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Dead excited about the new Diana Vickers album

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since 13/02/2006


Metropolis The Chase Suite - Janelle Monae 01/10/2011

Electric Cybercity

Metropolis The Chase Suite - Janelle Monae Listen up, guys. Something terrible has happened. Cybertronic lady-bot Cindi Mayweather has been scheduled for immediate disassembly because of her untenable love for a human! She has gone on the run across the Neon Valley district, which means any bounty-hunter can chase after her and rip her apart using electro-daggers or any other weapon which comes to hand. Seriously, you guys! Cindi is gonna die! And there’s nothing we can do to save her! All she can do is run, record music on her pirate-band frequencies, and watch old Charlie Chaplin movies. Janelle Monae’s debut EP may not be the simplest of premises, now I start to think of it. The singer was first noticed by Big Boi, the more-talented half of Outkast, in 2006. He pushed her music onto P-Diddy aka Sean Combs aka Puff Donkey aka Pappa Diddlestick, who loved it so much that he promptly signed her to his record company. Working carefully to make sure that Monae didn’t become a one-hit wonder, the two made sure that her first EP, this Chase Suite, spoke to Monae’s personal quirks and foibles. If you consider the disposability of many female singers in urban music today; that just goes to show the level of commitment they had to her style, her talent, and belief that audiences wouldn’t be afraid of musicians who craft sci-fi hip-hop operas. And the EP, debuting in 2007/8, absolutely failed to make any kind of dent in the charts. Which is just as well, because it only spurred the ludicrously talented Monae to make ...

Everything that starts with M ... 14/03/2011

Why I Don't Believe In Mermaids Anymore

Everything that starts with M ... Mermaids are poorly conceived. The top half of these mythological creatures is human, but they choose to live underwater. While this makes sense when you take into account their fishy lower quarters, mermaids do not have gills. They have a human top half, presumably including a working pair of lungs and the capacity to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. At no point is there a capacity to breathe underwater. Animals what don't need air generally have gills instead, a system which allows them to filter through water for molecules they can process and keep them breathing. Mermaids, on the other half, hang out on rocks and then go home to their underwater lairs. It has never been explained how they can do this without drowning. The logical design for a mermaid would be a fishy head and human legs - similar to an octopus, but without the ability to expel copious quantities of ink from one's hidden areas. This would allow the creature to poke a head above the water and seduce wonky-eyed pirates and scurvy-depleted sailormen. Thus having charmed themselves a seaman, the creatures jump onto the deck of the ship, turn into a complete human, and head off to become a fairytale princess. But no, that's not how it works, is it? Presumably because Hans Christian Anderson has dreams of a scaly experience in the bedroom, mermaids have human heads (and chests, pervs) but fish-ish back quarters. And that's just not on, as Darwin would say if he were here right now. I choose to imagine ...

I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas (Single) 24/09/2010

Genuinely Terrible

I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas (Single) I have failed the Shamanic temple of Indie Rock. Where once I spent long nights rallying against the rain with torrents of Nick Cave and foggy Shins tracks, I now spend in the company of Diana Vickers and Girls Aloud. And if you say Girls Aloud aren’t a real band then I WILL GET UPSET. Gone are songs about people with diseases and women being drowned in rivers, and in come people who can actually sing and hold high notes, shiver to think of it. I notice that Ciao have changed their rules so now I can discuss individual singles as opposed to full albums. Disappointing. But this does give me the chance to pay my dues to indie. Not through listening to the new, terrible album by Broken Bells or paying homage to the stultifyingly dull orchestral murk of Arcade Fire. No, I’m going to pay tribute to Indie by poking fun at the mass-market crap which dilutes proper pop for those of us with musical inclination. So I get to remain uncharmingly arch and snobby towards all the music you love in two separate ways all at once. Pretty clever, I think you’ll not think about what I think. Let’s start with the Black Eyed Peas, and their tribute to Jewish victims of war. “I Gotta Feeling” manages to twice take the Holy Torah and compare it to a night out in Camden. Neither time that the song misrepresents the Jewish faith could be said to be an important part of Will.I.Am’s lyrical outpouring, and indeed seem to be crowbarred into the song specifically to upset and patronise the millions and ...

Glee - Season One Vol.1 (The Music) - Various Artists 30/06/2010


Glee - Season One Vol.1 (The Music) - Various Artists The pilot for FOX’s TV smash ‘Glee’ was great, an ironic take on the High School Musical style of music which has been recently blasted at us from every direction by Disney. It crashed every conceivable stereotype and cliché into one big mash-up, as it told the story of a ‘glee’ club attempting to reach the finals of a singing competition. Glee clubs are an afterschool club who sing songs from the West End/Broadway and overproduce them in order to create caramelised pop which wouldn’t sound out of place in a children’s musical. The show creators cunningly managed to find a way to take the concept of a struggling Glee club, add some vague ideas about race, diversity, and singing through adversity, and create themselves a hit TV show. The only problem was that they only had twelve episodes worth of material. After Glee Club finally (spoiler!) triumphed against all their demons and won the sectional competition halfway through the first season, the show fell apart and now stands up as a Heroes-esque monstrosity, desperately chucking everything at the audience in a feeble attempt to revive the popularity of the first twelve episodes. Luckily for the show’s producers, the public haven’t yet caught on to the fact that the show is currently godawful, While the show is still popular, FOX have decided with all their infamous restraint to milk as much from their dying cow as possible. So we have DVD box sets which collect only a few select episodes, a ‘Director’s Cut’ of the pilot ...

My World - Justin Bieber 28/06/2010

Dancing With Himself

My World - Justin Bieber I was worried when I first decided to review Justin Bieber, because there were two terrifying realities which hit me: 1.) If I give it a bad review, I will be attacked by rampaging teenagers, armed with flaming hair strengtheners and a shoddy grasp of spelling. 2.) The album appears to be eighteen goddamn tracks long. Luckily Seresecros isn’t my first name, so no angry tweens will find me in the phone book and attack at dawn; while it turns out that only the UK release of Justin Bieber’s first album is 18 tracks long. The original version of the record, called ‘My World’, is a pleasingly-short seven tracks long. Which means I can review it! Hurrah for us all, won’t this be fun. Justin Bieber’s music, in case you are wondering, is like listening to the second half of a David Cassidy ‘best of’ album, but with more guest appearances from rappers. A young poppet from Canada, the highly religious-yet-not-owned-by-Disney singer first became famous through a few videos he released on youtube, which gained the attention of highly religious music executives (who exist, apparently?!) and here we are now. He sings pleasant white-boy hip/hop, which means that he sings music which almost sounds like it could be hip/hop, but is so conservative that it may as well be country music. Synths are common, alongside drum machines and a faulty grasp of tense. He is so attractive to underage girls that literally hundreds of them have been partially crushed during his various concerts and ...

Fame Monster - Lady Gaga 26/06/2010

Lady Geek

Fame Monster - Lady Gaga While the residents of the UK attempt in vain to recover from the tsunami of pulsating charisma and brilliance which was Cheryl Cole’s ‘Three Words’, and whilst children sit next to the radios waiting impatiently for the DJ to drop some more sinuous and magnetic records from Pixie Lott and Kate Nash; it’s hard to pick out quite what it is about Lady Gaga that has made people so excited about pop music once more. Sure, she’s got a lot of talent and a consistent cultural aesthetic which plays into her music and envelops her entire world into the beat of European techno and traditional Queenesque lyrical flourishes on a frequent basis, covering herself in artistry whilst ensuring that her brand becomes a nu-revolution of neo-Warhol identity. And she does have an ability to combine high-end musical hooks with lowest-common-denominator sexual innuendos and celebrity cameos in order to entrance her fanbase – the demographic of whom includes everyone from kids to adults, gays to straights, blacks to whites and snobs to girls from Essex. At the same time, there’s none of the vacuous propaganda filth which abysmally seeps into her contemporaries’ shoes within her work – she dissects the ideas of fame whilst propagating her own celebrity, avoiding the Z-Circus of rags like ‘Now!’ and ‘Bella’ whilst making the journalists behind those wretched magazines adore her every high-heeled step into the public consciousness. Every other artist is obsessed with their financial brand; while ...

Life in Cartoon Motion - Mika 01/06/2010

Vacant Pop Hitz

Life in Cartoon Motion - Mika I have vague, fond memories of calling Mika ‘diseased’ the first time I wrote this review. I’ll refrain from doing that a second time, because personal attacks are never pleasant and I’d rather focus more on a balanced, reflective analysis of his music. Mika is a figure who annoys as many people as he thrills, because his singing voice is a completely laboured creation, forcibly high-pitched and squeal-y whenever he wants to hit a chorus, and low-pitched and ‘meaningful’ for the verses. The fact that his speaking voice sounds completely different to his singing voice should be the first indication that perhaps he isn’t being entirely honest about his musicianship, but a lot of people seem to go for this sort of stuff and we shouldn’t denounce them just because their opinion differs from ours (I have assumed at this point that the wizardry of my hung-over prose has won you over and you currently blindly support anything I say. Get me a sandwich). The falseness of Mika’s singing voice is the main hang-up I have with ‘Life in Cartoon Motion’, his first album, which tries to be many things but mainly succeeds in being a sub-par pop mess, hardly worthy of mention alongside consistent and impressive male pop artists like Robert Post or Patrick Wolf. A lot of the songs attempt to put on an aura of childishness which is intended to make the listener regress to their innocent childhood self, full of wonder as they listen to Mika sing about overcoming adversity through being an ...

Garden - Zero 7 30/05/2010


Garden - Zero 7 Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, collectively known as Zero 7, were known for years as experts in the field of post-club early-morning come-down music. So, when they came to release their third album ‘The Garden’, a large majority of their fanbase found themselves disillusioned by the duo’s decision to move away from the low key ambient music which made the band famous, and struggled to appreciate the new poppy sound the duo adapted for the album. I’m among one of those many disillusioned fans, because to me The Garden seems like a conscious effort to move into the lucrative coffee-shop market, an album which wants to feature in the background of adverts for phones and isn’t afraid to shed its soul in the process. While long-time vocalist Sia Furler returns to sing on several of the songs – all the good ones, as it turns out – the duo decided to give the rest of the vocal duties to Jose Gonzales, the man who sung that ‘Heartbeats’ song everyone seemed to love two years ago even though it was boring as hecky thump. If that isn’t a sign that Zero 7 want to be used in BBC idents, then I don’t know what is. The electronic aspects of the music are still in place, although there are less orchestral instrumentations to be found throughout the album. In their place, the band focus more on their trusty keyboards, which still have much the same effect they always did. Synthesisers swoon throughout the album, often providing the only emotional connection within a song, as the other main ...

Oh, Inverted World - Shins (The) 05/04/2010

Summer Trip

Oh, Inverted World - Shins (The) Oh Inverted World, the first album from New Mexico foursome The Shins, is definitely the one that got featured in Garden State. So if you’re wondering, there you are. Two tracks from the album appear in Zach Braff’s bad-in-hindsight indie film soundtrack, being the opening ‘Caring is Creepy’; and ‘New Slang’, which emanates from Natalie Portman’s headphones as she smiles weirdly at the camera. The film is where roughly 100% of music fans first hear the album, and I was no exception, as I were only a mere teenager when I watched the film, thought it revolutionary, and immediately ran outside to snap up the soundtrack. Of course, I now realise that this was an error, but we can’t all be perfect. The album has drawn comparisons with the sound of The Beach Boys, but don’t let that put you off: this is a decent indie record. It sounds like it was recorded at the beach, and the harmonies do sometimes hark back to Brian Wilson’s crew, but apart from that there is very little to connect the two bands. Oh Inverted World is music for a Summer’s day which hasn’t quite delivered the sunshine that you’d want, so you’re stuck sat on the patio of a mildly cool garden, wondering if you could get away with retreating indoors for a while to do some more reading and perhaps pick up a glass of wine. Everyone’s had one of those summer days which just doesn’t quite pan out, and this record is ideal for such a situation. Calm and cheery, every song drifts past so quickly that the album will have ...

Holy Bible - Manic Street Preachers 07/03/2010


Holy Bible - Manic Street Preachers I’ve decided that I hate myself, which is why I’m going to review an album by the Manic Street Preachers. The Holy Bible, coming from their pre-rubbish era, is the final one recorded with Richey James, the bassist/guitarist who was apparently 4 REAL and wrote the majority of the songs on the album. James is a legendary figure because he gone jumped off a bridge or something and was never seen again, prompting many fans to believe he is still alive and will, like King Arthur, return in Britain’s hour of need. James was a divisive figure, to say the least, and Kieron Gillen’s brilliant evisceration of post-Britpop attitudes in ‘Phonogram’ details James’ personality as defined by one trait: he’s gone. He’s not alive, he’s not dead, just vanished. By leaving public sight in 1995 Richey James made damn well sure that nobody would remember the band anymore; only the musician. Were The Manics more than just the aftermath of one man’s mythology, though? That's a question which was definitively answered by the song ‘If you tolerate this, then your children will be next’, years later. And The Holy Bible is an absolutely fascinating record. It’s not particularly enjoyable, but the ferocity of the playing and anger directed at the audience and seeming patriarchy of Britain makes for an unravelling hour of unadulterated 90s fury. Highly political and always eager to court intellectual controversy, the band attack everything they can over the course of the record, revealing a curious ...

Rudebox - Robbie Williams 29/01/2010

Enjoy What You Do

Rudebox - Robbie Williams The sound of a musician who clearly doesn’t care what other people think of him anymore, Rudebox is one of the most entertaining albums ever recorded. Robbie Williams is on top form, as he sticks a finger up to people of every single denomination. Are you a music snob? Robbie doesn’t give a shit about you. Are you a casual listener to music? Doesn’t care. Are you a fan of when he does that soulful ballads which are ultimately meaningless because they were written by someone else? Rudebox sticks a tongue out at you. This album was designed purely to amuse Robbie Williams, and as such it’s the best record of his career. At the time, the record was laughed at by the music-press, who always laugh at what they cannot comprehend. The idea that a conventional radio-2 musician would decide to shed his inhibitions and create something truly subversive is beyond their realm of coherence, and I am the only person you can trust to give you an honest review in these circumstances. Rudebox is a masterpiece. Don’t even think of mocking that statement, because you are unequivocally wrong. Rudebox has some of the best melodies Robbie Williams has ever had composed, fitted with breathless, take-no-prisoners song writing that attacks everyone from Mark Owen to YOU. The song sounds like the disjointed legless piss-take that Damon Albarn wishes he could write in honour of Albion. It’s the Spirit of Britain, it’s the funniest album ever made. Beck crosses with Jarvis Cocker and produces some ...

Dog Problems - The Format 11/10/2009

The Compromise

Dog Problems - The Format Have I ever told you about the best pop-rock band of the modern age? No, I thought I hadn’t. They’re called ‘The Beatles’, and they were made up of four boys from Liverpool, England. During the 60’s and 70’s they transformed the face of modern music with their clever, simple arrangements and catchy lyrics. More recently, The Format did exactly the same thing, only they were two boys from America and nobody paid them any attention. Which is a shame, because the only two albums they ever made were two of the best albums ever made by anyone. Their second one, ‘Dog Problems’, is a triumph in just about every aspect. The lyrics, especially towards the end of the album, evoke McCartney’s more friendly and love-celebrating style, while the start of the album contains more of the slightly skewed pop songs which Lennon made his forte back during the early days of the sixties. ‘Inches and Falling’, for example, features the brilliant subverted chorus “I love love: I love being in love/I don’t care what it does to me”, and in doing so channels the main drive of the album. Obsessed by love, but sarcastic about the chances of it existing, Nate Ruess’ lyrics manage to remain contemporary whilst summoning up a more golden period for British romance. The jazzy title track expertly dissects the ups and downs that come from breaking up with a partner, as Ruess sings of trying to recover from the initial shock, then of trying to bounce back – “I walk the web in search of love/but always ...

Fur and Gold - Bat for Lashes 13/08/2009

Wizards And Bitches

Fur and Gold - Bat for Lashes Natasha Khan, who under the pseudonym ‘Bat For Lashes’ has so far released two albums which were both nominated for Mercury Music Awards, has a massive crush on me. Absolutely huge. The poor girl could barely put two syllables together when I went to see her in concert, because she couldn’t stop looking at me. And y’know what? I have a crush on her too. She’s a fantastic singer/songwriter type, although she’s more Kate Bush than Kt Tunstall. She sings about all kinds of freakish and weird things, wrapping her music in a nice comfy blanket of spirituality, whilst feeding a tame wolf and painting with all the colours of the wind. Y’know – odd stuff. She accompanies her lyrics and haunted vocals with liberal dashes of harpsichord and violins, but don’t hold any of this against her, because it’s not pretentious music whatsoever. It’ll get you a stern nod of acceptance from hipsters, but at the same time it’s actually listenable and sets an atmospheric mood suitable for any séance you may ever wish to hold. And who among us hasn’t ever been tempted to hold the occasional séance? The album highlight is a song about a wizard, although she also sings about seal parties and bats and fur-lined trophies and a girl called Prescilla. I’ve never really caught on to many of the lyrics, despite her cut-glass voice which punctuates the words in all the moodiest places, but whenever I have allowed myself to try and work out the meanings of the tracks I tend to find myself hearing lines like ...

Hot Rod (DVD) 05/08/2009

You're The Voice

Hot Rod (DVD) American comedy is defined at the moment by the weight of the lead actor. It doesn’t matter much about the plot or the jokes, because everything has become a cult of personality. If you go to see a Steve Carell movie, for example, you can expect to enjoy lots of straight-faced nonsense. There is no actor better at holding a stony exterior than Carell, and his line-readings barely ever relate to the relative funniness of the lines themselves. He makes the exposition lines funny, and he can on occasion botch the punch lines in the process. But that’s how he is; his personality is what audiences go in for. The same is true, perhaps more than with any other comedic actor, for Will Ferrell. He has a very specific character he plays in his movies, dictated by the way he reads his lines, and this is perhaps the reason why Hot Rod feels as unfinished as it does. Originally a vehicle for Ferrell to be crazy in, the project instead passed on to The Lonely Island – a trio of web-comedians who had recently made it on the American comedy-factory also known as Saturday Night Live. Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samburg and Jorma Taccone make up the three, and they first made videos online before Andy was picked up to be one of the main castmembers on SNL, a show which has previously featured people like Bill Murray, Chris Rock, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell. The other two came along as writers, and together they created the “digital shorts” section, a series of viral videos which were the best thing to ...

Fiction 01/05/2009

The Kids Of MI:18 Vs The Agents Of SWERVE

Fiction So, hi and all that. I used to write here a while ago, like maybe a few months ago? No, it's cool if you don't remember, I wasn't really any good. I've been away for the past whatever length of time because I had to write dissertations and essays at university, and ponder the potential for metaphorical gender rape within Kate Atkinson novels. Y'know. I'm not particularly back at all, but I have recently just handed in my dissertation for university, which happened to be a short story - I do creative writing as a joint honours degree, because I made a lot of poor decisions in life during secondary school. (Don't do creative writing, kids! It's worthless! Especially at a university positioned in the middle of bloody nowhere). This is the short story I wrote - or, rather, it's the second-to-last draft I did of the story, leastways. If you're bored, you could read it and stuff, although there's no particular need unless you truly have nothing better to do with your time. I mean - read it! You'll love it and your eyes will be astonished by the sheer entertainment this story will feed directly into your brain-endings. Cheers. The Kids Of MI18 Vs The Agents Of SWERVE Prologue Somewhere Airborne Over England The Private Jet Of Maxwell Botham, Entrepreneur Scott ducked under a hail of gunfire and flicked one of the stainless steel chairs into the face of his nearest attacker, who collapsed with a startled grunt. With effortless grace he then jumped over both ...
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