Sydney based independent Modular Recordings have been one of the most forward thinking labels on the planet since their conception fifteen years ago. Initially responsible for launching the careers of artists like The Living End and The Avalanches, they've become something of a benchmark for fledgling labels trying to gain a foothold within the industry. It's this eclectic approach that has helped cement their reputation, and this year alone has seen excellent releases from fellow Sydney dwellers Canyons and highly recommended Perth collective Pond among their enticingly exciting catalogue.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Modular Presents: Leave Them All Behind 4 Album Review
For the cynical music fan, there's much to be suspicious of when looking at The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond. On one side of the coin, it's a companion album (not actually the soundtrack) to one of the most eagerly awaited movies for a teen audience this year. Then there's the lead single 'Safe & Sound' by Taylor Swift (appealing to the core audience of the film, but not necessarily a tent pole artist, especially for a British audience). "Cashing In on the film's success!" would be the knee jerk reaction of many willing to jump to a quick conclusion, but the answer is actually quite the opposite.
There's no disputing the musical brilliance that Manchester has born unto the world; The Smiths, Oasis, Joy Division, the list of its' icons could go on and on. This compilation showcases some of the damn finest of Manchester's current musical greatness in attempt to raise money for Manchester's Music Aid to Kosovo appeal; a compilation released ten years on from Cohesion, the first fundraising compilation released by said organisation.
'Heavier Than Water' screams a distorted charging entrance to the compilation with Nine Black Alps' characteristic guitar-driven, scuzzy rock blend, complete with swaggering rock and roll chorus geared by a fuzzy charging riff. The track occasionally sounds a passage of relative calm but a psychotic leap into fuelled riffery is never far away. Keith's 'Don't Want To Be Apart' then contrasts entirely with the relative calm of a gently moving piano line moving over a simple electronic beat to develop with the inclusion of Keith's gentle vocals into a sensitive melancholic track. Of Manchester's finest, any compilation from the city would be frankly incomplete without the kings of brooding melodic indie-rock brilliance, Doves. Jimi Goodwin's vocals sound clear in an anxious blend above gentle drums, piano, guitar and a distinctive melodic bass part; a blend that builds and builds geared by crescendoing charging snare into a riff-driven rock blend and out into a trademark oozing climax.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Manchester Music For Kosovo - Ten Album Review
2011, the year the guitar became redundant. Or at least that's what the doom mongers of medialand would have us believe. Of course that first sentence isn't strictly true, but at the same time it would be fair to say most groundbreaking artists of the past twelve months emerged clutching a keyboard in one hand and an Apple Mac in the other. And no, we're not talking about Skrillex either, thankfully omitted from this twenty-two artist-and-song strong compilation. That doesn't mean there aren't any glaring omissions that perhaps should have graced Rough Trade's near perfect selection either. Factory Floor, Oneohtrix Point Never, Walls and SBTRKT are all conspicuous by their absence, each one having enjoyed relative degrees of success in their respective fields last year.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Rough Trade Shops Electronic 11 Album Review
There is nothing like a mad, loud compilation to warm us all up through this cold winter that is ahead of us. Luckily, Northern Star Records return, bringing out their second Revolution In Sound compilation album and if it is anything like the first album, it is going to another loud roller coaster of fun!
Due for release on November 14 through Sony Music, 'American Anthems 2' is a 58 song, three cd set of what is described as a 'great rock repertoire that has stood the test of time'. A quick scan of the track listing reveals no obvious cohesion, but plenty of quality is evident.
Continue reading: Various Artists, American Anthems 2 Album Review
The global recession, environmental disaster and the battery life of the iPhone 4S - none of these things are probably bothering Andy Whitaker and Dan Foat, supremos of the revitalised R&S label. Founded in Belgium in the 80's, the original imprint was, along with the likes of Warp and Plus 8, one of those that produced a stream of high quality releases, a very long list of which brief highlights would be Jaydee's Plastic Dreams,
Continue reading: Various Artists, R&S Records - IOTDXI Album Review
You're a revered folk musician with a wonderful back catalogue. You tragically passed away back in 2009, but the songs you sculpted continue to inspire people, old and young, all across the world. You took elements of folk, blues, and jazz, and you moulded them into new shapes, creating music which acknowledged its roots and drew power from the traditions which inspired it, but never abased itself meekly before them. Your finest creations, tracks like 'Solid Air' and 'Small Hours', still glint with genuine genius. They're beautiful and personal without lapsing into sticky sentimentality. So far, so good. But can you pass the Snow Patrol test? Have you created music so timeless, so special, that not even the lumbering, mawkish indie chancers can ruin it? Johnny Boy Would Love This: A Tribute To John Martyn sets out to answer that question.
This compilation by long-running German dance label Peppermint Jam features three discs, labelled 'Past', 'Present', and 'Future'. 'Past' opens with an edit of a track by label boss and fleetingly famous producer Mousse 'Horny' T. 'Present' features a remix of a different Mousse T track. 'Future' features two further reworkings of Mousse T songs, one of which is, inevitably, 'Horny'. That's progress!
Continue reading: Various Artists, The Jam Files: Past Present Future Album Review
Rather than a clever name for a new band or album (which would work quite well, I think), this is in fact a tribute album. In celebration of his 75th Birthday, someone has put out this in memory of the great man himself. Step forward a diverse group of musicians with little in common apart from popularity, in order to show how far Buddy Holly's particular brand of rock and roll has permeated modern day music.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Rave On Buddy Holly Album Review
It seems apt that for the latest instalment of a franchise based on metal objects hitting other metal objects that the soundtrack reads like a who's who of Alt-Rock/Metal acts. The third album for the Transformers series continues in the tradition of the first three with Linkin Park, Goo Goo Dolls, and Taking Back Sunday being just a few of the acts to feature time and again, it's just a shame that as the films have lost the plot the music has too.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon Soundtrack Album Review
This 10" vinyl release by Leeds-based Brew Records features four tracks, all of them new: Kong's 'Ribbons', Shield Your Eyes' 'Jessica', That Fucking Tank's 'Nwonwobh', and Castrovalva's 'In Our Prime'. It's an impressive line-up, and there's plenty to savour here.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Brew Records Split 10" EP review
Dane Ander Trentemoller created a minor stir in electronica circles with his 2006 debut The Last Resort, an exercise in minamalist techno which owed a debt to Riche Hawtin's work as Plastikman. Taking the road less travelled since, his career has subsequently extended out to creating a soundtrack for the Danish film Det Som Ingen Ved in 2008, and this cinematic influence extends directly into his turn at the controls of Late Night Tales.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Trentemoller's Late Night Tales Album Review
Let's start with some good news: this compilation contains precisely no second-rate Arctic Monkey pastiches. There are no half-arsed tributes to the Kaiser Chiefs, and no songs with more than a passing sonic resemblance to The Cribs. If any bands are still performing 2005-vintage laddish northern rock in the pubs of Doncaster and Wakefield, then the compilers of this record have wisely decided to ignore them, and as a result Showcase: Independent Sounds of Yorkshire and Humber 2011 (or SISOYAH2011, as I believe the kids are calling it) does a good job of dismantling a popular preconception about the music being produced in the region. It doesn't, however, try to construct a new identity for the area; this isn't an attempt to showcase a fresh scene. It's a collection of nineteen eclectic tracks, some of which are interesting, some of which flawed, and some of which are both: no more, no less.
We all know that records for charity will sell. They are usually performed by well know and popular artists, and it's a winning situation, you get the music you like (if it's not one of the cringing ones), and you feel like you have done a good deed for the day. Sometimes it works from both sides though, and it's not always the big music bosses and charities looking to raise awareness.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Raise The Bar Album Review
Dirty Water II: The Birth of Punk Attitude is the follow-up to last year's Dirty Water compiled by renowned music author and journalist Kris Needs. Volume 1 received an excellent review on this very website and Dirty Water II takes up right where Dirty Water 1 left off.
With three albums worth of music, there is certainly a lot to get your teeth into with this years Brit award collection album. Its obvious from looking at the track listing (as well as the nominees and winners) that the Brits have tried to get a little more credible this year, mixing in a few supposed edgy indie acts with the usual arrays of Pixie Lott's and Take That's. This year sees the surprising inclusion of the XX, whether anyone that watched the ceremony or owns this album actually enjoyed their acclaimed album Islands is debatable, but somebody on the board of the Brits clearly watched the Mercury awards and thought the bands inclusion would prevent a slide into Smash Hits Poll winners party territory. The XX are joined in pop hell by Paul Weller, Vampire Weekend and Biffy Clyro, although you can't help but feel Biffy are only included thanks to the Matt Cardle factor. Wont Brits fans be a bit confused as to who's singling their beloved Mr Cardles song?
Continue reading: Various Artists, Brit Awards 2011 Album Review
There's always been the feeling that the Late Night Tales series was more one for the connoisseurs than some of its contemporaries. When compared to say the bottle of Jagermeister and deep pan Hawaiian post-club experience of the Back To Mine imprint, throughout its history, everything from the mission statement to the diverse roster of tune pickers (For example Arctic Monkeys, Flaming Lips, Four Tet) has given Late Night Tales the more sophisticated air of an erm, "jazz cigarette" aided chill out.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Midlake's Late Night Tales Album Review
Herve releases 'Cheap Thrills Volume 2' on his label Cheap Thrills highlighting contemporary, cutting edge, bass thumping electro dance music. Following the release of 'Cheap Thrills Volume 1' that became iTunes European compilation of the year, it would only be fitting to release another example of new tunes from the label. Indeed Cheap Thrills is becoming regarded as a good source of electronic music to come from the UK.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Herve Presents: Cheap Thrills Volume 2 Album Review
Woolly Jumpers is an appropriately named album, and not just because it's a compilation of music associated with the French record label Wool Recordings. The contributors, after all, give every impression of being (ahem) a close-knit community of similarly minded musicians, making music which is often as warm and comforting as an old jumper. And just like that jumper, their music's imperfections make it more endearing.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Woolly Jumpers Album Review
Pavement. Mission of Burma. Guided By Voices. Yo La Tengo. Sonic Youth. These are bands have who helped shaped the sound of American indie during the eighties, nineties and noughties, and at some point in their careers, they have released records on Matador. It's now twenty-one years since Chris Lombardi founded the independent label, and its owners have taken the opportunity to give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back, hosting a star-studded festival in Las Vegas and releasing a lavish box set celebrating their past glories. But the label has a present and a future as well as a past, and that's where Matador Today comes in: it collects thirteen tracks they have released during the last two years. It's a compilation which showcases both Matador's strengths and the challenges they face.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Matador Today (2008-2010) Album Review
There have been numerous punk compilations doing the rounds since time immemorial, so this would beg the question 'does the world really need another punk collection?' Well judging by the music included on this album, absolutely it does and one would be prompted to respond with a big resounding YES. The reason being is as follows. Where Punk Attitude differs from other punk albums is instead of going the usual route and focussing on what the man in the street would label punk music, it sidesteps any predictable inclusions and focuses on the musicians on the fringes, those who were there first, the ones who defined punk as an attitude and who walked it like they talked it (hence the inclusion of Gene Vincent - the original punk). The musicians who were punk before the term was even coined which would make them even more punker than punk right?
As the undisputed expert on the origins of Punk Rock in the UK not to mention being the author of critically acclaimed document of said times 'England's Dreaming', Jon Savage is pretty much an icon in his own right. As a staff writer for the long gone and sadly lamented weekly Sounds in the late 1970s, he almost single-handedly discovered a whole new realm of bands both here and across the Atlantic, bringing their wares to an unsuspecting audience in the meantime. Not that many of the bands on this compilation, 'Black Hole: Californian Punk 1977-1980' attained much in the way of recognition either at home or in the UK.
The fifth and most recent annual compilation of recordings from BBC Radio One's Live Lounge is yet another selection of aural treats. A collection that mainly features covers of other artists' songs alongside a smattering of bands performing their own tracks, volume five maintains the high standard that the preceding Live Lounge compilations have set.
The two disco collection opens with Plan B's fantastic beat-box-ridden cover of Tinie Tempah's 'Pass Out' and features a selection of some of the biggest names in pop music before concluding with Scouting For Girls' novelty cover of the Glee cast version of 'Don't Stop Believin', originally by American rockers Journey. Amongst the tracklisting are indie band covers of diva songstress numbers such as The Big Pink's version of Beyonce's 'Sweet Dreams, and, in contrast, Taio Cruz's version of Mumford & Sons' 'Little Lion Man'; an R&B star going all indie-folk on us. Those that have, like the aforementioned, taken the song and made it entirely their own rather than regurgitating the original in much the same style (Mike Snow's 'In For The Kill', for example), are much more stand-out.
Continue reading: Various Artists, BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge Volume 5 Album Review
Bustin' Out 1983 is the third release in a series of compilations exploring the diverse spectrum of eighties influences. Compiled by Mike Maguire, the albums aim to explore the depths of the key era in electronics.
Continue reading: Various Artists, Bustin' Out 1983, New Wave To New Beat Album Review
At some point in the last few years, metal seems to have succeeded in clawing back the credibility which a lot of mainstream music journalists and fans have always wanted to deny it. There's no denying that the genre has been through some fallow periods in the past - it seemed to spend most of the seventies obsessed with elves and tight leather trousers, and most of the late nineties channelling directionless, pointless adolescent rage - but now it wants to pick itself up, dust itself down, and pretend that nothing untoward ever happened. On the one hand, bands like Boris, Isis and Mastodon have been reaching out to indie kids with their own distinctive brands of arty, experimental prog-metal. Meanwhile a whole bunch of other groups have tried to strip heavy music back to basics, cutting away the cringe-worthy lyrics, flabby soloing and po-faced instrumental virtuosity and focusing on the brutal riffs. There's no clear dividing line between the two camps (although one could say that while the bands in the first camp want to create art, those in the second are more interested in getting drunk and jumping around), and both of them have succeeded in legitimising a form of music that non-metal music magazines previously regarded as something of an embarrassment. In a sense, one could see this new compilation by the folk who run London-based club night New Heavy Sounds as a belated celebration of this legitimacy. It's a collection of heavy, riff-based music featuring metal bands who have toured with indie groups, punk bands trying out metal sounds, and progressive rock groups disguised as metallers, all of whom have turned their amps up to eleven.
Continue reading: Various Artists, New Heavy Sounds Volume One Album Review
As far as movie sagas are concerned, Twilight has got to be right up there on the centre stage forcefully taking the baton off the Harry Potter films, and as with most films nowadays comes a soundtrack to accompany the film score. Some soundtracks can be a symbol of pure quality while others are a waste of production. A lot of record labels actively seek out movie makers to get their bands featured on the next big film and the current set of films leading the pack are the Twilight series.
When you think of anything to do with vampires you think dark, scary and well night time really. You could say that these films have slung the age of vampires into the 2010 as these vampires can live in the sunlight. Similarly you would think the soundtrack is going to be dark and heavy rock if not metal at times, but The Twilight Saga is once again out to surprise. Metric have the privilege of kicking off the album with the title track 'Eclipse (All Yours)' and it's a fitting beginning. When you hear the track from Muse, although the lyrics are slightly dark at the start the whole thing just kicks into life and Matt Bellamy's vocals are as mind blowing as ever.
'Ours' sees a return from The Bravery (remember them?) a slightly messy track which shows a lack of direction from a fallen group looking to resurrect their careers.
Florence And The Machine reminds the listener why so many people are hooked and intrigued by her music with 'Heavy In Your Arms'.
Beck and Bat For Lashes collaborate on 'Let's Get Lost' a great intense track, and this is followed by Vampire Weekend's offering 'Josh Low'. The thing about Vampire Weekend is that everything around their music is just intoxicating, they are flying high at the moment and let's hope they stay up there and are not set up for a fall.
Sometimes - and most certainly in this case - you really have to see the film just so you can sense where the songs actually fit in and why they have actually been included. The best compliment that you can give this soundtrack is that the tracks chosen work so well together they could quite happily fit onto any normal compilation album.
The time period may be just slightly before my time, but that doesn't mean that I'm not into it. The post punk period was an experimental music movement which pushed out punk. The Bustin' Out collection celebrates this.
Review of Flip Skateboards Presents... Extremely Sorry OST
Review of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen' soundtrack featuring Various Artists.
Continue reading: Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen' Soundtrack Review
Various, The Mules present
Pick Your Own
Continue reading: Various, The Mules present, Pick Your Own Album Review