Tag Archives: new album

Beach Boys Reform!

18 Dec

Yes, you heard right, the surviving members of the Beach Boys are getting back together next year for a 50 date world tour an a new album. So that’s Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and even David Marks (who only played on the group’s debut album!). I never thought I’d see the day when Brian Wilson would agree to work once again with that classic pantomime villan, Mike Love, but I have to say I’m quite pleased, it’ll be nice to hear those classic harmonies performed live. No dates have been announced as of yet but fingers crossed they will be coming over to the UK at some point.

Let’s hope their fashion sense has improved since they last released a record…

The Darkness are back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

16 Mar

You’ve probably heard by now but if you haven’t then…The Darkness are back with a new album and tour this summer! Yep, I loved this band back in the day, they had some cracking songs. Proof? Proof, you say? Ok then…

LCD Soundsystem – New Single!

26 Mar

We have been waiting for new LCD Soundsystem material for what feels like ages. ‘Sound of Silver’ was, in my opinion, the best album of 2007 and at long last it’s follow-up is nearly here. The album is still untitled  but the track listing is below as is first single ‘Drunk Girls’. The song is very much in the same vein as ‘North American Scum’ or ‘Daft Punk is Playing At My House’ and even has an identical bass line to one of their older songs, I can’t put my finger on which one though. Still it’s a pretty solid return.

1. Dance Yrself Clean
2. Drunk Girls
3. One Touch
4. All I Want
5. Change
6. Hit
7. Pow Pow
8. Somebody’s Calling Me
9. What You Need

Johnny Cash ‘American Recordings VI: Ain’t No Grave’ – Review

25 Feb

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly seven years since Johnny Cash was taken from us, one of the last genuine greats of popular music. It’s been four years since the release of ‘American Recordings V: A Hundred Highways’, something that is equally hard to believe. I can still remember the excitement and anticipation that greeted that album and the relief that was felt when it turned out to be a fitting final farewell to The Man in Black.

Only that wasn’t the final farewell. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the anticipation for ‘American Recordings VI: Ain’t No Grave’ that there was for the last album, in fact it’s release seems to have passed many by, meaning this probably won’t repeat the previous record’s feet of reaching number one. Nonetheless there will be many fans going crazy over the release of these songs, amongst the last Johnny recorded (including his very last recording ‘I Corinthians 15:55’)

Has the wait been worth it? Yes and no. The main problem, if you consider it a problem, is that there isn’t much here to distinguish the album from the other American Recordings. The other albums in the series have unique attributes, from the acoustic darkness of American I, to the band backed, country tinged American II and the melancholic American IV. However this album simply retreads the themes and sounds of the American V. The opening song, the title track, is strong enough in of itself; the problem is that it sounds almost identical to ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’ from American V, without matching its power. ‘For The Good Times’ recalls ‘If You Could Read My Mind’ (and both songs are excellent) but his voice doesn’t bend and break in the same way. Nonetheless it includes some fitting final lines such as ‘Don’t look so sad, I know It’s over.’ The less you compare this album to the others the better it gets. As an individual piece of work this is cohesive, well sequenced and enjoyable.

Like the album that preceded it, ‘Ain’t No Grave’ lacks the quiet melodrama of earlier American Recordings but gains something from the simplicity and sadness. Johnny’s voice constantly feels close to cracking and the subtle arrangements compliment both his strengths and shortcomings. Despite his age and proximity to death his voice on ‘Cool Water’ sounds stronger than it has done in many years. It isn’t this consistent throughout but even when he is breaking up this legend could put anyone else in their place.

Johnny Cash has had more farewell songs than Lord of the rings had farewell scenes. There was his brilliant cover of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ on American IV that sounded like a last goodbye, and ‘I’m Free from the Chain Gang Now’ ended American V in a optamistic manner. But it seems the song that will really close Johnny’s recording career is ‘Aloha Oe’. Truth be told it doesn’t work as well as those other songs, it is a little relaxed and anticlimactic. It’ll do however, it’ll do.

‘Ain’t No Grave’ is a good album and a fitting final statement, if not as strong as the five other records in the series. American V seemed to be the perfect conclusion to the Johnny Cash story, and because of that, and the fact that this comes four years later, this record feels a bit redundant. It does nothing that the other album didn’t do, it simply repeats the themes in a less succesful manner. That said this is more than a pleasing record and there is nothing on here to taint Johnny’s name, nor spoil the work Rick Rubin has done in resurrecting his career. I am thrilled just to hear the results of these final sessions and am pleased that these songs do the man in black a great service.


Vampire Weekend ‘Contra’ – Review

23 Jan

For as long as there’s been pop music there’s been a tension between the artistic and the commercial. By it’s very nature pop aspires to be popular but that shouldn’t mean selling out or restricting your sound to what is radio friendly. Every now and then a genuine band will become successful on their own terms; it happened with New Order, Blur, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys to name but a few. Now with a number one album under their belts Vampire Weekend can join those ranks.

Although it feels like they never went away it’s been two years since Vampire Weekend released their debut and ‘Contra’ picks up nicely where that left of. First single ‘Cousins’ led me to believe that this would be a similar record to the first, but in fact there has been a lot of progress. It still sounds undeniably like Vampire Weekend (Ezra Koenig’s unique vocal style, the clean guitar sound and the African inspired rhythms are still prominent) but a new and better Vampire Weekend.

The band combine their traditional instruments with new and unexpected ones. A drum machine features heavily as does a squeaky synth almost as retro as the cover art. Yet It all feels somehow cohesive and logical, which is probably because the songs are all of such high quality. There‘s no ‘Oxford Comma’ on here, sure, but then again the band clearly aren’t going for simple hooks this time around – complexity is the name of the game. Accessible complexity at that.

‘White Sky’, ’Holiday’ and ‘Cousins’ share the same happy vibe as a number of tracks from the debut but they also present a glimpse of the new, polished sound that defines the record. At times it can feel like these tracks have been produced to within an inch of their lives, they are so clean you could eat a meal of them, but that has always been Vampire Weekend’s way and any fan will be used to the precise style by now (even if I was slightly longing for some feedback or grit). Elsewhere the band play with samples and hip hop beats on ‘Diplomat’s son’ whilst retaining that ‘New York meets Africa meets Oxford’ charm that has become truly theirs.

Other highlights include their first ballad  ‘Taxi Cab’ and what sounds like a real hit in the making, ‘Giving Up The Gun’. The album ends with a subtlety that even the most ardent fan would have to admit is somewhat lacking on the rest of the album. ‘I Think Ur A Contra’ is awash with acoustic guitars and falsetto vocals that compliment the song perfectly.

‘Contra’ is an accomplished second album that confirms Vampire Weekend’s position as one of the best bands around. This isn’t as enjoyable as their debut and it’s a bit of a hard nut to crack, but it gets better with every listen. Not since ‘Kid A’ has there been such an experimental and ambitious album to hit number one in America – yet at its heart this is a pretty perfect pop album.