Crystal balls

○○●●●
ACCORDING to the hype, Canadian electro duo Crystal Castles are, and I quote, “the most exciting and original band in the world right now”.
Crykey!
So I was more than a little excited about hearing the group’s eponymous debut album, released here a little later than most places on April 28.
I shouldn’t have been – Crystal Castles, who take their name from a 1983 Atari arcade game, sound like they are playing for their own amusement.
The band have been reported to say that it’s not like they fell on a keyboard and these songs just happened, but listening to the repetitive computer game soundtrack bleeps and squelches it’s hard to believe them.
The beats on Crystal Castles are pedestrian, the vocals are inaudible and annoying, and this reviewer really can’t see what makes this group “innovative” sat alongside the likes of Hadouken! and Does It Offend You Yeah?.
As far as I’m concerned, do not insert more coins.

Arctic Monkeying about

○○○○●
THE Last Shadow Puppets, Arctic Monkey Alex Turner and Rascal Miles Kane’s side project, is like listening to music in widescreen.
With a cinematic, Bond soundtrack feel – courtesy of the 22-piece orchestra backing the pair – opening title track The Age Of Understatement has a real epic quality to it, and this is followed in quick succession by forthcoming single, the steamtrain of Standing Next To Me.
The album is a real showcase for the duo’s undeniable talents, and on the standout tracks such as the opening flurry The Last Shadow Puppets sound a force to be reckoned with.
At times the widescreen feel can leave the listener cold – where in their respective bands they come across as cheeky loveable scamps, here that appeal gets lost in the space they have given themself to fill.
Nevertheless, this will not be the last of The Last Shadow Puppets, rest assured.

Smoking Js

AS THE hype machine kicks into gear, NME pleasers Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong will be appearing at Loughborough University on Tuesday, April 22, for what should be a cracking gig, one of the first in their headline UK tour.
To coincide a six-track teaser for their rumoured to be self-titled album, currently being tweaked for an August release, was rushed to Echo towers – and it promises good things from Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong’s Super Furry Animals meets The Cribs sound.
Although my full judgement and rating is being saved for the full album, tracks such as Where Do you Go and Dear Rose, as well as already-released single Lucio Starts Fires, sound like big hits in waiting.

Third class

○○○○○
NOW this may sound like stating the bleeding obvious, but come April 28 there will be a few depressed fans of Portishead.
For the band’s new album Third, the first studio outing since 1997’s eponymous offering, is a massive departure from the acheingly beautiful trip hop that has become synonymous with their name.
Instead this is Portishead at their rawest – where before the Bristol-based band were brooding, now they are sinister, where before they unsettled now they outright menace the listener.
This is the sound of Portishead suffering a panic attack in an industrial estate in Dusseldorf.
This is the sound of Portishead sitting listening to Kraftwerk in a car being crushed into a teeny little cube by heavy machinery.
This is the sound of Portishead naked and seething in a cold shower after being winded by a burly man.
This is the sound of a band delivering the truly original, instant classic of an album they always promised they would.

New look

TO MATCH the Loughborough Echo‘s swanky new look, which hits the streets this Thursday, April 24, Isaac Ashe’s Sound Advice has also undergone an overhaul.
Whaddya think?
However regular readers – if there are such things here – you can rest assured that my trademark mix of music reviews and other associated drivel will continue in the same, stuck-in-a-rut fashion as it always has.

Beyond the pail

○○○○○
OSCAR Levant famously said: “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.”
And although he was referring to himself being committed to a mental hospital, that infamous line is without doubt the one straddled by Buckethead, a man that dribbing oddball Ozzy Osbourne deemed too wierd to be in his band – although Buckethead did manage to get into Guns ‘N’ Roses.
Enter The Chicken, a reissue from 2005 available for the first time in the UK, sees Buckethead – a mysterious creature with a Joe Satriani, Steve Vai level of guitar-playing ability and a KFC bucket on his head – reigning in his experimental tendancies showcased on his 17 previous releases, and everything he’s done since.
Instead here Buckethead welcomes guests including System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian, Iranian singer Azam Ali and spoken word rapper Saul Williams on an 12-track album ranging from Evanescance-esque ballads to ear-shredding guitar exhibitions.
And it’s finger pickin’ good.