Lamb of God: Wrath

Don't bother. I made it to the third track before giving up.

The Prodigy: Invaders Must Die

Since the heady days of punk, few bands have grasped the mantle set by the Sex Pistols and managed to make themselves vilified by the tabloid press and championed by originality seeking anarchic youth. 1997’s “The Fat of the Land” hardcore electro punk sound and provocative titles secured suitable notoriety and fame. Now 12 years on they have released their 5th studio album and continue to vibrate our intestines with extreme drum and bass, but it all now seems much more accessible and instantly likeable.

The album starts off with the title track’s deep pounding bass loop before it all kicks off big time. The throbbing vibes will rip the arsehole out of your standard issue apple earphones and I had to abandon this album on my normal sleepy morning listening session on the train, as it was just far too jarring. In fact I think you can probably only legitimately listen to this album at 6am when you haven’t actually been to bed yet.

I’m also not convinced that listening in the car was a particularly good idea either as my driving speed seemed to increase erratically with the beats per minute. Perhaps video game developers could take advantage of this trait and use some tracks on their next racing game.

However, once the wife buggered off to Guides for the evening, I was able to crank the amplifier up to 11, and start to appreciate what’s on offer.

“Thunder” adds some Bob Marley styled reggae vocal vignettes liberally distributed amongst a slower thumping sequence.

“Colours” builds on the standard heavy drum and bass rhythms by overlaying keyboards that are pure Dave Greenfield from the Stranglers.

“Run With The Wolves” features the absurdly talented Dave Grohl knocking four bells of shite out his drum kit.

Not bad for a gang of likely lads from Braintree with a wheelbarrow full of attitude and a Rolf Harris Stylaphone on Steroids.

A Camp: Colonia

Nina Preston from Swedish Indie band, The Cardigans, presents her second helping of her A Camp side project.

I try not to write too many overtly negative album reviews, (unless I’m voicing my prejudices, for which I refuse to apologise), so I have been putting this review off for a few weeks while I continued to listen to the album in the hope of finding something nice to say. Alas, almost every time I listen to the album on the train, I end up nodding off to sleep and I’m still completely under-whelmed by it after 2 weeks.

The album is certainly well crafted and produced with soft dreamy vocals and a succession of highly competent and respected musicians including James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) on guitar and Jane Scarpantino (Springsteen, REM), on cello. Alas it still fails to fluff my pigeon.

Other reviews have been rather gushing, but I’m afraid I find it as dull as an accountant with his own lion tamers hat.

Morrissey: Years Of Refusal

One of the deep philosophical questions that has divided the musical press for years, was eloquently phrased by Viz magazine many years ago thus:

Morrissey, pop genius, or twat?”

I took an early childish stance against The Smiths in the mid eighties when the quality of the popular music scene was so low, it caused me to stick my head so far up Jimmy Page’s arsehole that I survived on a simple musical diet of Zeppelin and very little else. This caused me to either ignore, or treat with contempt, almost all contemporary artists of the time. I maintained this stance for so long that it became hard to back down and admit that perhaps the Smiths weren’t actually that bad. So when it comes to answering the question posed above, I may have an inbuilt prejudice to opt for the later possibility posed by the question. I shall however do my best not to play to these prejudices and attempt a fair and balanced review of this album based on its musical merits and the quality of the lyrics.

As usual, for reasons of brevity, I have cherry picked some choice tracks:

“Black Cloud” has a guitar introduction that would feel perfectly at home on an early Robert Plant solo album and a bass line similar to Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” overlaid with an ornate vocal performance.

“When I last Spoke To Carol” has a more Mexican feel to it with its acoustic guitar and trumpet. In fact I can almost picture Morrissey with a band of mariachi fully garbed out in charro outfits pestering holiday makers at an Acapulco bar.

“That’s How People Grow Up” has the stereotypical Morrissey/Smiths vocal style full of despair and wailing. The tragic and miserable lyrics will no doubt still appeal to the now grown up angst riddled teenagers he originally courted 25 years ago.

So, after careful consideration and the weighing up of many critical factors and empirical facts embedded within the lyrics, I am confident that I have reached the undeniable truth and am in a suitable position to answer the question: Morrissey, pop genius or twat? Well sadly not a genius, but certainly a clever twat.

Lily Allen: It's Not Me, It's You

The thing I liked about Miss Allen’s debut album was the cheeky mockney accent and the witty snapshots of Chav culture. When I saw her on “Later” at the end of last year she seemed to have adopted a more sophisticated style and I feared the second album would loose the poignant witty working class charm of its predecessor. Thankfully all of the personality and charisma has largely been carried forward into a pretty good follow up. Despite the fact that most of the songs settle down into a familiar style, once you get passed the first chorus, each song kicks off with a musical parody. For example “Everyone’s At It” starts off with a Kaiser Chiefs intro, “Not Fair” has a Ghost Riders in the Sky, Cowboy intro, “Never Gonna Happen”, starts of like Super Mario Sunshine, “Fuck You” has a Carpenters piano intro and “He Wasn’t There” has a scratchy 1940’s intro.

Three of the songs that have squeezed my goolies so far are: “Everyone’s At It", “Not Fair”, and “ Fuck You”, a brief description of each follows:

“Everyone’s At It” is a social comment on a drug-riddled culture where Lily asks, “When will we tire of putting shit up our noses?” She also does a splendid job of avoiding pronouncing any of the T’s in the song title despite singing it multiple times.

“Not Fair” is the tale of what seems to be a perfect, attentive boyfriend who sadly turns out to be not pulling his weight in the bedroom department. His inability to make Lily scream in bed is considered a heinous crime as Lily moans: “I get in the wet patch in the middle of the bed, I’m feeling pretty hard done by, I spent ages giving head”.

“Fuck You” is a sugar coated ditty where Lily vents her spleen at a bigoted, homophobic racist, but in the nicest possible way. In fact I was straining not to sing along to the chorus of “Fuck You, Fuck You, Fuck you very very much” on the Jubilee Line this evening.

Andrew Bird: Noble Beast

Musical alchemists have forever being mixing various forms of music in search of sonic gold. Rock and Pop has been mixed up with various quantities of classical, rap, blues, country and world music in search of the perfect blend. Andrew Bird seems to have created a fresh and original mix by taking acoustic pop and stirred in a healthy splattering of Chamber Music. If you opt for the 2 disc special edition (and I strongly advise you do), you will notice that the two discs are weighted in favour of one of these styles, with the main disc being predominately well crafted almost radiohead-esque acoustic pop and the second disc, my favourite, consisting of a modern type of Chamber music. A typical example would be the Carrion Suite at just under 10 minutes and consisting of beautiful violins and cellos before meandering off into an avant-garde soundtrack. This album was my introduction to Andrew Bird, but I will be seeking out his back catalogue.