Saturday, 7 March 2009


I have been waiting for this one for a long time. MUCC are a band of consistent experimentation and this lastest release Kyutai is no exception. Tighter and harsher than last year's Shion, it bristles with energy from start to finish. After the eerie instrumental title track, the album launches into the riff heavy "Houkou" which is metal-light but thoroughly enjoyable, if completely over-shadowed by the next track: "Ageha". This is still a beast of a track and remains a standout not just on this album but in their discography thus far. There is an ever-so-slight lull until "Oz", a bouncy dance-rock number that gets the blood going like a sequel to "Fuzz" from Shion.

"Sankiba" is a slow respite from the rock and pleasant enough in its ethereal melody. Its a pause to catch breath before the album's other juggernaut single: "Sora to ito". Awesome from start to finish, the song features Tatsurou singing with an autotuner, lending an inhuman quality to his vocals. There is a simplistic monster riff and some amazing roaring from Tatsurou before a kickass solo brings the song full circle. Kick. Ass.

"hanabi" is the closing track. It starts off with a piano and sounds quite balladesque until 2:38 when it becomes an upbeat dance-rocker, then it transforms again into a Kagrra style neo-japanesque song with jangly notes and strings. Its unusual and typical from a band so capable of rocking the boat and changing styles.

Overall, a resounding success from MUCC. One of their best.

For the iPod playlist: "Ageha", "Oz", "Sora to ito", "hanabi".

Verdict: **** (4/5)


Two cds accompany the big screen adaptation of Watchmen, Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel. The first cd, Music from the Motion Picture is an eclectic mix of period songs featuring the likes of Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, and Jimi Hendrix.
The only new track is a cover and its by My Chemical Romance. Its a high energy take on Bob Dylan's classic "Desolation Row". The song is a fun, if forgettable, rendition and on a cd full of older songs feels a little out of place. Which is funny because this is one of the most jarring collection of songs ever released. Good music I suppose though.

Verdict: *** (4/5) - Can't fault the songs for quality. Time-honoured classics.

The second cd is the Original Motion Picture Score by Tyler Bates. The score is a synth heavy affair, a mix of Don Davis and Hans Zimmer. Its not very memorable to be honest. The softer moments are undercut by poor melodies whilst the bombastic action sequences tick the generic action movie score boxes one after another. The oppressive mood of the source material is alive and present but you can't help but wish the score was more impressive. They should have hired Harry Gregson-Williams. He does this type of music much better.

Verdict: ** (2/5)


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This my first review for askew magazine.

For the iPod playlist: "Arabesque", "Yami no kuni no Alice".

Verdict: **** (4/5)

Monday, 2 March 2009


The twelth album from U2 was always going to pick up a bit of flak. Its very easy to shoot them down with gurning philanthropist Bono at the helm. The problem is they actually can make decent music. Go into No Line On The Horizon expecting it to suck and you will come away feeling quite guilty. The songs here are catchy and fun and despite the age gap that will inevitably distance the band from younger listeners, you have to admit they at least put up a good fight. The title track has an interesting chord progression that really sits well with me. Its almost like an Aerosmith song. Almost.

"Magnificent" is destined to be a stadium shaker. It follows the typical U2 formula of a catchy riff and anthemic chorus but with a grooving beat and bouncy bass-line. Its a great track. Its a little Coldplay-ish but you feel U2 have more authenticity with this sound.

There are quite a few slow songs on the disc that grind the album to a halt but for the most part they are very listenable. "White as Snow" is pretty and rather downbeat for a U2 song. "Cedars of Lebanon" screams epic in theory even though its quite plodding and rather short given the lyrical ambition on show. Its a really interesting and moody song though. Lead single "Get On Your Boots" will still ultimately be a love it or hate it track. It doesnt quite fit with the album's sound but it's certainly a grower.

It's not amazing but No Line On The Horizon is very much a decent effort from a band many consider to be past its sell-by-date. Never boring, it sits comfortably in the U2 catalogue and thats triumph enough, in my opinion.

For the iPod playlist: "Magnificent", "Cedars of Lebanon".

Verdict: *** (3/5)


At last, a new BUCK-TICK album. I really adore BUCK-TICK but there was an ebbing feeling that they were growing a little stale. As much as I loved the singles "Rendezvous" and "Alice in Wonder Underground", I found myself quite disappointed with the subsequent album Tenshi no Revolver. It had a few awesome tracks (like the amazing "Snow White") but there were so many sound alike songs that the album felt a little flat. I was also left a little cold by the recent singles "Heaven" and "Galaxy" but thankfully the new album memento mori is very good. Pinching styles from nearly all their previous albums, memento mori is at once refreshing and nostalgic and considering the overall theme running through the album, this is a good thing. "Makka no Yoru-bloody- is a remix of the "Heaven" b-side but it kicks off the album with ferocity much like "Nakayubi" from 2003's seminal Mona Lisa Overdrive.

"Galaxy" feels more at home when surrounded by the other tracks and as such I have a new found appreciation for it. This also goes for "Heaven". Some bits are a little cheesy. I can't help but cringe when Sakurai sings the words"boys & girls" or "hippy hippy shake".

There are some excellent songs on here: "Coyote" is a stripped-down western guitar song with a catchy chorus reminiscent of "Last Smile" by Love Psychedelico. "Message" is a touching piano ballad, a first for the band, and the title track is bouncy and fun with Imai's shouts of "Remember to die!".

Overall its a fun album and proof that after 25 years, BUCK-TICK can still legitimately sit with the other legends of rock.

For the iPod playlist: "Makka no Yoru-bloody-", "Coyote", "Memento Mori".

Verdict: **** (4/5)