Category: New Music

Oooh – so close. Just missed it by a whisker, by a hair’s breadth. We were so close to having another masterpiece on our hands, and all it would have taken was a stroke of the pen, just enough ink to draw a line through that final title on the track list and draw to a close one of the finest, and most timely, sets of songs to be released in a good while. You may have read in the current periodicals that Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball was a solid effort, a noble failure, an encouraging sign, or even an embarrassing gaffe. These opinions are wrong and you should not listen to them. Wrecking Ball is ambitious, honest and alive, and all it would have taken for it to equal – that’s right: equal – the Springsteen FM radio staples of Born To Run (1975) and Born In The USA (1984) would have been to get rid of just that one last fucking song. Without it, it would have been a comprehensive challenge to the Neil Youngs and Bob Dylans of this world to show that it’s not good enough for the aged rocker to release an album that is ‘not bad, considering’. As it stands, Wrecking Ball still represents a fearsome new benchmark against which the golden oldies must measure themselves.

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Well, ain’t that something. Those wacky young Chili Peppers have finally gone and made something of themselves. Oh sure, they’ve been a few places, seen a few things in their time. They’ve even written some mighty fine music. But with the release of I’m With You (2011), they’ve proved that, underneath all the tattoos and incomprehensible, quasi-spiritual California-isms, they’ve got some real character. It’s a good thing too; things were looking grim there for a while, artistically speaking. The popularity juggernaut that was 2006’s Stadium Arcadium may have scored the boys a bundle of successful singles and awards, but it really represented a low point for the band. Once you got past the likes of ‘Dani California’ and ‘Snow (Hey Oh)’ you were faced with a disgustingly bloated (28 songs over 2 hours) double album where a bland and repetitive production made all the tracks sound boring, regardless of whether they were any good. Combined with the departure of (kinda) long time guitarist John Frusciante, the future of the Chili Peppers was looking uncertain. But then, this is the band that can’t stay still, for better or worse. From their early (criminally ignored) days in the ‘80s as purveyors of so-goofy-its-hardcore funk rock they’ve progressed steadily through near-metal nihilism, Beach-Boys-on-downers, and Stadium Arcadium’s bland-o-rock. Though it is not without the musical and lyrical tics that will always make the Chili Peppers good for a cringe or two, I’m With You reminds us that this is one band that is not afraid of the future.

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Bluejuice – Head of the Hawk

I never expected this album to be as good as it is.

But really, when you consider the quality of work on Bluejuice’s second venture, Head of the Hawk, I’m just shocked more people haven’t discovered this album. Well in fact, “Broken Leg” was voted no. 5 in the 2009 Triple J Hottest 100, but the Hottest 100 does have a very particular audience which isn’t necessarily indicative of mainstream opinion. Continue reading

Fear of a Blank Planet

Porcupine Tree were a strange discovery for me. While the first few listens completely turned me off (“you call this prog rock?”), I gradually warmed up to them after being forced to put up with them while my brother was driving. Specifically, the song that really got my attention was “Anesthetize”, after my brother mentioned that Alex Lifeson (of Rush) guested on a guitar solo. Little did I anticipate how my mind would be blown.

Describing Porcupine Tree as a modern day Pink Floyd, while beyond high praise, is more than a bit unfair to Steve Wilson, the primary songwriter, guitarist and singer. However, it’s easy to see why such comparisons exist; the combinations of electronics and instruments, the flowing nature of each song, the layered keyboard textures and the sophisticated, thematic lyrics (hell, even the occasional clumsy lyric is classic Roger Waters) are all reminiscent of Dark Side of the Moon. Indeed, there is a rather logical progression from Dark Side to Radiohead’s OK Computer to Fear of a Blank Planet; each devliering more dystopian, damning critiques of society and the human condition. Continue reading