Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The LP - We Are, But Now

Reviewed by Ben Lowes-Smith

By all rights, I should hate this. It’s a horrendous name for a band, and in the press release they look like zeitgeist-humping fashonistas. However, they did send the station a rather endearing and charming hand written letter, which won me over a bit, and the demo itself isn’t all that bad.

The problem lies with the fact the band don’t have an awful lot of personality. Opener ‘Lone Star State Love Affair’ wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the last Killers record (I presume, I haven’t heard it) and the singer’s voice wears its influences on its sleeve; Brandon Flowers, Liam Gallagher, and (most lamentably) Caleb Followill (who seems to have deemed it acceptable for an entire generation of singers to sound like constipated bison).

The song writing isn’t bad, commendable in fact. There’s some fairly interesting interplay between the complex and catchy synth lines (which, if i’m honest, made most of the songs for me) and the more discordant guitars.

It’s not bad, but it’s not spectacular, or even that noteworthy. The LP need to be comfortable in their own skin before they’ll really make my ears prick up.

The Fast and The Furious Soundtrack Sampler

Reviewed by Ben Lowes-Smith

I feel out of my depth with this one. I haven’t seen any of the films in this franchise (nor do I have any intention to). I don’t know how well they’ll work in the context of the film, which I suppose is their primary purpose. The press release promises ‘head thumping bangers’, and listening to the CD, these songs wouldn’t seem out of place juxtaposed with a car chase or an explosion, or sound tracking a serious-faced Vin Diesel rubbing himself against a pliant stranger in a dimly lit night club. I’d expect they’d do the job.

Worst of the bunch is Busta Rhymes’ ‘G-Stro’. He’s on autopilot here, the lyrics are pretty banal and he keeps advocating a young lady (presumably) to ‘show me your G-stro’. (What is this? Is it a car part? An item of clothing? Something rude?)

Best of the bunch are ‘Bang’ by Rye Rye ft. M.I.A, which has some fairly erratic beats, and is, y’know, quite a lot of fun, and ‘Krazy’ by Pitbull ft. Lil’ Jon. They both sound like attention deprived children toying around in the studio, with disregard for convention. The song is very enjoyable and the chorus is cacophonous and very danceable.

Maximo Park - The Kids Are Sick Again

Reviewed by Ben Lowes-Smith

The latest offering from local literate types lurches lethargically through my headphones, like Faith-era Cure on valium. I do have a great affinity for this band, but the lyrical content borders on self-parody; there’s nothing here that wasn’t better articulated on A Certain Trigger. It sounds a little bored with itself in fact, and after a mildly interesting shift ends quite abruptly, leaving a profound sense of ‘Was that it?!’. It’s not totally devoid of merit, but all it leaves me feeling is a bit bored and a bit patronised. Hopefully it will blossom when played live over the summer.

The Dead Shores - Modern Men

Reviewed by John Tait

The nice aspects- Powerful power chords and what Frank Turner might describe to be a “punk rock sense of honesty”. To some I’m sure this is a decent enough record. At first I was charmed by what their lyrics stand for, mocking what I’m sure we all inwardly mock- popular culture, the state of masculinity (which has been a subject in The Courier regarding University societies, so topical), and insincerity. Its all very light-hearted, and as the first track progressed, so did its banality. You listen to it and you think “Yeah…ok that’s fine but what’s the point?” To put it more coherently than that it doesn’t speak to me. Darken up guys! My advice to them would be to make their lyrics about something more worthy or about nothing at all.


A Place To Bury Strangers – Keep Slipping Away

Reviewed By Mark Gomersall

“Keep Slipping Away” is the new single taken from A Place To Bury Strangers fantastic sophomore album, “Exploding Head”. The fact this song wasn’t the first to be released from the album has always surprised me as it’s easily the catchiest thing the band has ever written. Despite this it still keeps the bands familiar style and is actually a very tense listen. It’s not a song that makes you feel comfortable, but in a good way. It’s a song that gets blood pumping through you, it feels like it could just explode into sheer anarchy at any moment and the fact it doesn’t (especially when put next to other APTBS material) really adds to eeriness of the song. The recurring guitar riff is a thing of absolute beauty, making the song feel like a classic from the get-go. I will admit, it’s not all perfect, the song does sound maybe a bit too familiar, in part to the fact that without the riff it’d actually be suspiciously similar to previous APTBS single “I Know I’ll See You” from their debut album.

The b-side, “Hit The Ground” is also a poor point. Despite another massive riff to open things, the band seems more content on providing their notorious ‘wall of sound’ as apposed to writing a good tune. It’s still perfectly listenable, but there’s a very clear reason it’s a b-side. On top of this there’s a selection of remixes of “Keep Slipping” away, the two standouts being the “South Central remix”, which takes a more dance-y approach with robotic twinged vocals and a pounding synth bassline; and the “Maps remix”, which feels like those old New Order b-sides where they’d take a song and remix it into something totally different.


Oonagh Cassidy – Then And Again

Reviewed by Mark Gomersall

For the most part ‘middle of the road’ music is about as pointless as a tantric wank. It’s generally vacuous, bland and all together boring. Oonagh Cassidy is a new name to tackle the ‘genre’ with her debut EP, “Then And Again” and like those who’ve gone before her does nothing to reinvent the wheel. Spearheaded by a down tempo cover of Cindy Lauper’s cheese-fest “Time After Time”, I was pleasantly surprised until Cassidy decided to launch into some sort of Alanis Morissette parody, warbling away like she’s have some sort of stroke. Seriously, is it physically possible for vibrato to start before you actually sing a note? The worst part of this is the fact she decides to do this at seemingly random times throughout the songs, albeit not as regularly or as strongly as she does on “Time After Time”. Putting that aside, it’s actually quite nice. The songs are dainty and each have a little bit of character to call their own, but at the end of the day the tracks never get beyond the “That’s quite nice” phase, meaning it’s somewhat of a chore to sit through a song from start to finish, let alone the entire EP.


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Levi Roots - So Out Of My Mind

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

I don’t have the greatest knowledge of reggae, but I do love Reggae Reggae sauce. So I found myself predisposed to like Levi Roots’ song ‘So Out Of My Mind’. Even without my sauce bias, this is a lovely reggae track which just makes me want to kick back with a beer and some food (covered in Reggae Reggae sauce) and just enjoy myself. I really should be paid for this promotion.

The one gripe with ‘So Out Of My Mind’ is that the lyrics do come across as a little repetitive; however this does give the song that great feeling that it is meant to be sung along to and enjoyed. Overall this is a great song that, like most reggae, can’t help but put you in a good mood.


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die / Thunder Remixes

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

For fans of The Prodigy’s new album ‘Invaders Must Die’, this set of remixes will be a welcome addition to their music collection. Opening strongly with the Liam H re-amped version of ‘Invaders Must Die’, this 6 track collection can’t help but get you dancing. A particular highlight is Doorly’s remix of Thunder, which joyfully tears your eardrums in a number of different directions and proves that Doorly has the talent to be around, remixing and making tracks for many years yet.

Overall this is a group of remixes that seem intended for the more devoted dance music fan rather than just the casual listener, but for those who love The Prodigy this is not one to be missed.


Bitterside - Start Again

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Back from the brink of breaking up Bitterside’s debut UK single is a cheerful and polished number accompanied by club dance remixes of the track and a B slide song called Versus Life, that could be argued to be a better song that the title single itself.

As far as it goes Bitterside have offered us a track that embodies what most modern rock pop songs have and nothing more. It has a feel good vibe with a decent instrumentals and vocals to match it however it does not bring us anything we have not heard before and the dance and club remixes are better left unheard.