With their indie guitar-pop heroics, the Broken Social Scene – in the modern day - are one of the most innovative bands. Drafting in various musicians from album to album is one of the many pioneering facets the band has embarked upon during their existence, but when frontman Kevin Drew released the first album in the Broken Social Scene Presents series last year, the boundary of innovation expanded just that inch more.

Now it's take two; Something For All Of Us... is the second album in this current series and concept the Broken Social Scene have served up for its listeners, with co-founder of the band, Brendan Canning, taking the baton from his Canadian cohort, Drew.

Canning's vocals are a fresh outlook to the BBS arsenal. Although not as prominent as Drew's, the daze-laden vibe sprays off a flow of good pop music. The opening title track eases the listener into their lounge chair with nice melodic ease. 'Hit the Wall' gushes with neat chord progressions and noodling riffs that serge on the back of Canning's woozy vocal. 'Churches Under the Stairs' provides nice space where Canning can unleash his vocal foray, while the looping bass line pulls the song along nicely.

'Possible Grenade' is the strength at the foot of the album, with gliding undertones of guitar effect steaming above Canning's sleepy vocal. The final two tracks, 'Been at It So Long' and Take Care, Look Up' slow the pace down to an almost balladeering end, adding another string to the bow of Canning.

The BSS member that sports the finest growing beard out of the bunch plays to his strengths on SFAOU.... Even in the brief encounters when Brendan Canning's not at the forefront of the vocal duties, you soon come to realise the input he has in the writing process of a BSS record. Naturally, the song structures have the swirling aura a Broken Social Scene record possesses, but it's the voice of Canning that presents a slightly different landscape. Things are less bombastic and a little tighter, leaving this concept wide open for the next BSS artist to wield their Axe openly.

By Simon K

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lullaby Magazine on Last.FM

Yes, we are moving with the times. We're now registered with last.fm. The link is below, so register and join the love!!!


Simon K

Monday, July 21, 2008

Album Review - Melvins

Melvins – Nude With Boots
[Ipecac; 07/07/2008]

Where do you start with the Melvins? Bullhead or perhaps Stoner Witch. They say look to the future, so maybe that's all we've got time for today. That's right, the Melvins have another record out; the second with Big Business' Coady Willis (drums) and Jared Warren (bass); the latest duo to accompany avant-garde stoner warriors, Buzz Osbounre and Dale Crover. The double marriage seems to have payed off, as Nude With Boots measures up to the peak the Melvins' current crop of work.

'The Kicking Machine' and 'Billy Fish' could be mistaken for a backstage scuffle between Zeppelin and Sabbath, with Buzz Osbourne reveling in the peacemaking process. 'Dog Island' posses a murky sludge cloud, with spacey chord progressions featured low down in the mix, while Osbourne's transcending growl rises from the bellows.

'The Smiling Cobra' is the Melvins at the top of their game, with riffage that perpetually explodes and reaps assault to your ears. The title track shifts in abundance, with a platform that could be described as Dinosaur Jr jamming around after a hard session on the drink, realising their potential to be a stoner rock collective.

Nude With Boots takes some time to hit you with its full force. Crover's disjointed skin smashing is ever prominent while Willis fuses energy to the rhythm section along with his BB bandmate, Warren, refreshing the elements of the Melvins canon. Osbourne is the trump card, mixing his stoner riffola with that trademark haze of vocal gloom that make the Melvins what they truly are. We can coin them with various terms, but make no bones about it; at the end of the day rock 'n' roll prevails. It's just that the Melvins present it in its more fucked up entirety.

By Simon K

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Album Review - Coldplay

Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
[Parlophone; 12/06/08]

Coldplay arrive at album number four, and for those who aren't already aware, these guys are kind of a big deal. Already being appointed the "biggest" band this decade has to offer, a statement or an opinion I'm not that unhappy about, as we'd have to go find some other band to pin it on and that would no doubt be a controversial hot topic. Record shows that it takes Coldplay three years to produce something so within that time, you're always expecting some kind of brilliance. Firstly the thing that drew me to the album was the first time collaboration between them and Brian Eno and surprisingly the somewhat uncharacteristic album artwork and title (For those interested, the title was taken from a Frida Kahlo piece, a 20th century Mexican painter).

Curious as I was in lead up to the album release, I checked out both singles "Violet Hill" and "Viva La Vida" which gave a small taste of what the record would offer, while both these tracks leave alot to be desired they show the direction in which the band take this time around. In context of the album, "Cemeteries of London" takes Viva off in it's first stride with an eclectic array of goings on, from the eerie opening and the subtle piano to the thrashing of acoustic guitar to Buckland's Edge like predictable but sufficient guitar work, the song gets the album off to a decent start. Following is "Lost!" which is quite possibly my favourite, begins again in an eerie organ like fashion as the song hits the chorus in an anthemic like way, with Chris Martin wailing about fishes and ponds, it's quite good. "42" isn't far behind the previous track as it takes quite an interesting turn about midway through the song, as beginning as a ballad exploding into a raucous rock and roll experience until about three quarters way through, hits the pop side of things then finishes the way it starts.

"Lovers in Japan-Reign of Love", "Yes" and "Death and All His Friends" have something in common, apart from being the longest songs in the Coldplay canon they are all two songs within the one, which is kind of an interesting way to present your music. While Yes has an addictive chorus, Death and All His Friends displays Coldplay at their most rocking. As the band progresses it's good to see they are experimenting a little even if it's a little overwhelming when the most notable magazines throw statements on the front like "Coldplay go weird" or whatnot. While their first two records remain untouchable within context of their back catalogue I think it's safe to say this is more of a consistent effort than X & Y an effort that had some good songs but got a bit dry too soon after. The good thing about Viva, is that it's hard to guess which single they will release next (probably Lost!). Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends is a solid record if not being entirely brilliant, Eno adds a nice touch even if the album doesn't stray from itself too much.


Lullaby Reviews the Dark Knight

The Dark Knight - Directed by Christopher Nolan (Released 16/7/08)

Like many people, this film has been my most anticipated film in quite some time. Christopher Nolan is at the helm again and off the back of the outstanding first installment Batman Begins, the film sets itself not to only break box office records but to become the most superior superhero/comic book film to date. As I take A deep breath as I firmly planted myself in the cinema chair I couldn't really begin to fathom that in just less than 3 hours the 3 years of anticipation would be over, and the beginning of the next 3 would arrive with new questions of the next installment. The greatest thing Nolan has got going on with this franchise is it's free of superhero cliche boundaries, we've had a taste with BB but that was more so an origin story. I immediately think back to Sam Raimi's Spiderman franchise and how exciting the 2nd installment was to the first as Peter Parker had already obtained his responsibilities which takes the film to completely new level.

I had huge expectations with how The Dark Knight would begin, and after witnessing it I can safely say I was quite impressed as it was completely unconventional and not what I would of expected. Without the superfluous ins and outs of the slightly complex script developed by the Nolan brothers and David S Goyer. The Joker, Batman's most notable villain has arrived on the Gotham City scene and has set his sights on terrorizing the city as the Dark Knight, White Knight district attorney Harvey Dent and Lt James Gordon put a firm hold on the justice of Gotham City.

From here on in, we have a fast paced action film, cutting from scene to scene in less than a blink of the eye. Beginning with performances, the cast is dazzling. Christian Bale upholds his duty as both Batman and Bruce Wayne, Gary Oldman is satisfying as the newly appointed Commissioner. Aaron Eckhart glistens in his role as Two Face/Harvey Dent. From the start I was extremely interested to see how Nolan would transform his White Knight into the villainous Two Face, within the realms of a realistic world and script it works, even if half the internet disagree on that one.

This paragraph is dedicated to the late Heath Ledger, for starters I kind of feel sorry for anyone just wanting to see this film because of it being his last, without really having any kind of clue about what was involved in the development of this character. In my redundant opinion, Ledgers role as the Joker has to be one of the most impressive on screen character portrayals I've ever, ever witnessed. It's nothing short of (and I hate using this word) amazing. The scene in which he sits in the holding cell as Gordon is promoted, he totally taps into that Alex De Large mentality, body language wise he owned it. From a voice you can't even imagine Ledger being able to acquire, his mannerisms, the executions of his actions and lines it's simply magic. For fan boys like myself it's a good feeling that it can be realised that it doesn't matter that he is no longer among us, 3 years ago when he was cast (and when we learnt he was cast) for this role we could only dream of what he would bring to the character and he fucking delivered.

So, the Dark Knight a comic book film masterpiece? Probably not, but damn impressive. It met every expectation I had, without exceeding it. At the centre of the film something was absent. The film in my opinion could have been probably titled "The Joker". Maybe Nolan thought he had developed Bruce Wayne/Batman enough in BB, but I really thought there was an aspect of the character dynamic missing, Bruce Wayne pops up here and there but I didn't really ever care for him or his love for character Rachel Dawes (Maggie really wasnt that bad guys, what do you expect from such a character), as far as villains go, Ledger's Joker and Eckhart's Two Face have been the best any Batman franchise has yet seen. With trying to accomplish a well rounded complex script (engrossed in reality), with probably too many characters I think the task is a bit overwhelming for anyone at the end of the day while Nolan has saved Batman from both Schumacher failures I still have my issues with the current franchise, mainly the vehicles, costume, voice etc but at the end of the day all we really want is Batman defending Gotham City.

Film - 4/5
The Joker - 5/5


Book Review - Simon Reynolds: Rip It Up & Start Again...

Simon Reynolds - Rip It Up & Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984
[Faber and Faber Ltd; 2005]

The term post-punk seems to be severely overlooked around the world. Particularly where its origins lay; England. Believe it or not, some people have to name check John Lydon's Public image Limited; those who bang their heads to the jukebox blaring the sounds of 'God Save the Queen', anyway. Memo to these types; post punk isn't just Joy Division and if you care to take a couple of months out of your heavy schedule and read Simon Reynolds' Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 you may just learn a thing or two.

A critic for a wide array of musical publications, Reynolds' works are about the “post” in punk and not always about the sound people associate with the term. A very heft catalogue of artists, people, and scenes zigzag through this book, that forms as the most insightful tale of music that stemmed in the late'70s/ early '80s.

From Sheffield, England where The Human League re-emerged to reach number throughout their career (1981's 'Don't You Want Me'), to Boston, America, where the likes of Mission of Burma were making listeners' ears bleed; the scope of coverage Reynolds gages with Rip it Up... is one of great feats. Maybe a little too insightful for one, who maybe prone to skipping a couple of chapters due to the heavy diversity this book contains.

Whatever you do, though, don't miss out on the chapter of The Fall. Reynolds encapsulates music journalism at its finest right here, integrating political notions with the music (as he does through large quantities of the book). A facet that clearly segregates the boys from the men, so to speak.

By Simon K

Friday, July 18, 2008

Album Review - The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
[Vagrant Records; 14/07/2008]

The Hold Steady's music evolves in a genre that a lot of people would generally pass off. However, their music is so strong that it draws listeners from a wide array of communities. This is what all good music does and The Hold Steady are one of the few artists in the modern day to achieve this.

The band's fourth album, Stay Positive, is once again an affair of catchy rhythms and Craig Finn's straight-to-the-point lyrical topics. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries who have managed to cut the same amount of records, The Hold Steady continue to refine and not decline in the art of creating.

In terms of sound, The Hold Steady have pilfered strands of Husker Dü circa Candy Apple Gray, with Finn transforming something a little more direct and less vague lyrically, as apposed to Bob Mould and Grant Hart. 'Sequestered In Memphis' kick starts the sing-a-longs with glib fanfare and melodic chord progressions setting the tone. 'One for the Cutters' is Finn's baby, embarking on a narrative rant about the judicial system his country employs.

The pinnacle of 'Positive definitely lies within with the double-whammy of the fist-pumping aura that is the title track, outlining Ginn's position with his personal battles. 'Magazines' comes across with lyrics that would be deemed lame if any other band had rendered them, but somehow with The Hold Steady they get away with it just as good as O.J. Simpson did!

For every lad that slobbers over Oasis and various other bands that appeal to the herd-mentality, there's an aloof kid that sits in the corner of a pub with his head-phones and Ipod that dares to get up and shake his ass to the sounds of The Hold Steady. Finn's lyrics are once again the talking point, sharing nostalgic laments, which on the back of get-up-groove instrumentation, conform as athemic. Did we ever think that such confronting and literal lyricism could throw off such a liberating energy? It's always been the case when listening to The Hold Steady's music, but now the message is loud and clear; staying positive!

Lullaby Recommended

By Simon K

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Album Review - Ladyhawk

Ladyhawk – Shots

If you take away the over zealousness of Okkervil River and the grandeur from Wolf Parade then the sounds of Ladyhawk aren't too far away from the sound metres. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Ladyhawk are yet another Canadian collective that go about their everyday business, yet still receive the necessary plaudits from the small community that engages with their music. With the release of their second album, Shots, Ladyhawk continue to naturally progression within their landscape.

That progression consists of a mixed bag of tricks this time around. 'I Always Don't Know What You're Saying' – like all good openers - flows with an organic democratic steel, while the short clasps during 'S.T.H.D' are raucous rock at it's best, embellished with a murky aesthetic. Opening single 'You Ran' is without a doubt the catchiest thing to come off Jagjaguar in quite some time, almost ending before it even gets started. Closing affair, 'Ghost Blues', expands the band's sound, musically, rippling with highs and lows of your typical epic closer, naturally ending the album on a high.

Although Shots is admittedly an experience of peaks and troughs, the peaks witness a band at the top of their game. Ladyhawk's attitude impresses out of all of this. It's no-frills rock 'n' roll that impresses when at the top of its game. Add a raw country tinge to the mix and you have a band releasing music that's placed towards the top end of the spectrum.

By Simon K

Monday, July 14, 2008

Album Review - Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk – Life...The Best Game in Town
[Hydra Head Records; 03/06/2008]

With so much music at our disposal there's bound to be times when you get knocked on your arse when in the pursuit of finding some new and ground breaking. This is one of those times. With their name deriving from the first San Franciscan gay politician, Harvey Milk (Creston Spiers; vocals, Stephen Turner; bass, Paul Tredeau; drums) are a wrecking ball that you dare to stand in front of. Forming in the early nineties, the band disbanded only to get back together in 2005. Life... The Best Game in Town is the band's second album after their re-form and their fifth overall to date.

The riff-o-rama gets your head spinning that much that it seems vertigo is on the way to cause some distress. 'Decades' is a vintage rock number that tumbles with a sludge aesthetic, with Spiers seemingly regurgitating fury and spitting it out like balls of fire. 'Motown' is a sheer stoner combat that would make Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins a proud man, while the sounds of the Jesus Lizard are only just a couple of streets away, too.

Although Harvey Milk seem to present their influences with a sense of boldness, the nature in which they expose extra facets of sound and ideas make this release all the more thrilling. 'Goodbye Blues' is a musical monolith, with top end snare smashing, sledge-hammer riffs and an overall wall of doom.

Yet another band that has fallen into the right hands. They've joined the ranks of fine modern alternative artists who dabble on the fringes of metal. Isis, Earth, Boris, Pelican and even Pissed Jeans. Harvey Milk can be added to this conclave of innovative music with Life...The Best Game in Town. One of the avant-garde metal releases of the year.

Lullaby Recommended

By Simon K

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Album Review - Beck

Beck – Modern Guilt
[Interscope; 08/07/2008]

You never swim in the same river twice. In Beck Hansen's case you don't, anyway. Working with more genres than you could poke a stick at, the American born artist has come a long way since the ironic statement of 'Loser'. This time the waves of diversity continue, this time with Beck drafting in producer Danger Mouse to form his latest offering, Modern Guilt.

Danger Mouse is the trump card during Modern Guilt despite Beck once again correlating a sound where boundaries simply don't apply. Although there's tinges of Mutations and Midnight Vultures simmering under Beck's latest creation ('Gamma Ray'), directly this album is miles apart from his previous works. Standout track, 'Chemtrails', is sparked with retro undertones as Beck's slow hippie-esque drawls transcend in a provocative manner.

Due to Beck's carefully chosen lyrical topics, his music continues to hold a currency. Normally, music with currency fails to present longevity, but with Beck this doesn't apply. A political undertone unravels during this 33 minute jaunt (Look no further than 'Youthless' and 'Walls'). Even the album's title speaks volume.

Apart from Sea Change (which is a personal all time favourite), Beck's music has failed to strike a chord with me. As is the case with most collage artists, sometimes you attempt to indulge but just don't 'feel it', so to speak. Modern Guilt is one of the nice surprises of 2008. The co-production with Danger Mouse has proved more than fruitful for Beck, whose ability to engage with an array of musical genres has always been undoubted. Now, though, it's not only a matter of respecting Beck as an artist but there's an added bonus of actually enjoying what he has created.

By Simon K

Friday, July 11, 2008

Live Review - Interpol

Sheffield Academy
Sheffield, United Kingdom

Although success can be measured in many different shapes and forms, I guess it's fair to say that Interpol can be deemed as a successful act. Plying their trade for Matador Records in the early days with two landmark albums, New York's finest dressed band took the leap and signed for Capitol records for their third album, Our Love to Admire. It has to be said that their if-it's-not-broken-don't-fix-it ethos came off a treat with their first two outings. Turn on the Bright Lights is without doubt one of the highest points of this era when talking about 'good' music, while their second outing, Antics, followed in a similar vein with a little more vigour.

Live, the band have beefed up their sound (not surprising, since they now have Capitol in their corner) with the ethereal drones substituted for a gear-shifting and almost sweaty rock assault.

Sheffield were in the long line to witness this 'new sound' and along with it were treated with a slew of Interpol singles, not to mention a couple of old favourites thrown in for good measure. The new material – like on record – was presented in similar fashion, with 'Pioneer to the Falls' kicking off the night, followed by the larger sounding 'Slow Hands', which comprises of ricocheting guitars generating sound that bounces off the walls. An experience that is a first whilst in the hands of Interpol.

'PDA' and 'Obstacle 1' are also speedy renditions, while wall of sound that is 'Not Even Jail' is the night's evident stand out with its longevity unleashing a special aura, live. The drawn out rendition of 'Roland' sees Sam Fogarino's prominence on the drums, while the ethereal goodness of 'Obstacle 2' presents the vintage sounds we are accustom to hear from this band; a fitting way to close the night.

The older material has undergone an overhaul, with Interpol stepping up the pace and intensity, resulting in the band seemingly giving out an energy to its audience rather than draining it in from them, which is a compliment to their virtuosity. It was good to see the band throwing bits and bobs of material off OLTA into their set-list, rather than rendering large portions of it, despite album stand outs like 'No I in Threesome' and 'Pace is the Trick' left out in the cold. Still, it can't be argued that 'The Heinrich Maneuver' is a solid single and live the song remains to live up to quality.

It's no secret that Interpol's new album ranks as the weakest in their catalogue of work and with the abundance of old material the band perform live, maybe they're aware of this, despite their new demographic of fans thinking on the contrary to these beliefs.

By Simon K