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Staffenburg
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      16.03.2011 20:29
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      Whether you like Travis frontman Fran Healy or not, his talent is unquestionable, tributes backed by numerous artists of serious stature, including the likes of the Gallagher's and Sir Paul McCartney who himself plays a cameo on 'As it Comes'. Once a musician has become so successful, the lure of a solo project is most often the next place to showcase their individual talent, whether it be for self satisfaction, or the need to wrap themselves in more glory, for Fran, and his first solo album 'Wreckorder' it feels much more like the former, and a chance to just fill time, rather than create a new stirring, which kind of agrees with his rather under the radar persona.

      Wreckorder, sees Fran create a new world that he once threatened never to achieve, why after all would be bother?, and question his already highly regarded status amongst his peers, with such success in Travis, and a seamless list of hits, such as 'Why Does it Always rain on me', 'Sing', 'Driftwood' amongst others. However, feeling the time was right, and to chance his metal, the wile Scot pursued a new directive, which although not too dissimilar to his work with Travis, but yet a world away, with a more personal array of ponderous, emotionless tunes.

      .................................
      ALBUM TRACKS
      ..................................
      IN THE MORNING In the Morning kicks us off with a track that holds its momentum throughout, built around the feverish piano chords, that interplays with strings, intense drumming and an eerily evocative violin, its an evocative chase, layered and melodic, that gets the album moving nicely, thumbs up from me.

      ANYTHINGis a fairly subtle acoustic track, enhanced by the powerful weaving strings that ghost around Healy's falsetto, the lightly changing pitch and delicate strummed riff, give warmth of support to this sentimentally charged offering. Its a fairly simple track, drawn together by a beautiful melody, all calm and serene, which with every listen improves, calm yet fairly powerful.

      SING ME TO SLEEP Feathered, gentle and quite simply beautiful, a mixture of emotions portrayed through Fran's soothing, tender vocals. Harmonising effortlessly with Canadian country singer-songwriter Neko Case, adds to the romanticism felt through this simple painted track of sultry notions. Its simplicity is the key, and I adore this, from the very moment I heard it, synonymous with Fran's morbid, unemotional ways.

      FLY IN THE OINTMENT completely changes tact, it's a funky little swagger of a track, but with dark overtones, it feels kind of disturbing, through Healy's morbidly downbeat tones. The swagger-y jaunt like strum, barely lifts from it's monotonously slow tempo that becomes a rather bland affair, maybe too simple and decaying.

      AS IT COMES mixes up the blend, with a rather drab, darker sounding Healy almost singing under duress, it's quite poignant, sinister than what's gone on before it, strangely likeable too with the funky little bass line played by Sir Paul McCartney.

      BUTTERCUPS lead single Buttercups, returns to the Travis mould, with Healy's strained, passionate tones, which flail around to a mid tempo acoustic strum, much bouncier, livelier track than its comrades, which possibly holds the key to why it was chosen to lead the album, although questionable in my opinion, as it gives no real indication to the albums overall stance. Still, it's fairly bold, daringly near joyous, lyrically tight, held together with a lovely melodic pulse.

      SHADOW BOXING instrumentally and compositionally this holds all the right punches, the most complex track of the album, possibly. A jazzed up intro, fools us before the percussion take over, a feathered drum line, and an array of glistening strings, play into the piano's beautiful melody. The mid- tempo barely falters, as Healy shines with a measure of differing vocals. A thoughtful track, quite atmospheric, one you need to listen to over and over to appreciate I think, smooth and pretty.

      HOLIDAY the glistening, shimmering accompaniment of an intro give a more Travis-esque feel again. Musically the verses are quite light and airy, a stripped back feel to the gentle strumming, which could easily be found on 'The Invisible band', but as we hit the rather bland, repetitive chorus it loses any appeal it held, its awkward, and shockingly poor, not helped at all by Healy's rather joyous approach, which doesn't work, one of the worst tracks off the album.

      ROCKING CHAIR almost has an air of old fashioned country music, with its slowly strummed acoustic amble, a track that pulls hard on the emotional side, almost thought splitting. The morbidly slow lyrics engage Healy's better tones, endearing to say the least. The second bridge impacts, as a frontage of delicately positioned pretty strings are strangled, before a ridiculously beautiful fiddle takes the limelight. Musically I think this is a delight and fighting for the right to call my favourite of the album, but a track you need to give time to fully enjoy, like with many of the tracks here.

      MOONSHINE to close out the album, comes a rather jaunty little number, Moonshine, good choice to close out the album, gives a warm send off, the dark mood has lifted temporarily in this happy swagger of repetitive lyrics. Soaked in strings once more, its delicate, but joyous, giving a little more contrast to the album.

      .....................
      SUMMARY
      ......................
      Admittedly I own the back catalogue of Travis albums, however I've never been totally enamoured with their sound, its always been a love, hate relationship, hate because occasionally it borders becoming a little bland and too consistent. However, I was still intrigued enough to buy Fran Healy's first solo project.

      The likes of Brandon Flowers, Serj Tankian amongst others recently have elected to fly away from the coup whilst releasing solo material, so you'd expect nothing different from a serious songwriter like Healy. Obviously elements will always be compared to the band's sound, and rightly so I suppose, its never going to totally escape him. I personally think this release has elements of Travis impaled, however it's structured far enough away to call it something fresh and different.

      The album is fairly stripped and uncomplicated, you could race through the whole album with an acoustic guitar and voice if need be, the album feels very personal, reflective and broody, in keeping with Healy and indeed Travis's style. Although the mood is fairly dark and moody, it has enough light to keep you from phoning the Samaritans. Misery and emotion are two traits you would convey with Travis and they are not to distant here, but it obviously suits Healy's tone and what you would identify with him.

      What the album lacks is anything sharp enough to jump out and hit you, nothing really feels like a hit single, or anything of anthemic proportions like in his Travis days. Although this is slightly disappointing, it kind of feels right to keep in the mood the album holds, its more a 40 minute amble of sentimental personal emotions for Healy and the listener.

      I'd imagine the sound is more accomplished, its patterned with melodies, and littered throughout with gorgeous string sets, and the occasional use of the fiddle. Its far from ground breaking, or something that's going to set the world alight, but it is a nice blend of easy listening, sit back in your arm chair hits, a calming landscape of tunes to ponder over.

      I think this has limited appeal, anyone interested in acoustic sets, or soothing relaxing songs then this could appeal, anyone wanted to shout, or jump about then move on, Travis fans will recognise and enjoy the sound I'm sure, and largely parts of the Indie culture should welcome certain aspects the album achieves.
      Overall, Its kind of what I expected a mix-mash of tracks some I like, 'Sing me to Sleep' and 'Rocking Chair' but plenty I'm not that in favour of, and in all honesty its not the type of album id listen to over and over, only when the right mood selects, otherwise it will be happily gathering dust, until the yearly inch is over.

      Amazon priced at £7.93 or for the special edition of £8.99 which only holds one extra track, so rather pointless when you can download it for less. Personally I'd wait for the price to come down, as you may be disappointed, or download a few of the tracks I've highlighted and see what you think. Good, but no cigar!

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      • Miller Genuine Draft / Beer / Cider / 60 Readings / 56 Ratings
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        14.03.2011 19:17
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        Light lager

        Miller Genuine Draft

        I am also over 18 years of age, shocked? .....
        Who doesn't like lager? Show of hands please! ...Well to be honest, I usually restrict myself to certain brands when it comes to consuming beer or lager, only because I cannot reach the ones on the top shelf, or those magazines. Anyway, most favourable to my palette would be Stella Artois, Kronenbourg or Grolsch, what taste this young man has you all gasp, whilst supping Carling from a tin can. Upon shopping in my local Morrison's, I followed this lovely store assistant up the store, no, not because her skirt was so short, but she was dragging a pallet of discounted bottles of lager, with her teeth, no that was a lie. Although not as tight fisted as a Yorkshire man, I decided to have a browse and purchase four single bottles of Miller Genuine Draft, at a bargain price of just 49p each.....


        Introducing the Brand
        Founded in 1855 Miller is the second largest brand in the US accounting for approximately 20% of sales. Miller Brands (UK) claim they are responsible for the development of SABMiller's international premium brands across Britain and Ireland, of which include five different bottled lager's, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Pilsner Urquell, Lech, Tyskie and Miller Genuine Draft are on offer.


        The Range
        Peroni Nastro Azzurro - Brewed in Italy since 1963, Peroni is one of Italy's finest and best-selling lagers with its distinctive, refreshing flavour. It's supposed to encapsulate the Italian lust for life and fine things with its intense flavour.

        Pilsner Urquell - One of the finest golden beers brewed from the Czech Republic, Pilsner Urquell, or 'Pilsner from the original source' is still made from the very same hops, utilising the softened local conditions to create such a full bodies flavour, mixed with a bitter, sweet taste.
        Lech - Introduced through the Miller brand in 2007, Lech, has become a firm favourite with Brits and Poles alike, with it's thick, full bodied, refreshing taste.

        Tyskie - Award winning brand Tyskie, has a long tradition, dating back to the 17th century. Originally brewed in the Polish hills before Miller brought the brand to the UK in 2007, using the same methods in keeping with it's traditional thick, rich taste.

        ..................................................
        MILLER GENUINE DRAFT
        ...................................................
        Stats:

        Country of origin: United States
        Beer type: Lager
        Alcohol content by volume: 4.7% ABV
        Alcohol units per 330ml bottle: 1.7
        Fat: 0 (nought) grams per 100ml
        Grain/starches: Barley, malt and corn
        Carbohydrates: 4.7 grams per 100ml
        Calories: 42 kcals per 100ml

        Looks to kill? - Miller is a bottled lager, a clear bottle, so you can sense the gorgeous golden colour the lager represents. The label is fairly attractive if I'm honest, with its angled black strip across the middle, embossed with golden writing and outlining. The Miller logo has a red background, with what looks like an eagle perched on the top of the brand name. It all looks very stylish, almost military, something a serviceman would wear on his arm. You're supposedly able to twist the cap off, which idiot here could not do, thank heavens for a bottle opener, so unless you've manly hands, or strong teeth be warned.

        Taste - Served chilled and upon discarded the bottle top, the smell that peeked out was rather lacklustre, no distinctive smell of beer or larger was present. In fact it offered very little in the way of a malt presence. To be honest, who cares, it's all about the taste, right? The larger is quite sprightly, but exceptionally light and subtle, it offers a very refreshing, crisp taste, but lacks any bite or aftertaste.
        It's certainly not strong enough to get you drunk, and I could indeed drink it like pop. Personally I find it very nice because of how light it is, and I'd definitely recommend drinking 2 to 3 bottles at a time. However the problem came with drinking more the taste started to become a little dry and not so appealing. Therefore in this case I found less is more.

        Bottle bank - Use them, it's good for the environment.
        Price, size, and availability - Originally I brought individual bottles for 49p but that was on discount. After disposing of those I brought a case of 12x 330ml for £9, which was also on offer.

        It's available from Tesco's & Morrison's, I'm not sure where else, but it generally sells for around £4.10 for 4x330ml. So you are roughly talking on average about £1 per 330ml bottle.
        Overall - I think it's a really nice little larger, but if you like your beer, or strong lager then this isn't your kind of drink I wouldn't think. It's the type of lager you would find in one of those posh bars, rather than an old fashioned pub, which kind of sums it up. It's a nice alternative, or good as an appetiser before the hard stuff, but not the finished article, but I'd still recommend this if you like a light lager.

        LEGALLY UNDER 18'S ARE INELIGIBLE TO PURCHASE ALCOHOL, FURTHERMORE DRINKING IS PROHIBITED FOR MOTHERS OUT TRYING TO EMBARRASS THEIR CHILDREN!!

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        • Ab III - Alter Bridge / Music Album / 79 Readings / 76 Ratings
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          25.01.2011 10:25
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          The year 2004 brought four American musicians together to form Alter Bridge, Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips all previously whom played in the band Creed, joined forces with front man Myles Kennedy, formerly of the Mayfield Four to create a heavy hitting blend of progressive metal / hard rock sounds to our ears. AB III is Alter Bridge's third studio album, released October 11, 2010. AB III is a concept album that features a mans struggle to cope with life and what's thrown at him, AB III explores the mind set off an individual, that's desperately searching for a way out from his dark, empty days of suffering, longing and the seeds of doubt that circle around his desperation. The albums takes a number of twists through this mans eyes, some fairly uplifting, giving hope, others about death and the loss of his wife, so it's a mixed bag of emotions inside, many of which they pull of well. Lead single 'Isolation' has already been released and in terms of performance ABIII is already Alter Bridge's most successful album, a fete considering its only been in the charts a few weeks. Alter Bridge are....

          *Myles Kennedy - Lead Vocals, Rhythm and Lead Guitar
          *Mark Tremonti - Lead and Rhythm Guitar, backing vocals.
          *Brian Marshall - Bass Guitar
          *Scott Phillips - Drums, percussion

          ..........................
          ABIII - Tracks
          ...........................
          1.Slip to the Void (4.55) - Slow brooding intro, masked in edgy synths, and a trickling delicate riff, Kennedy's vocals are slow, edgy and slightly echoed. The sound slowly escalates into the chorus, which bursts into rapture, the dirty dark booming main riff, meets Kennedy's throaty shouting vocals. It's a classic metal-rock sound, full of whirling beastly riffs and plenty of chaos, it could easily be Megadeth or Iron Maiden playing in their prime. A fair opener, full of exploration and atmosphere, to a heavy, dark sound. 5/10

          2. Isolation (4.15) - Lead single Isolation takes a different tact, its more feverish and impulsive to the deadly dark opener, it's if you can call it, more radio friendly too, with its frantic, catchy approach. It's fairly joyous, entertained with a very memorable chorus that oozes class, Tremonti and Kennedy share the frenetic vocals, built around a whirlwind of distortion heavy riffs and power chords. Isolation was what actually attracted me to Alter Bridge, never heard of them before, so this got me excited to hear more. 8/10

          3. Ghosts of Days Gone by (4.28) - Track three sees us become all melancholy, the tones from Kennedy are reflective and a little sombre, ..the general tone is clearer and subtle, the pace slow, and the riffs not so overbearing. The chorus changes tempo slightly but the general moving theme is still imbedded. Ghosts, has a rather muted sound, blessed with a pleasant rhythm. I like the change in style, sounds more like Pearl Jam, than Megadeath, but it lacks something to make it stand out, still not bad. 5.5/10

          4. All Hope is Gone (4.51) - Tremonti himself agrees this has a medieval theme, which I cannot see personally, although I cant find any solution for this, except again it's driven in another direction, and one more palatable to my ears. An array of gentle, calm distorted riffs spiral around the beautiful soulful Kennedy's tones, in fact some of the best vocals on the album, you learn to appreciate him a little more. The chorus picks up a little, but follows the same calming pattern, the cascading overlapping riffs are as mesmerizing as usual, but portrayed generously to appreciate the clarity. Tremonti's rhythm guitar solo towards the end steals the limelight, with some blistering sounds, stylish, which really sets the trend for this moving, thought provoked number, good work 8/10

          5 Still Remains (4.47) - More of a metal presence, however its embraced with a subtly that makes it clear and palatable enough, its not overbearing, generously light, which seems a recurring theme on this album. It's a fairly lifting, happy-ish track, as thought they have come through the end in style. Again, led heavily by the bruising riffs, however, its the middle eight that steals the show, with some seriously enigmatic guitar work, something you would expect from a decent metal band. I think to appreciate this, the louder the better, and it certainly grows on you, decent effort. 6.5/10

          6 Make it Right (4.18) - Quite a melodic, soaring opening! Gentle trickling riffs accompany Tremonti's soulful tones. Make it right is more of a grunge based track, that uses a nice blend of tones, the verses light and breathy, before building into more vitriol as the chorus kicks in. Again the middle eight, takes centre stage, mesmerizing finger picking from Tremonti once again explores our thoughts, before a wave of riffs surge to accompany, to finish the track off with vigour, another half decent effort. 6/10

          7 Wonderful Life (5.22) - Within seconds I know I'm going to love this track, a rock ballad, if you like, and one of my favourites of the album, the sort of song you play more than once before listening to the whole album. It's moving, poignant and mournful as Tremonti displays soul in his reflection over someone lost to the other side. Ever so pretty and melancholic, displaying the finer tones once more, and giving Alter Bridge more vulnerability and diversity. The riffs are not lost though, just held back and consistent as to not upset the chemistry that carries this forward. 8.5/10

          8 I Know it Hurts (3.57) - The opening to this metal laced track is a little misleading, the beastly riff soon loses face, but regains strength again later on, it's powerful, dark, and a little over bearing to be fair, that's not saying passages of light aren't found here, the diversity and mixed arrangement the song keeps gives it credit, but the overriding riff is just to heavy, and drowns out the rest of the mood the track tries to display. Having said all that Megadeath, Queensryche, Slayer, and all those type of fans would love this, but not one I cherish. 4/10

          9 Show Me a Sign (5.58) - Another cracking track, fairly complex and mixed, the main riff is both moody and melancholic giving a real eerie feeling to the song, sounds a little like 'Good Fight' by Creed, supported by layered vocals which I really like giving it added atmosphere, it's melodic, soaring, poignant, meaningful and drenched in dramatics, the dynamics work wonderfully. To appreciate the musicianship here I think its one you need to listen over and over to fully explore what they are trying to produce, its one of those type of tracks that you can just drift into without knowing it, again the main riff is what pulls this through from beginning to end, wonderful. 8.5/10

          10 Fallout (4.24) - I Love the subtle gentle beginnings, shame they didn't utilise this a little more in this journey of struggle. Fallout follows the same spec to most of the songs on the album, gentle verses that build for the chorus, followed by some thrash metal, before a scintillating middle eight solo, this is no different. The chord progression I like, and something you get used to on this album. Tremonti ends out the song with some pulsating, shimmering riffs that spiral around, great effort. 7/10

          11 Breathe Again (4.24) - It's the first time you get to appreciate Brian's bass line, as it chugs along to a rather stripped back opening bridge, before the overlapping gentle riffs kick in for the chorus line, it's a mid-tempo effort, nothing too dark, quite feverish, fast in parts, utilising the same structure as most of their tracks posses. A sense of euphoria, or some significance is found listening to Kennedy's poetic voice here, quiet pretty, and whereas it doesn't stand out like some of the other tracks, it's fits in nicely, good effort. 7/10

          12 Coeur d' Alene (4.33) - Soaked in dramatics, Tremonti's almost elusive guitar drifts in and out, with some dirty, kicking, thuggish riffs. Kennedy's almost yearning vocals are warm, giving him a sense of longing, a desire to search, or in search of something. Coeur d' Alene holds the best melody of the album, which again is why its one of my favourites, its not too boisterous, but still holds plenty of atmosphere and charisma. You feel by the end of the track a sense of breathing again, a coming out of the other side, and now we are searching for home, as thought the story is towards its climax. 7.5/10

          13 Life Must Go On (4.34) - As the theme continues, the search goes on, not really sure for what, but it seems lost and longing, seems a little like been pushed away, and your fighting against the tide. Having said that the tracks have aspects of glory and euphoria attached, but also moments of sadness and pondering. It's fairly rock friendly, and probably would appeal as a future single, with its catchy sing-a-long chorus. It features the same dynamics as the last few tracks, which kind of blends the album together well towards the end. The chord progression is enlightening, the melody endearing, passionate vocals backed by a good rhythm, another fine effort. 7.5/10

          14 Words Darker Than Their Wings (5.21) - The finale has a more downbeat tone, which is fitting to the concept of the album, the end of the fight is upon us, so don't lose hope. Tremonti and Kennedy share the vocals once more, almost singing to one another, than in tandem. Arpeggio styled verses are delicate and meandering, before lifting into the chorus where the dramatically whirling riffs take sail. It's a fitting finale, that builds ever so slightly, the twinned vocals, appeal more towards the end, before a blistering falsetto from Kennedy ends out the track and album. 7/10

          ......................
          SUMMARY
          .......................
          After listening to Alter Bridge's first two albums, before reviewing this, I'd say this is their first use of a concept album, and it's a little darker and gloomy than in the past. Also the sound is much more controlled, and progressive. It adheres consistently on the same page throughout, the dynamics never really shift from quiet verses, that surge towards an explosive chorus, before repeating the same pattern, then a whirlwind of passionate metal will follow, before a middle eight that sometimes inspire. Indeed this would be my own real criticism, that the structure never changes, and it does feel a little repetitive, even thought the sounds per track and fairly diverse, especially at the top of the record.

          The mixture of sound seems more generous than before, you have tracks like Still Remains that focuses on heavy metal, you've tracks that border bluesy numbers and many a ballad including Wonderful life one of my favourites. The aggression is apparent everywhere, but largely its controlled and hidden, Tremonti's riffs are mesmerizing, dirty, dazzling and thuggish at times, but also very stylish and passionate, and not overruling the rest of the sound. Kennedy's vocals are inspirational too, he seems to possess an array of talent, with a range that covers many a bases. The pair work fashionable well together, a relationship that's filled with flair and creates a seriously good atmosphere.

          ABIII ultimately is a fantastic array on guitar interplay, indeed the main premise is swollen around Tremonti's finger picking, however the singing works well in conjunction, and one wouldn't work without the other. I feel the bass is overlooked at times, and only towards the end of the album becomes more coherent, but still seems a welcome boost from previous albums. If you're a fan of heavy metal, Alter Bridge, Queensryche, Megadeath or anything similar then this is for you, but don't be warned off by the term heavy metal, rock fans would still appreciate some of the finer, softer tones this produces. For anyone that doesn't appreciate such genres then I'd give this as wide a berth as possible, its not for you.

          I think Alter Bridge will continue to grow, and with steady appreciation from the mainstream market could become fairly successful in years to come. To be honest I was surprised how much I enjoyed ABIII I thought the sound would be to hard for me, I was expecting to walk away enjoying a couple of tracks, but I thought the musicianship was excellent, lyrically tight, guitar work as good as anyone else in today's market, and diverse enough to be entertained to the end, therefore depending on your musical taste then this is definitely recommended.
          Amazon price £8.93

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          • XX - XX / Music Album / 73 Readings / 70 Ratings
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            18.01.2011 09:47
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            2010 Mercury Prize winners XX are in Indie/alternative trio from London. Essentially they conform to no rules of engagement, their artistry is all about setting moods in an insular, introverted fashion, than electrifying audiences. Upon the release of their self-titled album XX in 2009, they were united as a foursome, before keyboard player Baria Qureshi moved on ...

            *Romy Madley Croft - Vocals, guitar
            *Oliver Sim - Vocals, bass
            *Jamie Smith - Beats, MPC

            Self-titled album 'XX' is the type of album to divide opinion, with its unique stance on music. Still, the album was certified platinum, however the four singles released did not fare so well 'Islands' been the most successful, charting at number 34. Which came as no real surprise as their innovative style is of eclectic taste and understood better as a concept than a single piece of music.

            ...................................
            TRACK LISTINGS
            ...................................
            1 INTRO (2.08) A full two minute intro of instrumental, giving a brief insight what the albums about to hold, it's frustratingly airy, atmospheric and mood driven. The sensual waves of percussion beats, drum lines and gentle riffs are delicate and endearing.

            2 VCR (2.57) VCR demonstrates the first song with any words, an unusual sparse, airy number lead by a xylophone melody. A gentle angular grating riff plays beyond the xylophone, more in support than to drive any energy into this sensitive short number. The vocals are shared by Croft and Sim, Croft's soft sensual tones kick off, before the heavy, dull tones of Sim collaborate, but you could almost call it speaking to one another than singing it's that quite and slow. VCR, is played to an ultra slow tempo that ambles along wistfully, very uniform and ordinary. I think I like it, but its more like mood music, and you have to be in the right frame of mind to a, listen to it and b, enjoy it.

            3 CRYSTALISED (3.22) fairly wistful, harrowing intro of sounds, as a peculiar drum machine plays with a strangled, restraint bass guitar. The staccato riff is pretty bland and bandy, and one which never really develops or tries anything to change the angle-less edges of the track. It's like a gentle acoustic passing that trickles along hollow-like, the vocals again are shared and quite personal. Croft's luscious tones are soft and gentle, almost naive like, compared to the gruff, deep tones of Sim. Although very threadbare and slow, their tones are suited as a pairing and its casual nature makes it endearing and sensual. It's certainly not something you're going to get up and dance to, or feel inspired by, but it has got an air of charm and likeability to it. It's very calming and soothing, but hardly ground breaking.

            4 ISLANDS (2.41) Islands follows the same pattern, all neat corners and boxes ticked. The arrangement and confidence in the track is impressive, shown by all the intricacies developed throughout. It rarely blends together, fairly sporadic and stop, starting. The gentle intricate staccato riff rolls over more touching vocals that blend into each other, soft and negotiating as the passion between Croft and Sim escalates. Again it's all gentle and passive, the tempo crawls along the floor, to the wistful airy evocative story the two develop nicely. The only criticism is it follows the same path as its predecessors, the same tone and tempo.

            5 HEART SKIPPED A BEAT (4.02) The drum machine kicks in with some rather awful clasping sounds, almost like bland hand claps, that monotonously carry the track forward, sadly never giving up. The gentle riffs are largely uninspiring too, as this dreamy escapade leaves me a little flat, and my heart has certainly lost something, oh yeah the pounding. Again the intricacies between Croft and Sim are at the fore, their passive gentle poetry is endearing enough, but it's played to an awful sound. Having said that towards the end it actually livens up a little, and musically becomes a little more interesting, utilising possibly the most aggressive chords on the album, not that it really escalates to anything of any strength. It's a very bleak and lonely track, sauntering around nomadically all basic and naked like, leaves you feeling rather cold if I'm honest.

            6 FANTASY (2.38) Fantasy is another instrumental of pure atmosphere; it's hauntingly eerie, reaped full of Sinicism and wild energetic noises. Generated cascading whispers and ghost like sounds, gives a surreal pensive ambiance, spacey vibes give you a sense of floating, and it's charismatic and evocative but yet cold and emotional. The bass actually steps up to the mark for a change and plays some lovely gentle angular riffs towards the end to finish off this subtle, dream like escape.

            7 SHELTER (4.30) Shelter ventures a little further forward into normality, and dare I say leaning towards the pop culture a little, the more coherent Romy becomes a little more expressive and engaging. Her tones are gentle and yearning and less passive as in previous tracks. Shelter again all decaying, naked and wistful, as a lonely gentle bass gently picks at the chords, selectively so. Another track that you find yourself drifting, it's all airy, sparse and dream like, to a walk along tempo, than never fails to drift off its solemn expressive course. One of my favourite tracks from the album, as you get to hear the vulnerability in Romy singing alone, Shelter is moody and thought provoking, stylish and innovative, good job I think.

            8 BASIC SPACE (3.08) An odd opening, sounds like a car horn driven by a whimpering battery been honked. Basic Space lends itself towards a more subtle r&b feel, but only lends, and it's in no way distinct or normal. Basic Space is exactly that basic, and a song stretched around empty, sparse, airy textures. Drum machines, loops and more riffs accompany the duo here, but seem to generate a rhythm, rather than play any distinct part. I'm not convinced by this one, it's to neglect of anything industrious to give it any appeal. The sombre tones are rather unconvincing this time too, and largely incoherent as their usual distinct sounds, overlap and drift into one another.

            9 INFINITY (5.13) Infinity, is the jewel in the crown, a wonderful display of sexual tension, passion and drama. Musically it's tight too, intricately styled, twist and turns all negated and neatly packaged. The main executed riff lends itself towards Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game' which obviously helps, as I love that track too. Infinity, is dangerously creepy and magical, the slowly picked electric chords are some of the finest the albums offers, all nervous and tender. Oddly enough the deep groves that Sim offers are the highlight, it's potent and sexually alluring, the chemistry between the two singers, is most plausible and engaging. The tempo is as slow as ever, but the riff and educationally placed clasps/crashes, lend itself to give the track more bite and versatility, the pathway also even changes, which is a first, with an almost climactic ending, pure brilliance. If you don't enjoy this track, then you will find no solace here, this is a million miles the most appealing and believable track, full marks, and would be ideal to make love to.

            10 NIGHT TIME (3.37) a rather sombre track, no surprise there then, evocatively atmospheric, all dreamy and landscapes. Night Time represents a little versatility as the texture of the song takes a different stance towards its predecessors, as the tempo moves fairly swiftly and becomes a little interchangeable. The intricately plucked chiming riffs are quite delicious, delicate and lingering. The composition is first class; everything seems to be placed perfectly and neatly. The delicate finger picking that builds towards an end that fools you into thinking of something spectacular, before resting on its morbid restful laurels. It comes close to rivalling Infinity for top billing, but has to be happy with second best single from the album, excellent.
            11 STARS (4.23) and so to the delicately trickled finale, stark poignant chords surround the two lovers as they sing to one another, rather than at each other, it's exceptionally pretty and alluring. Very simply constructed, and stripped, but its poise and vulnerability make this a success, and the perfect ending to a topsy-turvy album, deepened in raw emotion and passion.

            .....................
            SUMMARY
            .....................
            The XX debut album is a sombre, bleak affair, soaked in dreamy landscapes and airy vibes. Their sound is very unique, quiet and introverted, all lonely and despairing, launching a range of thought provoking wistfully quaint notions.

            Musically, it's very stripped and bare, the tempo, never really moves on from ultra slow, morbidly so at times, but on occasions it works effortlessly well, others not so. The landscapes are often built around a drum machine and intricately plucked bass that are both light, airy and threadbare. You often get the impression it's only there because it has to be, rather than playing an integral part to the sound.

            Personally I felt only towards the latter half of the album, that the bass became rather interesting, lifting the monotonous gloom and despair somewhat. Its all extremely fragile and edgy, the notes are played sparingly and sparse, utilising echoes and blank canvases to create the direction it holds. Having said that at times, it works tremendously well, creating quiet beautiful dreamy moods.

            What the XX rely on is the chemistry between the dual lead singers Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, rather than sing together, you often find them singing to one another, as some kind of love poem, all nervy and sensual. Their relationship is key to the success of the music, without the believability the pairing upholds the album's intricacies would never work.
            Croft and Sim can usually be found either finishing one another's sentences or singing in turn, Sim is the more polished delicate performer whom often takes the lead, or even solo's on certain tracks. Her wistfully innocent tones are ever so tender and nervy, which is in stark contrast to Sim's deep, throaty tones, however they compliment each other amazingly efficiently. Sim's dark almost talking styled stance is very sensual; sexy, creating a real pensive, tense aura between the pair. Indeed the sexual tension portrayed is one of the highlights from this album.

            Nowhere do you find anything loud, fast or of anything aggressive, it's all insular and guarded, if you like your music to get your feet tapping and something inspirational then this is not what your looking for, it's much more like mood music, something to make love to, or dare I say it get stoned too, which I obviously don't condone than anything to make you smile.
            The album is all about creating a sensual, moody ambiance, it's like a love story been told by the two lead singers, portrayed through their musical interplay rather than actions, it's all about tight compositions, intricately placed sterile actions, and subtle variations.

            Perhaps the most disappointing feature is the diversity the album takes, it rarely shapes from the same lineage, the tone is similar throughout, the one note plucks hardly vary, and it becomes all too passive at times. I'd liked to see them stretch themselves somewhere along the line, by going completely of kilter; shocking you in the process, rather than sticking to the same formula, which can get a little hard at times.
            Although personally I really like this album, its of an eclectic taste, many would disregard it in seconds, which is a shame, because its something you would need to listen to several times to understand and adore. On a first listening even I was thinking how bad is this, but if you're in the right frame of mind, it does grown on you.

            I think it's directed towards the solemn indie market, or anyone that likes mood music, but I understand this does have a limited appeal, personally I'd recommend you listen to either tracks 'Infinity' or 'Night Time' if you find them at all appealing, then the rest of the album is definitely worth a listen, but give it a chance to grow.
            Amazon priced at a reasonable £3.99 or tracks downloadable at 79p each. The album is also released on Vinyl, priced at £17.77

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              20.12.2010 10:38
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              Tzer aheen mernem. Tzer vakheen mernem. Tzer gyankeen mernem, tzer gyankeen mernem...


              You may be surprised to know, Armenia have a golden boy in the art that is music, since 1994 singer-songwriter Serj Tankian, with support from a further three Armenians had much success with rock band System of a Down (SOAD), they amassed a wealth of success, with some seriously loud, amazingly powerful rock singles, often widely outspoken, and the desire to force feed the public with confrontational songs about the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the ongoing War on Terror the band achieved a strong commercial appeal, largely in the States, with a career spanning over five albums and a twelve year period, success was not just a fly by night, they were serious musicians with a serious message. Brought to prominence with 2001 album 'Toxicity' and followed up by further successes 'Mezmerize' and 'Hypnotize' all which peaked at the top of the U.S album charts, they became well renowned all over the world. Following a hiatus in 2006, the departing Serj Tankian, focused on a solo project, a year later, debuting album 'Elect the Dead' which Tankian wrote, and played the majority of instruments, reached a credible fourth position in the US Billboard 200. Three years on, and the follow up 'Inperfect Harmonies' was ready for release....

              Imperfect Harmonies is Serj Tankian's second studio album, released on September 21, 2010. Tankian, is a complex individual, naturally environmentally friendly, and an activist for peace, you can feel his pain and presence through his music and thought provoking lyrics. Imperfect Harmonies is largely, not perfect, but it's filled with passion, urgency, and a desire for something deep and meaningful. Whereas his singing often falters badly, the aura it brings and the atmospheric power it pulls, the album slowly drags you in. It's typically of an eastern, Baltic theme, it's operatic, full or orchestral manoeuvres and sweepingly poignant, with the odd slant of singing in his native tongue for good measure.

              IMPERFECT HARMONIES - 1 DISOWNED INC (4.07) 'Time is the father of existence / My brother of resistance / Looking down by man in their crazy mind / Joy is the mother of our existence / Where is the sister of persistence / Staring down the elusive sky' ...A fairly disjointed opener, filled with eastern promise, electronica felt, with a spiralling piano fighting for the power amongst the orchestral bite, it has it's moments or urgency that lifts in to an almost 'Bourne Identity' espionage thriller type track. 2 BORDERS ARE (4.38) 'Fear is the cause of separation / Backed with illicit conversations / Procured by constant condemnations / National blood-painted persuasions' ... Track two plays into the same mixed theme, it's littered with strings and percussion, seems a little more sinister than the opener, but still with espionage tendencies, the highlight has to be the repetitive chorus, the sumptuous orchestra in the background is quite simply, pretty. Sounds not to dissimilar to the opener, but with a bit more bite and explosion to the sound.

              3 DESERVING? (4.05) 'I don't deserve you, why can't you see / I will desert you, why don't you leave / But you put your faith in me one last time / You, you put your faith in love all the time' .. a little more sweeping and heartfelt this feels, his falsetto fails badly to be fair though, The morbidly slow intro, picks up pace to a degree, but this is one of the weaker tracks on the album, it's seems directionless, until the chorus escapes, turning up the tempo ever so slightly and briefly, personally I think this is poor, bland and deserving of a miss. 4 BEATUS (4.41) 'You've become my addiction / My mental preoccupied obsession / To hear your voice I extend toward the sun / Eating makes me think of you / This city has become your face / Strangling myself in my silence' ..lyrically quite pretty this one, fairly meaningful, it starts off slightly acoustic styled, before the percussion kicks in to a fairly slow mournful pace, as though he's lost someone special. Sadly, musically again it's rather directionless and as boring as it's predecessor, this has more of an electronica feel, but it's bland and mixed up with some strangely odd moments, that really just don't go, and have no place in any song, an odd mix, to forget.

              5 RECONSTRUCTIVE DEMONSTRATIONS (5.04) 'Teach us how to eat from your broken hands / Cause nothing seems to grow / Teach us how to speak the language of your only dreams' The album takes a little more shape here, as the tempo rises significantly for the chorus and the end, the tones of Tankian are much more like the days of System of a Down, where he edges towards the higher pitched sound at times. It's ultra atmospheric as like the previous four tracks, overlapped by more though provoking orchestral manoeuvres, and a real deep thinking mood. 6 ELECTRON (3.46) 'Great finds of thoughts lie in the skies / Overwhelmingly of the mind / So we sing / We sing to the spirit world so close / Providing our vital life for each minute / And we breathe' ..Sweepingly atmospheric intro, that has an electronica vibe once more, its tempo has shifted up another gear, it's fairly intense, and sinister. A track that grows towards the chorus, where Tankian's tones are much more suited to a higher pitch, like days of old. The second bridge, brings us more sinister sounds from the feverish incessant percussion and electronic drum line, nice little track.

              7 GATE 21 (2.43) 'Do you want to stay by my side / Do you want me to turn and hide / We are disappearing inside / Seeing pictures of our goodbyes' Fraught with tension that the strings and piano bring to the table, it's poignant and eerily satisfying, you can feel his pain, his loss, as though his love is to be executed, I really like this little number, sadly it doesn't last very long, but it leaves a horrible taste in your mouth, from the message driven across. 8 YES, IT'S GENOCIDE (3.15) Carries on where the former finished played out stripped back with a delicate piano, its eerily heartfelt and sad, sung in his native tongue, it gives off a real poignant vibe, sweeping with choral like backing vocals for extra dimension, this is a pleasure and the most satisfying on the album, it's message is portrayed across quite superbly to be honest, a masterstroke, you feel the anguish, pain and sorrow with him, in this erotically slow thought provoker ....which is by far my favourite track of the album, top marks.

              9 PEACE BE REVENGED (3.59) 'When the falling rain seems to cease we will all go / We have built our lives without nature in mind / So that we've become the disease but we wont go / Those that survive can end with our life' Orchestral intro, full of soaring strings, quite poetic as Tankian drifts in, with overlapping singing, before the second bridge kicks us into another gear, it has a more positive vibe to this, as though we are fighting back, the ability to change our lives. Quite upbeat, and energetic, but not forceful, gives nice rest bite from the sadness of the previous two tracks. The eastern vibe washes through again towards the end of this climactic little number. 10 LEFT OF CENTRE (3.06) 'Fighting your empire / Defending your vampires / Far away, we're going too far / Bombing your ignorance / And feeding your insolence' ..another of my favourite tracks, and one that suits Tankian's tones again, the chorus is more threatening than anything else on the album, it's almost vicious, as though we are fighting back against the politically corrupt. Again full of eastern atmospheric vibes, that swirl around tantalisingly, to the furore of victory. 11 WINGS OF SUMMER (4.45) 'When you think that it's all over / They'll clip your wings and make you roll over / To perfect your great fall / No matter what smile for them all / For today we see never / Tomorrow's menu reads forever' ..the finale, has a poky strummed intro, that threatens edgily, before Tankian cries into the track, it's muted and instrumentally based, composed and assured, a feeling of reflection is felt, over what we've seen before, it lingers around poetically to various strings before finally fading out.


              ......................
              Thoughts ...
              ........................
              Largely the drill of crashing riffs, intensity and near shouting from his System of a Down days have vanquished, to a more downbeat tempo, often morbid and moody in songs such as "Yes, It's Genocide" it's full of angst and atmosphere, warbling tones, crooning and falsetto's that fill the tracks, backed by full instrumentals, sometimes chaotic and disjointed, but often a pretty blend of orchestral routes mixed with electronic/eastern sounds.

              There is no question the talent Serj beholds, and this album does not much to detract from such a statement, it's creative enough to be entertaining, musically it's a fair effort, exploratory it also finds new depths, but it largely has the same feel throughout, the album lacks diversity in it's own significant sound. It becomes largely repetitive, the melodies are similar throughout, don't get me wrong, beautifully composed pieces but it offers little, but more of the same each time.

              It's an eclectic tasting album, and the first few tracks admittedly are the weakest, but if you can get through them, and open your mind, I think it can work for you. Whereas System of a Down had songs that really stood out for you to take notice of, this has none, the anthemic sounding tunes are largely gone. It has more of a theme content to the albums approach than individual masterpieces, however the message it beholds, is like no other, and something Serj has proved masterful at.

              Why open your mind? Well to believe the music, and the passion he creates, you need to figure the message, grief for his countries loss, feel the pain through his angst. Lyrically again it's intriguing, politically charged as usual, corruption and genocide been the main contributors through songs such as 'Peace Be Revenged', and 'Left of Center'.

              Admittedly, the most positive aspect of the album is the orchestra, quite beautiful at times, but for fans of System of a Down and Tankian, does this fit the bill? I'm not so sure. It lacks up tempo tones, the angular, eccentric guitar riffs, and the embellished, passionate, over-eager shouting tones of Tankian, he seems to be trying to sing in harmony, than screech, which is what he does best for me. His tones, are largely, Inperfect, out of tune, and bland, saved only by the vicious instrumentals and creativeness that often take centre stage. Although the album has it's moments of urgency, it lacks charisma, and enough drive for many a listener. It's something I'd listen to again and again, but nothing I'd jump for joy at, middle of the road screams out.

              Overall, it's a decent effort, but it fails in comparison to System of a Down, in fact it's nowhere near as poignant and energized. It's hard to categorise the album, as it's nothing like anything else in the musical world, it's electronically poised with elements of rock, but not to a great degree, overridden, ultimately with an atmospheric eastern theme, Armenian ballad-esque maybe, if you will, that's fraught with confusion and over elaboration. I'd recommend anyone a listen, because if nothing it's deserving of that. However, on a cautious note, just because you like System of a Down, will not necessarily mean you will like this, its totally different, musically, and intensity wise. Despite it's imperfections, which are overloaded, the album has plenty of appeal, and it does grow on you the more you listen, so give it a chance, but if you've made it to track four and still found no solace, move on...there is nothing else to see!


              AN EASTERN PROMISE MIXED WITH FORTUNE, GOOD AND BAD

              I think four stars is a little generous, I'd give it three and a half personally! As the album is just under a month old it's still holding it's value, so it maybe worthwhile holding fire until the price has dropped. Currently retails at £8.95 on Amazon, or you can download the album for £7.49 on mp3, or if you are feeling flush buy a combined CD/ Vinyl package for £24.99. Individual tracks downloadable from 89p each.

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                06.12.2010 16:30
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                Apparently I'm one of the Kings 'Cooler' fans, although you may not be surprised, you would ask yourself why? It would appear I'm of the minority that's waved goodbye to the 'Sex on Fire' realm with little fondness and embraced the new, well the old, the old grungy, raw, awkward southern sounding stance of bluesy rock the band once produced. Kings of Leon have never been a band to stand still, each album demonstrating a different directive as real musicians should, rather than working off the formula that makes them lazy millionaires. Which proves a problem for Tennessee's favourite sons, the edgily placed pitchfork in their dusty Franklin soil, is ready to cascade from the sun beaten ground, but what will it pull up? Why does it prove a problem? Well it's no question that their 2008 release 'Only by the Night' brought the Followill boys from mere knaves of the music genre to pure Kings, thus bringing a mass mainstream following (the un-cool fans) with it. Giving the Kings a dilemma, to continue the mainstream blend, therefore driving away the 'REAL' fans and those they'd like to keep, or to appease the 'greater market' therefore keeping the fans they famously criticise, but bringing them much wealth. Whichever way Kings Of Leon's 2010 album 'Come around Sundown' proceeds it will ultimately divide the music world and critics alike.

                Admittedly, I like my musical taste to differ from the next, and largely, I've never really associated myself with the appeal the mainstream market offers. So when a band derives from obscurity to mass association it leaves a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach. Why? The bang wagon effect, ask anyone in 2008 whom their favourite band was, KoL ..and yet ask them about 'Milk', 'Taper Girl Jean', 'Molly's Chamber' or 'The Bucket' and they would look at you crazily. So for me, this is much a personal step, as an important one for the brothers to take.

                Kings of Leon consist of brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared and cousin Matthew. Forming in 1999 under the Tennessee sun, the band evolved around a unique southern sounding edgey, raw rock feel, mixed with a blues influence for good measure. The fabulous four have always been known by their middle names rather than first, created initially as just Nathan and Caleb, the duo rather than been enforced by the record company to associate, dragged in their younger relatives Matthew and Jared. Caleb who's raw vehement eager vocals are so definitive, and drummer Nathan are the bands working, authoritarian hand, adjoined with younger two members Matthew with his chugging guitar riffs and Jared on bass the quartet has a sound mixture of youth and seniority.

                Come around Sundown is the Kings fifth studio album, released October 18th 2010. Following on from world wide monster 'Only by the Night' it's an important step to continue the tempo its predecessor left. Success was only apparent after their third album 'Because of the Times' which reached the top of the charts in the UK, but not until 2008 release 'Only by the Night' did they finally breakthrough in the US, reaching the Mecca of the music boards. Come around Sundown, according to the Followill's is the most laid back, chilled album to date, Nathan referencing the album as 'Beach-y' would support this notion (another hit). Lead single 'Radioactive' upon its release proved to be a successful start of things to come for album number five, peaking thus far at number seven in the charts. Kings of Leon's most successful and well renowned singles to date include 'Sex on Fire, 'Use Somebody' and 'Revelry' check out the links ...
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnZmWE8JG3M&ob=av2n - The Bucket

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94RNp7veIJE&ob=av3e - Sex on Fire

                COME AROUND SUNDOWN - TRACKS - 1. THE END (4:24) - I think placing 'The End' at the beginning is a statement in itself, 'The End' is like the finale from the previous record, as the sound seeps through from 'Only by the Night', It has a satisfying, climactic, ending feel. 'The End' features the heaviest bass line on the album, dominating from the front, battling with Nathan's furious drum patterns. It's a fairly muffled sound, layered, edged with a rather eerie atmosphere that swirls around the chorus line with some jarring hanging riffs. Caleb's vocals throughout are soaked in emotion, raising his game and mixing it up superbly. Musically it gets better with traces of slide guitar and finishing with a rather glorious piano solo. Great opener, packed with emotional heartbreak, with a loyalty to drift into the space the drama has given us. 8/10

                2. RADIOACTIVE (3:26) - I think lead single Radioactive has elements of old and new trusted into the mix, it's a little unclear exactly what the message it, so many connotations can be derived, but I'd imagine, its no matter what creed, colour, where you are from we are all build from the same place, and embrace that fact. Well that's my theory and I'm running with it, as I like it, makes you feel all warm. Jared's bass takes off quite distortedly, before Matthew crashes in with some rather swirling riffs over the top, as Nathan feverishly kicks in the drum line. A tight little start, packed with a cracking rhythm. Caleb's vocals are as strong and soothing as ever, almost growling about rising up and unitising. The bass is the dominant force throughout though, and leads over some angst driven drum lines, fizzing guitar riffs and a gospel choir towards the end, to accompany the lads and give a nice warm feel to the track. Musically I think this is tight, packed with a beautiful melody, it's a rock themed track, but it's light and airy, but yet still energized and attacking. The chorus is engaging, backed by some great harmonies which really works, sophisticated, but yet back to their truer roots. 7.5/10

                3. PYRO (4.10) - Apparently this is about the radical Christians that got murdered by the police in the US. Gentle trickled jarring riffs get us going, before Nathan's drum kicks in venomously, overlapped with a similar jugging riff to the opener, but much more understated giving the tortured, heartfelt vocals more of a feature, educating the listener with it's intimate, quiet sound, developing a complexity of changeable emotions. Where as this isn't musically the finished particle, the soaked emotional coverage it extracts makes it truly glorious, it never rushes you, gives you time to feel your way through the song. Pyro is quite a beautiful, warm, moody, ponderous and honest story that you can just drift into on every listen, love it. 10/10

                4. MARY (3.25) - Mary escapes down the time machine, for a stint of pop nostalgia, early 50's theme, mixed with a laid back country vibe. Mary, supposedly stands for Marriage, and you kind of feel that through the sweet lyrics, and the atmosphere the boys relay. Mary, although different, just does nothing for me, the chorus is a bright spark and fairly catchy, full of haa-haa-haa-haa's and aaaaaa's from the backing trio that sway and coo to Caleb's soul drenched, earnest lyrics, the instrumentals throughout again are inspired, but Matthew again steals Mary's heart with a scratchy little riff. Nicely mixed up but Mary's heart is to another. 6/10

                5. THE FACE (3.28) - This emotional masterpiece is one of the stand out tracks of the album, such understated drama, it's moody, smooth and soul searchingly soothe. Only to be dipped and drenched in vulnerability by Caleb's yearning tones, mixed up pain, hurt and desire. It gets better still the bass line emerges into breathtaking fashion with such subtle lines of changeable attitude, only to be mastered still by shimmering patterns from Matthew's rippling guitar, which are quite stunning. This evocative piece really takes your breathe away, and I could listen to it all day, and just drift into. 10/10

                6. THE IMMORTALS (3.28) - A dysfunctional episode in the Kings repertoire, with a tempo that cannot stand still, plenty of up-shifts that fall flat to the floor, lyrically tight with a booming chorus that really draws you in, with jangling, teetering rhythmic riffs, and heavy bass lines, educated further with fashionable, almost sumptuous percussion. The overriding feeling though is of mixed fortunes, the song feels incomplete, Caleb's tones are mixed up with more raw emotion, which dare I say becomes a little monotonous at times, but the highlight has to be the dazzling display from Matthew's guitar, which flails with jabbing, echoing spontaneity, but overall it lacks a togetherness, and it's hard to understand what the Kings are trying to achieve here. 5.5/10

                7. BACK DOWN SOUTH (4.01) - Thumping country rock number, back to their roots here, the even tempo rocks to hand claps, feels all like a country/barn dance affair, laced with percussion, fiddles and slide guitars its happy enough, but does nothing for my taste buds. 5/10

                8. BEACH SIDE (2.50) - Beach side was originally a B-side and I can see why, it's one of the simplest and most boring songs from the album. Blazed in sunshine, rolling along the coast in your open top car, to a brisk up-tempo beat, which sounds a little like the theme music to old computer game 'Out Run' The jumpy, happy little tempo stays throughout, dominated by Nathan's incessant drum line, lap still and Jared's staccato styled jazzed up riffs! Feels like late 70s torture, quite thoughtful, but lacks any cutting edge, to laid back for me, even Caleb's vocals are a little weak and mournful. Again, I like the different vibe it represents towards the album, but it just lacks any charisma. 5/10

                9. NO MONEY (3.05) - Representing the fuzz-metal, rock aspect of the album, it's faster and fairly in your face with another large echoing bass line. Layered guitars playing against each other rather than with, Matthew's shimmering guitar overlooked by some dark power chords. The pace is a nice break from the laid back approach the album has, it's really chugging along nicely, but it lacks any spark to mix up the drive, the vocals are a shadow of Caleb's former self, which rarely compete for the front spot against the echoing distortion around his fingertips. Average, at best, having said that it could be a grower. 5.5/10

                10. PONY UP (3.04) - Quick quirky little track, Nathan's layered drum lines and Jared's distort ridden bass are laced together and work willingly together. The drum line features heavily in this odd mix, and gives Nathan much freedom with a shaker tape on the drum stick, and a cow bell and tambourine to mix things up. Again the saviour is Matthew and his mission to dazzle with his display of artistry, nothing flashy or over extravagant, but his flailing spangled guitar work played against the other two rather than with them is pure genius. Caleb's vocals are loyal to the core and pretty quirky in keeping with the attitude the song holds. A different directive for the Kings here, but I cannot say I really enjoy it apart from Matthew dazzling display once more. 5.5/10

                11. BIRTHDAY (3:15) - Totally different key once more, as a sprightly, chiming texture opens up Birthday, staccato under-whelmed riffs accompany a reluctant Caleb at first, until the tempo temporarily quickens to the delicate chiming from Matthews guitar, subtle notes from the bass interchange sporadically, playing against each other once more. It's a short little ditty, and fairly uninspiring I don't really like the key its played in, it's really southern sounding and slightly soulful, but it never really goes anywhere, until the final bridge where Matthew takes command once more with some poetic lines. 5.5/10

                12. MI AMIGO (4.06) - Muffled, dirty little ballad, with a deep southern feel once more, enhanced by a thuggish booming bass line. It has a slight country mix in parts, to Caleb's, Rogers-esque jaunt, which has no appeal to me whatsoever and lingers around far too long in the western air, to a poor mid tempo pull. I like the ponderous bass line, otherwise this is just plain waste of four minutes. 4/10

                13. PICKUP TRUCK (4:44) - I've mixed emotions about the finale, I think its something that will grown on me, it's an emotional truck ride, edgy and thought provoking with a changeable tempo, not quite clear what the message is, but it travels across sincere enough through Caleb's raw pain. Another track based around a deep sexy bass, and Nathan's constant measures of precision. Matthew blows up towards the end with more understated wizardry. 7.5/10

                ..............................
                KING OF KINGS
                ...............................
                One can never label the Kings as merchants of expectance, however the revolutionary roll has its heavy toll to pay. Whichever sun soaked track they take, certain wheels will be jumping off the bandwagon. Older fans claim the band to be a Sell out to the mainstream audience, whereas the Kings have publicly stated their annoyance for this new generation of hollow fan. So which direction will they take? Back to their roots, appease the moneymaking genre, or change spec completely?

                Opening song 'The End' seems to but closure to album 'Only by the Night' which proves straight away the sound is about to change from it's apt title. Lead single Radioactive tends to support this theory although it does fuse together old and new sounds, maybe to appease all and sundry. However that's where the consistency ends, the quirky nature of the Kings humble beginnings are largely void, and the big riffs and mainstream excitement from the last two albums has also dissipated. What we find is an experimental twist of laid back bluesy-southern sounding blends or raw unused chemistry equations.

                Sundown, has an unusual balance, each and every track rides against the tide, the splendour of 'The End' and 'Pyro' combat against the inadequacy of odd tracks such as 'Mi Amigo' and 'Pony Up'. The album evolves, no track is similar, which you have to appreciate, however the lack of cohesion, does tend to grate somewhat, as where is the fluidity?

                The overriding feeling is somewhat like sitting back on your ranch, watching the sunset loom; it's airy, moody and evocative. Caleb's vocals at times are quite beautiful and tender, not as quirky as on Aha Shake Heartbreak, but his vocals are now more assured and refined. Where the album succeeds is the flamboyance in guitar movements and it's cohesion with the percussion. Chugging, shimmering guitars, and deep dirty bass lines that play usually against each other rather than together, which are pretty special, and the saving grace on most of the tracks.

                The best thing about the album and without question the star of the show is the wizardry in flailing guitarist Matthew's armoury. His ability to create inspiration just amaze, his consistency shines, and the ability to play against the music, or interplay with others just demonstrate what a truly wonderful guitarist he is becoming. The fact that the Kings often collide than reside together is what makes them unique, as you're never sure what to expect next.

                Lyrically, it's consistent to past measures, full of dark, mood-drenched hysteria. It's often laid back, versatile and quite odd in keeping with the Kings style, and what suits them best. Often you've no clue to what Caleb is aspiring to wail at, but it works, and works well.

                Although the album is a little disjointed and unbalanced it's got plenty of quality, whereas they risk losing many fans from moving forward, they will appease the mainstay with a slight resurgence to their old style. What's more is the return to a more raw, indifferent sound, gone is the over produced albums of yesteryear.
                Overall, it's a little hit and miss for me, I appreciate the consistency in exposing themselves to change, but some just don't work, whereas other parts shine in the blistering southern sun, the shimmering guitar work and dirty bass and quite beautiful at times, packed with lovely rhythms, and evocative landscapes you cannot fail to feel some inspiration, but with a few weak links in the mix, it would never achieve greatness in my book. Fans of the previous two albums may be disappointed by this effort, but true fans will appreciate the change of direction. Amazon priced at £8.93 or £11.93 for the deluxe version. 89p per download.

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                  24.11.2010 12:37
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                  Skunk Anansie - Wonderlustre

                  Co-founder members of the revolutionary Brit-pop/indie scene of the mid nineties, Skunk Anansie, blessed with a more rock based appeal were to craft their art, against the likes of Oasis, Blur and Pulp, with such commercial and worldwide success, spanning over seven years and selling multi-platinum albums, Skin and Co, brought pleasure to many with such electrifying drum lines, in your face angst, excitement and controversy with such politically charged lyrics. Forming in 1994, Skin (a.k.a. Deborah Dyer), a mercurial, bald headed, black, pop princess, along with Cass (Richard Lewis), Ace (Martin Kent) and drummer Mark Richardson, were to create a cult following, before deciding amicably and quietly in 2001 to quit and disband. Thankfully, 2009 brought a rise to prominence for the quartet once more; as they decided to reform and create their fourth studio album Wonderlustre, which was released September 2010, proceeded by lead single 'My Ugly Boy'
                  If you've never come across Skunk Anansie before, or don't recognise their name, singles such as 'Hedonism', 'Weak' and 'Brazen' were three of their more influential, infamous songs, and archetypal to the sound Skunk Anansie behold. Take a look at the links below to appreciate their sound...

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLs-JP5FGAg
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBa7FfEY-gw


                  ...................................
                  ALBUM TRACKS
                  ...................................
                  1 GOD LOVES ONLY YOU (3.48) - Quite a soothing opener, much more melodic and smoother than their original sound, the verses rely on a feathered drum line, and gentle throbbing bass, to a much tighter, smoother vocal from Skin, at her best here, I'd say, really soulful. The chorus takes a totally different tact, the tempo is increased dramatically, it's urgent and energetic, but not really in your face, like days gone by! The bass runs the show throughout, it's pretty and moody at the same time, giving you a feeling of reflection, personally, I think this is a cracking opener to the album, Indie with a little soul attached, definitely an album track, but I love it. 2 MY UGLY BOY (3.27) - Lead single from 'Wonderlustre' and the only one to be released thus far. It's in keeping with the tempo of the opening track, but It's much more rock natured, leading from the front with a kicking drum line, and some sumptuous riffs that dazzle, it's rhythmical and infectious, that grows throughout the track. It's driven along viciously but with a slow natured tempo, aggressive, but not near in your face. Skin's tones are as good as the opener, and much more improved since her hiatus. It's a repetitive and catchy, and lyrically pretty tight, the

                  3 OVER THE LOVE (3.27) - 'You can bite, the fist that feeds you / lose your fight with some scars / you defend spilling blood and rain let it ride...right' ..This one takes time to grow, but once the sun has took it's toll, and the rain has dispersed, opens up a flower of such pretty, pretty standards, it's brash, glorious, and incessant beats, have you thumping your feet to the blistering core of the song, full of energy, urgency, heavy riffs, interlocking with some thrashing bass and developing drum lines. Skin mixes her voice up beautifully, almost falsetto at times, mixed with a little angry for good measure, poignant, but not the completed article. 4 TALK TOO MUCH (3.20) - 'I can leave but I stay to pray / maybe on my knees you'll fail / no one moved so no one got hurt / this could be the day that you'll learn...today' ..Calming back down dramatically, for this heartfelt ballad, dawdling drum line, crossed with an erotic staccato poky riff, before we lay into the chorus, which takes revenge with some seriously sexy vocals, fused with the progressive but more urgent arrangement. It's typical hi-low theme works throughout, it's mixed up and tantalising, giving an array of feelings for the listener, a proper Indie ballad here, effortlessly pretty.

                  5 THE SWEETEST THING (3.38) - 'You have the floor but once upon a time you had more / You shake, you shout, but somewhere you got smothered in doubt...come on / Don't burst them seams there's nothing wrong with living the dream / cos you just have to know'...Electric spangled riff to kick us into temporary explosive territory, layered with a throbbing bass, and electric guitars, that are played over the ever decisive booming drum line. The chorus speeds things up once more with overlapping vocals to change the texture, it's quirky, vibrant and challenging. Possibly one of the weaker tracks on the album for me, it just feels overloaded and top heavy, lacking the composure and subtlety of previous tracks, the middle eight stands out for me, with even a slight hint of a slide guitar, a fair effort this, but an album track nevertheless. 6 IT DOESN'T MATTER (2.46) - 'It doesn't matter that you think I will loose / It doesn't matter that you think I'm your fool / Invisibility won't rupture my soul / a little quality will swallow you whole'...Staccato riff, bounds us from the off, to brash vocals from Skin, it's quite stark, aggressive, and stripped back. The chorus is more of the same just at a higher, incoherent tempo, that lacks any really justification, quality. To be fair it breaks from the norm, and mixes the album up, but it lacks any charisma. The opening riff, that re-appears later on, is the only bright note, from a rather bland, unbalanced throb.

                  7 YOU'RE TOO EXPENSIVE FOR ME (2.29) - 'Your face is illegal / Your talk is just class / You kiss me with vengeance / To sweet to unmask / Still all of our issues / Won't smother in bed / So our little devils / Run riot instead' Working the bass again from the start, it's furious, up-tempo and buoyant. Has a rock theme again, Skin's vocals are largely lost to the over bearing instrumentals. The middle eights are pretty special, and the only real highlight of this short little romp. Quite fiery, but nothing special enough to stand it in front of it's peers. 8 MY LOVE WILL FALL (3.56) - Chiming riffs, and booming bass lead this ballad throughout, to some husky, soulful tones. It's slow and passionate in the first few verses, that's builds edgily. The chorus, sadly, is the weak link, it's flat and loses it's vigour. I've mixed feeling to this, it has good and weak parts, I think as an instrumental alone, it would be fantastic, as the thumping bass is sumptuous, and the tingling chiming riffs, just ooze class.

                  9 YOU SAVED ME (3.38) - 'I've been looking through my mirror / With somebody else's eyes / You broke me down / You fixed my blood stained pride' ..Another Indie-esque ballad, full of chiming staccato riffs, and delicate, heartfelt singing. An over-lapping feathered drum line, adds to the subtlety the tracks beholds, to which the tempo rarely changes, even for the chorus. It's slow, methodical, pretty, but also lacks any real bite, to make it memorable, or anything other than another album track. 10 FEELING THE ITCH (3.06) - 'I wanna sanctify your life / Be pure empathy / I'm wanna burn inside your mind' The tempo changes up once more, as we enter back into the realms of driving rock, tempered by pinging riffs, that are jazzed up for the chorus, which speed slightly. It's of simple composition, that feels old school Indie, it rarely gets out of second gear to be honest, it becomes a little monotonous, saved really by Skin's ability to shift her voice, more middle of the road stuff I'm afraid, easy street, nothing ground breaking. 11 YOU CAN'T ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU LIKE (3.31) - The Who type intro, well it lasts all of five seconds, this melodic, smooth number, appreciates Skin's voice more than any other, it's self assured, pretty. Another ballad-esque number, that's rather subtle and restrained throughout, middle eights used to appease the usage of a real chorus. It's seems a little lacklustre, no bite or verve to really keep you that interested, not really something you'd expect from Skunk Anansie. 12 I WILL STAY BUT YOU SHOULD LEAVE (3.58) - Another ballad to finish, but this has much more passion involved, Skin's voice assured once more, heartfelt, and yearning. Choral like backing vocals, throughout the chorus and second bridge gives an emotional twist, to a fairly stripped back, soothing textured song.

                  .......................
                  SUMMARY
                  .......................
                  Following such a long hiatus, Skunk Anansie would surely have transformed to meet the market demand? Indeed the quartet has transformed from their angst filled rage, to a more polished, skilful adaptation to their artistry, they've not lost such intensity or flair, but the bruising, chaotic-ism they brought, has largely been left in 2001.

                  What made Skunk Anansie such a force was the ability to blend from aggression to vulnerability in a single song, those days have been superseded, but it doesn't lessen their appeal. Instead, they developed intelligently, focusing more lyrically and coherently.

                  Yeah, they have lost some of the pounding drum lines, quirkiness and passion, but it's been replaced by much more guile and thought. After all, development does have to take place, and a maturity hopefully reaches every band, which it appears to have here.

                  Lyrically and musically, it's much more developed, the table has brought insight and thought provoking lyrics, a clear change of attitude has formed Skunk Anansie from a once angry, fuelled protesting anti official, knock the government, to an almost happy, affectionate twist, as though they've reached the other side, with nothing to prove anymore, except exploring new avenues, leaving the past, way, way behind.

                  Skin's vocals, are much more assured, maybe down to the ability to know they've succeeded, or just through age and maturity, I don't know, but she saunters through certain songs with dignity, flair whilst oozing appeal.
                  The album is largely effective, and joyous, however it has it's weak points, the middle section of the album gets lost somewhat, it fails to inspire, and feels a little like going through the motions, even though it has it's quirks, it loses it's Indie roots, which is what I've come to love about Skunk.

                  Indeed, there are high points, most notable the first three or four tracks, but to put it in comparison to former glories, you'd possibly be a little disappointed, the album is engaging enough, but often loses it's way, with rather run of the mill songs, that lack inspiration, or drive, from what they've aspired to in the past. To some, that may not be a bad thing, and largely it isn't, it's just different and more controlled.

                  What the album does lack though, is something that really stands out, possibly only the opening two titles have any mainstream appeal, it's focused more as an album, that a set of songs to party wildly too at any given concert. Having said that, the bass throughout is second to none, and a major plus.

                  Hardcore fans will obviously be engaged by this new sound, but if you're expecting the old Skunk Anansie, then you may feel dismayed. Personally, if track one, wets your whistle, then I'd recommend you give the whole album a chance, otherwise it's probably not for you. I'm reluctant to compare such a band to their contemporise, as their sound is largely independent, after all, how many lead singers in a rock and roll / Indie band are female? You don't often find such ferocity and venom from a female singer such as Skin. Having said all that, Indie fan's will largely be happy with this latest offering, it's wound down a little, diluted you could say, but it still has broad appeal to the masses.

                  Overall, I quite like the album, it has many positives, but equally nearly as many negatives, I'd certainly listen to it again, and on reflection, possibly my disappointment only comes, due to nothing standing out from the crowd, it's a welcome back from me, but I feel it could have been so much more refined.

                  Priced at £8.99 on Amazon, but bear in mind it's just been released, so no doubt will be reduced soon! However, amazingly for four pence less, you can get the CD plus a DVD, makes no sense to me either, although prices are always changing. Mp3 version of the album is available for £6.99 or 79 pence per track. And for collectors out there you can also purchase this fine album on Vinyl for a reasonable £16.99.

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                    27.10.2010 11:44
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                    Welsh rockers the Manic Street Preachers have been threatening our ear drums since 1986, can you believe!? Eighteen years on from their mildly successful debuting album 'Generation Terrorist's the Manics are still an ever present on the British music scene, belting out stadium driven anthems and pop friendly hooks to customize such longevity and success. The original quartet led by James Dean Bradfield (Nott'm Forest fan) lead vocals and guitar, Nicky Wire, bass, backing vocals, Sean Moore, drums and percussion and the late Richey Edwards presumed deceased, whilst never been found, have amassed a wealth of support and become universally known throughout the world of music. Following the bizarre circumstances of Edwards's disappearance, the trio continued to walk the boards of success alone, belting out nine studio albums before the release of Postcards from a Young Man which came out this week September 20th 2010. A wave of punky, rock styled anthems, and driving riffs tabled with lyrics meeting depression, politics and loneliness have always given them an edge to their artistry, giving the listener something different from their contemporise. The Manics to date have amassed 42 singles, with "The Masses against the Classes" and "If you tolerate this your children will be next" both topping the charts, supported by a plethora of singles reaching the heights of the top 10. In my opinion 1996 became the Manics breakthrough year with the album "Everything must go" which peaked at number two in the UK charts, whilst lead single and one of their most influential hits to date 'Design for Life' peaking at number two and gaining them such credibility in an already over populated market. Fourteen years on brings us to their latest release, and unfortunately maybe one of their last, according to James Dean Bradfield himself, the album is "one last shot at mass communication" ...can the welsh boys still cut the mustard, or is it time to venture pastures new?!.

                    .................................
                    TRACK LISTINGS
                    .................................
                    1. (It's Not War) Just the End of Love (3.32) - It's not War epitomises the Manics obvious sound in this rather joyous almost victorious lead and opening single. I don't think it reaches anthemic qualities, but it does build on you, it's powerful, electric and relentless, supported by a great radio friendly hook covered in glory by plenty of strings and guitar solo's throughout. Admittedly when this first ventured on to the radio airwaves I was hardly sold, in fact found it unmemorable, but the more and more I listen, I like, an added note the video features Anna Friel and Michael Sheen playing chess, and a rather amusing bespectacled James Dean Bradfield watching on. The opener is a lot friendlier and seemingly more positive than singles before it, which makes a pleasant change.

                    2. Postcards from a Young Man (3:39) - The title track and one of the last to be put on the album, again it has a positive vibe, it's in your face, uplifting and loud. It's again layered with strings and incessant drum lines, to a vocally more assured and near shouting Bradfield. The middle eight poses grandeur and gives an air to breath temporarily before more aggressive tones from Bradfield sweep you away in the moment. It's styled differently, an edge of rock mixed up with a little R& B tonics. Again, maybe this is another grower, but the melody is catchy enough, and it swings along beautifully until the end, where Bradfield's shouts get a little louder, to battle against a rather awful gospel choir, that kind of spoils the song, thankfully it only last seconds, for it to make a lasting impressive, good start to the album, I'm liking the happy vibes!

                    3 Some Kind of Nothingness (3:52) (feat. Ian McCulloch) - The guest vocals of McCulloch feature heavily as he and Bradfield trade lines, in a rather directive less effort, it has no distinct feature to focus on, it's just lingers and continues to a rather boring bland mix of over populated singing, that just drives towards the distance, without any inspirational change or melody. The sound is drowned out and gets complicated by the usage of pipe bands, an orchestra and the Royal Drummers, it gets confusing and a little annoying, one of the weaker efforts from the album, one to miss. 4 The Descent (Pages 1 & 2) (3:30) - The mood changes as we drop down to a mid-tempo affair, for The Descent, streaming with strings and a poky guitar line and booming beats from the drum, originally written as an acoustic track with a rhythmic feel, this bounds along jauntily, another joyous track that's not too imposing or forthright, much more an album filler, but it works really well, and mixes up the album a little.

                    5 Hazelton Avenue (3:27) - Hazelton Avenue brings us back to a more familiar sound, the combative, up-tempo shift, driven by the thriving guitar riffs, that compare to their most brightest of singles. It's has a bouncy feel, melodic at times almost melancholic with the near-lullaby feel. The infamous massive pop hook has the obvious radio appeal once more, and with the sweeping strings for added atmospheric pressure, it's a lovely little song, safe but assured. 6 Auto-Intoxication (3:52) - This glam-indie felt track is laden with sweet harmonies, evocative drum lines, sweeping string arrangements and spiky, angular guitar riffs. It's builds from an acoustic guitar riff that continues to build, it's an erotic, passionate affair that offers so much, recycled by the combative Piano chords. The chorus pulsates through Bradfield's passionate tones, it's loud, feverish and tension building, personally one of my favourite, really works and lends itself to the previous album in it's sound.

                    7 Golden Platitudes (4:28) - Majestic poetry, uplifting, victorious, reflective, so many emotions packed into just over fourth minutes of artistry. The atmosphere and dynamics of the album take a real shift here for Golden Platitudes as we reflect on the disappointments of the Labour government. Kicking off to a lonely Piano, before a gentle electric riff and joyous drums accompany the delicious delicate, scornful vocals of Bradfield which gently saunter on, with slender moments of yearning and aggression, it's really mixed and poignant, which build gentle progress throughout the tracked, backed by the gospel choir again, it's captivating and very powerful in an understated fashion. A Beatles-esque middle eight of la-la-la-la-la's by the choir just ignite the splendour further. An epic, and possibly one of my favourite all time Manics anthems. 10/10

                    8 I Think I Found It (3:10) - It seems like a settling song, reached a goal, happy with what they have. I Think I Found it, kicks off with a sumptuous long intro of frilly mandolins, whimpering in the sunlight, it's sets the scene beautifully for this melodic little number that vespers in and out of control which some varying driven riffs that pipe up now and again, to give it an edge of electricity. It's light on the ears, joyfully mundane, but the organ and wistful mandolins steal the sunshine here, very pretty, good job!. 9 A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun (3:43) - Classic sounding Manics rock song, full of swirling guitar solo's and joyful explosions of sound, marked by an array of shouting, screeching and melodic tones by Bradfield. It's a feverish little number, than develops menacingly. It's possibly of anthemic proportions, most definitely driven by some raucous riffs, and poky solo's from former Guns 'n' Roses guitarist Duff McKagan. Any Manic traditionalist will love this effort, back to what they are renowned for, top marks.

                    10 All We Make Is Entertainment (4:18) - Again an old school sound, featuring sounds from the 'Everything Must Go' era. It's trailblazed by furious guitar work, and another catchy radio friendly chorus and melody. Very triumphant once more as Bradfield reminisces over the past, what they've done and how they once tried to change the world with their music, but underneath it all, they are here to entertain. 11 The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever (3:42) - Nicky Wire actually takes over the singing here, in a rather odd little number, his voice is very different to James, very rough and it's almost slow enough to be talked than sung. I don't really like it, Sean Moore's trumpets and the adage of some ladies voice add some comfort during the chorus, but it's rather dreary and stumbles along aimlessly in the dark for me. 12 Don't Be Evil (3:18) - The album finishes with an angry attack on the global giants Google. It's angry, suggestive and in your face rock and roll, what the Manics inspire at. Fast paced finale, and the end to a pretty decent album that features inspiration from all corners of the career and more


                    .....................
                    SUMMARY
                    .....................
                    What's always amazed me is the lack of respect the Manics have received over the years, to suggest they're nothing short of fantastic would be a travesty, longevity would support such a theory, but to me they have always come across as a 'nearly' band, which just seems wrong, with what they've distributed through the years. Again, I think Postcards from a Young Man will have the same limited radio air play appeal, and more commonly suited to the arena filled shows, which settles uneasy on me.

                    Blessed with Nicky Wire's thoughts and theories and backed up by the subtly adaptable tones of James Dean Bradfield the two work hand in hand, expertly so. The sounds have become polished and more mature over the years like you would expect, but they always come back to what they do best, perfect rock filled anthems, and friendly hooks to appease the masses, but now circled with more defining and interesting lyrics.

                    As the album suggests, it loosely themed about the past and present, the disillusioned peers and the expectancy of youth. A lot of reminiscing seems to take place, mostly on a personal nature I feel, but where Postcards differs from it's predecessors is the joyous nature it's applied with, it's significantly happy, even though it's still demonstrates about political betrayal and the state of the UK manufacturing industry, economy and the negative impulses the Internet has on society, but with an oddly optimistic flair.

                    Postcards, is largely what you would expect to find from a Manics album, glorious hooks, driven anthems, and beautiful lyrics, what this album offers more generously than before Is the continued use of some seriously good strings, and the accompaniment of choirs and orchestra's, but using the same dynamics which has brought them continued success over the years.

                    What the experts said ...... The Guardian: "As it plays, you're struck by the fact that no one else does anything like it: reason enough for the Manic Street Preachers' continued existence." 4/5

                    Clash "An unashamedly pop record and its chutzpah is staggering. Gospel choirs, soaring strings and choruses you could use for landmarks in a blizzard make this an astonishing listen" 8/10

                    Q : "Gargantuan melodies and florid elegance... still raging... their flame burns on" 4/5

                    If this is an attempt for mass communication, then I think it would fail, but I remain unconvinced anything they write would achieve such a status, not because they are not good enough, just they don't seem to be the darlings of the music media. However, as albums go, it's very good, not riding the same heights as 'Everything must go' but it packs its own punch, which a variety of epic songs such as 'Golden Platitudes' and 'Postcards from a Young Man'.

                    Would it be something I'd shout from the roof tops about? No, not really, I feel it would support a Best of album generously, already adding to such an amazing back catalogue of work. That's not to say I don't like the album, I really do, something just seems missing to make a lasting impression. Much better than average, but not world beating. Having said all that the album is new, and generally a good album grows on you, this may be the same, I'd recommend a listen to Golden Platitudes, my favourite single by far, if you like that then give the album a listen, any Manics fan will not be disappointed.

                    Amazon Price £7.99 (However it is new, so wait a while and I'm sure it will be reduced) A deluxe version is also avaliable.

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnt2MXr41JI&list=SL&playnext=1&has_verified=1

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                      25.10.2010 11:42
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                      LINKIN PARK

                      Californian sextets, Linkin Park were formed in 1996 originally under the name of their first album Hybrid Theory. Conspiring from nu metal, rap metal and radio friendly rock their sound is diverse enough to fill many a genre. The band's first studio album, Hybrid Theory, released in 2001, was certified Diamond and went multi platinum, making it one of the most influential and most recognised rock albums of recent times. The band comprise of ...

                      Chester Bennington - Lead vocals
                      Mike Shinoda - Vocals, Rhythm guitar, Keyboards
                      Rob Bourdon - Drums, Percussion
                      Brad Delson - Lead Guitar
                      Dave "Phoenix" Farrell - Bass
                      Joe "Mr Hahn" Hahn - Turntables, Samples, Synthesizers


                      ................................
                      A THOUSAND SUNS
                      .................................
                      September 2010 saw the release of Linkin Park's fourth Studio album, 'A Thousand Suns' it marked a return to producer Rick Rubin and hopefully a change in fortune after the fairly dismal effort of predeceasing album 'Minutes to Midnight'. Lead single 'The Catalyst' hit the charts running, and proved an instant hit, as yet no other singles have been released. The fourth album, shows another shift in sound, a further indication to the band refraining from becoming stagnant, whereas the sound is not completely different, the way achieved through effects and trickery certainly is. Following the likes of Muse and Green Day, Linkin Park have tried their muscle at a themed concept album, with numerous interludes and Intro's to back such a theory, therefore to fully engage into this album a full run through is in order to fully appreciate what's trying to happen. Previous albums include ....

                      Hybrid Theory (2000)
                      Meteora (2003)
                      Minutes to Midnight (2007)
                      A Thousand Suns (2010)


                      ..........................
                      ALBUM TRACKS
                      ...........................
                      1 THE REQUIEM (2.01) - The opening track is more like an intro than an actual song, it's a lingering, harrowing, barrage of sinister noises, incorporated with a monotonically themed piano key, this atmospheric ghostly opener has some female singing the lyrics to the catalyst near the end. It's quite strange, and not something you would listen to alone, which already gives the impression this album needs to be considered as a concept rather than individual songs. 2 THE RADIANCE (0.57) - The Requiem forges straight into the Radiance, which lasts less than a minute, of mostly darker foraging noises accompanied by quotes from Oppenheimer's infamous 'Destroyer of Worlds' over the top, quite sinister, and not really what you would be accustomed to from Linkin Park, and not something I really enjoyed. Personally, I'd skip the opening two tracks every time, last too long and I want some music.

                      3 BURNING IN THE SKIES (4.13) - Burning In the Skies is depicting the act of war and how the innocent are used as fuel for such things, death of the innocent. We kind of carry on where the intro's left off, it's a synth-driven effort full of processed beats and awful electronics, quite dance orientated as a mournful Bennington fairly timidly sings over an awful electronic drum beat, and fairly limited piano. The song really lacks any kind of respectability, the guitars have no room for manoeuvre and used strangely sparingly, and you cannot really get into track three until over half way in, it's pretty bland, complicated, with no revealing features. I think this one can be burnt and thrown somewhere other than the floor, due to the UK's policy on litter. 4 EMPTY SPACES (0.18) - Track four is supposed to blend the tracks together, the art of war still been the theme, as we venture through swamps running away from the Viet Kong, fuelled by distant bombs, and insect noises overhead.

                      5 WHEN THEY COME FOR ME (4.53) - This leaps to the defence of the previous 18 seconds, as a wave of percussion, electronic throbbing pulses, and mechanical beats are fizzing over our heads. It kind of feels like we are running from something, whether it's the end of the world, or to escape the burning bridges and destruction of civilisation, who knows, but it does sound like we've escaped the Viet Kong, and thrashing it out in the middle east, as it's very influenced by such middle eastern cultures and sounds. The song is a real journey, laden particularly with electronic samples, and percussion. The journeys of vocals are layered from chanting, to rapping to Bennington's best most noticeable tones. Again, it's reluctance to use the fizzing guitar riffs of the past and replaced by atmospheric sounds is obvious, in particular it works after a number of listens, admittedly after first hearing this, I though what a load of.... But it really grows on you, and actually pulls the concept together a little. Five songs in, and it really is a generated sound of percussion, samples and electronic drum beats, the sound is so much different, and stark contrast to Hybrid Theory.

                      6 ROBOT BOY (4.28) - Another atmospherically charged anthem, much slower than the previous tracks, but the overall sound is consistent, as the electronic mournful drum roll supports the vigour of the stark piano. It's much more melodic than the previous songs, and slightly more thoughtful as we reflect on the impact war has taken, and ravaged the people in question. It berates the compassionless officials, who think of only themselves and not the innocents left behind. It's quite boring this, it lacks any kind of chorus, and just moans along, solemnly, nothing enterprising or exciting, and quickly forgotten, to robotic and not another edge here. 7 JORNADA DEL MUERTO (Journey of the Dead) (1:34) - Another interlude that comprises the songs together, has very little impact to me, and doesn't exactly fit that well either, a mixture of electronics, and haunted vocals comprise here, that seem to get louder and louder, as though the march of the dead are coming for us.

                      8 WAITING FOR THE END (3.51) - Hooray! Once Shinoda has finished laying down an awful rap over the top of some awful electronic pulses which comprises as an intro, move over son, and welcome Bennington, this becomes a sympathetic, heart-warming array of ballad-esque choruses and yearning tones, supported by a wonderful radio hook and a classic sounding Linkin Park rock ballad, highlighted by a gorgeous chorus. Sadly this is spoilt again by the over zealous Shinoda and his insistence of rapping once more, which spoils a perfectly constructed tune and a half. Good, but it could have been so much better, thankfully the good far outweighs the bad, love it! 9 BLACKOUT (4.39) - Blackout, funnily enough gives older fans some light, through the atmospheric gurgling as we soar the heights of a nu-metal charged track. Thrashed and furious Blackout opens with some sinister stricken synths and looped drum beats. Charged with a distorted guitar riff, and some feverish screaming from Bennington, it's dark and dangerous, and straight in the face, as a mix of rapping and screaming entertain us. Again the piano, and an electric dance pulse take centre stage, before a barrage of black noise and distortion override, before we calm to a note from the piano, before a variety of interference and loops end us out, a bit mixed and lacking anything special.

                      10 WRETCHES AND KINGS (4.10) - Another mixture of rapping from Shinoda and shrieking from Bennington as the two interlude with one another, It's a packs a punch straight in the eye, with some explosive sounds, and soaring stabbing guitars, mixed with quotes from some obvious candidates unknown to me. It lacks composure, filled with over the top backbeats and a real heavy bass, that has no appeal to me, sounds like a ball of heavy noise to me, boring and insignificant. 11 WISDOM, JUSTICE, AND LOVE (1.38) - Another interlude over a poignant stark piano beat featuring quotes from Martin Luther King over the top, which morph into some incoherent, surrounding by what seems like a rocket ship set to take off, as the noise becomes ever closer and louder. Before the backing noise disappears to be replaced by a robotic noise, just weird, but kind of cool.

                      12 IRIDESCENT (4.56) - Another mid-tempo ballad that sees Shinoda and Bennington trade lines, minus the rapping this time. It feels like you're floating on a cloud, or made your way through the pearly gates in the wake of nuclear destruction, as you feel as though you're looking down or reminiscing, all emotionally. Surprisingly for a Linkin Park ballad it's bleak and quite plain, bereft of any talent or inspiration. It's fairly stripped back this time, with a completely different directive to the rest of the album; it largely features a rather boring piano line, and delaying riffs. The repetitive nature could see this becoming a rather catchy number, but it's not for my liking. 13 FALLOUT (1.23) - Another Interlude that features Shinoda's voice all robotic, voicing lyrics from Burning in the Skies, before fading into the Catalyst.

                      14 THE CATALYST (5.39) - Lead single from the album, and my personal favourite by far, The Catalyst is an epic chorus-less surge from start to finish it classically templates an Indie/rock charged track that just develops and fuels it's anger before reaching a climactic, explosive finale. It feels all heroic, like some kind of breakthrough has been achieved. It's distinctive and so evocative that its already been used on video game Medal of Honour, and used during the 16th Annual X games competitions. The Catalyst is a fight from start to finish, dual singing between Shinoda and Bennington throughout over the top of some trance like synths, eerie electronic samples and poignant beats. Classic tune, and one that I can play over and over, so catchy, class. 15 THE MESSENGER (3:01) - And to the finale, a stripped back acoustic little number, that features Bennington, searching and soaring to a pretty little number, you could be forgiven in thinking he is out of tune, but to be honest it doesn't matter, it's a soulful piece driven with the lonely guitar and sparse strings. A good song to finish on as though the end of the education, all thoughtful, wonderful and littered with tales of redemption. It's an unusual effort from the Californians, and whilst not perfect, I do like this stripped back ballad. Total length: 47:41


                      .....................
                      SUMMARY
                      ......................
                      A Thousand Suns is a concept album, which should be listened to as a whole to at least try and appreciate what they are trying to achieve. It's full of interludes and Intro's that supposed to link the tracks together, some maybe do, but others in my opinion have no place, and largely strange.

                      It follows the same theme throughout, largely about nuclear warfare, the end of civilisation, and the destruction of earth by humanity, however by the end civilisation is near saved through man's never say die attitude. Upon listening to the album, to convey the war felt atmosphere they've generated a lot of sounds, from digital noises, electronics, samples and back beats, which is a totally different sound for Linkin Park, and a thousand suns away from debut album Hybrid Theory.

                      To say its experimental is an understatement, does it work? Well, not really, either as a whole concept or a set of individual songs, sure, chinks of light appear in tracks such as 'When they come for me', 'The Catalyst' and 'Waiting for the End' and they do return to their roots slightly on 'Blackout', but the mix, is too electronically digitized, guitars replaced by generated bleeps and sounds, which are confusing, disorientating and somewhat annoying. Fair enough, you can appreciate the effort, and the how intricately the piece is put together, but maybe they have stretched themselves here, taking themselves to seriously.

                      Overall, A Thousand Suns demonstrates a climactic shift for Linkin Park, after the failure of previous album Minutes to Midnight (Which I actually liked) perhaps they felt the need to experiment or change directive, but it feels confused and unfinished, the indie/rock based tracks have been replaced by rather limp, synth filled complicated experiments. Older fans will be disappointed, as this album is as about as far from rock filled anthems as you can get.

                      I'm not sure whom I could recommend this too, obviously die-hard fans will like anything they produce, but aside from the three tracks previously mentioned I find nothing appreciative here, maybe the album will take time to grow, but I'm not even so sure I'd give it the chance, largely disappointing.

                      Amazon Price : £8.93
                      CD + DVD version £11.93
                      Album MP3 Download £7.49 or 89p per track.

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                        18.10.2010 16:25
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                        Made in Sheffield, Richard Hawley a branded polished singer-songwriter from as long back as the early 90's has largely escaped the radar of which is the British music scene, you may even ask whom? Well, formerly under the stewardship of Jarvis Cocker and Brit-pop pioneers Pulp, Hawley has achieved much success throughout the mid 90s which such hits as 'Common People' and 'Disco 2000', since the bands departure and further session work dried up, Hawley showed enough metal to go it alone, embarking on a solo career which to date has spanned over nine years, with six credible studio albums under his name. Hawley, a stereotypical teddy boy with his big hair and large glasses began his solo career in 2001, releasing debut album 'Late Night Final'. Commercially his talents went unnoticed until his fourth-studio album 'Coles Corner' which although failed to chart, brought him a Mercury Music Prize nomination, which he duly lost to the Arctic Monkey's debuting album. To date, commercially Hawley has never hit the headlines, or black tar Rivers, but what he has established is a definitive sound that would appeal to a broad enough market. Lady's Bridge is his fifth and most successful studio album, released August 2007. In fact so successful it's the only album to scale the heights of the top 10 in either the single or album charts ....



                        HAWLEY GOES ALL GRAHAM COXON ON US ....

                        .........................................
                        LADY'S BRIDGE - TRACKS
                        .........................................
                        1 VALENTINE (4.27) - Effortless opening ballad Valentine evokes a strange scenario, as ultimately it feels like it should be a withdrawn, miserable piece, but the overriding sensation is more of reflection, neither good nor bad. A slowed down strummed acoustic guitar breaks us into the album, to a soothing, deep tone by Hawley, a poor man's Edwin Collins if you will. The tempo dawdles almost monotonously throughout, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as we learn to appreciate the wave of luscious strings that accompany the unchangeable slow ordinary strum. It reminds me of the song from Pulp Fiction, but I cannot remember what it's called, in fact the only differentiation is the chorus isn't as appealing on this, as it rarely changes key or tempo. Having said all that I quite like this opener, something you could easily drift into, rather than get carried away with, a little haunting with the deep vocals, but it works for me.

                        2 ROLL RIVER ROLL (5.11) - The texture changes for track two, the vibe again reflective and sombre, but whereas the opener was fairly flat, this feels like the Yorkshire puddings have risen in the oven. The river rolls along to a quite scintillating piano key, which oozes appeal it's that pretty and melodic, supported once more by some sumptuous strings and a double bass line. Again, Hawley's tones are dark and meandering, warm but deep. Roll River Roll is an artistic piece, only really let down by the adaptability in Hawley's almost talking voice. However, musically it's faultless, of which you have to laud the arrangement and elegance it beholds.

                        3 SERIOUS (3.24) - The shift in sounds changes remarkably, a more up-beat jaunty little track, tendering towards a 50s rock 'n' roll anthem, but without the fire or passion in it's belly. Hawley's nature does nothing to dispel such a theory either, with his large glasses and even larger sideboards and big hair. Admittedly, although a little livelier, the strummed guitar lines are unimaginable, the Orchestra has dissipated, and Hawley's baritone is largely unpopular, and most definitely bland. The chorus borders annoyance with its fascinatingly catchy boo-bop, up and down repetitive jaunt. Seriously people move on, nothing to see or do here.

                        4 TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS (3.40)- I feel a little homeless after listening to this, the ingredients are all there, but it lacks the cherry on top, to purchase the cake. Again, a more reflective, sombre track, but that's more to do with Hawley's deep, smooth laid back vocals than the outlay of artistry on show. Lyrically and melodically it's tight and intriguing, blessed once more with a scintillating array of shimmering strings, and delicate piano bars, backed up by glockenspiels and I think a mandolin, but yet, I feel empty by the end. Why bother with foreplay, if your not going to finish the job? I'd put this down to the unequivocal speed on the track, and the blandness in Hawley's tone, otherwise it's a fine effort. 5 LADY SOLITUDE (5.32) - Eerily evocative slightly atmospheric intro spangled with electric guitars and feathered drums, to a darker baritone from Hawley, in fact some of his finest tones off the album, more warmth and substance, at times even heartfelt. It's plods along lingeringly, but nicely, the riff and middle eight, indeed ever so pretty. I'm not too enamoured with the chorus, but that would be the only negative, the almost staccato typed riff, gives the examination of solitude in fitting with the premise of the song, long and meandering again, but the sort of track you'd be happy with going on and on, highlight.

                        6 DARK ROAD (3.58) - Johnny Cash-esque country suited jaunt, that lacks any inspiration or flare, album filler that feels like your cantering along on a horse throughout a waterless western desert, heat pouring down on your back, finding no solace. Boring, find the crossroads and change direction. 7 THE SEA CALLS (5.54) - A fairly sophisticated, sombre offering, bordering anti-climactic pop featuring a fairly insistent tempo. Maybe has an eastern, Spanish flare to it with its use of Banjo and Spanish guitars, but ultimately it feels like a high seas adventure, all atmospheric and thoughtful.

                        8 LADY'S BRIDGE (4.00) - Album titled track Lady's bridge, which we are assured isn't a euphemism, follows along the same toe path as the majority of the album, it's an emotionless ballad, calm and serene, that never waivers from the same lineage. It's effortlessly slow, melodic and pretty. Hawley's deep, soothing lyrics pay homage to his home towns most infamous bridge, its notoriously passionless, but yet still appeals with its self assuredness and integrity. It feels like a fairly lonely track, but it still caters with a warm feeling attached, which he seems to do infectiously well throughout the album. Lady's bridge isn't going to jump out from the album, but it sits proudly in its place, next to Hillsborough and the tight Yorkshire man's wallet.

                        9 I'M LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO FIND ME (3.18) - Such a different directive this beholds, it's a real happy tonic, unlike it's counterparts, even though primarily it's a another sad song. Controlled by the feverish snare and bass drums, the tempo is composed but lively. I'm looking for someone to find me, has a real old school feel to it, maybe another dating back to the 50s era glossed with backing harmonies. Strings and an old fashioned riff accompany Hawley's more engaging, upbeat tones. This displays a nice change from the macabre, that's been spelt out before it, nice little number.

                        10 OUR DARKNESS (4.08) - With my Indie roots, a dark, macabre, sad song would sit perfectly in my world, and this does just that! In fact I think it's fairly faultless, discovering an array of emotions in a single song, climactic, glorious, sad, heartfelt, poignant. Accompanied by Brass band, and more stupendously warming strings, Hawley yearns in style, and his most passionate vocals from the album, a more subtly to his voice, and even an edge of adaptability unite to greet the flawless arrangement. Whatever your musical taste, I think you can appreciate something so well delivered as this, full marks from me. 11 THE SUN REFUSED TO SHINE (4.57) - Another atmospherically built ballad, sweating with echoing chimes and delicately poised electric guitars swaying to the articulated, almost dreamy, hazy backdrop. You kind of feel like you're floating in this morbidly slow track, it wilts and devours around piano and strings, it's evocative, gentle and grand but used on a simple scale. A relaxing finale, which in keeps with the theme and blend the album holds, nice and comforting, leaving you amid your thoughts.



                        .................
                        SUMMARY
                        .................
                        What I find difficult about Richard Hawley's music is I just don't know where it fits? Which inevitably is why chart success has bypassed the uncanny northerner. The album largely features two elements that conspire against each other rather than collaborate, his soothing, deep tones caressing against the most wonderful craftsmanship that the orchestra brings.

                        Firstly, Hawley's baritone is rich, smooth but has no layer or adaptability to it, it's all to balanced and monotonous, that's not to say I don't like it, far from it, at times it comes across classy and sophisticated. But an album needs to be diverse enough to keep your attention to the end, and this cannot achieve such a fete. His reluctance to venture from his comfort zone in my opinion is his major downfall.

                        The most appealing element would be the diversity the arrangement brings; some breathtaking strings and pianos really hold your attention, mixed up differently on each and every track. Musically, it's pretty fine, creating a plethora of feelings for the listener, discerning, soothing and thought provoking, everything you could warrant from a set of songs.
                        Lyrically, it's largely influenced by his father's death, which brings a wealth of thought, loneliness and yearning to the table, However it's portrayed in a rather uplifting notion, at no point do you really feel depressed by his loss, and yet the songs are sombre in stature, how does he deliver this, well thankfully very well, due to the honesty his deep thoughtful voice brings.

                        You become aware straight away, the comparisons between Hawley's voice and artists of yesteryear, it would be spiteful to call him a poor mans Scott Walker or Edwin Collins, but yet I don't think he's in the same league as such contemporaries but he could pull of the odd shock in any given cup tie.

                        Lady's Bridge, exudes atmosphere, borders romantic notions and has an untimely sense of beauty. What it lacks in ferocity and buoyancy it revels in relaxation and the ability to soothe the listener, with such articulated old school rock 'n' roll blends.

                        In my opinion, I like the sound he makes, but without the ability to transform into something else, I feel a little lost and bored. Aside from track 10 'Our Darkness' my stand out track, they all sound relatively the same. Shameful really, considering he has a depth of talent, which is clear to see, but until he can adapt from his mellow state, and conform to rules of engagement, then the journey is long and slow, rather than winding and emotional.

                        It's hardly politically correct I know, but this is more suitable to the more mature listener, due to the lack of potency it retains, I'd also recommend this to any budding blues/classical follower or anyone engaged by the sound of classic rock 'n' roll. To the more refined, educated music connoisseurs then this could also hold limited substance, but ultimately its something to Iron to, rather than dance around the clock at.

                        Currently priced at £4.99 on Amazon, downloadable for the same price. Or a collectors CD + DVD edition is available from £9.41. Vinyl priced at £14.99. If I'm honest I was torn whether to recommend this or not, it feels a little harsh to reject it so easily, really down to the fact its not really the kind of music I'd listen too, and perhaps something I'm unlikely to listen to again, I'm sitting on the fence, for once!

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                          12.10.2010 12:41
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                          After the Killers floated through our solar system, to arrive on earth with a meteoric bump and an extraordinary debuting album 'Hot Fuss', a new found star(dom) was found, with such an offensive of explosive indie/rock masterpieces, and an already cult following, an eagerness followed to see what Mr Flowers & Co would come up with next, followed since by two fairly ordinary albums, the bright lights of Vegas have started to burn less bright. The next step for Killers front man, Brandon Flowers was to turn against the tide, and go it alone; this didn't or does not spell the end for the Killers, just a break and a new directive for likeable mercurial Flowers.

                          Flamboyant Mormon, Flowers, was born In Las Vegas, 1981, and with the help of Vannucci, Stoermer and Keuning formed the Killers in 2001. Three years on hailed the release of the successful album Hot Fuss, which brought the band and Flowers instant stardom. Sophomore album Sam's Town, released two years later proved largely disappointing, heaping pressure on third album Day & Age in 2008 which was met with mixed reviews, but showed promise and a turn in fortune. Two years on and the Killers deciding to take a longer than expected hiatus, Flowers his itchy feet and the desire to continue to work, decided to pursue a short solo career from already penned Killers tracks, which brings us 'Flamingo'



                          FLAMINGO - The inspiration behind Flamingo is the love of Flower's home town Las Vegas, which features highly on the card throughout the album, the title is a tribute to where he grew up, Flamingo Road, and where he and his wife met in the area of Sam's Town, the casino which gave the Killers its second album name.

                          Flamingo released the 6th September 2010, so yet to prove successful or otherwise, as to date only lead single 'Crossfire' written by Flowers and Brendan O'Brien and featuring the gorgeous Charlize Theron rescuing him in the video has been released, reaching a credible 8th position in the UK singles charts.

                          ................................
                          ALBUM TRACKS
                          ..................................
                          1 - WELCOME TO FABULOUS LAS VEGAS (4.48) Opener, Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, is a cynical, cautionary tale of gambling, and how we look upon money as a form of wealth, as Flowers states, 'Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas / give us your dreamers, your harlots and your sins / Las Vegas / didn't nobody tell you the house will always win' - Creepy atmospheric intro, as the keyboards distort and pulsate alarmingly, echoed with synth strings, before Flowers sings in edgily. Leading up to the chorus rallied by power-chords and a joyous drum line from Indrizzo. The Chorus is infectious as Flowers screeches out Las Vegas supported by such atmospheric. Flowers breaks into the next verse warbling over a piano before O'Brien finishes off the track to a church like ending guitar solo. It's a song that needs time to capture ones imagination, it's almost a triumphant march of some regard, blessed between a country stroke rock feel. I had to listen to this a few times before I could warm to it mind, each and every listen sounds better, good start, it sounds very much Killers-esque 6/10

                          2 - ONLY THE YOUNG (4.19) - I think this track is due to be the second single released. All atmospheric, and moody, showered in sombre keyboards and a gentle drum line, as Flowers mournfully distorts the lyrics all sincerely, touching. Quite catchy chorus as Flowers echoed voice yearns 'Only the young can break away, break away / lost when the wind blows, on your own on your own' Good use of percussion to give it a bit of bite, it's all fairly choral, gospel like in appearance, dramatic, but low key! I think this one has to grown on you personal, but would be a good choice as second single. 6/10

                          3 - HARD ENOUGH (4.05) (Featuring Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley's) I think its supposed to be a love song, between two young lovers, maybe hoping to rekindle some kind of romance as Flowers recites over past letters written 'You let me into your life unaware / there was magic and fire in the night / and back then I was just a little boy / I made mistakes that caused you so much pain / all I know is that I'm older now' It's a mid tempo melancholic almost spiritual number, crossed with a country feel again. It's very pretty, as the couple 'Ohhhh' and 'ahhhs' to a stripped back sound, quite different to the furore of Killers tracks. It's piano driven, accompanied with the usual keyboards and a beautiful almost Spanish feeling guitar slide. The verses are Flowers singing almost woefully alone, but the beauty is in the chorus as the two singers blend beautifully together, Lewis has a very rustic American twang that really sits well. As we enter the second verse Beckett increases the drum line, to increase the tempo, before Lanois finishes off the track with an awesome guitar solo. I loved this the first time I heard it, and indeed played it over and over, totally different to anything I've heard before, but gorgeous and evocative. 9/10

                          4 - JILTED LOVERS & BROKEN HEARTS (4.40) - This is spearheaded again by the Lights of Vegas and the gambling addiction, as the lyrics convey a plethora of gambling scenarios, possibly earmarked as metaphors for Broken hearts or jilted lovers as the title suggests. 'When I saw you dancing on the moon now / I watched him spin you round and round / why did you roll your dice and show your cards?/ jilted lovers and broken hearts / you're flying away, while I'm stuck here on the ground' ...Much more up-tempo to the last as Flowers delivery is strained and near shouting level. Awesome intro with a beautifully almost peaceful floating riff that drifts into a throbbing drum line, that gets us rocking, electric and acoustic guitars build throughout to the overlapping siege of drums. A power play of a chorus as it just rages higher and higher, before a break to some calming gentle floating riffs, before we build towards a crescendo of crashing cymbals and distorted guitars to give it a erratic, explosive end. Another track that rather grows on you, rockier than anything previous, the chorus is the highlight, but Id recommend this just as an album track personally. 7/10

                          5 - PLAYING WITH FIRE (5.48) - To be honest I've no clue to what the track is about, although he seems to be talking back to his father in the lyrics 'Daddy, I'm not gonna tell you that I'm sorry / / there ain't nothin you can do to change my mind / I'm not here to know the things I cannot do / we've seen the outcome of the Boy's Who Didn't Fly' ...Playing with Fire, is simply stunning, a slow marauding bluesy number. It highlights especially the range in Flowers voice, pushing the boundaries to almost tenor like range, warbling, and oozing to an authentic western styled slide guitar shimmering behind him. Scintillating percussion and breathtaking Piano notes gives this a dramatic evocative slow bad tenure, that just build using the same tempo to a climax of quite stunning slide and scratch guitars. It sounds a really personal song, and you feel it through his stunning array of tones, masterpiece!! 9/10 6 - WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID? (3.19) - Another tale of Love gone wrong, with the apply named 'Was It Something I said' The mood completely changes here, as the previous song was soothing and slow, this is joyous and up-tempo, quite bouncy and catchy, almost like new wave pop with a strange hook. A bouncing bass, and simple drum lines, and quite frankly awful synths drive it. Flowers voice again capitalises the most out the track with his high-low chords, but otherwise I'm not enamoured with it, the arrangement is poor, its all very one paced and unimaginative, the weak link thus far on a cracking solo debut. 5/10

                          7 - MAGDALENA (3.19) - Another song of redemption, forgiveness, quoting the bible I think 'He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. No pilgrimage or any work will ever earn us forgiveness' it's written about the Mexicans pilgrimage where they walk 14 miles from a town to Magdalena, as he warbles 'Please don't tell me I can't make it / it ain't gonna do me any good / please don't offer me your modern methods / I'm fixing the carpet out of wood' Hispanic flavoured Magdalena, with its foray of western guitars and clatter of castanets has a joyous influence, added synth strings and feathered keyboards its real sing-a-long effort with background vocals throughout. Around the middle section Brendan O'Brien plays some seriously good Santana inspired jazzy guitar riffs. It's has a reflective, enlightening kind of feel to the track, as though they have come through the other side, another track that needs to grow on you, but a really nice effort, with a feel good factor attached 7/10

                          8 - CROSSFIRE (4.18) - Lead single of the album, reaching as high as number eight in the UK singles chart, and what got me really excited about the album. The video itself lends me to believe he's been rescued from something but what I'm not sure, lyrically quite pretty this one 'Tell the devil that he can go back from where he came / his fire he airs all through their beating vein / and when the hardest part is over we'll be here / and our dreams will break the boundaries of our fears' ...Keyboards and a wave of electric guitars kicks us in, over an eerily three chord piano, until a booming over bearing thump of drums kick in and delivers sumptuously to the end. The morbidly booming bass, and electric guitars give this a lovely sound that persist on through. The chorus is obviously ever so radio friendly and catchy, lyrically repetitive, which my work mates now hate due to me singing it as high pitched as Brandon, but obviously better. I personally loved this song as soon as I heard it, it's quite simple arrangement does not detract from it one little bit, full marks from me and gives you an uplifting sense. 9/10

                          9 - ON THE FLOOR (3.23) - Another religious based epic, tales of corruption and redemption, greed, pasts sins and degradation, On the floor is a tale of morale cleansing 'Well, I find myself on my knees / begging please on the floor / facing the things I've done here on the floor / well, the years have gathered and rung that's where I'll be / and I find myself on my knees...begging please' You feel like you're at Sunday school in Alabama, or the deep south of the States as Lanois's guitar slowly builds to Flowers almost preaching like stance of singing, this eerie infused gospel masterpiece of keyboards and shimmering guitars revolt to a crescendo of sound from the Las Vegas mass Choir in relation to Flowers almost haunting vocals. It's slow, methodical and dare I say it you could almost imagine Elvis singing this, it's thoughtful and very personal. 6.5/10 10 - SWALLOW IT (2.57) - No idea what this entails, the lyrics are hardly a masterpiece and mostly repetitive 'You could not swallow it / no baby you're not ready, slow down / and take the time to evolve / you could not swallow It/ no baby you're not ready, slow down'..For the finale, I was hugely disappointed; it's bland and directionless, lacking any kind of arrangement. Flowers tones are snail paced, and almost talking to an abysmal steady drum line and rather bland electric guitars. Worst song on the album by a stretch, which is odd as Flowers, quotes this is the song he is most proud of. 3/10 Total length: 40:56

                          .......................
                          SUMMARY
                          .......................
                          Aside from Arcade Fire's latest album 'The Suburbs' this was the one album I was really looking forward to hear, not just because I love the Killers original sound, but because I wanted to see how far Brandon could tread alone. And how his individual, personal sound would differ from what we've been used to.

                          Solo albums are normal a figure of experimentation, and this seemed no different, it had a blend of so many sounds, from Church, Blues, Indie to country, but it's mostly unconventional and liberated. He seems to have the freedom to roam where he chooses without been reigned in by the band.

                          Yeah, the Killers sounds is apparent throughout, but it's not distinctive, and largely differing, staying away from the large rock stadium filling epics, focusing more on a personal sensitive level.

                          Lyrically, its fairly imaginative, which you would expect from someone like Brandon and his work ethic, it's very religious which again you would expect, his bible never seems to be far away, the themes of love, and gambling and his personal feelings are main focuses.

                          If you are a fan of the Killers, you will love this album, obviously its Brandon, the sounds are similar but not totally the same, as a first effort going solo I think it's pretty fine, notable highlights for me would include 'Crossfire', 'Playing with Fire' and 'Hard Enough' but it's not all plain sailing, the finale of 'Swallow it' and 'On the Floor' are weak.

                          As a complete album its better than I actually thought it would be, it's not brilliant, but it does have its moments, with the diversity generated, you have to give him credit, rather than just playing things safe which it would be so easy to do.

                          I think this album is very sincere, delicate and personal to Brandon, a lot of soul searching and reminiscing goes on, and as a complete concept would not have worked as well as a Killers album due to that fact. I think In all honesty the album is worth getting, and its maybe slightly better than Day & Age, but not as good as Hot Fuss, I'd personally be happy just to listen to the 4/5 KILLER tracks on repeat instead.

                          Amazon price : £8.93 (normal price) : However if you purchase between now and the 12th September it's on offer from £3.99
                          The Deluxe version for 4 extra songs is priced at £ 11.93. Personally I'd GRAB it before the 12th, a steal at just under four English pounds.
                          It's also available on Vinyl for £16.99 & downloadable at 89p per track

                          THE KILLERS WITH NO INDIE ROCK BUT SOUL!!!!

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                          • More +
                            28.09.2010 14:03
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                            American rock band Stone Sour were founded by Corey Taylor and Joel Ekman in 1992. The early years proved problematic with many changes or personnel amongst the band between gigs. It was not until the inclusion of Jim Root in 1995 and their third demo tape that things began to take shape. However, 1997 the band took a long break, during which frontman Corey Taylor and Jim Root combined to front Slipknot also from Des Moines, Iowa, where they duly earned a first record deal. In fact many of you, well few of you may have heard of Slipknot, whereas Stone Sour are pretty much unheard of in the UK. The styles of music are the same, although Slipknot are very heavy metal, and hard on the ears, Stone Sour, has more arrangement to their music, infiltrated with a more radio friend feel paying more attention to melodies than the former. Stone Sour reunited in 2002, where they released their self titled debut album 'Stone Sour' which comprised of many hits from their third demo album. The band as we speak compile of.....

                            Corey Taylor - Lead Vocals, Guitar
                            Jim Root - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
                            Josh Rand - Rhythm Guitar
                            Shawn Economaki - Bass Guitar
                            Roy Mayorga - Drums, Percussion


                            ...............................................
                            Album - Come What(ever) May
                            ................................................
                            Sophomore album 'Come What(ever) May' follows on four years later from their debut self titled album 'Stone Sour'. Released on August 1, 2006 it was written whilst Taylor and Root were still in Slipknot. To promote the album the band did a year long tour around the world, releasing five singles during this time. It mostly received positive acclaim, indicated the band had moved on from their previous effort, and lauded for showing such progression and originality in a punk-grunge field. Most notable hit was '30/30-150 which was nominated for the best metal performance at the 49th Grammy Awards, but without success. The five singles released of the album are opening song '30/30-150, 'Through Glass' which peaked at number one in the mainstream rock charts in the US, 'Sillyworld' which peaked at number two in the mainstream rock charts, 'Made of Scars' which proved not as successful only reaching number twenty-one and lastly the strangely titled 'Zzyzx Rd' which also failed to hit the high notes only reaching a credible twenty nine in the US mainstream rock charts.


                            ........................
                            ALBUM TRACKS
                            ........................
                            1 30/30 - 150 (4.18) Many theories have circled to what this song actually states, the title could refer to a 30-30 gun, with a 150-grain bullet, however, according to Taylor it's a song about always remembering who you are, and where you come from, and never to give into pressures, which arises from the ideals his generation would never amount to much, explaining the lyrics 'They call us a dead generation / They told us that we wouldn't survive / They left us alone in the maelstrom / As you can see, we're all plenty alive' .. Other sinister theories include total nuclear annihilation, so it remains fairly unclear. It's obviously a tempered violent opener, kicking out the speakers with a powerful mix of heavy metal, post grunge rock. The heavy feverish main riff leads the song, mixed up nicely throughout with a plethora of engaging interchanging riffs, it's main focus is a bass drum-heavy sound, with a surprisingly melodic chorus, which develops this from heavy, grizzly battering ram, to a sincere air or triumph. It's influenced by the sound of Slipknot, but it's nowhere near as dark, bordering as light as the Stone Temple Pilots or the Wildhearts. Overall it's a good mix of radio friendly hooks, and dark beastliness for hardcore fans, it's an okay opener

                            2 COME WHAT(EVER) MAY (3.40) This an attack on broken promise by chief US officials and politicians, it's a cry for bringing the America back into America, what made it great in the first place. Sighting the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, as a go forth. 'Can you take away every single day? / That we have given to another false prophet / Can you give us all a reason not to fall? / Before you take away another broken promise' Album title track, kicks off with a lively riff, but much calmer tone, it's in your face but not over bearing. It's driven with a lot of energy, but it lacks any inspiration for me, it's fairly one dimensional, the melodies all same the same 3 HELL & CONSEQUENCES (3.31) Starts where the previous track ended, it's punishing and driven along with some boisterous riffs, it's a little better than the last with a mixed up arrangement and some fine artistry amongst the change ups and riffs. The Vocals are also shown in a better light, maybe one that needs to grow on you, but it's decent enough effort, and gives them credibility in my opinion.

                            4 SILLYWORLD (4.09) The lyrics instigate the apathy Taylor has for the world today, that's filled with corruption from media moguls and organisations, the ideals that we are mere pawns in this soulless system, and how things are losing such significance in these changing times, it also focuses on the depravity of the world, poverty, violence and greed. 'When someone takes your word away it's seldom ever heard / So take a sentence full of things you're not supposed to say / Carry on, but don't write it down or you'll be gone' Sillyworld is an angry attack, rebellious but much slower to the previous numbers, its Pink Floyd-esque in sound and in the vocals, it has much charm, and fairly appealing with the softer tones and pretty melody. It's almost a ballad-esque song with an acoustic feel only to be broken up by a slightly heavier chorus. A much different directive to the rest of the album thus far, and one I that clearly appeals more than its predecessors, shows the band can change it up, nice work!

                            5 MADE OF SCARS (3.24) - Some groovy bouncy riffs interchanged by overlapping angular riffs, the verses are energetic and driven towards and frenetic chorus, that has a jaunty fizzing riff that I really like, but apart from that it lacks something, hardcore punk metal fans would probably thrash or head bang of this, the dynamics are good, and it is credible, just I'm not seeing stars. 6 REBORN (3.13) - This is the first indication of the Slipknot influence, as it's thrash metal at its finest, it's feverish pitch and raucous beastly heavy riffs entertain, the vocals scream and screech through the deathly chorus that really turns up a pitch , it's everything you would expect of a thrash metal band, not really my kind of thing, and something I think you need to be in the right mood to listen too, not bad at all, my throat is sore just thinking about it! Does contain some vary strong language throughout, so a cautious approach needed. 7 YOUR GOD (4.43) More Nu-metal here, it's the same arrangement of building up verses to a raucous, feverish chorus, I think this has little impact on the album, lacks any charisma or bite, the riffs are ordinary for the most part, until the solo's towards the end of the track, average at best.

                            8 THROUGH GLASS (4.43) - Mainstream friendly Through Glass was the second single released of the album and the only one to top the Hot Mainstream Rocks charts, in fact it remained for seven weeks at the peak, and due to it's radio friendly hook it even crossed over to the Billboard 100, reaching a credible 39th position. Through Glass, has a two pronged assault on the music and Hollywood markets. Taylor rants a scathing attack on the vacant Hollywood celebrity and the hollow soul's they pose. But more importantly the directive of the music genre, its inability to produce great scope and originality just the garbage of reality pop contests, and the plastic appeal they hold, limited the chance for real music to break through the net, which I have to say I largely agree. Through Glass is the reason I brought the album, I LOVE this song, it's oozes charm, as Taylor yearns through the verses, its tightly constructed, emotive and heartfelt, a beautiful melody and main hook inspire the acoustic driven verses, it's raw and poignant. The chorus changes key, giving the track a different edge and feel, full marks, I love it.

                            9 SOCIO (3.20) - Socio I believe is an abbreviation of social, demonstrating the social anxiety attacks that Corey Taylor has suffered. A grizzly spiralling riff kicks us off that stays poignant in the background throughout. It's overlapped and constructed around a heavy drum line, which is the first time you really notice them on the album, it has a sinister type feel to the track, but I really like it, the chorus mixes it up especially well, and lightens the mood for a change, the melodies are pretty good and a decent composition going on, one of the better songs of the album here. 10 1ST PERSON (4.04) Staccato riffs open up, till we burst into life, with a feverish drum line and plethora of chaos, the chorus focuses more on punk metal, edge of Slipknot thrown in again, the verses are the saving grace to this, as the chorus is just a scream fest. 11 CARDIFF (4.42) - Atmospheric intro, all Spanish and eerily erotic, it's stripped down and painstakingly slow, but melodic and tight. A complete different direction to the previous set of songs, pulling at you're thought provoking strings, even the chorus lines are fairly subtle, keeping the composition light, but it just lacks any kind of bite and gets a little monotonous after a while. 12 ZZYZX RD (5.16) Zzyzx Rd is a love song written to Taylor's wife for helping him in his struggles against alcoholism and contemplation of suicide, an acoustic track stripped back and heartfelt, its raw and emotional which I do like but it lacks any kind or bite to make it dramatic enough or memorable enough, also a little clichéd, and a strange way to end an energetic, implosion of noise.


                            ...............
                            SUMMARY
                            ................
                            Stone Sour are too light to be called a flat-out metal band, and not heavy enough to be anything more sinister, so its difficult really to know how to class them. What I do know is they are modern and interchangeable enough to better most other modern rock contemporaries out and about nowadays.

                            Taylor and Root bring a blend of Slipknot's darker more brutal side, and have overlapped it with more creativity and atmosphere, grinded together with smoother edges and radio friendly tracks. They have not abandoned such heavier roots completely, a plethora of sounds have homes in this particular album, that will please Slipknot fans alike, and the new modern wave of thrash, Nu-metal lovers.

                            The album seems to have more focus on appeasing the mainstream audience, especially with hit song 'Through Glass' which is also my personal favourite, and the reason I brought the album. Not a lot of shock tactics, or deathly songs are heard, melodies and attention to detail are most apparent on many of the tracks. The lyrics have more thought to then, and can largely be heard unlike its contemporaries.

                            Lyrically It focuses on pain, pleasure, grief and happiness, it's also heavily politically based. However Taylor states that this album is important to him lyrically as it cites his thanks to his Wife for saving him in times of trouble, with the overriding message stating to never forget where you come from and who you are.

                            The album is full of emphatic thuggish riffs, distortion and energized double bass drums, coupled with the distinctive Taylor's relentless vicious tones. Essentially it's a commercial album, as the songs are catchier than before, more economical with much more focus on the arrangement. The punishing erratic guitars and bombastic rhythms do give this an extra twist, visiting the dark side at every given corner.

                            I guess if you had to liken them to anyone it would remind me of Metallica or Judas Priest, obviously the Slipknot comparison will always be at the fore too, and the album could only be recommended to lover's of this blend of music, otherwise stay clear. Priced at £4.99 I'd personally not buy this either, just download Track 8 ....ahh well we learn by our mistakes!! It's a good album, just not memorable enough and a little bit too heavy on the ears for me!

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                            • The Resistance - Muse / Music Album / 77 Readings / 73 Ratings
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                              13.09.2010 09:26
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                              English progressive rockers Muse are renowned for their stadium filling extravaganza's of wild energetic revolutionary fused rock! The Teignmouth Trio of Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard formed 'Muse' in 1994. In the early nineties the trio were all members of different bands, but in an attempt to win a battle of the bands contest in their hometown, the trio joined forces and notably went on to win, thus taking their new found stardom seriously, and after a few different names changes 'Muse' decided to go full time moving from the sleepy depths of Devon to successfully establish themselves in British rock history with an enigmatic heavy metal presence, blending into space rock/electronica sounds

                              Matthew Bellamy - Lead Vocals / Guitars / Keyboards
                              Chris Wolstenholme - Bass guitar / Backing vocals / Harmonica
                              Dominic Howard - Drums / Percussion / Synthesizers / Backing Vocals


                              ........................................
                              ALBUM - THE RESISTANCE
                              .........................................
                              The Resistance is the fifth studio album released by Muse in September 2009. It follows on where Black Holes and Revelations finished, fighting an Inter galactic war, but this time on a grander more expansive stage, its main theme is largely again about love, political corruption and the alien invasion, and the search for a new world. On its release it topped the charts in 19 countries, included the number 3 spot in the U.S. It generally received a warm reception from most critics praising the ambitious scale Muse had tried to deliver. To date three singles have been released in the UK the first and opening track 'Uprising' which reached as high as number nine, second release was 'Undisclosed Desires', which only reached number forty nine in the UK charts, Muse's lowest chart entry since 1999. Third single 'Resistance' which sadly only reached number thirty eight in the UK charts, but fairing much better in the U.S

                              Showbiz (1999)
                              Origin of Symmetry (2001)
                              Absolution (2003)
                              Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
                              The Resistance (2009)


                              ..................
                              TRACKS
                              ...................
                              1. UPRISING (5:03)
                              Uprising the opening track and the first single to be released is about protest, the standing up against global corporations, corrupt bankers, and government officials, it's largely about social mistrust and the inability to stand up for our rights, just accepting them and keeping quiet, but of course the Knights of Muse are here to save us. 'Paranoia is in bloom / The PR, transmissions will resume / They'll try to, push drugs that keep us all dumbed down / And hope that, we will never see the truth around' - A brilliant opener, constant throbbing drum line, overlapped with synths and an awesome spiked riff, Bellamy wailing 'come on' throughout gives this character, and really inspired you to believe the theme behind the song, this electro styled glam rock stomp its very addictive, understated but fairly triumphant. Cracking start to the album 7/10

                              2. RESISTANCE (5:46)
                              Resistance was the third single released of the album, its ultimately a love song, and how Forbidden love offers us freedom in a controlling state, it's an against the odds struggle but one that we will triumph, it also challenges the belief how love is diverse enough to cross multiple boundaries, political and religious. It references former song 'Citizen Erased' and the novel 1984 retelling the relationship between Winston and Julia, however I think it also is about Matt and his girlfriend. 'Love is our resistance / They'll keep us apart and they won't to stop breaking us down / Hold me / Our lips must always be sealed' - Quality intro, that's so atmospheric and eerie, ultra dramatic as a feverish rolling drum line is accompanied by sinister single sounds from the piano, until we break into the first verse that's led by the constant haunting chasing drum line and the wailing of Bellamy's breathtaking vocal range, we collide into the chorus and surge up an octave as we seem to hit desperation, overlapping chanting harmonies, keyboards and sinister synthesizers gives it a nice mix up, as the energized riff explodes to give the impression of the fight for survival. Quite surprised this failed so badly in the charts, I guess you need to buy into the theme to appreciate what they are doing here, but it's full of drama and effect, I certainly cannot resist it anyway. 8/10

                              3. UNDISCLOSED DESIRES (3:54)
                              Lead Singer Matt Bellamy's favourite song of the album, as it offers something different, Undisclosed Desires it a very personal song about Matt and his girlfriend, and the dark secrets lovers share. 'I want to reconcile the violence in your heart / I want to recognise your beauty's not just a mask / I want to exorcise the demons from your past / I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart' This is really stripped back and bare, there are no guitars or pianos which infiltrates their normal sound. In its place we have staccato strings layered over an electronic drum machine, which is pretty bland and basic I think, the synths are very ordinary, the only saving grace is the chorus, stacked with harmonies and Bellamy's almost laid back vocals, start to sound a little more yearning. Not one of my favourites but its good to see them trying something more innovative. 5/10

                              4. UNITED STATES OF EURASISA (+Collateral Damage) (5:47)
                              The song is from an imaginary musical, searching for peace, and the creation of a new challenge to the political hierarchy. It reflects on how politicians trivialise the killing of innocent people in war, again influenced by novel 1984. 'You and me fall in line / To be punished for unproven crimes / And we know that there's no one we can trust / Our ancient heroes / They are turning to dust' Piano opening, to a mournful Bellamy warbling, until we break into a crescendo of sound, full of stringed instruments, drums, and guitars, sounds like a mix of Eastern promise mixed with Chopin. You can imagine the belly dancers shaking their booty's to the twinkling of the keys. It's based around the piano, which they seem to have introduced it as some sort on concerto. Falsetto vocals and stacked harmonies, chanting the name of the song, make this fairly chaotic rather than a grandiose masterpiece. The ending as you hear jets fly off into the distance is apparently Chopin's 'Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2' .I really don't like it, the ending is the only guiding light, the vocals are a little flat, and aside from the cracking piano, I just don't really get it, I think it's a case of trying to do to much in a single song 5/10

                              5. GUIDING LIGHT (4:13)
                              Guiding light it about troubled relationships, 'When comfort and warmth can't be found I still reach for you / But I'm lost, crushed, cold and confused / With no guiding light left inside'...we break into this rock ballad with a Bon Jovi like entrance, full of swagger and cheese as we salute the booming snare drums, and staccato styled riff. Bellamy's mournful crooning has such passion, his yearnful tones are so effective, but matched by the over powering consistent drum, that kicks in with such a punch. Much simpler than the last, and definitely more effective, a lot like their older sound, a guitar solo in the middle reinstates this, with screaming harmonies overlapping the end of it! Gorgeous poetic anthemic beautiful song that will probably grow and grow, a really guiding light to an already average album. 8.5/10

                              6. UNNATURAL SELECTION (6.54)
                              Unnatural selection references how luck plays such an important part of out lives, and where or how we live depicts our future, its also about living in a world that the dominant takes all, how the social divide is gathering dust, and the ideal If we cannot beat the corruption to succeed, join them. 'I'm hungry for some unrest / Lets push this beyond a peaceful protest / I wanna speak in a language that you will understand' Church Organ brings us down the aisle, to a subdued Bellamy, before we turn up the speakers to a powerful set of drums and gritty, speaker distorting guitar riff kick us in! This is already the most rock fuelled track thus far, a song you need exceptional speakers to get full effect. We calms things down a touch, to a more agile, electric riff, to the feathered pitted, pattern of drums! Some chanting makes this a little cheesy, but it's clearly reminiscent of System of a Down, or something similar, its been compared to Queen, but I don't really see it. It's driven by guitars, in your face, bombastic, and takes you on a journey here of highs and lows, the arrangements are perfected, everything fits in well, but another that needs to be played more than once to be appreciated, aggressive rock, love it! 8/10

                              7. MK ULTRA (4:06)
                              MK-Ultra is about been brain washed, and the closed door psychological manipulation to gain knowledge and power. Apparently it's a CIA code name that sought out drugs for mind control and interrogation. 'Invisible to all / The mind becomes a wall / All of history deleted with one stroke' This opens up with sliding sinister electronic riffs, it's feverish, atmospheric and feels like something bad is going to happen, overlapped with a simple rolling drum line, and gorgeous up and down tones from Bellamy. It's a sinister song, spiralling noises of espionage. The song is perfect to the lyrics, you really understand the story here, high-low's, and a composition to suit the subtly when needed, as in the chase, to the capture, to the interrogation, whereas its not the best song by sound alone, its gets the message across suitably, first class, and gives a good mix to the album thus far! 6.5/10

                              8. I BELONG TO YOU (+Mon Coeur s'ouvre a at voix) 5:38
                              Another epic love song about feeling in debt or grateful to someone for being an inspiration for creating music, it was appended with "(+Mon Coeur S'Ouvre A Ta Voix)",which translates from French into 'My Heart Opens Itself To Your Voice' and is the name of an aria from Camille Saint-Saëns' opera Samson and Delilah. 'I can't find the words to say / They're overdue / I've travelled half the world to say / I belong to you' I think the song is also used on part of the Twilight series, however I could be wrong. We turn down the tempo dramatically here, for this little heartfelt ballad, I think the jazzy piano intro sucks a little here, a bit camp, or too theatrical. It jumps along, to a much different rhythmical feel, its quite unusual and a different stance to its comrades, Matt Bellamy croons in the middle section in French, which he has done in the past on different albums. It's an impressive use of his tones, as he adapts nicely interchanging his moods especially during the chorus lines where he extend words to ...ooooooo!. Towards the end of the track we are introduced to a bass clarinet solo, which I think rocks. Again perhaps not the best ever Muse song you will hear, but you sure do understand the message they are portraying, the quirky ending, and another that does grow on you. 7/10

                              9/10/11. EXOGENESIS SYMPHONY
                              This three part saga, explains the final days of humanity on earth, resting final hopes on finding solace or spread humanity to another existing planet somewhere in the universe. it's a grandiose masterpiece full of drama as the story requires. Exogenesis is the ideal that life is spread across the universe, a cross pollination.
                              PART 1 (OVERTURE) (4.18) - Overture is the acceptance that civilisation will end, it's dramatic, edgy, soft, and pretentious, but I love it, it features an orchestra of over 25 musicians, classically moving to the tenure of Matt Bellamy who arranged all the orchestral pieces and plays the Piano in all three parts. It's a beautiful piece of operatic rock, Bellamy almost classically in tune with the piece, it's amazingly brave but ultimately a lovely piece of music, apparently influenced by Rachmaninov, Strauss and Chopin - PART 2 (CROSS-POLLINATION) (3.56) - Part two, starts with a piano concerto, quite pretty! Its supposed to represent astronauts search for a new civilisation, and there search to find other populated planets, it's the world last hope. Thus in keeping with the theme, it's reflective, with joyous moments but also moments of despair, Cross-Pollination is soaked in dramatics, the strings and piano are quite beautiful, I feel its actually spoilt in the middle section as Bellamy breaks into song, however its not supposed to be a complete Orchestral masterpiece, the mood reflects and changes all the time, until we finish with another piano concerto, which is just beautiful. PART 3 (REDEMPTION) (4.37) - Part three is the realization by the astronauts that its one big cycle, and its up to human civilisation to change things or else. It's quite a calming intro, another piano concerto, which sounds familiar, but no idea to what or which. It's in reflective, sombre mood, almost mournful and sad, but I really like it, but I am actually a fan of classical pieces, in finishes the story off with plenty of reflection and hope. Total length: 54:18


                              .......................
                              SUMMARY
                              ........................
                              Admittedly when I first listened to The Resistance, I thought it was awful, its definitely an album that grows on you over time. The Resistance follows on where Black Holes finished off, the inter galactic battle of survival, the sequel if you will, full of lyrics from science fiction novels, but expressed to the listener in an expansive operatic rock saga!

                              Again maybe the theme is cheesy and a little pretentious, but at least its got charisma and flair, and examines aspects that others fail to follow, or should I say explores galaxy's far, far away. It does not preach, or tell us what to do like most other artists, all they ask is you follow this theatrical saga through their music.

                              The sound has become grander, more expanse, bigger but not necessarily better, full of classical orchestral parts, symphonic suites, and outrageous guitars, booming drum lines, and sizzling strings, multi layered tracks that are arrangement quite beautifully. The melodies are as good as they have even been, concert hall percussion and the audacity to sing in French, makes this a diverse, well though out album.

                              Matt Bellamy's singing arrangement is practically outstanding, I urge you to find someone better in today's market, his ability to shift in sound from whispering, to mournful sorrow, to the colossal belting of notes, and even the nerve to dip his toe at singing like a tenor, which he just about pulls off.

                              So does this ambitious effort work? Well I'm not totally convinced, firstly I'd applaud such desire to create a new sound, and explore the unknown, but as a concept, as a whole album I don't really buy into it. It's diverse enough to meet many demands, but kind of leaps from one zone to the next with a totally different angle.

                              I do like the album, but I'm not in ore of it, I think it matches Black holes but is no better or worse, it fails to really catch my heart, with no track that stands out and grabs you, but I'm not really sure if that's their intention, it's a concept you are buying into. Personally, I prefer album Absolution, as I think they try and stretch themselves to far here.
                              Guiding light, or Unnatural Selection are possibly my favourites, but I'd say they are all average-ish nothing good, but nothing bad! Each song has something likeable, but as a package not totally convincing. Perhaps the three failed singles released agrees with such opinion.

                              However I'd still recommend this album, but I'd advise you have to listen to the whole album to appreciate the effort, and once more let it grow on you! Anyone that likes Rock Opera's or something different this would suit you're taste, Muse fans probably wont be disappointed either, and anyone that loves Black Holes and Revelations will love this.
                              Amazon price : £ 4.93

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                              • 2012 (DVD) / DVD / 67 Readings / 65 Ratings
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                                08.09.2010 11:34
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                                Disaster movie

                                2012

                                Summary:
                                Director: Roland Emmerich
                                Genre: Action / Adventure / Drama / Science Fiction
                                Release date: 13TH November 2009
                                Writer: Roland Emmerich / Harald Kloser
                                Running time: 15 minutes
                                Producer: Roland Emmerich / Harald Kloser / Mark Godon / Larry J. Franco / Ute Emmerich
                                Rating: 12 Contains sustained moderate threat, and one use of strong language.
                                Distribution: Columbia Pictures
                                Screen: Widescreen 2.40:1 Anamorphic
                                Languages: English - Dolby Digital (5.1)
                                Subtitles: English hard of hearing (feature only) Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Hindi, Norwegian, Swedish.
                                Region: Region 2 - Will only play on European Region 2 or multi-region DVD players.



                                Explosive, Cataclysmic, Epic, Sci-Fi disaster film = 2012 ???


                                ................................
                                PLOT SYNOPSIS
                                ................................
                                Inspired by Graham Hancock's bestselling non-fiction book 'Fingerprints of the Gods' Director Emmerich brings up 2012....
                                In 2009, Indian astrophysicist Dr Satnam Tsurutani (Jimi Mistry) perplexes me with some scientific jargon that sails swiftly over ones head, however you get the impression the earth as we know it, is in for catastrophe of epic proportions! The earth's core I believe is breaking up due to an increasing temperature, obviously at a rapid tenure. With this he informs his American geologist friend Dr Adrian Helmsley about 'The Rapture of the 'Apocalypse who notifies the highest of authorities.

                                Now to the 'Core' of the film, as we are introduced to Jackson Curtis played by John Cusack, obviously like in all these cynical, obvious movies I.e. War of the Worlds, he has lost his family to an obvious flawless individual, the kids treat him with apathy, he seems a little lost and still obviously in love with his ex-wife Kate played by Amanda Peet. Jackson a science fiction writer, go figure! And a part-time limousine driver, has his yearly bond with his children by taking them to Yellowstone National Park, where things go awry.

                                Jackson becomes suspicious about the world's changing fortunes as events stat to unfold, a chance meeting with Dr Helmsley and a rather worryingly extraverted Charlie Frost played by Woody Harrelson ignites his fears further, obviously! Charlie has maps you know! From here the movie kicks into gears, full of explosions, fire, destruction....you know it's a disaster movie of epic proportions, what else could you possibly expect!? Can Jackson save his family? Will his kids ever love him again? Does his ex-wife still have feelings for him? Oh shucks... (does this come across as cynical?)


                                .............................
                                CAST & CREW
                                .............................
                                John Cusack - Plays Jackson Curtis, the archetypal misunderstood ex father of two...his family have fallen out of love with him, replaced by another. Jackson is the obvious lead character a struggling writer, and part time limousine driver that has something to prove, he is sincere enough, and always likeable, good choice for a lead, not bristling with muscles, the average Joe who does not glam the role up or over dramatise things.

                                Chitwetel Ejiofor - Plays Dr Adrian Helmsley, the American geologist, the good guy! The guy that makes you sick with his love for salvation and humanity! Sickening a guy can be so charming and far too sentimental with such clichéd big speeches! Having said all that, you can definitely warm to him, does a good job!

                                Danny Glover - Plays Thomas Wilson the president of the United States! Now I'm not a glover lover :D ...I can rhyme, and this does not change my opinion of him, poor choice, I cannot understand what he is saying half the time, his whisperish spiel is half audible. Furthermore, he is so transparent and honourable, you just want to pass the sick bucket, obviously that's more down to the script that himself, but still ..useless!

                                Amanda Peet plays Jackson's ex-wife Kate, Woody Harrelson plays the eccentric scientist, disguised as a recluse hiding in Yellowstone Park, only has a cameo role, but cracking performance as usual, you've got to love the guy! Thandie Newton also only really plays a cameo as the daughter of the president, pretty much non-existent to comment. An unknown to me Thomas McCarthy plays Kate's current boyfriend, a plastic surgeon, the obvious very normal good guy, played well I may add.

                                Overall the cast has it's appeals, and it's a largely decent list of stars, however call me cynical again, but everything fits as normal, ticks in the right boxes, the characters and their roles, positions are too obvious and border the same stick as many other moves.

                                ........................
                                RECEPTION
                                ........................
                                Roland Emmerich is the serial disaster movie maker, most notable scalps include Independence Day, and the Day after Tomorrow, 2012 could even be the follow up. This film is his second highest grossing movie ever of over $769 million worldwide and over $225 million in its first week as a box office hit, also entering at number one in its first weekend. In fact such a big hit it's the 33rd highest grossing film of all time worldwide. Having said all that considering the film cost over $200 million to produce, with marketing costs on top of that, what else would you expect, but here is what the critics said.....

                                It received a mixture of reviews like all films, but for such a watched film it largely failed, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 39% positive rate, with an average of only 5.1 out of 10. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone criticized the film by comparing it to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: "Beware 2012, which works the dubious miracle of almost matching Transformers 2 for sheer, cynical, mind-numbing, time-wasting, money-draining, soul-sucking stupidity."

                                Roger Ebert was enthusiastic about the film, giving it 3½ stars out of 4, saying it "delivers what it promises, and since no sentient being will buy a ticket expecting anything else, it will be, for its audiences, one of the most satisfactory films of the year"

                                .......................................
                                DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
                                .......................................
                                * Commentary with writer/director Roland Emmerich and Co-writer Harald Kloser
                                Commentary as you watch the main film, explaining why and what's happening, pretty much what it says on the tin.

                                * Roland Emmerich: Master of the modern epic (9.31)
                                What a waste of nine minutes and thirty one seconds of my life as the cast and crew talk about Roland, basically massaging his ego, pretty pointless and nothing I needed or wanted to hear. Some budding filmmakers may find this of interest, but others no thanks.

                                * Alternate ending (3.30)
                                Even stupider ending then the real one, so glad it was not used, just made you cringe with the moralist tale. However didn't really differ that much from the original anyway.

                                * Deleted scenes
                                - Limo Drive with twins (0.39) Further warning signs to what's about to happen, pretty pointless, and can see why it was cut in an already long movie.
                                - President Wilson talks with Sally (1.18) Personally I think this should have been included, as in the film the part concluding this didn't really make sense, so this would have given all the required answers.
                                - Something must have gone wrong (1.22) Does not add much except more cliché sick bucket stuff, glad it was axed.
                                - Jackson underwater (1.02) It could easily been added to the movie, but it adds little but would not been out of place either.
                                - Anheuser Apologises (0.54) This could have only been included with the alternate ending, so pretty obvious why it was cut.
                                * Trailers
                                - Blu-ray disc Is High definition (2.00) Shows an array of different films, and the benefits Blu ray in high definition has, including the interactive game playing, cinechat whilst watching the film and other advanced features, has nothing to do with the movie at all.
                                - Cloudy with a chance of meatballs (1.58) Previewing a totally different movie, looked quite funny though.
                                - Did you hear the Morgan's? (2.08) - A preview of Hugh Grant's latest movie
                                - Michelle Jackson this is it (2.20) - A preview of the Michael Jackson movie.

                                Overall the extras are useless, the master of a modern epic is really boring and not something I'd want to watch, it tells me nothing much about the film itself, just glorifying the man. The deleted scenes are not at all interesting, obviously why they were deleted, and the trailers had nothing to do with the film, so wondered why they were even included.

                                .......................
                                OVERVIEW
                                ........................
                                The ancient Mayan tribe predicted the world as we know it would end 2012, scientist's have further added fuel to such theories, Roland Emmerich makes it a firm reality in this box office smash.

                                What does 2012 bring to the table? Well the overriding theme to my thoughts would be howling laughter, I'm all for a big scale epic disaster movie that flaunts with stupidity, you just choose to switch your brain of for an hour or two and divulge into a labyrinth of twists, turn and explosions. However 2012 is pushing the boundaries way too far for even the most discerning of watcher!

                                Granted, we all know what we are about to see, a pathway paved full of turmoil and destruction, but this is ridiculed by the heights it tries to scale. Without giving too much away, the way in which Jackson rescues his family from their family home, is basically pathetic, it's just never going to happen, furthermore their escape from the American suburb whilst it catastrophically falls down around them is ludicrous. What's more is the ability for the roads to stay in tact as the car dances over cracks whilst everything else is destroyed, a second later and the movie would have ended already if you follow me.

                                Further to my annoyance is the lack of panic in the seemingly calm, not grief stricken automobile, in fact not once throughout the movie did I see anyone showing emotion, or panicking enough to warrant end of days destruction. Not once did I believe in what I was seeing, yeah the world is falling down around us, and heck we have no idea why and where salvation is going to come, but nah we don't need to shout or scream in hysteria, it borders ridiculous. And this theme continues throughout with a near wooden cast, that only annoys further with such obvious sentimental speeches that just make you think, good grief, why bother... we've heard this before in a number and one disaster movies.

                                It's the added old question how come James Bond never dies, why does everything always seem to fall in place, even with the most turgid of scenarios, nothing bad happens, something miraculously falls where it should that it really beggars belief. Forgive my cynicism but flying a small airplane through a sky bombarded with fire, falling skyscrapers and catapulting trains and not taking a single hit, just stretched this way too far for my liking.

                                It's cliché driven, lacks any real plot apart from the obvious, and has no twists or turns to keep you entertained, it's just over glorified heroism from one guy! He must be the Messiah! Every box has been ticked in accordance to other disaster films of this ilk, nothing different, same characterisations, same scenarios, same everything. So if you enjoy anything from Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon or 2012: Doomsday then you probably would enjoy this movie. Personally I enjoyed the Day after Tomorrow much more than this fictional plethora of destruction, and it's not in the same league as other such as War of the Worlds.

                                Okay there are some enjoyable moments, it's packed full of action, and if you like destruction then it's kind of fun, the cinematography is decent, the scenes shot exceptionally well, but I think that's where the credibility ends.

                                Even the ending does nothing for me, no feeling of yes! Or a nice feeling in the stomach, just overblown, over sentimental, and heroism from some no mark. ..the only thing I was exciting about was seeing how they depict the new world, and how civilisation would have transformed after such demise and destruction, and even then I was not satisfied, it weekly limped around a bit, edging towards another sentimental finale instead. Overall, the story too weak, no sub plots, no character depth, nothing to fall in love with except the CGI special effects heroics, lazy direction ...fooling the viewer with over dramatics! I'd not recommend buying this movie, however If it's on TV it's worth a watch, but don't be expecting to see anything genuine or different.

                                ==DISASTER VIEWING! = NO THANKS!!!==

                                Amazon price: £5.00

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                                  Music

                                  THE RIFLES

                                  The Rifles are the largest infantry regiment in the British Army, which consists of five regular and two territorial battalions ......... Oh my mistake ...

                                  ...The Rifles are also an English Indie rock band. The band consist of ...

                                  Joel Stoker - Lead Vocals, Guitar
                                  Lucus Crowther - Backing Vocals, Guitar
                                  Rob Pyne - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
                                  Grant Marsh - Drums, Percussion

                                  Accompanied by: Ian Burdge (Cello) John Metcalfe, N Baw (Viola) Louise Fuller, Sally Herbert, Emlyn Singleton, Warren Zielinski (Violin) and Daniel Newell (Trumpet) ....

                                  These four Londoners have a cult underground following, which sees them fill out venues such as the Brixton Academy and across London with ease, sadly yet to really hit the mainstream airwaves, which is of great surprise. Mentored and Inspired by Paul Weller, The Rifles, loosely resemble the Jam with such energetic guitar driven riffs, blended with catchy choruses and sing-along melodies. Their debut album 'No Love Lost' was released July 2006 and reached number 26 in the UK album charts ...

                                  ...............................................
                                  ALBUM - THE GREAT ESCAPE
                                  ...............................................
                                  Sophomore album 'The Great Escape' was released January 2009 earning a credible number 27 spot in the UK album charts, and an even more respectable number two-spot in the UK Indie charts. The name of the album was inspired from the same named Blur album, Indeed such lack of inspiration, meant the band pick names from a hat which entertained the whole Blur back catalogue. Four singles have been released off the album, Fall to Sorrow, The General, Romeo & Julie and The Great Escape, all of which have failed to chart ....


                                  ........................
                                  TRACK LISTING
                                  ........................
                                  1. SCIENCE IN VIOLENCE (3:34)
                                  Opening track, kicks of in violent fashion, no punches are thrown, or the threat of been glassed, but the charged explosive guitar riff catches you instantly, it's a speedy kick of rock, charged, tempered and explosive. It's in your face and never lets up, very reticent of 'The Jam' mainly due to Paul Weller's tutorage of the band. But also reminds me of Hard Fi and a little like Madness, in its' quirky nature. It's ever so catchy, the choruses as much as the verses have such a sing-a-long feel to them. Superb opening, that really makes you quite hyper and just want to get up and head band and shout to the top of your voice. 9/10

                                  2 THE GREAT ESCAPE (3.26)
                                  The Great Escape is the third single released of the album, the volume has been turned down slightly as we are introduced to a rolling drum line, which rolls into a staccato styled up and down riff, and laden with strings, cello, viola and violin to give this a slightly different mix, and shows some diversity in The Rifles sound. Still the arrangements are simple and you get to enjoy Joel Stoker's voice a little better. The chorus speeds up and is different grade, furore, passion, such distinction, I love it a real sing-along anthem, we calm down to some subtle handclapping and keyboards, which your generally doing yourself anyway air-style, until we drive back into the chorus again that really makes you want to jump up and act mad. Lyrically very appealing, some clever lyrics, again sounds a lot like the Clash or The Jam, brilliant, and a fantastic start to the album. 9/10

                                  3 FALL TO SORROW (2.44)
                                  Fall to Sorrow is the first single released of the album, the B-side 'Lazy Bones' appears as a secret track on the album. Kicks off with bouncy bass riffs, with some chanting harmonies over lapping, until the riff kicks in again at a higher temper. Again it's a feverish tempo that keeps building, your toes cannot fail to tap, unless your half dead and then I still think you could muster something. Backing harmonies follow the chorus line, however I think the verses that drives this track literally forward, it's proper Indie music at its best, but buoyant and enlightening. Really remind me of Madness mixed with Hard Fi, superb all the way through so engaging. 8/10

                                  4 SOMETIMES (3.49)
                                  'So far away from me to see / When no relief is at the door terminally / I've no intention to sing a sad song / But everything I wanna say never felt so wrong'. Sometimes continues where the last finished, feverish Indie-rock that just heads in the same direction straight in your face, basic sounds of energetic driven guitar riffs with a steady basic drum line and Suggs styled tones, however, it really generates some passion and drive, one of my favourites with good use of percussion and overlapping backing vocals. The chorus rarely stands out as the premise is largely the same throughout, just the vocals change marginally. Another track that can really lift the spirits, and will have you playing air something, whilst stomping your feet 9/10

                                  5 TOE RAG (3.53)
                                  Toe rag is a little more sombre with an acoustic style feel to the intro, it's slow, meandering and thoughtful as Stoker gets the chance to choice him arm in this lyrical masterpiece 'Walk out of the door and make my way up the street / Cold wind in my eyes runs a tear down my cheek / Not a soul to be heard so no point to complain / At least the sound of the birds compensates for the rain'. The shift in tension and speed lightens the mood temporarily and gives the ears a little release. Having said that it does gather a storm with the electric riff towards the end, some throbbing engaging bass makes this a delight, quite passionate and heartfelt. Mixes the album up a little bit, but the storming electric guitar fizzing finishes blends all the tracks into the same mix up. You may recognise this track as it often appeared in the third series of Gavin and Stacey. 9/10

                                  6 HISTORY (3.21)
                                  My favourite of the album, reminiscing of past relationships 'Cause days alone they roll into a week / I won't get away when you fall down at my feet / And I'm happy with sweet memories / So why would I wanna go and make more history'. Booming bass and easy drum line kick us in, to Stoker's Sugg's sounding tones. It's a gentle; slow opening, almost thoughtful and endearing singing. As we kick on, the throbbing clock sounding glitchy riffs, and subtle booming bass support the tones beautifully. Overlapping guitars start to race as the chorus enters and the tones surge into shouting, almost chanting, reminiscent of football chanting maybe, to a hollow glazy riff! The ticking riffs kick back in, to the thunderous bass, as Stoker's gentle raw tones are once more subtle and meandering. The chorus is just different grade, simply awesome! It's driven Indie rock at it's best, feverish, alive and brutal. 10/10

                                  7 WINTER CALLS (3.44)
                                  Another track that features largely in the third series of Gavin and Stacey, it's fits well really as they are the archetypal Londoners. Winter Calls has an electro pulse feel, it's a love song that starts with a spangly acoustic intro very reminiscent of The Coral and kettledrums, it's a dance, hand clapping sing-along. It's electro staccato riff, and bouncy melodies are quite pretty, almost joyous. Catchy chorus, that rattles along at a fairly fast pace, good use of pretty strings and percussion gives this a light happy theme. Not one of my favourites it's a little repetitive and not as feverish as the majority of the album, still it's packs a punch, quality. 6/10

                                  8 OUT IN THE PAST (4.28)
                                  Again looking back on better times 'This little town hasn't changed so much not since the time of night were we would lay out and talk but we couldn't be touched then you'd go away when the morning was light / But sure enough we had to grow up and there's nothing like a full time job to put out your fire we were young and wasn't in love but maybe we were happy getting carried away'. A long intro that's almost hollow, as the eerie riff that's driven miles away from the speakers, gradually draws closer, to some gentle sprightly percussion and overlapping feverish fast drum lines. It builds and builds to a furore of sound until well over a minute in we calm down temporarily to the tones of Stoker, the enigmatic riff picks back up, it's simple arrangement, catchy melody and tight chorus makes this extremely appealing. The shift in tones adds extra to an already typically British Mod rocking Indie sound. It's ever so catchy, you cannot fail to like this, another corker. 9/10

                                  9 ROMEO & JULIE (3.08)
                                  Romeo and Julie is a love song and the second single released of the album, it's also featured on Gavin and Stacey and you may also recognise it from the background music to last years Football focus, and promoting the daytime line up for Channel four. Probably the weakest track of the album, it bounces along with a simple melody, but lacks a little character feels a little like 80s Ska music. 5/10

                                  10. THE GENERAL (4.46)
                                  The General inspired by the legend that is Mike Tyson was released as a double A-side single along with Romeo & Julie. Also used as backing music on Sky Sports football show 'Netbusters' It's intense and chaotic, with an awesome sing-along melody. Overlapping racing guitar riffs take us out on a minute long intro, that blends into a sumptuous Trumpet and strings section, the intensity increases once more as we link into the first verse, feverish singing, buoyed by a violent drum line, accompanied by background violins and trumpets gives distinction. The upbeat fiery tempo continues relentlessly, the chorus just changes chord but continues with such velocity and intensity. The Cello and Viola become more apparent towards the end as the arrangement becomes a little more mixed and complex with solos', instrumentals and key changes, awesome! 9/10

                                  11. FOR THE MEANTIME (2.28)
                                  Final track For the Meantine opens with a much slower more meaningful ditty, Beatle-esque type melody, that's laden with strings, Cello, Viola, Violins and Trumpets, Stoker's pitch is very low key, and sombre, as he reflects over an acoustic slow strum. Classy finale and adds something different to the plethora of vicious, raucous sound before it. 6/10

                                  .....................
                                  SUMMARY
                                  ......................
                                  The Great Escape is an album with little diversity; the premise of every song is fairly similar in its style and approach, however, what is does have is a wealth of likeability. Its charm is its buoyancy; the catchy choruses and sing-along melodies in each and every track that make you want to go crazy, and just sing or shout. However, added are subtle blends of strings, horns, trumpets and harmonicas, which just give extra bite and charisma to an already fantastic sound.

                                  Its Indie rock music at its best, and unlike many of its contemporise, packed full of uncompromising energetic driven guitar rock riffs, strong dynamics, and filled with anthemic tracks that would inspire many a listener, it's retro rock at it's most feverish best.

                                  Paul Weller largely inspires the Rifles, so you could liken their sound to The Jam, to the more punky sound of The Clash, other notable references would be the quirkiness of The Coral, to the passion of Hard Fi, and I'd personally liken the distinct precise tones of Stoker to that of Madness front man Suggs.

                                  In my opinion the album as a concept is faultless, all eleven songs are precise, sharp and enjoyable, I'd say the tracks don't necessarily stand alone, but they really do pack an awesome punch, maybe the only failing is the lack of change, the sound is very repetitive. If I were to promote a single song, I'd recommend History, but Toe Rag, Sometimes and Science is Violence are all close behind on the likeability scale.

                                  If you like any of the bands mentioned, or sing-along melodies and catch rhythms you would enjoy this, it has a mix of pop-punk-indie-rock sounds so enough for many to appreciate. Personally, it gives me a real uplifting experience, and puts me on a temporary high, which is what music should do! Highly recommended to be played as loud as possible ...

                                  STEVE MCQUEEN, JAMES GARNER & CO HAVE NOTHING ON THESE - ENGLAND'S MOST ESCAPED BAND - THEY ARE GREAT!!!
                                  Amazon Price : £7.93 or used and new from £3.84
                                  Download album : £4.49 or single tracks from 69p each.

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