Lines In Wax

TWELVE YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

Burra

The Big Moon – Walking Like We Do

The Big Moon – Walking Like We Do

I was lucky enough to discover this band for the first time after catching them as the support act at a Pixies show. I mega enjoyed and was intrigued by them. “How have I not heard of these before?” I asked myself. Purchasing this album was then an absolute no brainer for me, and I immediately got into it; what a cool sound we have going on here, cracking melodic harmonies, and a big dreamy indie pop sound. A great bunch of songs here with some fun moments too such as the song “Our Light” which is without doubt a favourite. Opener and live favourite “Its Easy Now” is also a massive highlight from this record especially for it’s enchanting chorus. Other highlights for me include the catchy number “Don’t Think About It Now” and “Take A Piece”. Overall, a really enjoyable album, and I would recommend.

Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor (2020)

Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor (2020)

This is the debut solo release here from Hayley Williams of Paramore (despite other current members of Paramore actually having a part to play in the album at various points throughout). An unique and refreshing sound – and move away from Paramore – adapting a clever and dark sort of indie pop vibe. A fantastic selection of songs here, and a really tight bunch that fit perfectly together as an album and compliment each other well. This isn’t just a mismatched bunch of songs here, theres great mood, setting and flow to the album. I really enjoy this record personally, even if I wasn’t aware of her previous work I’d say I’d definitely enjoy this, and I think that would generally be the case too for people picking up on this who may otherwise be new to her as an artist. Released during the height of mass lockdowns and a global pandemic, I feel Hayley also really utilised her platform well and really took control of the whole releasing an album during these times process; a series of videos, as well as live home performances and stripped down versions of songs from the record, and staying really fresh and relevant throughout with the entire albums release process. When I first heard the track “Simmer” I was immediately captivated by it. It’s a refreshing, perfect sounding release with a great chorus, driving bass line, flow and great vocal hooks and delivery. “Leave It Alone” a slow and sad sounding slow groove number, and another showcasing track from the album. “Cinnamon” builds and builds into this sort of almost dance like number, such groove and flow in both music and vocal, totally taking the track to different places within itself, possibly my favourite track on the album. “Creepin’” is another highlight for many of the reasons I’ve mentioned there actually. Another album favourite for me is “Dead Horse” which if I’m allowed to say chorus wise at least actually reminds me a little of a sort of something No Doubt may do, and I’m not just comparing the next female fronted act I can think of, it just has that sort of style of sound going on. Overall a great album, and perfectly picked bunch of songs that make up a really solid debut release and break away release for the artist. 10/10.

Ellie Goulding – Brightest Blue (2020)

Ellie Goulding – Brightest Blue (2020)

Here we have Ellie Goulding’s fourth studio album, the number one selling Brightest Blue. So, I believe the premise of this record is that it is split into two sides; two parts – one being the very sort of sound we started seeing Ellie creep into around the time of her Halcyon record and the latter part a series of collabs with various sort of EDM artists (all of which I’d never heard of prior to which possibly makes me feel really old, I’m not sure). So, side one is the straight up album, Brightest Blue, where it seems the other half is referred to as Eg.O. The Brightest Blue and full fresh album side to this bunch of songs is great though, with as I say some quite Halcyon-era sounding tracks as well as some kind of slower numbers inside (such as “New Height”). It’s really enjoyable though, and I can’t help going back to the track “Love I’m Given”, with its powerful chorus and the cool sounding vocal melody that hides beneath it all. Some really stand out stuff here and “Love I’m Given” is definitely one, as is “How Deep Is Too Deep” and one of the albums leading tracks, “Power”. The other half I’ll be honest just generally isn’t really my thing, but that’s not to say it isn’t good however; “Hate Me” ft Juice WRLD perhaps being my favourite out of the bunch if I were to pick, I just sort of feel it just steers far off the usual sort of sound that I’ve come to enjoy from Ellie Goulding when it gets to these tracks, and I can’t really see myself revisiting this side to the record as I would the tracks before it, with respect. Maybe it would have been better as a completely separate release? I’m unsure, but then that aside though, you cannot argue that this artist isn’t dishing out the content here and providing a real full package. Overall though, positive vibes towards, and an enjoyable and welcome release.

Bryde – The Volume Of Things (2020)

Bryde – The Volume Of Things (2020)

Released right in the heart of national shutdown, I can honestly say this has without doubt been the soundtrack to my entire 2020 lockdown listening wise. This is the second full length release from Bryde, and a very welcome one at that; a wonderful selection of songs from catchy big chorus numbers like one of the albums singles “The Trouble Is” to the track “Flies”, with its big yet dark and haunting sound, and of course “Another World For Free” – such a big yet beautifully haunting sounding track which is quite possibly my favourite track off the album. Overall, a really fantastic album and a selection of songs that I can really only say good things about.

Haim – Women In Music Pt. III (2020)

Haim – Women In Music Pt. III (2020)

Here we have the latest and 3rd album from the Haim sisters. A straight up sixteen track offering too which is quite rare to often see. Certainly delivering the content here. The album kicks off with the laid back smooth jazz sound of “Los Angeles”. It’s difficult to quite label but it has a certain kind of smooth groove to it, with the horn/brass sounds that introduces the record, and with that really nice under-groove bass guitar sound (in fact the bass sound throughout the whole album is lovely). Overall, it’s quite an eclectic album with bits of different genres seeping through, from quite jazz sounding, to blues. The album has a different sound to the two previous Haim albums, yet whilst still sounding like a Haim album, if that makes sense. A really interesting mix of songs here often sounding multiple genre elements within the same track, so many different sounds coming through on this one. The album however closes on a very similar vibe to where it started however on the track “Summer Girl”, which brings it all back in nicely and closes the album perfectly. Overall a really enjoyable record, with plenty to offer.

TT – LoveLaws (2018)

TT – LoveLaws (2018)

TT is a guise – or pseudonym if you will – of musician Theresa Wayman, who is known for being a member of the band Warpaint. I’ll first off admit that I discovered this album on the off chance of a bit of a CD browse and haul; a sort of musical gamble I suppose, having not heard any material from the album or the artist. I decided to take a chance on it, and what a fantastic impulse buy is was. I absolutely love it, and I only wish I’d discovered sooner. LoveLaws is a wonderful collection of downtempo, offbeat, borderline electronica. A dream-like, alternative bliss. Perfect stuff.

Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter (2020)

Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter (2020)

Laura Marling returns with her Mercury Prize nominated seventh studio album, “Song For Our Daughter”. This is a really nice album. It has a lot of soul to it; some beautiful melodies, harmonies and an overall big warm sound, and is a really good album to just pure chill out to, with it’s strong summer-esque, lazy day vibes and the odd sombre moments. There is fabulous songwriting and a captivating performance throughout that just takes you away to someplace else for a moment, with songs like “Held Down” and “Only The Strong” in particular.

Morrissey – Low In High School (2017)

Morrissey – Low In High School (2017)

Cracking Morrissey album, this! The strongest sounding Morrissey album since 2004’s You Are The Quarry, very easily so in my opinion – yeah Christ, I really enjoyed this one. Great sound here, especially from the very grand opener “My Love, I’d Do Anything For You”, with its horn section coming into play, adding to that nice big band vibe. I keep going back to this one – a definite favourite! I won’t waffle on about this album too much or pick it apart, but I will say that it is a very solid Morissey album; one that if you are a long-time Morrissey fan I’m you’ll very much enjoy. And if you aren’t? We’ll you’ll probably still continue to stay well away from it hoho – I realise he’s not to everyones tastes, but this is cracking. As well as that awesome opener, highlights for me would be the single “Spent The Day In Bed”, as I really like the little keys jingle, which mega makes this song, as well as the lyrical content too on this one. “Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On Stage”, which aside from being a good song in general, I really like the drumming. Lovely drum sounds here (as there is throughout the whole album, mind you). Whilst we are on the subject, the instrumentation aspect of this album is 10/10 to be fair, a fantastic sound. “Home Is A Question Mark” is also very much one I keep going back to here out of the bunch as well as “I Bury The Living”, again another mega huge sounding one. Great record overall, what else can I say!? Listen to in it’s entirety and enjoy.

Head Noise – Special Effects Improves The Defects (2017)

Head Noise – Special Effects Improves The Defects (2017)

Head Noise are a 3 piece Electro Art-Punk band from South Wales, often using a keytar as a primary instrument as well as an array of nontraditional instruments. With no live drums or an actual drummer they are certainly a different act and stand out from the crowd with their less conventional, more experimental approach. So here we have the bands new 6 track mini-album “Special Effects Improves The Defects”, a very fun sounding release here; upbeat, with some wicked little electronic jingles and beats throughout, which wouldn’t sound out of place in an 80s disco or a soundtrack to a film set in such era, truth be told. Some highlights of the EP, for myself, are “Finally Snapped”, which may be my favourite of the bunch, with its dark and ambient sound – I’m getting some major A Flock Of Seagulls-esque vibes from this one – as well as “Diamond Planet”, with its perfect groove and a more alternative 80’s sound. Overall a nice little release her; its fun, its fresh, its different, and stands out. Nicely done.

Craig Watkins – Earth (2017)

Craig Watkins – Earth (2017)

Here we have the Earth EP by South Wales based acoustic singer/song writer Craig Watkins; a well put together collection of soulful acoustic material, with lots of raw energy and passion coming through, with a very real sense coming off of it all as an artist (real in the sense of you can tell he’s passionate about what he’s playing and what he’s singing about, which is always great to hear). Production wise the EP also has a very DIY, rough and ready, what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of sound, and that’s not me criticising; it’s again more a sense of “very real”, with no fancy or shiny production values or effects taking that edge away. My favourite track off the EP is probably the song “Brother”, which Craig has also used as the lead track and single to promote the record. It is a song that starts off slow and gradually climbs into a big, powerful, heartfelt chorus. Another highlight is the EP opener “Corporate Love”, again with a nice big chorus. Also there’s “Missing Piece”, for that lovely acoustic sound with some nice vocal harmonies thrown in the mix. The EP as a whole has a very acoustic/alternative rock sound to it, with easily accessible little ballads that wouldn’t be out of place on the radio next to similar type acts. For fans of: Goo Goo Dolls, Third Eye Blind.

Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming (2017)

Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming (2017)

So here we have Eisley’s first release since the departure of Stacey and Chauntelle (as well as drummer Weston who remains as a studio member but not a live member), leaving vocalist Sherri Dupree Bemis and bassist Garon Dupree to pick up where the band left off and move forward. It is always tough to lose band members, especially ones that brought a lot to the table and in this case, the loss of the beautiful vocal harmonies between all the Dupree sisters. I was very keen to hear how the sound would be affected, if at all. What we have here though is a very nice sounding record; still luckily managing to capture the soothing, dreamy, spacey, far-away Eisley sound that I have always loved, and with guest appearances too from Sheri’s husband Max Bemis (of Say Anything) and Anthony Green (of Circa Survive and Saosin). Opener “Always Wrong” instantly erased any doubt in my mind that this wasn’t anything but a solid Eisley record, despite all the missing personnel. Personal highlights for me are the Anthony Green collaboration “Louder Than A Lion”, and definitely the tracks “You Are Mine” and “Snowfall”. That being said, Eisley are the type of band where I can easily just listen to the entire album in full rather than single anything out, hence my very brief picking apart; it all just flows together so lovely and it is easy to get lost inside it all. That is the best way to enjoy this band in my opinion. So, all that’s left for me to say is I’m really glad that the group continued despite the setbacks and blows to it and returned with such a great album; they will still continue to be a personal favourite of mine. I hope other fans of the group will agree.

This Becomes Us – This Becomes Us (2016)

This Becomes Us – This Becomes Us (2016)

This Becomes Us is the solo collaborative release from Future Of The Left (and not forgetting ex-Million Dead) bassist Julia Ruzicka. This debut contains ten tracks of absolute pure gold, featuring a different vocalist on each track, including Black Francis from The Pixies, among others. Opener “The Picture of Delorean Gray”, is a cracking little number; a nice and fast-paced, hard-hitting, fuzzy, punky number that leads into the bouncy “Undervalue Love”, which has a kind of dark pop vibe to it. The third track – and a possible favourite – is “Big Hitter” (featuring the vocals of Billy Mason Wood), which has quite an At The Drive In sound to it, I’d say. Absolutely love this one. Not to go for the obvious and lazy review, but “Painter Man Is Coming” (featuring the vocals of Black Francis) has such a nice Pixies vibe to it. This is a lovely track, and is very reminiscent of some of Pixies’ finest work at times. Another favourite from this release. I would describe “At The End Of Everyday” as having a very early 2000’s kind of sound; I’m thinking like that original emo/post hardcore sound that was starting to come out around then; Cursive, Rival Schools etc. vibe I’m getting – it is refreshing to hear, either way! The short and sweet “Simple Too” leans towards a distorted-yet-arty punk type of sound, leading into “The Gift That Nobody Wants”, which sounds very Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster-esque, “Songs In My Mind” is great, really like the vocals on this one, a catchy little punk number with some powerful female lead vocals from Chantal Lewis-Brown. “Sassessa” is cool; a more laid back number compared the rest of the bunch, yet still upbeat and driving. The album’s closer “This Horse Needs Peace” is a well-placed last track to the record, and a subtle instrumental outro to the whole thing. Overall though, This Becomes Us – despite having a different collaboration on each track – still does the wonderful thing of managing to sound like a fully flowing, coherent album and not just a compilation of songs. As solo projects go, this is exceptionally well done! This Becomes Us by This Becomes Us

Dance Gavin Dance – Mothership (2016)

Dance Gavin Dance – Mothership (2016)

(words by dance, Gareth, dance!) I decided to say a few words on this album after seeing the band perform live a week or so ago, where I was actually lucky enough to see all 3 versions that have been of the band perform since all current and ex-vocalists were present as part of the band’s 10 year anniversary tour. So, here we have Mothership, the latest release from the Tilian Pearson era of the band, and a damn good record at that! This is great; all the catchy guitars, tight drumming, and high energy, highly vocaled frenzy I could possibly want. Such a good energy and vibe from this stuff. Highlights include: “Young Robot” (possibly my favourite track on the album), “Deception” and “Betrayed By The Game”. Since the band are now on their 3rd vocalist in 10 years I guess there are probably some divides with fans over which era of the band they prefer, but whatever that may be there’s no denying that this is a great Dance Gavin Dance album, whatever the case may be. A really fun album.

Sum 41 – 13 Voices (2016)

Sum 41 – 13 Voices (2016)

This is the brand new album from a recharged Sum 41 and the first with guitarist Dave Baksh back in the group. My initial impression upon listening was “Oh it’s darker, keep this theme going please and we may have a good record here,” and I wasn’t too far off with such a request; its a lot darker, especially to those that may only know Sum 41 for “In Too Deep” or “Fat Lip”, as its definitely not the happy, bouncy pop punk as reflected in such earlier hits. Big riffs! Some lovely guitar playing on this record actually – throughout in fact; riff after riff, with loads going on. This is a very strong album here; a really solid set of songs with a lot more aggressive vocal approach, and very mature to boot. Highlights include the single “Fake My Own Death”, “There Will Be Blood”, the anthemic “Twisted By Design” and the title track “13 Voices”, but seriously, this album is cracking throughout, so I won’t go into too much singling out any in particular, just song-after-song great! For anyone that has wrote them off, only knows Sum 41 for the career-breaking singles, or hasn’t really kept up to speed with the band, this really is a fantastic re-introduction, and well worth a listen! 

Taking Back Sunday – Tidal Wave (2016)

Taking Back Sunday – Tidal Wave (2016)

(Words by Burra, who recently gave back Wednesday) I really like this album. Overall, it feels so much more alive with energy than any of the more recent releases; maybe with a slight return to their classic sound at times. Although nothing they do will ever be as good as Tell All Your Friends or Where You Want To Be, unfortunately thats just how it is! So anything they do always lives in the shadow of those albums, I guess (feel free to disagree, mind). However, that is not to say they don’t come close at times on this record at re-capturing some of that magic. It stands its ground well. That aside, here is a band that has obviously aged and grown up into a more mature sound over the years, and why would they want to just keep releasing the same record over and over again? I haven’t caught the band playing anything off this album live yet, but some tracks on here I can imagine go down really well in a live setting, especially the opening track “Death Wolf”; one of my favourites off the album, and a cracking introduction and welcome return. If you’re already a fan and have followed the bands rise since the mic swinging “emo” pioneers they were, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this just as much as anything else they’ve done. Lots of energy as well as the odd slow moment. A great record! Highlights: “I Felt It Too”, “Death Wolf”.

Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues (2016)

Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues (2016)

(words by Burra; eater of worlds, rustler of Jimmies) Here we have the band’s latest 11 track release: Integrity Blues; a beautiful sounding record from start to finish, and one that definitely shows off the slower, softer side to the band (which I love) with lots of atmosphere and lots of emotion. Haunting, soothing and yet, at times, harder hitting. It’s very difficult to pick any stand-out tracks from this album, simply as this is a band that when I choose to listen to them, I can listen to the album in its entirety, rather than single out any specific tracks. I feel that is the type of band that Jimmy Eat World are. For arguments sake however, I do really enjoy “Get Right”, with it’s dark, driving riff and big chorus; one of the somewhat heavier tracks actually from this little bunch. “Sure and Certain” too, for that big, happy-sounding chorus alone. I also enjoy the soft yet moody “Pretty Grids”, as well as “Pass The Baby”, which builds and builds slowly until out of nowhere in comes those surprising riffs to lead the song out. But, as the entire thing all flows so well I won’t delve any further into picking the tracks apart! In a nutshell, this is just a really nice sounding record, and there’s always something about Jimmy Eat World’s music that gets me lost inside it. I’ll admit that Clarity, their 1999 release, is one of my favourite albums ever, so it was of no surprise to me that I really enjoyed this release. Haven’t really got a bad word to say about this, if you’re a fan no doubt you’ll enjoy, and if your new to them I still recommend a listen.

Billy Talent – Afraid Of Heights (2016)

Billy Talent – Afraid Of Heights (2016)

Everything I could have wanted from a Billy Talent album is right here. I’m happy that they’ve released yet another solid album from start to finish, as few bands nowadays manage to release cracking record after cracking record with little filler, but so far Billy Talent haven’t let us down there at all, I feel. This is full of catchy hooks – both vocally and musically; the catchy riffs and shouty choruses that this band have mastered so perfectly and what makes them so great to listen to. “Ghost Ship Of Cannibal Rats” is a standout track on this one for me – it literally has all the right amounts of the above mentioned and more. Easily my personal favourite, and I’m pretty sure most fans of the band will agree with on this one too. Another big highlight is “Rabbit Down The Hole”, a very anthemic number. But, as I say there’s literally not a bad song on the whole album. In a nutshell, if you’re already a fan of this band you’ll love it, whilst it is also strong enough to maybe pick up some new fans who might have been late to the party upon checking them out. Very high energy, very fun, very enjoyable! It’s also worth noting the drums on this record were instead performed by Alexisonfire’s Jordan Hastings – who’s also touring with the band too – as regular drummer Aaron Solowoniuk is currently unable to drum due to a multiple sclerosis relapse (both drummers feature in current 2016 promotional pictures). 

The Beatles – Live At the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

The Beatles – Live At the Hollywood Bowl (2016)

So pretty much, if you’re not already a fan of The Beatles, then there’s an extremely slim chance you’ll be buying this record, as a live album is pretty much in my eyes a fan-targeted release. Normally I’m not a fan of live albums, I’ll be completely honest. There are exceptions, however I just feel that some moments you can’t recapture when it comes to this type of thing, kinda like how 90 percent of gigs you go to now there’s someone standing in front of you holding their phone in the air the entire time! And not only that; a lot of live material can just be a quick cash-in or something to bang out in between studio albums or quiet patches (or an easy one for the christmas market). Anyway, that’s my rant over. So yeah, here’s a collection of songs taken from what appears to be 2 separate performances at The Hollywood Bowl (1964 and 1965) in a nicely packaged and put together little bundle, released to coincide with the documentary film that that hasn’t long come out. The constant, piercing fan screaming throughout this record can be very off putting, and I feel makes for an uncomfortable listen here, but it is what it is, as that’s exactly how a Beatles concert was and would have been, so even if you were actually there that would have been an overwhelming thing. Other than that it’s a decent listen and something nice to add to the collection if you’re already a fan, but not something I would go back and regularly listen to though, I’ll be honest. If a live Beatles album is what you were after and would enjoy, then I won’t deny that this doesn’t do the job however and would be a great addition to anyone that enjoyed the film also. Track-listing wise, we have an inconsistent mix-up from both performances, so don’t be confused into thinking you are listening to one complete show as it kinda skips into a mixture of the both. I’m not really sure why they’ve chose to present it in such way. All the early classics are here though, which I’m sure need no introduction, including the odd early cover song they used to perform such as “Twist And Shout”, and “Roll Over Beethoven”. Overall not the most comfortable of listens (that constant screaming and low clarity), and definitely a fan-only thing, although one I’m sure most fans will enjoy regardless. It’s just not the kind of album that I would listen to time and time again, as I would the majority of their studio albums. If I really wanted to enjoy these songs at their full glory I would choose a studio recording rather than seek my enjoyment here of such. 

Montreux Fires – Trying For The Sake Of Trying (2016)

Montreux Fires – Trying For The Sake Of Trying (2016)

(Words by Burra; The 6th Beatle) This is the debut EP from fresh on the scene South Wales-based female-fronted four piece, Montreaux Fires. The EP starts with a quick spoken word intro taken from the recording process (it’s worth noting that this was self-recorded by the band’s bassist in his living room) before launching into the track “Our Little Life” – a cracking opener and one I can imagine would go down really well live, with a nice big riff to kick this one off before slowing down into some dreamy, haunting verse vocals and unleashing that perfect chorus hook! Great track to kick off the release with is this one! “Disclosure”, which the band has made a video for – I feel this track shows off all elements of the band, both musically and vocally, again with another awesome chorus (there’s a pattern emerging here). The track is somewhere in-between the slower and faster side to the band, so I think it was perfect choice to choose to showcase themselves with. Loving the group harmony sounds too, on this one. “Trying” is a lovely slow number, with a what I would describe as very Brand New-esque sound to it, which works so well, leading into a nice big faded out ending and with some spot on guitar sounds throughout. A big sounding track overall and a definite EP highlight. However it’s “Walls” that really is the perfect choice of track to see out the EP with. I love how the song builds up to that massive sounding ending! Again, with some big sounding group harmonies thrown in here too, which accompanies vocalist Lydia’s powerful vocals very nicely indeed. Well crafted and well chosen. Overall this is a fantastic debut release; one that the band can be confident in too. I’d also like to say top job on the production here; keeping things DIY yet still managing to set the bar at a very high standard, and despite being a such a new band it’s very promising to see and hear material so strong already. For fans of: Brand New, Paramore, Jimmy Eat World.

Calling Apollo – The Great Depression Act 1 (2016)

Calling Apollo – The Great Depression Act 1 (2016)

(words by Porth’s man-in-thon-know, Gareth Burra) Here we have the new 6 track release – The Great Depression Act 1 – from South Wales 5 piece Calling Apollo. What a huge sounding record this is; production wise, instrumental and vocal wise – it’s great! A very wisely chosen opening track comes in the form of “Light The Way”; I love the guitar tone in this, it’s very reminiscent of a lot of the 2000’s era rock that was about, topped off with some really powerful vocals, solid bass playing and hard hitting drumming. Personal favourites for me include the popular single “Clone City”, “Obelisk” (massive sounding track!) and the ballad-like “The Wars”, but this release just flows so well as a whole. There is a really carefully chosen and selected bunch of tracks here, all skillfully crafted. Also, the perfectly chosen ending to the release – “…And The High Plateau”; another ballad style number just closes the record off perfectly. Such a nice sound to this one and a great closing track. As I say, the whole thing just flows so perfectly. Plain and simply this mini-album is just brilliant. It oozes strength and power; a really confident-sounding record from a band that know exactly what sound they are going for and are confident in doing such so early on in their career. There’s nothing shakey about this one. Calling Apollo are a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale Welsh music scene, so stick with these guys as I can only see good things for them. This is a release they can really be proud of, and I see no reason why these guys won’t be pretty huge a few years down the line. P.S Fans of Saosin, Billy Talent, Circa Survive, Thursday etc may enjoy this one!

Blink 182 – California (2016)

Blink 182 – California (2016)

(Words by Burra) Ok, so I’ll state the obvious, but there may be a lot of people who may not realise founding member Tom DeLonge is no longer a part of the group. Anyway… this is Blink 182’s first record with their revised lineup, featuring Mat Skiba who most of you will recognise as frontman of Alkaline Trio. A nice opener to this album comes with the track “Cynical”, which might I add has a really lovely bass guitar-driven sound to it, leaning back to maybe a sound we haven’t heard since perhaps the Carousel era. This type of sound can be heard a lot more throughout the album, and often there is warm chord-based playing in places. “Bored To Death” is a really strong track and I think the perfect choice of main single from the album, which shows off their new look and fresh sound nicely; showcasing both the vocals of Skiba and Hoppus together. Two personal highlights that stand out from this album for me are “Left Alone”, from which I really love the vocals, and also “San Diego”; both tracks being the album’s kind-of ballads. I also really like the track “No Future”, which has some really nice input from Skiba where the song dips into very Alkaline Trio-esque sounds, especially when his vocals come in and really push the track to another dimension. This is probably a favourite bit from the whole album. Overall though, I’d say this sounds a lot closer to Blink 182’s original sound than that of the last releases few from the band; especially the Dogs Eating Dogs EP, which was quite a dramatically different sound than what we were used to from Blink. There is a strong set of tracks here though; the only weak points and my only criticism being the little filler tracks “Built This Pool”, which I feel could have easily been left out as it doesn’t really fit with the vibe of the rest of the stuff here, and “Brohemian Rhapsody”, which again is just a quick bit of filler in an album that doesn’t necessarily require any. I can imagine however that there are lot of fans still unsure what to think of this album – or perhaps quite divided over it – maybe even a little bitter still at the departure of DeLonge. It still takes some getting used to myself; however I do think they made the right choice in who they’ve chosen to replace DeLonge – there’s no question of that, and it makes for a great album nonetheless.

Gwen Stefani – This Is What The Truth Feels Like (2016)

Gwen Stefani – This Is What The Truth Feels Like (2016)

It’s been a while since the last Gwen Stefani solo album, and being a No Doubt fan and enjoying the bands last release (Push and Shove), I was interested to hear how this new solo effort would sound, and mainly the vibe it’d have this time around. Opening track “Misery” is a great introduction to the album; and in regards to the route the album goes down, this album is an awful lot less R’n’B/hip hop-influenced than any previous Gwen Stefani solo releases (which may or may not be of preference for some listeners). However, I’d say this is a lot more closer to No Doubt’s latest sounds than that of the pop and R’n’B sounds Gwen has been known for as a solo artist. There’s a really good sound to this album overall; a bold production filled with strong tracks, and very little – if any – filler. You can actually hear the reggae/ska vibes coming through in parts too; the sounds that have so obviously influenced the No Doubt sound and there is one track that shows this absolutely perfectly – “Where Would I Be”, which has a very chilled out and laid back ska-influenced groove. Aside from that, there is a nice mix of great pop songs. I personally think this is the strongest record as a whole that Gwen has put out solo; her vocals shine throughout and we are presented with a very enjoyable solo comeback.

The LaFontaines – Class (2015)

The LaFontaines – Class (2015)

I was recommended this band to check out, and having known literally nothing about them I was interested to hear what was going on. The LaFontaines are a very difficult band to pigeonhole; I’m finding myself presented with rapping, smooth sounding vocals, riffs, indie guitar licks, lovely guitar tones amongst really big sounding anthems. What a mental combination! On paper this shouldn’t work, it really shouldn’t… however these guys have seemed to pull it off nicely. I’m hearing multiple genres at play throughout the album – even throughout a single track! But, I’m finding it’s very refreshing to listen to something so different; something that has a surprise around every corner. The standout track on this album for me is definitely “Castles”; if I had to sum this particular track up, it sounds a mixture of all the sounds I’ve just mentioned, but with a slightly anthemic vibe, and to me, what sounds like it could be a You Me At Six or Deaf Havana-kinda sound with a cheeky rap thrown in for a good measure. I’m finding myself hitting repeat on this one. However, the track that follows, “King”, is almost straight up hip hop; such a confusing album in terms of direction and flow, and as I say, this really shouldn’t work, but I find myself quite drawn to it. I think from a marketing perspective this band has something great going on too. as they can kinda squeeze into very varied bills and lineups, and I should imagine the band draws an extremely varied fan-base too. Overall though, it’s a ridiculously strong album and I’d definitely recommend a listen to this to see for yourselves what you make of it – it really is an odd mix, but a great album! For me the album highlights are “Castles” “Class” and “All She Knows”.

Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone In The Universe (2015)

Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone In The Universe (2015)

I’ll admit this was actually my first time listening to a full ELO studio album, having only really been familiar with the singles (i.e. the greatest hits) of the ELO brand, but I’ve been meaning to check this lot out for a while. This is a really great sounding album, it sounds like I’m listening to a big, iconic classic rock record despite this being a moderately new release – it just has that kind of sound to it. I can hear an almost Beatles-sounding influence throughout the record, maybe leaning more towards a later Beatles/solo-era sound, but having known Jeff has worked with Beatles members on things in the past (producing the anthology singles, for example), I think it’s a fair comparison to make here. A strong record though and one I can imagine has gone down very well with classic rock fans, as well as maybe picking up a few newer listeners. A personal favourite from the album for me is the track “All My Life”, as well as “Alone In The Universe” and “When I Was A Boy” – a big-sounding modern classic that is well worth a listen.

Public Image Ltd – What The World Needs Now (2015)

Public Image Ltd – What The World Needs Now (2015)

I went into this release not sure what to expect, but what a fun record! Opener “Double Trouble” immediately sets the mood with John Lydon’s spoken intro; a catchy number with a catchy, repetitive bass line and an indie pop guitar sound. There is a similar vibe and sound throughout the whole record, instrument-wise, mixed in with angst-ridden yet humorous vocals and lyrics from Mr Lydon. I think what really draws me in to this record is that it has really damn catchy songs! So many hidden little pop hooks and harmonies throughout. The track “Bettie Page” for example, showcases this point, as does “Spice Of Choice”. We do have a few slower, stripped back numbers too however; “C’est La Vie” for example. The more I listen to this the more I like it – a great album.

Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor (2014)

Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor (2014)

(Words by Burra, Porth’s last hope for redemption) I’ll be honest, I went into this album not expecting a great deal, and with the mindset it would never be another Mechanical Animals (for me Marilyn Manson’s finest hour). However, I was actually quite surprised by this record; it holds itself up quite well as an album. I think it is definitely the best thing to come out of the Marilyn Manson camp, in recent years at least. I was first drawn into the release after hearing the track and seeing the video for “The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles” which I feel also happens to be one of the album’s strongest tracks. Manson really won me back over on that one. Other highlights from the album include “Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge”, which is a dark, slower number with a really catchy and repetitive guitar hook throughout, as well as (I feel most the Mechanical Animals-era sounding track) “Cupid Carries A Gun”, and also the brilliant “Deep Six”, with it’s very early 2000’s sound and nu metal-esque riffs. Overall not a disappointing album at all, there are a few weaker moments here and there, but otherwise a very decent offering and one that shouldn’t be dismissed.

John Nolan – Sad Strange Beautiful Dream (2015)

John Nolan – Sad Strange Beautiful Dream (2015)

Sad Strange Beautiful Dream is a solo album from Taking Back Sunday guitarist/backing vocalist John Nolan. I’ve been meaning to give this a listen for a while, after being a fan of Taking Back Sunday since the beginning as well as enjoying the Straylight Run project, so I thought I’d actually sit down and give it a good listen. This is a very mellow and minimalist album. I actually find it quite refreshing and laid back to listen to; it’s quite nice to get an album like that, so this is definitely an album I would turn to if I’m looking for something to put on and just chill out too. There’s quite a bluesy, maybe folkier-style sound here than what the masses would know John Nolan for and a break away from the emo/post hardcore sound those would maybe associate him with. There is definitely a few stand out moments here, especially with the quiet ballad-like number “Drinking Your Way To Confidence”; one of the album’s finest moments, and one that really showcases John as a songwriter and his comfort-ability in this style of music. Overall a great album, and one that could easily hold it’s own without the Taking Back Sunday association, if such is the case. Well worth a listen.

PVRIS – White Noise (2014)

PVRIS – White Noise (2014)

As debut albums go this one is certainly one Pvris can be proud of – what a remarkably strong album that could easily be a greatest hits album rather than that of a debut release, and from such a young band. Opening track “Smoke” is an incredibly good opener and one that shines through as a live set opener for the band too (which I can confirm after being lucky enough to catch them live). Some lovely sounding keys to kick off the album and a track that really shows off the power behind vocalist Lynn Gunn’s voice. It’s really hard to single out any tracks in particular from this release as it effortlessly fits and flows together as a piece so well, as also showcased in the way that the band’s videos from the release flow. However, personal favourites are “St. Patrick”, “My House”, and “Fire”. It really is the vocals that stand out on this record for me, especially the first time I heard it. It’s very easy to see from this release why this band have quickly built up a following. If Pvris can keep up with this level of quality upon future releases then they have a very successful career ahead of them.

Weezer – Weezer (White Album) (2016)

Weezer – Weezer (White Album) (2016)

Having considered Weezer’s Blue Album a fantastic debut and one of the best of its era and genre, as well as a being a big fan of their earlier releases (yet admittedly my attention dipped somewhat in and out of Weezer’s more recent releases), I was very keen to hear if Weezer would really grab my attention with the self titled “White Album”. This is overall a very upbeat sounding Weezer album, and also one where you can hear elements of that classic Weezer sound throughout, in tracks such as “L.A Girls” and particularly “Do You Wanna Get High”, which has 90’s Weezer written all over it to me. It’s quite a strong sounding album, and I feel it flows really well. It would make a great summer soundtrack too, as all the tracks really seem to ooze that type of vibe!  I really like this album as a whole, and I think it’s one that will definitely go down well with the fans, and definitely worth checking out also if as I say your attention has kind of been lost in more recent releases. Overall a great album and a very welcome return to form!