By chizm Nov.17.2010
In: Album Reviews, Commentary, listen, Other, Recommended
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Bassheads Unite! New Bassnectar Mix

Bassnectar

Bass-music maestro Bassnectar has recorded a new mix for the UKs BBC Radio1 and uploaded it for our listening pleasure. As usual the North American dubstep and bass-infused hip hop king not only hits the nail on the head but knocks a hole right through the wall, leaving the listener in a dancing/headbanging stupor.

Do yourself a favour and download this. Now.

By chizm Oct.25.2010
In: Album Reviews
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Album Review: Magnetic Man

Magnetic Man

For those who don’t know Magnetic Man are one of the hottest electronic acts in the UK right now and the world’s first dubstep supergroup consisting of dubstep originators and pioneers Skream, Benga and Artwork. The trio have recently been slaying UK and European audiences with their mindblowing live show and even recording at Maida Vale studios with live strings.

This album is definitely aimed at more of a mainstream dubstep audience than a lot of past tracks released by these three producers, full of catchy vocals but not surpassing on the big wobbly bass we have all come to know and love when it comes to UK dubstep.

The album showcases a variety of sounds from orchestral strings in the opening track, Flying into Tokyo, and moves onto a variety of heavy dubstep and the more poppy sounds of I Need Air and Perfect Stranger. The album finishes on an absolutely epic note with Getting Nowhere (featuring John Legend).

This is a great album and just may be the catalyst of dubstep crossing over to mainstream audiences.

My picks of the album: I Need Air, The Bug (Benga’s bassy vocoder vocals here are HUGE), Perfect Stranger, Karma Crazy and Getting Nowhere.

By Jye Smith Oct.8.2010
In: Album Reviews
1 comment

The Glitch Mob - Triple J Exclusive Mix

The Glitch Mob – Triple J Radio Australia Mix by The Glitch Mob on Mixcloud

The Glitch Mob on Triple J – Mix

Amazing mix by one of my new favourite acts – The Glitch Mob. La Roux mix is definitely my favourite from the mix. Get it. Now.

Read the full story

By Jye Smith Oct.1.2010
In: Album Reviews
2 comments

The Glitch Mob

The Glitch Mob – Parklife 2010

New writer Matt Chisholm told me to check out The Glitch Mob – and holy shit – these glitch slash hip hop slash electronica slash dub slash fucking everything guys have totally blown me away. Read the full story

By Jye Smith Sep.12.2010
In: Album Reviews
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Bombazine Black: Motion Picture

Bombazine Black Motion Picture iTunes cover

Guitars and emotion

Just finished listening to Motion Picture by Bombazine Black.  And loved it. From the very moment I held the CD cover – I just had a feeling I was holding onto something beautiful.

I’m a little speechless. This album is incredible.

It’s emotive, delicate and yet extremely powerful.  If you’re a Sigur Ros fan – then you’ll love it tracks like The Bel Esprit – overall the minimal guitar sounds are contemporary and beautiful.

There’s a lot of heart in this album and I can’t say enough about it. Make sure you get a copy.

Those in Australia can buy the digipak featuring artwork by our very own Jayne Tuttle at the following stores:


By chizm
In: Album Reviews
1 comment

Burning Man 2010 DJ Mix

“Shack is a force to be reckoned with”

Download/Listen here

I first saw Elite Force aka Shack a few years ago when he played the Harbourlife festival on Sydney Harbour. What a set that was, and every set of his I’ve heard since has been huge. One of the pioneers of the tech-funk sound, a wonderful marriage of tech-house, electro and breaks, Shack is a force to be reckoned with. Known for his electrifying DJ sets where he will often scream at the audience, revving them up just before the beat drops back in.

This mix is to help promote one of the large number of sets Elite Force is playing at this year’s Burning Man festival in Nevada, USA (I think I’ve seen him post somewhere from four to six different set times and stages on his Twitter over the last week or two). Beginning with a monologue about weed and acid I knew I was in for another banger from this monster of a DJ. Moving from the intro straight into a jacking techy sound, Shack wastes no time getting the dance floor moving.

The mix continues with some bass heavy tunes, almost dipping into the wobbly house sound currently being supported in the UK by likes of producer/DJs Jack Beats while still keeping that wonderful rolling groove Elite Force has always managed to keep in his sets.

Continuing with Shack’s flawless mixing the set begins to wind into a ravey feel but still with huge breakdowns, basslines, and breakbeats, which surely would have gone down a treat at his recent set at Canada’s Shambhala Music Festival, touted by Elite Force himself as “the perfect rave” and also known as Canada’s answer to Burning Man, which I was lucky enough to attend in 2009.

Always one to keep the dance floor on their toes, Shack takes a turn around the twenty minute mark with a very heavy electro feel full of more breakdowns to give the dance floor a short rest between the stomping beats being thrown down shortly before changing again into a harder tech-infused sound at the half an hour mark to get the dance floor pumping even more.

With the basslines getting bigger and bigger Shack proves the whole way through this set he knows how to build up a set and take the audience on a musical journey, crossing genres, different feels and seamlessly moving from one to the next, constantly keeping things interesting.

Dropping his revamp of the breaks classic, “Blackout” by JDS, Shack shows off his acid-breaks roots before he moves into his tech-funk sound of today, before quickly mixing into the housier sounds of Felix da Housecat’s “Oops”, giving the dance floor a short rest before throwing down more heavy tech-funk beats and basslines.

While personally I wasn’t much of a fan of Shack’s revamp of Nero’s remix of “Sincere”, I was quite happy to hear his version of the Smashing Pumpkins hit “1979,” which was featured on The Crystal Method’s “Community Service 2” mix CD. This tune lightened the mood of this otherwise quite heavy set before dropping into the fiery depths of hell with the even heavier final tracks of the mix.

Dubstep. The popular sound in underground electronic music today. Huge basslines and big broken beats. This sound really fits in well with Shack’s sets and is a perfect way to make a set full of big dirty basslines even bigger and dirtier. While I prefer the original, the Elite Force revamp of dubstep God, Excision’s, “Subsonic” was the perfect track to link the breaks sounds of “1979” into Shack’s collaboration with another of dubstep’s heavyweights, Bar 9, before finishing off this monster of a mix with another excerpt from the monologue found in the intro.

9/10 – Banging!

By Jye Smith Aug.18.2010
In: Album Reviews
2 comments

Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More

Cover Art for Mumford and Sons - Sigh no more

Delicate, powerful and hopeful.

This is honestly one of the most beautiful albums I’ve picked up in a long time. And if anyone has anything else similar then please send it.  And as one review points out – it’s almost an album of too many good tracks! But I’m looking forward to soaking up each and individual track.

It’s a collection of epic folk songs. Grab a copy from iTunes.

By Jye Smith Aug.16.2010
In: Album Reviews
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Australian Defence Force: The Reservists

“The Army is Australia’s longest running professional musical organisation, employing hundreds ofmusicians across the country.” Director of Army Music, Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Ian Mclean.

Jump onto the MySpace of these crew and you hear a really fat cover version of Don’t Hold Back.  The rest was non-stop listening for me. Probably the last thing we think about when talking about our Defence forces, but this cannot be over looked.

They’re a soul-funk, big band, jazz outfit that operates like any other band and just so happensto be made up of Army Musicians. They play gigs, they have street posters and they even run ads looking fornew band members in street press, on blogs and at universities. And like a lot of bands around the world,they have a MySpace page.

On their MySpace page you can hear some of their music, watch a few clips, get event dates, as well as findout more about what being a musician in the Army Reserve is all about.

For information about the role of Musician in the Army Reserve, visit myspace.com/thereservists or call 1319 01.


By Jye Smith Apr.20.2010
In: Album Reviews
4 comments

Head: Save Me From Myself

Album cover for Save Me from Myself

Finally grabbing a copy of Save Me From Myself by ex-Korn member Brian Welch – better known as Head – was a massive step.  Korn have been my favourite band since I was about 14, and Head deciding to leave the band once he found God and cited moral reasons for leaving, was almost like a personal punch in the throat – he was my favourite, massive reason for me playing guitar and influenced my own band‘s style to some degree.

While there’s much I wasn’t as impressed with (my bias to Korn is unavoidable really) it’s the openness of the album that made it for me. The video to Flush is incredible though – very Korn, but really confronting, there’s also a little controversy around it too.

Personal things aside. I’ve picked it up, and put it on, and will give it a fair go.

The production is strange: I guess I was expecting massive guitars, dripping in bass.  What it appears to be is a much more Dope – I can’t even really tell what guitars they are, too much (what I assume) post-production work, kind of sucked any rawness. (Note: I’m telling myself now to stop expecting a Korn album)

Hearing Head’s absolute musical direction is actually surprising: it’s pretty classic nu-metal meets industrial metal. The guitar work isn’t incredibly technical – another surprise to me.  Some really great melodies through there.  Head on vocals is also interesting: it’s pretty Jon Davis (Korn’s lead singer), and you can hear heaps of other influences from the nu-metal and industrial era there: but definitely some classic Jon Davis from the earlier days.

The synth work is okay – although because I’ve been spoiled listening to heaps of tech and progressive house (dance) music, they sound ‘cheap’ – and in fact much like what I’ve been producing on my MacBook’s GarageBand, another let down.

Overall, it’s enjoyable, even if it sounds a little juvenile in production and lyrical content.  But I definitely something I’d put on and play comfortably at full volume, just as a metal fan. Religion isn’t spat at us, the themes are there, but like so many are delivered well tact.

What I really do enjoy about this album is it’s just raw – it’s Brian just smashing out all the songs that have obviously been in his head for some time. Good work, mate. Will pick up your next one for sure.

“Flush” controversy – from Wikipedia

The content of the music video has reportedly caused select retailers to pull Save Me from Myself from their shelves.[30] This prompted Welch to provide his explanation for what transpires in the video:

The video for ‘Flush’ is about crystal meth addiction and the crazy things anyone addicted to meth will do while they’re high or to get their fix. Everything the models were doing in the video is what I was wrapped up in while I was addicted to meth. The video is a very realistic look at the addiction and where it will lead you if you get hooked. I understand the images of the models may be too much for some people, but honestly, I was just trying to be real with what happened in my life and show where I was, as well as where I am at now. I was totally imprisoned by meth … I would do anything to get my meth … I believe I would be dead right now if I continued using meth, but instead, I chose to surrender my life to Christ and die to myself so He could share His resurrection with me … Significantly, the images also go along with what the kids (not actors) at the beginning of the video were honestly saying about their addictions.


By Jye Smith Apr.13.2010
In: Album Reviews
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Stone Sour talk about new album

Interview with Stone Sour


By Stuart McPhee Apr.12.2010
In: Album Reviews, Commentary, Opinion
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Searching For Fun: Almost Alice & New Young Pony Club

Because ultimately that is what we all want out of music – some fun. Sure, I like a little dourness every now and then but not when the aim is to cut loose. With this in mind, I can not begin to explain how wide of the mark the faux-soundtrack Almost Alice actually is.

Perhaps it is best to question the album’s actual existence before sinking the slipper into its content.

Music that is inspired by a film (in this case Tim Burton’s take on Alice In Wonderland) has never really sat well with me. Usually these sorts of soundtracks are vessels for off-cuts from a record company’s roster where ninety-five percent of the songs never appear in the film (save for the end credits) and almost never have any lyrical link to the movie in question.

Whilst the songs that make up Almost Alice certainly reference Lewis Carroll’s classic tale (at times too bluntly) only one of them can actually be heard in the film – during the end credits of course.

That honour belongs to the shrill-gorged tones of Avril Lavigne with ‘Alice’. With that as an indicator, the rest of Almost Alice is your stock standard American commercial pap (All Time Low, The All-American Rejects, Metro Station) cheekily throwing in Wonderland-esque lines into their oh so earnest lyrics: “If you cut me I suppose I would bleed the colors of the evening stars.”

If I never hear from Owl City again it will be too soon.

The only surprise amongst this lot is the inclusion of heavyweights like Franz Ferdinand and Wolfmother whose appearance seem as out of place as Obama at a Klan rally. And of course nothing says fun times like the inclusion of Mr Happy himself Robert Smith.

Speaking of the British, a group who actually know about fun is New Young Pony Club. While admittedly nothing on their new album The Optimist is as overtly playful as early single ‘Ice Cream’,  NYPC deliver a more mature sound without sacrificing their sense of having a good time. ‘Chaos’ begs to be played on the dance floors on a Saturday night whilst ‘Dolls’ evokes the spirit of 90s outfit Luscious Jackson.

Though The Optimist plateaus about three quarters of the way in (a sequencing problem more than anything), there is much to like from this band. You get the sense that their defining album is not too far off.

By Mark C Mar.24.2010
In: Album Reviews
1 comment

Ludacris - Battle of the Sexes

If you’re a Ludacris fan or if you’re into Hip hop without the over-the-top audiotuning you need to buy the Ludacris CD now.  Don’t waste your time thinking, get it.  This album pumps out the best of Ludacris’ work, and is great driving music.  The guest appearances are crash-hot with Ne-yo, Lil’ Kim, Trey Songz, Trina, Flo Rida and more popping up in just about every track.  Track 2 – How Low – is a fun, catchy tune showing off the lighter side of LLudacris, and track three drops into hardcore Ludacris beats, featuring excellent vocals from Nicki Minaj.  I Know You Got a Man features Flo Rida and is another stand-out tune.  Can’t Live With You features Monica as a guest vocalist and you’re almost guaranteed to have that song stuck in your head.  Bottom line: If you’re a Ludacris fan you need this CD.


By Nathanael Boehm Oct.10.2009
In: Album Reviews
1 comment

Lyrics Born collaboration with The Bamboos

I love The Bamboos – awesome Aussie funk group – and heard about their collaboration with Lyrics Born from California on the radio the other night. Just had a chance to listen to it. Good track, soulful, works well … although I thought it was a little repetitive; could have been trimmed by at least 30 seconds or built up towards the end, though it’s saved by the two-stage breakdown at 1:50 and 2:45. Anyway, I still like it!

Listen to Turn It Up by The Bamboos feat. Lyrics Born on Triple J Home & Hosed and listen to more of The Bamboos on MySpace.

Nathanael Boehm

By Nathanael Boehm Sep.18.2009
In: Album Reviews
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Thumbs up for Muse's new album The Resistance

Album cover of Muse's new album The Resistance.

I’m a big fan of Muse. I have Showbiz, Origin of Symmetry, Hullabaloo Soundtrack, Absolution, Black Holes and Revelations, their live 2004 Absolution Tour DVD and now their latest 2009 release The Resistance.

It took me a while to come around to liking their previous 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations. My initial impression with BH&R was that the band had plateaued and were now just a bland, commercial pop-rock group focussed on selling quantity rather than sticking to their we-don’t-care-if-you-like-us experimental progressive, space-rock. After listening to BH&R about a dozen times I finally realised that they hadn’t sold out. They were starting to poke at something new, a new sound.

That new sound has three years later matured and become Muse’s latest album The Resistance.

Read the full story

By Jye Smith Sep.8.2009
In: Album Reviews
1 comment

Spineshank

The-Best-Of-SpineshankIt was the middle of a CrossFit workout when I really noticed some really great hard metal pouring out of the speakers. It was here I met Spineshank.

What am I really enjoying about them? It’s ferocious, but it’s dynamic. This is what really sets great metal bands apart.

Santos’ vocals really separate most dynamics on the surface, but it’s the grinding drum and base combo that polish everything off.

The guitars are a constant wall of pure aggression.

Call it nu-metal, call it industrial metal, even call it metalcore. It doesn’t matter – for those who truly appreciate dynamic and hungry metal, it’s a must.

I still can’t choose a favourite album between Self-Destructure Pattern, Strictly Diesel or The Height of Callousness.

Read the full story

By Jye Smith Jul.16.2009
In: Album Reviews
3 comments

Kaamora: Lambs to the Slaughter

The eerie opening to the first track builds tension like few albums I’ve heard before, before your dropped into what can only be described as a Spartan pit fight.  This is metal. Real metal. And there are no prisoners taken here.

It’s definitely progressive, but it’s not math metal. Thankfully. It’s raw and quite emotive. The timing is supburb.

Ballarat never sounded so brutal.

Yep, this is a local band from Victoria, Australia.  The drums and bass stick together and move as a powerful force.  The guitars are dripping wet on top and drive a lot of treble and high mid.  The vocals are done in a full growl – not everyone’s cup of tea – and the force is again brutal.  You can hear a unique blend of a wide range of influences coming to taint this voice: I get flavours of Bolt Thrower, Cradle of Filth and a little Pantera in the higher screams.

The guitars continue to fly on top of drums and bass that can only be described as a rumbling boom.  It’s a really nice balance of blood lust and atomic doom: it’s fast yes, and raw, but the bass and drums ground the sound to give it depth. Depth, especially in faster and harder metal, is vital to develop any kind of story and emotion with the listener.

Soul of A Machine is track 5 of the 7 track album – is a great little spoken word piece. A really unique mark on the album – and something rarely done.

Birth of a Digital God would definitly have to be one of my favourite tracks followed by Ruptured.  Over all, the final track End of The Aeon - would be my favourite.  Like the opening track, we’re treated to the vocalists clean styled vocals. AND FUCK ARE THEY GOOD. The vocalist, Luke Greenwood, really showcasing his full range, tonal flexibility and raw emotion throughout this last piece.

The album over is very dynamic and is great cranked at some solid volumes.  To Dylan, Will, Aaron, Jase and Luke: keep up the amazing work. Hope to see you guys in Sydney sometime.

For everyone else, get your copy of Lambs to the Slaughter by Kaamora and prepare to be taken apart with a pick axe, and love every minute of it.

Post-Script:

I just kept the CD running and discovered the secret track. Hah. This is fucking brilliant.

By Stuart McPhee Dec.22.2008
In: Album Reviews, Commentary, Opinion, Recommended
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TMB's favourite albums of 2008

switchedonsantaIf we can blow our own trumpet for a second.

The great thing about The Music Blogs is that the staff writers come from different backgrounds and different towns and have varied musical influences. We are not all from the same hipster textbook (or any textbook for that matter) but we definitely share the common love of recorded sound.

It is here, with our 1st annual list of TMB’s favourite albums, that this communal adoration of music is best illustrated. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Thanks for all your support in our first year. Here’s to a great 2009!

Andrew Stapleton

eaglesofdeathmetal

Eagles of Death Metal :: Heart On

This band is the magically sex injected mo’ sportin’ rock devil, Jesse “Boots Electric” Hughes and the endlessly talented and insanely individual Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss) or “Baby Duck” as he’s known here. Heart On is basically an onslaught of catchy as all buggery fuck hooks, buzzy/cool/weird geeeeetars, broken trashbag drums, farty basslines (farty in the best possible sense; as in its your own fart, and you’re watching everyone keel over on the ground having seizures while you stand triumphantly over their quivering bodies with a smug, accomplished look on your face as you take in the wofty aromas of cheese and onion chips with oaky overtones of beer and nachos) and lyrics that are funny, sexy and even sincere and genuine at times.

It’s a great example of Josh’s ability to jam a tonne of character into every single element of a song; from the lead guitar right down to the high-hats and cowbells. He basically plays most of the intruments, plus he produced and mixed the damn thing too. This, mixed with Jesse’s loveable-ness and developed songwriting and unashamedly rock and roll, boogie-woogie stylings makes it the funnest, most danceable and re-listenable album I’ve heard in very very very very very long time.

Buy it!

Key Track: The whole thing is solid gold but I’d say High Voltage

Anique Vered

lykkeli

Lykke Li :: Youth Novels

The thing that I most love about music is how I find myself surrendering to feelings of calm, clarity, peace, heart-throbbing love VS head-banging, hip-swinging, feet-stomping craaazyiness all at the same time.  And so, whilst listening to Swedish 22 year old Lykke Li’s album Youth Novels, I’ve found myself gazing out to the horizon all melancholic-like, and at other times, dancing around like a Tom Cruise-inspired-cleaner with my 80s-punk-and-free jives.

Indeed Lykke Li exudes a freshness that seeps into your skin.  Complimented by producer and co-writer Björn Yttling, from renowned Indie-Pop band Peter Bjorn and John, this album decks up just the right amount of … well, as Lykke describes her genre herself: “Other / Other”.   Every song on “Youth Novels” takes you to another station on the Lykke Li subway – each with their own unique characters, smells, sounds and settings – add to this her radiating honesty and Björn’s beats, and you’ve got yourself the ride of the year.

This is definitely one worth buying to share with the grandkids I say.

Key tracks: Tonight and Dance Dance Dance

Annik Skelton

lauramarling

Laura Marling :: Alas, I Cannot Swim

This eighteen year old British-born indie/folk artist has released a gorgeous debut album of delicate, refreshing tracks to keep you leaning forward and listening carefully. Thought-provoking lyrics, intricate guitar work and soft-yet-powerful vocals pay testament to a maturity far beyond Marling’s years as she takes us on a journey of love, lust, religion, self-loathing, death and a constant quest for truth. Each build-up engages flawlessly as this album proves that less is definitely more.

Key tracks: Night Terror and Tap At My Window

Geoff Kim

thedears

The Dears :: Missiles

It feels a little disjointed, almost awkward, on first listen, but over the course of the year it grew to become my favourite record of 2008. There is a certain sense of tenderness and heart that has not been seen since Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ and you will be thoroughly rewarded if you allow it some time to sink in. Headphones recommended.

Key track: Crisis 1 & 2

Jye Smith

citycolour

City & Colour :: Live

Without a doubt my favourite album released this year is Dallas Green’s solo operation: City & Colour and in particular their Live release.  It’s a powerful, emotive and most noticeably of all it’s very pure.  His voice carries with it a certain piercing quality that really articulates the tone and message of each track.

The album includes a few unreleased tracks which are very special.  The alternative version of Coming Home is also a great look at the potential of these recordings — each and every song seems to have an endless amount of power behind it and Green’s control of this power is unmatched.

Key track: Day Old Hate

Nathanael Boehm

blissneso

Bliss N Eso :: Flying Colours

One of my favourite Australian hip-hop releases and album this year. A strong, pumping selection of tracks with a fresh variety of sounds across the album.

Key track: The Sea Is Rising

Peta Kiellor

eaglesofdeathmetal

Eagles Of Death Metal :: Heart On

How can you go wrong with a title like Heart On? Seriously. This album is beyond amazing as far as I’m concerned; it was the first I ever heard of these guys and was recommended by a friend who insisted he wouldn’t leave me alone until I listened to it in its entirety. Which I did… something like 7 times in the first day. And it’s still in the CD player in my car.

This album is a perfect mix of sleaze, sex and power-chord driven stoner rock in which most tracks are about girls, the beach, tight pants and parties. It’s nothing for the faint hearted, conservative, or anyone with any moral or intellectual values. Those who love this album will love it for eternity. And will understand why those of us already listening to it already only want to get drunk and party until dawn.

Go buy it. Really.

Key track: High Voltage.

Rob Tilleard

boniver

Bon Iver :: For Emma, Forever Ago

So much has already been written on the drama, sorrow and tragedies that inspired Justin Vernon’s debut as Bon Iver. It is not worth attempting to dissect the heartache and loneliness that inhabits this album. This is a man who is, or was, sad. That he manages to convey such sorrow in such a beautiful way does not make it any happier. Vernon travels to a place we have all been at least once, a dark place. A swirling mix of emotions and deep deep sorrow.

That Vernon’s lyrics themselves are disjointed, forming their own puzzle, draws us into his own isolated world. The words are as disturbed and searching as Vernon plainly was as he wrote the album. On Re:Stacks Vernon rustles up some confusing imagery: there’s a black crow sitting across from me\his wiry legs are crossed\and he’s dangling my keys he even fakes a toss\whatever could it be\that has brought me to this loss?. Shit, I have no idea what that means, seriously, can’t the fucking crow just give the poor man his keys back? Yet his tentative high pitched wail and impassioned yearning delves past that and shoots right for the heart. Easily the album of the year.

Key track: The Wolves (Act I and II) – A journey into the heart of darkness.

Scott Drummond

calexico

Calexico :: Carried To Dust

It’s been hard for me not to like Calexico, even if 2006’s Garden Ruin lacked the cinematic grandeur of some of their previous records. Happily, with Carried to Dust they’re back to their mariachi-loving, Morricone-infused best. The record features accomplished cameos from Tortoise’s Doug McCombs  and Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam, and poppy numbers like Writer’s Minor Holiday help to add light to the beautiful shade of the album’s more expansive core.

Key track: Hard to pick one, but at a push Two Silver Trees is haunting, dense yet seductive – can’t stop listening to it.

Stanley Johnston

neilyoung

Neil Young :: Sugar Mountain (Live At Canterbury House 1968)

This intimate live recording by Neil Young has been buried in the vaults for 40 years. Recorded just a couple of days before Young’s 23rd birthday, it finds him finding his feet as a solo performer following the acrimonious breakup of Buffalo Springfield. The highlight of this album is, believe it or not, the between song banter, with Young having plenty to talk about.

Key track – Many of these songs were yet to be recorded, so Young was beta testing them with a live audience. My personal favourite is the show closer – Broken Arrow.

Stewart Heys

thebug

The Bug :: London Zoo

This was an album I knew was going to be strong as soon as I started listening to it. The opening track ‘Angry’ commands attention with its drum beats alone, and when Tippa Irie gets going, you know things are going to get rough. The assault continues for most of the album, but there are moments where the ragga/ dancehall aspects drift away to leave a more Burial-esque minimalist dubstep flavour. By the time Warrior Queen appears for her second guest appearance on Poison Dart towards the end, I had experienced a distinct beginning, middle and end as if I had just heard a great story.

And that is the point of this album – there is a vast amount of creativity and variation within the tracks, but it all fits together perfectly. The spooky, dystopian tone sits nicely alongside the at times confrontational evolutionary/ revolutionary lyrics and punching, driving basslines. And these contrasts match the very positive, uplifting message I take from listening to this album – sure, things are a mess at the moment, but we can and will sort it out.

Key Track: Poison Dart featuring Warrior Queen

Stuart McPhee

teddythompson

Teddy Thompson :: A Piece Of What You Need

Due to my own strict rules/his crappy release date (circle where appropriate), Lupe Fiasco misses the cut this year. However, Brit Teddy Thompson is certainly no also-ran and his fourth album A Piece Of What You Need had me talking him up to anyone that would sit still for a minute. His sophisticated brand of Pop music blended with Country-ish vocals (think Roy Orbison) help to produce classic tunes like first single ‘In My Arms’ and the sweeping and remorseful ‘Don’t Know What I Was Thinking’.

A measure of an artist and an album is the ability to persuade the first time listener to immediately track down the rest of their back catalogue. Mission accomplished Mr Thompson, well played sir.

Key Track: In My Arms

Ty Pendlebury

deerhunter

Deerhunter :: Microcastle

I haven’t been this obsessed with an album since Okkervil River’s Black Sheep Boy. It’s a slow-burner and not as willfully weird as last year’s Cryptograms — though there are some Breeders’ Last Splash-type moments. This is a gorgeously languid shoegaze of an album, and if you thought the second coming of My Bloody Valentine was the most exciting thing to happen this year, then you’re almost right.

Key track: Nothing Ever Happened

By Stuart McPhee Nov.23.2008
In: Album Reviews, Opinion, Recommended
2 comments

Nothing a month? Yeah, I think we can swing that: My 5 favourite free downloads of 2008

As I have stated once before: I am a material guy in a digital world. Buying a full album online still does not wash with me and no amount of exclusive bonus tracks or digital booklets can sway my opinion. I do however purchase a lot of new singles to the point that I need to set up some sort of tab arrangement with iTunes like Norm had with Sam Malone.

Free albums on the other hand I’ll happily download anytime. Of course by ‘free albums’ I don’t mean using a P2P service to grab the latest Metallica album for nix. This year especially there have been some solid free releases by artists and I thought I would share with you my four favourites as well as the best free music related podcast in the world.

The CharlatansYou Cross My Path

Back in March this year, UK stalwarts The Charlatans partnered up with radio station Xfm to drop their 10th album online for nothing. Sounding more like New Order as the years go by, fourth single ‘Mis-Takes’ is one of my favourite songs of 2008. No longer available through Xfm but an album worth seeking out regardless (it was released on CD in May).

Nine Inch NailsThe Slip

With the simple message from Trent Reznor: “thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years – this one’s on me”, The Slip was made available with no prior announcement on May 5th. All of a sudden, NIN has become prolific and we are all better for it.

Girl TalkFeed The Animals

I remember back in 2006 a guy coming into the record store that I worked in and asking for Girl Talk. After politely showing him ‘The Best of Dave Edmunds’ album he shook his head and explained the ‘Night Ripper’ album and its concept.  2008s Feed The Animals is another brilliant collection of samples blending into and on top of one another. The album’s only fault is that it doesn’t contain ‘Girls Talk’ by Dave Edmunds. Perhaps next time.

Mick Boogie & Terry UrbanViva La Hova

Whilst Coldplay purists weep on message boards around the interweb, the rest of us can’t get enough of this brilliant mash up album with Jay-Z and the second biggest band in the world. Inspired by the remix of ‘Lost!’, some great underground producers have put together some fantastic tunes, my favourites being ‘Never Changing’ and ‘Public Speeding’. Both acts have given it the thumbs up as well, that’s praise you can’t buy.

Sound OpionionsWeekly Podcast

A great weekly radio program originating from Chicago, Sound Opinions is the self proclaimed “world’s only Rock N Roll talk show”. While that boast can’t be confirmed, its hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot are well respected music critics with a wealth of knowledge. You won’t always agree with them but you will enjoy their insights and fantastic guests. Worth an hour of your time each week.

By Jye Smith Nov.21.2008
In: Album Reviews, Recommended
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Scott Matthews can pass my stranger any day

Fuck me, this man is brilliant. Scott Matthews hails from Wolverhampton in England and burst onto the UK charts back in 2006 with his debut album, Passing Stranger. You might have heard the mournful single, Elusive, on Triple J and thought you were listening to some previously undiscovered Jeff Buckley. But Elusive is just the tip of the iceberg and barely begins to showcase Matthews’ talent.

Passing Stranger is a collection of beautifully crafted urban folk-rock gems. From crunchy blues riffs to sliding guitars to delicately picked melodies, Matthews has perfected his acoustic sound. Woven into his songs is an entire medley of unexpected instruments to keep you on your toes, including tablas and a French accordian – each track is a magical experiment. Read the full story

By Jye Smith Nov.13.2008
In: Album Reviews, Production
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Metallica: Lars Ulrich - "..to get it sound loud"

A colleague at worked passed this over – “Lars Ulrich Defends Sound Quality Of Metallica’s Death Magnetic“.  Sure, everyone can have a whinge about the quality of an album’s sound – that’s not new – but what astounded me was the shear lack of audio knowledge that Ulrich has. It was this next line that got me:

“But I’ve been listening to it the last couple of days in my car, and it sounds … smokin’.”

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