Car windows DOWN, fists UP! The first full-length debut album from Partyline, the newest band from original riot-grrl Allison Wolfe (formerly of Bratmobile) is here to lift up your errr trousers and make you blush.
Aluminium is the brainchild of XL Recordings owner Richard Russell who thought it might be interesting to hear label mate Jack White’s music re-interpreted by a classical orchestra.
Following a very limited joint 7” with fellow Scots dataPanik (now split and reformed as Peel-favoured, post-Britpop oddballs Bis), First Blood is the first ‘proper’ release by :( (or colonopenbracket), and consists of five short blasts of emo-flavoured, pop-punk with a difference – in that the guitars have been replaced with ironic synth lines that recall early arcade games and Nintendo/Sega classics.
Born Ruffians are an oddball three piece from the backwater town of Midland, Ontario who follow in the noteprints of stumbling, North American indieflolk like Pavement and Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah! with this eponymous debut EP. They formed in 2002 so its taken a few years to reach this point and release an opening salvo, and though it’s not quite a devastating statement of intent, it is a very promising 6 tracks of treble-y jerk-pop embellished/ruined (depending on your opinion of the man) by the strangled vocals of Luke LaLonde, variously sounding like David Byrne, Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo and a cat with ADHD (I’m definitely in the ‘embellished’ camp, fortunately).
This is the 13th album by the ‘legendary’ (or so the press release says) Brian Setzer, and features 13 tracks (oooh! High concept!) which he claims are what “modern rockabilly should sound like”. A quote that portents doom. Just like the title of track 10 – When Hepcats Get The Blues.
If you like Moby, you’ll invariably already own his seminal album Play (Mute, 1999) which has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. If you don’t like him, you will probably still be able to recognise the majority of his Play tracks due the tendency for them to feature on television adverts, in movies and as part of other licensing deals. This collection of greatest hits attempts to thread the links between his work as a techno DJ, film soundtrack composer and producer of more commercially friendly dance tracks and tender moments.
At its best, Still Searching is a pretty exhilarating, if familiar experience. Short opening track “The Rapture” bristles with intent, “All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” is storming manifestation of anger and angst, and all the guitars are thrashed and drums pounded satisfyingly throughout. Like Alexisonfire they mix up the abrasive screams of hardcore with the more palatable-for-the-masses, soaring ‘big’ choruses of emo (which makes screamo, naturally), although they make use more of the later than the former.
Prayer of Death is the fourth album by Entrance, and their first of fully original material. It’s ostensibly a solo project by self taught LA Denizen, Guy Blakeslee, but on this LP he has been supported by several co-producers and musicians, including Paz Lechantin (from Zwan and a Perfect Circle) and Devendra Banhart and Vetiver producer Thom Monahon. So, what would you expect from a man who is inspired by Jimi Hendrix, Timothy Leary and the Tibetan Book of the Dead? A concept album about death awareness in a war-torn world, of course.
It would be tempting to track the demographic course of this singles collection and its relation to British Culture, but you’d start with Manchester’s baggy era and then kind of find that The Charlatans bore more resemblance to whatever Tim Burgess was listening to at the time rather than any particular trend or movement. Forever is a singles collection that marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of their original keyboard player Rob Collins and coincides with a small tour and DVD release. For most of us particularly in the UK, the collection needs little explanation, hey The Charlatans have already released a Best Of and a Live album, and many of the same tracks pop up here again.
In those early, shambolic live gigs, filled with countless A&R men drawn in by the acclaim from his early EPs, Badly Drawn Boy was something of a perverse performer, messing about with structures and often not even playing songs to speak of. His debut album (2000’s The Hour Of Bewilderbeast) carried on this ethos and was a sprawling, brilliant mess of ideas over structure. His subsequent albums, the About A Boy soundtrack, Have You Fed The Fish? and One Plus One is One have seen a more measured take on singer songwriting.
This CD came in a double sided carboard sleeve, with one a colorful distorted picture of a two man band, clad in what seemed to be basketball shorts, and the other with a big number “13” and the words “Made in Mexico” repeated a number of times across the image. I had no idea what I was gonna get going into it, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure what I got coming out of it.
With …And the Battle Begun, their fifth album, and first release outside of the Drive-Thru Records banner, the Rx Bandits have made their first record that isn’t really too much of a leap from the previous one — which is not a bad thing. Rather than ambitiously scouring new territory, the band seems to be growing more familiar with the sound they’ve been hinting at for the past five years. The production is raw, much more stripped down than anything they’ve done before, however it’s all still there: the subtle keyboard licks dripping off the melody, a horn section that sparks off the beat like an out of control circuit, soaring vocals with ridiculous range, and guitar and drum lines that seem to shift every measure.
It’s been a big few months for metal fans with Boris/Sunn O, The Melvins, Mastadon and now Isis all returning with new material. In The Absence Of Truth is Isis’ fourth LP, and continues momentum created by Panopticon away from the core elements that most would define metal into a larger multifaceted prism of song. The beast that was omnipresent on Isis’ post-hardcore debut Celestial has been gradually suppressed with each further release. Oceanic followed and is still Isis’ modus operandi because it installed beauty to counterbalance the beast in equal measure, so whilst we were having our face cracked by huge compact riffs and bottomless vocals it still managed to glisten with a crystalline grandeur. Panopticon took things a step on, stealing the shimmer of Oceanic and expanding upon it adding more recognisable vocals, and melting down the heavy choruses to install more space and room for melodic inertia.
Signed to Fierce Panda The Blackout have recently garnered attention through a “Best Newcomer Nomination” at the Kerrang Awards and a support slot for The Lost Prophets. A six piece from Wales, The Blackout are along the same lines as Funeral For A Friend and indeed The Lost Prophets. Debut mini-album The Black Out The Black Out The Black Out, is a tidy and concise screamo affair that nestles safely within the mainstream realms of screamo/emo punk, with enough frills to satisfy the ‘edgy’ kids and enough cheesey harmonies to satisfy their girlfriends.
Mother Nature’s Slaves is Rhode Island trio Monstrous’ first label release and inhabits the lighter side of Nirvana, The Lemonheads and The Vines with a mixture of acoustic ditties with cooing harmonies, the occasional all out grunge but generally all things alt pop-rock. As a band of three brothers who have honed their sound over the course of long self-promoted tours, the band sound comfortable and balanced.
Cast Out Devils is almost straight disco; not in a Kasey and the Sunshine Band sort of way, but in a synth filled, dance-friendly way. Still markedly set apart from the post-punk dance revival (a la Franz Ferdinand and less worthy carriers of the torch (I’m talking to you, Brendan Flowers), what distinguishes Detholz! from there counterparts is their lyrics.
Detrola is an ethereal collection of smart and textured dreams from Michigan-based band His Name Is Alive, who have returned after a period of semi-retirement. In case you wondered, their name stems from the history class notes of the bands driving force Warren (Warn) Defever, referring to Abraham Lincoln. In keeping with their midwestern forefather, Detrola is a mid-western sounding melting pot of charming and tragic melodic moments.
Bravely treading that generally ill-fated path of movie-stars-who-want-to-be something else, Juliette Lewis with her band “the Licks” enters a foray, yes that’s right, into the world of Rock. And quite right, it’s okay to have reservations about it. Four on the Floor is the second Juliette and the Licks album, and after intensive touring including the Vans Warped Tour 2004, they have “captured their onstage energy” for this record.
Noise Floor: A B-Sides And Rarities Compilation serves as a reminder to us all that whilst Bright Eyes have not released an album this year they are still around. Odd that we would forget considering the double album release of I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, not to mention the bands simultaneous occupation of the #1 and #2 spots in Billboards Hot 100 Singles chart in 2004 — a feat not achieved by anyone for seven years previously. Alzeihmer’s aside, Noise Floor’s selection pre-dates the success of Bright Eye’s last two albums culling from a period between 1999-2004.
Altar is exactly what you’d expect and more. It’s both a meeting of both bands and their sounds, the collaboration serving to forge together the drone, doom, psych and ambient sides that the two groups inhabit on their separate releases, but there is clearly some new ground explored both within this space and also outside of it as the collective stretches itself to reach into new areas and make new moods. Overall it’s a dark masterpiece, brooding and oozing out a menacing ominous mood but there is suitable time devoted to the more expansive, progressive realms of both ambient experimentalism and bittersweet balladry.
Les Georges Leningrad are a surviving member of the post-punk engine; thriving on the trashy sub-culture of Montreal. This French-Canadian city being the quintessential cosmopolitan strata with which a post-punk band needs to survive. Ever heard of post-punk bands in Louisiana? I think not, unless you could argue that Lords have a peculiar taste for Dada and masked gigs. However, with Sangue Puro, Les Georges Leningrad have succumbed more to the no ways of no wave.
King Buzzo and Dale Crover have returned with the first Melvins studio recording in four years, after having spent the duration collaborating with artists such as Jello Biafra and Lustmord. The Melvins, for the most part, have existed as a three piece band, with a tenuous bassist position that has been occupied by greats like Joe Preston (Earth, Thrones) and Lori Black (Clown Alley). Now the Melvins have transmogrified into a four piece super-band, with Coady Willis and Jared Warren joining from Big Business — providing work with bass, drums and vocals. Yes, that means The Melvins now have two drummers, and fourvocalists.
Basement Jaxx have seen their popularity skyrocket in the last year or so. Having been elevated to headliner status at Glastonbury last year, they seem to be riding a wave of publicity and built up a reputation of being one of the UK’s premier popular dance acts, rivaling The Chemical Brothers and Faithless. The Jaxx’s brand of garage-tinged house has steadily been refined since debut Remedy (XL, 1995) but Crazy Itchy Radio features fewer all-out dance numbers than their other three albums. Taking a radio-themed approach that includes some jingle-style interludes and comments at the ends of the tracks, their innovation could be seen to be threatening the energy that made them so original in the first place.
Like Wrong Music’s Nomeansno, who released a new LP recently, Alice Donut have been peddling an uncompromising, anarchic take on punk rock for 20-odd years, regardless of fashion, acclaim or technology (or lack of any of these). Fuzz is their 11th album, with 12 tracks clocking in at just under an hour, and follows a 8 year break up from 96-04 – making them pretty prolific, really.
On his second full-length album, Micah P. Hinson And The Opera Circuit, Hinson is — in a style similar to that of Iowa folk boy William Elliot Whitmore — introducing roots rock in a way that can be digested by a punk crowd. Hinson has one of those wonderfully gruff voices that sounds as thought it’s been cultivated by smoking a pack a day, but looks somehow out of place in his very young body. However, one has to appreciate the maturity of such a writer. The old soul that Hinson is has allowed for him to write lyrics that aren’t what would be found scratched in the back of a bored calculus student’s notebook.