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So you have most likely heard this by now, unless you have been trapped under a rock for the past 3 weeks. The new album “Angles” is due for release on the 22nd of this month.

The Wombats are definitely headed in a new direction with the new tracks that they have put out in the build up to their new album. “Jump into the Fog” is a little darker and slower from what we are used to from the ‘Bats, my first listen asked more questions than it answered. The intensity is not the same as it was with “A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation” and the backing vocals that provided such great harmonies are non-existant. I have a feeling that this album will definitely split the fan-base.

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Enmore theatre, 28th January 2011

Mickey Mouse and the Goodnight Man
Worm Tamer
Get It On
Heathen Child
Evil
When my Baby Comes
????
Honey Bee
Kitchenette
No Pussy Blue
Bellringer Blues

ENCORE:
Palaces of Montezuma
When my Love Comes Down
Man in the Moon
Love Bomb
Grinderman

Just checking out CWK’s latest output on youtube which was just released today. Should have a review happening in the next week or so. First impressions are positive. For the JJJ listeners, you might get a reprieve from the constant hip-hop and dance that they are playing lately and enjoy some real music as this was selected as their album of the week.

Ok so time to start with a rant. JJJ’s Hottest 100. Now in this modern era who would have thought that tallying an online poll however large would be so demanding? Obviously it was for the J’s as I missed out on voting due to my own disorganisation and a bizarre cut off date for voting like a week before the count, ABC budgeting must be getting tight.

Here is my list of top 5 tracks and songs for 2010, which I doubt that the new wave of JJJ listeners will pick more than 2 in the hottest 100:

*Grinderman – Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man (WINNA)
I love the way that Nick Cave just doesn’t care about whether a lyric fits or not, he just makes it happen “Hey man I ya think it might be the cops”. Bad as bass riff for a bad as song that shows that 2010 was the year for howling!

* Arcade Fire – Ready to Start (2nd Place)
By far the best song of what I thought was a disappointing album. This song has it all and to describe it with one word “Addictive”.

*Black Keys – Howlin’ For You (3rd Place)
Another killer tracker from a band with a small but loyal following, who I think are happy for things to stay that way. I just find myself bouncing around and just not caring when I hear this song, love it.

*The Walkmen – Blue as your Blood (4th Place)
I love this song in the way that you might love a girl. It is song writing at its absolute best and if it was a girl it would no doubt be the most elegant and stunning young lady in the room. Nothing forced or pretentious about it.

*Klaxons – Echoes (Tied for 5th Place)
This is what pop music just wishes it could be. Grounding shaking to the core, not a wasted ounce of effort. Epitome of what the Klaxons are all about. Shout out to “Twin Flames”, which might have been picked on another day.

*Interpol – Summer Well (Tied for 5th place)
From the self titled album, showing off the new look softer side to the 4 piece out of NYC.

And as for the albums that made the 2010 short list, drum roll please:

*Grinderman – Grinderman 2
Well der. Great contribution from a group of well travelled performers.

*Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
A change in pace and style from the rest of the list. What any electronic act should be aiming to replicate.

*The Walkmen – Lisbon
You just can’t turn this album off. It’s not possible.

*Black Keys – Brothers
Blue rock as it was intended. Big, bad and full of energy.

*Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat the Devil’s Tattoo
Such a pleasurable and relaxing journey this album takes you on every time.

I really couldn’t find any other albums that I believe truly deserved to be put alongside 5 wonderful albums, Arcade Fire (The Suburbs), Interpol (self titled) and Klaxons (Surfing the Void) were solid albums from bands that I adore, but just weren’t the best work that I felt that these bands have delivered. Whereas the albums above were tight from start to end without a slip up or out of place song.

Honorable mentions go our to The National (just haven’t gotten around to having a proper listen, apologies to anyone I may have offended) and Tame Impala (just spent most of the album going, this is so 2009, where are all your new songs?). I couldn’t chose a stand out album, I just hate trying to say that one great thing is better than another. It just doesn’t work.

White Lies introduced themselves to the international music scene in 2008 with a wonderfully 80’s inspired, yet modern pop album titled “To lose my life….”. They have since followed this up with their recent release “Ritual”. The title alone lead me believe that I might expect something very deliberate and inspired, maybe even spiritual. After my first listen I must admit that I was a little disheartened in regards to what I was hearing. Yes it was unmistakable, there were definitely synthesizers being used.

OK so hear me out. I get this feeling with a lot of bands after the write the first album they are under the pump from their label to get a second album into the market before too long passes and their brand becomes forgotten. Song writing is not necessarily the strength of a lot of bands, so the label brings in a big time producer who takes over and repackages a band’s brand.

“Streetlights” possesses a very Joy Division ‘esc vocal to it which I haven’t seen on their previous work. This however develops throughout the track and is really nice piece of songwriting and to boot, is the most in touch with their debut album in terms of a nice clean sound with the subtle introduction of the keyboards in the background, showing a transition into a new direction. The album actually starts out quite nicely with “Is Love” and “Bigger than Us” as two very enjoyable tracks to lead off the record. And then things start to feel forced.

“Holy Ghost” opens with a very industrial sound which develops further throughout the track. I don’t know if this is an insult or not, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Mighty Boosh when listening to parts of this track. The more I listen to this track the more that aspect makes me laugh so I guess that means a tick for the insult column. Last year I fell in love with Band of Skulls who had a wonderful album with a single track which made my skin crawl. This song achieves the same feat for me, yet I don’t get the feeling that the rest of the album is strong enough to warrant using the skip button to move past it.

“Turn the Bells” begins with a yet another confusing industrial sound and then kicks in with a very cheesy sounding synthesizer however by the time it reaches the chorus, the different aspects start working together and reach a purpose. Despite this, I still am left with a dirty taste in my mouth. This track though displays the most organisation and structure of all of the songs on the album and I get a feeling that it could have been much more than what was delivered, time will tell. This seems to follow on with the track “Peace and Quiet”, which gives the expectation of a soft and delicate tone through the song which is achieved to a degree. What really gets on my nerves in this track is the drum machine and for a portion, more synthesizers, that has been used in this track really detracts from what it seems is the original intention when the title of the track was penned. To me this track is again showing promise and potential, yet just has too many distracting factors that are pulling me away from the meat of the song which feels a little rare for my liking.

This is an album that has clearly been written with a particular portion of the market in mind and I feel that they may find some success within that group. I find that with “To lose my life…” they managed to reach a greater audience through the useĀ  of big vocals, traditional band structure and easy to follow pop songs. Every band should move in a new direction at some stage in their career, despite this, The White Lies seem to have made their transition for the wrong reasons. This album feels unfinished. The back end of the album gives the impression that they are stalling or at least are not clear in what the songs are trying to achieve. There is definitely enough signs of life on this album to suggest that we haven’t seen the last of a very talented band, but there will need to be some soul searching before they will be moving in the right direction again. I get the sense that this will be an album that will split White Lies fans and fail to attract a lot a new ones. Given some more time to ensure that every aspect of every song is serving a purpose might have lead this to be a great follow up album, unfortunately it falls frustratingly short of the mark. This is definitely not the heavenly experience I was hoping for and was surely lacking the emotional pull I was longing.

*Cold War Kids are soon to submit a new piece of work. The album is titled “Mine Is Yours” and is due for release on Jan 24/25, 2011. Album cover looks like something my 3yo nephew would have scribbled. Would expect something like that from an electronic act not CWK. Will have to wait and see if that is any representation of the music.

http://www.coldwarkids.com/site/mineisyours

*Sparkadia are set to release their latest full length EP “The Great Impression”. Date: March 18, 2011.

*17 January 2011 is the date that will circled in fat red texta on my calendar for the release of “Ritual” the follow up to “To Lose my Life…” from White Lies, no tour dates for Aus at this stage. Cool looking album cover with twins dressed in matching “school uniform” inspired outfits.

*BDO 2011 offering 2 for 1 entry on the second date…lol

*Wombat’s also have a new 1 in the production line titled: “The Wombats Proudly Present: This Modern Glitch” which is due for release on April 11

After a recent phone conversation with Tristian regarding this album, I have decided to drag myself away from my Cisco studies to put together a post.

Tristian put me on to “You and Me” a while ago and it was one of those albums that I never got around to and then when I did, would listen to half a dozen tracks and move onto something else. Eventually though the album started to grab me with those funky guitars and the vocals which are quite unique yet I am not totally sure why?

When comparing this with their previous album this is definitely a more mellow affair with the vocals driving the songs and the lead guitar pushed down the pecking order. Percussion also gets a bigger piece of the pie on this album and some really nice drumming compliments some soothing vocals. I cannot say enough about the drumming on this album, it was what keeps me awake through some of the tracks especially “Blue as your Blood” which has some beautiful strings from the half way point of the track and is a magically constructed piece of music. Having said that, “Stranded” really left me feeling just that.

I do enjoy this album. It displayed real consistency which was its strength as well as it’s downfall in some senses. There was just no real stand out song on the album which was full of a real understanding of what they were trying to achieve. If I had to pick one at this stage I would have to say “Angela Surf City” epitomises for me the surfer sound that this band is all about (surprising given these guys hail from Phillie and NY).

The beach sound is still there with the same guitar sounds being used, however this is much more of a “sit back watching a sunset over the beach from the porch drinking a nice cold beer” type of album if that helps to explain it. I am looking at you “All my Great Designs”….yawnn. Not a terrible song, just makes me feel sleepy.

Some people are going to love this album but for me it is something that I would put on as background music at a BBQ as opposed to something that I would put on while on the road (where I do much of my music listening). I just found that they got away from the chaffed (for want of a better adjective) guitar sound which was the strength of “You and Me”.

This was definitely a fine album at the end of a year that promised a lot and delivered little. After how I got onto The Walkmen in the first place I wouldn’t be surprised if this does end up at the top of my rotation, with a couple more up tempo tracks it could take over my rotation.

Arm's Way Album ArtSo I was lying there in Barcelona with my single connection to the outside world shuffling it’s way though new songs, filling the space of the hotel room. That’s when each of the songs on this album, slowly, individually unfolded from the unknown. There was no intent; no effort made to listen to this album in particular, but for whatever reason each song from it demanded my attention and made itself known.

With echoes of Evermore and whispers of the “The Hush Sound” this album has a lot going for it, and if you enjoy either you’ll feel perfectly at home here.

Powering Arm’s Way are frenetic, crunchy, punk-like rhythms. With a crushing, marching beat the songs reach down into your gut and stir your militant side, but not before a lush harmony can come to offer a soothing counterpoint to the violence preceding it. It’s this dichotomy that really stands out and defines this album. It’s simply done so well.

Arm’s Way has an insatiable appetite for different sounds, with a particular phrase never hanging around for long before being discarded and replaced with a fresh one. Though at some points it may feel like you’re holding on for dear life it’s never a rocky ride. This album transitions between styles with degree of skill and artistry that’s pure bliss to listen to.

Driving the sound forwards is the workhorse of this album, the guitar. From the punchy, syncopated marching sections to the more relaxed arpeggios, they provide they basis of the split personalities that each of these songs posses. Always attacking in short bursts, tripping over themselves to try out their next discovery, they give this album a constant sense of urgency.

The vocals on this album are wonderfully measured. Being led along by the sweep of the song, they give the feeling of someone reporting the details of an event as it occurs. Someone absolutely involved in the proceedings… The vocal styles cover a gamut of emotions, grounding you before drawing you into the changing states of the song. The vocals range from the hauntingly melodic to the desperately pleading with pretty much everything in-between.

Islands have managed to take a standard rock setup, added a few violins and with some inspired layering created something that’s really unique. Well worth a listen.

8/10

Hype Machine is a service that scrapes music blogs picking up posted mp3s and collates them all in a way that allows you to vote on them and share them among your friends.

I’m still experimenting with it but so far it seems like a really cool way to discover new music. You can find my profile at giant_squid