Archive for March, 2010

Does It Rock? March Round-Up

Plenty of great albums were released this month and we here at DiR.net have picked the best of the bunch to bring to you in a handy Spotify playlist! The widest variety of music in one playlist your likely to find!

Listen now >>> DoesItRock.net – Mar 10 Mix

1) Airbourne – Raise The Flag … Get your beers and raise them to the sky to salute Australia’s “new” Hard Rockers of distinction. DiR? Review

2) Jimi Hendrix Experience – Sunshine Of Your Love ... New album from the legend and this cover is proof to show why he is ‘the’ original guitar god!

3) Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Mama Taught Me Better …Coming out of their folk doldrums this tune is a kick back to those early years DiR? Review

4) Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Mourning In America… Indie rock with pop flowing though veins feeding a bold punk heart,  DiR? Review

5) Two Door Cinema Club – I Can Talk … Huge dancefloor filler of the electrock variety from promising uk band.

6) Gorillaz – Stylo (Feat. Mos Def and Bobby Womack) … Albarn and co. are back with more hip-hop pop DiR? Review

7) The Automatic – Interstate … Going electro has added a cool edge to their once monotonous guitar pop. (Plus its sounds a bit like Motion CIty Soundtrack)

8) Lifehouse – All In … American radio hit for certain, catchy chorus…check, deep booming vocals…check, pop guitars…you get the picture…

9) Alphabeat – The Beat Is … Thoroughly disappointing second album from the once happiest band ever, this is a rare gem from said record.

10) Blood Red Shoes – Don’t Ask … More pop than punk but still can craft a chunky riff or two.

10) Laura Marling – Devil’s Spoke … Beautiful melodies, bleak landscaping and impassioned vocals from the slightly sombre uk folk starlet.

11) Goldfrapp – Rocket … 80’s electro-pop is the latest trend for Goldfrapp ditching the atmosphrics of their previous album.

12) Tunng – By Dusk They Were In The City … Scandinavian indie  pop, melodic and too cool for school.

13) Efterklang – Raincoats … Even more from the Nordic countries, this time its Erfterklang’s turn to sprinkle sparkling pop on the masses.

14) Liars – Scarecrows On A Killer Slant … Potent alt fuzz rock from the ever morphing meld that are Liars

15) Jimi Hendrix Experience – Bleeding Heart … Its not very often I’ll be able to say ,”Taken from the new Jimi Hendrix album” so I’m making the most of it! Psychedelia in its prime!

16) Titus Andronicus – A More Perfect Union … Prog rock meets indie and with this much energy and invention these guys will do well!

17) High On Fire – Snakes For The Divine … Wade through the heavy sludge metal to find an amazingly technical and fiery tune!

18) Scorpions – Raised On Rock … Aging German rockers proves there is still guitar gas in the tank as they churn out a cracking tune.

19) Broken Bells – The High Road … When the Shins got involved with Dangermouse this bright tune was the outcome.

20) Streetlight Manifesto – Just … The Streetlight gang have given the Radiohead classic a super happy ska punk makeover!

Album Review: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks

Ted Leo with his Pharmacists in tow release their sixth album their first on Matador Records.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks

Ted Leo - The Brutalist Bricks

RockOSaurus Says:

Ted Leo has been plugging away in the independent rock sphere for many a years now! With each new release comes a bunch of cracking tunes and outstanding pop-rock yet surprisingly he has never reached the mainstream.With The Brutalist Bricks he has produced yet another cracking album which is piled high with incessantly catchy tunes.

Opener The Mighty Sparrow is has a cool driving rock riff and Teds familiar high pitched poppy voice leading a mega-hummable vocal melody. Taking a step back towards more punky spiky guitars Ted has given this album more vigour and purpose. Guitar heavy tunes such as the alt-rocking Mourning In America, The Stick with its shambolic fuzz punk, three chord wonder Where Was My Brain and the high octane rush of Gimme The Wire..

This is not to say that the pop isn’t here in abundance too, Even Heroes Have To Die is a non-stop acoustic strummer with nifty electric guitar lines throw in for good measure, Bottles In Cork showcases Ted’s great way with words as you follow his antics and travels along the lyric sheet while you bop along to the infectious melody. Woke Up Near Chelsea is another example of classic songwriting, triumphant pianos & guitars melded with subtle non pretentious indieness while crucially retaining a huge pop appeal.

The Brutalist Brick is a perfect combination of Pop, Rock, Indie and Punk…if you like any of these genres then you should definitely give this album a try (BTW. I’ve purposely overlooked the terrible artwork).

Mr Flowers Says:

Brutalist Bricks adds even more songs to Ted Leo’s growing catalogue of catchy pop songs, with the ooohh ooowellls of Even Heroes Have To Die destined to be enthusiastically sung back at him at gigs to come.

It’s generally more of the same from Ted, but he does try to mix it up (very slightly) on a few tracks with reasonably good results: Mourning In America mixes the pop sensibilities with menacing bass notes in a kind of Mclusky-lite way. Bottled In Cork nicely introduces an acoustic guitar for the chorus with a Thin Lizzy style alternating note electric-guitar part, and Ted slows it down and adopts a deeper singing-style on One Polaroid A Day. Tuberculoids Arrive In Hop, an unconvincing foray into a fully acoustic song, is a low point but these are few and far between so we can let him off on that one.

There’s quite a few pop-rock gems on this album and proves to be a much more consistent offering from Ted Leo and his pharmaceutical friends, and the minimalistic design on the album artwork scores an extra point and ultimately a net recommendation for The Brutalist Bricks.

RockOSaurus: 8.5/10

MrFlowers: 8/10

DoesItRock Overall Score: 8.25/10


Listen to Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks now on Spotify!

Introducing…Fight The Empire

After flicking through the latest releases I stumbled by chance upon an eponymous Debut from Fight The Empire. Spotify was only so kind to provide me with the audio and I’ve been hooked ever since. A real riff machine this rough round the edges rocker has what is most important in a young bands career, promise! They have a barrel load of infectious melodies and enough spirit to encourage you to get along to their live shows…what more could you ask for?

Fight The Empire

Listen to Fight The Empire on Spotify now!

Album Review: Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

The world’s first Virtual Reality band and back with their third release, this time with a multitude of guests.

Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

RockOSaurus Says:

Albarn has put all his music industry contacts into one bucket and lavishly srprayed the contents over Plastic Beach. The list of guest appearances are longer than the song titles themselves and give the album a confused melded sound that wasnt broken in the first place.

In face most of the highlights feature Albarns melancholic vocals like on lead single Stylo and the downturned dance driven electro sounds of On Melancholy Hill. The rest of the album is too influenced by its vocals. Welcome To The World of The Plastic Beach sounds like a mediocre Snoop Dog track, Bashy and Kano rap over a nintendo soundtrack while Mos Def does likewise with Sweepstakes.

Its those tunes which still have the Gorillaz tag all over it which bring out the best in the collaborators. Mark E Smith of The Fall using his rough working class vocals over peaking and troughing electro beeper on Glitter Freeze is brilliant. So is De La Soul & Gruff Rhys implanting a light guitar line and indie pop ethos alongside the hip hop influences.

This is in no way a classic album as its mix matching beats hits and miss in equal quantity. It is great if you like your hip hop just a bit indie, but those who love the singles, there isn’t a great deal to reccommend.

Mr Flowers Says:

After the instrumental intro, Welcome To The World of The Plastic Beach kicks off the album promisingly with a flurry of brass instruments before regrettably degenerating into something mostly forgettable. White Flag offers a bit more bite with help from British Grime artists Bashy and Kano, but represents a rare hip-hop highlight on album where the rap moments aren’t cutting enough.

Some of the collaborations with alt-rock stars fare a bit better; Glitter Freeze features Mark E Smith and certainly has a The Fall vibe to it even with the guitars stripped out, and Some Kind of Nature with it’s cartoony pipe-based melody and deep vocals from Lou Reed works well. Having said that, the Gruff Rhys (of SFA) and Mick Jones/Paul Simonon (of The Clash) collabs are disappointingly drab affairs.

Other songs to listen for are perhaps: Mos Def collaboration, Sweepstakes, that takes a while to get going but builds to a hip-hop/brass instrument boogie by the halfway point; and closer Pirate Jet, one of the few Albarn-led songs on the album that doesn’t bore you to tears.

In the end, Plastic Beach suffers from the lack of enough songs that represent great hip-hop or great rock to really standout as a record.

RockOSaurus: 6/10

MrFlowers: 6/10

DoesItRock Overall Score: 6/10


Listen to Gorillaz – Plastic Beach now on Spotify!

Hot Hot Heat, Official Secrets Act @ Scala, Kings Cross

Hot Hot Heat, Official Secrets Act @ Scala, Kings Cross , 02 March 2010

Coming to Scala for a show is never a chore and as we bustled our way into the crowd after enjoying quite a few beverages (thus neatly avoiding the extortionate bar price situation) we were greeted by the sounds of Official Secrets Act.

Official Secrets Act sound like they have just stepped off the 80’s express with their prominent keyboards, wavy hair and pop mentality. Comparisons to bands such as Duran Duran and The Human League were tossed about aplenty between the DiR gang. However with it not being the 80’s anymore, they had limited appeal. Some good tunes were present into the set with quirky electro melodies and inescapable catchiness. Not too long after they began, the lead singers comic book character, high pitched started to get irritating.

A solid opening band and with a niche appeal, one feels they need some more material to make a big splash in the rapidly filling electro-pop genre of the noughties.

Hot Hot Heat are a band who never disappoint with their live performances. This, the third time I have seen them finds them a tighter sound unit, one which has pushed down the boundaries of piano power pop. They played a pretty even spread of material covering the best bits of their 3 album back catalogue. Kicking off the evening their infectious stage energy had the crowd waving arms and pogo’ing along with front man, Steve Bays leading them like the Pied Piper.

Steve Bays

Their new material (self produced in their own recording studio no less) sounded excellent with a lot more cutting edge weirdness while retaining their characteristic quirk filled pop mentality. In fact everything sound better here this evening with the pick of the set list being No, Not Now, the rapidfire lyrics of Island Of The Honest Man and the hometown celcbration Get In Or Get Out.

Hot Hot Heat

Their infectious energy (down in most part to Bays stage bounding) reached an epic crescendo as they blasted their way through their magnificent pop anthem Bandages before darting off stage to recover. Returning for a short encore they finally took their bows and said farewell, safe in the knowledge they are fine exponents of live entertainment and a cracking band!

A Guide to ATP (Pavement 2010 Edition), Part 4

We finish off our DoesItRock perspective on this year’s ATP curated by Pavement by looking at some of the more challenging bands to listen to at the festival.

Worth a listen:

The Clean

An indie band with a few decent tunes, although they can be a little forgettable.

Listen to: Starting Point (on We7)

Marble Valley

Electronic and vocoder action with a decent beat (not bad, considering Westie cannot drum) mixed into the stoner moments.

Listen to: Pneumonia (on Spotify)

Saccharine Trust

A progressive version of Sex Pistols-esque punk; their anarchic cover of Express Yourself is fun.

Listen to: We Don’t Need Freedom (on We7)

Sic Alps

A bit 70s prog-rock; they have their bluesy moments, but predictably with an avantgarde streak.

Listen to: L. Mansion (on Spotify)

The Raincoats

The Raincoats are an all-female experimental, lo-fi band who originally formed in the 70s. Style-wise, they’re reminiscent at times of The Velvet Underground. They’ve got melodic songs, but the stripped down mechanics of their style can make you wish there was some kind of hook to pique your interest.

Listen to: Balloonacy (on Spotify)

The Bottom of the Barrel:

These are a struggle, unless you’re a hardcore underground music fan. And if you call yourself that, then your friends might not be telling you how pretentious you are:

Atlas Sound

Lift music.

Listen to (if you really have to): Quarantined (on We7)

Grails

An instrumental psychedelic rock band; they can create some interesting guitar-based soundscapes, if you can stay awake long enough to appreciate it.

Listen to: Take Refuge (on Spotify)

Faust

Instrumental ambient guitar noise at their proggiest – jazzed up songs embodies some of the trippier moments of the 70s. Requires an open mind – scoring some LSD might help.

Listen to: The Sad Skinhead (on We7)

And that’s the end of this far from definitive guide to ATP 2010 curated by Pavement. We haven’t looked at every band in the lineup: we’ve missed out the highly rated Wooden Shjips, Japanese hard rock band Boris and Scott Kannberg’s solo material (playing as Spiral Stairs) to name a few of them, but we’ll have to leave finding about them as an exercise for the reader…

Previously, on A Guide to ATP…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

A Guide to ATP (Pavement 2010 Edition), Part 3

Our penultimate look into the lineup at Pavement’s ATP; here’s today’s homework – more bands you should definitely listen to:

The Drones

Sound like a deadlier Nick Cave. It’s blues with an edge, a scowling singer, a hot bassist, and guitar riffs among noisy feedback.

Listen to: The Cookeyed Low Life Of The Highlands (on We7)

The Fiery Furnaces

Toured with Ted Leo, and Franz Ferdinand sort of gives you an idea of the company they keep in the indie world; a brother and sister combo, playing experimental rock. Some of their earlier stuff is a bit poppier, if the later, more eclectic stuff goes over your head.

Listen to: Tropical Iceland (on We7)

The Walkmen

A blues rock band. The croaky singing harks back to when Bob Dylan still sounded like Dylan, and not some weird choking caricature of Bob Dylan. Their earlier stuff sports a lot more fast paced style, as they seem to get progressively slower with new releases.

Listen to: The Rat (on We7)

Tim Chad & Sherry

This is an indie band whose style ranges from folk, pop, country and the blues, with a penchant for humorous lyrics.

Listen to: Caller I.D. (on Spotify)

Times New Viking

These noise rock maestros could if anything be a bit LOUDER at times. But if you appreciate a bit of fuzzed up noise with a nice melody, you’ll find Times New Viking right up your street.

Listen to: (My Head) (on We7)

Wildbirds & Peacedrums

A folk band who will remind you of artists like Bjork or Joanna Newson; pretty, minimalistic songs mixed with powerful drum-driven jazzy numbers, but always melodic.

Listen to: The Way Things Go (on We7)

A Guide to ATP (Pavement 2010 Edition), Part 2

In part 2 of our trilogy in 4-parts, we’ll be looking at some of the best bands playing in this coming May at everybody’s favourite festival at a family resort.

Pavement

The headliners need no introduction, especially since the festival sold-out with only Pavement in the line-up.

Listen to: Gold Soundz (on We7)

Quasi

A two/three-piece indie pop band; slightly reminiscent in style to Grandaddy, and characterised by some excellent drumming.

Listen to: Our Happiness is guaranteed (on Spotify)

Still Flyin’

Energetic indie pop; they’ve got multiple singers (always good), the odd ska track, and a big fun sound. The list of musicians in the band reads more like a small country then an indie band.

Listen to: Good Thing It’s a Ghost Town Around Here (on Spotify)

Terry Reid

This hard rock nearly-was brings his down-to-earth, classic Rhythm and Blues rock to ATP – probably to balance out all that sickening alternative rock music at this festival. Think Led Zep.

Listen to: Dean (on We7) / Superlungs My Supergirl (on Spotify)

The Authorities

Their punk version of Ballroom Blitz is a hoot. They have some great classic-style punk songs.

Listen to: Ballroom Blitz (on Spotify)

The Dodos

An indie band in the vein of The Shins – that means they’ve got a good ear for those slow-paced pop songs.

Listen to: Small Deaths (on We7)

Stay tuned to this series for more bands to look out for, and we’ll also have a look at some of the ones you might want to avoid…

A Guide to ATP (Pavement 2010 Edition), Part 1

With the final line-up for the Pavement curated ATP announced, we find a typically underground selection from the indie legends. It might be a festival of discovery for some so over the next few posts we’ll try to pick out a few bands for you to keep an eye on, ones to avoid, and the odd song to give you an idea of what you’re getting in to.

Highlights:

Avi Buffalo

Laid-back Californian rockers, with some Southern-rock pop songs.

Listen to: What’s it in for? (on last.fm)

Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen have songs ranging from pop rock replete with keyboards, drum-machines and crunchy guitar riffs, right down to simple folk songs, often with some catchy melodies.

Listen to: Crazy On You (on Spotify)

Broken Social Scene

Pretty, baroque indie songs.

Listen to: Lover’s Spit (on We7)

Calexico

Their Latin tinged indie songs often evoke the memory of those Ennio Morricone scored Spaghetti-westerns, an inventive mix, and plenty of good songs to boot.

Listen to: Victor Jara’s Hands (on We7)

The Fall

Mark E Smith’s mumbly singing style may not be for some, but he has an uncanny ability to find a brilliant tune, even if it sometimes sounds like it’s amidst the random noises and grumblings of a stroke victim. Their obliqueness and gargantuan back catalogue makes them a unique band in the history of modern music.

Listen to: Theme From Sparta FC (on We7)

Mark Eitzel

Classic style singer-songwriter with a jazz influence… and a piano

Listen to: No Easy Way Down (on We7)

Mission Of Burma

These veteran indie rockers have a sound somewhere in the middle of Husker Du-style punk and The Undertones.

Listen to: Dirt (on We7)

Monotonix

A monstrous hard-rock three-piece.

Listen to: Summers and Autumns (on last.fm)

More to come tomorrow, folks!

Album Review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat The Devil’s Tattoo

Californian rockers return this week with their 5th Album.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat The Devil’s Tattoo

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devils Tattoo

RockOSaurus Says:

BRMC have managed to incorperate both earlier garage scuzz melodies of the debut LP and more recently the psychadelic swing of their last album Howl. As an admirer of both these albums there is plenty for any fan to get his teeth into.

Cranking up the fuzz has worked nicely for BRMC and what could be just monotonous rambling lines have a lethal bite. They add to the floaty ethereal atmospherics and combined with the drawn out effect heavy vocals manage to keep you interested…just.

Good thing then that they havent forgotten how to spank their axes. The first real kick in the teeth comes with Concious Killer knocking a cracking blues lick for six. Mama Taught Me Better is another pumped up rocker and Shadow’s Keeper is laced with attitude and a thumping melody.

Critique would be that much of the album falls into a mystifying buzz. But as much as I want to dismiss the drone drenched plodding tunes I find it hard not to be captivated. Drifting along on a tide of BRMC feedback is a superbly blissful place to be, one where life is good…in a noisy way.

Flowers Says:

The title track kickstarts the album appropriately with the familiar Gospel-influenced Blues we’ve come to associate with BRMC. There’s a point early in the album when it seems that it might get bogged down by a string of drony songs (Bad Blood, War Machine, Sweet Feeling, Evol); it’s only with fuzzed up rock of Mama Taught Me Better and the menacing River Styx, before the feeling subsides.

Even the slower songs seem more interesting by that point; The Toll is a beautiful country ballad, with guest female vocals courtesy of Courtney Jaye, complete with a harmonica refrain; and Aya, which starts with a lumbering couple of verses, before the chorus is howled out 2 minutes in.

There’s killer riffs on Shadow’s Keeper, a blues rock romp, and Half-State (reigning in at 10 mins long) is an epic blues jam. Overall, it’s a good album once you fight through a relatively brief depressing period.

RockOSaurus: 7.5/10

MrFlowers: 7/10

DoesItRock Overall Score: 7.25


Listen to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat The Devil’s Tattoo now on Spotify!