~Review Time!~

This Is Happening – LCD Soundsystem.

The latest piece of Electro-Dance goodness from James Murphy, This Is Happening, is Murphy’s (otherwise known as LCD SoundSystem) last release under the name that has seen him release two other albums, first, the self titled LCD SoundSystem, and next, the wonderful Sound Of Silver.

Dance Yrself Clean

Dance Yrself Clean, the opening track for the album, is a interesting listen, it begins with the group of band members along with Murphy singing together against a simple drum beat, with bits of synth coming in and out as they progress. Just when you think that the whole track will proceed like this, the currant beat is accompanied by an incredibly funky synth dance piece, accompanied by Murphy’s signature wailing vocals. Its a good track, but at 8:58, it can certainly drag on.

Drunk Girls

Probably my favorite song off the album so far, Drunk Girls is a great track. It has everything you would expect from a great LCD track. Fun lyrics which have a casual message that everyone who’s partied before will understand, plenty of chances to sing along and clap your hands, plus some great, light hearted synth playing along in the background. A simple structure leads throughout the song so its good fun to listen too and something that will get plenty of cheers if it starts playing at a party.

One Touch

A nice groove is one way to describe this song. Much like Drunk Girls, this is the kind of track you can dance too. The wonderfully layered synth and infectious beat really makes this a good listen, but the lack of anything that is definitively LCD can make this a bit of an easy song to forget.

All I Want

Another wonderful track, All I Want combines a nice, repeated progression of piano and drums with an awesome wailing guitar track. One thing ive noticed about most LCD songs is their repetition, punctured only by a few parts that actually change things up, this, is most cases, would be a bad thing, but the pure enjoyable nature of many of the songs, Murphy’s voice and lyrics can create songs that don’t really require structure in themselves, and this is certainly evident in All I Want.

I approve of this album artwork.

I Can Change

The bassy, chilled out tone in most parts of this track makes it an easy listen, and the addition of the high pitched synth during choruses shakes it up enough to make it an enjoyable listen, Murphy seems to have gone the extra mile on his vocals and lyrics during this track too, as they’re certainly a highlight.

You Wanted A Hit

You Wanted A Hit begins feeling like a vortex of synth, darting and flashing about all together, once drums and guitars come in, the synth fades away to leave a beat with a real feeling of purpose, I dont know what gives me that feeling, it just feels like its on a mission. Once the lyrics kick in and you get a feel as to what Murphy is really trying to say, it becomes more and more apparent that this song is either a message to someone or to a group of people about not always listening to what other people want.

Pow Pow

Probably the strangest track on the album, Pow Pow has a complete lack of structure in its lyrics, and bongo’s abound around the whole song. Its certainly weird, and I cant see everyone liking it. But its certainly an interesting track to listen too.

Somebody’s Calling Me

Beginning with a slow progression of piano, echoing clapping, and quiet vocals, and ending with basically the exact same thing, Somebody’s Calling Me is probably the worst song on the album. It lacks that energy that comes with most LCD tracks, so it cannot support its repetition, and the irritating explosions of synth don’t seem to serve any purpose but too annoy.

Home

Starting out with an undeniably catchy mixture of of low-key synth, some sporadic guitar strings, and some nice high-hat play, Home just becomes more and more layered as it progresses, bringing in vocals, horn sounding synth, and some incredibly funky bass. It’s probably one of the best tracks beside Drunk Girls and is a great way to finish off the album.

This Is Happening is certainly a good way for Murphy to say goodbye to LCD SoundSystem, but I do feel as though it is a little bit unpolished, there’s no song that will be remembered for a time to come other than Drunk Girls and even that might only be a pop track to be forgotten in a few months. Other than a few issues with irritating or somewhat boring songs, This Is Happening is definitely a good listen and something that fans should enjoy.

Well Ain’t That Nice!

A few days ago, Steam, a gaming platform for PC’s (think Xbox Live on PC, except free), came out for Mac computers! Im really glad that Mac is now getting better gaming support since it was its biggest issue for most people considering buying one. So now, basically most games that are going to be released on Steam will now also be available for Mac gamers too. It may take a while to fully assimilate into the system, but now Mac gamers are getting their hands on the likes of Team Fortress 2, the Half-Life series and both Left 4 Deads!

In the lead up to announcement of Steam for Mac there were a lot of hints and teasers dropped about its possiblity, with plenty of Mac themed pictures with Valve characters appearing on the internet, and you can see most of them here: http://www.macrumors.com/2010/03/03/valve-teases-upcoming-half-life-release-for-mac/

But speaking of the upcoming games, to mark the release of Steam for Mac, Valve has now made one of their best, and most inventive games, Portal, available for free download! No strings attached. Its this kind of stuff that makes Steam, and Valve, such a great group of people. I mean games are already cheap enough on Steam, and now they’re giving away one of their best for free? Thats really something.

Reminiscent of the old silhouette iPod ads

But be quick about getting your hands on it, as its only available for free until the 24th of May, so jump over to the Steam website (http://store.steampowered.com/) and download Steam, then quickly get your very own copy of Portal.

Have fun!

~Review Time!~

Total Life Forever – Foals

The Oxford Indie/Math Rock boys Foals burst onto the UK music scene in 2008 with their incredible debut Antidotes. Their unique blend of electro, rock and math rock sensibilities crafted a really fresh sound and quickly placed them as my favourite band ever since. Ive been eagerly awaiting Total Life Forever, so read ahead to see if it was worth the wait, and even after, if it can stand up against Antidotes.

Blue Blood

‘Blue Blood’ really sets a tone for the rest of the album, Yannis’ echoing vocals and the larger emphasis on funk, in combination, really gives you an idea of what the rest of the album is going to sound like. Its not aggressively sporadic like a few of the songs off Antidotes, and this feeling of careful funk is sprinkled throughout the rest of the album.

Miami

Funnily enough, ‘Miami’ actually sounds like the kind of song I would associate with the same city, I don’t know what it is, but I get the feeling. Anyway, ‘Miami’ breaks away from ‘Blue Blood’s reserved feeling, but the element of funk is definitely still prevalent, which is brought forward even more by the heavy bass line running throughout.

Total Life Forever

The albums title track begins with some really great harmony from the whole band. Backed by an especially enjoyable bass riff, its certainly going to get your head bobbing. This great beat is interrupted though, somewhat disappointingly, by a pretty uninspired chorus, and the chorus feels out of place within the song itself.

Black Gold

If you thought there wasn’t enough of the harmonic pickings from the original album in the first three tracks of Total Life Forever, ‘Black Gold’ is your fix. Some especially enjoyable muted riffs run through the first minute or so of the song, and its when we hit the chorus where Foals break into their first spacey interlude. Horns cry out in this section, and after the second round of the chorus, the song falls into a nice spacey feel accompanied by some nice ambient synth. This comes together for the last two and a minutes in a lovely, crash and droned vocals doused finish.

Spanish Sahara

Nearing the mid-point of the album, Foals go in a completely different direction to anything you’ve heard before. No synth, no bass, only intercutting guitar chords for the first two minutes. Its really quite good, and its nice to see Foals trying to apply their sound in new tones. After the two minute mark, beeps of a keyboard and light taps on a crash come together in a massive wall of sound alongside Yannis’ chorus vocals. Then all of a sudden its gone and we’re back to the quiet emptiness of the first two minutes. Again we go through a verse, accompanied though by those familiar beeps and chords, and once again, the wall of sound approaches, but this time it all collides for a beautiful payoff of swirling sound and the whole band breaks into a wondrous jam. Its really something to behold, and nothing you’ve heard from Foals before. This by far is one of the best tracks on the album.

This Orient

If there was going to be one radio friendly song on Total Life Forever, it would be ‘This Orient’. Foals return here to a sound much like what you would find on Antidotes, but they keep to true enough to the current sound of Total Life Forever for it to be at home on the album. This is for the better as “This Orient” has an amazing electronic, harmonic swell about it that makes it seem far more meaningful and soulful than something like “Cassius” or “Red Socks Pugie”. Yannis’ usual wail has been excellently replaced with a more morose drone, and backed up by the boys, it suits the track perfectly, even when contrasted against its largest musical swells of crash and synth.

Fugue

A 49 second interlude after ‘This Orient’. ‘Fugue’ cant really be judge as a song, its really just some piano chords with blasts of samples that seem to be intended to represent technology itself, with static and beeps abounding.

After Glow

Signaling the inevitable closing of the album, ‘After Glow’ is a little bit uninspired throughout its verses, but after hitting the chorus, Yannis’ lyrics are really nice, and the general tone changes to a nice ambient feeling which is nice to listen too, but its infrequency is quickly remedied by the last three minutes of the song. Some fun little “ooo’s” and “hey!’s” penetrate through a great jam the band gets going, and some especially nice guitar plays through this section. Trust me, theres plenty of funky beats to be had here.

Alabaster

‘Alabaster’ is probably one of my least liked songs of the album, at least for as long as ive been listening to it. I don’t feel as though theres anything that really defines it from other songs on the album. Apart some pretty interesting drumming from half-way in, theres not too much to see here.

2 Trees

‘2 Trees’ enjoys the same light feel that ‘Blue Blood’ started off the album with. At about one minure and forty seconds in, some really great tremolo picking comes in to make things interesting, and from three and a half minutes, it all falls away into a spacey, ambient keyboard section that, when the drums and tremolo come back, melds quite well together to make for a nice finish.

What Remains

A consistent beat carries throughout ‘What Remains’, and with a nice wail coming back into Yannis’ vocals it starts off strong, and when tribal drumming, and exaggerated bass join the mix accompanied by plenty of ‘whoas’ from the band it becomes a very aggressive punchy song, and a great way to finish off the album.

Total Life Forever shows a far more mature and changed Foals. Yannis’ lack of wail in his voice in all but one track shows Foals’ ability to write songs that can also support a serious tone. And if theres a word that could describe Total Life Forever it would be ‘serious’. The careful funk and ambient synth that infects your ears while listening really brings you are to the music, and tears you away from the sound Foals established in Antidotes. All I have to say here is that Foals have shown they can truly make some welcome changes to their already amazing sound. Make sure you pick up this album.

New Foals Album Officially Released

The latest album by Oxford Indie/Math Rockers Foals has just been officially released in stores and online. After downloading it as soon as possible, ive taken the time to listen and i’m ready to write a review which will be up within the next few days. In the meantime, i suggest you download it (legally!) and give it a listen, decide for yourself what you think of it.

-Nick, xx

~Review Time!~

This Orient EP – Foals

Foals’ first piece of officially released music since Antidotes, “This Orient”, has a much closer connection the kind of music you would find on Antidotes than their first track leak from their upcoming album (Total Life Forever) “Spanish Sahara”.

However, i’m not saying that “This Orient” is something that would seem at home on Antidotes, no, its different to their earlier, energetic, sporadic works. “This Orient” has an amazing electronic, harmonic swell about it that makes it seem far more meaningful and soulful than something like “Cassius” or “Red Socks Pugie”.

“This Orient” is probably the closest I’ve seen Foals’ come to writing something that really has beauty and meaning weaved into it.

Total Life Forever Cover

Cover for the upcoming album "Total Life Forever"

Yannis’ usual wail has been excellently replaced with a more morose drone, and backed up by the boys, it suits the track perfectly, even when contrasted against its largest musical swells of crash and synth.

I think that “Spanish Sahara” was a good sign of things to come from Foals, and “This Orient” not only solidifies that, but rockets it up to massive standards that i’m sure the album will meet. This is a new and improved Foals, and I hope they’re here to stay.

~Review Time!~

Darwin Deez. – Darwin Deez

Darwin Deez released his first two track EP “Radar Detector” back at the beginning of this month, April 10th to be precise. I really enjoy Darwin’s song writing style, he seems to have been able to get fun distilled down to a sound and then combines that with some great pop beats and simple but enjoyable guitar bits. On his new album he’s toned down the ‘happy-go-lucky’ themes and some of the resulting tracks are some great, sometimes chilled out, listens.

Constellations

The opening track has a nice relaxed motion about it. During the chorus ‘Ooohing’ and ‘Ahhing’ vocals fit the sound of the total track quite nicely, and the whole track has a nice spacey feel about. The signature guitar that plenty will recognise from the the EP is there too.

Deep Sea Divers

Deep Sea Divers continues the feeling set up by Constellations and is a slow listen with plenty of spacey, chilled out feelings rippling through it. My issue with it though, is whereas Constellations’ slow progression was enjoyable, it gets a bit irritating that the second track doesn’t really hit a high or change at all, and seems a bit like the same feeling of sound twice over.

The City

This track takes a different turn from the beginning songs. The robotic delivery of his lyrics along with the simple, heavier, guitar certainly changes things up in The City and its a nice change from the albums beginning sound.

DNA

DNA is where Darwin really begins to hit a high on the album. Its got some great lyrics, a funky pop beat accompanies is usual guitar. All in all its good fun to listen too, and definitely will get plenty of listens on my iPod.

The Suicide Song

Im not sure about this track, something about it just kind of annoys me, the high guitar tone doesn’t seem to go well with Darwin’s vocals, and it all seems a bit messy. Probably the worst song on the album so far, not too say its terrible though.

Up In The Clouds

Another song where the album falls a bit short, the overly ‘same-y’ nature of Up In The Clouds doesn’t really help with trying to differentiate it from Darwin’s other tracks. There doesn’t seem to be anything that makes it stand out.

Bed Space

Bed Space is another track where Darwin has gone for that ‘space-y’ feel that started off in  Constellations, and it was certainly a good move for them to turn up the echo vocals and chilled out nature, because this is one of my favourite songs on the album by far. Its a great song, and certainly a high for the album.

Radar Detector

The title track from Darwin’s EP, Radar Detector is probably going to a favourite for most as its probably the most catchy and fun song on the album. My favourite part of this track probably has to be the lyrics, there really cool and sing about a date between a new couple. Its cute stuff. Also, a side note, the music video is really fun, so be sure to check that out too.

Bad Day

Bad Days merits mostly lie in its lyrics, mostly about wishing irritating and annoying things on a certain person, and some of them are quite clever as they depict things that I myself would probably wish on someone who annoyed me. Its also a change of pace. Its less upbeat, but has a nice bassy progression too it and its a good way too finish off the album.

Darwin Deez is a good start for the band, and its fairly original sound will at least last them another album, or maybe EP, but I do think they’ll need to change their sound around to seem fresh and new again, as their sound is good fun, but I think clings to a few to many pop sensibilities to sound entirely original. Still, pick it up or download it off iTunes for a nice little package of pop/rock fun.

LCD Soundsystem v.s The Beatles v.s The Kinks Mash-Up

This is a really cool mash-up between ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’, ‘Get Back’, and ‘You Really Got Me Going’ by LCD, The Beatles, and The Kinks respectively, give it a listen to see what you think.