30 January 2013

Days of rest - part 4....I think.....

Hello peeps - just a quick note that you blogger is currently all sorts of meh and needing to recharge his batteries (back at work and starting to get a cold tbh - typical). So will hopefully put some stuff up over the weekend for the giant list that was up before.  Mr Chaney might put something up, but I cannot promise on that one...


Current listenings

Biffy Clyro - Opposites
Stone Sour - House of Gold & Bones Part 1
Maximo Park - Our Earthly Pleasures
Kiss - Hotter Than Hell
Therapy? - Nurse

28 January 2013

Dexys - One Day I'm Going To Soar

This album was released in the wrong decade.  Plain and simple, it does not sound retro but it does sound as if it is out of time being released last year.  I don't not mean that in a negative way, it just feels like it should have been released in the 1960's or possibly earlier. The music is very conservative in it's performance but I will get to that in a minute.  This is the first album in 27 years from the band formally known as Dexys Midnight Runners - if you do not recognise that name, you will have heard of their biggest hit "Come On Eileen" which has been played in parties around the world and sung by every gran ever born (or so it seems).  This release comes after many failed attempts to get back together, and if people are expecting an album full of looking backwards at their career and trying to make it anew, then it is sort of their but not in the most obvious way.

Produced by Kevin Rowland, Mick Talbot & Pete Schwier the album has a vibe as if it was recorded in the room next door, but it sounds so smooth and slick.  There was some fantastic moments - the opening quartet of "Now", "Lost", "Me" & "She's Got a Wiggle" are as near to perfect I would have expected from Dexys. It seems that perfectionist Rowland had started to do it again. The middle duo of "I'm Always Gonna Love You" & "Incapable of Love" sort of lose their way a little, the duos with Madeleine Hyland just do not seem to work for me, even though the performances are very good.  The long list of musicians on this album go to show the lengths that Rowland and co will go to trying to make a piece of pop perfection.

Lyrically it is very retrospective, especially the final track "It's OK, Jon Joe" and the overall theme of the album looking back on the past and accepting the state of things is both beautiful and sad. It is not a happy album, it is very mournful but I am very surprised at how much it moved me. Apart from that middle section, it is a fantastic album which will hopefully be held up as a classic.

7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

You can purchase from here

You can listen to it on Spotify here

27 January 2013

Circus of Power - Vices

Now where do I begin with this one......  Circus of Power where formed in 1986, they released four studio albums and one live album during their existence.  Musically they are a heavy blue glam band with a slice of country in there as well, for some reason my head is wondering if this is what Pantera sounded like before they did Cowboys From Hell (if someone out there has a copy of any of those works I would like to know as I want to review them).  Now that I have gotten that out of the way I can go on to the album itself.....

This is very much of its time - it is like when you watch early 90's wrestling. It has not aged well at all. Sure there are some good tracks on it - "Last Call Rosie" is a throw back to when glam ruled the airwaves which brought a dry smile to my face - actually to be honest, that is the only song which approaches good. It is just not my cup of tea I'm guessing, if it was being played I would not be screaming for it to be turned off (it is still a million times better than Black Spiders), but I don't think I would go out of my way to hear it again either.

I cannot fault the playing here, it is very well produced (if a little dated) - but all in all it is not my cup of tea.  I'm gonna probably ask Mr Chaney to review this one as well - but for me it is just a little bit average and not essential to my every day listening.

4.5 out of ten - Well it is alright, but still......

You can purchase from here

You can listen to it on Spotify here

Rage Against The Machine - Evil Empire

I am really struggling to start this blog - not because I do not have an idea of what I want to say, I know how I feel about this album.  I just have to try to articulate how disappoint I was when this first came out.  As you may have noticed before I did possibly the most lazy and quickest blog I have ever done for the debut album.  That was because there was nothing new I could say that has not been said before. It would have just been adding another layer of praise to a giant statue of shining complements.  It is as near to perfect a debut as I have ever heard.  Now when I first heard this I was very excited, but apart from a couple of songs I was so disappointed. I mean it was crushing the amount of negativity that came out of me when this was released.  So after being asked to go through their whole back catalogue (which I was planning to be honest) - this was the one I was most curious about to see if age and time has been kinder to it than my initial opinion.

The production on this was handled by Brendan O'Brien & the band together - he was mostly associated with Pearl Jam at the time this was released. Coming back to this album the production is so minimal it makes the song stand on an edge. What at one time had sounded lazy and substandard to these ears has become a bonafide stone cold killer sound. The balance and split speakers for the bass and guitar just works so well on every track.  Before listening to this I always said the only decent things off this album are "Bulls On Parade" & "People of The Sun".  Now I have to change that opinion - the whole album is just astonishing.  It takes up from the first album and goes further forward with the sound.  The whole packing has become a sophisticated understated album which has no weak link.

When I started to listen to this album today I was expecting to be giving this maybe a 4 or 5 at the most.  But I think it is obvious that opinion has changed. It is without a single doubt a million times improved from those first listens way back in the distant memories of my youth. Rage Against The Machine are owed an apology, instead I will just give the album this mark instead.......

10 out of ten - This is proof that there is a god

You can purchase from here

You can listen to on Spotify here

Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine

What really needs to be said about this album?  Seriously I can honest say I have nothing new to give to the argument that has not already been said. If you are reading this and have not heard it, listen to it. The album itself is the best argument for and against it - 10 pretty much perfect songs.  For me, it is a piece of history and close to my heart.  I have things to say about the other album thought so will review them soon.  Anyway, here is the mark.....

10 out of ten - This is proof that there is a god

You can purchase to it here

You can listen to it on Spotify here

Ed Sheeran - +

I have a certain addiction to well crafted pop albums. When done correctly, pop music can be just as relevant as any other genre.  For a while I have heard very good reports about Ed Sheeran, and he seems to have been everywhere.  Radio, TV, magazines - the strangest place was on the adverts for a UK radio station call "Capital FM" - you had Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas, JLS and then this small Ron Weasley-esq boy looking sort of uncomfortable.  If you have no idea who the other 3 people I have just mentioned are, just go and switch on your local pop radio station, I'm sure they will be on their - and I am sorry......

Now for some positives on this - as you get with most pop albums, the production is very slick, the music is well played and it is all very safe.  Now that is out of the way, time for the rest of it. Lyrically I have heard this album 1,000 times and it is has also been written 1,000 times better.  This is very much like how I imagine David Gray started out - but somehow this has got a lot bigger than when he started. There is no really passion behind what is on offer here. The guy is writing that he has all these problems with love and travelling but from what I can gather it is probably all his own work for wanting the world to love him. Sacrifice is what happens when you chase the dream and you have to leave stuff behind, but do we really need to hear about it all over again and in such a forced way?

There is a few ok moments "Lego House" being the best of them, but it is few and far between for this blogger here.  It is not an offensive album; it is just so vanilla without trying. It is for people who want to not really think and to be fed their next break up soundtrack. There is no fire, intensity or drive to it - anything that can make Frank Turner sound like Napalm Death is capable of an amazing trick here. Actually, there is a thing - if you want heartfelt emotions and how to do this music right in a modern way, listen to Frank Turner, as Mr Sheeran just does not have it all together yet to justify the fame he has received.

2.5 out of ten - If only there was some quality control

You can purchase it from here

You can listen to it on Spotify here

26 January 2013


Not exactly the most obvious of collaborations - or is it?  Well it depends what you know about the early history of Depeche Mode.  Vincent Clark was one of the original members of Depeche Mode with Martin Gore.  After Clark had left and went on to form Yazoo and then Erasure, Depeche Mode went on from strength to strength, releasing albums that conquered America and the rest of the world. Erasure & Yazoo were also highly successful, but a reunion was never really on the cards in any fashion. So it came as a little surprise when it was announced that these two were going to work together again.

Musically this is very minimal.  At times it reminds me of early 90's techno with hints of Moby before he became a walking commercial.  It is very bass heavy, with only fleeting keyboard work over the top of a pulsing heart beat that sounds retro even though it is less than a year old, and so fresh because of its old school vibe.

Anyone expecting song writing in the style of their day jobs will be sorely disappointed; this has nothing to do with either (apart from the remix albums that Depeche Mode has released over the last few years).  It is a solid release that will probably divide a few people, but for all people wishing for a new techno album with an old school feel and style, look no further than this little number.  It seems like the old dogs can still take the new pups to school.

7.5 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

You can purchase it from here

You can listen to it on Spotify here

J Mascis - Several Shades of Why

I purchased this before I even read who the artist was. Every now and then, I buy albums based solely on the artwork on the album. I have had some good purchases - Frank Black Teenager of The Year is still my best - I have had some poor purchases - Bush Sixteen Stone, but that is another story for later. Once I got out of the shop and read who this was by I was slightly surprised.  J Mascis is the lead singer and principal song writer in Dinosaur Jr.  Now while he has released many live solo albums, this is his debut studio solo album - and upon first listen it left me a little under whelmed.

When I put it on and got this acoustic folk album with its strange little vocals was not what I was expecting and thus it was consigned to the Sixteen Stone side of the record collection - whence it stayed for a long time without a fresh airing. The sound did not work for me, the guitar playing and other instruments sounded like they had been thrown together - everything about it just seemed so random for me.  But I did not get rid of the album for some reason.  I have no idea why, but it still stayed in my collection.

Then, at some point in November last year I put it back on. No idea why I reached for it, think I was playing three degrees of separation - pick 3 random albums without looking at what you’re picking. Once I put it on, suddenly it made perfect sense! It went from this custerfuck of an album to a beautiful, shoring, soul wrenchingly radiant piece of work. "Listen To Me" is just an understated opening, the title track is a fascinating insight into Mascis mind with its simple guitar and violin work, "Make It Right" is a statement of someone wanting help and gaining it - the whole album works so well as a whole.

If I had any remaining criticism, it would be that it is a little samey overall - however this is just looking for a point to pick. The album just continues to grow with each subsequent listen into a beautiful creature and I find new things on each track after each listen which I did not notice before. So simple, yet so effective. Random purchases are such a mix bag, and every now and then it will throw up a gem like this one.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

You can purchase from here

You can listen to it on Spotify here

25 January 2013

London Electricity - Billion Dollar Gravy

Now I haven't done a review of a more dance album in a while - I think there are quite a lot of metal heads out there giving me the requests. However, this one has turned up and it got me interest (even when I was supposed to be on an off day). With an album title that crosses Frank Zappa and Alice Cooper I had to find out what this sounded like.

From a brief read up, this is a project by Drum N Bass DJ Tony Colman who with various people to make live Drum N Bass.  Listen to the album it's self, it is a wonderful piece for work. High energy with floating rhythms and vibes, with a good dose of old school sounds that make me go back to the type of dance music I loved as I was growing up.

However, this shares a Achilles heel that a lot of other dance albums have - it sounds like this would be magic in a club or festival, but it is not doing it for me totally in a snowy North Tyneside flat.  With that said, it is such a ray of sunshine in the day that you could not help but be perked up by the album. Sure, it is a little samey, it would have done better with a little variation; but it is a good Drum N Bass record. Not quite brilliant, but still a nice change of scenery.

6.5 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

You can purchase from here

You can listen to it on Spotify here

24 January 2013

The Levellers - Zeitgeist

Is it right to feel guilty to like a band?  Some people use the word guilty pleasure a lot, for instant I was once seeing a girl who found it really embarrassing that she liked Limp Bizkit. Fair enough she was right on that one, but you should never feel guilty about what you like.  A few of my friends (and some work colleagues over the years) have questioned why I like The Levellers. The main thing that is said is 'Oh, they are gypsies/travelling people who should not be allowed near music' - or words to that effect as some of them are ignorant. Now I do defend them by pointing out that they have a great following in the travelling community, and then generally follow up with how I feel about how they put their argument across with a slap to the back of the head.

This was the fourth album released by the troupe who is based in Brighton, and to be honest it was their last big commercial success.  It reach number one in the UK and had a few hit singles.  It is a slightly more rock orientated affair to their normal more folk-esque musings.  Tracks like "Fantasy", "Leave This Town" & "Hope Street" did crank up the guitar work - granted they didn't sound like Slayer, but it was a change.  Other stand out moments like "The Fear", "Just The One" (which featured Joe Strummer of The Clash on a re-recorded version of it on piano) and "Forgotten Ground"  which all go only it such a fantastic way it still makes me want to pogo around like a jumping bean with chilli stuffed in places that it should not be found.

As with all Levellers album it is inevitable that it is compared to the most revered work - Levelling The Land.  Now whilst it is like comparing two totally different bands in one way, I would actually say that Zeitgeist is almost as good as LTL. There are a few weak tracks on it for sure - "Haven't Made It" & "4 A.M." just pad out the album more than it should - and it does not have the essential carefree vibe of LTL, but it is a cracking album in its own right which has been played very loudly by me many a time!

Overall, it is a landmark album that is forgotten against the classic iconic album which is a shame as it is just a fantastic record in its own right which should be getting as much praise as their other work. So, with no guilt I recommend that you check it out; you may be slightly surprised at something that still sound fresh after 18 years.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

You can purchase from here

You can listen to it on Spotify here

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