Review Round Up

3 Jun

Beastie Boys –  ‘Hot Sauce Committee Part 2’

‘Hot Sauce committee part 1’ was due out in 2009 but a couple of months before the release Adam Yauch (MCA) announced that he had cancer and the album was put on the shelf. Now at last we get to hear it (retitled ‘Hot sauce committee part two, somewhat inexplicably as it is essentially the same album). Whilst it can’t compete with the Beasties classic albums of the 80’s and 90’s, it hold’s up pretty well.  This is a more eclectic offering than the pretty liner and straight-faced ‘To the Five Boroughs’, and the range of styles on display is impressive to say the least. From the good-time sampling on ‘OK’ to the live punk of ‘Say It’, this is basically Beastie Boys career in miniature – except crucially, without the classic songs. ‘To the Five Boroughs’ may have been hit and miss but it still had ‘Ch-check it Out’ and there is nothing on here that comes close to matching that moment (‘Make Some Noise’ comes closest). Likewise there is no ‘Fight For Your Right’, no ‘Sabotage’, no ‘Intergalactic’ and no ‘Sure Shot’. Which isn’t to say there is a shortage of great songs, it’s just to say there is a shortage of classic songs. ‘Hot Sauce Committee’ may not be their best album, in fact it’s probably their weakest, but as far as I’m concerned it’s just great to have them back and this will more than do for now.

7/10

EMA ‘Past Life Martyred Saints

Is it just me or has there been an abundance of emotionally damaged women making albums this year? I thought Lykii Li’s record was bleak but it has nothing on ‘Past Life Martyred Saints’ by EMA. On the album standout ‘Marked’ she sings ‘I wish that every time he touched me left a mark.’ It recalls the brutal honesty of ‘He Hit Me and It Felt Like a Kiss’ by The Crystals  but it has none of that song’s pop gleam; EMA’s voice is fragile and completely untrained, the arrangement is as stark and cutting as the subject matter (‘I nearly threw up on the spot…this night is making me so sad’). It’s obviously a very difficult subject to capture in song but EMA nails it.

‘Past Life…’ is a consistently difficult album to listen to; ‘Butterfly Knife’ is about self-harm and suicide (’20 kisses with a butterfly knife’) and where ‘Marked’ was disturbingly quiet this song goes in the complete opposite direction; its noisy, loud and very busy with ideas. EMA knows how to take the listener on both a musical and lyrical rollercoaster ride, she knows how to establish the mood she wants and then destroy that mood in the very next instant. Last week I reviewed ‘Goblin’ by Tyler the Creator, another album that is at times uncomfortable to listen to (albeit for different reasons) but like ‘Goblin’ this is a record that rewards patience and a little open-mindedness.

7.5/10

Bass Drum of Death – ‘GB City’ – Review

The Best thing about Bass Drum of Death is their name, if their music was half as interesting then this would be a pretty fantastic album. But it isn’t. There are already loads of bands out their right now (and a heck of a lot more in the distant past) who are doing the same kind of thing as BDOD and doing it a lot better; Girls, Wavvves, The Strange Boys, Harlem, The Soft Pack etc. They are a straight down the line, fuzzy garage rock act. So whilst ‘GB City’ is a decent album it’s too unoriginal and too lazy to be a great one. However whilst the majority of their songs are mundane, mid-tempo, mid-effort rockers, ‘Young Pros’ and ‘Get Found’ buck the trend by having real energy and melodic charm. So in a sentence, download those two and unless you’re a garage rock nut then I wouldn’t bother with the rest of the album.

5.5/10

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