Take That – Progress

November 14, 2010 2 comments

Take That; reunited at last

I will be honest, Take That in the 90’s was before my time – I didn’t listen to boy bands when I was 6. However 4 years ago I stumbled upon ‘Beautiful World’ and instantly loved the music. I listened and listened to this album and purged myself into the lyrics. ‘The Circus’ was a beautiful second record from the reunited band with such uplifting songs such as ‘Greatest Day’ and ‘Hold Up A Light’ – so in essence, Take That captured me. Being a guy into a pop-rock boy quintet wasn’t the norm, but I didn’t care. Robbie Williams was another artist I listened to a lot, however I never looked into the past and what group he was in before. On another note, I will say to all those who criticize, I really did enjoy Williams record ‘Rudebox’ – it was fun, who cares about the traditional style of music.

Since ‘The Circus’ I have been anticipating the new Take That record. I heard rumors of Robbie coming back, however he just released ‘Reality Killed The Video Star’ and when I heard news of the reunion I was shocked, but excited. The anticipation of a Take That song with Williams was great and when I first heard ‘The Flood’ it was perfection to my ears. The into with Robbie crooning, then drums bringing the angelic voice of iconic song-writer Gary Barlow blew me away, but the true treat was the full group of all members singing their hearts out into the chorus. The slow ending wanted me hoping for more, but my first taste was simply over and I had to wait.

‘Progress’ was the title for the reunion record. I had no idea of what to expect, would it be slowly crafted Barlow-esque songs?  Or would it be Williams infused songs like ‘Rock DJ’ or ‘Bodies’?

I ended up getting a listen. The album is simply sensational. I read reviews before listening, I looked at song titles; I even went back and listened to the solo work of Barlow and Mark Owen, immersing myself into all the aspects of what the group could bring.

The album opener was the powerful ‘The Flood’ but it ended fast and I was immersed into the adrenaline rush of ‘SOS’. Owen dominated the vocals right off the bat with his unique voice which can warm anyone’s heart. Complimented with Williams voice backing Owen, the chorus is one that gets repeated in one’s head over and over. A clear lyrical attack at global issues, the song is crooning for change, which exactly what Take That has already put forth, two songs into their new record.

'Progress'

The pace slows down immediately after ‘SOS’ with the third track, ‘Wait’. Slow pianos and strings welcome the listener until the drums kick back into a club-beat dance track with Williams rhyming reminding me of ‘Rudebox’ or ‘The 80’s’ – seeming very ‘Rudebox’ with Owen heard often in the background. The chorus slows things down and is a very modest making the track very enjoyable.

‘Kidz’ starts off with a drum roll building you up with Owen ‘la la la-ing’ until he croons over a heavy electronic sound with lyrics focusing on government and global reform. Williams then enters at the chorus and pounds through “they’ll be trouble when the kids come out”. This song is definitely single worthy and comes in as one of the faster paced songs on the record along with ‘SOS’.

Barlow and Williams then duet on the beautiful ‘Pretty Things’. The song is, well, pretty. Tender lyrics with a nice keyboard and beat throughout and a slow-paced beautiful chorus make the song easily one of the favorites on the record. ‘Happy Now’ is when Barlow finally takes over but not in his traditional ballad type of way. The song has an underlying keyboard until the chorus comes in where it is quite uplifting and can make someone move, slightly. The song never really ends, however it transitions into the overridden Williams song ‘Underground Machine’. Powerful and strong, Williams makes his addition and presence dominated in this song. The chorus is powerful, and once again very dance orientated. The lyrics of this song have Robbie gloating that about being “what a beast, what a man”. This song keeps the album driving along. The overall listen is a quick one as the songs flow from one to another and so on.

However the pace changes continue as the fast, adrenaline rushed songs slow down with the remorseful, ‘What Do You Want From Me’, in which Mark Owens laments about personal issues. The personal aspects of this song make this one of the best on the record to me. My opinion may be wrong, but the lyric content brings me back to the genius of ‘Beautiful World’. The last quarter of the song does pick up with powerful electronics and keyboards while Owen croons to his issues – a great track.

Since picking up on Take That, I find that Mark Owen has a lovely unique voice. However Howard Donald and Jason Orange have more noticeable and soft voices. There aren’t many chances in which the two minor members of the group get to stand out, but ‘Affirmation’ does just that. Howard pulses through a steady beat and soft piano until he hits the chorus where his voice drives the song through and through. “I need an affirmation” can definitely get stuck in your head, but I feel this song ends abruptly, giving back Barlow the vocal helm with ‘Eight Letters’ where the traditional, ballad style of Take That comes back. There are little loops and sounds which underlie in this song, however Barlow’s beautiful voice make this song a great close to this powerful album. Nothing bad to say about this song, but it’s a great finale, subtle and wonderful.

Although officially the album does end, hidden tracks are always a great treat, especially with an album which one falls in love with. ‘Flower Bed’ gives Jason Orange another crack at lead vocals, and he does probably the best jobs on the album. The song is slow, beautiful and a great piece of work. Synths strip this song down and leave Jason to dominate the song with his quiet, innocent voice that makes anyone happy wishing they could lie in a flower bed. Better than ‘Wooden Boat’ off of ‘Beautiful World’ Jason does not disappoint, yet it is a shame this song was a hidden track and didn’t fit the overall pace of the album because it definitely earns a spot in my books.

Jason, Gary, Robbie, Howard, Mark

After listening all the way through I thought to myself “that’s it?”, but even though it ended I was happy as ever because this album was complete. It wasn’t a ballad driven pop-savvy record such as ‘Beautiful World’ or ‘The Circus’, but Take That does an effective job at conforming to current popular music and still follows their traditional lyrical themes and style.  Robbie Williams is back and his ego is still there as he dominated the majority of the songs, but the integration and value of all the songs bring out an amazing record which doesn’t have a track you can skip.

I am happy the band is back, because there is nothing short of great things to come, either it be a sold out European tour with over one million tickets purchased by loyal fans, or just the prospect that more music is going to come. A creative vein was struck by having Stuart Price produce and get his hands all over this record, but with the brains and voices of Gary, Mark, Robbie, Howard and Jason, Take That are back and are going to be rising to the top. The record is brilliant in my perspective, yes, not traditional, but ‘Progress’ for the sake of progress is a good philosophy with the newly reunited Take That.

5/5

Local Profile; Vince Mirenzi

January 15, 2010 Leave a comment

This is the first plug or advertisement I will be writing.

The man himself; Vince Mirenzi

Local music always tends to be a great listen, especially when it is somebody you know. A friend of mine, Vince Mirenzi is a songwriter first of all, but decided to pick up a guitar and sing the songs he wrote. Myspace, Youtube, Facebook, Vince is not only getting positive local response, but is branching his music out across the country.

Emotional lyrics that really connect with those who hear them, Vince has a way to lull a listener into enjoying his music.

There is an EP in the works along, and with many other projects to come, the future looks bright for a raw, talented and local musician.

Most of the time I find music somewhat cookie-cutter based and is based on one foundation. Vince seems to crack the mould with his lyrics and his ability to change his style, whether it be covering Coldplay or Ke$ha on his Youtube channel.

If you want to check Vince out, he has a Myspace under his name,

http://www.myspace.com/vincemirenzi , or his Youtube channel with original and cover songs,

http://www.youtube.com/user/livinglyrical .

Follow Vince and give him support and he will definitely give any fans of his the recognition they deserve. Being down to earth, he will take all feedback and comments.

Support local good music.

With thanks from Vince,

Cheers everyone, and ultimately, enjoy.

Ke$ha = Taylor Swift On Crack

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

What makes Ke$ha any different to Lady Gaga?

The fact that she has a dollar sign in her name?

First off the dollar sign is unnecessary, secondly, where the hell has the music industry gone? We get the over the top Lady Gaga who produces the same pop garbage we normally hear, just she has blonde bangs, ridiculous outfits, and loves to have blood on her during awards shows… and then we have the new incarnation of this cookie cutter pop music that owns the mainstream. Ke$ha.

What makes her so special?

What makes her so special?

Personally, I don’t get ‘TiK ToK’. First, it’s spelt wrong. Secondly, the lyrics are unbelievable. I just register, get drunk, be a whore and forget about everything important in life because all you should do is party.

Now, I’m not a 50 years old raised in the good ol’ days, but this is stupid. Pump the youth of today with garbage…and we wonder why grades, moral and overall efficiency has gone down.

A friend tweeted me and said ‘Ke$ha is Taylor Swift tripping out on crack’. I get this perspective, but I don’t get the message that is coming across. Good for her in regards to making money and having hit music, but it is just the means of her success that boggles my mind.

I’ll be the first to admit that her music is catchy, but that’s all the same with every other song out there. What makes her so special? Being bizarre in public, having stupid song names is just a way to stand out but you’re not making anything better.

Alright, now I am moving in circles, but I just don’t get it.

Does this mean some schmuck on the street can find a producer, write some nonsensical lyrics and make millions? If that’s the case, then clearly the music industry is going down the toilet…and I thought that was the case when Paris Hilton was making music, but clearly, it’s gotten worse.

Listen to the old, New Order

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

As great as iconic and monumental bands go, Joy Division was on the horizon of stardom until lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide. The three widowed members desired to continue making music together and thus formed New Order.

New Order

New Order

This rant is old news to a lot of people. But if you are looking for some wonderful, danceable, catchy, strong music, listen to New Order. It’s either the easy listening voice of Bernard Sumner, or the piercing riffs from Peter Hook’s bass, this band is amazing.

Only releasing 8 studio albums, with all their popular tunes being non-album singles this band made some amazing music. Whether it be ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ or ‘The Perfect Kiss’, the eight albums by New Order, starting with ‘Movement’ all the way to ‘Waiting For The Sirens Call’, each album is unique.

The band went on hiatus before the release of their last two albums which saw a more modern sound, however creative differences between Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner caused the band to split even though there was so much musical potential.

May this band rest in peace.

The point of this little rant is for people to really explore the music out there and the music of the past. Bands that are new today must have gotten inspiration from somewhere, mainly The Beatles. But there are bands like Joy Division and the bands that come from those bands like New Order that play such an important role in what music is today.

My recommendation is to listen to a New Order song. ‘Crystal’, ‘The Perfect Kiss’, ‘Who’s Joe’ and so on. It doesn’t matter which album you start with, just listen to them, it’s a great experience.

Editors – In This Light And On This Evening

October 1, 2009 3 comments

When I first read that Editors were leaving their traditional sound, scrapping their guitars and changing their sound to electronic I was blatantly shocked. However, I felt optimistic in the sense that another album with the same sounding guitar riffs from Chris Urbanowicz would truly ware off on me.

My fascination with Editors began when I received Munich off of iTunes as a free single of the week. At first, I didn’t bother listening to it, but on a summer day I played it non-stop. It made me want more and more, and at that point the band was already on their second record ‘An End Has A Start’. After getting my hands on both albums I knew that this band stood out to me.

Editors

Editors

I’ve always had a knack for getting into bands primarily from the U.K. and Editors are no different. Despite their comparisons to Interpol, The Chameleons, Echo and The Bunnymen, and most importantly, Joy Divison, I never took that away from the music Editors gave.

Their first two albums were guitar driven. Enough said. Ghostly in some to rigorous and driving in others. Editors debut was ‘The Back Room’ and of course, being British, they gained success. The songs on this record such as ‘Munich’, ‘Bullets’, and ‘Blood’ are all great songs which bring out instant fan favorites and hits, however there are song such as ‘Open Your Arms’ which build up so climactically that the payoff is sweet. And not to mention the onslaught on b-sides this album had just made the listening experience even better.

With a successful debut, Editors were destined for fans and great music. It only took two years for the quartet to release their follow up, ‘An End Has A Start’. This album was much more of the same from their debut. There were differences though, as piano was used in songs such as the powerful ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’ and ‘The Racing Rats’. ‘When Anger Shows’ and ‘Push Your Head Towards The Air’ are songs that climactically build up and have great payoffs. The b-sides on this record were a little disappointing but that added to how much one can appreciate songs like ‘Well Worn Hand’ which was recorded in one take with guitar, vocals and piano.

Guitar was the key to Editors success as their sound was distinguishable from the rest. However, their trademark, apart from singer Tom Smith’s exceptionally deep voice was being cut out. The group agreed that electronic music was the direction they should head in. From listening to the Terminator theme song to writing 18 new songs, Editors took two years time to record their third record, ‘In This Light and On This Evening’.

Lead singer Tom Smith had this to say about the record;

Lead Singer  Tom Smith

Lead Singer Tom Smith

“We wanted to create something we had never really tried out before and tried to make as many interesting sounds as possible. There are a lot of interesting percussive ideas that aren’t necessarily just from drums. There are a lot of vocals on there as well. Everybody got stuck in with those. We didn’t see any point in just repeating what we’ve done before. I’m really impressed with the songs and I think we’ve got a great record coming out.”

Leading up to this album, I was dying to hear a song. Papillon, edited, was released as a promo single and I couldn’t stop listening. The song was danceable, almost unheard of if you listened to their first two albums, and this song had such a beat and synthesizer that for a moment, I couldn’t believe that it really was Editors.

The album was available to be streamed in the U.K. and I eventually came across the download of the album and couldn’t resist. First of all, the record only contains 9 songs, so it is very short in length. This was done intentionally in order that you listen to the whole thing through, a smart idea because the whole record contains no songs that can be deemed ‘skippable’.

The record beings with it’s title track, and you are brought right away into a dark electronic synth that continues throughout the whole song and almost immediately, Tom Smith’s voice enters, dark and almost robotic. There is a little guitar in the background and a steady piano, buildup, something very crucial in this song. Heavy synth organs just under three minutes bring us in the aggressive pounding of the keys and an aggressive bass riff until it ends abruptly with the same key as the song began with, a wonderful opener, their best.

‘Bricks and Mortar’ is the longest song on the record –and Editors longest song ever – as it times in at just around six minutes and twenty seconds. This song has another echoed synth with a steady bass line until Tom comes in yet again and preaches to the masses about finding your God until the drums come in and Tom repeats his lament with the synth moving on with his voice. The chorus is the most electronic aspect of this album and it moves so well it is sounds like Depeche Mode. It moves me and is a key song on this record, along with their live performance. The song ends with the same pounding electronic sound until a well produced fade out with many loops.

‘Papillon’ is the least darkest track as it is fun and enjoyable, however it does contain it’s own dark elements from the signature “it kicks like a sleep twitch” to the pulsing bass line or steady synth that paces on throughout the entire song. The single version is edited and much shorter, but the album version has a long five minute length which has a great middle that shouldn’t be cut out. Leading us into ‘You Don’t Know Love’ we are reminded of dark Joy Division tunes to gospel songs from Depeche Mode. Tom falsettos with some ah ha’s and the song picks up with more great build up. Strings are another key part of this song as it works until two and a half minutes, and with a brief pause we get the aggressive “you don’t know love like you used to” repeated on and on until it is the last thing spoken as the track ends.

Editors; Russel, Ed, Tom, Chris

Editors; Russel, Ed, Tom, Chris

Midway point in the record and we get immersed into an almost industrial Nine Inch Nails type of sound with a wailing electronic sound that steadies on until we are brought into a cluster of dark keys and pacing aggressive synths. This song is brilliant but it by far the hardest song to get into. Evil and dark are the things this song brings, as the lyric “they took what once was ours” rages on inside your head, accompanied by another slow fade out. ‘The Boxer’ is soft and wonderful to listen and has brilliant vocal work with Tom as the beat that drives the song keeps the song cool and a great leader into the next track.

‘Like Treasure’ is my favorite song of the whole record, that’s what I am saying right away. The bass is great right off the beginning, the synths are soft but present and Tom’s voice keeps the song steady until the chorus which is so haunting it can give you Goosebumps. The background vocals are amazing and tingle the hairs on the back of your neck and as simple as the words are, they can haunt you as after the chorus moves we have a very 80’s synth which goes well with the song. Lyrically the song is mysterious and talks about politics and how corrupt they may be. This song makes the first bit of listening even more worth it.

When new Editors songs were on Youtube, I listened to every version as I could. ‘Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool’ was one of those songs which had such an aggressive tune to it I loved it. The live versions seemed to give a little more umph to the song; however the track on the album itself is very strong. Tom’s vocals are ruffled at points, and the lyrics are twisted as well. When the drumming comes in to the strong synthed chorus, this song is great. Once the piano comes it is a true Editors song and it paces on and on and once again has a great climax. Definitely single potential with this song.

‘Walk the Fleet Road’ is the ‘Well Worn Hand’ of ITLAOTE, this song is pure and wonderful with the strings and the lamenting of Tom all the way through. Simple is beauty and less is often more, something Editors show, stripping down this song to make the album end after a very interesting journey.

In This Light An On This Evening

In This Light An On This Evening

Editors music is dark, and with the incorporation of electronic elements brings them closer to acts like Depeche Mode and Joy Division with haunting lyrics and classic songs. This album is a step in the right direction and here is another quote from Tom Smith;

“I am so fucking bored of people asking us why we’re so ‘dark’ or worse, questioning our integrity for being this way. This is how we do it, it excites us to express ourselves like this, to be honest we don’t even understand what the alternative is and the alternatives we can imagine are too boring for us to even consider.”

The quartet warned fans that they may not gain a new following, and even lose some of their deepest fans. However, in my opinion, this album brings me closer to Editors than ever. Dark emotional alternative music is what  brings me closer to the songs themselves and Editors have done a phenomenal job with this record and can only get better and better from here.

It is quality, not quantity, and this is shown through only having 9 songs on a very short record, along with putting out the music they like to make. They are not going to make a fan chosen album – this is the direction the band is taking. Dislike it if you want but this is here to stay and Editors do not care who critiques them for how they sound or the nature at which they make their music.

5/5

Eskimo Joe – Inshalla

October 1, 2009 Leave a comment

My musical heart was taken to Australia for a long amount of time back in 2006 and a part of me still remains with Eskimo Joe. When they released ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’, I was all over the music, they had the best record of the year and only people from down under really knew about it.

Eskimo Joe, I stumbled upon watching the Australian segment of Live Earth which they performed and after months of procrastinating I finally gave them a listen and fell in love. ‘Black Fingernails…’ was a great record from start to finish, songs to sing to and songs to cry to.

For three years the band had been rigorously touring in support of that record and eventually went into the studio to record – finally – some new material. ‘Inshalla’ was the final product and it may not have been as good as ‘Black Fingernails…’ it still brought a little change in the bands alternative / pop sound to more acoustic and emotional. Though there are still the pulsing songs that inhabit the record, ‘Inshalla’ can be taken less seriously than Black Fingernails… almost like a sophomore record, despite it being the bands fourth.

Inshalla

Inshalla

The album begins with ‘Foreign Land’ which pulses after a unique introduction into a steady acoustic strum and a thumping bass line. The opening line, “steady my shaky hands” brings out the excitement this record brings. The chorus of “this is what it feels to love and I can feel that” gets stuck in your head as this song endures for just under four and a half minutes. Epically, we are brought into the title track which starts with a great guitar riff and heavily beating drums. The song once again has a catchy chorus with the name of the song being repeated over and over again. It brings me back to ‘Setting Sun’ in some aspects form their previous record.

The next two tracks ‘Losing Friends Over Love’ and ‘Sound of Your Heart’ are very radio friendly and seem to have a lot of pop influence in them. Both songs are great to listen to, however they could have a bit more. ‘Sound of Your Heart’ has an interesting percussion aspect to it which is pleasing to listen to as you relax to this song.

Next a slow down in pace. ‘Childhood Behavior’ has strings, acoustics and raw vocals. Kav Temperley is brilliant in this intimate song that tells the story of an emotional relationship. The song is catchy and can really pick you up even though the tempo is down.

The down tempo of ‘Childhood Behavior’ is picked right up with ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, a chanting pulsing song that is catchy reminding me of ‘Sarah’ from ‘Black Fingernails…’. The lyrics are simple and the piano during the verses are very calming. The chorus brings life into the song and ends with a simple Kav vocal bring the tempo back down. This down tempo change brings the next track ‘Falling For You (Intro)’ easily into perspective as Kav just says a few longs with great vocal work which wish you had more to just this simple song.

However once the actually ‘Falling For You’ track begins drums begin to pulse yet again and repetition is key in this song as this song beats on and on throughout. Being just over three minutes, I was disappointed as this song had potential to be longer, however the song itself continues with a different name; ‘Losing My Mind’ as the drums continue to move on and on. This song is beautiful and very ‘Eskimo Joe’ if you will, with catchy lyrics such as; “Do I drive too much when I’m drunk?”. More background chanting keeps this song going.

As the album continues, ‘Your Eyes’ and ‘Please Elise’ seem too much like filler material as they are generic pop songs that really don’t hold too much significance as the previous tracks in the record held. These songs bring me back to ‘A Song Is A City’ in regards to the pop-ness of the tunes and how short they are. ‘Morning Light’, however, is another pulsing song with great steady drums and a driving vocal. There is a climax in the middle, yet it settles down in order to bring the album to a close.

Eskimo Joe: Joel, Kav, Stu

Eskimo Joe: Joel, Kav, Stu

Overall, this album is not Eskimo Joe’s best. They did try to make a second ‘Black Fingernails…’ and did not reach their goal entirely. ‘Black Fingernails…’ now seems to me to be the benchmark for future Eskimo Joe records, however the use of more acoustics and unique percussion can lead them in a new direction.

I recommend listening to this record before ‘Black Fingernails…’ if you have not done so, and then you will be able to compare and hear just how close the two are. Inshalla is a great record nevertheless. The only problem Eskimo Joe faces with success is to be noticed and recognized with how great their music really is.

They seem to be the U2 or Coldplay of Australia. These three who have been around for the better part of ten years deserve a break, just like Elbow for instance. Their best work is yet to come, however their current material is nothing short of brilliant.

4.5/5

La Roux – A New Path For Old Music

September 30, 2009 Leave a comment

In a day where generic pop music rules the radio waves and the iTunes sale lists, La Roux is a fresh look at some old aspects of popular and more importantly – good music. I discovered this duo in a recent issue of Q magazine I bought, yes, the whole fifteen dollars of it. But the amount of music one can discover within the detailed review section is amazing. La Roux consists of two members Elly Jackson, whom takes on the duty of singing and producer Ben Langmaid, along with the other supporting live musicians.

Elly Jackson

Elly Jackson

The La Roux wave hit my area of Canada when the song ‘Bulletproof’ became popular. I did like this song, but it may just me, when a song catches on too much I like it less. But this did not take away form my La Roux fix. The rest of the album with songs such as ‘Quicksand’ and ‘I’m Not Your Toy’ really made me wish there was more to this duo.

La Rouxs Album Cover

I am happy there is an alternative today to the garbage we all call ‘Lady Gaga’.

La Roux gives us music that gets nominated for a Mercury Prize and earns them a spot touring with Brit power Lily Allen.

The album itself, self-titled has it’s first six songs all single worthy, moving fast paced, can be sung to, and more importantly, danced to. One other note, Depeche Mode was a major influence for this duo – so the 80’s is still prominent. Once the album reaches ‘Cover My Eyes’ the tempo slows down and has a few songs that are easy to listen to and not as aggressive as the first half. ‘Fascination’ is another single worthy song, and once again very danceable.

La Roux’s debut is truly something to be excited about. There are so many acts in music currently that rely on one song to propel them to instant fame, often leaving them with nothing left, however, with La Roux music fans are opened to a variety of sound to enjoy. There can only be a step forward with La Roux, and breaking into the U.S. should be their main goal, as often British music fame, now, tends to be overrated.