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.

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