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

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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

My Top 100 Songs: 30-21

30. Royal – Waterparks

This is my favourite song off one of my new favourite albums, and from the moment I heard it I knew I’d love it. Waterparks are probably the best new band in pop-punk at the moment, and this just proves that.

Find it on: Double Dare (2016)

29. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine – The Killers

I’ve recently talked about this song on the blog, so I’ll keep it short. This song is a pure masterpiece, and the fact that Brandon Flowers wrote it at so young an age is just a testament to what an incredible songwriter he is.

Find it on: Hot Fuss (2004)

28. Kitchen Sink – Twenty One Pilots

Just a bonus track on Vessel, I didn’t hear this song for a while. But when I did, it really hit me hard. In it, Tyler talks about trying to create things and leave a legacy behind. If you’re a creative or artistic person, this’ll hit you hard.

Find it on: Vessel (2013)/Regional At Best (2011)

27. Kids In The Dark – All Time Low

Future Hearts wasn’t everyone’s favourite stage of All Time Low’s career, but I think it was one of their best ever albums, and this is one of their best ever songs. Not only is it incredibly catchy, but it also has a bit of a message, which is rare for All Time Low.

Find it on: Future Hearts (2015)

26. Soap – As It Is

As It Is’ second album marked them branching out from their regular pop-punk and experimenting a little with some new sounds. This is almost (but not quite) the best thing that came out of that, a dark, Brand New-esque track that I absolutely love.

Find it on: okay. (2017)

25. Sorry You’re Not A Winner – Enter Shikari

Enter Shikari are one of the bands I’ve got into more recently, and this song stands out as by far one of their best. From the incredible riff, to the electronic elements, to Rou Reynolds’ versatile vocals, this song is a modern masterpiece.

Find it on: Take To The Skies (2007)

24. Goodbye Angels – Red Hot Chili Peppers

I feel like the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ latest album is massively underappreciated. They tried something new, and while it didn’t always come off, it worked well a lot of the time, including creating this masterpiece of a song.

Find it on: The Getaway (2016)

23. Just Like Heaven – The Cure

This is an absolute classic. I don’t really know what to say other than everything about this song is near perfect; the vocals, the rhythm, the bass, the guitar, and all the other little things tying them together.

Find it on: Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987)

22. Monkey Wrench – Foo Fighters

I remember first hearing this song on a Guitar Hero game when I was 12 and being blown away by Dave Grohl’s vocals. Now, at 20 years old, I feel exactly the same when listening to it

Find it on: The Colour And The Shape (1997)

21. Make It Stop (September’s Children)

Rise Against have written a lot of meaningful, powerful songs, but this must be the most powerful of all of them. Written after a long string of teenage suicides caused by homophobic bullying, this song was written as a message to everyone out there that things will get better. This is truly Rise Against at their best.

Find it on: Endgame (2011)

My Top 10 The Killers Songs

Ever since I first heard the opening to ‘Mr. Brightside’, I knew I loved The Killers. And why wouldn’t I? Ever since their first album, they’ve been producing top quality music, and with the singles I’ve heard from their new album, they look to continue this. Wonderful Wonderful is out this month, and in celebration of that, I’ll be counting down my favourite songs by them.

Honourable mentions (Warning, there are a lot!):

  • Mr Brightside
  • Somebody Told Me
  • All These Things That I’ve Done
  • Change Your Mind
  • Glamorous Indie Rock And Roll
  • When You Were Young
  • Bones
  • Show You How
  • Romeo And Juliet (Dire Straits Cover)
  • Joy Ride
  • This Is Your Life
  • I Can’t Stay
  • Neon Tiger
  • The World We Live In
  • The Man

10. Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf

There’s something about this song that I just love. The old-fashioned sound quality, and the bluesy guitar rhythm go together to make this one of the most oddly charming Killers songs.

Find it on: Sawdust (2007)

9. For Reasons Unknown

From a relatively unassuming verse, the song bursts into life with Brandon Flowers belting out by far one of the best choruses he’s ever written. An essential listen if you want to get into the band.

Find it on: Sam’s Town (2006)

8. Smile Like You Mean It

One of the highlights of their first album, this is one of the very songs that got me into The Killers. Just try listening to this without it getting into your hair.

Find it on: Hot Fuss (2004)

7. Sam’s Town

This song is a perfect introduction of one of my favourite albums of all time. But not only that, Brandon Flowers shows some of his best writing skills off in this song. What more can you ask than great music with great lyrics?

Find it on: Sam’s Town (2006)

6. This River Is Wild

I can’t believe this song isn’t more well known, because in my opinion it’s one of The Killers’ best. It sounds huge and epic, but with vulnerable lyrics, and I absolutely love that contrast.

Find it on: Sam’s Town (2006)

5. Under The Gun

Short but sweet, this is one of the most catchy songs I’ve heard in my life. Probably one of the most underappreciated Killers songs too, only being a bonus track on Hot Fuss.

Find it on: Sawdust (2007)

4. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine

Believe me when I say this, this song is a masterpiece. Not only does it sound great, it tells a captivating story, something The Killers do expertly. It is the last part of a trilogy  of songs also containing ‘Midnight Run’ and ‘Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf’.

Find it on: Hot Fuss (2004)

3. Losing Touch

This song probably has no right to be where it is on this list, but I love it so much. There is a certain infectiousness to the chorus that won’t let it leave your head.

Find it on: Day & Age (2008)

2. Read My Mind

Simply put, I think this is one of the best songs ever written. From the synth intro, to the lyrics, to that amazing chorus, it’s just perfect from back to front.

Find it on: Sam’s Town (2006)

1. Tranquilize

Well where do I go from one of the best songs ever written? This is the only song I could have possibly picked for the top spot. The Killers have never written anything like this, and I don’t think they ever will again. It’s dark, unsettling, and utterly brilliant.

Find it on: Sawdust (2007)

Album Review: Across The Atlantic – Works Of Progress

Across The Atlantic’s first album, Holding on to What We Know was a great record, mixing aspects of metalcore with pop-punk to great result. But due to a lot of similarities, many people heard it and christened it ‘A Day To Remember-lite’, despite a lot of redeeming qualities in the music. But on this, their second album, they have definitively shaken off this label, producing yet another great selection of songs, abounding in both style and substance.

Not only is this album great in its own right, it surpasses the band’s previous album by a long way. A perfect example of this is ‘Sundress Funeral’, which has to be the best song the band has ever produced. A quiet ukulele strummed intro bursts into a huge pop-punk hit, complete with a chorus any band would be proud of. A close second to this is the furious ‘Self(less)’, which uses a brilliant metalcore-esque breakdown to emphasise maybe the angriest song on the album.

Obviously the range of styles has made this album rather diverse. If you take the summery pop-punk vibes of ‘Sundress Funeral’ and compare them to ‘Blind Eyes’, possibly the most metalcore-inspired song of the album, you wouldn’t even think they were the same band. The album is anything but generic, I’ll give you that. But despite the variety, this album sounds very cohesive. All of the songs fit together, and nothing really feels out of place, which is what separates this album from the previous one. This is not just a great step, but a giant leap for Across The Atlantic, and I can’t wait to hear whatever they come up with next.

Best song: Sundress Funeral

Score: 7/10

Album Review: Turnover – Good Nature

‘I could just take it slow and be here for a moment’, sings lead singer Austin Getz on ‘Living Small’, the penultimate song of this, the third LP from Virginia-based Turnover. I feel like that sums this album up very well too; amidst all of the intense and occasionally political albums that have been released this year (Rise Against and Neck Deep for a start), this is an album that creates a break from the rest of the world. It is something that is meant to be listened to on its own – a blissfully relaxing break from all of the turmoil of the modern world. And it is as good an album as it is much-needed.

From opener ‘Super Natural’ to closer ‘Bonnie (Rhythm & Melody)’, this album delivers a calming and dreamy brand of ambient rock, creating an atmosphere like none other I’ve heard  this year. Now obviously this band are known for their chilled style of music, but this is something else entirely. I came into this album expecting a pleasant listen, but nothing could prepare me for the quality I found on offer. The thing is, nothing on the album is out of the ordinary, but it is executed to absolute perfection, from, from the indie-rock swing of ‘All That It Ever Was’ to the beautiful instrumentation of ‘Pure Devotion’.

Does this album bring any crazy changes or experimentation to the table? No, of course it doesn’t, but it doesn’t need anything different when the formula is as good as this. Instead of relying on any gimmicks or massive changes in style, this album relies on the skill and talent of the musicians in the band, who I have to say have exceeded themselves on this record. From the production, to the composition, to the lyrics, to the instrumentation, to the sound itself, I can’t fault this album. Don’t be surprised to see this in my top albums list at the end of the year, because this is something else.

Best songs: Super Natural, Living Small

Score: 10/10

 

Album Review: Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains

If I say the name Mark Ronson to you, what do you think of? For most of you, the answer will definitely revolve around pop music. The famous producer has made three albums and countless pop hits now, including the song of 2015, ‘Uptown Funk’, and a great cover of the Zutons’ ‘Valerie’, featuring the late Amy Winehouse. Considering this, it shocked me when I found out he would be producing Queens Of The Stone Age’s 7th full-length LP, ‘Villains’.

But despite my disbelief, it was true. And he has teamed up to create one of the bands lightest, most fun records. Now, a lot of rock fans would see this as a bad thing, but I think it’s an experiment that has worked really well for the band. Their trademark sound obviously features loud, heavy guitars, but Ronson’s production has seemed to take a bit of the weight off their sound, freeing up some space for a lot more experimentation. For example, lead single ‘The Way You Used To Do’, mixes pop and rock sensibilities, putting crunchy guitars to a funky rhythm, and ‘Un-Reborn Again’ adds electronic influences and strings to the band’s usual formula. If you’re a fan of their old sound though, there are enough examples of it on the record for it to be enjoyable – particularly in second single ‘The Evil Has Landed’ and ‘Domesticated Animals’.

This record is immediately more accessible than previous QOTSA albums, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. Their typical brand of hard rock has been mixed with pop sensibilities to great effect, and if it doesn’t win you over on the first listen, it definitely will over time. A shining example of when genres cross over.

Best songs: The Evil Has Landed, Domesticated Animals, Un-Reborn Again

Score: 8/10