EP Review :: Bop – Remix Your Mind (Med School Records)

You know that kind of music where you listen to it, and you startyi tyikping withdoutg reiaodng it bask becoaouse youefre ennjoying iit thaft mcucvh? This EP will more than likely have that effect, although I don’t have any black and white proof that this actually happens.

Of all places, Russia is leading the way in chilled DnB/Dubstep hybrid material. What’s even more striking is that as far as Discogs goes, you’ll be hard pressed to find any more than the real names and, if you’re lucky, a 4 word description of the artists on this remix-of-an-original EP. This begs the question; where exactly did they fucking come from? As it happens, this is the result of a remix competition held by Med School Records, Hospital Record’s (see: Liquid Drum N Bass) sister record label. If you’re a music producer, you’ve probably entered something similar at some point. It’s probably a good job you didn’t enter this one – I dare say you would have lost disastrously – but don’t despair yet. This is a good sign – new talent is always emerging, and by the looks of things, big labels are looking to push them. It’s about time to shake off the tired shackles of Jump Up and Wobble Bass, and delve into the realms of the weird, the dark, the original, the artistic, the intense.

Two words sum this 5-tracker up for me, and probably for you too; Soul Food. True power in music is possessing the ability to alter someone’s state of mind, and that’s exactly what this does. I don’t want to drop tired clichés (god knows there’s probably enough of them already,) but just like in the video – wait until night, get in your car, turn it up, and  just drive. It’s something special.

BUY: http://shop.hospitalrecords.com/product/medic19

Bop “Remix Your Mind” EP (Med School Music)
http://www.medschoolmusic.com

Album Review :: Jamiroquai – Rock Dust Light Star

Jamiroquai have been around for 18 years and have produced some dancefloor classics. Now, they are back after a five year break but does ‘Rock Dust Light Star’ live up to any expectations we might have had after their previous albums?

Jamiroquai’s music has rarely fallen outside the “acid-funk” genre that best describes their sound and has generally been a hit across the board with young and old listeners alike. The changing faces of the collaborators have always been fronted by the effervescent Jay Kay and his outlandish hats. It has been argued that Jay Kay is best known for those hats, his love of fast cars and his penchant for famous (or not so) women, however, in terms of his music, there’s no denying there’s some clear songwriting ability, knowledge of how to seduce people with some of the best bass riffs around and some sustainable funk that’s maintained the band’s presence in the music industry for almost 2 decades.

Rock Dust Light Star has echoes of early 80’s disco combined with the synthesisers and technological tricks of today’s electric generation. Jay Kay’s vocal is, as always, up to scratch and the lyrics are (mostly) imaginative and interesting.

The majority of this album, the 7th for Jamiroquai, has a Saturday night pre-drinks vibe with a whiff of a lazy Sunday afternoon; a good album for the weekend. It’s the kind of album that may grace the Radio 2 playlist or an ’easy-listening for the over 30’s’ album but you’ll probably hear a track or two track on Radio 1 or have seen Jay Kay’s (awkward – after insulting the show’s judges) performance of “White Knuckle Ride” on the X Factor. All things considered, Jamiroquai seem to know how to create music for the masses and are understated but seemingly popular, with this album debuting at number 7 in the UK album chart.

After listening to the album a few times, the band have certainly found comfort in the familiar disco-ball funk that we would expect from them, with songs such as ‘White Knuckle Ride’ and ‘All Good In The Hood’ combining funky bass-riffs, falsetto vocals and sultry saxophones but unfortunately, songs such as ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Never Gonna Be Another’, which stray from the usual dance-material and creep into the clichéd-pop category , fall short of the mark.

The opening and end of the album are good, with catchy songs and memorable instrumentals but there is a slight dip in the middle. Jay Kay singing cheesey ballads isn’t something I would expect and for me, doesn’t work, but the typical Jamiroquai funk will make me listen to the album, just not on repeat.

Perhaps it’s time, after 18 years, for the funk-veterans to move over and let new dubstep and electro bands take over the dancefloor? [J]

Thanks to Mercury Music for sending the album for review.

http://jamiroquai.co.uk/

Album Review :: Brett Detar – Bird in the Tangle

Grab your stetson and lasso and let them wagons roll as Brett Detar takes us out into the wide blue yonder for some camp fire classics


Brett Detar

Bird in the Tangle © Brett Detar

Contrary to the less than profound and heart-warmingly cutesy-poo blurb above, Brett Detar’s Bird in the Tangle is not a saturated, Malborough Man oriented country album. Instead Detar’s obvious talents, and love for a genre that has often been at the butt end of jokes for its over romanticized notions, are lent more towards a deliciously sinister and vibrantly honest approach to country music.


With a career that is deceptively longer than his 32 years would suggest, Brett Detar’s musical journey has seen him helm and participate in a number of bands such as Pensive and Zao in the later half of the 1990s. It was not until he formed a side-project with fellow musicians Chad Alan, Joshua Fiedler, Neil Hebrank, and Jeremiah Momper forming The Juliana Theory that Detar would find stability in his musical direction. Touring and recording material for nine years up until 2006 with a spate of recent reunion shows having taken place in August of this year.

With this vast musical resume behind him, Detar now ventures into the solo artist world. Since the breakup of The Juliana Project, Detar amassed a number of songs from his every day dealings and with the financial backing and time ready to dedicate to such a project, Bird in the Tangle is the end result.

The album opens with a trio of vastly different and highly enjoyable country numbers; “Empty House on a Famous Hill,” “The Devil’s Gotta’ Earn,” and “It’s Only the Night” a hauntingly serene ode to the long gone, misty eyed past of the old west debauchery and lament. These opening tracks have a wonderfully gifted infusion of alternative country mixed with traditional slide and guitar techniques normally associated with this type of music. However, Detar’s lonesome vocals give a 21st century indie feel to the overall concept and subject matters.

“Coasts,” and “Cocaine Whiskey and Heroin” are much more upbeat, enjoyable ventures into Bluegrass and Americana anthems. The latter of which is a wonderful pseudo lament to the foibles of the human condition, a vague warning that the vices and enjoyment of dizzying highs can be all too much for one person to endure. It’s up tempo and toe tapping optimism however flashes a roguish wink to the listener and audience that it might not all be bad.

Closing the album are a trio of sinister sounding, raspingly vocal tracks shine as wonderful examples of Detar’s passion and raw musical ability leant to a 21st century twist on country music. “We’re Broken but we’ll Never Be Alone,” and the final track “This World aint got Nothing” are two microcosms of Detar’s sound and ambience the artist has created for himself and listeners.

Although this frankly realistic and post post modern take on a genre littered with self detaching clichés is refreshingly honest, Bird on the Tangle tends to let itself down a little on the originality front. Standing at an adventurous eleven tracks long there is a stark sense of repetition when it comes to both subject matter and delivery of tone, vocal and musical arrangement. The tracks “Empty House on a Famous Hill,” “Caged Bird” and “This World aint got Nothing,” all have the same slow, lethargic pace that feels all to familiar by the time the album closes. This is of course a staple of the Country and Americana genres but to be placed on a debut album does not entirely encourage listeners to pursue further avenues.

The album on a whole however is a very enjoyable and interesting twist on a scene that can be often overlooked as being a serious and inspiring collection of artists and work. Too often is the country genre associated with the rose tinted spectacles of Kenny Baker, Dolly Parton and Glen Campell, each with their crotch hugging, bra bursting rhinestone outfits and perfectly permed hair leering at us from the stage singing about dead dogs. Bird in the Tangle is a much more realistic, deeply brooding album filled with eclectic and indolent tracks that would be more at place amongst the dysentery riddled high plains. Indeed this is an album more suited to 2011’s “True Grit” audience than the 1969 version.

Jonathan Whitelaw


The album is available for a short period of time on free download via the official site. This is also home to all the usual tour, bio, discography and album sales information: http://www.brettdetar.com/

EP Review :: Frank Turner – Rock & Roll

“Who’d have thought, that after all, something as simple as rock and roll could save us all?”

How Frank found time to make this is beyond me. The man has spent the majority of 2010 on the road (so what else is new?), touring Europe, America and even China, yet he still managed to put out a new record. This five track EP encompasses everything Frank Turner is about. It’s a perfect introduction for the uninitiated, but won’t leave the  hardcore wanting, either.


Rock & Roll is a record full of tributes. It feels like Frank’s way of letting people know how much certain people and things – past or present – mean to him. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some sappy, emo-tinged cry along. This is the Frank Turner we all know and love and these five new tracks are fantastic. The record opens with ‘I Still Believe’, Frank’s tribute to musical greats like Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. It’s a song full of passion and power that can’t be ignored, helped by the fact that it’s catchy as hell too! Anyone who’s seen one Frank’s shows of late will have undoubtedly heard this and chanted along with it’s chorus.  It might take a while, but soon enough you won’t be able to get it out of your head. It’s a real feel good song that follows a tried and true formula. Such a great way to open up a record.

‘Pass It Along’ is a track some will have heard before, and it’s probably my favorite track on here. For me, the whole sentiment of the record was captured in this line: “So here’s to Ragan, and here’s to Marwood. Here’s to Tim, and Jonah too. Here’s to the ones who have to take the stage and sing the truth.” This is a shout out to people just like him. Musicians who go out there and do it, not because they have to, because they want to. It’s a more stripped down track, something that lends itself perfectly to the subject matter. Ben, Matt, Tarrant and Nigel are still there, but they provide more of a subtle backing for Frank more than anything.

Those looking for something completely stripped down will find that in ‘Rock and Roll Romance’. It’s the shortest track on the record, but maybe the most poignant. Perhaps it’s the subject matter? Perhaps it’s Frank’s hushed tones? Maybe it’s a mixture of both? What I do know is that it’s a heartfelt love story told in less than two minutes. Anyone who says Frank can’t write a love song is wrong and this should set them straight.

Considering the tone of the EP thus far, ‘To Absent Friends’ came as quite a surprise. Granted, ‘I Still Believe’ packs a punch, but this one almost knocked me out of my chair. Starting out with just Frank and an acoustic, the track builds into a fast paced crescendo that just made me want to run somewhere (with this in my headphones, of course). As the title suggests, this is about another friend of Frank’s and is a tribute anyone would be proud of. This track in particular shows just how versatile Frank and his band can be, and that fast paced rock tracks can co-exist wonderfully with the regular folk-style stuff fans have come to expect.

Closing the album is ‘The Next Round’, an ode to the bottle and those who drink from it. This is probably the closest to a typical ‘folk’ song as you’re going to get from this EP and it’s calming melody works as a great finish to the record. Simple, subtle instrumentation provides the perfect backing to Frank’s soothing vocal throughout before it, again, rises up to create the perfect feel good ending.

If this is a teaser of what’s to come next from FT, then I can’t wait. Rock & Roll showcases just how great songwriting and production can come together to create a masterpiece. It shows how the range in Frank’s music has broadened, but it retains the simplicity that first drew me and many others in. Disregard Frank Turner at your peril!

Album Review :: Tinashé – Saved

Tinashé’s debut album, released earlier this year, would best be summarised as a colourful and varied collection of indie-pop tracks, lyrically reflecting the geographical journey from his birthplace in Zimbabwe to locations in the UK and his experiences throughout.

I first saw Tinashé last year when he supported Noisettes at the O2 Academy in Liverpool.  Some supporting acts blend into the background and are muted by mindless chatter from the crowd as they eagerly await the main performer but with Tinashé, I found myself listening intently and making a conscious effort to remember his name and follow his progress long after the gig was over. Not only was he an animated, confident and engaging performer; he showcased a selection of soulful, catchy and upbeat tracks that left me intrigued as to what material, if any, he’d released, what he was working on and his music in general.

Disappointed, after the gig, that I couldn’t find much of his music online, I sat tight and waited for his debut album and what an album he produced…’Saved’ is a triumph of a debut.

Although difficult to compare Tinashé to one specific musician or artist, a cocktail of comparisons may give you an idea of his sound: If you added a cheeky dash of early Hoosiers to a pint of Jack Penate, poured it over ice, slipped in a bit of Bloc Party and added a thick slice of Jamie T to your glass for decoration, you’d get a taste of Tinashé.

Bearing those comparisons in mind, Tinashé’s drawn his sound from a blend of many musical influences, which are hinted at on the album, from artists such as Prince and Michael Jackson, who Tinashé enjoyed as a child, to the story-telling of 90’s RnB artists like the Notorious BIG who intrigued Tinashé whilst growing up in London.  This fusion of classic musicality and great songwriting is what gives ‘Saved’ an edge. It successfully binds traditional concepts like strong guitar riffs, pounding pianos and some strategic strings with an upbeat and captivating vocal performance throughout.

‘Saved’ would easily please pop-lovers and certainly intrigue the indie-folk. There’s elements of hearty RnB lyrics and noughties experimental indie-pop. You could read into every single line of all the songs on the album, or delve into the “About” section on Tinashé’s website (linked below) which will tell you the ins and outs of his varied upbringing and specific occurrences that influenced him but I think it’s best to listen to the album and read into it what you will; apply it to yourself or listen freely to the music without thinking too much. Either way, I guarantee you’ll find yourself nodding along or subconsciously remembering the catchy refrains.

Despite being a well-rounded album, I think the stand-out tracks are: Saved, The Feeling, Good Times, Mr. Presumption & Every Single Day.

It was when thinking about my favourite albums of this year that I listened to ‘Saved’ again and decided to look online to see how it had been received. There was little in the way of reviews or opinions so I figured I would bring some to the table and hopefully invite others to give him a listen. The album was released in early 2010 so this article isn’t really a “Just released!” – “New Album Review!” – “Fantastic New Music!” type of post, more  “Why haven’t we heard a lot more about this guy?!”.

Tinashé is now continuing his journey, gigging in the UK following his debut release. If you get chance to see him, go!

http://www.tinashe.co.uk/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtfYWJFjS_U

Tinashé’s album is also on i-Tunes and Spotify.

[JC]

Album Review :: Buffoon – Familiar Sounds

Belgian indie veterans come together to release their first fully fledged CD in an attempt to broaden their listenership and our horizons.


Buffoon

Buffoon - Familiar Sounds © BUFFOON recordings/Jesus Factory Records

The country of Belgium is famous for numerous things. Chocolates, canals, Tintin and Trappist Monk beer. They are therefore not entirely synonymous with music beyond their flat borders. This is perhaps about to change however as the first fully loaded, fully comprehensible album from the band Buffoon goes on general sale. Poignantly titled Familiar Sounds, this latest effort from a Belgian band who are considered a super group in their homeland has a sound that is worthy of the international market.


Formed by their enigmatic leader, Peter Vleugels, a self styled and taught musician who learned to love music in the hazy days of the late 80s, Buffoon has become somewhat a popular alternative choice in Belgium in general. Formed from members of bands that could be loosely labeled indie, the lineup of Niels Hendrix on guitar, Mimi Van Den Put on bass and Dave Schroyen on drums, this amalgamation of talented young artists from the Belgian independent scene soon found their voice and direction, forming the band that appears in its entirety now.

With this latest offering in a long line of independent EPs and self published material, Familiar Sounds is a stomping introduction for a much wider audience than the band is used to. The initial interpretations of the band are not the usual eyes rolled response to yet another mainland European act desperately trying to conquer the already mass populated British and international market. Instead, a refreshingly original take on a relatively harder sounding indie theme greets the listener in a pristine, shimmering presence and production.

The opening track “Twisters” has about as much in common with the pre-formed stereotypes and skeptical nuances associated with Euro music as McDonalds has with gyms. The audience is instead treated to a roaring, up beat, high octane guitar anthem infused with a large dosage of electronica for good measure. The theme continues on with “Act as If” and “Did We Forget”, a more relaxed, slowed tempo rock lament. The eclectic guitar and bass of Hendrix and Van Den Put illict sweet memories of early Rolling Stones and Beck. Vleugels’ vocals, timing and tone make the audience weep at every note. The closing solo satisfies the listener as the damaged soul of the protagonist bleeds through the watts of the amplifiers.

Familiar Sounds closes with two contrasting tracks that perfectly sum up the album and band as a whole. “Strange” is another lazy, sun kissed rock number, excellently executed by a band that could quite easily be mistakenly taken from coming from an era and place far from their homes. Conversely the concluding track “Did We Forget? (Appendix)” serves as a less than harmonic, all together bizarre conclusion to an album that otherwise has a structural and musical hospitability. Possibly born out of Vleugels’ love for electronica and the musical freedom he has enjoyed under the blanket of international anonymity, “Did We Forget (The Appendix)” is a track that caters to the bands own preferences and in truth feels more like an in joke than a professional output to potential fans and album buys.

In all Familiar Sounds is an excellent introduction to a band that is perhaps unknown to most listeners within the UK and international listening communities. With a plethora of talent both on and off stage, Buffoon stands a competitive chance at making some headway in their quest for recognition. In a digitally dominated age such as this, bands like Buffoon have more than a good chance of breaking into the mainstream and with material like Familiar Sounds then they are in good stead.

Jonathan Whitelaw


For more information on the band, tours and availability of the album, check out their website: http://www.myspace.com/buffoontherockband

Canada, Eh? :: The Flatliners

“What kilometer per hour does this boat go, eh?” – Chris Cote (Kut U Up)

The Flatliners brand of ska-infused punk rock is one that’s really easy to get behind. Like many of the bands on Fat Wreck their music is really high energy and a lot of fun. Their success hasn’t come without hard work. Since forming in 2002, the Ontario-based foursome have garnered quite the fanbase. They’ve toured across North America and Europe relentlessly, releasing three albums in that time too.


Their latest record Cavalcade was released this past April and is a real tour de force. It’s no surprise that it’s vying for record of the year at a number of publications. Some might have thought it too clean, but it’s hard not to be won over by Chris Cresswell’s powerful, throaty vocals and the record’s sheer sense of urgency. Though many would beg to differ, for me, they’re a punk band with ska influences, not a ska-punk band. That distinction is very important.

The band have announced that they’re on their way back to the UK, and will be playing a host of shows in February next year. Along for the ride will be, Swansea punks, The Arteries and, Exeter’s own, OK Pilot. Before that they’ve got a run in their homeland with, fellow Canadians, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, The Menzingers (who played with The Arteries just the other night) and, Moon & Back favorites, Fake Problems. Check out the dates below:

  • 9th Dec. – L’Agitee, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada w/Fake Problems, The Menzingers, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
  • 10th Dec – Mavericks – Ottoawa City, Ontario, Canada w/Fake Problems, The Menzingers, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
  • 11th Dec – Underworld – Montreal, QC, Canada w/Fake Problems, The Menzingers, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
  • 13th Dec – The Red Dog – Peterborough, ON, Canada w/Fake Problems, The Menzingers, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
  • 14th Dec – The Mansion – Barrie, ON, Canada w/Fake Problems, The Menzingers, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
  • 15th Dec – The Schwaben – Kitchener, ON, Canada w/Fake Problems, The Menzingers, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
  • 16th Dec – The Casbah – Hamilton, ON, Canada w/Fake Problems, The Menzingers, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
  • 17th Dec – Sneaky Dee’s (19+) – Toronto, ON, Canada w/Fake Problems, The Menzingers, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
  • 18th Dec – Sneaky Dee’s (All ages) – Toronto, ON, Canada w/Fake Problems, The Menzingers, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
  • 27th Dec – House Of Blues – Boston, Massachusetts w/The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, H20
  • 2nd Feb – Bang Bar – Basingstoke, UK w/The Arteries, OK Pilot
  • 3rd Feb – The White Rabbit  – Plymouth, UK w/The Arteries, OK Pilot
  • 4th Feb – The Croft – Bristol, UK w/The Arteries, OK Pilot
  • 6th Feb – Speakeasy – Dublin, Ireland w/The Arteries, OK Pilot
  • 7th Feb – Hobo’s – Bridgend, UK w/The Arteries, OK Pilot
  • 8th Feb – TJ’s – Leeds, UK w/The Arteries, OK Pilot
  • 9th Feb – Night & Day – Manchester, UK w/The Arteries, OK Pilot
  • 10th Feb – The Crown – Middlesborough, UK w/The Arteries, OK Pilot
  • 11th Feb – The Gaff – London, UK w/The Arteries, OK Pilot

Visit The Flatliners official website

Listen to The Flatliners on MySpace

Download Cavalcade on iTunes

Be sure to check out our Canadian friends Unrated Music too!

Gig Review :: The Chapman Family @ Masque Theatre, Liverpool – 10/11/10

Kingsley mid asphixiation. Possibly taking the Ian Curtis comparisons a tad too seriously.

Just over a year ago, The Moon and Back ran an article on Teeside post- punk outfit, The Chapman Family. Currently embarking on their largest UK tour to date, the band are louder, more confrontational and ever more relevant than they were not so long ago.

 By mid-day on the 10th of November 2010, the ‘peaceful’ protest against the Tories rise in tuition fees has descended into anarchy. The Conservative headquarters have already been destroyed, and the first of the protests fifty-seven arrests have been made.
 
 Meanwhile, back up the north. The Chapman Family quietly unload their van in preparation for their not even quarter full gig in Liverpool’s Masque Theatre. All of which is a rather morose commentary on the state of twenty -first century Britain. To make matters worse, little over a mile down the road, yet another American band so barren of substance, it physically hurts (Paramore) prepare to play to a 10,000 capacity crowd in one of the UK’s largest venues.
 
 As the day goes on, news coverage repeatedly regurgitates the story of the ‘anarchy’ outside the Tory headquarters, each version more dramatic than the last.  Adjectives such as ‘chaos’, ‘hostility’, ‘anger’ and ‘brutality’ are terms the media begin to force feed us until the story is so filtered it is beyond the point of truth. However, these same adjectives could so very easily be applied to The Chapman Family’s entire performance that same evening.
 
 Taking to the stage amongst an ear bleeding drone of distortion and feedback, the band storm into forthcoming album track ‘All That’s Left to Break’, before new single ‘All Fall’ explodes into his short lived and extremely angry little life. Frontman, Kingsley Chapman screams with all the gusto of a young Henry Rollins yet gazes vacantly at the baying crowd with all the vulnerability of a very troubled Ian Curtis. Needless to say, it’s the most intimidating combination of attributes since Kerry Katona and Iceland joined forces to become the greatest advocates of frozen food, the cocaine industry has ever seen.
 
 The intensity in the live performance only increases with forthcoming album tracks ‘She Didn’t Know’ and ‘This English Life’, both of which are easily potential singles. The show climaxes with the already anthemic ‘Kids’ and concludes with Kingsley’s inevitable self destruction as he asphyxiates himself with his mic lead (as you do), for set closer ‘A Million Dollars’ which, is bluntly introduced as ‘A song about killing children’. Subtle, I know. However, it’s when one of the just shy of twenty crowd members pipes up from the barrier and requests early demo tracks ‘You Are Not Me’ and ‘Lies’, that the importance of the band becomes so blatantly apparent. It begs the question, how high a regard must a band with no album , three singles and forty miles away from their home town be held in, in order to be asked for (and play)  a demo track they haven’t played in just over two years?  
 
 It would be a mistake to label The Chapman Family a band for the people (a term reserved strictly for the pending re-incarnation of soul destroying Brit-Pop). But, on the back of such a performance where so few embraced them so dearly and more importantly, so honestly, it is difficult to consider them anything but. Possibly, this is the band for the people that actually give a shit. For the people that riot when a corrupt government prices an entire generation out of education. Or, for the people with ability to see straight through a teen subculture so void of anything worthwhile and so consumed by its own vanity that it’s arrogant enough to label itself ‘Emotional Rock’. On a day when mass media struggled to define a generations backlash The Chapman Family summed it up simply as ‘the kids are not alright and the kids are not ok’. This quite simply, is music for the current generation.

 

The Chapman Family played:

All That’s Left To Break
All fall
You Are Not Me
Anxiety
Kids
She Didn’t Know
This English Life
Something I can’t Get Out Of
A Million Dollars
Lies

The Chapman Family are currently touring the UK the dates of which are available from their website www.thechapmanfamilyisnotacult.com where you can also find a free download of ‘All That is Left to Break’. The band’s current single ‘All Fall’ is available via Itunes.

Album Review :: N*E*R*D – Nothing

Nothing Special

With the release of In Search Of… N*E*R*D offered hip-hop fans something different. It was rap with a bit of substance, with real instruments and great production. It wasn’t like anything else out there at the time, and these guys knew that. They definitely haven’t lost it, but they seem to have misplaced it. Nothing is far from a bad album, but it’s not what I’ve come to expect from Pharrell and co.


I’d love to think that was because, as a genre, hip-hop has gotten wise to this new movement; that a shift in the way rap music is made is why this doesn’t feel as fresh as it used to. It’s not though, is it? For the most part modern hip-hop has become the same cookie cutter bleeps and bloops as new R&B, with a few more rhymes involved. Nothing is definitely not like that, but it’s leaning in that direction.

N*E*R*D were providers of great, well produced, party tunes, that were contrasted with a semi-punk rock take on hip-hop. The latter seems to have taken a backseat and, for me, that’s a problem. Tracks like ‘Help Me’ still keep that part of the band alive, but Nothing is riddled R&B style ‘slow jams’ that can’t be to anyone’s taste. I thought it’d be clear to Mr. Williams by now that he can’t sing. Surely someone must have told him that his whiny falsetto tones just don’t work? I guess not. There’s nothing here that’s on par with the likes of ‘Fly Or Die’ or, breakout hit, ‘Rockstar’ and that’s a shame.

The highlight of the album is definitely the production. Everything Pharell touches turns to gold and he really pulled it out here. Even the more R&B-esque tracks have good beats behind them. Songs like ‘Hot-N-Fun’ and ‘Party People’ (believe it or not) are bound to get you on your feet, and are really catchy. I even liked T.I.’s inclusion on the album’s opener. Don’t get me wrong this is not a bad album, it just relies to heavily on it’s singles. Those are great, but almost everything else pails in comparison to what they’ve done before. There’s a lot of funk-infused stuff here that’s a bit hit or miss. ‘Perfect Defect’ is a great example of this done well, but for the most part it seems like an album filled with ideas that aren’t all well thought out.

When a band have got such a great back catalog, it’s a shame when they release something even the slightest bit sub-par. I think high expectations spoiled this record for me. Whilst the previous albums were far from perfect, they seemed to get the balance right. Here it feels like the guys have made something directed at a more mainstream audience. I can’t fault the production and the singles are great but, as a package, it falls short of the standard N*E*R*D have set.



Gig Review :: Cancer Bats – The Cockpit, Leeds – 31/10/2010

Cancer Bats was always going to be a treat, so I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to see them on Halloween.

Vera Cruz emerge looking like stereotypical Frenchmen (striped white and black t-shirts and mustaches). Very fitting, seeing as they’re French. I really liked them, but they seemed to have trouble getting the crowd going. Hardly surprising really when your playing in a room when there’s only one band on everyone’s mind. Be sure to check out their EP. It’s available from their website.

While watching Trashtalk was fun for fans of extreme stage acrobatics, the sound quality was poor and seemed to be lower quality than their albums. This wasn’t helped by the previously mentioned acrobatics that the cockpit is renowned for. Even the presence of Michael Jackson on drums didn’t perk up this performance for me.

The Cancer Bats took to the stage in Halloween spirit, with a variety of costumes ranging from the grim reaper to the devil. A good range of songs from all of their albums were played, classics and new songs alike. As expected, here’s where the crowd really got going. They were, without doubt, the highlight of the night. Saving ‘Hail Destroyer’ till the end, was the cherry on top of the set.