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.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Explosions In The Sky- Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

I have a friend who only listens to the most extreme Death Metal. He considers all other types of music as “pussy shit.” Despite this one day when he was feeling particularly melancholic he confessed that he doesn’t always listen to extreme Metal. In near tears he confessed that he also listens to Explosions In The Sky. In his mind Explosions In The Sky were a gentle band playing lovely, romantic melodies. They are not.

Along with Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky are the quintessential Post Rock band. Never straying far from long songs with loud-quiet dynamics and an absence of lyrics, they have been mining a similar field since their inception. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care is their latest opus and it is a similar story here. There are few shocks, although ‘Trembling Hands’ is a pop perfect three and a half minutes long. This is not a detriment, after all if it ain’t broke why fix it? And if bands have spent the last ten years ripping you off it certainly is far from broke.

The CD comes in ridiculous packaging that must be worth the price of admission alone and is probably the only way to stop CDs from disappearing from sight totally.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Burzum- Hvis Lyset Tar Oss

The most notorious of Black Metal musicians, although I would rather stumble across Varg Vikernes than meet Gaahl down the gay bar. Burzum in many ways is also the quintessential Black Metal musician. He is the only member of his group, because BM Nazis have no friends. He has released two albums of synthesiser music (although he had no choice in that matter) and of course has burnt down at least three churches.

Recorded in 1992 but not released until 1994 by which time Vikernes most notorious aspects were behind him and he had recently started his imprisonment. It is albums like this that makes me wonder why I or anyone else bothers to listen to any other music except true brootal cvlt Black Metal. Atmospheric, brooding, scary, engaging. In some ways Black Metal is the late 20th century answer to Classical music, much more interesting than anything John Cage ever did. I cannot recommend this album enough. While you are down at Helvete it would be a good idea to pick up some Emperor too.

Savatage- Streets: A Rock Opera

God. Look at that cover. The late 80s/early 90s was such a depressing time. If Rolling Stone magazine can call the ‘Zuma’ cover one of the worst ever, heaven knows what they made of this one. Savatage have even stuck Cactus Jack on there pretending that no one would even notice because they are too busy laughing.

This is a 1991 album from Technical Metal/Prog Rock outfit Savatage. Just in case you were wondering if it might be too cool for you to listen to they gave the album the subtitle of ‘A Rock Opera’. This is the type of album that Dream Theater would produce if they made concept albums rather than concept songs. The CD edition that I have kindly provides the story as I never bother to listen to lyrics as I see the voice as an instrument and am more interested in the sound rather than what they are saying. The story is somewhat similar to ‘The Wall’ by Pink Floyd but with less totalitarian aspects. ‘The Wall’ comparison goes further than just the story, with many parts of the music sounding like they could come from that album too as well as Journey.

The variations that Savatage have in their music consist of mainly the difference between acoustic and electronic, rather than any Faith No More style genre hopping. It makes you wonder why The Mars Volta insist that they are Progressive Metal, being lumped in with Savatage and Dream Theater, when I would say they were more Jazz Metal.

The Kinks- The Kink Kontroversy

The Kink Kontroversy is a transitional album. It features the cool ‘You Really Got Me’ copying Hard Rock of ‘Till The End Of The Day’ and ‘Gotta Get The First Plane Home’ while having the more mundane English song writing like ‘I’m On An Island’, which can be blamed for Damon Albarn boring everyone for 10 years with Blur.

Obviously the rockier songs are better, unless you read Q magazine in which case you will disagree. But you would be wrong, and boring. In a little side note, this is the chronologically the earliest album I have, predating The Doors debut by two years. Yes that’s right, fuck you proper bluesmen.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Four Tet/Daphni- Pinnacles/Ye Ye

12" split between the Canadian Four Tet and the British Caribou. Unfortunately I can't listen to it yet as my turntable is in France and I'm in England. Philip Sherburne (who apparently can't spell Sherborne correctly) calls the Four Tet track 'like Carl Craig remixing LCD Soundsytem covering Carl Craig' and the Daphni song 'full to bursting'. I'll have to wait til the 13 May to verify.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Foo Fighters- Wasting Light

Dave Grohl used to be in Scream. Dave Grohl used to be in Nirvana. Dave Grohl used to be in Queens Of The Stone Age. Dave Grohl used to be in Probot. Dave Grohl played drums for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers once. Dave Grohl is now in Foo Fighters. Well, he’s been in Foo Fighters for ages. For ages Foo Fighters have been mundane ‘Dad Rock’ who would have one to two good songs on an album and the rest was blatant filler, including ‘Long Road To Ruin’ a contender for worst song ever. Some people bitched and complained about this, the vast majority though, lapped that shit up and had the balls to ask for more. We really are a masochistic society.

Thankfully Grohl has decided to listen to us with ears and has produced a better album this time around. Looking back into his history, Pat Smear from The Germs is back in the band full time, Butch Vig produces and Krist Novosellic plays bass on one track. There is also a lot more balls, and best yet, no sloppy, sappy ballads. Songs like ‘White Limo’ stand out with the snarl that should be present on every Foo Fighters song. It does make you wonder though with lyrics like ‘Fame, fame, go away’ on ‘Arlandria’ why Grohl has always made mainstream Radio Rock to appeal to the lowest common denominator. If this is his attempt at an ‘In Utero’ trying to cast off fans, then making a balls-out Rock album, that is his best maybe ever, then I don’t think that plan is going to work.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Record Store Day 2011

Today is, if you haven't realised yet, is Record Store Day. I got up early to join the queue at my local independent record store, Acorn Records, where I was somewhere near the back of a long queue. I saw some old friends and made some new ones while waiting to be let in. After about 40 minutes I finally managed to get into the shop and to peruse the purdy vinyl. My first notice was an Iggy & The Stooges 'Raw Power Live' release. This threw me a little, as I had checked the releases on the Record Store Day website and this was not among them. I tossed up the idea of buying it for a while, but decided to not go with it and to continue looking. 

The first record I bought was Vorwarts by Mute Records. It is a compilation containing unreleased, exclusive and rare recordings from bands on the Mute roster. It includes a composition by Can as well as numbers by Grinderman, Liars and Yeasayer. It comes on a beautiful translucent orange vinyl.

My second choice was this wonderful split between Oval and Liturgy from Thrill Jockey. Oval produce four tracks, a 6-minute one and several shorter lengths that remind me of all those CDs the Wire gives away every once in a while. Liturgy offer one long track that was apparently recorded at Shea Stadium. I imagine that was a joke unless there is a studio at Shea, but I doubt it. This had an extremely limited release of 150. So limited when I looked on ebay earlier this was not on there. It must be worth millions.

This yellow 7" is a split between ZZ Top and Mastodon, both playing 'Just Got Paid'. If you play the ZZ Top version at the wrong speed it still sounds quite good and a lot more arty.

My final purchase was The Clash's 'rap' song 'The Magnificent Seven'. On the Record Store Day website they say this is backed with 'The Magnificent Dance'. It's not. I've got number 341 out of I presumer 1,000.

All in all a good haul, in my opinion. Unfortunately I could not get hold of Flying Lotus' 'Cosmogramma Alt Takes' or the Yeasayer 7". Oh well. There's always next year, where I'll see you there.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Arcade Fire- Funeral

While researching this album I had noticed Pitchfork, in all its wisdom, gave this album 9.7 out of 10. Now I know it’s easy to kick Pitchfork what with its attempts to mathmetise the impossible (music), but come on; this is not an almost perfect album. I can pick plenty of holes in it. Songs like ‘Haiti’ go nowhere and while going nowhere do not do anything that interesting. Well certainly not a 0.3 away from being the most interesting song of all time.

This was not intended to be a critique of Pitchfork Media through the medium of ‘Funeral’ by Arcade Fire so I will try to steer away from that. Coming out in 2004 I have heard of many people claiming this album being their gateway to less popular music. I remember around the time Arcade Fire getting a lot of publicity and plays, coming out of a time when Post-Punk Revival was all the rage. While I would not call ‘Funeral’ Post-Punk, in fact being closer to Post-Rock, it is easy to see why they led to better things. They have a handful of catchy little numbers, ‘Rebellion (Lies)’, ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ being the most notable, although somewhat ruined by the BBC’s appropriation of them over Christmas. Then you get to songs like ‘Haiti’ that is nowhere near as entertaining. However these songs contain depth not seen by the likes of Bloc Party or The View and so will eventually pull up alongside the catchier tunes as your favourites on the album.

It is an excellent album. Not a 9.7 album.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Just Kids by Patti Smith

I was not originally going to buy this book. I had read Ian Penman’s scathing review of it in The Wire (Issue 315 if you are interested) and finding Smith’s musical output usually rather staid and insipid had not bothered to look it up. However a sunny full day in Taunton with absolutely nothing to do after look in Black Cat Records led me to HMV where the book was on some sort of discount (all books in HMV are generally less than RRP. The Taunton one has a wide selection of choice. I also recommend the Plymouth branch for books).

My previous knowledge of Patti Smith’s writings extends to a few of her poems and her epic ‘The Coral Sea’. ‘Just Kids’ follows ‘The Coral Sea’ in subject matter. It is an autobiography of Smith and her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith is an excellent writer and I cannot but help feel that Music’s gain (loss possibly) the literary world has lost a great, especially if she is as fond of crime fiction as she states she is in the book. She could have been a more poetic Elmore Leonard. There are issues with the book. I have to echo Penman’s criticism about Smith filtering everything through art. You are not Lee Krasner because you stole something. You are either poor or a wrong ‘un.

Patti Smith has written an excellent recollection of her time with Robert Mapplethorpe and just because she quickly glazes her musical work is not a reason not to buy or Lee Krasner the book. It is an excellent piece of work that Penman wrongly criticised as Smith’s art filter and naivety hardly spoil the flow and interest of the book whatsoever. My biggest criticism would be the tacked on chapter at the end of the paperback version, which tends to be a regular occasion for autobiographies, which serves no purpose except to show some photos and some small poems.

Rancid- ...And Out Come The Wolves

I came into this album not expecting much. I have and love ‘Let’s Go’ by Rancid and knew ‘...And Out Come The Wolves’ as the multi-million seller and thought this would be a massive sell out album. Obviously I was a little confused. I took the Minor Threat aping cover the wrong way and thought it was a shameless attempt at trying to get some cool points rather than the honouring of their heroes it probably is. I thought their deliberation over whether to sign to a major label was a proper deliberation and did not realise that this album came out a little over a year from their previous, so the deliberation probably didn’t take too long.

Having said that, it is obvious that Rancid had tempered their attitude slightly to be more commercial. The average song length is over two minutes making them more radio friendly. There songs are a little less Hardcore Punk and a bit more Reggae-Clash-’77 Punk inspired. Still all the songs here their mark and will have you singing aloud after only a couple of listens. My personal standout track in ‘Junkie Man’ that has an all-star performance from original Punk poet Jim Carroll.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Grails- Deep Politics

‘Deep Politics’ is the new album from Northwestern American ‘instrumental’ rock band Grails. I put the instrumental part of instrumental rock in quotation marks, as Grails are not actually fully instrumental. Their music does contain vocals, they are just not at the forefront and are used in the background to create atmosphere and to aid the sound. As well as the usual band Timba Harris of Estradasphere who handles the strings joins them on this album. As well as this it also contains a cover/reworking of a Bruno Nicolai composition entitled ‘All The Colors Of The Dark.’

I have listened to this album a few times now, in a variety of different settings such as in my bedroom with my eyes closed taking it all in as well as listening while playing some basketball. It is fair to say that this album is indeed deep if not political. It would probably take literally hundreds of listens to discover each and every little nugget involved in the music. The best way I have discovered to listen to it is to allow it to wash over you and take in as much as you can. There are beautifully serene bits, there are noodly guitar bits for fans of Metal and Prog Rock, there are also bits that appear to have been lifted from Motley Crue’s ‘Kickstart My Heart.’ To truly appreciate this album it has to be listened properly, on proper speakers not through tinny laptop ones.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Earth- Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light I

Earth have come a long way since ‘Earth 2’. When I bought this album from Amazon instead of being recommended Harvey Milk, Sunn O))) and Slayer I was recommended PJ Harvey and a bunch of ‘en vogue’ folk albums. I wouldn’t say Earth was for fans of Mumford & Sons but I guess they are now a hipster band and we will have to wait a few years before they lose that tag and then they will be the domain of solely Metal fans again.

Earth dropped the fuzzed out Drone with their return in 2005 (somewhere around there) and have since been using cleaner sounds. This continues with this album, with an almost completely new line-up. Many things remain the same; the riffs are still super slow and the drums reach about 30bpm at their quickest. First track ‘Old Black’ could have been on their last album ‘The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull.’ Some things however have changed. The star of the show has to be new cellist Lori Goldston, whose electric cello intertwines itself around Dylan Carlson’s guitar lines leading to a harmonious sound between the two. The final eponymous song was recorded live in the studio and illustrates the four members pulling together in exactly the right way to produce what will no doubt be one of the best albums of the year.

Awesome title, by the way...

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Alkaline Trio- Good Mourning

I don't rate Alkaline Trio as high as I should. They're not as cool as Blink-182 (I know Tom DeLonge is probably one of the least coolest people in music, but when I was 12 he was THE MAN) and they don't have the variety in voice that The Lawrence Arms have. On the positive side, for a Pop Punk band, they are a lot more experimental than their contemporaries. I can remember reading an interview with a member of The Lawrenc Arms where he dismissed fan favourite album 'Apathy And Exhaustion' for going through the motions. With Alkaline Trio you do not feel that. When you feel a song is about to take off, like Blink-182 and Lawrence Arms songs would, Alkaline Trio pull back from it. Like good sex it stops you from blowing your load too early, so when it eventually does take off it is even more ejaculatoraly than it should be. On that lovely, beautiful, romantic note I shall leave it. Don't have nightmares.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Why Be Something You're Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979-85

It's a good question. Why be something that you're not?

Detroit has a long glorious history of pop music. The home of Motown, the birth of Proto Punk with the Stooges and the MC5. In the present day they have Eminem representing in the world of Hip Hop. However when the early days of Hardcore Punk is looked at Detroit does not get a look in. Everyone is interested in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Boston and even New York who for the most part were years behind the rest of the country or doing their own thing with No Wave that the scene did not get going to the latter part of the 80s.

This aim of this book, I presume, was to alter that view somewhat. Detroit had a lively Hardcore scene. Its easy to forget, what with the blowing up of the alternative scene in the late 80s that Touch & Go originated in Detroit and only moved to Chicago later on. The scene was very much alive in Detroit. While initially taking its cue from the burgeoning L.A. scene, midwestern Hardcore Punk soon developed their own personality, which Rettman argues soon switched this around and the L.A. bands started to copy bands like the Fix and Necros. Refreshingly as well, the main Detroit bands had no problem having fun, getting drunk etc. This made them occasionally butt heads with the D.C. bands and sometimes led them to being beaten up. Similar to stories in other areas of the US the decline came when the scene started to grow and younger kids came through, who followed holier than thou ideals and all dressed the same. A music genre that came from not wanting to be the same as every one else, soon descended into a scene where everyone looked the same and those who did not were often met with violence.

Why Be Something You're Not is written by Tony Rettman in a style reminiscent of the Touch & Go 'zine. It is also padded out with verbal histories with all the major players of the scene (Tesco Vee, Dave Stimson, Corey Rusk, the guys from Negative Approach) and also equally impressive scores of flyers, photos and articles written in various fanzines and newspapers. This book really does give an impressive overview of the Detroit scene and I doubt that I will dismiss it as easily as I did when I look back at the great Hardcore scenes of the early 80s again.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Cauldron- Burning Fortune

NWOTHM (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal) is probably the dumbest name for a genre in quite some time. I blame Metal journalists for wanting to hark back to NWOBHM, but I don't understand why there always needs to be a 'New Wave' of anything. New Wave happened in the early 80s and featured people choosing to wear a shirt and tie, so was horrible. If this album was released 5 years ago it would merely be called Heavy Metal.

Coming out on Valentine's Day is this album by Canadian band Cauldron. Cauldron are a band that liked music between '82 and '86. Just giving this album a quick spin this is more than obvious and it is glorious because of it. Riffs, clean sung vocals this could have been released anytime in that period. Luckily for Cauldron it was released in 2011 when they could be the best band doing things like that, rather than competing with Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. I partly bought this album for my girlfriend on the back of the song 'All Or Nothing'. We both love that song. She hasn't listened to the album yet, but I promise she will love it too. Go buy this album so it does better than Radiohead's new one.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Brit Awards

It's the Brit Awards on Tuesday, apparently, and to celebrate that fact I will be going through each nomination and chosing my own winner for each award that will not match the actual winner. So up first is:

British Male Solo Artist
Hmmm... A few interesting choice. I presume Paul Weller is there, purely to make up the numbers. My choice would be Plan B, mainly because I like his first album.

British Female Solo Artist
I though Rumer was Bruce Willis and Demi Moore's daughter, but I guess she isn't. This is a really weak category. I don't really know. I suppose Paloma Faith is the most interesting.

British Breakthrough Act
Bruce Willis' kid, the woman who does the M&S advert and a bunch of others. Tinie Tempah is the one on the list that actually properly penetrated my awareness this last year.

British Group
Gorillaz are probably one of the best British groups that we have seen in a long time. Probably since The Verve and Oasis' heyday. So they should easily walk this.

British Single
Out of all the nominations I can only remember the Biffy Clyro cover and Florence & The Machine- You've Got The Love without looking them up. The X-Factor cover is a neutered version of a neutered song by a neutered band, so Florence wins.

Mastercard British Album Of The Year
Does this go to the act that had the most album purchases made with a credit card? I have to admit, not listened to any of these so I'll have to give it to Plan B- The Defamation Of Strickland Banks and pretend its exactly the same as his first album.

International Male Solo Artist
This is more like it. Several strong nominees here. Kanye West probably had the best album of these guys released in the last year, so he gets the nod. Plus he'll give the best acceptance speech of the night.

International Female Solo Artist
Ooooh my... Has Kylie Minogue even released anything this last year? Her name is probably to etched into this category to rub it out. I don't care. As she's playing Bestival I'll go with Robyn.

International Breakthrough Act
I want to see the entire Glee Cast up on stage. Every single one of them. Including the extras. And the autotune machine.

International Group
Another poor selection here. Arcade Fire is the only one I would go watch, so they win.

International Album
Another list of albums I haven't listened to. It's between Eminem and Arcade Fire for their previous albums. I have heard that Arcade Fire- The Suburbs is better than Eminem's album so they win another award. Yay!

Critic's Choice
This has already been decided. But looking at the nominees, I agree with Mr. Brit. Jessie J should win.

British Producer
Well, this seems like an exercise in back slapping if there ever was one. I have heard of John Leckie. He apparently produced The Coral's last album. But that hasn't received a Brit nomination. This seems totally bizarre.

So there we have it. My version of the Brits. Looking at this my version of BBC Breakfast will be claiming Arcade Fire and Plan B cleaned up with two awards each. Now when are the Grammys?