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.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Now That's What I Call a long time

BLIMEY! The Now That's What I Call Music! series is nearly as old as me - and this year it celebrates a quarter-century of compilations.
To mark this milestone, like most 25-year-olds, it's decided to throw a party - captured on the three-CD collection of hits through the ages that is Now That's What I Call Music! 25 Years.
And what a collection it is - from Phil Collins and UB40, who both appeared on Now That's What I Call Music! volume one, through Diana Ross and Micheal Jackson and Take That and Oasis to contemporary chart-hogs such as Rihanna and Sugababes.
You may turn your nose up at such a pantheon of polished pop, but listening through it's undeniable that, love it or hate it -
A) you will know nearly all the words to all these songs, and...
B) these CDs would be great at a party.
Now that's what I call full marks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

TV On The Radio on the Internet

I DON'T normally blog about singles, so I'll keep it brief, but I thought I'd point out that the impending Golden Age, the first to be taken from New York-based five-piece TV On The Radio's latest LP Dear Science, above, is a glittering multi-layered slice of funky Prince-like rock that's well worth seeking out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rip The Whip

I KNOW you all like something for nothing, so why not download The Whip's cracking new free mix album by clicking here.
The Mancunian dance punks' 10-track mix includes the cracking Soulwax remix of the Chemical Brothers' Hey Boy Hey Girl and their own reworking of Hadouken!'s Decleration Of War.

Classic seventeen - Raw talon


DON’T be fooled by this band’s ferocious moniker - they may sound like the scariest bird since Rosemary West, but instead of wanting to prey on you, the scariest thing the Eagles Of Death Metal want to do is a little humping.
The brainchild of Jesse “The Devil” Hughes, backed up by Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme on drum duties, Eagles Of Death Metal originated from a drunken bet to create the death metal version of the all-conquering Americana of The Eagles.
However the sound morphed from the original blurred vision - that appeared on The Desert Sessions Volume Two, if you’re interested - to their debut Peace Love Death Metal, a pulsating mix of handlebar moustaches, skin-tight leather trousers and ballsy, camp stoner rock.
Imagine what it would sound like if the Scissor Sisters invited Lemmy to play bass, and all took viagra an hour before the recording...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Benin hiding


AS FAR as I'm aware, Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice doesn't have much of a readership in Benin.
So I'll wager not many of you will have heard of the country's prolific yet parochial Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou.
However I guarantee this compilation of the group's recordings will cast a spell over fans of funk.
The Vodoun Effect, a collection of tracks played in secret by the west African collective for minor labels back in the early 1970s while officially contracted elsewhere, cherrypicks tracks from the 500 or so known recordings by the band in their unique, energetic sound that literally drips with funk like sweat from James Brown mid-Sex Machine.
A cross between traditional African music and an extended Eddie Bo, James Brown style jam outs, the music is based on a musical style developed as an accompaniment to Vodoun - or voodoo - rituals.
As a result the LP, the first of a two-part series, is an energetic, lively collection that label Analog Africa made the right decision in resurrecting.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Okay Plus


AMERICAN jazz trio The Bad Plus have built a career out of the cover version, playing jazz to a rock and pop audience.
If you don't yet know them, their reworkings of songs by artists ranging from Aphex Twin to David Bowie to Interpol to Blondie that litter their LPs have lifted them above the competition for sure.
However this gimmick has proved yet again to be both a blessing and a curse on latest LP For All I Care.
While some here - such as How Deep Is Your Love - are ingenious, others - Lithium - come across as a band trying too hard, and the original material in between, sadly, is nothing exceptional.
So get on iTunes and cherrypick those cover versions - For All I Care, the rest can wait.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Subthing happy


IF YOU'RE happy and you know it, buy this disc.
If you're happy and you know it, buy this disc.
If you're happy and you know it and you really want to show it, if you're happy and you know it I really do advise you to check out The Submarines.
Because in Honeysuckle Weeks, the LA-based duo have crafted an LP that is chirpier than The Magic Numbers taking laughing gas on their birthday.
Sure, some of the group's bouncy indie pop precariously straddles the line between chirp and cheese, but for the most part this album is a surprisingly enjoyable affair.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Love Tattoo sketchy


ROCKABILLY revivalist Imelda May may well have penned herself a hit album with Love Tattoo.
The Dublin-born star oozes the same kind of retro appeal as risen stars such as Amy Winehouse, and has more personality than a hundred Duffys, and Love Tattoo is a refreshingly different collection of 1950s-style country-meets-rock 'n' roll compositions.
However, despite some cracking tracks such as Johnny Got A Boom Boom, Imelda May's is missing that all important contemporary twist.
Earlier this year I waxed lyrical about Vincent Vincent And The Villains' debut Gospel Bombs, which was a halfway house between The Libertines and Eddie Cochran.
In comparison Imelda May plays the past well, but sadly here she is not elaborating on it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sash cash in


TWO CDs, that's right, two entire CDs, containing a whopping 29 tracks, make up The Best Of German DJ trio Sash!.
However having listened intently to this release, covering over a decade of the group's Euro dance singles, I can safely say that The Best Of Sash! could have probably been an EP.
From the pumping Encore Un Fois to Ecuador, a track that's done more to raise the profile of the South American country than its own tourist board ever has, through the ridiculous Move Mania to the trancey Mysterious Times, there's plenty here to get excited about again.
But although Sash! have produced a brilliant five or six tracks, the rest is well and truly album rather than dancefloor filler.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Cut above


HERE'S one worth stumping up for! As a prelude to the release of their debut album You And I, Cut Off Your Hands' latest EP Happy As Can Be hits stores next Monday.
And it's a reason to be cheerful.
Produced by former Suede axeman Bernard Butler, this four-and-a-hidden-track release demonstrates the band's ability to mix melodic, angular rock with uplifting indie epics - in particular on the former single that is the EP's title track.
Judging by this, New Zealanders Cut Off Your Hands' debut should be one to get to grips with in 2009.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Emily Jane alright


SAN Franciscan Emily Jane White's debut LP Dark Undercoat definately gives the impression there's something a little shadier underneath.
On the surface the folk singer's stripped-down songs are delicate compositions, but on closer inspection they become a little disturbing.
Especially with lyrics like: "Not much to do when you've got time on your side, you sit and think about your wasted life."
S Club 7 it ain't.
Like PJ Harvey's White Chalk, Emily Jane White's barren soundscape creates a real feeling of suspense - like a good horror movie - but ultimately there's no killer blow here.
And the tone combined with the lack of wax and wane in the music somestimes results in the LP feeling like a bit of a dirge.
However overall Dark Undercoat shows a bright talent to keep an eye on.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Moshi for charity

WYMESWOLD'S Wave Pictures are to join acts such as Kate Nash, Justice, LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and Hot Chip to celebrate Moshi Moshi Records' 10th anniversary.
Tickets to the gig, to be held at the O2 Arena in London on October 25, are available on 0871 230 1094, with all proceeds going to homelessness charity Shelter.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ill skills

DESPITE having more than a passing resemblance to that lovely chap who walks the streets of Loughborough entertaining passers-by with nothing more than a tin whistle and some unpredictable banter, Seasick Steve is worth making an acquaintance with.
The Californian song and dance man's third album, I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left, is another slice of simple blues.
Because Seasick Steve - named simply because he tends to get seasick - has a simple good time blues manifesto.
Sure, with a move to Warner Bros Records there's a up in quality here - most obviously he's acquired three more strings for his guitar - and there's some high profile guests such as Nick Cave and KT Tunstall, but basically if you like a bit of blues, you'll need to check out Seasick Steve.
Because I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left is simply brilliant.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Back from the dead


WELSH emo band Funeral For A Friend's fourth album sees the group tackling some big questions - what is the meaning of life? Why are we here? And what the were we thinking with Tales Don't Tell Themselves?
Luckily, Memory And Humanity is a real return to form for the group.
Being put out by the group on their own label, Join Us, you can hear on this LP the group have a real hunger once again.
There's their distinctive sound here first heard on Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation, with shredding riffs and harsh vocals the order of the day, but the sound is more polished than previously - which is more fitting for the philisophical nature of the subject matter.
With Memory And Humanity, you may well remember why you fell in love with Funeral For A Friend in the first place.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Rising stars

IMAGINE a world where The Offspring had not been original pranksters, churning out corny punk rock anthems, and instead had had a sit down, a bit of a think, and had become original politicians.
This is the world in which Rise Against inhabit.
Mixing the pop punk sensibilities of The Offspring - and an eerily similar vocal style - with the rockier edge of AFI and the political manifesto of Rage Against The Machine, the Chicago-based group's fifth studio release Appeal To Reason gets my vote.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Way too normal

PIANOMAN Ben Folds, an artist that I revered back in the days of Whatever And Ever Amen, left me a little disappointed with this latest release.
In fairness, there are some excellent points on Way To Normal - at times it's poignant, at other times laugh out loud funny - but it never reaches the highs that Mr Folds and his Five used to hit on a regular basis.
And a lot of the time, as a result, the songs sometimes come across a little contrived - from a songwriter of clear talent his latest album Way To Normal is, sadly, way too normal.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Look into Iris


AS THIS 2004-released CD by Swedes Jeniferever is technically an EP, with only four tracks to its name, I've shied away from dropping it into my 'Classic Collection' selection.
However Iris is not a release to be taken lightly.
Weighing in at over 40-minutes, each track is an understated epic, starting with spacious, sophorific beginnings and rising to joyous horn-and-string-soaked climaxes.
Slow and delicate but never laboured, this post-rock prelude to their debut LP Choose A Bright Morning is sure to please fans of groups such as Sigur Ros and Mogwai.
And only it'll only cost you half the price of a run of the mill album to boot.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Classic sixteen - Idlewild one


BEFORE they became Scotland's answer to REM and thier members began releasing solo folk projects, Idlewild used to rock, and rock hard.
100 Broken Windows, the group's 2000 breakthrough release, is a brilliant collection of hook-laden tracks that hinted at the softening to follow, but wrapped in an aggressive barrage of grungey overdrive.
And with catchy tracks like Actually It's Darkness, Roseability and These Wooden Ideas, it's no wonder that 100 Broken Windows broke the band.

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