>M83 - BEFORE THE DAWN HEALS US
first impression of the new M83 was that of the atmosphere surrounding
the Strokes'* second album- just how on earth could they better the previous
album? My second impression turned itself around and slapped the first
impression in the face for comparing this music to NYC guitar ploddage.
M83's sophomore release, 2003's "Dead Cities, Red Seas & Ghosts"
was just about the most inventive, exhilarating, fresh thing anyone had
heard in about 3000 years. Where that album ended with the needle lifting
itself off the barren glacial beauty etched into the grooves of the 12"
vinyl, this newie doesn't hang about to be considered beautiful- it rather
screaches out of the speakers; 'Don't save us from the flames' is a scary
bombast of Anthony Gonazalez's amalgamation of toy studio instruments,
making you think, two tracks in, that this is yet again the most inspiring
and peerless record you will hear all year. And I received this on January
3rd. The young Gonzalez, bouncing about his studio, clambering over computers,
cheering on two battling moogs in a sonic version of Fight Club, spinning
on the spot of his "Loveless" original, has crafted an album
of mesmerising intensity and maturing, where stop-start guitar and drum
snippets nestle around the long, long instrumental hushes so devoured
on his previous release. With a darker, more menacing edge similar to
the single "America", parts of this album cries out for cinematic
use, as on the squealing "A Guitar and A Heart". But if TV ads
for Mercedes are the only commercial outlet for this dazzling talent,
then so be it. A crying under-appreciation, for the uniqueness of
* New York-based guitar band, briefly successful at the start of this century
Review by Chris Field
>MONTANA PETE - BAIGE
There’s a new prole art threat in town, and his name is Montana Pete…
The name Montana Pete conjures up images of someone who looks a lot
like David Crosby – the fat, moustachio’d guy out of Crosby,
Stills and Nash. You know the one – car boot full of firearms, booze
problem etc. (He was also the one with the surname Crosby...) Thankfully,
Montana Pete aren’t a sweaty folk-rock also-ran, they’re a
sweaty three-piece rock monster (none of whom to my limited knowledge
have ever impregnated a lesbian…).
Review by Tom Leins
>ADAM GREEN - GEMSTONES
Irony has had a rough deal in music over the years. With the existence of a certain Mr Hawkins, it's easy to see why. When The Moldy Peaches leapt into the consciousness of the indie cognoscenti back in 2001, they divided opinion. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly an equal division and the band never managed a follow up to their eponymous debut. Four years on and Adam Green shows no sign of dropping the sarcastic humour on his third solo album.
So we get rhyming couplets such as "Dostoevsky, Fab Moretti", seemingly for the pure, arch hell of it. We get innocent references to "soda-pops" and "doing the mash potato" that sit merrily alongside "c**ksocks full of white tears" and a girl whose "bre*sts taste just like breakfast". And while previous album 'Friends Of Mine' held a certain poignancy behind the irony, this one's played straight for laughs. Only the charmingly titled 'Choke On C**k' seems to have a serious point behind it, although its attack on the Bush/Blair love-in is still evidently smeared with the lovable Green wit.
We've clearly caught him in a jolly mood as the album is as musically upbeat as it is lyrically playful. While 2003's opulent, string-laden classic 'Friends Of Mine' was the sort of record you'd sing along to forlornly while half-drunk on a bottle of cheap plonk (or was that just me?), the latter has the potential to make the listener dance in supermarkets (just me again, then). A jolly mix of cabaret organ sounds, traditional melody and the best croon this hack has heard since Ol' Blue eyes popped his weary clogs, it's heavily drenched in the days of yore. But, my God, is it fun.
By David Exley
>JIMMY CHAMBERLAIN COMPLEX - LIFE BEGINS AGAIN
always potentially disastrous when any member of a band steps out to prove
himself with a solo album. As former stick-smith with the Smashing Pumpkins,
and more recently Zwan; Jimmy Chamberlin has a considerable past he needs
to either outmanoeuvre and outshine. Throwing caution to the wind he’s
decided to ‘arrange’ a jazz-rock album. I know, I know…this
could be truly catastrophic. Time to dust off the keyboards and porno for
a self indulgent wankfest maybe. Or worse; it could be as bad as James Iha’s
Warming us up slowly, the cascading harmonies and nouveau-jazz drumming of instrumental opener ‘Streetcrawler’ are surprisingly gripping. ‘Newerwaves’ is a little like a jazz obsessed Doors jamming a Pumpkins tune, and steals it’s ambient guitar hooks straight from the Edge. Following in a similar theme throughout we get treated to some arrangements that have a real sense of movement; no time for verse chorus verse predictability here. ‘Owed To Darryl’ showcases Chamberlins mastery of the beat over a fuzzed up arrangement and some deft guitar soloing that would make John Scofield swell with atonal pride. However there is just a little too much that feels like filler. The title track is simply dross, whilst ‘P.S.A.’ seems to be a six minute vehicle for Chamberlin to show off his best technical drum fills, and as such is a total waste of time. Thank god then for the appearance of fellow former Pumpkin Billy Corgan on ’Lokicat’. The results of the old partnership are instant. Corgan sings “I found no angels, I found myself” over a backing so soft and peaceful it’s possibly better than anything from the Pumpkins’ Machina album, and is certainly this albums’ highlight.
By melding the content of jazz with the presentation of alternative rock Chamberlin has been forced to water each down a little, and this neither burns with the aggression of grunge nor sizzles with the beat of Jazz. The result is somewhere between, and it follows that it’s only successful about half the time. Corgan’s appearance aside, the guest vocalists fail to add that essential hook or ambience that some tracks are sorely missing. It’s often indulgent, but ultimately listenable. The adventures into jazz-faced widdleness are tied in with an atmospheric sense of melody, and fortunately Chamberlin had the foresight to reel the soloists in before they get stuck up their own assholes.
Review by James Kirsch
>THE*GA*GA*S - TONIGHT THE MIDWAY SHINES
After gracing us with the radio friendly ‘Breaking America’, the GA GAs seemingly came out of nowhere to become the most popular British newcomers ever to shoot to the top of the Scuzz TV play list. With a sound that definitely owes more to our cheeseburger and fries cousins, the GA GAs would sit with ease amongst Nickelback, et al on the soundtrack to Hollywood’s latest blockbuster. Which almost explains their inexplicable choice to tour as support to Kelly Osbourne.
With chest thumping, balls-to-the-wall stadium rockers in vogue there’s naturally been a flood of no-hopers aping a pale imitation of their heroes. So its refreshing to hear frontman Tommy wail his way so confidently through ‘Tonight The Midway Shines’ and actually make it work. The throbbing new single ‘Sex’ sounds like Alice in Chains partying with the Wildhearts and a room full of Playboy bunnies. And so run-ins with groupies, trashed hotel rooms, love, lust and sex are all over this album. Cliched it may be, but who cares when the metal thuggery hits as hard as ‘Swallow Me’, the tunes are as catchy as ‘K.O.’, and the choruses as huge as ‘Jessica’. ‘Replica’ is typical; rotating around the kind of riff guitars were invented for before lulling us into a surprisingly Beatlesesque middle eight followed by a tearing grunge solo. ‘Crash and Burn’ is the sort of lighter waving rock ballad that Aerosmith knock out to keep the girls happy. But herein lies the only complaint; occasionally the GA GAs play it too safe, and consequently both ’Air’ and ‘Pressure’ sound intentionally commercial, and a little soft.
Highly polished and gleaming throughout, if you close your eyes you’ll swear Bob Rock has been at the soundboard. The sound is American, the image leather trousers, long hair, sex, drugs and rock n roll lived to the full. On paper it sounds like the worst celebration of 80s hair metal since the Darkness (it’s safe to say that now, right?) and maybe the GA GAs do stray into US AM radio territory a little too often, but they pull it off with true cocksure brilliance all the same.
Review by James Kirsch
>THE GET OUTS - GET THE MESSAGE
2004 was the year that it was cool to be skinny, white and to wear clothes that were bought from children’s departments. 2005 looks set to be the year when we’re going to be searching for our parents’ leather jackets, hair dye and Dr. Martens as bands all over the country are going to come jumping out at us with so much rock we won’t know what to do with.
The Get-Outs, from that classic Rock ‘n’ Roll epicentre of Bristol, are looking to jump start their career with this, their debut LP “Get The Message”, a collection of short, spiky, shout along grunge tunes that could well make some sort of impact. It may be too late for the band to surround themselves in a nice bubble of hype before releasing any material, but they can most definitely prove themselves with some good live shows to support what is quite frankly, a decent, listenable and dare we say, good, album.
You just need to listen to the opening of “Drowning” to understand what sort of direction the band are taking. They are the anti-power ballad. They are old punk souls trapped in young bodies. They just want to hit things and scream lots. With songs like “Breakdown”; a catchy rhythm with a choppy guitar riff embossed over the top, and “Human Race”; an under two minute mosh anthem, the band certainly have the tools to make some sort of impression on the UK rock scene and perhaps front a whole new group of British bands who are determined to shove a good dose of masculinity back into our music. Someone pass us a bottle of Stella!
Review by Jason Edwards
>PATRICK WOLF - WIND IN THE WIRES
really strange, sometimes an album can say more about music and, sometimes
an album can say more about the person behind it. ‘Wind in the Wires’,
I think, is an incredibly personal album delving deeply into the psyche
of Patrick Wolf through the suggestion of idealistic dreams and fantasies.
From the very opening track, “the libertine,” the listener is immediately transported into a different dimension full of scratchy haunting violins and eerie piano chords mixed in with a thumping repetitive deep bass electro-beat. It’s almost French and feels like we’re being taken to Parisian absinth bars brimming with failed artists; impressionable young girls yet to be tainted with poverty; eccentric drunkards and, altogether a feeling of bleak romanticism and the knowledge that this could never be real. Indeed, after writing this review, I read that Patrick Wolf had actually lived in Paris for a while, thus explaining the influential origins of some of his songs.
His music suits that very early Suede look. You know, dark hair, pale and thin, embittered with the romance of life, and probably found wandering on a heathered moor like a lost soul on some magnificent journey. I guess that means he’s bound to have dabbled in drugs at some point ‘cos it’s like sooo arty and experimental. In fact he even hints at this in track five’s “the railway house,” when he sings “Growing out of the drugs, growing up through the night.” See, that’s the thing that worries me with Patrick Wolf, he may be too clichéd and can be compartmentalised. It’s like he’s trying to be Edward Scissorhands or something and live in a deserted frosted castle, rejected by society and shunned for his sensitivity.
The slow, haunting nature of the second track “feignmouth,” is really interesting. It’s like you’ve just been caught in this moment of poignant thought before all this inevitable shit is going to kick off and all you want is to do some reflective thinking so you can compose yourself. It’s probably dark and raining, and you’re probably cold, but you feel content and wistful, just for that one moment. It almost brinks on fever.
Whilst this album transports the reader into the dreams and imagination of an artists mind; gypsy kings, spirits, crisp autumnal days and lyre inspired medieval folklore may not be to everybody’s taste. Perhaps there is more of a need for realism, but what is the point of life if we cannot dream? However, it is desperately apparent that an awful lot of thought has been put into this album and there is a lot going on. It’s really imaginative both lyrically and instrumentally and very experimental. There’s quite a slant on the varying types of instruments being used (viola, harpsichord and violin but to name a few) and a lot unique sounds being produced (I could have sworn I heard an electric drill at some point)! So it’s definitely worth a listen for the sake of curiosity and interest.
Review by Helen Thornton
>THE FAVOURS - MAGPIE'S REVENGE
I have seen The Favours live a couple of times and even though I can appreciate their effort and ability I always left a little underwhelmed as I did not quite catch the same level of excitement about the band as their regular fans did. Hearing 'Magpie's Revenge' gives me a much better idea why they are so highly thought of and tipped to be the 'next big thing' out of Hull, obviously the sound mix of the gigs I saw had not done the band justice as on CD the music seems clearer, more focussed and downright enjoyable.
The way The Favours mix the odd poppy melody with barbed lyrics and storming distorted guitars might not be the most original sound around but they do it so well, a track like 'Satisfy Me' brought to mind early Blondie with the guitars turned up and 'You're Just Gonna Have To Wait' a more tripped out feel that mixs an intro with old school Bristol grooves with Hull attitude and is possibly my favourite track in the way it sonically swoops and drives.
This CD also makes the dynamics in the band's music much more obvious with the powerful production managing to contain the hi-energy from the live sound without blunting the buzzsaw edge to the guitars and making sure the bass and drums have the required punch. After hearing this CD I really must make an attempt to see the band live again, it is that good! 5/5
Review by Darren Bunting