Category Archives: Music

Return of the Mac: CD Review

The world rejoiced earlier this year when legendary rock group Fleetwood Mac announced a 2013 world tour. Jayne McCormack takes a trip down nostalgia lane to explain why ‘Rumours’ is still one of the best albums of all time.

Fleetwood Mac's 35th anniversary edition of 'Rumours'
Fleetwood Mac’s 35th anniversary edition of ‘Rumours’

Music lovers everywhere are ecstatic that the band responsible for classics including ‘Little Lies’, ‘Everywhere’ and ‘Tusk’ is hitting the road once more to please millions of Fleetwood fans worldwide.

This year marks the re-release of their greatest album ‘Rumours’ (1978), which has been repackaged for a 35-year anniversary edition (a year too late, strangely) with an additional two discs of previously unreleased material so that hardcore fans can truly appreciate the band’s brilliance.

‘Rumours’ is timeless – it’s an aural delight and one album that every music enthusiast should own. It has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, and was infamously recorded while tensions within the band were reaching boiling point.

Drummer Mick Fleetwood even called Rumours “the most important album we ever made.” It flows so beautifully that each track that compliments another. From the opening rustic guitar in ‘Second Hand News’, to the hopeful, upbeat tune of ‘Don’t Stop’ and the wonderfully romantic ‘Songbird’, there has simply never been another album like this.

‘Dreams’, sung by the sultry Stevie Nicks and surprisingly enough, Fleetwood Mac’s only Number 1, is her attack upon guitarist Lindsay Buckingham after their poisonous relationship and subsequent break-up, to which Buckingham responds with ‘Go Your Own Way’. The two songs are not only fantastically well written but the emotional baggage that accompanies the tracks is so raw that you can actually feel their tumultuous history being captured throughout the album.

Add to the track list ‘The Chain’, probably one of their best-known hits and also the famous Formula One theme tune, and two lesser-known tracks ‘I Don’t Want to Know’ and ‘Silver Springs’, which show off the band’s ability to harmonise that has never been replicated as well by any other band. It’s simply a perfect album from start to finish.

Disc Two includes previously unreleased live tracks, recorded at various shows during the band’s 1977 ‘Rumours’ tour, while the final disc includes ‘More from the Recording Sessions’ – songs that didn’t make it into the 2004 double-disc re-mastered edition. Notable tracks include the unrecognisably slow demo version of ‘The Chain’ and the early recording of ‘Oh, Daddy.’

This repackaged edition of ‘Rumours’ is a must-have for any true Fleetwood fan. It gives listeners a magnificent insight into Fleetwood Mac during the creation of an album that continues to amaze generation after generation, and sits on a musical pedestal that few bands can emulate.

For more info and tour dates visit Fleetwood Mac’s website here.

Counting Crows – August and Everything After-Live at Town Hall – Review

counting-crows-august-and-everything-after-live-at-town-hall-dlp

There was a time in the mid ‘90s when Counting Crows was one of the most critically acclaimed bands in the world. However their popularity began to wane at the start of the Millennium as their music became more erratic.

Their early success was largely down to one album, “August and Everything After.” Released in 1993 by Geffen Records, it was the band’s first album and undoubtedly their best. This new live version of that album brings the original back to life after 18 years.

Crows’ enigmatic lead singer, Adam Duritz takes us back in time as he and the band perform their debut album in front of a packed audience in New York.

This live version of the album is very different to the original. The songs have evolved and become much better as a result. Counting Crows and Duritz are renowned for their energetic and passionate live performances. This album is no different.

The album ranges from the dulcet tones of “Perfect Blue Buildings” to the happy rock ballad of “Mr Jones.” The strength of the band’s most accomplished hits has never really been in doubt; however other songs haven’t been met with quite as much acclaim.

Due to the fact this is a live concert there are snippets of Duritz conversing with the audience. He talks them through some of the songs before they are played. This is a nice addition that you don’t get on studio albums.

The album opens with “Round Here” but as we’ve never heard it before. The song is just as sombre as it always has been but lyrics from “Raining in Baltimore” have been added to it. The end result is phenomenal. Counting Crows are no strangers to adding lyrics to their songs live on stage. However this combination more than any other works perfectly.

Duritz frequently extends and rewrites lyrics to songs. That is why this live album is so much better than the studio albums Crows’ produced in the past. The CD captures Crows’ and Duritz in all their live glory.

The catchy “Mr Jones” is next and it is just as good as we remember it. Like the rest of the songs on the album it has hugely benefited from years on the road. It is probably their most famous song but it is perhaps testament to this brilliant track list that it isn’t the best song on the album.

That award goes to “Perfect Blue Building.” It is Duritz’s favourite song that the band created and probably their best ever. The lyrics are sung with such enthusiasm and poignancy that Duritz takes the song to another level. Combine this with excellent performances from the rest of the band and you have a match made in heaven.

What made Counting Crows so popular was Duritz’s ability to tell stories. All the songs on this album are not just songs but stories too. They are Duritz’s memories throughout his life that he gave to us through song.

In turn, memories of their first album come rushing back to the listener. Memories of a time when Duritz’s melancholic voice filled radio stations worldwide.

This album then marks a time in history when Counting Crows were just setting out as a band. It was also when they were at their peak.

The sad fact is though; Counting Crows were never remotely this good again.

For Counting Crows ticket info see Ticketmaster

http://www.ticketmaster.com/Counting-Crows-tickets/artist/765319

Album Review – Beady Eye: Different Gear, Still Speeding.

LIAM Gallagher has done it again.

After Oasis split, it looked to all the world that the front-man’s career was buried alongside the dodo.

Few expected new band Beady Eye, basically Oasis without Noel, to have any success, but have they lost any of the panache that made Oasis so successful without their songwriter in chief?

If their first album is anything to go by, the answer is a resounding no.

That unmistakable Mancunian voice still bounds through the speakers as Liam loses none of his force but the new band’s sound is a bit of a throwback to his heroes of old. Think Oasis meets the Beatles. In fact the penultimate song, ‘The Beat Goes On’ could have come straight out of the Cavern, and Lennon wouldn’t have been ashamed of it either.

The band themselves target a place alongside their heroes in this album, as their songs promise that it’s the beginning of something special. “I’m gonna stand the test of time, like Beatles and Stones” proclaims Gallagher in his typically brash fashion.

This offering has all the wistful guitar riffs needed for a link to the 60s, with songs like ‘Kill for a Dream’ and ‘The Morning Son’ adding a new sensual dimension to the Oasis sound and showing a whole new side to Liam’s erstwhile harsh Mancunian tone. He even sends out a heart wrenching invite to out-in-the-cold brother Noel. “Life’s too short not to forgive… I’m here if you wanna call,” he sings pensively at the start of ‘Kill for a Dream.’

Not that they’ve gone all soft on us. The forceful guitar intros are still there and the band are arrogant as ever. A statement of intent, the opening track “Four Letter Word” kicks it off with a convincing riff and “Bring the Light” showcases that unique mix of potent guitar and extreme self-confidence perfectly.

Not to forget the best of the lot, “The Roller” which shows just what the band are capable of, and just why there’s life after Oasis.

It may be a different gear, but Liam and the boys are definitely still speeding.

Rating: 9/10 – A must buy for any Oasis fan or anyone looking for a link back to the sounds of the 60s.

Feeder – Generation Freakshow

Feeder return – but do they still possess the old magic?

A review by Gerard Walton

There are some bands who don’t know when they are beaten. Since the release of debut album Polythene in 1997, alternative rock group Feeder have been chewed up and spat out by mainstream music fans, and even survived the suicide of founding member, drummer Jon Lee.

Previous album Renegades was a limited affair, with its self-conscious rock stylings quickly wearing thin compared to their earliest recordings. However the Welsh/Japanese group were clearly having fun and this new album continues the carefree approach without the constant break-neck speed.

For those fans who prefer the axe-wielding Feeder of old, there remains plenty to enjoy here. The title track piles on the distortion and is genuinely good fun, with shout-along lyrics such as ‘violent society, why did you lie to me?

There is even a straight-ahead punk rocker to rival Hole In The Head from their breakthrough album Yesterday Went Too Soon. The guitars and drums take a pounding for ‘Headstrong’ which lives up to its title.

There are no musings on world affairs to rival Stephen Fry, but that is not what Feeder are here for. What frontman Grant Nicholas provides are solid rock songs worthy of radio play.

Had the opening salvo of ‘Oh My’ and ‘Borders’ been released back in their long-gone prime it would have been a top ten hit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUN3xCgauEA

Of course, these days the charts are filled with the likes of Rihanna and Calvin Harris. Feeder will most likely never again be popular, but that is through no fault of their own.

Admittedly, not everything here is deserving of praise. ‘Fools Can’t Sleep’ in particular is a dreary bluesy filler track that will test the patience of many.

However, coming so close to the end of the album, listeners should attempt to stay the course, as the closing ‘Children Of The Sun’ is one that will get festival lighters in the air.

At this stage of their career, Feeder have done all that could be expected. They have produced a record that will keep their dedicated fanbase happy.

Unlike their idol Kurt Cobain, and their old drummer, they are happy to slowly fade away rather than burn out.

7/10

Available now at Amazon and other retailers

MTV stars perform at Titanic Sounds

Rebekah Logan visits the MTV awards

Thousands of music fans filled the Titanic dock on Friday as MTV returned to the city once more to host the Titanic Sounds festival.

With a star-studded line-up featuring the likes of Olly Murs and Pixie Lott it came as no surprise that tickets sold out within hours.

MTV UK

Opening the centenary concert and dressed in Dolce and Gabbana, Pixie Lott took to the stage with an up tempo performance of Boys and Girls before singing hits such as All About Tonight, Kiss the Stars and Mama Do.

Next to storm the stage was energetic duo, Rizzle Kicks who opened with a lively performance of their hit, Prophet.

As the excitement in the 16,000-strong crowd grew, so did the duo’s momentum as they powered through a number of well-known hits from their debut album such as Mama Do the Hump, When I Was A Youngster and Down With The Trumpets.

Performance Teaser

Jamaican star Sean Paul took to the stage to perform a string of well-known hits such as Get Busy, Got 2 Luv U and Gimme The Light.

As the sun set over Belfast the superstar encouraged concert goers to follow their dreams:

“I had a dream that I would one day perform in Belfast. If you have a dream, hold onto it.”

Next up was songstress Katy B who belted out hits such as, On A Mission, Lights Out as well as her new single, Anywhere In The World , the official single for the London Olympics 2012.

The dubstep star tweeted after the show:

‘Belfast that was so much fun!! Thank u so much for having me!! 🙂 xxx’

Headlining the show was X-Factor runner-up Olly Murs, who performed with his own nine-piece band.

The singer danced his way through songs such as, Dance With Me Tonight and Don’t Let Me Go, as well as a cover of American singer Aloe Blacc’s hit, I Need A Dollar.

As the concert drew to a close Murs was joined on-stage by Rizzle Kicks as the trio belted out their Brit nominated single, Heart Skips a Beat.

Tweeting after the show he said: “BELFAST!! Finally got out there to see ya!! Was waiting for ages!! Proper buzzing crowd!! Long day for ya!! Thanks for staying til the end!x”

@OLLYOFFICIAL

The concert was one of the first in a series of events set to take place across the city to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Album Review: Tyler, The Creator – Goblin

Odd Future’s figurehead Tyler, The Creator releases his sophomore album Goblin, the first from the collective to have a release on a major label. The most hyped release of the year doesn’t live up to expectations, with few quality tracks, the album eventually suffers from a lack of musical ideas and a running time which could do with having at least 20 minutes shaved off it.

‘Radicals’ is one of the standout tracks on the album. It takes the vitriol up a notch; menacing beats are laced with a genuine anger in Tyler’s voice as he veers into an almost militant style of hip hop. “Kill people, burn shit, fuck school, I’m fucking radical” whilst the intensity subsides as a more enlightened Tyler tells us “im not saying to just go out and do stupid shit, commit crimes. What im trying to tell you is do what the fuck you want, stand for what the fuck you believe in, and don’t let anybody tell you you cant be what you want. I’m a fucking unicorn.”

The visceral intensity continues on tracks like ‘Translyvania’ and ‘Nightmare’ which sound exactly as the titles suggests. The tracks have slick grooves attached while Hip Hop juggernaut and track of the year contender ‘Yonkers’ maintains this vibe. While ‘Tron Cat’ sees him spouting the darkest raps on the album. A track so lyrically depraved that even his most ardent supporters will find it hard to stomach. “These tracks work almost on intensity alone, but there isn’t much else happening. He shows it doesn’t all have to be extremely dark on tracks like ‘Her’ where the bravado takes a back seat. But the track fails to land musically. ‘She’ sees Tyler join forces with Frank Ocean in a slow and forgettable RNB affair.

The album’s title track refers to everything to that point in Tyler’s life. The media pressure, the broken home. It’s Tyler spouting a stream of consciousness while a contrasting voice allays his fears. It happens again on album closer ‘Golden’ and while they are pretty decent tracks you can’t help but feel both are drawn out.

‘Sandwitches’ sees Hodgy Beats lend a hand in one of the album’s better moments, which acts almost as OFWGKTA’s call to arms. ‘Window’ sees a whole host of OFWGKTA member’s guest in a tune which serves no other purpose than as a platform to introduce some of his crew. ‘Fish’ and ‘Analog’ are another two tracks which have discernable grooves, while tracks like ‘Bitch Suck Dick’ are nothing more than parody.
It’s not an album for the easily offended, the groups’ defenders claim they are satirising the ugly parts associated with hip hop. Dependent entirely on how you want to perceive it, this could very well be a bit much for some people. Regardless of how you perceive it, eighty minutes is a bit much to listen to the misanthropic ranting and ravings of anyone, regardless of how skilled they may be in delivering it.

Tyler The Creator – Yonkers
Tyler, The Creator – Sandwitches (Live on Jimmy Fallon)

Odd Future Interview

By Paul Mullin

Battle of the Bands Beckons Amazing Talent

Crow Black Chicken's lead singer Christy O'Hanlon

Emma-Kate O’Reilly reports.

The third heat of the much anticipated Battle of the Bands took place on Friday 5th February. The battle ground was the up and coming music venue The Sail Inn, which is establishing itself as the new hotspot for original alternative music. The artists came from far flung places like Cork and Laois to fight for the chance to grace the stage of Glastonbury where aspiring musicians play out their ultimate dream.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year’s outright winners Shouting at Planes who have since released two singles, over seventy bands applied to take part but only 25 were lucky enough to make it through. The prestigious prize up for grabs has beckoned the best talent in Ireland.

The fray began with Crow Black Chicken, a three piece band who set the standard for the night with their funky, blues/rock sound. The lead singers gravelly voice worked its magic on the crowd. Woodstock would’ve loved these guys.

Humbuzzer, a local band from Cootehill who had a hard act to follow, did so with style. They took you by the hand back to the sixties. They have a melodic, acoustic roots sound. Clever lyrics coupled with their natural flair for the guitar make for easy listening and you can’t help but feel happy.

Awake Young Soldiers, six young lads with an array of musical instruments had a kind of Arcade Fire scene going on. The keyboard gave a wistful tone to their catchy tunes. They started off with a soft sound but gradually built it up to a dramatic end.

A female vocalist has sang with this band in the past and could have given them the edge but there were no female artists on this male dominated night. The guys held their harmonies well together and the lead singer didn’t try to shake off his local lilt, which is refreshing these days as a lot of bands somehow seem to pick up an American accent along the way.

Third Smoke were next up. A four piece alternative rock act from Dundalk. They had a sort of underground vibe and sounded a bit like The Strokes. They had a tight sound and the lead singer had a voice like Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull.

Nova Static were last to go. Again, four guys with guitars and percussion. They wrapped up the show with more of a mainstream performance. Last to take to the stage ended up taking the night and Crow Black Chicken got through on the wild card ticket.

The disappointment of the other bands was palpable as their Glastonbury dream slipped beyond their reach, for this year anyway. The chance to break through the barrier of the unsigned band world will have to wait.

To the bands who didn’t get through, the battle may have been lost, but the war goes on.

 

Emeli Sande Our Version of Events

By NATASHA MILLAR

It’s a huge compliment to be compared to chart supremo Adele, but yet sets the musical bar stratospherically high. Too high for some perhaps, but prepare for 24-year-old Emeli Sande to catapult to notoriety with the release of her anticipated debut album Our Version of Events.

Our Version Of Events

While both ladies picked up the Brits Critic’s Choice Award and ironically share a forename, (Emeli changed her name from Adele Sande to Emeli Adele Sande to avoid obvious comparison with the Rolling in the Deep megastar), this is where the similarities end. As Adele gained worldwide success and racked up millions in album sales, Emeli was studying medicine at a Glasgow University. With this career now on hold, Emeli is embarking on a path of stardom. As she prepared to release her first album, some critics initially wrote off her attempts as just another singer-songwriter punching above her weight. Emeli’s response to her doubters? Our Version of Events. All of a sudden it becomes clear; this girl is here to stay and will rocket up the top of the charts.

On first listen it is clear this is an album well worth the wait. Opening with the anthemic Heaven, the epic floor filler from last summer, the album is a roller coaster though Emeli’s feelings of love, loss and friendship. Admittedly the tone is more sombre as the album progresses. My Kind of Love with its key change and distinctively heavy soul could easily be mistaken for a Leona Lewis ballad and it’s not surprising this has been tipped as the next single release. Signing off the album is a bonus acoustic version of her hit with Professor Green, Read All About It which serves as a reminder that Emeli has paid her dues to the industry and is ready for the limelight.

Other notable songs include the short but sweet Where I Sleep which strips back Emeli’s voice to pure naked harmonies and should bring a tear to even the most cynical of eyes. But it’s track 10, out of 14, that showcases why Emeli is worthy of the hype she is finally starting to provoke. Next to Me is the biggest hit from the album, peaking at number 2 in the UK charts in February. With piano riffs and a strong drum base, the song is evidence that this lass is definitely on the way up.

The mid section of the album has received the most criticism for lacking in the up-tempo RNB and dance based beats that initially put Emeli on the map. However, in her song River, Emeli ponders “If you’re too big to follow rivers, how you ever gonna find the sea?” Perhaps this is best answer to any critics who doubt the talent and ability of both this album and indeed this Aberdeenshire artist.

Emile was always going to play this album safe. From Lana Del Ray to Leona Lewis, from Jessie J to Jordan Sparks, the market is saturated with strong RNB females. Stick on pre-packaged pop and you will be fairly certain to hear a bona fide chart hit. But follow un-chartered waters, the unknown and somewhat underrated and you will be rewarded with albums like Our Version of Events.

 

For more info and details on tour dates visit www.emelisande.com