on 2 June 2006
Why do all the best British bands get overlooked?
This is an epic masterpiece of an album with a strong indie-rock feel. Think Swervedriver meets Pink Floyd with a touch of Soundgarden & you're almost there. There are no instantly hummable, catchy tunes & it takes a few listens to really explore the full majesty of this album. The opening track 'Charm Offensive' takes a while to get going and sets pace for the rest of the record which ebbs & flows effortlessly from power to delicacy. It's all about textures & deep layers of sound created by the 3 Guitars with sumptuous vocals mixed into a warm but not always cosy atmosphere. This CD provides a stunning contrast to many of the dull bands in todays music scene. Acts like Coldplay, Keane, Snow Patrol, Embrace etc sound weak in comparison. Fans of Muse, Swervedriver, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Radiohead and Sonic Youth should check this out. It's how modern Rock music should be, taking influences from many of the best artists of the last 40 years.
I don't have any of their other releases yet, but from what people tell me, this album is quite different & represents their huge live shows well. Also, the latest single 'New Pin' is, in my opinion, the weakest track on Everyone Into Position. It's quite light & does not have the same impressive, massive scale as most of the other tracks.
It's time Oceansize got the recognition they deserve. It's just possible that 'Music For a Nurse' appearing on the new Orange TV ad will give them the publicity they need to break into the mainstream. I hope so.
on 3 July 2006
An awesome listening experience, not to be taken lightly but if you have the patience and constitution, you will be rewarded! This album demands your wholehearted attention, anything less and you will miss the riches buried beneath the tempestuous surface, because amidst the maelstrom of meshing guitars are subtle and beautiful harmonic gems, sparkling rhythmic shifts and shimmering vocals.
I wouldn't call it 'prog', to do so would be a disservice to both that musical genre and this staggering offering itself. It's progressive, sure, in experimenting with the form and kicking over the tressles of the frankly bland and tedious mainstream, and while the spectres of the old guard (Floyd, Crimson, the Sabs et al)lurk in the depths, the restless intelligence of the likes of Radiohead (check out the lyrics, people!) and rock's renewed love of massed guitars seem to light the way.
'Charm Offensive' begins as a slowburn, gathering momentum into a scream of indignation, and sets the standard for the rest of the album, with passion and outrage rising again in tracks such as 'Homage to A Shame', 'No Tomorrow' and the exultant and deceptive chaos of Y'Can't Keep A Bad Man Down'. The soaring brittle beauty of 'Music For A Nurse' shines achingly, and 'Heaven Alive' and 'The Last Wrongs' break the surface, voices dazzling briefly in the Sun.
Play it again, and then again, explore the depths of this music in all its massive glory and wonder at the worlds to be found there. Persevere, this is the future now!
on 8 May 2007
I came across my oceansize records whilst updating my myspace page and oh it was a joy to hear these sounds again. I would rate 'Everyone Into Position' as slightly better than 'Effloresce', but only because it has a different overall style, more developed maybe?
When I first got hold of my copy after waiting eagerly for 'Everyone..' to be released, it was on my minidisc player ( yeah I know, so old skool!) so I could listen to it on the bus & in my cd player for weeks on end. Standout tracks...well they all stand out, but 'New Pin', was my favourite, though this changed with each listen. Whilst travelling I just wished the journey would last that little bit longer! I've never seen Oceansize live but it's something I'd like to do in the near future, for the moment the closest I can get is the fact that I attend the same university as Oceansize's members did!
I, and I'm sure many others, can't wait for the new album to be released, which is due out in the Autumn.
You can't go wrong with this album.
on 20 January 2006
I'm sure some of my album reviews sound pretentious so I'm going to keep this necessarily simple: this band are in a class of their own - and man do they know what they're doing!?! Listening to this album gave me a sense of joy that, for me, is hard to come by in rock music.
To be honest, the name of the band put me off their music for some time because (somehow?) it reminded me of the name "Oasis", whose music frankly pales in comparison, and (apologies to Oasis fans) that's an incredible understatement.
Anyway...clearly influenced by Pink Floyd and nodding their heads in the direction of the similarly exciting Biffy Clyro, the sound that this band create is as close to "symphonic" as I have heard in terms of rock music. Ingenious time-signature changes and sumptuous chord progressions abound, and then of course we find that the singer is a pleasure to listen to.
All these things come together in my personal favourites: "You Can't Keep A Bad Man Down" (one of my most treasured songs of all time, descending into mindblowing chaos and coming out determinedly at the end), and "The Last Wrongs" which makes you feel like you have indeed come to the end of a long and shockingly enjoyable journey. The choral treatment of the vocals in this song works perfecly against its driving instrumental backdrop. Other highlights are the brilliant, heavy and inventively-titled "Homage to a Shame", and "Music for a Nurse".
It has to be said that, coming from a classically-trained background, I could not hope to make music like theirs and the words contained within the tiny space of this review simply do not do justice to the music of this underrated monster of a band. Special congratulations within the band go to the drummer, possibly the best that I have ever heard in a band that is the one of the tightest I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
Not for the faint-hearted or those with short attention spans! For those who like to listen to detail, just bask in the powerful glow of this band's music and you will not be disappionted!
on 14 December 2008
Oceansize have a habit of putting out consistently unique and majestic albums, and this is perhaps the very best of them. I was first introduced to Oceansize via Effloresce, a phenomenal album in its own right, and was initially reluctant to pick up another effort from the band so quickly after I had been transformed into one of their fans. I thought that if I was exposed to a similar sound, I might begin to find it all a bit samey. Thankfully, whilst retaining a sound that truly defines them, Oceansize have managed to bring into an existence a totally new album. The thing is about Oceansize- you can't really tag them very easily. They are 'progressive' in the sense that they do bend boundaries and defy genres, but lumping them into such a broad category as 'progressive rock' is unfair; the band are simply out to make fantastic music, and in this aim, they continue to succeed.
The album is perhaps more cohesive than their previous effort, and equally as mystifying, both lyrically and musically. Oceansize are all about dynamics and layers- layered guitars, endlessly ambiguous lyrics, a vocal track that is beautiful, yet often becomes part of the swirling mix of instruments. All of these aspects come together and make the band entirely unique, even if they don't stand out like some of the exceptionally left-field 'contemporary' works. It's clear that Occeansize are on a mission to make songs that are both extraordinarily listenable and force you to think a little; but not in an intensive way. Much as you can ponder the meaning of a sentence in a novel, Oceansize make you feel compelled to ponder their music, and patter around the tracks trying to gather an overall sense of what the band is about. The ringing guitars, expressive vocals and exquisitely timed drumming all come together to form an album worthy of the very best. If you have surround sound, this album is especially well-suited; be prepared for a concoction of the achingly beautiful and the terrifying powerful. I do try to describe Oceansize in terms of their peers, but there really is nobody else like them that I've heard.
As for the tracks, 'The Charm Offensive' kicks off the party very nicely, one of the better tracks. It builds and builds throughout, until it reachs the pinnacle of the song - and yet continues onward until the end, screaming through to a climax with shredded nerves and a grinding final riff. 'Heaven Alive' begins with weird chanted vocals, but then gets a lot heavier, with heavily distorted ringing guitars and some memorable riffs throughout the song- again, the bass is high in the mix, and is excellent. However, 'Homage to a Shame' is absolutely brutal, clearly designed to induce frothing in the mouths of hard-rock fans everywhere. Distortion, heavy beats, occasionally-screamed vocals and a driving pulse to the song all propell it along towards the finish. By contrast, 'Meredith' and 'Music For Nurses' both change up the dynamic tone of the album once again, slowing the pace down and cranking up the melody. The latter was used on an advertising campaign, and it's easy to see why, even though the lyrics are virtually unfathomable without looking them up - it's certainly a highlight of the album. The atmosphere and emotion it generates is staggering.
The second half doesn't quite measure up to the first, but is still fantastic. 'New Pin' was touted as the breakout song of the album...whilst I wouldn't quite agree, it is a great number that flits along amiably enough, definitely memorable. The same can more or less apply to the remaining songs on the album - all very good, polished production and the layered dynamics remain prominent. The final track, however, is quite simply a masterpiece of dynamic interplay and harmonised vocals. Much as the title suggests, 'Ornament/The Last Wrongs' can be divided into two different tracks of totally differing tones. The former is very brittle and alternating in pace and volume, whilst the latter is essentially a soaring vocal melody placed over a quiet guitar riff, it's the perfect finale to the album- the final brushstroke on a canvas, guided by a band who knows precisely what they're trying to achieve.
Oceansize are unique. They've been called 'alternative', 'progressive', even 'grunge' at times- but what they are not is boring. Any fan of good music can appreciate this offering, and it is definitely the album to get you interested in this band. The only criticism I could level at the album would be that the vocals are too good to be pushed so far back into the mix at times, and the layers of guitars occasionally sound fuzzy...but this doesn't detract from the album as a whole. If walls of constructed sound emphasised by guitars, lovely vocals and riffs that alternate between crushing and beautiful are your thing, then you can do a lot worse than to pick up this gem.
I've said it a thousand times - 'why do all the greatest talents lie undiscovered?'. This band from Manchester are the most underated, and ignored bands this century.
Effloresce set their stall out very nicely - a fantastic album, Music For Nurses threatened with a bit more savagery, Everyone into position, well it's a masterwork.
The Charm Offensive is the perfect opener, brooding, intelligent and complex and every track that follows blends perfectly to create what I can only describe as a true progressive album. It's more like a musical journey and so full of love and emotion it leaves you begging the question - 'why are these guys not absolutely massive?'
If enough people get to hear this album, they will be.
Buy it, and spread the word on this awesome talent - they deserve it!
on 12 March 2007
While randomly browsing Amazon for bands that could compare to Tool in terms of scope and ambition, rather than just scream for twenty-five mins, Oceansize seemed the perfect one to go for and I wasn't disappointed at all. It's not Tool, but I didn't want that in the first place; just a metal band that produced quality, considered music. In some ways this reminds me of albums like Undertow and Pablo Honey - not musically of course, but that the band isn't stopping at that point and have something amazing waiting in the future. It's further along the line than either of those two however, and simply better, so I'll be enjoying this for however long I have to wait with the highest of expectations for the next.
on 26 November 2008
Oceansize's second album `Everything into Position' did more than just reassure their fans that they didn't want to rely on the success of first album `Effloresce'. The Manchester quintet have grown and matured as a band, creating an album which has expanded their musical horizons as well as creating an unsuspecting fan base along the way. As 4th track `Meredith' appeared in the US TV show `The OC'.
The strength and depth of this album is a clear step up from their debut. The band appears tighter and the songs feel more structured and better developed. The album can be split into two halves with a soft side and a heavy side. The soft side will take you to relaxing and peaceful place, like a January detox. The heavy side on the other hand will make you want to pick up an air guitar and thrash it until your arms are so sore you can't play another note. One thing that is for sure though is that this is great progressive rock music and although they've still got a bit to go before they can reach the accolades of current progressive rock heavyweights Porcupine Tree and The Mars Volta; if they keep up this kind of standard, it won't be long till they are joining them.
The soft side of the album, in my opinion displays their best work to date with the 2 stand out tracks of the album; `Music for a Nurse' and `Ornament/Last Wrongs'. Now you may not realise this but `Music for a Nurse' was used as part of the Orange mobile network provider's advertising campaign on TV. Although it is a good taster of the track, it really does not give this 8 minute plus epic its true glory it so rightfully deserves. There is something about this song. The musical backdrop is one in which many post rock acts would aspire to make. It is the slow pace of the song which creates such a massive and sweeping sound. Add to this Vermont's glorious vocals and it just makes the song complete. `Music for a Nurse' is a fitting title for the track too as it would be the perfect track for a nurse to sit back and unwind too after a stressful or busy day at the hospital as it is very relaxing and easy on the ears. For me, this song makes the album so special. Due to its length it was never going to get the radio airplay it deserved which shows the problem with radio rather than with Oceansize. Hopefully one day this song will be fully appreciated, but in reality that will be the day that people who work in radio realise people want to hear songs more than 4 minutes long.
The other epic track on the soft side of `Everyone into Position' is album closer `Ornament/Last Wrongs'. The dual track is a magical way to finish an album. The track opens with a gentle slow moving riff where silence is used after each movement. The song slowly builds up until Vermont and the other band members do the `ah ah ah' bit followed by a much heavier riff. Probably not the best description of it, but once you hear it will make sense. The track then has a great crossover link as the song turns into `The Last Wrongs' as other band members join Vermont on vocal duty in a choir type effect setting off with `Signs the Signs invisible'. Once again the track starts off slowly then builds up to a crashing climax as Vermont cranks up the vocals with `And yours is to just sustain'. This is one of the best endings to an album I have heard to an album in a long time. From album opener `Charm Offensive' right through to this song and `I am the Morning' and `Long Forgotten' from `Effloresce'; it is clear that Oceansize pay particular attention to the beginning and endings of an album as if the tracks are made with the positioning in mind. While many bands will argue over track order it as if Oceansize's pre-planning make this task the easiest of them all.
As you can see from `Music for a Nurse', it is not just the beginning and ending of this album that makes it great but they also have great variety in between. The highlights of the heavier side of the album are `Heaven Alive' and `Homage to a Shame'. What I love the most about Oceansize's rockier songs is that not only do they try not to cram them down to three minutes and let the song expand naturally but Vermont's vocals are upped a notch while still being in his range where as other singers would lose control over some of the notes. Vermont is clearly in control as he blasts out `This release inside of me, Is like my heaven calling' on `Heaven Alive'. On `Homage to a Shame' it is the great guitar work which takes centre stage as the quiet loud technique is used to great effect and the loud bits make it easily the heaviest track on the album. For me the technique makes the impact on the listener even greater. If you listen carefully through earphones you can also hear whispering on certain parts of the track which adds a nice touch as well as depth to the track along with the screaming towards the end of the track which acts as a great climax.
Overall this is a fantastic follow up album. They have a bit of a way to go before cementing their place amongst the great prog bands but if they continue to make albums like this surely it won't be long. From a selfish point of view though I just want this band to stay small as seeing them in smaller venues is a mesmerising experience. But wherever you go to see them you can be safe in the knowledge that the person standing next to you has a great taste in music.
on 20 September 2005
After the stop-gap 'Music for nurses Ep', Oceansize have delivered a fine second album that has a great blend of full-on rockers and slower, more epic songs. Songs have taken on a grander scale than on previous records and work all the better for it. If you get the chance, go see these guys play as they take the power of the songs up another notch live! Thank God for bands like this...
on 30 September 2005
following up effloresce was always going to be difficult, in fact i was a bit worried about how this would turn out. its not the 'difficult' second album, though its not quite as instant as effloresce. as one of the other reviewers pointed out it draws you in gradually, be it the pomp rock of 'you can't keep...' (nearly lost it there lads), the epic 'music for a nurse' or closer 'the last wrongs', which is kind of a 'home of fadeless splendour' (they'll know) moment. 'heaven alive' is probably the most radio friendly track (as if they'll get coverage, but that's another story) and a logical choice for a single, but these guys are more about soundscapes.
influences vary but closest one i can see is tool, though my favourite track 'no tomorrow' reminds me of massive attack.
if i had any criticisms to make its the absence of 'one of the none'. and that's it. we want more...