'Think Inside The Box'
'The Awkward Recruit'
'Man Of Aran'
'Cheer Me, Perverts'
'My Maudlin Career'
'Songs From The Floodplain'
'Treasury Library Canada'
'When The Fabric Don't Fit The Frame'
'Beside Waves Of Time'
'War On The Inside'
'The Very Best Things'
'Summon The Heroes'
'The Great Escape'
'Law Of The Playground'
'Open Your Eyes Or...'
'One Of Those Mornings'
'Airbourne Toxic Event'
'Under One Sky'
'Corridor Of Mirrors'
'It's A Misery Business'
'In My Head It Works'
'Lik i Kill'
'The Chemistry Of Common Life'
'The Randevyn Project'
'No Time For Later'
'Lungs Of Life'
Albums & Promos : Shorts
Albums & Promos : Shorts
Sgt Wolfbanger / Think Inside The Box *** / *****
Sgt Wolfbanger are Dan Parry, Rob McMeekin, Mike Grocott, Gaz Muirhead and Nath Lundie. From Cheshire in England they've been together for a couple of years now and write the kind of melodic rock songs it's easy to like without having to sit in a darkened corner of the room. They've got power musically by being a five piece and have clear potential to write a whole load of anthemic choruses, 'Lonely Knight' for instance soars from the speakers and would be cracking if you heard this at a concert without knowing who the weirdly named 'Sgt Wolfbanger' actually are. Of course, transition to vinyl/cd/MP3 for up and coming bands can be tricky and whilst the arrangements and performances are fine, the mix could do with a little more 'oomph'. Still, the likes of 'Oh Look, You're Surrounded!' place in this listeners mind the likes of Lost Prophets and there's worse things than that to check out in this world. ( reviewed 23.11.2009 )
Kingskin / Slug **** / *****
Recorded by Steve Albini, British band Kingskin are one of a long line of rock bands to seek out Steve Albini to lend their music some kind of purity. He does add something to the Kingskin sound - previously they'd sound a little too polite sonically, at least on record. Albini brings a punch to the Kingskin rhythm section, which you would expect really given his track-record, actually. The guitars sound really great too though and this is one collaboration that's worked for both parties. 'Radio Shotgun' is superb, all bass, very heavy funky guitars complete with growled vocals. It's a winner in our house, at least. Just thinking actually though whilst listening to 'Stoner Girl'. 1) Steve Albini should produce Red Hot Chili Peppers 2) If you like Red Hot Chili Peppers you'll love Kingskin 3) That this really is a very enjoyable album indeed. Download 'Mexican Taxi' for starters. ( reviewed 23.11.2009 )
Nerina Pallot / The Graduate **** / *****
This is the third album from Jersey born Nerina Pallot and despite a good PR campaign and radio-friendly songs full of melodies yet also a rare intelligence, it charted for a week inside the UK top 100 album charts, something of a disapointment really when her 2nd album went gold. Thing is though, 'The Graduate' is positively overflowing with very good pop melodies - the one-two punch of 'Everything's Illuminated' and first single, 'Real Late Starter' is almost worth the album entrance price alone. Has she been listening to pop music like Mika and also the recent 80s inspired stuff? Several songs here would suggest so, but Nerina's lyrics are generally of a far higher standard than normal chart fare. 'When Did I Become Such A Bitch' for example really deserves to be a massive hit, either for Nerina herself or for some American artist covering it. It's better than some artists entire careers as far as singles output is concerned. ( reviewed 23.11.2009 )
Mawkin Causely / The Awkward Recruit *** / *****
Jim Causley from Devon is experienced and gifted in traditional song and here he teams up with young Essex folk instrumental band Mawkin to create a thoroughly enjoyable folk album. There's no searching for the future of folk here, no innovation in the style of Eliza Carthy or Bellowhead or Lau or Peatbog Faeries, just a very impeccably played set full of energy and excitement. 'Jolly Broom Man' is full of fisherman hooks, 'L'Hoome Arme' is a wonderful folk instrumental 'Cutty Wren' and the considered 'The Saucy Sailor' plug right back into history yet fail joyously to sound dusty or ancient. 'Cropper Lads' is the pick of the bunch for me, an accordian led story of melody played in a respectful, energetic and fresh manner. It's the freshness that gets me, Mawkin Causely make new sounds? Well, no but they also, importantly, don't treat folk music like it only belongs in a library to be read about and no longer heard. A very enjoyable record then? Life changing? The latter, of course not. The former? Absolutely. ( reviewed 20.09.2009 )
Gallows / Grey Britain *** / *****
Hardcore band Gallows (from Watford) released 'Orchestra Of Wolves', a critically acclaimed debut album but surely not something a major record label would offer said band a million pound contract for? Well, with a recession, record industry types are perhaps anticipating a social uprising and that bands like Gallows will go onto dominate the album charts over the next few years. Admittedly heavy though 'Grey Britain' is, admittedly infused with great heavy punk-prog music though it is, I just can't see Gallows ever justifying any record label throwing a million pounds at them. There are signs here of a melodic rock band trying to break through.... break through 'something'. 'I Dread The Night', 'The Vulture' and 'The Riverbed' are all undoubted highlights as these tracks manage to side-step the hardcore ghetto and the unremittingly bleak growled vocals template Gallows already seem constrained by.
Levi Roots / Red Hot **** / *****
Levi Roots was nominated for Best Reggae Performer at the MOBO awards in 1998. Despite working in the reggae scene since 1982, he's now arguably more famous as producer of Reggae Reggae Sauce, a firm favourite in our house ever since it appeared on BBC's 'Dragon's Den' show. Imagine my surprise then to discover Levi Roots is actually quite an imaginative and accomplished reggae musician and not just a chef/tv food star. 'Red Hot' is a delight from start to finish, actual proper roots-reggae of the kind they simply don't make anymore. It draws firmly on the kind of reggae Bob Marley made popular, but since Levi has also worked at King Tubby's studios in the past also has a firm hint of dub-reggae. In short, it's the full package and despite Levi's superstar status these days thanks to his range of sauces, it's good to hear he's still committed to his music, and hasn't watered it down in any way. Check out 'Try Try Try' or 'Cool Me Off' for starters. ( reviewed 20.09.2009 )
Charlotte Hatherley / New Worlds ** / *****
Charlotte Franklin Hatherley has kept herself busy as a former guitarist/backing vocalist for Ash and now touring guitarist/bassist with Bat For Lashes and Client. She also finds time for her own solo career, of which 'New Worlds' is her third solo LP. Hanging around with Bat For Lashes has got to be an improvement over hanging around with oh so one dimensional Ash and so that influence proves to be positive here. 'New Worlds' still suffers as an album because Hatherley's vocals aren't really strong enough, yet the variety and intelligence of the songwriting does impress. 'Alexander' is a great pop/folk type of production with swoons for backing vocals and enough bite in the guitars to still classify as alternative rock. I generally prefer her more in acoustic mode though and as such, album closer 'Wrong Notes' indicates everything both right and wrong with this album. The beginning acoustic section is nice before we get a wall of production. What is this wall of production making up for? It's all about the songs ultimately and Hatherley needs to be braver and believe in her own ability as a writer and performer more. ( reviewed 20.09.2009 )
Rachael McShane / Rachael McShane *** / *****
Rachael McShane is a member of superb UK folk collective Bellowhead and follows on from Spires, Boden etc in making a solo album seperate from the parent group. There are clear hints throughout this LP that Rachael is reaching for some kind of middle ground between Sandy Denny and Eliza Carthy. The way the album artwork presents her is very Sandy Denny, more experimental modern tracks such as 'The Fisherman' are very Eliza Carthy, but perhaps we shouldn't expect too much originality from a debut. The likes of 'The Fisherman' are actually very well done as are the piano ballads ala Sandy, the best of which has to be 'The Drowned Sailor'. Rachael also steps into Lau folk-instrumental virtuoso territory. Well, 'Maid On The Shore' has Eliza Carthy style vocals and rhythms married to Lau style fiddle sections and is really rather a delight. ( reviewed 20.09.2009 )
British Sea Power / Man Of Aran **** / *****
I don't think an instrumental sound-track album was exactly what anybody expected British Sea Power to do next. Yet, with certain critics complaining that the music of British Sea Power has been a little lacking in style and finesse, what better way to respond to said critics than this? True, an album consisting entirely of atmospheric instrumentals won't be to everybodies cup of tea, yet let's take the eleven minute 'It Comes Back Again' to try and convince you. This isn't just atmosphere and easily created sounds, this is creativity and ambition. Ambition, something lost in indie/alternative some time around 1997. Where did it go? Well, if BSP can take the ethos of creating music in this different way to one of their regular releases, things might just get interesting. ( reviewed 30.06.2009 )
Flat Earth Society / Cheer Me, Perverts *** / *****
Imagine a big band getting together to record the score for a pornographic Tom & Jerry cartoon, throw in a dash of the absurb and you'll have something approaching the jazz stylings of Flat Earth Society. The wonderfully titled 'Vole Sperm Reverie' opens this set and is also arguably the highlight of the set. Five minutes of jazz that jumps around trumpets and wild nights out as if it's a hollywood starlet gone off the rails. Well, i'm sure at least there's a police-chase involved somewhere. 'Flatology' will please fans of Eric Dolphy, although the bass here isn't half as interesting, whilst album closer 'Mutt' is a strange seventies cop show married to nineteen thirties jazz. Bombs are coming 'Mutt' seems to constantly suggest, yet it continuously yet enjoyably falls over itself. ( reviewed 30.06.2009 )
Twisted Wheel / Twisted Wheel *** / *****
Twisted Wheel are signed to Columbia and have toured in support of Oasis. That almost tells the cynical all you're supposed to want to know about these latest meat and potatoes merchants. Yet, listen to 'Oh What Have You Done' and be mildly impressed by the energy. Listen to the tune again and be reminded of early Jam. This is Twisted Wheel's debut LP after all so why have so many people viciously cut into them already? 'She's A Weapon' may be dumb yet it's stupendously loud and dumb and isn't that what we want from time to time? I should warn you the singer pronouces 'Castle' the same way as one would normally pronouce 'Pastil' as in 'Fruit Pastil'. Yes, like Liam Gallagher, Twisted Wheel take liberties in order to stretch lyrics in. You shouldn't really have to stretch in lyrics as simple as this, but there you go. Lead single 'We Are Us' is a clear favourite in our house, something you can stamp up and down to. 'You Stole The Sun' is annoyingly catchy and that's about it. ( reviewed 30.06.2009 )
Camera Obscura / My Maudlin Career *** / *****
Camera Obscura are signed to 4AD records. What, you wanted more. Isn't that enough? Ah, ok then. Camera Obscura kind of sound like a slightly sunnier, less Velvet Underground influenced Mazzy Star. Remember them? Well, Camera Obscura may or may not remember them, but these slices of effortless brilliance next to more slices of mere mediocrity convinces me that Camera Obscura, in the very best proper 'indie' sense, haven't really a clue what they're doing. 'The Sweetest Thing' for instance is excellent summery intelligent pop, with strings and cooing vocals and twinkling and harmonies. On the otherside of the sea we have dreary, wet and limpid seawood as 'Other Towns And Cities' where Camera Obscura forget to write anything like a tune. Then we switch back randomly to 'French Navy' - playing 'My Maudlin Career' on shuffle. What an excellent tune this is - like Sweden's The Concrete's then, Camera Obscure seem to switch from pop gold to frustrating inertness seemingly at will. ( reviewed 30.06.2009 )
Joe Boden / Songs From The Floodplain **** / *****
The instrumentation used during 'Songs From The Floodplain' hints at traditional folk, yet Jon has written a set of original compositions whereas Bellowhead or his work as part of Spires/Boden draws firmly and exclusively from the folk canon. Sure, 'The Pilgrim's Way' isn't exactly pop or dance, Jon's voice combines with minimal acoustic guitar creating something ancient and pure in sound. Boden proves throughout 'Songs From The Floodplain' that he can write tunes that withstand scrutiny without the richer arrangements and brass-band parpings of Bellowhead. Songs grouped together to form a loose concept, 'Going Down To The Wasteland' and 'Dancing By The Factory' give you hints at what Boden is trying to say. 'Beating The Bounds' comes closest to a Bellowhead styled romp whilst 'April Queen' is a stunning highpoint, carefully arranged and well worth the price of admission alone. ( reviewed 10.05.2009 )
Woodpigeon / Treasury Library Canada ** / *****
Woodpidgeon reveal in one cursory listen that they are too fey and quiet for their own good. If you sound fey, have some dark lyrics for a contrast or at least have some striking, chiming guitar. Nothing is wrong here, all the songs are composed well enough, hummable whilst they are playing yet also, Woodpigeon fail to have a single sound that judges you, or startles you. It's all far too polite for its own good, really. Sure, '7th Fret Over Andres' is very nice and the lyrics are decent and it vaugely resembles Simon And Garfunkel or Bon Iver without the harmonies, yet a big 'so what?' is kind of the response from this listener. Very well put together though this song, I must say. There are textures in the music, quiet ones, yet textures all the same. I'm reasonably impressed by this tune, so let's see what else we have.
Well? 'Piano Pieces For Adult Beginners' is quite impressive, 'Love In The Time Of Hopscoth' is nice but one wishes one was listening to a Belle And Sebastian album instead. ( reviewed 10.05.2009 )
Emmy The Great / First Love * / *****
Emma Lee Moss is Emmy The Great and she's been critically acclaimed all over the place for this, her debut LP. Well, the press always prefer a singer/songwriter in folk style to an actual folkie, don't they? I just find this LP incredibly dull, there's no rough edges at all and her melodies are simple strums at best. Yes, Leonard Cohen was hardly a virtuoso and still isn't, but his melodies and lyrics had craft. I don't detect any craft here. The lyrics are purpotedly story-telling, yet the poetic craft of the likes of Laura Marling. Marling has far, far better tunes, to boot. This is an album that sounds like it was written, sung and performed by a Belle and Sebastian groupie and we don't want that, do we? Stuart Murdoch can whistle a better tune in his sleep than this, especially when you consider that the best melody here is Cohen's 'Hallelujah', controversially quoted during the title track. She sings in exactly the same vocal style throughout, a sort of flat, tuneless whisper that neither endears, shows strength or fragility. She also nicks a few tricks from 'Blood On The Tracks' era Dylan for, erm, Dylan. What's the bloody point when you can't even write a tune? If you want a poetry book, buy one. If you want good music and lyrics, don't buy this. ( reviewed 10.05.2009 )
Howling Bells / Radio Wars *** / *****
'Radio Wars' is the second album from this Aussie foursome fronted by the lovely Juanita Stein. Well, her vocals veer too far towards shrieking at times, yet for the most part her strong voice is the albums main attraction. Indie-by-numbers lyrics don't help, neither do rather standard indie musicianship, yet there's still something that keeps me coming back to 'Radio Wars'. The highlights are high enough you see that you don't want to be without them. 'Cities Burning Down' for example is a weird kind of blend between Joy Division, Mazzy Star and The Go Betweens. 'Let's Be Kids' reminds this listener of The Concretes finer pop confections with a dash of Phil Spector thrown in for good measure. 'Into The Chaos' deserves to be the hit that propels Howling Bells into the mindset of music lovers, switching from catchy verses into ethereal sounding choruses. Finally, 'How Long' is slow, plodding and sounds twice as long as the three and a bit minutes it inhabits. There's just something about the ache in her voice that makes it spellbinding, though. ( reviewed 31.05.2009 )
No Fixed Abode / Clearwater **** / *****
Help No Fixed Abode Make A New Album
Queensryche / American Soldier *** / *****
'American Soldier' is a concept album telling true tales of soldiers experiences in war. Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate even went to the trouble of interviewing veterans who had served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In this age of individual MP3 downloads rather than complete albums, it's nice to see someone out there still making an effort to create something more than the indivdual parts may initially suggest. Of course, Queensryche have always been something of a serious band and 'American Soldier' is no exception to that. We've a succession of mid-tempo power rock tunes that will please fans of American 80s metal in particular. In that respect then, 'American Soldier' is a strangely old-fashioned beast yet we don't mind too much. There is certainly passion here and the multi-layered production values lend the LP a touch of class and import all of their own. Truth be told though, there are simply too many of these mid-tempo power rock ballads. More memorable choruses and riffing such as that found on standout 'Killer' would have been welcome. ( reviewed 31.05.2009 )
Joe Coffee / When The Fabric Don't Fit The Frame **** / *****
Personnel: Paul Bearer (vocals); Rob Seale, Ray Canapini (guitar); Mike Welles (bass instrument); Eric Arce (drums). Label: I Scream Records.
Iona Leigh / Beside The Waves Of Time **** / *****
'Beside The Waves Of Time' is Iona's second album and is due to be released 6th April, 2009. Australian by Birth yet moving to Scotland at the age of 8, Iona does British folk music with a contemporary twist, using herself and a group of Celtic folk musicians to create a summery sound that relies heavily on her own (quite frankly gorgeous) vocals. We get a mix of modern, original tunes with other tunes borrowing quite heavily upon the folk tradition, yet everything ends up sounding like Iona Leigh, in a good way. 'The Girl He Left Behind' for instance is folk-pop in the way Eliza Carthy has previously done 'folk-pop'. 'Blackbird' is my pick of the album, a clever arrangement with crystal clear vocals good enough to savour forever. ( reviewed 05.04.2009 )
69 Chambers / War On The Inside **** / *****
There can't be many Swiss alt/metal bands around, yet that's exactly what 69 Chambers appear to be. Think Evanescence if you must but a funny thing happens when I think of Evanescence. You see, I really don't like Evanescence at all yet 69 Chambers, for all their tried and tested riffs, work very well for me indeed. I think 69 Chambers are probably just a little less stylised and a little more natural than their American contemporaries. Perhaps just they haven't been 'fortunate' enough to have a bunch of money thrown at them, always the death-knell of creativity for many a band, in my experience. 'Judas Goat' for example is just terrific, the female vocalist proving herself a real talent over deep, crunchy riffs. 'Return Of The Repressed' sums up 69 Chambers well, professional and heavy beats, deep bass - a bedrock over which the singer attacks and floats melodically above. ( reviewed 05.04.2009 )
Filter / The Very Best Things ** / *****
Filter were formed by a former NIN touring guitarist together with a second guitarist/programmer. 1995 saw their first release and 2009 sees witness to this catch-up compilation, featuring the best of Filter's LP and EP releases. Nine Inch Nails are very much a reference point for the music too, by the way. Fans of NIN can apply, although Filter aren't as heavy or as dense, preferring to add a little melodic swing to their take on Industrial music. 'Hey Man Nice Shot' could have been a NIN song though by the sounds of it - it's just slightly unfortunate that Filter don't have very strong vocals. You can put up with them, but a strong vocalist would have sent this music to another level. Still, 'Hey Man Nice Shot' sounds stupendous when turned up loud and hasn't really dated one jot. 'The Only Way (Is The Wrong Way) is a better indication of Filter, seeing them forge their own ground with memorable material that lingers in the mind. ( reviewed 05.04.2009 )
The Rushing / Summon The Heroes *** / *****
The Rushing are one of many, many new UK rock acts frustrated by the total and complete lack of media support. The guys who are The Rushing are all around 21 years old so perhaps they have time on their hands for the tide to change and for radio to stop treating all their listeners as if they are 14 year old girls and 14 year old girls who only listen to Girls Aloud, at that. Nothing original here though, 'Summon The Heroes' is fairly typical 'ROCK!' fare, albeit with catchy hooks and well arranged and performed material. 'No Regrets' is a good example demonstrating an utterly dedicated and passionate bunch of performers who you just know will be an absolute knock-out when playing live. 'Summon The Heroes' suffers perhaps from being under-produced, yet that doesn't really detract too much from the enjoyable listen to be had. 'Unsung Hero' is a highlight, although The Rushing perhaps need to sound a little less American and forge their own more distinctive UK take on good old fashioned Rock music.
( reviewed 05.04.2009 )
The Rifles / The Great Escape ** / *****
This is the kind of music that has given the term 'landfil indie' some genuine meaning beyond the pages of the music press. Very well meaning and earnest The Rifles may be, yet 'The Great Escape' fails to break free of generic post Arctic Monkeys lyrics, unambitious playing and standard arrangements. There's nothing deeply wrong with The Rifles, don't get me wrong. Indeed, the likes of 'Toerag' show perhaps a genuine expression of passion, yet we need more than this moving into a new decade. They hit the top thirty in the UK album charts with 'Great Escape' and I can understand why, no doubt they sound pretty good live, they certainly have a talented enough guitar assault, yet turning into the next U2 isn't the kind of ambition I want from bands these days. Unfair of me certainly, but when you listen to literally hundreds of new releases every year, somebody has to fall by the wayside. The Rifles have a time and a place and that time and a place is somewhere like The Faversham in Leeds, although they've also played loftier venues, such as The Astoria in London. They can hold a crowd by all accounts, yet I remain only slightly interested in listening to their actual recorded output. ( reviewed 21.03.2009 )
Jo Webb / Acrobat *** / *****
Spiky new rock music from Jo Webb here. 'Acrobat' is due to be released 6th of April 2009. It seems to me that 'Acrobat' is full of hook laden songs with intelligent lyrics and whilst it may not be enough to change the world, Jo Webb's list of influences (XTC, Roger Waters, The Beatles and Frank Zappa) are enough for me to give this LP a good spin. With debut album “Acrobat” set for release in April 6th on Clean Feet Records, Jo Webb & The Dirty Hands are a band to watch out for in 2009 if you like looking around, that is. With radio in the UK in a weird place at the moment due to Radio One insisting on ignoring anybody over the age of twenty four, with BBC Radio Two having limited airtime and with the commercial stations only touching top 40, you do have to wonder where on earch Jo Webb will manage to get himself heard, though. Still, the title track is cool and contains an unexpected hard rock guitar solo towards the end. 'Crime Of The Century', 'Hollow' and the closing acoustic led 'Oblivious' are all decent tunes. That's about it, really. ( reviewed 21.03.2009 )
Boy Least Likely To / The Law Of The Playground ** / *****
God, not another bunch of Belle and Sebastian wannabees! Well, Boy Least Likely To are an indie-pop due who also include a few other guys in their touring band. Rolling Stone memorably described their debut album as what childrens stuff toys forming a band would sound like, which is pretty near the mark actually. Yes, 'The Law Of The Playground' is their second album and it's all sensitive songwriter type of stuff without humour or bitterness or any real contrast. It's all aiming for the center of indie-fans delicate sides and by naming your band in the first place after a Morrissey B-Side, albeit changing the gender, is enough on its own to tell you what these guys really are after. No major label are behind these guys, yet it seems someone along the line lacks imagination in any event. If everything in the music world has to be this obvious, then i'll chop off my ears and take up painting. I'm being mean. 'The Worm Forgives The Plough' is plesantly reminiscent of Trembling Blue Stars for instance, so that's a good track. ( reviewed 21.03.2009 )
Shenaniganz / Open Your Eyes Or Cover Your Head **** / *****
It's rather hard to believe than anybody could give themselves such a bad name but almost harder to believe that the retro-rock of Shenaniganz hails from Germany of all places. Sung in English, 'Open Your Eyes' is a enjoyable fifty minute set that recalls such acts as AC/DC and Pearl Jam very closely. So, if you're a fan of that kind of stuff, you'll certainly get your monies worth from 'Open Your Eyes'. I mean, with a song like 'Cost Of Rock', you know what you're getting, don't you? They don't do this stuff in any kind of knowing, ironic way however. They take this seriously enough without turning into something dreadful like The Scorpions. The riffs through the opening of 'Lights' for example just have to make you smile unless you read the NME, really. It's cliched, stupid and silly, yet it's also exactly what we need in the worst worldwide recession since the nineteen-thirties. I don't want somebody whispering sweet nothings at me in this day and age, I want you musicians and artists to celebrate life and to cheer me up a bit. To that end I have to say that Shenaniganz succeed exceedingly well. ( reviewed 21.03.2009 )
Daniel Fjall / One Of Those Mornings **** / *****
Longterm readers will know that I fell for Daniel Fjall when he released a minor-masterpiece called 'The Drapes'. Searching the millions of songs from up and coming acts on the net can indeed provide rich rewards. 'One Of Those Mornings' is his latest batch of tunes, a mini-album demo if you like, but played and performed well enough. Daniel's thoroughly strange yet beautifully affecting vocals remain intact and the opening 'Miracles To Come Your Way' is reminiscent of Dylan and The Band circa 'The Basement Tapes', yet with a friendly whispering gorrilla for a vocalist instead of Dylan. Yeah, that's a compliment, by the way. We like idiosyncratic vocals here at adriandenning.co.uk - sure beats some generic indie-wannabee. Anyway, I adore 'I Gotta Move' which has biting acoustic guitar and a weariness worthy of Tom Waits. Song five has lovely ghostly vocal harmonies and overall, the spirit of Dylan hangs over Daniel circa post motorbike accident. I don't know if Daniel lives in a big pink house but he perhaps he could do? Search on myspace for further info about this release - it'll worth your while doing so.
( reviewed 01.03.2009 )
War Child / Heroes ** / *****
A bunch of covers of old classic rock tunes by todays indie-crowd. I can't think of many worse prospects than this, although the whole package is for charity so I can't really complain too viciously, can I? Then again, what kind of music-reviewer would I be if I didn't properly take some of these bands and covers to task? The Kooks for example prove they've no imagination whatsover by covering 'Victoria' by The Kinks in a near note-for-note rendition. Rufus Wainwright takes four minutes of Brian Wilson's 'Smile' and does what could be called an affectionate tribute, but like The Kooks, there's absolutely no point to such studied copies of others artistry. Scissor Sisters meanwhile cover Roxy Music and turn themselves into even more of a joke than they were before.
Airbourne Toxic Event / Airbourne Toxic Event *** / *****
If you wanted a reason to like this, those narrow-minded folks over at Pitchfork gave this album a review of 1.6 out of 10. I mean, you wouldn't even give Robbie Williams something like that, would you? Well, not unless he deserved it, which he did at the time. Anyway, Airbourne Toxic Even offer up nothing new here, well worn riffs and melodic ideas float in and out and you could be forgiven for dismissing them on that basis alone. Yet, a few listens in reveal they've a way of presenting rather spiky takes on these borrowed musical ideas. We also need to remember that this is a debut LP, so ravishing innovation is perhaps to be expected in its absence. I like 'Gasoline', it sounds a little like the guitar player is at least aware of The Fall. 'Wishing Well' I can do without, it sounds like Airbourne Toxic Event presenting a run-through of their master-plan to conquer stadiums and make lots of money. In that respect, this sounds cheap and like a demo by any number of rock bands coming round our way these days. Fairly generic lyrics fly past, yet the musical backing on a song such as 'Something New' is joyous simplicity. I'm not sitting on the fence when I say Airbourne Toxic Event could go one of two ways, rather stating a somewhat obvious fact. I hope for their sake this isn't as good as they're gonna get. ( reviewed 01.03.2009 )
A Camp / Colonia *** / *****
A Camp are essential former Cardigans vocalist Nina Persson. The Cardigans had some dedicated fans and a few of those have followed Nina across to A Camp. Her distinctive voice remains intact, although the songs are less obviously indie-poppy this time out. Her lyrics are pretty damn good across the entire album, although perhaps choosing the rather lack-lustre tune of 'Stronger Than Jesus' wasn't the best choice of first single? 'Chinatown' would have been a better choice, a classy slice of songwriting complete with very effective strings and gorgeous vocals. 'Love Has Left The Room' would also have made a better single and although the sound of 'A Camp' is somewhat glossy, what with the strings and all, Nina does have charm. She seems to have more charm with the 'A Camp' moniker than she did with 'The Cardigans'. Me? Well, i'm a sucker for a string arrangement, always have been. I'm also a sucker for a Phil Spector styled drum intro, hence 'Here Are Many Wild Animals' being the pick of the punch here in the Denning household. ( reviewed 15.02.2009 )
Fuck Buttons / Street Horrsing * / *****
Despite voting irregularites, of inspite of them, Fuck Buttons hilariously failed to win the respectable left-wing Guardian newspapers readers debut album of the year award. You see, this is why we miss John Peel. It's not so much that new bands are more difficult to find post-peel, it's just that we miss him being a barometer of taste. Fuck Buttons are the kind of act who would have been played by him about twice and then they would have been forgotton about. The blogging community has a fair share of nincompoops who believe the rarer the band the better and the more extreme they can be, the better. 'Fuck Buttons' are a dance act then who specialise in distortion, long droning ten minute long sequences of the stuff. Their name alone will preclude mainstream acceptance, which I think is just a clever ploy by the band to suggest the fact they'll never get anywhere is purely down to the name and nothing to do with the fact they are one of the worst bands i've heard in many a year. Well, a kind word for one song, the shortest one. It's called 'Ribs Out' and is really almost clever. ( reviewed 15.02.2009 )
John McCusker / Under One Sky **** / *****
John McCusker's 'Under One Sky' is a project where the celebrated Scottish folk fiddler gets in a bunch of persons to add their thoughts to traditional songs, in the form of guest vocal spots and additional instrumentation. John Tams and Jim Causley for instance contribute towards the quite lovely 'If I Will/Hush A Bye', a track which like many contained here, may not please those progressive folk enthusiast yet will almost definitely please the more traditional folk fan. It's perfectly performed, sung with feeling and a proper folk voice worthy of the ages. When this twelve minute track reaches the 'Hush A Bye' section, we've really get something genuinely lovely. The mellow and comforting 'Long Time Past/Lavendar Hill' has fabulous slow weaving fiddle played with heart and feeling, the kind you rarely find outside of UK folk. Well, yes, I'm a frustrated folkie at heart. 'Jigs,Strathspey & Reel' is a welcome instrumental piece to give the album a bit more variety and well, why not? This type of impeccably played fiddle jig is often just what we need of a Sunday afternoon, isn't it? ( reviewed 15.02.2009 )
Prometheus / Corridor Of Mirrors *** / *****
Released on Twisted Records, Benji Vaughn AKA Prometheus releases the follow-up to 2004's "Robot-o-Chan". I'm not naturally drawn to trance although I can cope with it in small measures. Anyway, with this being a trance act, we get eight songs all seven to eight minutes long. Nope, trance acts still haven't quite got to the point where they even want to comprise to reach any kind of mainstream that rejected them a decade ago in any case. So, 'One Cell Short Of A Brain' is rather excellent, the sort of stuff I like because there are interesting things between the repeating bass-lines. Yes, 'Corridor Of Mirrors' is a little too much in one sitting, yet the quality tracks such as the aforementioned and 'Soma' prove that Prometheus has a place at the trance table and enough of one to earn admiring glances from former listeners to the John Peel radio show.
( reviewed 02.02.2009 )
Various / It's A Misery Business, Anti Love Songs for the Anti-Valentine *** / *****
Ah, what it is to be young, dressed in black, white face, long flowing hair etc and so forth. What it is to celebrate the exact opposite of the season, hence this compilation. I mean, teenagers hanging around graveyards and skulking next to lamp-posts? Naturally, I never did any of those things....
Anyways, we get the annoying Paramore here, a band I really cannot stand. Not, only that, but the first track is by Nickleback. I mean, what are you trying to do, kill me? Elsewhere, Slipknot prove they are still entertaining, Gallows prove themselves to be utterly fantastic with their punky take on new emo metal or whatever this is called these days. We scroll through Simple Plan and Panic At The Disco because they are both crap. We reach the end with some girl called Amanda Palmer. I didn't say not everything here is metal, did I? Well, Amanda Palmer does a song called 'Leeds United' and it's really rather clever and enjoyable, so there. ( reviewed 02.02.2009 )
The Race / In My Head It Works **** / *****
The Race have been around in Reading and surrounding areas since 2004. This album, released on Shifty Disco records, is their second and it's not bad. First impressions reveal that The Race may well be yet another indie-guitar band, but they save themselves from the landfill due to clever melodic songwriting. Lead single 'I Get It Wrong' is actually one of the least interesting things here, being so much heard it before I don't want to even hear it once..... here. Too much shouting as fake emotion. All those layered guitars too, why not get a proper ex-shoegazer in and make them soar? Anyways, thankfully The Race are quite so easily pigeon-holed. 'Moorwood' for example briefly reminds me of Sarah Records, all that lovely tweeness, yet this time out, wrapped around is some satisfyingly doom laden proper English indie echo. This time, the guitars do soar but in an appropriate way, because we were expecting the light at the end of the Rugby playing bully. You know what I mean. 'Better To Slip Away' is fast and breezy and 'Give Me Your Bible' is surprising with its efficient, nay impressive, use of dynamics.( reviewed 02.02.2009 )
Diplo / Decent Work For Decent Pay *** / *****
Philadelphia DJ Wesley 'Diplo' Pentz is a Grammy nominated DJ/Producer. He produced M.I.A's 'Paper Planes' didn't you know? What do you mean, you don't care? Well, this is a compilation if you like of a selection of his works and the intelligent newspapers have been all over Diplo. Well, not literally, he literally doesn't wear Newspapers of suffocate underneath them, yet he's been sought after by pop and indie acts alike. So, you get a bunch of decent enough dance stuff, intelligent yet danceable techno, although trance influences are clearly not his major thing – that's what happens when you're from the US rather than Europe. Indeed, the likes of Samin – Heater get extended Diplo mixes incorporating lots of cool sounds. His turn with Kano and the tune 'Reload It' is pretty awesome and Diplo should perhaps work with a male rapper for a full length project. God knows rap is in need of some innovation. Guitar band 'The Black Lips' also get the Diplo treatment, far less successfully. Indie bands may want to appear cool but Diplo would be better off sticking to his strengths. ( reviewed 02.02.2009 )
Fucked Up / The Chemistry Of Common Life *** / *****
'The Chemistry Of Common Life' is the second full length 'Fucked Up' release. Singer Damian Abraham has a growling, gargling roar that renders lyrics near indecipherable, although one suspects the lyrics aren't really here to be taken seriously. No, what we have instead is a brilliant EPs worth of material wrapped up within an 11 track LP so the band hope you won't notice how average much of songwriting is. Well, they do produce such an exhilarating racket that it is indeed very easy to merely be swept along with. The opening tracks are especially superb, 'Magic Wand' rumbling along with deep bass lines and almost supernatural levels of intense wonder. The closing title track arrives at a stage where the intensity of the LP has ground you down and you would be forgiven for having lost that initial fascination for the whole layered, full-on guitar sound 'Fucked Up' produce. This is a title track able to stretch out over seven pummeling minutes and borders on becoming progressive punk, of all things. A band to watch out for, especially live we suspect, but it remains to be seen how far they can take things without imploding. ( reviewed 24.01.2009 )
Randevyn / The Randevyn Project *** / *****
Randevyn delivers some old fashioned soul presented and recorded in a modern fashion. A former church musician, Randevyn Pierre takes us through fourteen of his own songs on this comfortable album length project. 'Graveyard Treasure' and 'Life Support' have been earmarked as singles and I hope they find an audience. 'Graveyard Treasure' is silky smooth and sensual before exploding with dramatic, soaring vocals. 'Life Support' has plenty of excellent vocals, whispered, overdubbed, genuine and all you could want from a superior soul singer. 'Legend' is arguably the highlight though on an album that moves between ballads and mid-tempo numbers with consumate ease. 'The Randevyn Project' isn't going to be an album to rank alongside Erykah Badu in the innovation stakes but it is solidly put together, well played and with 'Legend', manages a moment of genuine timeless class. ( reviewed 24.01.2009 )
The Bityears / Lik i Kil **** / *****
Getting this album from Swedish duo 'The Bityears' may require some searching, but they do have a website so it shouldn't be too hard to obtain a downloadable version, at least. I'd suggest you do as well as 'Johnny, din Javel' on its own is enough to warrant investigation of the whole 'Lik i Kil' LP. Well, it's daft and silly, has a decent guitar solo and lots of drama and manages to be entertaining, which is what music should be all about. Almost like a Swedish-indie 'The Darkness.' Well, we also get metal, The Who, novelty, pop, piano, guitars, strange vocals including normal ones and funny ones and twisted growling ones. We get the title track which deserves to be played on the radio and would be if John Peel were still alive. The close of the album also deserves a mention. We get a four part folk-suite lasting all of two minutes and then a five minute acoustic ballad titled 'Rationellt Grejs' that has pretty melodic patterns, ghostly harmonising and even the odd bit of eletronics. ( reviewed 24.01.2009 )
Vibrasphere / Lungs Of Life **** / *****
Vibrasphere produce progressive house, and are music of choice for a variety of dance/trance/ambient festivals. They've been around delivering music for a good ten years now and certainly have the respect of the scene. 'Lungs Of Life' is their fifth LP to date and opens with two ambient tracks, the former a shifting pattern of synths, the latter presenting an attractive melody amid mid-tempo beats stretching across seven minutes of music. Rickard Berlglof and Robert Eslter's 'Lungs Of Life' LP is certainly diverse, moving on through techno numbers, trance, etc and closing with two remixes which really aren't my scene so I probably shouldn't comment on them at all. Well, I actually know '102 Miles From Here' as a piece of music from somewhere and actually, this Solead remix is pretty darn good, my scene or not my scene. All this, and a collaboration with famed producer Ticon for 'Dewdrops', eight minutes of intelligent trance music. Yes, such a thing does exist. ( reviewed 24.01.2009 )
The Trews / No Time For Later ** / *****
The Trews have established themselves in Canada enjoying two gold albums and six top ten singles there. 'No Time For Later' is their third album and no doubt they'll be hoping this is the one that makes a larger breakthrough in the US and UK. They are by all accounts a hard-working band, having played over 500 shows during the past three to four years. This is noticeable when paying attention to the muscianship, firmly AOR rock it may be, but that doesn't mean the likes of the thoroughly enjoyable 'Dark Highway' lack a decisive edge. Knowing The Trews pared down forty odd tunes to the final thirteen, you do wonder why the album lacks variety however and presents just a single emotional feel. After awhile, performing craft and being able to construct songs that have all the bits in what are meant to be the right places just isn't quite enough. ( reviewed 24.01.2009 )
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