Albums/EPs

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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ALBUM: Lights – The Listening

Release Date: May 17th, 2010
Label: Universal
Website: www.iamlights.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/lights

Rating:

Canadian singer Lights is a big deal in her homeland, the pint-sized musician – who legally changed her name from Valerie to Lights last year – has won numerous awards for her quirky sound. This side of the Atlantic however the singer is relatively unknown, but with the release of her debut album ‘The Listening’ finally coming to our shores months after Canada and the US, this is likely to change.

Lights‘ vocals are so distinct and memorable on this record that tracks off this album wouldn’t go amiss in the UK charts. The synthpop singer has an extremely high vocal range, which in places leaves you awestruck. Opening tune ‘Saviour’ and the album’s title track are both great examples of this. The songs are full of electro-pop goodness and perfectly placed vocals, and both of these tracks would go down really well with adolescents everywhere.

The 23-year-old appears to have a knack for songwriting too, songs such as ‘Face Up’ and ‘Ice’ are full of witty lyrics. In the latter, Lights uses a metaphor to describe her inability to face up to awkward situations, “My mouth is frozen so I can’t even speak / What a disappointment I had it perfectly / What I was going to bring up suddenly / Stood like a stone as you stood quietly / You’re making it hard for me, all I can do is freeze”.

The juxtaposition of heavy and in places gloomy lyrics with fast-paced and upbeat music seems to be the perfect combination. Upon listening to the record it becomes easy to see why Lights has won so many awards. The 13 tracks make for light listening and will most likely have you dancing around your room with a hairbrush at the ready to sing-a-long to the almighty choruses… oh wait, that might just be me. In all seriousness though, this is a pretty solid record, and Lights will undoubtedly make a name for herself in the UK with ‘The Listening’. The only downfall for me on this album is that sometimes the vocals are a little too whiney and repetitive for my liking, making one straight listen in its entirety a challenge.

But, if you love cheesy 90’s pop or anything that artists such as Owl City or 3OH!3 have released then this record is for you. This feel-good album might not top the charts, but will definitely get Lights recognition for her work.

Written by Kate Rees

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ALBUM: Ligeia – Bad News

Release Date: August 5th, 2008
Label: Ferret Music
Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/ligeia

Rating:

Ligeia are considered by some to be a metalcore band, but from today’s modern classification of the genre they wouldn’t tick all the boxes to be placed there. Either way, genres aside, their latest effort ‘Bad News’ should bring them everything but what it says on the tin.

The band’s lyrical department seems to like to dwell in that of the ‘sex, drugs, and rock & roll’ depicted lifestyle, with lines in various tracks like “I’ve got no money / I’ve got no pills, honey”, “I’ve been drinking and I’ve been thinking / about what you said to me”, and “Dressed to kill / Her bed is filled with dollar bills”, but not always depicting it as the care-free and glamorous way to live that it’s made out to be.

For a modern ‘mathcore’ band, Ligeia are rather melodic and catchy with their vocal performance, delivering catchy choruses across the board, and as a result making songs like ‘Bad News’, ‘Johnny Cash’, and ‘Bombshell’ ones to stay stuck in your mind hours after listening to them. The musicianship is one of not too much complexity and experimentation, but also one that makes things easy and fun to follow. ‘Heroin Diaries’ brings an acoustic piece to the table, which pretty much blows the ‘metalcore’ label out of the water as a general rule, and despite their usual style it suits them incredibly well, and is more than capable than tugging the heart strings of many.

Ligeia bring the hard rock lifestyle to the table, and glamorise it as much as they trash its name and what it stands for. If you’ve not heard anything by them before now, then ‘Bad News’ is a good set of songs to start off with. There’s bound to be at least one track on there you enjoy for one reason or another.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: A Life Once Lost – Iron Gag

Release Date: September 18th, 2007
Label: Ferret Music
Website: www.alifeoncelost.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/alifeoncelost

Rating:

Hardcore is a genre often tapped into by fans of the metal genre, or who at one point were fans of at least one of the metal sub-genres. However, this mustn’t be mistaken as metal itself, as the genre is different in its own right. A Life Once Lost are one of these bands which you can certify under said genre, and ‘Iron Gag’ is definitely one that gives the genre a good name.

Throughout the course of the album you’re attacked over and over again with anger and aggression, something ‘Iron Gag’ is packed with. ‘Firewater Joyride’ and ‘Others Die’ are just a couple to pick out which shows clear evidence of this, with harsh vocals and chugging riffs almost everywhere. Musician skill isn’t a miss with this band either; diverse and technical riffs, powerful drum beats, and cynical rage-fuelled vocal work are everything but a miss in this package.

The track ‘The Wanderer’ is definitely one of the better songs offered on ‘Iron Gag’, with a soulful guitar introduction and interludes throughout, angry and meaningful lyrics – “I figure that you only wanted to make me feel this way / So that you can feel better about yourself.” – which everyone can relate to at one point or another. Let’s not forget the guitar solo either, which just boosts and adds to the excitement.

However, ‘Iron Gag’ isn’t without its downsides, as with most music releases. It sometimes feels like most of the album sounds like everything else on the album, and doesn’t quite contain as much diversity as it could or should do. The songs are angry, yet repetitive, and where the album is exciting is at the same time boring and nothing you didn’t hear 2 minutes previously.

If hardcore is your bag then stick this on your to buy list, with aggression being the key theme in everything this band portrays in this offering. If you like the one song and have patience this could build onto your top favourites.

Written by Zach Redrup

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