Albums/EPs

ALBUM: My Device – Jumbo Fiasco

Release Date: November 5th, 2007
Label: Shifty Disco
Website: www.my-device.co.uk
MySpace: www.myspace.com/mydevice

Rating:

From Brighton UK comes a band which you’ll have probably never even heard of, My Device. The trouble is there’s a good reason they’re not popular enough to be known by a wider group of people, and ‘Jumbo Fiasco’ isn’t too far from a joke of an album. Their genre of pop-punk with a dance beat thrown in here and there could really get them somewhere, but they’re just not getting it right at all.

Album opener ‘Uh!’ pretty much sums up how the rest of the record sounds and is delivered, and that’s very poor. Though the repeated chorus line “This is the song!” is a catchy one that will get stuck in your head for a short while, the track just doesn’t entertain. This same routine is repeated throughout almost the entirety of ‘Jumbo Fiasco’, especially within ‘Super Tonio!’.

It seems they’re also trying to be a bit comedic in their work, and this is also one of their flaws. Their attempts to crack a laugh, or even a smile upon their listeners is more or less a failed one, and is in some parts cringe worthy. Shouting “Arriba!” and other random words which have little if any relevance the rest of the song in a shot to get a few laughs isn’t the best way to go about things for even some of the biggest bands, never mind one of My Device‘s musical status.

A rare stand-out moment of the album is ‘Slamming Doors’, where the band actually have something which is worth listening to more than once in your lifetime. In those 3 minutes and 45 seconds of music My Device manage to develop material which has the potential to please those who are a fan of the pop-punk/experimental category this band place themselves into.

‘Jumbo Fiasco’ isn’t really much to look forward to, and in some places is a mockery upon the face of music. Harsh words perhaps, but My Device need to work a little harder if they hope to achieve anything more within their musical career. The moments where they try to get a laugh are poor, and if you’re going to laugh at anything it’ll be the quality of the material.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Muse – The Resistance

Release Date: September 15th, 2009
Label: Warner Bros.
Website: www.muse.mu
MySpace: www.myspace.com/muse

Rating:

So amidst the usual rubbish about “the truth confined” and various other bizarre conspiracy theories about space stations and stuff Muse have released another space rock album to add to their legacy. Following on from their real big break into the mainstream, ‘Black Holes And Revelations’, and on the back of summer smash single ‘Uprising’ we have the revolutionary sounding ‘The Resistance’. However this time, it’s very saddening to say that Muse have lost their edge.

Now don’t get me wrong, the likes of ‘Uprising’ and ‘Resistance’ are right up there with the best of their more accessible work; a storming rocker with sci-fi-pop sensibilities, and a catchy chorus people can sing at their now bloody massive gigs. It’s just now more than ever, Muse are starting to live up the stereotype of being an Intergalactic stylised Queen. They attempt epic with songs like ‘United States Of Eurasia’ and all it comes across as is the band trying to do ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ from Neptune or something ridiculous. And you may be thinking “lazy reviewing”, and while in general I’ve avoided that comparison in the past, the evidence here is just mounting, and their attempt to make every song a festival closer is at this point extremely grating. Previously on records like the excellent ‘Absolution’ and ‘Origin Of Symmetry’ everything has been big, dramatic and scary but it was never the ridiculous caricature that this album is.

The music itself, in technique and execution, as always is excellent. Matt Bellamy is extremely talented at his primary instruments of piano and guitar, and whoever composed all of the string work obviously knew what he was doing. There’s also no denying that Bellamy is still in very good voice and rightfully no longer has to deal with lazy declarations of his voice being a Thom Yorke knockoff. Chris Wolstenholme‘s bass is as always great, not overly noticeable but very much an integral part to the setup. My problem with this album is not its musical prowess, it’s with the band and their sound as a whole.

They can’t seem to decide whether they want to be bombastic-space-prog extraordinaires or sleek, smooth popstars and this makes for an extremely frustrating listen. This problem is actually rendered physically in the tracklisting, with the lurch between the ethereal but cheesy ‘Guiding Light’ and the first half of rocker ‘Unnatural Selection’ being particularly jarring. The album does have it’s moments though songwise, with the jazzy ‘I Belong To You’ being a little reminiscent of Cold War Kids (that might just be me), but being something new to the Muse canon, and not being awful (see City Of Delusion’ from the last album), is only a good thing.

Before concluding, a brief discussion of the Exogenesis suite or symphony or whatever you wanna call it. I am not mortally offended by this like some other critics. Muse‘s experimentation has always been good or at the very least interesting, and the same goes for their toying with classical compositions (see ‘Exogenesis: Cross Pollination’). To be honest them spreading a big operetta piece over three songs does not surprise me. I’ll say this; in places it is great, it is as glorious and epic as Muse has ever been. But in other places it’s just boring and being over the top for the sheer sake of it.

It saddens this reviewer to say, but now when Muse bring out new feelings it will result in a feeling of dread rather than excitement. After previously relishing new Muse albums to see in what mad direction they would go yet, or to see what glorious stupidity Bellamy had added to his guitar most recently, now there will just be apprehension and most likely disappointment, upon absorption of the pompous, shellshocking incarnation of what this once great band have become.

Written by Paul Smith

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ALBUM: Motion City Soundtrack – My Dinosaur Life

Release Date: January 19th, 2010
Label: Columbia
Website: www.motioncitysoundtrack.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/motioncitysoundtrack

Rating:

The big names of pop-punk today can easily be listed; Paramore, You Me At Six, All Time Low, etc. It’s a shame however that Motion City Soundtrack have been on the circuit for much longer than the aforementioned acts yet don’t receive half the attention. Their latest Mark Hoppus produced effort ‘My Dinosaur Life’ has the magic touch which with the right push could well give them a little more limelight.

Unlike most acts in their scene, Motion City Soundtrack are more focused and driven on the punk aspects of the genre than pop. Opener ‘Worker Bee’ brings remindings of grandfathers New Found Glory if they were a little more nerdy, complete with the harmonous dual guitar riffs over one another and back-up vocal melody opening the record with much aspiration. More nerd points are accredited thanks to the film refering ‘Pulp Fiction’ and the stereotypical yet lovable subject matter of ‘Her Words Destroyed My Planet’, but clearly nerds have as much fun as the ‘cool kids’ in the pack.

It seems in time the band have managed to sort kinks and areas for work in past albums, proving to have the skill and talent to pull off mellow and emotive (‘Stand Too Close’) just as well as fast and furious (‘Disappear’) to great approval. ‘Delirium’ sticks out like a sore thumb as the album’s biggest highlight, slowly luring the listener in with a bass line and simplistic lyrical line before flipping the overdrive switch in time for the chorus, injecting the desire to repeat the track over and over again just to sing “I swim in pharmaceuticals / The medicine deactivates the things I take” along with frontman Justin Pierre. Sadly ‘My Dinosaur Life’ has some offerings for potential extinction in the overly childish cuss-fest ‘@!#?@!’ and the borefest of ‘History Lesson’ knocking the album down a few notches and probably would’ve worked better without their inclusion at all. Despite this, Motion City Soundtrack have managed to bring to the table something a little different from the norm in mainstream pop-punk today.

Crafted with the same contagious and head looping properties and ingredients as their more successful colleagues, ‘My Dinosaur Life’ is 12 tracks of bubbly nerdy fun… well, almost.

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Moistboyz – That’s What Rock And Roll Can Do

Release Date: November 3rd, 2006
Label: Schnitzel
Website: www.moistboyz.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/moistboyz

Rating:

“Moistboyz are here again, we never retire!” – if this is the truth, then God help us all.

From the way this band present themselves this single should be dirty, rebelious, and make you want to cause anarchy throughout the public streets. Instead it makes you want to turn it off, providing it hasn’t already put you to sleep, and probably throw it straight out the window.

Where it tries to make you excited and pumped, it bores you and loses your interest. Where it tries to be offensive and angry, it comes across as plain lame.

The Moistboyz know how to write a fairly decent guitar solo, but sadly that just isn’t going to cut it for them. Nice try guys, maybe next time.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: The Modern Age Slavery – Damned To Blindness

Release Date: November 28th, 2008
Label: Napalm Records
Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/themodernageslavery

Rating:

Debut album releases tend to be the most important in a band’s career, no matter how big or small they are. Setting your intended style for your potential fanbase early is important so further albums can be made. The Modern Age Slavery‘s debut release ‘Damned To Blindness’ is a constant chaotic push forwards, and a flurrying musical frenzy speeding at you from all directions.

The likes of ‘Damned To Blindness’ and ‘Vile Mother Earth’ are packed with the fast yet harsh and technical guitar input, the speeding battering drum work displaying some of the fastest examples of double-bass drum work in the genre, and manic and murderous-like vocal offerings that many bands wouldn’t dare tread so far into for a safe debut release. The chaos strewn across track after track is at times unreal, considering the fact that the band manages to achieve such a feat whilst still making each track individual and their own as opposed to very little unsimilarities across the whole board. A simple look at the album’s front cover artwork is enough to give off this impression.

In a counter to this though, there are times where the constant onslaught delivered through ‘Damned To Blindness’ seems a little too much and a tad overdone. Most people may even find it too much to be able to listen to the entire record in one sitting, so is definitely not one for the faint-hearted.

Nonetheless, The Modern Age Slavery have managed to successfully create a debut that doesn’t hold back for a second, and throw you right into the blood boiling and adrenaline pumping action. ‘Damned To Blindness’ could very possibly be a worthy contender for the heaviest release of 2008 – be warned!

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Misery Signals – Controller

Release Date: July 22nd, 2008
Label: Ferret Music
Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/miserysignals

Rating:

Brutality is the one thing that springs to mind upon listen to recent release ‘Controller’ by Milwaukee’s Misery Signals, a record with a simple name that contains songs that aren’t so simple, and heavy enough to turn your brains into nothing but a pile of mush.

‘Parrallels’ is a perfect example of this band’s technical style, and manage to pull it off without it sounding terrible and down the perfection. The blasting drum work of Branden Morgan is one to be envious of right from the first second, pummeling your ears beat by beat. In terms of Karl Schubach‘s lyrics, the song has content that they may remind you slightly of Kate Nash‘s ‘Foundations’, with “I see myself in the cracks of your foundation”, but with a deliverance that obviously wouldn’t come from a pop artist. Though heavy 90%+ of the time, the band manage to shove a break from the rampage, before shoving you right back into the firing line.

The first single release ‘A Certain Death’ comes across with properties that would make it an obvious choice for a metal promotional single release, with the expectable guitar riff pattern and structure, and the vocal work staying away from territory that would deem it too unfriendly to play on TV or the radio. The melodic vocal harmony section is one that could melt the heart of saint, with an underlying heavy vocal track behind it to ensure these guys don’t wanna come across too mainstream for their liking. The thing is it makes the track catchy too, with the lines “And I can’t pretend anymore / to be a part of this / And I’ll leave my burdens at the door / But I’ll never walk here again” holding the potential to get stuck in your head, which is obviously exactly what you want with any single release.

Though it has its strong points, there are points in this album that make you think some ideas are used in more than one song. But with tracks like those already mentioned, and ‘Reset’, they more than make up for it. Though not a perfect piece of work, it’s definitely one that the band should be very proud of.

Written by Zach Redrup

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EP: Millionaires – Just Got Paid, Let’s Get Laid

Release Date: June 23rd, 2009
Label: Decaydance
Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/millionaires

Rating:

Millionaires are apparently the hottest new electro-pop trio to cause controversy across the US. Sisters Allison Green and Melissa Marie, and friend Dani Artaud are fresh off the Huntington Beach ‘scene’ scene. Since 2007 they have released two EPs, with ‘Just Got Paid, Let’s Get Laid’ being their debut since being signed by Decaydance in Summer 2009.

If you can imagine the worst, most painful thing your ears have ever had to endure you still can’t imagine the travesty Millionaires are. The ridiculousness of these scene girls isn’t just annoying but causes anger to course through mine and undoubtedly so many other’s very veins. Following a minute long conversation interlude, the opening title track begins with cliche electro beats… and that’s when I immediately want to turn it off. The trio have absolutely no substance to their lyrics which normally wouldn’t matter too much, but the song sounds like it could have been written by a 10 year old – that’s if a 10 year old had the filthiest mouth known to man. The melody is bland beyond belief and a complete waste of four minutes.

‘Alcohol’ is a catchier tune mirroring the sound of fellow scene slut Uffie. With a dub-step breakdown slammed right in the middle, this song is much more like what you’d expect from a Decaydance esque act. The rampantly alcoholic trio invite you to “Get fucked up” with this 80’s sounding electro club anthem. Unfortunately this is the only slight, and I mean complete emphasis on the word ‘slight’, highlight of the EP.

Millionaires are definitely one of those ‘bands’ who are only about the hype they’ve seemed to garner upon themselves. They’ve certainly caused a stir, but let’s hope their minute of fame will soon die and take them along with it.

Written by Kayleigh Palmer

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SINGLE: MGMT – Kids

Release Date: October 13th, 2008
Label: Columbia/Sony BMG
Website: www.whoismgmt.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/mgmt

Rating:

MGMT marked their place in music pretty securely ever since their song ‘Time To Pretend’ was featured on the television series Skins, and many other media mediums alike. Now, their fourth single release, ‘Kids’, offers the same indie rock pleasures, laced with electro beats that got them a large amount of popularity via television.

‘Kids’ is an uplifting and catchy release too, with the vocal chorus hook “Control yourself / Take only what you need from it” being one that will get caught on a loop in your head for a substantial amount of time without fail. MGMT have done it before, and it seems that they’ve managed to do it once again.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Maroon – Order

Release Date: April 20th, 2009
Label: Century Media
Website: www.maroonhate.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/maroonhate

Rating:

‘Order’ is the fifth album by German straight-edgers Maroon and the follow up to 2007’s ‘The Cold Heart Of The Sun’ and like their previous records is one smattered with strong declarations of belief and the obligatory new way for metalcore to do things – many, many breakdowns – but the endless switch in style is something the band are to be admired for and makes each of their records a fresh listen. Is ‘Order’ of the quality to sustain this pattern or have the ideas run dry?

Call for arms type instrumental intro ‘Morin Height’ begins proceedings before ineffectively segueing to first track proper ‘Erode’. It isn’t a huge problem but it starts the album in a disorienting fashion, but not the good effect provided by this opening song. We begin with thudding riffing and shredding before a breakdown and haunting acoustic guitar insert before just going apeshit again and thrown a few solos and more breakdowns in there for good measure too. I was apparently foolish to question whether they would continue to diversify. Once that brainmelder is out of the way we get some pretty impressive tech spots with some intricate solos and well timed breakdown sections, with plenty or harkening to the metal days of yore, but the nostalgia trip isn’t really overbearing. They do have the self indulgent guitar work down pat though. Things get a little more interesting with our first epic of the album, ‘Bleak’ with lots of arpeggiated acoustic, synths and violins and dramatic spoken vocals before screams and more of their scaled guitar work before a huge rousing chorus and a huge, and I mean huge and I say frenetic guitar solo. Very impressive but it just didn’t move me. It’s not a new way to tell a story, and that’s not what I hold against it, stuff like this can either floor you or it can feel contrived, and sadly it is the latter on this occasion. The one area the band does excel though, if not huge epics, is simpler metal with a thrash twist that songs like ‘This Ship Is Sinking’ and ‘Leave You Scared & Broken’ have, it’s just in places, the vocal undermines this, because it’s not particularly special. It’s just a lot of near-throatiness and it kind of dulls the attack on these songs. It is kind of telling that I keeping going to start sentences with phrases like ‘things then get interesting’ but nonetheless they do when we get a distinctly harsher sound change for ‘Children Of The Next Level’ where the band leave the metalcore-cum-Metallica behind for a more dark black metal type style; at least in a condensed style. There’s some very ominous church bells and drum work on the end of this track too, but they seemed a little unnecessary. The closer ‘Schatten’ seems to have garnered a lot of attention with other critics mainly for its blending of the prototypical metalcore with clean breaks and in the band’s native German tongue. This song is everything ‘Bleak’ wasn’t in essence and is a good example piece of this kind of music.

Despite all of my complaints, I can’t argue that music is very crisp sounding, and in theory is well written. My problem is that Maroon have tried too many things here, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, not enough of them have come off. When so many ideas are thrown at the wall and none of them stick it’s a sink or swim kind of situation, with not particularly a lot of middle-ground in case things go wrong. The converse problem is that the songs that separate the noteworthy (for better or worse) moments kind of fall into the textbook metalcore category, so to speak. They are solid if unspectacular and technically spiffy, but in places it just blurs together. ‘Order’ is an ambitious attempt at making a band stand out amongst an overcrowded genre, but unfortunately it doesn’t work and leaves a disappointing album, but the band show signs of getting it right with ‘Erode’ particularly impressing, but maybe a little more time at the drawing board is needed to attain success on a larger scale next time at the bat.

Written by Paul Smith

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ALBUM: Marilyn Manson – The High End Of Low

Release Date: May 26th, 2009
Label: Interscope
Website: www.marilynmanson.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/marilynmanson

Rating:

Marilyn Manson, what can be said that hasn’t already? After the dire offering of ‘Eat Me, Drink Me’ back in ’07, new album ‘The High End Of Low’ would be wanting to put that right and get some respect back in the musical world. It will satisfy fans aplenty but it will be a tough ask to convert listeners into new fans. A decade ago they reached the heights of the Number One Album chart with ‘Mechanical Animals’ and just four years ago, ‘The Golden Age Of Grotesque’ reached #4 in the UK – but since then it hasn’t been plain sailing for Manson. Marriage (and subsequent divorce), band members leaving and controversy never too far away; all, however, fuelling the music on this offering.

With the return of long-term bassist Twiggy Ramirez, the partnership behind such classics as ‘Disposable Teens’ and ‘The Fight Song’ gives renewed optimism that Manson could deliver something like they used to – but this album doesn’t have one of those sorts of songs. ‘Arma-Goddamn-Motherfucking-Geddon’ gets close to them. A mainstay on the airwaves in the run-up to the release, very much so like ‘Heart Shaped Glasses’ on ‘Eat Me, Drink Me’. It’s a good song, very Marilyn Manson, but won’t necessarily appeal to those who aren’t fans, and still doesn’t maintain the potential the band have in their arsenal.

‘Running To The Edge Of The World’ is very different, definitely not a typical Manson song. An acoustic guitar? Seriously! Lyrically it is very much what you’d expect from ‘the God of fuck’, but the sound is not, resulting in some weird hybrid with teen folk/pop star Taylor Swift… only it works, and in a very weird way. ‘I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies’ is a nine-minute monster of a tune – very bass driven and arguably the stand out track on the album. Vocally superb and typical Manson lyrics, “Every time I kill you I’m really just killing myself”, the singer snarls throughout the latter of the song… you get to hear them if your still awake at that point.

It is a vast improvement on the previous offering, but if you aren’t a fan of the band then this isn’t the album for you and won’t leave you thinking this is quite the return yet. Apart from where some variety from the norm is introduced then it is a very samey offering – you know what you are getting with Manson, and if you haven’t liked their work in the past chances are this won’t be the album that changes your mind.

Written by Tom Donlan

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