Music

Album Review January – February

These are the albums from January till February that we think you will enjoy. Click on the image to go to the artists spotify account. We have also made a spotify playlist for your convenience.

RJD2 – The Colossus

RJD2 – The Colossus

Ramble John “RJ” Krohn known better as RJD2 has released his 4th album ‘The Colossus’, now on his very own record label. The album, which RJD2 says “may be his last” has it all, a brew of musically fused genres glued together by some of the most talented artists around. Notable tracks are ‘A Sons Cycle’ and ‘Crumbs off the Table’, which show off the exceptional ability ‘RJ’ has as a Hip Hop producer. It does not quite match up to his debut ‘Dead Ringer’, but ‘The Colossus’ is a classy record in its own right. 3/5 Daniel Rothman

Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life

Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life

With a witty reference to ‘Veronica Mars’ on single ‘Her Words Destroyed My Planet’, and Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus at the helm, with producing duties for a second time, I had a feeling Motion City Soundtrack were onto a winner, and their latest offering does not disappoint serving up yet another master-class in pop-punk perfection. Heartfelt songs of love-loss and break-ups are sung with desperation and gusto by Frontman Justin Pierre, whose soaring falsetto is on top-form on opener ‘worker bee’. Combining irresistibly catchy hooks with energetic guitars it’s business as usual for a band, which provide the missing link between Weezer and New Found Glory. 3/5 James Smyllie

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Vampire Weekend plunder intelligently throughout the realm of music, fusing a medley of contradictory styles with great success. Guaranteed to inject a sufficient measure of jauntiness into cold winter mornings, their special brand of ‘Upper West Side Soweto’ combines sun-drenched African pop with guitar-wielding indie rock, classical Baroque with Californian ska-punk, and more. Ezra Koenig’s evocative lyrics are as playful as ever, animating a specific time, place or lifestyle with a wealth of incidental detail. What may have been lost are the tight, catchy arrangements of the first album, but the dexterity in their combination of musical genres means that Vampire Weekend remain as aurally rich as ever. 3.5/5 Sephanie Soh

Skream - Skreamizm Volume 5

Skream - Skreamizm Volume 5

These days you seem hard pressed to discuss UK Dubstep without mentioning ‘Skream’, which is no surprise since he has been one of the frontrunners of the scene for years with a staggeringly large discography. His latest release from Tempa, one of the UK’s most prestigious Dubstep labels, is named ‘Skreamizm Volume 5’ and can neatly be split in half between Dubstep’s mellow and heavier sides. The release flip-flops between these sub-genres constantly starting with the dank and dark bass wobbles of ‘Filth’ set to synth strings that bring Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ to mind. Then comes a slower mix of hypnotic chords and RnB style vocals in ‘If You Know’. Returning to the bass dominated side of things, ‘Simple City’ contains the heaviest snare I have heard in Dubstep and from drop to drop its intensity is raised clean out of sight. After this comes the unfortunately disappointing ‘One for the heads who remember’, although not a bad track it offers little beyond an uninteresting garage bass line for almost 5 minutes. ‘Fick’ then smashes this disappointment with a catchy mix of warning sirens, eerie circus melodies and hard snares. Everything draws to a close with ‘Rimz’, a track full of fluttering flute notes, echoing snares and an intro reminiscent of Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy’, make of that what you will.

Skreamizm Volume 5’ is an excellent addition to the UK’s Dubstep scene that maintains if not improves ‘Skream’s position in the genre. For any fan of UK Dubstep the release is essential and I can’t wait for Volume 6. 4/5 Robert Mathers

Hadouken! - For the Masses

Hadouken! - For the Masses

With renowned Drum ‘n’ Bass act Noisia handling production on For the Masses, Hadouken!’s music has taken a darker turn, with wobbly bass lines and thumping house rhythms punching their way into the already chaotic mix of indie, electro and grime. This chaos is no bad thing, and listening to the beats, it’s easy to see that the talent here lies within the production team. However, there’s only so much Noisia can do, and Hadouken! fail to bring any real dynamics to the table, leading to a sound which becomes stale and repetitive all too quickly. Whilst Hadouken!’s music seems to have matured, the lyrics are consistently unable to match this, with Smith spitting out ‘It’s ugly like your sister’ with so much aggression and seriousness that it is simply embarrassing. It may be possible to enjoy one or two tracks on a night out, but overall the album is clichéd, tedious and an unsuccessful attempt to grow up. 2/5 Matthew Lambert

Dionne Bromfield – Introducing Dionne Bromfield

Dionne Bromfield – Introducing Dionne Bromfield

Bursting onto the music scene late last year, Dionne Bromfield’s debut album Introducing Dionne Bromfield has already made a huge impact, despite her tender age of just 14. The first artist signed to Amy Winehouse’s Lioness Records, her album cannot help being influenced by her mentor both in voice and style. She covers twelve classic soul and ska songs, including the unforgettable “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and the hit “Mama Said”, originally sung by the Shirelles’. Each song is as infectious as the next, allowing you to relive the youth and innocence of your teenage years. Her voice far surpasses her age, largely influenced by the artists she covers. Dionne is someone to watch in the future. 3/5 Natalie Matlak

Four Tet – There Is Love in You

Four Tet – There Is Love in You

Having provided one of 2009s musical highlights in the form of his Moth/Wolf Cub collaboration with school-mate Burial, hopes were raised that Kieran Hebdens fifth studio album ‘Four Tet’ – his first in five years – could harness the Londoner’s unquestionable talent in the same focussed manner that produced 2003s magical ‘Rounds’. Pleasingly, he does not let us down. Whilst creating ‘Love’, Hebden used his monthly residency at London’s Plastic People to test out his unfinished tunes, and the result is a distinctly modern sounding record with a prominent dance sensibility. The album is cast in 4/4, but the beats are tempered by lush cymbals and elegant melodies which ensure that Love retains the gentle intimacy characteristic of a Four Tet record. Allied to Hebdens intelligent arrangements and unique use of sampling, ‘Love’ is an expression of a true artist at his best, and sets a high water-mark for electronic music in 2010. 4.5/5 Patrick Cousens

Lost Prophets - The Betrayed

Lost Prophets - The Betrayed

A concept album chronicling the journey of a promising alternative rock band, who struggles to come to terms with the fact that their musical scene has changed: all the emo kids have either gone florescent ?ber pop, or Punk along with MCR. They wrestle with the problem of finding a balance between selling records and being accused of selling out, and instead opt for a mixture of sickly pop songs with La La La chorus and Rage Against the Machine rip offs (especially track DSTRYR DSTRYR) As a result they end up with an unremarkable piece of work. The album parodies the problems of vocalist Watkins who, despite his strong voice and stage presence, has the rhyming diction of a ten year old. 3/5 Joshua Schofield

Beach House - Teen Dream

Beach House - Teen Dream

The more I listen the more it embeds itself into my soul. It is a dreamy summer breeze that has taken the elements of their first two albums, expanded, and developed the passionate jingles, infused with blissful melodies. The defining track ‘Zebra’ is sculpted in a mysterious manner yet with irresistible charm shining through. The album will own you and you will not let it go. 4.5/5 Chris Jones

Honourable Mention:

The Magnetic Fields – Realism

The Magnetic Fields – Realism

‘Merritt is an expert at writing songs that work in a timeless pop-song way while simultaneously drawing attention to the form itself, even highlighting the slipperiness of the song as a means of communication’ – PopMatters

Dorias Baracca - Handsome Melting Point EP

Dorias Baracca - Handsome Melting Point EP

‘Although Dorias Baracca favour the bluster of shimmering guitars amidst their resounding sonic overload, they create a distinct balance between incessant swathes of noise and tranquil melody that conjures up visions of a secret tryst, indeed there’s a similar sense of spine-tingling, hairs-standing-to-attention feelings as one gets from Slowdive’ – Drowned in Sound

These New Puritans – Hidden

These New Puritans – Hidden

‘Big drums reverberate and ominous keyboards lay the groundwork for a struggle of epic proportions, where somber classically-arranged oboes, clarinets and bassoons act as an overture to the upcoming ten-track symphony’ – Drowned in Sound

The Irrepressibles - Mirror Mirror

The Irrepressibles - Mirror Mirror

‘Heavenly in sound and texture the songs sound as though they could have been dregged up from either an early Walt Disney animation or the latest Danny Elfman / Tim Burton collaboration. This album has twelve macabre tomes to lift most souls and manages to find that difficult balance of holding something for almost all music fans to enjoy’ – Drowned in Sound

Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM

Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM

‘Half-French and bent on exploring all the fears, mysteries, and anxieties that makes death breathe. It’s versatile and vulnerable vocals add a depth with whispers close to your ear like a sultry grim reaper’ – Pitchfork

Basia Bulat - Heart of My Own

Basia Bulat - Heart of My Own

‘Many of the indie folk elements, introspective lyrics and soaring vocals, from her debut album are still prevalent. Burrowing deeper into the recesses of old-country sound and isolation mixes sparse, plucking instrumentals with the capacious nature of her voice’ – Prefix

Spoon – Transference

Spoon – Transference

Full of vocal effects and guitar layers that advanced and retreat as the song wears on. It is tense and always feels as if it is building towards a massive finish, the unexpected left turns keeps you guessing and involved in the album’ – No Ripcord

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

‘The debut LP from this young Florida band is first and foremost a great guitar album packed with sing-along hooks. There is more going on beneath the surface and the ambition easily manifests itself as a desire to create a relentlessly catchy, “classic indie” album’ – Pitchfork

Owen Pallett – Heartland

Owen Pallett – Heartland

‘This debut after his previous work as Final Fantasy uses more electronics, drums, electric bass and the Czech Philharmonic. These are pop songs through and though, lively and propulsive but the wonder of them is in those arrangements, which are just ripe with motion and detail– and they are not decorative, but central’ – Pitchfork

The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack

The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack

-The hooks are whipsmart and constant, but there’s a modesty here, no sense of pastiche or knowing reference. Singer Matt Lamkin sounding mournful throughout, even when tossing off dumb-on-paper lines. The twangy surf guitars of the Pixies to Peter Buck’s harder Eighties tones haunt throughout. Relishing in energy and a certain air of ineffable sadness for good measure to set the garage rock revolution cooking right now’ – Drowned in Sound

Midlake - The Courage of Others

Midlake - The Courage of Others

‘The slow-burning nature of the album is unquestionably lovely as it is a masterclass in crafted repose – repeated listens and time spent in its company yielding considerable reward which the overwhelming sensation of a band teetering on the brink of greatness; an old-fashioned success – strong melodic chops matched by plain finesse and some simply fantastic songs’ – Drowned in Sound

Postdata - Postdata

Postdata - Postdata

‘This is a collection of tracks which came to Paul in a series of dreams shortly after losing his grandparents. Recorded sparsely with his brother in a series of sessions, this recalls moments of Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Low. Reflective yet uplifting – a beautiful album’ – OneFourSevenRecords

Los Campesinos! - Romance is Boring

Los Campesinos! - Romance is Boring

‘Perhaps the reason why Romance Is Boring feels like a bigger success than its similar predecessors is the tightness of the product. There’s a handful of honest-to-god anthems here, particularly the title track, which is a svelte two minutes of barroom-ready rawk.’ – Prefix

Field Music - Field Music (Measure)

Field Music - Field Music (Measure)

‘Retaining an affinity for the fussier side of XTC, Field Music values careful precision over outright prodigious velocity, which keeps their music from tipping over into the proggy abyss. Further, it laces their songs with winningly fragmented melodies that don’t always resolve or even repeat but still provide a vital point of entry to the band’s rigorous compositions.’ – Pitchfork

Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

Gorilla Manor feels easy. Pristine and mature, it clouts the listener with a thudding barrage of vital guitar hooks and layered percussion; a dynamic product of accomplished creation, which sounds both radiant and wretched as it traces around themes of love and loss. Lyrics open windows on brief moments in a person’s life, often with a sweet perceptiveness that makes you smile. Polished and considered, this does not feel like a young band’s debut.’ – Drowned in Sound

Gil Scott-Heron - Im New Here

Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here

‘As a spoken-word artist and poet, he could pinpoint the fissures in the American dream and exorcise them with a wit that blended righteous anger and arch sarcasm. I’m New Here does the impressive job of reviving an artist that’s been out of the spotlight far too long and setting him up for a new incarnation as an elder statesman of modern roots music.’ – Pitchfork

Hot Chip - One Life Stand

Hot Chip - One Life Stand

‘One Life Stand is Hot Chip’s most kinetic album, with only the plangent, haunted “Slush” really harkening back to slower songs like “In the Privacy of Our Love” and “Won’t Wash”—even “One Life Stand” the song emotes by weaving together Joe Goddard’s shivering backing vocals and a squelchy, bouncing beat into something that’s more banger than ballad. ‘ – Popmatters

Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise

Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise

‘Germany’s Hendrik Weber is one of the leading figures in modern techno, Black Noise is a big, dense listen but also the kind of album that rewards investment. Each track is its own micro sound world with enough rich detail to draw you back for deeper investigation.’ – Pitchfork

Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago

Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago

‘A triptych of mindblowingly beautiful, dense and ambitious excursions about man’s impact on the natural world. Jonathan Meiburg turns his attention to life on islands – a world of lushness and austerity, silence and sudden cataclysms. From rising sea levels to displaced populations, Meiburg travels from the Falklands to Madgascar, from the Bikini Atoll to the Tierra Del Fuego. The music matches the grandeur and melancholy of its subject matter.’ – Amazon

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