Friday, February 27, 2009

Categorisation Deviation II

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I came across this interesting article about the classification of "indie."

I do use genre labels a lot. But I absolutely hate it, especially in today's world where one band could have several different influences or sub-genres fused into one. Take Animal Collective for instance. I could label them as avant-garde / experimental / noise pop /freak folk / indie rock / neo-psychedelic. If someone asks me what they sound like, do I whip out that label? It's hard. I can't just call it indie, which is an easy way out. To the average person indie means Radiohead or Arctic Monkeys. That wouldn't even be close to describing Animal Collective.

When people ask the question "What music do you listen to?" I always reply with "almost everything." Partly because it's somewhat true, partly because it's easier than giving a list. But by saying "everything" the whole thing loses depth. Does that I mean I listen to everyone from Britney Spears to Chris Brown? Or Rihanna to Miley Cyrus? Certainly not.

It's problematic, since the various musical distinctions are being broken down. You thought Kanye West was a rapper, and suddenly he sings the whole way throughout his new album. Radiohead has delved into the realms of electronica more than once. Bands like TV On The Radio and (again) Animal Collective defy genre labels. M.I.A. probably deserves her own genre. What about Bloc Party? They change their sound like they change clothes.

If you can have Bon Iver and Foals or Crystal Castles and Glasvegas in the same genre, you know the genre is way too vague.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly - Lighthouse Keeper
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Everyday

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I find this video beautiful:



Noah Kalina, as explained, took a photo of himself everyday since 2000. After six years, he decided to make a video out of it and asked then-girlfriend Carly Comando to write a song for the video. Now it's a youtube sensation, and has even been parodied by The Simpsons. If you ask me, being parodied in The Simpsons is possibly the best honour there is.


Kalina's life flashes right before our eyes, and with his expressionless face and changing background we follow him age and change. Though he ages, his face pretty much still looks the same. He is essentially the same person. No matter how much things change around him, or how bits of him seem to evolve, he is at core the same person he was and always have been.

What this video also seem to say is how short our lives are, how time flies by, be it six minutes or six years, or a lifetime. Mortality is laid bare. Death seems inevitable. People come and people go. Material things are temporary.

By putting on what is essentially a beautified slideshow, he unintentionally (or intentionally?) reveals our very own mortalities and our very own short lives, flying past everything at speeds that blur our very own perceptions.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Carly Commando - Everyday
via FoxyTunes

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Defunct Band Of The Week: Quarashi

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I thought today I'd bring you my defunct band of the week, Quarashi [myspace]:
Comparisons to the Beastie Boys and Rage Against The Machine are not inaccurate, as they incorporate their loves of funk, rock and electronica into their brand of hip hop. Coming from the land of Bjork (or more accurately, Iceland), it was hard to crack the international market. Well-supported back home, in America they barely touched the charts. That's not to say they didn't build a fanbase there. Their music have been featured in the 'Madden 2003' video game, on the film '2 Fast 2 Furious' and the shows 'Alias' and 'Smallville.'

I love their beats and their use of samples. I love the Beastie Boys and I love Rage Against The Machine. So Quarashi was like a match made in heaven for me.

This is their video for 'Mr. Jinx,' which was released in 2002. You might've seen in on MTV.
video

If you're interested, you can download their music or videos for free at their blog:
http://quarashimusic.blogspot.com/

It's legal, trust me. I don't post up illegal links.

Signing out

Over and out

P.S. This isn't going to be a regular feature, by the way.

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Now playing: Quarashi - The Next Movie
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Colours On My Wall

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This is the result of a Saturday night in armed with old magazines, a pair of scissors and blue-tac. Click on the images for a larger version.

Below we've got Vampire Weekend, Franz Ferdinand, Billy Talent and Alice Glass from Crystal Castles.
Then we've got a super-imposed Bono of U2, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand and Mickey Rourke in the superb film 'The Wrestler.'
Here we've got Benicio del Toro in 'Che: Part One,' and Effy & Pandora from Skins.
There's Animal Collective bottom-right.
And James Franco in 'Milk.'
We've got Anne Hathaway, Kaya Scodelario (Effy in 'Skins') and Dev Patel in 'Slumdog Millionaire.'
There you go.

Signing out

Over and out

Who's The Bose?

0 comments
Spot the difference.

I love my Bose headphones. They make walking the 15-minute walk to lectures more than just bearable, and 3-hour train rides feel blissful. When I fold them they smile back at me.
One day on the way back from lectures, I took them out, put them on my neck and pulled one side to extend them. That's when they broke.

For about a couple of weeks I had to bear walking to lectures with no music. The iPod earphones are horribly inadequate replacements. It's like trying to replace a Ferrari with a Daihatsu. And I wasn't fine with a Daihatsu Charade. I wanted my Ferrari Enzo.

So last Sunday we went to the Designer Outlet in York, just to shop. I wasn't planning to spend much. I really only wanted to buy shoes, really comfy shoes, because my K-Swiss is as worn out as a duck after a marathon.

I brought my broken Bose because Bose has a factory outlet there, and I thought they'd fix it for a small price ( by small price, I mean £30-40). There we were in Bose asking this guy "is there anything you can do to this?" and he goes " I'll ask the manager and we'll see what we can do."

Usually that means "I have no fucking idea. Buy a new one, you cheap bastard." But no, he came back with an offer. Here's the rest of the conversation, to the best of my memory.

Bose guy: "Obviously we can't repair this in respect to the warranty because it's out of the usual 'wear and tear,' but we can give you a replacement at half price."

Now this comes from a company which is notorious for never discounting anything for more than 10%. So getting a new one at 50% was a total surprise.

"Oh wow! That's better than I expected."

So I paid £50 (which is actually less than half the price. The original is £119.99), which is a lot less than the ones I was looking on eBay.

So brand new Bose for £50. Fucking great deal. I can't recommend these headphones enough, even at their admittedly-expensive £119.99 original price tag. They are great to travel with (light and you can't hear anything from the outside world) and stylish. Some will find the bass a bit too loud. I actually love it. And the mid-range sounds are excellently done.

Pill has got a noise-cancelling Bose, which sounds a bit better (bigger bass!), but I couldn't afford the £270 price tag.

I can't even look at Sennheiser headphones because they look ugly and unnecessarily big. I don't want to look like a metallic insect when I'm listening to M.I.A. or Trivium. Skullcandy looks great, but sounds like your three-year-old nephew having a mini concert with thrash cans.

Signing out

Over and out

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Top 50 Snob-Free Films

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There are films which won't make my top 50 list due to a number of reasons (mainly critical snobbery) but I find very entertaining, and love them. These are not really guilty pleasures. More like films I watch for a good night out/in - i.e. 'Euro Trip' or date film, like '50 First Dates'. Or even films that had a really good premise and presented it well, like 'W,' which shows George W. Bush Jr's life before and in the early years of his presidency. Some of them are pretty bad, like 'Snakes On A Plane,' but hey, who doesn't like hundreds of passengers stuck in a plane filled with lots of snakes.

A few are Apatow productions, like 'Pineapple Express' and 'Superbad.' So far I've loved every single one of their films, with the always hilarious Seth Rogen. Some are guilt-free yet satisfying action films, like 'The Kingdom' and 'Wanted.'

[1] Armageddon (1998)
[2] Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)
[3] 50 First Dates (2004)
[4] American Pie (1999)
[5] Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
[6] Surf's Up (2007)
[7] Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
[8] Ocean's Eleven - Thirteen (2001-2007)
[9] Rush Hour 1-3 (1998-2007)
[10] Iron Man (2008)
[11] Snakes On A Plane (2006)
[12] Gone In 60 Seconds (2000)
[13] Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)
[14] Zack & Miri Make A Porno (2008)
[15] Euro Trip (2004)
[16] Butterfly Effect (2004)
[17] Wanted (2008)
[18] The Simpsons Movie (2007)
[19] Superbad (2007)
[20] Across The Universe (2007)
[21] The Terminal (2004)
[22] Tenacious D: Pick Of Destiny (2006)
[23] Signs (2002)
[24] Death Race (2008)
[25] Madagascar (2005-2008)
[26] Kung Fu Panda (2008)
[27] X-Men (2000-2006)
[28] Austin Powers (1997-2002)
[29] Pineapple Express (2008)
[30] The Kingdom (2007)
[31] The Village (2004)
[32] Silent Hill (2006)
[34] Shaolin Soccer [Siu Lam Juk Kau] (2001)
[35] Bee Movie (2007)
[36] Police Academy (1984)
[37] Team America: World Police (2004)
[38] Step Up (2006-2008)
[39] The Orphanage [El Orfanato] (2007)
[40] Accepted (2007)
[41] New Police Story [Xin Jing Cha Gu Shi] (2004)
[42] Planet Terror (2007)
[43] Goal (2005)
[44] W (2008)
[45] Cast Away (2000)
[46] Stealth (2005)
[47] Scary Movie (2000-2006)
[48] Resurrecting The Champ (2007)
[49] Blades Of Glory (2007)
[50] Shortbus (2006)

Signing out

Over and out

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Take The Busk Home

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Ed Alleyne-Johnson in York

This guy here is a professional busker (i.e. street performer). I've seen him perform several times with his hand-crafted electric violin in York, and he never fails to amaze. He's so famous he's got his own Wikipedia entry. Hahaha.


This video was taken a few days ago when we were in town grocery shopping for ingredients to make cucur pisang. Fact.

Ed Alleyne-Johnson does the most amazing covers of famous songs like 'The Zephyr Song,' 'Sweet Child Of Mine' and even the theme for the Simpsons. Just look up his name on youtube. He's quite a youtube sensation.

P.S. I did this in one of my lectures and took me about five minutes. I do loads of these when I don't know what the hell the lecturer is on about (i.e. a lot of the time):

Signing out.

Over and out

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Now playing: Crystal Castles - Trash The Rental [Crystal Castles vs Sohodolls]
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Enter The Shrubbery

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I haven't updated my blog in a few days, which is quite a surprise, since I've got more spare time now than ever.

It's my READING WEEK (read: week to do absolutely everything except read).

I'm currently waiting for my laundry and a really good house for three people to suddenly pop out of nowhere.

We started out with six. Then most of the good six-bedroom houses got taken away one by one, and the ones left kept getting shittier and shittier. So we decided to split.

Here's what I've been listening to today:


Enter Shikari - Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour

Trance Core goodness.

Usually I don't embed from Youtube (it looks ugly), but I've gotten lazy.

Here's an old video of me and Clive getting stupid with gun cotton. Pardon for the darkness, but it provides great contrast when the big bang comes.


Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Enter Shikari - Acid Nation
via FoxyTunes

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tedious Idiocy

1 comments
This whole house-hunting thing is getting tedious. Fuck knows how many houses we've seen, and how many houses that we wanted got taken right in front of our very fucking eyes.

Some people say take it slow. I wish I could believe that advice. We didn't get our favourite (5 to 1 majority) house by just a few hours. And the houses are getting further and further away from the University the longer we take to find one.

Lovely. Just bloody fucking lovely.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Van Der Graaf Generator - Only in a Whisper
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Short Story: Stages (Part 1)

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“What did you say?”

“Nothing.”

“Really? I could’ve sworn you said something just now.”

And with that the silence kicked in. I didn’t know what else to say. She didn’t know what else to say. We were silent for what must’ve been a full five minutes. We were just standing there, on the sidewalk, not doing anything in particular. Just standing. We weren’t even having a proper conversation. Both of us were plagued with silence, interrupted by instances of meaningless chatter.

I couldn't remember what we used to talk about anymore as two youths in love. How did we fill those long walks on the city streets? How did we manage to fall for each other in the first place? Certainly not with silence. At least not this piercing kind. I wished I'd remember. Then maybe I could fall in love with her again. For the second time.

A man walked past us. He was in his forties, and he carried with him immense sadness. He’s had a few drinks, I thought. The strong smell of alcohol – and the bottle of cheap vodka in his hand, funnily enough - made it all too obvious. He was mumbling words like he was trying to recite something he couldn’t quite remember. A compendium of seemingly-unrelated, mostly unintelligible words with angry interjections of the word ‘bitch.’ He must’ve used ‘bitch’ every fifth word. Then as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared into the alleys.

“He’s angry.”

“Yeah, he is.”

“Wouldn’t want to be him.”

“Me too.”

Again neither of us attempted to keep the conversation going. Neither of us tried to slip in a sad story or a funny anecdote. The strange ambience of silence was dominating this so-called exchange, and the flickering streetlights sprinkled the air with a hint of warmth that I craved desperately in the cruel winter cold.

But then like all silences, it was bound to be broken. This time it was two people shouting at each other. Both of them were in their thirties. The words were loud, but they were unclear. The sheer volume of their argument and the frightening silence of everything else around them created a surreal scene, as if all the sounds in the world were concentrated in that one epicentre, and for that one moment everything was listening to them. Even the winds were silent, hesitant of getting involved in the conflict.

Whatever they were fighting about, somehow I could tell it was petty things. The biggest of arguments usually come from the smallest of disagreements, and I knew this from experience. Little things accumulated over the years, broken pieces like shards of glass from a smashed vase, used as weapons to hurt each other. Certainly that was how my parents split up. In fact they had split up long before they even realised it. I always thought I had something to do with it. Somehow my existence complicated their lives, pulled them back from whatever it was they set out to do as idealistic young teenagers before I was born. The day I was born, the cracks in their marriage had started to appear.

That was long ago. I've maintained contact with the both of them, and though they had a turbulent marriage, their divorce was surprisingly amicable.

My thoughts wandered back to that present time. The angry couple had already quieted down. Or maybe they had simply taken the fight inside. Who knows. All I knew was that the streets were silent again.

To be continued.

Signing out

Over and out

Review: Random Hand - Inhale / Exhale

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Artist: Random Hand
Album: Inhale / Exhale
Rating: 4 out of 5
In a nutshell: Might just be the perfect antidote
after Capdown's break-up

As their Myspace proudly proclaims, this album consists of "12 brand new tracks of triumphant ska / metal mash-up". This concise description is mostly accurate, only forgetting to mention Punk in its genres list. Taking the cue from other Punk / Ska /Metal bands such as the now-defunct Capdown, this Keighley outfit blasts through the album with anger and fervor.

Yes, this is more Punk than Ska or Metal, teetering between The Clash and Rancid and displaying the rebellious political anger that punk has been associated with all too well. In it's song 'British,' it starts with an abruptly interrupted 'God Save The Queen' and then the frontman sings "Stand up for the anthem / salute the flag/ respect the monarch / or push it back."

Undoubtedly this is still partly Ska, as we can hear from the brass instruments and an accelerated reggae beat. In songs like 'For Roni' and 'The Eyeballs Of War' this is more evident. In songs like 'The Right Reason' and 'Mass Producing Monsters' it is the Metal that shines through, with its heavy guitar riffs and pacey drumming.

What we have here, ultimately, is a record that perfectly balances the three genres and still project its anger towards the social and political ills of the current world. Recommended for any fans of the three genres.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Random Hand - The Eyeballs Of War
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In The Blink Of An Eye

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I got this photo from Mark Hoppus's blog. See the initials? MH and TD? Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge working together side by side on vocals again. After years of not speaking to each other, it took an aircraft accident that could've killed Travis Barker, the drummer, for them to start talking again.

I guess real friendship will repair itself no matter how irrepairable the damage seems. It's just sad it took a tragedy that took the lives of four people.

To be honest, I'm happier about the fact that they're back as friends rather than back as a band. Not that I'm not looking forward to their new music. But to see one of the soundtracks of your life fall apart like it did a few years back, it was like a piece of your teenage years grow old and die.

Blink 182 might not be the best musicians technically, but they were the prevalent voice of our teenage years, unwilling to relent to adulthood. These were people who never wanted to grow up and made a living out of not growing up. Besides, good music is not about technicality. It's about the ability to create songs that can relate to people, that can inspire you.

This is the pop punk band that was the biggest of them all, and now is ready to reclaim that crown.

Signing out

Over and out

Monday, February 9, 2009

Blink 182 Is Fucking Back

0 comments
Blink 182 is fucking back!

video

Read it here too.

I don't even fucking care about the Grammys right now(except M.I.A. performing on the due date of her pregnancy).

Signing out

Over and out

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Review: Tipsy - Buzzz

0 comments
Artist: Tipsy
Album: Buzzz
Rating: 3 out of 5
In a nutshell: Seductive and colourful

If this played in the lobby of a five star hotel or a fancy restaurant, I promise you, no eyebrows will be raised. In fact Tipsy's music has been in various forms such as TV shows (The Sopranos, Sex In The City) and TV ads.

This is indeed jazz, in its more exotic form. If you're not a fan of jazz, not much might interest you here other than the use of samples and loops. If you are, then you'll be seduced into an evening sitting down and listening to them for hours.

'Buzzz' has groove, no doubt about it. Their way of achieving that groove though is quite unconventional. It's also quite exotic and - wait for it - erotic, as if it could be a soundtrack to one of the most relaxing film sex scene you'd ever see.

I agree, experimental lounge jazz might not sound the most appealing thing to listen to for most people. And some jazz purists might balk at the heavy use of samples and synths. But if you're willing to open your mind and let yourself go, you might find yourself sipping a cup of tea slowly moving your head to the sound of 'Chop Socky.'
video
Tipsy - Chop Socky

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Tipsy - Electric Blue Eyelashes
via FoxyTunes

Continental Breakfast

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Okay. Today I set myself a challenge. To show you five different bands/artists from different continents with different music styles. And it's gotta be from my own music collection, so I can't go onto the internet and download stuff for this. It's gotta be something I already listen to.
And it took me quite a while to figure out who I was going to show, and had to do some research for some of the bands where they are from.

First up is from the continent of Africa. It's 'Kleva / Kasilam' from Mapaputsi (South Africa), and the music style is Kwaito, a mixture of slowed down house beats and African music put in samples. It's an awesome tune. I noticed this song when it was featured in Skins. Check, Africa.
video

Next is our very own Asia. No, I'm not going to put some J-Pop girly boy (hahahaha). Instead I'm featuring the highly infectious Ore Ska Band, with their equally infectious song, 'Hana No Ska Dance.' I think you can guess that it is a Ska band. And if you never knew what Ska is, this is a good example. And no, Ska isn't Japanese. It's a genre that started from Jamaica and came before reggae and rocksteady.

video

Then from Europe, we've got Soko from France. She hasn't actually released an album, but she has an EP out called 'Not Sokute.' It's darkly funny acoustic folk pop from the Bordeaux girl. Recently her Myspace has declared that "Soko is Dead" and "I quit." I hope that isn't true. I really like her music. She's like the weird, paranoid cousin of Flight Of The Conchords.

video

I think metalheads will be familiar with this next band from South America. In fact amongst Bruneians this might be the most well-known set of musicians here. It's Sepultura, whose brand of thrash metal with a little bit of Brazillian tribal percussion has earned them worldwide recognition. This song, 'Roots Bloody Roots,' is quite an old song, before the Cavalera brothers ran off. But it is still one of their most famous songs.
video
And then there's Van She from Australia with their psychedelic eletropop tunes. I first noticed them when Crystal Castles did a remix of their song, 'Sex City,' which turned into 'Vanished.' If I haven't changed it, it would be the background music for my blog right now. They've also done their fair share of remixes for the likes of Klaxons, The Bravery, Pendulum and Daft Punk. This is their song, 'Strangers,' from their album, 'V'.
video
Finally, from North America, it's Vampire Weekend from New York with 'Oxford Comma'. Incorporating African influences into their indie pop rock style in their debut album made them one of the most critically acclaimed new band in 2008, frequently appearing in "top 10 albums of 2008" lists in magazines and music websites, notably The Rolling Stones magazine.
video
So that's every single continent except Antarctica. Well, you can't have everything.

As a bonus, I think I'll include this Portuguese outfit, with their Kuduro sound and a song aptly called 'Sound of Kuduro' with M.I.A., DJ Znobia, Saborosa and Puto Prata.
video

Signing out

Over and out

Saturday, February 7, 2009

In Spore

0 comments
I'm now addicted to this game:
This game is truly epic. It's fun, accessible and infinite. I've been playing it everytime I'm free. I can't stop making animals with the Creature Creator.

Okay. Here's a simple way of describing Spore. Imagine beginning life as a cell, evolving from there to a land creature, then your creature gets more intelligent and starts a tribe, which turns into a civilisation and control the planet. Of course then you gotta start exploring the infinite universe.

And you make everything yourself. You create the cell. You evolve it by adding parts. As it begins to move on land, you give it legs. Then it's your choice to give it what kind of arms, hands, wings, spikes, whatever. Someone came up with this, just to give you an idea of what you can do:

Yes! A goddamn Pikachu!

Then you can also make your own vehicles. The X-Wing from Star Wars, anyone?

You can even re-shape planets (!). Adjust the atmosphere, temperature, ecosystem...
I love this game.

I've been spending the last hour trying to adjust the conditions of one of my planet colonies. I had to start a meteor shower because the temperature was too low, and increase the atmosphere. I also had to create herbivores and carnivores, and also transport plants from other planets because I needed a fully-working ecosystem. The planet was also quite uneven, with small patches of water, and mountains everywhere, so I had to level with my terra-forming tools.

Yes, I sound like a geek. And I like it.

Signing out

Over and out

Friday, February 6, 2009

Review: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

0 comments
Artist: Animal Collective
Album: Merriweather Post Pavilion
Rating: 4 out of 5
In a nutshell: As captivating as the album cover

People's attitude towards this album might be best explained by using the album cover itself. It's an either/or situation. You either find the image soothing and captivating, or you find it completely nauseating.

I would imagine this is the sort of music Sigur Ros would play if they were stuck with a laptop, a sampler and a keyboard in the midst of a Saturday night rave party. But then that's a very, very stretched comparison. You could throw genres at the Baltimore musicians, and none of them would even be close to sufficient at describing them. Pop? Not quite. Indie rock? Almost. Electronica? Maybe. Psychedelic electropop rock? If you must.

The music is surreal. It's intelligent music without you needing to think about it. There's no point in trying to pinpoint what they sound like. Best just to enjoy it. It's incredibly simple yet brilliantly complex at the same time. It's layered, it's bizarre. And it's brilliant.

Here's one of my favourite songs from the album.

Animal Collective - My Girls




Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Animal Collective - Guys Eyes
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Home Sounds

0 comments
video
I Mean The Snakes - The Best Dressed Bet

So. I rarely talk about the music scene in Brunei. I guess I'm not too knowledgeable in that area. What little I know of it are some metal bands that has probably disbanded or on 'indefinite' hiatus. But I do know that it's very promising.

I was a fan of [H8], Wan Long Kok, Senjakala and Airholes. But after so many years, I've not heard anything from them.

But I hear it's got some really talented and refreshing stuff. Not least 'I Mean The Snakes,' who has the same knack for a guitar indie tune as Franz Ferdinand. Tongue-in-cheek and quirky is how they describe themselves, and they are not far off the mark. You can buy their album on iTunes. Then there's 3Belas, who draws inspiration from a range of influences covering from Bjork to Nirvana to The Strokes. These two are quite different in their approaches, to say the blindingly obvious.
video
3Belas - Aku Takkan Jatuh Cinta Lagi

What I want right now though, is a new dose of Gallows. Hardcore thrash punk at its best. I'm feverishly waiting for their new album due sometime this year. The album 'Orchestra Of Wolves' was one of my favourite albums of 2007.

Until then, I've got Rolo Tomassi to nurse my ills. Hailing from Sheffield, their debut album 'Hysterics' was one of the most intriguing hardcore punk releases in 2008. With an atypical frontman - a woman who is actually girly instead of butch - with a powerful voice and a band of musicians with atypical notions of song structure and an abundance of energy, they are a band that will go far.

video
Rolo Tomassi - I Love Turbulence

Now I've gotta go do my laundry.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Rolo Tomassi - Film Noir
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Review: Sepultura - A-Lex

0 comments
Artist: Sepultura
Album: A-Lex
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
In a nutshell: A balls-out, Cavalera-free concept album

Sepultura. The Brazilian metal band that was formed by the Cavalera brothers and are now left with none of them. Does that make Sepultura irrelevant? Not by a mile.

The first Sepultura album without Igor Cavalera (who went off to form the uninteresting Cavalera Conspiracy with brother, Max) is a concept album centred one of my favourite books of all time, 'A Clockwork Orange' by Anthony Burgess (not the film adaptation). The title itself, 'A-Lex' both refers to the character Alex, and its pun in Russian that means 'without law.'

So yes, a character whose name suggests lawlessness sounds like a good, old source for no-nonsense metal inspiration. But does it work?

Yes and no.

Stretching to almost an hour, the album goes through the whole book in its entirety, from it's beginning ('Moloko Mesto') to the middle ('The Experiment') to the end ('Paradox'). The problem with most concept albums is how the grandness of the idea can lead to the music being flat out of constraint and control. For the most part, this is not the case in 'A-Lex.'

When you do a concept album about 'A Clockwork Orange,' it is almost a crime to leave out Beethoven's Ninth. This is where the song 'Ludwig Van' comes in. It is a peculiar re-imagination of one of Ludwig Van's most famous symphonies, and accompanied with an orchestra, it borders on the ridiculous, but it is never dull. Whether you see it as a creative re-working or a ludicrous cover might depend on whether you see this as a genuine tribute or an unnecessary gimmick.

People who has never read the book but have seen the film might wonder why I emphasised the fact that this was based on the book, not the film. Surely they convey the same ideas? Well, not exactly. The film left out a vital chapter in the book that changes the whole motive of the book (unless you're reading the edited US version). The last chapter in the original discusses free will and desire for peace of mind as equally innate as violence itself.

This is raw thrash metal, but that never means it is sloppy. This is a precise exercise in providing a fresh serving of metal that can still excite, even without the Cavalera brothers.

Signing out

Over and out

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Now playing: Sepultura - Conform
via FoxyTunes