Album Reviews

beasts of bourbon Little Animals – The Beasts of Bourbon
This album stinks of late nights, cigarettes, bar fights, hang-overs… and I love it. Simple crunchy guitars churning out repetitive three chorded punk rock rhythms with lyrics full of angst and yearning. When the album does settle and take a breath with the title track the tension remains. This is one of those journey albums, leading through a range of disparity and depravity, just what a Beasts of Bourbon album should be. Tex Perkins has become quite the Aussie icon over the past decade and rightly so, he has grown into a prolific musician with a lot to offer when it comes to character and gritty oz pub rock. This album is a total winner.
mekon Some Thing Came Up – Mekon
If you love hard digital synth sounds and songs that quickly take on a life of their own then this is the album for you. From the very moment these broad and dangerous sounds start throbbing from your system you’re assaulted by none other than a form of underground dance music that will be way too much for you’re average electro fan but the perfect album for those that like to be trampled by techno beats, mechanical rhythms and chainsaw samples.
beecroft Pinky Beecroft & the White Russians
Pinky’s anticipated return to the studio since the little spoke of demise of Machine Gun Fellatio has arrived. His voice is immediately recognizable and his sexually charged lyrics unfortunately do little more than remind one of MGF, but that’s only for your first couple of listens. Under further scrutiny it becomes blatantly obvious that this recording is it’s own monster with a far greater emotional scope than anything Pinky has written before. This is a fairly casual outing that’s more fitting for alone time than parties, it’s a competent release and perfect bait to get one hungry for a full length album.
veneer Veneer – José González
José González is the Leonard Cohen of the new millennium. This album is jam packed with beautiful vocal melodies, stirring lyrics and a finger picked acoustic guitar so soothing and warm that even The Chainsaw’s cold heart is thawed and woken from its eternal slumber when listening to this welcoming opus. José uses repetition in the most comforting way, the forever-looping guitar riffs are amazingly calming and remind me of snuggling up in bed on a rainy day after a heavy night on the brown tequila. From beginning to end this album takes you on an emotional journey that is relentless in its introversion. Minimalist in most senses, the album art induces the same feelings as the music. The small scribblings of Elias Araya are reminiscent of Stanley Donwood’s work with Radiohead but are none the less original and fitting to the albums theme. Every now and then an album comes along that you just don’t want to let go of, this is one of those albums. It draws you back again and again; each time you find something new, subtle and organic. Standing along-side Tracey Chapman and Lou Barlow comes José González, a young man with a strong and original quality that is sure to capture the attention of all those that stumble across this instant classic.
depeche mode The Best of Depeche Mode Volume 1 – Depeche Mode
It’s been twenty-five years and Depeche Mode is still together and recording music. Although this album has nothing really new for the dedicated fan, this Best of Volume 1 (hinting that further compilations are on the way) is the perfect introduction for people that have heard DM hits throughout popular culture and are contemplating taking their first step toward experiencing a lengthy and prolific catalogue of electro pop classics. The strange, if not cool thing about this release is that the track listing plays like a random shuffle as more recent songs jump straight into past hits and vice versa.
nashville Get Some – Nashville Pussy
This album stinks of five star sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Atlanta’s Nashville Pussy have been whipping their tits and albums out since 1998 and they know exactly what they’re doing. It’s not overtly original, nor is it ground breaking rock n’ roll, but this album is bursting at the seams with riff heavy, ball busting tunes loaded with pussy, whisky and constant chants of “Hell yeah!” Lead vocalist Blaine Cartwright can’t help but sound like Alice Cooper and by no extent is this a bad thing. Also along for the ride this time is the Pussy’s fourth bass player to date, Karen Cuda. An all round big night out album which kicks more ass than a drunkard red neck!
nigel kennedy B-Sides & Rarities – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Some would say that a three-disc collection of Nick Cave B-Sides and Rarities would be a must for only the toughest of fans, but The Chainsaw wholeheartedly disagrees. As most people realise, a bands rarities have the potential to be some of any acts best work and this is a fine example of that fact. Nicks voice is always reminiscent of a drunken uncle and the music of The Bad Seeds is a diverse array of compositional exploration. Unlimited by boundaries other contemporary artists condemn themselves to, Nick and The Bad Seeds travel a musical road which leaves you forever curious to know where you’re going and how you’re getting there. Whether a dedicated fan or just plainly curious, I believe this collection of eclectic exploration has a little something for everyone.
nick cave Blue Note Sessions – Nigel Kennedy
Classical violinist Nigel Kennedy gets to fulfill his life long dream of playing an improvisational lead on this swinging jazz album that never quite succeeds due to one very important and simple fact… his electric violin. At times innovative and effective, the electric violin’s droll tone never seems to blend comfortably with the rest of the more natural elements of the band. Apart from this hiccup, Nigel does prove his worth as natural when it comes to his abilities to be diverse and spontaneous with both his instrument and the rest of the band.
blacklevel embassy Baroc – Blacklevel Embassy
Recorded by Shellac’s own Bob Weston Baroc screams forth and promises all that true indie style punk rock still exists in Australia and is quite possibly better than ever. Energy permeates this entire album. Much like being caught underwater; it’s calm and peaceful but there is no air to breathe so a subtle nature can quickly erupt into a fight for your life. An intelligent mix of angular guitar riffing, grinding bass and searching vocals this album never tries to be anything more than it’s parts and ultimately creates the kind of cliché free punk rock album you can explore with a trusting ear.
barenaked ladies Are Me – Barenaked Ladies
Free from the restraints of a major label Barenaked Ladies relax into a more accepting and creative environment that lets the band produce their most approachable album to date. The band has matured seven fold and the sharing of songwriting within the band helps style a variety of songs that play light and charming. A very innocent humour weaves itself throughout the whole album but never really makes parodies of individual songs. The entire album works well upon its own theme and succeeds in brightening the preconceptions of this well versed band.
gwar Beyond Hell – GWAR
Twenty years strong, Gwar’s tenth studio album is more blisteringly heavy than any previous release. The old school fan that got lost during the bands jokey/punk era of the late nineties can now return with pride as the band finally gives up its forever failing attempts to leave the planet as they now turn their attentions to the core – HELL! Beyond Hell seems to wrap up what Violence Has Arrived began two albums back. Gwar are more than their costumes, they’re the whole god damn package so be sure to hear this one out before passing it off as just another Gwar outing.
lambchop The Decline of Country and Western Civilisation Part II: The Woodwind Years – Lambchop
The second collection of Lamchop rarities released in the past twelve months presses on with their diverse musical style and approach to music and song structure. On face value Lambchop are to the traditional Nashville country sound what Ween are to modern rock. The band is technically capable of creating mood, atmosphere and breaking new musical ground but unfortunately during the process they make it unclear if this is serious or just one big piss-take. As a whole the album both sparks curiosity and drags on a little, for those who enjoy arty lyrics, experimental country and songs with a twist of madness – this is for you.
blood brothers Young Machetes – The Blood Brothers
Easily the most brutal recording of experimental post-hardcore punk to be unleashed upon the general public in years. With complete disregard to conventional songwriting, vocal performances likened to fingernails tearing down a blackboard and some of the most abstract lyrics to be committed to unpredictable melodies, this entire album grabs you by the throat and promises to strangle every last breath of conformity from your body. This is more than a schizophrenic mix of several genres cross-bred with a threatening and youthful uprising; this is adventurous passion driven by the tortured children of last generation and it’s ready to scratch your ears out and rock your world.
grinderman Grinderman – Grinderman
This foul, gritty, fuzz ridden masterpiece slaps you in the face and demands your attention. Great solid songs that are instantly familiar and offensive; nothing too shocking for your veteran Cave fan but definitely a perfect introduction for noisy rockers that are yet to taste of the chaotic and surrealistic abilities this artist and his fellow capable musicians have to offer. Far less defined than The Bad Seeds although for the better, Grinderman plays like an dirty old man that never stopped being a teenager… An instant classic.
waiting for guiness Friend or Foe – Waiting for Guinness
Sydney punk folk, gypsy jazz masters return with an extensive and varied third album that takes you kindly by the hand and leads you through such a multitude of musical styles that one is constantly bewildered and often enchanted. If the anticipation of never knowing what’s coming next bothers you then one can always take solace in the bands playful lyrics. The album works best when trotting through musical styles, sticking firmly to instrumentals for when the vocals do enter they can at times sound lacklustre and detract from the bands faultless melodies.
pain Psalms of Extinction – PAIN
Mixing electronica with metal very rarely works, Nine Inch Nails and Rammstein have made careers out of the industrial styling of metal and PAIN have been doing it for just as long. Psalms of Extinction is an accomplished album that blends the styles together gracefully and satisfies both ends of the spectrum. Although progressive at times PAIN’s songwriting is interesting enough and his interpretation of Bjork’s Play Dead is definitely worth a listen. Keep an ear out for Moterhead’s Mikkey Dee drumming on Zombie Slam.
vasco era Let it Burn – The Vasco Era
Last year Melbourne based trio The Vasco Era stepped into the studio to record their first ever musical outing Let it Burn. Already the band is making national impact with radio play on triple j and recent support slots with the Violent Femmes. The Vasco Era established themselves in 2002 and immediately they developed an original sound that encompasses acoustic rock, blues and folk. It’s not often that The Chainsaw comes across an Australian act that turns his head and grabs his attention and this is exactly what The Vasco Era have done. Guitarist/vocalist Sid O’Neil has that nice indie tone to his voice that is bound to grab the attention of anyone who got anything out of the underground music of the 90’s. His slide guitar is impeccable and it’s a shame that this E.P. doesn’t get a chance to highlight his abilities on the roto toms. Brother Ted plods along never really doing anything that captures the ear but none the less supplies the undertone of a very casual and emotive act. The Vasco era are a tight little act that have the potential to rise above where other acoustic rock bands have disappeared into the forgotten past.
fireuptheblades Fire up the Blades – 3 Inches of Blood
Prepare your Viking helmet and swords men, 3 Inches of Blood are back and ready for medieval war. Produced by Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison, Fire up the Blades tears inspiration from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Manowar then squishes it all together into a style of metal that thrashes and calls back to the likes of black metal favourites Satyricon. Vocals switch back and forth from high Darkness like wailing to black screaming and growls. A surprise hit, you may have to give this one a few listens to get a feel for the albums story and the bands direction.
daath The Hinderers – DAATH
Daath are the first Death Metal band signed to Roadrunner in more than ten years and trust RR to find some death that is genuinely expansive. For the traditional grind/death fan this album may stray a little too far from home, but for the more open minded this is one ball tearing album smothered with Jewish symbolism and strange numerological ideologies. Blistering blast beats bleed in and out of slow heavy grooves while truly heavy vocals growl mutterings of mysticism.
sebadoh The Freed Man – Sebadoh
Indie rock legend, pioneer and all round acoustic folk pop genius Lou Barlow along with Eric Gaffney offers The Freed Man and the Eps. A fifty-two track Sebadoh epic that will be of the greatest interest to any fan of the bands early era. This is a collection of all the 4-track tapes Lou and Eric recorded while getting “The Freed Man” (Sebadoh’s first cassette release) together. Cut together with sound bites, the usual free spirited approach to songwriting that we expect from Barlow is captured here in all its glory.
1990s Cookies – 1990’s
With lyrics like “Why don’t you try taking drugs again, you were never funnier than you were back then” its obvious where this bands priorities lay. The 1990’s are unquestionably pre-occupied with partying and it’s infectious. Cookies is bound to be the soundtrack for many a drunkard night in the near future. Tight rock beats, harmonic gang vocals, twang driven guitar and at time hilarious lyrics that inspire the reckless and debauch. Certainly not the most groundbreaking rock album of recent times but there’s enough variation and dynamics on here to keep things interesting for multiple listens.
trompe-loeil Trompe-L’Oeil – Malejube
It’s not often we come across French Canadian pop rock here in Australia and so any glimpse is immediately interesting. Malejube must be doing all the right things because the album is very easy to listen too, sure I’ve got no idea what’s going on lyrically (it’s all French to me) but that doesn’t seem to make a difference. Anthemic and stadium rock like at times, the band creates a dynamic roller coaster ride that ranks alongside the likes of The Dears and at times even Supergrass.
tiger army Music From Regions Beyond – Tiger Army
Rock-a-billy, Psycho-billy, stand-up drum-kits and the like, it’s all here on Tiger Army’s third release. Instead of regurgitating past outings the band opt for new directions which include the addition of keyboards and a pop orientated approach to the album as a whole. Overall the album never really takes the listener anywhere intriguing as it plods along with no real direction. There’s some ol’ time guitar orientated rock n’ roll here but not enough to get your ears up.
chromeo Fancy Footwork – Chromeo
Chromeo are the eighties made flesh and digitalized, a blend of synth pop and infectious funk that places electronica on a pedestal. With key sounds and grooves that constantly reference Prince and Stevie Wonder the album doesn’t seem too far removed from Regurgitator’s Unit. The two-piece show complete disregard for tasteful restriction when it comes to shamelessly using a vocoder in near every song. Frankly, if there’s no part of the eighties living in your heart there’s certainly no room for Chromeo.
kaada-patton Romances – John Kaada & Mike Patton
John Kaada is the Norwegian composer behind Chloroform (an aggressive hard rock act with strange instrumentation) and multiple soundtracks, here he collaborates with Mike Patton (puppet master of Ipecac records). This album is a dreamy sound scape that weaves through its eerie melodies centuries worth of musical influences. There are glimpses of Patton’s recognizable vocal traits and The Chainsaw can’t help but be reminded of Mike Oldfields Tubular Bells as he listens to this. This expedition into sound scape romanticism is more reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s dynamic compositions and vocal arrangements than it is of anything you may know of Patton. If anything, you will get a kick out of this if Disco Volante is your favourite Mr. Bungle album. There’s a plethora of instruments here, more than can be justifiably mentioned in the linear notes. The composition is apparently 50% Kaada/50% Patton and this massive operatic operation has taken at least two years to come to fruition. Don’t let the title fool you, the title Romances is used because it once meant a collection of songs. Although almost romantic in its passion, this sweet little package is more reminiscent of Dracula’s castle than it is of any Gwyneth Paltrow film.
silverchair Young Modern – Silverchair
Silverchair’s fifth album takes yet another evolutionary step forward and away from the grunge band of last millennium. Like each and every Silverchair album the reviews are going to be mixed and varied, there’s always so much on offer that one doesn’t always know what to do with all this diversity in their music. The album wastes no time going for your pop sensibilities and the songs are so very freakin’ catchy and inviting but the band sounds less like a traditional three piece and more like a Daniel Johns solo album with guest appearances from Chris and Ben. The die-hards will love it, those who never liked the Silverchair will never change and if you’re slowly becoming more of a fan with each album then this one is gonna rock you.
hilltop hoods Hilltop Hoods
The Hard Road: Restrung

The idea is innocent enough, The Hilltop Hoods hook up with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra to rearrange and restring The Hard Road… and it works. True Live, a hip hop group that uses classical instruments all the time do this kind of thing well and it’s nice to hear it done successfully again. It’s a shame that there’s only one new track here as compared to the original. There are some guest stars and the production is fine so this is a definite purchase for Hilltop fans and a certain look in for people that are looking for something more than just hip hop.
grand atlantic This is Grand Atlantic
There appears to be an element of hype surrounding this Brisbane based four piece that provide simplistic run of the mill pop that often does far more than it needs. Quite frankly, This is Grand Atlantic is one of the most yawn inspiring pieces of pop pap I’ve ever heard. There is nothing that truly distinguishes any of their songs as they plod along offering little more than regurgitated plop. Perhaps the occasional song on the radio maybe bearable, but a whole album is tedious and far from necessary.
unkle ho Circus Maximus – Unkle Ho
Not far removed from the spirit of Waiting for Guinness, Unkle Ho (who is recognized as the founder and producer of hip hop act The Herd) lays down some tight hip hop beats as a foundation that styles a music so diverse that it is quite difficult to put your finger on what exactly is happening at any time. There’s gypsy jazz, samples, ancient Asian quirks, clarinets, horns and a large helping of double bass grooves. Easily living up to its name, this would make a great soundtrack for a culturally diverse circus full of beautiful freaks.
melvins Houdini Live – Melvins
The concept: Invite a band to England and ask them to play their all time classic album front to back live for all to witness.
Other bands that have previously taken to the challenge are The Stooges, The Gang of Four, Dinosaur Jr., Mudhoney, The Lemon Heads and The Dirty Three… now it’s the Melvins’ turn with their ear shattering chunk injected Houdini. The biggest problem King Buzzo faced when he was first approached to piece together this event was the fact that the Melvins were without a bass player. Unable to knock back such a great invitation, he enlisted fellow Fantomas bassist Trevor Dunn. Seeing how Fantomas create and compose songs which are next to impossible to decipher, he knew he had the right man for the job. After pulling it all together the new Melvins band hit London and Dublin with shows only the rest of us could dream of, until it was suggested that they record and release the album as Houdini Live… and here we are. The Melvins rented a warehouse near LA, gathered all the sound equipment they could carry and performed the album live for an invitation only audience. With Buzzo style crunching guitars, Dunn bass clarity and Dave Crover sounding his underpants wearing best, this album blasts out a reinterpreted Houdini with some changes and extras. This is the Melvins at their rawest and best.
milo They Came from the Sun – YOURCODENAMEIS: MILO
When presented with The Mission for the first time you could be forgiven for believing that this Math rock? Here is an album that is simply stated, apparently harmless and particularly interesting. What sets off as a charming pop outing slowly evolves into a complicated beast whose bight and bark weigh evenly with one another. Out of what appears nowhere this pop act turns a sharp left and leaves you to contemplate complicated timings and at times surprisingly heavy riffs. It’s strange because it seems so obviously a pop album but ever so gradually this album bears its teeth and what we find is an extremely witty musicianship that is so rare that one must jump on this one for sheer indulgence sake.
the mission God is a Bullet – The Mission
When presented with The Mission for the first time you could be forgiven for believing that this band that is now celebrating its 21st year of existence has had it’s day and is no longer relevant, but this is so very horribly wrong. The Mission have swung back and forth through styles, from goth inspired country tunes to anthemic rock explosiveness. Now after a six year hiatus the band offers God is a Bullet, a purposeful addition to today’s youth orientated soundscape, this is an album that bridges the gap of this and the last generation.
jai Flight of the Bass Delegate – The Jai-Alai Savant
Post-ska dub reggae with a twist of light heartedness and an experimental nature that is nothing but refreshing. The Jai-Alai Savant try hard to swing from the commercial and majority accessible sounds that they create but the reality of their music is that it is accessible for all the right reasons. These are catchy numbers that zig and zag enough to keep it interesting but not too far as to make their eighties inspired banter unintelligible. This is a great debut production and comes highly recommended for fans of ska and reggae.
solaa Steps in Time – Solaa
When presented with Steps in Time the album art immediately insists that you’re going to be taken a ride via landscapes of keys, horns, city life and modernity as a whole. It’s not often that something so broad and collective comes out of New Zealand and on the surface there’s no way you could pick it. The production is clear, sharp and the bass and key notes are more than fat and warm enough. If anything sounds out within this mix of hip hop, funk, soul and blues it’s that sometimes the raps are a little too raw in comparison to glossy sounds of Solaa.
unicornography Unicornography – The Falcon
Unicornography is pure unadulterated Midwestern punk rock that somehow happily blends splashes of folk and ska into the mix of the punk sounds reminiscent of the other bands that these rockers have worked with. This has been a highly anticipated album from the same folk that brought you Alkaline Trio, the Lawrence Arms and Rise Against. The final outcome is a high energy expedition into punk rock stupidity and drunkardness coupled with the gravel vocals of Brendan Kelly and the exceptional rock abilities of a band that has more than its fair share of experience.
cancer bats Birthing the Giant – Cancer Bats
Surely one of the most interesting titles to bless the cover of a hard rock album, Birthing the Giant sound like their unique name. Huge unforgiving riffs and screaming vocals push their music just far enough for it sound massive without it sounding like a band making music outside of their reach. This is a debut release and what a great way to introduce yourself. The songs easily blend punk rock with metal hybrids and the result is one giant rock n’ roll outing fit for both old school and modern bangers.
hold me down Hold Me Down – Tom Cooney
Here’s a little gem for fans of intimate acoustic guitar driven music. Cooney offers one the most honest recordings I’ve heard in a long time. Every little nuance stands out proud as the majority of these seven songs is little more than one guitar with one voice which is amazing in of itself due to the fact that there appears to be nothing missing. The album art coupled with the recording is minimal and this ultimately reminds one of the Jose Gonzales – Veneer release. A great introduction to a very interesting Brisbane boy sure to turn some heads over the following years.
dinosaur jr Beyond – Dinosaur Jr.
Without a doubt this must be the most exciting indie release this year. The return of Lou Barlow and Murph to the fold of Dinosaur Jr. has resurrected one of the more important bands from the late eighties/early nineties. Crunchy guitars attack from the very moment the album kicks in and in true Mascis appeal distorted guitar solos are jammed into every possible song break. The album sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom and that’s fine, with the original line-up back on board we can only hope that this will be the beginning of a new chapter for Dinosaur Jr.
decemberists The Crane Wife – The Decemberists
The fourth album from The Decemberists is the first the band has released through major label Capitol. There is no obvious departure from previous outings although occasionally songs will push more than ten minutes which goes to show that the band is at least experimenting with the extent on can push melody and structure. Inspired by a Japenese folk tale, the album comes close but is not consumed by the underlying feeling that this is a concept album constantly being splashed upon by its consistant oceanic references. This is one warm and unobtrusive album that will please any folk or indie fan.
ribbon Saturation Day – The Ribbon Device
An all round feel good pop album that proves that feel good music doesn’t have to be cheesy and predictable. With enough odd sounds and melodies to take it out of the ordinary, this debut album from Melbourne’s strange pop masters is bursting with short catchy numbers that become instantly familiar and unforgettable. Mat Creedon’s vocals fluctuate with the music as he jumps from indie punk yelling to the crunchy yet casual low croon that one can only liken to the voice of Jay Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. Adding extra dimension to the overall sound of Saturation Day is the addition of the multi-faceted Bar McKinnon providing keyboards and wind instruments. McKinnon’s appearance adds instrumental depth and melodies as though he has come along and painted an extra picture to compliment the already inviting rhythms. At times lyrically obscure, the melodies are so inviting that once you grow attached you won’t want any song to change or even worse… end.
basia Oh, My Darling – Basia Bulat
Basia Bulat is sure to pull at the hearts of folk fans everywhere. Charming whispering vocals and songs arranged around subtle string arrangements help create an album that experiments with folk enough for it to be refreshing and not too much for it to be disjointed. Lyrically strong and rich instrumentation with surprisingly up-tempo drumbeats, Oh, My Darling offers loads of great ukulele and is best described as chamber-pop dwelling in folk-tinged melancholy. Sweet and charming while often expansive and surprising.
fantomas Suspended Animation – Fantômas
“Hi, play a song…. Ready for take off.”
Fantômas are back and they’ve delivered everything we originally fell in love with, plus more. The supergroups first outing Amenza al Mundo was an intense onslaught of short metal compositions juxtaposed with Mike Patton’s now trademark vocal percussions, this album is certainly a return to this concept. From their debut the band went on to experiment with film scores (Directors Cut) and also released a lengthy surgical themed sound scape (Delìrivm Còrdia). This time the theme (as the album title suggests) is animation/cartoon based, blending the original short metal compositions with the familiar sounds of your childhood. Buzz Osborne’s guitar sounds jump from thrash to punk to metal and jazz all in the space of less than a minute whilst Dave Lombardo destroys the drum kit; video game themes and electronic voices twist violently in the background. If you loved Amenza al Mundo, you’re going to go nuts for this deranged extravaganza of a young child’s nightmare. Grab it now and receive limit edition packaging.
toni collette Beautiful Awkward Pictures – Toni Collette & The Finish
It is immediately impossible not to have preconceived ideas about an album thats main focus is that of a popular movie star, but instead of the usual sex driven pop trash that Hollywood scarlets tend to deliver Toni Collette keeps face and appears to have a natural ability to create fine easy listening music; either this or the fact that she has a band full of semi-stars behind the scenes (ie. Glenn Richards of Augie March fame) creating music for the courageous actress must be taken into account. Although the album exposes Toni Collette’s sensitivity one can’t help but flinch at some of the lyrics that appear at times to be quite immature.
fionn The End of History – Fionn Regan
Here we have another fantastic example that folk music is far from tired and forgotten. If this debut recording is any example of this young mans future we can expect a life time of sweet and inspirational music from him. Immediately likened to Bob Dylan, his modern addition to folk will instantly appeal to those lucky few that have grown to love Jose Gonzalez over the past few years. Beautifully picked guitar and a sweet enough voice is complemented only by a very limited instrumentation that never over shadows Regan’s impressive songwriting ability and patient vocal melodies.
true live The Shape of It – True Live
Here’s a debut album so unusual in its premise that one is constantly bewildered by the fact that these six accomplished musicians from Melbourne have pulled off the miss-matched genre cross of the millennium! The Shape Of It opens up promising to be a classical/jazz album for the pompous and in no time rips into wicked hip hop rhymes and funk rhythms completely unexpected from a musical outfit so grounded in classical stringed arrangements. It takes a few listens to wrap your head around the idea of a group dedicated to rapping with such an old form of composition, but eventually it all comes together and somehow introduces the listener to a musical style that sounds ridiculous in its concept but well blended and accomplished in its production.
fumes Guns of Gold – The Fumes
In this day and age it’s not uncommon for bands to cross several genres, too often it creates confusion and makes for difficult to digest listening experience. Thankfully, The Fumes debut album produced by Lindsay Gravina (Jet, The Living End) does quite the opposite. Using dirty delta blues, country grooves and punchy unpolished punk rock to engage the listener, Guns of Gold succeeds in using an abundant variety of musical styling to layer an album that sounds greater than the sum of it’s parts. These are unique and individual songs smashed out by a two piece band (no bass) that is relentless in its use of slide resonator guitar and driving percussion.
mushroomhead Savior Sorrow – Mushroomhead
Heavy Metal is such a tried and tested genre of music that it appears that the bands still producing this style of music are struggling to find their own sound amongst a plethora of like minded musical heavy-weights. Mushroomhead distinguish themselves by using a multitude of members and instruments while pushing their crunching, grinding form of metal into the realms of modern industrial gothic rock. With the recent addition of vocalist Waylon, Savior Sorrow has Mushroomhead’s dual vocal styling taking a broader stretch than past efforts. Musically, the album bounces about melodic ballad-like guitar riffs, gothic piano backing tracks, electronic soundscapes and a tight crisp drum sound and performance compulsory for all metal releases of this high production standard.
andromeda Longing was a Safe Place to Hide – Love Outside Andromeda
This second album from Love Outside Andromeda is a dark and introspective exploration that appears to pull and strip itself back as to discover the inner workings of the bands front woman Sianna Lee. Although each member of Andromeda is as important as the next, it is often difficult to get past the introverted Lee and her similarities to PJ Harvey. Here’s an album full of shadowy and ambiguous pop songs that never stray far from one another and make for a listening experience perfect for the candle lit room and a bottle of red.
machpelican Radio Action – Mach Pelican
Since the turn of the millennium Mach Pelican have been rocking pubs and clubs all around the country with their own brand (although heavily inspired by The Ramones) of easy on ear three chord rock n’ roll. Radio Action is their third full length album and it’s proof that these Japanese Melbournites are musically coming of age. What starts out as another predictable exercise in pop punk quickly develops into a well-rounded exploration of the vast musical worlds of pop, rock and punk. Radio Action has catchy pop songs, charging and relentless punk rock hits (Fashion Monkey screams out the intensity of Mach Pelican) and further more captures the greater abilities of this tight, tight, tight punk rock trio.
shadows fall Threads of Life – Shadows Fall
As musicians Shadows Fall are on the money. The bands as a whole work tight guitar riffage with sharp drum sounds and beats to create an expansive style of metal that at times strays into a little thrash but ultimately falls short of being brutal enough to impress the metal heart within us all. Vocalist Brian Fair covers fair ground but his variety of style doesn’t always fit the music. If you like your metal mixed up with clean vocal chorus’ and the occasional acoustic meanderings then Shadows Fall will cater to that need.
kill devils The Drought – The Kill Devil Hills
At first The Kill Devil Hills appear to be born of the same blood as Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds but as The Drought progresses it becomes blatantly obviously that this six piece swamp rock act have carved out their own burnt and dirty country rock sound. There’s a limitless amount of interesting sounds on this album and it makes for a fruitful and giving experience. Here’s a band that sounds live and wild, it’s near impossible not to imagine these guys being an amazing live band worthy of a passionately drunkard ho-down or a showdown at sunrise.
days like stars Fight the Sunset – Days like Stars
Although relatively young, Days like Stars sound much older and more mature than their age offers. Here is a commercially viable band that presents five well rounded and produced songs that would easily contend with the likes of some of todays more popular and successful emotion driven pop acts. Their songs are instantly recognizable after one listen and separate themselves from one another. Too often these bands that let their heart drive the music end up repeating themselves but somehow this short offering allows itself to get exceptionally tender and at times a little upbeat.
egbdf EGBDF – Opanoni and the Raindrops
This release from Opanoni (Radi Safi) is innocent, distinctly Australian and indie pop at its very sweetest. Often similar to the acoustic sounds of indie icon Ben Lee, especially in that cute Aussie accent kind of way, Opanoni dribbles through 12 songs that never really distinguish themselves as unique or individual. The continuity of the album will take the fan of this style of music on a safe journey of smiles and daffodils but one can’t help but feel as if this trip into familiar territory has been done more creatively and ambitiously before.
freestyle Adventures in Freestyle – Freestylers
Freestylers Matt Cantor and Ashton Harvey have created a name for themselves that is synonymous with dance and club culture, now this hit filled fourth album from the duo guarantees that dance freaks everywhere will be grooving for years to come. This electro-rock filled album cuts fast rhymes with catchy and melodic chorus’ to create songs that refuse to let go once they have you in their grasp. Somehow Freestylers have created a whole album of songs that would get any club pumping while satisfying those precious about classic dance and DnB. A fantastic blend of traditional electro-sounds, new discoveries and ingeniously mixed guitars.
kink Kink Vol. II – Sharem Jey & Ben Morris
Kink resident Ben Morris is recognized as one of the best Sydney club DJ’s and here along with German DJ/Producer Sharam Jey is a double disc showcase of local and international talent. Morris takes away the first disc and proves he has one of the most extensive sound collections on record, you will never guess what sound form is coming next and where from. Sharem Jey on the other hand seems far more traditional and not as adventurous when it comes to structure and sound complicity. Still, Sharem is more than capable as a DJ and more than likely the more accessible of the two.
hardstyle Best of Blutonium Vol. 2 – Hardstyle
Two discs of brain hemorrhaging hardstyle techno. If relentless thumping beats and hard digital sound torrents fuel your weekends then your car stereo will love you for jamming this hard German into your disc spinner. Hard core dance is an acquired taste and no one does it better than the Germans, the first disc (mixed by Blutonium Boy) isn’t too far removed from the DJ Neo mixed second disc which makes for an overall package that never really swings far from its core.
2 feet Vol. One – 2 Feet
2 Feet is a global independent focused on African Jazz and world music but as they accumulate more and more artists their collective theme has become quite folk and subtle. This compilation of some of their greater acts is simple, inviting, warm and easily accessible. One name that stands out immediately is Jon Auer of Posies fame, his song Six Feet Under approaches darker themes with that kooky Auer humour that never allows any song to be overly consumed by serious themes. There are seven artists on here that will immediately appeal to fans of folk and modern world music.
thunderball Cinescope – Thunderball
As the title suggests this album takes your imagination and projects it onto the big screen as you groove along to innovative electro jazz, pop and funk elements that prove soundtracks don’t always have to be made for film. Somehow every month Afrika Bambaataa pops up on a different album and here he is again… no complaints though! The album does keep you on your toes by chopping and changing a lot of styles a lot of the time, but if you’re keen on 70’s funk, Shaft-like theme songs and soundtracks in general this album is sure to please.
taylor hawkins Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders
Taylor Hawkins is best known for his drumming gig with The Foo Fighters, but that may be about to change as his debut release shows a multitude of talents far greater than his competent percussive skills. The album is a call back to 70’s rock while remaining contemporary and original. Hawkins is still drumming here but now he takes on lead vocals and chief songwriting duties to fully showcase his array of talent. The album sways a little with a few less poignant tracks, but the overall drive stays strong enough for this to be one of the great summer albums for 2007.
glasshouse Restore Factory Settings – Glasshouse
With it’s intriguing artwork, epic songs and warm production Restore Factory Settings appears to have everything it needs to take this act into the mainstream arena of music where adoring fans cry while the bands passion screams endlessly. Unfortunately Glasshouse suffers from being too often derogative and consistently cynical. What we have here is progressive rock at its most predictable and draining. Without a doubt this is a love/hate affair where although the album will repel many it will also suck in crowds of the emotionally distraught.
nickodemus Endangered Species – Nickodemus
Plenty of albums and artists have tried to capture world music sounds and mix them with funk and hip-hop and all too often it becomes a haphazard mix of styles fighting against one another. Nickodemus breaks down all boundaries here and pulls it off with nothing but style, groove and an overall vibe that is sure to get any square rocking the floor to this enormous collection of world, groove, funk, jazz and dance tracks. The theme of the album is New York and its diversity of culture. This is an inviting album that competently cross-pollinates so many musical styles that you feel like you are touring the most exotic regions of the world and loving it.
kaki king Everybody Loves You – Kaki King
Elsewhere around the world fans are enjoying Kaki Kings third album while here in Australia MGM are giving us our first taste of this 23 year old guitar virtuoso by releasing King’s debut album Everybody Loves You. Immediately likened to the guitar techniques of Tommy Emmanuel and the quirky compositions of Claypool, King taps, slides, scrapes and strums through this impressive exhibition of acoustic guitar exploration and discovery. Only once towards the end of the album does her voice quietly creep in, but front and foremost this is the album for any curious guitarist interested in pushing boundaries. Challenging and easy listening all in one.
tim finn Imaginary Kingdom – Tim Finn
Instantly recognizable and the cream of the crop for easy listening, Imaginary Kingdom has nothing outrageously new or confronting to offer but that’s the joy of listening to an album from a man that has been writing casual pop songs for thirty years. Tim Finn’s music is homely, familiar, safe and uncontrollably enjoyable due to its strong nostalgic element. In comparison to Tim’s earlier solo albums there’s nothing overtly surprising on offer here, his ability as a songwriter is flawless while his talent on an extensive variety of instruments is only complimentary to this personal exploration of life’s experiences.
the datsuns Smoke & Mirrors – The Datsuns
Smoke & Mirrors, The Datsuns third and latest release has everything fans expect from the four piece along with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. There’s a stink load of energy, great hooks and short punchy songs filled with infectious guitar riffs that drive through the entire length of the record. Without ever straying far from the main pub-rock theme it’s interesting to find yourself never really tiring of the fast pace and retro feel of the album. Most notable is the bold and contrasting addition of gospel singers to a couple of the more adventurous tracks on this return to form album.
no.2 No.2 – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Perhaps the most diverse soundtrack ever compiled for a film, No. 2 covers so much ground that one is constantly left guessing what could possibly come next. Hip-hop, reggae, gospel, opera and traditional South Pacific Island songs take the listener on a journey that spans generations and cultures alike. Fortunately this is more than a haphazard compilation as it is interspersed with Don McGlashan’s original symphonic compositions that sway toward the emotional while encapsulating the overall mood of this eclectic soundtrack.
dead day sun Bless the Brooding Heart – Dead Day Sun
This huge debut from DDS offers a familiar and conventional brand of rock not far removed from the user-friendly standards of bands like Bon Jovi and occasionally Creed. Musically the album has well paced rock hits and the occasional (obligatory) acoustic rock ballad, but the most outstanding performance is that of vocalist Darren Schadel whose voice switches between gravel and a smooth melodic ability that will instantly appeal to those who enjoy mainstream rock without all the bells and whistles. For a debut release Bless the Brooding Heart has exceptional production values and enough variation in its songs to demand further listening.
john lennon The U.S. vs. John Lennon – Music from the Motion Picture
John Lennon compilations are a dime a dozen but this soundtrack from the up coming documentary is distinctly unique in its success at capturing that very specific anti-war/peace activist attitude that Lennon wore so proudly. Most of the music here has been previously released but for the hard-core Lennon collector there are enough treats to make this a worthwhile addition. With live versions of Attica State and John Sinclair from the 1971 Sinclair Rally and an instrumental version of How Do You Sleep?, this album has a focused theme and offers a specific insight into John Lennon’s optimistic political idealism.
tiltmeter No Protest : No Applause – Tiltmeter
Tiltmeter have been rocking the East-Coast of Australia for long enough now to know what there fans love. There is no doubt that those who are drawn to their music will be more than happy with this well produced and recorded full-length album. The problem for those unfamiliar with the band is that there is nothing remarkably outstanding about their music. It is neither annoying nor uninspired. It is merely what it is; another bland rock outing that never quite pricks your curiosity enough to be a regular spinner.
HLN Greatest Hits – Huey Lewis & The News
Few albums can hold your interest over twenty-one songs, although few (if any) albums can boast that all twenty-one tracks were at one point in the top forty of the Billboard charts! Huey Lewis & The News were never musically ground breaking and lyrically Huey is little more than a poor man’s David Byrne, but after all these years one cannot deny that Huey and The News defines the sound of the eighties and holds a large stake in the hearts of twenty-somethings everywhere. If you want to be taken Back to Future, Huey and his Greatest Hits are the perfect hosts.
lupe fiasco Food & Liquor – Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco is being hailed as the “next big thing” in hip-hop and after his deservingly popular single Kick, Push the prediction doesn’t appear to be far distant from the truth. Food & Liquor doesn’t always offer the most groundbreaking beats and a few samples become a little repetitive by the end of the album, but Lupe himself is refreshingly witty when it comes to waxing lyrical about the over hyped hip-hop gurus of today and his story telling abilities rarely stray from the strict direction he commands with subtle rap dignity.
claude vonstroke Beware of the Bird – Claude Vonstroke
There are more than enough sub-genre names for different styles of electronica, this one falls under the title of ghettotech but let’s face it… it’s good dirty dance music. There’s next to no vocal samples or tracks to distract you from the beats and often pop driven digital melody. The big blue bird has some serious attitude and it’s great to hear that coming through a style that can at times sound dry and heartless. A great array of digital and synth escapades over strict drum loops.
digital primate Siege Mentality – Digital Primate
The return of Digital Primate comes packed full of collaborations with such a huge range of artists that this album initially sounds like a compilation. After a few listens DP’s electronica style defines itself and it becomes apparent that it is the featured artists that bring that extra life to the album as a whole. Sure to be offensive to some and hilarious to others the political commentary is immature and unnecessary. Apart from a few thoughtless lyrics the album pops and trances away the night with ease. A very likeable album.
procussions 5 Sparrows for 2 Cents – The Procussions
Best known due to the fact that this band is basically made from the left over members that didn’t go on to create something bold and refreshing (i.e. The Mars-Volta) after the demise of At the Drive-In, Sparta’s aptly titled third album lacks flavour, engaging riffs and simply serves a dish of bland alternative rock that comes with a side of vocal melody that is without a doubt capable, but not in the slightest way intriguing or catchy. Since they’ve put their best songs at the beginning of the album the experience never gains momentum nor does it surprise. Yawn.
clinic Visitations – Clinic
Not far removed from previous releases Visitations shows that Clinic are struggling with the expansion of their immediately recognisable sound. Well constructed songs with sweet organ sounds and scratchy rhythmic guitars, the album jumps about from dreary ballads to upbeat pop. Vocalist Ade Blackburn relentlessly yelps in his distinctive style but much like the band staying true to its sound Blackburn rarely reaches for something unfamiliar. Visitations is fairly suited to this hazy production which flirts with post-modern rock and satisfies the need for trashy guitar and security in music.
dub pistols Speakers and Tweeters – Dub Pistols
This mix ‘n match release is more like a cut n’ paste disaster. There are elements of dance, punk and reggae but primarily this album works best when blending hip hop and ska. When not at its best this album quickly becomes forgettable. The four covers on here are fairly useless as they rarely pump any new life into these older classics. Considering this album was three years in the making one would hope for a far more infectious album, instead the final product seems shallow and almost unnecessary.
josh pyke Memories & Dust – Josh Pyke
A great debut from another Aussie songwriter that knows how to play with and transform traditional structure into something new and refreshing. Occasionally sweet and subtle enough to remind one of Jose Gonzalez or even the acoustic folk of the seventies, Pyke settles in right from the get go and never sways far from the relaxing and unobtrusive nature of his music. The standout point is that the album never gets stuck in or on one emotion. It happily bounces from fun pop and free to questioning realisations without ever stumbling.
danny cohen Shades of Dorian Gray – Danny Cohen
Artistically naïve, casual to the point lounge, insightful within the climaxes of leisure; Danny Cohen’s style is best likened to eccentricities of Tom Waits and endearing simplicity of Daniel Johnston. The album sits on the porch strumming cheap acoustic guitars and singing modest out of tune songs that aim for truth within a popular culture while embracing the queer instrumentation of a sci-fi soundtrack. Never quite letting you in on the joke the album gets you nauseous and never apologises. A comforting experimental outing from a veteran songwriter.
arcade fire Neon Bible – Arcade Fire
With a title that boasts bright colours and redemption the audience can’t be blamed for thinking that this second album from Arcade Fire may take the band to soaring new heights of emotional outpouring, but what the band offers is a melodramatic low that is muddy with reverb and poorly mixed instrumentation. Funereal organs and overwhelming lyrics of hopelessness make this album gothic for all the right reasons. Easy to comprehend due to their melodic simplicity the songs ring true and catchy while the production seems to be deemed unimportant.
cooper temple clause Make This Your Own – The Cooper Temple Clause
Trying their best to be alternative and new wave The Cooper Temple Clause only succeed in sounding like a band that is assembling elements from popular music of the past twenty years into cliché songs that sound great on the surface but unfortunately appear hollow within. Weighing in heavily with Depeche Mode inspired electronica the album struggles to find its own voice. Relatively harmless and sincere with well rounded production values; perhaps the album reaches a little too far but that has got to be better then the band repeating itself for a third venture.
30secs A Beautiful Lie – Thirty Seconds to Mars
A Beautiful Lie is the second release from Jared Leto’s modern progressive rock band which was originally formed in 2002 with his brother Shannon. Unlike many actors (Jared is the pretty boy in Fight Club and the lead junky in Requiem for a Dream) who try their turn at music, the Leto brothers have proven that their songwriting and performance abilities are a class act with the promise of longevity. The album has tints of gothic, pop and emo screams. Mainly concerned with tried and tested formulas such as “the giant chorus”, tight steady beats and passionate vocal performances the album has a surprising diversity that saves it from being another useless addition to the modern rock catalogue.
moby Go – the very best of – Moby
Best of albums tend to be little more than easy moneymakers and without venturing into the extensive discography of Moby, this compilation appears to be little more than just another product. That said, Moby’s stint on the V2 label has been the most successful years of his life and this is the focus here. The vocal performances on this record tend to stand at the forefront of this collection, whether it’s a guest appearance by Debbie Harry or Moby’s repetitive phrases it sounds as though the music (which has been some of the most influential over the past decade) serves only as a vehicle for the far stronger vocal melodies on the album.
sanctity Road to Bloodshed – Sanctity
A stunning debut from this North Carolina based quartet that thrashes out old school metal peppered with modern vocal twists and shred heavy guitar solos. Powerful performances stand out loud on the Road to Bloodshed and the bands freshly formed dynamic makes for a refreshing album that sounds like the product of passionate metal mongers. Produced by Jason Suecof of Bury your Dead and Chimaira fame, once the teeth are in this album refuses to let you go. A modern melodic thrash album for the new era.
matches Decomposer – The Matches
This album has a great chamber-rock opener, Salty Eyes offers an interesting variety of stringed instruments and intriguing composition purposely contrived to suck the listener into thinking that they may find something this inviting somewhere else within this disappointing childish pop/rock outing. The simple fact that this band used nine producers to create this pap is incomprehensible. If the idea of Britney Spears picking up a guitar and turning goth/emo blows your hair back then The Matches are for you. To be fair, I will admit that perhaps The Matches are just too high brow for my hapless intellect. Pop music isn’t completely beyond me, but Vocalist Shawn Harris’ voice is that irritating tone that seems to be accompanying every mass produced pop/emo/punk band at the moment. The Matches Decomposer is full of tight performances, over the top production qualities and limp lyrics. This is the type of music that makes listening to the radio impossible.
bring me Count Your Blessings – Bring Me The Horizon
There’s a lot being said about this young five piece metal act from the UK and not only is it all good, it’s also all true. Brutal, technically capable, well produced and smothered with layers of screaming black metal style vocals along with guttural death growls atop twisted timings and wailing riffs… and then you open the album cover to discover that the band looks like they’re barely out of high school. A very impressive album for those that like their metal screaming and wailing.
ramblin I Stand Alone – Ramblin’ Jack Elliot
An amazingly influential country and folk artist, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot’s legendary status is at first distracting but once you’re done absorbing facts like Elliot’s “San Francisco Bay Blues” was one of the first songs Paul McCartney learned how to play, his busking performances inspired Mick Jagger to buy his first guitar and Bob Dylan has called him “his long-lost-father” you can get down the meat of the music. I Stand Alone couldn’t be a more appropriate title for this latest recording of songs that showcase Elliot’s unique voice, traditional country styling and impeccable acoustic guitar picking. These traditional American songs are predominately stories told through song and all the while the album is shuffled with quirky little thirty second numbers about faithful dogs and the final words of friends. The most surprising find within the linear notes is the fact that Flea of RHCP is in there plucking away with Elliot on half the songs!
max From the Roots to the Shoots – Max Sedgley
Max Sedgley is nothing less than a musical powerhouse, his abilities as a drummer and keyboardist are only complimented by his talent as an electronica wiz. Debut albums rarely show this much potential and not since Better Living Through Chemistry have I been so immediately caught up in dance grooves so in your face that you have no option but to admit that this man has some serious funk in his blood. House, hip hop, break beats and electro funk, From the Roots lines it all up for you to eat until you can’t eat no more. The entire album is relentless, much like Sedgley who wrote, arranged and produced this groovy magic while also providing vocals, drums, clavinet and countless other integral accompaniments. Keep your eyes on Max Sedgley and your feet on the dance floor because From the Roots promises to be just the beginning.
be cool Be Cool – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
There once was a time when “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” meant that a composer had spent months working on an intricate (although sometimes quite minimal) sound scape that audibly represented the mood of a film. Today, the “soundtrack” can simply be a compilation of previously released music and it makes The Chainsaw physically sick that this is the case. Others have shown in the past that this approach can work, most notable are Trent Reznors efforts on both The Lost Highway and Natural Born Killers. Here John Powell has simply collected a bunch of funk songs and thrown them together with his absolutely useless three and a half minute Original Motion Picture Score. Couldn’t get worse? What about the novelty of The Rock singing You Ain’t Woman Enough (to take my man)? There are two new and exclusive songs by Christina Milian but The Chainsaw doesn’t give a shit, Christina Milian isn’t the Prime Minister of Australia. Christina Milian doesn’t even know what it’s like to grow up with poor eyesight and a bung knee! Sure The Chainsaw doesn’t like this soundtrack, but if you like eating scabs or bathing with electrical appliances, maybe you will take to this effortless piece of consumer pap.
goons The Story of Dead Barbie & Ghost – The Goons of Doom
Best described as insane/indie/punk/zombie/rock, The Goons of Doom’s debut album will rip through your speakers and trash your bedroom like a drunk teenager pissed off at nothing in particular. This album travels the entire indie spectrum and it’s an absolute treat. From trashy punk horror rock to catchy neon folk, The Goons have hilarious song titles and a large variety of style; this band sounds like they would put on one HELL of a show. With the comedic sensibilities of Machine Gun Fellatio and the music ability of unwashed street punks The Goons are appear to be the result of too many parties and not a care in the world; a work of awesomeness in it’s most grottiest sense.
madonna The Confessions Tour – Madonna
After 25 years in the music business it would be pretty hard for Madonna to do any wrong. She has worked tirelessly to perfect her act and as the world knows, perfection is the only option for ol’ Madgey. The main focus of this tour is the 2005 disco romp Confessions of a Dance Floor and the interesting thing is that the glitz and glamour that paints the aforementioned album is used to paint a new and fresh approach to her earlier material as well. The disc comes with a 2-hour live show along with the unedited documentary Live to Tell.
greggraff Cold as the Clay – Greg Graffin
Recorded over a mere seven days Greg Graffin’s first solo project outside of Bad Religion is a sincere tip of the hat to traditional American folk. The album has original compositions and songs taken from the 18th and 19th century and not often will you pick between the two. Graffin is backed by The Weatherthans, a group of musicians who use traditional folk instruments recorded live as all the musicians sit knee to knee in a circle. Apart from the faultless musicianship upon this album Graffin proves himself as a storyteller likened to only the best. Inspired by Neil Young, Gram Parsons and The Band, this album will sing true to all fans of folk and all those new to the fold since the latest uprise in Johnny Cash sales.
hyperactive A Hyperactive Workout for the Flying Squad – Ocean Colour Scene
Ocean Colour Scene have been giving Brit-Pop a bad name since the early 90’s and here they are doing it again. The album (which is in no sense of the word ‘Hyperactive’) begins with a certain amount of pop credibility but unfortunately it quickly turns into a collection of songs that are a chore to listen to. I’ve found two songs out of thirteen that are average at best, and that’s not good odds. There’s a bit of lounge music, there’s a bit of reggae and there’s even the occasional ‘groovy’ guitar riff, the problem is that The Chainsaw is just not interested in this carnival of mediocrity. If you’re thirty something, raising your first-born child or just plain bored, A Hyperactive Workout for the Flying Squad could be the biggest thing that has ever happened to you. This is Brit Pop; you’ve heard it once, you’ve stomached it twice and now here it is regurgitated for the eighteen-hundredth time for all those who love their music bland and unimaginative. Lots of famous people like this band; Noel Gallagher said that Ocean Colour Scene is “the best band in Britain”. Did he actually take the time to listen to this dreary shit? This album would make a great Mothers day present!
bambi Matter of Time – Bambi Lee Savage
You may remember Bambi from her performance at the Tim Rogers show last month (March 2005) while others may recognise her song Darlin’ in the Billy Bob Thornton film Slingblade. Either way, Bambi is the type of artist that leaves an impression. Although the album takes its name from the title track of the album, I can’t help but think that it also reflects the fact that this album is a collection of recordings that span some eleven years of Bambi’s extensive career. Her songs are instantly recognisable and her lyrics are both appropriate and insightful. This isn’t groundbreaking or original but none the less carries a charm that lifts The Chainsaw’s head from its usual angst ridden swamp-pit. Her band lends to her abilities and adds that little extra that most solo acts need and usually refuse to admit. Sometimes touching, sometimes wallowing and courageous, this is a must have for country fans.
horrors The Horrors
A quick sharp and straight to your throat EP from Brit-Brats The Horrors has more on show than their fancy clothes and retarded pop sensibilities. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before by the Cramps but that’s not to say that The Horrors aren’t effective at pulling off this scratchy/fuzzy mutilation of blues scales. What they do have is a fresh energy that stinks of a lurking self-destructive future and with names like Coffin’ Joe and Spider Webb we can only hope that their music will outlive their novelty.
ssr From the Bubble to the Box – Solid State Revival
This album came along with the most intriguing bio The Chainsaw has ever had the pleasure of reading. Solid State Revival is Des Murphy and “he marries lovingly sampled electronic sounds with subtle song writing skills in a 21st century psychedelic head trip.” If 21st century psychedelic head trips aren’t your scene, maybe you might want to “Check out title track Mojave (which I couldn’t find on the album!), with its simple softly stacked loops of breathtaking clarity, uncomplicated yet hypnotising – a touching opus of folktronica – like The Beatles’ Don’t be too long replayed by Pac man on keyboards.” With quotes like this I fell in love with Solid State Revival before I even listened to the album. Objectively, this album is pretty cool. It stands on that strange line where alternative music sounds like the next pop craze. There are some great electronic sounds on this record, it sounds like there’s “writhing psychedelia springing from its source, acid waves crashing against swirling eddies of bass.” This act could easily go one of two ways, either SSR will slide into the charts and have his interesting take on electronic pop homogenised or he will become the next underground alt-pop equivalent of acts such as Beck, Ben Lee and Weezer.
astatic A Static Lullaby
A band thwart with teething problems returns with two new members and all the same rage, angst and screamo passion that the band is best known for. This post-hardcore crews is far from evolving but certainly are growing into their working formula of mixing pop melodies into almost metal, almost hardcore songs that unfortunately never really stand alone. A huge sounding recording, vocals that quite competently fuse several styles and comic style album art to boot, this one is for fans of modern angst driven popcore.
lazysusan Every Night – Lazy Susan
This unpretentious third album from Lazy Susan offers friendly melodies and fun lyrics which often hint at poetic influences and musical relationships without being another rehashed or imitative folk/pop recording. For their third studio outing the band packed up and headed toward rural Victoria where they chose to relax and take their time recording with producer J Walker (The Whitlams). The situation obviously awarded the band few pressures as the album calmly sails along through acoustic numbers that carry their own character. At times the nature of the music seems to repeat itself, but their inclusion of occasional electric rock tunes lifts the album up before this dominant mellow becomes too monotonous. Lazy Susan try a little of everything as they genre hop without straying too far from what appears to be a very clear and predetermined attempt to create an album that files back all the edges while allowing room for songs to have their free and upbeat spirit left in tact.
paulweller Catch-Flame! – Paul Weller
Rightfully known as ‘The Modfather’, Paul Weller has a history so deep in Rock n’ Roll that trying to fit a retrospective concert onto one CD was impossible. This live concert recording collects songs from The Jam, The Style Council and Weller’s solo career and squeezes it all into one massive concert captured here on two discs. Weller’s crisp guitar sound strums brightly throughout both discs while his backing band compliments this mammoth set (24 songs) by driving tight and steady along side him. Recorded at the end of the sold-out UK tour in 2005, Weller rocks Alexandra Palace with The Jam classics That’s Entertainment and A Town Called Malice, The Style Council hits Shout to the Top and Long Lost Summer and selected hits from his solo back catalogue. This is a must have for Weller fans but a bit of a lengthy excursion for those who don’t know and love his music.
ocotesoulsounds EL NINO Y EL SOL – Ocote Soul Sounds and Adrian Quesada
This cool laid back conglomeration of soul, funk, afro-latin music and hip hop succeeds where the supposed film of which this is meant to be the Soundtrack failed; by which I mean that at least the soundtrack exists. The film for which inspired this smooth, warm and broad range of music was confiscated by police in Mexico and will never be released; at least that’s how the story goes. This aside, Martin Perna and Adrian Quesada have created the musical equivalent of lounging about carelessly while watching the sun set. Everything you could ever need to satisfy your organic needs for stripped back percussion, rich wind instruments and warm bass grooves is given up here. A subtle electronic landscape blends effortlessly in and out of the entire album while Questra’s keyboard bounces softly along without ever calling attention to itself.
hykoo The Crooked Unseen – Hykoo
When Aussie rappers first hit the stage and airwaves their accents were somehow amplified by their Australian slang and location specific lyrics. Australian Hip Hop has evolved into its own creature and it has become far more palatable and accessible to those that were first apprehensive of Australia’s contributions to Hip Hop. Hykoo’s approach to rhyme and phrase is at times generic but overall individual. His constant referencing of horror themes, although reminiscent of The Gravediggaz, is unique and ultimately humorous. Sweet melodies applied by guest female vocalist Snowflake contrast well against Hykoo’s macho bravado and obligatory offensive language. Although Hykoo is the star of the album I can’t help but put turntablists Wax Vandal and Weapon X on the pedestal as each time either of them make an appearance your ears prick up for their most notable scratch and sample efforts. The Crooked Unseen is a well produced and executed edition to Aussie Hip Hop culture.