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Paul's Choices: 

 

Aimee Mann -Mental Illness

 

This ones  a favourite at the moment  standout tracks include,

Goose Snow Cone/ You never loved me/stuck in the past/patient Zero/ Rollercoasters

certainly worth a listen and very consistent all the way through. great lyrics to boot. -Paul.

Over the course of her career, Aimee Mann has given voice to those who aren’t necessarily losers so much as self-saboteurs, lovers who bristle at intimacy, who race full speed ahead toward happiness only to shoot themselves in the foot just shy of reaching their goal. “Always snatching defeat/It’s the devil I know,” she sings on “Goose Snow Cone,” the opening track of her ninth album, Mental Illness. “Even birds of a feather find it hard to fly,” the singer-songwriter goes on to say. Love may be the answer, and it may be all that we need, but it’s not always the last word.

 

 

Download 1

As the compilation reasserts, White has been writing on an acoustic since day one, however, the kinds of acoustic songs he writes have changed considerably over the years. More than just showcasing his tuneful side, Acoustic Recordings is a shrine to White’s self-sufficiency, in both the musical and ideological senses. After all, White has always been one to take matters into his own hands, whether he’s building guitars from some spare wire and woodopening his own record press, or ensuring aliens have access to a turntable. And until he can get off this godforsaken planet and join his records in space, Acoustic Recordings stockpiles a great American songbook that can endure even after we’re all forced to live off the grid.

 

 

 

Decemberists 640x640

 

 

 the Decemberists have gone back to their beginnings for The King Is Dead, with leader Colin Meloy forsaking epic storytelling for taut, disciplined, melodic guitar pop. The influence of REM is apparent throughout in arpeggiated guitar figures written in the style of Peter Buck, and often played by him – Calamity Song and Down By the Water, in particular, sound like the Georgia band at their top-notch best. It's no retreat, though: the confident swing of opener Don't Carry It All sets the tone for the album, and song for song, this is certainly Meloy's best set since the Decemberists' breakthrough album, Picaresque. Though the craftsmanship is evident – in the delicacy of the pair of seasonal ballads June Hymn and January Hymn, in the hillbilly-ballad-cum-indierocker Rox in the Box – it sounds as though Meloy has allowed instinct to supplement his intellect. A relatively understated delight from a band few might have suspected capable of understatement.

 

Neil's Choices:

 


Gojira -The Way of all Flesh

                         

Gojira are like Democratic Presidential candidates-- policy wonks who are smart but stiff. They combine the tunneling riffs of Morbid Angel with the steely precision of Strapping Young Lad and Meshuggah. But the resemblance ends there. Unlike Morbid Angel, Gojira have no occult concerns; unlike Strapping Young Lad, Gojira have no sense of humor; unlike Meshuggah, Gojira's lyrics are actually about something-- namely, the environment. The band's ecological fetish somehow seems appropriate for its French origins. No American or Scandinavian death metaller would sing about "Flying Whales" or proclaim, "I embrace the world!" "Death metal" best describes Gojira only because "life metal" hasn't caught on yet.
 
The band is aptly named for the Japanese pronunciation of "Godzilla." Over time, Gojira's sound has increasingly mirrored the terrestrial destruction in their lyrics. The sound peaked on 2006's From Mars to Sirius, which began with "Ocean Planet", ended with "Global Warming", and deployed riffs that could knock down buildings. Production is as important to Gojira's attack as note choice, and The Way of All Flesh is an audiophile's wet dream. Instruments are defined with pristine clarity; drums are crisp yet heavy; guitars and bass form a crystalline audio monolith. Gojira sing about the evils of modernity, yet they're the sonic embodiment of it.
 
Such contradiction characterizes The Way of All Flesh. Lyrically, it's downright soulful. Once again, environmental themes abound. "Toxic Garbage Island" turns "Plastic bag in the sea!" into an angry mantra. "Adoration for None" thunders, "Everyone is doing their best to destroy it/ Simplicity's forgotten/ And we all drill the ground." But in between the Greenpeace anthems now is a whole lotta death. The theme is a far cry from metal's usual necrotic obsession. Instead, death and life are a continuum. "Oroborus" could be the stuff of yoga classes: "Serpent of light, movement of the soul/ Crawling stately along the spine/ Mighty phoenix from the ashes arises/ Firebird cycle, life, regenerate the cell." Joe Duplantier's vocals are stronger than ever, employing a wide variety of growls and singing.
 
Unfortunately, this humanity doesn't translate to the music. The performances are flawless, but overly so. Everything is polished to a gleaming sheen. When the band tries to swing, like in "A Sight to Behold", it comes off as, well, white. Heaviness is in no short supply; "Vacuity" is a single-minded stomp, while the title track pounds chugging riffs into the ground. Without edges, heat, or blood, though, such punishment is joyless. To their credit, Gojira avoid metal's tonal clichés in favor of open-ended abstraction. But it's cold and distant, unbefitting of the passionate lyrics. Undoubtedly, this material is better live, where the band has a fearsome reputation. There, the images are of raised fists and flying hair. Here, the images are of plastic discs and 1's and 0's.

 Production has always been as important to Gojira's attack as note choice, and the metal band's album is an audiophile's wet dream. 

-Pitchfork

 

 


My Dying Bride - Turn Loose The Swans

Turn Loose the Swans is the debut album by My Dying Bride, and is a taste of the dominance that this band will show in later years in the genre of doom metal. Along with classic albums like Dance of December Souls (Katatonia) and Forests of Equilibrium (Cathedral), Turn Loose the Swans is one of the foundations that the whole genre is built on. It is an excellent album to listen to, and a wonderful addition to any metal collection.

The album begins with the song Sear Me MCMXCIII, which is a very atmospheric piece. It features slow and mournful singing from Aaron Stainthrope, and utilizes strings and a keyboard to create a emotion-filled introduction to the album. It is a very nice way to begin, and sets the tone for the rest of the album. 
The next song is Your River, a personal favourite of mine, and a classic track. Again, this one is very atmospheric, and you can feel the tension building up throughout the song until it explodes at the end with a very catchy, yet heavy riff. Stainthrope shows off his harsh vocals for the first time (which he doesn’t do enough of anymore). The song ends with the lyrics:
'Where now" Feed me! Hold me! Save me! Save
yourself! Where now" Which way" Dear god,
show me. Take your own. Struggle free! Arise!
You're Ruined! Stand down! Your kin, piled
thick around you. Save yourself!'
This track will haunt you long after you have listened to it.

The next two tracks, The Songless Bird and The Snow in My Hands follow the same sort of formula, oozing with atmosphere, fading in and out between melodic harmonies and aggressive tones. Special mention must be made of Stainthropes's voice. He has the perfect voice for doom metal, and his harsh vocals are very good. He manages to create a balance between the two vocal styles which gives this release an edge over rival album, such as Katatonia’s Dance of December Souls. Stainthrope’s voice just fits doom metal a lot better than Renske’s. So we're 4 songs into the album, and we've already had 30 minutes worth of music. With albums of this type, you'd expect there to be some sort of short filler to give us a break from the music, but no, we are thrown into two even longer tracks and one shorter one to finish off the album. This can make album hard to listen to, especially if you aren't that patient or don't have a fondness of doom metal. On the other hand, it makes the album a whole lot more powerful and involving, as long as you are willing to give it that extra bit of attention.

The first of these two longer songs, The Crown of Sympathy chugs along at a steady pace, slowing down, and then speeding back up. This is probably the dullest song on the album. It is the longest, and just doesn’t have any brilliant moments which the other tracks all have. Being 12 minutes long, you'd want it to be interesting. Next comes the title track, and immediately sucks you in with an immersing guitar riff backed with strings, before Stainthrope begins the song with a very evil and menacing tone. Turn Loose the Swans is a very strong track, and probably the heaviest on the album. This song, along with Your River, epitomizes what My Dying Bride was trying to achieve with the album: a balance between atmospheric dread and Armageddon. Turn Loose the Swans is the defining Doom Metal song; it literally spells out doom, musically. 
Following the title track, we have the final song, Black God. This is a beautiful and somber piece of music, which finishes off the album nicely. At first glance, I thought this was just another song, as it is almost 5 minutes long, but it is just a very long outro. The outro is so important for an epic album likes this, as it sets the mood that one would feel after finishing the album. This gives it that extra something that is missing from a lot of today's music. Black God is just sublime. I cannot give it enough praise. It is probably my favourite track behind Your River and Turn Loose the Swans.

Highly recommended. Keep an open mind and this album might just surprise you.