Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The Editors - An End Has A Start

An End Has A Start is the second album by the gang of journalists turned musicians that are known to us as the Editors and not as “Snowfield”, the name they had originally, has been with us for quite some time now. It seems like as if this album will be one of those that won’t die, even though it focuses on death in some of the lyrics. This album is a lot darker than the first one, the influence of the early Cure and the Joy Divisionesque sound can be heard, like it is the case for some contemporary bands at the moment. You have to choose the right moment in time to listen to it. The dark electro rock mixed with the dark lyrics makes it a dangerous piece of music for a depressive person.

Review by Solveig Werner

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Cat Power - Song For Bobby

“Song for Bobby” by Cat Power is a rather soft song. Its lyrics describe her love to Bob Dylan. Well how she met him for the first time. Charlyn Marchall has a beautiful voice, which is underlined by her guitar and piano playing. The tune reminds me a bit of older songs. This is probably a song for a relaxing night, and something that will help you calm down a bit.
She is different form the other singer song writers, seen that they are mostly male.

Review by Solveig Werner

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Sebastian Bach – Angel Down

Well, it's been a while but ex-Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach is back with a brand new solo album entitled 'Angel Down'. The album also features a behind-the-scenes DVD featuring performances, and 'making of' the record. The album hails the return of Guns N Roses frontman Axl Rose on guest vocals. After touring over the world and supporting Guns N Roses in 2006 on their European and American Tour, Bach has succeeded in creating an album that will appeal to metal and rock fans alike, featuring a good balance of hard rock and heavy metal.
The album opens with the title track 'Angel Down' with a slow haunting introduction, footsteps and howling wind. The silence is broken with a heavy power chord followed by Bach getting stuck in there with his signature high pitched screaming. Bach does a great job of balancing out the loud screams in his songs with actual singing, which a lot of metal artists and bands struggle to do. Either that, or they are hiding the fact that they can’t actually sing, simply scream down a microphone! Bach is one of those metal artists that I believe genuinely has a great singing voice. You only have to look at tracks like 'I Remember You' from his days with Skid Row to hear what a great voice has. His voice has matured well with age, as he still manages to hit those high notes, and retain a sense of power in his voice. Bach’s band sound superb and really compliment his vocals.
In the second track, 'You Don’t Understand', Bach relies more on riffs and less on screaming. It is a good choice of position in the album, as it brings the pace down slightly, but showcases Bach’s vocal talent with some powerful chords and riffage.
Axl Rose performed guest vocals on three of the tracks on this album. A cover of Aerosmith’s 'Back in the Saddle', 'Love Is A Bitchslap' and 'Stuck Inside'. Fans of the new Guns N Roses will be eager to hear how Axl’s voice has held up; 'Back in the Saddle' is probably the best out of the three. Axl and Bach mix well together and his voice adds an extra layer of heaviness to the tracks; alternating between lines they make a great pairing. Axl’s voice is on great form and it is good to see him back involved in something new. Now if only he could get a move on with his own Chinese Democracy album before people completely lose interest!
Other highlights on the album include 'American Metal Head', which again is another heavy powerful track which, having seen performed live, sounds great on the album; heavy, hard hitting and catchy. 'Live and Die' again is another great powerful, heavy, head-banging track, and 'Negative Light' shows off the skill of Bach’s bass player with a cool intro featuring some intricate bass work.
'By Your Side' is Bach’s attempt at a ballad, hailing back to the days of 18 and life with Skid Row. After a few listens I’ve grown to like this track more and more, with the acoustic guitar work behind Bach’s voice working well to add a sensitive tone to the song. Its not going to beat 'I Remember You', but overall he’s done a pretty good job.
Towards the end of the album the last few tracks do seem a little repetitive, but overall Sebastian Bach’s 'Angel Down' is a fine album and definitely worth checking out- not just because of Axl Rose’s guest vocals. Keep this up Baz, you're doing a great job! If Bach decides to tour the UK with this record, I would recommend seeing him live, as he really puts on a great show and has proved he can hold his own, away from Skid Row.

Review by Ash Robertson

Monday, 5 November 2007

Iron and Wine - Boy With A Coin EP

You are most probably going to say that you do not know Iron and Wine and that you have never ever heard a song by Iron and Wine, well you are likely to be wrong on that account. Sam Beam is the man that is it all, classed as folk rock, singer-songwriter and indie folk, it is soft music.
So where did you hear Iron and Wine? If you saw the film “Garden State”, you will have heard some Iron and Wine squeezed into all those songs by the Shins. It is “Such Great Heights” a cover of the Postal service that gets played. It is also probable that the first time you heard Ben Gibbard’s song you actually heard the Iron and Wine cover of it, it was released before the Postal Service released their version of it, you can find the cover and original on the “Such Great Heights EP”.
“Boy With A Coin” is a three song EP, two of the tracks have not been released anywhere else but on this EP, and the title track is a song of the newest Iron and Wine album, “The Shepherd’s Dog”. This EP is amazing, it is handmade music, and Beam plays and experiments with instruments and the sounds that he can get out of them. As a result the songs have a beautiful sound to them, with dream like lyrics. These lyrics are quite simple, “the kettle burned because I left it too long”, beautiful and at times sad. He includes the notion of religion, “that’s how she knows that God made her eyes for crying at birth”. Love is like almost always an important theme, “we were kissing with the radio on”.
It is music that you can listen to at almost any time. It is relaxing, so it will not disturb you while reading, studying or just putting up your feet to take a deep breath. And if you like listening to some tunes while going to sleep this is something perfect to listen to, the music calms you down and you are asleep right away, it’s like hypnosis.
Iron and Wine is definitely something different, just look at pictures of Sam Beam or listen to the music. You will probably like it if you do like Death Cab or the Shins and other bands along those lines, if that is the case Iron and Wine is the right thing for you. But it is also more or less a mistake to compare Iron and Wine to those bands because it defers so much from them. Iron and Wine is just Iron and Wine, very simple beautiful music that should be listened to, but that is not really made for radio.

Review by Solveig Werner

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Dave Gahan - Hourglass

On October 22nd 2007 Depeche Mode’s front man and founding, David Gahan released his second solo album “Hourglass”. He stays close to his roots in the electro rock world, concentrating on dark music and lyrics sung in Gahan’s well known baritone voice, only that this time around the songs are actually written by him, in his band that job is left to Martin Gore most of the time.
It is not a bad thing that his roots in electro rock are laid bare, but for this being a solo record Dave Gahan does not separate himself enough from his Band. The sound and the lyrics of his songs resemble the work of Depeche Mode a bit too much to be taken seriously all the way as a “side project”. It is not like Tim Armstrong of Rancid releasing a solo album, which derives completely from the punk sounds, and is a reggae album. His own band and other electro rock bands that have sprouted in the music world, over the last two decades clearly influence Gahan. There are the songs “Use You” and “Endless” that sound similar to Nine Inch Nails have released in the past.
This album has a dark, sad but also dancy tune to it. The opening track starts out dark in sound and lyrics, it seems as if Gahan has a rather sad love life. “Kingdom” is the first single of the album, once you hear it you can’t get enough of it, but don’t over due it either. It has a promising sound to it, the words reflect fear and danger but also love. “Deeper and Deeper, could be a good song for the dance floor, it is a love song which is quite sad, but the musical score is more or less what you dance on these days.
In an overall listen the album is not the thing to listen to when you are depressed because it will bring you down even more seen that a lot of the songs focus on emotional problems. And don’t listen to it when you are too happy because then you will probably not like it too much. You have to be in a mellow in between mood of some sort.

Review by Solveig Werner

The Killers - Tranquilize

If you have listened to the Killers for the last couple of years you will probably have noticed an evolution in their tunes, their material has been getting darker and darker. Their newest single “Tranquilize”, available on itunes, it will be released as a limited 7’’on the 5th of November, is a good example for this change.
Somber, is probably the word which describes best what their latest release sounds like, even their Joy Division cover of the 1979 song “Shadowplay” is not as dark, even though the lyrics and the sound of it is already quite dark. In this new song, you can hear how they are influenced by Joy Division (like so many other bands today) it is no wonder that Anton Corbijn had asked them to cover “Shadowplay” for his biopic “Closer”. And they have managed to stay away from being a carbon copy of the band when it comes to the sound and the themes of the lyrics.
“Tranquilize” their newest single, also is the opening track from their upcoming B-Sides and Rarities “Sawdust”, released out on the 12th of November. It features the front man of the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed. In this Duo Reed sings more than the Killers’ front man Brandon Flowers, who wrote the song. The sadness of the lyrics gets underlined Reed’s singing voice. The whole song has a more or less depressive touch to it, the synths have become more important, so has the bass and there is use of violins in the background.
It is something completely different from “Somebody Told Me”, Killers’ lovers might be a bit shocked by the change towards the depressive world of music. Looking at the track list from “Sawdust” leaves me wondering if the whole album will be a lot darker than the other two releases. It has “Shadowplay” on it, which is quite a sad song, and then there is “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town” (Mel Tillis), which has some quite depressive lyrics about being paralyzed due to a war combat.

Review by Solveig Werner

Friday, 2 November 2007

Tigerbombs - Things That Go Boom

When you think of music from Finland you probably think of some heavy metal band. This is exactly what Kido Retro, and Pepe Trouble are not up to. They are the duo that calls themselves Tigerbombs formed in 2001. Comparing their music to other artists seems more or less like a hard piece of work. They are probably what should be called “alternative”. On their 2007 release “Things That Go Boom” they use guitars, bass guitars, a lot of percussions as well as some heavy use of organs and TOYS (that’s were the weird electronic sounds come from).
Kido’s voice has a special touch to it, hard to described, it’s a bit higher than most male singers voices, at times it will go out of tune, which is not a problems, because if it wasn’t out of tune it would not sound as much fun. It is a voice that easily grows on you. Some of the songs have the power to make you want to dance, others just make you want to sit down and think about the sadder things in life. Generally the whole album seems happy, some songs feature the sadder aspects of our lives. “School Of Love” is about a person does not “seem to get all straight As” and is “going to fail anyways”. The music is rather joyful for what the lyrics are about being bad at love.
In an overall view (or listen) is a joyful album, there are some sadder songs in there, but something sad would not be colored in ORANGE, would it? The front cover is also proof for it not being all that depressive, on it you find a sketch of a couple making out … When you do open it (the booklet) the first thing that you will come across is a message of appreciation from the band to the listener/buyer. Even if you would not like the music, which is doubtful, you would definitely enjoy the album art, thanks to the drawing skills of the Swedish singer Paola. Paola is not only the artist for the album art. She is also featured in two of the songs, and is doing background vocals for three.
The Finnish accent of Kido adds to the charm of this album, the opening track “Shaking The Tree” can leave you wondering for ages what exactly he is singing about. It is an amazing song thanks to it oh so different sound. It even sounds amazing without having a clue what it actually is about. “Shaking The Tree” is probably the best track, but the other songs can definitely keep up with it, and maybe there might be better ones. Placing an amazing song at the beginning of the record is always a good choice. But what makes it such a good song? For one it has a great sound to it, the music sounds great it has some crazy 70s tune to it, which still fits our age perfectly well.
But beware if you blast your stereo too hard, you might blow your ears on the song “Out Of Tune” cause things start getting out of tune in that one as the title suggests. Treat your ears to something new!

Review by Solveig Werner