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.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Light entertainment


THOUGH not a dazzling album, nevertheless Light Pollution would brighten up any collection.
Opening with droning psychedelic pop track Good Feelings, the LP continues to tread a fine line between an Amusement Parks On Fire dirge and Embrace-style epic indie pop throughout.
It's like they don't know whether to gaze at their shoes or stare blinking in wonderment at the heavens and as a result the album is an up and down affair.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Banan the bomb


EXPERIMENTAL jazz orchestra Jaga Jazzist release Bananfleur Overalt, an appealing new EP from their 2010 album One-Armed Bandit, next Monday.
As the release carries a few tracks from the full-length - Toccata, One-Armed Bandit and Bananfleur Overalt itself - so as with the original the Norwegians' sound melds jazz, electronica and rock with a mind-bending array of other genres.
And added to the originals are a smattering of remixes, the jewel in the crown being an 11-and-a-half Prins Thomas working of Bananfleur Overalt, which turns the original's jazz meandering into a lounge disco classic.
Although not worth picking up unless you have their recent LP in your collection, nevertheless this is a timely reminder of the expansive work of Jaga Jazzist.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Carrack on regardless


PAUL Carrack - no, me neither.
However the Sheffield singer songwriter, whose album I Know That Name is rereleased in an augmented version next Monday, has been a member of bands including Roxy Music, Ace, Squeeze, and Mike And The Mechanics, sessioned for bands including The Smiths and The Pretenders, and released a number of solo albums as well.
So chances are you've probably heard his polished, soulful voice at some point - and here it's clearly a gift.
I'm not crazy on the songs, which are mostly soul and rock by numbers, with some gospel, even a reggae number, but nevertheless there's no reason why Paul Carrack shouldn't be asking for a little more limelight to shine his way.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Too nice Brothers


PERNICE Brothers, a band led by siblings Joe and Bob, aren't exactly Liam and Noel Gallagher.
Where most sibling outfits are fuelled by family feuding, The Pernice's indie rock sound is, well, just too nice.
Their sweet indie pop sound is delicate and carries some clever lyrics along nicely, but even when the group are rocking their very hardest, such as Jacqueline Susann, it's all just a bit wet.
Someone needs to come along and steal their lunch money or something.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Blitzen Trap sprung


DESTROYER Of The Void, the latest album from Blitzen Trapper, left a bit of a hole where previously I had a liking for the group.
After reviewing their previous effort Black River Killer, in comparison this new collection never goes for the jugular.
Instead the psychedelic folk Americana of the group which has garnered so much critical praise, feels like it's been wheeled out for an airing rather than dusted down and improved upon - not that it's bad, they are excellent at their sound, it's just this could have been so much more.
They'll need to find some new ideas next time round, and pack in a few more hooks, or you feel the group will be their own destroyer.

More Club hits


MOODY indie rockers Club Smith continue the process of climbing into the charts with their The Process EP.
As with their last release, The Loss, the sound takes its lead from morose indie harbingers of doom like Joy Division, White Lies and The Editors.
And the tracks here have an even more 1980s retro feel to them than before, with a whiff of The Cure detectable.
Atmospheric, claustrophobic and exciting, and destined for great things, you really should be signing up with Club Smith.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Take a dip in the Lakeman


FOLK posterboy Seth Lakeman's new album Hearts And Minds isn't going to win over the hearts and minds of many new fans.
However for his faithful, it will fill their hearts and minds with joy.
Treading a similar sturdy rhythmic folk route as previous triumphs like Kitty Jay and Freedom Fields, there's nothing here to shock traditionalists.
Instead there's just another batch of top notch rousers like See Them Dance and emotional numbers like Stepping Over You to keep Lakeman in his place at the forefront of English folk.

Keep TAB's on


TAB The Band, named after members Tony, Adrian and Ben's initials and not to prevent confusion with a certain sparkling beverage, deserve to generate a bit of buzz with the fizzing Zoo Noises.
The group, who you can coo over at this weekend's Download Festival in Castle Donington, play bluesy rock which teeters between growling Jon Spencer Blues Explosion riffs and more melodic Rolling Stones fodder.
Although maybe a little overlong in places, nevertheless with riffs this effervescent, they should sell TAB The Band in bottles.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

FM tune in to Download

HARD rock band FM have stepped in as replacements for RATT at this year's Download Festival.
The glam rockers had pulled out after their singer Stephen Pearcy was rushed in for emergency hernia surgery.
Andy Copping said: "Thanks chaps."
To hear FM and other acts playing the festival, listen to this Spotify playlist.

Get Washed Out in


I RECOMMEND you let the music of Washed Out, one of the pseudonyms of Atlantan Weatherly Greene, lap over you like waves on a beach.
The act's EP, Life Of Leisure, is a woozy, laid back six-track collection which drifts out of the stereo like half-remembered dated memories arriving out of nowhere in the back your mind to haunt you, like Alf's face.
And Alf is looking relaxed.
The sun-bleached sound of Life Of Leisure isn't going to get teh heart racing - at times it's more like incidental music to a documentary about holidaymaking in the 1980s - but it is worth a trip.

Wurz up


WORKING as a journalist, I know first hand that politics is a particularly unpredictable subject - but not many people could have foreseen the dying throes of a Labour Government throwing 1970s novelty act The Wurzels into the limelight.
As a protest at taxes being hiked on cider, earlier this year a Facebook campaign was set up to try and get their classic I'm A Cider Drinker into the charts, and tens of thousands of people signed up.
So cashing in, a new collection, A Load More Bullocks, has been put together - and, although I must declare an interest as I hail from Somerset and I regularly drink cider, I have to say it's worth a listen.
Sure, some covers don't really work and Spinal Tap cover Sex Farm, a parody of a spoof, is all a bit much.
But I defy anyone not to smile the first time they listen to their West Country reworking of Kaiser Chief's Ruby.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The complete Download

THE final eight acts have been added to the line-up of this year’s Download.
Coming up this weekend, June 11-13, organisers have topped up the bill with Sacred Betrayal, Heights, Never Means Maybe, Stand-Up Guy, You And What Army, This Is Divine, No Mean City and Hearts Under Fire.
A spokesman said: “The following will all be playing on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage, and have been selected by an expert panel of judges to perform at Download 2010.
“And so ladies and gentlemen, that completes your Download 2010 line up. See you in the mosh pit.”

Literally Music For The Fire


EVER been searching for something on the web, thought you'd found it and then clicked onto a website that's just a massive list of words desperately trying to get some sort of attention from search engines?
Listening to Music For The Fire by eclectic collaborative project People Like Us & Wobbly is the musical equivalent of those pointless wastes of webspace.
Sure some of this pointless mish mash of samples, such as Giant Love Ball, is diverting - infinite monkey syndrome I suppose - but for the most part this is gibberish.
At least they had the self-awareness to name it Music For The Fire - that may well be where my promo CD's heading.

RATT out

RATT have pulled out of this year's Download Festival in Castle Donington.
The glam rock stalwarts were forced to cancel after vocalist Stephen Pearcy was rushed in for emergency hernia surgery.
Organiser Andy Copping said: "Get well soon Stephen."

Fervour over Further


A BEST-OF compilation can be the death knell for a band - but for the Chemical Brothers, whose greatest hits Brotherhood was released in 2008, it seems to have spurred them on to wring even more from their big beat sound.
Initally I had thought recent single Swoon sounded a little aimless as a standalone, but on the LP as part of the eight tracks, which will each have an accompanying animated video, they all fuse with the feel of a DJ set.
With this focus and without the vocal collaborations that pockmarked previous outings, the melodic electronica feel harks back to their introduction Exit Planet Dust.
And with the extreme energy levels of pulsating psychedelic track after pulsating psychedelic track this album comes flying out of the speakers with the ferocity of a bull on Red Bull.
On Further, their seventh studio outing, the duo may well have taken their sound, well, further than ever before.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Amazing amaze again


AFTER the amazing The Amazing by The Amazing, the Swedes return with a mini-album Wait For A Light To Come - and strike a light, if it isn't amazing as well.
Starting out on a folk bent, the group soon exhibit the laid back psyche and classic rock influences which made their debut a success, before really letting rip on Defect.
Though not quite up to the standard of last year's introduction, nevertheless it's another warm, thoughtful retro outing, and it's amazing that The Amazing haven't amazed a few more people by now.

Killing For Company out of Download?

STUART Cable, former Stereophonics drummer, has been found dead at home.
South Wales police have confirmed that the 40 year old's body was found at around 5am today in Aberdare, Wales.
Stuart's cause of death has not been established but there are no suspicious circumstances.
The sad news means that his current band, Killing For Company, are likely to pull out of their Download Festival slot this coming weekend in Castle Donington.

The Herbaliser is mint


AFTER spicing up the world of hip-hop since 1994, The Herbaliser have decided the thyme is right for a best-of.
And Herbal Tonic dill-ivers a diverse collection highlighting the many flavours of their back-catalogue.
Whether laying down harsh battle beats for the likes of Jean Grae and MF Doom, peppering hip hop tracks with brass-infused funk, lacing the atmosphere with brooding soul or spewing out breakbeat-based dance that hits you like a mace, the recipe always works.
And now a sage old act, you'll rue not adding a hint of The Herbaliser to your collection.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

At the Pictures

THE Wave Pictures' six track Sweetheart EP is out tomorrow.
Check out their video above.

Cast effective


LEGENDARY rocker Rory Erickson, once part of the group The 13th Floor Elevators who blazed a trail for psychedlic and garage rock in the '60s, returns alongside Okkervil River to release his first album in 14 years.
But instead of a straight retread of his past glories, Love Cast Out All Evil is instead a collection of confessional country and western akin to the Indian summer of Johnny Cash's career.
Of course, this collection can't compare on the low-key numbers - Cash could make a grown man weep with the likes of Hurt.
But Erickson laces the rest with echoes of his past work, hints of punk and metal and splashes of psych, and covers biographical subject matter such as mental illness and jail time, making a collection that's more than engaging enough.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Storyline album is telling


THE tale of Storyline may yet to be told in earnest, but on the evidence they should yet get the chhe next chapter, their eponymous LP, is a collection of that plots a course between Paramore rock and Kelly Clarkson pop.
It's a broad brush approach from the as-yet unsigned American act - there's even a cover of cheesy pub rock staple Summer Of '69 - but it is done well enough, and without pretension.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Goodbye Darlin'


TRANSCONTINENTAL troubadours Allo' Darlin' make an introduction with a self-titled album that's too cute for it's own good.
Allo' Darlin' is sunny sounding - not surprising then that half the band is Australian, with the rest UK-based.
And don't get me wrong, there's some nice moments here - such as the Weezer-referencing on Kiss Your Lips - and sure, it's great to be happy.
But Christ, where's the British half of the band's moaning to counter-balance it all.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Nina Nastasia


YOU can hear that New Yorker Nina Nastasia is a city dweller on Outlaster - although she plays delicate piano-driven folk music, she plays it on a skyscraping scale.
With a overblown vocal quality at times akin to fellow ivory-tinkler Regina Spektor in her full Soviet Kitsch pomp, Outlaster's music matches, drenched in orchestral flourishes.
Her fifth studio album takes a few tracks to get into its stride, but when it gets going, you can hear this is an LP to outlast a lot of her piano-padding peers' less lofty efforts.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Far play


ALTHOUGH not quite a hardcore as their Sacramento peers Deftones, Far are far more full-on than most.
Because while their bourbon swilling sound is mixed with plenty enough melody on At Night We Live, they remain as rock as a lump of granite.
And while their original incarnation, which disbanded in 1998 and spawned the Sound Advice favourite Gratitude, remains set as an influence on a slew of bands around today, tracks like Pony and Deafening show the reincarnated version here is modern and never laboured by reputation.
This album'll go far, Far.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Fun is okay


CALLING your band Fun leads to heightened expectations before a note's been played - it's like me calling my son Handsome Ashe or Popular Ashe.
It's enough of a tall order to live up to me as a handsome and popular father figure for the poor mite - and similarly this band has to follow in the footsteps of its members' former acts The Format, Anathallo, and Steel Train.
Anyway, as you'd expect with these expectations, Fun's album Aim And Ignite just isn't, well, fun enough.
It is a collection of passable pop rock with a sweet, piano-led Ben Folds meets Mika feel - but it's not going to get any parties started.

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