28 February 2013

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - The Boatman's Call



Mr Cave and his Bad Seeds - what else is there to say about the man. If you check out my earlier blog about Henry's Dream where I do a little bit of a look at the man and his band of merry (sense the tone) minsterials.  Back in 1997 when this first came out, the Bad Seeds were not the beast they are today. They were a little bit more raucous. When this came out, the game change. It was like you were playing against God and he was dealing blank playing cards in the dark and smiling at you....then he announced you were really playing Snakes and Ladders. It was all about to change.

This is really a minimalist record; all the big moments are based on raw emotion. Songs like "(Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For" and "Into My Arms" never get loud, but there is no need. It is all on display here. "Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere" just shows how great the man Cave had improved as a song writer.  Honestly, he did not need to improve yet he had the balls to just go a further step. Songs like "West Country Girl" show that this man is the natural successor to the original man in black, the late and great Johnny Cash.


Do I have a problem with this album? Yes, but I know this is a personal thing and does not affect the mark at all. This album should come with a warning to all people who are feeling slightly down to step away and find something a little bit more cheerful.  As much as I love "Black Hair" and the album's crowning moment "People Ain't No Good" (which is so unforgiving it would make Clint Eastwood weep & was also covered by Tom Waits for Shrek 2.....go figure) I could not listen to this very often without wanting to throw myself off a building. The more I hear "Idiot Prayer" the more fall under the charm and the sickingly dark anchor drags me down a little bit more.


But as I said, the darkness of the album does not change the overall mark of the album. In short - classic. I cannot praise this album enough, and it has been praised a lot already. So I will leave with my final score and try to find something to cheer myself up. See the places I go for you guys. ;-)

 

10 out of ten - This is proof there is a God
 
You can purchase from here
 
You can listen to it on Spotify here

Carter USM - 1992 The Love Album



If only this had been my nickname when I was younger...... Anyway, enough of reminiscing. Sometimes things in life get put to the side. It is not because they are no longer relevant, or that you have out grown them - it is just that you get distracted and sometimes you move on without really giving much time for other things.  Back in the early 90's there came a little band called Carter USM, at one more point they were more famous for their t-shirts which out sold their albums. For a brief period they were also the media darlings being on Smash Hits, attacking Philip Schofield (a TV presenter from the UK), signed to a major label, it was just a weird time. If you consider that the band was until just after this release that the band was a 2 piece with a drum machine - so the fact that this album made number one in the UK just shows that 1992 was just a bonkers year.

What you get with this album (as with most Carter USM albums) is some very angry, yet strangely happy indie drum machine music with lyrics that have a large sense of wit and the tongue so firmly in their cheeks it is breaking the skin. This album has their only UK top ten single "The Only Living Boy In New Cross. Well, at least the original does - the re-release has the glories "After The Watershed" which is almost the most perfect song they release.  This album also has a cover.....a song called "The Impossible Dream" from the musical Man of La Mancha. This ends the album in such a weird but glories pace. Also a worthy mention is "While You Were Out" which is just a brilliant slice of British Indie that it could be used to shown some of the new bands how it should be done and that the legendary Ian Dury makes a spoken word appearance on "Skywest & Crooked".

However, as with all Carter USM album there is an Achilles' heels - two on this one if I'm honest. First, you do get a bit of filler on this one (as with the others). Even as a 10 track album, there is a few songs by numbers - "Do, Re, Me, So Far, So Good", "England" we are looking straight at you. Also, it is not the best work they have done. Earlier album such as 101 Damnations & 30 Something were just more fluid, more loveable. It is a record that wants to be loved and taken seriously, but Carter was not supposed to be about that too much. Yes, there was a serious message in there, but it was not the overriding theme.  So is it a bad record?

Well, no. It is a good little album, however when you compare it to their other works it just is not as good. Which is a crying shame in one way, but it also means I have an excuse to listen to their whole back catalogue which is never a bad thing. Maybe this is the best place to start with their first three albums, as it is all uphill from here, and the view from the love album is not too shabby either.

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

You can purchase from here

You can listen to it here (with some extra tracks)

25 February 2013

Humanisum - Humanisum



It is nice to be suggested something which I know nothing about before I put it on and has no information about it on the net. trying to find anything about these guys is really hard - if you want to know how hard, try typing into your search engine 'humanism' and see how hard it is to get anywhere. However, this makes it all the more mystical. How do you know anything about a band when information is scares? It is almost unheard of in these days with the internet telling us everything (irony as this is a blog on the internet). It is all too easy to find a biography of a band in this day and age; it makes a refreshing change to have no preconceptions for a band or their sound.  It was suggested to me by one of my friend to check these guys out and it took a while to find anything other than on Spotify. But I have found them.....

This band and album is a solo project (at least on this recording) of a Mr Andi Anderson who spends his time between Newcastle and Leeds in England. He has since got a live band together, but for this record, he was the one and only person to be answered to.  Because of this, creatively it is a very same-ish record. However, this is not to say it is not a good record. It is a really good record, all made from one man and it shares a landscape (and I know I might get slack for this but it is true) with Gotye and some of the more dream-scape moments of Incubus.

Stand out songs such as "Victims of Love", "Yesteryear" and "Honorific" have a very natural and organic feeling. As this has been done by the one hand you can sense that a lot of effort and time has been put into it. With a voice that sounds like Grant Nicholas from Feeder, it is a very easy record to listen to. There is nothing that will jump out and scare the children. I do hope that the new addition of a live band will spread the band's sound. But even if it still end up with Mr Anderson (try saying that in your head without have a quote from the matrix going on) doing it all on his own, I have a feeling it will just get better. This album is well worth the effort of finding.

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

There is no direct link to purchase the music, but you might get something from their facebook page

They also have a reverbnation page

However, you can listen to it on Spotify on this link

24 February 2013

Diamond Dawn - Overdrive



Metal music in the 80's came under two real choice (at least in popular culture, for the real fans there was a lot more choice) - there was trash metal, which was lots of men trying to make their drummers have heart attacks whilst going faster and faster. The other choice was called glam metal (or glam rock depending on where you stood). For glam, the boys had more make up then the girls, they had lots of synth keyboards, harmonies, songs about finding more pussy than anyone else, the heartfelt ballad and of course the tunes to make people jump around like nutters if the videos are to be believed. This was a bit before my time to be honest, but one of my mates today put a video up on his Facebook for a band called Diamond Dawn who reminds me of that glam period. Now, after watching the video I thought I would review it for the blog - not due to the music (I will give my verdict on that soon) but the fact that the album is a new release in 2013!

Hailing from Gothenburg in Sweden, according to some sources they have been going since 2011 and according to the blurb on their Facebook (not much on their website to be honest) they just want to make some positive music in a world where rock n roll does not hold a positive nerve.  Now when I hear statements like that I tend to run in the opposite direction - it just seems slightly creepy to me and forced. But never the less, I put this on. First off I would like to say who ever produced this album did a brilliant job. It is an almost Dream Theatre level of production which is a very big compliment for me. The guitars sound crisp, the keyboards are on show but not drowning the music and the vocals are just perfectly mixed in.


Musically you will either hate or love this album. I do not see it have many fans who think - yeah that is alright, not great but not bad. The band is obviously well practiced and songs like ""California Rush", "Standing as One" and "Indestructible" are truly fantastic for this genre of music. I have two things about this record which are making it hard for me to total embrace with this album and make it a 10 out of 10. 1 - It is an album which is already familiar before I have finished it. If you are looking for ground breaking music it is not here. Not saying it is not good, just so from such a well treaded groove it is instantly old school before it has gotten a chance to age. 2 - I wish the vocals were slightly stronger. It is just a personal thing; the singer is 1000 times better than me, and a lot of other people I have heard in this genre. Never the less even with these personal options I do find myself falling for the charm of the band. It just does not quite calculate for me. I do like the fact that whilst there is a few ballad-esque numbers on here, it does not resort to the lighter in the hand type of moment. "Don't Walk Away" is just a good old fashion type of ballad that would make Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Thunder and many other bands wonder how they missed this one.


Overall I have to say I am impressed by this - it is a brilliant album overall. But it is such a marmite album it is very hard to see it being anything other than a niche record. If you love power/melodic/glam rock you will adore this album (I count myself in this grouping). However if not you might find it a little trying. You would be wrong, but who am I to judge on that one - I like The Lonely Island.......


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


You can purchase from here (from February 25th 2013)
 
You can listen to on Spotify via this link

21 February 2013

Nailbomb - Point Blank



One off albums - a source of annoyance or the perfect way for a certain type of band to showcase their limited appeal? Back in 1994 Max Cavalera (Sepultra, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy) and Alex Newport (Fudge Tunnel) decided to release an industrial metal album under the name Nailbomb - it was originally gonna be 1,000 points of hate, but Anthrax released a song with this title. As Mr Newport hated Anthrax they changed the name and history now has Nailbomb instead.

This type of album has a very limited scope in audience and appeal. If you are not interested on the heavier side of industrial music you may wish to go elsewhere. It is just a boot to the face for a full 60 plus minutes. The pace of the album is relentless - "Blind & Lost", "24 Hour Bullshit", "Vai Toma No Cú" - even when it does slow down on "Sum Of Your Achievements" it is still brutal in its delivery.


As you would expect with an album that is almost 20 years old (seriously) the production is a little dated in places, however it still as strong as when it first came out. The only thing that does come to light on this that the album was best as one off, everything that is on there is better for not being repeated. It is a (semi) perfect moment in time that will never be ruined by diminishing albums which give poor results (see Soulfly for point in progress).  Perfect for the time, perfect now and never to be ruined (even by the live album that come out after this).


10 out of ten - This is proof that there is a God


You can purchase from here
 
You can listen to it on Spotify here

Carcass - Swansong



This album has caused a slight argument in ATT world. One of my friends thinks this is one of the worst albums that he ever had the displeasure of listening to - another of my friends thinks it is one of the best ever releases from a band and they would have taken the world by storm even more if they had not gotten sick of the office politics of their record label and cashed in their chips.  I must admit that it is an album I have not given too much attention to, therefore it is like coming to something with fresh ears.
 

This album was supposed to be their major label release, but the record company (Columbia records) got cold feet and shelved it. It ended up getting a posthumous release back on their original label (Earache).  It had a very difficult birth but was the wait worth it?  Well it all depends on what you think of a band taking a chance.  If you’re a fan of their original output (i.e. - grind core) then this is not going to impress you too much. They took a chance and went for a melodic death metal angle. Song like "Keep on Rotting in the Free World" & "Room 101" will have had people looking in horror as their heroes change direction and basically stuck there fingers up at the world.

Now the production even now sounds clear, the riffs are thunderous and the drumming is fantastic. It sounds like a lot of time and passion went into the overall feel and creation of these tracks. Yes it is a change from where they started, but you can only do variations of a song called "Cuntgrinder" for song long before you want to do something else. I could name ever song on here and promise you that I would not be bored of any of them. It is so close to being an outright classic it is unreal.


Outside of the previous album (Heartwork) this is my most favourite work by the overlords of Liverpool way.  There has recently been an announcement that they are going to be releasing a new album. If it is half the record that this one is, it will be one of the most important metal records of 2013.  The kings are dead - long live the kings.


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

 
You can purchase from here
 
You can listen to it on Spotify here


Toad The Wet Sprocket - Fear


Named after part of a Monty Python sketch, this was the third release by them. It made them big stars in America, over in the UK, they were largely ignored - don't even think that they made a dent over here.  Musically, these were very much a safe band to listen to. There was nothing really hard and heavy about them, they were sort of like Coldplay in the way that they was nothing that was gonna cause the listen to start to cut themselves and throw stuff out of the window.


Now, for year I have wanted to listen to this album. It has my favourite song by them - "Walk on the Ocean" - in fact I would go out on a limb and say it is one of my most favourite songs ever. Simplistic and beautiful, never gonna change the world but just so amazing. So when I found that it started with said masterpiece I was a little bit more than frightened that it would be all downhill from there.

Well, the album is a decent affair. Well produced, songs like "All I Want", "Butterflies" and "Is It for Me" are nice and the background is well filled.  You can also not fault the band themselves - for what it is, the album is well played.  Thing is, even with one of my most favourite song ever on it - the album is a little boring. It just there not trying to get too much attention. It is a little bit grey and not exciting, songs like "I Will Not Take These Things For Granted", "Something To Say" and "Before You Were Born" just sap all the positives out of this record to such a degree it is hard to see how the same band made a song that I hunted down before there was an internet.


If I was to recommend this to anyone, it would be to the same sort of people who want music for their dinner parties. It is not going to offend anyone, and I would not complain if I heard it again. However I would also not hunt it out. It may have one of my most favourite songs on it, but one song does not make an album. Place under the filing section called disappointment.

 

4.5 out of ten - Well it is alright, but still......


You can purchase from here

 
You can listen to on Spotify here

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