Bowie, the Phonics, BRMC and Some More

I’ve got a lot of new albums which I’m going to be reviewing in this blog, including Stereophonics, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and David Bowie. So I best get straight into it.

First up is the new Stereophonics album ‘Graffiti on a Train’.  I think its fair to say that I’m a quite a big Stereophonics fan, but I found there last album a little disappointing. This one is certainly an improvement on that, but I don’t think it reaches the heights of their best work, like Just Enough Education to Perform. It certainly has a very strong start to the album with Share the Same Sun, the title track and Indian Summer. However I felt the rest of album was a little hit and miss, as Kelly was clearly trying to do some different stuff. And I’ve only listened to it once so those bits might be a bit of a grower, especially as overall it’s quite a good album, and as I’ve said I thought it was a lot better than ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. Also the version I’ve got has some cool acoustic or alternative versions on it that are also worth a listen.

Right keeping it going, next up is Steven Mason with the brilliantly name ‘Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time’. Mason has previously done lots of stuff as a founding member of the Beta Band and as King Biscuit Time. As well as this his last album ‘Boys Outside’ was brilliant. This one is a bit different as about half the album is classics Steve Mason tracks, which are brilliant songs, brilliantly performed. The rest of the album is short interludes, some musical; some have spoken word and lots of other weird things. At first I really wasn’t sure about these, but as the album went on I didn’t really notice them at all. And after a second listen, I think that these interludes hold the album together, and turn it from a collection of really good songs, into one piece of music designed to be listened to all the way through, which not enough albums are these days. Also some of the bits are really interesting stuff, such as ‘The Last of the Heroes’ which uses an F1 car’s engine sound as part of the music, and ‘More Money, More Fire’ and highly politicised rap about the riots in 2012. All in all, this is a brilliant album and a wonderful piece of work, one of my favourites of the year so far.

Right I know this album came out half a year ago, but I’ve only just got Muse’s ‘The 2nd Law’.  I’d heard some bad things about this album going in, but I tried to keep and open mind and review it fairly. It’s not that bad an album. I think if you take it on it’s own then it’s an ok album. The problem is you can’t just take it on it’s own, you have to take it in the context of their previous work, and it just doesn’t stand up, particularly not next to Origin of Symmetry. And this just doesn’t feel like a Muse album. I mean they’ve even managed to lose Matt Bellamy’s brilliant and distinctive voice in a couple of the songs. There are a couple of songs that have some “Museyness” but for the most part I just wanted to shout at Matt “CAN I HAVE SOME LOUD GUITARS PLEASE… PLEASE”. Overall if it’s taken as a stand alone album, it’d be ok, with some nice songs, but I can’t help but look at as Muse album, and it’s not what I want from Muse.

Next up is Foals with Holy Fire. I don’t know any Foals stuff, but I’d heard My Number and I’d quite liked it. There is some nice stuff on the album, for the most part it gets a little bit samey and repetitive. But there are some nice songs on it such as providence and stepson.

How I’ve lived with my dad for 18 and a bit years and not managed to hear any Black Rebel Motorcycle Club records. But I have now started with their new album ‘Specter at the Feast’. And this is a top album with some proper good quality rock ‘n’ roll songs like ‘hate the taste’, ‘rival’ and ‘sell it’.

Finally we have the new David Bowie album, The Next Day. It’s been a long time since Bowie last released an album, and this one has been met with huge acclaim. And to be honest it’s easy to see why, there’s some really good stuff on here. It’s not the greatest album ever made, but the fact that it’s somewhat of a return to form for Bowie after some disappointing stuff is probably why it’s done so well. That and as I said, it’s got some very good stuff on it, even if it’s not up there with his classic stuff of the 70s, most notably Ziggy Stardust and Hunky Dory.

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