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I will be putting together a review of Mars Volta – Noctourniquet once I get a chance to sit down and have a proper listen. Check out the lead single/release here:

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Cute track from Gossling … she looked way hotter under bad lighting at Oxford Art, just saying is all

First single before the upcoming Monkeys’ album, seems like Alex and co are getting things back on track with some dark and unforgiving guitar work on “R U Mine”

The album artwork has not been included in this post for reasons relating to its stupidity and shortage of “art”. My first impression of this album came from “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” which is highlighted by the idiodicy of the title that is very deliberately annunciated throughout the track. Following up from “Humbug” which was my least favourite album which Alex Turner was involved in writing, not to suggest that the album was poor, just that it didn’t strike me as his other works had.

“She’s Thunderstorms” continues this this annoyance relating to lyrics which seem lacking in direction yet appear be emphasised through the vocal with “She’s Thunderstorms” almost being looped. The song is a gentle way to open the album with strong connections to Last Shaddow Puppets sound coming through and this all seems to be a little blurred where one band starts and the other ends. This is not how I would ever have picture the Monkeys opening an album pre LSP however it’s a nice track. The concept is quite simple, but the execution is very elegant.

I can’t say that I know what a “Black Treacle” is and I refuse to waste thirty seconds googling either (maybe I did).  This is a song that has grown on me a little, but it just seems to drag with no visible sentiment or emotion being involked. The guitar work seems bland and the drumming took the day off during recording on that day. “Brick by Brick” finally starts talking some sense to me. The tempo changes through the song and the drums actually make a contribution. There is finally a sense that the music is challenging my ear and the boys finally introduce us to a fun 70’s inspired and interesting song. There is a strong QOTSA vibe that grows the more that you listen to this track, especially in the deep backing vocal used.

“The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” once again confuses the borders of Monkeys and Last Shaddow Puppets while reintroducing us to some checky little bass work and more meaningful drumming although the song does get a little lost in the middle. It displays the best song writing of any track on the album with Turner using several different vocal techniques through the song to entice us to sing along and support from some percussion which has been well thought out. This is followed by the most drab and boring song on the album which I would prefer it if it didn’t  draw any further attention from this review.

“Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”,  sorry but I must reinterate that this is probably one of the oddest track names/lyrics used in recent times. It’s really hard for me to get past the vocal on this song and I have really tried and for a band who were lyrically one of the absolute best through “Whatever People Say” and “Favourite Worst Nightmare” with tracks like “Yellow Bricks” and “Mardy Bum”, take your pick basically. This is an ok song musically it’s just too distracting lyrically and vocally it is dull. “Library Pictures’ takes us on a journey back to where I remember these chaps residing back in 2006. There is a real bleakness to the song and the guitars are alive for the first time on the album, however the countdown in the song should never have been allowed. The song is short and sharp yet suceeds in delivering a strong message.

“Reckless Serenade” and “All My Own Stunts” fail to introduce anything new or exciting and I am just left waiting for something to happen and by this stage songs are starting to all feel  the same, with the exception of “Piledriver Waltz” I am left looking for something to grab hold of but am finding myself cluthing at thin air. There is just too much emphasis on the vocal and it is not doing anything for me. Personally many of my favourite Monkeys songs were the ones with big, juicy bass riffs and drumming that had me bashing my stearing wheel out of shape. There are no film clips centred on drumming (The View From The Afternoon) coming from this album.

I have read through NME’s review to see if maybe I was a little harsh and to be honest it was a rather pompous in it’s attempt to tell me that I was not sophisticated enough to appreciate the sound or the use of big words like “paean” to try and make feel little. I shouldn’t need a thesaurus and the song lyrics printed out to understand the intensions of the song writer. I honestly don’t know the lyrics to many of my favourite artists well known tracks yet I can get what the song is about and I don’t get that here or from NME.

http://www.nme.com/reviews/arctic-monkeys/12113

What I don’t like about this album and “Humbug” is that they have extracted the edge from the soul of the vocal by slowing it down. There is enough song writing ability in Turner’s big toe to sink five ships to make it work on the odd occasion however without an understanding of what made them the voice of a large portion of young males with their witty lyrics and edgy tones. 2011 Arctic Monkeys would never write a song about fake tales or vampires in bars and it is that raw emotion which is missing and also what made them what they were (others may argue: are). If I am feeling nostalgic in a pub in ten years time and put a few dollars in the jukebox, I highly doubt that any of these songs would get selected over any song off the first two albums. If you like the clip I have added then you will probably disagree with me.

ALBUM RATING: One for the bandwagonners….Do me a favour and stop flattering yourself

Check it out. Am not even going to attempt to write a review on this. These guys come out with some crazy/amazing stuff. Haven’t figured it out yet! Here’s a sample:

Here is a link for the Splendour sideshows for all of the kiddies out there. Personally I am waiting for Wild Beasts at OAF.

http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/musicnews/s3208277.htm

No messing about with an intro, cause this album does mess around. The album opener “Lion’s Share” is an incredible track to open the album with. It has strong paternal qualities which are carried by the lyrics and the vocal which is allowed to ebb and flow through the song by a very simple musical backing. The emphasis is definitely on the vocal, however the piano despite being quite simple, in contrast with the drum machine/synthesizer which is being quite effectively used are quite enjoyable.

“Bed of Nails” starts with a very strong electronic sound which for a while had me cringing about what I was going to hear next due to the obvious pop beats that were being used. The drumming continues to provide a simple platform and with the introduction of guitars and keys create a very busy song which the singing floats across elegantly. “Deeper” takes you in a different direction as there is a stronger guitar influence and piano offering more of a supporting role. The busy-ness of the song is quite contrasting to the slow tempo of it which gives you different toppings to explore with every bite. The vocal has a kind of Pete Murray feel to it, but the “shortness” and “burstiness” make it very invoking in a way that Pete Murray could only ever hope to be.

“Loop the Loop”, ah man. I just have to leave this track alone because any description that I would have would sell the song short, truly magical. Same goes for “Albatross” for that matter.

“Plaything” has the unfortunate task of following “Loop the Loop” and sees the drumming take control with some graceful keyboards give the song great depth. This song is the epitome of the enormity of this album as it could easily be overlooked as being more of the same yet is so capable of carrying any other mediocre album on its back. “Invisible” exemplifies the great contrast in this album as it is capable of being so much but is not what the album calls for and is cut somewhat short. The guitars are again used in an unorthodox fashion and really grab your attention. Despite the brief nature of the song, the vocal actually feels like it’s in a rush,which really works well in between the neighbouring songs on the album. “Albatross, ah, “Albatross”, what a song.

“Reach a Bit Further” brings the punch to the album with some really punchy punchness to the vocal. This song sums up what WB was trying to achieve with everything that they have brought to the table with this piece of work and it’s over in a heartbeat. “Burning” and “End Come too Soon” do a wonderful job of maintaining the emotion and passion that is generated through this album. The piano work through the album seems to reach a peak here without ever being complex or challenging.

This album has great power through the control of tempo through the vocal over very busy and often simple keyboards and percussion which are used to great effect. I often forget that the guitars are even there at times. The songs seem really complex and well written without being hard to listen to. The vocals are amazing. Best vocal I have heard in a long time, it controls every song and pulls each track in directions that feel obvious yet it can disappear at times to allow the music to take over. Each song seems to grow on the last and there is no let down in the quality of the work, every song fulfills its role in relation to the album.

It always intrigues me to look at bands’ Wikipedia pages and to see what genre’s they are listed as. I remember one listing being “Math Rock” (I thought it was Muse but I seem to be wrong), however “Art Rock” and “Dream Pop” are two of the funnier listings. But that is the thing with Wild Beasts, they defy common classification. The very correct, traditional sounding vocal which makes it difficult to pigeon hole Wild Beasts as rock. Personally I don’t agree with trying to label bands, however to recommend bands you often need to. Wild Beasts on the other hand should be experienced by everyone regardless of personal musical tastes. Having said that though, I doubt that they will appeal to everyone. As mentioned, the vocal won’t be for everyone, but the album doesn’t falter. If they ever reach mainstream I will shed tears. I can’t say enough in favour of this album, so I say adieu.

ALBUM RATING: A moving musical odyssey. Absolutely amazing. AOTY material, without doubt.

The Gorillaz are back with little rest, and why would they need any? They are cartoon characters, right? When listening to them you always know just what to expect….. a lot! With “Plastic Beach” still warm on the stove top Damon has released the follow-up without wasting any time.

The album opens with “Phoner to Arizona” which is close to my least favourite Gorillaz’ song. Well after the first few listens it was. It appeared to be just a combination of electronic noises without any vocal or direction. There is an odd vocal type noise which doesn’t work so well for me later in the song. The track does grow after a few listens however it feels like it drags as it takes it time developing into something meaningful.

Comparatively speaking “Revolving Doors” pulls on the hand brake and does a one-eighty spin back in the right direction. That familiar vocal of “Stuart” is reinstated over a bold acoustic sound crossed with electronic beats to quite dramatic effect. “Hillbilly Man” continues with a soft introduction which grows as the song morphs into a quite odd beast. This album is obviously taking steps to challenge the listener more than previous albums, which were  a little safer. The backing vocal is a little on the nose and there is a lot happening towards the end of the song and I am not so sure that it is comes together. It’s a worthy track which challenges the listener.

“Detroit” seems to be written specifically for someone who is not me. It is short and sharp and is not written to be listened to when driving to work half asleep at 6am. The extremely repetitive beat to the song can get a little grinding however the other aspects of the song are quite enjoyable which gives this track real love-hate quality.  “Shytown” brings the album back towards traditional Gorillaz framework. The song is well constructed being quite relaxed and “un-rushed” which induces a celestial feel to the sound.

The term “outer space” seems to have lost its meaning since the 70s and 80s and “Little Plastic Bags” does its best to renew the meaning of the term. There is a real feeling sense of being lost when listening to this album and no song sums up the sentiment more that this one. But, then you get to “The Joplin Spider” which is a musical reenactment of a Star Wars battle with vocal accompaniment. “The Parish of Space Dust” moves into a more post-apocalyptic vein with dark tones through the vocal contrasting against an up-beat melody and background radio reporting which flows into “The Snake in Dallas” which with “Amarillo” continue to timeless/spaceless feeling of the album which is quite haunting in parts and is achieved in part by using a lot of short tracks.

The back end continues to flow with a similar tone with out any greatly noticeable high or low-lights to mention. “Bobby in Phoenix” is probably one of the more forgettable tracks. If there is anything to fault this album by its that there is not too much variation in song structure or tone of the lead vocal.

The album feels like Damon just wanted a low-key release with some more experimental ideas. This is light on the big pop tracks that have dominated the past three albums, but is still true to that familiar Gorillaz sound. There is a sense of a concept album which tells a story of being lost in deep space and the songs seem to hold each other up. On their own they are a little confusing and lack substance at time, but as a whole they become “The Fall” which is aptly named and tell a story full of emotion and fear. Electronic samples and random talk or chatter are used to good effect to deliver on this vibe. Some of the tracks achieve this feat better than others but as a whole the album will probably be overlooked by some, while taking others on a musical journey.

ALBUM RATING: An insight into how it would feel to be lost in space

Following up from what an album which was full of angst and could have taught those Emo kids a thing or two about being Emo, The Orchestra are back with their new album “Simple Math”. Despite “Mean Everything to Nothing” bearly making a blip on the radar, these young guys from Georgia have big things waiting for them on the horizon.

“Deer” takes the kick-off an immediately takes control of possess with a gentle, country inspired acoustic track which really eases you into the album. It is an unusual way to start the album especially given way that the  song conflicts against the introduction of “Mighty”. Having said that as I have listened to the album more it has really grown on me.

“Mighty” starts with what can only be considered a cheesy 80s rock intro however as the song progresses it feels as though it is aiming for a stadium rock sound. The vocal takes some getting used to, it is a little clunky in some ways. The bridge feels a little flat and predictable at first however after a while the construction of the song begins to make sense. The chorus really saves the song which otherwise would be a forgettable song and this fact really is testament to the dedication of the song writing.

By the time the album reaches “Pensacola” I am a little confused about the varying tracks and how they are intended to fit together. The lead in to this song is horribly predictable and on the nose however the song gets better as it progresses. I am a little confused by this songs inclusion on the album. I feel like I have heard this song a thousand times on mainstream radio (there’s something 2000’s Green Day about parts of it). There are aspects of this song which work, if any this is that must skip track on the album, however I can understand that others will like this for the same reasons I don’t love it. The chorus is really quite enjoyable and fun, just needed to trim the crusts off the sandwich for me I guess. To this point, I think that that the vocal and the bands sound really carries the song writing at times and is a little bit of a surprise given what I was expecting. It’s like ordering the Peking Duck Pancakes at yum cha and then you bite into it and get a mouthful of cucumber and wrap, just not quite what you were hoping for.

“April Fool” immediately pulls the album back in the right direction with a bang of Orchestra anger which is a really catchy and fun song with a big chorus. The vocal takes over what is otherwise a pretty simple song and turns it into a powerhouse. It’s often said that less is more, well this songs agrees with this statement and contradicts it in the same breath with a super-sized serving of Hull’s tonsils. This song could easily slot right into “Mean Everything to Nothing” and is the tightest song on the album as it is very direct in what it is attempting to achieve and does it in bag fulls (yes that sentence doesn’t make sense, but I don’t care).

“Pale Black Eye” is a throw back track in terms of vocal sound from the past. Violins are a lot more prevalent on this album and combined with the guitar work on this song builds into ball of emotion with builds to a stadium rock chorus. This song is no “Shout it Out”, it is just so different from what they have done previously, it’s more matured and constructed with millimetre precision, where as previously it felt like the songs were written to fit around the vocal and not the other way around. Either way the songs work, but it’s nice to see a talented band explore with their song writing and find new ways to reinvent their brand without having a producer rebrand the sound. The guitar work is delicate and deliberate allowing the song to build and the vocal to flow.

The chorus effect which is used through “Virgin” has a big sound which with the horns that give this track a familiar feel. The use of children for backing is something that hasn’t been used for many years now and combined with the heavy guitar sound which runs through the track makes for a dark and angry piece of work. This takes me back to Pink Floyd’s “We Don’t Need No Education”. The lead vocal is normally the core feature of Orchestra songs however this song really breaks that tradition and gives great contrast with the various vocals used. By this stage we are right into the meat of the album and the edges may be a little fatty but I am pretty sure this is a rib eye fillet.

“Simple Math” was released as the lead single from this album and displays a different approach from MEtN. This is a really elegant song built on the back of a more main-stream sound with a smoother vocal from Andy Hull and an injection of violins through the chorus. The mood of the track is not as intense as on previous releases however it is still not lacking in emotion which builds with the power of the guitars through the song. Despite being a change in direction for Manchester this is evidence to a mature approach to song writing and is a real power ballad in the Orchestra sense of the word. It has taken quite a few listens, but this is a really powerful track which pulls you in a lot of different directions.

“Leave It Alone” delivers that gentle Orchestra beat with more and more voilins being used, which is not over used as it really suits the bands sound. This song really sells the modesty of the sound that these boys from Georgia can deliver, which gives a sense of intimacy that other bands could only hope to deliver. “Leaky Breaks” is a great closing song in a similar vein that “505” was for the Monkeys as it leaves you wanting more and floats off into the background. This is probably the biggest screwball thrown by the Orchestra’s pitching rotation. With a smooth vocal Hull, takes us on a journey and leaves us with some soothing “oohs” to end the album.

The review took me some time to write because initially I started out writing a “meh” review as the album took some getting used to. The big punch that “Mean Everything to Nothing” seemed to be missing and there was a lack of flow between the songs especially at the start of the album. There is a distinct attempt to stretch the sound of the band and to explore its possibilities, there are some softer tracks which really are great on their own, but feel a little out of place next to some of their colleagues at times despite being great songs on their own. It is a genuinely good album without requiring any coat tails of previous albums to keep it aloft.

ALBUM RATING: Lacking in continuity but not in substance

I will kick off with a confession that I have not listened to Noah and the Whale in the past, however with all of the fuss that I have heard about this album, I kinda felt that with little else to review at the moment that they probably deserve a run.

I totally understand what the band was trying to achieve when they wrote “Life is Life” and they have almost achieved it with probably the best song that I listened to. This song is driven by the vocal which is well constructed without being mind blowing.

Following this is “Tonight’s the Kind of Night” which should not be listened to by anyone with a dairy allergy (waiting, waiting, yes a cheap joke is coming you know it)…..cause this song has every type of cheese forced into it. It’s like a giant block of swiss with people standing around it holding in all of the other cheeses (I don’t care if this is a word, cause it is now) in but its so cheesy that it’s about to errupt in a cheese explosion. Yes this song will probably be popular with  the current generation of kids, well I ain’t one of them. This song is just horrible in every sense and if you can’t see that for yourself than you need to get yourself some ear glasses (bad jokes are really flowing right now).

“L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” achieves everything that the group failed on with that other thing I just had to listen to. It is still borderline cheesy however the song is fun and light, but is well enough written that it doesn’t quite have permanent residence in Gouda Country. “Wild Thing” is ok in parts but feels like a hundred other soft rock songs that I have heard before that I feel like its wasting my time.

This is an album which I have difficulty getting past the first few songs as the vocal is a little whiny and girly. I fight myself and try and make myself overcome my issues with it, but it’s just not happening for me. I am cutting the review short on this one, cause I found that vocal so bland, uninteresting and constantly got on my nerves. There is not enough  musical content for me to get past it as everything about this album is so predictable and although there are some ok/tollerable songs here, I really didn’t enjoy this album. There is simply nothing indentifiably unique about their sound that would draw me to listen to their music, everything seems to revolve around the vocal which I can’t stand. Next!

ALBUM RATING: Heaven for some, Hell for others

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbGUEelmzxo

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