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Sunday, July 19, 2009

No-Fuss Reviews 3

Sick of music reviews that go on forever and ever? Tired of being bombarded with more information than you could ever possibly need? Fear not- I present to you my no-mess, no-fuss music reviews.
You get all that you need, without all the frilly bit you don't: Artist and Album Name (w
hich always helps), how I found out about them, or 'Hype', (so if you like the album, you can go to that site/magazine and find some more music to your taste), my thoughts (subjective, but concise), my rating (I'm quite a harsh marker), and an MP3 from the album, so you can get an actual taste of what the album's like. Get it? Got it? Good.

N.B- I know my music tastes are quite eclectic, but there are reviews of all sorts- from experimental jazz to hardcore- so hopefully there's something for everyone.

Manchester Orchestra- Mean Everything To Nothing

Hype: I looked them up after I saw them on the Latitude line-up, which looks awesome this year, I might add. Regina Spektor and Manchester Orchestra and Ruby and her
Whorses is like a dream come true for me- well, it would be, if I were there. Unfortunately, being poor (and spending all of my money of books, films and CDs), I'm having to give it a miss.
Thoughts: I'm suitably impressed. Most bands of this ilk (indie-alt-rock, shall we say) te
nd to arrive on the music scene with a bold first effort, that is often quite unrefined, but ultimately lets them establish themselves within their rightful place on the musical spectrum, and then tend to mellow out slightly with their second effort, feeling such brash vivacity is no longer required. Manchester Orchestra is not one of these bands- 'Mean Everything To Nothing' has the same triumphant melodies and quiet, introspective periods as 'I'm like A Virgin Losing a Child', but is bolder, better and carried out with a little more finesse. Andy Hull's vocals, in particular, have ripened considerably. Despite this albums diversity and strength, it's impossible not to draw parallels between this album and As Cities Burn's 'Hell or High Water' (released earlier this year, and reviewed here)- and I feel, in comparison, 'Mean Everything to Nothing' doesn't quite top the dynamism and lyrical brilliance of 'Come or Hell or High Water'.
Rating: 8.5/10
MP3: I've Got Friends

Mariana's Trench- Masterpiece Theatre

Hype: An online friend I met through deviantArt (back in the days I was young, naive and assumed cyberspace was clamouring for my face) recommended them to me. What ensued can only be described as a love affair- I listened to their EP until I knew it inside out- every guitar riff, every nuance of Josh Ramsay's exceptional voice- 'Fix Me', their first album, was treasured, and listened to on a near daily basis- suffice to say, I had exceptionally high hopes for 'Masterpiece Theatre'.
Thoughts: Happiness has tarnished their respected format. Their first album was a collection of songs about the darker side of adolescence-
self-harm, drug abuse, anorexia- but what saved it from being another throwaway teenage album was the verbal dexterity of the lyrics and the talent of every member of the band. Emotional, yes, and far from flawless, but refreshing because of the fact none of the songs were about love, as so many are today- and also because the harmonies worked so beautifully without being clean-cut, immaculate and studio enhanced. What 'Masterpiece Theatre' presents is happiness, love, studio enhancement and many songs only pre-teen girls would call 'profound'. The layers of vocals and instrumentals that oddly worked for a rock band in 'FM' have been overdone- as exemplified by their 3-part overture/interval/finale, entitled 'Masterpiece Theatre'- I think the fact the boys themselves referred to it as a sort of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' gets alarm bells ringing before you even hit the play button. That being said, the 3rd part of Mastepriece Theatre may be the best song on the album- I have grown to love the acoustic, stripped-back version of their single, 'Cross My Heart', which can be found here.
Masterpiece Theatre is not a bad album, by any stretch, but a huge disappointment when you consider how much of a breath of fresh air 'Fix Me' was in comparison.

Rating: 6.5/10
MP3: Masterpiece Theatre III

Melody Gardot- My One and Only Thrill
Hype: As a closet jazz enthusiast, Melody Gardot's debut album, 'Worrisome Heart', was splashed around all manner of blogs last year- and after reading her bio here, I was keen to hear what she had to offer.
Thoughts: Melody Gardot is a prime example of everything that can go right with a second album- she clearly walked into the studio a little less fresh-faced, but with the extra experience and maturity that was necessary for her to achieve her full attention. There was nothing particularly lacking from 'Worrisome Heart'- her voice is a pleasure to hear and her musical talent and composition were clearly a force to reckoned with. Yet, it lacked a punch- it was pretty, but not outstanding. 'My One and Only Thrill' sees Gardot being a little louder, a little more daring, whilst still being prime easy listening material. Her breathy voice shows both power and control, and she seems much more comfortable tinkling the ivories this time around. A beautiful album by any standards.
Rating: 8.5 /10

MP3: Lover Undercover

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