RAVE TAPES is Mogwai’s 8th Studio album. While Mogwai is labelled as a âPost-Rockâ band, RAVE TAPES further signals a move away from a classic, instrument driven post-rock sound to more of an electronic one. Mogwaiâs last full length, âHardcore Will Never Die, But You Willâ was more ambitious than it was polished, which lead to a very lackluster latter half of the LP.WhereHardcore Will Never Die, But You Will failed, RAVE TAPES triumphantly accomplishes. Tracks such as Remurdered and Heard About You Last Night definitely shine through as the most wholesome tracks on the record, creating landscapes of sound that transcend you to a distant sonic atmosphere. You really get a full sense of how rich this LP is through a decent set of headphones.Instead of fumbling through electronic harmonies to create a lackluster sense of direction, Mogwai have definitely arrived at a point in their career that they can be proud of. My only piece of criticism is in the track Repelish and Master Card. These tracks try to move away from a sound that has worked so well for the majority of the LP and only function to jar the listener into feeling removed from the experience.Recommended…If you like Godspeed You! Black Emporer, Explosions In The Sky or This Will Destroy You.JV
The Arctic Monkeys were a Pop-Rock band hailing from Sheffield. They relied heavily on a jovial, enthusiastic british sound drawing influence from bands such as Franz Ferdinand, The Clash and The Libertines. Their meteoric rise came as no real surprise. Blur hadn’t released anything good in a while and Oasis was in shambles. There was an empty spot in the scene, and the Arctic Monkeys slotted in perfect. While they were never strictly “original”, the sound they had worked on enough levels to be pretty good. In fact, it worked so well that it aided them in releasing, at least in my opinion, their best records, “Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not” and “Favourite Worst Nightmare”.
Their third release, “Humbug”, had a distinctly different sound. It showed the Arctic Monkeys were about to try to do something different with their music. Now, I’m not against bands changing their sound. Plenty of bands have done it and succeeded. Humbug, on the other hand, wasn’t the best. It had enough good songs to be passable but it wasn’t anything to get excited about. “Suck It and See” was much the same, although it did not have the enthusiasm of the previous three LP’s. I honestly thought it was the end of a band I once liked.
That is until I heard the latest record, “AM”. Alex Turner needs to stop worrying about combing his hair back and start worrying about the small amount of creative originality he has left. AM is completely devoid of any substance from start to finish. From the gutless guitar work to the uninspired direction, AM was by far one of the worst albums I heard in 2013. The third song on the record, entitled War Pigs….no wait, Arabella, is the most pathetic excuse for an original song I have ever heard. If you’re going to rip Black Sabbath off, at least do it with a bit of soul. It honestly sounds like they have given a guitar to a small child, told him that his parents were dead and gave him this riff to learn. It is absolutely awful.
“No.1 Party Anthem” is equally as artrocious. Ironic titles only work if your song is actually clever, which this song is not… at all. I would prefer to listen to Psy do a cover of Wrecking Ball on repeat while inserting bamboo shoots down the back of my fingernails than ever hear this record again.
Notice at the beginning of I wrote that the Arctic Monkeys WERE a Pop-Rock band? The reason I use to word “were” is because I no longer class them as a “band”. They are now a group of people that shamelessly rip off other peoples music and try to pass it off as their own.
NOT RECOMMENDED, AT ALL, EVER.
…if you like originality.
"I served my country, I pay my taxes, I gotta right to do whatever the god damn hell I want."
American families doing it tough, black and white cinematography, country music, 19th century family values and 1980s settings. There is indeed a lot of merit and distinction in Nebraska, it’s a refreshing and welcoming look into the old style culture of mid-west America.
Set in both Montana and Nebraska, Alexander Payne’s film is a testament to post financial crisis small town USA and it is evident from the opening scene to the final. However, this is merely the backdrop. What follows in Nebraska is a well acted succession of comedic and dramatic moments that make you unsure whether to cry, laugh or ponder at the hilarity and yet dreariness that the characters endure.
The definite highlight of Nebraska is its all star cast. Not for one moment does the viewer deem anyone to act out of turn, and instead the plot flows so superbly that the audience can’t help but crave to see the outcome. Bruce Dern and Will Forte work well off each other, and it’s great to see a father-son relationship done with ease and humour. With an unorthodox fight scene, a million dollar scam, an unsuccessful heist and the effect of a cruel recession, Nebraska packs a lot of content and character into its black and white stills.
I remember when I first heard Parkway Drive's first release “Don’t Close Your Eyes”. While I had been listening to a lot of heavy music for a while, there was something about Parkway Drive that stood out. They had a distinctly Australian aesthetic, a pace unrivaled by anything I had heard before and vocal hooks to keep you singing along. I now know a lot of music like this had existed previous to Parkway Drive, but I was 12 years old without a clue . Whatever the reason, until very recently, I followed the Australian metalcore scene quite closely and have always felt a distinct relationship to it. I was first introduced to I Killed The Prom Queen a few years after Parkway Drive and had a deja vu moment. Not only did they have a similar sound to Parkway Drive, but also incorporated clean vocals into the mix.
Since, what I refer to be the “Glory Days” of Australian metalcore, not much has really happened. After I Killed The Prom Queen broke up, Parkway Drive andThe Amity Affliction released a couple of okay albums, but nothing that really lived up to their monolithic predecessors. Australian Metalcore was on the decline and Parkway Drive soon became a band followed by dickheads and bogans looking for a fight. When I heard I Killed The Prom Queen were set to release an LP this year, I had a fundamental concern that they too would fall into the pit of mediocrity. Thankfully, I was mistaken.
Beloved is welcome addition to I Killed The Prom Queen’s discography. The band has incorporated enough of what has worked in the past, namely the explode/reload transition between heavy and soft vocals, enough drumming variety to not become a repetitive farce and an even spread of non-generic breakdowns. Songs such as “Thirty One & Sevens”, “Momento Vivere” and “To The Wolves” throw waves of nostalgia at you, while building on what made the band so great in the first place. Sonically, the band has a far more mature and polished sound. Technically, the album is far superior to their previous LP’s. Additionally, I believe that completely getting rid of Michael Crafter has helped the band stay in touch with their demographic and has therefore allowed them to write music that works. Beloved won’t set the world alight but it’s enough to keep you interested in what’s to come in the Australian metalcore scene.
- If you like Parkway Drive, Hands Like Houses, Northlane or Architects.
"One day I was fucking around, put it in reverse and I was free falling."
It’s rare to find an album as simple, yet so deep as Sun Kil Moon's latest LP, Benji. Benji is harrowing, depressing, suffocatingly intimate, bizarre and above all, beautiful. The monotonous southern guitar work supported by a a very slow and deliberate drum beat accurately unravel the psyche of a very interesting man.
Benji thrives the most when it is describing the inherent tragedy every day life in the most bland way possible. The songs are honest, painfully sincere and absolutely charming. The song “Dogs” explores how a character loses his virginity, soon to be ignored by the object of his desires. While essentially depressing, Benji never once sounds like an attempt at self pity. He treats each new experience as a learning curve, believing strongly that he should not wish for an easier life, but instead wish he was a better person. In the case of Dogs, he openly admits that, in the end, it probably doesn’t matter that much. Everyone has their own path to forge.
Death is a huge subject of the LP. Someone dies in every song and as a result, every piece feels like a eulogy from a dedicated loved one. This is shown best in the song “I Love My Dad”. It’s so touching it deems it a song almost impossible not to choke up in. Lyrics like “When I was five I came home crying because I sat next to an albino, my dad said “Son, everyone’s different and you gotta love em all equally.” are simple, but equally profound.
Crushingly authentic, it’s hard not to resonate with any aspect of this album. The helplessness, the inherent feeling we’re missing something or the urge to feel loved in what can feel like a desolate world. Take your pick, this album addresses it. You could write full length films on the content matter in these songs.
I firmly believe that I do not have the writing talent to accurately describe just how beautiful this album is to you. Listen to it, learn from it and change with it.
if you… always wanted to know what a severely depressed Bruce Springsteen sounds like, The Red House Painters, Bright Eyes or Brand New.
††† (Crosses) is a witch house project by Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno. For those of you unaware, “witch house” is a genre that incorporates dark electronic music interlaced with themes of the occult. If you didn’t know that, don’t feel too bad, Chino Moreno doesn’t seem to know what that is either.
Moreno has one of the most recognisable voices in heavy music which only serves to detract from the half baked effort that is Crosses. It is far too easy to draw parallels between Crosses and Deftones. Crosses is not really the huge departure from Deftones that this LP needed. If this album was to harness a completely new sound, with Moreno’s voice as a stable foundation, we would have a far greater LP. The LP only really begins to shine with tracks such as “Thholyghst” in which Crosses embraces more of a Deftones vibe, but that isn’t really the point of having a side project.
This LP could have far benefited from more of a post-rock/witch house crossover with far less vocal work from Moreno. This could have distanced themselves far enough away from Deftones, while still having some kind of a Deftones nostalgia to it. A transgression into the dark world of the occult, with more jarring harmonies could have done this LP a world of good. Instead, we have an LP riddled with shortcomings and dead ends.
Take Palms, for example. Palms is Moreno’s other side project that adhere’s to a sludge-rock genre. Palms thrives because it is so far gone from Deftones no parallels can really be drawn with much austerity.
If Moreno really committed to the ‘witch house’ genre, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to say Crosses could stand on its own merit. Instead, Crosses simply sounds like a gutless Deftones album drawing inspiration from artists such as Nine Inch Nails and †‡† (RRRITUALZZZ). The LP goes for far too long with far too little variation to keep you listening. It’s not that Crosses has no interesting qualities, they do. The problem is that it has all been done much better, too many times before.
"It’s not your job to interpret tears. That’s what our trained therapists are here for."
"Then your trained therapists don’t know shit."
Short Term 12 is my favourite film for 2013. Many of you would not have heard of this little indie darling of a film. Mark my words, this film was the biggest snub of the award season and many people’s top films for the year.
Short Term 12 tells the story of Grace, a young social worker who works at a foster home for troubled teens. But as the film develops we see it’s not just the teens facing troubles. Grace has deep secrets and troubles of her own. Yes, Short Term 12 is a human piece, but it is full of insight and emotion of the trial and tribulations of one trying to survive in this life.
Short Term 12 does not manipulate the audience nor is it really concerned for one. Short Term 12 is storytelling at its purest form; thought provoking, real and honest. The script lays out these wrecked social outcasts on the screen; full of flaws and real problems. We, as the audience, position and decipher these characters to our own interpretations.
And finally, this brings me to Brie Larson and what should have been an Academy Award nominated performance. Brie Larson is a revelation here in Short Term 12. Larson plays the lead role with so much innocence, empathy and vulnerability; her character is impossible not to connect with. Larson’s performance makes you care for Grace and for her overall story arc. I would go as far as to say that Larson makes you care about the film. I strongly believe that there was no better performance by a lead female actress in 2013. Alas, as an independent film with no publicity money, Larson has not received the recognition nor glory she deserves.
Short Term 12 is emotionally chaotic and unpredictable on a minute by minute basis. Anchored by strong acting, strong script and subtle non confronting direction; Short Term 12 is a class above the rest through and through.
Like stop what you are doing and watch this film, because it will change your life.
Wild Beasts are a Indie/Pop/Rock quartet who have just released their fourth album, Present Tense. Present Tense is the best example of a band finding exactly where they should be. While albums past have indulged the bands idiosyncrasies to an extent that makes some aspects of the album very inaccessible and jarring, this LP has very much hit the sweet spot between Wild Beast’s weirdness and everyone else’s.
There’s a feeling of visceral elation thanks to the winding grooves and sporadic beats that ebb at a gentle, numbing, pace throughout the record. The introduction of new melodies never really rubbed me the wrong way, instead I found myself embracing each introduction and looking forward to the next. With that being said, some songs did add a few too many elements, which ultimately distracted you from the song at hand. While albums such as Smother and Two Dancers did fail to entertain you at points, Present Tense is enthralling from start to finish. The two, very distinct vocalists, only add to this otherworldly album, attributing a separation of melodies that can only be done through the vast difference between the harmonies.
Wild Beasts are like driving around with the window down on a icy Saturday morning, being battered in the face with the cool wind. Wild Beasts are also warm, like an embrace from an old friend. Wild Beasts are that weird kid at school that nobody would talk to. The band knows that they are a bit left of centre, but, much like Dirty Projectors, they have embraced this weirdness, refined it, and created some beautiful music with it.
You need to look at Wild Beasts as an investment. To listen to just one song is a grave injustice to the album as a whole. You need to experience the dips in the album, so you can be brought back by the highs. Some of the songs are a little too layered and the album could have done with a few songs that have a lot less in them. A beautiful album, sometimes a little too complex for its own good.
" I have infinite tenderness for you, and I will my whole life"
Blue Is The Warmest Colour is the coming of age story of 15 year old Adele (Played by Adele Exarchopoulous). Adele has an awkward sexual experience with her boyfriend, and after not really discovering much satisfaction from the episode, starts to feel as though that she may be gay. To confirm her suspicions, she falls in love with an older arts student, Emma (Lea Seydoux) and they engage in a relationship.
While the film is expressly about gay women, many people can find elements of themselves in it. To see this film as an expose of two women falling in love is overly simplistic. Thanks to the sublime acting abilities of both actresses, this film soon becomes a piece that can be related to by anyone that has ever fallen in love or even lusted after someone they really shouldn’t have. Adele Exarchopoulous’ non-verbals allow us to connect with the character to the extent that we always known exactly what emotion the character is feeling, although will it may not be expressly stated. She really is a gorgeous actress to keep an eye on.
Lea Seydoux is riveting as Emma. As the older half of the couple, we see her take charge of the relationship, and eventually begin to outgrow her younger counterpart. Lea can from being as cold as a stone to a warm, loveable character, in seconds.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour is absolutely heartbreaking, explicit, and above all, absolutely beautiful. The is a particular scene that takes place in a restaurant that you will not soon forget. Although, it’s not really for the faint of heart. It features a 10 minute long sex scene, which I believe unveils the only real flaw of this film. Due to the fact it is directed by a man, it’s hard to not see the characters as over-sexualised in this instance. With that being said though, the rest of the film is treated with enough care and precision for the director to be forgiven.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour never opts for conventional romance cliches. Instead it asks the viewer to be completely observational throughout the 3 hour run time, and through this detachment, it allows the film to hit you right in your emotional core. An accomplishment of modern cinema. If you’re watching the film for voyeuristic purposes, you are watching it for all the wrong reasons. A beautiful film.
Architects are a UK based metalcore band who, alongside artists such as Bring Me The Horizon and The Amity Affliction, were instrumental in shaping modern metalcore. Architects really shone through as a band to be taken seriously on their 2009 release, Hollow Crown. Hollow Crown was a culmination of the bands previous efforts combined perfectly to create a very solid album. While Hollow Crown put Architects in the ranks of the aforementioned bands, the two subsequent releases never really lived up to the greatness that was Hollow Crowd.
Lost Forever // Lost Together was promised to be the band’s salvation. While the record does not consistently trump what was accomplished in Hollow Crown, it does a pretty good job of equaling it in many aspects. The most notable improvement on since Hollow Crown is vocalist Sam Carter’s efforts. This man has a huge range. His vocals transition from these guttural throbs to high pitch shrieks with, what seems to be, little effort. While the vocal tracks on Hollow Ground did tend to fall into monotony at points, Carter does a very good job of keeping the listener captivated throughout. I would go as far to say he is a perfect example of a metalcore vocalist.
Musically, the album falls slightly short of Hollow Crown. We see slivers of progression in songs such as C.A.N.C.E.R ,Broken Cross and Red Hypergiant, ultimately the album does fall victim to some very bland and repetitive tracks. For example, while Naysayer starts strong, it doesn’t really develop into a song you are likely to return to. I have found this tends to be the nature of the beast when dealing with metalcore, and as a result I’m fairly forgiving.
At the end of the day, Architects have released a solid album. It has some muddy recording quality, but for the most part it is pretty good. If you have had an itch that hasn’t been cured since Hollow Ground, give this album a shot. You won’t be disappointed.