Honey Pig — Bosley — W.A.C.#4

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Honey Pig

My thoughts

Yet another little known album this week. Bosley is an artist who uses retro sounds in modern music. This melange of styles ranges through blues, funk and modern indie sounds; it’s a pretty solid base. I say artist, Bosley Brown is the main man but is backed by a band of people, thus I am not sure whether to refer to Bosley as the group or the man. The band is pretty broad instrumentally; as well as the classic guitars, bass and drums, you also have horns and strings in the arsenal. So let’s see what’s in store.

The album opens with Jungles, a track reminiscent of something you’d hear in the Blues Brothers, mixed with the funk you’d get from Prince; specifically I am reminded of the track Kiss, with the high falsetto vocals over a rich funky backing. You sort of get reminded of large wooden stages in the middle of a room where people are drinking their cocktails, the haze of smoke in the air. It’s really nicely by-gone and somewhat easy listening, that is until the slight craziness of the end.

Sharpshooter … reminds of somewhere between something you’d get from Stevie Wonder (think the track Positivity) and Try A Little Tenderness from Otis Redding. Again the backing is great with horns and strings as well as the pianos, drums. It’s feel good and well worth the listen – big, bold and brilliant. In contrast, Coca Cola is has a bit of latin feel and strips to a simpler sound. It has some really funky chord progressions that make it so listenable. That’s what this album is, it’s so damn listenable. Weirdly the track changes styles so much (cohesively mind you) that it reminds me of Mika, remember him from a few years ago?

Just Like You takes more of a Hip hop feel opening with it’s repeating hook, though it doesn’t continue like this, it’s just a simple sung piece, hanging between tenor and a falsetto, man’s voice. Again it’s a good listen though this is less open loungey and a lot more of an intimate personal track. I have to say style wise, this is ticking all the boxes, it has the interesting writing style of Stevie, with the performance of Otis Redding and Prince.

Neon Magazine pulls back a bit; it’s a solid enough work but is a sort of spoken word blues piece with a bit of a 50’s style backing. It’s at this point that I realise I haven’t heard the front man sing in a style that isn’t emulating another artist’s style or rather isn’t a vocal technique – I want to hear your natural voice man!

I Get the Feeling delivers on the previous ask with a gentle latin dance feel; its simple and relaxing, truly stripped back and a moment of quiet in an album that is delivering quite a few big popping numbers. The voice is a kind of fragile baritone but characterful in it’s delivery. Next we had back to a blues brothers style number with Money Tree; we’re back to uptempo funk/soul/blues that could be performed from any of the classic peformers, from Ray Charles to Aretha Franklin.

The final track is Baby’s Wearin’ Blue, your ambling home in the evening feel. It’s about the artist’s lost love and has more of a bluegrass style than anything. It starts simple but soon you are joined by the clarinets, the horns and the kitchen sink. They are playing themselves off from a very fine album.

This is nice work, from a little known artist. It’s performance music as a whole and puts on a show. I know I need to explore more from Bosley but what a great intro.

Is this album for you?

It’s for anyone who can enjoy the retro blues sound of the past, if you’re tapping your foot to the blues brothers, you need to dive into this album. Really worth a good go and one of the most pleasant surprises of the week so far.

Scores

  • Writing: 7/10
  • Performance: 9/10
  • Style: 8/10

 

 

 

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Crab In Honey — Fever the Ghost — W.A.C.#4

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Crab In Honey

My thoughts

Ok – so it’s not an Album… it’s an EP; the debut EP for Fever the Ghost.

I’d never heard of them and researching the group was difficult! Early in their career and seemingly not that well known, the group originates from Los Angeles and mixes indie style rock with electronic sounds. I guess it’s my sort of thing so why not give a go?

We open with distorted sounds in Calico, these quickly give way to the main song. It’s fairly uptempo and one thing I can say immediately is the group knows how to work with moments of silence. I think this is why the song is so catchy for me, it features these nice little half seconds of nothing in the melody and accompaniments. Don’t just listen to the notes they’re playing, listen to the ones they aren’t.

So, a solid start and the next track Source just reminds me of Django Django, and that’s no bad thing! The experience of the track comes from the matching of everything. It would be very easy for me to say here that the vocals are a bit bare or mediocre but to do so would miss the point. The vocals take sort of staccato bursts that is designed to work with the band and the synths over the top. It’s that little pulsing sound that are emulating and it does work! It also shows how easy it is to rip an aspect of a song out and portray it out of context – so no – this works for me!

The next track has the essay length title of A Parliament Of Owls Determines the Fates Of Greater Men No less Than 5 Stories Above Us in a Dream. It starts with up-tempo kick drums and sweeping electronic sounds and then the repeating vocals:

You send the light again
well it’s getting better

It’s a good track and I do like it but that’s a mark of the overall sound, which just hits my ear right. The track itself is fun and worth a listen but it does have a simplicity about it. This is not a bad thing, of course, just I find it a little basic. Mind you what’s wrong with basic and fun?

Next we get to the best track for me, the titular Crab In Honey. It follows the uptempo feel that’s been continuous in this EP but that chorus is just gorgeous with it’s chord sequence and initially choral sound that dissolves into something you might hear from The Specials. Instantly this is on my regularly listening list. Honestly this track is an utter gem and for even this alone, I am so glad I got given this EP.

The EP closes with We’ll Never Know The Place. The track favours a more acoustic sound for the finale. It features those nice hanging dissonances that sucker me in. I like the sound in general and the easy pace of the track, even when it seems to gain some energy, the relaxing mood doesn’t leave.

So this is just a quick track overview from me but I really think it’s worth a listen, I’m putting Crab In Honey back on straight away. I really want to see more of what these guys make. I hope it builds and enriches from this sort of beginning.

Is this album for you?

It has that undeniable Indie lilt that will throw a few people off but for those looking to listen to something new… Sure! I can recommend these guys. It’s solid stuff.

Scores

  • Writing: 8/10
  • Performance: 7.5/10
  • Style: 8.5/10
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Queen II — Queen — W.A.C.#4

Queen_II

Queen II

My thoughts

Despite the what the album cover might suggest, we are before Bohemian Rhapsody.

Queen had written a lot of material by the time they released their debut album (Queen) but didn’t feature a lot of it. The main aim for the first album was to establish the sound of the band, and it did, indeed I may review that soon. The point of Queen II, however, was to try and expand the sound; longer studio time was given and a more fantasy based theme was allowed.

The album is split into two sides, not labelled A and B, but rather the white side and black side. The first side is more songs about life and love, while the latter focuses on themes of a completely different fantasy world. This phased out in the later years but nevertheless the “adolescent” Queen sound has its place.

The white side first then. We open with Procession, a rarer instrumental track, it’s short and opens with a continuous pulse – almost a heartbeat sound, followed by the over-driven sounds of May and Deacon on the guitars, well it’s identifiable.. and we break fully into the first main track Father To Son. It’s exactly what you expect from the title, quite inspirational and showing a fondness from a familial perspective; the father can be proud of all the things the son will achieve:

Take this letter that I give you,
Take it sonny, hold it high
You won’t understand a word that’s in it
But you’ll write it all again before you die

Musically it’s solid with a very heavy layered queen guitar sound. This album is quite heavy in the way of the rock sound, an inkling that queen could have possibly gone metal, though the implication is minor.

White Queen is pretty lovely, a slower number on unrequited love; the lyrics sound like they are from a bygone era, lots of “thee”s and “upon”s. It’s pretty simple with some nice chord sequences and a solid choral sound that is even somewhat replicated by the guitars too. The next track Someday One Day has some great chord sequences but represents something like Queen at the bare bones; it’s uncomplicated and a little minimal but it’s nice enough. I don’t know the track just left me wanting more!

The white side closes with Loser in the End and it’s a Roger Taylor one, you can tell with that heavier more straightforward sound. I like these songs punctuating through Queen albums as a general rule; it really showcases now the diversity of sound of the band. It also represents a mild punk free in the advent of punk music!

And now… the black side… Everything is more conjoined here with the songs, existing in their own right but they flow into each other. Ogre Battle is a heavy number which starts with a heavy rock out, played backwards and opening with that sort of vocal buildup you expect from the Flash Gordon music creators. It’s a tale and it’s once again teetering on the edge of metal with its heavy and power bass and guitar parts. It’s fun but then proceeds into the work of art that is The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke, easily my favourite track of the album. Amazing sound, chord sequences and harmonies. I just love the sound and urge people check this one, it’s vocally and musically brilliant, especially that epic mid section at around 1 min 45 secs.

Nevermore takes the ending of the previous track and turns it into a slower ballad, it’s a filler track of sorts but with a lovely melody but then it’s gone and we’re into The March of the Black Queen. This one has that epic feel, and why not, this kind of style is so representative of Queen, a little nonsensical but mostly musically rich and with great tunes – another one you should check out!

The album begins to close with Funny How Love Is, which should probably be seen as a pre-finale, it’s just building all the sound we’ve heard to the natural conclusion, the one that everyone remembers and probably the only lasting track for many from Queen II, and that’s Seven Seas of Rhye. It’s a great sound, Queen meets The Who and it’s just that definitive close for the album. It’s fun, memorable and just that one that would feature in every concert for years to come.

So it’s an interesting one; reviewing a group before they’ve achieved everything they were going to. It’s like Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall. Queen aren’t quite there yet but they have created a sound that many said they should stick to. This is a peg in the Queen history, even if it is a little blurred on what Queen would become.

Is this album for you?

It’s void of well known numbers bar the last track so it’s more for those that want to listen to a bit of early Queen or rather their back catalogue. I think it’s worth it but I do like Queen. If you can, check out The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke and The March of the Black Queen.

Scores

  • Writing: 8/10
  • Performance: 9.5/10
  • Style: 8/10

 

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Ez Reviews #4: Play – Moby

 

Moby_play

I’m going to say before I start that I have a strange history with this album. I remember my father buying it on release. He had these huge Bluetooth headphones (when they were all the rage, remember?) and he’d lie on the sofa with this on full blast, so we could hear it echoing tinnily out of the ‘phones. As a ten year old child, I thought the whole idea of Moby was laughable. He was this old, bald guy who made weird music that only dads listened to.

When Alex said I had to listen to this for review, I felt dread. Then I thought, ‘huh, maybe, as an adult, I’ll get something different from this album’. I tried to rid my head of any negative thoughts I might have about it and give it a go.

It, uh… it didn’t end well.

My Thoughts

A quick Wikipedia search tells me that this is Moby’s fifth album – at which point I’m baffled; it doesn’t feel like an album written by someone who has that much back catalogue. The fact that it’s the biggest selling electronica album of all time doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. If you had ears circa 2000, you’d have heard most of this album in every advert, documentary and television fill available. I’m not sure if this is the reason I’m largely turned off by huge swathes of the album – commercial overload – because it is the first album ever to have every track licensed in television, adverts and movies.

Okay, okay, I’m procrastinating here. Honestly? I can sum this album up in a few sentences.

Moby has, by this point, a clear understanding of what his genre is, which I clearly don’t, because I hear ‘electronica’ and I generally throw up a little in my mouth. There is a level of skill involved in this album that I won’t deny. There is some fine layering and interesting sound manipulation, and the way the album is put together as a whole is incredibly precise and fine-tuned.

And yet, partially, that’s why I can’t listen to it.

It’s music-by-numbers. It’s music for mathematicians. It’s algorithms and binary.

Moby takes a beat. Then he takes a line of vocals. Then some piano. Then another synth sound. He layers them ad nauseum. Maybe there’s some gospel clapping. Maybe there’s a breakdown. Either way, that’s the whole album. That’s it. There’s hardly any deviation from that norm. There’s no real soul here, and if it is, it’s so repetitive and jarring that it feels weird, nestled in between the odd AI-style heartbeat sounds and Ministry of Sound piano.

When I put the album on, I was surprised by how much I was jamming to the first track, Honey. It has power and punch, driven by the really sprightly piano chords and the tight rhythm, and the cool vocals. I thought, perhaps, I’d been wrong the whole time about Moby. Find My Baby, too, has a grimy, early-2000s HMV sound to it, that reminds me of browsing for CDs (actual physical CDs!) and not having to grimace at the music choice in the shop.

Porcelain is the other side of Moby, away from the driving rhythms and into the more dreamlike state. It has some great synth, and haunting piano over the top. Again, here, I was still enjoying the album, despite my initial knee-jerk. Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad had me tapping my foot.

But herein lies the problem. I can listen to each track in isolation, maybe for about a minute. After a minute, you’ve heard pretty much every surprise the track has in store, because each track is just so damn circular. Even some of the vocalists sound identical. Beyond Why Does My Heart, the slower tracks are asinine. They’re not even background music, because if I was listening to them in the background, I’d probably sub-consciously scratch my eyes out. There’s something grating about them that is hard to put into words.

Bodyrock has potential, almost Fatboy Slim in style, but again, it isn’t interesting beyond the first minute. I couldn’t dance to it in any kind of club for any extended period in time.

This album is six tracks too long. I had to turn it off after Down Slow on my first listen because I was gritting my teeth so hard it hurt. When I came back to it, I was just as irritated as I had been previously.

Is This Album For You?

Here’s the deal: I’m sure for many people, this album is relaxing. I’m sure they listen to it when they do yoga or something and it helps them find their chi or whatever. It has a lot of qualities that make it great background music. If you’re a dad who wants to fall asleep on the sofa in your huge Bluetooth headphones because you have three daughters under 11, then enjoy your nap. If you like your music to have some heart to it, look elsewhere. If you don’t mind your music to sound like it was made by robots who really believe in chakras, then yeah, you’ll like Moby. For me, it’s just too damn boring.

Scores

Writing: 5/10

Performance: is there any performance? I mean, he puts it in a computer and pushes buttons, right?    EDIT: Okay – I’m going with a 6/10. It performs as pieces of music admirably.

Style: 4/10

 

 

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Philosophy Of The World — The Shaggs — W.A.C.#4

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Philosophy of the World

WARNING ==== STRONG LANGUAGE AHEAD ====

Ok… You need a tiny bit of context here. Austin Wiggin, Jr. managed a band composed of his three daughters. He believed his girls were going to be amazing and in order to capitalise on their rising popularity he paid for an album to be recorded that the girls had penned themselves. The music was panned and fell out of public knowledge until it was re-released in 1980. Austin Wiggin, Jr. was completely deluded and pushed for something that by rights should never have happened.

This album is the worst piece of musical construction I have ever heard. Where to begin? At first listen, I thought it was a joke but to my horror, it continued, track after track. These people have no concept at all of playing in time! Nothing matches, the drums rush ahead, the guitar lags woefully behind like a six-year-old who insists you wait while he finds the right chord. Topping the whole thing are the disgusting vocals, they are out of tune, out of time and with no sense of tonality. This is not intentionally aggressive screaming of some metal, nor the punctuated spoken word, it’s shit, pouring into my ears and I am practically crying listening to it.

If all of this wasn’t bad enough, it’s fucking preachy as well! The final track on the album is called We Have a Savior.

Why does the world go unholy?
Why does everyone fight more and more?
Don’t they know we have a savior?
All we have to do is believe and pray

It sounds like a fucking five-year-old wrote it, it’s as though they think the public just needs to hear their perspective and we’ll have mass conversions immediately. It’s the sort of music that can bring a snarl to your face. That’s just the vocals too, I’ve practically had to ignore the cacophony that the backing instruments are making.

The whole thing is childish, with the untalented Wiggin sisters giving their perspective on the world, and trust me, I have censored what I want to write here. It is something that I would rather forget. It brings to me a question; why does this exist? I have infinite patience with ignorance, all you need to do is be willing to learn. I have no patience with stupidity and this whole thing is just an exercise in just that. It’s either talentless people being told they can do something, which is sad, or it’s talentless people who are defiant that they are good, which is fucking enraging. Just listen to that drivel in “My Pal Foot Foot”, or “Who are Parents?“.

I can only assume that the reason people like Kurt Cobain cited this album as in their top 5 is just a joke. That I can get behind but I will have very little time for anyone who can tell me the album is actually genius in its construction. I’ll steal a quote from David Mitchell here, “it’s the sign of either a liar or a moron”.

Fuck this album. Fuck it right off and I hope I never have to hear it again.

Is this album for you?

It’s not for anyone. You should all listen though, cause I had to. Go on, I dare you.

Scores

  • Writing: 0/10
  • Performance: 0/10
  • Style: 0/10

I always thought the scale started at 1, but it doesn’t merit a 1.

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Violator — Depeche Mode — W.A.C.#4

Depeche_Mode_-_Violator

Violator

My thoughts

Depeche Mode enters the 90’s! Violator is truly electronic in sound and represents a step forward for the style. Personally, I don’t know quite how to describe the sound, it’s not so much moody as bleak; it feels like the apocolypse may have happened but love and life carries on… I don’t know, let’s call it “futuristic for the 90’s”.

We start with World In My Eyes with its bouncing, buzzing, electronic bass; the sounds get synthier and synthier and that constant, steady percussion gives the impression of electronic dance music, it sort of is. I adore the chord sequence on the chorus; “That’s all there is” repeated with a sort of sinister synth string bass. Something about this album just catches my mind! I’m quite a fan of Depeche Mode, acknowledging that they aren’t exactly cutting edge but just damn likable for me.

The same sort of grand sinister feel takes over again in Sweetest Perfection, which, on the whole is a track that I could take or leave, (a tad formulaic) but then you get that grander orchestral style around the two minute mark with the original melody now warped in a new chord sequence that I think captivates really well.

Moving on, I’m not the biggest fan of Personal Jesus, and I know so many people love it. It has that bluesy guitar with the growl of the synth bass that is catchy enough and again the sort of mildly cowboy sci-fi sound that this album uses all the way through. It’s not my favourite but I see why people like it. I guess it’s just not a song that you can exactly sing along to.

On the other hand, this album does contain, I think, my favourite track of all time and that’s Enjoy The Silence.  From the moment that up tempo beat starts and the midi choir hits join, I am captivated; let’s also not forget that nice clean guitar. Honestly I love everything, from the lyrics:

Words like violence, break the silence
Come crashing in, into my little world
Painful to me, pierce right through me
Can’t you understand? Oh my little girl

All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

Oh so good… A lot of people call it generic but damn it if I just don’t love the vibe and that gorgeous bass over the chorus. For me it’s a special song, a song that just shows how much I love the people I’m with, when we’re together and it’s a such a treat.

The fact is, Depeche Mode just know how to right a catchy hook for me, listen to the chorus and that high guitar part in Policy of Truth. It’s just more of the same wonderful stuff.

I am not saying the album is flawless, it’s basic or formulaic in places and a little safe, I think. I think it’s strong, however, just due to that sound, the chord sequences and some real strong lyrics (not constantly great but a lot of the time solid). I do admit, I love this album!

Is this album for you?

It’s a bit sort of deep slightly camp 90’s club music. It’s not particularly heavy but it’s a bit “dance the night away”. For many it may even be showy, boring or down right weird. I really love it though and really think that folk should give a try, especially to World In My Eyes, or Enjoy The Silence.

Scores

  • Writing: 8.5/10
  • Performance: 7.5/10
  • Style: 9/10

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Weekly Album Challenge — Week 4

Apologies for delays this week! Due to illness, the Weekly Album Challenge now runs from Sunday to Sunday

This weeks list:

  • Ghost People — Martyn
  • Queen II — Queen
  • Yeezus — Kanye West
  • The Pinkprint — Nicki Minaj
  • Philosophy of the World — The Shaggs
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water — Simon and Garfunkel
  • Honey Pig — Bosley
  • Pure Comedy — Father John Misty
  • Comfort In Sound — Feeder
  • Crab in Honey — Fever the Ghost
  • Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury — The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
  • The Queen is Dead — The Smiths
  • Violator — Depeche Mode
  • Love — The Cult

Thanks to my parents, Hannah, Michael, Tamsin, Emily, Danny, Esme, Phil, Rhys, Alex, David, Dave and Faris.

And my suggested album for this week:

  • Play — Moby
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