Monthly Archives: February 2013

Opposites – Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro’s sixth studio album ‘Opposites’ is a double-album, offering us 20 new songs from one of Scotland’s biggest bands. The album is divided up into two albums, with the first disc being titled ‘The Sand At The Core Of Our Bones’, and the second disc being titled ‘The Land At The End Of Our Toes’. For those who don’t enjoy two disc’s worth of music by bands and prefer one single-disc album, then you’re in luck as ‘Opposites’ is also available in single-disc format, comprising of various songs from both discs on the album.

It could be argued that the two discs on ‘Opposites’ both explore different musical directions. Granted, I would say now that when it comes to music by Biffy Clyro, there isn’t actually a great amount of variety. Most songs are comprised of guitar, bass and drums and are just alternative rock songs at the end of the day. That being said, it seems that their is a difference in the two CDs in terms of how the rock-genre is being presented. It is interesting, as the two albums work well together as a double-album experience, and at the same time they also work well as two separate Biffy Clyro albums. To better explain this would be to use examples, like how ‘The Wall’ by Pink Floyd requires the listener to listen to both of the albums for the sense of the album experience. On the other side, you’d have something like ‘Abbattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, where the two albums are both clearly defined as being two different albums. Now, on ‘Opposites’, the two albums work simultaneously as a double-album package, and in single-album form. I’m not sure if whether or not people would agree with me on this, but it is the impression I got when listening to both albums.

On ‘Opposites’, it seems that the music on the first disc mostly takes the form of rock anthems. It’s a style that works for Biffy Clyro, and it is evident when listening to ‘Opposites’ that it is a style they’re more than capable of writing within. It’s hard not to enjoy the music, as it is pure anthem music, that would clearly work amazingly within a live environment. As well as having these rock anthems, there are also some tracks that are more mellow, or as mellow as Biffy Clyro will allow, which just means that the tempo is turned down a bit, and everything moves slowly until it hits the crescendo. It is odd, as I find the format of having rock anthems, mixed in with these slower songs to be a fairly clichéd format for most rock bands, but it seems that Biffy Clyro is able to move comfortable within this genre and not make it sound so stale. The music, especially the rock anthems, just seem to stick int he memory as well as ‘Mountains’ did when it was first released. It’s great music that just gets you going.

I do feel though that the music on the second disc is slightly weaker than that on the first. Especially in the first half, where I just feel slightly bored of some of the tracks. Perhaps those are the tracks where in a few months time they grow on you, and it’s like rediscovering music all over again, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’s a shame, as I do feel that the second disc of music somewhat let’s down the whole double-album experience which is how ‘Opposites’ was meant to be heard. It confuses me that there is even a single-disc version, as to me, it just feels like whoever would be buying it wouldn’t be getting the full experience of ‘Opposites’, and would be missing out on many great songs, regardless of how much the second disc is weaker than the first.

Regardless though, I do feel that ‘Opposites’ is a good album. No matter how much the second disc pales in comparison with the first disc, the fact of the matter is that the whole album package is just great. I feel that the whole experience is mostly attributed to the first disc being so strong, that it makes up for the weaknesses in the second. As it is, by the time the second disc gets to its great songs, it feels like all its weaknesses can just be forgotten. At the end of the day, ‘Opposites’ remains one of those good albums that can easily be enjoyed, and would sound perfect live, which is basically what music of this genre needs to be.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Black Chandelier
  • Opposite
  • Accident Without Emergency
  • Picture A Knife Fight
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The Invisible Way – Low

‘The Invisible Way’ is the 10th studio album by ‘slowcore’ band Low. The album follows on from their 2011 release ‘C’mon’, which was met with positive acclaim. On ‘The Invisible Way’, it seems that Low has decided to take a step back to their roots, once again embracing the style which so clearly established them in their early career. ‘The Invisible Way’ has the makings of a perfect Low album, with its slow percussion, guitar riffs that slowly move amongst the songs, and of course the beautiful harmonies by Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, which just makes nearly every song by Low a gorgeous experience to listen too.

It seems that on previous albums by Low, most notably ‘The Great Destroyer’, released in 2004, and ‘C’mon’, released in 2011, that Low were trying to step a little outside their comfort zone, and try a few new things. Since their early career, Low have been known for their slow moving songs, that don’t ever build up into crashing crescendos. It was a style that worked perfectly for Low, but it seemed that they wanted to try and do something a little different, and by different, it would seem they wanted to turn up the volume a little. It was interesting, and it was a move that worked well, but it seems that they’ve now gone back to the old style of slow-moving songs. ‘The Invisible Way’ is a gentle album, that never seems to explode with crescendos. Sure enough, there are a few moments where everything is a little faster and slightly louder perhaps, but everything still fits in perfectly into the slowcore genre that Low helped so brilliantly to establish back in the early nineties.

What I find interesting about Low is that they never seem to go stale. With every album they release, they always seem to offer something new. On ‘The Invisible Way’, whilst it seems to echo the styles of some of their much earlier albums, it still offers much more to the listeners. It would seem that the whole album is dominated mostly by Mimi Parker’s vocals, rather than Alan Sparhawk’s. I’d argue that most albums by Low feature Alan Sparhawk on lead vocals more than Mimi Parker (even though the lead vocal duties are split evenly between the two). However, on ‘The Invisible Way’, it seems that the majority of the songs feature Mimi Parker on the lead vocals. It is interesting to see Low taking this direction more and more with each of their albums, and it seems to be one that works. What works well with Low is their vocals, as it is one of their most strongest attributes as a band. Anyone who has heard Low before would know that the harmonies between the two vocalists are just perfect in every song, and it is what draws people to listen to the band. On ‘The Invisible Way’, these harmonies are as strong as ever, which doesn’t surprise me to be honest, as they’ve always been strong, and dare I say it, flawless?

It seems that ‘The Invisible Way’ is one of the most strongest albums by Low to come out in a while. Although I enjoyed ‘C’mon’ back in 2011, It was ultimately an album that never drew me in as much as some of their previous albums. ‘The Invisible Way’ though is as strong as what I’d call some of their strongest albums, and it is a joy to listen to. It is an album that just works, as it seems to be one that has perfected the style that Low has established in their career. Musically, the instrumentation on this album is also incredibly strong, with the instrumentals of the songs having the ability to command the songs, whether it is an incredibly slowcore one, or one that has that little extra kick. For me, this is everything an album by Low should be, and is easily one of my favourites of theirs. The more that I think about it, the less that I see wrong with this album. Within their genre, everything on this album just works. There’s no song on this album I wouldn’t be happy to listen too, and as a complete album, it is one that just works, with each song working well with each other. So, to conclude, ‘The Invisible Way’ is easily one of the best albums Low have released in their career, and it is one that makes me highly anticipate what they will come up with next.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★  5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Amethyst
  • Clarence White
  • Four Score
  • On My Own
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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) – Steven Wilson

The third official solo album by Steven Wilson, known for his work in numerous bands, such as Porcupine Tree, Storm Corrosion, No-Man and many more. Steven Wilson’s third solo effort ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)’ is seemingly another chapter in the progressive rock genre that Wilson so deeply dives into. This time, it seems that Wilson is attempting to try some new things, and perhaps go back to the early roots of progressive rock, that was so brilliantly established by such bands like Pink Floyd and King Crimson.

The whole album is full of little bits that you would expect from Steven Wilson, regardless of what one of his bands you have listened to. There’s the expected elements of progressive rock on this album, which starts pretty much from the word go. Heavy bass lines and guitar riffs run through many of the songs, which is a style that Wilson has managed to perfect over the course of his career. We’ve seen this used to great effect on Wilson’s previous solo efforts. His first solo album ‘Insurgentes’, which was released in 2008 delved deeply into the progressive rock genre, and wasn’t too dissimilar to Wilson’s work with Porcupine Tree. The second solo-album ‘Grace For Drowning’, released in 2011, seemed to expand somewhat out of the progressive rock genre to incorporate more experimental elements. On this third solo album, Wilson has incorporated even more experimental elements, including many more genres to help branch out the sounds in a much more creative way. In contrast to Wilson’s previous solo albums, it could be argued that ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)’ is perhaps the most experimental of his three solo albums.

There is lots to enjoy on this album. The progressive rock elements work brilliantly, and when broadened out with other elements, such as jazz for example, it just makes it sound much more rewarding than the previous albums. It helps to show the creativity of Wilson, that he truly understands how genres can work with each other, and that repeating the same style over just makes music stale and boring. It seems that Wilson hasn’t only wanted to create a new album, but also one that can be seen differently from his previous albums, and one that can be seen as an expansion on what he has worked on before. One of the most enjoyable elements on this album is what could been seen as a reference to the history of progressive rock. The opening track, ‘Luminol’ has  a section of what could be described as free-form jazz perhaps, which seems to be a tribute to ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ from King Crimson’s debut album ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’, which was released in 1969. It doesn’t seem to be a rip-off of the song, but as mentioned earlier, a tribute to the track, which is arguably one of the first progressive rock albums.

Overall, ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)’ is a very strong album, and in my personal opinion, easily the best out of Wilson’s three solo albums. It might be hard to swallow, but I don’t see Wilson’s solo work as being stronger than his Porcupine Tree albums. But that isn’t to say that they don’t have their own merit. There is a lot to enjoy on not only this album, but all of Wilson’s solo albums. This album is particular just has a lot of strengths that make it work for it, including great instrumentals, some interesting lyrics and a brilliant presentation by one of music’s most under-rated artists to this day.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Luminol
  • Drive Home
  • The Holy Drinker
  • The Raven That Refused To Sing
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Pedestrian Verse – Frightened Rabbit

Scottish band Frightened Rabbit offer us their fourth studio album, ‘Pedestrian Verse’. The album is full of the typical rock style of ‘indie’ rock, with the term ‘indie’ being used as loosely as possible of course. I don’t mean it in an offensive way though, as Frightened Rabbit have a lot to offer on this album, which is easily one of their strongest releases so far in their career.

The whole album is knee-deep in the typical style of rock music. There’s the typical clanging chords of the guitar, the accompanying bass and the drums, pounding their way through each song, commanding it to move around the various notes and crescendos. If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s a style that not only have we seen before, but has almost to a point been over-used and is perhaps a little stale. But for some reason, this works incredibly well for Frightened Rabbit. Any lesser band would come off as cheap and lazy if they attempted music of this genre, but for Frightened Rabbit, it is a style that not only works, but is one that puts them at the top of the game.

There is a tremendous amount to enjoy about Frightened Rabbit. The main thing that draws me to their music is the sheer power of the vocals. There’s a lot of indie rock bands that I love, and a fair few of them from Scotland. Such bands as The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks come to mind, and the main thing about these bands that draws me in is the vocals. It’s how the Scottish accent is used to sing. It might appear a little silly, but it is just how it is. What is interesting though is how all these bands all have something slightly different to offer us, all making their music great to listen to in their own respect. When it comes to Frightened Rabbit, the sheer power of the vocals, combined with the manic pacing of the songs just makes for some great music.

On this album, I believe Frightened Rabbit have excelled themselves. I always felt that with their old albums, that they were good, but that they were never reaching their true potential. Well it seems that they’ve certainly reached it on ‘Pedestrian Verse’ which is easily their best album of their whole career so far. Everything that was a strength on their previous album has been utilised on ‘Pedestrian Verse’, combined with new ideas and talent that helps to make it an incredibly strong album. It isn’t perfect by any means, but for a band working in what is slowly becoming an over-used genre, they’ve certainly made something that not only they can be proud of, but the whole genre can.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Acts Of Man
  • The Woodpile
  • State Hospital
  • Nitrous Gas
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Amok – Atoms For Peace

The highly anticipated album by super-group Atoms For Peace, lead by Radiohead’s front-man Thom Yorke, and featuring a variety of brilliant musicians that include Flea, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, and Mauro Refosco. Under the name Atoms For Peace, the super-group have released their first album, titled Amok. The album could be seen as an extension of what Yorke attempted to produce back in 2006, with his solo effort ‘The Eraser’. Much of the music on ‘Amok’ is similar to the style that was established on ‘The Eraser’, with the exception that the tracks on ‘Amok’ are much more fleshed out than that on ‘The Eraser’. This could be attributed to the fact that ‘Amok’ is a band effort, with everyone contributing to the overall sound on the album.

My first impressions is that it is a good album. It sounds to me like what Yorke wanted ‘The Eraser’ to be. Much of the music is similar, with lots of electronic percussion driving the songs, and odd synth effects that move in and around the songs. It seems to be though to be better on this album though. The inclusion of other members help to give the music much more needed layers, and flesh out the songs much more effectively than Yorke could have done on his own. One of the strongest elements on the album is Flea’s bass guitar. It works perfectly with the music, and gives it a much needed layer that helps to drive the music along at a perfect pace. It is brilliant to listen to on its own, but as a whole with the music, it is just perfection on his part. It seems that Yorke has pulled together a brilliant group for this album. I find it unlikely that Atoms For Peace will be recognised as a band better than Radiohead. For me, it’s just different, and that is what it needs to be. It will be interesting though to see how far Yorke will take this band, whether or not he will leave it with just one-album and nothing more, or whether he’ll decide to do more material in the future.

The album goes from strength to strength with each song. There’s many surprises in the songs, with lots of effects that help to add the songs. Yorke’s vocals sound brilliantly strong on this album, and are arguably better than what they sounded like on ‘The Eraser’. Everyone plays their part brilliantly on the album, and helps to make the songs sound great. The more the album goes on, the more you realise the sheer talent that Yorke has pulled together for this album. It seems to me that this isn’t just a one off-collaboration designed to make a quick buck like you get with so many pop singers. It feels like this is a project that Yorke is passionate about, and that it’s something he wanted to not only make, but make sound the best it possibly could. It’s clearly an album not only he can be proud of, but everybody involved.

In conclusion of this review, I think that ‘Amok’ may possibly be one of the best albums of this year currently. As the album progresses through each song, I find less and less faults with it. There’s wonderful dense layers of sound that help build up the song, and in every respect it just works. There are very little flaws with the album, if any, and for that reason, it could possibly be one of the strongest albums of this year so far. Within it’s genre of electronica, it’s one of the strongest albums going. Fans of Thom Yorke’s solo album should find lots to enjoy on this album, as in a sense, it is basically an extension of what Yorke established on ‘The Eraser’. It’s a more fleshed out and better sounding version of the album so to speak. I must say that this album actually surprised me, as even as a fan of Thom Yorke, I didn’t expect this album to be as good as it was. It’s just a brilliant album that works on every level that it is supposed to work.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★  5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Ingeuene
  • Dropped
  • Stuck Together Pieces
  • Judge, Jury and Executioner
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Live at Phoenix Public House Melbourne – Mark Kozelek

Another release by Mark Kozelek, front man of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, is a live solo album played in Melbourne. The album offers us solo versions of many of Kozelek’s songs, ranging from his time with Red House Painters, to his work with Sun Kil Moon. The live album is punctuated with various snippets of Kozelek’s discussions with the audience, or his own musings to himself. The album has been released simultaneously with Mark Kozelek’s new solo album ‘Like Rats’, which offers a whole album of acoustic renditions of various songs. In a contrast with this new album, ‘Live at Phoenix Public House Melbourne’ offers us completely acoustic renditions of Kozelek’s own work.

There’s humour in the album, with Kozelek often taking time to add the odd comment (sometimes during songs). It’s amusing, but it doesn’t ever seem to distract away from the beauty of the songs he’s playing. As Kozelek plays he seems to let himself get lost in his own songs, and it becomes literally just a man singing and playing. Much like on the ‘Like Rats’ album, it is simplicity at its best, and once again it shows that sometimes simple music can be a brilliant thing. It could be argued that the songs aren’t that much different from their album counterparts, especially those ones played off the last Sun Kil Moon album ‘Among The Leaves’, which was an album featuring just Kozelek on a nylon acoustic guitar. However, with the kind of album this is, it just works, as like I said, it is just a simple album, played beautifully. There are at times some brilliant guitar playing, most noticeably in ‘Heron Blue’, where it seems like Kozelek’s hand is dancing across the strings of the guitar. The live rendition offered on this album is every bit as strong as the official album version on ‘April’.

The dialogue snippets seem to work well on this album as well. It helps to offer an overall scope of how the album was being received by the audience at the time. It’s interesting, and often funny at times, including one moment where Mark Kozelek has a discussion with one audience member on how he was able to receive a copy of the new Sun Kil Moon album ‘Among The Leaves’. It’s amusing at the best of times, and is certainly interesting to those who have not had the good fortune to see Kozelek live. Obviously it is not as good as the real experience, but it could be seen as better than nothing. I’m also under the impression though, that some people may look at these dialogue snippets less than favourably. It seems that a lot of the songs that they appear on, the dialogue takes up half the song, and dialogue snippets are not always the most interesting thing to listen too. Sure, it’s funny the first time round, but I imagine that after repeated listens that it could just become boring.

In conclusion, I must say that I rather enjoyed this live album. I’ve never been the biggest fan of live albums, as I always get the feeling that I’d rather be there, than listening to mere shadow of the performance. However, there’s something that’s just charming about this album. It’s an enjoyable album to listen to, and everything just sounds nice and calm. The presentation of the album is also brilliant, with Mark Kozelek being as brilliant as ever to listen too. The sheer talent that the man has is evident on the album, and is one of the best reasons for listening to the album. It’s a nice album, with some nice surprises on it too, including an acoustic version of ‘Mistress’ from Red House Painter’s second studio album. It’s relaxing to listen too, and is definitely a strong live album.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • I Know It’s Pathetic But That Was The Greatest Night Of My Life
  • The Moderately Talented Yet Attractive Young Woman VS. The Exceptionally Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man
  • Heron Blue
  • Mistress
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Like Rats – Mark Kozelek

The new solo effort by Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon’s front man Mark Kozelek, offers us another album of song covers. Much like the Sun Kil Moon album ‘Tiny Cities’, which offered us a complete reworking of Modest Mouse songs, by turning them from their harsh rock songs into acoustic tracks. ‘Like Rats’ offers us 13 covers that originate from various bands, including metal bands to pop bands. The entire album is a gentle album, consisting just of Mark Kozelek’s voice and his acoustic guitar, and is certainly an interesting album to listen to.

The whole album flows well, with Kozelek presenting each song in a way that compliments each other. It shows the sheer talent that Kozelek has, with his ability of taking various songs from various genres that clearly do not compliment each other, and then being able to re-work them in a way that they do. Each song consists purely of acoustic guitar and Kozelek’s voice, which is a combination he has used to perfection on some official Sun Kil Moon albums. It shows that simplicity can sometimes be best at times, and that you don’t always need to have dense layers of music to help build up a song. I’m not saying that all music should be as simple as this, but rather that sometimes simplicity can work for well for certain musicians. When looking at Kozelek’s history in music, we can see that Kozelek’s talents work with a full band, and also as solo efforts.

On ‘Like Rats’, there is enjoyment from the wonderful presentation of the music on the album. Kozelek just travels from song to song, letting the guitar accompany the vocals. I also feel that some of the enjoyment of this album comes from the fact that people will recognise the original versions, and the drastic re-working of them that Kozelek’ has done. It is impressive seeing how the same song can be presented in such different ways, especially two songs that fall under different genres. It reminds me much of ‘Tiny Cities’ which re-worked many Modest Mouse songs to the point where apart from the lyrics, they were unrecognisable as the originals.

Overall, I feel that ‘Like Rats’ is an interesting effort from Mark Kozelek. As an album, It is interesting, but it doesn’t feel as interesting as some of his works as Red House Painters or Sun Kil Moon, which is why I feel that this works better as a solo album. It could be seen as indulgent, as it is purely just Kozelek playing by himself, but to be honest it works. The album demonstrates Kozelek’s pure talent at not only playing acoustic guitar brilliantly, but also his ability at presenting different songs in a different way. It’s a good album, and one that fans of Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters’ should certainly look into.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Like Rats (Originally by Godflesh)
  • Young Girls (Originally by Bruno Mars)
  • Onward (Originally by Yes)
  • Carpet Crawlers (Originally by Genesis)
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Shrine of New Generation Slaves – Riverside

Riverside, the Polish progressive rock band, return to us with their fifth studio album ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’. The follow-up album to their 2009 release ‘Anno Domini High Definition’, Riverside offer us another album full of heavy bass and great guitar riffs that have helped make up their previous albums.

The whole album screams out progressive rock when listened to. The songs are just filled up with dense and heavy bass riffs, often accompanied by guitar riffs that help to move the songs along. It is incredibly indulgent at times, with the band members often slipping into their own worlds as they just play their sections on and on. It is never a bad thing in my opinion, as it is great to listen to. And for Riverside, this has always been one of their greatest strengths in their albums, and it is every bit the strength on this one.

It seems to me, that on ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ that a lot of the more heavier style that Riverside have often used before has been toned down, in favour of more melodic sounding music. Everything is still dense on the album, and sounds exactly like a Riverside album should do, but it seems almost less frantic and heavy than previous albums. There are still some heavy songs on the album, which are often emphasised by the heavy bass riffs which dominate many of the songs. It is just to me not as heavy as the previous albums. I feel though that it works well for this album though, as the music still has great instrumentals which are full of techniques that are great to listen to. There’s more experimentation on this album as well, with different instruments being utilised to help add more to the music. It almost reminds me of Pink Floyd at times, with the track ‘Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination)’ coming to mind as a prime example.

It is a strong album, and one that should certainly appeal to fans. I certainly feel that is could be amongst one of the strongest that Riverside have done thus far, and it would certainly be interesting to see the strengths of ‘Shrine of New Generation Slaves’ will work its way into their next albums, as their previous albums have done on this one.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • The Depth of Self-Delusion
  • We Got Used To Us
  • Feel Like Falling
  • Escalator Shrine
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Wonderful, Glorious – Eels

‘Wonderful, Glorious’, the 10th studio album by alternative-rock band Eels, is titled something that perhaps not everybody would associate with the style E has often pushed with his music. Regardless, ‘Wonderful, Glorious’ is the follow up to the experimental trilogy that began in 2009 with ‘Hombre Lobo’, and was followed up with the two 2010 albums ‘End Times’ and ‘Tomorrow Morning’. Whilst a somewhat enjoyable trilogy of albums, the music didn’t seem to live up to the strengths that some of Eels earlier albums have had. With that in mind, ‘Wonderful, Glorious’ is arguably one of the better albums that Eels have produced for quite some years.

I always get the impression from Eels that the music they produce is never about making music that is going to be highly regarded, and considered to have amazing instrumentation and what not, but instead, is about just making music. I’ve always found Eels to be a highly enjoyable band, and their music to just be fun songs that are amusing to listen to from time to time.  It’s never bad music, it’s just never outstanding music. And although this is only my opinion, I feel that it just works for Eels, and it is something that they don’t need to change.

The whole album is a great one to listen too, and is definitely one of their best since ‘Daises of the Galaxy’ or ‘Beautiful Freak’. The songs just work and just draw the listener in (if you’re a fan of the band). There’s an almost upbeat element to the music, more so than previous albums, although there is the occasional more downbeat song. As an album though it works very well, and there are few weak songs on the album.

‘Wonderful, Glorious’ in my mind is definitely one of the better albums Eels has released. Sure, it’s limited by the capabilities of the band, but at the same time, it still just works for them, and it is still an enjoyable album to listen too. I see it as an improvement from previous Eels albums, which weren’t bad albums so to speak, but rather they just weren’t as interesting in places. ‘Wonderful, Glorious’ though is very interesting as an album, and it works as an album as well, with each song working well with each other.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Bombs Away
  • Kinda Fuzzy
  • The Turnaround
  • True Original
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Push The Sky Away – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

The highly anticipated 15th studio album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is the follow-up album to their 2008 album ‘Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!’, which was a highly enjoyable raucous rock album that grooved its way in and out of upbeat and downbeat tracks. It was a great album that followed up one of their best efforts, their 2004 double-album ‘Abbatoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus’, which was also a rock album that had it’s quieter moments. So with these two albums in mind, I find it interesting the direction that Nick Cave has taken with ‘Push The Sky Away’.

‘Push The Sky Away’ could be seen as a departure from the sound that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have established in their long career. But even amongst all the rock albums that Nick Cave has pushed out, there have been moments where everything has been played down, and become quite relaxed in tone. What’s happened on ‘Push The Sky Away’ is that the entire album is downplayed, which could be seen as a first for Nick Cave. Perhaps this is a risky move, as their upbeat rock songs have always been one of their strengths. However, I feel that Nick Cave has actually outdone himself with this album, and produced arguably what is one of his best albums so far in his career.

Yes, the album is quieter, almost ambient at times. However, it just works on this album. Everything that Nick Cave has attempted on this album, he has just done right. The album begins with the gentle track ‘We No Who U R’, and from there it goes from track to track, never once getting too loud, and never once going too quiet. The instrumentals on this album are much more sparse than the previous albums, but all this does is add emphasis on Nick Cave’s lyrics, which I feel are some of the best he has written so far. There is a wonderful poetry in the lyrics, which has always been one of Nick Cave’s greatest strengths as a writer. Even though the instrumentals are more sparse on this album, and have less emphasis than on the previous albums, they are still enjoyable at times. ‘We Real Cool’ features some of Warren Ellis’ best and most gorgeous violin playing since the soundtrack albums he has worked on with Nick Cave. ‘Higgs Boson Blues’ is pushed along by the simplest but highly effective of guitar riffs, which when accompanied with Nick Cave’s lyrics, just makes for one of their best songs in a long while.

I feel that ‘Push The Sky Away’ isn’t the best of Nick Cave’s albums at times. But at the same time, I do also feel that it is one of their strongest. It can appear quite sombre and sad at times, but this just makes me believe that Nick Cave has just effectively managed to write music with some great emotion in it. So overall, I feel that this is ‘one’ of the best albums that Nick Cave has produced. It’s just an album where everything just works on the album. It may not be to everybody’s liking, and perhaps this album might alienate some of the more hardcore of Nick Cave fans. But for myself, I feel that this is a great album, and one that Nick Cave can surely be proud of.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★  5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Mermaids
  • We Real Cool
  • Higgs Boson Blues
  • Push The Sky Away
Categories: 5-Star Reviews, Albums, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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