Saturday, January 31, 2009

Review: Dälek - Gutter Tactics

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Artist: Dälek
Album: Gutter Tactics
Rating: 4 out of 5
In a nutshell: Not your typical, polished hip-hop record

I'm a person who doesn't listen to much hip hop. No, I don't dismiss it out of my roots being a metalhead. My music taste has grown much more eclectic, yet typical hip hop has not got in into that varied mix of genres. Though there are exceptions. I admire Eminem's genius for lyricism and realism and Kanye West's gift for beats. But nothing has captivated me more than your not-so-typical rap outfit, Dälek.

Dälek - No Question




Listen to the above track, and you suddenly realise that this is a group that is not afraid to experiment outside the comfort zone of gangsta rap. Here they employ a gritty lyricism that evokes anger and narrates stories of social injustice and violence, in contrast with a genre that seems to almost willingly promote sexism, materialism and violence.

In a sense, this is hip hop at its purest. This is taking elements from different sounds and then mixing it into a melting pot, experimenting with different ideas and sonic influences.

More often than not, the grit and the poetry here are one and the same. Its anger is its beauty, its political dissatisfaction a vehicle that moves along its sonic, dream-like journey. Dälek's verses are inventive and intelligent, and in The Oktopus's (the producer) musical vision of trauma and doom, it becomes an epic commentary of American hypocrisy.

Gutter tactics indeed.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Dälek - 2012 (The Pillage)
via FoxyTunes

Review: Antony & The Johnsons - The Crying Light

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Artist: Antony & The Johnsons
Album: The Crying Light
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
In a nutshell: A rustic pre-apocalyptic ode

Contributing his voice to Hercules & Love Affair's self-titled debut album, Antony Hegarty injected a certain elegance in projecting poignancy and pain in one of last year's best single' 'Blind.' This is no mean feat considering Hercules & Love Affair is essentially a disco project.

What we have in 'The Crying Light' is more of the same, without of course the disco music. Antony Hegarty's voice is nothing if not moving. His vibrating vocals just always manages to send shivers down your spine. Through that voice alone he projects a sense of longing, for another world, and for another life.

The album actually starts with the vaguely optimistic 'Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground' and the oddly-named 'Epilepsy Is Dancing.' This song does dance into your ears and is weirdly infectious. Then it plunges into a mournful grief from there on.

The album on its whole is an elegy to our dying world. 'I need another world / This one's nearly gone,' he laments in 'Another World.' There's a simple poetry to his words. It's all idyllic and rustic, but at the same time it's also incredibly mournful. He pays tribute to Mother Nature, singing of birds, seas and the wind, as if they were lovers. 'I'm gonna miss the wind / Been kissing me so long,' he grieves.

'Another World'




Sometimes his singing borders on the appearance of incoherence, never more so than in 'Dust & Water,' which becomes chant-like in parts. This is where he fails. The funereal tone of the whole album does wear you down out of sheer repetitiveness. Though it is beautiful, there is only so much pain and death a person can take in 40 minutes.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Antony And The Johnsons - Everglade
via FoxyTunes

Friday, January 30, 2009

My Top 50 Films Of All Time

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I was bored, and I was looking through the imdb Top 250 Films list for ideas on what to watch. So I decided I might as well do my own. But I'm not about to dish out a list of 250 films. Let's just do 50, yeah? That sounds good. A nice round number, and a multiple of 5.

Notice that 'The Dark Knight' rules supreme. Yes, I do think it's the best film I have ever seen. And before you criticise me for not inserting your favourite film, let me just say I haven't seen every single movie out there. For example, I haven't seen 'Schindler's List,' 'The Shawshank Redemption' (well, not till the end anyway) or those really old films from the 40's/50's/60's. This is my list.
'Pulp Fiction'

1. The Dark Knight (2008)
2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
3. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
4. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)
5. Wall-E (2008)
6. The Big Lebowski (1998)
7. The Breakfast Club (1985)
8. Pan's Labyrinth [El Laberinto del Fauno] (2006)
9. Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)
10. Kill Bill: Vol. 1-2 (2003-2004)
11. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
12. My Neighbour Totoro [Tonari No Totoro] (1988)
13. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
14. Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)
15. Back To The Future (1985-1990)
16. American Beauty (1999)
17. The Lion King (1994)
18. Spirited Away [Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi] (2001)
19. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
20. Gremlins (1984-1990)
21. 300 (2006)
22. American History X (1998)
23. No Country For Old Men (2007)
24. Life Is Beautiful [La Vita E Bella] (1997)
25. Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
26. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
27. The Incredibles (2004)
28. The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006)
29. The Truman Show (1998)
30. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
31. Juno (2007)
32. The Godfather (1972)
33. Batman Begins (2005)
34. King Kong (2005)
35. Knocked Up (2007)
36. The Matrix (1999-2003)
37. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
38. Pirates Of The Caribbean (2003-2007)
39. I Am Legend (2007)
40. Cloverfield (2008)
41. Sin City (2005)
42. Blood Diamond (2006)
43. The Last King Of Scotland (2006)
44. Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004)
45. Shrek (2001-2007)
46. Star Wars (1977-1983)
47. Ju-On: The Grudge (2003)
48. Spider-Man (2002-2007)
49. Babel (2006)
50. V For Vendetta (2005)
'A Clockwork Orange'

Yes, 'The Godfather' is #32. Boo hoo. I think I'm committing film blasphemy by saying it's not in my Top 10. But hey, I just happen to think 'Juno' is better. Never thought you'd hear that, did you? 'Juno' better than 'The Godfather'?

I have quite a few animated films in there too. There are people who are quick to dismiss animated films as 'cartoons,' lacking the depth of live action films. The truth is, these people are missing out. 'Wall-E' has more depth and more character than most films. 'The Lion King' is a brilliant tribute to Shakespeare's Hamlet. 'Spirited Away' is magical and enthralling, and 'My Neighbour Totoro' is one of the most endearing stories that has ever been told about childhood.

Teenage films used to be good. 'The Breakfast Club' exposes the inadequacies of enforcing stereotypes. 'Gremlins' was a teenage horror flick with a timeless charm and a self-deprecating humour. Now we're being infested with the so-called 'tweens,' and leading the march is, sadly, Disney. Films like 'High School Musical' and 'Camp Rock' are lacking in depth and charm, relying on the attractiveness of the cast and the catchiness of the songs. There are better musicals out there.

What recent films have been succeeding in doing is drama when infused with other genres. 'Cloverfield' for instance would seem on the surface to be a monster disaster movie, but in reality it is actually a film about people just trying to survive. The monster itself is a side dish. The true essence of the film is its humanity.

Adaptations from books doesn't necessarily mean a bad film. Take for example 'A Clockwork Orange.' One of Stanley Kubrick's best films, it is based on the novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess. Other book-to-film adaptations include 'Slumdog Millionaire' and 'No Country For Old Men.' Even comic books (or graphic novels) can provide a brilliant flick, like 'Sin City,' 'Spider-Man' and 'V For Vendetta.'

A film doesn't even have to tie all its loose ends to make it a great one. There's 'Babel,' 'Cloverfield' and 'I Am Legend,' and they all refuse to give you all the answers. Arguably, having all the answers and all loose ends tied is an unrealistic thing.

Here's a list of prospective films (not necessarily new) that I want to watch in the near future:
'Vicky Christina Barcelona'
'Doubt'
'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas'
'Milk'
'The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button'
'RockNRolla'
'The Wrestler'
'Frost / Nixon'
'The Shawshank Redemption'
'Schindler's List'
'Revolutionary Road'
'Changeling'
'Waltz With Bashir'

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Genghis Tron - Board Up The House
via FoxyTunes

Review: Beirut - Holland/March Of The Zapotec

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Artist: Beirut
Album: Holland / March Of The Zapotec
Rating: 4 out of 5
In a nutshell: Brilliantly eclectic

I've never heard of Beirut before I recently read it in a friend's blog who thought it was brilliant. So I thought I'd give it a try. And it didn't disappoint. By the way, I'm writing this in the point of view of someone who has never heard Beirut before.

Technically this is a double EP. 'Holland' is produced under Zach Condon's (the man behind the one-man band that started it all) old moniker, realpeople. And he's right to use two different names for two different sides of this brilliant release. The two EPs are very different indeed.

On 'March Of The Zapotec,' he collaborates with the Jimenez Band, who - believe it or not - is a 19-piece Mexican funeral band. Oh, it's gonna be dark, sad and all background i.e. dull music, I hear you say. Not quite. Beirut's strength here lies in his ability to blend his emotions in his music. There's a darkness to it. There's a sultriness to it. And there's also an optimism to it. It's all quite sensual. There's so much here that grabs you. It's a kind of a mini orchestra with every little thing catching your attention here and there.

'Holland' on the other hand is a more upbeat affair. It's electronica stripped down to its bare bones. My particular favourite here is 'My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille.' It sounds like James Yuill if he decided to employ a mellow Matthew Bellamy as his vocalist and started playing around with other instruments other than his trusty acoustic guitar. 'My Wife, Lost In The Wild' sounds like Hercules & Love Affair collaborating with Bon Iver. Yes, in a sense it is folk electronica.

To be honest, I enjoyed the 'Holland' side more. This is probably because I've grown to liking James Yuill and Hot Chip (not that this is that similar to Hot Chip). But 'The March Of The Zapotec' is brilliant nonetheless.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Beirut - My Wife, Lost in the Wild
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Review: Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

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Artist: Franz Ferdinand
Album: Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
In a nutshell: Same old stuff with irrelevant new tricks

I really wanted to like this album. I really did. I found their first two albums to be quite fresh, different and energetic. The self-titled album brought us the excellent 'Take Me Out' and ' The Dark Of The Matinee.' 'You Could Have It So Much Better' brought to our ears the brilliant 'Do You Want To' and 'The Fallen.'

On 'Tonight:," there are really no stand-out tracks. There are no horrible tracks either. Just distinctly average, unimaginative songs that kind of drag on and bore you to death. Alex Kapranos's voice is annoying at times. On songs like 'No You Girls' the choruses just hammer into your head trying to get you to catch on but never really succeeding. It just becomes an annoying mantra that gets your head in.

Every song sounds like an attempt to improve on old songs, and it almost always never works in this album. Couple that with instances of synth that just sounds like it was put as an afterthought, I really can't enjoy any of the songs.

From looking at reviews though, it seems that I'm alone in seeing this album as a disappointment. Really, I fail to see how this album can be considered good, let alone great.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Franz Ferdinand - Turn It on
via FoxyTunes

Monday, January 26, 2009

Review: Slumdog Millionaire

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Film: Slumdog Millionaire
Director: Danny Boyle & Loveleen Tandan
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In a nutshell: Beautiful and magical

To see Dev Patel - or Anwar from Skins - take up such a serious role and pull it off as brilliantly as he did on 'Slumdog Millionaire,' I feel a certain discomfort to how his acting talents were never fully on show on Skins.
This is one of the most beautifully-shot film you'll ever see, sprawling across India yet confined to flashbacks of a 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' contestant. The whole film feels like a modern fairy-tale. And this is a fairy-tale, revolving around the concept of destiny and undying love. Focusing on the grit of Indian life, of hardships in the slums and the will of humanity to survive in such conditions, it shows a side of India that some people will find hard to swallow.

The visual tone of the film is a hybrid mixture of gritty-realism and colourful optimism. The camera work is brilliant, every angle is carefully chosen to represent a chaotic, growing city that's developing so quickly that part of it gets left behind.
The music and score is top-notch as well, featuring Bollywood's very own A.R. Rahman and M.I.A., a British citizen of Sri Lankan descent. "O... Saya," a collaboration between the two, is a powerful piece of music, and has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Song In A Motion Picture (along with the song "Jai-Ho," which is the song for the dance scene at the end). "Paper Planes," one of my favourite M.I.A. tracks for quite a while, fits well in the train montage, even foreshadowing into what kind of life the two brothers will go through in growing up with sounds of gunshots and the clink of money.

M.I.A. - Paper Planes (from her brilliant album, 'Kala' and the film, 'Slumdog Millionaire')




The plot centres around destiny. It starts with Jamal (Dev Patel) being questioned and tortured under suspicion of fraud after being one question away from winning 20,000,000 Rupees on the Indian version of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.' Then as Jamal explains to the police how he knows the answers, we are treated to flashbacks of Jamal's life from his childhood with his brother, Salim, in the slums to his search for his true love, Latika (Freida Pinto).

The whole film unravels at such a frantic pace yet gives us time to relish every single moment of it. This is a good start to the year 2009. The rest will find it hard to match, let alone better, the quality of this film.

Signing out

Over and out


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Now playing: A.R. Rahman & M.I.A. - O...Saya
via FoxyTunes

Review: White Lies - To Lose My Life...

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Artist: White Lies
Album: To Lose My Life...
Rating: 3 out of 5
In a nutshell: What's with all the hype?

Apparently the next big thing in stadium rock are White Lies, a West London outfit, clearly influenced by the epic eighties sound. Think The Killers and Arcade Fire rolled into one. Even before the album came out, the buzz was there. This was the album that people predicted to be the debut album of 2009.

My first taste of White Lies was a couple of years ago courtesy of a remix of 'Death' by Crystal Castles, and from that track I couldn't have guessed that this was a band destined to fill stadiums with their soaring choruses and clumsy lyrics. Yes, the lyrics are clumsy, like the poems of your next-door teenager. Yet they are as catchy as they are clunky. "Let's grow old together / And die at the same time" from the song 'To Lose My Life' is sweet and morbid, but sounds so unpoetical and simple that it loses its impact.

The songs grow on you, like all catchy arena indie (hi, The Killers). The music sounds like it should be uplifting, but a close listen to the lyrics and then the album title makes sense. It's obsessed with death ("You've got blood on your hands (Unfinished Business)" "If you tell me to jump, then I'll die (E.S.T.)). The imagery is often lost, and it definitely shows that they try so hard to make the lyrics as epic as they can be, it borders on pretentious poetry ("I wonder what keeps us so high up / Could there be a love beneath these wings" (Death)).

Don't get me wrong, the album is good. It's decent. I can listen to this album for hours without getting annoyed at its wanting-to-be-epic choruses like I do with U2. But the thing is, after those hours of listening, I must say it's ultimately quite forgettable.

Signing out

Over and out
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Now playing: White Lies - Unfinished Business
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This Metal Hand

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I'm really thinking of focusing on music for this blog, with snippets of my life included every now and then. I don't really see any music-orientated blogs in the Bruneian blog scene, so I thought this might be a good idea.

How should I start then?

I'm going to start with Metal. Yes, this is only going to be an introduction for people who don't really listen to Metal. If you already listen to Metal extensively, then you'll know this is not as detailed as I would like it to be.

At first glance, it's quite hard to see Metal as a very versatile genre. People think it's heavy riffs, guttural vocals and machine-like drums, and that's it. But that's quite a shallow view of Metal.
Metal, underneath the Satanist, violence-mongering accusations, is a very varied genre, with sub-genres and sub-sub-genres that give metalheads more than just their fair share of diversity.

From its core sound (doom metal, symphonic metal, grindcore) to its outside influences (nu metal, folk metal, neo-classical metal) to its regional origin (Norwegian black metal, Bay Area metal, German industrial metal), metal takes into it a variety of ideologies, musical inspiration and local flavour. A proper metalhead would be able to differentiate, say, between metalcore and progressive metal.

Metal is revered by its fans for a variety of reasons, some contradicting of each other. Some would see it as a gimmick-free, up-front, straight in-your-face aggression and like it for what it is (Lamb Of God, Sepultura). Others like it for its theatricality, over-the-top dramatization, showmanship and its gift for entertainment (Slipknot, Alice Cooper, Kiss).
The early influences that shaped Metal was - and this will be surprising to some - blues music and psychedelic rock, and to an extent, classical music. Many of the approaches by these musicians were taken up by future metalheads, namely the distorted guitars and the heavy riffs. The powerful vocals and the heavy drums were adopted to compete with the guitars, and this formed the basis of Metal as we know it today.

Every decade since the 1960s has been characterised by at least one major Metal sub-genre. There was the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that brought Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Diamond Head to the ears of millions. Thrash metal brought us the Big Four: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. The noughties brought us Nu Metal, which has all but died down. Despite the rise and fall of the horrible Limp Bizkit, it did bring us Slipknot and the polarising Linkin Park.

There are many things that can be said to characterise metalheads: the devil horn, all-black clothing, long/no hair, tattoos, leather.

Though many bands claim to worship the devil in their lyrics, many in real life are doing this for its theatrical effect, an outlet for aggression and a catharsis that is impossible in a society that frowns upon any sort of chaos. A metal gig is essentially controlled violence, in which a mosh pit is the confession box where people let out their inner anger, yet pick each other up and smile, intending no malice towards each other. The mosh pit is the ultimate cathartic tool, a kind of high that captures your body and you never want to let go.

This is my introduction to you of Metal.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Metallica - Master Of Puppets
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Top Ten Songs Of 2008

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I think this is turning into a very music-focused blog. And you know what, I don't really mind.

So with that in mind, here's my rough Top Ten songs of 2008 (in no particular order):

Foals - Cassius
A powerhouse of a tune and as catchy as hell. A bit on the homoerotic side and is a real treat live.





MGMT - Kids
Addictive. So addictive.





Vampire Weekend - A-Punk
Simple and beautiful.





Slipknot - Pyschosocial
Heavy, personal and aggressive. Slipknot at their best.




Does It Offend You, Yeah? - We Are Rockstars
Another electro dance punk outfit that seems destined for greatness.




Adele - Hometown Glory
I was introduced to this song on 'Skins,' and have been in love with it since.




Tubelord - I Am Azerrad
Genius. In a state of fits.




Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire
Their first proper anthem, and what a song. This is perfection from the long-underrated band.




Olafur Arnalds - Fok
Aah. Neo-classical music. Brought to you by the talented 21-year-old.




The Verve - Love Is Noise
This song keeps getting stuck in my head, over and over again.


Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: The Verve - Love Is Noise
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Top Ten Albums of 2008

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I think it's time for me to look back at 2008 and appreciate some of the best music I've listened to the past 12 months.

I can't admit to have listened to every album (and you can't too), and I can't admit to have listened to all the albums I have carefully. So with that in mind I hope you see this for what it is. It's a top ten of my choice. My opinions. You may not like it, and I have no problem with that.

So here goes.

[10] Hadouken! - Music For An Accelerated Culture
Most of the criticism towards Hadouken! has been centred from their choice of genre rather than the actual music. Many dismissed 'Music...' as a fad album, soon to be replaced by the next nu-rave sensation.

Fad or not, 'Music... is a good album. Never mind it's a white boy rapping over synth-filled electronica. Never mind the brash lyrics and the questionable themes of getting smashed and partying till the late hours. When it's done this good, all that won't matter.


[9] Metallica – Death Magnetic
I remember as a young teenager I quite liked 'St. Anger.' Yes, I did. It got me into Metallica. But then after listening to the beautiful 'Master Of Puppets' and '...And Justice For All' I suddenly realised 'St. Anger' is utter rubbish. It's a decent metal album. But this is Metallica. They don't do decent.

'Death Magnetic' signals Metallica's return to the days of 'Master Of Puppets.' and it's a very welcomed one, to say the least. Back are Kirk Hammett's guitar solos. Gone are the tin can drums. Now this is fucking metal. This is fucking Metallica.


[8]Duffy – Rockferry
Singer-Songwriters are a dime a dozen nowadays. Many are an either-or. They are either a good songwriter but mediocre singer, or vice versa. Duffy is both an amazing songwriter and a brilliant singer.

Her vintage voice is especially beautiful on tracks like 'Mercy' and 'Warwick Avenue.' Her voice is emotional and frank yet tough. For anyone sick of Amy Winehouse's antics yet are in love with her voice, you might want to take a look at Duffy.


[7] Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Fusing African influences with an ear for truly listenable tunes, Vampire Weekend has come out with an album that has an infinite replay value. It's charm comes from it's simplicity.

There's no need to overthink yourself. This is an album you can just sit back and enjoy.


[6] Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
They're called Crystal Castles, and they hail from Toronto. An expression of teenage angst through violent poetry and 8-bit, glitch-filled samples, Crystal Castles is a band that uses their hatred to create music that is both piercing and danceable. Call it electro dance punk if you may. That's the best I could come up with.

Alice Glass and Ethan Kath were both brought up in neighbourhoods with levels of violence and fucked-upness that beggars belief. That explains the distorted, pained voice of Alice in songs like "Alice Practice," coupled with incomprehensible lyrics, makes for a very unique, audio experience. The lyrics are so incomprehensible at times, that you wonder if they made the lyrics on the spot while performing. But the words don't matter. It's the pain in the voice, the angst, the anger in the gameboy samples, and the disturbing notion that it makes you want to dance just a little bit.


[5] MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

How do you explain MGMT? Well, when asked they explained themselves as making pop music that aren't comfortable. Whatever that means, it might just be true. Eclectic is probably the most appropriate description here.

You certainly want to dance to the music, but there is a certain discomfort in that feeling. This is no bad thing though. 'Kids' is the obvious place to start. Then there are 'Time To Pretend' and 'Electric Feel.' Don't stop there. You might find yourself awkwardly dancing in the CD shop.

[4] Girl Talk – Feed The Animals

Admit it. You've listened to those questionable mash-ups. Two songs cut up into bits and pieces and made into one song that's not quite a remix and then when it's time to sort out your iTunes, you're not sure how you should name the song.

If you like that kind of thing then you'll be amazed with Girl Talk. Rather than just mixing up two songs that kind of makes sense, he grabs a scalpel and surgically cuts up hundreds of songs that range from Avril Lavigne to Ice Cube to Aerosmith and and stitch them up with a precision that is staggering, then divides it into 14 tracks so everything makes a little bit more sense. When you can download the whole album for free, what's there to lose?

[3] Slipknot – All Hope Is Gone

Whoever would have thought a nu metal band wearing masks would grow into one of the most exhilarating, successful and intense musicians in the world? Yes, it's fair to say they've escaped the shackles of the nu-metal scene, and how they've flourished. Their fanbase now spreads outside the circle of metalheads, and have been nominated for Grammy awards.

'All Hope Is Gone' is pure Slipknot. It's merciless and unwilling to compromise. The sheer intensity of Corey Taylor's vocals and the dark, unforgiving riffs attack you every step of the way. This is possibly the best metal album of 2008.


[2] Bloc Party – Intimacy

Bloc Party is not known for being complacent. They're certainly not known for churning out the same kind of music again and again. Their debut album 'Silent Alarm' was brilliant. It was raw and powerful, yet intricately beautiful. Then came 'A Weekend In The City,' which has gone the opposite direction. Subtle yet harsh at the same time, the ambience of the whole album was breath-taking.

But then when you compare 'Intimacy' to both these albums, 'Silent Alarm' and 'A Weekend...' might as well have been identical twins. 'Intimacy' veers so far off into the realms of electronica you wonder if this is the same band who wrote 'Helicopter' or 'Hunting For Witches.' Of course there were clues. Don't tell me you've forgotten about 'Flux.'

Again, the songs are centred on Kele Okereke's personal life in London (mostly the East side), with references to Bethnal Green and Soho. Yes, it is Okereke's intimate moment. But it is so intimate to Okereke' we almost feel excluded. But that never becomes a bad thing. This is Bloc Party at their best, again.

[1] Foals – Antidotes

Phenomenal live, Foals is a band that never fails to amaze. As catchy as the flu, their music is jerky guitar heaven. Many have compared them to Bloc Party, but these comparisons are off the point and inaccurate. To start with, Yannis Philippakis (the frontman) is actually quite charismatic. He h as a certain kind of mystique without being too introspective. He's mysterious without being reclusive.

'Antidotes' is a record you can either dance to or jump to. If you try hard enough, you might even be able to mosh to it. The lyrics are surrealist, dream-like affairs, dealing more with the visual summing up of the words rather than the actual semantics. The choruses are infectious without being predictable. The music is relentless in its pursuit to make you stand up and dance. It is anthemic and works wonders live.

Foals' 'Antidotes' is the best debut album of 2008, and it is also my choice for best album of 2008.