Album Reviews - Copyright (c) 2014 Gigwise. All rights reserved. Album Reviews from en-us Album Reviews - 144 32 15 gigwise94869 <![CDATA[Guest Review: Flying Lotus You're Dead! by Jamie Cullum]]>'re-Dead-by-Jamie-Cullum Having sold over ten million albums, been nominated for a Golden Globe and hosted a jazz show on Radio 2 for the past four years, Jamie Cullum is also a huge fan of estoteric hip-hop and electronica. So who better to review the new album by Warp Record's soulful beat-master Flying Lotus? Read Cullum's exclusive review for Gigwise below.

"If we are supposed to fear death, then Flying Lotus doesn’t want us to. His latest album You’re Dead! is a technicolored, sonic patchwork that grabs hold of you as forcefully as the reaper himself, then convinces you there is a life to be lead on the other side.

There are a few familiarities to hang your hat on: Fly-lo’s signature wonky beats, those crushing, un-quantized hi hats, gorgeous washes of stacked vocals, huge black holes of side-chained compression, many moments of sheer beauty but then....hold on a second - Prog Rock? Jazz? Fusion? Gospel?

Flying Lotus has never made his jazz credentials a secret, related to Alice and Ravi Coltrane, he had stated “You’re dead!” started out as jazz record. The winding and furious lines of Thundercat’s bass, Herbie Hancock’s probing fender rhodes on ‘Moment If Hesitation’ channeling one of his most experimental periods when he was known as Mwandishi. There is some furious brush work that could easily be Elvin Jones alongside John Coltrane.

Unlike jazz, electronic music can be visualized, expecially if you are familiar with the software. Songs can look like giant games of horizontal Tetris. In starting from a jazz point of view, he gives this music a wholly fresh layer of humanity. Odd time signatures, dissonant piano chords, improvisation, complex poly rhythms peppering every frequency - it all pushes everyone to greater heights. Kendrick Lamar delivers his best verse since 'Control', Snoop sounds playful and dangerous again, Captain Murphy (Fly-lo’s rapper alter ego, his Quasimoto if you will) holds his own against the heavyweights. The references to music past, present and future are dazzling.

Below: Watch Flying Lotus 'Never Catch Me' Featuring Kendrick Lamar

It all amounts to something incredibly special - a true game changer. Here is a piece of work that sits alongside the experiments of Miles and Herbie, Alice and John, Dilla and Madlib. It sets it sights high and delivers. It gallantly demands a lot from the listener and suggests if we are to live a full life, you cannot be afraid of what is on the other side."

You're Dead! by Flying Lotus (Warp) and Interlude by Jamie Cullum (Universal/Island) are both out 6 October. Read more of Cullum's writing at

Fri, 03 Oct 2014 10:25:34 GMT
gigwise94722 <![CDATA[Jamie T - Carry On The Grudge]]> There's an expiry date to the youthful, laddish exuberance of Jamie T's early music - joyful and crass and spirited though it may still be - and Carry On The Grudge acknowledges, with a sly wink to camera, that this date is fast approaching.

Opening track 'Limits Lie' breaks it to die-hard Jamie T fans early on that this album will be lighter on the speak-singing and beer-soaked balladry than its beloved predecessors. Its melancholy, and that of second track 'Don't You Find', is no longer ridden with the self-indulgent teen-angst that so many related to in 2009.

Nostalgic fans will find more to cling onto with the monotone, mumbling verse of tracks like 'Turn On The Light', and 'Zombie' is a sheer delight, coming close to the dizzy heights of 'If You Got The Money' in terms of toe-tapping catchiness.

There's a dip towards the middle - it descends into safer territory with the rough-edged pop of 'Rabbit Hole', which treads old ground with tired feet. The foray into heavier rock that 'Peter' attempts is equally hard to get on board with - in fact, the only line we connected with was "Peter doesn't like this song" - but at least it's ambitious.

Things pick up again with 'Love Is Only A Heartbeat Away' though, which, coupled with 'Murder Of Crows', winds proceedings down with a winning self-assurance. Album closer 'They Told Me It Rained' is both a musical and lyrical highlight: lines such as "Between the birth cry and a death will, there's just houses, so lavish in your anguish" are punctured with maniacal laughter and a poignant female vocal.

In the five years he's been away, Jamie T could have released another two albums that jogged along to his tried-and-tested formula. Instead, he's allowed his wry wit and vivacity to fester and darken, and created an album with a depth that can only be attained through half a decade of reflection.

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:50:58 GMT
gigwise94657 <![CDATA[Thom Yorke's Tomorrow's Modern Boxes: Reviewed]]>'s-Tomorrow's-Modern-Boxes-Reviewed Going one better than Aphex Twin releasing a single through the Deep Web and Bono hijacking the world's iTunes accounts, Thom Yorke has decided to embrace BitTorrent.

Naturally this means of transfer weren't unexpected enough, so Yorke decided to release it late on a Friday afternoon, accompanied by a lengthy statement and a tweet announcing "I'm trying something new" by way of explanation.

So is it worth the £3.69 Yorke is asking for? Certainly - and there's more than than can possibly be processed on single figure listening. However we're delighted to confirm this is more than a match for The Eraser and AMOK: there are moments of genuine wonder and others as striking as The King Of Limbs. Our first thoughts below:

1. 'A Brain In a Bottle'
A dark disconcerting opener, all throbbing, jittery bass with enough glitchy funk to make you feel like it's 4am and your body has become to move involitarily on the dancefloor. Would follow your average Flying Lotus record rather well.

2. 'Guess Again!'
Like listening to a late-period Radiohead record that's been recently exhumed from a tomb - once you blow the dust off it you can truly appreciate its beauty. Yorke talks ominously about howling dogs, creatures, darkness and "the one who can't be killed". Also confirmation that the Radiohead frontman can make the phrase "As one door shuts, another one opens" sound like your average horror movie plot.

3. 'Interference'
As naturally pessimistic a vision of the future as one might expect: "The ground may open up and swallow us in an instant...but I don't have a right to interfere". Of course Yorke's more aware than most of the pervasive creep of technology intoning: "In the future we will change our numbers and lose contact".

4. 'The Mother Lode'
A wonky head-nodder with a delicate high vocal that feels like a shard of light suddenly illuminating the packed second room of London's Fabric nightclub. One of the most unexpectedly beautiful tracks Yorke has ever produced.

5. 'Truth Ray'
Another change in pace: delicate shifting tones, that might soundtrack an on-screen science fiction scene. Yorke's repeated cries of "No Mercy" have a perculiar drive to them, accompanied by something that sounds like tremendous generators sparking into life. It is in many ways the most linear track on the record - but that's no bad thing.

6. 'There Is No Ice (For My Drink)'
With the kind of beyond-parody song title that would make Bryan Ferry blush, this actually the kind of off-kilter Beatport-bothering rhythm (with someone mumbling something indiscriminate along it). Around the six minute mark there's a tinkly piano coda that offers some welcome relief.

7. 'Pink Section'
Not to be confused with the new Nicki Minaj record, this is a discomboluating combination of random piano plonks, spectral voices and assorted oddities. Our anaconda? Didn't want none.

8. 'Nose Grows Some'
A strange, pensive track with Yorke's voice melding in and out of the melody. There's an undeniable edge of menace but a few fleeting moments of hope. Clunky funk beats draw us to a sudden close.

Tomorrow's Modern Boxes is available now. Download the album here.

Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:24:59 GMT
gigwise94257 <![CDATA[Interpol - El Pintor (Matador)]]> "It's just a different chemistry," said  Interpol frontman Paul Banks in an interview with Gigwise, reflecting on the very different make-up of Interpol in 2014. "There was always a very powerful creative force between the four of us. To use a chemistry analogy, there might be four atoms in a molecule and it has a certain bond. There's three atoms in a different molecule and maybe that has an even stronger bond - a more excitable, radioactive state."

For Interpol to become 'radioactive', it had to lose one of its elements. Carlos D, the menacing and vampyric bassist who stalked stage left, parted ways with the band after they recorded their self-titled fourth record in 2010. Since then, they toured without him, bonded as a unit and returned with not only one of the finest records of the year, but of their career.

"This guy's gunna break," croons Banks on third track 'Anywhere', "and some of us die heroes - at least they'll never suffer." The vulnerability of his words utterly at odds with the assured conviction that runs throughout all of El Pintor - the  sound of a band utterly unbreakable. Whether it's the sharp anxiety of their immaculate debut Turn On The Bright Lights, the glossy and widescreen charm of Antics, the swooning romance of Our Love To Admire or the introverted idiosyncrasies of their self-titled LP, the evolution of Interpol has been a joy to behold. 

On El Pintor, they've found that common thread that runs through everything, distilled it to make it 100% pure Interpol, and fired it racing into the future with a newfound drive and compulsion. It is that very essence that has struck a chord with fans. The second that the brilliant opening track and lead single 'All The Rage Back Home' hit the radio, the resounding response around the world was one of the band returning to form - and wasting no time in doing so. 

Punchy and direct it may be, but don't be misled into thinking that El Pintor is a collection of ten singles. It's still as far from a bunch of formulaic verse-chorus-verse tracks stapled together as you can get. Interpol are an albums band, and El Pintor is an extraordinary trip.

'All The Rage Back Home', 'My Desire' and 'Anywhere' are a genius masterstroke of an opening trio, rushing straight into the essence of album's no-nonsense spirit before the gentle swagger of 'Same Town, New Story', the lip-furled bravado of teen dream come true 'My Blue Supreme' and the minimal majesty of 'Breaker 1' give the album the consistency and depth of character that made you fall in love with them in the first place. Cap it off with the pounding 'Tidal Wave' and 'Twice As Hard' (a near cousin to 'Untitled' and 'The Lighthouse') and you've got a complete A-Z of everything you could possibly want from an Interpol record.

El Pintor is certainly the band's most direct body of work since 2004's Antics. Upfront, and with the perfect balance between pop, post-punk, poetry and cinematic experimentation, it's the sum of all that's great about the New York band. But, in losing a member and shedding a layer, we're now closer to 'the heart' of Interpol.

Not only one of the albums of the year, but one of the best of their career. They  went through the grind and came back one man down but ten times stronger: direct, highly evolved and radioactive. 

- El Pintor is out now. To celebrate, we asked Interpol to take over Gigwise

See our Interpol take-over below: 
EXCLUSIVE: Go behind the scenes with Interpol on the making of the band's 'new chapter' in this in-depth video EPK

INTERVIEW: Sam discusses El Pintor, evolution and 'the cult of Carlos'  

INTERVIEW: Paul talks staying true, Interpol fans, ignoring critics and 'becoming a new band'

INTERVIEW: Dan on Interpol's artistic drive, originality and passion  

CULTURAL INSPIRATION: We ask the band what they've been enjoying  

COMPETITION: Your chance to own a copy of the album on beautiful vinyl  

Sat, 13 Sep 2014 19:57:38 GMT
gigwise94171 <![CDATA[U2 - Songs Of Innocence]]> When Amazon decided to delete all Kindle copies of George Orwell's 1984, users were horrified that their devices could be manipulated without their consent. It’s fair to say when U2 and Tim Cook digitally inserted the new U2 LP into iTunes this week, many of the 500,000,000 users had a similar reaction.

What’s interesting is that the launch of Songs Of Innocence wasn't actually that shocking. Whether it's Jay Z getting into bed with Samsung for Magna Carta Holy Crail, Tom Petty releasing his tour tickets with an album attached or David Bowie, Beyonce and Radiohead releasing albums at (extremely) short notice, it's seems increasingly like a conventional album launch has gone the way of the CD single.

In many ways, the launch did achieve what Bono and co. wanted: it got the band talked about after five years of missed deadlines and postponements. The album title trended on Twitter for a day or so and it’s been dubbed “the biggest album release of all time” (even though it isn’t included in Nielsen Soundscan and won’t appear in either the Billboard or British charts). The band have, through somewhat extreme measures, managed to potentially get to people who don’t even own a copy of Achtung Baby.

"People who haven’t heard our music, or weren’t remotely interested, might play us for the first time because we’re in their library,” Bono wrote on U2’s official site, “Country fans, hip-hop afficionados from east L.A., electro poppers from Seoul, bhangra fans from New Delhi, highlifers in Accra might JUST be tempted to check us out, even for a moment.” But quite what east LA’s rap community are going to make an album about Bono’s personal memories about growing up in Dublin remains to be seen.
For the modern nature of its delivery, this is a throwback record. A chance for Bono to ditch the wraparound shades and remember a simpler time for rock’n’roll - a time when you didn’t have to worrry about the Cupertino live stream being in mandarin for example. It’s an album about teenage ambitions, getting to tour LA for the first time, listening to the  Beach Boys and the sheer joy of going to see the Ramones and The Clash. Even with five producers - including Paul Epworth and Danger Mouse - apparently what they’re after is simplicity. “There's nowhere to hide….clear thoughts, clear melodies” was Bono told Rolling Stone.

The problem is that in trying to make a ‘classic’ U2 record, the band are stuck in a moment they can’t get out of. As Pete Paphides explained on Twitter, if they aim constantly to write stadium anthems that cements their position as the biggest band in the world, this will only result in disappointment. Much like it’s the small moments you remember in a Steven Spielberg blockbuster, sometimes it’s the less 'anthemic' songs that get closer to the heart of the band. 

The biggest problem Songs Of Innocence faces is that U2 occasionally sound like they’re trying to copy the bands who copied them - resulting in the horrifying prospect of U2-doing-Arcade-Fire-aiming-for-Mumford-resulting-in-Snow-Patrol. ‘Every Breaking Wave’ sounds like Coldplay platitudes over The Police. ‘The Miracle (Of Johnny Ramone) has the feel of U2 by committee: you can almost hear the record company execs pump the air from their leather armchairs. Surprisingly the military drama of “This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now” is about as thrilling as your average episode of Nineties TV favourite Soldier Soldier.

There are songs that deal with genuine heartbreak - 'Iris (Hold Me Close)' deals with the death of Bono’s mother and 'Raised by wolves' focuses on the aftermath of a car bombing - but there is such a sheen over the entire LP it's difficult for them to hit home. There are some more intriguing moments - mainly courtsey of Danger Mouse - and rock tracks like 'Volcano' prove that when they put their minds to it U2 can still deliver.

Is it any good? It’s difficult to say. Much like binging on Netflix rarely matches the delayed gratification of following a TV series live, it will be interesting to see how the album stands up when its released in October. It's an experiment that reminds us of U2's huge potential - but also illustrates the funk that has stopped them putting out an album for five years. And, for some, even a surprise U2 album will be the fourth most interesting event after the Apple Watch, the iPhone6 and even the iPhone 6Plus.

Wed, 10 Sep 2014 16:05:09 GMT
gigwise91745 <![CDATA[Album review: Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence]]> Ever since she revealed in January that her new album was "finished, wrong and exquisite", the hype has been slowly building for the release of Lana Del Rey's new album Ultraviolence.

The album's title, a reference to Anthony Burgess's controversial novella A Clockwork Orange, is an appropriate marker for the album's tone. It's a dark, uneasy offering, and when it's at its best, it drips with a beauty that is as compelling as it is disturbing. Del Rey's vocals are at time angelic, at times haunting and discomforting - helped along by the carefully crafted mess of noise that accompanies them.

There's also a thread of wicked irony running through much of Ultraviolence - following 'Pretty When You Cry' with 'Money Power Glory' takes the tone from one extreme to the other with immense, seductive skill.

Does it live up to the hype? In a word, yes. For many more words, keep reading.

'Cruel World'

Could there be anything more American than the line, "I got your bible and your gun"? The chorus of 'Cruel World' is a sprawling expanse of orchestral allure that, in truth, deserves to be encased in a better verse. It's not an opener that immediately grabs you, but Del Rey is confident enough to let the album slowly, steadily suffocate you with its beauty.

Though it's dripping with haunting beauty, the lyrics to 'Ultraviolence' have been met with a degree of controversy. The song features the line, 'He hit me and it felt like a kiss" - a reference to the 1962 Crystals song of the same name, and a sentiment that seems to somewhat glamourise domestic violence. It's a debate with no easy resolution, but the line, "You're my cult leader" makes it explicit that this is a romantic indoctrination that no one should hope to copy.

'Shades Of Cool'
The opening riff of this song evokes images of James Bond films and Westerns, and its soaring falsetto chorus cuts through the laid-back verse in one fell swoop. The lyrics - "He lives for love, he loves his drugs, he loves his baby too," - are hardly a triumph, but when the tune's this good, that hardly matters.

'Brooklyn Baby'
The opening verse is fairly unremarkable, but the Arabic-influenced bridge signals that this song is anything but ordinary. Del Rey's reputation for submissive narratives seems set to continue with the line, "My boyfriend's in the band, he plays guitar while I sing Lou Reed", but she ends by singing, with a hint of tongue-in-cheek subversion, "Yeah my boyfriend's pretty cool, but he's not as cool as me."

Listen to 'Brooklyn Baby' below

'West Coast'
Though it was the first of Del Rey's new tracks to be revealed, 'West Coast' doesn't really reflect the mood of the rest of the album. That's not to say it's any the worse for it though. It's an ambitious and unusual song, which builds up a rhythm as it approaches the chorus, before completely changing the pace as if everything's just gone into hazy slow motion.

'Sad Girl'
The opening verse hops between octaves with disarming ease, adding a hint of jazz to Del Rey's cinematic soundscape. In fact, the verse is so immediately compelling that it's a shame the chorus, in its repetition of "I'm a sad girl, I'm a bad girl, I'm a sad girl" becomes a little trite.

'Pretty When You Cry'
Del Rey's voice sounds almost arrestingly juvenile in the track's verse; and the tune almost like a lullaby - both of which add to a sense of childlike naivety that is, thankfully, undercut by the mocking sardonicism of the lyrics. "I'll wait for you babe, that's all I do babe, don't come through baby, you never do, because I'm pretty when I cry."

'Money Power Glory'
In stark, and probably deliberate, contrast to 'Pretty When You Cry', there's no hint of submissiveness here. "You talk lots about God, freedom comes from the call. But that's not what this bitch wants, not what I want at all - I want money, power and glory." It's gracefully, unashamedly depraved, and the gritty electric guitar that kicks in halfway through is a welcome addition.

'Fucked My Way Up To The Top'
According to a Grazia interview with Del Rey, this song's about "a singer who first sneered about my allegedly not authentic style but later she stole and copied it." Though the chorus strikes the right note, it's a shame about the lazy aggression of "I'm a dragon, you're a whore, don't even know what you're good for." Rather than fuelling creativity, the feud behind this one seems to have stood in the way of the imaginative, ellusive lyrics Del Rey is capable of. Still the best song title on the album though.

'Old Money'
The closest in sound to Born To Die-era Del Rey, 'Old Money' provides a welcome break from the dark, cluttered beauty of the 9 preceding tracks, but it also shows how far her sound has developed in just two and a half years. It's a pleasant, poignant song, but it somehow lacks the weight and depth of what's come before it.

'The Other Woman'
It was, on first inspection, a strange decision to end Ultraviolence with a cover, but this Nina Simone song blends in seamlessly with the rest - from its lyrical content to the long, drawn-out notes and close vibrato of Del Rey's vocals, which contain more than a hint of Judy Garland. It's charmingly anachronistic, but still drips with the darkness that envelopes the rest of Ultraviolence.

Utraviolence will be released on 16 June. Del Rey has some European festivals planned for this summer, but currently no UK dates.

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:13:01 GMT
gigwise91418 <![CDATA[Syd Arthur - Sound Mirror (Virgin)]]> Syd Arthur’s second album Sound Mirror is a lustrous piece of self-produced craftsmanship, mixed by Grammy-winner Tom Elmhirst (Arcade Fire / Amy Winehouse).

From the opening, ‘Garden of Time’, it possesses strong echoes of Tame Impala with its flowing harmonies and adept musicianship. It succinctly ties in 60s / 70s sounds with a fusion of early Pink Floyd ambience.

Other tracks seem to allude to a band that have taken strong influence from My Bloody Valentine, but with an English whimsical charm. So, it is no surprise that Paul Weller appreciates the band.

Not only does the music seem authentic, the lyrics feel as if they’ve come from somewhere profound. The band manage to accomplish what many new artists have been struggling with – they have sewn synths well into the wider sound and even string arrangements, as in ‘What’s Your Secret’, without sounding contrived.

As the album develops, a Supergrass inspiration becomes more and more prevalent. What’s more, ‘Sound Mirror’ is the kind of record that makes you want to invest in the vinyl. In fact, Syd Arthur, with their continuous touring, are a band you just want to succeed.

Up until track six, ‘Forevermore’, it seems Arthur have created a great formula and decided to stick to it, which is not a criticism, due to the exceptional quality. This blueprint does, however, change with ‘Backwardstepping’, an acoustic, folky number. Another unexpected turn is the progressive rock, guitar heavy instrumental ‘Singularity’.

Overall, in ‘Sound Mirror’, Syd Arthur offer more musicianship and authenticity than the preponderance of prevailing artists.

Fri, 30 May 2014 13:38:46 GMT
gigwise91416 <![CDATA[The Orwells - Disgraceland (Atlantic)]]> I must confess to being something of a fan of The Orwells after seeing them live last month. Because of this I was particularly guarded about giving the young punks a free pass when the album landed on my doorstep.

Luckily I needn’t have worried. This is a record of genuine quality. I applaud whoever has somehow managed to keep them sober enough and focused enough to play their instruments to at least a decent standard. Thankfully, these songs get the platform they so richly deserve.

Opening with a drum riff that you could hear in any garage from here to Illinois, ‘Southern Comfort’ is just about the dumbest rock and roll song you could ever hope for. When Mario Como sings ‘I can’t walk and I can’t dance/so give me a smile and take off your pants’ you start to get the feeling this album could be something a bit special.

‘Dirty Sheets’ contains the kind of 3 note guitar riffs that seemed to go out of fashion in 2002. ‘Let It Burn’ is a more considered and layered effort and could be a modernised Patti Smith track, which is one of the highest compliments you can give pretty much any song.

Single ‘Who Needs You’ slots neatly into the second half of the album before ‘North Ave.’ takes us home, channelling Thin Lizzy in a triumphant close to the album.

Pretty much every song here is about wanting to sleep with some girl or other, but that can only be a good thing. I can count on the fingers of one hand great rock and roll songs that aren’t. The Orwells are just naïve enough think they’re the best band in the world but too lazy to do anything other than make one of the most fun records you’ll hear this year. At the end of day, isn’t that everyone’s favourite thing about music from across the Atlantic?

God bless America.

Fri, 30 May 2014 13:21:05 GMT
gigwise91272 <![CDATA[Track by track: Manic Street Preachers - Futurology]]> "It's The Holy Bible's bedfellow," said lyricist and the Manics' minister of propaganda Nicky Wire, describing their hotly-anticipated twelfth studio album.

Recorded partly in Hansa Studios where Bowie made "Heroes", and said to be the counterpart to 2013's stripped back Rewind The Film, as well as "the sound of the Manics at their very best - a record inspired by permanent revolution, modern art and Autobahns," the Manics' own echelons of greatness raise the bar even further. 

Manic Street Preachers are a band with an unmatchable history: one worth celebrating, but also one that anchors them in a sea of misconceptions. Can Futurology live up to its name and see the band charge into the horizon, or is it a cry from three artists struggling to escape their own shadow? Let's have a listen and find out... 

1. Futurology
Brief bubbling space-age noises introduce the title track before a burst of Everything Must Go guitars kick off. The positive pine of Bradfield's vocal acts as an immediate sign that this is not going to be The Holy Bible pt II - or a continuation of any of their past work at all. While it may be a wonderfully typically Manics slice of arena rock, this track has a spirit to it that you've not heard from the band before. 

"We'll come back one day, we never really went away," moans Wire in the elegiac chorus, singularly summing up the spirit of the Manics in 2014. This is not a comeback record. If Rewind The Film was soulful catharsis and Postcards From A Young Man was 'one last shot at mass communication', this is Manic Street Preachers fully aware that they nothing left to prove, but hell-bent on doing so anyway. 

2. Walk Me To The Bridge
A no-brainer of a single, a slow ticking of guitar work builds into one of the most glorious choruses that the band have written in years. It certainly carries the 'European' sound that the band described, and will probably invite theories about being about missing guitarist Richey Edwards with the lyrics: "So long my fatal friend, I don't need this to end. I reimagine the steps you took, still blinded by your intellect."

However, bassist and lyricist Nicky Wire said: "People might have the idea that this song contains a lot of Richey references but it really isn’t about that, it’s about the Øresund Bridge that joins Sweden and Denmark. A long time ago when we were crossing that bridge I was flagging and thinking about leaving the band (the “fatal friend”). It’s about the idea of bridges allowing you an out of body experience as you leave and arrive in different places."

Either way, it's a ready-made Manics classic.

3. Let's Go To War
A fitting but bitter call to arms, this recently debuted number has military post-punk stomp of their darker moments but with the stadium-ready anthemics of their latter day work. It sounds nothing less than monumental, but its similarity to the Alton Towers theme tune has also been noted. 

It certainly stands out as a potential single and future staple of the Manics' live set, not least for the brilliantly barbed Wire lyric: "Working class skeletons lie scattered in museums, and all the false economies speak fondly of your dreams."

The Manics are marching on. 

4. The Next Jet To Leave Moscow
Of the countless autobiographical songs from the Manics' back catalogue, this could well be their most self-referential yet. Jarring chords reminiscent of Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' see the track in before a krautrock beat underlies an ode to 'an old jaded Commie' who's 'the biggest living hypocrite you'll ever see'.

Wire's sideways analysis of the band's controversial past continues with "so you played in Cuba, did you like it, brother? I bet you felt proud, you silly little fucker. And all the sixties dreamers called us English, said we started something that they could finish."

5. Europa Geht Durch Mich
Already a favourite among fans after being aired on their recent tour, this is the sound of rushing down the Autobahn, in an invigorating tribute to 'European skies, European desires, European dreams, European screams' - voiced with a little help from brilliant German actress Nina Hoss. Herself glamourous, politicised, uncomprising and the offspring of a trade unionist, it seems like a pretty perfect much. 

It's enough to make Nigel Farage wet his tweed trousers, but it's also an impressive and surprising left turn for a band for a band who have already gone  through so many reinventions. The motorik charge pumps this incredible stomper with one of the most spirited performances that the band have recorded in years. 

6. The Divine Youth
A gorgeous duet with the Welsh Music Prize-winning Georgia Ruth, this one takes its name from a slogan that adorned a t-shirt of Wire and fellow glamour twin Richey Edwards that found itself on the high street some years ago, for shoppers with more money than 90s music knowledge. One of the much more tender and slow-tempo tracks on the album, but it's clear as to why it wasn't on the folky predecessor Rewind The Film, as beneath the "the victories and failures I daily lose and win", is a Berlin triology-esque tapesty of futuristic sounds and ghostly alien echoes. 

7. Sex, Power, Love And Money
Woah. Where did this come from? Anyone who may have feared the Manics have lost their fire in recent years need only be directed to this track - a blistering blend of a weirdly danceable disco beat in the verse before an utterly monolithic chorus.

It's an angsty rollicking ode to the only four certainties in this world as Bradfield spits "no black, no white, no left, no right - just four small words that will not be denied". Wire's piercing mantra of "obsession, posession, confession, recession" leads into one of Bradfield's most bone-shaking choruses to date as he howls the title. "We could have been heroes, but failure's more fun" is going to look great on a t-shirt too.

It's the closest the band come to spite, bile, menace and passion of The Holy Bible on the whole album, with the closing shredding that closes the track a little reminiscent of 'Archives Of Pain'. Wrap it all up is some trademark punk-meets-GnR JDB guitarwork and you've got the makings of what could well be Futurology's finest moment. 

Dreaming A City (Hugh Eskova)
This is where the influence of Hansa studios becomes most apparent, with this space odyssey of an instrumental built around the same proto-post-rock template of the likes of 'Speed Of Life', 'A New Career In A New Town' or any of the interlude moments from Bowie's Berlin Trilogy. It's a sharp, shimmering crystal-cut piece of spikey wonder, allowing the underrated musicianship of the Manics to really shine. 

Black Square
Hoss' German refrain from 'Europa Geht Durch Mich' returns to introduce another "Heroes"-esque slower number - adding to album's general feeling of movement by flowing from a cinematic swoon into a Blade Runner age krautrock guitar solo before falling back into a gentle mournful lullaby to 'endless endorsements, slowly passing always'.

Between The Clock And The Bed
Fellow legend Scritti Politti's Green Gartside takes lead vocal on this delightfully curious down-tempo ditty, blending mechanical beats, a meandering bassline, twinkling keys and choppy guitar. Bradfield delivers a heartfelt chorus before delivering the oh-so-Wire and oh-so-Welsh line of "hatred and failure growing perfectly together like the quick and the sad - beautiful and damned. I live through these moments again and again, repeating images of enemies and friends."

Misguided Missile
A near-mechanical Nicky Wire bassline sees the track in before an Eno-esque blend of synths and strings add a cinematic widescreen element beneath Moore's post-punk drums. Lyrically, it's an artful depiction of doubt and self-loathing ("I am a self-obsessed fool, self-obsessed and bruised"). Flitting between genres with a minial guitar solo and choral chorus, 'Misguided Missile' is a hidden gem on the album - and one hell of a grower.  

The View From Stow Hill
An acoustic-led tribute to a spot in Newport, Wales, it's soulful sound and nod to their homeland would have fitted quite nicely on Rewind The Film, but the click-track backing and futuristic subtleties add an anchored sense of balance here. It's a beautiful walk to the exit from Futurology, however the clunky and cringeworthy utterance of "the misguided tweets, the sad Facebooking, cheapness surrounds me, but I'm not looking", provides a seldom lull on the record. 

Another Bowie-esque razor-sharp instrumental, ending Futurology with a fitting of locomotive movement before a 100mph rush of guitar noodling and the Hoss' echo of "European skies, European desires, European homes, European hopes."


2014 is the year that the Manics celebrate the 20th anniversary of their seminal Holy Bible - a record that would define most bands for the rest of their days, and a landmark that would consume them. However, that seems like a footnote to the Manics in 2014 - if a little irrelevant to the plot. Futurology howls defiance in the face of a culture of touring pantomime rock giants. Here are a band still inventing, still challenging themselves, still refusing to tread any path but their own - ultimately, it's proof that the Manics still matter, and always will.

No, it isn't The Holy Bible part II, nor was it ever going to be. Manic Street Preachers have never made the same album twice, and as a result their eclecticism and sheer range of ground and sounds covered has often been overlooked. But what you'll find here is a band drawing across a wide and vibrant palette of sounds, and stamping their own inimitable character all over it.

Certainly their best record since Journal For Plague Lovers, but for its sense of sheer adventure we'd argue that it's their greatest achievement since Everything Must Go. Well done, Manics.

As a record that embraces the constant sense of movement and progress throughout Europe, it establishes the band themselves as artists in constant revolution. In 2014, celebrate their past yes, but more importantly their present and their future. Celebrate Futurology - celebrate the Manic Street Preachers. 

- Futurology by Manic Street Preachers is released 7 July, 2014

Below: Exclusive photos of Manic Street Preachers at Manchester Apollo

Sun, 25 May 2014 11:55:14 GMT
gigwise90916 <![CDATA[Nick Mulvey - First Mind (Fiction)]]> After being a member of Mercury Nominated jazz collective, Portico Quartet, Nick Mulvey decided he wanted to travel the world, put himself through guitar school in Cuba and find his own sound. It has certainly paid off. Mulvey’s unique, poignant sound shines beautifully on First Mind.

Don’t be fooled by Mulvey being classed as a folk singer however; there is nothing a-typical about this record. First Mind is a highly contemporary record that reflects how much travelling Mulvey has done in the past few years. Never once is there the feeling that Mulvey is trying to emulate other successful male singer-songwriters around at the moment.

Furthermore, you appreciate just how skilled Mulvey is as a musician. His guitar is played exquisitely, and of course is the centrepiece of each song. In fact, you often wonder just how he’s able to maintain the guitar as a focal point. It is an incredible skill he possesses, to carry an entire song with the majority of it being an acoustic guitar.

However, his poeticism should not be overlooked either. His highest charting single to date ‘Cucurucu’ is a rendition of DH Lawrence’s ‘Piano’ but his original lyrics in songs such as ‘I Don’t Want To Come Home’ feel entirely natural and courageous. There is not a single instance on the record that feels over calculated.

This no doubt is why ‘First Mind’ is such a relaxing but still captivating listen. Nick Mulvey doesn’t need to convince you that he’s clever. He just is.

Mon, 12 May 2014 14:13:02 GMT
gigwise90895 <![CDATA[The Black Keys - Turn Blue (Nonesuch)]]> The Black Keys' musical evolution continues with their eighth studio album, Turn Blue. The follow up to 2011's El Camino moves away from the 60s and 70s inspired rock 'n' roll vibes towards a more adult, bluesy, dirty and much darker brand of garage rock.

As a complete bundle of work guided by the hand of producer Danger Mouse, Turn Blue is a mix of all kinds of musicality, showcasing aspects of the duo that all bear as much weight, depth and accomplishment as the next. An album of two uneven halves; the distinctions between songs like 'Fever' and 'Gotta Get Away' when juxtaposed with songs of 'Bullet in the Brain' and 'Year in Review's' grumpy melancholia are stark.

There was most definitely a shift in the mood of the album when the duo began their second round of sessions at the Sunset Sound studio in California after completing 'Fever', 'Gotta Get Away' and 'It's Up To You' in Michigan. No doubt the finalisation of Auerbach's divorce had a hand in lending the remaining songs their angst and sadness, but it seems the band also let themselves be freer in the kind of music they chose to record this time around - quite literally. Often songs you think you have pegged in the first minute or so, turn out to be something completely different by the time the outro rolls around. It's a refreshing quality for an album to have in today’s age of popular music that can sometimes sound rather samey and predictable.

Standout tracks include '10 Lovers', possibly the most commercial-sounding song on the album, but enjoyable and soulful nonetheless, the eponymous 'Turn Blue' which manages to be sexy and sad simultaneously, lead single 'Fever' which gives a nod to the up-tempo rock and roll tracks of Black Keys albums gone by, as does 'Gotta Get Away' – a fun, Stones-esque retro tune, perfect for arena sing-a-longs, ending the album on an unapologetically frivolous high.

Mon, 12 May 2014 09:01:51 GMT
gigwise90894 <![CDATA[Foxes - Glorious (Sign Of The Times)]]> After scoring a Grammy for her part in Zedd's worldwide hit Clarity earlier this year, which followed further collaborations with Rudimental and Fall Out Boy, 25-year old Louisa Rose Allen, or Foxes, was that rare proposition - a UK pop singer arguably more recognisable in the US than on her home turf. A clutch of UK hits and a poster campaign for this long-awaited debut, which has her face splashed on the cover, will surely change this, though, if they haven't already.

Yet as Foxes finally strikes out on her own, she's sadly made an album somewhat lacking in personality. A quick look at the credits for Glorious offers a glimpse at what to expect. Jessie Ware collaborator Kid Harpoon manned the desk for album highlight and recent single 'Let Go For Tonight'. And, elsewhere, the production credits include names linked to the output of Marina and the Diamonds and Ellie Goulding. This is very much the world of earnest, soaring, EDM-influenced pop.

Variety, too, is lacking on Glorious. Attempts to layer synth upon vocal upon synth to beef up each chorus mean you can almost set your watch on Foxes bellowing at the top of her lungs every other minute across these 44. Luckily, unlike with Florence and the Machine (to whom Foxes' music has also been understandably compared) you at least don't feel you're being incessantly shouted at through a foghorn.

Indeed, the best thing here is Foxes' voice - it's promising and it's different, piquing interest in lyrics that rarely merit closer inspection, washing warmly over production that might otherwise leave you cold. With such an expressive voice at her disposal, it therefore seems a shame Foxes hasn't used her long-player to try and shift gear occasionally.

There are glimpses of a little more subtlety and restraint on 'Night Glo' and album closer 'Count The Saints', albeit punctuated by reverberating drum-bashes lifted straight out of Bat For Lashes' songwriting textbook. But even on these tracks Johnny Harris, aka Ghostwriter - who co-wrote and produced the lion's share of Glorious - cannot resist steadily glossing-up proceedings with walls of sound, by the end leaving them both overwrought, threatening to drown out the vocals altogether.

The production works best on more memorable, anthemic tunes like 'Youth' and 'Echo', but little else on the album threatens to linger in the memory. Foxes has spoken of how she "found her sound" on Glorious, but in truth, these 11 tracks suggests she and her producers have largely found other people's.

Mon, 12 May 2014 09:01:22 GMT
gigwise90697 <![CDATA[Lily Allen - Sheezus (Parlophone)]]> Stepping out of the spotlight for a while, after her second Lily Allen became a mother and took an extended break from music. But after having engaged in a twitter fight with rapper Azealia Banks, Allen was inspired to head back to the studio and write her third studio album, Sheezus.

The product of that initial inspiration was controversial comeback track 'Hard Out Here', an attack on the treatment of women in the music industry. It is this ability to divide opinions so rapidly that propelled Allen into stardom years ago. Sadly, 'Hard Out Here' is one of very few pot-stirring tracks on 'Sheezus'.

Strongly lacking in coherence, 'Sheezus' is a testament to the fact that whether it's a good thing or not, four years can be a long time to wait to release an album in the pop world. There is a distinct feeling of confusion as to whether or not Allen is trying to make a sudden change in her lyrical appeal or stay true to her previous releases.

'URL Badman' and 'Insincerely, Yours' do a fantastic job of providing biting commentary on social media and celebrity culture in 2014 and it is this kind of unrestrained social commentary that attracted people to Allen when 'Alright, Still' was released.

But Allen, after stating that she doesn't 'give a f**k about Delevingne or that Rita girl' propels into songs such as 'As Long As I Got You' and 'Take My Place' that feel far too twee, both sonically and lyrically. Soft country influences that creep into these tracks don't feel potent enough to not skip and the same is applicable to the lyrics; that don't feel powerful or opinionated enough to be on a Lily Allen record.

Whether you like her opinions or not, it has always been clear that Lily Allen has had plenty of them. She still does, and they are just as contentious as before. It's just a shame that they don't feature as heavily this time around.

Fri, 02 May 2014 11:14:33 GMT
gigwise90693 <![CDATA[tUnE-yArDs - Nikki Nack (4AD)]]> The tUnE-yArDs persona that Merrill Garbus has taken on and explored over the last five years has been responsible for some of the most experimentally wonderful sounds in modern music.

The Oakland based multi-instrumentalist and visionary has not looked back since her 2009 debut BiRd-BrAiNs, and with 2011’s follow up w h o k i l l capturing an even wider audience, high hopes and expectations rest on this much anticipated third album.

With a life-affirming trip to Haiti for inspiration Nikki Nack sees Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner develop the band further still. Mutitracked vocals and Afro-beat off kilter beats still dominate production but with a nod to pop pastures, in the form of the exquisite lead single ‘Water Fountain,’ tUnE-yArDs third LP does not disappoint.

Using digital technology to loop and layer a whole plethora of sounds sometimes makes it difficult to focus on Garbus’ extraordinary vocals. Exploring some of her deepest thoughts alongside lyrical nonsense on tracks like ‘Sink-O’ and ‘Left Behind’ somehow manages to create the perfect juxtaposition.

Elsewhere on the album, the explosive tendencies heard on w h o k i l l are more controlled as they simmer away under the infectious synths and heavy basslines that dominate album highlights ’Hey Life,’ ‘Wait for a Minute’ and ‘Find a New Way.’ The ballad like ‘Time of Dark’ is almost in complete contrast to frankly startling ‘Why Do We Dine on the Tots’ interlude.

It would be easy to label Garbus’ as off-key nonsense and dismiss her music as weird, but thats an easy way out. You have to give tUnE yArDs a chance, you have to understand that the sound is all encompassing. tUnE yArDs should be an experience that tests all of your senses and if you allow yourself to be as one with the magnificent sounds and creations of this extremely talented visionary artist you will only benefit from it.

Fri, 02 May 2014 10:56:27 GMT
gigwise90493 <![CDATA[Pixies - Indie Cindy (PIAS)]]> Its always with baited breath I await an album from past heroes who have since reformed. Too often the results are like some bizarre waking dream where your heroes are suddenly peddling some bizarre psuedo-memory of their better days.

Pixies' return, without Kim Deal on bass, had all the potential of living up to this waking nightmare. Thankfully Indie Cindy escapes this fate. True, the content is not a radical departure from usual form, which, for the uninitiated, is frequently bonkers melodic indie rock. One listen to 'Blue Eyed Hexe' with its octave over top chorus and dirging chord progression and you realise you are once again in safe hands.

Perhaps over the years there has been a mellowing effect on the band.. If anything this has only resulted in a more anthemic return in comparison to the manic hits of old. 'Another Toe In  The Ocean' crosses between their previous calmer moments and a Weezer track but remains deliciously addictive. 'Greens And Blues' equally takes a classic Pixies sound in one of their calmer moments and delivers a fantastically zany song.

With that said there are a few curve balls that show Pixies are still as innovative now as they were when they first broke. 'Bagboy' for example plays to an uncharacteristically heavy laden drum beat; with Frank Black's spoken vocals over the top somehow this tune feels more like a Beastie Boys track than traditional Pixies track. Meanwhile 'Andro Queen' too takes something of a departure, more akin to a Pet Shop Boys number than Pixies traditional stomping ground.

Needless to say, Pixies' return is far from a disappointment. Perhaps energy has been rolled down from 11 to maybe...9. But this is still far and away a better indie record than a band of this age needs to necessarily put out. The fact they've made the effort shows they're still in love with the music they make. And damned if I don't love it as well.

Fri, 25 Apr 2014 10:33:02 GMT
gigwise90454 <![CDATA[Brody Dalle - Diploid Love (Warner)]]> It’s hard to believe that it’s been a decade since the release of ‘Coral Fang’, which would irrefutably ignite Brody Dalle’s music career and the punk rock scene alike. That’s not to say that life for the former Distillers star has run smoothly; if anything, it’s been the exact opposite. Having battled a crystal meth addition, suffered the breakup of The Distillers and ended her turbulent relationship with Rancid singer Tim Armstrong, Dalle’s first solo album ‘Diploid Love’ is what she describes as a recording about life: “creating it, living it and surviving it”.

‘Rat Race’ is an ambitious opening track, with a combination of driving rhythm guitars and the implementation of neat little pop pulses as a sideliner. Setting the tone for the record, the clear theme resides around determined toughness and enduring life, no matter what the odds. The multiple layers give the track added depth in terms of first-rate production values; it’s just a really slick piece of contemporary punk rock.

‘Don’t Mess With Me’ showcases Dalle’s absorbing gravelly vocals that pierce through the killer funk beats and fragmented song breaks. Her voice is outstanding and it’s tracks like this, reminiscent to the Distillers era, that we realise just how much we’ve missed her.

But it’s the triumphant centerpiece of the album ‘Meet the Foetus’ that shows how much pregnancy has influenced and shaped Brody as both an artist and parent. Encompassing themes of pure untainted ecstasy and illustrating a wholesome love for life, it’s an orgasmic foundation for an epic upsurge within songwriting creation.

As a whole, the album displays a clear transition phase, maturing into a sound that we’ve not heard from Dalle before. ‘Carry On’ displays a new vocal softness, which you wouldn’t think capable from her smoke filled lungs. The ringing piano, sweet natured lyrics and leveled down harmonic drone is a strong sentiment of actuality.

Dalle’s life has (and probably always will be) a wild and stormy ride, which she’s managed to dramatically convey through ‘Diploid Love’. It was the album that we’ve all been waiting for and one that, like many Brody inspired records before, has the potential to become a cult-classic.

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:40:33 GMT
gigwise90183 <![CDATA[Paolo Nutini - Caustic Love (Atlantic)]]> It might seem like forever since Paolo Nutuni's pencil was full of lead but he's back and better than ever. This time he comes to terms with a ten year relationship falling to pieces. Caustic Love is his most adventurous record to date but at just twenty seven there’s a lot of life left for this Scot whose croaky voice screams with agony and whose emotions are still pretty raw.

This is worlds away from anything Paolo has done before whilst the content remains just as heartfelt/passionate/emotive he takes you on a journey, vividly painting a picture of blue skies turning grey, then, occasionally rain being replaced by sunshine. Albeit, that is pretty rare.

There is unexpected synth intro on opener 'Scream', a track that teeters from intimate to bold and brash as horns and gospel singers embrace their duties, reintroducing Mr Nutuni with a record full of surprises. The most glorious being on 'Fashion', where a collaboration with the crazy-good Janelle Monae. It shouldn't work but it does, brilliantly.

Caustic Love embodies soul, authentically, and this side of Paolo strikes most potently on 'Let Me Down Easily' whilst the subdued and expressive moments are constantly fed through so delicately that it might pass you by the first time around. That is what makes this coming-of-age record such an enjoyable listen, as it delivers immediate tunes and slow burners equally.

'Numpty' has a vintage vibe running through it as the smooth saxophones rub shoulders with the gritty vocals delivering earnest yet poignant lyrics, clearly documenting that word all men fear, 'commitment'. Paolo’s storytelling charm is as sweet as ever, you can't help but fall for his honesty on 'Better Man', followed by the lethargic and intensity of 'Iron Sky' which implodes with passion.

You could say this is an artist confused but he is just putting all his cards on the table, they just happen to be aces

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:37:10 GMT
gigwise90121 <![CDATA[Chet Faker - Built On Glass (Future Classic)]]> Chet Faker's debut album Built on Glass is a compulsive, slickly produced, late-night groove of a record. Intriguing and powerful, Faker manages to create electronic music with bite and passion.

It's not that you can't dance to Faker's music but it's that you probably won't want to. His music works because it is extremely subtle in nature but at the same time highly memorable. Faker never attacks you with any overly throbbing bass lines but rather slowly makes you warm to his music through the use of his soulful and chilled voice.

But it's not all sunshines and roses either. His lyrics have enough heartbreak and violence in them to make an impact so that it doesn't just become so much more than background music. On 'Melt' his chorus contains the line "My happiness, some kind of fu**ed up mess," and this is indicative of what other inner turmoil Faker manages to display on this record.

Expertly mixed, the record flows like melted chocolate and flows at a calm, correct pace for this genre. Perhaps some will misconstrue some of his subtle interludes or lengthy tracks such as 'Cigarettes & Loneliness' as slightly pretentious or cliche, but the fact is no one has done a better job of this genre recently. Faker ticks all the boxes; so although he might seem like this has been done before, it's rarely been done better.

With enough musical finesse displayed to appeal to any technical expert, and enough cool factor to make you want to listen on repeat, Faker's album is sure to be appreciated by many. Imbued with gorgeous harmonies, lush synths and down-right funky beats, 'Built on Glass' is an intriguing, impressive listen from start to finish.

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:52:55 GMT
gigwise89973 <![CDATA[Aloe Blacc - Lift Your Spirit (Polydor)]]> Prior to the release of Lift Your Spirit retro soul man Aloe Blacc featured on the cheesy EDM country hybrid hit 'Wake Me Up' with Swedish producer Avicii, which went on achieve No.1 status in 22 countries. Lift Your Spirit is his third solo effort, but the first to be released on a major label, and it seems Aloe Blacc is longing to be a household name. With two No.1 singles in the UK ('Wake Me Up', 'The Man') the release of Lift Your Spirit looks certain to place Blacc within the realms of mainstream success but at what cost?

Lift Your Spirit is an imaginative yet uninspiring effort from Blacc that results in sounding like a complete mishap, the soulful funk-esque radio friendly pop aesthetic is almost cringe-worthy. Opening the record with an acoustic stripped back version of the aforementioned ‘Wake Me Up’ is a bizarre and derivative move for Blacc forcing us to listeners into hearing the track once again (as if we hadn’t heard it enough already) and the corny ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’-esque vibes don’t end there either. The majority of the album is all a bit too safe for my liking; the wow factor just isn’t there.

Vocally Blacc sounds flawless but the folk/soul crossover sound is too polished and the big gospel-like choruses on tracks ‘Wanna Be With You’ and ‘Can You Do This’ make it a difficult listen for those who were fans of the timeless classic ‘I Need a Dollar’ and the entire Good Things album. The cinematic ‘Here Today’ would place better on the soundtrack to the worst feel-good romcom movie, sorry Aloe.

There are a few positive moment on the record, the funky ‘Soldier in The City’ and cliché heavy R&B slow jam ‘Red Velvet Seat’ are both valiant efforts but yet again fail to deliver that cutting edge. Major label releases often deliver a manufactured, radio friendly sound and Aloe Blacc is unfortunately the latest casualty.

Mon, 07 Apr 2014 11:08:59 GMT
gigwise89745 <![CDATA[Band Of Skulls - Himalayan (Electric Blues)]]> Band Of Skulls have gone from little-known noise-makers to the go-to band for anyone who gets their kicks from shaking their hair back and forth to the sound of wall-to-wall guitar riffs.

After coming out of Southampton during the midst of the noughties, they took on an approach that was a little heavier than the indie bands that littered the charts at the time, but an almost flawless release in the shape of their debut album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey led to huge support slots with the likes of Muse and The Black Keys. The follow up, Sweet Sour, was accompanied by a live album recorded during a sold out show at Brixton Academy, which offered an insight into just how far the band had come for those not already in the know.

With this in mind, their third effort Himalayan poses a little more of a challenge. Sweet Sour essentially followed the exact same formula as its predecessor, meaning there might be a few who are after something a little different this time around. In all honesty, the trio shy away from doing this and Himalayan is once again a combination of riff heavy blues rock and the odd softer moment - but fortunately the collection songs is still strong enough to offer a thrilling ride.

Opener and lead single ‘Asleep at the Wheel’ provides the usual ‘slap in the face’ style statement of intent that will no doubt have tens of thousands bouncing in unison when they hit the festivals this summer. As their former tour buddies The Black Keys unveiled a more polished approach on their new single ‘Fever’ this week, it is nice to see that those who like their rock music to remain a little rough around the edges will not be left out in the cold in 2014.

Watch Band Of Skulls perform 'Nightmares' for Gigwise' below

To suggest rock ‘n’ roll is the only influence on Band Of Skulls is probably doing them a disservice. The album’s title track even tips its hat to the offbeat guitar hooks of disco and some occasional cinematic moments help form an impression of a complete body of work as opposed to twelve standalone tracks that have been hastily thrown together.

By the time the record draws to a close with the woozy, but ultimately uninspiring, ‘Get Yourself Together’, there is a sense that Band Of Skulls may be falling asleep at the wheel, but are certainly not re-inventing it - many fans may well argue they shouldn’t have to.

The bottom line is that for those who have been turned off in the past by a brand of rock ‘n’ roll that could be viewed as derivative, this will do little to change your mind. But for others who are more open to taking rock music for its face value, Himalayan could well prove one of the albums of this year.

Sat, 29 Mar 2014 14:24:32 GMT