For today only you can grab Alt-J’s ‘An Awesome Wave’ for £2.99 on Amazon. If you haven’t got it yet WHY NOT? Click here and get on it!
When Spector first burst into our ears, here at NRL we couldn’t form an opinion; Grey Shirt & Tie was majestic, Chevy Thunder was the missing soundtrack of our lives, but with all the media hoopla we couldn’t be amazed through all the confusion. Was it all an elaborate stunt? Fast forward a few months and head honcho Fred Macpherson quotes us on the radio and twitter, and our minds are made up- NRL + Spector = tru luv.
As always, J’s here to mark the union with the 10 Word Review™ of their debut album Enjoy It While It Lasts. Press play and let it roll.
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Gaggle’s new album is streaming, if you head on over the Guardian and give it a listen. If you like the idea of a (about) 34-strong all-female choir combined with a feminist mindset (AND WHO DOESN’T), then my standout tracks are Crows and Army of Birds. LOVELY STUFF/A BIT SCARY WALL OF NOISE BUT OVERALL STILL VERY GOOD.
'An Awesome Wave' is unpredictable. It transcends all comparison to any other album out right now, "Tessellate" is introduced by dramatic pianos and a smattering of the stuttering drums that feature throughout many of the songs on this album. 'Breezeblocks' is exciting (the DRUMS. YES.) and ‘Dissolve Me’ is wonderfully Summery, filled with fresh folk harmonies.
The album itself is dotted with interludes, and while these have the potential to be annoying breaks in the album, it actually glues the record together, blurring it into something electrifying.
Download: all of it. Just DO IT PLEASE. IT’S SO GOOD.
"Relief washes over me in an awesome wave."- Patrick Bateman
The Hives are exciting.
They are like a remarkably well-dressed bus driver hurtling straight for you, and you know they’ll spare you’re life right at the very second so you stay where you are and soak in the adrenalin.
If you aren’t a fan, then i’m confused. Do you hate fun? Do you exclusively revel in jazz or baroque? Are you ILL? or have you just never heard them? For the last one I can just about excuse you, as their bafflingly little known here considering they’re first album was released in 1997.
Here are just a few reasons why I love them:
The Hives new album Lex Hives is out in the UK on June 4th, and you can pre-order a signed copy here. From new single Go Right Ahead it’s clearly going to be more brilliance. Plus the cover’s the best i’ve seen in a long while.
In grand NRL tradition, here’s a 10 word-a-song review of the Cribs fifth offering, out on Witchita on Monday 7th. You can pre-order it (and some fancy packages) at all the usual stops, check out their website for the linkage.
1) Glitters Like Gold:Very ‘09- familiar, fuzzy and warm like your favourite tatty jumper
'I guess I got what you wanted/ A naive streak that I won't shake'
2) Come On and Be a No-one: Proper anthem like only the Cribs can manage, THE BEST.
'I was trying so hard to enjoy everything/that I ended up enjoying nothing'
3) Jaded Youth: Retro verses and odd synths smothered in classic Jarman-harmonies
'Dye your hair red 'cause it's back in fashion'
4) Anna: ’Cheat on Me’s more mellifluous cousin… no more, no less
'Whatever you think i'm doing on a night/you're probably right'
5) Confident Men: Strangely National-esque, poignant like driving in the rain at night
'Confident men and their unwelcome friends/always win in the end'
6) Uptight: An anesthetized version of the brattish Cribs of the past…
'No-one has to tell me/I have to let it go'
7) Chi-Town:...But they’re back with punk splendor in this mosh HEAVEN
'I still think of you and just take it out on everyone else'
8) Pure O: Like’My Life Flashed Before My Eyes’ in cloud form
'Goddamn the times I thought of nothing but the things I couldn't prove' (this song has the most touching and brilliant lyrics of the album, fact)
9) Back to the Bolthole: Claustrophobic. Euphoric. Touches a raw nerve, in me at least.
'Crying in secret about the things you're thinking you're thinking on a night'
10) I Should Have Helped: Like Super-8 footage of bottled pain thrown in the sea
'Perfect things still can break your heart/that's not to say I'd ever change that'
11) Stalagmites: Uneasy ode to giving-a-shit, with intense spoken fragments
’So if needs be i’ll batter you with an unrelenting dignity’
12) Like a Gift Giver: Shimmering, light and graceful. Shimmery shimmering shimmers on a lake.
'It's hard to believe in anything… but whisper something trivial and I might'
13) Butterflies: Even lighter still, the spirit of Marr still obviously lingers
'All the words are no longer true/but i'll promise just like I always do'
14) Arena Rock Encore With Full Cast: Their wit is not missing after all the drama, YES.
In 30 words?
Unmistakably Cribs; feedback induced lullabies to paralyze. (Almost) gone are the bratty two-minute wonders in favour of more ‘Ignore…’ style gaunt and tense surprises - much like the Jarmans themselves.
Flaily arms and tear ducts: ENGAGE
This is the first time I have listened to ANY of these songs, other than Someone Purer, so here are some inchoherent ramblings/possibly the worst album review ever.
1. Radlands - Blaine Harrison’s dulcet tones are accompanied by country guitars and a catchy chorus. A strong opener.
2. You Had Me At Hello -The bass in this is really good. That’s pretty much it.
3. Someone Purer- Catches the attention better than You Had Me At Hello, straight up brilliant ANTHEM complete with “OAAOAA OAAOAA”s.
4. The Ballad of Emmerson Lonestar- The best a story about falling in love with a prostitute’s ever sounded. But still, I’m not feeling it. It’s a bit slow-moving to begin with and then just floats about. GUYS I’M SORRY. Guitar at the end is good though.
5. Greatest Hits - Wouldn’t sound out of place on Twenty One, also would sound good on a Greatest Hits cd. It’s a rose tinted haze of shalalalalalalalalas and OO OOOs and choppy guitar.
6. The Hale Bop- This is the best thing I’ve ever heard. “THE SAVIOUR”, THE HIGH FALSETTO, THE 70’S FUNK. THE SAVIOUR
7. The Nothing - Firstly I was worried this would just merge in with the other songs, but the lyrics really stood out on this one. The chorus-y bit sounds like a merry go round. The heartfelt delivery alone of “bring me back as something beautiful” makes this one of the best songs on the album already.
8. Take Me Where The Roses Grow- WHO IS THIS LADY / unable to create thought. Another song that just merges with the rest, I’m only interested in the drumming.
9. Sister Everett - I thought by this point the album would redeem itself, but it just kind of DOESN’T, apart from the choir bit - and even that overstays its welcome. I DUNNO. MAYBE I’M JUST IRRITABLE TODAY.
10. Lost In Austin - The crunchy guitars and Harrison’s voice in this are INCREDIBLE. Very good. i lak this one (except it’s SIX MINUTES AND I DON’T HAVE THAT LONG AN ATTENTION SPAN)
11. Luminescence - THIS IS ABOUT DRUGS AND I DON’T CONDONE THEM. Decent album closer though, very simple & pleasant, Blaine Harrison has a right good voice. That’s it. I’m sad now.
Worth listening to: Someone Purer, The Nothing, The Hale Bop, The Hale Bop 100 more times.
While Serotonin and Twenty One are bona fide pop albums, I reckon Radlands will sit comfortably next to Making Dens; a bit weird, but ultimately still full of melodies. It’s similar to Making Dens, just with more country and phlegmy filler bits. Personally I feel it’s a BIT all over the place - but it should sound good live and I’m looking forward to owning the CD and giving it another listen, as Mystery Jets are skilled wordsmiths/one of my best ones so I can’t give up yet.
You can now buy Reign of Terror! YAY! Here’s a couple of words about each song (with SPOTIFY LINKS OH YES)…
True Shred Guitar//Does exactly what it says on the title. Sounds like: a live circle pit of Slayer fans from the mid 90’s, led into war by Krauss, with possibly one of the best “1, 2, 3, 4” post-drops.
Born To Lose// Eerie, suicide-condoning, with guitars and drums that smash you like a breezeblock to the brain. “Such a legend now you were born to lose.”
Crush//Kind-of blurring into ‘Born To Lose’, carrying on the anti-cheerleader vibes.
End Of The Line//Starts uncharacteristically slow, the breathy vocals and emotional lyrics make it seem an almost vulnerable 90’s ballad.
Leader Of The Pack//Again continuing the juxtaposition of sweet vocals/true shread guitars, it’s kind of a baggy moment before the lead single.
Comeback Kid//A lot heavier than the previous songs, brilliantly chosen single with EQUALLY SMASHING video. Almost-pop-like, with a WAY catchier structure than the others, it’s a strange contender for my ‘songs I like and need a dance routine’ list. Also the double-pedal effect around two minutes in is GLORIOUS.
Demons//Amazing shrieking shout-along song, an album highlight. Lyrics about tearing an enemy down ‘brick by brick by brick’ sit well with me.
Road To Hell//Almost slacker-y surf rock beginning-HOLY HECK IS THAT GUNS IN THE BACKGROUND?
You Lost Me//The first few MILISECONDS of this sounds a bit innocent, then goes into a weird key change that reminds me a bit of the Crash Bandicoot soundtrack. (But then that’s just me) (Because that’s all I think about.) I mean this is in the first few MILISECONDS. A pleasant way to wind down the album, weird chillwave.
Never Say Die//Less crunchy guitars to begin with than the others, but for what it lacks in those it makes up for in general CREEPINESS, with vocals flying in from all over the place.
D.O.A//This one kind of wavers around for a bit, and the double pedal builds up to…exactly the same thing. It’s very soft for Sleigh Bells, and kind of ends on an almost-cliffhanger.
If I were to rate this, I’d give it ABOUT a 6 or 7. I can’t really compare it to Treats, as this sophomore effort is way more melodic. Some songs are real high points, but others have a tendency to merge into one another/not go anywhere for a while.
I’d advise you to have a gander at: Comeback Kid, Demons, Born to Lose
As a huge Tribes fan, I knew that I’d gush and babble about each track until it turned into an essay rather than a review. To combat this, I gave myself 10 words for each song:
1. Whenever - Fuzz-driven lament growing into stomp-rock arena-worthy epic
‘I’m too exhausted to open my mind’
2. We Were Children- falsetto mosh-pit hymn for the young and the restless
‘We stood there throwing ice-cream in her hair/how I solemnly swear/it’s the thing I regret the most’
3. Corner of an English Field – Pixies by way of Smiths, a composed yet gargantuan ballad
‘Have you noticed the change in the weather lately?/it’s getting me down always saying I’m sorry’
4. Halfway Home – For leaving your lover and escaping into the sunset alone
‘Just wanna dance with you/but I won’t let it show’
5. Sappho – Modern day poetry of lesbos, made for screaming, very loudly
‘How do you tell a child that there’s no God up in the sky and it’s all a lie?’
6. Himalaya –like FWN-era Arctic Monkeys, but 1000 times more touching
‘Does it move you?/ the state I’m in?’
7. Nightdriving - A simple, stunning lament for life’s hopeless moments. You’ll cry.
‘What use is god if you can’t see him?/What use are friends if they don’t want in?’
8. When My Day Comes – Garage rock at it’s greatest; hard, fast, short and LOUD.
‘You tell your friends on the telephone/It’s not them that make you feel alone’
9. Walking in the Street- 90s guitar and timeless lyrics wrapped in love and lust
‘So this is how it ends/ scare yourself to death on promises’
10. Alone or With Friends – Spaced out odyssey like nothing else on the album, strange
‘Am I at the bottom of the ocean/or way up in the sky?’
11. Bad Apple – delicate and painful, sharp and smooth, a fitting end
‘Several hours later/life’s a little shorter’
In 30 words?
An album of God, youth and most importantly, life. Beautiful, powerful and raw from start to finish, as close to perfect as you can get with our modern tainted ears.
Baby is out Monday, buy it.