Thursday, June 30, 2011

Top 25 Albums Of 2011 - We're Halfway There!

Two lists already down and now we have the most important list of them all, the top 25 albums of 2011. There's very little that needs to be said so here it is;

1. Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise
This album has been my favourite album of this year since the first time I heard it, the subtle pieces make this incredibly intriguing and is seen as a whole piece rather than individual songs.

2. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
After their EP and self titled release I didn't think this band could top what they had already made and then this was released. It takes what they've already done to another level and is seriously a folk masterpiece for me anyway.

3. Bright Eyes - The People's Key
I've never been much of a Bright Eyes fan over the years but for some reason this album has seemed to click with me, some really fun tracks on an overall cool album.

4. Radiohead - King Of Limbs
Its Radiohead and cool electronics, nuff said

5. Black Lips - Arabia Mountain
The Psychedelic rock in this is great, the energy in this is great, the songs are great this album grew on me pretty fast and I'll throw this album on a few times a week, there't not one bad song on the album.

6. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972
This album is another one that must be listened to as a whole, the atmosphere on this in amazing, the chill surrounding this is also cool, very much something you must focus on to pick up all the little pieces.

7. The Kills - Blood Pressures
It wasn't as good as Midnight Boom but its pretty close to it, some of The Kills best is on this album DNA and Satellite are particular stand outs in an album that isn't a dramatic change but enough to be cool and not samey.

8. Cut Copy - Zonoscope
The worries of a big slump after In Ghost Colours were put to rest, the top half of this album is nearly as good as that on In Ghost Colours, sure the second half isn't as great but its still a strong finish with the epic Sun God

9. TV Ghost - Mass Dream
This album came out of the blue, never heard of the band thought I might as well give it a try, its some pretty raw sounding rock music, little psych and indie mixed in and with some really strong tracks including Cancor.

10. Yuck - Yuck
I have mad love for this debut album, it started with hearing The Wall and ended with Shook Down being one of my favourite songs on this album. The alt indie sound is pretty great and the rest of the album definitely holds up to what is a strong album lyrically.

Now for the rest of the albums that make up the top 25:

11. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
12. Septic Flesh - The Great MASS
13. TV On The Radio - Nine Types Of Light
14. Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math
15. Fergus & Geronimo - Unlearn
16. Liturgy - Aesthetica
17. Katy B - On A Mission
18. Toro Y Moi - Underneath The Pine
19. Fucked Up - David Comes To Life
20. ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead - Tao Of The Dead
21. Wild Beasts - Smother
22. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far
23. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
24. Yacht - Shangri-La
25. Raveonettes - Raven In The Grave

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top 25 Songs of 2011: Halfway Report

Now I didn't do this in the first quarter but now that I've listened to much more albums and early release singles I feel like I can put together a fairly strong list on songs that are my favourites so far.

1. Tyler, The Creator - Yonkers (Goblin)
This track is still really great, the lyrics are amazing so much so that usually recite some of them a few times a week. The beat is crude but cool and Hodgy's verse is legit, the whole song is at another level to the rest of the album and keeps me thinking Tyler could still be great.

2. Black Lips - Family Tree (Arabia Mountain)
This song is such a great opener to one of my favourite albums so far this year, the lo fi psychedelic rock song is really cool as well as the screamier moments on the song.

3. Yuck - Shook Down (Yuck)
While many who might like this album will be drooling over The Wall which is a great song. I've always been a huge fan of the track after this titled Shook Down with it being less of a slower song it still packs a punch lyrically which puts it over for me.

4. TV On The Radio - Will Do (Nine Types Of Light)
This is the sweetest song so far this year, after the death of bassist Gerard Smith the performance they produced of this song on The Jay Leno Show without a bassist was close to perfect for me.

5. The Strokes - Under The Cover Of Darkness (Angles)
Now I have been flaming The Strokes a fair amount on this blog, even as recently as yesterday but this song is still really cool, the drums are explosive and the song still reminds me of The Strokes of old, this song was definitely a grower.

6. Frank Turner - I Am Disappeared (England Keep My Bones)
I didn't really enjoy the album that much but this is another of those nice, sweet songs from this year, Frank shows again why I am a big fan of his with his real personal lyrics and a strong showing of emotion.

7. The Kills - DNA (Blood Pressures)
This song is one of my favourite songs from this band in general, the signature garage rock sound is there, the smooth but slightly punkish vocals are as great as ever from Alison Mosshart.

8. Raveonettes - Evil Seeds (Raven In The Grave)
On an album full of dream pop songs, it stands out in front of the rest, with its eerie atmosphere, the distortion of the guitar giving the song a greater sense than before, the vocals add to the horror scene I get visually from the song.

9. Manchester Orchestra - Virgin (Simple Math)
everything about this track is grim, the emotion of Andy Hull on vocals as well as the backing vocals of a choir allow for the dark matter in the song to be portrayed in such great detail.

10. Katy B - Witches Brew (On A Mission)
Its a surprise I even bothered listening to her album, my brother had been raving about her stuff before this released so checked it out. This track is great dancy UK house/grime/dub/dnb whatever its great though and her vocals layer this perfectly.

Now for the rest;

11. Cut Copy - Where I'm Going (Zonoscope)
12. Fleet Foxes - Sim Sala Bim (Helplessness Blues)
13. The Horrors - Still Life (Skying)
14. The Weeknd - Loft Music (House Of Balloons)
15. Fergus & Geronimo - Wanna Know What I Would  Do? (Unlearn)
16. TV Ghost - Cancor (Mass Dream)
17. Battles - Ice Cream (Gloss Drop)
18. Liturgy - Harmonia (Aesthethica)
19. Bon Iver - Minnesota, WI (Bon Iver)
20. The Antlers - Corsicana (Burst Apart)
21. Gang Gang Dance - Mindkilla (Eye Contact)
22. Toro Y Moi - Go With You (Underneath The Pine)
23. The Dodos - Going Under (No Color)
24. James Pants - Clouds Over The Pacific (James Pants)
25. Yacht - Tripped and Fell In Love (Shangri-La)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Worst Of 2011: Halfway Report

As we all know not every album is great, sometimes some really blow and they end up on my Worst album list and here's the ten album that have disappointed me at this halfway stage.

1. Lupe Fiasco - Lasers (not my review, but it works)
Seriously it's funny Lupe essentially called out all those that were commercial hip hoppers and funnily enough he's done exactly what he hated and produced an absolute stinker of an album. Don't worry people I listened to this so you wouldn't have to.

2. Protest The Hero - Scurrilous
It's just embarrassing from start to finish and as my picture review suggested, its Avenged Sevenfold + Dream Theater, a complete nightmare scenario.

3. In Flames - Sounds Of A Playground Fading
If you were hoping for something new from In Flames I'm sorry, its a tired boring release even after a longer than usual wait between albums.

4. Raekwon - Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang
After his last album the excitement for this one to drop was big for me, then I listened and it was a weak release from Raekwon, almost as if he was attempting to get some MTV plays and went horribly wrong.

5. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
If you were naive enough to believe them when they said this was a throw back album, I'm sorry cause it isn't. Dave's garage is a little flasher than what you might think considering its just a state of the art recording studio in a garage. Also the return of Pat Smear merely means the albums is more guitar heavy with no more substance.

6. J Mascis - Several Shades Of Why
I love J and Dinosaur Jr, but this album is incredibly boring, his voice is fine, but its deadly boring with little to care about throughout the record.

7. The Strokes - Angles
Looking back now I wish I didn't give it a 6/10 as that was far too generous, nothing has really grown on me with this album, in fact I like only one track on this whole album with that being Under The Cover Of Darkness.

8. Wire - Red Barked Tree
This was actually my album reviewing debut on another blog that has since gone on hiatus, this album was really dry and boring for me and having never heard them before really don't know if I want to hear anything else from them.

9. Miles Kane - Colour Of The Trap
I enjoyed what Miles Kane did in Last Of The Shadow Puppets with Alex Turner, unfortunately he's trying waaaay too hard at creating a retro sounding album, of course it sounds retro but it ain't any good.

10. Adele - 21
You know it was going to make the cut, it just had to.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Album Review: Yacht - Shangri-La

Sometimes with all the serious music that's out there you just want to instead listen to some legit fun music? right? to me the new album by Yacht is just in a nutshell a really fun electro induced indie rock album. On the James Murphy record label DFA you can certainly hear an LCD Soundsystem influence in the sound.

Starting with the song Utopia it is known very fast this is going to be upbeat and an enjoyable listen, the bass line is cool, the drums keep it at a good pace and the vocals get you further pumped. This is a great intro while we get a much more synth laden song in Dystopia, with a slower pace to the song its more of a head bobber than a crazy dance track.

The album mixes it up at times, with some cool dance punk like songs ala !!! with I Walked Alone, with the already mentioned Dystopia keeping with the general idea of the album but slowing things down nicely. The vocals of Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans are really great throughout the album.

I actually find this album difficult to talk about as its really quite simple, electronic indie music, with some great synth and changes in the tempo of the music. The overall feeling is certainly fun and I definitely felt it was fun to listen to, the slower tracks were perhaps less dancey but oozed coolness from start to finish. Stand out tracks for me were Beam Me Up and Tripped An Fell In Love, both cool and fun all the way through. The rediculous nature of the parts in this song particularly when Claire repeats "burn" a large amount of times before the chorus, plus what isn't cool about a song about being beamed up?

Tripped An Fell in love is my favourite on the album, starting with a simple drum beat, the accompanying synth make it cool as fuck. The longest track on the album at over 7 minutes allows the song to build throughout and while keeping pretty minimal and similar throughout, still has small parts that make the song great.

Overall this is a fun and cool album, definitely close to the most easy to listen to album this year and something that you want to listen to when looking for something that's fun.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sorbo's Top 10 Metal Albums Of All Time

So Metal week on Sorbo Speaks? is over, so to end it I thought I'd put up my top ten metal album of all time:

1. Iron Maiden - The Number Of The Beast

2. Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From A Memory

3. Sunn O))) - Black One

4. Megadeth - Rust In Peace

5. Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath

6. Iron Maiden - Powerslave

7. Faith No More - Angel Dust

8. Converge - Jane Doe

9. Mastodon - Crack The Skye

10. Judas Priest - British Steel

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Album Review: Havok - Time Is Up

For a while now I've kind of felt thrash metal was pretty much dead as a genre, sure bands like Megadeth, Slayer and to a much lesser extent (for me anyway) Metallica are still around, but nothing new was even appearing to get me to think about going back to the genre. Now with the new release from trash metal band Havok is someone trying to lift this genre from the dead?

The answer is a slight yes, yes in the sense this album is actually pretty good, something worth at least a listen if you were a fan of thrash at some stage or even still a fan. The album is energetic as fuck for a start, the songs just explode out really fast and only stop for the slightest of breathers before getting right back into it. The vocals are old thrash all over part Mustaine but with a little less snarl, he really handles the vocals well, clear strong, thrash metal sounding.

This album isn't going to break ground for a thrash metal album, however is does show that good thrash metal can still be made. The guitars aren't the most technical sounding ever, I was expecting more from them, they do however have a nice thrash sound to them something that I think everything on this album has. I did find D.O.A. to be quite a good song even with its street fighter intro, the song seems to me anyway just that slight more explosive to the rest and leaves a lasting impression on this album for me.

Another song that's great is track eight The Cleric with probably the best solo on the album, it also incorporates some Mustaine spoken word stuff in it also, definitely has a bit of everything in it and at four minutes 45 being the second longest song I feel it shows off the instruments more than any other track.

If there's criticism from me it's definitely that the album is incredibly samey, if you aren't listening to thrash a lot anymore there's a good chance you'll get bored fairly fast, if you can get through sameness you'll find glimpses of differing songs such as  The Cleric and Out Of My Way. If you're looking for a samey old school thrash album then you'll pretty much dig everything on this album.

Overall its a pretty solid release and a thrash metal album worth checking out, won't blow you away but its more than a nice listen. Probably the most I've enjoyed a thrash album since Megadeth - Endgame and I feel this is better than that.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Album Review: Septic Flesh - The Great MASS

So it is day 3 of METAL WEEK \m/ \m/ and today I've decided to delve into a genre I used to listen to heavily and that is death metal. I am still a fan of the genre, due mainly to the bands I used to listen to a lot over my metal period, bands such as Cryptopsy, Death and particularly Cannibal Corpse were bands that I dug big time. So this is much like a harp back to the old death metal listening times of the past, hopefully its as good as those times were.

Now to the band, this is the first time I've listened to Septic Flesh and pretty much did so off the back of a recommendation. First impressions on this album are pretty solid to be fair, the album essentially explodes out of the gates with the track apocalypse before mellowing to then lift again. We definitely get a dark feel early in this track, but the most interesting part I feel is the atmosphere the album has already, partially grim, partially demonic (shits the devil music maaaan). During the first track we also get a whiff of the way they use their vocals, partly death metal growls, but also the use of clean and beautiful vocals to show another side to the album.

I do love that this album doesn't just sink into a certain sound and end up as a generic death metal album, someof the melodies on this album are really cool, plus the clean vocals help to portray that even further. The demonic/evil atmosphere is very strong early in the album, but as the cleaner vocals get more and more used the atmosphere dips slightly. A Great Mass Of Death is a to track on this album, it has so many elements to the song that make it incredibly interesting, the slowed down pieces, the multiple types of vocal styles used like the group vocals, clean, death growl and spoken word. The drums are also great on this and are to me anyway the focal instrument on this album.

My favourite track overall is track seven the short (shortest on the album even) at just over three minutes really explodes through at such a powerful rate, the song to me is the most powerful on the album and really shows off the band the best, the track doesn't particularly do anything special merely mixing up the vocal styles to keep the song fairly grim and evil.

One thing you'll definitely notice on this album is that the song are short, they just burst through them with such speed and brutality making this album really fun to listen to. My only gripe would be while I like the clean vocals, at times there's perhaps too much for my liking, thus taking away from the album being even darker and brutal.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Album Review: In Flames - Sounds Of A Playground Fading

When I was in High School I was a huge In Flames fan, Whoracle has always been my jam from this band but Come Clarity and Reroute To Remain were also solid albums for me anyway. Once Anders became an emo faggot the albums slowly got worse and as I finished high school I pretty much stopped listening to them (I did check out A Sense Of Purpose it was decent). Now with a longer than usual break between albums and the fall out from foundning member Jesper Stromblad would this lead to a fresh and different In Flames album?

Unfortunately the answer to this question is ultimately no, this album really is no different to the last few In Flames albums, Anders continuing his emo lyrics on and the melodic death metal sound that In Flames helped become what it is in Gothenburg has continued. To me this is almost a tired sounding album with parts being so similar to earlier stuff its really a lazy album by these dudes.

The album is incredibly chunky, the fat cunt riffs early in the album would make Dimebag proud (seriously that's not a good thing) the vocals are really no different to what we have heard in the past which makes this difficult to review as there's very little to say about this album.

Overall if you've liked what In Flames have produced in recent years you'll probably like this album a fair amount, if you've just discovered the band you'll probably dig this as well. The album isn't going to phase someone whose trying to get back into this band because its tired and samey to the point where I feel like I've heard these songs already. But at the same time for those in the band if it ain't broke, don't fix it?

Overall Rating: 3/10

Monday, June 20, 2011

Album Review: Beastwars - Beastwars

Over the past few months a New Zealand band by the name of Beast Wars has been making a name for themselves in Wellington (welly reprazent) now finally we have an album and what has been produced here is a piece of heavy as fuck metal that isn't boring or your average metal album.

Now one thing that you'll definitely notice when listen to this is that of the vocalist, he has such a strong yet filthy sounding voice and reminds me of Lemmy and even Neil Fallon to a lesser extent. The opening track Damn The Sky introduces the album so well, such crunching guitar work before the vocal come in almost soft and tame until they explode out during the chorus to show the true talents he has with the mic.

One thing I also notice is how far back in the mix the drums are, not always the most normal of things but the drums on this albums are probably the least interesting part of this album and merely backing up the heavy guitar are strength of voice. The vocals on this album are the strongest part of this album and show his full range and abilities from the soft/tame vocals to the strong highs on Damn The Sky, we have more casual and even spoken bits on Lake Of Fire that go great with his screams on this song.

The guitars change it up song from song, a lot of nice interesting riffs have been incorporated to keep it from being samey, a lot of ideas have been put into this album. Heavy, chunky, fast riffs on one song to the slower much more subtle guitar work on others. This might be down to an older bunch of musicians as opposed to the young play as fast as you can sing as loud and high as you can attitude we get in a lot of debut releases.

My favourite track on the album is Iron Wolf, a stripped back simpler song on this album, the vocals sadder than on any other song. The vocals meander through the versus' before exploding through the chorus' to give it great contrast through the song. The song isn't as METAL \m/ as most of the other songs and seems pretty hard rock at times but as the song get past the half way mark it becomes much more of a strong metal song and the best on the album.

My only real problems are at times the lyrics are unrecognisable, this isn't a huge problem to be fair because the vocals that are incorporated at times are supposed to be really dirty and unclear. Not to mention with the guitars being so strong in the mix they can of course make this even further unclear. Also the drums are incredibly boring, I'm not looking for some virtuoso performance but something a little more interesting to not seem like a boring feature.

Overall this is a great release, the vocals are really great, the guitars and bass are also great features in this album which has produce some great metal from New Zealand. Particularly when New Zealand has a habit of hyping metal bands that are not only shit, but incredibly uninteresting within the NZ metal community.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Friday, June 17, 2011

Album Review: Vivian Girls - Share The Joy

It really does blow when you forget about an album, then when you start listening to it you realise its the wrong season to be listening to this at all. This album by Vivian Girls is the perfect example of this, its got summer hits (Best Coast I'm looking at you) written all over it. This is the third album from the all female trio from Brooklyn New York titled Share The Joy and I guess with this blog I'm sharing the joy of this album with all of you.

With this being an all girl group you will immediately have similarities to bands such as Best Coast, Warpaint and Dum Dum Girls, being around before these bands you could say Vivian Girls helped pave the way (I doubt it, but whatever) Early in the album you definitely get an album that looks to be another summer classic much like last years Crazy For You by Best Coast. However what Best Coast lacked in musicianship is what Vivian Girls seems to have on them, the crisper alternative rock sound over the surf pop sound is where this band stands.

Of course the surf pop angle is used, even bits of conventional retro pop is included particularly in the track Take It As It Comes which I feel like would fit right into an 80's diner movie. As said this is more than a surf pop album and a song like Vanishing Of Time shows this off, the summer guitar tone is toned down and a much more serious (and slightly heartfelt) song is developed with indie/alternative ideals in place. One thing you definitely notice is the lyrics, again we have songs about love and I guess their dude, it seems to fit well in the surf pop songs so it's fine but nothing outrageous or overly interesting.

The only real flaw to this album is it's nothing really great, just a lot of nice songs put together to make a nice album, a lot of the songs sound similar and this isn't so much a of a problem but more that they aren't trying to push the envelope more. A song they do seem to show great potential in is Light In Your Eyes, a long track for them in just over 6 minutes, the song shows a cool alternative vibe with the sweet and soft vocals carrying into a nice song, my favourite even.

Overall this is a nice short album at only 36 minutes, what Vivian Girls have produced is a really cool, fun summer album that at times isn't so cliche. If you were a fan of Crazy For You by Best Coast you'll certainly dig this as I feel its got some cool similarities and at the end of the day you could relax in the sun listening to these song and soak it in and enjoy. Unfortunately this was written in the grim and frostbitten winter, but once summer comes round again, so will this album.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Album Review: Algernon Cadwallader - Parrot Files

Wait you haven't heard of Algernon Cadwallader? not a big music fan?...well neither had I until a week ago and after discovering them and listening to their second album titled Parrot Files I'm pretty pleased I gave this the time. Algernon Cadwaller are an emo/indie from Philadelphia and going off what they say on their Facebook page, they seem to do everything themselves, book shows, record, mix, produce, everything.

Now to the album, again it's their second album and I have to say its quite a cool album, it's fairly simple in fact, you won't be getting any musicianship award from this group. At the same time though the summery guitar sounds work great (its easier when its a nice day during the reviewing) while the strained vocals are actually pretty cool for this, its like a tone down scream but with the simple arrangement behind it makes it quite cool.

You could say the similarities between the songs could be a problem, but with the album short at just 34 minutes and most songs being less than three minutes long then it doesn't matter as much for me anyway. Favourite tracks on this for me are Preservatives and Glenwood Ave. Preservative summer feel and strained vocals are similar to the rest of the tracks but the lyrics come through a little better in this one, while the change tempo through the middle of the track makes it that bit cooler, plus its solid minimal instrumental breakdown near the end and the nice chorus. Glenwood Ave. has a cool bass line lead the song while its group backing vocals are great and trumpet? during the chorus turn this into a fun track to listen over and over.

Now I do have a problem with this release though, the strained vocals isn't that bad really apart from the difficulty in what he's saying, which is a shame as one of the only songs (Preservatives) where you can make out what he's saying is one of my favourites. I'm not saying he should clean the vocals up completely but perhaps look to get them where people know what he's saying.

Overall a fun solid release from these dude and I feel it's a great summer album and when the proper summer gets back here I'll definitely be giving this a lot more listens then.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Album Review: Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts

Another singer from a great band has branched out for a solo album this year, J Mascis did it earlier this year with his album Several Shades Of Why I did a review here obviously it was the strongest of releases as i found it just a little boring, however everything I hated about the Mascis album is not here in this release by Sonic Youth vocalist Thurston Moore. Demolished thoughts is Thurston Moore's fourth album and the first I've given a shit to bother listening to (why? I thought I'd just check it out cause I could) and what he's produce is a pretty nice solo record.

The big positive about this album is its more than just acoustic guitar, in fact its a lot more than just that, with the incorporation of electric guitar, violin and other orchestral instruments. Thurston's lyrics and vocals are soft and powerful these two factors alone make it a stronger release than Mascis' alone and while I don't really want to turn this into a Mascis vs Moore type of thing I feel compelled to look at what Mascis did wrong on his album and notice Moore didn't make the same mistakes.

The subtle instrumental noises that back the acoustic guitar on this album are superb and it keeps away the idea of just waiting for Moore to sing again. With interesting instrumental breakdowns that he has produced you can almost space out and separate from the listening experience and just consume all the small pieces of beauty he has put together into this album. There isn't a stand out track on this album as the songs throughout are pretty solid and do a pretty good job in what he's portraying, also at times the album lacks a little bit of emotion which would've been nice.

Overall this is a strong solo release, a full sound with the acoustic guitar leading the way, but has a strong backing of multiple instruments that add such interest in the album for me anyway. Of course this album is pretty solid and doesn't have a couple of really big songs that could put this up in the top releases. With it being a little samey, its 47 minutes in length makes this slightly long in feeling while not being much longer than your standard album.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10