Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Terry Springford - Pretty Girls

Listening to "The Damage Done" you could swear it's a cover of "The Sandringham Line" by The Lucksmiths, but you would never hear the famous Melbourne band's frontman Tali White singing "Fuck a stranger at the monster's ball" with such quiet intensity as Terry does. Drawing influences from such fellow Melbourne acts as The Lucksmiths, and by extrapolation, The Smiths, as well as the general oeuvre of bands that have "that sound" like Suede and Pulp, this gentle album at first sounds like a lovely Sunny Sunday Afternoon Pub Album, yet delving into the lyrics one finds there is a sinister edge to the upbeat melodies. For example the lyric "Pretty girls are ugly inside" can be easily missed if you are merely paying attention to the lilting, carefree tone of Springford's voice and the soft, warm acoustic guitar.

The drumming on this album is exemplary and is part of what gives the entire timbre of the songs that "pop-y", upbeat sound, that is so delightfully deconstructed by the dark lyrical moments. To compliment this, the truly uplifting sentiments such as the track "With Love" shine like a lighthouse in their sporadic unexpectedness. Terry says he spent "Nearly 6 months recording and mixing in my mountain forest home studio", and it certainly shows in the gorgeous production that includes piano, organs and string sections. Yet it his wistful voice that encapsulates you, and makes his message, should you choose to listen, a powerful one that is truthful to the bone. "How can I make change? With poison in my blood. Waiting for change. It will free me. Waiting for change. It will come".

This delicate collection of deeply poetic and moving pieces is available for only 10 dollars at and I highly recommend it for anyone with a soul.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pendulum - Immersion

It's extremely hard to listen to Immersion and not compare it to Pendulum's epic Hold Your Colour, the world's best selling Drum n Bass album of all time. Not because long-time fans and newcomers alike were dying to hear how Pendulum have developed their sound in 2010, but because the similarities between the two are manifold.

I had to listen to this album about 5 times before I really got into it, and after that I couldn't stop listening to it. The similarities abound, from an intro that has almost the exact same feel to their debut's, to an opening track that could very well be a remix / combination of Slam and Fasten Your Seatbelt, easily the two best tracks on Pendulum's 2005 album – everything from the tone of the lead synth to the key structure and breakdown immediately scream these two tracks at you. But as you progress further into the album it is exactly this aspect of the music – basically lifting things from Colour and updating them - that makes this release so tantalisingly good.

5 years have passed between the two albums, and what that has done is basically turn Immersion into a re-imagining of Hold Your Colour, as if the boys from Perth simply pushed their first album out of their minds completely and, in laying down some new tracks completely ignored any notion that they may be re-hashing old material. The album stands tall and proud as a poetic statement as if it were Pendulum's first unveiling upon the world. This gives it a very fresh, exciting and “shiny new” feel. This time 'round, armed with a noticeably more powerful arsenal of breaks and grooves, the re-imagining ends up being rock solid by simply taking what has been done before and improving on it.

This is what a large part of music is all about. Without Howlin' Wolf there would be no Rolling Stones, and without With The Beatles there would be no Abbey Road. Emulation and building on solid foundations are what make great albums great, and this album is great. Cliched loops, overuse of the amen break and floating vocals were all there on Pendulum's first album; Immersion merely extrapolates these, adding a few flairs like Dubstep and Tech-House ramblings to the familiar bass-lines, synth melodies and drums that are unmistakably “The Sound Of Pendulum”, whilst constantly keeping you intensely engaged with intriguing side-steps, breakdowns and sharp corners.

Simply put, Hold Your Colour is a 5 star, outstanding album, but if I were on a desert island and had to choose between it and Immersion, it would be the latter without question.

Available from CD stores, iTunes, etc. through Warner.

Friday, August 6, 2010

emorej - General Electronica

This album is kindly available from the illustrious emorej as, to quote directly from Bandcamp, a "Pay what you want or download for FREE. your choice" download.

I decided this album was worth exactly 7 dollars and 77 cents. It's not just because it's great music that I decided to pay a higher price than what I normally would for pay-as-you-wish downloads (in fact most of the time I accept the "free" option), but also that the mystical, often haunting sounds I heard whilst listening on the player aligned my aural mechanics with the movements of the planets, or something, and made me decide that three lucky 7's were the go.

It's kind of hard to put into words, but before you listen to emorej's stuff, and afterwards, you are a different person. I am currently the sort of person that imagines giving him $7.77 for the privilege of owning his album will have some profound and positive karmic resonances with the man behind the music and, like a butterfly flapping its wings in The Amazon, will ripple its way through the cosmos to create peace and harmony on Romulus. Or something.

Like I say, it's hard to put into words, but from the first note I heard of this guy I just thought "Fuck yea, this is what music is." He is unmistakably a genius, and I am hardly surprised that this album, "General Electronica", so humbly named yet gloriously sculpted, amazes me at every turn. I now own all of the albums he has put on Bandcamp and am damn proud to have them in my music collection, not only standing next to, but shining brighter than, more everyday names like Infected Mushroom and Boards of Canada.

The electronic flavourings of emorej are somewhere between the extremes of mind-bending psytrance eg. the above mentioned Infected Mushroom, and chilled vibes from those Canadian Board Guys, yet it is distinctly original. It is so, so, so easy for "electronica" to sound unoriginal, detached, and, well, like it was made on a computer. Yet in every emorej album I have heard so far I feel nothing but original, complex, scintillating, organic, evolving, and completely enveloping music that deserves a better tag than "electronica".

So, I am hereby labeling it, despite all my disdain for tags and out of a necessity for succinct descriptions, especially since I just joined Twitter: "Fantasgamazinga".

If you want to hear these Fantasgamazing sounds simply head on over to The album's page on Bandcamp and grab your FREE copy, or whatever price you put on it.

For me it's "Seven Dollars And Seventy-Seven Cents For A Five Star Album That Stimulates The Senses"


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Last Nights Vice - The Perfect Little Noise

This album is like a joint made only with tobacco with a small patch of weed in the middle. Such little of the good stuff stuff that it's easily completely overlooked, perhaps mistaken for a simple cigarette and stubbed out, and certainly not bringing the high to the party. Sure there's one guy who got that hit and is zoning out but that's it - and that one hit, to also elude to the word's other meaning, is track 11, "At Sunset She Strips". This has the potential to climb many a chart with its rockout-ness. Yet the rest of the songs are pure fodder. When Brandon Flowers sung "It's Indie Rock and Roll for me", I don't think he meant this sort of music. I hope he didn't. Naff, unoriginal, derivative, melodically detached, yet superbly produced.

I cringe to have written that last sentence for they seem like really really nice guys, and I want so much to like their music, but it's hard to like. I applaud their enthusiasm and honest hearts, though. Not only are they actively involved in many charity events, but they strive to be the best that they can and their music is truly about pleasing the fans. Unfortunately the fans that migrate to this sort of music tend to care more about things like haircuts and guitar stances than tension and resolution in chord changes. This is their profile picture on Last.FM:

Hmmm… To quote from their bio, "The guys pride themselves on their do-it-yourself mentality, taking charge of their own recordings, websites, videos, promotions and show-bookings", and from a sound-engineer's point of view I couldn't commend them more for the quality of their recordings. The whole thing is a professional package from the polished sound to the pimped-out homepage and attention to hairstyles, yet unfortunately when you open the box it is mostly styrofoam.

If they release "At Sunset She Strips" as a single they're bound to lure some fans in, and for a rock band brimming with enthusiasm and positive vibes they sound like a live show would be a fun night out. No memorable experience to cherish forever, any more than a listening of the album is, yet they ooze a confidence and energy that would translate well to live shows. This energy shows in the recordings where songwriting skill doesn't, and earns the boys 5 stars for effort.

To the guys from Last Nights Vice: don't let any crappy reviewer's words sway you from your course, you're doing good things and you've just started. There's plenty of room for growth here and I look forward to more engaging releases in the future.

Album available to listen to at the band's website, with "The Perfect Little Noise" set to release on iTunes and other such stores on 31st August.

5 stars because the effort speaks reams more than the music. Rock on.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ralph Buckley - The Art of Magick

I love and have a great interest in art and I live for and am constantly surprised by the concept of Magick, so I was naturally drawn to this latest release by Ralph Buckley. The album's evocative title immediately forms connections with listeners who haven't even downloaded it yet.

With such a powerful title I expected something completely different to what I found my ears wrapped around, yet therein lies one of the secrets of magick: that paths open up before you that you never knew were there, and lead you to amazing places.

From the very first conga tap of the opening track a vibe is set, of luscious valleys of soft vocals, strong undercurrents of molten guitar lines, and gorgeously shaped bass clouds, all set to the grandfather clock tick of the simple yet outstanding percussion. One only needs to close their eyes and drift on the vibe and this album performs its Magick.

Journeying into frantic hunts through the forest side-by-side with howling wolves, taking hot air balloon rides over velvet seas of emotions, caressing the heavens at some points and pounding at the earth at others, this amazing release that talks of The End, of The Tree of Life and of Awakening will strike a chord deep within that few musicians can evoke, but that Ralph Buckley manages to pull off with both outstanding finesse and a deep respect for and understanding of the nature of the Universe.

Transcendental. Download it now, FREE.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hox Vox - Mjöllnir

Structureless chaos that is yet coherent and comprehensive.

Hox Vox is an artist whose roots are in DaDa-ism, yet consistently pumps out the antithesis of DaDa: The Concept Album. He is a strange one to pin down and describe, not least because his music is absolutely and completely, irrevocably, inaccessible. Yet he doesn't care. With an intellect rarely found he composes vast works of epic proportions that are meticulously sculpted to instil the most severe sense of unease in the listener. And yet, it is thoroughly enjoyable.

In this latest instalment of the bizarre series of works that is Hox's discography, we journey through several intriguing portraits of Norse Gods, and eventually find ourselves on the battlefields of Ragnarök. Having been dealt an onslaught of arpeggiated midi notes, barrages of drum fills, ever shifting keys, innumerable time changes and mind-boggling blitzkriegs of unintelligible sounds, we arrive at the end and say “What the fuck just happened?”

A work with such power is a diamond in the rough.

Mjöllnir comes with a .pdf booklet, a gorgeous treasure with breathtaking artwork and liner notes with information about each track. For a concept album without lyrics this is a convenient way of portraying the portraits and storyline. Had I have been listening without reading this booklet I would be lost amidst the swirling notes and complete lack of consistency in tonal and modal qualities. As I said, it is inaccessible. Yet it is the combination of the booklet and the music that creates coherence, and makes for a compelling, engaging experience. This is not surprising from an artist who is also an extremely competent video producer. His whole schtick is multi-media in the true sense of the word “multi”. His art aims to immerse as many of the listener's senses as possible in imagery to convey his message.

But what is his message? Well here we get back to his DaDa roots. DaDa was the art that defied art, and I have always felt whilst listening to Hox Vox's music that it is a product of entropy - a breaking down of preconceptions of what art should be, whilst at the same time raising the stakes of what is expected of a listener and their engagement with the work. I say entropy because in the end we have two polar opposites – breaking down perceptions and building up imagery – that meet comfortably in the middle, at a point of stasis. Whilst the sounds coming from this album are like a tornado, the eye at its centre is the solid, unwavering conclusion of “lofty ideal meets pragmatic delivery”.

In case you can't tell, this music gives me a lot to think about. I have often thought as I listen to Hox Vox's albums that they are dissecting me more than I am them. If you want to know what the fuck I'm talking about, download this album, completely free, from Jamendo. It can also be legally bit-torrented, which is a fantastic way of getting the music out there (yes people are seeding it, I got it in 30 minutes).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Northcape - Captured From Static

I lie down and listen. I listen intently and critically, and I soak up the vibe. Time passes, and I feel If I didn't have my lava lamp to look at, I would get bored very quickly. Yet that is part of this album's charm. It teleports you to the whole “lava lamp era” of sitting on suede couches smoking joints, where not only was everything in Skye and Rainchild's apartment visually oriented to make you zone out, sounds were too. S&R would casually spin Tubular Bells whilst making a pot of coffee, and you would lie on their black and white swirly rug and stare at their colour-shifting array of ceiling lights. Just, zoning out.

At least, that's where the album takes me, and I didn't even grow up in that era. I think, however, this is a testament to the depth of the vibes coming from this album, its ability to conjure scenarios in the head of the listener that are externally sourced. The sounds do more than just stimulate memory or imagination, they add to the mind's repertoire of imagery. Northcape has always described his music as depicting and reflecting nature, and I think this is the essence of it: it's music that depicts the world we live in, from those psychedelic loungerooms to the moors of Scotland, a quiet urban street at midnight to a backyard pergola and a windchime in Autumn. All of it is part of nature, part of our world, our collective consciousness, that we can thus associate with.

The deep, mellow, and layered sounds strike a chord with the part of the soul that is in tune with nature, with the earth, and is perhaps just the medicine required in today's pacey world where people like me get bored without a lava lamp to look at. 4 stars.

Freshly released today, available from Sun Sea Sky Productions. Enjoy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wormrot - Abuse

I am 16 again. I'm angry, the world hates me, and Wormrot are the only guys that sound like I feel. Their flesh-eating riffs and eviscerating drums relentlessly pounding my ear-drums are the only thing I look forward to after a day at school of being teased and enduring painfully long classes. No one understands me, yet these razor sharp guitars, these guttural screams of desperate insanity, are the only thing I can connect with. It is the only thing that has meaning.

Fast forward 8 years and I'm a competent reviewer who's been given a release to listen to. Although young I am past my days of anger and despair, and look at the world optimistically. For 24 year-old Angus Maiden, Wormrot's latest release, in all its rage and fury, is just damn fun to listen to.

With songs averaging 50 seconds long, these dudes from Singapore take a less-is-more approach to songwriting, decimating the concept of structure in favour of gunning down your ear lobes. The longest song on this 21-minute album is 2 minutes 15 seconds. The shortest: 15 seconds. Yet balancing this less-is-more approach to the actual form of the song, is a definitively abrasive more-is-more stance on what that song should sound like. More power, more brutality, heavier guitars, more more more death and destruction.

When I first heard this album I immediately posted “Grindcore: where have you been all my puberty?” on Facebook. So admittedly I'm new to the genre. I'm ashamed to admit I only just got into Cannibal Corpse recently, and haven't heard much else of the genre. The bands label, Earache Records, blurb about Wormrot that “The new rulers of the genre display a jaw-dropping mastery of the dynamics and art of blasting which will literally shock even the most seasoned of grindcore veterans.” and for this I'm gonna have to be a bit negative. It's the reason I started my post with a flashback, and the reason for the sarcastic Facebook post about puberty; for a teenager this sort of music is literally shocking, and does mean everything in the world, but I am not even “a seasoned grindcore veteran” and I find nothing “shocking” about this release. To most of the people reading this blog, grindcore is simply fun fast and furious music to put on to wake up to or when gearing up for a night out; nervertheless, Wormrot's latest album “Abuse” is a fine example of it. Three and a a half stars.

Out April 5th through Earache Records.

Monday, March 15, 2010

QPA - Meta Dawn

I listen a lot to, an internet radio station specialising in electronic music, where you listen to a specific style of music on one of their many stations, eg. The Trance Channel, The Tech House Channel, The DnB Channel, etc. My favourite channel is the Psy-Trance Channel, I often put it on and sink into a reverie of bass and bliss. Whilst listening I am not looking for meaning, or hair-raising moments of poignant vocal prowess; there is no tempo change, there are no surprises, simply really good bass feeding through my really good subwoofer and really good trance lines synchronising my heartbeat to the rhythm of the psy-cosmos. It is a very interesting listening experience and adverse to what I would call my “intent” listening experience, whereby I listen to lyrics, bathe in the different moods of different songs and the different tempos, tonality and dynamics that come with them.

Qubenzis Psy Audio or QPA for short, with his latest album “Meta Dawn” is a sort of listening experience. As linear and one-dimensional as it is, it nevertheless stirs something deep within me. The preamble to the album is that of aliens broadcasting messages from the depths of space, of cosmic music born from the ether of a timeless, tribal “Worship Of The Vibe”, as I like to (since just now) call it. A theme often found in psy-trance is that of two seemingly opposing concepts: Aliens and Earth. It's either about reverence for The Mother or acknowledgment of Extraterrestrial Intelligence already embedded in our culture through music and dance.

QPA's spin on psy is a curious mix of the two. To quote directly from the album's “Total Disclosure”:

“Knowledge = freedom. Whatever is hidden must be brought into light. The truth is for all to know. Openness and transparency is the only way to go. To embrace the forthcoming age of trust, honesty and love is the only way we can save the planet from… us!.
Until the [meta] dawn we dance and trance into the parallel timeless dimensions of eternal sound and light.”

In psy-trance there has always been this sense of Unity and Light. Whether it be from cosmic E.T.s showing us The Way or by lying on a field of grass staring at the sky with headphones on, it's about the deep Vibe running through our veins and showing us something that may not have existed before it manifested in our minds. This speaks of The Great Mysteries, of psychedelic experiences (with the obvious connotation of and connection with drug usage) and of Love for our planet and all Life.

Meta Dawn” is a vastly optimistic and spiritual journey as good as anything I listen to on It may be linear and it may not be everyone's cup of tea but if you're into mushrooms whack this on with your next bag. If you're into magick whack this on as you cast a circle. And if you're just a chilled sort of person lie down in your loungeroom, and yes, whack this on. But whichever way you listen, there is only one pre-requisite: it has to be Loud. Let the bass wind its way up your feet all the way to the cerebral cortex. You will feel Ascended. Let the Light flow through you.

Available from QPA's site, where you can stream the album, download it in 128kbps MP3s for free, or purchase it at ultra high quality for true audiophiles (this is also an interesting marketing idea that I sincerely hope works for Qubenzis).

“A Psychedelic Trance sonic universe delivering imaginatively, intelligently mind-bending, kick ass, electronic dance beats.” - QPA

3.5 stars

Sunday, March 14, 2010

emorej - Songs For And From The Heart

The very first thing that I thought of when I listened to this album was “Air”. Not just because the dulcet downtempo beats reminisce very strongly of “Sexy Boy” by the French trip-hop group, but also because the substance of this music is very much like the element of the same name. Paper thin, so fragile it feels like it would crumble at the slightest touch, it yet holds an enveloping feel to it. One could say the music evokes the feeling of floating in a sea of paper cranes. In gentle ebbs and flows it embraces you like a silk sheet on a mild Summer night – the perfect temperature regulation that the situation calls for.

As I lie in the fading Autumn light at the end of a hot Melbourne Summer, nothing connects more with my state of mind than this sort of music. Entitled “Songs For And From The Heart”, it certainly captivates the essence of that organ that infuses the whole body with warmth. Soft and gentle, soothing and tranquil, the musical energy of this album flows through you like blood, and you can bask in it like a lizard does the sun. Over and around you, it is a delight to feel the closeness of the driving yet perfectly paced rhythms, the high-end chimes running trilling patterns, complimented by a smooth bassline and sunny swirling pads, all held together by a simply sublime voice. I can't tell if it's male or female, which causes some confusion as “emorej” is a play on “Jerome”, the first name of the creator of this music. Perhaps it is a duo with a female singer, or perhaps he simply has a high voice, or perhaps it's pitch-shifted, or my interpretation that “Jerome” is a male name is completely wrong.

Anyway, it doesn't matter. I don't need to do any research on this music as I may have to in other reviews to flesh out what little I can say about it, as the music itself speaks volumes. A highly recommended 5 star album. And guess how much it is? 1 dollar. You get that in change from your coffee or soft drink, so just do it. And if you're feeling generous there's the option to pay more.

Support independent, talented musicians like emorej and buy this album at Bandcamp. Mellow, engaging, calm waves of airy bliss await your appreciative ears.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Red Friday - Worthy Of Lust

Red Friday claim to be the inventor of a new genre, "Street Rock" - angsty music you can dance to. This self-proclamation is not befitting of a humble band who's first album was completely free, who treat their fans with the utmost respect and who churn out simple yet amazingly good music. Let's not get carried away guys, this is not a new genre, it's just rock.

That being said, there is not a single other negative thing I could say about these guys or this album. Having given a glowing review of their first album, which was and still is completely free from their website, they successfully gained a fan for life, and I was happy to hand over 8 bucks for this next release of theirs.

With eager ears I listened, sticking to my dad's favourite axiom: "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and expect nothing". I was hoping for the best and that wasn't what I got on first listen, I felt more like "hmmm, not bad". It was far from the worst, and it exceeded more than satisfactorily the expectation of nothing. For there is something almost ineffable about the way these guys put their music together, the shortness of the songs, the layering, the production, that although may not be a whole new genre, is certainly fresh enough to excite eardrums that have been flogged to death by every type of music out there.

Then I listened again, and again, and again; and "the best" that I had hoped for began to reveal itself. It's one of those albums that simply grows and grows on you the more you listen to it, as you peel the layers of the onion, getting deeper and deeper into the sounds, sweeter and sweeter.

As I've said there is an ineffable magic about this music, something really great that you can't quite put your finger on and can't quite be verbally expressed; but I think one aspect of it is the ability to take idea and expression from the past and not just copy and paste it, but breathe new life into it. Although they say they are the innovators of a whole new genre, the music in fact builds on the various facets of rock music that have come before it and spurns it into a new setting, a new sound for the now truly taken-off new millennium.

On their fan forum The Red Army they have even admitted to using a completely borrowed guitar line from another song, and have turned it into a competition, offering a free signed copy of the CD for the person who recognises the line and what song it's from. There is honesty here and respect, two highly admirable virtues; there is a recognition that those who have come before have made the band what it is, something really special.

Admittedly the "we're a whole new genre" thing annoys me, yet their music is highly original. The downbeat drums, the watery shapeshifting guitar, the hollow soothing voice, the voluptuous bass, all meld together to form something that at once seems far away and detached in tone and effect, yet formidably close in theme and correlation with the audience. Another impressive thing about the band is that this closeness extends towards their personality, making them extremely likeable guys who take a true interest in their fans. This is embodied in the hoards of dedicated street-teamers who help spread the word about every little going on of Red Friday. Combine this fan enthusiasm with solidly good awesome rock, and you've got "The Next Best Thing".

Red Friday's latest album "Worthy Of Lust" is out now available on their website

Definitely worth $8. 5 stars.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

30 Seconds To Mars - This Is War

I can not stop listening to this amazing album. I haven't heard anything so good since OK Computer.

Radiohead's pinnacle of success has often been described as the best album of last century, and whilst "This Is War" is simply outstanding, there's a lot of century to go before we can make any claims similar to those surrounding OK Computer.

Yet it is also curious that 30 Seconds To Mars' latest release, put out in December '09, sounds distinctively like the beginning of something, like the beginning of a great era in music. This is 2010. This is now. The first decade of the millennium was plagued by a horrible President of USA, by the biggest recession since the great depression, and the foundations of the music world were utterly smashed by the arrival of the MP3 and file sharing. "This Is War" stands tall and proud as an epic statement to the world. As the title suggests, it's declaring something.

For me, part of the very first generation to grow up with the net, the album defiantly declares war on the past, and embraces the future. The lyric "The war is won, lift your hands toward the sun" off the title track sends shivers down the spine as a military-style snare rattle builds up to an epic take-off. I almost burst out crying everytime the outstanding vocals on the second track, Night of the Hunter, yearn "Pray to your god, open your heart, whatever you do don't be afraid of the dark". And as each song progresses the lyrics just keep tugging at those heartstrings: "Tell me would you kill to save a life". This music is Shakespearean in scope, timeless. And although it's not entirely clear on a first listen what 30 Seconds are declaring war on, it unfurls as you dig deeper and deeper like the most poetic of Elizabethan plays. The outstanding "100 Suns" states "I believe in nothing, not in satan not in god, I believe in nothing, but the Truth in who we are". For me this sums up what "The War" is about, it's about a new world order, where religion and belief systems no longer harbour the hearts of most of the civilised world; where people are looking inside themselves for Truth and not being dictated what they should believe anymore. A war on the past, and embracing the future. With the advent of the internet people are moving closer together, old values are replaced by true individuality as accessibility to information allows us to make our minds up for ourselves about the big questions.

The fact that this is a commercial release, under a major label, means nothing. Everyone knows you can get it for free if you want, and I think the lads from 30 Seconds know this too. I can imagine when they finished this album they realised they had made something truly special that would resonate throughout the land and earn them not money, but artistic merit. The recording industry has changed whereby the success of an artist is not determined by how many records it sells but by how many people are Tweeting about them. A new world order. Declare war on the past and embrace the future. It's 2010 everyone! Rejoice! "Darkness floods, here comes the rain, to wash away the past."

I have seen many people slagging this album for departing from "their earlier style", and I have to admit I have no idea what that earlier style is, for this is my introduction to 30 Seconds To Mars, and it's a fuckload of a good one. Get this album, by whatever means. It will change your life.

Dear Noel - Party Fouls / Hope You Get To Heaven Before The Devil Knows You're Dead

Dear Noel are technically proficient and professionally tight, they have a good grasp of songwriting, hooks, and rhythm, and both EPs have top-notch production.

So why does it suck?

Quite simply, these guys are playing in the wrong key. The tonality and action of their guitars are aligned for heavy metal, as is the drumming with its heavy kick drum and outstanding fills. All is aligned for neck-snapping flat-fifths and dark, minor chords. Yet they're playing this major key happy pop stuff. With heavy palm-muted guitars. !? It is just completely incongruous. And ugly, totally ugly, devoid of life or passion, and impossible to like.

The engineer of these albums is the only one with any vision, utilising fantastic production techniques that make these packages radio friendly for sure, but the stations that play this kind of stuff, wellvomitpukeergh oh excuse me.

You get the idea. Guys, if you're reading this: STOP with the happy pop crap and do a complete 180 into the heavy metal you were born to play, even if it means firing your current songwriter, for this incarnation of Dear Noel is a dead end.

I have nothing more to say.

Both EPs "Party Fouls" and "Hope You Get To Heaven Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" are available from Simple Stereo, if you want to listen to some really, really naff music.