Reviews

TOTW-Sonic Youth-Dirty Boots

I’ve never hidden my love for Sonic Youth and recently they’re all I can listen to. ‘Goo’ in particular is a record I keep going over, and it’s the opening track, ‘Dirty Boots’ that is our TOTW. A little more subtle than what fans of Sonic Youth were used to at the time, but still bringing the sound that only they carried. Have a listen below and definitely check out the record too.

Laura Ann Brady-Lie

Laura Ann Brady is one of Ireland’s most refreshing talents and funnily enough, an old friend. I’ve picked up on her music recently again and I’d like to talk about her new release, ‘Lie’. I’ve had it on repeat lately and I’m telling you about it because you simply have to take 6 little minutes out of your day to have a listen. A haunting yet beautiful track that slowly builds, showcasing Laura’s many talents. I recently spoke with Laura and asked her about the meaning of the song and video. Here’s what she had to say, “Lie is about the difficulties I faced in trying to be different versions of myself for different people in my life, and by doing so, losing my real identity. The song and video aim to convey a coming to terms with and relinquishing of the need to be anything but oneself, and a facing up self acceptance despite it being difficult or ugly”. 

With her album, ‘World Beneath The Waves’, on the way I’m sure the future is exciting one for her. The video for ‘Lie’ is below and be sure to keep an eye out for her shows and her music on her Facebook page , Soundcloud or Spotify. You’re welcome.

 

 

TOTW-Neutral Milk Hotel-Two Headed Boy

Neutral Milk Hotel released ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea‘ in 1998 and it has gone on to be regarded as one of the best albums of the 90’s, potentially ever. There’s a number of brilliant and thoughtful tracks on this record but the one that’s been stuck in my head is ‘Two Headed Boy’. Make what you will of the lyrics, there’s no denying the power of the song. If you haven’t heard it check it out below but don’t blame me when you discover the record and it takes over your life!

Shag Haired Villains – There Is A Noise

You know that painful search for new music everyone goes through? You’re tired of your current Playlist or constantly dropping back into an old album again and you need something fresh. This happens to me ALL.THE.TIME. I love an album for a month or two and then I don’t find anything new within it, and it just becomes another album on my MP3 or in Spotfiy. It’s like watching a movie for the second or third time. You know what’s coming so you don’t really find something new. Another thing with playing the same record over and over is that you’re familiar with it, you know what to expect. That song you love, the riff or the lyric. Problem is, that’s no good to anyone. You need to test your ears, give them something new!

That’s why it is a pleasure and honour for me to review music when an artist reaches out to me. You trust me to review your hard labour and expense? Shit, thanks! On top of that I don’t need to search for new music, it just came to me. So when Irish band Shag Haired Villains contacted me to review their album, ‘There Is A Noise’, of course I said yes!

Formed in 2012, Shag Haired Villains categorise their sound as “heavy blues” but also with a “grimy” sound, evident here on ‘There Is A Noise‘. They released their debut ‘Red Lake‘ in 2015 and have pushed on since then. They’ve begun to make a name for themselves on the Dublin scene and even appeared on the ‘Garageland Gigs’ compilation record supported by RTE. So it’s fair to say these guys are serious about making it!

In regards to their new record, ‘There Is A Noise‘, it was released last month both online and physically and they have been playing it in venues throughout Dublin since. It’s sound is blusey, and to be honest the production, although not perfect on the vocal side, is far better than I expected. I thought that perhaps it would be rough or hard to hear. Perhaps the sound would loop in and out. But no. It comes across very well and although it is still somewhat rough around the edges, it suits this genre. Within the opening minute of ’30 Miles’ you get to hear what Shag Haired Villains are all about. There’s raw ripping guitar followed by the more staple sound of bass and drums. It’s not a rushed or panicked intro and because it is catchy, you immediately want to hear more. The quality continues with ‘No Man’s Land’ coming in with its slow guitar, almost Nirvana-esque. I seriously dig the bass on this one and its teasing build up. They even hit us with a solo towards the end, a proper hard rock tune here. With ‘Go Big Or Go Home’ and ‘More Than I Take’ they keep the noise coming. As I’ve often mentioned in reviews noise is great when it’s structured. When Sonic Youth came out, maybe with the 2nd/3rd record, they came with noise. Over time that became refined and they developed a unique sound. So with the first four tracks here I can say the same about ‘There Is A Noise‘, it’s loud but well put together. They throw in a solo in ‘More Than I Can Take’ between pounding toms as if to highlight the confusion. Throughout the first few tracks they switch vocals between their drummer and guitarist and it works pretty well!

By the time I’ve hit the halfway mark it’s apparent that I’m going to have this on repeat. They hit the nail on the head with each intro, the first 30 seconds being some great hook. I can’t say this music hasn’t been made before, it has. But if you can do something better than someone else, does it matter how many times it’s been done before? Shag Haired Villains are Irish and perhaps that does affect my opinion, but they’ve so many hooks in the mix of blues and hard rock that this record really does stand out. In ‘Milestone’ we hear the blues influence clearly throughout. It’s breaks, rhythm and lyrics. That aching, echoing guitar eating away in the background covered in heavy bass, a total tease. You just want it to come out and that’s the magic in it, the anticipation. This is a real track, a real stand out so far.  ‘The Mirror’ keeps the surprises coming, another epic solo surrounded by unending energy, pounding drums and deep, deep bass. As we near the end the guys let loose on the aptly named ‘Blaze’. They touch base with blues once again in ‘The Tower’ with lyrics reminiscent of a metal track. I like it though, it’s heavy. Another savage solo, something that has really impressed me. The record is wrapped up with the title track, a slow builder where Shag Haired Villains show us everything they’re about. Perhaps the best solo is saved for last as they reach new heights, proper going for it in a fantastic flurry to finish the record.

You know what, I love it when an Irish band like this comes along and gets themselves about. It goes to show we Irish don’t need to go oversees for music, it’s right here. It’s in small bars squashed on a stage, starting out in front of 5 people, busking in the street and playing at random occasions just to be heard. Everyone starts somewhere and everyone has a ladder to climb, whether it’s to gather a cult or international following. I highly recommend this one and it would be great to see an Irish band like this make it.

To keep track of the guys whereabouts check out shaghairedvillains.com

 

Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf

It’s songs for the deaf, you can’t even hear it”.

Songs For The Deaf’, is QOTSA third album. Released in 2002, I didn’t hear it in it’s entirety until 2008, which is crazy. It’s a loose concept album built around the story of someone taking a drive from LA to Joshua Tree. They tune in and out of radio stations along the way, picking up QOTSA songs. I love the idea and it works really well,  it’s kind of funny and the skits work well as introductions for the songs. The record also features Dave Grohl on drums for the first time with QOTSA.

QOTSA had been building towards a record like this as they tried to pull away from the Kyuss tag. The previous record, ‘Rated R‘ had given them a greater reach and a lot of new fans, and ‘Songs For The Deaf’ kind of built on that progress. This is probably their best and most famous record (hard to argue) and there are some best in class hard rock tracks here. ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar..’ introduces the idea of the commute before turning into a frenzy of rock and screaming. I know Nick Oliveri is a bit of a dick, but fair play to him for his contribution on this record. ‘No One Knows’ follows and this is one of the stand out tracks and rightly so. A song written about drugs and their effects, its a perfect mix of hard rock and radio friendly rhythm, and the song isn’t just a blaze through but more of a masterpiece in controlled chaos. One of my favourite QOTSA tracks without doubt, but it’s challenged by several other tracks on this record. ‘Hangin’ Tree’, ‘God Is In The Radio’, ‘A Song For The Dead’, ‘First It Giveth’ and ‘Go With The Flow’ are all unbelievable tracks. ‘First It Giveth’ is a blend of hard hard rock and soft vocals, as well as a catchy as hell chorus. The shredding guitar and speedy drums do make this one of their finest. ‘A Song For The Dead’ is another belter and another one of the best with some of the best drums you’ll ever hear. The expertise of Grohl and also Mark Lanegan come through as the track is pushed to its limits.

‘Go With The Flow’ should be well know to anyone who has ears and it’s another example of QOTSA melodic side. I’m sure that Josh Homme had radio play in mind when the band put together some of these tracks as they were edging that way with the previous record. The important thing is that while doing it they retained their core sound, so it’s cool. Bands like Coldplay who ditch that core sound quickly fall into a dark abyss. The tone of the record is obviously dark, and the theme of drug use running through it adds to that. The record is highly regarded because of it’s sound but also its consistency. Straight through we get bigger, more expansive, quicker songs that hold their own despite QOFSA operating within the hard/stoner rock and death metal genres.

I guess what really works with this record is that it’s accessible to fans of different types of music. As in, you don’t have to be a hard rock or death metal fan to take something away from it. It’s not an earful of screaming and it’s not an attack of noise, it’s structured in sound and well put together. Now, I wouldn’t stick it on at a kids tenth birthday party, but it might get played when everyone’s gone to bed. Oh, and if you want to see a crazy live performance, check out this performance of ‘No One Knows’ from the Reading Festival in 2005. I’m out.

G.M