Here is a taste of what Alex Turner of the Artic Monkeys has been up to in writing the soundtrack for Submarine by Richard Ayoade. He is obviously a very busy young man, with The Monkeys set to release their fourth album on June 6th and a side project to boot. Only 6 tracks long, there is not much in terms of quantity to sink your teeth into, so check it out.

 

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After a five year hiatus, Julian Casablancas and The Strokes are back with their fourth studio album titled “Angles”. The band started working on this album with Joe Chicarelli, who in recent times has worked with The Shins and The White Stripes, which lead me to think that this may be a flop in the making.

The album opens with the track “Machu Picchu” which gives the listener an immediate impression of what this album is about. The vocals are gentler, the guitars are warmer and the overall sound is full and mature from their earlier days as well as showing off a distinctly new direction, from a band that may be accused of being a little safe for the past two albums.

Don’t be fooled by the tone of this review. If you are after an album which feels like “Is This It” well you will have a few tracks which are up are your alley, having said that though there will be people that I assume will find the follow on from “Phrases for the Young” (I don’t care how Julian spells the title, I refuse to use US English in MY review) a little too “poppy” for a want of a better word, with a lot less raw emotion put into the songs.

The lead single “Under Cover of Darkness” had me a little confuzzled at first listen. I didn’t know what to make of it. The song felt a little confused itself and I didn’t know how to react. The more I hear this song, the more I love it. This is exactly the song that the alternative rock community needed to drag the kids away from the deamons of the garbage dance music that they listen to these days (end rant).

The bass guitar work is fantastic throughout the album with the highlight being the “Taken for a fool”, but who would guess otherwise as Fraiture has always been a rock for The Strokes and doesn’t get the credit that he deserves. Even on this track you find your self getting dragged away that funky as bass sound and drawn into Casablancas’ vocal which is clearly showing off great flexibility from earlier works.

I absolutely loved “Gratisfaction” from the first moment that I heard it. The song is chock full of fun and energy, it really makes it hard not to smile and tap away on the steering wheel as you drive along. The band then follows up with “Metabolism” which is quite chunky and brings back the Strokes sound of old, with that distinctive vocal taking control.

The songs are well written with much of the bands signature drumming style and guitar sound surviving the groups extended vacation. The sound is quite deliberate with no sense of fodder, the album title “Angles” suggests that Casablancas and co had a good understanding as to what they had created with this album. Parting was with their original producer didn’t phase them in the slightest.

I am not going to say that this is the best Strokes album, having said that, it is their best. The have never displayed such range or maturity in their sound on previous albums in the way that they have here. The Strokes have never been a band that have demanded listeners to sit down and take a lesson in rock, but that is exactly what they are doing here. Not that the band demands much commitment to gain reward, it’s just that the sound is fuller and more layered than before. The band has taken a lot of ideas and managed to fit them into on album and make it work. There is some great funky sounds on this album with some really great guitar work and people wanting to judge them as past their best should give this a chance.

This album gives me the impression that the band was trying to please too many people and comes off as somewhat disjointed from track to track, despite this though the sound is strong and as each song is enjoyable on its own you can easily get past the lack of flow. I think this comes down to the band not being certain about what they are after such a long lay off and side projects to boot. I must say I love this album and think that it will be tough to run this down in album of the year stakes.

ALBUM RATING: A bit of everything for all varieties of Strokes fans

In conversation with Tristian the other day there was 2 bands that I mentioned that I realllly, realllly wanted new music from TVOTR and Grissly Bear. I scored with 1/2, so am very pleased.

Here is the new single from TVOTR who are clearly showing off their softer side with a nice track. The band’s new album “Nine Types of Light” is due on the shelves on on April 12th. Check out the single for yourself below:

Unfortunately for some, Splendour in the Grass is returning to Woodford, Qld despite a large push to return the festival to the Byron Bay region. Lineup and ticket release are soon to follow.

Dates: July 29th-31st 2011

Chatting with Tristian the other day, I mentioned planning to work on a review of “Mine is Yours”, only to find out that he was not at all interested in hearing this album. “Mine is Yours” is the third studio album from CWK after the somewhat disappointing “Loyalty to Loyalty” its predecessor “Robbers and Cowards” which was an enormous success. I started out by reminding myself what “Loyalty to Loyalty” was about and honestly is wasn’t as forgettable as I had labelled it.

The first that I had heard of this album was the lead single “Louder Than Ever” which had really got me feeling that this band had remembered what it was all about. The track is definitely by far the champion of the album and could easily slot onto the bands debut album “Robbers + Cowards”.

The album opens with the title track “Mine is Yours”,  and is a nice little opening track, which it really sets a good foundation and tone for the rest of the album. A very nice contribution in terms of lyrics backed up with some emotive vocals remind you how this band made its name. Once “Louder than Ever” is finished doing its thing, the album moves on to “Royal Blue” which injects some nice percussion, piano and bass guitar. This is a nice little track which offers so much, yet leaves you feeling like you ate a 2 course dinner when you ordered 3 courses.

“Finally Begin” is a weird track, I seem to love it one minute and then am grossed out by it the next. The guitar transitions in the song are really predictably pop sounding and are simply there as support to the vocals. The song is just neither here nor there and needs an injection of something to give it some identity.

“Out of the Wilderness” is probably the most adventurous track on the album from a band which I feel is quite narrow in what they try and achieve. The sound is big and bold, while retaining a gentle feel. I get the sense that maybe this song would have worked better as a closing track as opposed to the middle of the album. They also could have tried merging it with “Skip the Charades” and really challenged the listener.

The back end of the album, seems to lag a bit with “Bulldozer” being a real love it or hate it track. It has a nice little bass line which is not serviced all that well by the chorus.  The album really needs a injection of something in the later stages as the sound can get a little monotonous at times, I get the feeling that this is due to the vocals and absent drumming, more than anything else. I get the feeling that CWK are trying to show a transition in the album to a darker side at the end, however it doesn’t really go dark as I would like to hear and is really just a collection of songs as opposed to a united piece of work.

Overall, the bands sound has not changed course since the first album, which gives them a sense of familiarity which at times works but at other times you are left with a feeling that they are just flogging the same old product straight off the conveyor belt. This album will grab some people’s attention however it fails to grab hold of my shirt and make me listen to it over and over. I will definitely have an ear out to see what they do next, however if it isn’t a little more edgy and new then they may be getting locked away in the basement. The biggest disappointment of the album is the drumming, where was it? Was it even there? It’s as though he went on holidays to Spain for a few months while the band was writing the album and came back with 2 weeks remaining in the recording studio. The disappointing thing about this album is that it stinks of complacency and doesn’t challenge the listener as they are surely capable. This review is probably a little harsh, however this is a band capable of blowing your socks off and they just aren’t doing that with this release.

ALBUM RATING: Few great tracks, overall listenable

This was just released yesterday. Not sure what I think of it. Don’t hate the new stuff that the Monkeys have released but part of me certainly does wish that they would move back to the high intensity, fast paced sounds of yonder.

Here is a taste of the title track from Manchester Orchestra’s pending release (10th May):

http://rope.foofighters.com/

Foo Fighters are back and at it again. Not sure what to make of this track, but no doubt this will be another solid output from a veteran group.

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.