Single Review – Manic Street Preachers – Walk Me To The Bridge

On July 7th the Manics will release their twelfth studio album Futurology which, as promised is a quick turnaround from last years Rewind The Film which was the most profound Manics record for over a decade entwined around dark acoustic undertones with electronic forays to deliver lyrics of reflection and depth. This album is expected to be more up tempo and a little more akin to the ‘traditional’ Manics sound. The first track to be officially unveiled from the album is ‘Walk Me To The Bridge’ which is a track that opens with a wonderful jolting riff with an indelible canorous tinge, opening the track with slick tenacity and purpose. Alongside it runs it with James Dean Bradfield’s close and slightly warm sounding vocal before it the bursts with the light of electronically charged pop chords set against the heavy beat, bass line and shimmering guitars along with the now razor sharp vocal from James. It’s by no means the greatest song they’ve ever produced but it has a infections rhythm and that added lyrical dimension that you can usually expect from a Manics track. Make sure you mark July 7th down for their twelfth album as it will probably be well worth a look.

Image from www.travelstay.com

Top 10 Albums of 2013

Now that I have listed my top ten tracks and now that it is 2014, I’ve decided to roll off my top ten albums from last year. Again, if your favourite artists art present they either didn’t make the cut or weren’t reviewed by me last year; for this is a list compiled from albums that have appeared on the blog in 2013. However, the listing is this time based on the rating I gave each album and not on my current opinion. Anyway…

 

10. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

File:Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City.png

The band had certainly tried a few different methods with the pitch shifting which was also used on the drums and the guitar was recorded straight onto the recording programme while various different recording techniques were used to ‘soften’ the album and make it listenable. They have certainly done that and while being very careful with the production. It also has a slight edge to it as well and therefore results in their best album yet. They have grown older and their music has grown with it to create a very unique at times and mature sound.

 

9. Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film

Rewind The Film is not too generic and its by no means so experimental and conceptualized that it isn’t relatable or translatable. The lyrics are and music share equal footing and in general it just shows that the Manics are still capable of being truly creative. probably their most complete album since Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours in terms of the lyrical challenges posed and the moods and emotions created via their light and airy production.

 

8. Factory Floor – Factory Floor

It’s not too far away from what The Knife did earlier on in 2013, but perhaps it has a more subtle edge to it. For now, it’s main strengths will be it’s ability to fill dance floors as well as sound dark, scathing and haunting. All in all it’s a great effort and was probably worth the long wait we had to endure for a full studio album.

 

7. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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Even though tracks like ‘Get Lucky’ have been played to death in 2013; it’s a proper song in how it’s been crafted by musicians, written by musicians, produced by musicians and played by musicians and talented ones at that, with bags of experience. The fact this sort of music is topping the charts whether it’s your thing or not should be celebrated. Thomas Bangalter pointed towards the likes of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd and Sgt Pepper from The Beatles as “the ones that take you on a journey for miles and miles.” They all served as some of the several models for creating an album that provides that journey which they have managed to achieve in the sense that you can become engrossed and lost within it. Perhaps it is their best work in how they are more have proved successful with this different approach.

 

6. The Knife – Shaking The Habitual

All in all this album is just beyond me. Even if you don’t quite get some of the songs at first you should listen again and try to deconstruct the wall of different and varying sounds. Some of which fill the song but others leave the songs with lots of space to generate a real atmosphere while at times terrifying me. With this they have challenged the norm’s of modern music to the points where a lot of people won’t appreciate it because they don’t understand it. I think had I reviewed this a month ago, then it would have a much higher rating.

 

5. Connan Mockasin – Caramel

 Though the sound and tone of Caramel isn’t moved and shifted around so much; it would be wrong for that to happen as it would break down the larger flow and feel of the album. It is nearly impossible and it almost feels wrong to plant a mark on it. A surreal and coolly insane and outrageous event from someone being himself, taking risks and being bold.

 

4. Arctic Monkeys – AM

AM falls down on very few occasions and when it does, it’s only to re-envisage some great Desert Rock, Swooning Ballads etc. The rest of it has been new takes on worn out sounds, showing that you can be innovative in what you don’t bring to a song and with at times fluctuating styles within songs. Josh Homme’s presence has for once not been an overbearing one but something that has furthered their vision and aim. It showed everyone what still can be done with guitar music in 2013. I know it can be easy, but don’t let all the crazed fangirls and boys put you off it because it’s an album that maintains a very high standard throughout. I perhaps think that there are some better albums with a lower ranking in this list, but nevertheless it deserves it’s place in the top ten.

 

3. Savages – Silence Yourself

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The musical discipline and obvious talent of all the members is clear to see and they don’t seem to have any hidden agenda or motivation either. They lay everything out in their music alone. Not even in their image. This for me is refreshing and they have left themselves with the difficult task of the second album. But that dreaded phase I doubt will effect them at all. They seem so cool and at ease with their music; behind the urgency and rapid nature of it all and Silence Yourself is the result. Just be sure to take in the depth and meaning of the album too, so don’t judge it on first impressions.

 

2. Pinknoizu – The Drop

All in all this album is highly varied and you should never get bored listening to it. That’s what makes a great album like Sgt Pepper for example. Not only that but the composition and production is also reflective of that variedness that exists across the album. A varied tone that is driven by the mutations and combinations of sounds the Danish group have been able to put together in order to forge new and interesting soundscapes. On top of that; it gets easily manipulated and heightened by the production and recording prowess the group attained. It’s a real treat.

 

1. Jagwar Ma – Howlin

They have justified all the fuss about them for sure to create a very ‘trippy’ album but an album that is almost perfect on a technical level. Jono Ma’s understanding and meticulous attention to detail on getting the right amount of each element in their songs is a great skill to have. The album does go beyond the combination of their past influences to create an album that sounds familiar yet also new and exciting. All this and it’s only their debut album of which many others have very safe and rather dull debuts with perhaps too much focus on the singles. This is not the case with Howlin. Beyond that they have the basic aspects of variation and at times rhythmic affairs intercepted by more sparse musical artistry.

 

 

Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film Review

The Manics are pure legends of British Music and are valued and respected for the content they’ve produced for over twenty years now. However they did seem to have lost their edge slightly with their last album Postcards of a Young Man from 2010 and there was almost the feeling they had lost their way with their next work.  Now we know that this is the first of two completed albums from the Manics with Rewind The Film being the acoustic and more considered and nostalgic album and another more rock orientated towards their earlier work. Initially I was sceptical of the word acoustic being linked with a band of 40 somethings as in many past cases it’s musically and lyrically very basic and often a list of covers ‘from the songs they listened to as a nipper’ and only succeeds in their old catalouges being dug out. However with ‘Rewind the Film’ they have been able to develop a distinct mood and tone while keeping that sense of nostalgia albeit at a slightly less positive angle. It’s by no means a nothing acoustic ballad from a fading star losing the best of his vocal or a pointless churning through guitar chords. This is also an album that I’ve featured twice already with the tracks ‘Rewind The Film’ and ‘Show Me The Wonder’ and from that it’s not fallen into any stereotypes of aging rockers and acoustic guitars but does the album maintain it? 

The Manics decided that only Richard Hawley could deliver the title track ‘Rewind The Film’ for them otherwise it would not be worth putting on the album. Having developed a friendship with lead singer James Dean Bradfield, Hawley was happy to do so and didn’t want to let them down and mentioned how much of an honour it was to record with the Manics. It’s very much his tune with the Manics acting as backing band while Hawley’s rich and deep vocal runs against the instrumentals to really create a sombre feel to the song. The drama comes in the form of James Dean Bradfield making the odd burst towards the end and his powerful and energetic vocal still sounds as good as it did back in 1992 so there are no problems on that front. Of course musically it’s pretty basic, but the length of the song allows for a subtle but noticeable build up in sound from something sombre and considered to something grand and dramatic. Generally the track has been well received and perhaps taken a few critics by surprise due to wow they’ve utilised the acoustic sound in their own way.  ’Show Me The Wonder’ is the Manics taking the lead. It’s much more the positive, light hearted ballad they’ve been plugging for the last few years but’s been very much refreshed by the acoustic sound… yes I said refreshed. In addition to this it’s just a lot more catchy too with the trumpets giving the melody.  On the flipside to the title track its much more hopeful and optimistic in a sense lyrically; but also in the general tone and musicality of the song. The powerful and joyful vocals, the trumpets and the catchy riffs, percussion and bass lines.

’30-Year War’ is an odd song in principle to the acoustic sound with the synth beats and effects fused with it. As well as the vocal echo and isolation effects. Its almost Manics circa 2004 and it does start to work and gel together as a concept the more you listen to it. Perhaps this is helped as its something they’ve done before with Lifeblood. The lyrics and general message is an anti-Thatcher one. Including what she did to the working classes and her actions after Hillsborough etc. ‘(I Miss The) Tokyo Skyline’ is the epitome of the album with the way they’ve worked and manipulated the acoustic sound in much of the same way as ‘My Little Empire’ or ‘Ready For Drowning’ from 1998’s This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours and that is why it works so well as it did in 1998. ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’ is probably more akin to the standard acoustic album and this has probably been tailored to Lucy Rose’s contribution but it’s a nice track and contrast between J.D.B’s more rough edged vocal against Lucy’s softer and more delicate sound. Rewind The Film is not too generic and its by no means so experimental and conceptualized that it isn’t relatable or translatable. The lyrics are and music share equal footing and in general it just shows that the Manics are still capable of being truly creative.

Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film = 8.5/10

Images from something-gold-something-new.com / www.amazon.co.uk 

 

Single Review – Manic Street Preachers – Show Me The Wonder

Everyone listen up! Single of the week is no more! I thought ‘why just have one when I could have so many more?’ So yeah, now I’m treating them like the album reviews which have no rules but of course the reviews will be a lot more snappy than that of an album. To start this off, I chose the Manic Street Preachers. The legends that they are. I did an album taster on them a month ago for the ‘Rewind The Film’ track off the album of the same name. It was quite intriguing and exciting that they were doing the acoustic sound justice and making it all dramatic as they do. Richard Hawely conveyed a sort of nostalgic yet bleak picture in the song. However ‘Show Me The Wonder’ is the Manics taking the lead. It’s much more the positive, light hearted ballad they’ve been plugging for the last few years but’s been very much refreshed by the acoustic sound… yes I said refreshed. In addition to this it’s just a lot more catchy too with the trumpets giving the melody and shows that they are still hoping for a decent chart showing perhaps. Or maybe there was no intention with this song. They hardly need anymore chart success which they were still getting into their forties. I’m not saying much on that subject other than I hope it does well in the charts. Though I doubt it will, the charts are fast becoming a waste of space anyway.  I wasn’t really expecting the light hearted musicality of this song but it’s by no means a bad thing either and the video too still evokes that nostalgic feel to the album.

http://youtu.be/J9L-jyFEsK4

Image from www.likeanegg.com 

Album Taster – Rewind the Film – Manic Street Preachers feat Richard Hawley

The Manics are pure legends of British Music and are pretty widely respected and valued in that light. However they did seem to have lost their edge slightly with their last album Postcards of a Young Man from 2010 and there was much confusion with what their next move would be after that. Then a few weeks ago they revealed that they had recorded two whole albums! One acoustic and another more rock orientated. It would seem that they have chosen to release the acoustic album first under the title Rewind the Film which is also the name of the track they are using for the album taster. Initially I was sceptical of the word acoustic being linked with a band of 40 somethings as in many past cases it’s by musically and lyrically very basic and often a list of covers ‘from the songs they listened to as a nipper’ and only succeeds in their old catalouges bing dug out. However with ‘Rewind the Film’ they have been able to develop a distinct mood and tone while keeping that sense of nostalgia albeit at a slightly less positive angle. It’s by no means a nothing acoustic ballad from a fading star losing the best of his vocal or a pointless churning through guitar chords. The three boys from Blackwood decided that only Richard Hawley could deliver this song for them otherwise it would not be worth putting on the album. Having devloped a friendship with lead singer James Dean Bradfield, Hawley was happy to do so and didn’t want to let them down and mentioned how much of an honour it was to record with the Manics. It’s very much his tune with the Manics becoming his backing band as Hawley’s rich and deep vocal runs against the instrumentals to really create a sombre and considered song. The drama is presented when James Dean Bradfield makes the odd contribution towards the end and his powerful and energetic vocal still sounds as good as it did back in 1992 so there are no problems on that front. Generally the track has been well recienved and perhaps taken a few critics by suprise. The Manics don’t seem content with toning down their creativity as perhaps some might have thought and have shown they are capable of writing more thought provoking and challenging songs. I hope this is a true indicator of their 12th album and a hopeful sign for their 13th but there is still some questions lingering as this was more a Richard Hawley song rather than a Manics song so wait and see.

http://youtu.be/PwwtOd3pMlk

Image from http://www.gigwise.com/