[Album Review] Thomas Tantrum – Mad By Moonlight

June 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

On Mad By Moonlight, Southampton’s Thomas Tantrum offer up addictive melodies, vocals that charm and captivate, and instrumentation which invokes dreamlike musings. This faraway imagery is a device rather than an accidental outcome: the band based the album on sleep, and the problems that a lack of it can create. With guitar riffs that recall The Cure’s lighter moments, and vocals with the intonation of an early Gwen Stefani mixed with the tones of Chew Lips’ Tigs, these songs are light-hearted yet laden with emotional tones, drawing the listener into a world that is meaningful even in its light-hearted moments. « Read the rest of this entry »


Christina Aguilera – Bionic

June 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

The only reason I’m writing about this album is because surprisingly I don’t hate it as much as all the critics had me thinking I would. I’ve heard very few positive things said about the record, so I was expecting to dislike it from start to finish. However, at least a couple of positives can be found amongst all the rubble…

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Sleigh Bells – Treats

May 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Sleigh Bells are making my life right now. Their debut album Treats was released this week and can be streamed via the widget below thanks to the always awesome NPR.

This album is simply BANGING. Crashing drums, heavy stomping beats, sparkling vocals and so much energy you’ll be needing a giant nap afterwards (especially after the lethargic-ness of repeated plays of The National’s High Violet).

Crystal Castles

May 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

I haven’t written about this album yet because I’ve been way too busy listening to it on repeat. Whilst dancing, sleeping, reading, running…seriously EVERYTHING.

I’m not even going to write a full review, I’m just going to say that if this record isn’t in your life already I am more than slightly disappointed in you, but will give you a few hours to rectify your mistake.

‘Baptism’ has been my favourite track since first listen, every time I play it I get so excited about seeing them live at Leeds that I really nearly throw up. Nice visual for you there.

Jónsi – Go

April 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Sigur Rós frontman has released his debut solo album, and it’s lush, ethereal and utterly wonderful. It’s not all airy and lightness though, there’s real substance here, found in the fast paced drum beats and complex layering of instruments. This is an album you’ll listen to many times and hear something new with each play.

Thanks to the good guys over at Spinner you can listen to it in it’s entirety here

The first single is Boy Lilikoi, hear it below:

Broken Bells – Broken Bells

March 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Broken Bells are James Mercer and Brian Burton, better known as founder and front man of The Shins, and super producer/musician Danger Mouse. One may worry what might happen when you cross Oh, Inverted World with the stupidly over-played ‘Crazy’, but there’s no need to panic (or frankly, be a little scared).

At first listen, you may be mistaking for thinking you are indeed listening to some kind of updated Shins album. It is the familiarity of Mercer’s vocals that will lead you into this trap, but as the record progresses and develops, you’ll find it is something altogether different. Unquestionably there are certain similarities to be found, every now and again in the guitar rhythms and vocal patterns, but songs such as ‘Mongrel Heart’ and ‘The Ghost Inside’ show that this collaboration is anything but lazy in its efforts. The sounds here are less organic and slightly more electro, with Burton showing off the producing skills that have made him so popular and well-respected. The impressive thing is that the synths, handclaps, piano parts and unnameable electronic sounds do not stand out from the organic sounding guitars and strings; they fit together as one and make you wonder how they ever could have been apart in the first place. The lyrics are what you’d expect from Mercer (i.e. brilliant) [Remember what they said / There’s no shortcut to a dream / It’s all blood and sweat / And life is what you manage in between]

This isn’t a record to set your world on fire. It’s a slow burner, but a very enjoyable one at that. This seems to be what Broken Bells set out to do, they aren’t looking to change the musical landscape forever, more flex their musical muscles and show what two individuals can do when they come together to form an unexpected bond. This particular bond is a successful one; listen to Broken Bells on a lazy Sunday morning, and let their sound ease those good-god-will-this-recession-never-end-blues.

Blood Red Shoes – A Fire Like This

March 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

A Fire Like This is an incredible album. The kind of incredible that makes you excited, makes you grin from ear to ear, and makes you believe in the power of music to lift you from your existential funk. Or, to quote Butch Walker, maybe it’s just me.

I’ve never really paid much attention to Blood Red Shoes before. Not because I didn’t rate them as musicians, or even because I didn’t like the sounds they created. It was down to a sheer feeling of being overwhelmed. I was living in Latin America at the time their debut album, Box of Secrets, was released, and the amount of new music you hear over there is somewhat limited to say the least. When I returned to England, tanned, relaxed and with a strange American accent, I attempted to get a handle on what I’d missed. I remember reading an article (I hate to admit it may have been in NME) about the best bands of the past year, featuring Blood Red Shoes, Vampire Weekend and Lightspeed Champion amongst others. For reasons unknown, I decided Blood Red Shoes weren’t for me, spent a whole lot of time listening to Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Cajun Dance Party, Black Kids, Los Campesinos! and never gave the Brighton duo a second thought.

Now I see the error of my ways. As soon as I heard the first track on A Fire Like This, ‘Don’t Ask’, I knew I was in love. From the rapid rhythm of the drums to the ever-so-slightly-yelling vocals; the simple yet perfect electric guitar riffs to the punkish lyrics, the whole record is polished to a gritty perfection. The band have been placed into many genres by fans and critics alike, but none of them really seem to stick (or, in fact, fit in the first place). They have always described themselves as ‘punk’, in attitude if not in sound, and found that many people were surprised when they listened to their music and didn’t find the lighter indie pop sensibilities of bands of the same time period (see Vampire Weekend, Los Campesinos!). There is definitely something darker and deeper lurking underneath the chant along lyrics that these guys throw out. Whether that be the rebellious mindsets they developed as teenagers listening to Fugazi and Sonic Youth, or simply the cries of a youth that has “heard it all ten thousand times”.

Comparisons to The Subways are far too obvious to be of any use, for while both feature boy/girl vocals, Blood Red Shoes are more like what would happen if We Are Scientists (circa With Love and Squalor) ate The Subways. For me, The Subways always lacked a certain kind of spark that took their music from above-average to towering-above-average. I compare Blood Red Shoes to We Are Scientists not because they sound extremely similar but because they both have that something special that makes their music stand out amongst the bands who surround them in their particular field. A Fire Like This is an album filled with energy and excitement; pent up angst that explodes with exuberance and charm. Miss this at your peril.

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