Tag Archives: music

BE – Album Review

BECover

The second and final studio album from Liam Gallagher‘s post-Oasis project Beady Eye, BE was released in 2013 and reached number 2 in the charts. It received mixed reviews with some critics calling it better than Different Gear, Still Speeding and others panning the tone and lyrics.

Beady Eye’s first album was a bombastic yet somewhat messy effort, packed with big, overproduced tracks, sleepier heard-it-before attempts at a late Oasis sound but also, luckily, some genuinely fun tunes. There was visibly an attempt, with this second album, to try something completely different. A wise move, even if this didn’t pay off with further albums. Now that Liam’s solo career has thusfar proven to be a resounding hit, I thought that it might be worth hearing the album back, giving it a fair shot.

Initially, BE goes for a familiar, grand, big-band sort of sound with catchy opener “Flick Of The Finger”, which may not boast a chorus but gets the job done getting you excited for what comes next. Structure-wise, BE is a little uneven as it maintains a steady pace early on before settling on stripped-down guitar songs in its second half so it’s understandable why some might have criticised the album for that, though it should also be said that those final few tracks are easily some of the band’s best work.

Tracks like “Don’t Brother Me”, “Ballroom Figured” and “Start Anew” have an obvious John Lennon vibe to them, “Oh My Love” and “Give Peace A Chance” are even directly referenced, and they all work as olive branches towards Noel Gallagher, though there are some criticisms peppered in throughout.

You get the sense that Liam Gallagher is working through some inner conflicts in this album and these final few tracks capture his nostalgia for the Oasis days and his brother’s company, possibly some guilt for how things turned out and the need for a big change in the future. Liam’s personal life was also rocky by that point, to say the least, so this is a genuinely emotional end to an album that almost went the confident yet shallow route its predecessor did but, thankfully, didn’t.

This is by no means a sleepy album, I should clarify, as the likes of gospel-tinged single “Shine A Light” and underrated grungy anthem “Just Saying” (how was this not a single?!), even the groovier “Second Bite Of The Apple”, bring a sense of fun to the whole thing. These more easily accessible songs ironically feel a lot more experimental than anything in the last album, and this is a good thing. There are some slower, more repetitive tracks thrown in and those are admittedly a little patchier.

“Soul Love” and the folky “Soon Come Tomorrow” are both decent: the former is very late Oasis, the latter has a more American vibe you wouldn’t really expect from Liam and, even though they fizzle near the end, there’s enough good stuff in there that they work. “Iz Rite” and “Face The Crowd” also work, just not quite as well, and they lack a certain memorable factor, though the latter’s Stranglers-style rhythm is engaging.

Beady Eye/Liam Gallagher fans should have a great time with this album as it feels a lot more personal and inventive. Looking at BE in today’s context, it’s the perfect transition to Liam’s solo work as it ends on such a contemplative note that it seems like Liam was almost trying to tell us that this would, in fact, be Beady Eye’s (basically the old Oasis minus Noel) last bow. As for those less involved listeners, I think BE frankly still deserves a second look.

Between the more acoustic tracks’ unquestionably pretty melodies, the endearing let’s-try-something-new approach, the crisp, slick production and Liam’s vocals the best they’d been in years, this was a step in the right direction for the band and it was a pleasure revisiting it.

Much better than you remember.

Well worth 3 and a half Happy Cobains in my book.

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Beautiful Crutch – Album Review

American alternative rock band Dommin released their third studio album Beautiful Crutch last year and, with the promise of a darker yet more hopeful vibe after their somewhat downbeat previous efforts Rise and Love Is Gone, this looked like possibly the start of a new era for the goth/new wave metal group.

The first track, “Desire”, opens with a screech before settling into softer, melodic verses and occasionally building up to the rockier chorus. There’s a very good guitar hook keeping the song balanced throughout and a short but effective solo near the end. The vocals by lead singer Kristofer Dommin are passionate and bring a welcome edge to the song. “Show Me” is the first killer track of the album with its faster pace, its bluesier tone and its ridiculously catchy chorus. This is definitely one to open concerts with as it’s instantly recognizable and kicks butt no matter how picky you are with your music.

“The Scene” is next and it’s a solid, reflective, dramatic song with a stuttering rhythm, an emotional chorus and some clever breaks here and there. It’s also very catchy and another very concert-friendly tune for sure. It is followed by “This World”, which instantly evokes The Smiths with its darker lyrics and the Morrissey-esque vocals. It’s still very much a Dommin song, however, as it’s certainly heavier than anything the aforementioned artists ever did.

Then we have the title track “Beautiful Crutch”, a slow-burn where the vocals and the lyrics initially take centre stage before the rest of the song finally unveils itself through an evolving melody that gets catchier and catchier as it goes on. It’s certainly worthy of being the title track. “I Die” is a softer, darker and rather beautiful song about loneliness, loss and longing with a rockier chorus and a short but sweet guitar solo halfway through.

Song number 7 is “Vulnerable”, which opens with a faster beat and a melody slightly reminiscent of Blondie‘s “Call Me” but with a significantly moodier, more emotional vibe. The song somehow gets more hopeful and upbeat as it goes on so its constant evolution plus the catchy chorus make it never dull. Then comes “The Flame” and, right off the bat, this is a completely different animal altogether. With its violins playfully marking the rhythm and its musical-style vocals, this is an experimental track which tries something rather unique by mixing a couple of very different genres, similarly to how Muse went in a different, glammier direction with The Resistance.

It’s still a rock song, though, so don’t expect it to be so different you’ll be thrown.

“Madly” is another fun track. This one banks on its catchy, upbeat chorus but its real strength is the melody that permeates the verses. This is definitely one of the most commercial songs on the album but its radio-friendly nature is never off-putting. “The Saddest Dream” has a slow yet compelling build-up with an electro heartbeat marking the rhythm. You keep expecting it to suddenly rock out but it teases you until much later than you’d expect and it’s altogether a surprisingly epic track which should play really well at concerts, even an extended version with added solos and breaks. “Madly” takes its sweet time and is all the better for it.

Finally, we have “Outer Space” and it feels like the end track from the first minute with its airy, upbeat tone. This is basically a soul track with a bluesy tint which might not please fans of Dommin’s moodier, edgier stuff but after an album this strong, it’s certainly earned its final flight of fancy plus the vocals are top notch from start to finish and the proudly 80’s feel is enjoyably nostalgic.

There’s very little wrong with this new Dommin album: the songs are all well written, the vocal work from Kristofer Dommin is versatile and would even make Scott Stapp jealous at times, the whole thing is paced perfectly and the music itself is really good: you can tell there are genuinely talented musicians behind every track so Konstantine (keyboards), with the help of Cameron Morris (drums) and Billy James (bass) knock it out of the park. There are enough trademark motifs in the album to please the band’s long-time fans but also enough fresh ideas to bring in a new audience so I certainly recommend you try this album whether you think you’ll like it or not because, chances are, you will.

Beautiful Crutch is a very cool album which gets 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us and one hopes to see Dommin get bigger and bigger because they deserve it.

You can find out more about Dommin on Soundcloud and their Youtube Channel.

Controversy – Song Of The Day

ControversyThe title track to Prince‘s 1981 album, “Controversy” was the artist hitting back at various speculations surrounding him at the time. The track talks about race, sexuality, religion and even includes an entire prayer in the middle of it which, ironically and amusingly, caused some controversy. And although the lyrics and the themes are worthy of note here, most importantly it’s just a really good song with a cool, funky beat and one of the catchiest hooks on the album.

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Little Boxes – Song Of The Day

Malvina

Written by Malvina Reynolds back in 1962, “Little Boxes” was a satiric protest song about suburbia and it was initially a hit for Pete Seeger. The Reynolds version would become the theme song for the TV series Weeds in 2005 which would lead to various covers from the likes of Elvis Costello, Linkin Park and Death Cab For Cutie. This is not only a catchy little tune but its lyrics still resonate and are still very relevant today which makes it a timeless classic we’ll probably hear for many more years to come.

Funk Fujiyama – Song Of The Day

Funk

Our Song Of The Day for today is “Funk Fujiyama”, a funky Japanese tune released in 1989 by Kome Kome Club, one of the only bands in Japan who tackled soul and funk with great success back in the day. The song is quite simply tons of fun and it’s impossible not to love it right away with its bouncy rhythm and those energetic vocals plus the band itself is a riot when playing live. Gamers might remember the track from Youtuber JewWario‘s “You Can Play This” reviews.

Long Way Down – Song Of The Day

BRMC

One of the very best tracks to come out of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club‘s 2010 album Beat The Devil’s Tattoo was “Long Way Down”, a slower track with a bittersweet vibe which builds beautifully. It’s dark and potentially a little depressing but there’s also a dash of hope in there which makes the song upbeat enough that, in the end, it comes off as surprisingly inspiring. Brilliant track.

Tin Machine – Album Review

Tin Machine Album

Formed in 1988, Tin Machine was a rock band fronted by David Bowie with Reeves Gabrels on guitar, Tony Sales on bass and Hunt Sales on drums. The project was a way for Bowie to get back to basics with a more raw sound and put his jamming sessions with Gabrels to good use.

The band released their debut, self-titled album in ’89 along with four singles. They would make one other album after that before Bowie returned to his solo work.

How did this debut fare?

The opening track, “Heaven’s In Here”, boasts a very bluesy rhythm and riff throughout and it builds to some excellent guitar solos. It’s refreshing to hear Bowie giving so much freedom to a band and serving as simply the frontman, for once. Hard not to move your feet to this one. The title song “Tin Machine” is a faster-paced punk track that’s a hell of a lot of fun. It was the third single to be released from the album.

“Prisoner Of Love” is next and it’s a slightly darker track that’s also slightly more glam and, by extension, more Bowie. It’s a beautiful song with a catchy hook, great lyrics and first class work from the entire band who already prove themselves to be pretty damn awesome. “Crack City”, like “Heaven’s In Here”, really feels like a 70’s song. It’s very much a track built for live performances with its loud chorus and its buckets of swagger and energy. Expect more fab solos from Gabrels and a bit of a soul vibe throughout as well.

“I Can’t Read” follows and this one feels much more playful yet experimental, almost improvisational even. The screeching guitars are all over the place as the rest of the band figures out the track little by little. It’s not the catchiest of the lot but it still carries that demo-esque raw energy the project promised plus Bowie seems to play a kind of desperate character here, which is entertaining.

You simply can’t go wrong with “Under The God”: it’s the first single to be released from the album and it’s a cracker. Written by Bowie, this is a rocky, punky track worthy of Iggy & The Stooges. With its best-screamed chorus and its bluesy hook, it’s easily one of the best tracks from the band, and that’s saying a lot. Next is “Amazing”, a more chilled-out song with a timeless quality to it. It taps into a vintage rock sensibility which makes it feel like a cover of an old, classic track despite being original. Pretty amazing, indeed.

Speaking of covers, next we have “Working Class Hero”, a cover of one of John Lennon‘s most well-known tracks and one of Bowie’s favourites from the artist. The band does a good job at doing something different with it, not simply imitating the original. This version’s much more dancy and upbeat. While it’s basically impossible to outdo Lennon’s own, this is given the Tin Machine treatment and it works well both as a cover of a classic and as a song from Bowie’s band.

“Bus Stop” opens with a punk riff and, in fact, it feels like a song you could have seen the likes of The Clash come up with. A Joe Strummer cover of this one would have been cool to hear. Gotta love how short and sweet this song is, makes it just perfect. A country version of the track also exists but it doesn’t beat the one described above. Up next is “Pretty Thing” and it’s an erratically-rhythmed rock song with loads of energy and Bowie breaking up the constant beat with his vocals much like John Lennon does in “Cold Turkey”. It’s yet another terrific, fast-paced song which must have kicked ass live.

“Video Crime” is a slower, bluesier track with hip-hop-style vocals and, while it’s a good song with some superb guitar work, you could see a punk version of this one giving it a welcome extra layer of attitude, though you might then miss out on some of Gabrels’ best solos from this album. “Run” has more of a Stranglers vibe to it with the darker toned riffs and moodier vocals. Armed with a catchy chorus, genial solos, some clever breaks and fantastic vocal work from Bowie, this is easily one of Tin Machine’s finest.

“Sacrifice Yourself” is another live-friendly anthem with a faster rhythm and an ingenious mix of hard rock, soul and blues. It’s a short one but it makes for two extremely entertaining minutes. Final track “Baby Can Dance” feels very much like a Bowie effort and, indeed, he wrote this one which bears his trademark unexpected key changes and experimental vocal work. It’s a good choice to end the album on as it leaves us on a high note with its memorable chorus and epic scale. It’s the kind of big finish Bowie usually avoids but he has a ball with it here.

What can I say about Tin Machine’s debut album except…

Mission accomplished.

If Bowie’s core plan for this band project was to get back to basics and deliver an incredibly fun rock album which would showcase his collaborators’ talents then his plan certainly worked out. But Tin Machine feels more than just an enjoyable side project, it’s an experiment that, as a whole, doesn’t feel so much experimental as it does fundamental. It’s a homage to different styles of rock n’ roll from a group of guys who can deliver original work which still feels timeless and classic to this day.

Tin Machine gets a very high 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us and we recommend it as a must for any Bowie or rock fan.

Brilliant stuff.

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Under The God – Song Of The Day

Tin Machine

The first single to be released from David Bowie-led rock band Tin Machine‘s self-titled debut album, “Under The God” was a fast-paced bluesy/punky track with loads of attitude both in the lyrics and the music. It’s one of the best songs on the album and its video was directed by Julien Temple. Quite simply a kickass tune.

You’re Lost Little Girl – Song Of The Day

Doors

From The Doors‘ 1967 album Strange Days, which was comprised of songs that didn’t make it onto their debut, self-titled album, is “You’re Lost Little Girl”, a song written by guitarist Robby Krieger. While the track was not released as a single, it was still one great, underrated tune from the iconic band. It’s a bittersweet ballad with a sinister feel and the usual otherworldly tone set by Jim Morrison‘s haunting voice.

Earthling – Album Review

Earthling

David Bowie released the album Earthling back in 1997 and, although it wasn’t too big of a hit in terms of sales, it was critically well received.

Let’s see if it’s dated well.

The opening song is “Little Wonder” and it was the second single to be released from the album. In fact, it did better than any of the songs on Earthling reaching number 14 in the charts. The track kicks off with a disjointed garage beat which comes and goes. The whole thing is best described as playful experimental Brit Pop with a catchy hook buried in a sea of conflicting rhythms and Snow White references. It is followed by “Looking For Satellites”, which also has a clubby vibe and sounds a bit like something Blur and Oasis would have cooked up together if they had gotten along.

“Battle For Britain (The Letter)” is next and you can expect more of that garage beat and some grungy guitar work from Reeves Gabrels. It’s another track which purposely goes all over the place, even jumping headfirst into random piano solos near the end. Clearly Bowie was having fun playing around with remixes in this album.

“Seven Years In Tibet” is a slower track and it’s also the last one to be released as a single. There’s a regular core beat to the song with increasingly elaborate effects and instruments backing it. The chorus is simply fantastic with the guitar kicking in and turning the song into a rocky anthem. You get the feeling that the band TV On The Radio were influenced greatly by this one.

“Dead Man Walking” is another erratic dancy single you could probably find in quite a few clubs in the late 90’s but this one has a much more Bowie vibe, at least in terms of melody. It was used in the film The Saint and includes a guitar riff once used in Supermen which was taught to Bowie by Jimmy Page. Far prefer the terrific acoustic version to this one, personally.

“Telling Lies” opens with whispers floating over a repeating garage beat. It’s a very layered track as Bowie accuses using the song’s title both in real time and in slow-mo and the whole thing speeds up and slows down at unexpected times. The chorus is the most accessible part of this one, which is another experimental exercise in controlled messiness. As is its follow-up “The Last Thing You Should Do”, which also goes all over the place. At this point, the album has become basically impenetrable and it couldn’t care less: it’s having too good a time.

“I’m Afraid Of Americans” is much more involving in that it’s got a more interesting rhythm to hang onto and the hook kicks in early. The track was co-written by Brian Eno and it’s surprising it wasn’t released as a single since it’s got loads of attitude and a raw energy to it which would have played well on the radio despite its not-so-pro-US lyrics.

“Law (Earthlings On Fire)” is the final track on the album and it’s a dancy one with distorted voices, melodies popping in and out and a purely electronic structure. It’s a far more enjoyable clubby tune than some of the others on Earthling as it keeps throwing musically interesting little bits and bobs throughout.

What to make of Earthling, then?

Here’s one album which should divide David Bowie fans completely. Earthling really is the artist going for something radically different, tackling new remixing techniques and jumping into a Brit Pop techno vibe completely. The good news is this makes for some truly wacky songs full of creativity, the bad news is it’s a little too hard to pierce through the wall of eclectic beats and distortions to enjoy Earthling as an album rather than just a curious piece of late 90’s frenzy. Those who enjoy club music should have a ball with this one but others will probably be turned off by the album early on.

That’s only 2 Ziggies out of 5 for Earthling, mostly because it just doesn’t sound quite Bowie enough making it a much less likeable outing than any of its successors.

Still cool to see the man tackle yet another musical style altogether and keeping up with the times, though. Plus the cover art for the album is one of my personal favourites.

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