Albums/EPs

ALBUM: Lower Definition – The Greatest Of All Lost Arts

Release Date: July 8th, 2008
Label: Ferret Music
Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/lowerdefinition

Rating:

Providing an onslaught of musical creation that combines and weaves melodic and heavy vocal work with catchy and carefully constructed music that fuses into a sound similar to that of Finch in their prime – that would be one of the best ways to describe Lower Definition, and their release of ‘The Greatest Of All Lost Arts’.

What comes to you somehow as a predictable yet impressive opener, ‘To Satellite’ pulls and draws in the listener in to the remaining 40 minutes or so left of the record. The introdution that blends the acoustic guitar into the furious yet controlled sound of the electric guitar is a sure sign that perhaps Eddy Marshburn is a legendary guitarist in the early stage of the making. With lyrics like “I never thought you were worth waiting for” gives off a bitter undertone to the beautiful stylings of Matt Geise‘s vocal work.

‘Miami Nights’ may be one to pull in those into the more radio-friendly offerings of such a band, showcasing their more mellow side to their music, and making sure the catchy factor to songwriting doesn’t go amiss. Again, the work of guitarist Eddy Marshburn is rather impressive, and gives off complex yet endurable riffs like a pro. Where ‘Miami Nights’ was more of a mainstream effort, ‘Versus Versace’ brings down the crunch with belting screams and chugging riffs occupying the most part of the song in the verse sections, attracting more of a ‘hardcore’ crowd to the band. Though this heavier side is present in the song, they still stick to offering a more eardrum-safe musical experience.

One of the most impressive offerings on the album is that of ‘The Weatherman’, incorporating elements from the metal genre, aswell as that of post-hardcore, and pop-punk catchiness lacing and encasing the contents. Matt Geise has flawless vocal work, and belts out his screams and grunts like that of a mad man, with a potential of enraging anyone within ear distance, especially with the constant “Your flowers are fake!” being blasted through the speakers. When it reaches its heaviest moments it soon returns back to a calm, playing with the audience to its full capability.

There are moments where you may think “Is this song not the same one I heard 10 minutes ago?”, but Lower Definition have created an album which brings beauty and hate together in an effective way. As first releases go it’s not bad by any means, and is just the start of a band that have the potential to reach amazing heights.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Skindred – Shark Bites And Dog Fights

Release Date: September 21st, 2009
Label: Bieler Bros.
Website: www.skindred.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/skindred

Rating:

They’ve seen some hard times in the past, but Welsh ragga-metalheads Skindred have fought through the tough vines consistently blocking their way to their goal and with ‘Shark Bites And Dog Fights’ they could well be onto something to place them in a stable spotlight. Their recognition and place in the spotlight has been slowly growing and well-deserved, and they’re almost there now.

Giving an album a title like ‘Shark Bites And Dog Fights’ is very fitting, seeing as though it’s pretty much advertised what you’ll find within it’s casing. It has plenty of bite, and plenty of fight. Though a rather original and tight sound has been the ethic right from their debut ‘Babylon’, it seems this time around it’s finally been perfected to a point where it’s almost the complete opposite of generic and cerebral.

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ALBUM: Lostprophets – The Betrayed

Release Date: January 13th, 2010
Label: Visible Noise/Sony Music
Website: www.lostprophets.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/lostprophets

Rating:

With their fourth studio album the boys from Pontypridd continue to move away from their post-hardcore roots and further into the realms of stadium bothering pop rock.

Throughout the 13 tracks the songwriting is solid if at times predictable, making for a collection of highly accessible and well rounded, sugar coated anthems ready for festival crowd sing-a-longs and mass radio play that the band are clearly aiming for.

Nothing here can be described as intentional filler material and every track, bar the last, is a potential single. Influences are wide ranging and at times surreal with a distinct 80’s vibe lingering in and out, piano parts Journey would be proud of, the guitar work of Rage Against The Machine‘s ‘Evil Empire’, Muse-esque alt rock, and the usual polished-into-pop post-hardcore that Lostprophets have built a career on.

With all that in mind, ‘The Betrayed’ unfortunately feels like one of those albums missing it’s own sense of identity. Listening through you’re often left trawling through your own mind for the name of the sound-a-likes that shadow each track from Billy Talent to The Temper Trap. Stand-out tracks include ‘Streets Of Nowhere’ with it’s ‘Town Called Malice’ meets ‘Town Called Hypocrisy’ swagger, the ‘Start Something’ flashback of ‘Sunshine’, the sprawling ‘A Better Nothing’ and the obvious lead single, ‘It’s Not The End Of The World But I Can See It From Here’ complete with infectious, pounding chorus and Matt Bellamy irking middle 8.

There is a sense that Lostprophets have done their homework on the competition and adjusted their approach accordingly. That’s not to say the album is bad or derivative because it’s not, it just doesn’t take many risks outside of adding more genres to the Lostprophets songwriting CV.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good album full of easy to like and very well written pop songs that will propel the band to new heights, and if you liked their last release, ‘Liberation Transmission’, then you’re in for a treat. However, if to you Lostprophets mean ‘Shinobi Vs. Dragon Ninja’ then this is probably not the album for you. It’s an unashamedly grand-scale pop rock shot at the big time.

To some, the title of that very first album couldn’t ring more true.

Written by Greg Johnson

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ALBUM: Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

Release Date: March 8th, 2010
Label: Parlophone/Virgin
Website: www.gorillaz.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/gorillaz

Rating:

The post-Blur Damon Albarn continues here for album number three for his animated side-project Gorillaz, notching another stop on his odyssey of “this is 100% my band now, so I’ll do whatever the fuck I want”. Only this time, he doesn’t stop at slick electronic pop-rock-indie type stuff. In fact, he doesn’t stop at anything. This album literally has everything.

The giveaway for this comes before even the album begins. A quick look at the collaborators reveals all. Ranging from the pimp as ever Snoop Dogg, punk icons Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of The Clash, former Velvet Underground mumbler and part time feedback conductor Lou Reed to soul singer Bobby Womack, the incoherent Mark E Smith of The Fall and alt hip-hop staples Mos Def and De La Soul to wacky Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys and the grimy Kano. Quite the range certainly.

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SINGLE: LostAlone – Unleash The Sands Of Time

Release Date: November 6th, 2006
Label: Scorpia Records
Website: www.lostalone.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/lostalonemusic

Rating:

Some rock and indie fusion is something that you come across fairly often in today’s music scene, but how many bands can actually pull it off and sound half-decent doing so? LostAlone would be one of those bands, and ‘Unleash The Sands Of Time’ is a great showcase of this band’s talent.

This single shows the catchy side of the Derby based trio, so much so that it wouldn’t sound out of place on prime time radio. Staggering straight into the world of stadium rock, with a hook line laden chorus to die for, it’s fair to say it’s worth a listen.

Great stuff guys.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Lightspeed Champion – Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You

Release Date: February 15th, 2010
Label: Domino Records
Website: www.lightspeedchampion.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/lightspeedchampion

Rating:

Everyone’s favourite former genital turned alt folk superhero Dev Hynes a.k.a Lightspeed Champion follows up his stellar debut album ‘Falling Off The Lavender Bridge’ with his epic sounding follow-up ‘Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You’. The album was preceded by funky single ‘Marlene’, and this song perfectly sums up the album; a few tweaks to a successful formula provide a satisfying result.

And while the result is ultimately satisfying there are still a few unwarranted tweaks, or if not unwarranted, changes that don’t work consistently. Take for instance the added sense of melodrama created by additional instruments and presumably production methods. Opener ‘Dead Head Blues’ is greatly aided by a big epic feel that really kicks the album off strongly and the baroque stage show feel of ‘The Big Guns Of Highsmith’ makes it very different from some of Hynes‘ alt folk contemporaries. But on a song like ‘Romart’ it just comes off sounding musically overwrought and therefore actually quite difficult to listen to.

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ALBUM: Losing Sun – Perspective

Release Date: October 20th, 2008
Label: GMF Records
Website: www.losingsun.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/osingsun

Rating:

Metal is a genre that has never really died. It’s had its moments where it’s phased out slightly, but it has always had an imprint in the alternative music scene, and now with loads of accessible genres branching out from its roots, there’s so much bands can do with the attributes within the metal genre. It can be as heavy as an obese man, or as commercial as Disney in some cases. ‘Perspective’, the debut album by Losing Sun, is one that conforms more towards the second possible scenario stated above, which isn’t necessarily a band thing at all, but can they do it well?

First single release ‘Memory Run’ is a clear sign of the band knowing how to play it safe when they want things to be as radio-friendly as possible in their chosen genre, keeping any heavy metal elements to an absolute minimal. When we come to second album track ‘Jigsaw’ however, things pick up the pace a little, with the inclusion of harsh screams and powerful vocal work from frontman Ben Honebone, and growls and grunts present in the album’s title track ‘Perspective’. In terms of musicianship, Losing Sun gel together well, creating a mostly commercial metal sound without losing the elements of most traditional metal bands. The heavy vocals are there, the breakdowns are there, the heavy guitar and bass is there, and the galloping drum beats aren’t amiss either. Despite all this though, Losing Sun have all the right ingredients and properties to make them sound incredible, but sadly the way they package and deliver their sound on their debut album isn’t very entertaining at all. For the most part it’s dull, and seems for the most part just recycled and reused over and over again. When they do have their moments though, they’re worth listening, especially with their heaviest track ‘1994’, which has constant banshee screamed verses, along with bellowing barks and grunts, creating a violent face for Losing Sun. They also have one moment of slight variation, with the mellow nature and undertone of ‘Tantrum’, but it’s a shame that these few moments of significance aren’t quite enough to cut it.

They’ve got all the right things to make this album so much better than it is, it’s just a shame that ‘Perspective’ doesn’t quite have that impressive factor.

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Losing Sun – Memory Run

Release Date: September 24th, 2008
Label: GMF Records
Website: www.losingsun.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/losingsunuk

Rating:

Metal nowadays has expanded into further subgenres that are more accessible than ever before; for example metalcore, death metal, and so on. Losing Sun stick with the pretty standard and more commercial approach to metal with their single release, ‘Memory Run’.

Opening with a weird synth sound before bursting into a classic pummeling metal drum intro, before we are then lead on further by the guidance of the lead guitar riffs. The vocal work sounds somewhat similar to that of a slightly heavier Sunny Day Real Estate, and the repeated “I decide to pull myself together” throughout the song is one that’ll easily get stuck in your head. As said before, this is a fairly commercial piece of metal, and is obviously represented with the lack of rebellion and anger. Despite this, it is still worth not flicking over if you hear it on the radio, or is put on a compilation CD.

Fingers crossed that the album this single is lifted from is a little more adventurous if Losing Sun intend to make a great impact on the scene.

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Losers – Flush

Release Date: April 5th, 2010
Label: Distiller Records
Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/losersuk

Rating:

Electronica duo Losers from Reading have grown fast from their birth in 2007, releasing their first proper single complete with a well-developed music video in 2010. ‘Flush’ combines their infectious underdog sounds with the lyric offerings of guest vocalists MC Ritz and Envy, attacking one another in what seems a story of getting over one another claiming that they can “do better”.

Now, don’t get me wrong, instrumentationly speaking ‘Flush’ isn’t bad at all, as I said earlier it is quite infectious. The addition of the ‘ghetto pop’ vocals however brings this singles impact and potential down drasticly, and is clearly only been branded under such a tag all because there’s an MC or two involved. Wow. Let’s also not mention the cringing intro of the word “Flush” repeated over and over a backing track which doesn’t blend in with the rest of the track.

Imagine a cheap imitation of Robots In Disguise mixed with a cheap imitation of Chemical Brothers and a touch of Lady Sovereign, then you’re not too far off.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You

Release Date: February 9th, 2009
Label: Parlophone Records
Website: www.lilyallenmusic.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/lilymusic

Rating:

It’s been a long wait since Lily Allen‘s debut full-length ‘Alright, Still’ infected the airwaves across the world and forced us to have singles like ‘Smile’ and ‘LDN’ in our heads for hours on end. Since then a few things have happened in Lily‘s life, not all necessarily positive, which in turn has helped fuel and provide for album number two; ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’.

In many senses, Lily takes influences from all different directions in this album much like her debut, including electro-pop, ska, indie, etc. which makes for what could arguably be considered an exciting take on making elements of the mainstream music industry her own. Electro-pop seems to be a very prominent feature suspect on the album, primarily in the increasingly present everyday drug-use number ‘Everyone’s At It’, and current chart-bothering hit ‘The Fear’. As with usual procedure and expectations, it wouldn’t be a Lily Allen record if there weren’t songs slating ex-boyfriends, with ‘Not Fair’ carrying along witty lyrics about a poor sex life with an ex, with the lyrics “You’re supposed to care that you never made me scream”, and “I lie here in the wet patch, in the middle of the bed / I’m feeling pretty damn hard done by, I spent ages giving head” sealing it with the classic Lily Allen style.

‘Back To The Start’ brings along a nightclub vibe and potential with it. The electronic music and fast and quick lyrical deliverance together mean that this could very well be seen in clubs across the UK and other countries in a very short time. The track ‘Never Gonna Happen’ is a definite stand-out one, with a sound of something you wouldn’t really find in the mainstream today, but yet is moulded and somehow transformed into what could only be quirky and catchy pop music.

‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ may be mainly electro driven, but still holds lots of fresh and exciting songs and ideas that could very well invite many new fans to her catalogue. It’s an evolvement from ‘Alright, Still’, and an album that keeps Lily in a league and classification of her own.

Written by Zach Redrup

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