There is a reason why in 2005 The White Stripes received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group instead of Best Rock Vocal Performance or Best Rock Song. The opening Blue Orchid may not suggest it but Get Behind Me Satan is the band’s “poppiest” album. The marimba-driven The Nurse has some typical (and awesome) Meg’s drums rampage but My Doorbell (for which Jack and Meg got the mentioned Grammy nod) is pure pop. Some people didn’t buy the change but they weren’t the majority. Get Behind Me Satan is as dexterous and joyous as The White Stripes’ previous records and has plenty to celebrate. Like Passive Manipulation which lasts less than a minute but it does not stop Meg (who sings here) to steal the show. Or catchy The Denial Twist. But the most gratifying tracks are Take, Take, Take and The Nurse. They have cool lyrics, great vocal and instrumental performances and that oddity by piano and marimba respectively.

hydrameter: 3/5

Key Tracks: Blue Orchid, My Doorbell, Passive Manipulation, Take, Take, Take, The Denial Twist, The Nurse

Watch The Denial Twist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DodG8IcnOZk

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It is very likely that two things will stay the same for Justice (Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay as their mums know them): the cross as their symbol and comparisons to Daft Punk, another French gods of house music. Canon of their latest album Audio, Video, Disco. (or I Hear, I See, I Learn) could be easily mistaken for Daft Punk’s track. Elsewhere, Justice show they should be taken seriously: Civilization is a great single (watch one buffalo apocalypse in the promo video) while other standouts are the title track and On’n’On. Justice’s second LP is not far away from its predecessor but the duo’s take on ’70s prog rock is quite delicious.

hydrameter: 3/5

Key Tracks: Audio, Video, Disco., Civilization, On’n’On

Watch Civilization: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVq2yMuAMVQ&ob=av2e

Elephant by the now-much-missed The White Stripes is a game-changing album that brought millions of youngsters into blues, accelerated the band’s career and now is quite deservedly hailed as one of the best LPs of the last decade. And it has Seven Nation Army (is there anybody who has not heard it?). It’s not my favourite record by Jack & Meg but it’s still a great antidote to all J.Los and their vulgar electronic crap. We all know that Jack is a superb lyricist, singer and guitar player but it’s worth to listen to Meg singing on the fantastic In the Cold, Cold Night. And her drumming is raw and mad as hell. Other highlights include The Hardest Button to Button (better known for its video by Michel Gondry) and Well It’s True That We Love One Another with guest vocals by Holly Golightly. Elephant has also great artwork (as all The White Stripes’ releases), the three colours limitation is its asset. And don’t tell me you can’t see the title mammal on the cover.

hydrameter: 3/5

Key Tracks: In the Cold, Cold Night, Seven Nation Army, The Hardest Button to Button, Well It’s True That We Love One Another

Watch Seven Nation Army: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J2QdDbelmY&ob=av2n

Back in 2010 Prince Rama were a trio and with a little help from Avey Tare and Deakin of Animal Collective they made a very solid album. Recorded in a presumably haunted church, Shadow Temple triumphs in creating an atmosphere of ambiguity: these chants give both a feeling of extrication and oppression. The record’s centerpiece are three splendid tracks: Thunderdrums, Storm Worship and Lightening Fossil. They prove that Prince Rama are more than just quasi-religious vocals and mad drums. Thunderdrums is an epic out-of-this-world experience that starts with a buzzing guitar and goes through whirling synths, tribal percussion and background wild men voices and eerie noises to morph into an interlude Storm Worship, and finally give us electrifying Gang Gang Dance-like Lightening Fossil. The penultimate track Satt Nam is focused and may be easy to swallow for newcomers. In fact, Shadow Temple could end up as an instrumental album as well for from time to time the vocals by the Larson sisters miss the point and sound rather like a parody of a cult gathering. The not-so-good successor Trust Now shows that Prince Rama’s strength lies in production and without the talented members of Animal Collective the band feel lost.

hydrameter: 3/5

Key Tracks: Lightening Fossil, Satt Nam, Storm Worship, Thunderdrums

Listen to Lightening Fossil: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUTehV7N3k0

October 25, 2011

The second studio album by Lady Gaga is as awful and cheap as the image on its cover. It is such a messy collection of overproduced dance routines that I cannot stop wondering how come so many people have fallen for it. Even if the songs start with some clever ideas (like Bloody Mary), they soon turn into unbearable generic nightmares. They say that she can sing. OMG but this is what one expectes from a singer, dumbass. And all the cultural and societal allusions are as limited as the subjects Gaga touches on. And finally, there is nothing original about her: she just borrows from freaking everyone. Ask yourself a question: would you ever care about her if she hadn’t worn those ridiculous outfits? Album of the century? Give me a break!

hydrameter: 1/5

Key Track: Judas

Watch Judas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wagn8Wrmzuc&ob=av2e

Have you ever wondered if there is any connection between band’s name and music they play? Because in case of HEALTH it seems to be highly appropriate. Indeed, one has to be fit as a fiddle to play such demanding music (electronic noise rock to be specific). On the other hand, HEALTH play extra loud, aggressive and primal tracks for those not concerning about the hearing damage. The band are the musical equivalent of a mad surgeon that’s gonna cut your body into pieces while having the time of his life. In Death+ you can hear his scalpel. The main single Die Slow is an industrial disco that finds the right mix of guitars, drums and computer beats. This is a dance of those not scared to break some bones. Nice Girls quickly morphs into a tribal semi-chant. In Violet is a perfect closer leaving you wanting more. Jake Duzsik does a great job as the singer, he’s a half-present phantom whose voice sinisterly floats above the songs.

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: Death+, Die Slow, In Violet, Nice Girls

Watch Die Slow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWZxThGh5wQ

October 21, 2011

Alesana is back bitches! That’s right. The North Carolina sextet returns with their fourth studio album called A Place Where the Sun Is Silent. I have to say that signing to Epitaph Records was a good move ’cause it is their best album so far. As all Alesana albums, this one also tells a story, this time based on Dante’s Inferno. It’s lighter than previous ones considering vocals. Shawn took the crown and left Dennis a little aside. Screaming at the top of your lungs every night can be very exhaustive and harmful for health so I guess after seven years Dennis finally got tired. Nevertheless, without many Dennis’ verses the album is still great. Shawn’s vocals are clean and easy on ear. Also Dennis’ glows are nicely done. There is no surprise in lyrics though. Alesana is still Alesana. Lyrics are about undying (and also unrequited) love, risking everything for that special person and in the process getting hurt, losing mind and after all, seeking redemption (for being stupid and naive hehehe). Oh yes, they scream As the earth quakes I will deflower you! Well, it might be a little too late Shawn, but I appreciate the thought. Call me later ^^. Anyway I must say that bridges and choruses are very catchy. Often Shawn’s singing is merged with Dennis’ screaming. That is a very powerful combination which makes your endorphins burst. A few songs hold (decent) breakdowns (like The Temptress and Welcome To The Vanity Faire). Guitarists did a great job. Riffs may not be very memorable but they don’t seem to be out of place so together with lyrics they create a whole, beautiful composition. In addition, album includes a wide range of instruments beside standard ones. You can hear piano, violin, trumpet and even a horn. Album is extremely good mixed. Proportions between instruments and vocals are well balanced. When listening to it I have an impression of being transported to some magical and mysterious place. Also somewhere in my (tiny) brain the melodies recall crazy carnival party in Venice. So put the mask on and let yourself be invited to the forbidden dance.

Verdict: 10/10

(Very) Good sides: Beyond the Sacred Glass, The Fiend, The Temptress, The Wanderer

Bad sides:  if I must chose it would be The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Marionettes (there is something disturbing about the chorus…)

Aside little flaws A Place Where the Sun Is Silent is the first album since Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory (and that was a looooong time ago) that captured my heart, mind and stimulated my imagination on a huge scale. After first listening I was high. Really.

Listen to Circle VII: Sins of the Lion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp-LMRs1fb0

Transmutating proteins. Internal nebula. The Atlantic Ridge drifting. The new, eighth studio album by Björk sounds like an ultimate science geek feast. Indeed it is as it comes with a series of apps to be played on your iPad that bring together knowledge and fun. Musically, Biophilia is a sister of Björk’s three best records: Homogenic (1997), Vespertine (2001) and Medúlla (2004). Elements of each of these albums can be found here. What strikes the most is the frequent presence of silence. The singer and the instruments often stop and wait for a while before the song continues. However, it should not surprise as Biophilia is after all about space (of course, this is a huge simplification). Next, the Icelandic icon has built some extremely curious musical equipment to be used in making of this record: a gameleste, a pendulum harp. Even the Tesla coil served as an instrument (on Thunderbolt). Björk’s album would not be the same without a bunch of guests. This time the impressive set include Leila, Mark Bell, Sjón, Zeena Parkins and Matthew Herbert (among the others). Lyrics are great as ever, just take Virus: Like a virus needs a body / As soft tissue feeds on blood / Some day I’ll find you – one day I’m there (…) The perfect match – you and me / I adapt – contagious / You open up – say welcome. Only Björk could come up with something like this! It’s hard to name the best track but it probably is Mutual Core, a slow-building, mostly organ song with a potential of an earthquake. It evokes Purity Ring at the end. Moon is a beautiful, harp-driven ballad. Thunderbolt, on the other hand, is one of those dark and sinister tracks of Biophilia. It’s got a fantastic sharp beat. Cosmogony deals with various theories of the world’s origin. It’s an orchestral piece of work and Björk’s vocal is simply excellent. Hollow is strange and haunting as you would expect from a song about DNA replication. And of course there is Crystalline, a great drum and bass eccentricity. Solstice is not as good as the rest but bears some similarity with Sardaukar Levenbrech by Grimes from her first LP, Geidi Primes. The only misstep is dull Dark Matter. Shame for the title suggests more. To sum up, the Queen of Alternative has delivered a record that will give months of pleasure and meditation. I luv u, Bapsi.

hydrameter: 5/5

Key Tracks: Cosmogony, Crystalline, Hollow, Moon, Mutual Core, Sacrifice, Thunderbolt, Virus

Watch Crystalline: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PNzytx9EV0