Monthly Archives: November 2012

Lux – Brian Eno

The latest album by Brian Eno has him returning to the style which began so brilliant with his first ambient album ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’. Anyone familiar with this particular style of Eno will know it usually involves long tracks featuring ambient drones that either build up or fade away. It is a style that Eno has perfected over the years, (though that being said, it was perfect when he began it in the first place).

The overall tone of  ‘Lux’ feels much different to Eno’s earlier work. The album consists of four songs, all of which range around the 20-minute mark. The thing I find with ambient music is that it requires the listener to just sit back, and allow the music to just wash over them. ‘Lux’ is perfect for this, as the music is almost gentle in tone, with each sound being incredibly relaxing, and almost dreamlike. The image it conjures up for me is almost expressed in it’s album artwork, of just walking through a park in a beautiful Autumn day, or perhaps even just staring out of one’s window and watching the whole world go by. It’s a relaxing image, and one that is consistent throughout the whole album, which differentiates it from Eno’s previous ambient works, which are sometimes much more darker in tone.

It’s a challenging album though, as it doesn’t really reward the attentive listener. Everything is placed in the background, with nothing truly ever occupying the foreground at any point. As the sounds slowly evolve and change, it still remains in the background, which for an album like this actually works, but I can’t help but feel that it could be more preferable if there was something in the music to reward the listeners. However, this is almost irrelevant, as with this album being an ambient installation, (I believe it was used in art galleries), the main focus isn’t meant to be the music, and instead it is designed to occupy the background whilst your main attention is on something else.

I feel Eno has done himself well with this album. It is perfect to listen to when you just want something on that will affect your mood, but almost without you ever having to pay too much attention too. It’s a great ambient album, although I’ll say right now that it won’t become one of my personal favourites. What’s to come of Eno next is anybody’s guess now, but I sure do hope that another ambient work is in store.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • The flow of the album makes it difficult/impossible to select any of the songs as standing out. Or at least it does for me…
Categories: Albums, Old Album Reviews (2012) | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Music – Dark Horses

‘Black Music’ is the début album by the new upcoming band Dark Horses. This upcoming band seems to have come literally out of nowhere, which is surprising as ‘Black Music’ is a fairly strong album. Fronted by Lisa Elle, Dark Horses is a band with a lot to offer, sounding vaguely like what would happen if PJ Harvey ever got together with Kasabian. As the title suggests, the music on this album covers a very dark range of different styles and themes, which works well for this upcoming band.

There’s a nice balance on this album, going from sort of rock-based tracks to electronic dance-type tracks, and sometimes both at the same time. It’s a good style, and the band has worked it very well to compliment Lisa Elle’s voice. Lisa’s vocal style is almost on the subtle edge in a weird way. She doesn’t go for the airy breathless vocals that is dominating the charts today, which for me is something that is great to finally hear. Musically, the instrumentation in each song reminds me sort of what Kasabian are doing nowadays, with guitar riffs that are sometimes accompanied by almost surreal synths.  I find it interesting that comparisons could be made with Kasabian, as there is a song on this album featuring Kasabian’s lead vocalist Tom Meighan. The track “Count Me In” is a rather mellow track, that slowly builds up, and features a rather echoed style of singing from Tom Meighan. It works really well and really helps elevate the whole album as a whole. The inclusion of Meighan on the album doesn’t overshadow the talent that the whole band has, and instead he just accompanies the song, and makes it work.

I think that there’s a lot of strengths on this album. My favourite elements are when the songs favour the more rock-style of music than the more experimental and electronica style. It just feels that there’s more strength in these styles of songs, and they have more going for them than the other type of songs. It just works on the album, and I know that I’d like to hear a lot more of that style in the coming future from this band. It may also be fair to say that this album isn’t a perfect début album. Whilst strong, there’s a few problems that Dark Horses could iron out. But on the whole, there’s a lot of strengths here which does the band a lot of favours, and will really help elevate their status in the music industry.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Rose
  • Alone
  • Count Me In
  • Sanningen On Dig
Categories: Albums, Old Album Reviews (2012) | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Take The Crown – Robbie Williams

The Ninth studio-album by Robbie Williams features the entertainer working with a new producer, Jackknife Lee, known for working alongside many bands and solo artists, including U2, Snow Patrol and R.E.M. Fans of Williams’ will find lots to enjoy from this new album, with many songs echoing the different styles that Williams’ has entered over the course of his career. There’s some great pop numbers on this album, which are both catchy and enjoyable, and also some more quieter sombre songs. Whether or not this album will impress those who are not completely familiar with his work is another question though.

Jacknife Lee’s presence on this album is very noticeable. It seems that a lot of Williams’ strengths that he has demonstrated before on his other albums have been utilised for this new album. At times, it works fairly well, and you can see the hints of everything Williams’ has learnt coming into play on this album. There’s a fair amount to be enjoyed from this album, but frankly, this album isn’t a perfect one. Whilst the songs are good, they’re actually not great. There’s nothing on this album that is incredibly memorable, or will go down as being one of Williams’ best songs. It is a shame, as I feel that after all the effort and work William’s has put into this album, it just doesn’t pay off as well as it should do.

The main problem I feel with this album is that nothing jumps out and catches the attention. The songs are good, sure enough, but they’re not amazing or fantastic. I feel that Robbie Williams real talent lies in his ability to produce music that is actually quite memorable. My mind thinks back to such songs as ‘Let Me Entertain You’ which is full of force and is a great song from his early career. ‘Angels’ also comes to mind, which featured brilliant vocals and great instrumentation. I feel that nothing on this album lives up to the standard his early work has done, and with that it is disappointing.

In the end, ‘Take The Crown’ is a fairly average album. It is enjoyable, and I’m sure that fans of Williams’ will find a lot to enjoy on this album. There are some good songs on this album, and as a whole, the album is fairly good and each song works with each other. The main problem I feel is that it just isn’t up to the standard that Williams’ set for himself when he produced great albums early in his career. But all things considered, I feel that this album is a right step in the right direction. I feel that perhaps this will establish enough groundwork for Williams’ to work on another great album when he’s next in the recording studio. And then a song worth of his classic hits will be produced. Hopefully.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆  3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Candy
  • Hunting For You
  • Into The Silence
  • Losers
Categories: Albums, Old Album Reviews (2012) | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

¡Dos! – Green Day

The second part in the trilogy of albums by Green Day, ‘¡Dos!’ is the latest release, sticking to a more garage-rock form. The album pretty much follows on from the groundwork that ‘¡Uno!’ laid back in September, with this album being a rather formulaic album of 13 or so songs, featuring the manic clanging of guitars, bass and drums. To be honest, there’s very little here that is left to the imagination. Everything is just… basic and simple. Nothing new, and nothing impressive.

On this album, Green Day find their footing by producing a lot of songs that feature a clanging style of guitar, simple basslines and simple drums. There’s a more dirty style to the overall sound on this album, with it sounding less polished than their previous albums. The vocals have a slight echoing style to them, and the guitar lines clang their way through each song. It is somewhat different to ‘¡Uno!’, but it isn’t incredibly different, and for that reason I’m just annoyed by the album. I find it remarkable that a band that is clearly capable of writing good music just seems to churn out any old thing and expect the fans to like it. As it is, the fans will probably find a lot to enjoy in not just this album, but the whole trilogy. Frankly, it just doesn’t work for me, and I’m not convinced.

I could argue that ‘¡Dos!’ is better than ‘¡Uno!’, but it’s like saying is eating grit better than eating sand. Perhaps it’s a harsh analogy, but it serves the point that this album just doesn’t live up to much. There’s some good songs on here, and arguably, one of Green Day’s best songs in many long years, but as a complete album package, it just isn’t anything special. The problem with this album is that there’s just no variety, and no imagination on many of these songs. Everything just feels lazy, as though any band with a guitar and five minutes of spare time could write. It would certainly explain why Green Day have enough material to fill three albums up, and certainly three albums will please the fans, but I for one wish that Green Day would just not churn out every single song they come up with, but instead refine the ideas they have, and produce one really good album that they can be proud of.

It is important to mention though, that there is one song on here that I feel really stands out, not just on the album, but out of their whole career. The final track on the album, titled ‘Amy’, written about the late-singer Amy Winehouse, serves as one of Green Day’s most thought-provoking songs. The instrumentation features Billie Joe on guitar, simple singing along. It’s a rather simple mix, but it works really well, and helps to give the song some impact. It is an interesting song, as it’s very nice in places, but there’s a highly sad element that is tinged throughout the entire song. Considering how underwhelmed I was by the album, it was a very nice surprise to find at the end of the whole album, and I’m glad it made it’s way onto one of Green Day’s albums, even if it is not their best.

In conclusion, I’m not impressed by ‘¡Dos!’. I wasn’t impressed by ‘¡Uno!’, and whilst ‘¡Dos!’ is better than the first, it still isn’t anything special. It just feels like an album comprised of the first songs the band could think of. There doesn’t seem to be any variety or thought put into any of the songs. That being said, there are still some good moments on the album, and moreso than ‘¡Uno!’. In the end though, with both ‘¡Uno!’ and ‘¡Dos!’ being so underwhelming, it leaves me with very little anticipation for ‘¡Tres!’ when it is released in December. Perhaps it’ll be something to be enjoyed, but considering how the first two albums have gone, I somewhat doubt it.

Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆ 2/5

Selected Songs:

  • See You Tonight
  • Lazy Bones
  • Amy

 

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The Burgh Island E.P. – Ben Howard

‘The Burgh Island E.P.’ is the latest release by Ben Howard, featuring four brand new songs. The E.P. could be seen as a general release of a few extra songs, for those devoted fans who can’t wait out for a full album release in a few years time. I’ve always been somewhat fond of E.P.s as it is, as they feel like little bonuses by bands we like.

As it is, ‘The Burgh Island E.P.’ is a very interesting E.P., with the music sounding more darker than that on his début album. The E.P. opens up with a track titled ‘Esmerelda’ which begins the sort of dark atmosphere that the album presents. It is interesting, and it is works well on an E.P. format, as if these tracks were embedded into the first album, they wouldn’t work so well. In this format, the four songs compliment each other, and are ordered very well. The interesting part of the E.P. is the final song ‘burgh Island’, where the darker layers seem to wash away in a more relaxing song. It is like a ray of sunlight after a daunting day, and it offers hope. It is a lovely song, and arguably one of the best tracks in Howard’s career. It is a fine way to end the E.P., and it helps to give the tracks character.

Overall, this E.P. is a very interesting addition to Ben Howard’s catalogue of music. It has a much different atmosphere than his début album, and I feel that that is one of the strengths on this E.P.. Whether or not this is the ground-work for what is to come of Ben Howard is anybody’s guess. Frankly, I don’t think this is the case, but perhaps instead, this is just an offering of the kind of music Howard can create.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Oats in the Water
  • Burgh Island
Categories: EPs, Old Album Reviews (2012) | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Banks – Paul Banks

This new album by Paul Banks, the front-man for rock-band Interpol, features ten new songs, each expressing themes that Banks feels suitable to express. The music is a departure from Interpol’s more rock-based music, as this seems to inhabit various areas of alternative music, including some lo-fi tracks and some experimental pieces. As far as solo-efforts go, I feel that Banks falls into the typical category, with it being an interesting album, but nothing truly awe-inspiring or amazing.

Some of the songs on this album are good. There’s some interesting ideas on the album, and when heard, it is somewhat easy to understand why they wouldn’t work under the Interpol moniker. I get the impression that it would appear to alien on an Interpol album, and thus they’re much more at home on a solo album. The whole album has it’s own atmosphere and emotion, and it is very different to Interpol, which is exactly what it needs to be. It makes no sense to make a solo-album, only for it to sound a lot like your band’s work. It is a trap that Banks’ doesn’t fall into, and it pays off somewhat, and is works very well in his favour on this album.

That being said, I feel that this album is much weaker than all of Bank’s albums written with Interpol. To me, ‘Banks’ feels almost lacklustre, with the music missing some weight to it that Banks’ band helps add to it. The album starts off well with it’s opening track ‘The Base’, but even within that song it starts to feel almost sludgy. To me, it is disappointing as I really enjoy the music by Interpol, and one of the main reasons is Banks’ voice. On this album, the instrumentals, which normally accompany Banks’ voice very well, just don’t live up to my expectations. It’s a huge shame, as there’s some great ideas on this album, but nothing has any weight to it. It leaves me confused as to what purpose this album serves. Is it a bunch of ideas of Paul Banks’ that he’s expressed in his own way, and is happy with? Or has he purely just released an album for the hell of it, just to make a bit of money? Who knows…

Overall, this solo-effort is a rather disappointing one. There’s a flow to the album, and some of the songs are good, but as an album it is just too disappointing for me to fully appreciate. It just doesn’t live up to the standard of music that is written by Banks’ full band Interpol. It isn’t a terrible album, don’t get me wrong. It just had a tall order to fill, and in comparison to Banks’ work with Interpol, it just doesn’t manage to live up to the expectations.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆  3/5

Selected Songs:

  • The Base
  • Lisbon
  • Another Chance
  • Summertime Is Coming
Categories: Albums, Old Album Reviews (2012) | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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