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It would be easy to grab people's attention about Young Liars by simply describing a few of the events which take place in the first story arc. Words like `decapitation', `castration' and `Spanish midget assassin' would be easy ones to use if I were trying to get readers interested in a book that has largely fallen under the radar. I don't want to take the easy route though, because while these events are exciting, shocking and reason enough to read the book in their own right, it has a lot more to offer.
Reading this comic is probably the closest you'll ever come to experiencing what it must feel like to listen to a great rock song whilst sitting on a roller-coaster, without actually doing so. The tension builds throughout the entire series, slowly climbing, and I sat on the edge of my seat, fully aware that at any moment the lives of the young characters at the centre of the story could all come crashing down. But at the same time, it's such an enjoyable experience I couldn't look away.
Fantastic art and great writing help to solidify the fact that this is one of the most exciting new books available. My highest recommendation.
Bloc Party - CD
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I was a big fan of Bloc Party's second album, 'A Weekend In The City', but am fully aware of why a lot of fans weren't so keen on it. While full of great songs, it lacked the urgency and raw emotion that made the first album so fantastic. I'm glad to say that this album re-captures the spirit of 'Silent Alarm'.
It starts off with a bang: 'Ares' is a shot of pure adrenaline in contrast to the slower, more downbeat songs from the second album. 'Mercury', the second track, is clearly the most experimental song they have released, and will take some time to properly enjoy. But experimentation in a genre which hasn't changed much in the last five years is good, and repeated listens of the track will yield results - it really does grow on you.
Not every song is as strong as the first couple, and some do fall back to the slower melodies of 'A Weekend In The City', but frankly any sub-par song on the album is more than made up for by the masterful 'Trojan Horse'. Possibly the strongest song they have yet produced, it combines all the best elements about the band; clever, meaningful lyrics, catchy indie guitar riffs, pounding drum beats, and electronic experimentation. It really stands out as the best song on the album, if not their career.
Overall, Intimacy is a true return to the wonderful formula of 'Silent Alarm', while at the same time pushing the boundaries of the genre to keep it sounding fresh. A must buy for anyone has had even the slightest passing interest in the band, highly recommended.
Auf Der Maur
Auf Der Maur (Hole) - CD
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I'm sure you're as sick of me with every band or musician being pigeonholed into a particular genre, so it was extremely refreshing to hear this album, since I think it's virtually impossible to label it under any known musical type. Semi-gothic-grunge-alterna-rock? Thats the best I can come up with, and I thought about it for a while.
Very much so unlike any album I've heard before or since it's release, Melissa Auf Der Maur's solo debut it one of my favourites. All the songs are very catchy, but at the same time challenging and unconventional. Her voice is beautiful and talented, yet firm and occasionally eerie. The subject matter is often quite explicit, and at the same time very personal and sensual. It really is a huge achievement in song writing and performing.
I can't recommend this album enough. Since it is so hard to put into any one genre, fans of multiple genres will likely enjoy it for its multi-faceted beauty. A unique piece of semi-gothic-grunge-alterna-rock perfection.
A Weekend In The City
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This album is a very different affair to the bands debut, 'Silent Alarm', from a few years ago. The songs and lyrics are generally darker and more personal in tone, and the music is often much more experimental. The change is reasonably drastic, but the band pulls it off.
Lyrically, the focus here is very political, covering topics such as terrorism, sexuality and racism. The band is clearly in touch with the social conscience of London, which is the main star of this record. It's almost a concept album in some regards - a musical image showing different aspects of modern life in London.
The musical side of things show obvious progress and maturity in the group, every song sounding much better thought out than on 'Silent Alarm'. A couple of the songs feel a little weak in comparison to the better tracks on the album, though.
The band has changed a lot, but they still remain at the forefront of British music. Highly recommended.
Air - CD
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This, Air's first album, remains the best work of their career so far. Full of beautiful, ambient tunes such as 'Ce Matin La', which are guaranteed to get you feeling nice and laid-back, but also with slightly more up-tempo numbers like the classic 'Sexy Boy' - the record is very successful at what it aims to do. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to relax and enjoy themselves.
The White Stripes - CD
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This album, the first from the band, is often overlooked due to the fact they only really became successful with their second effort, 'De Stijl'. That is a criminal shame, as I think this album is the best they've recorded so far.
Perhaps the aspect of this album I enjoy the most is how raw it sounds. There is no over-production going on here as on some of the bands later albums, just pure, passionate rock music. Everything seems louder and more exciting. Meg's drums are much faster and more intricate, and Jack literally just shouts a lot of the lyrics.
There are a couple of more mellow songs, such as the beautiful 'Do', but the majority are heavier and faster than the bands more recent recordings. The influences of blues music is also more evident on this album, on songs like 'When I Hear My Name' and 'Suzy Lee' in particular.
Heavier, more passionate and more exciting - this remains the high point of the White Strips career in my eyes (and ears).
Keep on Your Mean Side
The Kills - CD
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Sounding like a sort of stripped down, more stylish version of the White Stripes, The Kills are made up of just two people (Singer 'VV' and guitarist 'Hotel') and a drum machine. That doesn't stop them from making super cool, catchy music though.
Simplicity is the star of the show here, each song being led by a single guitar and straightforward drum beat. VV takes lead vocals, but Hotel also comes in with his gruff charm. It's all kept very minimalist. That doesn't stop it from being amazing though. There are some great songs here, particularly 'Cat Claw' and the insanely catchy 'Black Rooster'.
A couple of the songs aren't quite as strong as the majority of the album, but there is a lot here to like. Fans of alterna-rock will be very happy with this purchase.
Songs For The Deaf
Queens Of The Stone Age - CD
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QOTSA have recorded the ultimate driving album. There is no better feeling in the world than driving along a motorway at night and listening to the epic album that is 'Songs For The Deaf'.
From the mock radio opening of "Millionaire...' through the incredible 'Sky Is Fallin', via the catchy 'Go With The Flow' and all the way to the closing 'A Song For The Deaf', there is not a bad song here. Each one will keep your feet tapping and your head nodding.
Musically, QOTSA are amazing. With Dave Grolh (Foo Fighters lead singer/Nirvana drummer') on drums for this album, they sound even better than before. Lyrically, they are unbelievable cool. The three frontmen all share duties singing on different tracks, each with their own style, each sounding great.
Truly epic in scope and style, this album will keep you going on that long drive home one night. Perfect for the car, but also musically brilliant and worth listening to anytime. I highly suggest buying it.
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
Modest Mouse - CD
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Although relatively unknown in the UK, Modest Mouse have been plugging away for over a decade. This album is by far their most commercially successful release, largely due to the fact that former Smith's guitarist Johnny Marr has now joined the band as a full time member. Despite this line-up change, the album still stays true to the spirit of the band.
The band's front-man Issac Brock is certainly an eccentric fellow. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that this is very nearly a concept album about people drowning (the story goes he had to compromise with the rest of the band and settled for only a few songs on this theme). Oddly, those songs actually work and are among the best of the record, the first track 'March Into The Sea' in particular.
Compared to earlier Modest Mouse recordings, a lot of this album is very radio friendly. Their previous work is much darker and even more eccentrically jagged sounding. That makes this a great album for newcomers to the band, to whom I suggest working backwards from this one.
Modest Mouse are one of my favourite bands, and this album did not disappoint me. The songs are all very catchy and sound like MM songs should, especially lyrically. Marr's presence is felt and there is a slight change in the sound of the overall music, but it's all still very good.
No Such Place
Jim White - CD
This album is one of my very favourites. Incredibly beautiful lyrics put to astonishing music, a multitude of genres and styles, and Jim White's distinctive voice and flare. I can't think of anything I don't like about this album.
Starting off with a witty, upbeat, country style song in 'Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi', the pace changes throughout the album from the slower, darkly catchy 'The Wound That Never Heals', via the heartbreaking 'Christmas Day', back full circle to the wonderful 'The Love That Never Fails'. Each song is truly unique, yet all seemingly linked in lyrical style and content. Truly amazing.
I can't recommend this album enough. If you're a fan of country or folk music you're very likely to fall in love with it, but I also urge casual fans to give it a chance and be amazed by how incredible it is.