Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Albums Of The Year 2008

Black Mountain - In The Future
Stoner rock from Canadians Black Mountain which sounded like an instant classic.

Evol Intent - Era Of Diversion
Dark drum and bass with inflections of metal and rap that matched the mood of 2008.

Get The Blessing - All Is Yes
Riff-driven post-jazz stompers from a group with "a pathological hatred of chords".

Kaki King - Dreaming Of Revenge
An other-worldly collection of songs from an impossibly talented guitarist and drummer.

Late Of The Pier - Fantasy Black Channel
The sound of Gary Numan dancing to The Klaxons from Castle Donington's finest.

Neon Neon - Stainless Style
This '80s-tinged, unlikely collaboration based on an even more unlikely theme was a brilliant fusion of styles.

Portishead - Third
Work-shy Bristol-based trip-hoppers Portishead released their third album in 17 years - and it was worth the wait.

Stateless - Stateless
Carefully crafted indie songwriting given a turntablist makeover.

Thrice - The Alchemy Index vols. III and IV: Air & Earth
Completing a quadrology of four EPs, this album had all the elements of a rock classic.

Young Knives - Superabundance
Belton-based band The Young Knives released their most polished and potent arty punk to date in 2008.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Season's Greetings

YULE have been mad not to have noticed that, in the words of Slade's Noddy Holder: "It's Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiist, maaaaaaaaaaas!"
As my Christmas present to you, tomorrow I'll unveil my Top 10 Albums Of The Year 2008, revealing who is following in the footsteps of previous acts behind Albums Of The Year such as System Of A Down, The Libertines, The Beatles, Prodigy and Arcade Fire.
You'll also find out if anyone can join Biffy Clyro as double winners - groups in the running this year include The Kooks, The Killers, Hot Chip, Tokyo Police Club, Eagles Of Death Metal, Bloc Party and Seth Lakeman.
Then, on December 18, you'll have your chance to vote which of my shortlist should be crowned Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice Album Of The Year.
The vote runs until midnight on New Year's Eve.
However, until then I'll be taking a festive breather to play with my new toys.
So let me take this chance to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year - and I'll see you in January with some top tips for the year ahead.
Happy holidays.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A thing for you

METRONOMY'S new single, A Thing For Me, is available to buy from today.
The track, taken from his 2008 album Nights Out, is available to download, and you can also pick up an exclusive Sinden remix of the track free-of-charge by clicking here.

Star Fleet

DON'T be fooled by the title of Fleet Foxes - the music isn't especially fast-paced, and the men playing it are decidely average looking and a bit hairy for my taste.
That aside their eponymous debut offering, which is likely to top a hell of a lot of Best Of 2008 polls, is a brilliant body of work.
The Seattle group's album is a rich, evocative work, mixing the '60s pop harmonies of all-time classics such as The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds with a classical twist.
If you haven't heard it yet. it might be time to catch up with Fleet Foxes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Zomby attack


BOOYAKA booyaka! The junglist massive Where Were U In '92? is my next catch-up collection LP to highlight before the year end is nigh.
Harking back to the early days of rave, the debut album from Zomby - who according to his website "comes from nowhere and is already dead" - is a whistle-blowing concoction of jungle beats, keyboard stabs and whurring basslines lifted straight out of the '90s.
If you've ever been standing in a field full of people at 4am, this LP will be right up your street - or, as the case may be, your country lane.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Elbowing in

WITH Christmas approaching new releases are a little thin on the ground, so playing end-of-year catch up I thought I'd pay tribute to Elbow's fantastic 2008 LP The Seldom Seen Kid.
The Mancunians' fourth studio album was the deserving winner of this year's Mercury Music Prize and will no doubt grace the majority of Best Of 2008 lists, so you probably don't need me to tell you it's a masterful work.
However I will anyway - it's a gorgeous, epic, beautiful, life-affirming album, with standout tracks including the driving Grounds For Divorce and the stirring One Day Like This, that should now be sitting in everyone's collections.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Classic twenty two - Mraz you like it


WITH his new single I'm Yours, Mechanicsville-born singer songwriter Jason Mraz is finally getting some deserved recognition in the UK.
And it's about time too.
I've been a massive advocate of reggae-tinged rap singer Mraz since his 2002 debut album Waiting For My Rocket To Come.
From the tender tracks like You And I and Boy's Gone to the cheeky patter of I'll Do Anything and Curbside Prophet, Waiting For My Rocket To Come was an assured launchpad for an artist hopefully about to explode.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Play At Play


DJ DE Jour Deadmau5 - pronounced "dead mouse" - follows up his 2008 debut album Random Album Title on Monday with At Play, a collection of early works.
Before moving to the Ministry Of Sound with his assured debut release, the progressive house producer, real name Joel Zimmerman, released a number of tracks for Play Records, based in his native Canada - and the pick of that particular crop are presented here, in extended, unmixed "DJ friendly" form.
Mixing fist-pumping fuzz basslines that would make Mr Oizo proud with sturdy house beats and subtley trancey melodies, were it not for the dubious choice of vocals on several tracks, this would be a minimalist dancefloor masterpiece.
Even with the dodgy vocals - such as the Stephen Hawking-style guide to DJing This Is The Hook - on At Play it's easy to see why Deadmau5 is one of the rising stars of clubland.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wymeswold Records

PROLIFIC local band The Wave Pictures have launched their own record label, Wymeswold Records, in order to release at a rate that suits them!
Not content with releasing a debut album, Instant Coffee Baby, and two EPs, Just Like A Drummer and Pigeon, in 2008, now the group have two side projects available.
A band spokesman said: "Dan Of Green Gables is the first release on Wymeswold Records.
"The band includes David Tattersall and Franic Rozycki of The Wave Pictures on guitar and mandolin, who are joined by violin master Dan Mayfield.
"The album was recorded in the first week of April 2008 in Leyton, and contains nine songs written by Dave Tattersall.
Jonny "Huddersfield" Helm is the debut solo album from The Wave Pictures' drummer Jonny Helm.
"The album features 12 covers of folk, blues and country songs by artists such as Elmore James, Bob Dylan and The Mountain Goats, each sung by Jonny and backed by a full band or occasionally an acoustic guitar."
You can buy the two albums direct from the band's website by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Evol overlord


DESPERATE music for desperate times - as far as zeitgeist-bottlers go, nothing released this year has been a better soundtrack to the global crisis that is 2009.
A claustrophobic concoction of speaker-ripping basslines, pounding drum and bass beats, minimalist melodies and paranoid samples, American hardstep drum and bass trio Evol Intent's debut album, Era Of Diversion, is no picnic.
However, released back in March, the standout LP is a feast of intelligent, eccentric, politicised, inventive and dark, dark drum and bass.
And importantly the 19-tracks flow as a whole, with nods to everything from IDM to metal - where other albums of the genre are largely presented as a random collection of tracks.
Era Of Diversion may not be a pleasant diversion - but it's nevertheless both enjoyable and neccesary in equal measures.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Classic twenty one - A long time ago, in a disco far, far away...


I AM eternally grateful to a former work colleague of mine for the discovery of this album, one of the strangest and most brilliant conceptions I have ever stumbled upon.
Up until the point that Bob Kent, typist at the Coalville Times, quizzed me over Meco's Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk, as far as knew his musical tastes didn't stretch beyond the confines of Al Jolson's back catalogue, let alone as far out as this hybrid of Star Wars and '70s disco.
Making over John Williams's classic film score in the style of Earth, Wind And Fire, it shouldn't work, but it does - in fact, it's out of this world.
Sadly, unlike in the movies, Meco's tale didn't have a happy ending - after all, when you've succesfully melded Star Wars and disco, two pinnacles of '70s culture, how do you top that?
The follow-up, a disco version of Close Encounters Of Third Kind, was a flop, and by the third LP, Meco Plays The Wizard Of Oz, things were getting a little wacky.
There was even a disco version of a Star Wars-themed Christmas album, which featured tracks such as What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?).
Nevertheless, Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk is a force to be reckoned with.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

An unexpected Findo


DON'T be put off Findo Gask's indie electronica EP One Eight Zero by the title track, which is quite frankly a shocking opener.
Sounding like Hot Chip fronted by Morrissey, the track has second rate production, laboured, lacklustre beats and an aimless vocal line.
But then, just as the Hot Chips are down for the group, the skittering beat of Jigsaw cuts through.
It's impossible to underestimate just what a difference this makes to the Glaswegians' sound, and coupled with the excellently brassy Nubo, there's two absolute gems bookended by the uninspiring opener and its poor Ripped Speakers Remix.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Issa new twist


MALIAN musician Issa Bagayogo's latest LP, Mali Koura, is the musical equivolent of Sicily or Sardinia.
A stepping stone between European and African culture, the album ties the traditional musical forms of his homeland - made famous by musicians such as legendary guitarist Ali Farka Toure and blind couple Amadou Et Mariam's pop crossover - with a European electronic dancefloor twist.
That said, tracks like Tcheni Tchemakan and N'Tana would be more at home in the chillout lounge than the main dance arena, with their subtle production and laid-back beats.
An easy 'in' to one of Africa's most vibrant and productive musical cultures, Mali Koura makes a welcome vacation from the UK scene.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Classic twenty - Coalisten


TAKING their name from George "Dubya" Bush's name for the countries he managed to rope into a war with Iraq, jazz drummer Bobby Previte's rotating supergroup The Coalition Of The Willing's eponymous 2006 album is a liberating listen.
Forging jazz with classic rock sensibilities, forceful militaristic drumming and a funky edge, this post-jazz masterpiece is a revolution.
Featuring talent such as saxophonist Skerik of Syncopated Taint Septet fame and mind-bogglingly talented jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter, the tracks pay homage to jazz greats such as Miles Davis but sound more at home in the rock bracket.
So I urge you to be one of the willing too, to allow this maverick musical machine to ride roughshod over your expectations of a jazz record.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hit The Brakes

A QUICK freebie for you, my loyal readers.
Courtesy of FatCat Records, a new recording by their latest signing, Brighton supergroup The Brakes, is here for you to sample.
The track, Crystal Tunings, is a taster for their new album Touchdown, due to be released next spring.

Alphabeat route

DANISH pop sensation Alphabeat are beating a path to Loughborough on December 11.
The group, best known for hit Fascination, are playing the Loughborough University Students' Union End Of Term Party, supported by town band Indio Black.
Entry to concert, which is open to students only, costs £7, with half of the proceeds going towards RAG charities.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Praxis of evil


WHEN it comes to supergroups, Praxis are the supervillain.
Led by prolific experimentalist Bill Laswell and the simply bizarre guitarist de jour Buckethead, their brooding 2008 outing Profanation (Preparation For A Coming Darkness) - delayed since 2005 and even now only available on import from Japan - features input from Iggy Pop, Mike Patton, Serj Tankian and Killah Priest among others.
And this wealth of talent has created a deeply disturbing voyage through dub, metal, hip hop, ambient, experimental, jungle, rock, funk and anything else you can think of.
Although not for the faint-hearted, nevertheless it would be a crime for this murky masterpiece to pass people by.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Alessi's Ark - buy two, buy two


IN A world where Diana Vickers can repeatedly survive the The X-Factor vote, quirky young singer Alessi's Ark should do rather well for herself.
For a start, unlike Ms Vickers and her sub-Cranberries bleating, London teen Alessi's Ark is phenomenally talented.
Her debut LP, produced by the team behind Bright Eyes, is a four-track collection of lush folk pop that sounds more accomplished than a debut release from an 18-year-old should.
From the less-than-two minute wonder The Horse to the sumptuous Let's Race, The Horse should see Alessi's Ark jockeying for position with the likes of Laura Marling in no time at all.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Angst in their pants

FOLLOWING in the wake of Crystal Castles' hugely successful 2008, You Love Her Coz She's Dead and their commodore-abusing Inner City Angst EP has got a release.
The electro group, who assure fans that their moniker doesn't promote necrophilia, are a mixture of forthright Daft Punk-style beats and Crystal Castles' bafflingly-popular primitive computer bleeps.
However this approach pays off for the duo - although messy opening track Superheroes sounds like Bloc Party playing in a warehouse full of ringing mobile phones.
As the EP progresses the sound develops an almost glam vibe, peaking with the frenetic Blood Lust.
Quite simply, if you like Crystal Castles, you'll think these are a cut above.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sausage Party!

IN ADDITION to their upcoming tour, Castle Donington's finest Late Of The Pier are playing a select gig at the Chameleon Arts Cafe in Nottingham on Sunday.
The sadly sold out Sausage Party, at the tiny venue above Clinton Cards in Angel Row, will see a number of limited edition CDs handed out at the door - which is sure to contain some bangers.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Vote Guns N' Roses


AFTER 15 years of the most epic, ludicrous back story to an album ever, costing an alleged $13 million, and seeing double figures of musicians coming and going, Guns N' Roses's Chinese Democracy is finally in stores.
Well, unless you live in China, that is.
And you know what, it's alright - not as bad as I feared, yet expected.
A bit long-winded in places, with some face-melting guitar solos in others - what else did you expect from Axl and his appetite for distraction...
How long until the follow-up?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Frankly indispensible collection

FORMER hardcore outfit Million Dead frontman Frank Turner has, for three years now, been knocking 'em dead as an alt-folk people's poet for the post-rock generation.
With a wry, quintessentially English eye for a dry, self-depreciating lyric and an honest one man and his guitar approach to his compositions, Frank's new The First Three Years compendium really is an essential release.
Even if you already have his first two albums, the magnificently-titled Sleep Is For The Week and follow-up Love, Ire And Song, the extras here are a choice selection.
Frankly, his cover of Dancing Queen by ABBA is worth the money alone.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Go West

AS THE title 808s And Heartbreaks suggests, this is not an album of party anthems from Kanye West.
And also, as the title suggests, Kanye has come over all 1980s synth and vocoder.
It all adds up to a real change of direction for the chart-troubling rapper.
Utilising a Roland TR-808 - the drum machine used on Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing - for the beats and bleeps on this album, the LP has a distinctive and arresting sound, although pound for pound there's clearly less hit single here than on his previous three albums.
Nevertheless kudos must go to West for taking his work out on a limb - and for plucking Ashe family favourite Mr Hudson for a profile-raising collaboration - obviously since Graduation Kanye has grown as an artist.
Hopefully 808s And Heartbreaks will be one that the public grows to love.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blooming boring


FOR her debut album Yellow Flowers, London-based singer Natasha Panas has "sourced some of the UK’s finest players".
But however polished and accomplished the sound is, it's more bland than big band.
This collection of easy listening is just far too easy - aside from the David McAlmont collaboration Kennington there's nothing there to stimulate the listener.
Think smooth jazz, but smooth as in devoid of any distinguishing features.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Killers' Day And Age

LAS Vegas' stadium fillers The Killers have proved it's still their time with their third LP, Day And Age.
After the disappointing Sam's Town, Brandon Flowers's powers of to-the-point hit making seem to have returned, albeit retaining an epic 80s-tinged edge and, sadly, that silly facial hair.
Although not the albsolute classic album that the public is on tenterhooks for, Day And Age is still an interesting and enjoyable progession for the group - and you can hear it for yourself on their Myspace site today, ahead of its release.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Crocodiles And Prostitutes


THE forthcoming Crocodiles And Prostitutes EP from Andy J Gallagher is a snappy release worth paying money for.
The London punk's raw four-track is an energetic collection of Libertines-style rockers that come tearing out of the speakers - it's blink and you'll miss it time - whetting the appetite for his debut Helicopter Dolphin Submarine album in 2009.
With this full throttle attitude, production is a bit lax in places, and Andy J's Carl Barat drawl can miss it's notes a few times.
However this is a small price to pay for music with such teeth - and I feel we're on a promise with this up-and-coming rocker's album.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


INSTEAD of spending a tenner on mild cheese, melting it down and drinking it by the pint until you feel a little sickly, then going straight to bed for a total nightmare, why not spend your cash on John Barrowman's latest LP, Music Music Music.
It evokes a similar feeling, but you can repeat the experience again and again.
From the schmaltzy original numbers such as the Gary Barlow penned What About Us to the parade of camp cover versions such as Can't Take My Eyes Off You and Uptown Girl, Music Music Music is pure, unadulterated aural torture.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A young Young


RECORDED the same year as Canadian folk rock legend Neil Young's eponymous debut solo album was released, Sugar Mountain - Live At Canterbury House 1968 is an arresting snapshop of a rising star.
Recorded at the Michigan venue over two nights in 1968, the singer songwriter's talent is as raw as ever here, and the album and accompanying DVD is a real treat for fans.
Around half of the album's 23-track listing is Young talking to the audience, which builds a real sense of occasion between the beautifully delivered tracks, of which The Loner is my personal highlight.
Delicate and understated, this is not the Harvest Moon singer at his finest, but at the same time you can't help but be drawn into this fascinating portrait of a young Young.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Reason reasonable


NOT to be confused with South American beast of burden the llama, British soul singer Lemar has a new album out next week.
But with his gift of a voice, Lemar sure knows how to carry a tune.
Proving the Tottenham singer to be a ballad specialist, his fourth album The Reason shows a singer at the top of his game on touching tracks such as lead single If She Knew.
Sadly overly-produced pedestrian production dominates, and with the addition of cringeworthy tracks like Little Miss Heartbreaker, it's not unreasonable to say that Lemar's The Reason doesn't do justice to his vocal talents.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sound Advice wants your sound advice

LEND me your ears!
Cast your eyes down the right hand column and you'll come across the lists of my albums of the year 2004-2007.
Every year I try to compile a personal 'best of', and 2008 will be no exception.
While keeping my cards close to my chest - as I already have some definites and more than a few maybes in mind - I'd like some suggestions from you, my faithful readership.
Any albums you think I should be considering, any you think I may have overlooked on these pages so far this year, any LPs you think I should avoid - I want to know.
So please, feel free to comment below.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Late Of The Pier shows

LATE Of The Pier have announced a slew of 2009 tour dates - but sadly, no Loughborough show.
The group's Bears Don't Hibernate tour, which runs throughout February, sees the four-piece coming as near as Derby, playing The Royal on February 13.
The band will also bring their Numan-esque synth rock sounds to Bath, Exeter, Wolverhampton, Sheffield, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Manchester, Oxford, London, Brighton, Portsmouth, Hitchin and Cambridge.
However the group are yet to reschedule their Rapture Nightclub date that was cancelled earlier this year, just ahead of the release of Fantasy Black Channel.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yes Ministry

SUPERCLUB Ministry Of Sound's Anthems II is a massive three-CD, 60-song voyage through some of the tracks that have made the Elephant And Castle club into a global brand.
And surprisingly, as this is the follow-up to the equally expansive Anthems, this instalment manages to keep the quality peaking.
Treading a careful path between cheesy nostalgia and genuine anthem, the tracklisting reads like a who's who of the last two-and-a-half decades of dance - Orbital, Snap!, Faithless, Robert Miles, Underworld, Sash!, Daft Punk, Armand Van Helden, Planet Perfecto, former Loughborough schoolboy Felix Buxton's band Basement Jaxx, Modjo, D:Ream, The Prodigy...
Obviously with 60 tracks here there are a lot you could live without, but if this doesn't get you throwing shapes at some point, nothing will.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Classic nineteen - Afreaka! unique


DESPITE sounding like a group of hairy, leather-clad death metallers that deserved to be forgotten, Demon Fuzz are a real hidden gem.
Mixing the Latin-influenced rock of Santana and the funk and grooves of Sly And the Family Stone with afro-beat, prog rock and psychedelia influences, Afreaka! is one-of-a-kind.
Sadly quite literally - for the 1970 release was the British band's only effort.
Ambitious, eclectic, experimental and hugely underrated, you really should make Demon Fuzz the devil you know.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A liberal helping of local acts

WYMESWOLD three-piece Wave Pictures' Instant Coffee Baby and Castle Donington-based Late Of The Pier's Fantasy Black Channel have both been shortlisted by The Guardian for their First Album Award.
The groups' LPs are up against albums by acts such as Duffy, The Courteeners, Friendly Fires, Laura Marling and The Tings Tings for the debut album gong.
The winner will be chosen by the public, so you can help the local acts by clicking here and placing your vote.
Voting closes on November 30, with the result announced in the paper on December 19.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mullet over


EUROVISION flop James Fox must be off his rocker of he thinks Rocking Chairs And Lemonade will relaunch his career.
For the debut LP, the latest from the Welsh singer who represented GB in the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest, is a cheesy collection of wannabe-Jack Johnson strummers that's completely mind numbing and pointless.
On this flat effort, Fame Academy contestant Fox, whose real name is Richard Mullet, should call it a day.
To coin a phrase, nil points.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Seal approval

GRIZZLED singer Sealhenry Olusegun Kwassi Olumide Adelo Samuel, better known as Seal, likes to do things simply.
The singer, who rose to prominance back in 1990 on Adamski's club hit Killer, is no young pup and has been around the block a few times, and with this latest LP, Soul, a collection of classic soul cuts, he puts all this nous to good use.
With a voice as distinctive as his scarred cheeks, he effortlessly makes songs by legends such as Al Green, Sam Cooke and James Brown his own here - which is no mean feat.
Obviously such soul staples are always going to be a case of orginal is best, and at times, such as on If You Don't Know Me By Now and Knock On Wood, the album dips its toes into elements of cheese.
But overall, Soul is a passable reincarnation for Seal after his dance-orientated outing System last year.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Stereophonics' sound


IT SAYS a lot that songs like Madame Helga, Mama Told Me Not To Come, Same Size Feet and Hurry Up And Wait are only available on the deluxe two-disc version of Decade In The Sun, the Stereophonics' new best of package.
Not that it will come as a surprise to fans - for gravel-gargling frontman Kelly Jones's group have released a slew of classic rock anthems since their debut hit the charts in 1997, with five out of their six albums peaking at number one.
Tracks like Just Looking, Dakota, Mr Writer and Local Boy In The Photograph sound as good as ever here, and the two new tracks - You're My Star and My Own Worst Enemy - fit well into the track listing.
My only quibble is, with a decade of hits behind you, why slip these two unknowns in?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Villager in the Cool runnings

IT'S official - local boy done good Samuel Eastgate, better known as Samuel Dust of Late Of The Pier, is the fifth coolest person in the world.
The Castle Donington band's frontman has sailed in at number five in the NME Cool List 2008, ahead of the likes of Caleb Followill, Liam Gallagher, Zach de la Rocha, Guy Garvey and M.I.A.
Announcing his new-found coolness - for Sam is a new entry this year - the magazine wrote: "It takes a true maverick to grow up in Castle Donington and become, not a denim-clad rocker or downcast screamo fan, but rather a purveyor of hyper-energetic, splatter-gun electro.
"In Dust we trust."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Play us a Dune

DAVID Tattersall, frontman of Wymeswold band The Wave Pictures, features on the latest album from French indie pop duo Herman Dune.

The album, Next Year In Zion, was released in October, and is the band's happiest work to date.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Operahouse change


THE Change In Nature EP, the latest blueprint from newcomers Operahouse, also signals a change in approach.
With previous releases such as Born A Boy, the group had a punky kind of feel, but here the group have set their sights on a sound as grand and epic as their name suggests.
Sadly their new dance-rock approach merely comes across as an attempt at The Verve, but with less, err, verve.
Not that I blame them for trying - If they could carry off the The Music-meets-Arcade Fire sound they're aiming at, this would be an indispensible EP ahead of their full-length debut.
But in execution Operahouse, on Change In Nature, are more 'am dram'.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Threatmantics' antics


THREE-piece Threatmantics are not your conventional set-up.
Instead of guitar, drums and bass, the Welsh group make their raw brand of rock on viola, guitar, drums and keyboards – with Huw Davies playing both drums and keyboards simultaneously.
With scuzzy production values, a unique approach to their music's instrumentation and a performance with more energy than a coffee-drinking two-year-old, Upbeat Love manages to leap the hurdle of their songs being largely forgettable and be worth a listen.
This expanded EP is promising start for a band who you should jump at the chance to catch live - if they're half as enthusiastic as this record implies, Threatmantics' antics will be a frantic proposition.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Classic eighteen - Surely Manson

HEY buster, are you sick of Ray Parker Junior? Does the thought of Michael Jackson not thrill you this Hallowe'en?
Then dust off a copy of Marilyn Manson's classic Smells Like Children and both trick and treat your party guests.
The 1995 LP is only really an EPs worth of material, made up mostly of deeply unsettling remixes of tracks from Portrait Of An American Family as well as brilliantly chosen and executed covers of tracks such as Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams and Screamin' Jay Hawkins' I Put A Spell On You.
However the true brilliance of this album is the choice of skits in between, that drag the album up to nearly an hour of complete strangeness.
From the minute-and-a-half of children crying intro The Hands Of Small Children to the talk show Sympathy For The Parents to the psycotic Scabs, Guns And Peanut Butter, via a load of tracks I can't name here without a parental advisory, these visions of madness are sure to help anyone have a unhappy Hallowe'en.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Razorlight dull

HALF English, half Swedish rock band Razorlight used to exude the kind of cutting edge brilliance that their name would imply.
Debut album Up All Night spawned six singles and their eponymous follow-up saw a further five, including trans-atlantic fight America, which was a chart-topper.
However on listening to latest effort Slipway Fires' tracklisting, it's hard to see where the singles are going to come from.
Show me a Razorlight fan that didn't raise an eyebrow when they first heard slow burner Wire To Wire as the album's lead single instead of their usual raucous rockers, I'll show you a man with no eyebrows.
But after listening to the album, it turns out that Wire To Wire is the most infectious track here.
The rest, with the possible exception of Hostage Of Love, is underwhelming, piano-driven filler.
Razorlight used to be a cut above - on Slipway Fires they're just dull.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pink - So What?

YOU may have noticed I have been a bit of a crawling, fawning sycophant of late, handing out ○○○○●s and ○○○○○s willy nilly to every Tom, Dick and Gary Lightbody.
So in order to stave off having to rename my blog Isaac Ashe's Isn't Music Brilliant or something similar I thought I'd write this little post, to prove I don't like everything.
In fact, this song is really getting my musical goat at the moment - who in the hell is actually buying Pink's ridiculous nursery rhyme-meets-messy divorce that is So What?
If I wanted to be involved in a divorce, I'd have trained to be a solicitor.
And who exactly calls Jessica Simpson "Jessica Simps"? Surely it's either Jessica Simpson, or Jess, if you're friends.
If you're reading this and you own a copy, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, log off right now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rock from the Heart


UNCANNILY, if there is such a word, just as I was penning a Classic Collection blog post about the Eagles Of Death Metal, unbeknownst to me, on the other side of the pond Jesse "The Devil" Hughes and co were preparing to release a new LP.
Only out on import in the UK so far, the Josh Homme-produced Heart On is everything you'd expect from the group by now, and is described by the band themselves as their "latest fabulous weapon, a top-secret music missile, a sonic warhead sexually tipped for her pleasure, shot from the deck of USS EODM Mantastic Fantastic."
An erotically-charged, frenetic flurry of glam stoner rock that's more fun than a clown's birthday party, their latest offering is still seedy but less scuzzy than before, and as attractive as ever.
They start with the big guns blazing, before hitting more mature territory and - dare I say it - what's almost a ballad, and just when you think that the Eagles Of Death Metal are starting to take themselves a bit too seriously, they hit you with Prissy Prancin'.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A star turn


SNOW Patrol's 2003 album Final Straw has the honour of being the first album I ever reviewed as a pro.
Sure, I'd had a long history of boring my family, friends and anybody else that happened to be in earshot with my musical musings.
But as a greenhorn reporter at the Coalville Times who'd inherited the Mike Test music reviews section from departing reporter Mike Whelan, reviewing Snow Patrol was the first thing I did.
With hindsight, changing the name of Mike Test should have been the first thing I did, but actually the then editor confusingly kept it as Mike Test for a few weeks, then changed it Isaac Test, which makes no sense at all...
Anyway, then, as now, I was, and am, in awe of the slickness with which Snow Patrol went, and still go, about their business.
Latest offering A Hundred Million Suns is another welter of chart-troubling rockers and emotive ballads from the Dundee band.
Less immediately anthemic as their previous two offerings, A Hundred Million Suns is a slow-burner of epic proportions sure to put a little warmth your way.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blog Party


SINCE the wilds of time before Silent Alarm, I have been a massive advocate of Bloc Party's.
I remember waiting impatiently for the group's debut to be released, and again when follow-up A Weekend In The City was released.
However this cheeky new LP snuck up unexpectedly - but what a nice surprise.
As we've come to expect from Bloc Party by now, Intimacy is engaging and cerebral musically, but still kicks out the jams in all the right places despite a greater reliance on computers than before.
Straddling a fine line between their indie roots and their electronic tendancies, Intimacy is both a breath of fresh air and comfortingly familiar - if you're not yet intimate with Bloc Party, it's time to pucker up.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Number two priority

FEELING flush? Then ahead of World Toilet Day on November 19, do pull up a stool and have a listen to Empty Boat's Waitless, an unlikely combination of world music and lavatories.
Musicians from across the world and as young as seven have mucked in to produce this upbeat album which melds African, Latin and jazz influences, all in the name of khazis.
Because every copy of this album sold will result in a deposit being made to Pump Aid which will enable the charity to provide sanitation for life for one African in need.
Overall the music, although eminently listenable, is fairly bog standard, but being privy to the information that it's helping such a good cause, I urge you to go for this LP.

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