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indieisnotagenre (Berlin, Deutschland)

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This Is Your Life
This Is Your Life
Price: £12.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming compared to Augustines' previous records, 13 Jun. 2016
This review is from: This Is Your Life (Audio CD)
While Augustines' debut record Rise Ye Sunken Ships (2011) dealt mostly with the death of singer Billy McCarthy’s schizophrenic brother and mother, their self-titled sophomore record (2014) showcased their musical growth and ventured into the more general themes of love, loss and pursuing your dreams like you’ve got nothing to lose. This Is Your Life carries on these topics but, while it doesn’t lack ambition, it often suffers from overproduction and lack of inspiration.

The album starts out with a bang: “Are we alive / or are we just kidding ourselves?“ Billy McCarthy’s belter beckons on the album’s opening track. Already a constant in their setlist, Are We Alive is full of life-affirming sing-alongs that McCarthy belts vigorously (“Honey, we’re alive not dead“; “Love is like an arrow straight to your heart“). It is not until the penultimate and title track, This Is Your Life, that Augustines come back to this initial question with an answer: “This Is Your Life, You’ve just forgotten it yourself“. Both tracks are roaring anthemic rock hymns that will make excellent additions to their live set and your summer road trip playlist.

The powerful opener delivers a somewhat wrong first impression as the remainder of the album strikes a slower note. The ballad Landmine, for instance, which McCarthy has played frequently on his solo stints, shows Augustines at their best with heart-on-sleeve lyrics and stripped down instrumentation. Towards the end, the song is unfortunately overwhelmed by strings and choral backings which is a recurring problem of this record.

On When Things Fall Apart, a brainchild of Queen’s Radio Ga Ga, Augustines step out of their comfort zone. The song is a grower and sees the band play around with synths and beats. However unexpected at first listen, Augustines can perfectly get away with this sound.

Apart from these standout tracks, however, things fall apart rather swiftly. While Landmine shows McCarthy at his most poetic, some of his other lyrics seem strangely generic. Ballads such as May You Keep Well, Hold Me Loneliness, and The Forgotten Way meander along with humdrum lyrics (such as “You need something to believe in”; “Can’t we turn this around, I’m here all on my own”; “Baby, it will be alright”) and mixed metaphors such as “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “Can’t see the forest through the trees”.

With all these songs about love and loss one begins to wonder how many “baby“s and “darling“s McCarthy has alienated during the band’s relentless touring and his motorcycle journeys through Latin America. Despite the emotions still bleeding through his husky vocals, the words have become less refined.

These weaker songs are drowned out by drum effects and choirs creating an emotional distance that is in sharp contrast to the closeness Augustines exhibit during their life shows. While the overall sound of This Is Your Life is similar to 2014’s Augustines, the composition is much more straight forward and chorus-orientated. It is evident that this album aims at radio appeal.

There are flashes of brilliance on power ballad Running in Place but too often the song is overpowered by the production and African choirs. Towards the end of the record, No Need To Explain sees Augustines tread on more familiar ground of buzzing guitars.

While many bands struggle most with their second record, which is usually written in the back of a tour bus, for Augustines, this seems to be the case with their third outing. While the album has a good amount of standout tracks, the remainder is not particularly memorable. The overblown production and everyday lyrics are often a far cry from McCarthy’s honest and heartfelt songwriting on Rise Ye Sunken Ships or Augustines.

In the end, This Is Your Life is a solid rock album with stadium-sized production that will sound great live but compared to Augustines’ previous efforts it’s a little underwhelming.

Price: £9.62

4.0 out of 5 stars Four is a solid album with forgivable weaknesses for fans old and new, 19 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Four (Audio CD)
Initial fan responses were mixed when the album leaked two weeks before its set release. People wrote that Four wasn’t the Bloc Party they knew anymore. People said the same when A Weekend In The City (2007) came out, which was much more radio friendly and less anxious then their debut Silent Alarm (2005). Intimacy took yet another route and had the band experiment with electronic music and turned out to be their worst commercially received album (that said it gained a rating of 69 on metacritic while Weekend only had 65).

I always appreciated all three albums in their own right. It probably helped that I first heard of them when Weekend came out and then went back to Silent Alarm. These changes in style really are one of the things making the band so special and stand out from all those other indie bands who release the same album every year trying to live up to their first.

In a nutshell: Four is an album that should please fans of Silent Alarm the most. It is a lot heavier and more guitar driven than their second and third albums (So He Begins To Lie, Coliseum, We Are Not Good People). Lyrically the album expresses some of that anxiety that I loved so much about their early material as Kele whispers “no one loves you” and then nearly shouts “as much as us” (3◊3, which I find hard to listen to) or repeats the words “I’m gonna ruin your life” on Team A (someone’s been watching Pretty Little Liars, I suppose).

Octopus recalls the staccato type lyrics we remember all too well from Helicopter. Octopus, besides its setting in a major key, is actually a song about a school shooting and Kettling reflects on last year’s London riots. The latter is actually one of my favourites, a guitar driven rock song that reminds me of The Smashing Pumpkins in their heyday.

Real Talk is slow and repetitive and probably the weakest song on the album. Day Four shows once more that Bloc Party write rather good ballads (I Still Remember, This Modern Love) – the same applies to Truth. Coliseum opens with a blues rock riff and culminates in heavy guitars and shouts – quite an unusual and yet exciting Bloc Party song – while V.A.L.I.S. takes you back to Weekend days. The Healing is another ballad which unfortunately falls behind the other two.

All in all Bloc Party are definitely back and all members get to play their instruments agin. Four is a solid album with forgivable weaknesses for fans old and new. I’ll give it four out of five (pun intended).

Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow
Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow
Price: £9.35

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Radio friendly rock album with flaws, 19 Aug. 2014
It was quite a shock for most of the fans when We Are The Ocean announced that their second vocalist and occasional shouter Dan Brown had left the band earlier this year. On the other hand this step doesn’t seem too surprising considering that their second album Go Now and Live marked the band’s transition from post-hardcore to alternative rock by cutting the shouts and being a lot more melodic on the whole. It was also WATO’s stepping stone into mainstream radio airplay.

The record start out with Stanford Rivers, a short acoustic opener. Everyone who’s heard their acoustic performance at Bush Hall will know that WATO are rather adept acoustic performers and I’m happy to see they included some of that on the new album.

The album really kicks off with Bleed which was also the first single to be released. It’s a straightforward rock song about greed and the lack of compassion. It might well be about the music industry.

The album on the whole seems to be a very personal record. The midtempo ballad Young Heart is a thank you anthem to Liam Combry’s parents and Story Of A Modern Child reflects on the pains of growing up and how hard it is to be who you want to be. It’s straight forward rock tune which does Liam’s voice a lot of justice. After being in the shadow of Dan Brown for two albums (and their live shows for that matter) the lead singer is now able to show what he is capable of. His vocal range is impressive and he probably has one of the best voices in the current british rock music scene.

Unfortunately the supporting and backing vocals by the other band members fall behind and often feel forced and overproduced as is the case on Machine because they lack the vocal range of Liam and the vigor of Dan. While Machine kicks of superb, the second half of the song loses itself in repetitions of the chorus sung by all band members. It feels like the producers were trying to make the song sound like an anthem by enhancing the voices as if a large crowd was singing along. I’m not a fan of this kind of sound and I feel like it ruins an otherwise decent song.

The outro leads straight into The Road (Run For Miles) which was the second single to be released from the album. Just like Bleed it’s a good choice for a single. It’s probably the best song on the album.

Golden Gate and the title track Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow are two more midtempo tunes. Unfortunately the title track lacks the strength and catchiness of the singles and feels more like a filler.

On Pass Me By guitarist Alfie Scully takes over the lead vocals – which I find a lot more enjoyable when they aren’t competing with Liam’s – while in the last third of the song all band members get to sing along giving the song a shanty vibe. Again, I’m sensing overproduction here. The horns in the end remind me of Nine In The Afternoon from the second Panic At The Disco album.

The acoustic Chin Up, Son brings the album full circle with the opener.

Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow picks up where its predecessor left off. It is a radio friendly rock album but it has a couple of flaws. It often feels overproduced and forcedly bombastic making some of the songs lack the edge of Go Now And Live. It’s not so much Dan’s vocals that are missing, the problem is the way they try to compensate for it which seems really unnecessary. It’s still a quite enjoyable album that marks another transition for We Are The Ocean and I’m excited about where this band is going in the future.

Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £5.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a mix rather than a collection lacking cohesiveness, 19 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Collections (Audio CD)
We get very angry about the state of popular music and we want to bloody change it. And why shouldn’t we?’ says frontman Rick Boardman. Delphic dabble in all kinds of genres with this album, be it hip hop (!), electronica, pop or house. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it sometimes just feels really forced, overproduced or simply out of place. Atlas, for example, starts like a typical Delphic song (in light of Acolyte) but halfway through the song it feels more like a remix due to the unlikely dub interlude. The single Baiya flirts with exotic funk sounds. If you didn’t like the single much, you won’t like the rest of the album either. On Changes they have a try at rap which doesn’t seem to want to fit the mellow chorus. On Exotic synthetic beat boxing is used as well as hip hop guest vocals.

The opener Of The Young (“The night is always of the young”) is an upbeat pop song that seems like an obvious choice for a second single but in parts it’s just a little too similar to fun.’s We Are Young (“Tonight, we are young”).

Boardman’s vocal range also seems too limited in same parts, like the falsetto over a 2:50 minute monologue on Tears Before bedtime.

“All hell is breaking lose” is the promise made by Delphic’s current single Baiya but unfortunately the same can’t be said for the album. It wasn’t until the seventh song of the 10 track album The Sun also Rises that Delphic were able to capture my attention with this mostly mid-tempo record. Other than The Sun also Rises the album doesn’t live up to the bold promise made in Baiya and is exceptionally dull and overproduced synth-pop (Freedom Found, Don’t Let The Dreamers Take You Away).

Granted that Delphic have moved on in their three years of absence but I’m afraid that so have their fans. ‘We’d been touring for two years,’ says Rick Boardman. “We were just creatively burnt out’. And it seems they still are.

Overall Collections is rather disappointing. It’s a mix rather than a collection and lacks cohesiveness. If you’re looking for a good electro pop album Everything Everything’s Arc or Ra Ra Riot’s Beta Love are the better choice at the beginning of this year.

Desperate Ground
Desperate Ground
Price: £13.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Desperate Ground is how The Thermals sound in 2013 and it will blow you away, 19 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Desperate Ground (Audio CD)
Desperate Ground is a true scrappy and scratchy return-to-form for The Thermals, with all the raw power and unhinged adolescent energy that made their early LP’s so insanely enjoyable.

Lyrically, Desperate Ground is a brash and irresponsible ode to human violence, a black celebration of the inevitability of war and death. A dark and yet joyous affair, Desperate Ground tells the (murky) tale of a lone rogue in the night. One man, one path, one sword. An unceasing urge to destroy. A never-ending battle against the forces of nature. A destiny impossible to avoid.

Kicking off with the previously released single Born To Kill the band sets the pace for the remainder of the album and leave you no room to catch your breath from thereon in.

The allover sound and tempo of the album is much closer to their first three records than to Now We Can See (2009) and Personal Life (2010) which set a slower pace. It’s probably no coincidence that their former label Sub Pop decided to re-release their first three records More Parts Per Million (2003), Fuckin A (2004) and the critically acclaimed The Body, The Blood, The Machine (2006) which turned me – and probably many others – into a Thermals follower.

The Thermals have always been a rather political punk band, The Body… dealt mostly with the Bush government and the role of the USA in the world. This note is somehow absent from Desperate Ground. Of course, war is a political theme, but they made ten songs about it and none of them seems to convey a deeper message apart from the obvious one. This doesn’t make the songs less good but it equally doesn’t make them better. Instead we are graced with words of wisdom and universal such as “The ones you will hurt are the closest to you” (The Sunset) and self-references “Yeah, when I die” (The Sword By My Side cf. When I Died). Even Born To Kill could be understood as a sequel (or prequel?) to I Might Need You To Kill from The Body…

Desperate Ground is in many ways a typical album: fast and loud. The rough edge and the pace put it right in line with their older records. Unfortunately, the lyrics feel a littler weaker than on their previous three records, but maybe that’s just because they’re so set on the theme of war, weapons and killing. Regardless, Desperate Ground is how The Thermals sound in 2013 and it will blow you away.

The Golden Kind
The Golden Kind

2.0 out of 5 stars Hello Gravity might be closer to earth than they would like, 19 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Golden Kind (Audio CD)
The Golden Kind is the second album by German pop kids Hello Gravity. Hello Gravity are label mates of This Is The Arrival, whose second record we reviewed last year. As the cover suggests, the album is glittering pop record inspired by the sound of the 80s. The Golden Kind was produced by Ron Flieger who also produced TITA’s latest and was in the top ten of the hypemachine charts with his remix of Metric’s Stadium Love.

The album kicks off with the single Golden, which is still available for free download. Golden is a midtempo pop song that essentially rests on the line “We are the golden kind“, which is also the title of the album. While the song is pleasant to listen to I have no idea what the golden kind is supposed to mean but it invokes all that glitter and glamour that shimmers through the entire album.

Spotlight is a pop song laden with heavy synths and a disco stomp beat. Elise has an interesting opener that borrows from 80s sounds of Kraftwerk or Depeche Mode. That is until the synthetic beat and the repetitive vocals kick in.

Night starts out with electronic noises that could be taken directly from College or Daft Punk. As much as I like the idea, the remainder of the song doesn’t really connect with the material at all and essentially rests on two lines that are repeated over and over.

Five songs into the album (which is also the middle of the album) Iceberg is the first song, aside from the single, that caught my attention with it’s catchy chorus although the lyrics are rather silly but it’s just a pop song after all, isn’t it? “Get down and let down and turn around / My heart’s an iceberg that let’s you drown / I know exactly the way it is now” – I think the real problem here is that this keeps going on for another two minutes or so which eventually made me want to fast forward to the next track.

Tightrope is a midtempo ballad which makes another rhyme on down and drown (“I kept the tightrope that I wouldn’t drown / She’s trying to leave but my senses shut down“)… Sorry lads, but this is rather awkward.

Awake is a little more interesting than what I’ve heard so far. It is less repetitive and gives me the feeling that the bands is a bit more adventurous on this one.

Lust starts out with sounds that could be coming right out of a Gameboy (or a mobile game for you young folks) and then guitars and synths kick in. It is certainly one of the more interesting things they have done on the entire album and I wish there was more of that.

Pictures is another uptempo and quite catchy track that will work well in the indie clubs while Youth is a pompous closer to a otherwise mediocre album.

The problem with the majority of the songs is that they are repetitive and unsubstantial. With an average running time of 3 minutes each song just repeats the chorus for the majority of the given time which makes the songs feel more like samples than thorough compositions. The lyrics are strung together with the usual blunt pop song repertoire and rely mostly on their constant repetition which makes them really tedious to listen to. The production is decent and there’s a lot of good ideas there. Unfortunately, some of these ideas aren’t really unfolded or don’t connect well with the songwriting. After all, the songwriting is the biggest problem with this album. Hello Gravity might be closer to earth than they would like.

The Nextwave Sessions Ep [12" VINYL]
The Nextwave Sessions Ep [12" VINYL]

4.0 out of 5 stars Heading for a new Kele solo record, 19 Aug. 2014
While the opening track and first single off the EP Ratchet is probably closest to their latest album Four with its frantic math rock beat, songs like Obscene or Montreal drop all the instruments for synthesizers. This takes Bloc Party back to their Intimacy days and finally Kele’s solo album The Boxer.

Obscene is a slow ballad that was recorded electronically in its entirety. The music is very basic with just a clap-hands beat and a repeating synth pattern and thus essentially rests on Kele’s vocals. As such it’s closer to Kele’s Yesterday’s Gone or The New Rules from his 2010 solo album. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as those are all great songs in their own right but what I’m missing here is the band. Obscene is a Kele rather than a Bloc Party song. If you listen to them in a row you would hardly notice that Obscene isn’t on his solo album.

French Exit kicks things up a notch. It takes Bloc Party back to the math rock heyday of Silent Alarm and its latter-day revival on their most recent record Four.

Montreal is a striking example of how Bloc Party are capable of crafting beautiful ballads. Similar to Obscene it uses very basic drum and guitar patterns the main difference being that it features actual instruments and background vocals provided by the band whereas Obscene could have easily been recorded by Kele alone.

Children Of The Future rounds off the EP. The opening guitar riff and drums immediately reminded me of The Smashing Pumpkins’ 1979. It’s a song about the children being the future and the next wave (which probably give the EP its name) and how they are not to repeat the mistakes of the current generation. I’m really not a fan of such blatant harmonic lyrics and they seem a bit out of character for Bloc Party and Kele who usually provides us with much more ingenious lyrics. Despite the (probably unintended) Pumpkins allusion this song is certainly the weakest on the record.

All in all, The Nextwave Sessions is a solid EP that continues where Four left off without sounding like a collection of b-sides. I think this might be the last Bloc Party release for a while (if you discount the possible remixes, b-sides and live recordings) but it already shows where things are headed… towards a new Kele solo record.

Nothing EP
Nothing EP
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A grand homage to the sound of the early nineties that I grew up to without sounding dated, 19 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Nothing EP (MP3 Download)
With their debut album album Amygdala Circus only released a couple of months ago little did I realise the EP was out yet. Neither the album nor the EP received a lot of coverage or promotion.

Nothing sounds different from the album which is not surprising as the album was recorded about two years ago but got pushed back for unknown reasons.

The opener Youth & Old Age initially reminded me of The Smashing Pumpkins in their heyday. There’s a lot of distorted guitars and Mickey’s vocals have shifted even more to the gloomy nasal sound of one Billy Corgan. This is quite a development from the brit pop of their debut.

The second track Feel was premiered ahead of the EP release back in May. It also features strongly distorted guitars and embraces a heavier and fuller sound than their debut. Feel is free to download until the end of this week.

Gun In My Hand starts of slow but soon turns into a full grown rock anthem. Underneath the distortion it still sounds very much like a brit pop song.

The last track Drown is one I believe to have heard before during one of their live shows. It is the longest track on the EP with almost 5 minutes running times. When I first heard it live I thought they were launching into a cover version of Green Day’s When I Come Around. Listening to the studio version the similarity seems less obvious. However, if you listen closely you will notice the underlying beat sounds a lot alike.

So why call the EP Nothing? In light of the band’s statement above the choice of name seems quite cynical. Or maybe they just didn’t bother coming up with a proper name. Either way, it’s nice to get a new release from New Ivory so soon after their debut album dropped. If you listen to both releases in a row you will notice that their sound has improved a lot. I’d like to point out the vocals in particular. Going back to the debut now I have the feeling that Mickey had a bit of a lisp which is now gone completely.

Nothing is a grand homage to the sound of the early nineties that I grew up to without sounding dated. New Ivory are sure to attract music lovers young and old alike. It’s also a welcome relief from all the folk and electro pop that comes out these days. It’s great to see that the old guitar, bass, drum combo still clicks.


The Shadow Of Heaven
The Shadow Of Heaven
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but hard to listen to, 19 Aug. 2014
Recorded in London through the deep, dark winter of 2012/13, Shadow Of Heaven is an ethereal, transcendent record that’s notable for its musical and intellectual ambition. It’s the kind of music that can be hard to listen to. It really is one of those things that you need to be in the right mood for and that can’t be listened to on the side. The two singles Hold Me Forever, which I find reminiscent of Scottish act Glasvegas, and Bluebell Fields are the more radio friendly material on the album while most of the rest are solomn piano ballads with lyrics heavy with meaning (Black, Goodnight London) or heavily orchestrated hymns (Shadow Of Heaven).

Rooted in universal themes of the spirit, love and loss, the album also addresses man’s condition in the modern world, issues ‘such as isolation and mental health as logical reactions to it‘, says Jamie.
If I had to describe their sound it would be somewhere along the lines of those solemn ballads The 1975 did for their first EPs, Man Without Country if they weren’t electronic, or Joy Division if they’d played slower and stripped the guitars. Others have compared them to Wu Lyf.

If you can see past the pretentious ambition of M O N E Y and you’re into this type of music, Shadow Of Heaven certainly is a great choice.

Price: £11.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars catchy melodies, beautiful soundscapes and meaningful lyrics, 19 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Foe (Audio CD)
The band name derives from a sense of not belonging, they say. That feeling is a constant theme throughout the album. According to James “Foe sums up the lyrics of the whole album, a very short three-letter word, for a quite hateful album.”

The often dark and melancholic sound is underlined by their poignant lyrics and despite the obvious musical differences it reminds me of the darkness that also surrounds other welsh bands such as Manic Street Preachers or Funeral For A Friend.

Indeed, a certain animosity can be felt throughout the entire album. Be it on Puppets (‘The inability to think for yourself is all you’ve ever known’), Iceberg (‘How can I send you shivers when you don’t have a spine?’) or King Complex (‘You do anything just to be seen, anything that gets you on the screen’).

The album embraces the sound of the 80s. While the lyrics are dark and melancholic most of the songs are very danceable (Puppets, King Complex, and Inflammable Heart above all). In all of this the vocals clearly stand out. The singer’s mellow voice seems to emanate from the sound of the synthesizers. This is particularly evident on Ebb & Flow, my personal favourite on the album.

All in all Man Without Country have come up with an admirable debut that stands out from the monotony of most current electro pop bands. It is an album with catchy melodies, beautiful soundscapes and meaningful lyrics.

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