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Monthly Archives: April 2012

I have to, once again, give a shout out to Playground, Dan’s band because they have just played an awesome show at Chinnery’s in Southend and they have brand new Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts!

They’re an indie/alternative band from Essex and although, they’re yet to record an EP yet, it is on the way, which I’m very excited about. Think Arctic Monkeys meets QOTSA meets Nirvana and you’re almost there!

 

The band were only formed late last year and they’re already fast becoming a big success on the gigging scene. Still very new to it all, Playground are still finding their feet but their sound is loud, energetic, their lyrics are sincere and to be honest, they could be onto something really special.

The fact that I’m dating the guitarist may make all this seem a bit biased coming from me but if you play their YouTube videos, http://www.youtube.com/playusloud or scroll through comments on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PlayUsLoud , you’ll see that they really are rather good! Tweet them at https://twitter.com/playusloud . Like any new band, I know they’d appreciate as much support as they could possibly get!

As winners of their first round of Surface Festival earlier this month, they will be playing at 229 The Venue on Great Portland Street, London again on June 17th for the second round. For any Essex locals, they’ll also be rocking up The Golden Fleece in Chelmsford on May 4th, so I really suggest you go and check them out.

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TITLE: Days Go By
BAND: The Offspring
LABEL: Columbia Records
RELEASED: April 27th 2012

The Californian pop-punkers are back with a new single and new album for us all to try out. It’s a track with a lot more maturity than what we’re used to from The Offspring, which bodes well for the rest of the record, due out this summer.

Days Go By is the first single to be released from the new album of the same name. It’s their first effort since 2010’s Happy Hour!, a predominantly live and cover-filled record, so this is the first time we’ll have seen anything really original from the band in a long time. It’s their ninth album and the product of three years’ work, so it should be a really good album.

It begins with a signature guitar riff, which continues throughout the song. I actually think this reflects the actual nature of the song, which is about just carrying on with your life after hitting a rough patch. Like the guitar, life goes on. With such a catchy hook, it’s a song that could become really popular and something of a party anthem. Singer Dexter Holland’s vocals have grown and he’s actually lost some of the painful screeching sound, heard on songs such as You’re Gonna Go Far Kid from their 2008 album Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace.

The lyrics are really uplifting and it’s a real pick-me-up song. Nothing genius about them but simplicity is sometimes what you need, when you just need someone to tell you that everything is ok. The chorus “All your anger, all your hurt. It doesn’t matter in the end. Those days go by and we start it all again.” will probably fall onto the ears of their current, mainly teenage, fanbase but it’s a message that people of all ages and backgrounds need to hear every once in a while. It recognises that teenage angst exists but it’s not about that. It’s about eradicating it and making kids and anyone who listens to it happy.

The Offspring are a pop-punk band, a genre whose teenage movie type sound shouldn’t mean that it’s not for adults too. Of course, there’s rarely any sophistication in the lyrics but why are the tricks and far-out imagery needed? I guess if you like your music to challenge you, then it’s not for you but I refuse to believe that people don’t just like to be told things straight sometimes.

TITLE: Generation Freakshow
BAND: Feeder
LABEL: Big Teeth Music
RELEASED: April 23rd 2012

The new album from Feeder arrived earlier this week and I have not stopped listening, since its release date. I think it is a really good album and features some songs with some big hit potential. For a band that have now been around for an amazing 21 years, it’s hardly surprising that Feeder are a band who just keep coming back with something amazing.

Generation Freakshow is the Welsh alternative band’s eighth album, succeeding 2010’s Renegades, which received mixed reviews. Singer Grant Nicholas has said of it:

“Its eclectic, much more eclectic than the Renegades album. Its definitely a more commercial record. I think if you liked Comfort in Sound and you liked Yesterday Went Too Soon, then I think you’ll like this album. There are some real tunes on this and some anthems; there are some rocky moments as well”.

Borders was the first single to be released from the album back in January and it’s a track that has gone under two other names, when they’ve played it live- Jessie and White City Rock. It’s a song about a young woman who knows that she needs to broaden her horizons but seems hesitant to do so, presumably in case it all goes wrong. It’s almost like the borders prevent her from doing so but she knows that she has to. The catchy melody make it a song that sticks with you and it does have an indie sound to it that isn’t too far from The Killers.

Children Of The Sun was released earlier this month and the ballad is another example of Grant’s vocal talents. His ability to adapt his style so quickly is something that has kept up the band’s success. It’s the sort of song you can imagine a crowd of hundreds waving their arms too, which I have no doubt that long-time Feeder fans will be but due to the type of Feeder songs that do well, I can’t see it doing as well as some of the other tracks on the album. It’s a beautiful song that you can drift off to, as is Quiet, which is another slow, mellow track but I’m not so sure that the majority of critics will agree with me.

The title track features a real indie tone and a signature guitar riff that will definitely circle around your brain for hours. Generation Freakshow suggests an anthem about craving for the unusual and weird but it’s actually a song about the frustration of the youth today, as Grant claims the title came to him while watching the news of the student riots last year, claiming “it seemed quite apt with all these kids causing chaos”. So, it’s about the state of our society today? Not overly creative but I guess it’s a universal problem that we’re all living through.

Feeder are known for catchy, guitar-led choruses and there’s certainly no shortage of them on this record. Idaho, Hey Johnny and In All Honesty all provide loud, stadium-filling drums from Karl Brazil, as well as the ever-popular rock vocals from Grant. All three tracks are songs that you can just jump around and freak out to, which everyone needs to do every once in a while.

Sunrise and Tiny Minds are both tracks, which are a little bit different. They both lean towards Feeder’s pop sound, which isn’t a bad thing but they do rock a lot better. Being Feeder though, they both have incredibly catchy choruses, which is what you want in a good pop song. Fools Can’t Sleep and Miles Away are another two songs, which stand out but these are a little more haunting. There’s something of an atmospheric tone about them and there’s a touch of Muse about these tracks too, which isn’t a bad thing and that could mean that they’d be perfect songs to play live to a diverse audience.

One of the biggest anthems on the record is definitely Headstrong, which begins with crazy guitars and strong drums before launching into Grant’s punchy vocals. It’s ideal driving music and the fast paced rhythm is definitely one for head-banging in your bedroom to. The refrain “Good times ahead” is an uplifting mantra for anyone to hear right now too. If it’s released, I really think that this is the track that could hog a lot of radio airplay and be played absolutely everywhere. Something to think about, guys?

It’s nothing new from Feeder and I’m not sure Generation Freakshow will win them any new fans but I think the record will hold its own amongst the current British indie giants. It has already reached number five in the mid-week UK album charts, which suggests that a band who have been around the block more than a few times, are still relevant to today’s rock followers.

TITLE: Tougher Colder Killer
ARTISTS: El-P, Killer Mike, Despot
LABEL: Fat Possum Records
RELEASED: May 22nd 2012

Dan showed me this song this morning and told me that it has recently been leaked from his upcoming album Cancer 4 Cure. Not my usual taste but I thought that I needed to open my eyes to other musical genres and actually, this isn’t all that bad!

 

 

The Brooklyn artist, aka El-Producto, is a big name in alternative hip hop and is well known for incorporating his love of science fiction into his music. His style usually sees him produce aggressive attacks with multiple references to the likes of Orwell and K. Dick. Regular themes include questions about reality, futurism and paranoia.

Following from the first leaked single The Full Retard, which enjoyed rave reviews, Tougher Colder Killer is about how there will always be someone bigger and better than you. It’s a very true concept and all three artists on the track provide appropriately brutal lyrics. The echo of “Tougher Colder Killer” is really quite haunting, as is the electronic beats and metal sounds. It’s very violent and has an honesty about it that is chilling. The drop at around 3:07 is truly mind-bending and it did make me think “wow!”, so I can only imagine what true El-P fans thought of it.

Having been described as “one of the most technically gifted MCs of his time, spitting out near-impossible phrases and rhythmic variations that simply leave the listener’s head spinning”, El-P has referred to Cancer 4 Cure, which comes a long five years after his last LP I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, as a “fight record”, which suggests that plenty more hard hitting tracks are on their way on May 22nd.

As regular readers may have discovered by now, I love soulful melodies and guitars, which this track doesn’t have. Yes, it’s not something I would normally choose to listen to but I have to admit that it has its moments. I don’t listen to a lot of hip hop or rap, as it’s just not something I’m into but I have learnt that even music I don’t choose to listen to can really shock me.

TITLE: Primadonna
BAND: Marina And The Diamonds
LABEL: 679 Records
RELEASED: March 20th 2012

The Welsh singer-songwriter is back with a new album Electra Heart, which will be released on April 30th. It will be her second album and she is hoping for even better success than her top five debut The Family Jewels, which came out back in February 2010. Marina explained the concept of the new record by saying:

“Electra Heart is the antithesis of everything that I stand for. And the point of introducing her and building a whole concept around her is that she stands for the corrupt side of American ideology, and basically that’s the corruption of yourself. My worst fear is losing myself and becoming a vacuous person. And that happens a lot when you’re very ambitious.”

The indie pop star has been touring with Katy Perry on the US leg of the California Dreams tour and I have to say that the new album’s lead single, Primadonna shows it! The track has just reached number 11 in the UK single charts and it’s very much worthy of Ms Perry and it seems like Marina has taken a step into the conventional pop world as opposed to the slight indie slant on her previous hits such as “I Am Not A Robot”. It’s still quirky but it’s Katy Perry quirky and although their voices are similar, I’ve never really likened one to the other before now.

The lyrics suggest a satire of a typical primadonna or girl who has everything but love. The subtext suggests that despite having all the material things a girl could want, she’s “sad sad sad to the core… I wanna be adored”. It’s an idea that has been visited plenty of times in pop tracks with Madonna’s Material Girl being the most famous but Marina does it well and both sides of the character -the honest and the spoilt- are shown through the words.

The album is set to be full of female archetypes and Primadonna is just one of many more. The record looks set to be a big hit actually, as the fans or “diamonds” as Marina calls them, have been kept waiting for over two years for it. Surely, after that much time, she must have something decent to show us!

TITLE: Blunderbuss
ARTIST: Jack White
LABEL: Third Man Records
RELEASED: April 23rd 2012

So I’ll admit that this is the first time I’ve really listened to Jack White but I have to say that it’s a good album. From what I can gather it isn’t a million miles away from The White Stripes but it is the long awaited debut solo effort from the Michigan singer and producer. Jack has worked with and produced music for a variety of artists but he has said that now is the time to release his very first solo material, stating:

“I’ve put off making records under my own name for a long time but these songs feel like they could only be presented under my name. These songs were written from scratch, had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own expression, my own colors on my own canvas.”

Blunderbuss, named after an early form of shotgun, is packed full of tracks that show a pained Jack, which makes sense when you consider the recent divorce from British model Karen Elson. Despite it being the first White album I’ve heard, there aren’t any tracks that make me think “urggh, no, turn it off” which is always a positive when listening to music that’s new to you.

It opens with a track called Missing Pieces, which I actually think is the most interesting song on the record. With an electronic intro, it starts by sounding a little like the opening of a video game before launching into a rather weird but quite true analogy of what being left by the one you love feels like. “They’ll take pieces of you and they’ll stand above you and walk away. That’s right and take a part of you with them” is a really sincere comment and something that most listeners will understand completely.

The idea of love as a destructive painful force is present in many of the songs including the title track and Love Interruption, which was released as a single in January. Love Interruption ultimately about the natural human desire for love and the violence of its strength. It’s a beautifully stripped back song that shows Jack’s distinctive vocals off with a simple guitar rhythm accompanying.

A definite 1950s style of blues runs through the later tracks on the album including Trash Tongue Talker and I’m Shakin’, which is a cover originally sung by 50s and 60s American singer Little Willie John. The jazz piano on Trash Tongue Talker together with Jack’s unique twist really brings the decade of proms and formal dances up to date. His voice suits the retro sounds and the melodies stick around in your head for hours after listening.

I really love how he manages to mix both old and new genres of music and just add a little eccentricity to produce something that is fresh and exciting. Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy is quite indie, whereas Sixteen Saltines is more of a classic alternative rock track and the closing track Take Me With You When You Go seems to fit a different genre every twenty seconds or so. It seems that there really is something for everyone on it and I’d say that it’s definitely worth buying even if, like me, you’ve never really listened to the man who is being dubbed “the coolest, weirdest, savviest rock star of our time.”

I have to use today’s post to tell you all that my writing project and therefore the biggest piece of writing I have produced to date is finished, printed and bound ready to be given in tomorrow. Inkwells in Aber did the binding within two hours and only charged me £4.95 for the type of binding that I had, so thank you to them!

I am SO happy that it’s done and a huge weight has been lifted from my mind. After it’s been marked, I may post the story in installments on this blog but it won’t be for a few months yet.

I have been listening to both Jack White and Feeder’s new albums all day, so expect some reviews of them this week!