Frock rock four – Breeders produce another

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DESPITE The Breeders track record and evident pedigree, the 1993 hit single Cannonball continues to be a weighty millstone around Kim Deal’s neck.
Despite a promising start, Mountain Battles never recreates the form shown on Last Splash or in the band members’s other projects The Pixies and Throwing Muses.
Not that The Breeders are ready to be put out to grass just yet – tracks like Bang On, Istanbul and No Way demonstrate that there’s plenty of worth in Mountain Battles, and followers of The Breeders will be satisfied at what is an increasingly rare outing for the group.

There’s just too many disappointments in between holding the album back for the casual listener.

Frock rock three – Pet sounds

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PUNK revivalists Be Your Own Pet’s second album Get Awkward is like reliving your formative teenage years all over again.
Singer Jemina Pearl Abegg’s cutesy yet gutsy voice is perfect for this blistering collection of primal pop songs about subjects such as lust, violence and school.
In fact, here in the UK we are lucky to have three songs included – Black Hole, Becky and Blow Yr Mind – that were deemed too extreme for the US market.
So with Abegg’s brilliant frontwoman turn and the band’s undeniably brilliant garage rock backing you’d think you’d be on to a winner…
But in actuality the subject matter both makes Get Awkward and lets it down.
Like being a teenager was, at times it’s exhilerating, and other times cringeworthy, and after one trip through it, you wouldn’t really want to go back and do it all again, would you?

Frock rock two – Brooding music

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This Gift, Sons And Daughters’ third album released in January, is a progression for the four-piece indie folk rockers.
A good deal heavier than their previous stuff, the bands pulse – a trademark tubthumping beat – is sounding stronger than ever.
In fact on This Gift some of the tracks almost sound glam with the guitars laid over the stomping beats.
However while the band have learnt to rock out, at the same time there is evidence of a new-found restraint when needed, which adds more maturity to their new songs.
And although sometimes, but not often, this exuberance spills over into the land of cheese, highlights such as title track This Gift, Iodine and album bookends Gilt Complex and Goodbye Service show the Glaswegians have a lot more to give.

Frock rock one – New Shoes

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AT PRESENT a glut of new or nearly-new albums by female-fronted bands have left rock’s musical compass pointing towards the oestrogen.
The first of these frock-wearing rockers are Blood Red Shoes, a two-piece made up of 50 per cent womankind in the form of Laura-Mary Carter, a Kate Nash with knuckledusters type (as well as Steven Ansell, who cares about him).
Leaked on the internet back in November 2007, Blood Red Shoes’ glorious debut Box Of Secrets – which has spawned five singles already – is still to be officially released, although it is finally due on April 14.
And it can’t come soon enough – Box Of Secrets is a real haymaker of an album, landing you with hook after hook in the form of punky grungey rock songs like Say Something, Say Anything and You Bring Me Down.

Spirits high for Nine Inch Nails

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THERE must have been strange goings on at the Reznor household when Nine Inch Nail’s new release, the four-part, two-hour Ghosts I-IV, was conceived.

Of late Nine Inch Nails have been playing it straight, with albums Year Zero and With Teeth demonstrating a more guitar-based approach to their brand of dark and dangerous industrial music.

However the Ghosts EP are instrumental, largely computer generated opuses more akin to experimental classical compositions, meandering IDM or works of sound art.

And they’re magnificent.

Listening to the 36 unnamed tracks at times feels like being inside an intense computer game or a horror movie, and at other times you forget there’s music on at all the feeling is so ethereal and atmospheric.
Admittedly some times you just need that quick blast of high octane, but when you’re in the mood for a more recreational listen, Ghosts will be just the vehicle.

Throughout the many years of releases that make up their extensive back catalogue, Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails have always been a reliable source of challenging and unexpected music with real shock value – and Ghosts continues that tradition while simultaneously breaking their own mould.

Del The Funky Homosapien clocks on

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LONG time hip-hop innovator Del The Funky Homosapian’s fifth solo album Eleventh Hour sees the legendary Oakland rapper turning back the clock.
Best known for his work on projects such as Gorillaz and Deltron 3030 that pushed more envelopes than a workaholic postman on commission, his 2008 return to solo work after a four-year hiatus is an unexpected celebration of old school boom bap beats and battle raps.
Del’s first – and arguably best – solo album, 1991’s I Wish My Brother George Was Here, was produced by his cousin and contemporary Ice Cube, however since then Del has been treading his own experimental path, growing to become one of the biggest names in alternative hip hop.
By returning to the mainstream of gangsta rap Del could have shot himself in the foot – luckily his production stands up.
But although Del’s funky flow over the top compares favourably to rapper parodies such as Snoop and 50 Cent demostrating a tone and dexterity virtually unparalleled, sadly rapping about guns and prostitutes makes it really not worth listening to anymore.

Black Mountain peak

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DESPITE the prophetic nature of the second Black Mountain album’s title, In The Future, on listening it is clear that it’s ingredients were cherry-picked from the past.
For this hour-long indie masterpiece is a mauve mixture of Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, with flecks of a folky version Rolling Stones and a sedated Queens Of The Stone Age thrown in occasionally for tones of light and dark respectively.
Tracks on the Canadian band’s album, released in January, such as Stormy High veer toward classic prog rock, while others, such as the irrepresible bass groove of Wucan, belie the group’s youth.
And while the music flows around this musical ether, duel vocalists Stephen McBean and Amber Webber provide snarling and moaning vocals which echo with a grainy ’70s tint.
But although Black Mountain owe more than a doff of their cap to their predecessors, In The Future is definately one for posterity.

Okaygrass

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ALTHOUGH a country mile ahead of Supergrass’ previous album, the shockingly-dull Road To Rouen, Diamond Hoo Ha is still short of the band’s sparkling best.

However you can hear in this album’s punchier, spikier approach that the band are again heading in the right direction, back to the bright lights of In It For The Money and I Should Coco where they once resided.

For example the opening number, Diamond Hoo Ha Man, is raw, funky, no strings rock mined from the once-rich seam of their past excavations.

And other tracks on the March 24-released LP, like 345 and second single Bad Blood all help make a half-decent album.

It’s a shame about the other half.

Bright idea

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DANCE punks Does It Offend You Yeah? are a scalding potato compared to contemporaries such as Hot Chip.
A snarling, stomping beast of an album, You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into, released on March 24, practically pulsates with a groove that sounds like Daft Punk having a seizure, and is by far and away the best dance album of the year so far, leaving the critically-acclaimed likes of Hot Chip’s Made In The Dark and Hercules And Love Affairs’ Hercules And Love Affair whimpering in the corner.
As far as beats are concerned, they take a back-burner most of the way through to the omnipresent bludgeoning bassline, which throbs and skitters underneath everything Does It Offend You Yeah? do.
And although they do it with no guile or subtlety, they do it brilliantly well – how can you not love an album with tracks with names like Attack Of The 60ft Lesbian Octopus?

Dead Presidents

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MUCH as I hate to burst the bubble of musical heroes of mine, I am more than a little disappointed new album from The Presidents Of The United States Of America, whose debut album The Presidents Of The United States Of America remains to this day one of my favourite albums of all time.
I feel a list coming on…
That’s not to say that These Are the Good Times People hasn’t got positives – the guitar licks are peppy and energetic, and as always The Presidents Of The United States Of America have delivered a rockin’ good time.
There are even tracks on the album that could have held their own alongside the likes of Peaches, Lump and Mach 5, such as Ghosts Are Everywhere and Flame Is Love.
However there is a feeling that The Presidents Of The United States Of America haven’t moved on – perfectly good tracks such as More Bad Times are ruined by the forced kookiness that makes the band use words like “baboon” and “spork”.
It’s like the joke just isn’t funny any more – The Presidents Of The United States Of America now come across as the sort of people that say that they’re crazy but really are just annoying.