Firstly I’m aware that I haven’t posted on here for ages, and this is because of blah blah, yawn yawn and etc etc.
In the meantime, as I try to find some time to start posting again, here’s some CD Reviews that I’ve done in the past few weeks for the paper.
The Prodigy – “Invaders Must Die”
The Prodigys breakthrough album “The Fat of the Land” was released when the Britpop movement was making guitars popular again. The fact that the release of “Invaders Must Die” coincides with the decline of the guitar based “indie” trend hints towards a wish – possibly that of Liam Howlett – of a return to electronica.
The title track opener indicates the plan for the entire album, which is to revisit the glory warehouse rave days of “Firestarter” and “Breathe”, while reminding us that perhaps we need a real reemergence of big beat, rather than the tired posturing of Lady Gaga-esque electro fashionistas which is currently prominent.
The band – guest-featuring Dave Grohl on drums and Does It Offend You, Yeah?’s James Rushent as co-producer – almost manage a sufficient recreation of their past successes, though a full-on development of their jungle roots would have been more appreciated.
Neko Case – “Middle Cyclone”
Case’s solo work – outside of bands such as the New Pornographers and The Sadies – has proven to be consistently strong. From her early beginnings Case has developed into a genre –bending artist, blending punk, alternative country and pop. Her latest release continues this effort, taking a calm look at relationships and nature while stating that the two themes are similar in terms of destructiveness.
The album jumps from acoustic guitar led songs to piano ballads, one of which being a cover of Harry Nilssons “Don’t Forget Me,” that leads to a slightly fragmented tracklisting. The albums closer “Marais la Nuit”, a simple half- hour field recording of frogs by a pond, seems to symbolize Cases career as a whole – that of an artist willing to experiment with styles and impulses.
Morrissey – “Years of Refusal”
Album opener “Something is Squeezing My Skull” sets the mood that is to be now expected by the former Smiths front man – that of malaise, loneliness and perpetual gloominess. The opening track – a surprisingly accessible anthem railing against mental health treatments and medications – conveys the ferocity that is spread over much of the album.
The anger comes to a head on both “It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore” and “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris”, a declaration of infatuation of the architecture of Paris in the wake of heartbreak.
Overall the album – although a tad over-produced – is another welcome release, being as entertaining and vital as 1994’s “Vauxhall and I.”
K’Naan – “Troubadour”
The follow-up to 2005’s “The Dusty Foot Philosopher” sees higher production values and a political ideal that brings to mind M.I.A. Throughout the album, Somalian born Kaynaan Warsame takes his experiences in the civil-war ravaged country and applies them to his life in North America, resulting in an album both thoughtful and relentlessly optimistic. Musically, the album drifts from African samples to guitar solos by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, resulting in an overall quick flow with a few touches of minimalism. However, K’Naan’s developing abilities highlight occasional lyrical fallbacks into rap clichés, though for an artist who taught himself English through old Nas and Rakim albums this may be forgivable.
Overall, ”Troubadour” – though expressing an honesty and grittiness that deserves to expose North American “gangstas” for what they really are – suffers from patchy lyrics and unnecessary clichés that outbalance the moments of real talent.
Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
While Franz Ferdinands first two albums concerned themselves with disco tinged post-punk. With their third album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, however, the Scottish foursome delve into experimental territory. Trading their guitars for keyboards, drum machines and keyboards, the band, along with producer Dan Carey (Hot Chip, CSS), toy with new-wave, electronica and a touch of dub. The album could be classed as a “concept” affair, set up as a chronicle of a night on the town. Whether more extreme experimentation is in the bands future seems somewhat doubtful, Tonight shows a band evolving at just the right moment in their career.
Department of Eagles – In Ear Park
Department of Eagles first album, “The Cold Nose” (or “The Whitey on the Moon”) seemed to be the work of differing musicians coming together with no prior contact – a mixture of electronica, instrumentals and hip-hop tinged tracks. Since then, songwriter Daniel Rossan became involved with Grizzly Bear. Returning to his now side-project with two other members of Grizzly Bear, Rossen has also brought the sound of his main focus along too.
Incorporating many of the sounds heard in Grizzly Bears Yellow House, In Ear Park brings to mind autumnal moods and shifting atmospherics, in a similar vein to Fleet Foxes, while surprising tracks such as “No One Does It Like You” and the cabaret of “Teenagers” showcases a disorientating side to the band’s output.
Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You
Since her 2006 debut Alright Still, Lily Allen has told the media that she doesn’t like being a celebrity, her music isn’t very good and that she wants to stop singing and become an A&R representative. Whether attempting to move on or simply adopting standard promotional strategies, her second release does show a more mature Lily Allen.
With songs referencing George Bushs presidency, the mainstream advocation of drugs and the downside of fame – along with her usual mentions of sex and relationships – there are hints at efforts to shift musically. Dropping Cockney vocal tendencies along with the ska samples of her first album, Allen leans towards folk, 90’s Britpop and even ABBA. Despite apparent limitations as a vocalist and writer, It’s Not Me, It’s You surprises with unexpected emotion throughout.
Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light
After I Am a Bird Now – Antony Hegartys 2005 debut – debated the topics of gender and displacement, The Crying Light goes further towards the subject of life and death. Simultaneously rich and sparse, Hegartys unique vocal range, combined with the work of over two dozen musicians, results in a significantly emotional album. Hegartys voice is the crux for many listeners, becoming a love/hate topic that some listeners may not be able to get past. Most striking is Dust and Water”, a simple vocal track seemingly sung in a foreign language, despite the fact that it isn’t. However unfashionable it may seem, once past fickle aesthetics you’ll find a deeply personal, absorbing album.
last song i heard – “bluish” animal collective