16 November 2017

2017 Review Round Up Part 10

Welcome to a round up review!  Similar to the Round-Up posts I put up earlier in the year, I’m going to be posting some bullet point reviews, sort of akin to the one's that you get in magazines, short and to the point.  I complete my first one of these reviews around last Christmas, mainly due to the volume of albums that were still left to review at that time of year, the lack of time to review them all and this is happening for similar reasons. Basically, there is only so much time available to a one-man team, I cannot complete the full detailed blog that I usually post on here, as I need to work to feed myself, look after my lady and generally keep a roof over my head.  So, the list of albums that I want to review, promised to review, need to review has grown beyond my control.  At any given moment, it tends to hit north of 100 with ease and going forward, I will need to get that down with these sorts of blogs.  Now, I will be breaking these round ups down into batches of ten, they will be minus the normal link to purchase of stream the albums (due to space) but you will be able to find these online very easily (legal links, remember - this is not that type of blog).  I will be using the same introduction to each of these blog, if only to save more time.  Thanks for reading - Eddie.

METZ – Strange Peace

Strange Peace sadly lacks the fire of other noise acts such as Whores and Pissed Jeans, but this is not to say it is an awful album.  It’s good for what it is, and when Metz are on point, they sound unstoppable.  But when they are not playing to their strength, Metz sadly loses a step or two and the album is top heavy with numbers which I keep skipping upon repeated listens.  Hopefully they will prove me wrong, I really want them to do so, as they have some great songs on this album.  If you listen to “Drained Lake” and “Mess of Wires” and not want to jump around, then I think your dead inside.  I wanted to love everything on Strange Peace, but sadly only a decent album and not a great record.

6 out of ten
– Now I see where you were going, but it's not quite there.

Top track – Drained Lake

Akercocke – Renaissance in Extremis

Renaissance in Extremis is Akercocke’s first album in ten years since The Antichrist, which is a long time for any band, especially for a Black/Death metal act who have always been flirting with progressive metal.  Renaissance in Extremis is a solid return, anything which has the name Akercocke is always something I will want to hear.   It needs a tad more speed in places for my own tastes of the genre, but it still sounds harsh as hell, good to have the boys back.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – Familiar Ghosts

King Capisce – Memento Mori

I have listened to a lot of progressive rock, metal and jazz in 2017, more than I would usually listen to, but I have to admit that Memento Mori by King Capisce is a late contender for best Prog album of 2017.  With its feet firmly in both the jazz and progressive field, combining the lunatic fringes of both and making a riches tapestry of noise and sound.  They are breathing takingly beautiful, but it's incredibly aggressive as well, so tread carefully dead reader.

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

Top track – Once We Were Wild

Mr. Big – Defying Gravity

Defying Gravity is a classic rock album designed to get Mr. Big out on the road, without trying to hurt their legacy at the same time.  Whilst I could never criticise Mr. Big as artists, I can honestly say that they have released better records.  It just seems to be a little lacking when there was once excitement, classic rock is not exactly rocket science.  So, whilst it isn’t their best record by a long shot, but it is listenable and will be received well by their fanbase.  It's sadly just an average rock album, instead of a good one.

5 out of ten – Not for everyone, but played well

Top track – Mean to Me


Otherkin are an indie-punk band from Dublin, Ireland, who I recently saw on tour with InHeaven.  OK contains lighter versions of the songs I saw performed by OTHERKIN that night, as they had more of a kick in the live environment.  On record, they come across as the snot-nosed younger brother of the Strokes with a singer who gives a shit, with a bit of fire in their belly and this is a really good album.  It might not sparkle in some way, but that is not always what you want.  Sometimes, you just want an album that sounds like the band is having fun.  This is one of those records, there is more than enough on here to warrant further listens.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out.

Top track – Razorhead

William Patrick Corgan – Ogilala

The fact that the lead singer of The Smashing Pumpkins has released an acoustic album is not a surprise to anyone, the fact he is using his full name makes a lot of sense, working with Rick Rubin’s is not that big of a leap of the imagination either to be honest.  If you have heard any of the gentler sounds of SP, then you will know what to expect here, it is heartfelt, emotionally vulnerable and beautiful.  It sometimes goes on a bit too long, but it's also on point at time.  The biggest surprise thought is not from Mr Corgan, no it is the fact that thankfully, Rick Rubin has not destroyed this album unlike his last few production jobs.  He has lets the songs flow naturally, giving them a warmth and a fragile feeling, this is one of his best production job in years.  It is a good album, however whilst it's not one I would return to that often, it's also not one I would shun either.

7.5 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out.

Top track – The Spaniards

We Came as Romans – Cold Like War

Cold Like War is a modern piece of Hardcore, one which mixes clean vocals and screamo vocals, dynamic guitars, weird electronica and it sort of ends up feeling like a louder version of old school Linkin Park.  If you’re into the genre, you will love it; if not, it’ll leave you colder than a night in the coffin.  Sorry to We Came as Romans, there is not for me (but it is not the worst thing I have heard).

2 out of ten – If only there was some quality control

Top track – Two Hands

Liam Gallagher – As You Were

Pointless, absolutely pointless, this is as dull as anything he released with Beady Eye and the latter days of Oasis.  There, I have done my review, can people please stop asking for this.

0 out of ten – This is proof there is not a God

Top track – none of them.

Roger Waters – Is This the Life We Really Want?

Is This the Life We Really Want?
is the first solo outing from Roger Waters in twenty-five years, it finds him in a foul mood to be honest, which is when Roger Waters tends to be at his most interesting.  It’s message of “anti-everything” is one that speaks in the purest form of protest that the man can achieve.  This is my favourite Waters’ outing since The Final Cut (I know that is technically a Pink Floyd outing, but it's essentially is a Waters solo album), there is something fascinating about protest Waters, this album is a reminder that the anger in this man is far from fading. 

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – The Last Refugee

Marilyn Manson – Heaven Upside Down

Heaven Upside Down
is a cynical record for me, you do not know what is truth and what is fiction, there is no dividing line with Marilyn Manson these days and that makes it an album that I admire, but I do not love.  He is trying so hard to be the shock artist of old, but that is not cutting it in 2017 the same way that it did in the 90’s.  Times have changed and so has the world, it will take a lot more than slagging off the bible and politicians to make me (and humanity as a whole) quake with fear.  However, it does have some good tunes, something that has always been the case with Marilyn Manson. Heaven Upside Down is not a mediocre record, but it feels like an attempt to reclaim past glories.  It ultimately trying too hard to replicate an anger which is not the same from an older man and ultimately, it still feels contrived.  Manson has clearly done everything in his life, who knew that his mid-life crisis would sound rather tame in comparison to other works.

6.5 out of ten
– Now I see where you were going, but it's not quite there

Top track - Saturnalia

5 November 2017

Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination

I have no idea why I didn’t end up completing my review of Fast Food by Nadine Shah, I think I only found out about before a blog deadline and had to miss out reviewing it.  This is one of many regrets I have for this blog, as it’s a brilliant album.  One which gets a regular play in ATTIWLTMOWOS tower (I say tower, it is a flat) as it's great album.  Sadly, sometimes you find this out long after the event, and I almost did the same with her latest release, Holiday Destination.  In the last few months, Ms Shah has toured the UK and played in some impressive venues, next year she will be playing the London Roundhouse with support from Beth Orton.  There is a buzz from the lady from Whitburn, it’s hard to ignore when strangers and friends are telling you she is the best thing since slice bread – not that I needed to be told, I just an extra 8 hours a day to do each review.  Released in August 2017 on 1965 Records, Holiday Destination is her third studio album and it is my pleasure to finally review this album.

01 – Place Like This

“Place Like This” starts with the subject of refugees, people who are having to flee their homes and families due to war and require sanctuary, and when they arrive in foreign lands, they are treat like criminals.  It’s asking for people to put themselves in their shoes, to see the world through their eyes.  This is a powerful opening for Holiday Destination, a song that leaves a lasting effect on this listener long after it has finished.

02 – Holiday Destination

Oh my deity, “Holiday Destination” has quite possibly made a late bid for being the song of the year.  It’s a song about how the world is slowly but surely, turning into a fucked-up place with locals being pushed out, holiday makers taking over the world and refugees being found in the water.  Musically, this is a subtle number with a huge bass sound, Ms Shah’s vocals are enthralling on this number.  It’s one of the best songs of 2017, and we are only two numbers into this album.

03 – 2016

“2016” is a double edge song; it looks at the way the body can dictate how you feel, reaching a certain age and you are not in control of your emotions and the inner turmoil that occurs after 30.  It also bemoans the loss of artists in 2016 and the fact we have an orange-tiny handed bastard in the White House.  It looks at both subjects and speaks about them with a refreshing frankness and it sounds like these scenes must be seen to believed.  It's another impressive song, another that stays with you long after it has finished.

04 – Out the Way

“Out the Way” is a dark song, one which deals with discrimination and prejudice, making no bones about some of the things that have been thrown at Ms Shah, and it makes me ashamed to be a human being that this sort of thing is still happens.  It’s a hard-hitting song, musically it is sinister, and it sounds fantastic; but you are not going to get comfort from this song and that is rightly so.  Something are not meant to be comfortable, they are meant to instigate change, and this song is one of those that such instigate such change, what a brilliant number.

05 – Yes Men

“Yes Men” has an obvious message, it's about someone who has surrounded himself with people who do not say anything that this man doesn’t want to here, he surrounds himself with praise and there is a sadness to this song.  There was love in this relationship at some point, but it could not survive without confrontation.  After this message , it also takes a look towards the modern political world, with a large degree of grace and sadness.  This is another stunning number once again from Ms Shah, slow paced and full of drama.

06 – Evil

“Evil” is a chilling song on how what it feels like to be held with contempt, cast as an outsider due to either their skin, the way they speak or the fact they are not from the same side of the street as them.  This song is hard hitting, equal to any song on this album, it does not hide you from the horrors that have been witnessed first-hand and it’s a beautiful song.  It’s a tragedy that this song needs to be created in this day and age, but it's also an expertly crafted tune and it hits you where it hurts each time.

07 – Ordinary

“Ordinary” is song with a subtle anger at its core, the anger behind the song is hidden in the gentle music which is almost happy (a sort of nod to the Smiths there), and where neighbours turn people away from their doors due to differences.  It’s a decent enough tune, without being as hard hitting as other songs on this record.  A rare miss on this quality album.

08 – Relief

“Relief” is a damning condemnation on the sedentary lifestyle that humanity seems to embrace, where we listen to the messages on the TV scene, images in magazines and trolls on the internet which drag us down further into misery.  The music is compelling, the feeling of claustrophobic environment is an ever-present presence on this song and it sounds fantastic, it’s another gem in this treasure trove.

09 – Mother Fighter

“Mother Fighter” is a song about the struggles that all women will face, how they must grow up fast and how they must fight for everything that they own, whilst being the provider for children.  It’s a fierce number, one with a steely determination and it’s played with that same level of passion and drive that has been the hallmark of this record, it’s up there with the title track in terms of passion and performance.

10 – Jolly Sailor

“Jolly Sailor” is a song about drinking songs, tune that are played when you are blowing off steam after a week of work, but everything eventually falls apart towards the end as the drinker passes out.  It holds a different vibe to the rest of the album, it’s a piece of art to reflect your nights that have been wasted with a bottle, the evenings that started with promise and ends with a swirling vortex into the void of sleep.  Sadly, I can identify with this song (not so much now, age gives you a sense of perspective), but this is a brilliant piece of music to end the album.

When you think of Nadine Shah, you cannot think of her in terms of this pop-star or this current band.  You need to look towards artists like PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell when looking for reference points, for people who are equal in stature, as well as male contemporaries such as Tom Waits, Nick Cave and other people who have forged their own paths throughout the years.  Her voice is uniquely Northern, you cannot mistake the accent to her singing and for me, it sounds like home (mainly because she was born just south of where I live).  The music behind the vocals is just as important, supporting her visions with a beautiful performances that never swamps Nadine singing, these perfomances showcasing her message and making sure we know what is important.  She is not afraid to speak her mind; no subject matter is out of bounds and she is willing to be a voice for the down trodden and oppressed people who are shunted from door to door.  This is a brave record, a unique one as well and my joint favourite political statement of the year with Maximo Park’s Rise to Exist.  It's just shy of a perfect record, but this is still going to be high in my end of year chart.  In years to come, Holiday Destination will be looked at as the album that launched Nadine Shah's career to bigger heights. 

9.5 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost….

Top track – Holiday Destination

You can purchase Holiday Destination on Amazon here.

You can visit the Nadine Shah website here.

You can follow the activities of Nadine Shah on Facebook.

You can stream Holiday Destination on Spotify here.

You can stream Holiday Destination on Deezer here.

You can stream Holiday Destination on Tidal here.

3 November 2017

Wolf Parade - Cry Cry Cry

Sometimes you find out about a band or singer by accident, sometimes through a recommendation or a chance-listening in a record shop.  Wolf Parade come into my life during a conversation on a message board for the other blog I write for, Bearded Gentlemen Music (great site, here is a link that you can check out once you have read this review).  From Quebec, Canada, Wolf Parade their fourth album Cry Cry Cry on 6th October 2017 on Sub Pop, about a year since the Wolf Parade EP which was their first release since coming back from a hiatus.  I would be lying if I said I was a Wold Parade fan beforehand, I had not heard of them before that conversation a few weeks ago.  No, what caught my attention was the cover – that’s right!  Even at this time of year, I am playing another round of cover roulette!  For people new to the blog, every now and then I review an album just based on the cover.  The mismatched lines on the front of the cover fascinate me, it looks like everything is being held together before it crumbles apart, it is a thought provoking cover for me.  It might mean something else altogether, but that is what I am getting from it.  However, what does the album sound like?  What is the story behind Cry Cry Cry?

01 – Lazarus Online

Starting with a heavy piano synth, “Lazarus Online” begins with a dramatic song about fan who is not wanting to die at this point, but who is aware that death is a constant companion, so why have people around who you love, as you’re not going to miss them.  It sounds like this would have been a dramatic meeting, with profound after affects for both people involved.  This is a beautiful post-rock number, it is full of insane hooks and it stays with you long after it has finished, what a brilliant introduction to this album!

02 – You’re Dreaming

I love it when a band creates some of the jolliest music, then they drape the most depressive lyrics possible over it!  “You’re Dreaming” is one of those songs, they are looking at the modern age and they aren’t impressed with the collapse of society, but the music is so catchy and joyous that is impossible not to enjoy it or to stop yourself from dancing along.  It’s a great song, one that has a powerful message and a great piece of music as well.

03 – Valley Boy

“Valley Boy” starts with a jangling guitar, very much in the style of The Smiths and the song talks about lose and bereavement.  It sorts of drifts along and it has a OTT chorus that doesn’t really work for me again the verses, same as the bridge and solo on this one.  Each section on their own is fine, but together it just feels like an old school megamix that doesn’t get gel seamlessly.

04 – Incantation

“Incantation” is another song that follows the jaunty, but steeped in misery vibe of the early song of the album, creating a conflicting vibe that is very engaging and interesting.  Sure, at first, it’s a little different and strange to get your head around it, but it is worth persevering with it.  It is so much more rewarding that your standard misery song, it has a different view and it is with a fresh perspective on what this sort of song should be about.

05 – Flies on the Sun

“Flies on the Sun” slows things down a bit, but Wolf Parade don’t cut down on the quality.  To be honest, if anything they take things up a notch.  There is a serious side to this song, one that I was half expecting to be honest and I’m glad it has turned up.  The drama of the music, the intensity of the lyrics and the overall performance give “Flies on the Bus” a shine that makes your pulse race.  It is one of my favourite songs on the album, it is an example of what happens when a band is firing on all cylinders.

06 – Baby Blue

“Baby Blue” has a few weird moments for me, there are parts that sound like Arcade Fire, parts that sound like early U2 (especially the drumming which reminds me of “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” – sorry for that).  It has a load of riffs and hooks that, on paper, should not have any business being on the same album, let along on the same song.  But it all works, it sounds fantastic and I love this one as well.

07 – Weaponized

“Weaponized” is a slower number, one that doesn’t move as fast other songs on the album.  It has a different vibe as well, with a conflict and love at the centre of everything.  It’s a decent number, one which is played well, but I tend to lose a focus towards the end.

08 – Who Are Ya

“Who Are Ya” is a song about aspiration and falling short of your goals, having those dreams shattered and the frustrations that come with failure.  It is another number which should not really work that well, the keyboard is so happy, the music is dynamic, and the lyrics are so damming with a sarcastic twist in the tail.  It feels like a Ben Folds song, with a bit of Zappa synth added to the mix as well, it is a song that I cannot turn off, even if I tried once.

09 – Am I An Alien Here

“Am I An Alien Here” is a song about dreams, nightmares and how sometimes reality is more fucked up that the strange musing in your mind make you feel like an outsider.  It touches on the passing of Bowie, the rise of evil and it is all completed in a sombre style.  It is a good song, one of the strongest on the album in tone, lyrics and overall performance.

10 – Artificial Life

“Artificial Life” sounds like a new version of the Jam musically for me, it is a stomping indie song that has a dancing quality.  It is about feeling like reality does not seem real and when the end of days arrives, we would be the last to be saved (if we were saved at all).  It’s another dark song as we head towards the end of this record, but when misery and paranoia sound this good, those floods at the end of time won’t seem so bad.

11 – King of Piss & Paper

“King of Piss & Paper” ends the album on a defiant note, one about the Orange dick who is (at the time of writing) currently in the White House, about his attack on the world of art and the world in general.  It is a brilliant ending to this album, with a song that has fire in its belly and a message of defiance at its heart.  You sometimes have to pick your battles that are important to you, Wolf Parade have picked there’s and they are leaving it at the door on the way out.

Cry Cry Cry is a flamboyant record, one that sounds like a Canadian Indie cousin to the Irish legend that is The Divine Comedy.  That’s as big of a compliment as I can give to this band, they have a special something that makes them standout of the crowd, in the same way that Neil Hannon has made baroque pop his own personal calling card.  Wolf Parade are a joyous little band, one that seems to live in misery, but also loves to create beautiful music as well.  Not everything on this album is a success, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.  Cry Cry Cry is another cover roulette success, check out this little hidden gem of 2017.

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

Top track – Files on the Sun

You can purchase Cry Cry Cry on Amazon here.

You can purchase Cry Cry Cry and any other Wolf Parade Sub Pop releases from the Wolf Parade Bandcamp page here.

You can visit the Wolf Parade website here.

You can follow the activities of Wolf Parade on Facebook here.

You can stream Cry Cry Cry on Spotify here.

You can stream Cry Cry Cry on Deezer here.

You can stream Cry Cry Cry on Tidal here.

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