The Best Records of 2016

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Creeper – The Stranger
Southampton six-piece Creeper impressed with earlier EPs Creeper and The Callous Heart, and five-track The Stranger firmly establishes them as one of the most exciting new bands in Britain today. Channeling the likes of Alkaline Trio and AFI, with a touch of Meatloaf’s cabaret theatricality thrown in for good measure, The Stranger is a short sharp burst of catchy punk brilliance. As front-man Will Gould sings, “misery never goes out of style”, but rarely does it sound this good – expect their first LP to be huge. Continue reading “The Best Records of 2016”

Jamie T: Trick – review

Not all comebacks are successful but having been out of the game for five years Jamie T’s 2014 record Carry On The Grudge was a critical and commercial success, a demonstration that the south-west London boy had lost none of his edge. Thankfully, we’ve only had to wait two years for follow-up Trick, and it’s further evidence of what a truly special artist Jamie Treays is. Continue reading “Jamie T: Trick – review”

blink-182 : California – review

For pop-punk fans, the acrimonious departure of Tom DeLonge from blink-182 last year was a ‘McCartney leaving The Beatles’ moment. Surely this represented the end for a band that had only recently reformed after a similar breakup in the mid 2000s. But bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker had no intention of letting the band die: replacing DeLonge (now off hunting aliens) with Matt Skiba, former frontman of Alkaline Trio, they returned to the studio to record album number seven, California.  Unfortunately, first impressions are not always positive. Continue reading “blink-182 : California – review”

White Lung: Paradise – review

Having emerged out of the Vancouver hardcore scene in the mid-2000s, White Lung have spent the last few years slowly but surely building a reputation as one of the best punk bands in the business. Their last album, 2014’s Deep Fantasy, was a rousing twenty-minute feminist triumph, taking on body dysmorphia, eating disorders and rape culture while churning out riffs powerful enough to fill a thousand mosh pits. Continue reading “White Lung: Paradise – review”

Bloc Party: Hymns – review

Some albums have such an impact on us that we will always remember when we first heard them. Bloc Party’s 2004 debut Silent Alarm was just such an album – from the moment a friend played me the opening strains of Like Eating Glass I was hooked. It was an introduction to a golden age of the British post-punk revival which also included the likes of Franz Ferdinand. More than a decade on it remains one of my favourite albums, a record to which I know almost every word. Continue reading “Bloc Party: Hymns – review”

The Top 20 Albums of 2015

It’s fair to say that 2015 has been a pretty bleak year, all things considered. But as a silver lining, at least the music has been pretty damn good. Here’s the list of my top 20 albums of the year, comprising bands from across the musical spectrum, including a couple of genuine masterpieces.

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Dr Dre – Compton
Sixteen years after the release of The Chronic 2001, the legendary Dr. Dre returned with his third and (apparently) final solo record. In truth, though it’s Dre’s name on the cover, Compton is most effective as a showcase for a variety of great rappers both past and present, with Dre curating a line-up that includes everyone from veteran megastars (Ice Cube, Eminem) to contemporary men-of-the-hour (Kendrick Lamar) to relative unknowns (King Mez, Anderson Paak). It’s a ceremonial passing of the torch, and if this to be his final record it leaves his extraordinary legacy well intact. Continue reading “The Top 20 Albums of 2015”

Deafheaven: New Bermuda – review

The best reviewed album of 2013, according to review aggregator site Metacritic, was not Kanye West’s Yeezer or Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, but Sunbather, the second album by the until-then pretty much unheard of  black metal band Deafheaven. Despite the niche genre and the almost complete lack of radio airtime, the album won critical acclaim for the way it married more traditional black metal sounds with elements of post-rock and shoegaze – the result was an awesome orchestral soundscape. Now Deafheaven are back with third record New Bermuda, and with it they prove that Sunbather was no fluke.  Continue reading “Deafheaven: New Bermuda – review”

Parkway Drive: Ire – review

Their superb 2010 album Deep Blue made Australia’s Parkway Drive genuine leading lights of the oft-maligned metalcore genre, but 2012’s Atlas betrayed more than a touch of complacency, its gripping lyrics about the threat of environmental destruction lost amidst generic guitar breakdowns. And when Vice Grip, the lead single off of fifth album Ire, was released earlier this year, it raised more than a few quizzical eyebrows at its apparent change in musical direction, with its greatly increased emphasis on the ‘metal’ part of ‘metalcore’. Yet long-time fans need not be overly concerned – while Ire is not quite Parkway Drive at their best, it is a step back in the right direction. Continue reading “Parkway Drive: Ire – review”