Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We Are Scientists Review

Ahh, the second album. If there's a point in a musician's career that could define them, it's then. It's the stage where it's time to expand horizons, change perspectives and prove you're not a one trick pony. Sadly, it's also a stage where there seems to be many hits and misses. For every Radiohead success story (where the second album well and truly trounces the first), another band with real prospect seems to fall apart (one that springs to mind was one of my favourite bands, Hard-Fi, which seemed to have more than the odd thing go wrong e.g. non-rebellious cover and a mix bag of songs ranging from good to tedious (but that's another review for another time)). Thankfully, when the questionable second album does work, you truly get some gems.

In the case of New York Indie rockers/randomists with tongue firmly in cheek We Are Scientists, while not an absolute gem, it's still a mighty impressive rock.

After suffering a similar fate to Sheffield doppelgangers Arctic Monkeys (with a member of the band leaving before the second album was released, in this case, lovable drummer Michael Tapper), the band's (or duo's) second album like there doppelgangers has thankfully changed their sound. Instead of the addictive, indie goodness of before with some, quite frankly, great drumming thrown in, "Brain Thrust Mastery" seems a lot, to bluntly put it, slower with a darker shade.

Opening track "Ghouls" sets the mood of things to come. Although lyrically, there's similar content to the band's previous album, the music isn't as frantic or fast. It's an alright track, possibly not the best way to start the album since there's better tracks, but at least it showcases some of the band's newer sounds.

From there, things get more expansive. At times, it feels like there are two sounds happening. For example in "Let's See It", it sounds as if the band's returned back to the previous album's roots, but when songs like "After Hours" (which actually sits right at home here) and "Tonight" groove there way through the speakers, it makes you wonder if the band listened to something like Joy Division or some other hits from the 70's/80's in the recording process.

By the time the album draws to a close with "That's What Counts", a great finale laced with saxophones and somewhat, upbeat lyrics of enjoying moments instead of thinking of consequences, I was left thinking that during the whole album, there wasn't a single song I would use as the album's summary. It's not like "With Love & Squalor" where I could say listening to "It's a Hit" gives you the general gist of every song on the record. Here, because each song has something distinctive and sounds different from before, you'd have to listen to the whole album to see the wide range of things going on.

To put it in simple terms, if you're expecting indie anthems like "The Great Escape" or laugh out loud lyrics like "Ram It Home", there not here. Instead, it's more of a mature sound that expands on the good stuff, but also brings new stuff to the table, which is what many bands fail to do on the second album.

Fans of We Are Scientists should enjoy the second album, there's a few dud moments here and there (one example being "Ghouls", it wasn't the best way to open the album) and if your music taste was ruined in the 80's with the use of synths amongst other things, you may as well not bother. But minus them, it's a great second album and it's nice to see a band with a lot of potential to make it huge, get past one of the toughest stages in a musician's career.

Well done lads, you well and truly have rammed it home.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Arctic Monkeys : Wherever People Say I Am Review

In brief: high energy, fairly diverse mix of tunes, speedy guitar work. Gordon Brown once said they wake you up in the morning; possibly (I haven't tried it), but they're great to listen to while you're working out; and fun in nightclubs too, of course, although I doubt Mr Brown knows much about that.

The lyrics: Alex Turner stands above Noel Gallagher, falls short of Jarvis Cocker and is miles below Morrissey (well, there's always somebody taller with more of a wit). The lyrics can be disjointed and incoherent but they do manage to raise a smile or two (On `Fake Tales of San Francisco' he sings, "I'd love to tell you all my problem/You're not from New York City, you're from Rotherham").

Other aspects of the songs are amateurish: the wimpy ending to `The View From the Afternoon', for example; on the same song there is an arbitrary pause halfway through which, needless to say, has no positive effect. The singing is technically not very good but having said that, Turner's broad northern accent - the `gritty realism', so called; the authenticity, the sincerity - is likeable, and on a song like `When the Sun Goes Down', actually quite moving. Technically, Whitney Houston has a great voice, but I'd rather stick needles in my ears than listen to an LP's worth of her tunes.

It doesn't matter that this album is not as polished as The Strokes' `Is This It' (the Arctics' biggest influence); and besides, Julian Casablancas spoils most of the songs by singing too close to the microphone. Someone should tell him it's not cool anymore.

The band is certainly not the new Smiths (the NME's hype machine in overdrive) - neither musically, nor lyrically nor in interview - but they are among the first to show that critical and commercial success can be found through the internet alone (with a bit of gigging thrown in). For the moment at least, the Arctic Monkeys are as super cool as their name suggests.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Company Of Thieves:Ordanary riches review

My days of seeking the 'next new and amazing band that nobody has heard of' are starting to whither away as I realize the purchasing-power deficit that 30 year olds wield against the predominantly teeny-bopper driven Music Industry. However, much like love happening when you stop trying to find it or car keys reappearing after you've given up looking, finding Company of Thieves came into my life by a brilliant stroke of fortuity that was neither planned, intended, nor expected.

Genevieve Schatz is a revelation. Her voice is at one-time Bjork-like, without the kitschy, Icelandic pretense and at another a riveting and commanding Fiona Apple who (happily) doesn't expend all of her lyrics trying to prove how 'different' or 'unloveable' she is. Her onstage performances are intense and focused, as well as unencumbered by fear of any kind. Fear clearly does not exist in Ms. Schatz's dojo.

You can tell she gives it her all with every performance, never seeming to mind if she looks 'cool' while doing it. And yet - that kind of comfort and self-confidence is exactly what makes her so damned cool.

The band, and not to give them short shrift here, are equally intense and focused on nailing their performances. No offense to the guys, who do their jobs expertly and are clearly not just stage-fillers. Rather, they seem attuned to what their front-woman is doing, completely absorbed in the organic performance on a given night. It's just hard to pay attention to them while that Siren is on stage singing, unless of course, you're bound to a mast like Odysseus.

Luckily for those of you not able to catch them in concert, their debut CD - "Ordinary Riches" - masterfully captures a fair representation of what Company of Thieves is capable of. Whether it's their first single, "Oscar Wilde" with its insanely catchy chorus (or the acoustic version also found on the CD) or the strings-dominated and haunting "Fire Song", you too will know that Company of Thieves is capable of stealing your heart...

Especially if you're not looking...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Qotsa Album Review

The last album by the Queens of the Stone Age was "Songs for the Deaf," a frenetic collection of the hardest kind of rock. It was a thrilling, visceral experience, not one soon forgotten. Then nude bassist Nick Oliveri departed from the band, taking the wilder edge of the band with him. Oh, what would become of the Queens of the Stone Age?

Well, if "Lullabies to Paralyze" is any indication, then they are doing fine. This album relies on Josh Homme, and it's stripped down to... well, not down to the bare bones, but some very strong, lean sinew. The albums opens with a little acoustic ballad, "Lullaby," which starts things off on a strong footing.

From there on, things get stranger -- fast paced songs that just keep speeding up, ominous buildups, and nightmarish undertones. There are moments of quieter catchiness -- "Little Sister" seems perfect for the album's first single. And a few tracks feel a bit like filler. But overall, "Lullabies" is very much in the flavour of the Queens' second album, "Rated R." Only darker and somehow more whimsical.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Josh Homme gets to rule in this one. Truth be told, he ruled all through the Desert Sessions, Kyuss, and now he sits in the middle of the Queens of the Stone Age, like a sinister-but-not-evil mastermind. Oliveri's manic style and gimmicks are gone, and in their place is steady, dark rock'n'roll that takes strange and unexpected twists.

It's not a concept album, but it feels that way -- the mood gets generally creepier as "Lullabies" goes on. Fuzzy guitars, dark metallic riffs, and eerie harmonies get a few unusual flourishes, such as that broken music box. And Homme's vocals blend into the songs like another instrument -- great stuff. It only emphasizes how central he is to the band's unique sound.

Queens of the Stone Age seemed to be endangered when Oliveri departed, but "Lullabies to Paralyze" shows that the band is just fine. Not quite perfect, but a solid creation.

QOTSA here's the video of QOTSA as requested

Monday, September 13, 2010


I really like QOTSA...They're a great band good music, good live etc. Hopefully I'll see them live soon!

Monday, September 6, 2010

So today

So today I went for a long walk on the beach while jamming out to music, it was pretty awesome...I got lost in thoughts majority of the way it was kind of odd.