Albums/EPs

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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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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