Crosslight – Road to Recovery (Review)

Distorted guitars, harsh bass lines and drum patterns, Crosslight‘s music is full of angst. The band formed in early 2016 and have already toured around the UK. As well as playing shows, the band have spent a lot of time in the studio recording their debut album “Road to Recovery.”  The album was released on the 6th May 2018, and I’m finally getting round to sitting down and reviewing it. Crosslight are energetic and so passionate about their work and it completely shines through every word and chord. Their live shows showcase their talent to audiences through the ages and it certainly leaves people wanting more. The band consists of

The first track, “Recovery” begins with what sounds like a heart monitor in a hospital, sneakily involving the background noise of a waiting room. Before we know it, the song transitions into track number two; “Run Into Flowers.” This song has had a really good reception so far from fans with reaching over 1,000 plays on Spotify. Lead singer, Charlotte’s voice compliments the song also sounding heavily influenced from Hayley Williams of Paramore. Musically, the track is fast and upbeat, giving the album a good start off. Hopefully the momentum sticks all the way throughout. I find the guitar tone slightly a bit generic and not very creative for a pop metal song, but it still suits the song well. If you’re a fan of the nu-metal scene in the noughties, you probably will like this track.

“Clockwork” tells the story of what feels like a battle with a mental illness with this lyric indicating the struggle; “I’ve had enough, I’ll rid the curse be normal again.” Metal is hard to not fall into the category of sounding all the same because of its aggresion and similar rhythmical guitar patterns, but Charlotte really draws you in to listen to the story. I feel that the repetition of this track makes it actually more original.

The fourth track on the album, “Time Wasted” is a bit more electronic to begin with, adding another influence into Crosslight’s inspirations. It’s a short song which adds strength to embark on the next song “Karma.” Now, this song is heavy and deals with angst from, well, karma. What goes around comes around honey, we’ve all gone through it, wherever we’re watching someone go through karma or going through it ourselves. I find that the song itself has the same attitude of shrugging your shoulders, it’s simply put as a care free nature of “Whatever!” The chorus lyrics aren’t quite the normal, metal lyrics you’d get, it’s more of an Avril Lavigne tone which is really different. “You run around oh so careless honey, karma’s gonna catch up soon, I’m done with you.” The rhythm is slightly different compared to the other tracks on the album, but it still has a similar vibe to it all. Strongest track on he album so far for me.

“Fighting for What? falls into the same attitude as everything else so far, and as a listener, I’m longing for another influence in the band’s music to make it slightly more original. The drums are so programmed which makes the song feel forced. I think the band were definitely aiming towards an angry, powerful album instead of the music actually being more felt, which is definitely not a negative thing, it’s just a personal preference. I really admire the band for striving for something and getting the product done the way they wanted it.

Overdriven bass played by Daniel begins the next song “Poison” which creates a tone that Chris Wolstenholme defines in Muse. I feel that the song doesn’t dynamically go anywhere, it stays the same throughout. I’d really like to hear Charlotte sing different phrases/tones to make the songs slightly more interesting, but saying that, I do like the angry attitude in her voice. At the very end of the song, it’s really interesting how everything just completely stops and there’s just a slightly delay that comes after from Charlotte’s voice making it sound confusing as if there’s more to come, but there’s not… clever.

“100,000 Miles” begins with a ukulele which was very unexpected seeing as the album is so angry. The song does have a rhythmical metal sounding guitar part by Luke come swiftly in after the first verse, making the band go back to their roots. I think the band tried to make this a folk-metal track with the soft string instruments sitting in the back, but it doesn’t work as well as planned I personally think. I’ve noticed that in most of the songs on the album, it feels very stiff and mixed to the grid making it sound somewhat robotic. This is used a-lot in heavy metal music as it does add more power to the songs.

A heavy prog-esque riff dominates “Submerge” and automatically I thought to myself “this is more like it.” The tone is scary and makes you instantly want to move in someway, wherever it may be a foot twitch or a head bang. The guitar tone sounds similar to the sound that Queens of the Stone Age implicated on Songs for the Deaf, which is always a great compliment. I like how the band bring their own flavouring to this prog based song. It’s definitely my favourite on the album for sure.

“Just a Kiss” features Amal Birch, a freestyle rap artist. The song definitely has an influence of what Jay Z captured with 99 Problems; the rap rock element. The rap itself from Amal feels a bit too fixed and I really wish it was a bit more loose. The words are really well thought out though and fit the topic well. With the programmed drums, it’s just not quite as powerful as this song should be. I could be completely wrong about the drums being programmed, but the mix sounds like they have been edited quite a lot. I’m sure this song live will be really great to listen to with drummer, Joe, laying down some juicy drum fills. I feel that the topic of the track is about simply having a kiss with someone in, maybe a club, well that’s what it sounds like.

Once again, the next song doesn’t really go anywhere, and sometimes when that happens, it doesn’t take me to a place. Whereas songs that have a strong momentum all the way through, it makes people shift to another place where they can really relate to the song. Saying that, in “B.A.C.K”, you can feel the energy that the band bring in their music, they really do live for this stuff. One thing that people look for in new bands are charisma, talent & passion, Crosslight certainly do have that.

The guitars in “Kingdom is Mine” aren’t quite quantised to the same tempo as the drums in some parts making the guitars sound unfinished and sort of out of time. This song is once again nu-metal down to a tee. I feel the influences behind this song are Halestorm and Evanescence with all three bands having a strong female vocal. I like the path that the band go down with their music but like I’ve said before, it’s not really my personal preference to listen too.

Next up is actually an acoustic number, Charlotte sings “Drive On” with an American twang making it show that her voice is versatile and can sing through genres. This folk number feels slightly forced still and the harsh drum editing is more obvious than before as this song is so soft. I feel that the cymbals being played, more a less constantly make the song sound a bit messy. Overall though, the song is sweet and is also the longest track on the whole album.

The last track on the album “I’m Not Done” isn’t really a stand out track as much as the last of an album should be. The song does cover the band’s genre as a whole and connects the songs altogether to fit a nice pattern for the album. If you’re a fan of My Chemical Romance, The Used, Tonight Alive, then you should definitely check Crosslight out.  The band cover a wide range of influences in their music and make them fresh. The songs are good and the talent shines. Interested to see where the band may take their music in their next releases…

Favourite Tracks: Recovery, Run Into Flowers, Clockwork, Time Wasted, Karma, Submerge.

Score: 6.5/10

https://www.facebook.com/crosslightband/

https://www.crosslight.band/

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Jeff Buckley – Grace (Review)

In my eyes, “Grace” is the best album of all time. Without Grace, my life would be so much more different to how it is now. When I first found Jeff Buckley’s music, it turned my life completely around and made me realise how much music means to me. It really opened my eyes to how much I want a career in music. There’s not really a day that goes by when I don’t listen to at least one song off Grace. Jeff has been my biggest inspiration in songwriting for about 4 years now and there’s so many things that I would have loved to ask him. He left this world far too soon and there will never be another artist like him.

“Mojo Pin” starts with angelic vocals from Jeff which makes us feel that this could be a perfectly soft song. When the percussion is slowly but surely added, the tension starts rising to make the audience believe “hey… this isn’t going to be soft at all, is it?” The lyrics explain a feeling of addiction, to either drugs or a person. Jeff also indicated once that the song was about a dream he had about a black woman. He also apparently invented the term “Mojo Pin” which makes it clear that it’s when you inject drugs into your arm. I feel if anxiety or even bipolar had a sound, it would be this song. The dynamics are constantly shifting up and down, whereas the vocals gradually build all the way through to the end with this refreshing power from Jeff. I personally feel that the song could be took in an unusual way too, perhaps Jeff was actually addicted to a person? He definitely wasn’t a drug addict or alcoholic, if he was ever addicted to something, it would have been love or music. As the song proceeds, it builds up making it sound that Jeff was getting frustrated with love for this woman. For such a gentle start to the album, Mojo Pin is simply put as an iconic song for Jeff. It showcases that he could be so soft and caring, but really show he meant business when he screamed of his pain at the same time.

I’ve always loved the imperfections of Jeff’s work, he never aimed to have things perfectly in time or sang correctly, he just performed the music to how it should be done, by felt. After the second chorus, a free, messy, jazz-fusion jam enters that’s totally unexpected but without it, the song wouldn’t have that tension yearning for release. As the jam comes to an end, we’re comforted by Jeff’s angelic vocals, singing a soft, melodic line that just sends shivers down my spine. Through Mojo Pin, it’s Jeff’s voice that just stuns the whole performance to make it such an amazing start to a debut album. The use of drug imagery in this song is so delicate and painful that it makes the audience feel like we’re on drugs too. Jeff’s love for this woman makes us feel that Jeff felt his problems would go away if he had love in his life. The change of rhythm from mid-beat to upbeat could prove more of his frustration for love. “The white horses flow, memories fire, the rhythms fall slow, black beauty I love you so” is a much deeper lyric than it sounds. White horse is another name for Heroin, Heroin affects your “memories”, and makes your heart beat slow. Plus black beauty is another word for speed. Like I said, his imagery of drugs is painfully amazing. It’s dark, twisted & stunning.

The title track, “Grace” was originally an instrumental song written by Gary Lucas and Jeff added the vocal melody and lyrics. The song begins with a complex guitar hook that’s memorable and is all about the rhythm more than the notes. It twinkles brightly and gives across a romantic vibe that makes you long for love too. The song is in the key of E minor, but uses chords that aren’t found in that scale, which makes the song sound hard to recognise what key it is actually in. Jeff wrote the lyrics inspired by saying goodbye to his girlfriend at an airport in the rain. The song is more about not feeling bad about yourself when you have true love by your side. Grace is about keeping alive and staying true to yourself even when you feel things may be going bad. Grace was the first Jeff Buckley song I ever listened too and it holds a very special place in my heart. “There’s the moon asking to stay” is terribly sad, as asking to stay could imply that death is sometimes closer than we think. “Long enough for the clouds to fly me away” indicates flying away to heaven. You could say that Jeff turned a negative feeling into a positive healing. “Well it’s my time coming, I’m not afraid, afraid to die”… I really hope that lyric was true.

In the second verse, Jeff’s guitar is in counterpoint with his lyrics “but she cries to the clicking of time, oh time” to add effect to the clicking of time. Another great thing about Jeff was that he was so intelligent too, he knew exactly how he wanted his songs to sound. Later in the song, it seems that he’s singing about drowning: “I feel them drown my name, so easy to know and forget with this kiss, I’m not afraid to go, but it goes so slow.” This is so upsetting, as that’s the way Jeff left us. The choruses famous “wait in the fire” is linked to a Sufi idea which isn’t surprising as Jeff loved Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The Sufi’s often said that their love for God is like a fire that cleanses the soul. I must say that the vocal power in Grace is the one thing that just leaves me speechless every time I hear it. Jeff literally just screamed this one note for over 10 seconds, ending the vocal phrase with an even higher note. It showcases that he really was one of the best vocalists of all time with his range just frying my brain. The instrumentation of the song keeps the same chilling emotion throughout with the instruments sometimes making inhumane noises that sound like things that might linger in hell. I completely love the message that Jeff gave with this song. What’s the point in feeling scared of death? We know we will all become of it one day, but we’re living right now. Live here, in this moment, don’t long for death, because it will come eventually.

“Last Goodbye” starts with what sounds like it’s going to be a heavy, country rock song. The bass line plays what could be a vocal line or potentially a riff, but before to long, the drums indicate a new section of the song featuring a more acoustic chilled vibe before taking it back to the bass riff. When the song starts properly after the interesting introduction, it’s slightly less interesting to what we would have hoped for. The song is about a man who’s in love with a woman but still breaks things off with her for no reason at all, possibly feeling that he isn’t up to her expectations. I feel with the orchestral instruments on this song, it makes it sound like something that Page and Plant would have performed on their 1994 No Quarter tour. It’s a stunning arrangement, but it doesn’t feel as big as the first two songs on the album. It’s a love ballad prominently, Jeff definitely did have a lot of emotions to get out about love, which makes me feel sad, maybe he took most of it to the grave? The song features segments throughout of hard rock layers that causes more tension for the song. I really like how this song doesn’t really have a chorus, it just has the main hook line, which is short, sweet but still memorable. Overall, the song deals with feeling good about a break up but slowly regretting it.

The next track is the first of the three covers on Grace, “Lilac Wine.” Written by James Shelton, Jeff’s version is drowned in a delicious reverb that doesn’t have a strong delay to it either. It’s spacious, stunning and free. The lyrics are kindled around heartache of losing a lover and taking to drinking wine made from a lilac tree. It’s a mellow, pop ballad that completely drifts you off to another planet. I love the short silences in this song which creates a dynamic, tensed shift. Jeff certainly made everything his own. If you haven’t heard already, he did a cover of an old jazz song called Strange Fruit and it’s completely mesmerizing.

An elegant, guitar sequence is played at the beginning of “So Real” and then falls into a minor chord indicating the entrance to the first verse. So Real is a personal favourite of mine as it takes you through a dark mellow rollercoaster of isolation and love. This song could be the aftermath of Last Goodbye (the break up) and now living with the regret of ending a relationship that was actually good. “And I couldn’t awake from this nightmare, it sucked me in and pulled me under” is a horrific lyric about being fearful of drowning. Jeff Buckley fans always find it hard to listen to certain lyrics and that’s definitely one of them. As we get to the half way mark of the song, we get to a section that’s so scary. Jeff had a few songs in with sections that sounded exactly like monsters stalking earth for their prey.

I completely believe that with this song in particular, you have to be in a mind-set to listen to it to fully understand it. One time, I listened to the scary section and wasn’t in a listening mindset and ended up hearing a lawn mower which ruined that part for me for a short while. What I’m trying to say is, give that section a chance, you’ll even be petrified of it or find it funny, there’s not really an in-between. As the section comes to a close, everything goes silent, before Jeff enters with “I love you, but I’m afraid to love you.” The instruments start again but slightly slower than before, but the pace gradually picks up again. The song is truly stunning, the instrumentation is beautiful, but with the lyrics as a combination, it becomes a cry for help. The lyrics and music compliment each other so nicely that it leaves you completely stunned of what’s just happened after listening to it. Jeff’s vocal performance towards the end of the song becomes so historic that it leaves me with goosebumps every time I hear it. The song is completely real and the atmosphere brought to it is nerve-wracking. It’s lonely and isolated to the point where it makes you feel uneasy when listening to it alone. Jeff’s vocal ability always managed to reassure the listeners that everything’s going to be ok.

The most famous track in Jeff’s discography just happens to be a cover and the most beautiful cover to ever be released? It could well be. The sigh at the beginning of “Hallelujah” is so powerful yet so questionable. Why’s it there for? To mark a hard song is ahead? Possibly. That’s one thing that will be left untold. The song was written by Leonard Cohen who passed away in 2016, and it’s about a love which has gone stale and out of date. Cohen used a lot of religious imagery, referring to the bible. It also refers to how this woman is in charge of her man and that he can’t take control because of her feminine features. The whole performance by Jeff is purely electric guitar and vocals, it sure does keep you captivated the whole way through. The guitar work is intricate and states another argument… could Jeff Buckley have been one of the greatest guitarists to have ever lived too? He could well be. Before the last verse, Jeff takes us into an instrumental break before ending the song dynamically powerful. He didn’t scream the vocals, but he did shout a bit to get his message across before ending with his pure angelic vocals. The longest track on the album at 6:52, and it’s definitely not a track that you’ll be skipping anytime soon. Jeff’s version makes the song of praise into a yearning for acceptance track. It gives the same simplicity of Lilac Wine does, but this cover is so raw that it leaves you cold and wanting warmth by listening to it on repeat.

Jeff realised and finally understood, that his life was full of failed relationships. In “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over”, he recognised that he had been too immature in a relationship, but figured out the girl he broke up with could have actually been the “one.” The song is entered with what sounds like interference before an accordion plays an irish style folk melody or something that you’d hear in a church. I think that Grace could be took as a love, concept album that deals with the processes of love – love, heartbreak, immaturity, regret to name a few. The most precious thing about Jeff was his originality. There was no one like him before and there will never be anyone like him again. He had influences and inspirations obviously, from Led Zeppelin, Django Reinhardt, but he shined through with his own sound which inspired many people around the world and still does do this day. The song takes us through a long, hard battle as she didn’t come over like he wanted her too, but if she ever was too, he would have always welcomed her back in open arms. If he was still alive today and she came back, maybe that would have had a long, happy life together. It’s so upsetting and heartbreaking to think what if.

The song has been covered by Jamie Cullum, John Mayer and Matt Corby to name a few, who all have Jeff Buckley as a strong influence in their music, especially Matt Corby. I’d personally say that this song isn’t quite up there with all the others on the album, but it still is in its own league. It’s important on this album because it keeps the love process, concept, real. No matter what we go through, we all have heart-break eventually, maybe that’s not necessarily a relationship breaking up, it’s the loss of someone. I couldn’t imagine what Jeff’s family felt like when he unexpectedly passed away.

“Corpus Christi Carol” is the last cover on the album and it’s a hymn from 1504, which Jeff sings completely like an angel. Jeff once said that the song is about a fairytale about a falcon who takes the singers love to an orchard. The singer goes searching for her and arrives at a chamber where his love lies next to a knight who’s bleeding, with a tomb next to him with Christ’s body in it. It’s a pretty dark song that sounds so beautiful from Jeff’s vocals which is blinding us of what’s actually happening. The song is the shortest track on the album at 2:57 and critics have said before “What’s the point of it even being on here?” but without it, we wouldn’t have heard Jeff’s vocal range took to a whole new level. I’m sure if anyone else in the 1990’s took a hymn like this, recorded it and put it on their album, they wouldn’t have pulled it off, but because Jeff was always on his own level and didn’t ever care what others thought, he pulled it off brilliantly.

The second to last track on the album, “Eternal Life” has been said to be heavily inspired by Led Zeppelin, but Jeff had his own refreshing sound that still sounds new after over 20 years later. The song is mainly about anger and that life’s way to short to care about what others think of you, your colour, religious beliefs etc. We are all different, let’s just except that. You can take this song as a protest song to be honest, because Jeff stood up for what he believed in and believed that everyone was unique in their own way. The main lyric that stands out to me is “There’s no time for hatred, only questions, where is love? where is happiness? what is life? where is peace?” which indicates that the only thing we see in the media is fear. We never see the happy. Jeff tried to get the message across that people need to be asking the questions he stated. What is life? What is the purpose of life if there’s no love or happiness? Still to this day, that message is so important. I wish more people would listen to Jeff and especially this song to understand that yes, it’s ok to not be ok, but question yourself more about the things that you do.

It’s political, but not in the aspect that he’s saying “you should vote for this person” which I adore. I don’t really like when artists state who to vote for and who to like, when again, we all have our own opinions so let’s stick to them and not follow what others think. As the song is angry, I really love how Jeff and his band let rip and let loose in this song. It’s an iconic moment for the Grace album. This track is quite Nirvana esque too. 

The last track on what is the most important album to ever exist to me is “Dream Brother.” The guitar refrain is quite a simple melody that doesn’t sound as original as I hoped it would have been when I first heard it, but it’s still so effective. The song was written by Jeff, bassist Mick and drummer Matt, and it was written about a friend of theirs, Chris Dowd, urging him to not walk out on his girlfriend who was pregnant at the time (which Jeff’s dad Tim Buckley did to him.) The song is quite moody and is definitely the definition of a 90’s indie track. The song is quite experimental too and a strong one in Jeff’s small catalogue. I must say though, for it being the last track on the album, it doesn’t really give off a happy send off, but it definitely leaves you wanting more songs. Which we never really got or never will get… It’s a deep and meaningful album that leaves us wanting to know answers. Plus, it’s an emotional goodbye to the legend that is, Jeff Buckley.

Grace will always hold a special place in my heart, as will Jeff Buckley entirely. The album captivates me from start to finish every time I listen to it. Wanting more and knowing there will never be anymore, makes Grace more special.

We miss you Jeff, hope you’re taking it easy wherever you are.

(This review is of the original track listing – Forget Her was released in 2004 on the 10 year anniversary of Grace reissue.)
Favourite Tracks: Mojo Pin, Grace, Last Goodbye, Lilac Wine, So Real, Hallelujah, Eternal Life, Dream Brother.

Score: 10/10

Jack White – Boarding House Reach (Review)

The man, the myth and the legend is back with a killer third studio album since The White Stripes departed and in my absolute opinion, it’s his best release since, with Lazaretto being a close second. In Boarding House Reach, we get to see Jack White in a completely different light. He’s comfortable making this music and his has found a lot of new influences to inspire the writing of this album. It’s not received the best of reviews as it’s his most eccentric work yet, but everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I’m looking forward to sitting down and reviewing this album track by track. It’s definitely a rollercoaster ride that I don’t want to get off.

“Connected By Love” was the first single to be released and I’ll be honest, the first time I heard, I really struggled with it. As each time I listen to it, it has grown and grown on me. The song starts off with a buzzing noise similar to the beginning of Black Mirror. The lyrics aren’t as strong as I wish, but they fit so well in this love story. Jack always has his own way with words. The song was actually going to be called “Infected by Love,” but Jack changed it as he didn’t want his listeners to think he had a sexually transmitted disease… smart move, Jack. The lyrics seem to be about Jack explaining to his love that he struggles with anxiety and depression, and wishes they would give reassurance to help the pain go away. I can completely relate to this song in a way like no other, purely because anxiety is hard to talk about, but singing about it can definitely make it easier. The gospel backing vocals are quite off-putting, but they’re the most prominent part of the song, making them a main hook line. I really do love how Jack can completely rock with a piano in his set up. He really has evolved blues music and brought it back into the limelight. 

I can only imagine that the next song was just put on the album as a last resort. “Why Walk a Dog?” isn’t bad, but it’s not brilliant either. The proves to be about three different animals and how they relate to humanity. Jack sings “What is so funny, about beasts above understanding?” which is actually a play on the Elvis Costello song “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understand.” The most interesting part of this song is that there’s no exact chorus, there’s only the hook line. Jack White has always been one of those musicians who records his music the “old-fashioned” way to get the rawness of his material out to the world, but in reality, this album has nothing old-fashioned about it. It’s new and refreshing. It seems that Jack has finally released that no matter what way he records his music, it will still be HIM at the end of the day. I must say, the production on this album is absolutely wonderful.

“Corporation” is a top blues, garage rock anthem that plummets through with upbeat drums. The guitars and keyboard are heavy and layer lovely together. It’s the longest track on the whole album, making Corporation a prominent song on the album. It was released as a promotional single in January and from the get go of this single’s release – it was a banger. I really like how the instruments harmonise together in the main riff as the song gradually builds, it gives it a whole different shade of colour. The bass line is my favourite thing of the whole song because it creates this meaty, chromatic pulse. When the backing vocals coming in with “HUH,” it’s a bit embarrassing to listen too but pretty funny. The song is loose but slightly arranged to make it sound like a clever jam. It’s tight and the band are all energetic together. “I’m thinking about taking it all the way to the top” completely rolls off Jack’s tongue in a funky, rap like manner. A point to be made though is the screaming makes the song so much more weirder than it actually is. It makes me question, is it actually needed? With the dirty blues side to the track, it gives a moody aggressive vibe to it just like Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” does.

C. W. Stoneking speaks this next song in such a delicate manner, making Abulia and Akrasia the first complete bizarre song on the record. Abulia is considering to be about the lack of motivation, and Akrasia is believed to be about lack of self-control, so what better way than to preach about it in a spoken word poem. Jack wrote this poem purely for Stoneking only as he found his speaking voice amazing to listen too. His goal was to write a complicated poem about wanting a cup of tea, and he sure did accomplish that. It’s weirdly wonderful and completely experimental. Definitely something that Frank Zappa and even Jeff Buckley would have loved. It would have been right down their street.

Misophonia is a disorder in which negative thoughts/emotions/reactions are triggered by certain sound. A “Hypermisophoniac” is mainly a play on words, it’s the same as a misophonia, but hyper is added to the front of it to exaggerate it a bit more. The content of this song is so scary, as it really could trigger off someone with misophonia and make them physically, or maybe it could even cure them, who knows? Either Jack White is an evil genius or he’s just a genius. The song itself is arranged perfectly to make it all fit well together. It’s the first track to feature Carla Azar (starred in the film Frank) on acoustic drums, who is a considerably underrated drummer. As a whole, it’s a cool song that can torment people and really scare them, but why be afraid of fear when you can punch it in the face like this song does. I really like how the vocals are pitch shifted sometimes to make the song even more on the edge to listen too.  “Ain’t no running, when you’re robbing a bank” is another main part of the song making it seem that there’s nowhere to hide if you’ve got misophonia. 

Entered with what I originally thought was bass, but really it’s guitar and bass together, “Ice Station Zebra” is one to definitely not skip. Jack has played this live on the St Vincent signature guitar he uses and from the videos I’ve watched, it completely rocks. The song is inspired by the 1963 war book with the same name. The song is brilliant, but in a bizarre way. It’s filled with experimental, funk licks that makes you never want to stop listening to the track. Jack’s vocals are flavoured in hip hop rhymes which reminds me a bit of Kendrick Lamar’s style and how he uses his vocals to create another rhythmical part of the song. I’ve heard a lot of people mention how Jack has gone down the more Beck root and this track is the only song that I can personally hear it in. Beck’s song “The New Pollution” reminds me slightly of this because Beck just decided to go down a completely different avenue by release music that he enjoyed to play more. Jack is just another example of a musician enjoying his new style. He’s found himself and is completely doing what he loves to do, right here, right now.

He’s known for his blues style songs and screaming guitar parts, and of course that’s still in this album, but he’s completely modernised it to create a new world of “I do what the f*** I want, if you like it? Great. If you don’t, I don’t care” attitude. Iconic part of the song is the lyric “add your own piece, but the puzzle’s is gods.” A genius lyric purely because if god is real, then surely fate is too, and if fate is real, then our life is already planned. Making the puzzles a metaphor that it’s god’s, and it’s even his way or the highway. One of my own personal favourites off the album so far.

The next track, it feels like we’re revisiting Lazaretto. Throughout “Over and Over and Over,” Jack references a king from Greek mythology who punishes Jack for the bad things he’s done, and as his punishment he has to roll a rock up a hill forever. This can go a whole lot deeper than that though. I feel that Jack’s “rock” is actually anxiety. He has to hold all his anxiety together on his shoulders and has to live like this over and over and over. It’s memorable and a strong highlight to the album. I adore Jack’s guitar tone because it’s just fuzzy and overdriven, not distorted. Some artists get stuck in the distorted phase forever and you can never really hear what they’re actually playing. It has his blues elements as does a lot of the other songs, but you can hear his new-found love of electronica strong in this song. In between the riffs, Jack leads us into really quirky instrumental breaks with new sections of guitar riffs bleeding through to make the song build more and more. I feel this is what Thundercat would sound like if he played electric guitar and rocked a bit more. The backing gospel vocals are back with weird pitches that don’t harmonically make sense sometimes, but the do work well and can be used as the “anxious thoughts/voice” in people’s heads.

“Everything You’ve Ever Learned” is about Jack imitating humans that over think. He’s also saying that really, he already knows everything that he needs to know. I didn’t realise when I first heard this that it’s actually Jack himself saying “Hello, Welcome to Everything You’ve Ever Learned,” I genuinely thought it was someone else, but now realising that it’s Jack, it makes the track even more bizarre. Jack goes back to his more normal self by shouting and pleading “Do you want everything? Then you can have everything” preaching it like Martin Luther King would. He questions himself, but what I love about it, he’s questioning the audience too, then shortly after questioning, he answers. “Do you wanna start a fire? Well you can watch it burn” leads into a section that only reminds me of Jim Morrison in The Doors when he goes mental in “The End.” The End is about death and Everything You’ve Ever Learned is more about over thinking before the actual end of things. For such a short song, it brings out such a big message in the short amount of time.

Most of the albums best moments are started with powerful drums, just like “Respect Commander.” It starts with a jam before Jack implies “all right, let’s go back to our song” which means that maybe while they were recording, they got sidetracked and ended up having another part for the beginning of the song. It’s such a strange thing to have at the start of a song, because the beginning is always so important as it has to capture the person there and then, it they like it, they’ll stay with it. The song is primarily split into two sections that are as distinctive as each other with the first section being fast, energetic and 80’s funk influenced. The backing vocals that go “woop” sound like it’s going to go into “Sound of Da Police” by KRS-One. IT really does have power of becoming a big funk song, until it’s all took down to just a sleazy blues bass and guitar part. “She commands my respect” shows that whoever this woman is, Jack is besotted and doesn’t care what she does. Just past the 3 minutes mark, we lead into an upbeat blues battle of guitar screams, the old Jack White is back just for a short amount of time. Before we know it, Respect Commander goes back to the beginning of the drum and guitar led riff. We start just as we end..

“Ezmerelda Steals the Show” starts with pretty much a similar chord being plucked as the one in R.E.M’s “Everybody Hurts.” The story behind the song was Jack had a vision that he was at a children’s school watching a kind of talent show and he thought “imagine if a little girl came up on the stage and read a complete nuts poem and stole the show?” and so with that, he wrote a song about it. I really like how this track has two Jack White’s reading out the spoken word poem, one in a high pitch, and the other in a lower pitch register. A very wacky track ending with “You people are totally absurd,” but it fits such a well written album.

Opening up with another spoken word poem with layers of delay effects on the vocals, accompanied by orchestral synths and a melodic bass line sitting comfortably in the background, “Get in the Mind Shaft” is the weirdest track on the album, in my opinion. It’s like a robot’s adventure through Jack White’s brain. I can sense Radiohead vibes coming from this, but the “Can you hear me now?” just completely coming out of nowhere reminds me of when David Gilmour and Roger Waters used the talk bow to imitate farm animals on their Animals album. The orchestral keys still stay throughout the song with little melodic progressions happening here and there. This song is just totally, absurd! Get it?… I’m not funny.

“What’s Done is Done?” has the same country elements as Temporary Ground has on Lazaretto but Jack’s just added his new-found love of electronica to this song to create a fresh sound. The weird humming in the back makes the song feel old and nostalgic. It’s nice to hear such a soft song after listening to Get in the Mind Shaft, as that was all in your face, whereas this is nice to just back to simplicity with Esther Rose accompanying Jack on this soft song. “What’s done is done, I just can’t fight it no more, so I’m walking downtown to the store, and I’m buying a gun” just makes me think that Jack is fed up of being labelled as a country/blues artists and he’s simply saying “I don’t want to labelled, so I’m going to buy a gun to show that I’m changed.” The gun could illustrate that Jack has gone to the darker side of his music.

Entered with a lovely jazz chord progression, “Humoresque” is the last song on this brilliant album. It was written by Al Capone, a famous gangster from the 1930’s. Jack anonymously bidded on the musical piece and made the song his own. The piano follows the vocal line which makes it sound like a work song or even a children’s nursery rhyme. Humoresque actually means a short, lively piece of music. Whereas, yes, this is a short piece, but it’s not lively in the slightest. Considering that, I’m glad, because it’s an absolutely stunning song to end such a complicated album.

Overwhelming album that’s all in your face with soft moments that captivate. It’s completely my favourite album of 2018 so far. Be very hard to follow this on your next one, Mr White, but I have all faith in you.

Favourite Tracks: Corporation, Abulia and Akrasia, Hypermisophoniac, Ice Station Zebra, Over and Over and Over, Everything You’ve Ever Learned, Respect Commander, Get in the Mind Shaft, Humoresque

Score: 9/10

Shaun Gambowl Walsh & the Plagiarists – The Broth (EP Review)

“The Broth” came out in July 2017 being Shaun Gambowl Walsh & the Plagiarists second release. Let’s just say, this band are not for the plain hearted, innocent people of the world. With their genre sitting comfortably in the space punk category, they’re known for causing controversy with their music. Bringing humour and explicit content into their lyrics, they scream with attitude. They call themselves “Britain’s most hated band,” but my goodness, they pull it off well.

We start the EP off with “The Broth.” A broth is known to be a soup consisting of ingredients cook in stock and that’s completely the song in a nutshell more a less. “Too many cooks spoil the broth, but many hands make light work” is the only lyric in the whole of the song. The song itself is spoken with two guys having a kind of argument about the “broth”. It’s an unusual song subject, but something about it works. Just before halfway through, the spoken word comes to a stand still and we’re then entered with a space like instrumental which reminds of how it feels to be stuck in a “daze.” Could this song be drug related? Perhaps… it can mean anything you want it to be. That’s the best thing with music, as Dave Grohl once said “You can sing a song to thousands of people, and they can sing it back to you with thousands of different meanings.”

“In Cahoots” starts with a minor riff that is quite creepy. Before watching the music video, I felt this song could be related to alcohol purely by the loose instrumentation to the song, and I was right. We all know the night before when you’re out drinking with your friends is usually a good night, but when we get too much alcohol in our system, some of us suffer big time the next. The video shows the band on what I could only imagine being a “binge.” “The past few days” lingers and is repeated constantly to begin with, this could show that the past few days have been feeling like they’ve gone round in circles. When the lyrics start coming in as a normal song, we’re introduced properly to the singer’s accent, which reminds me a bit of the West Midlands. The commonness of the voice really adds so much flavour to the song, making it drown in a “cool” attitude. “The drugs are on tap and the booze is flowing” completely confirms that the band are on a “binge.” As the song progresses, it gets heavier and simulates the “binge” dragging on with “tick tock” being said in the background of the music. With the song being 5:35, it’s quite a long track, but without it being so long, it wouldn’t like we’re in this “binge” ourselves. The weirdness of the song really captures what “paranoia” and even “anxiety” feels like.

The timing of the next song is quite off-putting, giving the song it’s on edge. “Research Chemical Generation” seems to be about society, maybe even the government, giving us things to try like “we’re the guinea pig population living in frustration and we seem to be bearing the brunt of it all.” I can completely get where they’re coming from and the message behind this track is really interesting. “Two headed Ted should be dead but now he’s a zombie instead” is a lyric that shows that society/the government really don’t care about us really. We could all die tomorrow and they would still think they’re doing a “good job.” The eerie timing of the song really makes it uneasy to listen to, but something about it just makes you keep listening. From 4:04, the song goes into what I could only imagine being a “cloud of smoke,” it’s eerie and seems to be the band’s “iconic part” to some of their tracks.

Well, we can all really here what they’re saying in “Who’s Scott Theket?”
This track is definitely the band bringing their drug humour side into their music, and it is kind of funny but very cringeworthy. This song is probably the most controversy of all the songs on the EP with the band sharing their politics views of Theresa May and also sharing explicit words. The voices are all over the place, but because the track is many about drugs, it works as a whole. You can hear their rebelling, punk nature come through. It’s a big “middle finger up” song.

The EP finishes with a ring tone from what sounds like a really, old brick phone with the singer replying to whoever’s on the phone “cool, I’ll be out in a sec.” The EP sounds rushed, but it works. This is the bands sound and I don’t know how they manage it, but they really do pull it off well.

Favourite Tracks: In Cahoots, Research Chemical Generation
Score: 6.5/10

https://www.facebook.com/shaungambowlwalshofficial/

The Pink Diamond Revue ft Legpuppy – Acid Dol (Single Review)

Aspects of eccentric style of music; The Pink Diamond Revue have released a new song (14th Feb) about their front “person”, who is known to be from another dimension. Acid Dol is a biographical song purely about their “doll”, and already, I’m slightly freaked out of this mannequin. On the song, Legpuppy, a trip-hop/dance band feature and in the music video, they’re featured with The Purge type masks.

The song itself has elements of being a top electronic Prodigy/Fatboy Slim type of track with elements of a rebellious nature from the lead singer sounding quite similar to the Dury family – Ian Dury (The Blockheads) and Baxter Dury (Ian’s son.) Musically, the song doesn’t really dynamically change or reach anywhere and it does get quite repetitive. I must say though, the band have really got stuck into something that sure does mean a lot to them. I like how they use visual effects at their live shows to give the audience not only a musical experience, but a visual one too. I personally am a bit unsure where I like the song as a whole, but that’s purely a personal preference, but I do really like the band’s charisma to make this song their own. I may even catch one of their shows some day in the future.

Score – 3/5

https://www.facebook.com/Thepinkdiamondrevue/ 

 

Million Empire – Visceral (EP Review)

Million Empire have been on the circuit for about 10 years now and the band have really gotten their names across around the West Midlands music scene. With their new EP “Visceral” due for release on 30th March, Visceral is their 3rd EP to date. With influences heavily from the 90’s alternative rock scene, you can hear the likes of Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam in their music with flavourings of their own unique ability. I’m really looking forward to sitting down and listening to their new release.

Not in my Nature” is straight to the point with the vocals starting straight away with a rebellious attitude. Not in my Nature deals with identity and sticking to rules to keep yourself “you”. Going out of your comfort zone and nature can make someone go off the rails and turn into something that they’re not. The vocals sound quite similar to Josh Franceschi out of You Me at Six and has that twang, but the song itself is heavy and progressed to become a grunge based track that rebels against the system. The bass plays a melodic riff half way through which gives the song a whole new style before it starts to build back into a powerful part where the chorus is played in a half time speed. Dynamically, the song builds and keeps you caught throughout.

Starting with very faint drums, “Fear of Thirteen” makes you unsure of what’s to come. It kind of fools you in the way to think “oh this song is quiet, let’s turn the volume up” and before we know it, a powerful foot stomping riff comes into the mix. Musically, the song sounds heavily influenced by early Soundgarden on their Badmotorfinger album. The song is fast and sometimes a bit too much going on. “I hit you once, you hit me twice, but we never took the time to see who’s right” is a lyric that can be really quite dark, maybe this is about a relationship between two people; lovers or friends, who constantly fight and never actually sit down to talk about issuing their problems. I could be completely wrong, but that’s the vibe that I’m getting from this track. Triskaidekaphobia is a fear of being afraid of the number 13 which a lot pf people do have, so perhaps that’s what the song is technically about. It’s scary and constantly a punch to the stomach in the dark moments.

“Head vs Heart vs Brick Wall” is constantly pumped with energy. You can definitely hear At the Drive in as an influence for the boys of Million Empire in this track. As a singer myself, I always try to listen out for catchy little hook lines that other singers sing and the catchiest part of this track has got to be the lyric “I haven’t felt my heart beat” which features in the chorus. As a song, it’s dynamically always in your face, which can be a bit too much, but it does work well.

Clever guitar parts come through the track and as a whole, the levels at the beginning of “Cancer in the Rut” are all over the place (in a good way) which is really different to their other tracks so far as they’ve been constantly loud. With this being the longest track on the EP, it’s definitely the most clever out of the 5, with the dynamic shifts. I must say though, I would love to know what the singer is really singing about as the lyrics seems to be addressing a subject but not really identifying what’s exactly on their mind. I can really relate to an artist when they get personal with their words.

Please” is the ballad of the entire EP and it’s also a lovely close to it. The guitar is featured with a lovely tremolo effect that gives the song such a bold edge to it. Over half way through the song, it does pick up and start to get heavier, but before we know it, the momentum has gone and we’re back to the quiet, eerie beginning of pleading for forgiveness.

Real clever EP by the boys of Million Empire, they’ve definitely gained a fan from me!

Favourite Tracks: Not in my Nature, Fear of Thirteen, Please
Score: 6.5/10

http://millionempire.wixsite.com/millionempire/music

https://www.facebook.com/millionempire/

Pink Floyd – Animals (Classic Album Review)

“Animals” is a concept album that gives us a thought of what life was like in the 1970’s with politics being a main part of everyone’s life. It’s the 10th studio album by the iconic rock band that is “Pink Floyd”. It’s also one of the most progressive albums that they made with the concept behind it being very intricate. It was released on 23rd January 1977 and 41 years later, this album is still as important as it was back then. The album cover includes a pig floating between two of the chimneys at Battersea Power Station in South LondonPigs became a symbol for Pink Floyd and featured as a kind of mascot at their concerts from the release of this album. Pigs weren’t just a symbol for Pink Floyd, they were an obsession for hippies in the 1960’s/1970’s as they used to call policemen that. For me, this album is so important, purely because it was the first album I listened to all the way through when I was young. My family gave me good music taste!

The album starts just as it ends. “Pigs on the Wing Part 1” is sung by Roger Waters. It’s a love song that Roger wrote for his wife at the time. The song is split into two halves which sits really nicely as bookends to such a full on album. The song doesn’t really make sense to the middle three songs but no one has ever really questioned as to why it’s on the album, because well, why should they? The song works so well. The song is so simple and just features Water’s guitar and vocals. Roger Water’s wife at the time was the only person who he had ever met that could stand up to him and he really admired her for that. All his life, until that point, he was looking for someone who he could count as an equal.

You’ve got to be crazy…” was what the next song was originally going to be called, but they changed it to obviously, “Dogs”. Dogs are the real deal animals purely because they all aspire to be the big “boss”. Waters and Gilmour wrote Dogs lyrically to mean that Dogs are conniving people who are always after something. The song originally started off as a jam that the band had that was turned into a full arrangement of what would become probably the best song on this album. The song is lyrically about trying to find who you are as a person and your place in the world, but getting stuck in the day-to-day life routine. The first half is sung by David Gilmour and as verse 4 comes around, Roger Waters takes the lead. I think they really do sound very similar in this song though. Verse 4 is the only verse where first person is used for a moment, before it goes back to “YOU”.

Being the longest track on the album at a staggering 17:05, this song has got to be up there in the greatest Pink Floyd tracks. It’s progressive and melodically & lyrically golden. The one line that really hits home in this song has got to be “You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to, So that when they turn their backs on you, You’ll get the chance to put the knife in”. This indicates that people try to do things purely for themselves when really they need to think of the principles before hand. If Black Mirror could be an album, I think it would be this album, purely because Pink Floyd really go into depth’s on their own political views. I’m not saying Black Mirror is politically, I mean it is, but I can see the similarities between them because the writers stick to what they believe in. Animals is still futuristic and ahead of its time even for the present time. It’s progressive and so important. “Dragged down by the stone” leads into a complex interlude in Dogs, that ironically features dogs barking.

This album is really where Roger Waters knew that he could get his political voice heard by writing songs for people to hear. Plus it was a good warm up for Pink Floyd before they released The Wall two years later, which we all know is an iconic, moving concept album with its own film! Dogs has always been one of my favourite Pink Floyd songs purely because when you think it’s gotten to the peak of the song, it just gets better and carries on building throughout.

“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” is about the society and the government in the time that they wrote/recorded this album. The bass completely drives this song and makes the song so funky, even though lyrically, it’s really digging into people. Animals isn’t just about one person, it’s about a lot of people that really angered Pink Floyd (mainly Roger Waters.) The only person that has been identified in this song is Mary Whitehouse, but really Pigs could be highly aimed at Margaret Thatcher who was in power at the time. I only say this because of the lyric “you like the feel of steel”… hello… her nickname was the Iron Lady for god sake! The lyric “you’re nearly a laugh” also cries out that he’s laughing at those in power, “but you’re really a cry” is him realising that he can’t really do anything about it, so instead, he wrote songs to explain his thoughts. The talk box is the most iconic part of the whole song purely as it sounds like a pig. I remember as a child listening to Animals in the car and Pigs always used to stand out to me mainly because of the bass. Roger Waters bass tone in this song is refreshing and equalised so lovely in the mix. This song actually got me into learning how to play the bass guitar.

Introduced with a sound just like how Rick Wakeman would enter a Yes song, Richard Wright progressively starts “Sheep” on keys while a strange sort of Doctor Who vibe comes rhythmically out of Roger Waters bass. Sheep is about the blind followers, which I feel was aimed directly at the public in the 1970’s who stuck by all the politicians as the safe option, because they were scared to stand up for themselves in what they believe in. “Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air” really interested me when I first heard it as animals know when they’re going to die apparently. If we are “gods” lambs then “christ” is our shepherd according to religion. I’m not religious in any way but it really is a good adaptation to describe “his” love. A shepherd will feed his lambs and protect them.. all the way up to when he slaughters them. Going back to the meaning of the song, politicians fool us all the way into thinking they’re right and then once everyone has voted for them and put them in power, they change and come out as their “true selves”. The ending chord progression of the song is such a happy sound and makes us feel that the sheep/blind followers are free from the dogs and badness of their everyday life.

We end the albums just as it starts. Pigs on the Wing Part 2″ has the exact same concept as Part 1 does but in this part, Roger Waters talks about how he has stopped being a dog and has settled down in the society with his love. I personally love this album so much purely for the concept of it. They make such a deep concept turn into a child’s understanding of it. While referring to politicians as Animals, it really makes me open my eyes and released who’s who in the world.

Absolutely stunning album and still so iconic to this day.

Favourite Tracks: Dogs, Pigs (Three Different Ones), Sheep

Score – 10/10