Record Reviews


Drones Mutiny

Drones

Mutiny

Released: Dec 5th 2011

Genre: Punk

Label: Lockjaw records

Rating: 3/5

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By: Chris Fishlock

Young UK punk band Drones hail from Camberley in Surrey and recently signed to Lockjaw records. Their debut album ‘Mutiny’ is a fast paced record of short high tempo shouting punk songs that never give up or give a chance for even a breath. The album is at a short 25 minutes yet fits in 11 tracks, only one of which is over 3 minutes long. This fast and loud record is certainly not for anyone who can’t take their punk rock at full volume and speed.

Lead vocalist and guitar player Daly George leads us through the tracks with his unique voice, which may put some listeners off but you soon get used to it and the rawness of the vocals really fit into the punk sound of the band. The rest of Drones equally help the awesome punk racket with the fast bass playing of James Kerr, while Mitchell Thomas pounds the drums with a great deal of aggression, as well as both giving backing vocals.

‘Mutiny’ has a fantastic rawness that reminds you of what punk is about, the band’s simple set up and fast aggressive playing mixed with their political lyrics help make this one of the truest punk rock debuts this year, that also keeps the spirit and energy of Drones’ powerful and in your face live performances.  If you like your punk fast, simple and raw then you need to be listening to this album, it’s great to have a fresh young, energetic and talented band representing UK punk in a time when so many American bands dominate the scene, Drones remind you of a younger Anti-Flag, who knows where the future might take this band. This record will throw you into in from the second you press play and keep you attentive throughout; it’s a must for anyone who wants to remember all that is great about punk rock.

Drones – Shells Fall, Pins Pulled

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Mat Gibson - Forest Fire

Mat Gibson

Forest Fire

Released: Oct 3rd 2011

Genre: Folk/Country

Label: Clubhouse Records

Rating: 4.4/5

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By: Dan Titcombe

Mat Gibson’s album; Forest Fire is a 7 track LP which offers a beautiful and
relaxing dose of folk music.

Every track on this album is worth a listen – but if you only had time to listen to a
few here’s in my opinion the top 3 songs from the album.

The first track on the album; ‘Lord Only Knows’ really displays Mat’s passion
for his music and adept skill with his acoustic guitar – as Mat sings about not
worrying about a problem that can’t be changed. ‘Lord Only Knows‘ is a relatable
track which gives you an instant connection to this Mat Gibson.

The self titled track; ‘Forest Fire’ is a highlight as Mat spills his heart and soul into
the vocals which truly evoke some emotion and combined with his guitar and
other various percussion instruments this song is given real character and spirit.

Where Demons Go’ is the last song on the album and what a song to end on. This
track a little more rock-orientated than the other tracks on the album, it has a
real lets-get-up-and-do-something attitude about it. Mat Gibson is obviously
using a semi-acoustic guitar to create this type of atmosphere – starting off soft
and gradually building up until the electric side kicks in and the song just stands
up and flaunts.

If you like Johnny Cash, City and Colour or even White Snake you will love Mat
Gibson, Forest Fire could be the album of his career so far!

Mat Gibson – Yonder Burning Trees

The Brains - Drunk Not Dead

The Brains

Drunk Not Dead

Released: Nov 14 2011

Genre: Psychobilly

Label: Stomp Records

Rating: 2.5/5

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By: Chris Fishlock

The Brains, hailing from Canada, bring us a mixture of horror-tinged punk and psychobilly – sounding somewhere in between the classic tracks of horror punk icons The Misfits and the recent psychobilly sounds of Australia’s The Living End. Within the half hour run time of Drunk Not Dead, The Brains take us through a fast 13 songs without giving us time to breathe, with no songs even reaching the three minute mark.

Sadly, despite having established their own unique sound they don’t experiment away from this sound at all, keeping the same song formula for every track, making it a bit tiring by the end of the album. The album is full of great chanting chorus’ bringing you back to the days when The Misfits wrote some of their best punk songs, along with a thumping double bass line in every song giving it that psychobilly tinge, as well as the occasional enjoyable rockabilly style guitar playing. It’s a good song structure and style but with it being the same for every single track it gives you the feel of listening to the same song with different lyrics over and over, despite the album including some great punk tracks (‘6 Rounds’ and ‘Take What I Want’ are particular highlights) this weakens the album a great deal.

Drunk Not Dead is far from special, but they have at least mastered their own sound, fans of the psychobilly genre will most likely enjoy this a decent amount but the album and welcome a fresh new act to the psychobilly scene but the album will unlikely impressive any other music fans, being unable to bring them much of a wider audience.

The Brains – 6 Rounds

James Cook - Arts & Sciences

James Cook

Arts & Sciences

Released: Sep 26 2011

Genre: Pop

Label: Deep See Music

Rating: 4.1/5

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By: Livvy Bennett

James Cook’s debut solo album Arts and Sciences consists of tracks that have a resounding essence about them, defining each and every one to the artist. With a quirky kick, each seems to show his watermark embedded. Previously working as the front man, and principal writer for NEMO, Cook is able to put his signature to his work and make it known. James Cook could be compared to many people due to the similarity in his voice to various artists and individuals, yet he still manages to sound, somewhat unique, in the way he presents himself, and his music.

The Self Machine is a bold, quick and fast opening to the album. It shows a lot of energy through the use of the same repetitive drumbeat, and also the simplistic lyrics, again repetitive, which are easy to listen to, portraying motivation. At times, the drumbeat tends to overpower Cook’s voice.

End of Summer starts with violin strings setting a dark scene, through the first ten seconds of the song. Straight away, the drum goes into a repetitive beat, and Cook’s voice tends to show tone embedding into the beat, due to it going from low pitched to a slightly higher pitch. The classical touch to the song is gained by the slow working of the strings. It has a sense of similarity to Arctic Monkeys; Pretty Visitors.

Selling Ideas begins with a relaxed and romantic feel, the quietness of the backing music, the violins and drums, in comparison to Cook’s soft yet bold voice, allows the listener to be drawn into the simplistic and soft lyrics.

Face to Face has a similar, yet slower, opening rift to Panic at the Disco’s Ballad of Mona Lisa, yet Cook has a similar sound in his voice to Billie Joe Armstrong in Green Day’s Time of your Life. It’s an easy listen, the lyrics are understandable, and with a bold drumbeat, you tend to want to tap your feet to the song.

Circus of Our Lives, again, straight away sets a sense of emotion with the choice of opening instrument, which in this case is, the piano. Lyrics are bold and recognised clearly, “We cross our hearts and hope to die,” are strong and sudden. They suggest the song is about a dark subject, due to the use of the word “die.” Also, the relation to “heart” suggests the song is edging towards the subject of love. “So take my hand and lead the blind in the circus of out lives,” suggesting togetherness, a subject related to love. The song is portrayed as dark, deep, and slow, with the last ten seconds containing single notes of a piano being played.

James Cook – Circus of our Lives

 

Joker - The Vision

Joker

The Vision

Released: Nov 8 2011

Genre: Dubstep / Grime

Label: 4AD

Rating: 4/5

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By: James Murray

Originally Written for The 405

Rewind back to 2008; the dubstep scene was primarily underground, and the then 19-year-old producer Joker was making his first real contributions to the scene. It was one year later that the modern classic ‘Purple City’ was released – and Joker made his mark as one of the centric figures in the evolution of UK bass music.

The Vision prolongs Joker’s so-far-short legacy, a record that successfully interweaves most of today’s relevant elements of bass: Dubstep, grime and liberating instrumentals. The ambient, visionary introduction is purposely ill-assorted to stamp some level of bemusement on to the face of any listener expecting a pure dubstep record – Joker has produced a record far more diverse, an urban soundtrack.

The minimal introduction to ‘Slaughter House’ suggests this could be a record akin to the stripped-down house vibes demonstrated in the debut release from ‘Night Slugs’ L-Vis 1990, but the male R&B-style vocals of Silas clarify that Joker is aiming to create an album with hooks as well as an album with experimental direction. The soul-influenced vocals over floor-shaking bass combination is pieced together in comparable fashion to Dubstep hit ‘Getting Nowhere’ featuring John Legend, one of the many successes to creep out of the still-young Magnetic Man discography.

First single and album-titled track ‘The Vision’ stylistically shares its motives with ‘Slaughter House’. Joker has created an album with radio-friendly productions, and he’s proved that his abilities stretch further than bass-fuelled instrumentals. Other than the now-ancient ‘Tron’, instrumental productions showcase completely unpredictable variety. The chirpy ‘Milky Way’ combines utopic keys with light-hearted bass lines; rhythmically pieced-together by a simple snare. ‘Level 6’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a mediocre SEGA Mega Drive game – whether that’s a good thing probably depends on how dearly you cherish nostalgic value.

‘Lost’ acts as a natural progression into the darker, grimier productions that tie up the latter half of the record. With the vocals of Buggsy making a considerable appearance, amongst a range of other grime and R&B vocalists, Joker has acknowledged the importance of exhibiting new talent.

It’s a shame that penultimate track ‘Electric Sea’ momentarily lowers the quality of a brilliantly produced record. Unoriginal guest vocals from Jay Wilcox overlaying 90s R&B-style instrumentals sounds misplaced on such a forward-thinking album.

‘The Magic Causeway’ is the perfect final-destination, a heavier contrast to the floaty introductory track. For a man with such high expectations from the bass scene, Joker has pretty much hit every nail on the head. Bass fans will be happy, those in need of some experimental listening have plenty to explore, and there’s more than one opportunity for a track on this record to reach the commercial market.

Joker – The Vision


 

 

†HYMNS† - Cardinal Sins/Contrary Virtues

†HYMNS†

Cardinal Sins/Contrary Virtues

Released: Nov 14 2011

Genre: Rock

Label: Function Records/Big Scary Monsters

Rating: 4.5/5

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By: Chris Fishlock

“Atheist rock” band †HYMNS†, formed by ex-Blakfish man Samuel Manville and fellow musician Peter Riesner have created a unique album littered with religious themes – performed mostly with just guitars and drums. Many of the musical arrangements on the album are inspired by classical pieces, but adapted perfectly into heavy rock; creating their own sound and edge over the current blandness of many rock bands today.

The songs are well performed by the two-piece act – from the slow build ups to the full loud guitar and drums onslaughts they present in many songs. It’s amazing how much noise the band manage to make with just a guitar and drum kit. Samuel’s vocals are a highlight, mixing between calm clear singing and gasping shouting, of which he switches between the two sometimes mid-verse. Samuel can adapt his voice to the perfect tone to go with whatever tempo or mood. The best track showcasing Manville’s vocal skills is ‘Tristitia’: Opening with a slow piano piece Samuel slowly sings along until the guitar kicks in and his powerful screaming takes over and Samuel shouts his last breathes on the album to calm piano sandwiched between the loud guitar parts.

As you can guess from the band name, album title and the “atheist rock” label they have given themselves – there are many religious undertones throughout the record.  Opening and closing the album are the sounds of a church choir and many of the songs lyrically take on the atheist theme, and at times is cynical or sarcastic of faith and religion, sometimes mentioning such things as ‘the lord’ in disbelieving tones.

At 52 minutes long – keeping one main theme throughout and with the bands unique and basic sound the album creates its own mood and feel, giving back the meaning to the format of an album. This is more than a collection of songs written by the band, this is a collection of songs that sync together perfectly, creating one long piece rather than sixteen stand-alone tracks. †HYMNS† have created a highly competent and strong debut album, tackling strong themes with confidence.

†HYMNS† – A Punch To The Temple

Battant - As I Ride With No Horse

Battant

As I Ride With No Horse

Released: Oct 24 2011

Genre: Indie/Electroclash

Label: Kill The DJ

Rating: 2.5/5

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By: James Murray

Originally Written for The 405

Two years ago Battant were distinguishable through their provocative electroclash productions; raw, choppy vocals layered over confrontational instrumentals. The vocals remain with As I Ride With No Horse, but when taken away from their frenzied surroundings the outcome tastes a bit stale.

Essentially, Battant have moved away from their electronic past and taken one step deeper into the realms of post-punk – resurrecting the sounds of 70s icons such as Siouxsie and the Banshees. The issue here is that Battant have stripped their sound down to create a record that oscillates somewhere between inspirational and trifling, only a recreation of a once ground-breaking record doesn’t quite carry the same level of prestige and ingenuity forty years on.

The tracks that sit nicely on As I Ride With No Horse, regrettably, tend to be those that echo earlier releases. The up-beat ‘Modern Days’ reflects the audacious sound Battant have proved they are so good at crafting – the gruff vocals of Chloé Raunet amplifying a lively ambiance. On the contrary, the following track ‘Clearcut’ drags the BPM backwards in a radical switch of style. Throughout the entirety of the track Battant rely rhythmically on an uninspiring bass riff, paired with Raunet’s vocals – which when not hidden by instrumentals are exposed as monotone and lacklustre.

The latter half of the record develops in experimentation. The interlude ‘Hubble’ acts as a turning point in the record – twisting the tone from jaded to haunting, welcoming the contagious bass line of ‘Being One’, where Raunet’s hazy screeches are, on this occasion, well complemented.

Vocally, the highlight of As I Ride With No Horse comes in the form of the two minute, minimal track ‘Pester’, which precedes the beautifully progressive ‘Fossil Fuel’. The raw sound that Battant have explored throughout the LP opens the track before blasting through audio dynamics (at least by the standards of As I Rise With No Horse). For six minutes Battant explore synths and various other electronic elements that would have accompanied and built on the minimalism that Battant reconnoitred throughout this record.

Often bands adapt their sounds to different audiences, but unfortunately in the case of Battant they’ve failed to play to their strengths; however, amongst forgettable drum patterns and hoarse vocals signs of experimentation keep a light gleaming at the end of the tunnel. As I Ride With No Horse is like stripping a house of its fancy wallpaper to find a murky brown paint underneath. Hopefully the future sound of Battant won’t be impossible to redecorate.

Battant – Shutter

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