Friday, 23 December 2011

135 Albums/EPs that you should have bought this year

It's that time once again. Seeing as all the magazines, newspapers and websites in my field of vision are prepping their end of year lists, I felt it was my duty to present one that doesn't have fucking Adele in it. A lot has happened in the music world this year, with bands like Glassjaw, Rival Schools and Blink-182 presenting their first releases in what seemed like 500 years, and a whole roster of fresh-faced new bands showing us what they're made of too. It may seem like overkill, but a top ten would be impossible for me to whittle down, so the following is a chronological list of every album and EP I've purchased this year, and you'd be a fucking idiot not to check any of them out...unless it's the new Sum 41 album, which is shit.

January:

  • 01/01 Glassjaw – Our Color Green (The Singles) (Self-Released)
  • 02/01 Citycop – The Hope In Forgiving & Giving Up Hope (Self-Released)
  • 10/01 Our Time Down Here – Last Light (Self-Released)
  • 18/01 The Aquabats! – Hi-Five Soup! (Fearless)
  • 21/01 Amanda Palmer – Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under (Self-Released)
  • 24/01 Architects – The Here And Now (Century Media)
February:

  • 01/02 Me First And The Gimme Gimmes – Go Down Under (Fat Wreck Chords)
  • 13/02 Glassjaw – Coloring Book (Self-Released)
  • 14/02 Gay For Johnny Depp – What Doesn’t Kill You, Eventually Kills You (Shine Boy Recordings)
  • 14/02 Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (Rock Action)
  • 15/02 Chixdiggit – Safeways Here We Come (Fat Wreck Chords)
  • 18/02 Radiohead – The King Of Limbs (Self-Released)
  • 22/02 Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows – D.R.U.G.S. (Sire/Decaydance)
March:

  • 08/03 Dance Gavin Dance – Downtown Battle Mountain II (Rise)
  • 08/03 Defeater – Empty Days & Sleepless Nights (Bridge Nine)
  • 08/03 Rival Schools – Pedals (Photo Finish/Atlantic)
  • 15/03 Rise Against – Endgame (DGC/Interscope)
  • 18/03 Alex Turner – Submarine (Domino)
  • 18/03 The Strokes – Angles (RCA/Rough Trade)
  • 21/03 Random Hand – Seething Is Believing (Bomber Music)
  • 21/03 The Weeknd – House Of Balloons (XO)
  • 22/03 CKY – B-Sides & Rarities (Distant/Mighty Loud)
  • 22/03 Protest The Hero – Scurrilous (Underground Operations)
  • 25/03 Sum 41 – Screaming Bloody Murder (Island)
April:

  • 01/04 Hyro Da Hero – Birth, School, Work, Death (Stereo Bang Media)
  • 01/04 The Kills – Blood Pressures (Domino)
  • 08/04 Young Widows – In And Out Of Youth And Lightness (Temporary Residence)
  • 11/04 TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light (Interscope)
  • 12/04 Atmosphere – The Family Sign (Rhymesayers)
  • 12/04 Foo Fighters – Wasting Light (RCA)
  • 12/04 Thursday – No Devolución (Epitaph)
  • 16/04 Omar Rodriguez-Lopez – Telesterion (Rodriguez-Lopez Productions)
  • 18/04 Freeze The Atlantic – Colour By Numbers (Alcopop!)
  • 18/04 Rolo Tomassi – Eternal Youth (Destination Moon)
  • 27/04 Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (Capitol)
May:

  • 03/05 Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop/Bella Union)
  • 03/05 La Dispute / Koji – Never Come Undone (No Sleep)
  • 09/05 Young Legionnaire – Crisis Works (Wichita)
  • 10/05 The Antlers – Burst Apart (Frenchkiss/Transgressive)
  • 10/05 Farewell Atlantic – İHey, Hey Pioneers! (Paper + Plastic)
  • 10/05 The Lonely Island – Turtleneck & Chain (Universal Republic)
  • 10/05 Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math (Favorite Gentlemen)
  • 12/05 Le Butcherettes – Sin Sin Sin (Rodriguez-Lopez Productions)
  • 16/05 The Computers – This Is The Computers (One Little Indian)
  • 16/05 Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome (Parlophone/EMI)
  • 17/05 Living With Lions – Holy Shit (Black Box/Adeline)
  • 17/05 Weerd Science – Sick Kids (Horris Records)
  • 24/05 Cave In – White Silence (Hydra Head)
  • 24/05 Into It. Over It. / Such Gold – Split (No Sleep/Mightier Than The Sword)
  • 24/05 Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts (Matador)
  • 25/05 Glowbug – Mr. Plastic (Self-Released)
  • 30/05 Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School Of Medicine – Enhanced Methods Of Questioning (Alternative Tentacles)
  • 31/05 Death Cab For Cutie – Codes And Keys (Atlantic)
June:

  • 06/06 Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See (Domino)
  • 06/06 Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones (Xtra Mile/Epitaph)
  • 06/06 Fucked Up – David Comes To Life (Matador)
  • 07/06 City And Colour – Little Hell (Dine Alone/Vagrant)
  • 07/06 Skrillex – More Monsters And Sprites (Big Beat/Atlantic)
  • 07/06 Touché Amoré – Parting The Sea Between The Brightness And Me (Deathwish)
  • 13/06 Dananananaykroyd – There Is A Way (Pizza College)
  • 14/06 Bad Meets Evil – Hell: The Sequel (Shady/Interscope)
  • 14/06 The Dear Hunter – The Colour Spectrum: Complete Collection (Triple Crown)
  • 14/06 The Swellers – Good For Me (Fueled By Ramen)
  • 14/06 The Wonder Years – Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing (Hopeless/No Sleep)
  • 20/06 Less Than Jake – Greetings From (Self-Released)
  • 20/06 Wolves Like Us – Late Love (Prosthetic)
  • 21/06 Tally Hall – Good & Evil (Quack! Media)
  • 28/06 Set Your Goals – Burning At Both Ends (Epitaph)
July:

  • 11/07 Blitz Kids – Vagrants & Vagabonds (Hassle)
  • 12/07 Alkaline Trio – Damnesia (Heart & Skull)
  • 12/07 Incubus – If Not Now, When? (Epic/Immortal)
  • 12/07 Sublime With Rome – Yours Truly (Fueled By Ramen)
  • 19/07 Portugal. The Man – In The Mountain In The Cloud (Atlantic)
  • 22/07 The Living End – The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating (Dew Process)
  • 24/07 Moira Stewart – Whatever We Do Is Love (Baby Serious)
August:

  • 02/08 Mariachi El Bronx – Mariachi El Bronx (II) (ATO)
  • 02/08 NOFX – NOFX (Fat Wreck Chords)
  • 05/08 Little Scout – Take Your Light (MGM)
  • 09/08 Into It. Over It. – Twelve Towns (Topshelf Records)
  • 16/08 Psychostick – Space Vampires VS Zombie Dinosaurs In 3-D (Rock Ridge Music)
  • 18/08 The Weeknd – Thursday (XO)
  • 19/08 Frenzal Rhomb – Smoko At The Pet Food Factory (Shock Records)
  • 19/08 Gotye – Making Mirrors (Eleven)
  • 23/08 MC Frontalot – Solved (Level Up/Nerdcore Fervor)
  • 23/08 Retox – Ugly Animals (Ipecac)
  • 26/08 Bombay Bicycle Club - A Different Kind Of Fix (Island)
September:

  • 01/09 Secret Band – Secret Band EP
  • 02/09 The Drums – Portamento (Moshi Moshi/Island)
  • 06/09 MC Lars – Lars Attacks! (Hollis Records)
  • 06/09 Thrice – Major/Minor (Vagrant)
  • 12/09 Mogwai – Earth Division (Rock Action)
  • 12/09 Primus – Green Naugahyde (ATO/Prawn Song)
  • 13/09 Kevin Devine – Between The Concrete And The Clouds (Razor & Tie/Favourite Gentlemen)
  • 13/09 Me First And The Gimme Gimmes – Sing In Japanese (Fat Wreck Chords)
  • 13/09 Polar Bear Club – Clash Battle Guilt Pride (Bridge Nine)
  • 16/09 Broadway Calls – Toxic Kids (All For Hope/Banquet)
  • 19/09 Scroobius Pip – Distraction Pieces (Speech Development)
  • 20/09 Andrew Jackson Jihad – Knife Man (Asian Man)
  • 23/09 Machine Head – Unto The Locust (Roadrunner)
  • 26/09 This Time Next Year – Drop Out Of Life (Equal Vision)
  • 27/09 Blink-182 – Neighborhoods [Deluxe Edition] (DGC/Interscope)
  • 27/09 Into It. Over It. –Proper (No Sleep)
  • 27/09 Man Overboard – Man Overboard (Rise)
  • 27/09 Zechs Marquise – Getting Paid (Rodriguez-Lopez Productions)
October:

  • 01/10 Glowbug – Covered In Lights Vol. 1 (Self-Released)
  • 04/10 La Dispute – Wildlife (No Sleep)
  • 04/10 New Found Glory – Radiosurgery (Epitaph)
  • 04/10 Transit – Listen & Forgive (Rise)
  • 05/10 Björk – Biophilia (One Little Indian/Polydor)
  • 07/10 &U&I – Light Bearer (Ondryland)
  • 11/10 I Am The Avalanche – Avalanche United (Drive-Thru)
  • 11/10 A Lot Like Birds – Conversation Piece (Doghouse)
  • 11/10 Trash Talk – Awake (True Panther Sounds)
  • 17/10 LYU – Without You Here (Self-Released)
  • 19/10 We Are The Union – Graveyard Grins (Paper + Plastic)
  • 21/10 Tom Waits – Bad As Me (Anti-)
  • 24/10 Close Your Eyes – Empty Hands And Heavy Hearts (Victory)
  • 24/10 A Loss For Words – No Sanctuary (Rise/Velocity)
  • 27/10 Mastodon – The Hunter (Reprise)
  • 31/10 The James Cleaver Quintet – That Was Then, This Is Now (Hassle)
November:

  • 01/11 Angels & Airwaves – Love: Part Two (To The Stars)
  • 01/11 Pianos Become The Teeth – The Lack Long After (Topshelf Records)
  • 08/11 Four Year Strong – In Some Way, Shape Or Form (Decaydance/Universal Motown)
  • 04/11 Animals As Leaders – Weightless (Prosthetic)
  • 15/11 Doomsday Student – A Jumper’s Handbook (Anchor Brain)
  • 18/11 Frank Turner – The Second Three Years (Xtra Mile/Epitaph)
  • 22/11 Such Gold / A Loss For Words – Split (No Sleep/Mightier Than The Sword)
  • 26/11 Roots Manuva – 4everevolution (Big Dada)
December:

  • 05/12 Gallows – Death Is Birth (Thirty Days Of Night)
  • 06/12 The Black Keys – El Camino (Nonesuch)
  • 12/12 That Fucking Tank – TFT (Obscene Baby Auction)
  • 17/12 CityCop – Seasons (Self-Released)
  • 20/12 MC Lars – The Frosty The Flowman EP (Horris Records)
  • 21/12 The Weeknd – Echoes Of Silence (XO)
  • 21/12 Skrillex - Bangarang (Big Beat)

So there you go. If you are yet to purchase any of these, I suggest catching up. So what are your favourite records of 2011? Feel free to share a piece of your mind in the comments section.

Have a just about acceptable Christmas, yeah?
xxx

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Drinking from a fire hose.













I entered a newsagent's in Cheltenham yesterday in search of a newspaper. I scanned the racks of dailies, weeklies and monthlies, eventually picking up my desired paper and coming to a certain conclusion: We have far too many celebrity wank rags on sale.

In the 1440s when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, did he ever ponder the sheer height of devolutionary mass-print media that would come several centuries later in the shape of gossip magazines? Endless space on the shelves underneath the single pornography and men’s interest section of the newsagents are taken up by magazines with names like Heat, Hello, Look, Stare, Twee and Bum, all of which have pictures of Cheryl Cole, Katie Price, Peter Andre or all of the above slapped on the cover, like shallow, real-world Alfred E. Neuman type caricatures.

The personal lives of the rich and well-known is really none of my business or interest, so I have a real difficulty coming to a conclusion why anybody reads this shit. Especially considering the only reason why two of the aforementioned people still have careers in media, is because they both fucked each other in a jungle once. As far as I’m concerned, Peter Andre should have been ostracised from public thought and executed quietly in, fittingly, a jungle somewhere immediately after the release of Mysterious Girl in 1995.

Other pressing issues the magazines cover include celebrities without make-up, the best and worst dressed public appearances, weight loss/gain, stalker-esque snaps of well known faces walking through town taken by a paparazzi shitehawk, and “real” stories about “real” people that sound more like police rape and homicide reports then actual stories.

There seems to be a certain correlation between these magazines and the recent News Of The World/Murdoch/News Corporation scandals that link to people being obsessed with useless information. The personal details of celebrities, bereaved mothers and dead teenagers don’t have any weight on the way we live our lives unless we are a part of the story ourselves. To suggest otherwise is outrageously stupid.

One of my theories puts simple human progress at the forefront of the blame. The way current events and other media is presented in the modern world moves at such a bewildering pace, that it’s impossible for the conscious mind to keep up with all or any of it. It is because of this, that society decides to distract itself with brightly coloured piffle instead, and big news stories break and die as quickly as they were sprung. Once the worlds most wanted man was executed earlier this year, news of the Royal Wedding was wiped from the headlines faster than you can say Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Now, I don’t claim to be a feminist, because coming from me that may sound a bit ‘pussy-whipped.’ But I safely assume that magazines like Heat or Gawp or whatever the fuck they’re called, have a majority audience of females. So maybe my female readers can tell me why on earth they buy millions of these magazines every week. Does pointing out the blemishes of high society help you forget your own? Probably. Do you take a genuine interest in what these people are doing at all times? Maybe. Please feel free to let me know. I’m all ears.

In the best of times, keeping up with all of the world’s news can seem like drinking from a fire hose with the constant updates and developments bleeding out of every television, computer and hand-held mobile device. The civil unrest that built up over decades in Libya, Syria, Egypt and other areas of the middle-east seemed to erupt in the blink of an eye once coverage of the first protests broadcast, and an unparalleled feeling of ignorance is only to be expected once something like that pops out on you all of a sudden. But you shouldn’t replace ignorance of important issues of the world with pointless, masturbatory obsessions with the lives of the rich and famous. If you choose to shut yourself off from the news, here’s a list of more rewarding ways you can do so:

  • Read a book that speaks to you in ways that you never thought possible, or that changes your outlook on life, if even slightly. You remember what books are, don’t you?
  • Listen to a groundbreaking, revolutionary record that can make you feel angry, sad, in love, ecstatic, or simply alive. At least a piece of music with more meaning than something Will.I.Am thought of on the toilet last week. Better yet, go to a show and connect with the audience in a way that a ‘Like’ on Facebook can never truly convey.
  • Create something yourself, whether it’s music, poetry, a short story, a painting, or an angry blog post. Not to satisfy or show-off to others, but to gain a sense of excitement or self-fulfilment.
  • Further connect yourself with planet Earth by exploring it. Why spend your whole life rotting in the same place you were born?
  • Stop jabbing at your ultimately fragile iPhone for a while and actually have a conversation with someone. We’ve got into a state of knowing so many people, yet knowing so little about them on a human level and keeping little to no close meaningful friendships with our likeminded acquaintances.

Life may be a meaningless, godless chore, but by keeping any of my five suggestions in mind, it doesn’t have to be any less enjoyable. I’m as guilty of picking holes in the aesthetics of others as anybody else, but using that as the main focus of your existence can turn you into a pretty useless individual yourself, maybe even as useless as Peter fucking Andre.


Photo courtesy of the Guardian.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Worst Show I've Never Seen.

It's been little over a week since the first episode of Geordie Shore aired, and according to this BBC News article, the network debut "borders on pornography" as quoted by Newcastle Central MP, Chi Onwurah. Now, looking at two dictionary definitions (In case you were wondering), pornography is a: Obscene writings, drawings, photographs or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit, or b: The depiction of acts in a sensational or sexual manner, so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.

There you have it: the show in a nutshell. In the same vein as it's New Jersey originator, the show basically consists of collected scenes of chiseled, large-breasted, loud-mouthed human carrots drinking heavily, vacuously preening about how great they are, lifting weights and fucking each other.

Now, before I go any further, I'd like to quash any assumptions about the show's impact on me by saying that I haven't watched any of it. I haven't watched it and I have no plans on ever doing so. Regardless of this fact, everything I am about to say about the show is accurate, and most definitely true.

It's safe to assume the first episode will consist of (And it did) the human caricatures infinitely overstating their most-loved features to massively embarrassing level, in cheery introductory VTs featuring their charming parents' homes (Where they still probably live) before meeting each other in their hideously decorated central city flat and immediately deciding who they want to have intercourse with, and who the will declare a 'slag.'

If the trailer is anything to go by, said cunt-estants will be required to exhale regional accents so strong they will appear to be Little Britain parodies of Newcastle locals. The girls are typically skimpy-clothed, two-faced, bitchy sausage-wallets and the accompanying males are fanny hungry borderline date rapists, who talk about nothing but themselves, the gym, clubbing, 'smashing birds,' and fucking football. For face value, MTV may have also inserted an additional male contestant who holds a slight disinterest to aforementioned topics. He will be used as a simple catalyst or nice guy, to make the show look more two-dimensional, even though it most definitely isn't.


Fuck you.

The remainder of the show is likely to consist of the group downing shots, looking into mirrors, vomiting, snogging and making arseing great tits out of themselves (Probably in a jacuzzi) before culminating with their first big night out. During this night out, they will gather in one or more of Newcastle's biggest cock-hives (My money's on Madame Koo's or Riverside) to make further tits of themselves, snog some more, get completely inebriated, vomit some more, fist pump like cave men and start a fight. Eagerly satisfied, one of our male contestants may have left with a female accomplice beer-goggled enough to sleep with him. The gentleman will take her back to the self-proclaimed 'shag-pad,' where they will share several pelvic thrusts before our male protagonist (Probably named Gaz) will unleash a dribbling eruption of gummy translucent plasm onto the face of an understandably physically recoiled female face.

Change location, re-arrange roles, times this by ten and you've got yourself a series!

The first few episodes of Jersey shore hid behind a paper thin veneer of format by giving the proud 'guidos' jobs. After these first few episodes, any idea of format was abandoned as sensationalism took over. 2 years down the line, any suspension of disbelief has been tossed away and the show has been guffed out onto TV screens across the globe in hopes of ruffling as many feathers as possible, capitalizing on a region's most sickening lifestyles (Some of which never belonged to Newcastle in the first place). Getting absolutely trollied and falling face first onto the concrete outside of Tiger Tiger has been well documented in Newcastle, but how many tanned, muscular Geordie Males did you meet before Jersey Shore broadcasted? Close to none is likely to be the answer.

This mass-borrowing of dickhead culture may eventually lead to mankind losing it's identity altogether and watching these insecure vanity machines, armed with a vocabulary they are probably contractually obliged to use, will only lead to the complete downfall of civilization…and you'll all be to blame.

The show doesn't offend me as such, it just angers, disappoints and depresses me beyond all measure. It's the worst show I've never seen.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Adventures in the countryside.



I've reached the end of week one of my life in the country. For those of you that are not yet aware, last week, I moved away from my hometown of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to the arsehole of Nowhere-Under-Edge.
So far, the vast majority of my time down here has been spent working close to 14 hour shifts, and sleeping in preparation of my next 14 hour shift.

My new home rests within the 30 acres of woodland my new hotel of employment occupies. The small brick country house may look rather small from the outside, but upon entering, one would be surprised to find that it's also rather small on the inside! As not to make it too claustrophobic, only 16 of us reside within the property. To the right of the front door, is the entrance gate to Layhill prison, which is nothing more than comforting to know. My bedroom features a radiator that appears to have malfunctioned to the point of being stuck in the 'on' position. This with the addition of body-heat generated by the others has made for quite a sweatbox of a living environment. With air-conditioning but a pipe dream, I have spent as little time in the Gate House as possible.

On day two, with an empty fridge and nothing but seasonings to keep me nourished, I set out to find a nearby supermarket, whilst nursing a hangover. After walking for five miles over mostly un-paved country roads, I reached Wotton-Under-Edge, which funnily enough, seemed closer when being driven there. The small market town housed a small Co-Op and not much else. One high street lay embedded in what appeared to be a mostly suburban country town. On my journey, I only stumbled across one or two small villages, and vast country land. Gone, are the monolithic billboard adverts, towering structures and the hustle and bustle of the city. Now replaced with widespread greenery, and local wildlife, some more welcome than others (Horseflies are now my sworn enemy).

This journey brought home precisely how isolated I have now become from the outside world I used to live in. On the upside, the quiet country life is comfortingly serene. A long walk outside can take you anywhere. Every day is a new adventure…at least for the first three weeks. At night, with the roads devoid of lampposts, the night sky is perfectly clear. With hundreds of stars scattered above like glitter spread across a large black mattress and the ambiance made up of the chirp of birds and the distant calling of sheep.

Although with this in mind, when I have time to think about it, I still feel a million miles from nowhere. But this year-long Stopgap for me is building towards something much bigger, and as the days, weeks, months and years go by, this brief period of isolation will seem like a quiet fart in a distant corridor, and will be reminisced by myself in happier pastures.

I'll be just fine, so long as the prison doesn't have a mass break-out…


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

An open letter to the online world

Good evening blogosphere, how are you? That's fantastic.

After almost 21 years, the concept of spending the rest of my life in North East England has grown rather gloomy, so I need your help to emmigrate overseas. I'm selling some stuff on eBay, and I'm giving whoever's reading this wasteland of a website the opportunity to wear some of my old tat. Below is a Slideshow of some of the things I'm selling, with accompanying link to my eBay store.
Look if you want, buy if you want, it's that simple.
Thanks for your interest
-Ross

Monday, 24 January 2011

Architects - The Here And Now Review




2.5/5
Speculation has been floating around for months as to what direction Architects would take on their fourth album. Their first two releases showed promise, but Hollow Crown was their cathartic, abrasive powerhouse, solidifying their status in the UK's hardcore scene. Architects were truly a force to be reckoned with.

That being said, it's all the more surprising that the Brighton quintet have decided to play it safe on The Here And Now, and not by sticking to the same formula but dramatically changing it. The guitars are cleaner and succumb to a lot more noodling rather than the deep chugging of their previous works. The vocals are mostly sung rather than screamed in larynx shredding fashion.

This drastic change from piercing metalcore to cleaner pastures doesn't necessarily make The Here And Now a bad album, but it's major pitfall is making it difficult to distinguish Architects from the crowd of generic post-hardcore that already resides in a scene that they used to stand out in. Around three tracks pass on The Here And Now before one song emerges that sounds remotely like Architects, and the softer, muted songs on the album in An Open Letter To Myself and Heartburn are simply baffling coming from the same band that released Hollow Crown not two years before.

I'm trying my very best not to nitpick here, the album's first single Day In Day Out is probably the best display of Architect's new sound, managing to be both visceral and melodic at the same time, as does BTN. Delete, Rewind is refreshing as a return to Architects gut-punching old sound and album closer, Year In Year Out is a satisfying mix of old and new.

As good as The Here And Now's best moments are, it's weaker moments crop up more often than not. These weaker moments blend together to make album unfortunately generic and forgettable. I'm sure there are people that will disagree with me upon reading this review, but The Here and Now will surely divide Architects fans. The Here And Now may be a disappointing Architects album, but on the plus side, it does sound like a pretty good Alexisonfire album