Album Review: Liam Gallagher – As You Were

23 years on from the release of Definitely Maybe, Liam Gallagher is still seen as a legend in the rock world. He revolutionised the genre in music, and while not quite achieving as much success in Beady Eye, his post-Oasis supergroup, he still amassed a strong and loyal fanbase. Now, in 2017, he is making his first foray into being a solo artist, and I’m excited about it to say the least.

The first few singles did a lot to raise this excitement as well; ‘Wall Of Glass’ is a massive callback to the incredible sound that Oasis created in Definitely Maybe, one of the best debuts of all time. On the other hand, ‘For What It’s Worth’ shows a lot of maturity and growth, taking that signature sound and pushing it further with a soaring chorus and orchestral instrumentation.

And this record is as good as those singles suggest. Gallagher has taken the sound he has created as part of Oasis and Beady Eye, and then pushed it even further, adding a slower, more mature edge to it. At times it’s simpler, using mainly just an acoustic guitar, and occasionally it’s much more complex, using orchestral sounds and horn sections, but either way, it works. For example, ‘You Better Run’ is a catchy, danceable track with a great rhythm, whereas ‘Paper Crown’ is slower, more sombre and reflective. ‘Greedy Soul’ has a huge, Oasis-esque sound, and is one of the highlights of the record. A slower cut is ‘Chinatown’, but it doesn’t suffer for it, and the fingerpicked guitar sounds great.

Some people might think there’s no place for a rock star like Liam Gallagher in 2017, but they’re wrong. If anything, we need him even more, to inject a bit of old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll energy into everyone’s lives. In fact, this album has everything you’d expect and more; pushing towards a newer, more mature sound. This could just be one of the best debuts of the year.

Best songs: Wall Of Glass, For What It’s Worth, Paper Crown

Score: 7/10

Advertisements

Album Review: ROAM – Great Heights & Nosedives

I loved ROAM’s last album. It showed a very talented new band making their first steps into the music world. It was a little rough around the edges. but what else can you expect from a new band? I feel like rather than taking away from the record, it made it even more charming. And the band definitely know how to write hooks, and big ones at that. But from a great debut like that, where do you go? Do you give the fans more of what they want and expect, or do you try and refine your sound and writing skills. This album is definitely more of the latter, and here’s why.

It’s evident that the band have improved massively from the beginning of the first song, ‘Alive’. The production has improved massively, with everything sounding crisper and clearer than anything the band have ever released before. Their writing is also much improved, proven by the fantastic ‘The Rich Life Of A Poor Man’, which contains probably the best chorus the band have ever written.

Other great songs include ‘Playing Fiction’ and the slightly slower ‘Curtain Call’, which is absolutely anthemic. There are some missteps however, as ‘Guilty Melody’ doesn’t sound quite right, while ‘Left For Dead’ is a little too generic for me. These do little to deter listeners though, as the rest of the songs are not only just catchy, but great quality too.

This is an album of two halves really, and while the first half is fairly middle-of-the-road other than a few songs, the second half really shows how far the band have come. The hooks are better, the vocals are refined but powerful, and everything sounds much clearer. Best of all though, everything just sounds bigger. Where the first album was a rough collection of okay songs with great hooks, this feel so much more like an album from an accomplished band, who really know what they’re really doing. If you’re looking for an album to warm you up as winter approaches, this is it.

Best songs: The Rich Life Of A Poor Man, Curtain Call, Scatterbrained

Score: 7/10

EP Review: Gabrielle Aplin – Avalon

I know this is a rock blog, but I can’t help myself but talk about Gabrielle Aplin’s new EP, Avalon. Ever since her debut album English Rain I have loved everything she’s put out. In her last EP, Miss You, she made a transition between her old, indie folk style of music, to a more mainstream pop sound. I felt like that would put me off, but she made the transition really well, especially in the fantastic title track. This new EP continues this trend, and I feel like it pulls it off perfectly. Here’s why…

Listening to this EP, you wouldn’t even suspect that Aplin’s previous music was any different to this, because it shows a level of style and confidence many artists take much longer to grow into. The musicality has taken a big step too, with the production sounding a lot fuller than any of her previous work. A perfect example of this is by far the best song on this album, ‘Waking Up Slow’. It feels like a bit of a bold claim to make, but I feel like this is one of the best pop songs of the year.

It’s not the only good song on the EP though, with every song offering something different, but equally good. Foe example, ‘Say Nothing’ is just a quality pop song, with a great chorus. ‘Used To Do’ is a guitar-led track which feels like a callback to Light Up The Dark, her last album. Last of all ‘Stay’ is a slow but full-sounding ballad.

I feel like with everything she releases, Gabrielle Aplin gets a little bit better, and this EP is no different. Each song is quality, but in a slightly different way, fitting together to make a diverse, but coherent EP. Whatever she creates next can’t come soon enough.

Best songs: Waking Up Slow, Used To Do

Score: 7/10

Album Review: Coldfront – Float Around

Coldfront are an up-and-coming pop-punk band from Ontario, Canada. Musically, they make energetic, but melodic pop-punk with a bit of a rougher edge than a lot of the band in the scene. At this point, alarm bells will be ringing in your ears if you know about my opinions on the state of modern pop-punk. But read on, because I have a bit of a different opinion on this one…

The first thing I noticed about this band was that their sound was a little more rough around the edges than your average pop-punk band. The vocals are very rough but also melodic, treading the line between intensity and melody perfectly. This is shown really well in the first song, ‘So Typical’, which has a really catchy chorus, but rough vocals that even break into a scream at one point.

Speaking of catchiness, this album has it in abundance. ‘Everything You Want Me To Be’ is one of the pop-punk songs of the year, whereas ‘It’s Hit Me’ is a two-minute bomb of energy. The album does blur a bit in the middle sections with songs like the title track and ‘Blame Me’ not quite hitting the mark, but that can easily be forgiven with the quality of the surrounding songs.

For a debut album, the sound and quality that Coldfront have created is really impressive. Over all, this is a great debut, and if you’re a pop-punk fan, you should check this out.

Best songs: So Typical, Everything You Want Me To Be, It’s Hit Me

Score: 6/10

Album Review: Citizen – As You Please

Citizen have made a release every couple of years for a while now. Their debut EP, Young States was released in 2011, followed by first album Youth in 2013 and Everybody Is Going To Heaven in 2015. True to form, this next album has come another two years later, marking not only the band’s ambition, but also their work ethic. Each album has marked a change in the bands style, slowly growing away from their hardcore roots and more into a newer, melodic sound. You wouldn’t usually expect that change to come easily to any band, but for Citizen, it has gone pretty smoothly so far, with each record improving on the last.

But as with every review, it is the here and now that’s important, and this, Citizen’s third full-length LP is impressive to say the least. It showcases some of their softest work, with a lot of heavier influences too. When you feel like the record is at its’ quietest, the silence will be punctured by thundering guitars and intense vocals, showing the band looking not only ahead, but favourably on their past. For example, ‘Discrete Routine’ starts off as one of the quietest songs of the record before slowly building up into an intense finale. And the great songs doesn’t stop there either, with opener Jet being a perfect example of what the band set out to do, with a perfect mixture of soft and harsh, and a great chorus. ‘In The Middle Of It All’ is also dark but beautiful, with an ending that made me check if my earphones were working. They were, it was just an effect of the song, and while I was thrown off originally, I think it works well.

The albums themes and lyrics paint an incredibly dark picture, but not in the way you’d expect. The album is disconcerting and moody, and the music helps to carry this sound along. In this way, the band don’t have to spell out how they’re trying to make you feel in each song, because the music is already taking you there. And when the music alone is conveying the mood, it means the album works! Of course by this point, that is abundantly clear. Citizen have gone even further with this album, and it has come off fantastically.

Best songs: Jet, The Middle Of It All, Fever Days

Score: 8/10

EP Review: Echoic – Shadows Of You

Echoic are a three-piece from Reading, and are a very hot prospect in the rock scene. Their music could be described as catchy rock music with added electronics, creating a richer sound than a lot of bands out there. But style is nothing without substance, so how good is this EP really?

You’d expect some imperfections in the band’s sound, with them being such a relatively young band, but you won’t find any here. The production is stylish and glossy, seamlessly fusing the rock and electronic elements to great effect, giving the album a really smooth sound. This is shown more than ever on ‘Next To You’, which uses ambient guitar really well in the verse, before ramping things up into a louder chorus, complete with distorted power chords.

The other songs are seamlessly produced as well, with a consistent sound all the way through. ‘Blame’ has incredible vocal delivery, while ‘Ghost’ is beautifully ambient before launching into a great chorus. ‘We Burn Like This’ stands out from the other tracks though, with a bit more of a rough sound. Usually I’d have a problem with this because it wouldn’t really fit with the rest of the album, but this song, and so well produced that it seems to fit anyway.

This is a quality EP from a really talented band, and I definitely think you should listen to it.

Best songs: We Burn Like This, Next To You

Score: 7/10

EP Review: The Virginmarys – Sitting Ducks

The Virginmarys released their last album last year, so I wasn’t exactly expecting new music from them so soon, but they are back with this four-track EP. The band has a knack for getting EPs just right, but is this one the same?

This is a short but sweet EP, containing a range of different styles, but never once compromising what this band is about. It contains a nice range of songs, perfectly showing the band’s range. Therefore, if you want to get into them, this is the EP to do it with. It bursts into life instantly with the title track, ‘Sitting Ducks’, a blast of punk perfection with a great driving bassline.

And the quality doesn’t stop there; ‘Sweet Loretta’ is a great song, with a slow verse building up into a chorus typical of the Virginmarys. ‘Through The Sky’ is a little slower, reminiscent of ’90s British rock, and ‘Sleep’ is a beautiful little acoustic effort, one of the bands quieter songs.

Quite often in my reviews, there is a massive ‘but’ in the last paragraph, but don’t worry, you won’t find one here. This is purely a great EP, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Best songs: Sitting Ducks, Sleep

Score: 8/10