21 March 2018

Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar

Young Fathers need no introduction if you've ever read these pages before. Since first coming to our attention with their Mercury Music Prize-winning debut DEAD, they have been on a mission to bring their own brand of sound to the masses, but without handing over one iota of their principals along the way.  Cocoa Sugar was released on 17th March 2018, preceded by the song "In My View" and it's their first release for new label Ninja Tune.  To be honest, I've been hyped for this release for ages.  No matter what they do, they always bring something new to the table.  Will they be able to hit a hat-trick with Cocoa Sugar?

01 – See How

Young Fathers start Cocoa Sugar in a minimalist style, which is in keeping with the previous releases.  “See How” uses sparse instrumentation, always hitting with a powerful impact.  You can guarantee that each note, each beat, each vocal has been laboured over and this is a beautiful song.  There is a natural, organic build to "See How", which would raise any wound soul and spirit in such a beautiful way until it’s sudden ending.  The ending comes too soon for my tastes, but it doesn’t ruin the overall feeling of the song.

02 – Fee Fi

“Fee Fi” is a dirty little song, one that sounds as if it has been constructed, deconstructed and re-evaluated multiple times before this final version.  There are strange noises, vocals samples and loops that together with Young Fathers dropping subtle bombs all over it.  I love the strangeness of "Fee Fi", it reminds me a lot of Massive Attack in places, a perfect mixture of trip-hop and minimalism.

03 – In My View

I cannot praise “In My View” enough, ever since I first heard it I have had to hear it at least once a day.  This song about self-loathing, depression and servitude to an indifferent lover is an amazing song.  Musically, it’s one of the more complex songs on the album, it has that instant quality which makes it the stand out track of Cocoa Sugar.  I love everything about “In My View”, this is one of my favourite songs this year and I have no doubt that it’ll be in my end of year list.

04 – Turn

You might think that “Turn” would have a difficult job, following one of the best songs of 2018 so far.  In typical Young Father fashion, they ignore their previous work and focus on making a fantastic song.  It’s another minimal piece, one that keeps everything tight and focused.  “Turn” is just as important as “In My View”, maybe even more so for different reasons.  One thing that it’s not is a filler track, that is something you cannot level at Young Fathers with this track.

05 – Lord

“Lord” starts with the sound of a choir, with an uplifting passion behind the voices, against a sparse and harsh background.  The subtly behind those beautiful vocals, the harsh reality of the rapping and the gaps between the music is uplifting.  I love the minimalist nature of “Lord”, it’s another example of Young Fathers at their best, but keeping everything tight!

06 – Tremolo

“Tremolo” is all about wanting to escape reality, need to have the soul reduced to a painless state and to leave the world for a little while.  The further you get into this song, the less that is going on.  I love their “Less is more” approach, they do so much with the bare minimum of music.  This is a beautiful piece, one that gives so much, leaving you feeling like you’ve been beaten up for hours on end.

07 – Wow

“Wow” bring back some energy to the music, but it’s just a sparsely populated, but this time with the vocals taking a backseat.  There are samples, screams and a slow drawl of a man who is lost in the moment.  This is a song that will get people moving but will also be one that people will dissect for years to come.  It’s a song that brings out a different reaction each time it’s played, but all of them have been positive.

08 – Border Girl

“Border Girl” is a song which reminds me of the bluesman extraordinaire, Son of Dave with its beatbox/vocal looping beginning.  There is an organic growth behind this number, which serves the band very well.  But after seven tracks of top draw genius, “Border Girl” feels like a rest bite.  It’s not a bad number, but it’s the first not to capitalise on the previous number.

09 – Holy Ghost

“Holy Ghost” is a song about having something inside you, something which is almost religious that you feel like your cursed/blessed with the spirit of the Christian deity.  This song is a track which will go down well in a club or at one of their shows, but it’s not working for me in the format.  Again, much like “Border Girl”, it is not a step up from the first seven songs.  But it’s still a good song, just not an outstanding one.

10 – Wire

“Wire” has a nostalgic feeling for me, because it reminds me of songs from my youth.  It’s a minimalist rave song, steeped (whereby choice or coincidence) in the dance culture of the early 90's.  It’s also over in just under two minutes, which is a bit of a shame.  But I think they did the right thing, as it could have easily outstayed its welcome. Better to be memorable, then to fade before your eyes.

11 – Toy

“Toy” is an energetic number in terms of aggressive lyrics and attitude, but it keeps up the minimalist tone of Cocoa Sugar at the same time.  There is no fat on this song, it’s a trimmed beast of a song, with one of the catchiest rhythms of the whole record.  Such a great song.....

12 – Picking You

After all their fine work, “Picking You” is the comedown track, the chill-out number to guide you home after an exciting, but sparse album.  They keep everything tight here, ending Coca Sugar with an emotional track about never being able to reach a good place.  The final chants of “you’ll never find your way to heaven” will ring in your ears long after this track ends, but it’ll not excite you.  To be honest, it feels like it ends awkwardly, which is a shame as it was shaping up to be a killer ending track.

Young Fathers can do with very little instrumentation what some back with 15+ member struggle to do, they create masterpieces that skin their hooks into your heart, refusing to let go.  When they are on fire, Cocoa Sugar can send the heart soaring high above this septic world, with minimalist odes of joy and pain. Sure, there are a few missed beats, a few songs which end too suddenly, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a great record.  Much like the album, this review is sort of short, but I think that is for the best.  Cocoa Sugar is another fine record from the Scottish trio, plus, “In My View” is going to be one of the most important tracks of 2018, watch this space.

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention as well as my time, money and heart.

Top track – In My View

You can purchase Cocoa Sugar on Amazon here.

You can visit the Young Fathers website here.

You can follow the activities of Young Fathers on Facebook here.

You can stream Cocoa Sugar on Spotify here.

You can stream Cocoa Sugar on Deezer here.

You can stream Cocoa Sugar on Tidal here.

9 March 2018

Push to Talk - Dark Circles

Push to Talk hail from Atlanta, Georgia and they seem to like playing hide and seek.  I have very little information on them, the only things I could find on their social media pages confirm that Push To Talk are Liam Jagrowski, Joey Stanca & Trevor Stanc.  Apart from being from Atlanta, they also like to make weird things in a cheap bare-bones basement studio.  And that is it!  As far as being out on the craggy edge of obscurity, truly excel at hiding information about themselves.  Now, I was sent this request back at the end of December/beginning of January and after my vertigo attack, this was lost in the mix and I would like to apologise for my tardiness.  However, as I am so late here, it's onto the review.

Dark Circles is the third release from Push to Talk in 2017, following on from The Basement and 21 Degrees.  Now, whilst trying to review this album, I've discovered that I'm having to revert to my previous style of reviewing.  Dissecting this album into small pieces is not going to work, Dark Circles is not that kind of album.  This is an album which doesn't flourish under cherry picking conditions, it's an album that needs to be consumed in one sitting.  Each of the sixteen tracks on offer can be viewed as either a good song, interlude and noise sample on its own merit; however, when you listen to all of them in one sitting, this album transcends, evolves into something else.  It requires a lot of attention, as it crosses between Avant-Garde, pop, noise and everything in between.

To listen to Dark Circles is not an easy task, but it's a worthwhile task.  I love tracks such as "Visualize", "No More", "Falling in Void" and "Rolling in Sunshine", each one brings a different aspect of Push to Talk to the forefront.   The little interludes make so much sense when everything is connected, it's Dark Circles strongest card.  I love that this band is doing something brave and creating something different, I reckon if Mic Good & Keith Chandler ever heard these guys, they might fall in love with them.  For people who love to walk their own path, I give you Dark Circles!

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track - Visualize

You can purchase Dark Circles from the Push to Talk Bandcamp page here.

You can purchase Dark Circles from Amazon here.

You can follow the activities of Push to Talk on Facebook here.

You can stream Dark Circles on Tidal here.

You can stream Dark Circles on Spotify here.

You can stream Dark Circles on Deezer here.

8 March 2018

Horseflies - Sea Control

Horseflies are an Alternative Punk band from Portsmouth, and according to their Facebook page (and I'm quoting here), they swinging between a punk rock dance party and a paranoia-filled late night horror soundtrack listening session.  That sounds like a lot of my youth if the truth is told, but enough about me.  Sea Control is the second album from Horseflies, following on from their debut, These Halls Are Now Haunted.  I would be telling fibs if I said I knew about them before I received their email, so I'll not be doing that.  What I will do instead, is start my review.

01 – Waxwound

Starting off Sea Control is “Waxwound”, and automatically I’m hearing sounds that are familiar to me from years past.  If Horseflies aren’t influenced by the works of Ian McKenzie from Fugazi/Minor Threat, I’ll eat my hat.  “Waxwound” is a Post-punk that is based on a simple rhythm that slowly builds, with sparse explosions of sound.  It seems like the band are awaiting an explosive kick-off, which comes briefly in places, but there is a feeling that there is more going on underneath the music here.

02 – Video Nasty

“Video Nasty” is another Post-punk number that deals with how the futuristic nightmare dystopias of the video nasties of years gone by have slowly became a modern reality.  I love the tone of this song, it’s dark and sinister with a hint of manic energy which is quite hostile at times.  I love this sort of song, it combines fear, drama and horror into one hyperball of venom.

03 – Modern Mind

“Modern Mind” adds a hint of early 90’s shoegazer to their Post-punk ethos, with some gentle female vocals being added to the mix.  The main vocals are still biting, so Horseflies keep their edge on that one, but they manage to mix the two-separate style without making it sound like a cluster fuck.  To me, that is something that deserves applauding, as I’ve heard it attempted before and it has not always been as good as “Modern Mind”.

04 – The Slow Choke

“The Slow Choke” is another song which leans more towards the Indie aspects of Horse Flies, with the first clear vocals of the album.  There is a contrast to this song, it swings between aggressive indie to unhinged lunacy and both are equally important.  It’s an old-school song that has been given a new coat of paint, but it’s also a grower that gets better with each repeated spin.

05 – Sea Control

“Sea Control” is a slow, instrumental track which has a reflective spirit.  The build to the release is done brilliantly, but once it’s there, it ends suddenly and there is no return to the previous theme of “Sea Control”.  Whilst it cuts off the track at its peak, the overall theme & quality of the music is impeccable.

06 – Soft Focus

“Sea Focus” is very much the acoustic twin to “Sea Control”, with an acoustic guitar being played gently as samples of sound are played in the background.  Whilst (much like “Sea Control”) it’s another short song that seems to be cut off before its theme have fully been explored, could it have been joined onto “Sea Control” to make one long piece?  Just my own thought there, but both seem to be compatible in my mind.

07 – Make It Look Like an Accident

“Make It Look Like an Accident” brings back the Post-punk sound to Sea Control, with this short & sinister track.  To be honest, whilst it sounds great, it ends just as it starts to get interesting.  It’s good, but it’s another song that could it have been given further room to breathe.

08 – Jill Kester

“Jill Kester” mixes the Post-punk sound once more with lighter tones of indie to create another aggressive number that sounds as if Horseflies are playing out of their collective skins.  There are some deep emotions on this one, all wrapped up in an old-school tune that mixes Post-punk sensibilities with shoegazing guitar sounds.

09 – Nailhouse

“Nailhouse” goes back to a straightforward Post-punk sound, with an intense feeling to the song structure and a large degree of apprehension to a certain degree.  It’s one of those numbers which has that tone which makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, but all in a good way.  I love the way it sounds, it’s one of those numbers which keeps getting better with each spin.

10 – Statues

“Statues” begins with a piano being played quietly, sounding slightly distorted in places and as if it was recorded two rooms over.  There is also the sound of a radio/telephone call in the background, one which is just on the edge of hearing.  It’s nice enough, but over very quickly.

11 – Vampire Shift

“Vampire Shift” is a song which is mostly instrumental, until the end when the refrain of “I’m so lonely, on the vampire shift” comes drifting over the music.  Musically, it starts off with the quiet sound of the band, then the band take it up a gear and it starts to bounce around your head.  I can identify the feeling of loneliness that is spilling off this song, anyone who has worked that nightshift in their life will get this.  It’s another song which gets better with each repeated listen, one of the best on this record.

12 – The Sound of Two Eyes Opening

“The Sound of Two Eyes Opening” brings the curtain down on this album with an old-school feeling (once again), but this time its one that sounds like Ned’s Atomic Dustbin instead of Fugazi.  You can imagine people jumping around to this, it has that aggressive energy that gives it a spark that will ignite.  I love the way this song sounds, it’s definitely something I can say is my type of song and brings down the curtain on this album in style.

Sea Control is an album that has roots in the past, but those roots have been dragged bang up to date with an aggressive explosion of sound and social commentary.  There are a few songs which could be expanded, especially the songs which aren’t overly aggressive in tone.  Those sounds are primed for expansion, but this is just my opinion.  But that doesn’t mean that quality of the music is being questioned, I found the music of Sea Control to be on point.  They sound great with a mixture of aggressive indie and Post-punk sensibilities, something that has been missing from the music scene for a long time.  Sea Control is a good album with some strong numbers, Horsefiles are a band that you’ll want to be keeping an eye on going forward.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.

Top track – Vampire Shift

You can follow the activities of Horseflies on Facebook here.

You can stream Sea Control on Spotify here.

At the time of writing, Sea Control is not available to stream on Deezer or Tidal.

3 March 2018

The Winter Purge - Albums which have gone the distance

Ah, winter - the time I prune my CD collection!

It might seem old-school, quaint even that I have a CD collection in this hipster & digital era, but I have always had a backup.  There have been far too many times that I have lost a collection when a laptop has died on me, in the days before "clouds" and portal hard-drives.  So, I keep what I call my core collection.  This is the CD's from which I would start a collection from scratch if required, the very essence of what I consider to be the albums I couldn't live without.

Now, due to space constraints and not being able to use CD's as furniture, I regularly go through the collection and remove albums that I have either duplicated, grown out of, regretted purchasing or want to give to other's so they can find the joy of the music within.  I've only ever one used Music Magpie (not too sure if they have this in America, but basically, they take stuff off you for next to nothing - so you can feel like you got rid of some stuff for money), but mostly I hand out to friends or take to charity shops.  I tend to think of certain albums as ones you own for a bit, enjoy them and then they are set free.  During my recent review of my core collection of albums, I decided to write an article about some of the albums which are going to new homes.

I will be looking at ten of my former CDs, feel free to judge me at your leisure.

Radiohead - OK Computer

Does this count as a controversial choice?   To be honest, it really shouldn't be.  The main reason for OK Computer being here is OK COMPUTER OKNOTOK 1997-2017, the re-release of this album with lost cuts, demos and a remastered version of the main event means that the original is redundant.  To be honest, it's not even my favourite Radiohead album, I've always preferred The Bends.  But I cannot deny the impact that occurred upon its release, the ramifications are still being felt to this day.

The Golden Republic - The Golden Republic

I never got around to following up my interest in this band, or their next incarnation, The Republic Tigers.  I first heard The Golden Republic on Pandora, back when all you had to do was to give a US zip code (for the record, I used 90210 as it's the only zip code I knew at the time).  I found an American band who had a bit of a Beatles vibe, mixed with the Jayhawks, a bit of Cracker and a lot of quality American Indie.  It seems a shame to be parting with this CD, but I only really listen to one song, the delightful "Full of Yourself". I'm still going to check out The Republic Tigers at some point if only so I can follow-up this article.

Suede - Suede

At one point in the UK, you couldn't move for a photo of Suede, looking all moody and brooding.  Suede (AKA as The London Suede in the US) (in my mind) are one of the finest band to come out of UK 90's indie scene, their mixture of shamelessly ripping off David Bowie and T-Rex was so appealing,  with such art-house song such as "Animal Nitrate" (about under-age homosexual sex), "Metal Mickey" (inspired by the remake of the "Shoop-Shoop Song" by Cher and "The Downers" which is cited as one of the first songs to kick-start the Brit-Pop movement.  This is another case of upgrading, but I am still to purchase the deluxe version of Suede.  Therefore, its destined for a new home, and I have kept other albums by the cheeky lads.

Poison Idea - Feel the Darkness

I have no doubt I will purchase this bad lad again, I've already purchased it about eight times since it's 1990 release.  I like to share this one, it's a quintessential American Punk release that people need to hear.  Even twenty-seven years after it first erupted, it still sounds relevant today.  I know which of my friends is going to be acquainted with this one, may the Deity have mercy on his soul!

De La Soul - And the Anonymous Nobody

De La Soul is one of the best rap acts ever, anyone who says otherwise is wrong.  As much as I enjoyed And the Anonymous Nobody when I first heard it, I've not listened to this reviewing it last year on a late round-up blog.  Even then, it was a short paragraph on my other blog for a round-up piece.  Sure, it has some sick cuts, rhymes that will grab anyone's attention, but it's been gathering dust in my collection.  If I have not listened to it for that long, and I've not really had the itch to do it digitally either, then it should go to another home.  It's not that I've lost interest in the album, but I'm more likely to listen to something else than put it on again. So now I want to pass it forward, I just want someone else to find it in a charity shop, get that joy (and shock) of it being there and enjoying the ride.

Morrissey - Vauxhall & I

This is an album I'm letting go with a heavy heart.  For many years, Vauxhall & I was a mainstay in my collection, to be honest, I would have put it in my top ten albums ever at one point.  Songs like "Speedway" and "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful" were numbers I used to welcome as old friends, have on in the background which doing stuff in the house, and rising a dry smile to my face.  But you may have noticed the words "used to".  Well, Morrissey has always had a big mouth (pun intended), he has always spoken his mind, but recently he has really upped his shit level game.  The man is not recognisable from the indie maverick of his early days, he might deny it, but he has left those ideals and roots way behind.  Now, every time I listen to his music, all I hear is his right-wing, Brexiter words, and the songs now sound hollow.  So yeah, this is the last time I'll be writing about this stain on humanity - thanks, Stephen, you stupid fucking muppet!

Ben Folds & Nick Hornby - Lonely Avenue

On paper, this album should be a dream come true for me.  Ben Folds is one of the biggest musical influences in my life, I listen to at least one song by Mr Folds once a week, if I don't then it's a week wasted.  Nick Hornby has written some of my favourite novels, especially the book High Fidelity.  But a brilliant author is not necessarily going to be a great lyric writer, Lonely Avenue is proof positive of that.  The lyrics feel as if they were written before the event, as if Mr Folds is trying to cram them into his music, smashing the lyrical equivalent of a square peg in a round hole.  There are some nice moments such as the heart-breaking "Picture Window", but for the most part, it felt akin to when Elton John was given permission to write his own lyrics.  On the occasions when Bernie Taupin was out of the room having a sandwich, Elton (as great a musician as he is), could not write lyrics for shit.  I take no pleasure in saying that both men are better than this, but this album is a low point.

Early Man - Closing In




The opening line of the third song from the 2005 release has always been a high point of modern metal for me, with its huge Black Sabbath influence there for all to see.  The rest of the album follows a similar pattern, it's Sabbath/Amplifier worship created by two guys in a small room. At the time, I was obsessed with "Death Is the Answer to My Prayers" and nothing else, which still sounds amazing all these years later.  I love this album, so why am I letting it go? I'm not setting this one free because I've grown bored of it, I just passing it on so someone can get that same adrenaline rush when they hear that song.  They're gonna be in for a treat.

Panic! At the Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out

Many years before they became the shit fest that produces the woeful Death of a Batchelor, Panic! At the Disco were actually a functioning band and not a solo career in disguise.  Songs such as "London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines", "Time to Dance" and "I Write Sins Not Tragedies", with their pretentiously long titles have aged to various degrees of decent, to God Damn awful.  I don't regret ever owning this, but also don't want it to be part of my collection anymore.  To be honest, I thought/hoped I had lost it a while back, but here it is - my eternal bad penny!  If I find it in my collection again, I'm gonna sign myself up for a mental evaluation.

Deftones - Adrenaline

Out of all the albums on this list, this one will most certainly get me in trouble because I am also about to admit I have ditched my whole Deftones collection.  The main reasons are the need for space (have you seen how many Zappa albums are out there!), and the fact that I've not listened to this or any Deftones album in such a long time.  I've always blown hot and cold with them at the best of times and whilst albums such as Adrenaline, White Pony and Koi No Yokan are great records, they will be welcome with open arms into someone else's collection.  But they were just gathering dust here, what is the point of having something that I will very rarely listen to?  I would rather hand them to someone who will appreciate them, someone who'll love them, rather than keeping them under a pile of growing dust whilst I listen to Marquee Moon by Television or Thin Black Duke by Oxbow.

Part of the joy of owning a record collection is knowing when it's time for certain albums to move to pastures new, knowing that your own tastes have changed and that it's time for someone else to have that record.  When you find out that you own two versions of the Ryan Adams album 1989 (don't judge me guys) or any other album if I’m honest, then it’s time to clean your collection up.  These albums and much more have ended up in charity shops around the North East of England, hopefully getting so funds to some great causes and giving some record collectors a little joy, the surprise that these albums have made into these shops and the satisfaction that these are now in their possession.

State of the Union Address - The Lay of the Land

I've no idea when this photo was taken, but it was sometime last year.

Ah, it has come to that time where I get to talk about stuff…. Where to begin……

Well, some of you will have noticed that I’m not posting anywhere near as much as I have done in the pastThis time-out is down to personal life matters mostly – my real job life is busy, I’ve been catching up on TV that I've been missing.  At one point, I had the mother of all vertigo attacks.  It was akin to being drunk but without the joy of having a pint or two beforehand.  It hasn't been the best start to the year, but the timeout did give me pause for thought.

The revelation that I had was that I’ve really been spreading myself too thin.  Truth be told, I've been feeling that my reviews have become repetitive, that they have started to become tired and dull.  However, the passion for the music has not perished, that is burning as bright as always.  So, I'm going for the less is more approach.  This will probably lead to more blogs which review multiple albums.  It'll mean that I can still review the same volume, as well as have a life outside of it.  I would like to say I’m not going to stop the blog – that has never been an option for me. I’m hoping to be doing be doing this when I will have to get one of those systems that I dictate my musings via a microphone, as arthritis has claimed my hand and coffee is not an option in any form.

Another driving factor is the need to have a life outside of here but in a good way.  I have a loving wife who is a blog widow at times, two mad cats and a world that needs my attention.  Even when I had the rest of the team (sorry Luke, I’m still not rehiring), it was mostly me working on here.  So, I think I’m allowed to do this, hell – this is my own blog!

I’m also going to do feature blogs as well, working on Bearded Gentlemen Music has given me a bug for writing articles as well.  Bearded Gentlemen Music is a fantastic blog and I'm not just because they’ve let me write for them. I was a fan beforehand, I'm a fan now and I always will be.  So, I’ve got a few ideas brewing in my head, ones which aren’t quite right for Bearded Gentlemen Music but would work well here.

I’m still going to be producing and appearing on my radio show (as you asked, it's called Attention Please on NE1FM), but I’m working on a home production set up for the show.  The time of day that the show is on, means a lot of people can’t listen to it.  The question that's often asked is when I’m going to make it available for streaming.  The answer is soon! I’m just working on getting the tech together and as soon as that happens, it’ll be multi-media!  I'll be able to produce shows at any point, meet up with bands when it’s good for them, the benefits are endless here. It’ll make my life easier too, which is also a big win in my book. 

So, things are going to change – as it should do.  To stay still is not an option, but the change must be driven by necessity and not just for the hell of it.  I love doing this blog, there is still no money involved in it, but I’m not bothered about that in a way.  If it became a full-time job, it would be so much more stressful. So, time to get to work…...sort of…...

Eddie Carter – 3rd March 2018 (without coffee).

Current listening list

Autoheart – I Can Build A Fire
Psy of the Dead – Alpha & Omega
Superorganism – Superorganism
Horseflies – Sea Power
Slowlight – The Only Thing I Want Is To Know What I Want
Dunes – Dunes EP 2
Mute Swimmer – Air Itself
New End Original – Thriller
Credit To The Nation – Take Dis
The NX – Ladies Night/Swingers & Roundabouts (in fact, everything they’ve done)
Soul Dissolution – Stardust
Ghost//Signals – Queen of the Oxygen Thieves

25 February 2018

Marmozets - Knowing What You Know Now

Since the middle of last year, all I've heard from people in the know in the UK music is that the second album from Marmozets is going to be one of the albums to watch. Whilst we didn't review their first album The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets, that record was in Luke's top 20 for 2014 and I've since purchased the album as well.  Produced by Gil Norton, Knowing What You Know Now was released by Roadrunner Records on 26th January.  Now, I've deliberately waited a while with this review, as I wanted to make sure my opinion was focused and from the heart.  I didn't want to lavish false praise, or it's too harsh in an attempt to sound cool.  So, I've lived with this for a month - now it's time to find out what I think.

01 – Play

“Play” was released in 2017 as the first single off Knowing What You Know Now, it was also used as the theme music for the WWE NXT Pay-Per-View called Wargames.  It’s a quality number that bursts out of your speakers with a ferocity that cannot be understated.  It’s a song that has hunger at its core, Marmozets have stated their intent with this song to take everything up a notch.  “Play” was a breath-taking song back in August 2017, it still is in 2018, it’s already a classic song.

02 – Habits

“Habits” is the second song on this album, it was also the second song to be released as a single.  Much like “Play” is has some big hooks for people to lose their shit in, some fantastic vocals from Becca Macintyre and the song is a great mixture of modern rock, pop and classic rock all mixed into one. 

03 – Meant to Be

“Meant to Be” is a song I would best describe as sassy, but this has nothing to do with the lyrics.  It’s that opening riff which just comes across as a hybrid between early Wildhearts and Social Distortion.  After that opening bravado, it moves into familiar Marmozets territory, with massive vocals, huge drums and pounding bass.  It’s a good song, one which will cause a storm when performed live.

04 – Major System Error

“Major System Error” was another song which has been released as a single before the album was released, so it’s one that people will be familiar with.  A song about someone who is constantly lying, generally being dishonest and is best to be avoided.  It’s a harsh number, one where those feelings of betrayal and anger are laid bare for all to see, the music matches the words in that tone as well.  With another massive riff, Marmozets have an instant classic on their hands with this one.

05 – Insomnia

“Insomnia” is one of the slowest songs on Knowing What You Know Now, with its quiet verses and loud chorus sections, giving this song a retro feeling for anyone over 30.  It has a familiar feeling, I know I’ve heard something similar and I can’t figure out where for the life of me.  But I like this one, it shows that the band have more than one gear, more than one tempo to pick from, more than one idea and they have hidden depth about them.

06 – Lost in Translation

“Lost in Translation” is a strange hybrid of Hive-esque punk, with some Blur-13 period tone to the guitars, all kept together about a relationship that has exploded spectacularly and the friends are being called to help.  It’s a loud song, but it is not one that is an instant hit for me.  I appreciate the effort behind the song and the sentiment, but it was not an easy one to get onboard with.  I know this is just me on this one, but it’s the first slip in the high quality that has been the ever-present of this album.

07 – Start Again

“Start Again” picks up the energy with a song that searches for meaning after everything as fell apart, with a hint of needed to identify with a generation due to this loss.  It’s weird that people are obsessed these days with being from (insert name) generation, so it’s no surprise that this fascination has made its way into music.  However, back to “Start Again”.  Overall, this is a decent number, one that brings back some momentum to the record, but it doesn’t rock the boat or my world either.

08 – Like A Battery

“Like A Battery” is a bouncy little number, a fascinating glam-rock influenced song with a pop side as well.  It could be viewed as lacking depth, but I would argue against this.  Just because it’s not as hard-hitting as other Marmozets songs, doesn’t mean that it’s a poor song.  In fact, for me this is one of the best numbers on here, bring together that Wildhearts feeling again, a small bit of industrial noise and (bizarrely) a hint of Supergrass as well.  All tied up neatly with all of the hallmarks of modern Pop Rock music.  It’s got a bit of something for everyone, so what is there not to like?

09 – New Religion

“New Religion” has a few subjects mixed together, there is a strong hint towards a person with huge opinions who is but a shadow, there is a hint of a parting and exiting-stage left from someone’s life.  All the while, they are hoping the other person finds happiness in the future, so it’s a little confusing lyrically.  However, the music is spot on, it’s a good & honest hard/alternative rock number that will fill a dance floor within seconds.  Musically, it’s my favourite here, but I need to look at the lyrics again…...

10 – Me & You

“Me & You” is another slow number, one that is dealing with the subject of loss and the pain that is caused when someone is no longer there.  It’s a beautiful number, one with minimal instrumentation, but high on passion.  In a few years’ time (maybe even months), when they get to this section of the show, the crowd will be singing it to the band.

11 – Suffocation

“Suffocation” is a heavy alternative number, with a chainsaw guitar sound to the verses and a brilliant vocal performance.  That is until the stop/start chorus which sounds clunky and forced, it’s a deliberate feature and it stops all momentum that has been building.  It’s not an awful number, but that chorus is one that will not age well.

12 – Run with The Rhythm

Ending the album is “Run with The Rhythm”, a song that seems to be speaking about not quite being sure what is happening, yet they still head for the horizon anyway.  The magical leap of faith, the belief to follow something, even if you’re not sure where it’s going.  That is an admirable thing, this song tries to encapsulate this feeling and it does succeed that goal to a certain point.  Let’s be honest here, it’s not an instant classic, but it’s one that has such a good heart that it’s hard to ignore.  It ends the album facing the sun, full of hope and expectation.  That’s a good place to end this record.

Knowing What You Know Now is a great record, one which is worthy of the praise and attention that it’s receiving, it’ll also shot them into the public eye even further than their brilliant debut The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets. When they’re on point, there are few acts who could better them.  They’re as important to the British Rock scene as any band that has come through the ranks and file in years, if not so more important.  However, and it’s just a small however, they should have knocked a few tracks off this one.  It’s not a bloated album by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have one or two fillers in the mix.  But a Marmozets filler is still better than a lot of bands A-sides, so as I said – this is a small however.  Overall, Knowing What You Know Now is an important record which lives up to the hype behind the band, it’ll be up there in the albums of the year for a lot of people.

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

23 February 2018

MGMT - Little Dark Age

Out of all of the band who came out of the indie/pop/electronica wave in the late 00's, MGMT is perhaps the best known.  Their first album Oracular Spectacular was a hit around the world, thanks to songs such as "Time to Pretend", "Kids", "Weekend Wars".  But I never really gave them more than a passing glance, there's no real reason why, I never had the time.  However, it's been ten years since Oracular Spectacular was released, so it's timely that MGMT has released their latest opus - Little Dark Age.  The cover for this album is fucked up, a reworking of Edvard Munch's The Scream, this image terrifies me to my core, more so than anything that Slayer added to their covers.  It also looks like it was print for a 1980's colleage fanzine, it has a grainy quality which is so retro that it has its own time personal time warp.  Little Dark Age was produced by MGMT with the assistance of Patrick Wimberly and David Fridmann, in a plethora of studios around the world.  This could be a recipe for disaster, or the long-fabled "really good multi-producer album"!  So, let's find out how it's turned out...

01 – She Works Out Too Much

Straight away, there is a change to the MGMT that I have listened to before, as “She Works Out Too Much” is a song about a person who never commits to anything other than the gym.  Nothing else is worthwhile, the only goal is to make themselves look physically fit.  This synth song is a beautiful tune, it’s very energetic with a great hook.  But it’s not in your face, it’s a gentle number in a lot of ways.  For this reason, it perks my interest up straight away, they are not relying on their O.T.T. sound, they’ve changed and immediately it’s worked to their advantage!

02 – Little Dark Age

The title track of Little Dark Age was released as a single in 2017, I listened to it a few times and it sort of passed me by.  Nothing personal to MGMT, but it was not doing anything different.  However, on Little Dark Age, it slots into this dark, synth-based world with effortless ease.  It’s part Baroque pop, part Erasure, part 80’s art house and all full of dark pleasures of the night.  Sometimes you need to hear a song in context, “Little Dark Age” is one of those tracks.

03 – When You Die

“When You Die” is not a nice song, it is a spot-on fuck you all to the whole of mankind.  This self-admission of being a douche is all wrapped up in a charming electronica pop, with oriental tones interweaved throughout the song.  It’s one of the biggest enigmas of the album, but one that I keep returning to, there is something about it that makes the world turn upside down when it’s on, it must be the guest appearance of Ariel Pink.

04 – Me & Michael

“Me & Michael” is the mission song from the film Drive, it would have fitted on that soundtrack like a glove.  This forbidden love song is a beautiful piece, with its gentle synth melody which interlinks with a steady drumbeat that homes in on your mind, then your heart.  For some reason, this song is the one that affects me the most, it seems to have that magic factor that makes a song special.  It’s so gentle, but it sounds brilliant when played as loud as possible.


“TSLAMP” is a song about how modern society is seemingly stuck on the mobile phone all the time, that bright brick that sucks time and life out of a person.  The warning that people will lose the ability to communicate in person is not something new, each age has a communication device that causes humanity to ignore each other, but it does seem to be increasing with the advancement of phone technology, the latest must-have gadgets and models.  I also found it ironic that I first heard this via my phone’s MP3 player, glued to the screen as they say. Musically and lyrically, "TSLAMP" is one of the best songs on Little Dark Age.

06 – James

“James” is another song which has a European film-esque feel to the sound, which its delicate keyboards, subtle vocals and low-key production.  It’s not a criticism to say this is low key, just comparing it to the MGMT sound I’ve known before when it’s been OTT and sounding as if a thousand fireworks were going off at once.  For a song about a pet dog, it’s a gentle little number that does not fall into the traps of being over sentimental or too silly, can’t say any fairer than that really.

07 – Days That Got Away

“Days That Got Away” is an instrumental track, for the most part, one of the few on the album which has a hint of shade to the sound instead of the hazy sunshine of summer.  There is an apprehension to the music, it’s the tension that holds the song together, as this dark synth song goes on.  If you could imagine an 80’s film, with someone walking down a dark alley all paranoid, this is the perfect song for that occasion.

08 – One Thing Left to Try

“One Thing Left to Try” is a song about wanting to try something else, that one thing you must do before you passed beyond the veil.  They seem to be chasing that moment where we feel alive, more so that you’ve ever done before, that adrenaline rush to the human condition.  It’s a decent number, once again it’s drenched in that Euro-Pop/cinematic feel, but it is never overbearing.

09 – When You’re Small

“When You’re Small” is the dark horse of Little Dark Age, the song which could be pointing in a new direction or be a glorious one off.  It’s a song about how you feel in regard to your height, but how you need to grow from being small to make something of yourself, to stay small is not an option that should be entertained.  It’s a beautiful song, one that sounds like nothing else on this album, but one that is as important as anything else MGMT have ever done.

10 – Hand It Over

“Hand It Over” ends Little Dark Age on a reflective number, one which is perfect for ending this album.  It’s a finale about giving the baton onto the next person, with some cheeky lyrics and a mournful repose.  It never explodes out of the block, instead it smoulders out of the speakers in a way that is dignified and reluctant to finish at the same time.  I never wanted this song to end, not because it’s my favourite, but because it would mean the album was over.

Little Dark Age is the best album that MGMT has released ever.  This is not open for debate, it’s their most consistent record, their most focused record and also MGMT's most adventurous as well.  I love the fact it’s trying something different to their normal stuff, it going out on a limb, it takes the leap of faith into the unknown.  I love that they had the confidence to release this record, I cannot praise it enough and I hope it gets the respect and reception I think it deserves.  And it's a multi-produced album that I love, this is truly a rare and wonderful beast of a record!

9 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost….

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