Friday, 29 July 2011

Converge/Dropdead- Split

Celebrating a joint 20th birthday this year are Converge and Dropdead. While Dropdead look like a band in its 20th year, Converge has managed to keep their youthful good looks. That says something about the Straight Edge lifestyle right there. To celebrate this milestone this 7” was released. You could get special almost one off styles and colours direct from Converge from their tour. For some reason they chose not to play Jersey, so I could not go watch them and get the pretty ones. Instead I had to settle for the red with black swirl edition from Deathwish Inc. It does not matter anyway; I don’t care for no special colours.

On the music front it is business as usual from Converge. Complex music that you and I would have no chance of playing combined with Jacob Bannon’s unique singing voice, singing about girls as usual. Again you would have no idea he is singing about girls, except they have given us the lyrics.

I am not familiar with Dropdead, but I would say that they might eclipse Converge on this split. They don’t hang around and finish the song in about a minute, but then hit us with a new riff and half the song again. Very pleasing. And less emo. Thumbs up to both sides.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Keiji Haino/Jim O'Rourke/Oren Ambarchi- In A Flash Everything Comes Together As One There Is No Need For A Subject

This is the second edition of what is (presumably) an annual tradition occurring on New Year’s Eve. An American, an Australian and a Japanese man come together to play a night of noise inspired improv. What appears to be the case is that Haino is the main man and takes centre stage, while O’Rourke and Ambarchi help fill in the gaps. On these compositions O’Rourke is on bass and Ambarchi is playing the drums.

The first titular song is the ‘quietest’ of the lot and the most challenging. Moments of quiet and even silence hang in the air. On the other three tracks more rocking out happens. I need to give it some more listens before I finally pass judgement, but on the first few listens I am thoroughly looking forward to next years release.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Radiohead- Little By Little [Caribou Rmx]/Lotus Flower [Jacques Greene Rmx]

Radiohead are releasing a series of remix singles of their songs from their King Of Limbs album. This is the first in the series. It features a remix from the prolific Caribou and one from the frankly unknown Jacques Greene. As regular readers can probably work out I bought this for the Caribou remix.

Not being a middle aged middle management or listening to my first experimental band kind of guy I am not at all familiar with the original versions of either of these songs. I can only imagine the great job Caribou has done turning his song into one lil’ funky number rather than the mundane depressing dirge it was originally. It is probably danceable and is made all the better with the funky drums and effects of Thom Yorke’s voice.

Jacques Greene’s remix has the same funky drums, but is pulled down somewhat by keyboards and synthesisers. I’ll put the blame for that down to Radiohead, as I do not want to stop a young man’s attempt to get to the top.

There are more of these to come allegedly including one that involves a remix from Flying Lotus so I will be getting that one, but probably not the others. This single also came with a King Of Limbs postery thing, if you are into that sort of thing.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Southern Lord Sale

Southern Lord was having a sale (may still be ongoing) where it was possible to pick up some CDs for $1 apiece. I managed to get Striborg’s Embittered Darkness/Isle De Morts, Abruptum’s Evil Genius and Lair Of The Minotaur’s War Metal Battle Master.

Taking these each in turn I will start with Abruptum. This is a compilation of their earliest work including two demos and a 7” EP. Abruptum are a Black Metal duo from France. This is an honestly great album. Typical second wave of Black Metal, right down to what I presume are ridiculously pretentious song titles, but I do not know as they are in French.

Secondly, I will come to Lair Of The Minotaur. Wikipedia tells me that they are a Doom/Thrash Metal band, which is odd as they remind me of Killswitch Engage, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Out of all the albums I got from Southern Lord this was the most instant for me.

Last, but maybe not least is Striborg. Striborg is a one man Black Metal act from Tasmania, Australia. This leads me to wonder about whether geography really does dictate the kind of music you make. A large part of Tasmania is a wooded wilderness, which is as close to the Scandinavian countryside as you can get in Australia. Could he make Black Metal if he was from the Bondi district of Sydney? Anyway, while Lair Of The Minotaur was instant Striborg was not. The first time I listened to this it was a struggle. Low production quality and over 70 minutes long led to it being a bit of a chore. However second time I listened to it the opposite happened. I loved every moment of it and managed to keep the wife out of the room as she proclaimed she was ‘scared’ of it.

Whether you like Striborg or not there are plenty of excellent releases on Southern Lord, so I recommend you check them out. If you give Greg Anderson some money, he might have enough to book studio time and make a new Sunn 0))) album.

Here is a picture of the cat, displaying her opinion of Striborg:

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Hate Eternal- Phoenix Amongst The Ashes

This is brutal. It is unrelenting once we get past the introduction song. It is pulverising. You should buy this now. My favourite song is ‘The Art Of Redemption’ because it offers a brief respite while Erik Rutan is playing with pinch harmonics. Apart from that there is no let up. Jade Simonetto pounds the living daylights out of the drums for 40 excellent minutes. More albums need to sound like this.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Beastie Boys- Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

You all know the story about this album. You all know the original intention of releasing this album in two parts. You all know about MCA’s cancer and the scrapping of the original idea. You have all seen the video to ‘Make Some Noise’ starring Frodo Baggins, that unfunny guy who is in all those rubbish movies and the other guy who you cannot work out who it is. You know all of this and it just reinforces why the Beastie Boys are the most longstanding potent force outlasting the likes of Public Enemy and fending off newcomers like Eminem in the early 00s and the likes of Odd Future in the present day.

The great thing about the Beastie Boys is that they are music fans. Not music fans as in Clams Casino only listening to music so that he may be able to sample it for his next production credit, but proper music fans. This allows the production on this album to be dense and cover up the fact that 40-year-old men who have been releasing music for nearly 30 years may have used up their best rhymes. But you do not need great rhymes when you have excellent production and a delivery style that appears to never get old.

The album follows the same path that the Beastie Boys have been following since Hello Nasty. Their ranks are boosted by guest performers by Nas (on the excellent ‘Too Many Rappers’) and Santigold who both improve the song they are on. There is also a fast paced Punk song for the Rock fans on ‘Lee Majors Come Again’. It is hard to see how this consistency would have stretched over two albums. It is all the better for being one concise excellent album.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Autopsy- Macabre Eternal

Chris Reifert of Autopsy was there at the start. He was the drummer for Death on Scream Bloody Gore. He left Death and formed Autopsy, who released several albums before splitting in 1995 to form Abscess. Abscess have now died a death so Reifert has resurrected Autopsy. This is their first album since their reformation in 2009.

Autopsy are awesome as they play Death Metal, they can also play Grindcore (as evidenced by Abscess) and they are not afraid of playing Doom Metal to break up the pace every now again. Personally, I feel the Doom Metal passages of this album are what make this album stand out as one of the best extreme Metal releases of the year. A particularly favourite song of mine is ‘Seeds Of The Doomed’, presumably so named as Reifert has a sense of humour.

Speaking of sense of humour, you do need one if you are going to pay close attention to the lyrics; especially those conjured up by guitarist Eric Cutler. While those on ‘Dirty Gore Whore are easy to not take seriously due to Cutler’s delivery, those on ‘Sadistic Gratification’ and ‘Spill My Blood’ would make the people complaining about Tyler The Creator explode under the weight of violence towards women. Luckily Death Metal lives in its own universe where nobody pays it any attention and if they did you cannot understand the singer anyway. Having said that if lyrics like this were not on an Autopsy record it would not feel right.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Johnny Remember Me by Cathi Unsworth

This is a limited to 250 cassette (because cassettes are cool, even though CD-Rs are a lot more practical) featuring a reading of a short story by one of my favourite authors Cathi Unsworth, read by Cathi herself and Pete Woodhead (Not sure if this is the same Pete Woodhead who had a hand in the Shaun Of The Dead soundtrack).

The story hits on all the usual cornerstones of Unsworth’s writings, music, a cool-London happening in the past and shady characters. The story revolves around Johnny, a singer in The Buccaneers who is apparently cursed by a spurned lover and whose life quickly falls apart, probably due to his belief in gypsy curses. It is inspired by the film Beat Girl, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and Joe Meek.

The Pete Woodhead side is a lot clearer, and if it bothers you the story is from a male perspective so can be easier to lose yourself in his version rather than Unsworth. There is a character in the story that is meant to be from the West Country with a West Country accent but is trying to speak Received Pronunciation. There is a problem with both readings of this character, Unsworth moves from Welsh to yokel halfway through, while Woodhead stays true to the yokel version. They should have got me in to do his part, as that is essentially my accent.

Overall this is a fine effort and puts you in the time and mood of the period and is a great way to lose an hour or so without having to go to the hassle of straining your eyes.

Friday, 3 June 2011

I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne with Chris Ayres

As previously stated I’ve just moved and am CDless. This meant that I spent most of the day applying for jobs and being bored out of my skull. So I decided to combat that and bought the Ozzy Osbourne book, as it was the cheapest one in Waterstones that I was interested in. Bizarrely for an island renowned for being a tax haven Jersey deem books taxable so I paid more than I thought I was going to. Its all right as yacht fuel is still tax-free!

I have read The Dirt by Motley Crue and Neil Strauss and this book is meant to be a sort of companion piece to slide alongside, covering as it does the same Ozzy Osbourne/Motley Crue tour that featured in The Dirt. The difference between those two books is great though. While The Dirt covered all the parties and drugs, leading to a masterpiece that was equally a comedic monster and upmost heartbreaking, usually at the same time, Ozzy’s mentions his memory isn’t as great as it should be and many things are glossed over quicker than it should be. I also feel that ghostwriter Chris Ayres is not as talented as Neil Strauss and stories that should rip your heart out, like the death of Randy Rhoads are mere tragedies compared to the Earth shattering devastation you feel when reading about the death of Vince Neil’s daughter in The Dirt.

Having said that there were things I learnt about Ozzy from this book. I never knew he spent time in prison as a teenager, I never realised the whole biting the head of a dove and bat and pissing on the Alamo all happened in such a small space of time.

Overall I now feel slightly jaded about reading about celebrities’ glorification of their drug habits and living vicariously through them. I would much rather just enjoy magic mushrooms myself.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Vinyl Madness

I've been on a vinyl catching up binge recently and spent too much money on the things. On the bright side, having moved in with my girlfriend recently I had to leave my CDs behind (I'll get them back some day), so now I listen to proper records all day like you're meant to.

 The first one up is a Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma Alt Takes that was released for Record Store Day. There were only 750 of these made worldwide I believe and he is a very popular artist so I was surprised I could pick this up at the normal price or at all.

 This is a split EP between New Found Glory and Dashboard Confessional called Swiss Army Bro-Mance. Being a British male I'm not that familiar with Dashboard Confessional. Initially it was meant to be a tour-only EP, but the tour was cancelled so they released it through the normal channels. They each cover two of the other's songs. Mine is purple.

This is a split between Face To Face and the awesome Rise Against. There has been a bit of a kerfuffle online about this due to Folsom Records decision to send out the records without giving people the option to chose what colour they want. I don't care about colours, but I got a yellow one, which will annoy people.

Speaking about Rise Against and me not caring about colours, the next record is Rise Against's Join The Ranks. This was initially released on Record Store Day on picture disc in the USA. Fat Wreck then decided they can make more money by re-releasing it on black 180g vinyl. This is the version I got. I loves it.

Next up is a split between Hot Water Music and The Bouncing Souls. They each do one cover of the other's song. Chuck Ragan has a cool voice. This comes on a blue tinged muticolour vinyl that would make it hard to work out where the different tracks are if there were more.

This is a 10" recording of radio station sessions made by The Bouncing Souls. There are several diferent versions of this on different colours and at different speeds. Mine is the Side One Dummy version that is a 45 on black vinyl with a yellow splatter. The splatter effect does not come out that well on the photo, nor that well on the actual physical product. It also came with a download code, but my piece of shit computer would not allow me to download it properly, so I was forced to fund terrorism and download it illegally.

The last record is the super-dooper popular Burial/Four Tet/Thom Yorke collaboration Ego/Mirror. You'll have to take my word for that as there is no distinguishing markings for you to know this, except some etchings on the record.