Monthly Archives: June 2015

Drones – Muse

British rock band Muse offer the follow-up to 2012’s somewhat polarizing yet ultimately trademark Muse album ‘The 2nd Law’, with their latest album effort ‘Drones’. Featuring an arguably more stripped back approach to composition than what we’ve seen on the bands’ last few albums, ‘Drones’ presents a bombastic and over-the-top rock experience, where guitar riffs and motifs take precedent in a thematic album about drones and mind-control. All in all, it’s a rather quintessential Muse album experience, though one that seems to call back to Muse’s strongest years, featuring a number of tracks which really stand out nicely amongst Muse’s expansive discography.

‘Drones’ sees Muse going back to a more rock-orientated sound, with Bellamy’s guitars taking the forefront of most of the album experience. Much of the album feels like a call-back to Muses’ 2001 release of ‘Origin of Symmetry’, though hardly a repeat of the album itself. ‘Drones’ features Muse simply doing what they do best, offering up a grandiose rock album experience full to the brim of flamboyancy and more importantly, talent. It’s hard not to get pulled into the experience Muse present, which certainly manages appropriately rock out at the right moments, as well as bring in some lush and gentler moments when needed.

Those who were so enamored with Muse’s previous releases of 2012’s ‘The 2nd Law’ and 2009’s release of ‘The Resistance’ may find ‘Drones’ to stray too far away from what has previously been established. At times, electronic and symphonic elements work their way into the tracks, though it all seems much more held back and restricted to key moments, instead of being splashed around everywhere. Whilst this benefits ‘Drones’ greatly, it will perhaps disappoint those expecting a true successor to the bands’ previous output.

Muse’s latest album seems to be a step in the right direction for the band, taking their over-the-top and flamboyant musical style and combining it with undeniably strong musical tracks. Much of ‘Drones’ feels more meticulously planned, with there being attempts to hold back certain elements whilst still being an incredibly energetic and charged album experience. Whilst ‘Drones’ might not hold itself up against Muse’s strongest albums in their discography, it feels to be one that does stand out well in its own right, showcasing a side of Muse which felt rather lost in recent years.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Dead Inside
  • Reapers
  • Aftermath
  • The Globalist

Muse’s latest album ‘Drones’ is set for release on 9th June 2015.

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Universal Themes – Sun Kil Moon

Following on from last years release of ‘Benji’, Mark Kozelek releases his latest album under the moniker of Sun Kil Moon titled ‘Universal Themes’. Full to the brim of quintessential Kozelek musical stylings, ‘Universal Themes’ sees Kozelek indulging himself in his incredibly natural talents of song-writing, whilst also incorporating some new ideas and themes here and there. Much of the album feels progressive for a Kozelek album, with the whole album effort being a huge step forward from the more stripped-back and bare albums of ‘Benji’ and ‘Among the Leaves’. At times, ‘Universal Themes’ feels a little challenging in places, though fans of the musician may find this to be one of the most interesting and engrossing albums to come from the musician yet.

‘Universal Themes’ expands much on everything Kozelek has built up on many of his previous releases. Kozelek’s trademark musical style is scattered around much of the album, as well as his natural ability to draw inspiration from his daily life and experiences. Unlike some of these previous albums though, there seems to be a slightly more experimental edge to much of the music. The long track times allow Kozelek to incorporate musical movements into the songs, both through the expression of his lyrics and the music accompanying those lyrics. It’s perhaps a little unorthodox at times, though it all seems to work incredibly well.

Those who were so enamored with Kozelek’s previous released going back to 2010’s ‘Admiral Fell Promises’, 2012’s ‘Among the Leaves’ and last years ‘Benji’ might perhaps find ‘Universal Themes’ to be too much of a step away from what was established by those albums.  A much more prominent rock element dominates elements of ‘Universal Themes’, preventing the whole album experience from being one relaxing lyrical journey. None of these efforts push out on this latest album release ever seem to fail, and instead suggest even more talent from the musician, though it is perhaps a warning to those expecting another album of the same.

Kozelek’s latest album ‘Universal Themes’ isn’t by any means an easy listen, though it is one that seems to really stick around in one’s mind, both due to the musical merits in the songs and of course the lyrics that Kozelek pushes out. Something about the whole album effort seems and feels quite ambitious, though without it really coming with a loss of anything that makes Kozelek’s music so great. Kozelek may not have provided a follow-up chapter to last years’ ‘Benji’ with his latest album, but instead seems to have provided a whole other book to be enjoyed, that is arguably much rawer, but equally as intimate.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • The Possum
  • With A Sort Of Grace I Walked To The Bathroom To Cry
  • Cry Me A River Williamsburg Sleeve Tattoo Blues
  • Garden of Lavender

Sun Kil Moon’s latest album ‘Universal Themes’ is out now.

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Hand. Cannot. Erase. – Steven Wilson

Progressive musician Steven Wilson sets the way for his latest solo album endeavor ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase’. Following on from his 2013 release of ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’, Wilson offers up more of his phenomenal and powerful progressive rock style, presenting an album that really sees the artist pushing out everything he can creatively. ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ features much of Wilson’s progressive style, all presented to great effect, though there’s an element of Wilson progressing as well, pushing out a clearly envisioned album where many of the tracks work to great effect.

After the success of 2013’s ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’, it seems Wilson has set his sights on offering a true successor to the album, doing everything in his power to really progress forward and make another album of equal standing. ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase’. features many incredible elements, with the whole release offering up a nice and diverse range of progressive rock styles, all coming together comfortably in one cohesive vision. It’s an album that grabs the listener’s attention and maintains it, without ever demanding it at any point.

There’s an incredible amount to enjoy on ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ which is certainly another strong release from the solo artist. It’s perhaps arguable that at times, Wilson is perhaps indulging himself a little too much, maybe pushing out an album that’s more for himself than for everyone else, though whilst this notion has merit, if it results in an album that is as creative, accessible and as enjoyable as ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’, then there’s never really a problem with indulging oneself.

Wilson seems to be on the right path after announcing his focus on solo work and away from his band work. Whilst the news carries an air of disappointment, the result of Wilson’s efforts on ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ and his previous solo work shows this is a great direction to be heading in. Wilson’s latest album works phenomenally well, coming across as one of his most focused and ambitious solo projects to date, and a clear indicator of the incredible talent the musician is holding.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • 3 Years Older
  • Routine
  • Ancestral
  • Happy Returns

Steven Wilson’s latest solo album ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ is out now.

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Lise G. – Alexandre St-Onge

Experimental artist Alexandre St-Onge presents his latest release on Oral Records titled ‘Lise G.’ The new release features St-Onge’s soundtrack for the art exhibition of the same name. On this release, St-Onge pushes out his trademark experimental style to great effect, offering another unusual, bizarre and oddly engrossing sound experience full of incredibly weird concepts and ideas. As with many of St-Onge’s releases, there’s a very inaccessible element running throughout the album, making it a difficult listen, but to those who find the world of St-Onge so engrossing will find ‘Lise G.’ to be another wonderful insight into a weird and unusual world that only St-Onge knows.

‘Lise G.’ comes across as quite radical in terms of its experimental notions. An electronic ambient notion runs throughout the album, setting the scene for an unsettling world. Much of the actual music feels incredibly sparse, with a main driving force being a bizarre vocal track that sounds perhaps like St-Onge choking himself, forcing his voice into weird and unusual shapes  that paints the picture of something that only St-Onge understands. It’s by no means an accessible release, coming across as too weird an exercise to exist and perhaps one of St-Onge’s most challenging releases to date, though its in St-Onge’s approach to the whole notion of production and creation where we find the oddly appealing element.

‘Lise G.’ is hardly a record that will astound and amaze people, though it will perhaps place listeners into a world of interpretation, where the sounds being conjured up place each and every listener into their own head-space, drawing the gap between the consumer and St-Onge himself. It’s perhaps arguable that this isn’t one of St-One’s most impressive releases in his extensive career, though it oddly enough seems to be one that really sticks around in the memory, constantly tempting those daring enough to give it another listen and see what new things they will discover.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Lise G.

Alexandre St-Onge’s latest release ‘Lise G.’ is out now on Oral Records.

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Straitjacket – Rangleklods

Danish electronic duo Esben Nørskov Andersen & Pernille Smith-Sivertsen offer up their latest album experience under the title of Rangleklods, titled ‘Straitjaket’. The new album from his duo offers up an interesting electronic music experience, where electronica intertwines itself with way with pop-music, club-music and even occasional hints of trip-hop. Much of the music feels rather grand for the most part, with Rangleklods pushing forward much of what they can offer to the best of their abilities. Whilst there’s some incredibly enjoyable tracks featured on the album, it seems much of the album effort itself really struggles to get itself off the ground.

Rangleklods certainly feel like they have a lot to offer, and seem to do everything in their power to present the best of their abilities on their debut album effort. ‘Straitjacket’ sees the duo presenting a varied selection of electronica styles, most of which come together cohesively into a single album vision, without sounding disruptive or messy. The main highlights of the album though seem to be when Rangleklods stray into the territories of trip-hop, where we see the duo indulging in cool and slow grooves, accompanied by dreamy vocal styles.

‘Straitjacket’ is certainly enjoyable on some levels, though it seems much of Rangkeklod’s efforts are wasted. The duo just don’t seem to do enough to make their debut album interesting enough, instead relying on the genre itself to carry the music instead of their own abilities, Certain sections of the album suggest some strong ideas, though on the album itself it seems limited to only a few tracks instead of dominating the album with these strong motifs and moments. It seems Rangkeklods haven’t really fully envisioned their debut album, and instead have filled it up with as much as they can, without really thinking about it all.

There’s some enjoyable moments on ‘Straitjacket’, though not enough to really make the whole album experience worth bothering with. There just doesn’t seem to be enough substance in the album itself, making it an album that drags on instead of being enjoyable and fun. The moments where the duo demonstrate good ideas and talent work very nicely, and it raises the question of why haven’t the duo pushed forward these elements to the best of their abilities, instead of doing what comes across as a bare minimum within the genre.

Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆  2/5

Selected Songs:

  • Forgive
  • Dry Me Out

Rangleklods’ debut album ‘Straitjacket’ is out now.

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