Saturday, 30 August 2008


The Verve played a blinder at Oxegen this year (promise we'll get a live report soon) and its on the crest of this magnificent wave that they release a new album "Forth". Featuring the standout anthem "Love Is Noise", its fair to say this one was quite highly anticipated.
What a pity then that "Forth" trudges through enough shite you'd think it was Charlie Dimmock. You see what most people fail to remember is that the best album by The Verve is their greatest hits. Apart from the stunning singles they put out in the nineties, The Verve are truthfully just an average band. They are also painfully dull.
"Forth" doesnt buck the trend. Dont get me wrong, I really like the new single "Love Is Noise" with its pounding beat and unusual hook and I think the opening track "Sit And Wonder" has a smouldering Jim Morrison vibe to it that works really well but for the most part the album just drags itself along, going through the motions. There is a spaced-out stoner gloss on the songs that tries its best to remove the band's association with football terrace anthems. They've decided to leave that to The Fratellis it would seem (Editor's Note: The Fratellis latest album is actually really good!).
All in all its a rather bland and boring return from Richard Ashcroft and his not-so-merry men. I can really only see the huge fans (or the extremely stoned) enjoying this album or even listening to it more than once.
To quote track 5, "I See Houses": "I get the feeling I've been here before..."
For the iPod playlist: "Sit And Wonder", "Love Is Noise".
Verdict: ** (2/5)

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


L'Arc~en~Ciel has had an amazing run of high quality singles over the past year: "Seventh Heaven", "My Heart Draws A Dream", "Daybreak's Bell", "Hurry Xmas" and "Drink It Down", all of which were 5-star songs in my opinion, so its with a little disappointment that the new double A-side single "Nexus 4 / Shine" doesnt quite reach those highs.
"Nexus 4" is a messy, over-produced song that just doesnt cut it. It has its moments and its undeniably catchy but its not one of their better singles. In fact just before the solo, it almost runs out of steam, not quite knowing where to go musically.
"Shine" however, is much better. Its not brilliant but right from the start its much more sure of itself with a synthesizer intro morphing into a laid-back, summer anthem. Its quite "Jojoushi"-esque only cheerier. Hyde's singing is also stronger on this track, reminiscent of older-L'arc songs.
Its obvious that neither song was strong enough to be a single in its own right (moreso in the case of "Nexus 4", "Shine" might have had a chance) so a double A-side was really the only way to go for a band who in all likelihood wont be releasing an album in the next 3 years. They would have served better as album tracks but I guess we can cut Laraku some slack. They are just coming down from a stellar year of five 5-star singles and a 5 star album. They've earned their break. Lets just hope when they eventually come back (2011?) that they return with a stronger single.
Verdict: *** (3/5)
You can watch the videos of "Nexus 4" and "Shine" here:

I quite like the videos actually. "Nexus 4" doesnt really take any chances. The whole skyscraper idea is nice but the making-of footage inserted into the video is a tad boring. "Shine" has an awesome video though. Its very "Zephyr Song" (Red Hot Chili pepeprs) but the cg-lushness is in-keeping with the song's style. Its gorgeous to look at too.


"All Hope Is Gone" is the 4th album from the masked Iowa nine-piece. I'm not a Slipknot fan and honestly sometimes they remind me of Dethklok but even a non-fan can appreciate some of the songs on here. Its all very heavy but its still quite interesting. "Gematria" may be a bit generic but songs like "Psychosocial", a pounding, grooving rocker, and "Dead Memories", a straight-up conventional rock song are listenable and help brake up the stale metalcore formula.
"Gehenna" is a slow, quasi-grunge track that stands out for showing that the Des Moines boys have more up their sleeves than nu-metal. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the presence of a power-ballad. "Snuff", like Vol.3's "Vermillion, Pt2" is an angsty, clean-sung wrist-cutter and whilst it sounds almost a little too similar to Vol.3's softer songs, at least changes the tone of the album.

The bonus tracks are: the almost pop-rock "Child of Burning Time" (which is actually really good!), the dirge-like "Till We Die" (which is also really good!) and a remix of "Vermillion, Pt2".
I definitely recommend getting the version with these bonus tracks because they are highpoints for sure.

For the iPod playlist: "Psychosocial", "Dead Memories", "Child of Burning Time".

Verdict: *** (3/5)

Sunday, 24 August 2008


Danny Elfman has created some great scores. Lets face it, he is the composer of choice for gothic slendour and Hellboy II is a fine offering indeed. Recalling the beautiful choral arrangements of Edward Scissorhands and Batman Returns, Elfman has crafted another gem of a score. Guillermo del Toro's film is a fantastical feast for the eyes and it needed a score capable of matching the visuals.
Fans of Marco Beltrami will be disappointed that none of his music from the first movie returns for the sequel. There are no obvious character themes but it matters not as the soundtrack flows quite well, telling a story all on its own. There are many different trademark Elfman flourishes that pop their heads. The bombastic, eccentric side of Elfman surfaces in "Hallway Cruise" and "A Troll Market" while the grandiose, romantic stylings we loved in his earlier works such as "Edward Scissorhands" are alive and well in the majestic track "The Last Elemental". If you have seen the film, you will understand the beauty of the track even more.
For an action movie soundtrack, Elfman's music is unashamedly beautiful and delicate in places. "A Big Decision" is quiet and moving and easily displays Elfman's penchant for childhood innocence in thematic composition. He will jerk the tears out of your eyes if need be. Subtle he aint but damn if he cant tug on those heartstrings. Yet his approach is not formulaic or stale. While other film composers such as Hans Zimmer simply take a score out of the freezer and microwave it to give a flavourless, processed soundtrack, Elfman always makes an effort to surprise. Hellboy II is not dominated by a main theme or frequent reprises of melodies. Instead it takes a more complex, darker gothic route more akin to "Sleepy Hollow" than "Batman" using a strong male choir to heighten the sense of forboding in this dark fantasy soundtrack. His string section is quite low and haunting as in "Sleepy Hollow", not soaring as in many superhero movies.
Like the film, the soundtrack is a magical, grand and outlandish creation. It showcases the best of both sides of Elfman, the carnival-esque and the heartbreaking. Its golden.
Verdict: **** (4/5)


Trent Reznor is back and his latest offering is certaninly no slip. His band (well, really its just him) Nine Inch Nails have been sitting pretty on top of the industrial rock throne for years now. Can the aging dinosaur still rock with the newer kids on the block?

Simply put, yes. In fact,"The Slip" still puts all other imitators to shame. There is something undeniably authentic about Reznor's music that all its poilitical and social commentaries feel honest and meaningful. His lyrics are still angst-ridden and furious but none of them feel forced or misguided.

The album is quite brisk even at 43 mins with the sound fluctuating from fuzz-laden groovers like "1,000,000", the disco-noir of "Discipline" to the despairng, isolated piano of "Lights in the Sky" the ambient brooding drone of "Corona Radiata". Its all very bold and whilst a few songs are just standard NIN, you cant help but applaud Reznor's unfaltering vision.

It should also be noted that the album has been offered for free download from the official site. Trent Renor is typically anti-label and even has gone so far as to release "The Slip" with a Creative Commons license, letting fans remix the album as they see fit, share it with their friends, or even broadcast it as part of a podcast.

Nine Inch Nails have always been at the forefront of innovative rock and "The Slip" is no different. By turns claustrophobic and punch-packing, the album lingers in the mind. A haunting and disaffected return from Trent Reznor.

You can officially download the album for free here:

For the iPod playlist: "1,000,000", "Lights in the Sky".

Verdict: **** (4/5)

Friday, 15 August 2008


Escaping that Shadow.

Having been introduced to this album by the maestro Ken Bruce as he selected it as Radio 2’s Album of the Week, I was keen to check out Jakob Dylan’s latest musical venture into the realm of solo post-folk. I am pleased to report that his contribution is totally in the affirmative.
The Album “Seeing Things” exudes the type of confidence that this listener has come to associate with the subtly, complexity and more importantly depth that is commanded of the ever aggrandizing indie/folk genre. The album from the start appears a type of retrospective exposition both musically and lyrically, and one cannot ignore the obvious influences on this songwriter’s style (he is after all the son of one of the undisputed heavyweights of folk). Musically it is quaint, if not borderline idiosyncratic, folk. It forgoes any real level of complexity and productive value meaning that due respect and prominence is granted to the lyrics, and it is in the lyrics that this listener found the real fruits of this album. Edgy, philosophical and quietly political, Dylan brings melancholic sentimentality, romanticism (particularly in This end of the Telescope) and profundity to a genre that in my opinion was beginning to lack in all of the above
However, with all this positivity, one cannot help to note the unfortunate trap that Dylan has fallen into and that is summed up best by the old cliché that “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree”. Indeed the album is laced both musically and lyrically with traces of Bob Dylan, and as much as I respect him, it his here that we can see the album becoming an increasingly fragile endeavour.
As a result of his attempts at nostalgic folk the album could be construed in parts as being bland and unimaginative. However, if one is able to see past all of these small inadequacies, mainly if one is able to look past the ‘Dylan’ brand, then the rewards will be plentiful. They will be lyrical depth, baptismal ingenuity to a sinful genre and most importantly an Album that just sounds really nice.

For the iPod Playlist: "This eye to the Telescope" and "Costa Rica"
Verdict: **** (4/5 )

Saturday, 9 August 2008


Hey, got an early review here of MUCC's new single called "Ageha". I just thought I would review it because the PV has been floating around on YouTube for a while now. What can I say, I ADORE this track.

I am not a follower of MUCC's work, I only know a handful of songs (although i picked up the Gokusai album when i saw it in my local HMV) but I must say, this song rocks my little heart. Its produced by Ken (of L'Arc~en~Ciel) and it is an assault on the ears. From its grinding rock-out riff to its melodic chorus and synth-infused Middle 8 (i'm not sure if you can call it a middle 8 but heck thats what i'm calling it), it is balls out awesome and I'm ready to sing its praises for finally giving me something good to listen to in a summer void of brilliant jrock releases.

The single isnt out yet but when it is, pick it up for sure.

Check out the video here:

Verdict: **** (4/5)


Oh hey I'm sorry but I didnt order any of the generic growling visual kei music. Seriously, how to Sadie's fans not see that their fave band is nothing more than a girugamesh tribute band? In a scene populated by Diren grey, girugamesh and Rentrer en Soi, why the hell to we need Sadie when their releases sound like this? "Grieving the dead soul" (another tour de force in bad engrish) is what happens when a band has no sound of their own. The bass is cool, no question, but everything Sadie does has been done better by so many other bands. The growling vocals are just bland, the chorus is boring and the whole things smacks of "hey lets make our song sound like "Volcano" by girugamesh". Sorry Sadie, but you should have called your single "FAIL".

Verdict: * (1/5 - either do something original or get the fuck out)


For a while I really was quite fond of D'espairsRay. They had a couple of interesting albums (MIRROR was undoubtedly one of my faves from last year) and I applauded when they released the controversial single "Squall" which marked the advent of a more radio-friendly D'Ray.

Sadly, this style has stuck. "Kamikaze", like the last single "Brilliant" is just another paint by numbers D'Ray song and unfortunately, is another one that lacks the bite of songs like "TRICKSTaR" and "Screen". Is it too much for a less formulaic approach. Sure the filtered vocals are a nice touch but its just another release to put on the "meh" pile. Good, but uninspired and ultimately forgettable.

But hey, at least the cover artwork is outstanding.

Verdict: *** (3/5)

Monday, 4 August 2008


Dir en grey will release their seventh studio album on November 12th. This latest offering from the Osaka 5-piece is entitled "Uroboros" and will be made available in 3 editions: a single-disc regular edition, a limited edition with bonus unplugged disc, and finally a much more expensive Deluxe Edition which includes the bonus disc, sticker, extra making-of dvd and 2 LPS.

The album will include the band's last single "Dozing Green", the upcoming single "Glass Skin" and the newly announced, "Third Time Does The Trick".

I have mixed opinions about Diru's last album, "The Marrow Of A Bone". I loved some of the tracks, particularly the ballads, but on the whole it felt rushed and generally lacking. About half of the album rocked whilst 3 or 4 songs felt uninspired or lazy. Not to mention it was a frickin' metalcore album. I still liked it but i am glad they have changed direction again. I feared they would descend into metalcore mediocrity but "Dozing Green" was a breath of fresh air and if the descriptions of "Glass Skin" are anything to go by, "Uroboros" may be the bands best album yet.

I have faith in Kaoru.

P.S- The updates have been a little slow lately, so i apologise. I promise the Oxegen report is coming and i will post it eventually!