Monday, 30 June 2008

Review - The Offspring - Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace

There is such a thing as growing old gracefully and after the release of their Greatest Hits, I would have wrote off an eighth album from the Californian "punk" megastars. I use punk as a loose term as these guys have not been punk probably since the release of 1998's Pretty Fly (for a White Guy). My roots with the Offspring stem this, essentially a novelty record and discovered them backwards.

My exposure during my adolescent teen years was inspirational - Americana is an album that I can return to in a moments notice and so too Ignition and Smash, but recently, I have noticed how recycled the sounds that we used on Conspiracy of One and Splinter. They have basically been singing the same songs on each album ever since.

Don't expect anything new here - there are some good track in this collection - a definite improvement from Splinter, that is for sure, but in the clouds of relapse into the teenage years sountracked by the speedy drumming and basic power chords, I return back into real life and feel disgust coming over me as my post-rock post-hardcore self is repulsed by the insinuation that I can be captured by such basic song structure and mediocre melody.

Then I listen to You're Gonna Go Far Kid or Hammerhead and I smile, remembering that ever young child needs to go through the cathartic punk moment, and this, whilst nothing new, groundbreaking, or really any good, will serve as this generation of teenagers' soundtrack if My Chemical Romance or Foals have no stolen the crowd.

Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace is pretty bad, but I can't get away from the fact that I shouldn't like it, but I do, in a way, in a childish way, and I have to give it to Dexter Hollland - he knows how to sound like a highly strung teenager even into his early forties.

2/9 when I am in control, or 7/9 when I think like I used to. Take your pick really.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Review - The Music - Strength in Numbers

A few years ago, Colin and I were in Glasgow city centre, and were looking at buying a CD or two. I decided to buy The Music’s debut whereas Colin expressed interest in Dove’s album Lost Souls. It is rather interesting that both these bands have been away for a long time, either working out demons or trying to create a new album. In fact, Both released their last albums over 3 years ago, and in the case of The Music, 4 years ago. In that 4 years we have Klaxons, Franz Ferdinand, LCD Soundsystem and Arctic Monkeys. The musical landscape has changed massively and of that era, few British bands have survived – Hundred Reasons are still plugging away on a lowly label, Hell is For Heroes similarly, with the Cooper Temple Clause out for the count.

It comes to 2008, 7 years after I first fell in love with The Music and the danceable break beat rock they produce and I have changed too – I went from school student to University to student to employed office worker, and with that my musical taste has slightly evolved, from NU metal to indie and post-rock champion of sorts. Colin too has changed, becoming more specific in heavier post-hardcore. So, have The Music suitably changed?

The answer is kind of. The guitar work and melodies are intact, with the rousing vocals of Getaway and Breakin’ making it onto this album, and the sound is of a band who took a long time off to find themselves and their feet, and suddenly remembering what made them pick their instruments up in the first place.

The Spike and lead single Strength in Numbers are Music defining – large beats, leading guitar work, and rousing high pitched vocals echoing in the background, slightly lower in the mix than most bands. The production on the LP is slight, a sheen that is very different from previous albums – strings are echoed, the vocals are processed slightly and the synths are prominent.

On the dark and brooding Idle the band experiment slightly with their sound and it is a welcome respite, as it is bookended by some rather impressive tracks. This seems to be the new model The Music, with a slightly subdued sound, unlike their original work.

To be honest, this is a good return. Probably a million times better than some would have expected from them. Some times it seems they are trying to escape the constraints of their previous albums and they do succeed in certain places – the album is a rallying call, a statement that says that they were away but they fancy a second chance in the new landscape of late noughties rock, and with this album, it might not be sterling, but it is very much welcome, and if they survive the next few years (and we don’t have to wait till 2012 for their next album) we could be interesting records indeed.


Discovery - The Night Marchers

It's been a while since I've posted here so I think it's best that I get back into the flow of things now. I've been listening to a lot of new bands recently, desperately searching for a new band which will influence me as much as my discovery of Rocket From The Crypt several months ago. In my search I thought I'd look into what "Speedo" from Rocket has been doing since his departure from the Crypt. I'm surprised to say that he's been a very busy guy, producing 3 albums with the excellent Hot Snakes (I'll save them for another post) and then going on to form The Night Marchers in 2007. The album See You in Magic sounds very similar to RFTC minus the trumpets and I'm delighted to say is an excellent, excellent punkesque record.

The opening track has a very catchy riff as I have come to expect from Speedo, and his harsh vocals work incredibly well. The second track is one of my favourites, I Snore ZZZZ and it's the wacky lyrics that I love about it most. The rest of the album is medocre, with a few moments of genius coming through on Whose Lady r u and You've Got Nerve. What I love about the album the most is that's its so easy to listen to, with the catchy riffs strumming nicely along in the background.

Overall, an excellent album if you love Rocket / Hot Snakes, it's definately one I'll be listening to a lot in the future and I look forward to hearing more from them soon. A UK tour would be awesome though I feel that they're unlikely to come here anytime soon.

Some tracks for you to try:

Closed For Inventory
In Dead Sleep (I Snore ZZZZ)
Whose Lady R U

Grab the ZIP here.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Review - Feeder - Silent Cry

Feeder are a constant for my musical pallet having been introduced to them during the later years of my high school tuition, they represented a point in my life that a few other bands, namely Travis, Coldplay, Linkin Park and Papa Roach, will occupy for giving me my first own bands, ones that I sought out my self, found my self, and fell in love with (and out of love with) along with many of my friends. In fact, Colin, who I blog with, also rates Feeder quite highly and owns many of their early albums (if not all). I however, only have two in my collection. Yesterday Went too Soon and Polythene, so you should be able to guess from those two records where my opinions lie on their most recent bought of records.

Comfort in Sound is not the album I wanted from Feeder. It was neither loud nor exciting as most of the melancholy arrangements were obviously inspired partly by the suicide of drummer John Lee but it also felt like a left over of the previous couple of albums. Grant and Taka were beginning to run a little on fumes and whilst their spirited rocking out on Godzilla and Come Back Around sounded loud, live they paled to Insomnia, Buck Rodgers and the in-between single Just A Day. With 2005s Pushing the Senses doing nothing to convince me otherwise and the band reaching for the Coldplay/Keane/Snow Patrol heights of late noughties selling out to the epic over produced masses seemed to turn on all the older fans who were there in beginning. The became middle of the road and Grant's skills as a songwriter probably benefited from the rise into success but gave fans a little kick knock down.

So, seeing them live in late 2005 gave me hope. They performed mostly from their older albums, including High, and seemed enthusiastic about louder material, and in 2006, Grant did announce that the next album would be "heavier". I had been burned once before and amazingly Feeder have delivered not an amazing record, but a return to form that I never expected. From the first song you must fear the worst - We Are the People is potentially their worst single, and sets the album up for a fall but from there on in, with Itsumo, Miss You and Tracing Lines following packing punches you wonder where did they pull this from? These are some of the best feeder tracks since Yesterday Went to Soon and indeed seem to pushing to replace it. The lyrics are still a little insipid but as the guitar work and hooks are expertly pushed around you smile for the return of an old friend

The album sound like a sigh of relief. No longer fighting for the commercial success or the fans they needed, Feeder are able to spread their wings and self produce this album (just like YWTS) and it feels like suddenly Grant has realised not only what he enjoyed to write but also what the fans need - good, 4 minute pop rock songs, and while Silent Cry is not exactly the best album of the year, it is a fantastic record to listen to on a summery day and try to forget that whole "Dove Grey Sands" rubbish from the last album. Stick on Polythene, YWTS, Echo Park, Swim, and Silent Cry and they flow together well. Feeder, Mark I, are back.


Feeder Official Website
Feeder Myspace