Beirut - Gulag Orkestar

Quite a lot of hype was generated by Beirut’s album and so naturally I had to check it out. I was giving it the regular treatment of a few repeat listens and though I found it a bit weird, I was also beginning to see why it was receiving praise. Then one day when I was giving someone a lift, I put it on to continue my familiarisation with it. About two songs in, this guy turned to me and said ‘Man, what the fuck is this shit?’ Now I have absolutely no respect for this person’s musical taste but it did make me stop and think ‘Yes, what am I listening to?’ Call me crazy, but I don’t think Balkan Gypsy music is my thing! Sure I see the artistry within this music and highly enjoy it at times, but I doubt I’ll be putting it on at my next party or even during a long car trip for that matter. In fact, is there ever an occasion for this album?

MP3: Mount Wroclai

Love Is All - Nine Times That Same Song

At times this album is absolutely sublime. Some of the melodies and hooks they produce are incredible and a joy to listen to. BUT. At other times the album is unbearable. The music becomes overcrowded and the vocals make me cringe. It’s such a shame because when they’re good, THEY’RE GOOD. But with nearly every song, they go and stuff it up somewhere along the line. I was so convinced that I could salvage some of this album’s promise that I had this crazy idea to create a medley composed of the best part from each song. Unfortunately my lack of skill came between me and this dream (I still keep the hope alive). While this album may fall short of brilliance, it at least shows that Love Is All have a heap of talent and are a band to look out for in the future.

Mp3: Spinning & Scratching

Liars - Drum's Not Dead

Sometimes when I don’t like an album, I can at least appreciate why others, with different tastes, may enjoy it. This is definitely not the case with Liars' latest album, Drum’s Not Dead. It makes absolutely no sense and whenever I put it on, it either washes straight over my head or I get a headache from trying to concentrate on it. I can’t remember hearing something as boring as this. Normally this sort of reaction would suggest it is simply a poor quality album. But what confuses me is that so many people out there have said how much they love it. To those people, feel free to try and explain what you see in it, but until then I’ll take heart in the fact I’ll never have to listen to it again.

MP3: Let's Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack

Honourable Mentions

These are some more albums that I liked to varying degrees, but not enough to warrant them a full review.

I’m From Barcelona – Let Me Introduce My Friends
This 29-piece promised to be the next Polyphonic Spree with this euphoric album. Sadly it contained a few too many flaws, the first of which being they weren’t from Barcelona at all.
MP3: We’re From Barcelona

The Dears – Gang Of Losers
I was all ready to write about this, but when I went to do so, the words just didn’t come out. This lack of inspiration made me realise that maybe I didn’t like it as much as I thought.
MP3: Death or Life We Want You

Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country
This album is enjoyable from start to finish and the perfect anthem for mindless wandering. Unfortunately however, it lacks the spark to raise it to the next level
MP3: Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken

The Hidden Cameras - Awoo
This album was lively, fun and at times downright silly. It could have been great, if not for the few serious songs which for me just ruined its charm
MP3: Lollipop

Guillemots – Through The Window Pane
I really liked this album at times ,but while the lead singer may have a great voice, I felt he relied on it a bit too much; enough to put me off
MP3: Trains To Brazil

Dishonourable Mentions

And now for some more albums that I didn't enjoy. Yay!

The Thermals – The Body The Blood The Machine
This album isn’t horrible, but something always turns me off. The spoken vocals? Repitition? Forced delivery? Probably a combination of the lot
MP3: Pillar Of Salt

Sunset Rubdown – Shut Up I Am Dreaming
It seems Spencer Krug has a few too many projects and this is one I don’t much care for. Give me Wolf Parade any day
MP3: They Took A Vote And Said No

Hot Chip – The Warning
This was a real hit and miss CD for me. It’s hard to really get into an electro-pop band when the pop parts are all you’re interested in.
MP3: And I Was A Boy From School

Thunderbirds Are Now! – Make History
With such a cool name and the song below, this band promised to be massive. Unfortunately, this album turned out to be possibly the biggest let down album of the year.
MP3: The Veil Comes Down

Xiu Xiu – The Air Force
I’d heard of this band before, but this album was the first I listened to. All in all a thoroughly unpleasant experience.

Junior Boys – So This Is Goodbye
This album confirmed what I always suspected; that I neither understand or enjoy electronic music

Swan Lake – Beast Moans
‘Supergroup’ eh? Well considering I only like one of three members, Spencer Krug, and I didn’t even enjoy his latest project, this album stood little chance.

The Shins - Wincing The Night Away

A few months ago I wrote about the new Shins album, Wincing The Night Away, when it leaked onto the internet. Within hours I was asked to remove it. It went like this…

Leaks will always be an iffy issue. Then again, nearly everything I post on this site could in someway be considered illegal so what’s the difference! As usual, if you represent the band and want this gone, it takes only one kind word and it will be done. But also as usual, I only do this with the hope that it will in some way help the band. When I found out that this album, not due for release till January 23 (next year!), was available, I just had to check it out. The verdict you ask? Great. For those who don’t know, The Shins are one of this decade’s greatest bands (in my humble opinion). Their first record (Oh, Inverted World) was highly enjoyable and their follow up (Chutes Too Narrow) can be considered as nothing less than a pop masterpiece. It is a credit to James Mercer’s song writing ability that he has managed to produce yet another incredible record. That said, in these early stages (only 8 or so listens through), it doesn’t sound quite as good as Chutes Too Narrow. Listened to in isolation, this is plain and simply beautiful music. Compared to what we know they’re capable of, it lacks a certain brilliance. But to me this isn’t a disappointment. It is still great music, great SHINS music. It contains a familiar Shins sound, with haunting slow pieces, crazy exciting numbers, plenty of acoustic guitar and the usual plethora of quirky sounds. But they also incorporate a number of interesting new elements, that all fit in quite nicely. A couple of songs feel like they’re being played underwater, or at least recorded in a small bathroom, but either way it sounds really cool. Also there’s a song that sounds profoundly influenced by The Smiths and my personal favourite, a song named Australia! When this album does eventually get released, I beg you to buy it. Not to ease my guilty conscience but because it is absolutely terrific.

Australia – Not only is this song named after the best country, but it could very well be the best on the album. It is such a happy and uplifting song that only The Shins could create.

Phantom Limb – This is another quite interesting track. The vocals here are incredible. It all sounds familiar yet somehow he pushes his wonderful voice in all sorts of fantastic new directions

Well the day of official release has all but arrived and I must say my rushed account above remains fairly accurate. It’s still an incredible album, even if it may fall short of Chutes Too Narrow. Australia and Phantom Limb are still two of my favourite songs, though Phantom Limb is now a clear winner and Australia has drawn level with a couple of others. However one thing I wrote stands out as blatantly wrong and that’s my claim to be acting in the interest of the band. That is simply a lie. The only reason I had for writing about the album when it leaked was my own personal gain. The satisfaction of being one of the first and lure of extra exposure are dangerous vices and sadly I fell victim. Let’s hope I can maintain a clear head from now on and ensure that I actually am doing the best for these bands that I love so much. This album is one of the best of 200...7 and if you enjoy these two songs, don’t hesitate about picking it up.

The Small Hours

Wow! This band is absolutely incredible! Their music is so damn good it’s unbelievable! And the fact that I’m good friends with them is absolutely irrelevant! Ah the friends’ band; it’s an awkward issue indeed. I want to give them the promotion they require, but at the same time don’t want to compromise my integrity. Hopefully this disclaimer will go some way towards easing my conscience. The truth of the matter is that I genuinely like them. I enjoy listening to their music and I enjoy going to their shows. Whether or not this is because I know them personally, I’m not sure. I guess the most logical thing to do is just let you judge for yourself. I’ll be the first to admit that they’re not perfect. But that said, there’s plenty of creative and musical talent between the four of them and it’s only a matter of time before they reach their full potential. Just the other day they played a brand new song that defintely exceeded my expectations. The Small Hours are a band you're sure to see much more of in the future; I highly recommend you check them out.

The Small Hours have only really made one recording, a 3-track demo titled ‘A Good Start’. It’s around a year old, so they have plenty of newer material, though you should still be able to catch a couple of these songs in their live show. This disc will be handed out for free at their gigs but you can save them the 55c and download it here.

Overlays & Underlays
Another Girl

20th Jan. – The Hopetoun Hotel with Dappled Cities Fly + Belles Will Ring
This is where things don’t really make sense. The band had been dormant for 6 months; barely practising and not playing a gig; yet somehow they managed to line up three gigs in January; two being at The Hopetoun Hotel and one in support of Dappled Cities Fly! Even the band themselves recognise that they're lucky to get this. Let’s hope they can use this incredible opportunity to their advantage. If you haven’t already got tickets to this event, you better be quick. Make sure you arrive early enough to catch them.

24th Jan. – The Hopetoun Hotel with Miyagi + The Detours + Soma For Kinder
This promised to be an incredible gig; that was until both Cloud Control and Soft Tigers pulled out. Thankfully Miyagi and The Detours have stepped in to save the day but they still need your support. It should be a nice relaxed night with plenty of entertainment, so if you’re free, I encourage you to come down (or if you’re walking from Central, UP)

For more details on shows etc. check their myspace.

Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand

In case you haven’t noticed, music appears on this site as I find it rather than as it’s released. So while this generally means most of the music here is new, occasionally an album that is many years old will appear. Such albums are classics from years gone by that I have only just stumbled across. Guided By Voices are here because until a month ago, I hadn’t listened to them (at least not consciously). My introduction came through Bee Thousand, their 7th album (of 15!), which I’m reliably told is a good place to start. So much about this album hit me from the very start. First was the (lack of) production. This is lo-fi in its truest form. The sound has a very raw feel to it, as if the whole album was recorded on the cheapest of equipment, in one take and then sent directly to the production line. Another thing that’s immediately noticeable is the VERY short song length. Only one song exceeds 3 minutes and the entire album goes for only 36 minutes; quite a feat for a 20-track album. But what is truly amazing about Bee Thousand is that despite having so many tracks, each has its own unique sound and each is as good as the last. Robert Pollard, the man behind this band, must be one of history’s most prolific songwriters because writing just 20 of these little gems would have been an achievement; to do so continuously for 18 years is just phenomenal. I still find it weird how he’s come up with so many clever ideas for melodies and yet so often they feel underdeveloped (many songs just end suddenly and nearly all sound unpolished). Is this wasted potential or a deliberate style? I don’t know. But I’m enjoying what I’m hearing and in the end, that’s all that matters.

Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory – I actually heard the cover of this of by Trail of Dead first. It feels weird going back to the orignal seeing as it sounds like a dingy pub version itself. Either way, I love it.

God Star For Robot Boy – There’s so many songs here that it’s impossible to keep track. Not only that but they’ve all got their own special sound, making it near impossible to choose between them. What an effort.

Ester’s Day – And a third since they’re all so tiny.

Mates Of State - Bring It Back

What do you know; I don’t have a vaguely relevant anecdote with which to flesh out of the description of this album. It’s a very scary thought, but I’ll have to speak purely about the band and their music; wish me luck. The band in question is Mates of State, a husband-wife duo out of America. While they may only have 2 members, it in no way means their music lacks depth. They are able to achieve this through the frequent and clever use of male-female harmonies. Barely a moment goes when their vocals aren’t complementing each other. This could simply be by singing together to create a richer sound or using backing vocals to flesh out a melody. But where they really shine is in their contrasting harmonies. By singing two different melodies simultaneously, they manage to create complex, expansive compositions that sound very similar to a choir singing a medley. For just two people to be able to produce this effect is very impressive. While vocals are clearly the highlight of their music, it also features a staple of keyboard and drums which are always solid, allowing the spotlight to remain on the vocals. While I probably wouldn’t call this album brilliant, it does have some great songs and an incredibly interesting sound.

Fraud In The 80s – My favourite songs on this album (this one included) are the ones where the keyboard is prominent. This is not only because it can bust out some very funky riffs but also because it seems to add strength to vocals.

For The Actor – After going on about the contrasting harmonies, I’m picking songs that don’t really showcase it. This one kind of does but I picked more for it’s pace and rhythm which are sure to get you going.

Hilotrons - Bella Simone

This band sure has climbed a very long way to be here today. In fact they’ve gone all the way from ‘pfft’ to ‘this band is so hot that I must tell you about them’. The story begins with where I read a review for their brand new album, Bella Simone. I can’t remember it but it must have been positive because I wrote it down as an album to get. Then my cousin raved to me about one of their songs and I obliged by listening to it. My response was that it was quite interesting, which as we all know is polite for ‘that was absolutely atrocious’. I just saw it as a barrage of wacky sounds thrown haphazardly together with absolutely no direction or purpose. Well while this experience may have delayed my acquisition of the album, thankfully it didn’t prevent it. Because when I put it on just a few days ago, I was amazed by just how good it was. It’s still a barrage of wacky sounds all haphazardly thrown together, but now I see direction, now I see melody, now I see a collection finely crafted songs that are just so fun to dance to. They describe their music as “A super-charged, super fun, sci fi adventure with monsters, robots and astroman”. Never have I heard a more accurate description of a band. The closest reference point I could come up with is The Furureheads and even that’s way off. You simply must hear to believe and I strongly encourage you do both. Down some red cordial and get ready for one very hyperactive listening experience.

Note: You may have noticed that I never actually mentioned the band’s name (or more likely you didn’t). Well that’s because I’m genuinely unsure of it. Their site and the album cover seem to suggest Hilotrons, whilst many other sites have them as Hi Lo Trons. I decided to let my trusty friend, Google, settle the debate. With an overwhelming victory of 10700 to 636, the winner was Hilotrons.

Look, Wow – What a perfect song with which to demonstrate the weirdness of this album. The more I listen to them, the more I get the feeling that their live show would be absolutely crazy.

Astroman – As I’ve gone through the album looking for songs to choose, I’ve come to realise that each has their own special sound which all combine to make a great album but wouldn’t really be appropriate here. And so I’m offering Astroman, the song I first heard and got turned off by. I’m still not convinced on it but I must admit, that’s one funky base line.


I am proud to announce that the Jukebox is cracking and very near completion. Choose your playlist over on the left and enjoy! If you want to know more (or have plenty of spare time), you can read the guide.

The Beatles - Love

The Beatles are the greatest band the world has ever seen; plain and simple. They had a gift for creating music that was delightfully simple and accessible, yet cleverly intricate at the same time. It was a perfect mix that united every man and woman, regardless of previous background or taste, with a love for their beautiful music. It would have been an impressive effort if The Beatles had released just an album-worth of this incredible music, but what is truly mind boggling is that they produced a constant flow of it, year after year, without fault. They’ve released more than 150 songs and you can count the ordinary ones on your fingers. If you’ve never really delved into the depths of The Beatles archives, I implore you to. All 13 of their studio albums are brilliant in their own right and each deserves a thorough listen. Well for those of us out there who are already well-acquainted with The Beatles’ back-catalogue, the newly released ‘Love’ is an absolute treat. If haven’t already heard, Love is compilation album of remixes created by Sir George Martin and his son for a Cirque Du Soleil production. I don’t think anyone but the former Beatles producer himself would have been allowed to mess around with such sacrilegious material, but I can safely say that he has done the originals every bit of justice. Hearing a twist put on all your favourite songs really is quite enjoyable and despite the fact that just original studio tapes were used, every song sounds so much cleaner. I suppose I should clarify though that in no way are these songs better than or a replacements for the originals; rather they are fresh takes that remind you how brilliant those originals were. This album may just be a novelty, but it’s a damn fine one. If you’re not a Beatles fan, you should be, if you are, you’re sure to get a kick out of this.

Get Back – If you haven’t got a massive grin on your face when you first hear this song, you’re not a true fan. The feeling I got when I heard THE chord followed by THE drum solo, morphing seamlessly into an incredibly crisp version of Get Back is almost indescribable. I can’t remember the last time an album induced excitement like this one does.

Drive My Car / The Word / What You’re Doing – While the whole album is pretty much a medley, designed to be heard in one go (for best results, don’t check what song’s are coming up next), there are also occasional medleys within songs. This is my personal favourite and again, I’m amazed by how perfect the transitions are. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is how the song was always supposed to sound.

The Wrens - The Meadowlands

I must confess that like a stray cat ravaging through the garbage bins, I recently found myself scouring through the Pitchfork archives in search of their highest rated albums. While the web giant may be frequently misguided and always up themselves, they sure make the task of finding great albums a lot easier. One particular find was The Wrens’ latest album, The Meadowlands. It was actually released well back in 2003, but I like to apply the logic that if it’s new to me, surely it must be new to someone else out there. To my fellow ignoramuses, The Wrens are an indie rock band from the USA who formed in the late 80s. Despite being around for so long, The Meadowlands is actually only their third album. It’s a tragic tale of overbearing record labels and greedy entrepreneurs that resulted in a break of seven years following the release of their second album, Secaucus. Thankfully however, the very long gap gave them time to perfect their song writing, because the end result is simply brilliant. As I listened through The Meadowlands, I instantly got the impression that it was something special. It’s a feeling reminiscent of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. The album creeps along at a relatively slow pace which allows you to really appreciate every moment of it. The sound is relatively rough, often hidden behind a layer of distortion, but this is all part of their charm. It’s perfectly suited to the offering of clever melodies that are dotted throughout the album. If I was to cop out and describe them using comparisons, I would place them somewhere between Sparklehorse, Yo La Tengo and Pavement. Not bad at all. It’s been a while since I’ve found a new album that gives such an immersive listening experience. If you’re yet to hear The Meadowlands, I highly recommend it.

Happy – This would have to be the album’s epic. It undergoes quite a few interesting changes as it progresses, making it one of the albums obvious standouts

Ex-Girl Collection – This song on the other hand settles around just one melody and helps to mix the album’s sound up. It always grabs my attention as it gradually builds up from just a whisper.