Monday, 21 November 2016

ANDREW CREAM – 'Self Portrait' review



ANDREW CREAM – 'Self Portrait' review


I'd never heard of ANDREW CREAM before this, but his stuff is really pretty wonderful; kind of full band acoustic / folky pop-punk stuff that's really bright and energetic with really catchy vocal melodies and choruses. I had to check that this wasn't the vocalist from the amazing ABOVE THEM because his tone of voice is quite similar, and actually I guess it's not too far off musically either (apart from the acoustic-ness of course), which is never a bad thing. There are some really posi lyrics on here too about finding yourself, becoming who you want to be, and other lovely bits of personal politics, which makes it a really fun and uplifting listen. I've had this on in the car quite frequently for a while now, but I could pretty much listen to it at any time, whether I felt up or down, and that's a pretty rare thing. So yeah, really glad I got asked to review this, and you should totally check it out if you need a lift, or you just like some folky pop-punk!


xox

Monday, 14 November 2016

TEGAN AND SARA – 'Love You To Death' review


TEGAN AND SARA – 'Love You To Death' review


Who doesn't love TEGAN AND SARA? They continually change and develop their sound, and consistently write incredible music regardless of what genre their music might fall under. This new album bears more similarity to their last album 'Heartthrob' than anything before that, swapping dark, subtle melodies and emotion of albums like 'The Con' for massive, bright pop songs, and as much as I miss the sound of said album, I really can't complain because this is brilliant. The choruses to some of these songs are so catchy it's just ridiculous; 'Faint of Heart', 'Dying to Know', and 'Stop Desire' will stick to you very quickly, and when they do slow the pace and pull back for the ballad '100x' (one of my faves for sure) it's just beautiful, and shows off their perpetual capacity for writing sensitive, touching songs. I can't really work out what's so great about the sound they have now; it's almost like it combines the best of 80s, 90s, and contemporary pop with their own, irresistible, distinct writing style, but whatever it is, it's phenomenal. If you liked 'Heartthrob', this maybe doesn't quite reach the heights of that masterpiece, but it comes very bloody close, so you should love it. If you don't really know TEGAN AND SARA I urge you to check them out ASAP, especially their newer stuff if you dig stuff like ROBYN, FOXES, and METRIC, but also check out albums like 'The Con' for something darker. Another stunning piece of work.


xox

Thursday, 10 November 2016

DOE – 'Some Things Last Longer Than You' review


DOE – 'Some Things Last Longer Than You' review


Before I saw them at Deadpunk in Bristol earlier this year, I liked DOE. After I saw them at Deadpunk in Bristol earlier this year, I Loved DOE. And not just because they did a truly spectacular cover of THE SPICE GIRLS' '2 Become 1' (although that definitely helped). They're a three-piece from London (dual guitar, no bass) who play really awesome garage pop-punk, with ace male-female dual vocal harmonising, plenty of angst, some chuckle-inducing lyrics, and some bloody huge choruses. There are also some great riffs on here ('Respite' has a notably good 'un), and there's a pretty strong 90s vibe coming through (think SONIC YOUTH, THE PIXIES and THE BREEDERS, and also the way TANCRED's stuff has been going lately). There are some great tunes on side A like the opener 'No. 1' and I like 'Monopoly', but I absolutely love side B, which is full of bangers: 'Anywhere' has the energy and intensity of CAVES, 'Last Ditch' gives us one of their most memorable choruses, 'Before Her' is magic from start to finish (those vocal harmonies in the chorus, oh my days!), and the intensity of 'Corin' is fantastic, reminding me of THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS' harder stuff: Nicola's shouting in it gives me goosebumps. A really incredible album by one of the best British bands around at the moment; pick it up now!


xox

Sunday, 28 August 2016

SIA - 'This Is Acting' review


SIA - 'This Is Acting' review


SIA is awesome. Like I said when I reviewed her last album '1000 Forms of Fear', she's one of the few writers / artists whose stuff appears in charts that I will actually listen to albums of. If you can get past the acrobatic-ness of her voice and the RIHANNA-esque vocal stylings (she writes for her and pretty much created that style for her), then you'll find her stuff has leanings to ROBYN, THE KNIFE and TEGAN AND SARA, which ain't a bad thing at all in my ears. Amongst these twelve tracks, we have the piano-driven ballads like 'One Million Bullets'; full on dance tunes like 'Sweet Design' and the awesome, addictively genius 'Move Your Body; purely perfect pop songs rendered in her unique style like 'House on Fire' and the awesome power number 'Unstoppable'; and of course the huge belter, in this album's case 'Alive', which features one of the biggest and most euphoric choruses I've ever heard (at least equalling that of 'Chandelier') and of which her vocal take during the musically minimal bridge is just astounding. SIA's songs have an awesome, unique sense of melody and thought-provoking lyrics that will lift, crush, comfort, puzzle, encourage, and blow you away, all in the space of a few tracks, and this album is a perfect example of that. Check out the unbelievable 'Alive' (goosebumps at the ready), the irresistible 'Move Your Body', and I especially love the haunting and beautiful 'Broken Glass', which features not only one, but two upward key changes in the final chorus (now she's just showing off). Consistently brilliant throughout, consider this if you like pop with depth. Awesome.


xox

Friday, 26 August 2016

MILLENCOLIN - 'True Brew' review



MILLENCOLIN - 'True Brew' review


So yeah, MILLENCOLIN are another of my fave 'growing-up' bands that have come back with another album recently, and those that, like myself, have missed the sound of their stellar, earlier, faster efforts, will be pleased to know that this is great stuff, and a welcome return to form. There's a perpetual urgency and energy throughout 'True Brew's 13 songs (that come in at just under 35 mins) of melodic punk / skate-punk that's been largely missing since the masterpiece that was 'Pennybridge Pioneers', and it consequently sounds surprisingly fresh, as though they've dug up a fresh dose of passion: something that is always impressive for a band on their eighth full length (ninth including 'The Melancholy Collection'), having been going for 24 years now with the same lineup. It's another lyrically interesting one too, touching on racism, relationship dynamics, and discovering what's important in life, and is vocally brilliant in both tone and melody, with some of the best verses and choruses that I've heard from Nikola for a while. I think most impressive for me on here is the consistency; albums like 'Machine 15' and 'Kingwood' had their moments, but were a little hit or miss, whereas this is fantastic from start to finish, from the super-catchy 'Chameleon' and 'Bring Me Home', through angrier tunes like 'Sense and Sensibility', and to vulnerable and emotion-driven songs like 'Wall of Doubt' and the brilliant 'Something I Would Die For'. Super pleased with these guys for this release that bears the maturity of later albums and injects the fun, energy, and passion of 'Life on a Plate', 'For Monkeys' and 'Pennybridge...'; and for those that that means nothing to, get this if you're into FACE TO FACE, NO FUN AT ALL, SATANIC SURFERS, or THE OFFSPRING.


xox

Friday, 12 August 2016

FACE TO FACE - 'Protection' review


FACE TO FACE - 'Protection' review


When I got into melodic punk-rock as a teen, FACE TO FACE were one of the first bands that I properly got into, and, despite not loving stuff since the album 'How to Ruin Everything', they've remained one of my favourites. Subsequent to that album, they've released one that I didn't like at all, one that was a little better, and have arrived at this, which, thankfully, is probably the best thing they've done in about ten / fifteen years. For those that aren't familiar with FACE TO FACE, they play melodic punk rock that sits well alongside bands like BAD RELIGION, DESCENDENTS, and THE OFFSPRING's faster stuff, but still has it's own sound, especially in Trever's distinct vocal delivery and arrangements. If ever there was an album to show how crucial Scott is to this band too, then this is it; his basslines on here are absolutely sublime (and are given a lot of moments to shine in the more guitar-bare sections), and Danny's drumming is on point too, especially when they play at speed (they have this particular, awesome speed that they only use once or twice per album, and on here it's on 'I Won't Say I'm Sorry'). As usual, lyrically this is more personal than political, and there are some pretty memorable choruses on here. Even if this isn't quite what they used to be capable of, there are some good songs on here, stylistically falling somewhere between the classics of their self-titled album and 'Reactionary', and their album prior to this, 'Three Chords and a Half Truth', and it's definitely worth checking out if you like that 90s melodic punk sound. A decent effort; I'd recommend the songs 'Double Crossed', 'Say What You Want', and 'Fourteen Fifty-Nine' for something a bit different, but I'd also like to stress how great their previous albums 'Don't Turn Away', their self-titled one, 'Ignorance is Bliss' and 'Reactionary' are, so they're worth checking out too.


xox

Sunday, 7 August 2016

CATHERINE ELMS - 'So Far From Whole' CD review


CATHERINE ELMS - 'So Far From Whole' CD review


You may know Catherine from one of a number of places; for her involvement in zines (and her blog SPILL THE ZINES), her work for the Swansea Feminist Network, or even for this, her solo musical project. I know, busy lady, right? Anyway, this four track EP is her latest (and I believe third?) release, and is a bit of a cracker. There'll be obvious comparisons to make to TORI AMOS, KATE BUSH and PJ HARVEY, but Catherine, who contributes piano / keyboards, bass, and vocals to her tracks, with guitars and drums coming from a selection of family and friends, brings a fantastic rock / grunge vibe to the table, making for a really full, powerful, and dark yet emotional listening experience, with a strong feminist backbone, including lyrics about a woman's right to be on stage instead of in the crowd. Personally my two faves on here are the last two; 'Not Enough' for that brilliant, chant-like chorus, and the closing title track for the wonderful piano melody, but a great EP all round.


xox