Friday, December 10, 2010

Let's All Dance with Barbie

CHRISTMAS, as you may have noticed by now, is coming.
And anyone struggling for presents for the pop princess in their life should check out the Barbie Let's All Dance compilation - I've already had a word with Santa and I can confirm my eldest daughter will have a copy of this stuffed in her stocking on Christmas Day.
As we all know, Barbie is one trendy lady, and her latest collection features tracks by some of the biggest names in pop - Alexandra Burke, JLS, Cheryl Cole, Girls Aloud, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Justin Bieber and many more - and a bonus poster to boot.
'Tis the season to party, and Barbie's Let's All Dance will provide the perfect soundtrack until the kids have gone to bed.

Xmas Is Awesome playlist

'TIS finally the Season for decked halls, fattened geese and other such festivities.
So Sound Advice has put together a selection of Christmas crackers - a fine selection of cheese and altrernative Christmas choons - on Spotify to soundtrack the holidays.
Click here to have a listen.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Download Festival unveils Linkin Park as headliner

MORE monsters of rock have been lined up for next year’s Download Festival in Castle Donington.
Nu metal figureheads Linkin Park will headline at the festival, on at Donington Park from June 10-12, 2011.
Musician and film producer Rob Zombie will also be performing, organisers have announced, alongside System Of A Down and Avenged Sevenfold, who were both revealed last week.
Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington said: “We are very excited to be playing Download again next year.
“It’s one of the best festivals in the world and it’s always an honour to play in front of such a great crowd. We can’t wait!”
You can listen to all of the confirmed acts at Download with this Spotify playlist.

Monday, November 29, 2010

System Of A Down return to Download

HERE’S an early Christmas present for metalheads - the first acts heading to Download Festival in Castle Donington next year have been unveiled.
Armenian-American rock goliaths System Of A Down will be returning to headline one night of the festival, while metalcore legends Avenged Sevenfold will also be appearing.
A festival spokesman said: “You said it would never happen – well you were wrong, pal!
“The rumours are true – pinch yourself Download fans, because you ain’t dreaming – System of a Down are reforming, and are going to be headlining Download in June 2011.
“This is now the third time that System of a Down have played at the legendary Donington Park site.
“SOAD’s heavily politicised brand of rock has seen them sell in excess of 20million albums worldwide, and the band are known worldwide for their tremendous live performances and unique sound.
“The band released five albums between 1998 and 2005, which spawned the singles and rock club staples Suite-Pee, Chop Suey, Toxicity, B.Y.O.B. and Hypnotize.
“Having been away for five years, this reunion at Download will be one of the most talked about events of the rock and metal calendar.”
A band spokesman said: “We are excited to announce that System will be playing some dates together in 2011.
“We have no master plan of sorts – we are playing these shows simply because we want to play together again as a band and for you, our amazing fans. We look forward to seeing all of you!”
You can listen to all of the confirmed acts at Download with this Spotify playlist.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tasty offering from Simian Mobile Disco


A NEW album from Simian Mobile Disco is a mouth-watering prospect at the best of times, but this first taster of their own record label Delicatessan will have you smacking your lips.
This is no slur on their exceptional oeuvre to date - I am a massive fan - but Delicacies steps away from the gimmicky, guest vocalist side of the duo.
Instead - much like the Chemical Brother's 2010 album Further - intense, heads-down, dark dance is on the menu.
Nom nom nom.
Pounding, engrossing, extended electronica pervades, making a sound more akin to Deadmau5 or even Autechre in style.
It's well worth getting your teeth into, and chewing until your jaws ache.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Listen to the Sound Advice Monster Mash-up

HALLOWE'EN is traditionally the time for things to come crawling out of their hiding places - so allow Sound Advice to arise from its tomb and stretch its limbs for a day or two.
Because I've put together a Hallowe'en Monster Mash-up playlist, mixing the cheesy with the slightly less cheesy on Spotify, and I feel duty bound to share it.
Click here to have a listen - if you dare.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Coritani - Death And Rebirth

CORITANI'S new CD is heavy going - but that's what you'd expect from a band who are, to quote Vivian from the Young Ones' jacket, very metal.
Each track is an epic patchwork of chugging riffs, throat-ruining growls and thumping drums, with only one of the five tracks shy of five minutes.
Stylistically, the band's sound is a brave take on traditional heavy metal, groove metal and sludge - with no relent and no concession throughout, although the band clearly don't take themselves so seriously, with tracks like Electric Donkey Zombie Sheep and stand-out Trevor The Ice Turtle.
Death And Rebirth - a reference to the group's rising from the ashes of the outstanding Evangelion - is a snarling beast of an EP, and if you don't run scared it really gets its teeth in.

Ben Matravers - Step One

LONG Whatton's Ben Matravers Step One starts out on the right foot with Say.
The opening number is an emotional effort which communicates through a Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly-style guitar and vocal laced draped with fleeting ornaments like guitar harmonics, warm hums and tinkling keys.
Pianos take over with Blood On My Hands, with the singer-songwriter stripped bare of Say's production bar a desolate echoing effect, before title track Step One steps up proceedings with a full band, a less introvert approach and, I imagine, a dark twinkle in his eye.
My Place Is Here rounds off the four-track EP with a guitar picking exercise which teeters between being melancholy and upbeat throughout.
A dark, folk-tinged, atmospheric effort, I can't wait to see how Mr Matravers steps things up from here.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

So long and thanks for all the discs....

REGULAR readers of Sound Advice may have noticed that, of late, the blog has been pretty irregular.
After nearly three years of reviewing, a combination of ridiculous DMCA complaints downing posts, a lull in readers and my laptop dying losing me a huge wad of albums yet to be reviewed and my schedule of when they needed to be reviewed, the posts have stopped.
So for now, Sound Advice is on a hiatus, and is unlikely to return in its current form.
I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone who's read, commented on, linked to or otherwise engaged with the site - it's been a real pleasure and has introduced me to some amazing music.
In the meantime, check out my football blog Goaltastic at and feel free to have a vote on my hideously early Albums of the Year vote, which runs until December 31.

Saturday, August 07, 2010



AUSTRALIAN band PVT don't like doing things by the book - in fact, when they formed they were a completely improvisational act.
And this boundless approach to music making is evident of PVT's latest Church With No Magic, which seesaws between electronica and rock.
The LP by PVT, previously known as Pivot, has an ever present electro throb and piston-like beats balanced in varying degrees with a Robert Smith-like vocal and Joy Division synths throughout.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Summit intense to listen to


IF YOU'RE not too into your sludge metal, a first encounter with Thou is more like "ow".
However for fans of the genre such as myself, the up-and-coming act don't so much tick the boxes as slowly crush them.
Downbeat, deep, dark and deadly, the fact the throat-vocal heavy metal group drag five tracks out over an hour tells you all you need to know about Summit.
However among this intense, thick miasma of metal, flecks of experimentation appear, such as acoustic instruments and choirs.
With Summit Thou haven't peaked, but they're inexorably on the up.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

You'll love Love Ends Disaster! in the end


IT’S ALWAYS nice to have a local band doing good - and Love Ends Disaster!, having swapped Loughborough University's Freefest for Reading and Leeds, are doing just that.
With their debut album City Of Glass, you can see them emulating the likes of Belton’s The Young Knives, Castle Donington’s Late Of The Pier and Wymeswold’s Wave Pictures.
An inventive collection of indie rock which sounds like a cross between Talking Heads and The Rakes, the group seem at home in the studio.
Eschewing standard songwriting formula, the group throw off-kilter riffs at the listener and frequently explore unexpected musical avenues.
As a result it’s a rock LP that intrigues the listener rather than knocks them for six - but it grows on you eacha nd every listen you give it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Okay Bells


THEY may not be as festive as their name would imply, but dance act Sleigh Bells sound like they’re trying very hard to get some form of festivities going.
The problem is on Treats they’re trying too hard - with speaker-busting levels of samples and sound effects taking their toll, even the sturdiest of speakers will struggle not to fart out these tracks.
On the occasions everything gels - like the Funkadelic-sampling Rill Rill - Sleigh Bells really are a treat.
The rest of the time they need to treat their work with a less is more attitude.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Classic fifty - Pretty nifty


FOLK, especially English folk, doesn't get a fair outing.
Bands like Shooglenifty, alongside peers including Seth Lakeman, Lau, Jim Moray, Patrick Wolf - all of these oft-ignored folksters deserve plaudits beyond plaudits.
Folk fusion band Shooglenifty are an instrumental act playing traditional reels and whirls and suchlike, but they add to this on Venus In Tweeds a dance element, making a sort of post trad folk.
It may not be traditional folk, but the Scottish band are what folk music is all about - it's accessible, upbeat, entertaining and you can work up a sweat to it.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Safe In The Steep Cliffs top


ALTHOUGH I’m a month behind the release of Emancipator’s Safe In The Steep Cliffs, I’m bursting to blog about it.
The DJ came to the fore supporting Bonobo recently after a steady ascent to fame, and you can see how he landed the job - with similarities between this LP and Bonobo’s brilliant Black Sands.
Equally chilled out and possessing the same head-nodding beats, the LP is an abundance of warm, string-soaked, orchestral cinematic electronica, and deserves an equal amount of plaudits.

Saturday, July 31, 2010



THE sun-soaked climate of Los Angeles normally reflects in the sunny output of its bands - but not in Autolux's case.
The group's second album, Transit Transit, is a downbeat collection of slow, shoegazing rock more in line with Radiohead than The Beach Boys.
Not that this is a bad thing, and while it takes the listener a while to tune down to its rhythms, Transit Transit reveals itself to be a moving piece of work when you do so.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Classic forty nine - Dreadbanging


WHAT do you get if you mix dub reggae and heavy metal?
No, the offspring of that unholy union is Dub Trio's third album, Another Sound Is Dying.
The album, which is instrumental apart from the standout No Flag featuring Mike Patton of Faith No More on vocal duties, fuses heavy metal riffs fuller than Rik Waller leaving an all you can eat buffet with ponderous Mogwai style space rock and skanking Lee "Scratch" Perry dub sections.
On paper this should be a shambles, but on record it actually works.
The movements from one section to another never seem to jar, and there is a unlikely unity that carries through the whole LP.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Incog-not bad-o


TRANSATLANTIC RPM, the new album from Incognito, packs in more energy than a jet engine.
Having invited along a guest list including Jamiroquai bassist Stuart Zender, icon Chaka Khan, spoken word goddess Ursula Rucker, Motown legend Leon Ware and more, the tracks here are all slick as they come.
Sure, a lot of it is very cheesy, but you can't help get caught up in the sheer exuberance of it all.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kelpe taster

LOUGHBOROUGH knob-twiddler Kelpe is releasing a new EP in September.
The Margins EP will be put out by Bristol label Black Acre on vinyl and as a download.
Kelpe said: “I’ve grown pretty fond of a lot of Black Acre’s material recently, having released artists such as Loops Haunt, Blue Daisy, Tokimonsta, Fantastic Mr Fox, Brokenchord and a load more.”
As an appetite whetter, Kelpe has also uploaded a taster of some of the EP tracks, which you can hear below -

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Baths go public


CERULEAN, the debut album from Baths, is worth dipping into.
Showering the listener with subtle beats and awash with delicate, acoustic-based samples, if you want to gauge Baths' temperature imagine an ever-so-slightly more tubthumping version of Daedalus.
Glitchy productions akin to impossibly 'now' acts like Toro Y Moi and Junk Culture over echoey hints of indie rock a la Broken Social Scene, Baths deserves to tap into some of these more established acts fanbases.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Analog Africa gives you wings


FASTEN your seatbelts and prepare for a ride back in time... on board Analog Africa's Afro-beat Airways.
A musical black-box of previously lost recordings from 1970s Ghana and Togo, the names may not be jetset - the likes of Orchestre Abass, Ebo Taylor And The Sweet Beans, De Frank Professionals and Apagya Show Band all feature - but these were all high-flyers in their time.
The result is a mixture of afro-funk, synth disco, afro-beat, boogie, and anything else energetic and afro-centre you can think of.
So if you're looking for a departure from your usual listening, check in with Analog Africa's latest as soon as you can.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mercury shortlist

THE 12 album shortlist for the Mercury Prize 2009 has been revealed.
Contesting the competition this year are -

Biffy Clyro – ‘Only Revolutions’
Corinne Bailey Rae – ‘The Sea’
● Dizzee Rascal – ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’
● Kit Downes Trio – ‘Golden’
Foals – ‘Total Life Forever’
● I Am Kloot – ‘Sky At Night’
Laura Marling – ‘I Speak Because I Can’
Mumford And Sons – ‘Sigh No More’
Paul Weller – ‘Wake Up The Nation’
● Villagers – ‘Becoming A Jackal’
● Wild Beasts – ‘Two Dancers’
● The XX – ‘XX’

From the list, I'd like to see Sound Advice Album of the Year Only Revolutions walk away with the gong.
What are your thoughts? Comment below or head over to Sound Off and let me know.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Praise Tom Jones


NORMALLY if the thought of a grizzled old Welshman excites you, you’d probably be a grizzled old Welshwoman.
But everyone should make an exception for Tom Jones - who for the hundredth-odd time has come back with the cool once again with new album Praise And Blame.
A tour through a collection of spiritual American standards from Johnny Cash-esque confessionals like What Good Am I? to the pumped up numbers like Don’t Knock, Jones strips back his art to its most exposed, raw sound yet - Sex Bomb this ain’t.
Instead it's something fresh, something challenging and something progressive, and I applaud Jones for doing it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pain Sailing


ATTENTION Owl City fans - sort it out.
Oh, and you’d probably like to know there’s some new material coming out from Adam “Owl City” Young, under a new pseudonym, Sky Sailing.
The idea behind the name change is that An Airplane Carried Me To Bed is more acoustic and traditional than Owl City’s more emopop computerised leanings - but fear not.
Young’s vocal without the swathe of effects is still very much as annoying as before, and the music is a mushy and wet as ever.
In fact, you do well to spot daylight between the two projects output - news which will surely either delight or dismay you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Art attack


MUSICAL experimentalists Art Of Noise’s retrospective Influence should probably have been pluralised to Influences.
Because since forming in the 1980s the studio-dwelling group have fraternised with synthpop, hip hop, dance, jazz, rock, and seemingly anything else to hand they could sample and put to their home-made beats.
And this 39-track collection of hits, collaborations, fan favourites, movie and TV themes, remixes, B-sides and unreleased material is more than enough to sate the appetite of even the most avid fan.
Standouts for me are Rakim-collaboration Metaforce, Dragnet and The Holy Egoism Of Genius.
But with this many sonic landscapes to explore, I’ll be finding plenty more to enjoy each listen I’m sure - Art Of Noise really did make the creation of uncategorisable, eclectic noise into an art.

Thursday, July 15, 2010



CONTEMPORARY classical composer Max Richter's new album Infra is so good it makes me want to do a little dance.
Adapted from his score for a ballet, the album once again sees Richter's sublime slow-burning string and piano work fused to his delicate electronic studio tampering.
With almost a minimal amount of sounds, Richter draws emotion from the listener to create a compelling ebb and flow throughout the album..
Infra is simply mesmerising, an eerie, atmospheric sound as timeless as it is futuristic.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wave Pictures festival Q&A

WYMESWOLD'S The Wave Pictures have carried out a Q&A ahead of their appearance at this year's Summer Sundae festival in Leicester -

Q) Summer Sundae Weekender kicks off in August. What’s your favourite thing about summer festivals?
A) Getting to see loads of your favourite bands for freeeee!
Q) What can we expect from your show?
A) Lots of sweat, a little bit of dancing and at least one check shirt.
Q) Summer Sundae is renowned for showcasing emerging talent. Which new band are you most looking forward to catching?
A) Looking forward to seeing Fool's Gold. I've heard a lot of good things about them...
Q) The festival has also been graced by legends like Patti Smith, Billy Bragg and Chrissie Hynde. What’s your fondest festival memory?
A) We had such a splendid time at the first ever End of the Road festival in Dorset. Watching Josh Ritter cast the field into total silence was incredible.
Q) The festival turns 10 this year, how did you celebrate your 10th birthday?
A) I probably had some friends round to eat cake and watch a crap video.

Simpler Simon


LIKE compatriots Turzi (see yesterday) French act Emilie Simon knows her way around a computer - and sometimes even inside of one.
Live Emilie has an experimental side - playing with a gadget known as "the arm" which locks onto her limb allowing her to tinker with her sounds.
However the established singer-songwriter’s fourth album The Big Machine - inspired by her time living in New York - sees her aiming at the mainstream, embracing the poppier elements of her electronic sound and singing in English.
And the results of her latest studio jaunt sees the talents which have seen obvious comparisons made with the vocal gymnastics of Kate Bush and the musical ambition of Tori Amos tempered by the limitations of Little Boots-style cheery electropop backing.
As a result long-time listeners may be a little turned off, but nevertheless there’s enough to like on The Big Machine in tracks such as The Way I See You and Rainbow to see her gather enough new fans to replace them.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Baltimore Turzi please


FRENCH band, Scottish vocalist, American subject matter, English influences - if Turzi can recreate this form across an album he'll have the world at his feet.
Gallic knob-twiddler Roman Turzi and friend's Baltimore EP - inspired by rioting in the city in 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King - features the vocals of Bobby Gillespie and a sound which fuses acid house beats and a Manchesteresque swagger.
The track, which has a definite touch of the Swastika Eyes about it, then gets a generous helping of hit-and-miss remix for the rest of the EP, the highlight being the dark Lynch Mob Assault On Baltimore reworking.
I advise you buy, beg, borrow or loot yourself a copy from Monday.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Champ a winner


THEIR first release A Lesson In Crime, although undeniably brilliant, could be seen as naive, approaching the EP with so much gusto that tracks were saturated with ideas, over before they begun, and the whole effort finished in a quarter of an hour.
Tokyo Police Club’s second, the LP Elephant Shell, took on these flaws with the Canadians taking a little more time - but you could hear they were still growing.
And now the triumphant Champ is their most measured, mature effort to date.
Insidiously catchy, full of high-pitched guitar licks and chunky drumbeats, it’ll be a crime if Tokyo Police Club tracks like Not Sick and Bambi don’t get the recognition they deserve.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mission accomplished


VETERAN band The Innocence Mission release their latest LP My Room In The Trees tomorrow.
And Eight albums in, the American act have grown from a dream pop sapling into a blossoming band, perfecting their gorgeous, rich sound.
However with folky guitars swathed in sweeping strings, My Room In The Trees is so perfect, for better or worse it passes so seamlessly it barely registers with the listener, like a breeze though leaves.

Saturday, July 10, 2010



AN ACT in its infancy, if Kid Adrift's Oxytocin EP is anything to go by - and I hope it is - he could grow into something special.
The Scottish musician crafts forceful rock pop songs laced with subtle hooks and brimming with character.
But rather like Mr Fogg's alt-pop Moving Parts earlier this year and Album of the Year Stateless from 2008, these are then pumped full of atmospheric production, electro beats and other studio jiggery-pokery.
A few listens to Oxytocin, and Kid Adrift will be part of your musical furniture.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Flaws awesome


BOMBAY Bicycle Club's new album Flaws is an acoustic effort which was recorded in tandem with their debut I Had The Blues But Shook Them Loose.
But despite the self-depreciating name, Flaws can have very few criticisms made of it.
Even more impressive than their indie rock introduction, the band show a real emotive side to their subtle sound when stripped-back, which should be appealing to fans of Mumford And Sons and Laura Marling.
In a way, it'll be a shame if they plug back in - it's like comparing the joys of a countryside cycle with motorbike commute.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Noon better


NOONDAY Underground's cut-and-paste sound is a cut above - although it'll likely go over the heads of most.
The pseudonym of Paul Weller-collaborating Simon Dine, Noonday Underground takes an Avalanches-style approach to making music.
Instead of crafting "proper songs", The K-O Chorale is a collage of samples from odd musical backwaters - Disney soundtracks, church choirs, surf rock bands, operas etc. - that doesn't really do what most albums do.
Instead the result is a slightly bonkers woozy mish-mash that floats around leaving smiles in its wake.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Yard fails to measure up


I'M A massive fan of Reef - the band are even a proud owner of a Classic Collection LP in the form of Replenish - so it's hard for me not to compare Yard to their body of work.
StringerBessant, a duo of distinctive Reef vocalist Gary Stringer and Reef bassist Jack Bessant, is undoubtedly a different beast - but also undoubtedly a lesser beast at present.
Because the almost entirely acoustic act come across as a bit wet and wussy for nearly all of the album.
Things only pick up around track 10 onwards, songs like Lord Please Come, Make It and Song Worth Singing, tracks tellingly are the ones which finally hark back to their more exuberant predecessor.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Get Amongst The Pigeons


BRIGHTON beatmaker Amongst The Pigeon's Repeat To Fade EP is worth playing over again.
A more sturdy, flowing collection than his eclectic LP Music To Brush Your Teeth To, the six-track release starts slow with ambient Mocha To Go and then progresses nicely throughout.
A little of the comical quirkiness of previous Amongst The Pigeons has been lost, and any song about a waltz such as Michael Jackson's Last Waltz should surely be three beats-per-minute, harrumph.
But nevertheless with tracks like the moody The Darker Side Of... and skankin' The Kids Of Today this excellent collection should be racing into your collection.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Free Royksopp track

ELECTRONIC gods Royksopp have a grown up new album Senior out this, the follow-up to the rather juvenile Junior.
And to celebrate this fact a free track, Hus No 9, is being handed out.
The band said: "Between two pages, in a dusty old book we found this little number.
"It’s called Hus Nr. 9, and is currently haunting the halls of the RYXP mansion."
Click here to enjoy.

Flowering Inferno hot stuff


WILL Holland's Quantic's Flowering Inferno's Dog On A Rope LP is so summery you'd be advised to slap on some factor 50 before pressing play.
The thrust of the album has a Caribbean and South American flavour, led by an orchestra of horns, accordians and more.
However this is kept contemporary by globe-trotting genius Holland's dub and hip hop production, which, although more trad than previous outing Death Of The Revolution, prevents proceedings from ever becoming twee.

Sunday, July 04, 2010



YOU'LL be shocked at the quality of I Got Electrocuted, the first release from relative-unknown DJ Teej.
An EP of five charged tracks, the newcomer - who has yet to play live - shows plenty enough promise to mark up as 'one to watch'.
Rocky opener I Got Electrocuted, written after Teej was hospitalised after being electrocuted by his equipment, is a raw, powerful affair, then Plural takes things further by touching on post-rock.
Heart Timing is a more modest, droning affair, while Speed Sound Ashes and Flying Deep move onto dancier territory.
Overall, I Got Electrocuted is worth charging you account for.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Randy tweaked


THE excellently-named Canadian synth-punk Randy Twigg is Redone from Monday with a series of remixes of her Undone LP.
The knob-twiddling here does have a pretty full-on, low-rent feel - but after listening to the loud and lairy originals you wouldn't be expecting anything subtle.
Luckily the likes of Mt Sims, Syntronics, Kid 606 et al offer plenty of variety - with the likes of house, jungle, dubstep, techno and more piled onto the shouty Twigg sound.
In fact, Redone does it more than the original LP for me.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Windmill sails on same old course


WINDMILL'S EP sees the problems with the woozy sound of the one-man band's album Epcot Starfield both improved on and compounded.
Matthew Dillon's infuriating vocals, which sound like a drunken Arcade Fire doing an impression of Owl City, remain on the title track, one of the livelier cuts from the aforementioned LP.
Then it's onto the remixes - with the Pocket Remix and Gentleman's Losers Remix of Big Boom improving on Windmill's at-times plodding sound, while the Saroos Remix of Imax Raceway provides an even more nebulous take on the sound, making it almost impossible to get a grip on.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Half time report - Albums Of The Year 2010 so far

TODAY is halfway through 2010 - my hasn't time flown - so I thought the time was right for a recap.
Because theoretically around half of my Albums Of The Year 2010 should have been released by now.
But however much as I'd like to be some sort of omniscient music resource, I'll wager a lot of damn good albums have already passed me by this year.
So here's my plea - if I seem to have missed any releases you really think I should have covered by now, drop me a comment below or visit the Sound Off forum and let me know your favourites so far.
For your reference, here is a list of my five-out-of-five-rated releases, minus EPs and compilations, from January through to the end of June -
Autechre - Oversteps
Bass Clef - May The Bridges I Burn Light The Way
Bonobo - Black Sands
Blockhead - The Music Scene
Castrovalva - We Are A Unit
Chemical Brothers - Further
Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - The Logic Of Chance
Dead Weather - Sea Of Cowards
Deftones - Diamond Eyes
Foals - Total Life Forever
Four Tet - There Is Love In You
Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Gonjasufi - A Sufi And A Killer
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Hesta Prynn - Can We Go Wrong
Jaga Jazzist - One-Armed Bandit
Jonsi - Go
Kvelertak - Kvelertak
Massive Attack - Heligoland
Owen Pallett - Heartland
Polar Bear - Peepers
Six Gallery - Breakthroughs In Modern Art
Sleepy Sun - Fever
These Monsters - Call Me Dragon
Tobacco - Maniac Meat
Trentemoller - The Great Wide Yonder
Valgeir Sigurdsson - Draumalandid
Whitefield Brothers - Earthology

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Second city band second rate


SECOND city act Sick City Club aren't exactly nauseatingly repulsive, but debut LP Talking With Lies is no mouth-watering prospect either.
An indie act with an epic tinge, the Birmingham-based group sound a bit like an optimistic version of The Editors or a happy-go-lucky counterpart to The Enemy.
If you're into your indie, then you're in for a treat - otherwise Talking With Lies has nothing out of the ordinary to appeal, and that's the truth.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eyeing up the Deftones


PR COMPANIES take note - being a pretentious music critic, I rarely write about albums after their release date.
However I have to make an exception for Diamond Eyes, the Deftones' 2010 release - mainly as I have listened to it more than any other album this year, with the possible exception of Bonobo's Black Sands.
The first record from the Sacramento heavy metal band since bassist Chi Cheng suffered horrendous injuries in a car crash, you would have expected this outing to see them venting their feelings, with angrier, angsty, riff-driven material the order of the day.
But, acerbic tracks like CMND/CTRL excepted, Diamond Eyes is the group's most mature and complete album to date.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kvelertak on track


IT IS generally thought that the British Midlands is the spiritual home of heavy metal - but bands like Kvelertak prove it probably holidays in Scandinavia.
I checked out the self-titled album by Norwegians Kvelertak on the strength of the cover art, and as the last time I did that I discovered the amazing Six Gallery's Breakthroughs In Modern Art I should probably chance it a bit more.
Because Kvelertak is simply amazing - led by chugging guitars and Norwegian vocals, the LP is undoubtedly very metal.
However their sound encompasses all manner of influences, from Mastodon-like prog metal to Backyard Babies-style glam to throat-shredding Gallows punk, and they're not afraid to break out the acoustic guitars when needed.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Richard James is lame


RATHER than being hot to trot, We Went Riding, the second solo album by Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci co-founder Richard James, is pretty lame.
The LP is mostly made up of folk of the bland, uninspiring variety, occasionally lumped in with some timid rock and a splash of sun-kissed psychedelic pop.
Completely underwhelming, We Went Riding can canter off into the sunset as far as I'm concerned.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cross post: Green Day Rock Band on Xbox 360

GREEN Day are the latest band to join the privileged minority to join the Rock Band franchise - and fans can rest assured the latest game isn’t a load of dookie.
Taking on the tried and trusted format spanning three eras of the band in the form of sets, there are plenty of tracks to be strummed through and years worth of extras to be unlocked.
Nearly all the top hits are here - Basket Case, American Idiot, Wake Me Up When September Ends - but a word of warning, there was no 21 Guns or Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life), although I guess they’ll be there but need to be unlocked.
If they’re not, then the game’s producer is a chump.
Taking the longview, although the game may feel a bit jaded for anyone who’s not a fan, for Green Day-lovers it’s a case of welcome to paradise, with plenty of difficulty levels to challenge players - the top levels are blatantly harder than picking up a real guitar and bashing out some of their early power chord wonders.
So make sure you have a copy when I come around.
(Originally written for Games And Gizmos blog.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ghost of a chance


ON THE evidence of War Kids, Faroe Islanders The Ghost will have a battle on their hands growing to be an international act.
Because while the LP may be a lively-spirited affair, the quality is lacking in their sound.
With a lack of punch to their rock akin to lightweights Keane, a pop sensibility without the hooks and an Alphabeat-esque Euro cheese edge courtesy of a cheap keyboard, the cheery feel of a lot of War Kids just doesn't exorcise The Ghost's shortcomings.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Carlou D worth a C grade


SENEGALESE singer and guitarist Carlou D's music on Muzikr may catch many listeners by surprise.
As D is best known as a member of African rap outfit, you would expect a hint of hip hop here.
But while the social commentary you would expect of an MC coming out of a developing nation is here - with songs about slavery and poverty as standard - there's not a head nodding beat or a fast-paced patter throughout.
Instead we're treated to some fairly run-of-the-mill roots music, with pleasing faster tracks like Ila Touba juxtaposed with slower, more Westernised tracks like the jazzy Yaay Fall.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Classic forty eight - Burnin' desire


I CANNOT be the only person that as the Summer sun begins to shine in earnest dusts off their reggae LPs.
In fact, with the sun scorching me every time I step outside at the moment and my musical habits matching with a sun-kissed vibe, I feel obliged to drop a Bob Marley album into the Classic Collection.
It was a toss up between the contrasting feelings of my two favourites Kaya and Burnin' - with the belly-fire of the latter winning through.
The 1973 album is a confrontational, politically-charged "Summer of discontent" album, that as well as being packed with talent such as Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh, the album is packed with instantly recognisable tracks like Get Up, Stand Up, I Shot The Sheriff and Burnin' And Lootin' - perfect if you're looking to lively up yourself this Summer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grasscut a cut above


GRASSCUT is a curious beast - imagine the music of the future being broadcast through a 1940s wireless radio, and you're sort of at 1 Inch / 1/2 Mile.
The English production duo may mix forward thinking post-something style sounds which sit somewhere between art and electro, but the entire LP is pervaded with a retro feel.
Sometimes they take a blade to 1980s synth pioneers like Kraftwerk, at others they cut up rousing patriotic Vera Lynn-style oldies, sometimes looking even further back to classical influences - all melded together in a thoroughly innovative, interesting, forward-thinking way.
Quirky, evocative and individual, Grasscut's style is sometimes a little severe, but it always sounds on the absolute cutting edge.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Unbeatable Meat


LISTENING to Tobacco may be a dirty habit, but it is very moreish.
I can't promise that the Pennsylvanian solo artist, also a member of Black Moth Super Rainbow, won't make you smell, increase your phlegm production or turn your fingers a funny colour - anything's possible with his scuzzy lunatic mash-up of electro, hip hop and alt rock.
Featuring Beck on two tracks, his second album is a fractured and slightly unhinged landscape dominated by deep fuzzy bass and whirring synth lines loosely pinned together with stuttering beats.
Maniac Meat - you'd be crazy not to tuck in.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Classic forty seven - Pause for One Hot Minute


LIKE previous Classic Collection contribution Bad by Michael Jackson, The Red Hot Chili Peppers' One Hot Minute is a great album overlooked because of the company it keeps.
Sandwiched between Blood Sugar Sex Magick and Californication, the LP, the group's only outing without John Frusciante as guitarist is better than just being an enigmatic sidenote on their illustrious back catalogue.
As well as the distinctive heavy metal leanings of former Janes Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro - best exemplified on One Big Mob - there's plenty more of note.
It's an album containing some of Flea's most furious basslines like Coffee Shop, moments of emotion like Kurt Cobain tribute Tearjerker and comedy as in Pea, raw funk like the awesome Falling Into Grace and Walkabout, and big hits like Aeroplane.
So spare a few seconds for One Hot Minute - I guarantee it's spicier than you may remember.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Prynn demand


"ELECTRO-HIP-HOP-ART-ROCK" singer Hesta Prynn’s introductory EP Can We Go Wrong is released next week - I suggest you make its acquaintance, you can't go wrong.
New yorker Prynn, real name Julie Potash, is a sassy frontwoman, interspersing ice-cool Debbie Harry vocals with a fast-paced hip hop swagger.
And this is over Miike Snow-style dark pop, beefed up with laid-back electro beats.
Cool as a frozen cucumber, it’s clear to see why Prynn can already count members of Wu-Tang Clan, Slipknot, Tegan And Sara - and me - among her fans.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lissie uninspiring


LISSIE, whose now-redundant surname is Maurus for the record, is a hotter tip than a rubbish dump that's on fire.
The singer has been touted as 2010's top female singing sensation, the American Midwest's answer to similarly-single-named Duffy, if you will.
And yes, her vocals are sublime, with a distinctive warble weighted with a hint of Sheryl Crow gravel.
But for me her country pop is all a bit, well, meh - catchy without hooks, cool without being edgy, twee without being corny.
She may be driving towards becoming a household name, but she's doing it down the middle of the road.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good Example, bad Example


IN SOME instances, it’s difficult to fault Example’s clup pop hip hop on Won't Go Quietly, and in others it’s hard to find any merit.
Case in point - the Hammersmith rapper opens the album with From Space then singles Won’t Go Quietly and the excellent Watch The Sun Come Up, before launching into the dire Time Machine, undoing all his own good work.
The best tracks here are paragons of pop circa 2010 - the aforementioned opening trio, Kickstarts, Sick Note - but over the course of a full album, Example is an illustration of inconsistency.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Micah P Hinson


OLD before his time, while Micah P Hinson may look like a missing member of Linkin Park, he sounds more like Leonard Cohen.
Singing from experience - his press people kindly describe him as having been “homeless, destitute and incarcerated” before becoming a musician - grizzly Hinson’s eponymous LP with the The Pioneer Saboteurs is an emotional collection of string-soaked Americana.
Hinson takes aim with both barrels and has a raw, uncensored take on the world, and he clearly cares about the subject matter, an approach echoed in the outstanding instrumental tracks which punctuate the album.

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