30 November 2008

MMVIII: next big things

White Lies
Just think what a wonderful concoction this would be; Joy Divison, The Smiths, The Cure, U2. Now imagine if such a band was a reality. You'd have White Lies then. Their songs are epic, yet dark and disturbing. Name another band who would write a song about a ghost coming back to visit his lover/murderer? Exactly, none. They just sound like they're built for the arenas and stadiums of the world, and their guitar parts don't sound like they're written using fucking algebra.

Cheeky Cheeky & The Nosebleeds
English music has long been devoid of a band with a proper sense of humour. I guess you could class Hadouken! as a sick hipster joke, but I'm talking about a band who's songs are as funny as they are great. I think The Nosebleeds are just that band, ready to take the long-dusty crown of odd-pop once held by the likes of XTC, Talking Heads, Wire and Elvis Costello. Musically they may sound a bit identikit, but they'll be big

Okay, she's pretty big already in indie circles, but 2009 is the year where she'll explode into the mainstream. Her eponymous debut is stuffed to the brim with solid gold, 80's-indebted pop hits, all deserving of as much praise as possible. Latest single My Delirium is just one example of the girl's talent for melody and pure tuneage.


Part emo, part indie, part epic pop, Grammatics aren't your usual blogosphere darlings. They won't exactly be soundtracking any Skins episodes or England sporting failure. But they'll gain a massive following if their album lives up to internet hype. The bass is scuzzy, the drums are complex, the guitars have the tone of typical emo band, the vocals are strained, the keys and strings are mournful. It sounds like it shouldn't work, but it does

The Chapman Family
To some they're "The worst band I have ever seen...an abomination". To others, they're the new Manics; snarling, sloganeering, superb. Back in reality, The Chapman Family aren't either, if I'm being honest. Although they have elements of the Manics (loud, angry, amazing, dumb punk fun), they are their own beast. One with the chance to become a highly important band during these "crunching" times.

Twisted Wheel
Successors to Oasis' lad-rock crown? Well according to a lot of critics, they probably are (after The Enemy, Kasabian, The View etc etc). In my opinion, they only have one good song at the moment; "Lucy The Castle" (although it sounds suspiciously like "Suffragette City" by Bowie) The rest sound like The Clash if they were utter garbage really. But they must have some appeal with the masses. If they pick up a bit of studio sheen and songwriting nous from supporting Oasis, their debut album could be pretty good.

Alexis Blue
Right, if they don't get big in the next 396 days, then I'll eat my hat! I don't even have a hat to eat, I'm going to have go out and buy one, just to eat it! AB have all the right ingredients for success but for some reason, not many people seem to have picked up on it, or at least noone with a whole lot of power within the music industry. I urge anyone reading this to check them out, as your musical taste will improve vastly.

29 November 2008

MMVIII: songs

Vampire Weekend - A-Punk
As previously mentioned, "A-Punk" is pretty much the song of the summer, possibly even the year. The song that brought the band to a much, much wider audience than they would have reached had they become permanent residents of the blogosphere (I'm looking at you, Black Kids). A hit at with indie disco regulars, the chavvy ringtone crew, the Tesco mums and pretty much everyone, despite none of them having a clue what is being said throughout. the infectious "Hey hey hey hey!" chorus means the song latches onto your memory and doesn't let go. An antidote to the current hard times from the anti-Strokes, who are even more brilliant.

Keane - Spiralling
Well this was a surprise. Keane; the purveyors of banal, bland, inoffensive, piss-poor piano pop come out with a heavily 80s influenced monster of a choon, basslines and a riff that Franz Ferdinand would be proud of. Although not representative of the album as a whole, it's a song for the clubs, and for house parties, yet like "A-Punk", has pretty universal appeal. Still can't stand them though.

Hot Chip - Ready For The Floor
Starts of as typical Hot Chip and develops into the perfect pop song. Melodious, dreamy, yet definitely danceable. Alexis Taylor's vocals are dreamy and gentle, just on the right side of twee; a direct contrast to the clunky beats and funky synths behind. Add to that a scattering of guitar and a chorus that grows and grows on you, deserving to be heard by everyone.

Glasvegas - Flowers & Football Tops
For any band, it takes some confidence to put a song of four and a half minutes on your debut album, as this is the one thing that can make or break your career. But to have an almost 7 minute song as the opener of your album, and the first minute and 17 seconds of that as just feedback and noise takes cajones the size of the moon. That's what Glasvegas did in "F&FT". Based on the racial murder of a Glasgow schoolboy, the song goes through the heartbreak of losing a son, with a Spector-ish "Wall of Sound" and James Allan's unmistakable Glaswegian brogue. But it's the last two minutes where the song really turns epic. The drums stop and the feedback continues into "You Are My Sunshine" which cannot be described in word without sounding like hyperbole. But it definitely lives up to hype.

Friendly Fires - Paris
A few years ago, Franz Ferdinand were making the dancefloor seems like the greatest invention ever. Fast forward to now and a different FF are doing the exact same, but not with guitars; with cowbells, plenty of drums, and wave after wave of synth. This band is Friendly Fires. Three lads from St. Albans making a combination of shoegaze, disco and dance may not sound too appealing, but on "Paris", they show that it's a damn good idea. Romantic as can be in it's lyrics ("Every night, we can watch the stars/They'll be out for us") with a wall of noise not entirely dissimilar to Glasvegas, but much more lush and softer. It's as perfect a song can get, like a smoother, cooler brother of "Ready For The Floor"

Late Of The Pier - Heartbeat
LOTP have been described in many ways. From "the future of new rave" to "making Hadouken! look good", nothing really seems to suit them. Trying to pigeonhole them is as hard as trying to keep Pete Doherty off smack or getting Jordan to keep her clothes on, and this is no more evident than on their last and best single. Starting off sounding like a long lost Killers track with a megaton of synth, it suddenly moves into "Paranoid Android" territory and then straight into a manic chorus mix of Klaxons and The Strokes. By the end of the song, we've gone through MGMT, Radiohead, RATM and end on a Muse style rock-out. Genius.

Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire
You can't deny how good this song actually is. It may not have too much hidden meaning and isn't exactly pushing any musical boundaries, but it has possibly the most bizzare chorus of any Number One of recent times (I'm just guessing here, but actual sex on fire must hurt. A lot). It's a simple slice of stadium rock, something to dance badly to at eighteenths, to bellow with mates whilst walking home from a night out, to "headbang" to in your room while noone's around.

The Teenagers - Homecoming
Not something you'd want to listen to around anyone who's offended easily. Fifteen utterances of "naughty" words, most of them pretty strong. Starting off almost like Joy Division, "Homecoming" quickly changes into sleazy Gallic mode with a pretty simple story; boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, boy only wants her for sex, boy and girl get it on, boy leaves. I suppose it could be described as most teenage lads dream really....well maybe not most....*ahem*. Anyway, it's basically a slightly cynical, slightly bitter, very dirty take on 21st Century relationships. Either that or just a chance to say some rude words in a pop song

Elbow - One Day Like This
Mercury Prize winners or not, this is still a brilliant song, Elbow's first big hit after 18 years as a band. The swirling strings, the dashings of piano every now and again, and Guy Garvey's brilliant lyrics ("Kiss me like we die tonight...") all combine to make a modern-day "Hey Jude"...well almost. A gospel added to the coda gives the song an almost hymn-like feel. It's something that's perfect for the festival crowds and will be a classic in years to come.

White Lies - Death.
In 2009 White Lies will be big. Actually scrap that, they're big now. Well in terms of their sound anyways. Sonically huge. A brooding bassline that Peter Hook will kicking himself for not thinking up, the crunch of guitar that aren't "angular" or "arty" for the first time in 4 years, a quivering string section, drums pounded to within an inch of their life. These are the ingredients to one of the best songs of the year, the exact opposite to the bright and breezy "A-Punk". "Death" unashamedly has its roots firmly in the 80s, but is also definitely now. By the end of next year, White Lies will be on everyones lips.

27 November 2008

MMVIII: albums

We're approaching December, the end of a rather enjoyable year in terms of music (not so much when talking about the economy). Since there aren't any major, major albums being released from now until 2009 (well apart from Fall Out Boy's Foile A Deux, but the less said about that, the better) I thought I'd give a review of the past 331 days, starting with albums....


Glasvegas - Glasvegas
called them "Britain's best loved band". That may not strictly be true (as I can't find anyone who wants to go to see them in 2 weeks), they have the potential to become an classic band. An intriguing mixture of The Clash, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Oasis, the band tell stories of life on the streets of Glasgow, from absent fathers to knife crime, all under shimmering guitars, rumbling bass and thundering drums. "A furious Wall of Sound" in their own words, and one that's here to stay.

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
A hefty dollop of prime American rock, following on from their breakthrough third album Boys And Girls In America. Craig Finn's distinctive Boston drawl and clever lyrics drives the songs across Stay Positive. Fans of the band will know what to expect musically; crunchy riffs, Slash-like solos, E Street-channeling piano. but a few curveballs are thrown every now and again, showing the progression of the band since their debut, and where they're headed. A harpsichord on "One For The Cutters", an amazing talkbox solo during "Joke About Jamaica" and the Zeppelin-like "Both Crosses". It's an album packed with future classics from a band destined for stadiums and headline slots, but the best is save for last on "Slapped Actress". The
pièce de résistance and closing track, it sums up everything great about The Hold Steady; clever, catchy rock anthems. And who could say no to that?

Bloc Party - Intimacy
The Bloc should be commended for this album, and not just for it's content. Released online a few months before physically going on sale, it was a brave move for the band, this being only their third album. But the move has paid off as the album was acclaimed by both fans and critics alike (although some might disagree) for the new dancefloor-centric direction of the album. There was much grumbling from fanboys over lead single "Mercury", despite it not even being one of the best tracks on the album, but still a piece of genius in my opinion. "Intimacy" swings from Klaxon-aping choons such as "Ares", to heartfelt dance-balladry in "Signs" (did I just create a genre? I think I'm turning into NME) and finally, to a perfect distillation of every element of Bloc Party, "Talons". The jittery post-post-punk guitar, intricate and danceable beat and Kele's angsty howl (which is a good thing).

Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster...

The jerky indie-punk continues with the debut from the Cardiff seven piece (although none of them actually come from Cardiff). Drawing their inspiration from hardcore punk bands such as Black Flag to classic indie bands like Pavement and The Fiery Furnaces, they make an absolutely wonderful racket. Not something you'll ever find on Radio 1, but they don't seem to care. They revel in obscurity and going against the norm (they've released their second album just last month, although it doesn't match up to this). They could be classified as typically studenty, but they're far too good for that tag.

Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires

Imagine a band who's primary influences are dance music, "lush shoegaze melodies" and classic pop. That's Friendly Fires. All the euphoria of a late 80's rave with carnival spirit and massive pop hooks, from 3 guys from St. Albans. I guess in a sentence the album is a anthemic cowbell-heavy party record for anytime of the year. Latest single "Paris" is definitely a contender for song of the year, if the past 8 years .

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

After the breakup of his band, his relationship and a bout with illness, Justin Vernon left his home and moved into his father's cabin in the woods of northern Wisconsin. Not intending to write any music at all during that time, he came out with this beautiful album. Only 9 tracks long but full of haunting vocals and sparse acoustic guitar, it's destined to become a classic album. Highlights include "Skinny Love" and the sublime "Re: Stacks", which may sound like it should be on the soundtrack to House or something...mainly because it has been. But don't let that deter you from "For Emma, Forever Ago". It may not be zeitgeist-straddling indie rock or the soundtrack to your next rave, but it's just as good as any of the bands that fit into those categories.

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - Angles

Looking at the two of them, you wouldn't think that they're one of the best hip-hop groups in Britain, but trust me they are. Le Sac and Pip first came to people's attention with their underground hit "Thou Shalt Always Kill" late last year (don't worry Daily Mail readers, that doesn't mean the country's teenagers are going to go on a kill crazy rampage, "kill" means do your best on stage), a satirical attack on 21st Century Britain that sometimes contradicts but never bores. Slaying the legends of music ("The Beatles: just a band...The Clash: just a band"), it proves that Le Sac & Pip are planning on staying for a while and the rest of the album will help them to do just that. They're a hip-hop act with some soul; a rare thing these days, as shown on the title track and various others. Their fingers are on the pulse of modern day Britain, and coupled with a keen wit and some ingenious beats/sampling, they've created something different and even more brilliant for it

Foals - Antidotes
Ahhh one of the biggest hype bands of 2008 definitely came up with the goods, but they differed to people's expectations. Drafting in producer du jour Dave Sitek may have been a step in the wrong direction, seeing as his mix apparently was too reverb-y and sounded like it had been "recorded in the Grand Canyon". But what eventually ended up on the record is a totally different beast to the demos and earlier singles. Of course there's still dancefloor hits in the likes of "Cassius" and "Balloons" but the rest of the tracks have a Radiohead-ish feel too them. Intricate beats and guitar work intertwining with obscure, opaque lyrics ("the lighthouse is an accident" anyone?). Another unexpected addition to the band's canon was a brass section. Trumpets and saxophones augment quite a few early tracks without changing Foals' blueprint for "ballet with beats" and add something different to them; something to keep them apart from the math-rock/indie chasing pack

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
Not just here because of their Mercury triumph (although that was what got me to listen to their album the whole way through and actually listen), Elbow have achieved overnight success after 18 years of hard work. And you can't say they don't deserve it. Just based on this album alone, they should be headlining festivals left right and centre, such is the anthemic, hug-yer-mates-but-in-a-manly-way quality of the songs on the album. Guy Garvey's lyrics border on classic throughout, especially on "One Day Like This", Elbow's "first big hit". "The Seldom Seen Kid" almost borders on epic, such is the arrangement of many of the songs; luscious strings, pounding drums and a bonafide anthem in "Grounds For Divorce". Elbow look set to grow and grow in stature in the future

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

The final of the big three hype bands this year. The preppy purveyors of
Afrobeat-inflected college indie were pretty much the suprise package in terms of albums. They had little hype before "Vampire Weekend" was released, and only then did it pass by word of mouth across this here blogosphere (that's such an oxymoron, I know). Coming out in January, it didn't seem too likely that it would last the distance, but the quailty of the record made sure it did. Which other record in the past...well...50 years of rock 'n' roll references the Falklands War and modern architecture in the first track? Exactly, none (that I know of). The album is packed to the brim with the ultimate summer songs; both laid-back and bouncy. One of which is pretty much a defining song of the year: A-Punk. It may haunt the band for years to come, but I doubt they'll care. Most people may not have a clue what Erza Koenig is singing about, but they're damned if they care. It's too joyous of a song really. I could waffle on about every song on the album, but I'd bore you so I'll leave it at that.


Hadouken! - Music For An Accelrated Culture
Only if your culture is as accelerated as the school bus for Ronald House at a red light, really. Basically H! are a bunch of wannabee LDN scene kids, who think that rapping about house parties, getting wasted and basically what they see in the capital. Which obviously isn't too inspiring to them. Hell, even Razorlight's thrid album was better than this mush. Without James Smith rambling his way over the top, the band do have some good riffs and songs in them, but it's just their need to be "down wid da kidz" that ruins them. Namechecking such 21st Century innovations as the iTunes library, MySpace profile songs, MSN Messenger, Trojan viruses, and ringtones will jsut date them even quicker than expected. I can only hop the credit crunch gets to them sooner rather than later.

A lot of albums were hyped up beyond belief this year, with only a few weathering the media storm. One band who didn't make it were Kings Of Leon, the one time ramshackles "Southern Strokes". On thrid album "Because Of The Times", they changed their image to a slick arena rock band and it definitely worked for them. But this years fourth effort "Only By The Night" may change the band forever. The songs are more streamlined, the writing less interesting and their image is that of a rough boy band really. The album continues their "half good, half bad" formula, and basically, they're writing songs for U2 now. It may have won them a Number One and a lot of new "different" fans, but it's lost them a hell of a lot of old ones. Another over-hyped album from the last 12 months is "Off With Their Heads" by Kaiser Chiefs. You'd think with their Elland Road homecoming gigs, McCartney support slot and the help of Mark Ronson, they'd have come up with something more that "What do you want for tea/I want crisps!". Undoubtedly they'll continue to get bigger by the album, but once again the songs may suffer as a result.

Reviews of: 2008's best songs, best bands and tips for next year coming soon!


25 November 2008

808s & Heartbreak

Well Kanye won't win any prizes for album title subtlety, seeing his fourth offering is basically made up predominantly of the Roland TR-808 drum machine (as it can be used to"evoke emotion"....go figure) and a turbulent year for West himself; the death of his mother and a split from his fiancée. So you can forgive him for the overwhelming woe-is-me feel of the album.

Two other main factors of the album are the use of AutoTune/Vocoder and the complete lack of rapping. Seriously. Gutted for all the kids who like to think they're from "da ghetto" then buy this album, just because it's Kanye, and get just one track featuring a rap (new single "Heartless"). If anything, the album is rooted in classic 80's pop, than 21st century hip-hop. West has already said that he has a soft spot for pop and that some of the "greatest" singers of all time were pop artists, specifically Madonna and Michael Jackson (obviously he hasn't heard their last few releases).

But for all the background and bumfluff, for all the concepts and melancholy,
808s & Heartbreak just comes off as a bit bland really. Opener "Say You Will" is fine musically, but Kanye's vocals are instantly forgettable, as are most of the tracks on the album. In fact, the collaboration tracks (with Kid Cudi, Young Jeezy, Mr. Hudson and Lil' Wayne) are the best here, seemingly as they're not all Kanye moping about. Lead single "Love Lockdown" is pretty much a work of genius from the "college dropout"; distorted vocals and tribal drums gel together suprisingly well, but from here, 808s... is downhill, right down to the final track "Pinocchio Story" a freestyle from a gig in Singapore. Pretty pointless really, it's a dirge of a track and I lost track of what Kanye was on about half way through, so I switched to The Wombats.

808s & Heartbreak is a suprising curveball, a confident change in direction for one of the biggest rappers around. Yet, despite the actual heartbreak behind it, you'd think West would find something positive out of the whole experience instead of turning into a sort of hip-hop Morrissey. At least he can make misery seem interesting, he's been doing it for 26 years.


Speaking of The Wombats, they're releasing a Christmas singe. No, wait...come back! It may not seem so much at first but it's a grower. Despite the Les Dennis cameo. Just ignore the first ten seconds when you hear it, then go buy it. Or Glasvegas' Crimbo mini-album. They're more deserving than whichever sorry excuse for humanity wins X Factor of the Xmas Number One (except that Diana one, she's rather fit) and also better than the other over-sweet festive sludge being released around this time.

7/10 (The Wombats - Is This Christmas?)
8.5/10 (Glasvegas - Please Come Back Home)

23 November 2008

"Would you set a horse on fire for £1 million?"

I've changed the Day & Age rating to a 7/10 instead of 8. After a few days of listening to little else, the weaker moments of the album have made themselves glaringly obvious. The apparent "kitchen sink" approach to some songs doesn't work at all for the band, and if they keep this up then I doubt future reviews will be too kind.


Alexis Blue have made their debut album available to download for free from HERE or HERE. So no excuses for whoever's bored enough to read this to not download it. Home-recorded and produced by the band, the album is packed full of indie-pop gems that make you wonder how stupid the Road To V judges actually were. The five new songs on the album, including Altar Ego and (Now It's An) Alcoholocaust, build on the band's already impressive canon. Catchy songs, witty wordplay, good riffs, all for free. What more could you want, eh?

And while you're at it, join the AB forum, they're a lovely bunch....most of the time haha.


19 November 2008

Day & Age

Well the new Killers album "Day & Age" has found its way on to teh internetz, only 4 days before the proper release date. By modern standards, that's a pretty remarkable feat, considering how many new LPs have leaked weeks in advance (namely Favourite Worst Nightmare last year).

As a fan of The Killers, I've been anticipating this since Human also magically appeared on the web, and going by the reviews & tracks floating around already, as well as their Jools Holland performance a few weeks ago it's sounding like a classic already (well apart from NME, giving it 7/10, Scrooges). While the album may take some time to actually lodge itself in my memory, I'll just post some initial thoughts for now
  1. Losing Touch - Announcing itself in a wave of feedback, the Foals-esque brass section kicks in, reminding us of "Bones". Could this hint towards another "Sam's Town"? Nope, since synths immediately take over and send the song back to classic Killers territory. Brandon Flowers' lyrics give a feeling of confusion and being lost, something conveyed in recent interviews. Heck even the title is a dead give away to his feelings right now. But somehow, it fits perfectly with the slightly melancholic mood of the song. and to top it off, an OTT solo from Dave Keunig, befitting of his current image of Slash's camp cousin from the 70's
  2. Human - Denser? Dancer? Dancers? I don't know, every time I listen the chorus changes (although Flowers has confirmed it's dancer, in reference to a quote from Hunter S. Thompson...still no excuse for the pretty awful grammar). Anyways, this tune rattles along like a long-lost Johnny Cash-New Order collaboration, built for stadiums/drunken sing-alongs/MSN screennames.
  3. Spaceman - And that makes it three brilliant songs in a row for "Day & Age". Some fears for another half-good, half-filler album are starting to creep in, but for now I'm just enjoying the ride. "Spaceman" is the sound of The Killers actually having some fun for the first time in the last 4 years. Beginning with a "ohh oh ohh" hook to possibly rival "Chelsea Dagger", or at least Ruby, Ruby, fucking Ruby, Spaceman barely lets up the pace throughout. Upto now it's a highlight of a rather good album, packed with synthy goodness and a funky bassline for the middle eight, right before the epic chorus kicks in one final time. It'll be a highlight of the festivals next summer.
  4. Joy Ride - Well this is unexpected. Another funked out bassline and a samba feel for track four. You wouldn't have heard this on "Sam's Town" or "Hot Fuss". It almost sounds like some Friendly Fires tracks, just without the late 80's rave feeling.I'm not too sure what to make of this though. The chorus feels understated for the band, with a slight country feel to it.... make of that what you will. Another attempt at "ohh ohh ohh"-ing near the end feels a little desperate, and over all the track just seems a little too kitsch.
  5. A Dustland Fairytale - Now if the titles doesn't sound perfect for Bruce Springsteen or "Sam's Town", then the lyrics will. "Just another white trash county kiss", "Like some kind of slick chrome American prince"; it's lines like these which show how far The Killers have come from worshipping anything British and from 20 years ago on "Hot Fuss". ADF begins with a soft piano intro and eventually bursts into life as an downbeat Americana anthem. Deserves repeated listenings to truly appreciate, in my opinion
  6. This Is Your Life - Okay, weird. An a cappella intro, mixed with an alien-sounding synth and yet again, lyrics that could have come from "Sam's Town". It would appear at this point, the album is the distillation of the previous two; danceable beats and layers of keyboards mixed on top of feelings of longing and pride with a smidge of bombast. Another grower, which slows down the pace of the album slightly, this could be The Killers maturing past slightly hollow sentiments and overly-mainstream songs to a truly interesting band.
  7. I Can't Stay - Seems like the maturity thing may be right, at least in expanding their musical horizons. Harps, Spanish guitar, clarinet, steel drums, saxophone and luscious strings adorn this track, fleshing out and improving it indefinitely. Despite the heavy amount of instrumentation, I Can't Stay sounds simple, yet heartfelt. A hidden gem.
  8. Neon Tiger - ....in which Flowers says he was attempting to write like MGMT. Hmmm.... Having heard this on Jools Holland, I already know that this is another highlight of the album. The chorus deserves to shouted from arenas, stadiums and muddy fields across the planet, whilst the song as a whole harks back to the pink blazer-and-eyeliner days of Brandon & Co. Still can't see the MGMT connection, apart from the Neon Tiger thing, something which the seemingly perpetual stoners could think up.
  9. The World We Live In - A big pop moment of the album. The synths (yes, there's an abundance of them) take over once again, with a steady beat and simple bass for the first time on the album. It's another simple track, slightly dreamy vocals, strings reminiscent of "Everything Must Go" by Manic Street Preachers (well in my mind anyway), it could be classed as a "slowie", if it weren't for the fact that Flowers comes up trumps yet again in the chorus department. Once again, should they play any festivals, they can expect this one chanted back at them.
  10. Goodnight, Travel Well - The longest Killers track at almost 7 minutes, this one is definitely interesting. Ominous and brooding, Brandon's mournful voice makes this the most downbeat Killers song ever. Given the subject (Dave Keunig's mother's death), it's pretty understandable. As the song progresses, it develops into an epic album closer and a welcome departure from the poptastic indie disco of their back catalogue.
Overall, the album is everything you expect, and at the same, not what you expected. The Killers seem to like being contrary. On one hand, "Day & Age" is a perfect pop album; you can dance to it, smile to it, cry to it, examine it, break up to it etc etc. But on the other hand, it's a brave experiment and expansion for the band. Elements which wouldn't have appeared earlier in their career are now the focal point of many songs, and for this they have to be applauded. Influences fly in from everywhere: New Order, Bowie, Springsteen, Elton John, Pet Shop Boys. Mixed with The Killers knack for hooks and bombast, it creates an album for almost everyone. It may not have reached the heights of Sam's Town yet for me personally, but give it a month or two, you might see a change.
Bring on album four is all I can say.



12 November 2008

"There is no nation of me, there is no nation of you"

Okay so no No Age review yet. Rather stressed atm, I should really start doing homework at the proper time. Oh well...

But but but! The new Franz Ferdinand album, "Tonight: Franz Ferdinand", is shaping up to be amazing, judging on the three songs I've heard and the NME blog review. I've been listening to Lucid Dreams and Can't Stop Feeling for a couple of months now, both perfect Franz. Although not exactly groundbreaking, they're still both guaranteed hits, if it weren't for the fact that my version of CSF is a demo, and LD has been turned into an apparent 8 minute long techno choon.

But just today I've got my virtual hands on a virtual copy of "Ulysses", the lead single from the album. To sound like a typical NME hack, it's pure disco, but with a slice of epicness and electronica mixed in. It'll be huge on the dancefloors and, while possibly not being to the taste of all fans, bodes well for the album.



10 November 2008


Possibly best TV show ever? After Mock The Week obv.


No Age: My new love this week. Love their two albums, and just ordered the t-shirt...I'm such a hipster.
In-depth reviews of albums to follow soon.

"We have real zombies on the go here!"

Glasvegas on Graham Norton Uncut. Errrr whut? I could take James Allan going on Buzzcocks, but this just too weird tbh


Twisted Wheel: new Manc/Oldham band, current supporting Oasis on tour. Not too sure what to make of them being honest. The tracks I heard on their MySpace are fairly average, stuff you'd expect to hear from the local chavvy band who've just discovered The Clash. But their new single "Lucy The Castle" is pretty catchy, and miles better than their other stuff. It may be because the video has been played about 972840 on the music channels over the last week or two, but still check 'em out.

Twisted Wheel

Lucy The Castle video


"I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things."

Sam's Town: A re-evaluation

The Killers second album, "Sam's Town", isn't viewed in too much of a positive light amongst the music press and fans. It's generally viewed as an overblown Springsteen-esque piece of Americana, accompanied by an unfortunate bit of facial hair (which has now been thankfully consigned to the rubbish bin of image overhauls)

Their debut "Hot Fuss" was critically acclaimed and popular with the part of the public that still buy CDs, yet a little one sided. The first half of the record was packed with what the Lacoste-wearing masses call "choons"; electro-indie-pop classics such as Mr Brightside and Somebody Told Me. Yet the second half was pretty much 5 tracks of filler, which only the hardcore fans could name/sing along to. And shortly after "Sam's Town" was released, the general consensus was that The Killers had followed the same route of an album of half great songs, half barely b-side standard.

But now, 2 weeks before third album "Day & Age" is released, I think it's time to take another look back at ST. The need for a run of classic albums from every new band seems to cloud most critics and fans perceptions of new LPs. If it's not a "Morning Glory", "Favourite Worst Nightmare" or "A Grand Don't Come For Free", then it's derided as a "Give 'Em Enough Rope", a "Yours Truly, Angry Mob" or even worse, a "Second Coming". Not that those albums are bad, just that they don't match up to the amazing/brilliant/zietgiest-defining debuts.

Beginning at Track 1 (which is always helpful), the title track of "Sam's Town" is a whirlwind of melodramatic rock 'n' roll, placing you straight into the retina-burning world of The Killers hometown, Las Vegas. Subtlety has never really been a part of their vocabulary, and here the word is seemingly erased from existance with almost everything but the kitchen sink thrown into this one track. It may appear cluttered, but it definitely works. But in the most direct of contrasts, this is followed by the first of two -ludes, Enterlude. A simple 50 second intro to the rest of the album, it may seem rather pompous to include Enterlude and its sister song, Exitlude, but yet again, it works to a tee.

Apart from these two, the album is pretty much the same melodramatic pomp-rock experienced on the title track, the pace never really letting up for a minute. The Springsteen influence is pretty obvious throughout, with lyrics like "We’re burnin’ down the highway skyline/On the back of a hurricane" so rooted in America, that there are oil prospectors still trying to get to them. But for all the talk of The Boss and The 'Tasche, Brandon & co still stick to their original influences of 80's synth-pop (namely New Order), which produces possibly the album's best moment in "Read My Mind", a track that could fit comfortably on Hot Fuss (and improve it indefinitely). Toned down vocals and guitars mixed with heavy synths and yet more cliched lyrics, e.g. “Breakin’ out of this two-star town” and “the stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun” make for a classic Killers song.

Before the record was released Flowers was quoted as saying that Sam's Town would be "one of the best albums in the past twenty years" and that it would be "the album that keeps rock & roll afloat." I'm not too sure about the latter part, but it is definitely one of the best albums since 1986.
For a band who are "morally bankrupt" (© Nicky Wire 2007) they don't half make some great tunes



6 November 2008


God, the EMAs are awful.
It's embarassing enough to get our own little awards ceremony just because we aren't on the other side of the pond, but to give the awards to shit acts is a kick in the continental bollocks.
The only good things about it were the Wombats, The Killers and Katy Perry (only because she is rather prettyful).
  • Metallica, Duffy and Coldplay all nominated for numerous awards, and lose out to 30 Seconds To Mars,Pink and
  • Jared Leto dressed in purple skinny jeans, a leather jacket, Obama shirt, a checked shirt and big kicks with hair past your shoulders. You're almost 40! Jesus Christ on a bike!
  • Bono. Wanker.
  • Tokio Hotel. A bunch of German hair-metallers beating Metallica and The Cure to the title of "Headliner". I know that means absolutely nothing, but it's the principle of the matter.
  • Rick Astley being voted "Best Act Ever". I don't care how many lulz it provided or that I voted for him at least a thousand times, it just makes the whole thing seem totally farcical.
  • The fact that only 4 winners were European
  • The sheer amount of Americans turning the awards into an Obama rally. Yes, we know he won, we know he's pretty amazing but no need to shove it down our throats.
Fuck MTV, and fuck their awards
(I realise now it's ironic that I'm off to watch Gonzo on MTV2 now, but still.... MTV in general is a load of wank)
"First love, last love, hold me love, it's only love"

Computers and Blues

You know something is up in life when you start enjoying Snow Patrol.
Seriously, Q is playing the top 10 Snow Patrol songs, and being honest, they're all good. That's a sentence I never thought I'd say/type.

In a complete contrast, I've been pretty obsessed with The Streets today. Wasn't really into good music for the first two albums, and also hated rap in every shape and form. How unenlightened I was. But after listening to most of them, it's quite obvious that Mike Skinner is a genius.

Also check out Billy Talent :)

"That's why I do this music business thing, it's communication with people without having the extreme inconvenience of actually phoning anybody up. "