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The Minge Dynasty EP


MNO Records

As a means of celebrating their skate classic, ‘Heaven Is A Halfpipe’ from their album ‘Menace To Sobriety’ which is now in its fifteenth year since its initial success, OPM return with a brand new EP under the cheeky title, ‘The Minge Dynasty’. For those who remember the aforementioned smash success of single ‘Heaven Is A Halfpipe’ will revel in the new material from OPM, which treads familiar turf by (re)capturing the SoCal lifestyle in an amusing manner, as well as creating an abundance of catchy hooks and infectious rhythms that is instantly recognisable as the OPM sound.  With ‘The Minge Dynasty’ EP having been produced by legendary producer Marshall Goodman (AKA Ras MG of Sublime), in addition to John e. and OPM’s very own Johnathan Williams, the attention to detail is noticeable in order to recreate those addictive qualities that made their former song such a success during the year 2000. Evidence of this approach can be gleaned from central track ‘#Millionaire Like Me’, which has hit single written all over it as it’s an irresistible pop song that will be cruising around the top echelons of BBC Radio One and Two’s playlists without a doubt. The hooks keep on coming with the following three tracks making up this EP in a blend of pop, rock and mild rap, with ‘Speakers’ being the pick of a fine crop due to its use of keyboards appealing greatly. With an European tour underway, taking in twenty-six dates to promote this latest EP, and rumours of their ‘Menace To Sobriety’ long player to be reissued on limited edition vinyl later this year, OPM could be on the verge of recreating those former glory days with a whole new chapter in their career starting with ‘The Minge Dynasty’ EP.

Released 18 September


All We Ever Do

Aleksander With

Aleksander With Music

There has always been something intriguing about the artist Aleksander With, in the sense of being the loner standing on the fringes of the pop market, which his musical compositions often get lumped under. The truth is that With’s ideas are a little more complex than the standard fare that passes for pop music these days; something of which this Norwegian artist showed glimpses of during his ‘Still Awake’ long player back in 2009. This is where the intrigue deepens because the major breakthrough has still to materialise, as it would appear the marketing chaps are a tad jittery when it comes to placing With and his music, despite the aforementioned pop label tag. Such confusion has no doubt hindered With’s progress because the ability is definitely present. However, such a predicament looks set to change with the first taste, ‘All We Ever Do’, from the forthcoming EP by the name of ‘The Butterfly Effect’ due out this month. By recruiting the additional song writing skills of Curtis Richardson and closer to home, Anders Kjær, who is also responsible for production, reveals a renewed determination, but more importantly, the welcome return is a solid effort that’s full of reflection regarding a relationship turned sour, set to the backdrop of a moody, yet smooth electronic tempo that is far more of a slow burner than some would lead you to believe. As mentioned earlier, there is far more going on beneath the surface when it comes to Aleksander With and his music, which is why he remains an intriguing prospect.

Released Out now


Amorosa Sensitivia

Benjamin Finger

Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records

Benjamin Finger trades houses once more, and this time with Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records to release his latest album, ‘Amorosa Sensitivia’. Where previous effort, ‘Motion Reverse’ offered more of a cold, bleak world via its often harsh sounding electronica, ‘Amorosa Sensitivia’ is generally one of a calmer ambience that is detailed and pondering, and therefore taking its time before reaching any sort of conclusion. There is a sense of being hard on oneself in addition to the deep thought processes on offer here, with suggestion of creative progression hitting something of a stumbling block in the mind of Benjamin Finger; hence the song titles ‘Headspincrawl’, ‘Waltz in Clay’ et al. Fear not, however, as the mind of this Norwegian artist may be a tad scrambled, but the sounds emanating here suggest a far more cohesive unit, and one that expresses a wild rush of blood to the creative thinking at times. For example, ‘Whirlbrainpoolin’ jolts ‘Amorosa Sensitivia’ with considerable impact, shaking it from its slumber with a concoction of scrambled  instrumentation, utilising the formulaic electronica but with added full band in his repertoire where short, sharp stabs of brass pick their notes, depending on which hot coal they managed to tread on, and let fly in a free jazz form, thus offering a side to this artist that has not been heard before, as far as the plethora of releases issued this year. The follow on, ‘Bum Finger Notes’ rises to its feet via delicate piano and a whisper of electronics in the background, yet the dark textures of the previous ‘Whirlbrainpoolin’ fails to subside due to the occasional twitch of brass instrument dragging this darkened mood to an eventual finale of improvised electric guitar. By closing with ‘Darnskullgreyness, the pale electronica aptly expresses the impassive suggestion of its song title, and provides no clues to the cause(s) of such emotions. Despite ‘Amorosa Sensitivia’ finding Benjamin Finger at a juncture where thoughts weigh heavy, this ‘Waltz in Clay’ of the mind is transformed into a truly fascinating experience where personal creativity is expressed in new ways, and serves as a conduit to the next phase without its creator necessarily fully realising such a progression.

Released Out now


What Went Down


Warner Music Norway

Album number four for indie five-piece Foals, who decided to recruit the services of producer James Ford (Artic Monkeys, Florence + The Machine, Mumford & Sons) to help realise their latest creative processes and thoughts via ‘What Went Down’. What transpires is an examination of a variety of emotions stretched to the extreme in order to test and gain greater understanding; something of which lead singer, Yannis Philippakis alluded to during the album’s construction: “I wanted to tap into my inner madman and feel like I was channelling some sort of fevered creature”. Such words certainly have a ring of truth about them once the album’s title track gathers momentum and draws to a dramatic conclusion with Philippakis bearing his soul.  Despite the intensity of this opening track, the pursuing tracks treads more of a melodic terrain with the soaring tempo of ‘Mountain At My Gates’, and synthpop of ‘Birch Tree’ being two such examples. With the album having been recorded in a 19th century mill in a rural location in the South of France, the surroundings of such a location no doubt played their part considering the reflective mood of ‘Give It All Away’ and sorrowful yet musically stirring ‘Lonely Hour’, as there is real beauty at the centre of these particular songs. With Foals steadily collecting a number of accolades for their work to date, as well as appearing at festivals around the world and headlining those in the UK, the band look set to raise their profile even further with latest album ‘What Went Down’ because despite the raw intensity and robustness of some of the tracks here, the band retain their poise to serve up a balanced long player that should suit fans of old and appeal to many new admirers.

Released Out now


Motion Reverse

Benjamin Finger

Shimmering Moods Records

It’s the halfway stage in a year that has seen much activity from Norway’s Benjamin Finger. In order to continue this creative momentum, ‘Motion Reverse’ is the latest addition with nine fresh tracks detailing the thought processes running through the mind of this Norwegian DJ, producer and songwriter. Kicking off this latest exploratory creative venture is recent single ‘Vocal Limited’ that hisses, pulsates and rattles at different intervals as well as joining forces to give off a general sense of foreboding.  Such emotions, generated by use of electronics, overlaps somewhat when ‘Frontal Waves’ gives the impression of a journey in motion, yet the direction is unclear as sounds flicker and the faintest of vocals can be heard intermittently in the background with the softest of horns that suggests it’s trying to recall lost memories. The probing continues with the subsequent and rather similar in sound ‘Dubstore Light’, only the search is more thorough with Benjamin Finger adding numerous droplets of electrical pulses that give way to moments of intensity where the sound is attempting to hack its way to discovery. ‘Black Hat’ ratchets any lingering tension with an almost metallic feel to its sound and its mood considerably black where sounds swirl and clash in a circular motion. Light relief arrives in the form of ‘Sunny Echoes’ where segments of its sound are lighter in tone, as well as utilising other instruments with what sounds like the electric guitar and giving way to the idea that this particular track was recorded live such is the overall natural vibe. The atmosphere of ‘Spacecore Dust’ is captured to perfection by sounding as distant as its title and then concluded by ‘Dream Logic’ which, despite its ethereal beginnings, blossoms into a glorious sound that can be described visually as a blinding white light before fading and drifting further in the vacuum of space. By creating a fuller sound and general consistency where songs interconnect more closely, ‘Motion Reverse’ functions as a complete album. Furthermore, it is the sound of Benjamin Finger attempting to make sense of the past, as well as trying to fathom the present, which makes perfect sense once this latest album opens up its contents. Quite possibly his strongest accomplishment yet, but then again the halfway point has only just been reached with promise of more to come. Either way ‘Motion Reverse’ is a major step in the right direction for Benjamin Finger.

Released Out now


Brooklyn, I Am

The Satellite Year

Midsummer Records / Engineer Records

Arriving in the postbag recently was the sophomore album ‘Brooklyn, I Am’ by The Satellite Year. With a melodic post-punk sound that incorporates elements of electronic and pop music, The Satellite Year give the impression of deriving from the very city that is encompassed in their latest album title rather than their actual roots of Saarbrücken, Germany. Geographical roots aside, The Satellite Year know a thing or two about creating a catchy melody that often is graced with abrasive edges. Think 30 Seconds To Mars, Hundred Reasons, Thursday et al and you’re somewhere close to the influences running through ‘Brooklyn, I Am’. There is much to consider here as The Satellite Year shoehorn in great levels of detail into each, and every song with the pace never sauntering. Such a feat is to be admired, and really takes hold during the first half of the album, ranging from the melodic blast of ‘That This Was Wrong’, to the nimble guitar entrance of ‘Early In December’. Despite some familiarity with a couple of the songs, such familiarity is never allowed to stagnate as evidenced by the passionate delivery of ‘Fireworks’ that rattles along at pace and possesses one heck of a meaty chorus. The following ‘In Vitro’ gives the impression of a band reaching for the stars, musically, whilst searching for honesty in those around them on ground level. As it stands, ‘Brooklyn, I Am’ is a record that will grab your attention from the off but, more notably, it will keep pulling at your senses because it is an album with much depth that throws up new twists and turns via subtle hooks that will see any listener return, and return again to The Satellite Year’s brand of post-punk and alternative rock. A truly impressive piece of work.

Released Out now


How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Florence + The Machine


The storm clouds were circling leading up to Florence + The Machine’s third long player, ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’. In order to set the creative wheels in motion for this latest inclusion in the works of Florence + The Machine that seemed to involve a personal cleansing of the artistic soul, so to speak, has been suggested by the band’s leader, Florence Welch herself: “I was thinking about my own self-destructive side, and how you can make something only to tear it down, enjoy/destroy, create/devastate etc. When you’re in that whirlwind, you often end up breaking the thing you love the most”. Such words refer to, in particular, current and ubiquitous single, ‘Ship To Wreck’. It’s this very single which kick starts this latest chapter fully into life, and deserves all of the plaudits it’s currently receiving and blanket coverage in terms of TV networks and radio stations because it’s a glorious comeback considering the personal chaos that was threatening to engulf this artist. Producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Björk, Coldplay) also plays a role here by applying strict guidelines to the song writing (i.e. no more songs about water apart from the previously mentioned single) in order to derive a fresh way of thinking from Florence + The Machine. With contributions coming from John Hill, Kid Harpoon and Paul Hepworth, the combined efforts pay dividends as Florence + The Machine roll out a succession of well-crafted and thoroughly engaging songs. From earlier single release ‘What Kind Of Man’ with its inflections of blues held in its rhythm, to the sublime title track with its glorious conclusion of brass horns, to the thought-provoking duo of ‘Queen Of Peace’ and ‘Various Storms & Saints’, the troubled times Florence Welch underwent has seen her come out the other side a much stronger artist as ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ is a triumphant success.

Released Out now


Carl Bradychok

Carl Bradychok

Bradychok Music

Just before anyone gets all hot under the collar, the indie tag applied to Carl Bradychok’s self-titled debut album reflects both the status of this release (i.e. independent) in addition to the pick ‘n’ mix of genres chosen. Rightly, as its press release declares, the man at the centre of this long player feels a sense of unease at the thought of being ‘clumped in to one genre of music’ with rockabilly being the main source of contention here. Negative connotations aside, there are examples as clear as daylight where rockabilly exerts its influence, with the intent held of ‘Do Me No Wrong’ being one of the most obvious candidates. Elsewhere, the confident swagger in the rhythm of, ‘The Way I Walk’ complete with nice backing vocals, is balanced appropriately with the opposite sound of ‘Please Give Me Something’, due to the edginess of the guitars with hints of Johnny Burnette and The Rock ‘N Roll Trio, and occasional hollers in the lead vocal adding to the pleading nature of this particular song. Having indicated a definite pulse to the aforementioned track, the country ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ falls flat due to a lack of conviction in the vocals. Balance is soon restored, however, with the excellent instrumental ‘Malaga’ with Bradychok this time allowing his guitar to do the talking. ‘You Ask Me To’ allows for more country but offers a different approach with its singular vocal kicking things off, before walking the listener through what sounds like a personal song where great affection is expressed. Country is the obvious choice when presented with the song title ‘Heartaches By The Number’, which contains some clever lyrics when counting through the number of distresses involved. With two more instrumentals presenting themselves – ‘Double Agent’ and ‘After Five’ – and concluding with the philosophical ‘End Of The World’ which, by the way, is the clearest indicator that Bradychok’s music is anything but straight rockabilly considering its American alternative-rock (and pop) references. The debut album by Carl Bradychok is to be admired for its technical abilities, strong song writing and for its daring to include broader references that should appeal to a wider audience rather in the same way that one Brian Setzer has managed so successfully.

Released Out now


Before Before

Infinity Broke

Come To The Darkside Luke

Encased in complete blackness and close to resembling the Jet Black Machine Vince Taylor roared about so convincingly which, in hindsight, was more likely a reference to his mind set and the downward spiral his life was taking, latest release from Australia’s Infinity Broke follows quickly on the heels of debut album ‘River Mirrors’. The rapidness at which this second effort was assembled is due to the fact that the majority of songs were conceived during the same time period as its aforementioned predecessor, with lead singer Jamie Hutchings in charge of production and Chris Colquhoun responsible for engineering once again. Despite the close association of the two sets of recordings, the difference in terms of the two albums is clearly noticeable. With its blackened and almost indistinguishable exterior not giving much away, it’s left to the nine listed songs to provide some insight. Gone is the looseness and sonic explorations as ‘Before Before’ is a more concise beast, with an overall shorter running time and songs kept on a tighter leash. Recent single ‘Only The Desert Grows’ is a perfect example of this with its rolling, tumbling rhythm and a strong indication that Infinity Broke know how to write a more direct composition that is probably the closet they will get to acceptance on the airwaves. ‘Cinder Borne’ is among the highlights; its blackened emotions smudged and giving off signals relating to a number of compulsions while a machinelike rhythm pounds away. The wrecked emotions lights its trail to the noise passage ‘Domestik’, which gives the impression of stumbling through a dream and reiterating once more a fondness for previous work ‘Double Yellow Tarred’. In addition, the blurring of lines does its best when trying to identify song titles as the almost illegible ‘Dogfall’ is weighed down with a heaviness best illustrated by the muscular guitar which pretty much retains control throughout. ‘Ladybug’ flitters through a series of memories and provides a lighter moment via its acoustic guitar, but is far from sounding straightforward. Rather than sounding like the leftovers of previous album ‘River Mirrors’, considering the back-to-back recordings of both album sessions, ‘Before Before’ stands up in its own right and without question leaves its previous album in its wake.

Released 30 April


The Basement Sessions

Monster Jaw

Cobra Kitten Records/Code 7

Latest addition to the recording stable of West Yorkshire’s Monster Jaw is ‘The Basement Sessions EP’. Having written, recorded and produced all four of the tracks making up this EP, the trio of Mik Davis, Neil Short and John Bradford secluded themselves for a two month period in a rented basement in order to complete this latest project. Calling on the experience of Justin Sullivan, from legendary post-punk outfit New Model Army, to help out with mixing and mastering, ‘The Basement Sessions EP’ sees Monster Jaw taking another step forward in their musical progression. Such progress can be seen from the unique stance of the entire recording process, which saw the band make use of a Tascam 688 chrome tape home recording studio in an attempt to capture something close to a live experience. With this plan dubbed “a very brave idea” from those working in the music industry, according to the accompanying press release for this latest EP, Monster Jaw remained unperturbed in their quest to record a series of unedited tracks set straight to tape with no additional overdubs. The overall atmosphere surrounding all four songs presented here is often dense and claustrophobic. Such an example of this can be identified from second track, ‘Love’, where oxygen appears short in supply due to the air having the consistency of treacle and causing heads to swim uncontrollably. Monster Jaw pull off such a feat by means of a prominent bass that is incredibly raw and drives the song, but also by giving the impression of looping the vocals with its repetitive lines regarding the subject of love to the point where one can almost visualise the room spinning, it’s that potent a brew! With ‘Feel It’ showing its affection for New Model Army as far as the guitars are concerned, and with its vocals retaining a very compressed feel, it would seem that Monster Jaw bonded as one with their chosen recording environment. The closing song, ‘Never Change’ cleverly borrows elements from a previous song, ‘Losing All My Friends’, but manages to transform it into a composition that has more in common with the current EP release, despite sounding slightly euphoric in its chorus. With so much to offer, hopefully the next release from Monster Jaw will extend to a full album because the affection for this band just got considerably bigger after experiencing ‘The Basement Sessions EP’.

Released Out now


Blodig Alvor Na Na Na Na Na

DumDum Boys

Sony Music Norway

First released in 1988 and now remastered for 2015, ‘Blodig Alvor Na Na Na Na Na’ by Norway’s DumDum Boys is re-released as a limited edition vinyl, in addition to standard digital formats. With ‘Blodig Alvor Na Na Na Na Na’ falling just short of a top ten place during its initial release, the album was well received by critics and supporters alike. Such positive responses to this first album led to increased recognition as DumDum Boys went from strength to strength, with each successive release more or less landing the coveted number one slot in terms of the Norwegian album chart. When approaching the contents of the reissued ‘Blodig Alvor Na Na Na Na Na’ for the first time, after missing this now landmark album during its debut release due to the band being a Scandinavian delicacy rather than possessing international status, the feeling is the same level of curiosity of approaching a new band for the very first time. Once the tracks of ‘Blodig Alvor Na Na Na Na Na’ start to familiarise themselves, the evidence is there for all to experience in terms of why this album received such critical acclaim first time out. Classing its contents as alternative rock for the period in which it first originated, the sound of ‘Blodig Alvor Na Na Na Na Na’ is distinct for the gruff manner of Prepple Houmb’s vocals and general robustness of the guitars. Opening song, ‘Fant Frimann’ garners much praise for its guitar riff that practically drives the song throughout, and for lingering long in the memory due to its addictive appeal. The initial clattering of instrumentation that introduces ‘Lunch I Det Grønne’ gives way to a steady rhythm, with the guitar taking precedent along with a charismatic turn by the DumDum Boys leading man. Title track ‘Blodig Alvor’ hints at 70s period Rolling Stones with its lighter strokes of guitar and bluesy harmonica. The same label can be applied to ‘Kunne Vært Verre’ (‘Could’ve Been Worse’), only the influences are more conspicuous. Elsewhere, ‘Papirsang’ takes a different approach with the guitars adopting an indie jingle-jangle that was prevalent during ‘Blodig Alvor Na Na Na Na Na’s’ first release, and then ending on a quieter note with the brushed instrumentation and toned-down vocals of rather excellent ‘Idyll’. After several repeat outings, ‘Blodig Alvor Na Na Na Na Na’ keeps offering enough reasons as to why it deserved its reissued status, it’s just a shame that the restrictions created by its choice of language will continue to confine this album to a limited market.

Released Out now


Pleasurably Lost

Benjamin Finger

Eilean Records

Finding a new place of residency at Eilean Records for his latest output, ‘Pleasurably Lost’, seems to have provided a source of inspiration to the song writing craft of Norwegian artist, Benjamin Finger. For what we get here is the trademark smorgasbord of ambient sounds, but it is an album where the creative ideas are reined in tighter, in the sense that the connectivity between each track is far closer than before. Take, for example, opening song ‘Diamond Earth’, with more ideas and creativity crammed into its entire five minutes than a lot of bands can muster in a whole album, but it is the manner in which such creative explorations fuse together more coherently from shades of light to dark, if you will. The song itself allows for a greater usage of vocals this time out, with a classical sounding segment smoothing the way by the faintest of piano keys and angelic vocal, after an initial barrage of electronic sounds jarring against each other during its introduction. By sourcing ingredients from all that surrounds him, Benjamin Finger utilises everything at his disposal. So don’t be surprised to hear the snap, crackle and pop stemming from a worn-out piece of vinyl buried deep beneath the mix during ‘Edges of Distortion’, or a sudden interruption of static via a renowned loading mechanism of a particular 1980s home computer that shakes up the sinister tone of ‘Once Upon Her’. The previously mentioned greater coherence between tracks of ‘Pleasurably Lost’ reveals itself further when the latter half of the album follows a murkier path, compellingly created by use of distorted guitar next to the electronics. Without subscribing by any means to the regulations of commerciality, Benjamin Finger has created his most accessible and consistent work to date, that should see a few more people flocking to his sound. For the moment, however, there is enough here to suggest that ‘Pleasurably Lost’ is truly flying the flag of independence by providing its clearest definition.

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