Ghost People — Martyn — W.A.C.#4

12inch_gatefold.indd

Ghost People

My thoughts

Knowing the distaste some people have for electronic dance music, I was rather pleased that Ghost People classes as dubstep. I make this statement because the name of the genre alone tends to gather the group of purists eagerly in and blasts the non-fans a country mile away. By this I mean, you might be grimacing reading my review of techno, but you’ve fled for dubstep.

We’ve moved on a bit since my Benga review in Week 2; Martyn’s sound is more ambient and by-the-numbers than Diary of an Afro Warrior, which seemed like it would be able to persuade a crowd to do anything it wanted. Certainly, it’s less visceral, less deep but it’s more broad, mixing a heck of a lot of techno sounds in there.

Viper, the first main track, opts for its heavy bass line and by rights I should be telling you it’s a set up for what’s to come, I say that a lot… but it isn’t. What starts here dissolves into a completely different sound on the next track, Masks, and it feels you’ve hopped a time-warp back a few years… “ah… there’s the dubstep…” subtle at first but soon it’s painting the track.

We continue in this vibe with Distortions, another techno based track that to be honest is just easy listening – it’s one of those late night club numbers that keep people on the dance floor in a nice tempered way. Yes it doesn’t change much but, as I said in previous reviews, you have to exam when a track is to be used and it fully serves its purpose. Popgun on the other end really takes the deeper side, with a pulsing dubstep bass that achieves more of the same. I’d almost partner the two tracks together just to see how club music really moves into the visceral moving sound that keeps people there for hours.

The titular track has a lovely little vibe that just continues a flowing trend and herein lies our takeaway. This is functional club music and its good stuff too. If you’re here to find the musical devices that show a level of astonishing insight, you will be out of luck. If you are here for functional, precise and well produced music, this is the place for you. But… how do I win you over by saying its unastonishing and functional? We’ll get back to that…

Bauplan is a winner to me, with it’s strong, defined bass and really very pretty mix of sounds. Probably one of the tracks to recommend this album. It doesn’t have a whacking great drop or an overly surprising sound at this stage but it just works. That’s it, it keeps working.

The final track, We Are You In The Future does pull out a few more stops and actually gets things moving a bit more. I know it’s the closer but it earns the place well. If you’re going to listen to one track and are a fan of this sound, this the track for you. It’s darker, more pulsing and just an all round real club number. These are tracks to mix in to enrich your library and any DJ will have bags to work with in this set.

So there’s the conclusion, this is dance music that you can really do anything with, its a collection of tracks you can mix or that stand well in their own right.

Is this album for you?

Honestly, if this electronic dance music isn’t your thing, this album is not here to convert you but it really is a well made, sharp and great album to listen to. I would definitely say give it a listen if you are into anything similar in sound. This will be a good one to stick in your library.

Scores

  • Writing: 8.5/10
  • Performance: 6.5/10 (a bit of variety lacking)
  • Style: 8/10

 

 

Posted in Music, Weekly Album Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another shock Hiatus

Well i had a few things on and then I went on holiday – let’s finish “week” 4 and pick up for the old pace with week 5. Martyn follows…

Posted in Announcement | Leave a comment

Love — The Cult — W.A.C.#4

220px-The_Cult_Love

Love

My thoughts

The Cult’s second studio album straddles the unclear line between rock and metal. It’s a little late to be early metal and so probably fits in the “goth metal” category. Whatever it is, Love has a definitive 80’s sound.

You could be fooled into thinking that you were listening to Duran Duran in the opening bars of Nirvana, the opening track. One thing you notice straight away is that the music is quite a lot more about the instrumentation than the vocal lines. It’s a tried and tested sound, 4/4 rhythms, regular drum beats with fills and steady guitar lines, all somewhat crowding around the quite faded vocal line.

Although more recently I’ve tried to avoid giving more attention to the beginning of the album than the end, Big Neon Glitter, the second track, really conjures images of early U2, it’s quite fascinating in that it doesn’t feel like plagiarism, more this is the sound of the times, even the slightly fluid, off centre vocals that echo into the distance, another 80’s-ism.

As the album proceeds, the vocal sound seems to settle a little bit, in fact, I had to look twice at my player as the lead singer sounds very much like Freddie Mercury both in melody line and vocal timbre; just listen to the opening “come on now” and held notes in the titular track, Love. On saying this, the overall style is much less distorted guitar sound, it’s an interesting change, see Brother Wolf; Sister Moon. This is a slow ballad, almost a Pink Floyd sound.

Ok, ok I know… I have endless compared The Cult to other artists or groups but its interesting to me. Quite often, you can look back to an artist and hear all these different sounds as though the group is imitating other sounds, not so here! It is all natural, all slightly metally and all The Cult, with solid writing and performance all the way.

Rain is one of the better known tracks. It’s a nice heavy rock number from beginning to end with your typical straightforward but just generally solid lyrics:

Hot sticky scenes, you know what I mean
Like a desert sun that burns my skin
I’ve been waiting for her for so long
Open the sky and let her come down

Here comes the rain
Here comes the rain
Here she comes again
Here comes the rain

Phoenix is the most typical metal sound yet with its discordant opening, heavy bass, over driven guitar, pulsating percussion and of course, the lyrics: “I’m on fire”. Actually, for me, something about it hits a pleasing note, a sort of middle of the road classic metal sound, I can just sit back and enjoy it.

A sort of fondness hits for songs like Hollow Man, just the sort of semi-creepy idea to metal lyrics. Yeah you can see the goth side here for goth metal. I think just for it’s slightly bizarre take, I’d call it a second pick.

The album closes out with Revolution, She Sells Sanctuary and Black Angel. Revolution I can sort of take and leave as it’s a little uninspired for my taste, but you can tell they are into She Sells Sanctuary. There’s energy and pace and just a fun sound; once again you can tell that The Cult are kind of still finding what works for them fully, as artists often do in the early stages. Black Angel closes us out on a slow ballad, which is not how I would have chosen to end the album but it’s solid enough. As usual for a finale, the instrumentation swells to an echo-y climax with the mildly sinister lyrics.

It’s a long way to go
With the reaper at your side
It’s a long way to go
A black angel at your side

Overall I enjoyed this album and it sits in the middle of my comfort zone, things will make it onto my regular listening and I’d be happy to listen to more, but I guess at no point was I astonished.

Is this album for you?

With the comments of metal, U2, Duran Duran – this should sort of give you a flavour. Shake it all up, add 80’s style and some grittier lyrics and you have more or less the sound. It’s welcoming, though!

Scores

  • Writing: 8/10
  • Performance: 8/10
  • Style: 7.5/10

Solid enough

 

Posted in Music, Weekly Album Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hiatus over

Hi all

Just wanted to say, thanks for bearing with me through a couple of days off. New reviews are schedules to release later today and we should be back on the Wednesday timetable. The Cult and Martyn are the next ones to anticipate!

Alex

Posted in Announcement | Leave a comment

Pure Comedy — Father John Misty — W.A.C.#4

papajoh-1485272005-compressed

Pure Comedy

My thoughts

So a really recent one as the time of writing, it’s not yet two months old. Pure Comedy is the third studio album of Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty. The titular track takes a broad look at our emergence in the world as a child, and indeed its parallel of human emergence as a species; it’s also a knock at religion in its way. Musically it’s a nice ballad with a solid semi orchestral backing. FJM’s voice is pretty strong too and he sings with passion. I really like it but I have to hesitate and hope that this album isn’t just “nihilism because people are people”; the sort of false-depth you sometimes see.

I really like the consistent solid chord progressions and the songs are indeed catchy. This is well expressed in Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution, I just love this track musically and lyrically it’s alright, it’s the idea that a revolution got rid of the bad but brought other problems. It’s nice enough – in fact all of FJM’s tracks are good listening. It fits in to “work music”, “background music”, “personal listening” and stylistically, it’s very much a man and his microphone!

Unfortunately for me, it’s all a bit samey! I mean I quite like the slow paced ballad focusing on people in general but it kind of feels a bit one note – perhaps that’s just his thing. Leaving LA sort of hits a point that I was feeling

Another white guy in 2017
Who takes himself so goddamn seriously.”
She’s not far off, the strange thing is
That’s pretty much what I thought when I started this

Yeah – so some self awareness there but you can’t say “well I’m aware, so it’s fine”. I’m not saying there’s not a place for this music of course, it’s just lots of songs whose purpose is just to be deep. Musically it’s gentle and lovely but lyrically, just a little problematic.

One of the stronger tracks for me is Two Wildly Different Perspectives, which is completely aimed at American politics talking about how both sides are problematic.

One side says
“Man, take what’s yours!”
The other says
“Live on no more than you can afford.”

And between each line is a little pause to let the words resonate, or at least that’s the gimmick.

The final track In Twenty Years or So is very much the closer to the opener, both with ideas of “clinging to a rock hurtling through space”. This one has a lot of seventh chords so very much pushes that there is more to say. Musically it’s quite rich and actually does a fairly good job (finally!) of just letting the instruments play and it’s a great sound with some actually varied musical ideas!

Overall this album is full of parts that are really good but somewhat detract from each other. The lyrics tug you one way, the music another and when it’s allowed to do its own thing, it works best. Any of these songs works as a great single but as an album it’s a little tedious for me.

Is this album for you?

I may have been a little critical; a lot of it works and there is a lot of solid stuff for me but it’s syrup syndrome… I can like some but not spoonful after spoonful. Try it for that easy going indie sound and maybe get a little lost in it. You’ll know fairly quickly if it works for you or not.

Scores

  • Writing: 5.5/10 (too samey)
  • Performance: 8/10
  • Style: 7.5/10

 

Posted in Music, Weekly Album Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comfort In Sound — Feeder — W.A.C.#4

220px-ComfortinSound

Comfort In Sound

My thoughts

On paper, this album is the fourth studio album by Feeder but this statement is a gloss-over. This album represents the first album after drummer Jon Lee’s suicide and the whole album is a representation of this. It’s not a rebirth – it would be callous to suggest this, it’s a dedication and it is vital you keep this in mind. The album was already written musically in 2001 but as a selection of instrumental tracks – the lyrics came later and were then modified for Lee. Let’s dive in.

Just The Way I’m Feeling is 90’s and there’s no doubt about it. Somehow it just seems an homage to Oasis to me; I’m not detracting by saying this, just it is a hark-back. I like the song and actually it’s the one that everyone remembers with its straightforward guitar riffs and vocal harmonies but as a representation of the album… It’s the wrong track. But the next one…

Come back Around is the albums truer opener. The music video speaks volumes, you should watch it. It’s encapsulated in the lyrics:

We’ve suffered the breaks
You know I still remember it
It keeps burning away
I know that you may take a while
To come back around

Overall, the feel is much more of the times and feels like the albums anchor point.

The album features a lot of polished tracks that instrumentally are set up already. Helium has one of those, admittedly safe choruses that embodies the early 00’s in its chord sequence. It’s neither bad nor good but there is a minor disperacy between lyric and accompaniment. It doesn’t stay. It’s just present here and it’s entirely down to track ordering.

I’m going to skip ahead to the titular track, Comfort In Sound. It’s the same well oiled sounds and I’m beginning to find my position. The album was what it was in its time but it is so zeitgeist-y. I think the problem stems from the fact that the music preexisted. For me, lyrics as a whole are beautiful but they are definitely part of a whole and they maybe don’t gel as well as they might.

The following track Forget About Tomorrow get’s there finally!

Today it all feels fine
A sense of freedom fills your mind
Can’t think about tomorrow

I so appreciate what’s going on here! We’re finally getting to that mourning stage – the celebration. Now, it’s starting to work! When is a dedication ever going to work until you address the issue?! This track is one of the epitomes of the album’s point. The following is equally as poignant! Summer’s Gone, of course references the passing.

“Alex, stop,” I hear you cry. “Why must you colour the album in this kind of context?”

Because it was the aim! I just want to provide a reflection of the aim of the album and it’s doing it! There is a level of love, sadness and poignancy that colours this album but it also fundamentally is a product of its time and it’s so interesting to see how this dichotomy plays out!

Quick Fade, for me, is the culmination of this album. Here is the underrated honest track. I honestly listened to this with a moment where I thought I was finally paying respects, and so were the lyrics. This is it:

I miss you more than words can say
A part of me has torn away
A china heart will always break
A fracture to a twisted face
But things are gonna heal again
Eyes once blind will see again
I miss you more than words can say
I miss you more than words
Quickfade

This is love. The chords and the instrumentation are both perfect for this and you will not convince me that this is not the best track of the album.

All of a sudden we’re on the outro of the album with the last three tracks. I am not going to talk about Find The Colour directly but what I am going to do is tell you to listen to Quick Fade and then listen to it’s successor. Why anyone would separate these tracks is just beyond me. If you like Find The Colour, released as a single, listen to Quick Fade… Here is where my track analysis ends. Well… actually, if you have time, maybe let the album close.

The album is interesting. It is, admittedly something that has been inflated to be more than it was intended to be; this shows in places… but overall it’s a labour of love. I’ll score it to my preference but I respect what it was a whole lot.

Is this album for you?

I really don’t know! It’s very of its time and, to be honest, that early 2000’s sound isn’t for everyone. What I will say is that it encapsulates so much more than just it’s time. Maybe do take the time to listen to a dedication… It takes them a little while to get there but boy do they

Scores

  • Writing: 9.5/10 (Kudos)
  • Performance: 7/10
  • Style: 8.5/10
Posted in Music, Weekly Album Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yeezus — Kanye West — W.A.C.#4

600x600

Yeezus

I felt doomed from the start, here. People who know me know that I don’t care for Kanye as a person and as such have tended to show very little interest in his music. On first listen, my thoughts just felt dishonest; if I praise him, I am appeasing the people who suggested it; and if I criticise, I am just representing my previous position.

I thought there was so much to say for this that I almost split the review into a personal one and a regular format… but Esme persuaded me the whole thing can be done in one. So that’s the deal – I’ll try and keep things to the point but I’ll need to reference things – it’s going to be double length.

My thoughts

This album mostly received critical praise and the praise came from a really solid grounding; I will quote some statements in the review. Kanye decides that it’s time to get a bit more experimental with sound, with a list of collaborators as long as your arm. It shows and cards on the table, I did like the album; it was sonically interesting, well produced and polished.

Along with the album, though comes a whole lot of fan-service. Jon Dolan – Rolling Stone:

Yeezus is the darkest, most extreme music Kanye has ever cooked up, an extravagantly abrasive album full of grinding electro, pummeling minimalist hip-hop, drone-y wooz and industrial gear-grind. Every mad genius has to make a record like this at least once in his career – at its nastiest, his makes Kid A or In Utero or Trans all look like Bruno Mars.

No! This is not true at all; I don’t know whether the idea is that abrasiveness is the same as being unlikable. I’ve reviewed Kid A for one and that was a rebellion against the current themes in rock music; abrasive, yes, but calculated. To say that it was trying to be nasty misses the point.

Let’s pick some tracks; the album starts with On Sight. Ah! that’s why I got the Death Grips album last week. It’s the scratchy backing and the standard introduction track to Kanye, his bursting onto stage moment. It’s full of word-play as a lot of good hip hop is; it sets the stage for what is to come… well I say that but personally, the following track Black Skinhead works way better for this! Rhythmically it’s brilliant, incessantly pushing lyrics at you as his “theme song” and they are just great:

Four in the morning, and I’m zoning
They say I’m possessed, it’s an omen
I keep it 300, like the Romans
300 bitches, where’s the Trojans?
Baby we living in the moment
I’ve been a menace for the longest
But I ain’t finished, I’m devoted
And you know it, and you know it

It’s passionate and delivered so crisply, the backing is simple and is no more than is needed. This track is all about the words here ending with the gasps of “God”, which of course feeds into I Am A God.

This is way more House than anything that has been played so far, its heavy, pulsing and with an overall raw feel. The issue comes in the lyrics though; sometimes you get something great, other times you get lines like:

I am a god
So hurry up with my damn massage
In a French-ass restaurant
Hurry up with my damn croissants

Ehhh, that’s a little forced and I know it’s tongue in cheek but I don’t know you have those little complacent moments that don’t fit; they make you roll your eyes and perhaps that’s me being curmudgeonly. These kind of lines don’t always fall flat! Lines like:

You see there’s leaders and there’s followers
But I’d rather be a dick than a swallower

Yeah. That’s clever and funny enough to sit well. The track itself is also a more of an electronic dance music then the whole track transforms into something much more melodic at the end. Overall this is the sort of track I like! Lyrically it’s attacking people who censor or filter artistic devices… and it would mean so much more coming from elsewhere. It’s like the Simpsons making fun of Fox; of course they can, they’re in a position of complete power to do so… Oh I don’t know.

Moving on a bit, I don’t much care for Hold My Liquor, its sort of nice backing but lyrically a little eye rolling again. I’m In It again has some of this lyrical tiredness – but with a much more reggae dub feel. “That’s right, I’m in it” is certainly catchy with the scratchy Jamaican vocals supporting. Fairly decent.

Blood on the Leaves opens with a sample of Nina Simone. Kanye sings in a purposefully auto tuned style backed by really pulsing scratchy horns. Overall as a sign, I quite like it, it all works and the track really has a lot of merit. This is the stuff that separates this album. It’s really trying lots of different styles and it does so well and competently and it really throws the unavoidable question to me. Am I rebelling against points of this album because it’s Kanye? Can I separate the artist from the music and, indeed, should I? We’ll leave that question hanging for a moment.

Guilt Trip uses the sort of synth blips flying at you that you hear quite often these days. It’s sort of auto tuned speaking in this case and we hear more about past relationships that fell apart

The door locked by myself and I’m feelin’ it right now
Cause it’s the time when my heart got shot down

Again a solid enough track and it’s the sort of material that we do like to indulge in, personal stories about past relationships; so it holds its place well.

I love the bass in Send It Up, in fact I love the over all sound to that synthy wail that perforates the whole thing. Great sound but the lyrics “Yeezus just rose again” just proves a point here. Yeezus is a play on Kanye’s name and Jesus (obvious I know) but it’s just put in to show that with this album he has risen to knew heights. Cynical me calls it a messiah complex, diplomatic me says it’s a joke. We’ll see.

The album closes with Bound 2 with its “One good girl is worth a thousand bitches,” vibe. It’s a much more soulful track but it’s a bit haphazard in its construction, changing feel near the end in the sort of closing sound multiple sounds. A little sloppy but with plenty to go for it.

So that was my foray and it was an interesting one. Kanye can write and produce songs extremely well. The construction is undeniably strong; the songs are varied, clever and all work. But. He’s so. Damn. Into himself… and it bleeds through, ultimately detracting from the work. There are moments that could have been tighter but overall – well – I have to call it a good album…

Is this album for you?

Kanye so embodies today’s music that you possibly know where you stand on him already but if you are curious, this album may be a good entry point. It’s got a lot of good work mixed in that really enriches it. I would recommend having a skim of what I’ve written and maybe putting on the tracks that sound like they might work for you if you are unsure.

Scores

  • Writing: 8/10
  • Performance: 6.5/10
  • Style: 7.5/10
Posted in Music, Weekly Album Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment