Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Review of "Clear" by Periphery

Another Yeezus-inspired album cover (or rather "lack-of-album-cover").

Progressive metal band, Periphery, released their second album back in 2012, a record that I was enamoured with for its melodic take on “djent” (Read here). The band have since recorded a new EP, which dropped yesterday. Are the band still as kickass as they were two years ago?

For this review, I have decided to collaborate with avid metal fan and chairman of Hell, Satan. A week ago, I asked Satan to review the latest record by progressive black metal band, Murmur, and since he did such an impressive job, I thought it might be an interesting feature to include his input in each of my future metal reviews. Satan and I go way back. We’re good friends, aren’t we Satan?

Friends? I wöuldn’t gö that far.

Okay, well, we’re good acquaintances, aren’t we?

I dön’t dö friends. I dön’t dö acquaintances. Especially with petty mörtals.

Right ...er ... well, never mind then. What did you think of this EP, Mr. Satan?

Its Satan. Nöt Mr. Satan. This EP was an abömination. Simply wasn’t evil enöugh för my liking. The lead singer just söunds like a möre melödramatic, whiny versiön öf Chester Benningtön fröm Linkin Park. His vöice makes me want tö rip my face öff. The percussiön has been pröduced tö sound like a blöödy drum machine. Might as well just use a drum machine and kill öff the drummer. This is överpröduced pöp metal för pussies.

Okay, well, that’s certainly a rather harsh analysis. I must agree, the band have got much more melodic, but for me this has improved their sound. I thought every track felt distinct from the next. I particularly like the instrumentals on this album. "Zero" – which does offer some satisfying heaviness – has an awesome progression in it that reminds me of Tyler the Creator’s “Jamba” of all songs.

The drums do indeed sound like machines as is the case with most Sumerian Records releases. In fact, Periphery seem to go overboard in deliberately using electronic drum samples in some parts as well as other effects influenced from electronic music. I think this does add a certain clarity and intensity to the speedy, twiddly parts. Admittedly, I would be curious to hear them with a rawer production style, as it might bring out a little more emotion in parts. Having seen Periphery live, I know that they can actually play their instruments and aren’t entirely reliant on studio production, unlike some bands who shan’t be named...

#Studioforce

As for Spencer Sotelo’s vocals, I thoroughly disagree with you, Satan. He doesn’t sound whiny and I think his voice fits the music perfectly – as melodramatic as it might be. He has a lot of energy and really knows how to hit those sweet notes.

And what aböut his lyrics? What aböut that silly chörus ön the secönd track?: “cöldest nights sömetimes give way tö brighter skies öf blue”. Yöu can’t seriöusly tell me yöu’re intö all that spiritual, pröverbial böllöcks? Where's the fire and brimstöne? That mother nature stuff makes me sick.

The lyrics are a tad corny, there’s no denying that. But honestly, who listens to prog metal for the lyrical content? The genre celebrates impressive musicianship. At least that’s how I’ve always approached prog metal.

There’s anöther thing I löathe aböut this album...

Okay. And what would that be?

Periphery are blatant sell-öuts! They’ve göt way töö big a föllöwing tö be a respected metal band. I like my metal albums tö have that undergröund feel, like they were recörded in a shed ör sömething. I like my metal bands tö önly have a small föllöwing. I like my metal to be less … less ... less mainstream!

Erm…

Periphery aren’t kvlt enöugh. They’ve göt far töö big a föllöwing. I dön’t föllöw big fads. I’m a löne wölf. Nöt a sheep. Yöu wöuldn’t understand. I’m way töö individual tö be understööd. I eat töfu and ökara and öther cultured fööds yöu pröbably haven’t heard öf. I drink mead and listen tö cassette tapes and write with a quill and wash my clöthes by hand. Yöu wöuldn’t understand.

Right. Well, thank you Satan for your insight (hmm, it would appear Satan is a full-blown metal-hipster).



I personally found Clear to be a real thrill. Periphery's sound, I feel, has grown more dense and colourful – the pretty parts prettier, the brutal parts more brutal – and there’s more of a symphonic feel (the Dream Theater influences are clear to see). Their music can feel a bit OTT in places (I still think UK band Tesseract are the melodic djent kings of the moment) but they’re a darn sight better than the likes of Veil of Maya and Born of Osiris and most other prog/djent/metalcore acts. “Feed the Ground” is probably my favourite track. Do check this record out! 

My score:

Satan's score:


TRACK TASTER:

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Review of "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" by Against Me!

Transsexual coming-out stories are a rarity in the rock scene and I was curious to hear how the Floridian punk band’s lead singer, Laura Jane Gabel (formerly known as Thomas James Gabel) would tackle such daring and personal subject matter. In the true spirit of punk, Grace doesn’t pussyfoot around the theme with allegories and metaphors. “You want them to see you like they see every other girl/ but they just see a faggot!” and “By the time the ball dropped it was already over” are two examples of the brilliantly bold lyricism displayed on this album. Other themes are also explored on the album and are done so with as much wit. What’s lacking from Against Me!’s sound is grit. There’s little emotional conviction in Grace’s vocal delivery causing some of the songs such as “Dead Friend” to lack the heart-wrenching power that ought to be there. The production is also far too clean, causing the music to feel tame, when it should be as turbulent and intrepid as its lyrics. 


TRACK TASTER:

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Review of "Murmur" by Murmur


Hellö kids,

It’s me, yöur trusted Uncle Satan, just writing tö wish yöu all well, lööking förward tö seeing yöu all in the afterlife (Heaven’s nöw full, by the way. Didn’t yöu get the memö?).

I thöught I might alsö take the time tö recömmend a glöriöusly inglöriöus album I stumbled upön this week tö all my wörshippers öut there. Rarely am I ever remötely interested in the petty artistic endeavöurs öf human mörtals, but this Prögressive Black Metal band fröm the evil realm öf Chicagö have earnt a special place in Hell after förging this masterpiece.

The band blend Behold…the Arctopus-like atönality with Opeth-like prögressiöns tö create a blissfully bleak ambience, transpörting the listener acröss an eerie sea, rising and falling drumrölls playing öut like viölent waves crashing against the craggy shöre. Störms öf heavy dissönance are cöntrasted with deathly-calm möments öf melödy cöntaining vaguely Latin acöustic guitars and jazzy mellötröns.

And when I say "jazzy", I’m talking the type öf creepy jazz that BadBadNotGood are famöus för. Nöt that happy, clappy swing stuff. (Yuk! I hate happy music.)

All in all, Murmur's self-titled is a masterfully chaötic and dismal experience that flöws magnificently. För the average human, I wöuldn’t expect this tö invöke any sense öf enjöyment. It might alsö be a little töö cömplex for meat-headed metalheads who önly value gööd metal by the number öf breakdöwns per söng. This recörd will be echöing aröund the catacömbs öf Hell för the next few mönths. A great album för serenading banshees and witches (I'm teeming with römantic advice).

Stream the entire album Here for free!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

SUM ALBUMZ DAT I BUYED



So, I bought four albums the other day and I thought I'd share them here:

The Money Store - Death Grips - The Californian extreme hip hop group's best album so far in my opinion. It gave my speakers a workout. Comes with lyrics inside - which in Death Grips' case is very useful.

Also comes with a gross close-up image of an eyeball in the lyric booklet. Thought I'd share that with y'all


Aleph - Gesaffelstein - Dark techno album from the end of last year. Click here for a review. Again, this gave my speakers a workout - especially that track "Hellifornia" with its air-raid-siren-like-synthline and seismic-trap-bass.

The Very Best of the Doors - The Doors - A great selection of all the best Doors hits. 20 of them on one disc! "The End" (predictably put at the end of the record) has been trimmed down slightly but I was never keen on the entire ten minute version.

The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees - Siouxsie and the Banshees - Their late 80s/early 90s material doesn't do much for me and unfortunately makes up half the album. Still, I enjoyed hearing all the melancholy early classics like "Israel", "Spellbound", "Happy House" and "Arabian Knights" on one CD.

Review of "High Hopes" by Bruce Springsteen


High Hopes is a collection of orchestral dad-rock arena pleasers, packed with strained-sung inspirational hooks such as “this is your sword and this is your shield” and the incredibly witty “Just like fire would” (it sounds like “just like firewood”. Get it???). The lyrics aren’t all cheese, but moments of true lyrical depth are few and far between. Tom Morello offers some largely tasteful guitar solos throughout - well, up until the track “The Ghost of Tom Joad” that is, before he devolves into tuneless guitar wankery for what must be a good two minutes.

Truth be told I’ve never been a fan of The Boss and didn’t have particularly high hopes for this record - if any hopes at all - which might beg the question “why did you bother listening to it?”. Well, maybe I just detest Springsteen so much that I jumped on the chance to rip him apart. Maybe that’s unprofessional of me. Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Fuck you, Springsteen. 


TRACK TASTER:

10 Albums I'm looking forward to in 2014

Looking forward? Music is dead! There’s nothing to look forward to! Its all downhill from here!

Just kidding!!! 

2013 was arguably one of my favourite musical years in a long time and I’m genuinely excited for this year and all the surprises it will bring. Here are a handful of records that I’m frothing at the mouth at in agitated anticipation.

  1.  Lone – The UK electronic producer released “Airglow Fires” in 2013, which was voted Worldwide Awards track of the year. This guy is only getting better; perfecting his nostalgic, dreamy rave sound with every release; and I have no doubts that his next album will be shimmering gem.
  2.  Azealia Banks – Azealia’s debut is long overdue. Her EP, “1991”, was flawless, showing off her ability to sing and rap, as well making clear her aptitude for choosing good beats, sampling artists such as Lone and Machinedrum. As long as she steers clear of that “ATM Jam” pop-crap she was experimenting with in 2013, her up-and-coming record, Broke with Expensive Taste, should be a banger. 
  3. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange was my (and a lot of other people’s) favourite album of 2012. The r&b singer has been in the studio since February of 2013 forging new material. Danger Mouse, Tyler the Creator and Pharrell Williams have all been working with him.
  4.  Pharrell Williams – Was there an artist in 2013 who didn’t collaborate with Pharrell? Last year was a busy and triumphant success for the N.E.R.D. frontman. Switching from rapping to singing, Pharrel starred in the Robin Thicke hit “Blurred Lines” as well as providing vocals for the magnificently catchy “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. His latest euphoric solo song “Happy” has already reached number 1 and could be an indicator of the feelgood fun we can expect on his sophomore album this year.
  5. Foo Fighters – “…We’re going to make this album in a way that no-one’s ever done before and we’re pretty excited about it” claims Grohl. As a fanatical follower of the Foos, I too am feeling pretty damn excited.
  6. Kendrick Lamar – Best rapper in the game at the moment, his 2012 release “Good Kid ... MAAD City” was a masterpiece and his ferocious verse last year on the Big Sean track “Control” reignited the confrontational flame once essential to hip hop. A new album in 2014 has been rumoured.
  7. Django Django – One of my favourite new acts of 2012, Scottish indie rockers, Django Django, will be returning in 2014. It will be interesting to see how they develop their uniquely bouncy indie rock/electronic sound.
  8. Jack White & Neil Young – There are rumours of a collaborative album that will consist of covers. Jack’s modern rawness and Neil’s classic edge could make for an interesting sonic mix.
  9. Mastodon – I can always count on Mastodon for some stellar, primal, proggy metal. A new album has been confirmed and is in the making.
  10. Outkast – Hey ya! How long’s it been since these dudes gave us something new to sing along to? The group have reunited and have stated they’ll be a playing over 40 festivals this year. Is it possible there’s a new album in the pipeline too?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Review of "Iller than Most" by Del the Funky Homosapien


American Underground MC, Del the Funky Homosapien, delivers a mixtape that’s minimalist to the max, throwing away any hint of social commentary or lyrical theme, instead serving up an album that is essentially just one big diss-fest to all the other current rappers in the game. His rhymes are witty and his conversational tone of delivery is engaging, but overall, nothing really sticks.

Del also seems to have got less funky in recent years. I’m not even sure if he’s still a homosapien. Going for an experimental and equally minimalistic instrumental approach, the beats on this album feel as if they were forged on Mars. They consist of industrial bleeps and loopy, digital drum patterns – highly creative but a little lacklustre in the melody department.

Melody is important. Even the most experimental hip hop acts such as Death Grips and Billy Woods aren’t entirely adverse to the concept. Give me something I can hum (or at least attempt to hum). 


TRACK TASTER: 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Top 15 Dumbest Lyrics in Pop Music

2013 witnessed some truly poignant lyrical moments. Beyonce invited listeners to lick her skittles, Miley Cyrus explained the dangers of driving so fast you piss yourself and Jay-z dedicated an entire song to tuxedo designer, Tom Ford. And who could forget our Holy Father, Kanye, pleading with the staff in a “French-ass restaurant”, urging them to hurry up with his "damn croissants"? Such eloquent and thought-provoking poetry has inspired me to take a look back at some of the all-time greatest moments in pop music lyricism. Put your diving helmet on. We’re about to get deep.

15. "I have a feeling/ that tonight’s gonna be a good night/ that tonight’s gonna be a good night/ that tonight’s gonna be a good good night"
 - "I have a Feeling" by The Black Eyes Peas

http://thesaurus.com/browse/good There are a thousand and one adjectives one can explore instead of good. Even “My Humps” is witty in comparison to this toddler talk.

14. "I really really really wanna zigazigahhh"
 - "Wannabe" by Spice Girls

 Entertainingly cheesy and somewhat of a guilty pleasure to most people, it still doesn’t counter the fact that “zigazigahhh” is plain gibberish and a bit of an anti-climax after the long, ridiculous build-up beforehand: “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want. Yeah, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want…

13. "The square root of 69 is 8 something, right?/ Cos, I've been trying to work it out ouww"
- "What's my Name?" by Rihanna (feat. Drake)

erm ... USE A CALCULATOR?



12. "Only time will tell if we can stand the test of time"
- "Why Can't This be Love" by Van Halen

Captain Obvious strikes again.

11. "My vibe is too vibaliscious for you babe"
 - "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child

Vibaliscious isn't a word and doesn't deserve to be a word.

10. "What rhymes with hug me?"
- "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke

Oh, I don’t know. Drug me? Shrug me? Dug me? Bug me? Tug me? 
LOL ROBIN THICKE Y U SO THICK? #ThickAsInDumb” #ThickSoundsLike“Thicke” #GET IT???

9. "Are we human or are we dancer?"
- "Human" by The Killers

As much as people insist that the lyric is “denser” and not “dancer” (“are we human or are we denser” could have some level of philosophical meaning, I suppose), the rock band’s frontman, Brandon Flowers, continues to swear that the lyric is in fact "dancer". 




8. "Lucky that my breasts are small and humble. So you don't confuse them with mountains"
- "Whenever, Wherever" by Shakira

Indeed. I'm constantly confusing massive boobs with alpine peaks.

Scarlett Johansson makes me want to ski

7. "If I was a sculptor - but then again no"
- "Your song" by Elton John

I was going to say something witty - but then again no.

6. "I can see that you're 15 years old. No, I don't want your ID."
- "Stray Cat Blues" by The Rolling Stones

We'll forgive you Mick. It was the 60s. You probably have little recollection of it.

5. "There were plants and birds and rocks and things/ and sand and hills and rings"
- "A Horse with no Name" by America

I particularly like the inclusion of "things". Scarily vivid imagery going on there.

4. "War, war is stupid/ And people are stupid."
- "The War Song" by Culture Club

Your lyrics are stupid. You're stupid.

3. "She's got everything/ like a moving mouth, body control and everything"
- "Highway Star" by Deep Purple

I love a woman with all those things. Does she have working limbs too and a respiratory system? Does she have a neck in between her head and body? That’s my perfect girl! 

2. "I'm serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer"
- "Rhythm is a Dancer" by Snap!

Serious as cancer?

That's.
Pretty.
Fucking.
Serious.

1. "Bitches suck my dick because I look like J.K. Rowling"
- "Wonton Soup" by Lil B

Pretty much anything by Lil B is lyrical gold #swag #BasedGod #I’mAVampireNow!




Thursday, 2 January 2014

Review of "Reflektor" by Arcade Fire


With its swirling new-wave synths and punchy basslines, Reflektor sees indie rockers, Arcade Fire, discovering the key ingredient they’ve been missing all this time - groove. There’s enough groove on this record to make a snake sprout limbs and dance like John Travolta. It’s groovier than this corrugated roof:


slick grooves


I had no deep desires to listen to this album. The truth is, I’ve never been an Arcade Fire fan. Call me insane (Actually, don’t call me insane; that hurts my feelings.). I’ve been lucky enough to undeservedly see the band live and they certainly know how to put on a spectacle. However, I’ve always found their music to be a bit wishy-washy and melodically bland. Even the much-raved The Suburbs album failed to move me.

Reflektor was a pleasant surprise. An injection of disco into their sound has helped to make their music ten times more lively. A group of diverse multi-instrumentalists such as Arcade Fire shouldn't be writing minimalistic, indie lullabies. The groovy, lush, sprawling symphonies found on Reflektor are much more interesting and show off the band members' talents. Aided by diverse lyrical content ranging from Greek mythology to Joan of Arc to pornography - the album feels exotic and exciting.

The record’s a tad on the lengthy side, spanning two discs, many tracks overstaying their welcome by unnecessarily treading past the six minute mark. I can't say I dig the closer on disc 1, my iTunes discreetly naming it "hidden track". This "Hidden track" turns out to be ten minutes of random instrumental murmuring that doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose. The eleven minute "Supersymmetry" on disc 2 trails off in a similar fashion. Its certainly a bit different, I'll give them that.

I appreciate I’m late on the bandwagon with this album, but oh well. Better late than never! 


TRACK TASTER:



A Reaction to Justin Bieber's Retirement

OMG!!! SOOO HAWT 

BIEBS, JUSTIN, THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, I AM YOUR GREATEST FAN. I HAVE ALL YOUR ALBUMS AND ALL OF YOUR MEMORABILIA. I HAVE BUILT A SHRINE TO YOU IN MY BEDROOM. I EAT OFF PLATES WITH YOUR FACE ON. I LICK THEM CLEAN AFTERWARDS #DELICIOUS

I HAVE FOLLOWED YOUR ENTIRE CAREER. YOU AND I KNOW EACH OTHER. I WAS AT YOUR 2012 GIG IN PHOENIX. I WAVED AT YOU, YOU SAW ME, OUR EYES MET, AND YOU THREW UP ALL OVER THE STAGE!!! #TRUELOVE.





 I’VE BEEN A FAN SINCE YOU RELEASED YOUR DEMO TAPES IN 2008. I’VE BEEN A FAN SINCE YOUR EARLY YOUTUBE DAYS. I WAS A FAN OF YOU BEFORE YOU WERE BORN.

WHEN I HEARD ON CHRISTMAS EVE YOU WERE RETIRING, MY HEART STOPPED. I COULDN’T BELIEBE IT. I WON’T BELIEBE IT. YOU CANNOT END YOUR CAREER!!!!!!! NOT WHEN YOU ARE ONLY 19 AND SO YOUNG!!!!!! YOU CANNOT GET YOUR PENSION NOW. YOU HAVE YOUR WHOLE LIFE AHEAD OF YOU!!!! YOU’RE STILL A CHILD. YOU’RE STILL ONLY A BABY BABY BABY OOOOOOOH

YOU CAN'T BE RETIRING. IT MUST BE A JOKE. IS IT A JOKE? IS IT REAL? AM I REAL? #IDENTITYCRISIS WHAT IS REALITY? IS GOD REAL? ARE ALIENS REAL? ARE YOU GOD? AM I GOD? AM I AN ALIEN? IS GOD AN ALIEN? AM I JUSTIN BIEBER?

 I CAN’T TELL IF YOU’RE JK JB OR IF YOU’RE BEING SERIOUS #SIRI. PLEASE, BIEBS, JUST TELL US FANS THE TRUTH COS WE’RE GETTING STRESSED. WE’RE GETTING PANIC ATTACKS. I CAN’T SLEEP ANYMORE. I CAN’T EAT. I ALSO HAVE CONSTIPATION. YOU RUINED MY CHRISTMAS BUT I STILL LOVE YOU xxx #HAPPYNEWYEAR #2K14 #YOLO #BIEBS4EVA