A selection of album and live music reviews from various publications from 2011 onwards. This post is subject to being updated.




ALCEST – ‘Kodama’

Inspired by their visits to Japan, the culture, traditions and melodies – as well as anime movies – of the Land of the Rising Sun imbue Alcest’s occasionally blackened dreaminess with a bewitching, otherworldly flair.

GOJIRA – ‘Magma’

Stripping things back a tad, but still with a sense of colossal urgency in their transcendent progressiveness, ‘Magma’ is a storming effort, capturing l’énormité one of modern metal’s most formidable bands.

PURSON – ‘Desire’s Magic Theatre’

The ’70s fuzz rock revival continues, but while many of its exponents coast on warm nostalgia, Rosalie Cunningham’s band inject enough captivating, psychedelic twists and turns to keep the retro style within its sell-by.

Christmas Christmas

Every year, people bemoan how early Christmas comes around in terms of advertising and high-street decorations. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t breathed a quiet sigh upon seeing a twinkle of tinsel in a shop window before we had reached what I would consider the festive threshold. I’m far from the sort of too-cool dullard who’ll witheringly put down the most wonderful time of the year, but if Die Hard and that Coca-Cola advert haven’t been on television yet, I don’t wanna know.

It appears Cheap Trick didn’t get the memo, though, dropping a Yuletide album before Halloween. The seminal Illinoisans are no strangers to Christmasification, having reworked ‘Come On, Come On’ and their signature song ‘I Want You To Want Me’ into jingling, sleigh bell-adorned versions in the past. There are some pressing questions raised by the release of this record, though – why have they waited until their 44th anniversary to cash in on the holiday season? Why indeed have they dropped it so early? Why is it named twice? Could it possibly be as bad as Twisted Sister’s? Continue reading on Drowned In Sound

World On Fire

Much like the snakes that he uses symbolically and keeps as pets, Slash‘s professional life has been a long and winding one that has seen him repeatedly shed his skin and begin anew (while probably making some killer boots out of the remains). The Guns N’ Roses explosion and implosion is a legend that’s still a feverishly hot topic in rock culture almost 20 years after its occurrence, while Velvet Revolver looked set to take the crown for a few years before it became clear they were a – very, very bright – flash in the pan. The current stage of his… his… his serpentine career spawned from 2010’s debut solo album. A borderline gimmicky effort, it was a multicoloured jamboree that saw a star-studded cast join him to make some noise, even if some of them were the most awkward, awful choices in Hollywood. It provided a few memorable tunes but didn’t quite feel like fertile soil for a story arc to grow from, especially given the evanescent stabs at solo glory in the ’90s and persistent promises of a Velvet Revolver continuation. Continue reading on Drowned In Sound

Baker Street

From Drowned In Sound‘s Greatest Scottish Songs feature, during the 2014 independence referendum

The song that revived the proverbial saxophone market, ‘Baker Street’ got thousands of people and Lisa Simpson picking up the instrument. Not bad considering it was initially only a placeholder for a vocal hook. Mysterious and evocative, the tale of loneliness in a crowd and a Scot’s isolation in London – something apparently felt by half a nation nearly 40 years later – conjures up images of city lights, wanderlust, the fine line between ambition and reality, and that togetherness we feel in being alone. A sublime classic from the dearly departed Paisley Buddie.


Only a musician as innovative, mercurial, uncompromising, stubborn and erratic as Ginger could suffer from Difficult Second Album Syndrome after countless records and a quarter of a century in the business.

To rate Albion as just another solo effort in his extensive curriculum vitae is only telling half of the story, if even that. The odyssey starts in 2010, following the dissolution of his band The Wildhearts – cult favourites and Nineties chart-botherers – when he found himself playing guitar for Hanoi Rocks’ blond bombshell Michael Monroe. Despite successful tours and a warmly-received co-written album Sensory Overdrive, creative differences and managerial issues cast him into the musical wilderness alone. With no band, no direction and no means to provide for a family, the towel was close to hitting the ring. It seemed that wild hearts could be broken. Continue reading on Drowned In Sound…

C’Mon Take On Me

Something of a missing link between ‘80s glam metal and its recent resuscitation, Hardcore Superstar have, for fifteen years now, peddled such leather-clad sleaze with poignancy and nostalgia-laced honesty that sets them apart from both over-the-hill old-schoolers and modern day revivalists. More emotive than emulative, the Swedes are, like they’ve proven in the past, capable of comfortably stretching the bracket of the genre to more bittersweet extents like ‘Above The Law’ while retaining hard rock joviality. By largely avoiding the macho-isms of the serious Steel Panthers in today’s scene, they humanise a cocksure genre’s traditional excess into honest success.


For the volume of MySpace generation bands blending electronica with hardcore, it’s surprising how many fail to do it with any credible chutzpah. This is another one. There are quirky hooks that work well, but any enjoyment gained from them would probably be tantamount to satisfying the curiosity of putting two Siamese fighting fish in a pint glass together or using a sandpaper condom. At very best it’s guilty pleasure material but, mainly, it’s a nauseating exposure to the insidious movement trying to inflict rock ‘n’ roll with the hipsterish, UV-painted accessibility that spoils everything we hold dear.

Six Song Demo

In some circles, this is the sonic equivalent of finding the Holy Grail, for this is not just the first demo of any band, but of one that simultaneously broke and shaped the mould for the punk and post-hardcore genres. While these six ditties would eventually form parts of their later releases, here we find skeletal versions of the Washington, D.C. boys’ atonal tales of angst – the sound of them forging the line between aggression and fragility that would forever characterise such music. A window into the origins of a small band creating what would be a big influence some twenty-five years down the line.

The Path Of Totality

Korn have, in a way, always been fundamentally based on experimentation. Having kick-started the nu metal genre in the early ‘90s, they pushed heavy metal in a new direction by incorporating juxtapositions like rap into the framework. As a movement, nu metal came to be loved and loathed in equal measures, but its innovation and significance was – and still is – undeniable. Now, the influential Californians have expanded their bracket once more by incorporating the electronic phenomenon of dubstep into their tenth studio album.

Recent single ‘Narcissistic Cannibal’ was something of a red herring, as it did not depict the full extent of the change in sound prior to the release of this full thing, essentially sounding like Korn with a few sound effects over the top. It’s in tracks like opener ‘Chaos Lives In Everything’ and ‘Sanctuary’ that the band fully explore their musical sexuality. Chunky blocks of electronica duck and dive into each other, sometimes successfully entwining with the nu metallers’ trademark riffs, but often shadowing them completely. While Jonathan Davis and his band take to dubstep like metal did to tracksuits – with relative success – it’s in the repetitive structures and apparent loss of focus that the album fails to launch. It’s as though they rely on the gimmick of dubstep, without ever trying to take it any further, the end result sounding like Korn lost in an unfamiliar genre.

Alas, it would be ironic if fans were to abandon them for this attempt at diversifying, as doing so was essentially how they came to prominence almost twenty years ago. There’s enough here to keep die-hards at least mildly interested, but a large gateway for electro fans to get involved, showing that Korn have, if nothing else, once again bridged the gaps between genre and time.

Glasgow King Tut’s – 9/2/12

One has to hand it to Astroid Boys for having the balls to address tonight’s early arrivals like a packed arena crowd but, while their sometimes-clumsy grime gets the front row shuffling politely, it’s mainly in their kitsch banter that they provide warm-up entertainment. Marmozets have a small collective age but possess a big – if sometimes challenging – sound. Their music is like a maze, with hints of sombre Paramore-like melody lost between walls of mathcore complexity. It’s met with a mixture of appreciation and confusion, emotions that could both be considered a victory. Observation of the fully-assembled audience by the time Hyro hits the stage tonight suggests that the appeal in his music lies more in the rock than the rap. The live vibe lends a visceral heaviness even to the more straightforward hip hop moments, but it’s the punk bursts of ‘Ghetto Ambiance’ and ‘Attack Of The Average Man’ (sampling Refused’s ‘New Noise’) that are greeted with the warmest welcome by the frenzied crowd. ‘A Conversation With Hip Hop’, which sees him rant about the commercialisation of music, however, suggests that it’s authenticity and the sense of something important – something real – that speaks louder than genre.

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