15 November 2018

Stand Atlantic - Skinny Dipping

Stand Atlantic are an Australian Pop-Punk act, comprised of singer/guitarist Bonnie Fraser, guitarist (former bass player) David Potter and drummer Jonno Panichi.  Formed in 2014, they've gone through a few line-up changes, toured with bands such as As It Is, State Champions, New Found Glory and Young Lions and they've recently been called one of the hottest bands to watch by Kerrang magazine (I didn't know that was still going).  Skinny Dipping is their debut album which was produced by Stevie Knight and follows the Sidewinder EP.  The hype surrounding this band at the moment is building strongly over the last few months, so strong that it's reached me in my own little world of noise and indie sounds.  So, what is the hype all about?

As with a lot of Pop-Punk, the main focus of the album is anxieties and the trouble that these cause.  Songs such as "Toothpick", "Lavender Bones" and "Skinny Dipping" deal with various levels of depression, anger and determination.  Elsewhere on songs such as "Lost My Cool", "Bullfrog" and "Clay" (which features Hannah Hermione Greenwood from Creeper) have an anger behind them which burns like a bright sun. Some of the hooks on this album are really good, the songs are catchy and the production is huge.  It reminds me a lot of Kings of Pop by Homegrown, the anxieties and passion behind the songs share an echo and it's an album that is very easy to like.

However, Skinny Dipping is also an album I've heard a thousand times beforehand.  The themes are as old as the time a punk picked up a guitar, so it feels very familiar whilst being new and shiny at the same time.  Also, if your not a fan of the poppier end of pop punk, Skinny Dipping won't be for you.  There is also a sugar level so high on this record, it could be sold with a sugar tax that was recently introduced in the UK.  But there is nothing wrong with the quality of the songs, Stand Atlantic have made a brilliant Pop-Punk album here.  As I've said before, I'd take a quality Pop album over a boring Indie album any day.  Skinny Dipping is one of those albums which can pick your mood up at times.  Sure, there are some moments which don't work for me, but there is more right with this album then wrong.  Also, go and see a dentist afterwards, you might get a sugar addiction.

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

Top track - Lost my Cool

You can purchase Skinny Dipping on Amazon here.

You can purchase Skinny Dipping from the Stand Atlantic Bandcamp page here.

You can follow the activities of Stand Atlantic on Facebook here.

You can stream Skinny Dipping on Spotify here.

You can stream Skinny Dipping on Deezer here.

At the time of writing, Skinny Dipping is not currently available to stream on Tidal. No judgement on our part.

14 November 2018

Antarctigo Vespucci - Love in the Time of E-Mail

Antarctigo Vespucci is an indie rock band composed of Chris Farren of Fake Problems and Jeff Rosenstock of Bomb the Music Industry. Farren and Rosenstock began recording as a band in early 2014 with their debut EP Soulmate Stuff, they released their first full-length, Leavin' La Vida Loca, in 2015. They have stated that their name is actually a joke.  They took it from Amerigo Vespucci, the man who is supposed to have discovered America.  From that, they reason that Antarctigo Vespucci would be the guy who discovered Antarctica.  Sometimes projects such as this, when two musicians from different bands come together end up being a true passion project.  Over the course of their releases, Antartcitgo Vespucci always sound as if they're having fun, even if the subjects are emotionally charged.   

Love in the Time of E-Mail was released on 26th October 2018, released on the home label is Polvinyl Records.  However, according to Amazon in the UK, it's down as Big Scary Monster.  No idea why there is a difference, I can just go on what I see.  I was not too sure if I was going to review this album, just down to time constraints on my half.  Then I thought, fuck it - sometimes you need to go on a whim and get this one set up.  I wish I could include this as part of the Cover Rouellte series, but I mainly picked it up I'd seen the name before and had heard a few songs.  So, what is Love in the Time of E-Mail about?

The main feeling I get from Love in the Time of E-Mail is one of love.  Whether it is new love, broken hearts, anxieties about relationship or letting go of things, love seems to be at the heart of this record.  This project is built upon this foundation, which is delivered with a passion that would rival the love shown by Romeo & Juliet.  You can hear the sheer joy behind the song, the unbridled respect between two friends as they hammer out "Freakin' You Out", "Kimmy" and other songs on this record.  As I mentioned, anxieties form part of the bases of Love in the Time of E-mail.  On tracks such as "Breathless on DVD", a song about having flashbacks to a former lover who causes all sorts of issues.  You also have "Another Good Thing" which talks about how things can fall apart very quickly.  But no matter the subject, they seem to be able to deliver it in a positive manner.

I like Love in the Time of E-Mail a lot, it's a contradiction in terms of messages, the positivity of the music is contrasted by the meaning of the songs.  Yet it all comes together, meshing into a beautiful painting of joy and sorrow.  Somehow they combine everything into this fantastic record that may have a cover of a photo in the snow, but it'll leave anyone who hears it elated and full of energy.  I don't think I've enjoyed a side project as much since Grinderman by Nick Cave, I think I cannot think of any praise which is higher than that. Viva La Antartctigo Vespucci!

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

Top track - Freakin' You Out

You can purchase Love in the Time of E-mail on Amazon.

You can purchase Love in the Time of E-mail on the Antarctigo Vespucci Bandcamp page here.

You can follow the activities of Antarctigo Vespucci on Facebook here.

You can stream Love in the Time of E-mail on Spotify here.

You can stream Love in the Time of E-mail on Deezer here.

You can stream Love in the Time of E-mail on Tidal here.

8 November 2018

Hank von Hell - Egomania

Hank von Hell, now there is a name I've not heard in a very, very, long time.  The last time I heard anything by this good gentleman (aka Hans Erik Dyvik Husby), was when he was still the singer of Turbonegro.  I got to see them at a Download Festival in the UK, where they were pissing off the audience and I love it.  Their attitude towards an aggressive crowd was brilliant, they just decided to fuck everyone off.  It was an enduring memory of their performance.  Now, let's fast forward a couple of week's ago.  I was looking through YouTube for something to watch, then I see a link to a video for a song called "Bum to Bum".  The image was Steve-O from the TV show Jackass, placing a white hat on the head of Sir von Hell.  So naturally, I clicked the link.  So, after watching that a few times, I booked marked Egomania on my list and awaiting its arrival for reviewing.  

In the years since I last saw Sir von Hell live, a lot has changed.  It seems that his leaving Turbonegro was not a smooth process and has left a bad feeling in the air.  Also, since he was away, he's been releasing music with Doctor Midnight & The Mercy Cult, he was a judge on Norwegian Idol, played Jesus, been a museum guide and generally created mischief.  So, why in the blue hell has it took him so long to make this album?  It seems to be a bit of a mystery to me, but hopefully, it'll be worth the wait.  Now, let's see how Egomania sounds.

If you've heard anything that Hank von Hell has done before, I think that you'll have a pretty good guess as to the sound of this album.  OTT punk rock, with a hint of sarcasm, a ton of ego and a lot of rock & roll!  There is a shiny veneer of pop vibes to Egomania.  But not in a bad way, as it seems to lend itself to this record quite well. Songs such as "Bombwalk Chic", "Dirty Money" and "Wild Boy Blues" will have fans of The Wildhearts, Backyard Babies and any of Sir von Hell's other project dancing like their lives depend on it.

Albums such as Egomania can be viewed as throwaway, easy consumed and easily forgotten.  Time will tell on some of that to be honest, but even if it is any of that, does it matter when it sounds so fun?  Egomania is an album that doesn't take itself too seriously, to be honest, the ego is the smallest thing on offer here.  Well, that is a lie really, but you couldn't have an album of this nature without some major ego behind it.  Egomania is all bright lights, shiny hooks, a load of swearing and good old fashion fun!  Throwaway?  Nah, this is too much fun for that!

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

Top track - Bombwalk Chic

You can purchase Egomania on Amazon here.

You can visit the Hank von Hell website here.

You can follow the activities of Hank von Hell on Facebook here.

You can stream Egomania on Spotify here.

You can stream Egomania on Deezer here.

You can stream Egomania on Tidal here.

Black Peaks - All That Divides

Black Peaks (for those who need an introduction) are a Progressive Rock band from Brighton, England.  Originally called Shrine, they changed their name in 2014 after the release of three EP's (Carpet Worms, Kursk, and Closer to the Sun).  Following their change of name, they went on to release Statues in 2016, an album that I missed at the time, but I fell in love with it upon hearing it.  After tours with the likes of A Perfect Circle, Deftones, The Mars Volta and many more, as well as headline tours, they've been perfecting their craft.  Produced by Adrian Bushby, All That Divides aims to foundations that Black Peaks have laid down over the years.  So, how has All That Divides turned out?

Progressive is an understatement, this album has massive swagger, confidence and a ton of class song.  This is the main that comes to mind when I think about All That Divides.  The step up in confidence and faith in their abilities is massive, they've taken that leap and the results will speak for themselves. All That Divides is truly a step up in sound, from the opening notes of "Can't Sleep", via first single "Home", past the haunting an fragile "Aether" to the closing moments of "Fate I & II", they just keep improving. They've added a depth to their sound, you discover more with each spin of the record and it keeps improving.  All That Divides is also an album which requires your full attention, you cannot just have it on in the background.  

All That Divides is an album that also feels complete, it's an album that works better as a whole than being cherry picked.  Whilst "Aether" and "Home" are great on their own, they seem to thrive further within the confines of the record.  Sometimes you have albums such as this, the ones that need to be kept as a unit.  But this doesn't take away from the fact that this is a stunning record.  I recommend All That Divides to anyone who has ever a passing interest in Metal or Progressive Rock.  I can only imagine how good they're going to sound in the future.

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

Top track - Aether

You can purchase All That Divides on Amazon.

You can visit the Black Peaks website here.

You can follow the activities of Black Peaks on Facebook here.

You can stream All That Divides on Spotify here.

You can stream All That Divides on Deezer here.

You can stream All That Divides on Tidal here.

Greta van Fleet - Anthem of the Peaceful Army

In recent times, a lot of bands have received a lot of vitriol, with mixed levels of deserved hatred. But the amount I've seen heading towards Greta van Fleet for their debut, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, is the biggest I've seen in a long time.  From the unimaginative "shite" to "(insert band name) rip-off merchants", Greta van Fleet have had to put up with a lot of hatred from a large section of the press and music fandom.  It's almost as if people are prepared to hate for hatred's sake, at times without giving the band the common courtesy of listening to the music first.  Now, I've not heard Greta van Fleet before reviewing this, I've no idea who they are, so here is a bit of a history lesson for me and others who've no idea who these people are.

Greta van Fleet are from Frankenmuth, Michigan in the USA, they comprise of three brothers - Josh, Sam and Jake Kiszka, together with Danny Wagner.  They took their name (with blessing) of a friend from their home city and have previously released two EP's - Black Smoke Rising and From the Fires.  They've been gaining a lot of attention, especially due to the comparisons with Led Zepplin and subsequent praise from LZ singer, Robert Plant.  So, they've had praise as well as cries of woe.  But, even with all this hatred and spite, Anthem of the Peaceful Army reached number three in the US on its first week of release.  That's either a lot of people checking out the hype, or they're onto something here.  So, what does it sound like?

Now, I can see the comparisons to Led Zepplin and why they're getting a bit of stick.  Singer Josh Kiszka does have a similar vocal style to Robert Plant, but it has a lighter touch to his vocals, which suits the music.  From there on, I think that the comparisons really end for me.  Greta van Fleet have more of a Deep Purple/Rival Sons vibe if anything.  But from the sound of this debut, their nowhere near as bad as people are saying.  Let's look at a few of the songs here.  "Lover, Leave" for my money is a really good classic rock number, one which should have people who adore classic rock singing their hearts out.  "Age of Man" sounds like a beefed up Steeleye Span for my money.  "You're the One" is another classic rock heartbreaker to mend people's wounds for years to come.  I'm not hearing the rise of a great Satan here, just a band with a vintage taste.  My favourite track is "The Cold Wind", it just sounds as if the band enjoyed themselves recording it, which is sometimes missing on recordings.

The only thing that stops this from being a good record is the following - I'm not hearing anything I've not already heard before.  These mightn't be a replica of songs or band styles, but I've heard tunes like these before and I'm bound to hear them again in another form in the future.  Also, it has a few too many slow songs for my tastes, but each song is played well.  But is that enough to crucify a band?  Not really, if they were playing and it sounded piss-poor, then yes.  If they were blatantly ripping off bands left, right and centre, then yes.  But for following their passion for making hard rock music with a vintage style, they should be given a chance.  If it's not your thing, then look for something that suits you.  Anthem of the Peaceful Army is a good album in the Classic Rock genre.  It mightn't make me excited, but it's not doing any harm either.

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

Top track - The Cold Wind

You can purchase Anthem of the Peaceful Army on Amazon here.

You can visit the Greta van Fleet website here.

You can follow the activities of Greta van Fleet on Facebook here.

You can stream Anthem of the Peaceful Army on Spotify here.

You can stream Anthem of the Peaceful Army on Deezer here.

You can stream Anthem of the Peaceful Army on Tidal here.

The Prodigy - No Tourists

Has it really been three years since The Day Is My Enemy?  It only feels like last year since The Prodigy dropped an album on the world, but obviously, the time has moved a lot faster than I thought.  No Tourists is the 7th studio album that The Prodigy have released, this time on Take Me to the Hospital Records, via BMG Records.  Recorded at Tileyard Studios in London and various locations using mobile studio equipment, Liam Howlett has stated that No Tourists is an album which has been created by the group as a whole and not just himself.  It has also been stated that whilst The Day Is My Enemy (our review is linked here) was an extreme record, No Tourists is one that is drenched in swagger and comes from their early rave culture. 

One of my biggest criticisms of The Day Is My Enemy was the length of the album, it went on about twenty minutes too long and felt a bit too full for its own good.  That is not something you can accuse No Tourists of, as it comes in just under thirty-eight minutes long.  Each song is a short, sharp rave number with massive beats and hooks.  Howlett has stated that the album has been created for the live arena, making sure that these songs will sound as good on record as they will at their live shows.  If there is anything that The Prodigy are known for, it's their live shows which are generally spectacular and they can play in front of Rave and Rock audiences and still have the audience in the palms of their hands.

On the score of making an album that feels like it's for the live arena, I think The Prodigy have got a winner here.  It took me a little while to get it, so at first, I was struggling with No Tourists.  However, something clicked in the second half of the album and it all fell into place.  Tracks like "We Live Forever", "Champions of London", "Resonate" and "Timebomb Zone" are going to sound huge live.  They have that heavy bass vibe, powerful drums and samples that make this sort of music work.  There are a few guests of this record, Ho99o9 appears on "Fight Fire with Fire", "Barns Courtney" gives vocals to "Give Me a Signal" and a few others appear as well.  This appearance never feel forced, they also feel understated in places as well.  Everyone has contributed, but make no mistake - this is The Prodigy's record.

The main thing I've brought away from No Tourists is a feeling of retro Rave, but not with rose-tinted glasses.  I get the reason why they said that this album has a swagger, it's been created by The Prodigy who are at the top of their game.  Now, a lot of people might not get that, it certainly took me a while.  I think that maybe this is because people can be too precious with the bands that we love, expecting far too much and that our tastes have changed.  However, No Tourists is an album that shows the sounding like the old days is not a bad thing at times.  It's a reminder of how good The Prodigy are, that they're not out of the game and that they're ready to take back their crown.  For the best experience, turn the volume and the bass as loud as possible, then await the sirens.

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

Top track - Champions of London

You can purchase No Tourists on Amazon here.

You can visit The Prodigy website here.

You can follow the activities of The Prodigy on Facebook here.

You can stream No Tourists on Spotify here.

You can stream No Tourists on Deezer here.

You can stream No Tourists on Tidal here.

7 November 2018

Alice In Chains - Rainier Fog

There is something mystical about a new Alice in Chains album.  For starters, I was sure I reviewed this months ago, but it turns out I just dreamt that one.  Anyway, as we head towards the business end of the year, this was an album I couldn't afford to not reviewed before the end of 2018.  Rainier Fog is the sixth studio album from Alice in Chains, the follow up to 2013's The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.  That means that this line up of Alice in Chains has released as many studio albums as they did with Layne Staley.  Now, this will be the only time I mention Layne, not out of disrespect for him.  Let's face it, his shadow over this band is long indeed and he's always going to be there.  No, I do it out of respect to this lineup, they are now in a position to push forward and step out further on their own route.  As much as we will always mourn Layne Staley, the band have to move on in a way.  So, much respect, but let's look into Rainier Fog.

Rainier Fog was released in August 2018, to great acclaim and to their highest charting position in the UK since their return.  It was recorded in various locations around America.  They used Studio X (formerly Bad Animals) in Seattle,  Dark Horse Studios/Rock Falcon Studio in Franklin, Tennessee, Jerry Cantrell's home studio in Los Angeles, Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles and JHOC Studio in Pasadena. It was also recorded over a longer period and had been rumoured for the last two years.  My original ideas for this review isn't too far removed from what I've written now.  Originally, it would have been a quick reaction, a fast and furious piece to hit the ground as it reached the shelves.  But now, I've lived with this record for a few months.  So, how has it matured?

Like all Alice in Chains albums, Rainier Fog is a dark and enclosing experience.  Taking its name from the Volcano outside of Seattle, Washington.  The spirit of the old Seattle scene that was launched by the likes of Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Green River, Mudhoney and others looms large over this record.  Being one of the pioneers of that sound, AiC use Rainier Fog to show that they've still got what it takes, that there light still burns brightly.  They take pride in their sound, they make sure that everything is in the right place.  It might not be re-writing the rulebook, but what would be the point in doing that.

However, they have taken a chance here in looking over their shoulders to the past.  This could have been a dangerous route to be honest, to look focus on yesteryears and shift their focus slightly from the here and now.  Sometimes, this is not the best move for a band.  However, AiC are statesmen when it comes to this sort of thing.  Hearing the guitar being made to weep like an angel on "Red Giant" is a thing of beauty.  The power of opener "The One You Know" cannot be understated, it is already a song which should be considered to be an AiC classic.  The title track in tribute to Seattle is heart-warming and heart-wrenching as well.  The harmony work on "Maybe" with Messrs Cantrell & DuVall is beautiful and stunning.  Each track is a reminder of how good this band sounds, how vital they still are to the world.

I can wax lyrical about Rainier Fog all day, it's a brilliant album and a worthy addition to the AiC discography.  Each song is a brilliant reminder of their legend and a dark anyway which will brighten your day.  To be honest, Alice in Chains rarely placed a foot wrong.  Even when they do, it was only against their own high standards.  Are there any issues with it?  No, it's as good as they get.  It's full of melancholic noise, heart bleeding solos, breathtaking passages and top quality craftsmanship.  When you compare it to their other records, only Dirt, Black Gives Way to Blue and the Jar of Flies EP are ahead of it.  And those three are stone cold classics.  One day I might regret only giving this nine out of ten, but that is an issue for the future.  Rainier Fog is a must have for not just anyone who considers themselves not only an Alice in Chains fan, but for anyone who considers themselves a fan of music in general.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

Top track - Maybe

You can purchase Rainier Fog on Amazon here.

You can visit the Alice in Chains website here.

You can follow the activities of Alice in Chains on Facebook here.

You can stream Rainier Fog on Spotify here.

You can stream Rainier Fog on Deezer here.

You can stream Rainier Fog on Tidal here.

5 November 2018

GAIKA - Basic Volume

GAIKA (aka Gaika Tavares) is an Electronica/Dancehall artist from Brixton, London, England.  According to Wikipedia, following the mixtapes Machine and Security, Gaika released the EP Spaghetti in 2016.  He's been described under various different style.  Some say Trip-hop, some say Industrial, some say Experimental R&B.  Each one is right and total wrong at the same time.  Even the list I've put up is incorrect or incomplete, but they are just the parts I've picked up on. GAIKA himself has described his sound using the word 'Ghettofuturism'.  So, that is the end of that argument then.

Basic Volume is his debut album, released via Warp Records on 27th July 2018.  The lasting impression of my first listen was the bass sound of the album.  It hits you right in the middle of your mind and chest at the same time, rattling your teeth and making the hairs stand up on your neck.  The best example of this sound is "Seven Churches for St. Jude", that Trip-hop work, with some delicious synths and changing vocals give it a haunted appearance.

The next thing that stood out was the lyrical content of the album, as the songs are top quality.  "Close to the Root" is another standout moment, with its fuzzy opening and the sense of loneliness is for all to see.  The sense of abandonment and fury is burning like the sun, it's there for all to see and it's a powerful statement.  Other songs such as "36 Oaths", "Crown & Key" and "Grip" have that sense of anger pulsing through its veins.  You put this on and you are immersed in GAIKA's world and sometimes it's a grim place.

You can hear the anger brimming Basic Volume, you can feel GAIKA is a powder keg that's ready to explode at any given moment.  This album has been formed by his experiences, by the things he's seen and heard over the years.  It's a very powerful and eye-opening record.  Are there any issues?  Well, if you're looking for a relaxing experience, look elsewhere.  Basic Volume is a very intense album, a product of the harsh environment it was created in.  So it will also be seen as an album that divides opinions.  But this does not take away from the quality of this album, it's a stunning debut.  Basic Volume is not a nice record because this is GAIKA's snapshot of reality.  It's an eye opener, a trailblazer and it's announced GAIKA's arrival to the world at large.  The future is here and it's grim, what an album.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

Top track - Close to the Root

You can purchase Basic Volume on Amazon here. 

You can purchase Basic Volume from the Warp Records webstore here (which also acts as the GAIKA webpage as well).

You can follow the activities of GAIKA on Facebook here.

You can stream Basic Volume on Spotify here. 

You can stream Basic Volume on Deezer here. 

You can stream Basic Volume on Tidal here.

3 November 2018

Thom Yorke - Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film)

Thom Yorke's first foray into the world of cinematic music was always going to be something that people would take great interest in.  The fact it's for a remake of one of the best ever Horror films has just upped the ante even more.  The original Suspiria released in 1977 by Dario Argento is a fantastic movie, the new remake by Luca Guadagnino has been described by the director as a homage to the original, rather than a direct remake.  Now, listening to a soundtrack before you've seen a movie is a little bit disconcerting if we're being honest here.  At this point, I'm listening to an unfinished product in a way.  I've no visual context for this music, so I'm only getting half the idea, half the picture if you will.  There might be an image or montage that heightens the sound, gives the music new meaning.  However, until I can see the film, this is something I'll have to explore later.

Musically, Suspira is a harsh album.  It contains lots of choirs, pianos, furious strings and noise.  Each is used to heighten the mood, you can only guess at what scene is being played out on the screen to the music.  However, you guess when the tension is high in the air that something violent will be occurring on the screen, such as on "The Inevitable Pull" or "A Soft Hand Across The Face".  Other songs such as "Suspirium" and "Unmade" which have Thom Yorke's vocals sound positively normal when compared to wonderfully horrifying sounds of "A Light Green".

The further into Suspiria you descend, the more you wish you had the visuals.  If you're reading this after you've seen the movie, that might not make sense.  But at this point, it's just music to me.  But I have to say, Thom York has made this a compelling piece of art.  I feel as if I'm cheating the movie out of something here.  This is a soundtrack which deserves the dancers, the violence and the screams to make it complete.  I'm not saying that the album is poor, quite far from it!  This is one of the best solo pieces from Thom Yorke that I've ever heard.  It's such a dark record, such a deep work of art and so out of the edge, that I want to see what is fueling it.  I love the strange noises, but I want more.

Because of the lack of context, I can't give Suspiria a full mark at this juncture.  It has to get the box full of cats mark for now, I wish it was otherwise and I could give a mark to something more tangible.  Maybe that is why I'm so conflicted about it at this moment.  I could have waited to be honest, but the music is just too good not to talk about, even if it's only half the tale.  If you purchase Suspiria now, I would recommend you do it with watching the film in mind.  If you do it for any other reason, are you truly giving its author the right sort of kudos?  Anyway, I will update this once I've seen the film as well.

A box full of cats - I can't mark this, so here is a picture of a box full of kittens

Top song - Suspirium

You can purchase Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) on Amazon here.

You can follow the activity of Thom Yorke on Twitter here.

You can stream Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) on Spotify here.

You can stream Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) on Deezer here.

You can stream Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) on Tidal here.

Marianne Faithfull - Negative Capability

There is an argument (rightly or wrongly) that says this album shouldn't really exist.  The story of singer/artist/muse/socialite Marianne Faithfull has been retold many times over, so to tell it once more would be waste of time.  However, let's just say that there is a lot of people who are happy to hear that there is a new Marianne Faithfull released.  Following on from Give My Love to London, Negative Capability is her twenty-first studio album.  Whilst I've heard a few albums by Ms Faithfull over the years, I wouldn't count myself as a fan.  So, why am I reviewing this?

Well, it's down to the producers and guests on this album.  Produced by Rob and Warren Ellis (not sure if they're related or not), as well as the guest appearances of Nick Cave, Ed Harcourt and Mark Lanegan.  That quartet of people would have me listening to a Beady Eye album if they contributed to it, which is meant as no disrespect to Marianne Faithfull.  Produced over the course of three years, Negative Capability has been a long time coming.  Some of my friends have been feverishly awaiting its release, and to be honest, I've been interested in it as well.

Now, when you're listening to Negative Capability, you have to put aside the past to a certain extent.  Ms Faithfull's voice is not the same as that in her youth, the years have changed her range and it's a raspy whisper, with a Leonard Cohen vibe to it.  Getting past that might be a stumbling block for some people, but I would recommend persisting with it.  Because there are some beautifully fragile moments on this album.

Negative Capability is a mixture of new songs with some reinterpretations of old favourites.  It's designed to bring fans old and new to the folk, along with the knowledgeable and curious.  Songs such as "The Gypsy Fairy Queen", "Witches Song" and "In My Own Particular Way" are gentle numbers which have a graceful charm about them.  "They Come At Night", wrote about the Parisian attacks which was written by Mark Lanegan is a standout moment, together with "The Gypsy Fairy Queen".  This is an album to relax to, one which you relax to and absorb its stories and talented cast of musicians.

If you're looking for an over-excited album, one with flashes of noise and guitar solos, then you've come to the wrong place.  This is one of the most chilled recordings that I've listened to this year.  Musically, it's a beautiful record, one which I appreciate for its talent and passion behind the project.  Negative Capability is obviously a labour of love for everyone involved, one that they'll rightly view with pride.  Whilst I probably won't reach for it as often as I should, it's been a pleasure to listen to and I would recommend it to any fan of Marianne Faithfull or the quieter (but vibrant) end of the musical spectrum.

7.5 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - They Come At Night

You can purchase Negative Capability on Amazon here.

You can visit the Marianne Faithfull website here.

You can follow the activities of Marianne Faithfull on her official Facebook page here.

You can stream Negative Capability on Spotify here.

You can stream Negative Capability on Deezer here. 

You can stream Negative Capability on Tidal here.

Peter, Bjorn and John - Darker Days

I can't believe it's been twelve years since "Young Folks".  Honestly, that song feels as if it was written yesterday!  For me, that song is the quintessential Peter, Bjorn and John song, it's the one that they'll be remembered for.  Rightly or wrongly, it's their version of "Ace of Spades", their version of "Size of a Cow", their version of "Pumped Up Kicks".  But, one cannot live on one song alone, a band/artist must always strive to create more music, to challenge themselves and best their biggest song.

Darker Days is the eighth studio record from the Stockholm, Sweden based band.  Following on from 2016's Breakin' Point, Peter, Bjorn and John have taken inspiration from 1970's music, Simon & Garfunkel and Jack White.  It marks a move away from the electronica sound of their last release, embracing a poppier direction and looking towards such subjects as the world as we see it, relationship issues and the shadow that we cast and how it affects us. All of these subjects could be used for one album on their own merit.  How do they mix on Darker Days?

Much like Visuals by Mew from last year, this is an album which could rule a season.  For me, Darker Days has been released in the winter months when it could have been a late summer classic.  Songs such as "Wrapped Around the Axle", "Living a Dream" and "Gut Feeling" have a late August vibe, whilst "Dark Age" has an Autumnal soul, one that feels like an updated version of "Forever Autumn" from The War of the Worlds.  The mixture of subjects is not an issue here, each song interlinks and mesh well.  The aforementioned "Dark Age", with its view of the world going to shit is a perfect antidote to the songs such as "Every Other Night" which has a party vibe about it.

The only issue I've had with Darker Days is the track order.  It seems to run out of steam three tracks from the finish, as if it's slowing down before you depart to new pastures.  Don't get me wrong, I love "Silicon Valley Blues",  but sandwich in-between "Sick and Tired" and "Heaven and Hell" it feels stuck in a mire that sucked down Artax in the film The Neverending Story.  It might be to reflect the state of the planet, but it ends the album on a bummer note.  

Putting that to the side, Darker Days is the first album from Peter, Bjorn and John that feels complete.  Take that sentence as you will, but I've found it to be a record I've returned to more than previous records.  I've been itching to hear songs from this album in the same way I have with Megaplex by We Are Scientists and Wizards on the Beach by Moonbabies. There are some quality Indie Pop tracks here which (for my money), are better than "Young Folks".  "Living a Dream" is a stunning number, one that is filling my world at the moment.  It might end a little weakly, but overall, Darker Days is the strongest Peter, Bjorn and John album to date.

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

Top track - Living a Dream

You can purchase Darker Days from Amazon here.

You can visit the Peter, Bjorn and John website here.

You can follow the activities of Peter Bjorn & John on Facebook here.

You can stream Darker Days on Spotify here.

You can stream Darker Days on Deezer here.

You can stream Darker Days on Tidal here.

1 November 2018

Lee Corey Oswald - Darkness, Together

Lee Corey Oswald are a four piece Punk band from Portland, Oregon.  Originally starting off in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 2009(ish), along with such bands as Title Fight, Tigers Jaw, and The Menzingers, Lee Corey Oswald have tried to combined the Alternative Punk styles of both coasts to create their own sound.  To be honest, Darkness, Together is the first time that I've heard them.  I just stumbled on them when I was looking for stuff for my radio show and I discovered that cover.  For regular readers of this blog, I run something called Cover Roulette, when I review an album based just on the cover and nothing else.  So, Lee Cory Oswald, it's your turn to be subject to a blind review based on a fantastic and fascinating artwork.

Darkness, Together is an album that is heavily in debt to its predecessors.  If it wasn't for the likes of Alkaline Trio, Green Day, Homegrown, Weezer, The Ataris and other Pop Punk/Emo Punk acts, I don't think Darkness, Together would ever exist.  I'm not saying that these acts influenced Lee Corey Oswald, but their sound shares traits with all of these bands.  

Musically and lyrically, Darkness, Together is an album that has a disenchanted quality about it.  It feels like the band have a world-weary view, who seem to be looking for an escape from either their own apathy or everything else.  The songs are short, sharp and never stick around to get boring.  This is a good thing, keeping it to the point works really well for this genre.  

There is a lot to like about Darkness, Together, it's a record that does exactly what it says on the tin.  Songs such as "Ashbury Waters", "Mistaken" and "Ferris Wheel" are either going to make you jump around or lie down and ponder the world whilst you find solaces in their sound.  It's not changing the world, but Darkness, Together is still a very good record.  

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out.

Top track - Ferris Wheel

You can purchase Darkness, Together on Amazon here. 

You can purchase Darkness, Together on the Lee Corey Oswald Bandcamp page here.

You can follow the activities of Lee Corey Oswald on Facebook here. 

You can stream Darkness, Together on Spotify here. 

You can stream Darkness, Together on Deezer here. 

You can stream Darkness Together on Tidal here. 

Supersuckers - Suck It

There is a timeless feeling to the Supersuckers, something about them just feels as if they've been going since the big bang and they'll be playing the last note when the big shrink finishes (along with Motörhead).  Since I first heard them with their La Mano Cornuda back in 1994, they've been a band which have always interested me.  Back in 2009 when they announced a hiatus, I thought that was it, so I just focused on their past releases and raised a glass every now and then to their memory.  But what I didn't know (and why did no fecker tell me) was that they'd reformed and Suck It is their third release since reforming.  So, together with some catching up, I've got a new album to review!  Suck It follows on from 2015's Holdin' the Bag.  The cover shows a massive octopus (leviathan if you will), destroying a ship at sea and causing chaos, which sort of describes Supersuckers to me.  They were always a chaotic whirlwind, smashing everything out of the park and turning the volume up much louder than needed, but not giving a shit.  So, the big question is this - are they still kicking up shit and causing mayhem?

The good news is that on the face of it, everything is still as it should be. The Supersuckers have always been an out and out Rock & Roll band, nothing more and nothing less.  On this album, they are still doing what they do best.  Kick-ass Rock & Roll anthems with a punk attitude. When listening to this album, it brought to mind two things.  Firstly, how much I've missed these guys and secondly, how much they've started to become like Social Distortion these days. This is not a bad thing, they are both journeymen groups, bands that have been cultivated on the road and faces their relative trials and tribulations with a grin and sneer at the same times.

But Suck It is also a reaction to recent life events for Supersuckers, you can hear the sounds of a man trying to get his life in order once again.  The cheerful abandonment of old has been replaced with a world-weary view, one that requires drinks straight from the bottle and without a mixer.  "Dead Inside" (my new favourite Supersuckers song), "What's Up With This MF'ing Thing" and "'Til I Die" are just hard-hitting rock numbers, ones that should be in their set for years to come

Are there any issues?  Nothing that is superficial to be honest, but it's probably not going to be the album I would reach for all the time.  It's a very good Punk & Roll album with some great tunes, but overall I guess I just prefer their earlier stuff.   But like all Supersuckers albums, Suck It is definitely worth a listen, worth a dance and raising a glass to one of the last standing Rock/Punk acts who sound dangerous.

7.5 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Dead Inside

You can purchase Suck It on Amazon here. 

You can visit the Supersuckers website here. 

You can follow the activities of Supersuckers on Facebook here.

You can stream Suck It on Spotify here.

You can stream Suck It on Deezer here.

You can stream Suck It on Tidal here.

30 October 2018

Miles Hunt - The Custodian

Miles Hunt is a bit of a legend in my books, he mightn't see himself as that, but perception is always in the eye of the beholder.  Over the course of his career in The Wonder Stuff, Vent 414, with Erica Nockalls or by himself, he's created a massive body of work.  With a body of work stretching back to the 1980's, Mr Hunt has recently released The Custodian, a thirty song album of acoustic reworks of some of his favourite songs from his career.  Inspired by Richard Thompson's Acoustic Classics series and a conversation he had with Tom Robinson, who asked Miles who owned his songs.  Miles thought it was the copyright holders, but Mr Robinosn informed him it was actually the audience, as these songs shaped their lives and it was Miles' role to be the custodian of these tunes.  I have to admit that's a powerful argument and spot on, these songs will have meant so much to so many different people, it's mind-boggling.  Because of these things, we are now treated to The Custodian.

Over the course of two discs, Miles Hunt reinterprets thirty songs into acoustic tracks.  Now, with any acoustic reimagination of songs, there will always be differences, just by the very nature of the change. They can never be a direct representation of the original works due to the fact it's just one man.  Also, the songs would have changed over the years, all things evolve over time.  With The Custodian, this is exactly what you hear.  Listening to the new versions of tracks such as "The Size of a Cow", "On The Ropes", "Fixer" and "Don't You Ever" has been an interest experience.  Essentially, the differences between each version are small, but sometimes they change the song fundamentally.  Take the Vent 414 song "Fits and Starts".  It went from a grunge, alternative rock number to something new.  It's just being used as an example here, but this is a track where the translation has improved the original.  There is also an argument that some of them are reverting back to their original form, as they may have started that way.  But all the songs picked translated well acoustically.

I think he knew which songs would work best acoustically, which ones wouldn't work as well and has stuck to his strong point.  Take "Caught in my Shadow", this song was a stomper with a full band.  On the acoustic guitar, it's been slowed down and built up as a wistful number that could be about losing one's self and not recognising your own town.  "Don't You Ever", a song from the last Stuffies album, 30 Goes Around the Sun, has been changed from a delicious song that builds the riff with each second, to a heartfelt cry of a man who knows exactly who the fuck he is.  The change between the songs is not always drastic, but the difference between each version cannot be denied.  It's like looking at the same photo you've seen for years and seeing a new angle.

If I went through every song like my old reviews, this would be an odyssey.  The album is a lengthy labour of love, so I feel that sort of review wouldn't be the best thing to do here (as tempting as it was to write).  What I love about The Custodian is the craftsmanship, love and effort that Miles has put into this project.  The attention to detail by a man who knows his worth is beautiful to hear.  Each track has been lovely re-created, the new song "Custodian" is brilliant and I look forward to hearing it live.  This is a body of work that he should rightfully be proud of and one that his fans will enjoy immensely.  This is an essential piece for any fan of The Wonder Stuff or music in general.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

Top track - On the Ropes (it's always been my favourite, but Don't You Ever was so close)

You can purchase The Custodian from The Wonder Stuff online store (as well as other little gems) here. 

If you have to (and I would, in this case, recommend using the link above instead of this one) use Amazon, here is your link. However, if you use the link above, more funds go to the artist. 

You can visit The Wonder Stuff website here.

You can follow the various activities of The Wonder Stuff and their members on The Wonder Stuff Facebook here.

At the time of writing, The Custodian is not available on streaming sites.  However, that is just a great excuse to use the first link and purchase it at The Wonder Stuff online store!

23 October 2018

Kurt Vile - Bottle it in

Kurt Vile is no stranger to these pages, musical maverick and the winner of our 2015 song of the year, he always seems to be on the cusp of something and the music just keeps on going.  For me, he is a beautiful artist who doesn't know when to let go of a moment and take a step back.  This has led me to wonder if I should really be reviewing this new album at all.  But, like an addict, I'm back for more of Vile tunes.  In the last three years since b'lieve i'm goin down... (our review linked here), in that time he released an album called Lotta Sea Lice with Courtney Barnett (our review in this round-up here).  It was an album which didn't seem to bring out the strengths of both artist for me, it just seemed to drift by slightly and left little to no impression on me.  He's also toured extensively, building up to Bottle It In.  Now, the hype for this has been bigger than normal, I mean, I could not escape the fact that this album was imminent.  But this seems to be against the laid back, stoner/country hippy vibe that I've always associated with Mr Vile.

Musically, there is no real change of Bottle It In, the vibe is still the same and as abstract as ever. Depending on how much you love droned out, psychedelic Anti-Folk jams will influence how much you want to listen to this album.  Just under an hour and twenty minutes, with thirteen songs that include three that break the nine-minute mark, this is going to be an endurance test for people that usually zone out around the four-minute mark.

Out of the longer tracks, the world seems to be going gaga for "Bassackwards", a song that drones for a long time till it returns to its original loop (or kept it going, it's still a mystery).  Same can be said for the title track and "Skinny Mini", listen to the main riff and randomly jump anywhere in the song, it's there and unchanged. Maybe there is a little dressing on top, a slide guitar or vocals, but the riff remains the same.  This is his blessing and curse, the ability to persist with/inability to let go of a riff.

Even the shorter numbers have this malaise, open track and lead single "Loading Zones" might sound upbeat, but you get underneath and there's the main riff on loop.  And you can do the same with "Check Baby" (where he ironically talks about slaying the six-string), "Yeah Bones" and any of the others.  And I think that is why I love and dislike this album in equal measure.

Bottle It In is an album that draws you in slow, but sure it gets the job done.  By the end, you sort of feel under its spell, but you keep telling yourself that you've got the ability to give it up when you want.  This album is also proof that Kurt Vile is still the stoner kid of old, still obsessed with jams, repeating loops into themselves until nothing else is left.  In this style of music, this is the norm, in Alternative Rock/Folk, it's a standout moment.  For me, I'm loving that he's following his dream, he has some great ideas and stuff here, but sometimes I still find myself hitting fast forward.  Bottle it in is a decent album, one that still shows the best and worse of Kurt Vile.  I love the free spirit, but once again, he's unleashed an album that's held back by himself - how is that possible on a record which has five producers! 

6.5 out of ten - OK, I see where you were going, but it's not quite there.

Top track - Yeah Bones

You can purchase Bottle it in on Amazon here.

You can visit the Kurt Vile website here.

You can follow the activities of Kurt Vile of Facebook here. 

You can stream Bottle it in on Spotify here. 

You can stream Bottle it in on Deezer here. 

You can stream Bottle it in on Tidal here. 

KEN Mode - Loved

KEN Mode (KEN stands for Kill Everyone Now) are a Hardcore/Metal band from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Formed in 1999, I'm truly surprised it has taken until 2018 for me to hear of them.  From their description, they sound like a shoe-in for my record collection, let alone to review.  Noisy as hell, strange cover artwork (one of the best in 2018 by the way, anyone who says otherwise is a liar), links to Converge, Deaf Heaven, Mastodon and others.  How the living hell did I miss them!?!?!?!  Anyway, back to this review.  Loved was released on 31st August 2018 via Season of Mist records in the UK.  I saw that image floating around the internet for ages, so I thought I would get round to pick it up at some point.  Because I had no idea of them (sorry for that), this is actually a Cover Roulette review!  For people who are not familiar, I'll quickly explain - every now and then, I review an album based solely on the cover of the record.  I cannot have heard the band before, I cannot be familiar with anything about it.  Sometimes it brings some gems, sometimes it brings up shit.  Let's find out which one will Loved turn out to be?

Again, I know I've already said this, but how in the living fuck has this band passed me by for so long.  Loved is an explosion more than an album.  There are so many things going on with this record, so let me try to comprehend it.  Firstly, that Post Hardcore/Sludge Metal tone is frantic, snatching the listener's attention straight away and smashing into you without so much as a bye or leave.  I think the best example that combines both styles is "Very Small Men".  It's more Hardcore than Sludge, but it has those Sludge moments that make the ears ring.  You also have the ultra-heavy layered songs such as "Feathers & Lips" and "Not Soul Mates" which keep on giving after each spin.

Most songs are short affairs, quick fixes of noise to smash around in the crowd.  It's this endless assault over the first eight tracks which last about twenty-seven minutes which leaves you breathless.  Until you reach "No Gentle Art", the final track on Loved.  Going out on a limb here, but this is one of the best songs that Neurosis, Shrinebuilder and Whores never wrote.  If you thought the rest of the album was intense, wait till you get a load of this.  With a slow building formula, thumping bass, a crazy-arsed saxophone solo and a combined performance of an amazing quality, "No Gentle Art" is a song which will be lapped up by the faithful and bring new converts when they hear it.

Now, at this point, I tend to try to give a devil's advocate response.  You know, point out a few flaws and make it a balanced review.  The thing is though, I don't really want to do that here.  Mainly because Loved is a fantastic album, a Pandora's box that you can't close and probably won't want to.  I love the style, the production is massive and you have ringing in your ears long after the final note has finished.  In a year with some truly epic Metal/Sludge albums, KEN Mode have created something special on Loved.  Now I have the joy of listening to their back catalogue.

9.5 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

Top track - No Gentle Art

You can purchase Loved from Amazon here.

You can purchase Loved from the KEN Mode Bandcamp page here.

You can visit the KEN Mode website here.

You can follow the activities of KEN Mode on Facebook here.

You can stream Loved on Spotify here.

You can stream Loved on Deezer here.

You can stream Loved on Tidal here.

22 October 2018

Pale Waves - My Mind Makes Noises

Sometimes, record companies get band genres fantastically wrong.  When I was first introduced to Pale Waves, they were quoted to be an Indie Rock band.  Now, I can safely say that when I (or anyone else blessed with the gift of hearing) first heard their music, it was not Indie Rock that I heard.  Yes, there are guitars in there.  Yes, clearly Pale Waves are an Indie band.  But their sound is Pop, with a capital 'P' and as sugary as it comes.  This is not a bad thing though, I've said many times I love a quality Pop record.  Pop records can be amazing, sometimes better than any other type of album. However, when a PR company tries to sell an act like something it's clearly not, it raises my back.  I don't think it helps when the band themselves also use the words punk when trying to describe their sound.  But maybe they were talking about their tone/essence and not their overall sound.  Either way, let's just say Pale Waves are Indie Pop and be done with it.

So, who are Pale Waves?  Pale Waves (according to Wikipedia) are an English Indie Pop band from Manchester and were formed in 2014. Originally called Creek, the band was formed by lead singer, Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran. The band were eventually complete with the inclusion of guitarist Hugo Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood. This follows up from All The Things I Never Said EP, a successful release in the UK.  They've recently completed a UK tour, they seem to be everywhere I'm turning and not in places I was expecting either.  So, I've been drawn into this reviewing this, just out of sheer curiosity about when the hype is about.

My Mind Makes Noises could have easily been released in the 80's and no-one would have known it was released in 2018.  If Pale Waves were added to the end of The Breakfast Club, I wouldn't mind.  A lot of these songs seems to be dealing with the emptiness of the human experience, coupled together with unrequited love and self-destructive tendencies.  From "Eighteen" to "Drive" and to "Karl (I Wonder What It's Like to Die)", you have a soundtrack for a generation who are still trying to figure out what they are.  It's something that will be repeated again, but it'll never sound like Pale Waves.

You have a strange combination of anger, charm, self-loathing and confidence on My Mind Makes Noises.  Take "When Did I Lose It All?" for instance.  A song about letting go of a lover, someone you want to marry, but you want to explore the world.  That seems like a strange thing in my mind, as if the confusion of the situation is blinding the author. But the music could easily be used for a loving ballad in the classic sense of the word. It's a strange beast and it's not alone on this album.  You could say the same for "She", "Black" and "Television Romance" as well.

My Mind Makes Noises is a good Indie Pop album, one that will appeal to fans of The 1975 (who help produce two of these songs).  It's a tad too long if I'm honest, the angst side of MMMN becomes overbearing after the thirty-minute mark.  But I've got to be honest, it's one of the best Pop records I've heard this year.  Now they've released their debut, the hard work will start as they try to build on this legacy.  But that's for the future, for now let's celebrate a good Indie Pop debut from the current darlings of the Indie scene.

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Came in Close

You can purchase My Mind Makes Noises on Amazon here. 

You can visit the Pale Waves website here. 

You can follow the activities of Pale Waves on Facebook here. 

You can stream My Mind Makes Noises on Spotify here. 

You can stream My Mind Makes Noises on Deezer here. 

You can stream My Mind Makes Noises on Tidal here. 

Past sermons

Greatest hits