Monday, 20 October 2008

Cut Off Your Hands – Happy As Can Be (EP)

Cut Off Your Hands, four lads from the distant shores of New Zealand, have released this EP as a precursor to their debut album You and I, with Happy As Can Be the first single. And it has to be said, if they can replicate the ambitious and heartfelt beauty of these five songs on the album, then we should be looking forward to it with great anticipation. They manage to combine the epic with the plain catchy, mixing their signature pop hooks with an energetic and powerful edge that Arcade Fire would pride themselves on. Happy As Can Be is a feast of heartfelt and powerful lyrics, pounding drums and frenetic rhythm. These are pop songs with depth, recalling the likes of The Flaming Lips, with deceptively dark lyrics soaring over an uplifting base. The five songs sit happily together and make the album a tantalising prospect, and one everyone should hope comes as soon as possible.

Review by Robert Sellars

Dear Superstar - Heartless

Before listening to this album, I’d never heard of Dear Superstar, hence I was unsure of what to expect. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised. Although the Bullet For My Valentine style metal-core I was expecting (not a genre I’m really into) was undeniably present, it was competently merged with more classic metal influences. Heartless left me startled, but in a good way.
Heartless starts out strongly with Brink of Destruction, a heavy metal triumph with note worthy guitar work and an unforgettable chorus. In contrast, Dear Superstar’s metal-core influences are much more obvious on Live Love Lie with guest vocals courtesy of members of Bullet For My Valentine. Other highlights include Signposts to Bedposts, with its powerful riffs, the significantly more laid back Can’t Write A Love Song and Diseased and Distraught, arguably the best showcase of Dear Superstar’s mixed influences.
My only real criticism of Heartless is that although the album shows a degree of variety, sometimes it can sound a bit samey. However, it could be argued that this is the result of adhering to a specific musical style. All in all, I definitely enjoyed Heartless, and would recommend it to heavy metal fans everywhere.

Review by Chris Render

The Last Shadow Puppets – My Mistakes Were Made For You

It’s safe to say they’re unique in our day and age - using musical styles not unlike those from the 40’s and 50’s, and creating a completely new sound which makes them unlike any other band.
It comes as no surprise that The Last Shadow Puppets have done it again; a collaboration of two artists which already have success from their own separate bands - Alex Turner and Miles Kane come together to create something completely unlike the music they are famous for, and do it with style.
The band on the whole is incredible, they’re astonishing when playing live, and the orchestra’s talent goes beyond words.
However, as good as they actually are, My Mistakes Were Made for You is not the best song by The Last Shadow Puppets. It’s definitely good – but not as upbeat as many of their songs, and never really reaches a climax throughout.
The music is strong and emotional, and definitely what makes the song what it is; but it never really exhilarates to a point that you can completely lose yourself in the song. It could easily be a James Bond theme tune – the music is romantic and smooth, and their voices croon. The orchestra is powerful but quiet, and there are constant exciting builds of music – however, they never quite tip over the edge to create an explosion of sound.
Nevertheless, the song is enjoyable and a complete reflection of just what The Last Shadow Puppets can do – but they have done better and proved themselves more so in other songs.
I’m a big fan of the Last Shadow Puppets and believe that this song is definitely worth a few listens, especially if you have never heard them before.
I’ve found that it has grown on me a lot since the first time I heard it, and I do really like it.
The Last Shadow Puppets are an incredibly talented band, and would appeal to most people – their music is not like anything else out there at the moment, and would appeal to a variety of music tastes.
Please don’t assume because of The Arctic Monkeys and The Rascals, that this band would only appeal to an indie and popular rock audience – because their music is quite something more than that.

Review by Emma Humphreys

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

People of Santiago – Circles/Dinosaurs

I was highly impressed by the two tracks by People of Santiago. Their musical talent is fresh and the melodies extremely gripping with uncompromising vocals from the lead singer whose voice is reminiscent of Jim Adkins [Jimmy eat world]. ‘Circles’ could easily propel to a status of sing-a-long classic with its anthem-like chorus, and with the b-side of ‘Dinosaurs’; a slower and more heartfelt tune, we are left with an extremely well-rounded, satisfying release.

Review by Eliza Lomas

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Mike Whellans – Fired-up and Ready

I’m a big fan of the blues, now Mike Whellans is not up there with the greats such as Rory Gallagher or The Blues Brothers but he is still a fantastic artist. This one man band produced his new album, Fired-up and Ready containing chillaxing blues music that would be consider very easy listening. The song Fired-Up and Ready, the first of three of my favourites, brings back good old classical blues with superior harmonica tunes, captivating guitar structure and memorable lyrics, this one is for all blues lovers. The next of my favourites is a song dubbed Early in the morning, a very relaxed song unlike the others as in brings in some flavoursome piano compositions while still keeping the harmonica hot! The final song of my favourite tracks is Lonesome Road, although still a blues song it gives a good country feeling to it, with fantastic lyrics telling a story about an enraged women hunting a man down. The album on a whole is a great piece of work which I would be glad to have in my blues collection.

Review by Aron Riordan

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Team Waterpolo - So Called Summer

So Called Summer quite literally overflows with sun-filled passion bursting out amongst the darker parts of the song. It’s hard to resist the vibrant, fast-paced choruses, and the dramatic pace changes between verses work perfectly to create a sing-along anthem. The song slowly builds into a frenzy and rarely drops a gear once it has, and when it does do, it’s to dramatic effect. It’s a summer song for the wettest of English summers, and should brighten up airwaves and dance-floors alike. Listen out for Team Waterpolo bringing a little more light into your life a lot more very soon.

Review by Rob Sellars

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Sound Ex- Palomino

It is easy to see where the Geordie rockers got their former moniker, 'The Sound Explosion', from. When you hear the first chord of opener Enchantment, you'll know what I mean. The thing with the SoundEx is, you know what you're going to get. Labeled as some of the North East's most fierce live performers, with many gigs resembling riots, you would feel that most of the tracks on the album have been geared to work to their full effect live. Probably the best example of this would be 9 Mile Ride, a Foo Fighter-esque rabble rouser that is hard to listen to without imagining an entire crowd bouncing.
Yet, it is the final title track Palomino that warrants the most attention. You really can tell the influence of producer Paul Reeve, probably best known for his work with Muse, as the song is filled with crests and falls as well some more experimental layers. It is probably the biggest statement of intent on the album in its combination of high octane rock and roll and the production wizadry of Jimmy Page.
However, that's about as far as the SoundEx lean to the musical left. To quote Radio 1 DJ, Steve Lamacq, "The SoundEx, you suspect would lay down their lives for rock and roll". That's about the best evaluation you can get for these full-on rockers.

Review by Sam Lunney