Tag Archives: Reviews

Music Review – Snow Patrol – Wildness (Album)

On the surface, Snow Patrol seem a bit too easy listening to be on my playlist, but there has always been a dark undertone to their words that resonates with me.

Add to this the fact that not all their songs are quite as slow and melodic – take Starfighter Pilot, Wow or Hands Open – this final one being a song my band used to cover; they have a hard edge which occasionally elbows its way through the mildness.

Which takes us nicely to their newest album, Wildness. Going through the gamut of human existence, the first song, Life on Earth, starts with a family memory which tells that there was snow as high as he was during Gary Lightbody’s first winter, some of my own first memories are of that winter and the way the world looks dressed in white.

Almost a concept album, the word Wildness crops up in a number of the songs and seems indicative of the shape of Lightbody’s current state of mind. This isn’t really surprising as he has been having to cope with the onset and progression of his Father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. This is laid bare as we head towards the last few tracks in Soon, a song which both breaks your heart and makes you proud to be part of our species.

The overall feeling you get from the album is a call to arms and a directive to take life by the throat, for instance Don’t Give In is an emotional plea to not let life get you down, Heal Me is about being broken but doing it together and A Youth Written In Fire is about having someone believe in you. So it’s not all doom and gloom.

While tracks like Wild Horses and A Dark Switch have hints of Songs For Polar Bears and When It’s All Over We Still Have To Clear Up about them, the overall feeling of this album is closer to the “anthemic” feel that Lightbody was going for when Final Straw and Eyes Open were written. The tracks pummel you with their heartfelt intensity and leave you feeling battered and bruised.

If this album doesn’t win awards for its song writing then there is something wrong with the world.


Music Review – Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog (Album)

It was recently my birthday – Yay – and one of the things I tend to ask for is new (or old) music, as it’s a luxury I would probably not buy for myself.

This year I felt very lucky to get five albums by four different bands including:

  • Rainier Fog by Alice in Chains
  • Fallen Empires and Wildness by Snow Patrol
  • Dumb Days by Tired Lion
  • Pacific Daydream by Weezer

If you know me at all you probably won’t be too surprised to find out that the first one I listened to all the way through was the latest Alice in Chains release Rainier Fog. And it is exactly what I was hoping for!

As I’ve mentioned before, Alice in Chains started out in the midst of heavy, hairy metal and, if you listen to their first album and some of the unreleased stuff that came to light when Music Bank came out, you can really hear how close they came to skirting Grunge altogether and finding a place among the other Rock heavyweights of the time.

But they chose a different path and became the leaders of a new style which was much darker and, generally, more depressing than their Seattle based compatriots, comprising such cheery topics as drug addiction, depression, war, loneliness and psychological problems, they blazed their own trail through Rock and spurned a host of copycat acts.

This, their sixth studio album, sits alongside their back catalogue, including solo projects and other bands that have come and gone along the way, so snugly that it is hard not to think that you know some of the songs already.

The opening track, The One You Know, starts like a screwdriver to the temple, which is then joined by a marching squadron of zombies. The percussive drumming continues through the verse then the chorus opens up into a wonderful musical field of primroses, sounding a bit like they got confused and mixed up the order of the parts of the song.

After setting the scene they waste no time reaching into their back catalogue with the title track, Rainier Fog, which could have been a recently discovered outtake from Facelift…but with better production.

Red Giant is a slightly different beast, sounding like the bastard child of Metallica and Layne Staley. The harmonies are so dark you need a match to see the lyrics. At the moment this is probably my favourite track on the album!

Fly, however, sounds like Pearl Jam writing a new track for Jar of Flies. Acoustic guitars and a screeching electric solo really take you back to the nineties.

The next track is called Drone, so you can guess what it’s like without too much effort. Bluesy sludge through the verses with a melodic fingerpicked solo reminiscent of Lies by Guns ‘n’ Roses.

We’re back with Lars and the boys for the intro to Deaf Ears Blind Eyes, but then segueing to classic Alice in Chains territory for the chorus with a minor key harmonic piece of introspection.

Maybe hails back to the 1970s and, strangely, sounds like nothing so much as The Mamas and Papas. Jerry and William work beautifully together to produce something which is more than the sum of their voices. In this case though all the trees are not brown, they’re dead!

Dirt is the album that So Far Under would fit most comfortably on, with a chorus which has been pitch bent until it snapped. Antagonistic sounds are smashed together between the verses and choruses, but make the track into something that is difficult to turn your ears away from.

In Never Fade du Vall takes over. Sounding a little like Comes With The Fall, a bit like Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, and a lot like early Alice in Chains and, as is his way, it sounds like a love song or paean in memory of someone you used to know. It’s a bit of a shame they don’t give him more chance to lead, as he’s quite riveting when he does so.

The final track All I Am does the opposite and hands the reigns to Cantrell. It’s slow, it’s introspective. It could have come straight from Degradation Trip and is none the worse for that.

If you’re a fan then you either have it already or are saving up your hard earned pennies/cents to get it as soon as you can, if you’re not then look them up on YouTube and spend some time getting to know what you’re missing, then buy it and find out what it is to be one of the most popular Grunge bands in the world.


Music Review – The Love Junkies – I Had A Party Once

I liked this song!

Originally published on Semplesize, which disappeared some while ago!

 


 

I had a Party Once should have a warning on it to ensure that agoraphobic morose teenagers don’t inadvertently listen to it and start self-harming.

The rough and ready guitars drive the song along like a bulldozer, smashing anything that gets in the way and demolishing any chances you might have had of actually enjoying your next soiree. It feels a bit like The Love Junkies once had a bad experience at a social gathering and want to make sure everyone else gets to share the hurt.

Like the bastard child of Weezer and Lesley Gore, this single holds your attention through the medium of grabbing you by the throat and beating your head off the nearest pointy rock. If you don’t listen to the words it sounds fairly cheerful in a minor key, dropped beat kind of way. But tuning in to any particular line will bring words like “funeral”, “masochistic”, “alcoholic”, “lonely” into focus and make you wish you hadn’t concentrated as hard.

Mitch McDonald seems to be really enjoying himself, in an extroverted introvert kind of way and you just hope that he isn’t drawing on his own experiences when he puts pen to paper.

So, in conclusion, this song is amazing!!!

The only thing lacking, in my opinion, is a really rip-roaring solo which could happily be plugged in before the middle eight gets going, but even so I Had a Party Once is a stonking three minutes and twenty six seconds of math rock which I would take great pleasure in turning up loud the next time I throw a party of my own.

 


 

 


Music Review – The Desert Sea – Elevator

My first ever rock concert was at the tender age of 16. Me and my best friend were, at the time, big (but not in stature) fans of the fundamental heavy metal band – Iron Maiden. As I recall it was very loud and Bruce Dickinson accidentally got himself stuck on top of the massive amplifier stack and had some trouble getting down again.

Now, 26 years later and my tastes have moved on somewhat, I still occasionally fire up some Living Colour or Megadeth, but Maiden – although talented – just don’t really seem to have moved on very far in the 41 years since they formed, so for me at least they just don’t really do it anymore.

The above goes some way to explaining why I chose to do this review, I couldn’t believe that anybody could be so fixated on 80s heavy metal that they try to reproduce it, down to the last screeching guitar solo hammering-off-and-on.

Originally published on Semplesize, which disappeared some while ago!

 


 

Starting off like they fell over a Japanese Voyeurs track then remembered they really like Iron Maiden – The Desert Sea’s latest single, Elevator is Proper Metal in the greatest eighties; not certain I should be taking this seriously?; is that Robert Plant?; I thought The Darkness weren’t playing anymore?; sense.

Hailing from Sydney, this hasn’t stopped the band gathering inspiration from every single Heavy Metal icon from the beginning of time to the present day. Their influences are listed as QOTSA, The Raconteurs and Soundgarden which, to a degree, I can agree with because all three of these heavyweights’ influences come from the heyday of long haired guitar screeching chug rock and blues.

Don’t get me wrong, this sounds fresh and interesting but is also reminiscent of so many other bands that it’s hard to identify where the originality takes over from the genuflection to days gone by.

This is the kind of track I could imagine lots of (very) young people jumping about to in a rock club while the more mature metal-heads look on, bemused, from the side lines nursing their bottles of Hahn Super Dry and mumbling about Led Zeppelin.

The solo sounds very much like Dave Murray was pointed at a guitar and told to “just do what you do”. The rest of the song doesn’t deviate too far from the basic heavy metal archetypes of twiddly guitars and throaty choruses.

That said, if you like Metal you shouldn’t be disappointed. Rock on!

 


 


Reviews – Robinson Crusoe 2244 by E.J. Robinson and Jump…by Me

In my ongoing attempt to dominate the world of publishing, I have been getting a bit more socially involved, internet wise. Yes, I still have the six extra Twitter accounts (more about that some time soon), the G+, Facebook and other such tools that I’ve been using, but now I have also started looking for and reviewing other authors’ work.

Being a poor (or at least tight!) writer I am not inclined to fork out much (or indeed, any) money for books, so I’ve been keeping my eye out for deals of the day on Amazon, as well as following all kinds of promotional accounts on Twitter. it was via this medium that I happened upon a book which sounded kind of interesting.

The name of the book, as alluded to in the title of this post, is Robinson Crusoe 2244. The author’s name is E.J. Robinson, whom I discovered, in the course of writing my review, is called Erik. I did wonder to myself if his name had anything to do with why he chose that particular classic to update, but there isn’t any hint of that in any of his supporting material.

I’ll paste my review in now, and then get on to what happened next…


I had no preconceptions when I started reading this. I assumed it would be some kind of futuristic updating of the classic desert island shipwreck adventure, but didn’t expect for a moment that it was about to become one of my new favourite books!
The thing that surprised me most was the similarity to the writing of Jack Vance, the dialogue, the colourful characters, the intense impressions of scenery and clothing. Everything is so beautifully extemporised that you feel you’re inside the scene watching.
And the story…Instead of just a straightforward update, Mr Robinson (Erik, not Crusoe) has ripped the original into little pieces, mixed it up with half a cup of Richard Matheson, some shavings of Stephen King and fashioned a believable but horrifying future. I loved it!
Can’t wait until 2245!


In case you’re wondering, he has another book coming out in a week or two’s time, which is going to be called Robinson Crusoe 2245. Suffice to say I will be purchasing it when it hits the shelves! He is a sublime writer and the story was brilliantly planned, well thought out and included situations which, although fantastical, were utterly believable.

So, I posted my review, then forgot all about it.

A week or so later I realised that I had completely missed setting an account up on one of the biggest reading/writing resources on the interweb – Goodreads – so I signed up and went through the process of getting myself recognised as the author of Jump. In case you’re at all interested, my page is here. After getting it all sorted I had one of my first interactions, someone had bought my book and it turned out to be the aforementioned Mr Robinson. I was mildly surprised and also intrigued to see what he would think of it.

Reading it seemed to take him no time at all and shortly after he finished the following review appeared on my feed.


E.J.’s review

In JUMP, it isn’t the discovery of time travel that sets the story churning, but the potential misuse of it. When a covert environmental group threatens to destabilize the past in hope of limiting man’s influence on the future, the fate of the world hangs in the balance and our likeable cast of heroes must race to heal time’s wounds before it’s too late.

Ladle’s prose is intelligent and thoughtful and the story focuses on the characters as much as the premise. The time travel element is heavy on theoretical psychics and laymen not used to the genre might get confused, but the second half picks up the pace to what is an exciting resolution.

For fans of the time travel genre, JUMP is the thinking man’s TIMELINE, and it’s good to see there’s room for a potential sequel. A solid debut.


I was, literally, amazed! This nice man, whose book is a masterpiece of modern sci-fi/fantasy/fiction, seemed to think that what I wrote is worthy of a modicum of praise and even a sequel. He awarded me four out of a possible five stars too.

This is the first review Jump has received and the best I could ever have hoped for. The fact that he thinks the theoretical physics stuff is intelligent surprised me somewhat, as I am in no way a physicist and didn’t even do very well on my exams for that subject more than 20 years ago!

I was also pleased that he recognised that I was going for a character driven story and not trying to focus on the technical side of things too much, as that was exactly what I aimed for while writing the thing.

So, all in all I’m very happy with what he wrote, hopefully he feels the same way about my scribblings on his own labour of love. The whole experience gives me some hope that the 100,000 or so words I created are not so bad after all.

Here’s to you, Mr Robinson!