Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Kasabian's Fourth Album Due October

Kasabian's fourth album, which has been described as 'epic', has been given a rough release date estimate of October. They have been recording in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and are supposed to be in the mixing stage at the moment. The album currently has no title.

Songs set to be included are: Switchblade Smile, Neon Noon, I Hear Voices, Goodbye Kiss, Shelter From The Storm and Velociraptor.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Album Review: The Wombats - This Modern Glitch

Album: This Modern Glitch
Artist: The Wombats
Singles: Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves), Jump Into The Fog, Anti-D, Techno Fan

Well, this has been a long time coming. Four years after the band's debut A Guide To Love, Loss And Desperation, the catchy guitar riffs that littered it have been replaced with synths, in keeping with what a lot of bands are doing these days. The album was originally set for a 29th November 2010 release, but it got pushed back three times, resulting in more and more singles coming out before the album, and the fact that three of them are just one after the other makes the album drag a bit; not because they're bad songs (quite the opposite), but just because you've heard them all before. However, I know that not many people will have overplayed these singles as much as I have, so in this review I've tried to bear that in mind.

Our Perfect Disease
An absolutely stunning opener. We're thrown right in with synths and vocals, instantly recognisable as a new direction for the band. Soon, a little cheesy sounding synth line pops up to lead us into the chorus of "it was the perfect disease we had" where the guitars return, albeit confined to the background, and the song becomes almost danceable. And then, it really gets going. With traditional Wombats "ooh-ooh-ooh"s and "ah-ah-ah"s, the song hurtles forward yet again, growing and growing up to the final chorus, ending abruptly on the last line "We all need someone to drive us mad".

Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)
Now we're entering the run of singles that have already been released. This one is the oldest, having been released roughly seven months ago. It was the right choice for first single, in my opinion. It has a memorable synth line, a catchy beat, and a sing-along chorus. However, I would consider this to be my least favourite on the album (I had to quickly run through every song in my head again to check that was actually true, but it is) - maybe it's because I've played it so many times, or maybe it's just because it doesn't really go anywhere. But even though this is my least favourite, it's still decent enough not to make me want to press the 'next' button.

Jump Into The Fog
The second single, and, once upon a time, a free download. Again it's got the right qualities for a single, with its catchy tune and its nice, big chorus, complete with the backing of a choir. "We feel nothing so jump into the fog, in the hope that we hit the ground upright", goes the chorus, with singer Matthew Murphy's vocals showing off their range. The song ends quite heavily, guitars and synths almost drowning out the chant of "jump into the fog!". Again, I may have heard this one too much already, but it's not up there with my favourites from this album.

This song is a much more mature-sounding one than anything off the first album or even anything else on this one, with an unexpected strings section opening it up. It opens with the line "Please allow me to be your anti-depressant" - a line I never thought I'd hear opening a song. The lyrics as a whole feel like they've tried to cram a little too much into certain lines, but after a few listens that doesn't matter. At first it's hard to discern why this became a single, but by the 2-minute mark when the familiar Wombats 'ah-ah-ah's pop up, the song turns epic. It's maybe more of a grower than we're used to from this band, and it is very different to what we might expect from them - but once it hits home, it's kind of refreshing. (Yes, I did copy that from my original single review, but it seemed the best way to imitate what I felt about it first time round)

Last Night I Dreamt...
This song opens in epic fashion, with a huge guitar-synth combination bringing you back up to full speed after the relatively slow Anti-D. The verses drive the song forward on this song; the chorus, although still good, seems to be a bit of an anti-climax after the opening parts seemed to promise something huge, but it seems to calm down instead. But it's still a great song, and grows and grows on repeat listens. The last line of the song had me going back a few seconds to see if I had heard him right (and I had): "when I lost my virginity, I've never been known to frighten easily". Interesting lyrics, at the very least.

Techno Fan
The upcoming fourth single is actually one of my top songs for this album, unlike the other three (although I'm making that sound like I don't like the other three, when I really do) This one follows slightly in the footsteps of Our Perfect Disease, building up to a first chorus before calming it down, and then just exploding straight afterwards. When the second chorus comes round, you'll find yourself wanting to sing along to "shut up and move with me, move with me..." Definitely one of the highlights of the album.

Another one of my favourites (not my absolute favourite, that's yet to come). Even though it's a fairly standard affair, its verses have a catchy beat and the chorus is huge-sounding and quite memorable. "We kissed with one eye on our TV set, and the more I give, the less I get" it goes. And it gets better as guitars make their way to the forefront of the song around three minutes in. As the rest of the band backs up Murphy with their "da-da-da"s matching the tune to the chorus as he sings "I'll never beat those teenage kicks", we are treated to an epic ending to an epic song.

Walking Disasters
This one fools you at first into thinking it's got a sort of summery vibe to it, but the bass comes in to turn it into a slightly deeper song, whilst retaining the catchiness of its beat. It also features one of my favourite lyrics; "If these words won't drop from your lips, I will be your Freudian slip". It slows down the pace a little bit, and is probably the closest you're going to get to the Wombats of 2007 on this album, even though its still quite a long way off. Still it's quite impressive. The last 20 seconds serve as a build up to...

Girls / Fast Cars
The best song on the album by a long way, this one is an absolutely storming rock song, although it's quite reserved for the first 45 seconds. The chorus is the ultimate sing-along, "I like girls! Girls and fast cars! It's cheap and it's pathetic, but you can't hate me just because". The last 30 seconds are just absolutely spine-tingling,one of the best moments in music I've heard this year. My only complaint is that it's over so quickly that I needed to listen to it again straight after! Yes, it's that good.

Schumacher The Champagne
This one is quite an unexpected ending, slowing down the pace a bit, with arcade-style synths backing quite a lot of the song. However, the keyword for the whole of this album is 'catchy', and this one adheres to this. It does require a few repeat listens to sink in, as it's more of a build-up song, but the ending is perhaps the heaviest thing on the album, vocals sounding slightly over-amplified and guitars turned up to 11. And to close it off completely, 45 seconds of randomness reminiscent of the chorus in Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves) - slightly odd but oh well.

Well, overall, it's a absolutely amazing blend of electronic, pop and indie music, with some incredibly catchy and upbeat moments all throughout. The only exception to this is Anti-D, where they adopt a slightly more serious approach (to be fair, the song is about dealing with depression) but even that one has its moments. There's not a single song that I don't like on here, every single one has got certain moments that I love hearing. And Girls / Fast Cars is the ultimate highlight - if they don't play this one live, I'll be amazed. I think it should have been a single rather than Anti-D. But oh well, I have the album now and I'll listen to it as many times as I want! But the band have avoided second album problems, as the results are energetic, playful, catchy, and sounds absolutely massive at times.


Previous albums: A Guide To Love, Loss And Desperation (7/10)

New Sunshine Underground Demos

Two demos by The Sunshine Underground have been put online (on the band's Soundcloud page); these songs will likely feature on the band's upcoming third album. Have a listen:


The Same Old Ghosts

Friday, 8 April 2011

Don't Sit Down... - First Play

The first play of the new Arctic Monkeys' single Don't Sit Down Cause I've Moved Your Chair will be on Monday 11th April at 19.30 on Radio 1 as Zane Lowe's Hottest Record In The World. The song is the first taken from the band's upcoming fourth album Suck It And See, due out 6th June.

This single is released on 11th April as well (digitally) but a physical version will be made available on the 30th May.

And if you can't wait til Monday, here's a 30-second clip:

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Single Review: The Wombats - Anti-D

Single: Anti-D
Artist: The Wombats
From the album This Modern Glitch

This is actually the third single taken from the Wombats' second album, after Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves) and Jump Into The Fog, but it's the one that precedes the album after all its delays - four years since the debut album! The song itself is a much more mature-sounding one than anything off the first album or even this one (if the 90-second previews on the band's YouTube are anything to go by), with an unexpected strings section opening it up. It opens with the line "Please allow me to be your anti-depressant" - a line I never thought I'd hear opening a song. The lyrics as a whole feel like they've tried to cram a little too much into certain lines, but after a few listens that doesn't matter. At first it's hard to discern why this became a single, but by the 2-minute mark when the familiar Wombats 'ah-ah-ah's pop up, the song turns epic. It's maybe more of a grower than we're used to from this band, and it is very different to what we might expect from them - but once it hits home, it's kind of refreshing.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

Album Review: The Pigeon Detectives - Up, Guards And At 'Em

Album: Up, Guards And At 'Em
Artist: The Pigeon Detectives
Singles: Done In Secret

The Pigeon Detectives took a bit more time with this album than with their second (there was a year's difference between their debut Wait For Me and the follow-up Emergency) - this time taking three years. Now taking that sort of time would make you assume something big was coming; as I thought Emergency was brilliant (although looking back, my 8/10 review for it was a little nice - I'd give it 7/10 now) considering the time it took, imagine what they could do with three years rather than one! And the answer is... nothing really new. This album could have easily turned up a year after Emergency. There is the odd hint of synth here and there but in short, the band still to the same formula. Some parts sound a little more polished than on the first two albums, but still you could mix these in with earlier songs and not be able to tell the difference.
However, this is not to say that the songs are bad - while I was slightly disappointed by the lack of change in sound, the songs are actually decent enough (well most songs anyway).

She Wants Me
This was released as a pre-album teaser, and it heralded a new sound for the band; slightly more synth-orientated. But it's one of the only ones to do so. "I don't want to do anything like you" comes the first lyric from the familiar voice of Matt Bowman (lead singer). 30 seconds in, the synth backing fades into memory as more obvious Pigeon Detectives guitar sounds come to life. It's a decent opener; maybe needs a few listens before it really hits home, but still quite a good start. Even for a song that lasts just three and a half minutes, it does get a tiny bit repetitive towards the end, however.

A nice powerful drumbeat opens the second song before a slightly softer guitar sound than we're used to from the band turns up, followed swiftly by "I can't get this all out of my head" and the slightly 'scraping-the-barrel' lyric "is it me, is it you, is it me now?". Who cares, though, it's catchy. The chorus is traditional Pigeon Detectives - memorable and powerful; this should be a fan favourite when it gets played live. One of the album's highlights

What Can I Say?
Starting off slightly more peacefully with a gentler guitar riff, which fools you into thinking it's going to be a quieter affair. A militaristic drumbeat turns up about a minute in, getting the song going a bit more. Then the illusion of this song being more peaceful is shattered 30 seconds later as massive guitars crash in. Memories of their debut are awoken when Bowman starts singing again - it just seems a little bit similar (not a bad thing). It quietens down again before the end. It's a decent song but I'd forgotten it not long after it finished.

Need To Know This
One of my two least favourites on the album, this sounds like quite a boring song, it doesn't have any particular redeeming features, no big chorus or anything like that. Not even the guitar solo that turns up toward the end can change my mind, although it's probably the best part about the song. It starts out with a very annoying synth as well, which doesn't help. Luckily it's the shortest song on the album.

Done In Secret
Oh, never mind Need To Know This, this one is probably the best on offer, so it's good that it was chosen as the first single. A memorable, catchy guitar riff, with a nice big crowd-pleasing chorus, along with the chant of "All these things were done in secret, all these things were done in secret" make this song pretty damn good indeed. It's not far at all from their old stuff (a synth does turn up about halfway through, but still...) but it more than makes up for the previous song.

What You Gonna Do?
"Are you still carrying their torch? Did they forget about your cause?" comes the opening lyric. The vocals sound very slightly Freddie Mercury-esque at times (I bet no one else hears this, but this song reminds me a little bit of some old Queen songs). Other than that, it's fairly standard Pigeon Detectives - catchy chorus, decent guitar riff, over before it gets boring. At least there's no irritating synth this time.

Turn Out The Lights
A very odd song. It sounds very heavily distorted, the vocals in particular. This is starting to move away from the first two albums. "You can stay, if that's what you'd like" goes the chorus - unfortunately a slightly less interesting one than other songs. This is definitely a grower, and oddly its strength lies in its verses (unusual for the Pigeon Detectives) and the solo that turns up a couple of minutes in. But it did eventually click, and although it's not up there with my favourites, it's still good enough.

Through The Door
This, along with Done In Secret, makes up the album's best moments. While the lyrics are slightly nonsensical: "I want to dance with you, but my hands are on fire", the lyrics have never been a strong point for this band. What matters is that they're memorable and catchy (I know I'm using those words a lot, but they are completely relevant. Promise.) A personal favourite moment is the opening guitar. I can picture it opening an epic music video (let's hope this is a single) or starting up at a festival and leaving the crowd screaming with excitement. A definite highlight.

Go At It Completely
Another awesome guitar riff opens this one. Again, we're reverting to basic Pigeon Detectives sounds and style. The chorus when "go at it completely" is actually being sung, borders between having potential as crowd-baiting singalong and just being annoyingly repetitive. After a few listens, it does head towards the former, however. The guitar right at the end is also a highlight for this song.

I Don't Know You
Opening with a slightly Western-sounding noise before the vocals turn up, this is the album closer. Ten tracks really seems too short for a Pigeon Detectives album. "I don't know you, but there's a look inside your eyes that says I used to" goes the chorus. This one is more of a build-up song compared to the other nine. And for me, it doesn't work. This song and Need To Know This are my two least favourites on the album. It does hint at a different sound to the rest of the album, but it's not a good direction. And I'm not a fan of the carnival-esque sound that closes the album down either.

So, overall, a slight disappointment at first, especially considering the three years time that they have had to make this album - apart from a few songs, there's no real change in the sound, and even when there are hints of it, it's usually left alone and older sounds resurface. But after a few listens, a few songs I didn't like first time around have grown on me (some haven't) and there have been a few instant likes (Lost, Done In Secret and Through The Door are my personal top picks). I do enjoy this one more than Emergency, but I don't think it deserves an 8/10 rating. I will just have to accept that I was far too nice with reviewing albums three years ago. Well, sometimes I still am, but I think I'll have to give this one:


Previous albums: Wait For Me (8/10), Emergency (8/10)

Album Review: Glasvegas - Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\

Album: Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\
Artist: Glasvegas
Singles: The World Is Yours (free download), Euphoria, Take My Hand

I never really enjoyed Glasvegas' debut album; although I absolutely loved Geraldine and Daddy's Gone, not much of the rest got to me. So I wasn't too overexcited when I heard about their second album. Then I heard The World Is Yours. Then I heard Euphoria, Take My Hand. Suddenly I wanted to hear this album so badly. And.... well, let's go through it track by track.

Pain, Pain, Never Again
Unfortunately, a slightly overlong opener. I understand its placing and lyrics (well, with the added help of having the lyrics on hand - you'd be lost trying to get your head round James Allan's thick Scottish accent) but really all it does is serve as a build-up track to The World Is Yours. It features spoken words over a synth gradually building up and the same words being spoken in French. Thank god Allan's not the one speaking in French, we'd never understand it!

The World Is Yours
The free download, still as awesome as it was three months ago. It instantly demonstrates the band's new synth-orientated sound, but Allan's powerful and emotive (and ever so slightly out of tune) voice has not been forfeited for this. Just take one listen to "You don't need me as much as I need you" and you'll see what I mean. The new songs may be instantly recognisable as headed for stadiums, but the emotion from the first album, which I admit was lost on me until recently when I had a re-listen, has not gone anywhere. If anything, it's greater.

Barging its way abruptly through past the end of The World Is Yours, this is actually quite similar to the song before it. Its chorus may be simpler: "You! You! Yoooooou!" but on first listen, it doesn't sound particularly different. It's a good song, but doesn't have any instantly memorable features - it requires a good few listens for it to really hit home.

Shine Like Stars
One of my two absolute favourites. It opens after static shuts off You abruptly, and a stabbing synth announces its arrival. "I feel the black fade to grey, I feel forwards as the only way" goes the opening lyric, and you can fully feel the emotional power going into the vocals. This is then followed by the stunning (if again, incredibly simple) chorus of "Shine like stars! Shine like stars do!" Then the guitars crash in, taking this song to dizzy heights of brilliance. If this isn't a single, something's gone wrong somewhere.

Whatever Hurts You Through The Night
Another absolute favourite, which sees the band moving far out of their comfort zone. The song may sound ridiculously overblown, but its M83-style synth line gave me goosebumps - every single time it turned up. There is no chorus, but the synth line takes charge instead. The song is absolutely epic, and Allan's vocals are at their peak in terms of their sheer emotional power - it's also a very sad sounding song. But it's been a long time since I've stopped listening to an album for the first time just to listen to one song again. A definite candidate for song of the year... if I did that.

Stronger Than Dirt (Homosexuality pt. 2)
I will probably never understand the band's reasoning behind putting part 2 first, but oh well. Allan commendably has expanded his lyrical content here, to try and imagine what it would like to be gay, and actually he's nearly at his best on this song. Unfortunately, the music that it's set to is slightly less interesting. Maybe it's because it's coming off the back of two huge 'built-for-stadiums' songs, but it just doesn't hold up as well as the rest of the album. Still, it's an alright song and I won't be skipping it anytime soon.

Dream Dream Dreaming
The quality has gone straight back up for this song. Powerful drums and a familiar-sounding synth open it up well. But the highlight is the chorus - "There will be no holding back, I'll tell you a feeling..." which sounds stunning the first time, but wait until later on in the song, when it all goes quiet as Allan sings the refrain of "I know you're out somewhere" before launching back into the chorus, even more epic than before. Again, the emotion in his voice is at its peak on this song.

I Feel Wrong (Homosexuality pt 1)
A slower song with some nice powerful drumming courtesy of new drummer Jonna Löfgren, this one is more catchy despite its slower pace. Again, we're returning to Allan's imagination of what it's like to be gay, lyrically, and the fact that he's singing about someone who is uncomfortable with those feelings is heightened by the emotive power in his voice. Nothing much happens on this song, but it's still good.

Euphoria, Take My Hand
Whilst the lyrics turn to incredible simplicity ("Your ways, my ways, never, always, the future, the past, the first, the last" goes the first verse.) the song sounds like the obvious radio-friendly choice for the first single. And as the title would suggest, it is a nice big euphoric song. While comparisons have been made between the main guitar riff and Coldplay's Life In Technicolor ii (which I do hear), they're still very different beasts. But still, it sounds huge and will go down well in stadiums.

Lots Sometimes
Despite the repetition of the words "lots sometimes" that occurs throughout this big-sounding penultimate track (The words are sung roughly 50 times throughout the song; at the end of each line), it fades away and you'll find yourself singing those words. Again, choruses are abandoned and the band opts for more of a build-up sort of track. It's a stunning and magnificent final slice of euphoria before the closer...

A sad, piano-driven song about a boy coming out of prison and being scared of actually getting out, this one seems like an anti-climax to the power of Euphoria, Take My Hand and Lots Sometimes, but it holds power in its simplicity - essentially nothing but a piano and Allan's powerful voice showing a more sensitive side as he quietly sings the lyrics, again at their height. And then the album closes with his mother's voice, consoling him. The album ends quite suddenly on the final words; "Before you change for me, change for you." So it may be a sudden change in direction before the end, but it's done well.

Overall, a definite improvement on their debut for me. The songs have added power, particularly in the drumming and singing departments and will work great in stadiums. Guitars may have been slightly confined to the background, but they still hold some weight. The only songs that I'm really not too keen on are the opener and Stronger Than Dirt. (I really don't like the former - maybe if it was a bit shorter, I would like it, but it's not; and Stronger Than Dirt just doesn't interest me as much as the other songs). But generally, this is going to be a highlight of the year for me. Now for some reason I have an urge to listen to Whatever Hurts You Through The Night again.


Previous albums: Glasvegas (6/10)