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Deftones – Koi No Yokan

In Music, Review on November 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm

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Hello people. It’s been too long.

About a week ago, I had the pleasure of an hour-or-so drive from Glasgow to Dalkeith. As anyone who has experienced late autumnal Scotland will know, there is a calm to be found in the bleak surroundings. The uniformly grey skies meeting the barely green landscape littered with bare yet sturdy trees: there’s an ethereal dreaminess that appears to run on for mile after mile.

Then you put on Deftones and you wake the fuck up.

Koi No Yokan marks the seventh album in the band’s catalogue, and continues their legacy of  heavy riffs fused with moments of dream-pop escapism. And all to an incredibly high standard.  Their previous album, Diamond Eyeswas a very dynamic album in that there was a definite flow despite no two songs being quite the same style. From the jarringly immediate opening of Swerve City, there is a feeling of something impending that is never quite realised, and is all the better for such reserve. The songs are certainly distinct-  to me, Leathers sounds unlike anything else found in their extensive discography- but this looming atmosphere is what binds and holds the album together.

However, this album is very much Deftones, and it’s unlikely to appeal to those who have never shared an interest in them. But then again, it was never designed to. The album takes the lessons learnt from the high production on Diamond Eyes, the creative spirit of White Pony and the tone of Deftones to enhance their craft. Chino’s vocals lines overlap and interact through verses, bridges and choruses to wonderful effect (I refer you to the paced closer What Happened to You?), and yet course with his trademark ferocity elsewhere (Swerve City, Tempest). There are hand claps (Poltergeist), there are odd breaks adding intrigue to song structures (Entombed) and there are hints of post-rock to wind songs down (the very end of Rosemary). This is a band that refuse to coast, even after twenty-five years together, and that’s something rare and marvellous.

Song of the Album – Leathers

– Lyle 

Pop Punk – A Not So Serious Era

In List, Music on August 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm

There was a period in time when pop punk had the limelight. It was not musically an advancement, but it was an important time non the less. I look at the equivalent that teens are listening to today and what I hear is much of same style but with the original purpose completely lost.

My Chemical Romance and Panic! at the Disco appeal to youths and only youths, and that is a key factor – the specialness of something that is yours and only yours.

But they’re not fun bands.

Where are the skateboarders in the music videos? Where are the obese band members? Where are the Hawaiian shirts? Being young should be the best time of your life. I look back at songs that I used to LOVE and still want to do a scissor jump. Below are 5 of some of my favourite fun pop punk songs of the past.

Lit – My Own Worst Ememy

Less Than Jake – All My Best Friends Are Metal Heads.

Andrew W.K. – Party Hard

NOFX – Bob

New Found Glory – Hit or Miss

-Christopher

Sage Francis – Li(f)e

In Music, Review on April 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

It’s been silent here, but not quiet elsewhere. Having spent the last few months on a project examining the speech of two rappers, it’s about time to discuss one of them.

Until the beginning of this year, I knew little about Sage Francis other than a handful of songs. Yet it takes very little to notice his intelligence and his love of the hip-hop craft. That said, there is also much to benefit from not merely listening to his LPs – interviews give an insight into the philosophies that underpin his work. He is clearly a man who works hard to hone his skills and push the boundaries of the genre, but at all times it is a labour of love.

What sets Li(f)e apart from his other albums is the choice of instrumentals. Not content with merely rapping over samples, the decision to combine rap with indie music leanings creates something quite different to any other album of that genre I can think of. The collaborations include tracks with Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie), the late Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) and the Chicago-based Califone, resulting in individual parts that are as refreshing as the overall work.

Although somewhat of a tautology, what this as a Sage Francis album is Sage Francis himself. His conscious lyrical style allows him to delve into a number of different narratives covering as many varied topics. The compelling story of an escaped convict trying to see his dying mother (Little Houdini), the pros and cons of a religious life (Love the Lie), an autobiography that becomes a life lesson to youths (The Best of Times): whatever Sage turns his hand to, he does so choosing wit, ferocity and composure over the arrogance of many of his contemporaries. In truth, you would be hard pushed to find a better story teller in any genre, of any medium.

Song of the Album – The Best of Times

– Lyle