30 September 2017

Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls - We Came Here to Work

For a lot of people, if you say the name Miles Hunt they will automatically sing to you either "Size of a Cow" or "Dizzy".  But as good as those songs are, the man is much more than that.  He was in Vent 414, he is a successful solo artist and the Wonder Stuff have created (in my own opinion) better songs than those two.  The same goes for Erica Nockalls, she is much more than Ms Hunt.  She is a solo artist in her own right with two solo albums to her name, an in-demand session musician, a fantastic artist and they has been releasing records as a duo for a long time.  This is their first record as a duo since Live 2010/11, so you could say this is a much-anticipated release.  After the 2016 release for The Wonder Stuff 30 Goes Around the Sun (our review cleverly linked here), the thought of another album from these two has been one which I have pondered (hoped for as well), so once they announced that We Came Here to Work was going to be released, I knew I was going to review it.  My copy of the album arrived on my doorstep last week and I have been listening to this for a few days, just as I was so excited and I wanted to absord each track!  So, before I go full fanboy, how does it stand up?

01 - When the Currency Was Youth

A song about trying to remember why things happened in the past, trying to figure out who people are and how memories of the past can return to the present.  As noted in the information about "When the Currency Was Youth" in the sleeve of the album, it is about the emotions that came back when Miles was writing his Tour Diaries for the books he has just released, about how those words brought the past back to life. This reflective track is filled with nostalgia, but it is not rose-tinted or full of regret.  It is a great number, one which grows with each spin of the record and it is becoming a favourite at my house.

02 - A Matter of Circumstance

A song about a friendship that became frivolous after a request to supply music for an animation project,  created in the style of Joni Mitchell.  This was one of the first on the album which sunk its hooks in immediately, due to the warmth that comes from this song.  The rhythm of the guitar is so catchy that it should come with a health warning!  You can hear sunshine in the music, I have no idea why.  But each time it has come on, no matter the weather, the world becomes lighter and even when it is cloudy the sun tries to break through the grey.

03 - Waste Some Time with Me

A song about the joy that can come with meeting up with friends, making the dark times seem a little less heavy and how a trouble shared is a trouble halved.  It is a gentle song with an honest heart, it is good intensions made flesh and there is a feeling of good will and friendship.  It is a song that heals sore wounds and it is beautifully played, what is there not to love?

04 - Witnesses

I love a song that starts somewhere and ends up in a totally different place, songs like this are journeys that you can follow in your mind and they are also open to interpretation as well.  "Witnesses" is such a song, a song that has a little bit of anger in it, but there is also determination mixed in as well.  It is a good number, one that is very though provoking and well played as well.

05 - The Good in The World

A song that is dedicated to friends and uncomplicated as well, "The Good in The World" is a piece of music that is wonderfully crafted, as open as the sky and one that gets you thinking.  I keep associating the word simplistic with this song, but that is not the right word as it comes with harsh undertones these days.  But it is a basic, simple song that can open emotions and questions on a large scale, it is one of the best on this record and one of the best that Miles and Erica have released together.  Hence why simplistic is both the right and wrong word here......

06 - We Came Here to Work

"We Came Here to Work" is about people who are trying to escape war, disease and how people are treating them like criminals, about how the world is a bit fucked up at the moment.  It is a powerful statement, it is a brilliant piece of art, one which I wholeheartedly agree with and I applaud Miles and Erica on this one.  If you don't agree with this, you can fuck off.

07 - If I Were You

Looking at the past can be a difficult thing, especially when it comes relationships and those which might have ended badly.  There is a bit of blame on this song, there is still hurt in the words and its sombre nature gives it an uncomfortable edge. 

08 - The Absentee

A song about Miles being a shy teenager, about how it affected him growing up and how it is still there in the background.  It is an honest song which does not pull any punches, it makes no effort to show things in a glamorous light and it shows the past for what it was.  A wild time that had to end, but it was something that helped him grow up as well.  I can hear the passion in this one, mixed with a fragile leaning as the shy boy is still in there.  It is a song that I love and identify with as well, it is well played and I think it will sound beautiful on their current UK tour.

09 - Reassurance

We have reached the penultimate track of the album with "Reassurance", a song about that seems to be able being knocked down and how to get back up again, how a person can be admired for their commitment to their goals.  It is another song that does not have too much going on, but it is one that gets you thinking about people who fit this description within the song.  A song that can achieve that sort of response is one to admire, it is one that grows overtime and that is something special indeed.

10 - The Sweetest of Bitterest Ends

The title of this track alone just begs to end an album!  You could not open an album with this song, it would feel out of place and it is naturally build for the last track on an album or a show.  It is also a song about getting the last word, having your say and making a point.  Because of this, it feels like you are missing part of the argument and it makes me curious as to what created the circumstances for this song to be written.  But that is beside the point to be honest, at the end of the day it is a great song that is passionate to a fault and ends the album with an intriguing note.

The thing I like about this album is that it does not feel like off-cuts, it does not feel of songs that would have been better placed on a Stuffies album.  These songs have been created by two talented musicians and released in their best format and that is something that a few bands fail to do.  I love the passion behind the songs, the natural nature of the music, the packaging of the CD (thank you for signing to Miles & Erica, that was a lovely touch for people who ordered it) and it is an album that grown before you with each listen.  It is going to be played a lot in my house over the autumnal months, it seems to fit this time of year perfectly.  If you are looking for a new acoustic album, this is the one I would recommend to you, you will not be disappointed.

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

Top track - Waste Some Time with Me

You can purchase We Came Here to Work from the Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls Big Cartel page here.

You can purchase We Came Here to Work from Amazon here.

You can follow all the news of Miles Hunt, Erica Nockalls and The Wonder Stuff on the Wonder Stuff website here.

You can follow all the news of Miles Hunt, Erica Nockalls and The Wonder Stuff on Facebook here.

At the time of writing, We Came Here to Work is not available on streaming sites, but you really want to purchase it any way. ;-) - Eddie

29 September 2017

LCD Soundsystem - American Dream

I never thought that I would ever be able to hear a new LCD album, but thank fuck James Murphy changed his mind.  LCD Soundsystem are a polarising band in my experience, one which never fill the middle ground in anyone’s mind.  Either people are fanatical about them, or they have an equally passionate hatred about them as well.  When LCD Soundsystem original split up after the release of This Is Happening, James Murphy went into production, with his biggest contribution being his work on Blackstar by David Bowie.  But there was always rumours, always whispers that one day we would hear new music by LCD Soundsystem.  And now it is here and I am not sure how to approach it.  Sometimes when a band comes back, it is not with that original passion that made them so good in the first place.  Sometimes, (for want of a better phrase) it turns out to be an exercise in turd polishing that pleases nobody.  I am truly hoping that this is not the case, but I approach this album with a certain degree of fear…...

01 – Oh Baby

The opening track of American Dream is the slow “Oh Baby”, a song that is a tribute to another song, “Dream Baby Dream” by Suicide.  When I say it is slow, it is as patient as glacier in terms of pace and it is incredibly minimal.  It also reminds me of Soft Cell in places, but with very little drama and a little too long to make its point.  But when it gets towards the end of the song, it starts to shine like a diamond in the sky.  The gentle nature of the song, the beautiful music wins you over, but it takes far too long for LCD Soundsystem to make its point on this one.

02 – Other Voices

A song with two themes, “Other Voices” is about anxiety attacks that people can suffer and about the 2016 USA Presidential election, both of which combine in this Talking Heads-esque song that is in no hurry to open up to you.  The more I listen to it, the greater the Post-Rock influence of this song hits you and wraps you into a tight ball, before it chews you up and spits you back out again.  There is no warmth on this one, it is a harsh number that is without filters to help deal with other human beings.  It is a great number, but it is not one that makes it easy for you.

03 – I Used To

This song really does hit you with a wave of remorse and regret, one that is so huge that it will smash you into pieces with its relentless nature.  It is more Post-Rock (surely, I should be stating that it is Post-Electronica) that does not give up one inch, does not relax for one iota and it just makes the walls collapse within your personal little world.  It is a dark number, it never deviates from its course and it hits home every time.  Once again, it is a hard one to understand in places and it takes time, but it is truly worth it.

04 – Change Yr Mind

Another depression in waiting, “Change Yr Mind” feels like it is being sung by a man who has given up, as if the end has already happened and the bottom of the bottle is now where they dwell.  It has that same relentless nature that is played out on the first few songs of this album, with that amount of warmth as well.  But there is still something hypnotic about this song, a tune that does not make anything too easy, it makes the listener concentrated and then does not give a damn if you like it or not. 

05 – How Do You Sleep?

A song about the deterioration of Mr Murphy’s friendship and business relationship with Tim Goldsworthy, a friendship which has become untenable for all involved.  It is a long song, over nine minutes in length and it is (as you would expect) a harsh critic of their union.  It is not something that you can easily digest and it takes a while to get over that initial brutal shock, that feeling of betrayal that pours out of each note and beat of “How Do You Sleep?”.  You can hear every broken word being sung with passion and pain, it is a stunning number, but it is also one that is once more a hard one to love.

06 – Tonite

A song which goes back to an earlier sound for LCD Soundsystem, “Tonite” brings some energy to the album.  It is still filled with resentment to the aging process, but it is fighting/accepting it as there is a feeling that the night is young about it.  The music sounds hopefully, almost innocent to a certain degree.  But it a middle-age man who is looking around and seeing that he still has work to do, but he is not going to make it easy for anyone, including himself.  It is a good number, but it is also one that keeps up the hard to love feeling of the record.

07 – Call the Police

Call the Police” is a bass heavy number that feels like everything is drifting apart, as if everything is shifting without people being able to comprehend the advancement of age.  There is a progressive rock element to this song, one that makes it stand out from the record and gives it a different feeling.  But to be honest, it is still one that is not easy on the listener, but that has been the calling card of this album.

08 – American Dream

The title track of the album is so harsh, it is like a candy crush nightmare on acid, thrown on a waltzer and then allowed to slowly spin into the night. The slow and relentless Post-Electronica (yeah, that is what I am calling this) nature of the song is full and empty at the same time, but it is not without things to admire.  This music is fantastic, it is something that I adore and it makes the hairs on my neck stand on end. But I do not trust it, I do not love it as it is too relentless in a nature.

09 – Emotional Haircut

We have reached the penultimate song of the album, one that brings the Post-Rock edge back and it makes for an uncomfortable experience.  The aggression factor of this song is turned up full, the hostile feeling is mixed with paranoia and the feeling of being uncomfortable in your own skin.  It is a dark moment in 2017, one that haunts me at time.  It sounds great, I will never say it sounded awful, but I am not comfortable with this one.

10 – Black Screen

Now this is a harsh place to end the album, with Mr Murphy eulogising the late David Bowie, his friend and mentor.  It is heart-breaking on every level, there is pain engraved on this song and you are not prepared for that first experience when listening to it.  It ends the album on a sombre note, but a beautiful tribute to the last master of sound, a fitting place to end the album.

There is something brilliant and yet unlovable about this record, something which is akin to a force of resistance that is malleable to the listener, but it is not giving up its secrets easy.  But the fact it is an unforgiving album does not make it a poor record, to be honest it is a great record.  It is the biggest thing to happen to Post-Rock/Post-Electronica in an awfully long time, mainly because of its spikey and unwelcoming nature. On American Dream, LCD Soundsystem are not trying to sugar coat anything, they are trying to show you have fucked up the word actually is for them.  I think that age is also the second biggest theme of the album and the inability to accept that it is happening, there is a rage against it and a harsh lesson that they are being taught.  The quality of the performance is brilliant, but there is something holding me back from loving this record.  It is akin to the film Mother which is currently in the cinema, it is well-crafted, but you are not meant to like it.  My respect for it grows with each listen, but I still cannot love it, there is something too self-absorbed here that makes it a great record which is walling in its own self-pity a little too much. That is why I find American Dream an album that I admire, but one which I would not trust and have had to turn off when I was feeling delicate.

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time and money (but for this one, not my heart)

Top track – Black Screen

You can purchase American Dream on Amazon here.

You can visit the LCD Soundsystem website here.

You can follow the activities of LCD Soundsystem on Facebook here.

You can stream American Dream on Spotify here.

You can stream American Dream on Deezer here.

You can stream American Dream on Tidal here.

24 September 2017

We Came From Wolves - Haunt Me EP

I have a lot of time for wecamefromwolves (or We Came From Wolves, depending on how you want to name it), one of the finest band from Scotland at the moment and they have just released their latest EP, Haunt Me.  Before I get to the review, a little bit of background (in a small way); I knew this EP was coming as I had heard rumours.  Then I get a press release via either Grand Sounds or Against PR (I cannot remember which at this point), so I made a note to review it soon.  Then, I get an email from Kyle from WCFW to inform me that the EP is coming with a link to stream it (thankful as always and always nice to be remembered).  It seems like the universe was telling me that I needed to review this, so I better get on with it.

01 – Falling

With a slow harmonic introduction, little bits of feedback and strange noises, “Falling” is brought into the world with in a gentle way.  But once the song proper starts, it is a song which is full of self-doubt, isolation and the lack of self-esteem/control which can afflict someone when they are feeling depressed.  It is a good post-hardcore song, once which talks about an issue and is a cry for help lyrically. It is a great opener to this EP, showing the growth that WCFW has experienced since their last full release.

02 – The Peaks Beneath the Sea

(Taken from my original review of the single) Starting with a fade in, they start this song in strong style as they deal with the subject of wanting to reach safety and trying to access the refuge that all people seek when everything becomes too much.  It is a strong song, the hook in the chorus is catchy, the performance is as good, perhaps a bit better than their previous material and it make you want to hear further songs from the band.  It still sounds like them, but with improvements on each level that comes from experience and working together.

03 – Haunt Me

The title track of this EP harks back to an earlier sound for me, it is the more mature and weather musical twin of “Stallions, Foals, Foxes, Crows”, the first song I heard from WCFW.  It is a song about needing to escape, being held back by someone who is claiming that they are playing second best to the rest of their lover’s life.  A break is required, but neither of them are prepared to make that final decision.  It is a slow burner, a heart breaker and it will have people singing in unison at their gigs in the months to come!

04 – Places Unfamiliar

The second song to be released as a single before this EP was released (it was also released as an acoustic version as well), this time it is dealing with the frustration that can occur when people are not seeing what is really going on, ignoring the pleas for help and trying to keep everything steady.  It is a fast-paced number that keeps in with the tone of the rest of Haunt Me, but without having a uniformed sound.  It is a great song, one that you will want to play on repeat and that last line about everything being fuckin’ awful is spat out with such passion!  What a tune!

05 – This Never Gets Easy

With a gang chant to start the song, “This Never Gets Easy” brings the EP to a close with a thought provoking song about love, time moving forward, trying to be a man/woman who lives up to their errors and to get things right before time runs out and people leave their life.  It is a slower song, one with a heavy riff during the bridge and a massive drum performance that smashes out of your speakers!

This is a great EP, the songs complement each other and there is a fluid feeling to Haunt Me.  It is a dark EP, one which deals with the issues of mental health with grace and shows the torrent of emotions that can build up inside someone.  It is not easy to listen to in places, it will not sit well with some people who have that “Keep Calm” mind set, but this sort of things (and its emotional content) need to be voiced and they cannot be repressed.  I think this is a good taster for their next album (whenever that may be released), it shows that they are growing as musicians and their sound improves with each release.  I do think that there might be counselling needed as well, but that is just on a personal note.  However, I do recommend getting yourself a copy of Haunt Me EP as soon as possible.

4 out of five – This is good and well worth checking

Top track – The Peaks Beneath the Sea

You can purchase Haunt Me EP from the wecamefromwolves Bandcamp page here.

You can purchase Haunt Me EP on Amazon here. 

You can visit the wecamefromwolves website here.

You can follow the wecamefromwolves Facebook page here.

You can stream Haunt Me EP on Spotify here.

You can stream Haunt Me EP on Deezer here.

You can stream Haunt Me EP on Tidal here.

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