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.

‘Hours…’ – Album Review

Hours

In 1999, David Bowie released the album ‘Hours…’ and it enjoyed mixed reviews, some critics calling it a masterpiece, others a lesser work from the music icon.

Is it one of Bowie’s best?

Let’s take a listen.

The first track on the album is also the first single to be released from it. “Thursday’s Child” has a pensive, moody vibe to it with a very 90’s beat underneath it all and choir-style backing vocals. It’s a song that’s both upbeat and downbeat somehow making it an intriguing listen, even if it’s not that catchy. It is followed by “Something In The Air”, an initially slower track which builds up confidently to a rockier and, in fact, very cool bridge and chorus. Great guitar work throughout this one, I should point out.

“Survive” is next and it’s a bit like a mix of the first two songs in that it’s both nostalgic and hopeful but also has an effective build up and a terrific guitar sound. It’s an atmospheric tune which aims to get a particular feeling, mood across and it does that perfectly. It’s the third single to be released from the album and its video sees a long-haired Bowie float around a kitchen.

As you do.

The following song is “If I’m Dreaming My Life” and Bowie goes down low vocally for this one. It’s a moody, kickass track which a growing and shrinking rhythm, poetic lyrics, a fab melody and a fantastic chorus. One of the best tracks on the album, definitely. Why this song wasn’t a single I’ll never know.

Speaking of singles, “Seven” was the last song to be released as one from ‘Hours…’. Written by both Bowie and Reeves Gabrels, it’s a beautiful, mostly acoustic track with a perfect build-up, an irresistible melody, a catchy hook and, again, a terrific guitar. My personal favourite on the album. Screeching guitars open the more retro “What’s Really Happening?”, a killer rock tune that feels like a classic from the very first note. Again, this is a single if I ever heard one.

The album picks up even more with really fun single “The Pretty Things Are going To Hell”, another rockier track with heavier guitars and a chorus designed for maximum live effect. This is probably the closest you’ll hear David Bowie get to doing metal so it’s pretty awesome, as you can imagine. Expect more excellent work from guitarist/co-writer Reeves Gabrels.

The next track is “New Angels Of Promise” and it’s another cracking, very Bowie tune with a cool chorus, some simply brilliant vocal work and a grungy, punky vibe throughout. This feels more like an early 90’s/late 80’s effort than a song recorded in 1999 and that’s a good thing for sure. “Brilliant Adventure” is more of a transitional ambient track and it has a very Eastern, Middle Eastern even, feel. It’s short but very pretty.

Finally, we have “The Dreamers”, which opens with short booms, then gives way to a faster rhythm and then a more disjointed, dancier one. It’s a retro-sounding, experimental track which tries a whole bunch of different things, all of which somehow work. It’s typical Bowie throwing something unpredictable at you to end the album on a high, creative note.

It’s surprising that critics were not all that emphatic about ‘Hours…’ as it’s easily one of David Bowie’s most underrated efforts. For such a short album, you’ve got a lot of great, memorable stuff in there. From the more atmospheric, slower tracks to the rockier ones, it’s pretty much all good: the singles prove themselves to be worthy and even the non-singles sound like they could have enjoyed a comfortable release of their own.

‘Hours…’ is an under-appreciated gem from Mr Bowie and it gets 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us.

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El Pintor – Album Review

Interpol

Last year, New York City indie rock band Interpol finally released a follow-up to their self-titled album. El Pintor was their 5th and it was well received overall.

The first song on the album, “All The Rage Back Home”, was the first single to be released from El Pintor and it recently made our 20 Cool Songs From 2014 list. Singer Paul Banks‘ haunting voice is back in a familiar but catchy and moody track that’s most definitely a worthy opener.

“My Desire”, the second track (and single), boasts an inventive pinched guitar hook. It’s certainly atmospheric and doesn’t sound like a lot of Interpol songs which is good since it shows some form of versatility. That said, it never truly takes off. As for “Anywhere”, it’s got a solid start but, on the whole, it mostly comes off as a bit too busy and messy. It’s like if R.E.M. sang in a busy restaurant but no-one stopped talking or eating, there’s a droning feel to this one.

“Same Town, New Story” is a softer track with a promising core hook which, like “My Desire” gives the song its own personality. It is, however, a little repetitive and the song doesn’t seem to develop much. A shot of adrenaline could do this album some good right about now.

“My Blue Supreme” works much better in that its main melody is catchier and almost has a John Frusciante-esque quality to it. It’s, again, a slower, softer track which needed a burst of energy in there somewhere but it’s really not bad.

The problem with the next track and third single, “Everything Is Wrong”, is it starts with a simple, pretty cool guitar riff but that gets lost in a sea of effects-packed instruments and soundscapes. If only this one hadn’t been so overproduced it could have stood out a little more because, as it stands, it’s another kinda forgettable, too busy track.

“Breaker 1” has a decent hook which comes up now and then but, otherwise, there’s not much to hold onto here. Interpol are awesome at creating atmospheric tunes and this is one of them, but the songs really need to sound radically different to each other in order to make the album worth it. Otherwise it’s better to just buy the first single and walk away then go back and listen to Antics, the band’s terrific 2004 album.

Same goes for the 8th track, “Ancient Ways”, another moody tune with potential which sadly never fully takes off. That said, this is one of the best songs on the album, probably because it’s got a Muse-style vibe here and there but probably also because you can actually hear the guitar riffs for once!

A solid drum beat introduces “Tidal Wave”, a decent track in which Paul Banks tries something a little different by going into Bono territory vocally at times. There’s a repetitiveness to the track and pacing issues but those are nitpicks, it’s not bad at all. Finally, we have the ironically titled “Twice As Hard” which isn’t twice as hard but twice as slow as the other tracks on the album. It’s a fitting last song, which isn’t a good thing.

While it may sound like I hate El Pintor, I really don’t. There are some decent songs in there and it still sounds very much like Interpol so if you like the band, chances are you’ll like parts of this album. It’s just a frustrating listen with every song showing lots of potential but never going the extra 100m to stand out at all. A lot of the times, cool riffs and good ideas are drowned in a sea of effects, plus Banks never really challenges himself here.

Not terrible, then, but Interpol have done better and will do better, I’m sure.

That’s only 2 Happy Cobains out of 5 for this one, I’m afraid.

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20 Cool Songs From 2014

It may be a little late for 2014 retrospectives but we thought we’d throw some of our favourite tracks from last year your way regardless, just in case you missed some you might want to check out.

Feel free to send us your recommendations and your favourite tracks from last year right here in the comments, on Twitter (@feedbacktheatre) or on our Facebook page.

Alright, here we go: in no particular order, here’s 20 Cool Songs From 2014:

20

The Way

Buzzcocks

Buzzcocks

Out of nowhere, the Buzzcocks came back with a ninth album last year. Its title track was “The Way” and it confirmed quickly that the punk band still had some life left in them.

19

Turn Blue

The Black Keys

Black Keys

Another title track, this time from The Black Keys‘ eighth album Turn Blue. This is one fab, retro, chilled-out tune that’s perfect for cheap wine drinking and light fornication.

18

Sugar On The Side

Blondie (feat. Systema Solar)

Ghosts-Page1-2-Final

Blondie‘s latest album Ghosts Of Download may have proven a little too “poppy” for fans but Debbie Harry‘s reinvention was still worth a listen, especially the single “Sugar On The Side”.

17

Rock Or Bust

AC/DC

Rock Or Bust

Unlike Blondie, AC/DC didn’t exactly come out of their comfort zone last year delivering a very AC/DC album with the old familiar sound we’re used to. That said, new album (and single) Rock Or Bust still rocked.

16

All The Rage Back Home

Interpol

Interpol

Interpol‘s latest album El Pintor may not have been their best but parts of it were still worth a listen including the single “All The Rage Back Home” which was catchy and moody just like a good Interpol track should be.

15

Said And Done

The Very Small

Very Small

Up and coming band The Very Small released the album Zoomed Way Out last year along with the single “Said And Done” which was a welcome burst of energy to the indie rock scene.

14

New Crown

Wolfmother

New Crown

For their third studio album, Wolfmother went full retro and released the most 60’s-sounding LP of 2014. The title track, “New Crown”, gives you a pretty good idea of what the band would have sounded like back in the day.

13

The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)

U2

U2

The controversy surrounding the iTunes release of U2‘s Songs Of Innocence may have overshadowed the album itself yet this turned out to be the band’s best in a long while. Its first single, an ode to Joey Ramone, set the more personal tone.

12

The Gift

Bush

Bush

Man On The Run was certainly a more commercial effort for Bush, something which may have been a divisive move for fans. “The Gift”, however, did a great job to evoke the good old grunginess we loved about the band back in the 90’s.

11

Strut

Lenny Kravitz

Strut

Is it weird that Lenny Kravitz delivered better Prince songs than Prince himself last year? A little, although Kravitz has been known to be a pretty reliable and consistent musician in his own right. “Strut” is a fun, catchy and funky tune indeed.

10

Something From Nothing

Foo Fighters

Something From Nothing

Whether you’re a fan of Foo Fighters or not, the single “Something From Nothing” was so good it definitely made you want to check out their new album Sonic Highways regardless.

9

Lazerray

TV On The Radio

Seeds

Arguably the rockier track on TV On The Radio‘s new album Seeds, “Lazerray” channels The Ramones with one fun, punky tune which confirms once again the band’s endless versatility.

8

I Don’t Need Your Love

Clones Of Clones

Clones Of Clones

Last year, breakout Washington D.C. band Clones Of Clones released the single “I Don’t Need Your Love” and, to this day, it’s still stuck in our heads and it remains one of the most memorable tracks of 2014. Don’t forget to check out the band’s latest “Monster Heart”.

7

Aspirin

Hedgehog

Hedgehog

For us here at Feedback Theatre, Chinese indie rock band Hedgehog can do no wrong. Last year saw the band release the album Phantom Pop Star which included an atmospheric, sexy tune called “Aspirin”.

6

That Black Bat Licorice

Jack White

Jack White

Here’s one cool Jack White track which was released as a 7″ single with not one but three videos attached to it. It can also be found on last year’s album Lazaretto which is also recommended.

5

Can’t Break Me Down

Billy Idol

Billy Idol

Billy Idol‘s comeback single “Can’t Break Me Down” may have had a rather light, commercial chorus aimed at picking up a newer mass audience but even then, one can’t deny just how damn good everything else about that song was. Plus it’s just good to have Idol back.

4

Fanfare

John Frusciante

Enclosure

Recent John Frusciante albums tend to be experimental to the point of being almost overwhelming or simply baffling. Enclosure at least had “Fanfare”, which benefited from the simplicity of just having Frusciante’s unmistakable voice sing over a dancey beat as the partly electro song grows and grows quietly into something expectedly brilliant. That’s before it devolves into crazy noises, of course.

3

The Plague

The Vultures

Three Mothers

Here’s one beautifully sinister track from UK-based band The Vultures: “The Plague” can be found on the band’s genial first album Three Mothers Part 1. It’s a pretty good introduction to The Vultures so if you like the track, we’d definitely recommend purchasing the whole thing over at bandcamp. Because your ears f***ing deserve it.

2

Falling

HAIM

Layout 1

HAIM certainly made an impact with their first album Days Are Gone, which basically but the Haim sisters on the map. “Falling” was the second single to be released from the album and its Kate Bush-esque retro feel made it instantly hipster-rific. Who said pop music had to be shit?

1

Gimme Chocolate!!

Babymetal

Babymetal Album

It’s no secret that metal J-pop band Babymetal are all kinds of awesome so it frankly would have been odd for us not to include one of the tracks from their terrific self-titled first album. “Gimme Chocolate!!” seemed like a fitting choice seeing as we are still nowhere near tired of THAT live performance.

Here’s hoping that 2015 delivers the goods!

See you next year for another retrospective, Feedbackians.

Top 30 Superhero Themes

Every movie superhero needs a heroic music theme to underline their personality, their motivations, their unique existence.

A forgettable theme/score can often mean some disappointingly anti-climactic superhero movie moments but a great one can cement a character in our minds forever as a true badass with one kickass, unforgettable piece of music attached to them.

Let us, therefore, take a look at our Top 30 Superhero Themes to celebrate the release of The Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

30

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spidey 2

Taking over from James Horner who scored The Amazing Spider-Man, Hans Zimmer gave Spidey a low-key yet decidedly heroic theme more in the vein of the old Superman theme with its confident trumpets leading an otherwise airy and light theme tune. Not too memorable, granted, but correct for the character.

29

Supergirl

Supergirl

Speaking of Superman, how about this theme for the 1984 film Supergirl? The movie, which was undeniably flawed, may not have lived on as much more than just a cult curiosity but the filmmakers were definitely going for more than that. The theme, which comes courtesy of Jerry Goldsmith, is appropriately grand, catchy, classy and heroic. Underrated.

28

Zorro/Mighty Mouse

ZorroMighty Mouse

The iconic cloaked horseman received one catchy theme back when the Walt Disney series from 1957 were on the air. The Chordettes even had a hit with the song (written by Norman Foster and George Bruns) which happily drills the name “Zorro” into your head by repeating it about a thousand times. And it turns out that was a good idea since we never forgot it. Mighty Mouse is included in the same breath as Zorro since both themes have a similar iconic, old-timey quality to them and say the name of their hero loads. The Sandpipers’ theme was so good, comedy legend Andy Kaufman made a whole bit out of it.

27

Daredevil

Daredevil

The new Netflix-produced Daredevil series did many things right, one of them was its moody theme song. Composed by John Paesano, the softly sinister yet hopeful Fringe-style theme, which plays over the cool blood-soaked opening titles sequence, captures the hero’s conflicted nature and the bleakness of Hell’s Kitchen perfectly.

26

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman

Lois and Clark

As corny as this 90’s Superman TV series was looking back (and even watching it then, if I’m honest), it did a good job getting us hyped up with its opening theme which was just as upbeat and catchy as it needed to be. Composer Jay Gruska may not have surpassed John Williams‘ classic theme with this one but he nailed the spirit of the show and its superhero nonetheless.

Honourable mention goes to Remy Zero‘s teen-friendly Smallville theme.

25

The Mask

The Mask

Yes The Mask is a superhero! How dare you suggest otherwise. The 1994 Jim Carrey film’s theme may not have been much of a hero hymn but whenever that jazzy “Hey! Pachuco!” song (from Royal Crown Revue) or parts of its melody or beat would pop up, you knew this was The Mask’s true theme. The cartoon series’ theme merged that type of tune with some goofy lyrics which also did the trick.

24

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

It doesn’t get much more 70’s than this particular theme song which not only boldly chose disco as Wonder Woman‘s choice music genre but included some pretty humorous lyrics such as: “In your satin tights/Fighting for your rights.”. It’s ever-so-slightly patronising and misguided but it’s also hard to not fall in love with Charles Fox‘s kitsch-sterpiece straight away.

23

Darkman

Darkman

Sam Raimi’s scientist-turned-fireball-turned-anti-hero Darkman got his own movie back in the early 90’s (along with a few sequels after that) and although it didn’t have the biggest budget, it was a surprise hit and Danny Elfman‘s moody score probably had a little something to do with it, setting the right tone from the get-go.

22

Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider may not be a great movie but even the most die hard “haters” will admit that the scene in which Sam Elliott and Nicolas Cage ride their respective fiery vehicles (a motorbike and a horse) side-by-side in the wild west is pretty darn awesome. This is mostly thanks to what ends up being the anti-hero’s theme: “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky” by Stan Jones. A little on the nose, true, but effective nonetheless.

21

Power Rangers

Power Rangers

Though Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was arguably not all that amazing of a show, Ron Wasserman certainly went all-out with his “Go Go Power Rangers” theme song which remains the best thing about Power Rangers to this day. Well, that and the rubbish-looking monsters and big robots.

20

The Incredible Hulk

Hulk

The intro for the 70’s series The Incredible Hulk was pretty good, with a narrator reiterating for the millionth time who and what The Hulk is but it was the outro music which lived on as the tortured hero’s main theme. Joe Harnell‘s “The Lonely Man Theme” wasn’t the bombastic, tough theme you’d expect a larger-than-life character like Hulk to have. Instead, this melodramatic tear-jerker was more focused on the solitary existence forced upon poor old David Banner (Bill Bixby).

Honourable mention goes to Danny Elfman’s Vertigo-style theme from Ang Lee’s Hulk.

19

Batman Forever

Batman Forever

Danny Elfman’s 1989 Batman theme being a tough act to follow, to say the least, chances were that whoever was to tackle the new Bat-theme in Batman Forever was doomed to failure. And yet Elliot Goldenthal stepped up to the plate and delivered a much more colourful but still very respectable and memorable theme which would reappear in the lesser sequel Batman & Robin and stand out as probably the best thing about an otherwise lacklustre movie.

18

Howard The Duck

Howard

An unlikely superhero, granted, Howard The Duck may be a duck first and foremost but he was also Earth’s saviour that one time so if that doesn’t make him worthy of this list, I don’t know what could. Disappointingly dull movie but the pop song created by Thomas Dolby for the film’s fake band Cherry Bomb is simply 80’s-licious. Irresistible.

17

Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z

Another 80’s delight was the first Japanese theme song for classic anime series Dragon Ball Z. Sung by Hironobu Kageyama, “Cha-La Head-Cha-La” was epic, catchy as hell and just tons and tons of fun. It sure got every kid super hyped-up for the show every time, something that none of the theme songs after that nailed quite as well.

16

The Toxic Avenger

Toxic 2

The Toxic Avenger: Part II, a film which still proudly holds a 0% rating on RottenTomatoes, gave us many things: more Toxic Avenger, a heartfelt movie unlike any other and a kickass theme song sung by Scott Casey which kindly explained every single thing that happened in the first movie with a glorious glam rock beat. It’s Troma-tastic, what more can I say?

15

Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze

Doc Savage

As if Toxic Avenger 2 wasn’t obscure enough, here’s the theme song from forgotten 1975 comic book movie Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze, a tongue-in-cheek, old-fashioned adventure starring Ron Ely as the titular hero. The tone of the film was light, bordering on spoof so the theme song was predictably goofy but in a good way. Have no fear! The Man Of Bronze is here!

14

X-Men

X-Men

Though the best version of John Ottman‘s X-Men theme can be found in last year’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past, it’s Bryan Singer’s 2000 movie which first introduced us to it and any X-film without it after that felt incomplete. Even though the X-Men animated series’ theme was superior, this was still a cool, exciting theme worthy of Marvel’s mutant team.

13

The Green Hornet/The Lone Ranger

Green HornetLone Ranger

The Bruce Lee-starring Green Hornet series got its theme somewhat accidentally after “Flight Of The Bumblebee” was used as an interlude during the radio series. The track was rearranged by Billy May and it became the theme song we all know and love. I’ve tied The Lone Ranger theme (the “William Tell Overture”) to Green Hornet seeing as they’re both unmistakable timeless classics which both recently enjoyed (well… not quite) revivals on the big screen.

12

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT

What do you mean, the turtles aren’t superheroes? They’re heroes in a half shell, it’s right there in the song! If you grew up in the late 80’s, then this one is probably engrained in your brain as one of the most memorably catchy cartoon themes ever. It was put together by Two And A Half Men creator Chuck Lorre, of all people, and Dennis C. Brown. Here’s hoping the next big screen Ninja Turtles movie remembers this one.

11

Judge Dredd/RoboCop

Dredd RoboCop

Here’s another double-whammy for ya. Say what you will about the 1995 Sylvester Stallone-starring movie version of Judge Dredd but it at least got a decent theme song courtesy of composer Alan Silvestri: tough, decisive, heroic, this was a cool musical introduction to the humourless judge we all know and love. RoboCop‘s theme was just as tough but more futuristic and somehow even grander. Basil Poledouris was behind that particular unforgettable mini-masterpiece.

10

Spider-Man

Spider-Man

When Spidey first popped up on the big screen, it was to the sound of this eclectic tune courtesy of maestro Danny Elfman who captured every aspect of Spider-Man‘s character musically with a fantastic theme which kind of goes all over the place and isn’t that easy at all to hum from start to finish but which works completely. Hearing it instantly creates a picture of the Marvel web-slinger jumping from building to building in your mind. A complex, fulfilling theme worthy of the early 2000’s favourite superhero.

9

The Silver Surfer

Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer may have been below-par as a film but one hopes that composer John Ottman was well payed for the surprisingly brilliant score he turned in. His Silver Surfer theme is often overlooked but it truly is a gem worth seeking out as it perfectly captures the tragic, poetic nature of the troubled silver hero. Clearly Ottman wanted to score a full-on Silver Surfer movie instead of the Fantastic Four rubbish the studios ended up making.

8

The Avengers

Avengers

A movie as big as The Avengers needed a big theme. After all, this was a movie packed with superheroes from Iron Man to Thor and The Hulk! Against all odds, Alan Silvestri delivered exactly what the movie needed: an epic anthem that’s an ode to team-work. Grand, filled to the brim with heroism and positivity, this is a theme that inspires straight away. Funnily enough, Danny Elfman would then take over composing duties for the sequel. Keeping the theme intact, of course.

7

The Dark Knight

Dark Knight

Again, putting together a Batman theme more iconic than Elfman’s was no easy feat and yet Hans Zimmer, with the help of James Newton Howard, gave Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy one heck of a theme. Its beat mimicking a swarm of bats, it’s literally impossible not to geek out for the Bat whenever the tune kicks in. The build-up to it in Batman Begins was nearly unbearable but it paid off in the film’s second half, the version of the theme in The Dark Knight was meaner and even more intense while the Dark Knight Rises one was darker and heavier but equally haunting and hypnotic.

6

The Flash

The Flash

Danny Elfman had one job with The Flash TV series from 1990: make the superhero sound as awesome as Batman. Not an extremely easy task but somehow he pulled it off. This mini-symphony is appropriately fast-paced and stands out as the best thing about that show even if it was, as a whole, pretty fun. Those series may be dated by today’s standards but its theme is just as awesome. Short and sweet.

5

Spider-Man: The Cartoon Series

Spidey 60s

I’m talking, of course, about the iconic Spidey theme from the old 60’s Spider-Man Cartoon Series. It’s a classic and boasts lyrics that are still a joy to this day which is why the song appears in most of the Spider-Man movies in one form or another. It was put together by Paul Francis Webster (I swear that’s actually his name) and Bob Harris and it remains one of the grooviest, most singable superhero themes out there.

Honourable mention goes to the 90’s Spider-Man: The Animated Series theme which is certainly way more modern and is led by a robot voice and some pretty rad electric guitar solos. It makes the show’s cool opening sequence very entertaining indeed.

4

Batman: The TV Series

Batman 66

Since we’re talking 1960’s, let’s talk about the Neil Hefti Batman TV Series theme from back in the day. It’s simple, its only lyrics are “Batman!” and “Dadadadadadadadada!”, it’s like 40 seconds long and it is vintage superhero theme gold. It’s impossible to picture Adam West and Burt Ward running in cartoon form to any other theme and even if another, more modern theme jumps to mind when thinking Batman, this one is always there. Somewhere. Bringing some much needed “Zaps!” and “Pows!” to your subconscious. Holy classic Bat-theme, Batman!

3

X-Men: The Animated Series

X-Men Cartoon

If you were an X-Men fan growing up and you were watching this cartoon series for the first time, chances are your head exploded from how action-packed and explosive its minute-long opening sequence was. The theme song, by Ron Wasserman, was led by a heavy drum beat, violins and a devilishly simple and catchy synth electric guitar melody. Add to that slickly animated visuals introducing each main character and their superpowers in a heartbeat and you’ve got yourself one sweet, sweet minute indeed.

2

Superman

Superman

Man Of Steel may have been missing some vibrant colours but the use of John Williams’ iconic score alone could have made us overlook that. Say what you will about Superman Returns, at least its opening sequence was a glorious throwback to the good old days when Christopher Reeve would fly out into space and smile at us from up there before taking a sharp left turn. Williams’ theme is the ultimate hero theme: it’s fun, romantic, melodramatic and makes you visualise all of Superman’s victories and adventures without the need for actual visuals. You’ll definitely believe a man can fly once you play this masterful tune.

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Batman

Batman

Big surprise, right? When it comes to “getting” a character, a superhero, besides John Williams with Superman, no-one has really managed to outdo Danny Elfman and his 1989 Batman theme. The march, which builds up slowly but surely after a mysterious, dark few seconds which suggests perhaps a villain’s theme, soon kicks in with a strong heroic melody which then quiets down to tackle Batman’s tormented, tragic past and inner demons with a romantic edge before pumping up once more for the big finale. It’s just a perfect piece of music which tells you all you need to know about Batman without having to sit through a whole hour of exposition with Bruce Wayne climbing mountains and picking blue flowers or whatever happened in that movie. The theme was also used in Batman Returns but was extended to fit a longer opening titles sequence.

Honourable mention goes to Danny Elfman’s arrangement for Batman: The Animated Series which also used the same theme but with slight, well-paced variations.

Which are YOUR favourite superhero movie themes?

Feel free to let us know in the comments!

Security – Album Review

Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel‘s fourth solo album Security (aka Peter Gabriel), released back in 1982, was about as experimental as you’d expect but a couple of hits came out of it and, in an album with only 8 songs, that’s pretty darn good.

But was the whole album as worthy as its most popular tracks?

The first song, “The Rhythm Of The Heat”, boasts an odd yet compelling and intense build-up. After a minute of Gabriel singing over what sounds like asthmatic trains, the drums etc. kick in and the song develops into what I can best describe as an epic black magic ceremony. It’s a perfect concert overture and it does really well to get you hyped up for the rest of the album.

Next up is “San Jacinto” and, over a rhythm of raining, popping notes, we get some solid, creative lyrics as ever. It’s an entertaining track despite being another long one and, although It develops slowly, the pretty epic ending is worth it.

Finally, we get to the album’s second single, “I Have The Touch”, a very 80’s love letter to rush hour. The song has a typically eclectic beat and a glam feel to it at times. It’s an upbeat yet desperate and erratic anthem. Arguably one of Peter Gabriel’s best.

The next one, “The Family And The Fishing Net”, is about 7 minutes long so don’t be in a rush if you’re planning to listen to the entire thing. It’s another slow burn with various beats and random sound effects everywhere. The tone is darker yet, at times, it becomes a funky Prince-style upbeat tune and, at other times, it has more of middle eastern music influence. Again, very experimental and challenging but an enjoyable listen if you’re willing to stick with it for a while.

The album’s first single, “Shock The Monkey”, follows and, yes, its infamous video is worth a mention as it’s all kinds of awesome and, most importantly, batshit insane. You’d never expect such a really fun, generally upbeat track in which Gabriel says “monkey” a lot to have this dark of a video and yet that’s what we got. That said, the lyrics do hint at darker, more violent goings on. It’s one of the catchiest of the bunch and, again, one of Peter Gabriel’s most memorable and best songs.

An on-and-off beat and isolated, rap-esque spoken vocals open “Lay Your Hands On Me” like it’s a Flight Of The Conchords song or something. Actually, it’s another longer, grander, more experimental track with a chorus that kicks in soon enough and is comparable in style to some of The Talking Heads‘ more out there tracks.

As for “Wallflower”, it is introduced by pan flutes and fleeting instrumental touches. You’ve guessed it, it’s a slow burner with a big build-up but this one’s much more lyric-centric than the others. Hell, the thing’s practically like a sung novella! You’ll need a lot of patience to enjoy this softer, slower effort.

We end on the much funkier “Kiss Of Life” which definitely has a Prince-esque party song vibe to it. It’s one of the most entertaining tracks on the album and it’s reliably packed with loads of crazy, layered beats throughout. It’s bizarre that this one wasn’t released as its own single but it’s certainly a nice surprise for the album’s conclusion.

All in all, if you like Peter Gabriel’s stuff, Security‘s a really good bet: chances are you’ll love every minute of it. Otherwise, you’ll probably enjoy the singles but not much more. Objectively, I’d say it’s a strong, entertaining album with some really good ideas and some cool songs.

Anyway, Peter Gabriel gets 4 Ziggies out of 5 from me.

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Peter Gabriel the album, not the guy.

Or both, whatever…

I’ll just keep calling this one Security.

Generation Freakshow – Album Review

Feeder

While Feeder haven’t quite matched how popular they were back in the early 2000’s since then, they have been hard at work on new albums. Their most recent effort was Generation Freakshow, released in 2012.

Was this the big comeback they were hoping for?

“Oh My”, the opening track, is certainly energetic and very much 100% Feeder. It’s an entertaining, melodically solid song with an enjoyable chorus and some nice touches near the end. It’s definitely one of the album’s highlights. Backing “woo’s” add an atmospheric structure to the next song, “Borders”, which was the first single to be released from the album. It’s not bad, parts of it are pretty fun, but it’s definitely a more commercial, very indie tune you’d expect The Killers to come up with.

Third single “Idaho”‘s few Nirvana-style opening seconds lead us to a surprisingly softer and more restrained effort with the odd Teen Spirit burst. Light and mostly harmless, this one. “Hey Johnny” is next and it’s an infinitely sadder, more melancholic song as it’s about the band’s former drummer Jon Lee, who committed suicide back in 2002. It’s a heartfelt track which grows on you quickly and its melody successfully delivers the emotional impact it was looking for. The song builds up to a cool, heavier ending. One of the album’s strongest and most memorable tunes.

“Quiet” is another downer with a decent core melody but, as a whole, the song’s a little too repetitive and forgettable. Those few emo Feeder fans out there should appreciate it, though. Which ain’t no bad thing. The album picks up again with “Sunrise”, a mercifully louder track with great verses but, sadly, a disappointing chorus which prevents the song from going anywhere interesting. Shame.

The title song, “Generation Freakshow”, is next and it’s an angstier track you’d probably expect more from Green Day circa American Idiot. It’s lively, varied and likeable despite the weaker chorus. Armed with a solid riff and chorus, “Tiny Minds” then comes in and it’s a fun, bitter track that’s very Feeder throughout. Some electronic sounds support the bridge in an interesting way and the whole thing’s catchy enough.

“In All Honesty” is an involving, faster-paced song with some good ideas but, ultimately, it’s in mortal danger of sounding like a tween-friendly McFly song or something. Luckily, the next song is a much better and much rockier effort. “Headstrong” may not have the catchiest of choruses but the track has a good energy to it, fair riffs and I could see this one being tons of fun live. As for “Fools Can’t Sleep”, it’s a bluesy song with a slower, folkier rhythm to it. Again, the chorus isn’t too mind-blowing but otherwise it’s a heartfelt track that, at least, has the guts to try something a bit different.

The final track, “Children Of The Sun”, is a grander, more atmospheric and experimental song which ends things on a bigger, more reflective scale. It may be too upbeat or nostalgic for some but its heart’s in the right place. Hidden acoustic track “Sky Life” is tied to it and it actually fits in rather well.

So what’s the verdict?

In all honesty, Generation Freakshow is a hard one to hate but also a tough one to truly like. We all know Feeder are capable of much better and it’s a tad frustrating to sit through an album with so few catchy and memorable tracks. You’ll probably enjoy parts of it but, by the end, you’ll struggle to recall most of it.

That’s only 2 Shady Dudes out of 5 for Feeder this time, which can sound a little harsh seeing as it definitely has its moments, but that’s only to encourage more of the good stuff.

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Heavier tracks with more inventive and head-invading choruses is what’s needed now.

Feed us, damnit!