Archive for the ‘Album Reviews’ Category

Argh! ! ! !  It has been an age since the last post on blueair (so lets make this a lengthy one eh?!)….. and even longer since my last post, although I blame this on it being my final year at uni, the year of the stress head for sure!  However thats all in the past, I’m now a free man with nothing better to do during his day than watch the grim Scottish weather empty volumes equal to the entire of the North Sea plus some uber winds that can actually pull down trees(!), also watching Sean Bean in game of thrones (which is epic by the way!) AND most importantly listening to all the brand spanking new records that have been released lately!

So…. these records I speak of…….. in particular are; the Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Commitee (part 2) and Peste Noire – L’Ordure à l’état Pur.

The Beastie Boys have done it again, their first rap orientated album since 2004’s “to the 5 Boroughs” (hot sauce is better in my opinion!), is an absolute corker where they prove to the world that you can rap into your late 40’s and remain at the top of your game, with 16 tracks they show absolutly no signs of giving up!  Eclipsing the RnB style embraced by the masses these days – to you fickle people: this is real hip hop!!  However, I shall continue onwards with a mini review of Peste Noire’s new album – as I’ve just listened to it today for the first time!

Not exactly the most popular band in the world, but in two words Peste Noire (from France if you hadn’t guessed already) are Fucking amazing!

Essentially they are a Black Metal band, perhaps more correctly termed; collective headed by the ever present guitarist/vocalist/song writer/multi instrumentalist – La sale Famine de Valfunde; or known simply as Famine – thats him rocking out in the photo to the right.  To say their style is simply black metal would be a big mistake, as they have continuously evolved through time (something I like in my music – when done well like in Famines case, is the sign of a truly talented unique musician) and to be honest it would pretty hard to come up with a couple of words to describe their style, although most people term them – Medieval (Musical style), Nationalist (lyrical content – GCSE standard French is not ideal to aid in your understanding) Black Metal.

So the new album: L’Ordure à l’état Pur, track by track:

  1.  Casse, Pêches, Fractures Et Traditions – The perfect opener, showcases the new Peste Noire style but is still easily recognisable from a classic Famine riff that kicks in after a slow 2 minute build up.  One new element imidiatly jumps out here: the addition of brass instruments and an accordion in an almost “oompapa” breakdown fashion… plus some well placed uses of wolf howls and sword clashing noises add tons to the atmosphere – the outro is killer!!….along with the use of chicken noises!
  2. Cochon Carotte Et Les Sœurs Crotte –  Some of the drumming on this track wouldn’t sound too out of place in a nightclub, This is peste noire as you’ve never heard them before!  After one listen I really didn’t know what to think but then 2nd time round I found myself rocking out.  This song starts in a typically manic fashion then moves on to some good solid riffing, dancy drum and bass, some well placed screams topped off with yet another rather special outro; this is highly original stuff chaps and chapettes!
  3. J’avais Rêvé Du Nord 1 – Awesome start with famines dirty sounding guitar riff pausing for several shotgun reloads before the song kicking in with the shot being fired.  Again this song has a very dancy electronic drum beat but then pauses for a mandolin (possibly?), acoustic guitar interlude with strings and clean female vocals kicking in also.  The song then resumes although faster than before; more typically PN.  For such an insane song with astronomically contrasting sections it works perfectly!
  4. J’avais Rêvé Du Nord 2 – Possibly the most “traditional” black metal track on the album along with a little acoustic breakdown, its also the shortest one at just under 7 min.  Both fast and down beat sections, a really good solid song plus some cracking guitar composition!  Has an epic sing along “lalalalalalala LA LA” section in which you feel compelled to join in with!
  5. Sale Famine Von Valfoutre – This song wouldn’t sound too out of place on any of PN releases.  Has just about every style of black metal ever conceived in one song! Pure evil!
  6. La Condi Hu – The 30 second intro is almost beautiful and far removed from most of the raging insanity of the other songs, once the riff properly kicks in the only way you can describe it is from the feeling of sadness it oozes straight at you!  The riffs change and theres some really good accompanying string sections in places.  Simply put this song is amazing!  Famine has traditionally rounded up the previous three outings with a cracking tune and this is no exception!!!!  Also I think it worth while noting that Famines vocals are possibly at their best on this album as whole!
This album is awesome I give it 10/10 due to the originallity, variation, brilliant composition and how close to a perfect record that this is!  If you like music that is wild, distorted and varied not just from song to song but within the songs themselves you should give this album a spin.  Anyone who thinks black metal (or metal in general for that matter!!) is bland and boring or was dead and buried in the 90’s; this is my message to you! Listen to Peste Noire, without doubt one of the best in the business!  Last but not least heres a YouTube link to the last song off the album “La Condi Hu”:
or available for purchase from http://www.lamesnieherlequin.com  (or)  http://www.mesnieamerique.com
Lee, signing off.
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Blue Air is back after its unofficial summer long break, basically we were all reluctant to write anything and stay indoors while there is the possibility of seeing sunlight! Especially those of us who live in Manchester which is only slightly dryer than Atlantis.
I Learned The Hard Way is the most recent album from Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings and was released this year in April, although you would be forgiven for not knowing this as their style is never going to get much commercial airplay. However after hearing ‘Inspiration Information’ on the ‘Dark is the Night’ compilation album last year I was keen to hear more from Ms Jones especially as this is a type of music I have very little knowledge of.
For backgrounds sake The Dap-Kings (and Sharon Jones) were originally the house band at The Boite in Barcelona, where they recorded and released ‘Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ on their own label Daptone Records in 2002. Touring relentlessly the success of the album led to commercial success with tracks being used in several advertising campaigns. The Dap-Kings also took advantage of several opportunities to collaborate with other artists on the back of the albums success. Most notably (and kind of unsurprisingly) they featured on the Mark ‘More Trumpets Please’ Ronson produced ‘Back to Black’ album with Amy Winehouse and on Ronson’s own album ‘Version’. Jones and the Dap-Kings have also worked with Rufus Wainright, Phish and the Buble.
There are obvious comparisons to make between Jones and other funk/soul/jazz legends such as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight. In fact the band have been heralded as the spearhead of a movement to recreate the original jazz/soul styling of the 60s and 70s, but few have had the success of the SJ&DK. In fact there are very few of these ‘retro’ acts as committed as the Dap-Kings and Sharon Jones. Few can fill notes with as much meaning and power as Jones. One of the best examples of this however is not on the album. For a great example look for the bands cover of ‘This Land is Your Land’, originally by Woody Guthrie, on the ‘Naturally’ album. The song brings together the best of the band, turning what was originally a country/folk classic which inspired the likes of Bob Dylan into a seriously funky song which would easily get top billing any soul album.
Jones and the Dap-Kings bring this skill and depth to all of the songs on ‘I Learned the Hard Way’ and the album has very few tracks which don’t demonstrate this to good effect. Album opener ‘The Game Gets Old’ has all the drama of a James Bond theme tune especially those by Shirley ‘Goldfingaaaaaar’ Bassey. In fact I’ll say it now, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are my bet to do the next Bond theme, whatever ridiculous title they give it! Album highlights include ‘Better Things To Do’, ‘Mama Don’t Like My Man’ and ‘I’ll Still Be True’. Special mention should be given to instrumental track ‘The Reason’ which is a great example of the Dap-Kings native sound. Sometimes the album does feel like it is just going through the motions but individually all the songs are fantastic.
The Game Gets Old– Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
For me this was a fantastic end of summer album, clichéd I know but who cares!
4.5/5

Pendulum broke onto the music scene a few years ago with a drum n bass sound that crossed over to rock clubs. Slam became a massive club hit, Tarantula soon followed and then mixes like Bacteria and Blood Sugar brought some hope that the music industry had a new Prodigy on our hands. In Silico followed, with a more rock approach – more guitars, less synth, less appeal to the drum and bass crowd but a creation of a good fanbase amongst rock fans.

So what of Immersion, their third release? I’d heard it would follow along the same path as In Silico, then I saw a 15 track playlist featuring Liam Howlett of Prodigy fame (producing ‘Immunize’), prog-rock hero Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame (vocals on The Fountain) and a collaboration with metal band In Flames (Self Vs Self). Talk about experimental.

You can hear Howlett’s influence on Immunize: it’s reminiscent of The Fat of the Land, or the Pendulum remix of Voodoo People I put on my summer playlist. Self Vs Self is a powerful metal track, and surprised me in how well the two bands blended together. As for The Fountain, it’s very close to some of the music from In Silico, but just adds a different dimension with Wilson’s lyrics.

As for the rest of the album…15 tracks was probably too many. This isn’t to say there aren’t some brilliant tracks, and die-hards will be pleased to hear that there’s not only a return to Hold Your Colour, but also some experiments with dubstep (see Set Me On Fire). The leading single, Watercolour, is a solid track, a good single, but merely whets the appetite for the rest of the album, as a good single should (you can find Watercolour on our Songs of 2010 playlist). Crush is a blistering track, which has been compared in some quarters to nu-metal heroes Linkin Park. Not sure about that – it’s definitely Pendulum, and their own brand of rock, like Propane Nightmares is. Comprachios sees an attempt at industrial drum n bass, but just sounds like…well, industrial music – Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and so on. That’s not to say it’s bad – it’s brave, interesting, and actually…pretty good.

Some tracks just weren’t necessary though. I have two in mind – the conceptual Island (Dawn and Dusk), which while…actually, no, it’s not even…it’s a bit rubbish to be honest. It sounds like that thing Sophie Ellis Bextor did with Spooner remixed by an overexcited teenager. Take that out, and you’ve got a brilliant album, but those additional 9 and a half minutes are a bit pointless.

Overall, it’s a brave album, Pendulum seem to be trying to find their feet, their niche, the direction they want to take. This really does seem like an experimental album, and the majority of it works. I’d be surprised if we see this level of experimentation again, but Pendulum have proved they’re a very versatile group – they experiment with drum n bass, rock, metal, dubstep and industrial and it all works pretty well. As Watercolour is a good preview track for Immersion, Immersion ought to be a good preview album for what this ever-surprising British-Aussie group do next.

4/5

I didn’t know anything about Caribou when I was asked to review this album, so I did a little research. Caribou is Canadian Dr Dan Snaith. Yes, a doctor: of algebra, no less, a PhD received from Imperial College London. His whole family carries this jealousy-inducing intelligence, but blessedly only Dan went into music, otherwise the whole industry might be overtaken by the Snaiths. The name Caribou was forced upon him when he was politely asked to drop his old name, Manitoba, by way of a lawsuit. So he did what everyone does when faced with this obstacle: drove into the Canadian mountains, took some acid, and let a bear tell him what to change his name to.

I am telling the truth.

Andorra was his breakthrough album in 2007, a hidden jem with some really laid back tracks you might find on a Ministry of Sound chillout album. Thus, it’s a difficult act to live up to.

Swim follows the same playlist formula as Andorra (which I listened to after Swim, for comparison), and ‘Odessa,’ the first track, is the first single from the album. A wise move: Caribou’s material is more strings, bells and whistles than synthesisers and driving beats that his contemporaries may favour. The whole album has an other-worldly, hallucinogenic feel to it, but the lyrics, where appropriate, keep the music firmly rooted on Earth. The fact that the music is more bells and whistles is a nice, relaxing sound to be honest, giving a more cheerful vibe than someone similar but more commercially successful like Moby: the jangly sound makes it feel more like being out in a barbecue in the Rockies than drowning in a sea of melancholic baldness.

For all the cheerful, happy-go-luckiness of it all, Swim perhaps could have done with a little more variety in its songs. It can feel repetitive at times, and after all, that’s what made the Prodigy’s Invader’s Must Die a failure. Thankfully, there’s enough good stuff in this album for it to sit alongside a CD rack that might be full of Chicane and Faithless. If Caribou’s quite happy keeping things low key, as his music suggests, it leaves a little less room for experimenting. But then who needs experimenting when you can put albums of this quality out?

This album feels like it’s not quite everything Snaith wanted from it, but it’s still a very well put together and solid album. Anyone picking this up will be very happy. Anyone who looks further, to find Andorra, for instance, will be even happier to have unearthed such a gem.

You can find ‘Odessa’ on our Spotify Playlist, Blue Air Songs of 2010 (clickety click). I thoroughly recommend giving it a listen.

3.5/5

“I am almost certain you will hate it, so should be fun!”2 Door Cinema Club - Tourist History

This is how Adam promoted Two Door Cinema Club’s album to me. This and another album which I’m reviewing very soon. Seen as a ‘next big thing’ type of band, and as beneficiaries of the myspace movement, it was about time we gave them a listen.

So listen I did, without particularly high hopes, while reading up on them. Kids playing with guitars in Northern Ireland. Snow Patrol, I think. Fans of the current musical movement. Arctic Monkeys, I whimper. They named themselves after the Tudor Cinema Club. Oh crap, they can’t even speak properly…

So imagine my surprise as I found myself tapping along to the music. The pace is more frantic than their indie comparisons would have you believe, but they maintain their loyalty to the indie genre. The opener ‘Cigarettes In The Theatre’ displays their talent openly and honestly: upbeat and pacy guitars, some creative, frantic drumming and catchy chorus lines. The lyrics are, well, gloriously indie (which made me a little sick, anyone who’s read my previous reviews knows I’m not indie’s biggest fan) with lots of oozin’ aah’s and the occasional club friendly chorus, like ‘Do You Want It All.’

Two Door Cinema Club – Do You Want It All

Now, here’s the key thing for me. Up and down the country, indie has become a club night in its own right, and bands are now discovered, found and loved due to their club friendly tracks. Two Door Cinema Club should be admired that they haven’t gone for the more commercial, happy-clappy sing-a-long type of album and music. Some of these tracks would be diffcult to work into a clubnight playlist, in fact I found two on the whole album I could see being played. The tracks have the same ghostly, ambient quality of bands of yesteryear – Ghost Town by the Specials comes to mind, as does elements of the Cure (yes, I’m a hypocrit) and the Smiths. Furthermore, they should be commended for not bandwagon-hopping and called themselves “THE Two Door Cinema Club.”

Here is a band whose music fits quite snugly into the indie genre, but in the same uncomfortable manner that Franz Ferdinand and the Klaxons do – you call them indie because it’s the only thing that vaguely fits. Songs like ‘Do You Want It All’ and ‘I Can Talk’ will hopefully be club hits, but I fear their pace will leave drunk, sweaty homecoming students trying to bounce along to it struggling to keep pace: its closer to US skate punk than UK indie.

This is a band who I fear won’t get the credit they’re due. Being hailed as the next big thing is always a curse, unless you’re the Strokes. But their unwavering commitment to their kind of music is admirable. It’s upbeat, pacy, original and could be compared to so many different bands. But comparing them to the Arctic Monkeys and Snow Patrol as I did above is unfair: Smiths, Specials, Cure, Klaxons, even my favourite euro-electro act Dúné are all a much better fit. With blazing originality, loyalty to music their way and an underlying determination to be seen as ‘different’ is admirable, commendable and worth a listen.

4/5

Everyone knows/has heard about gorillaz – “yeah its that bloke from blur with some cartoons”.  Having shot to fame internationally with gorillaz, something he didnt quite manage on the same level with blur, the stakes were high on the back of the two previous hit albums Gorillaz (2001) and Demon Days (2005).

In reference to Adams last post I would argue that this  would be my Premature Summer Album of choice for 2010!  It has everything you want for summer listening:  The opening two tracks consist of a short orchestral piece that flows into a 70’s tinged collaboration with Snoop Dogg.  I think this sets the tone for the rest of the album rather well.  Damon manages to bring in hip hop, pop, rock, soul artists as well as orchestras, and then wrap it all up in the form of – Plastic Beach.  Despite hip hop being a prominent feature on past gorillaz albums I think he takes all of his collaborations to new heights on this album.

The music definitly has more of a (I don’t want to use this word!) pop feel to it -but in a good way a kind of classic pop feel – not uber sell out like pop has come to mean over the last decade.  It uses that familiar Gorillaz sound but has that different edge to it.  I reckon this album does show up many younger musicians lack of imagination these days – and if you had no idea who gorillaz were I bet you wouldn’t think the music was made by a 42 year old?! definitly sounds like someone in their 20’s.  Its like Damon just wanted to give them all a lesson on how to make a good pop/rock record!

I can see myself driving around a lot in the summer sun listening to this record.  Highlights definitly include White flag, Superfast Jellyfish, the title track and the two collaborations with Little Dragon – To Binge and Empire Ants.  The latter remind me of modern equivalents to being a wee nipper listening to Brit pop albums in my garden in the 90’s….good times!

Anyway; yes this album is great, yes you should listen to it ….. and yes its out now!

enjoy (P.S where are Oasis these days…. I thought they were supposed to be the really talented ones? hahahaha)

Brooklyn based Yeasayer are without a doubt going to be the band of the summer and thank science for that! We should all bow down at the alter of the psychedelic/electronic music gods for this offering to save us from the endless club remixes and hip-hop artists releasing their ‘summer tunes’ that infest and balls up my summer…I mean OUR summer. From the start Yeasayer you have a warm place in my heart.

Yeasayer’s first album release, All Hour Cymbals in 2007, started the band on their way and after a hectic touring schedule last year supporting MGMT and Beck (coupled with their stand out single ‘Tightrope’ on the Dark is the Night compilation) it has been a steady march forwards for the band. Odd Blood was released early this year amid a lot of expectation and hype, which it appears to have lived up to. The second single off the album ‘O.N.E.’ is currently doing the rounds on Radio 1 and the NME music channel after the relative success of the first single ‘Ambling Alp’. I say ‘relative success’ because as usual Blue Air whipping boy Zane ‘hottest band in the world right now’ Lowe was the only DJ who appeared to actually have heard of them and was willing to give the single air time. We really do love you Zane…honest.

Yeasayer- Madder Red (click to play)

The album itself is the perfect length for an album, as stated before on this website, albums should be no more than 10 tracks long and no fewer than 8. FACT. Odd Blood clocks in at the limit with 10 tracks, only a handful of which don’t make the grade, but the bar is set high. Ambling Alp, was released in December last year and had a suitably psychedelic video to go with it, click on the link here to see the video in our ‘Albums to look out for in 2010‘ post. The song features the staple elements of a Yeasayer track; deep electronic and instrumental layers with melodies harking back to AHC’s obvious Middle Eastern influences. There is also that element of intrigue as Yeasayer songs generally can go anywhere in terms of musical direction. The main difference between OB and AHC is that OB has richer melodies and actually contains vocals, something often lacking on tracks on AHC. Odd Blood begins with some very strong opening tracks in The Children, Ambling Alp and Madder Red, which are definitely three of the standout tracks. It does tail off near the end and it is a pity as that was one of the great things about MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular which really didn’t contain a single bad song (they have more than made up for that with the new album, but that’s another review!).

It’s not too hard to work out how Yeasayer’s summer is going to go; they will probably have the alt summer hit of the year, be touted as the act to see live at all of the festivals, then return in a year or so with a new album called Congratulations……hang on a minute……haven’t we heard all this before? Okay so they are following in MGMT’s footsteps, but surely that is no bad thing?

3.5/5