Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Lodger

lod.jpg

Greetings, Glancers! We’re back in the weird and wacky and often infuriating musical world of Monsiour Bowie and his thirteenth album Lodger. I’ll be honest and say that it’s not one I really know anything about – I never hear anybody talking about it and I don’t recall seeing it in many Best Album lists. That will probably mean it turns out to be my favourite by him so far. Well then, I see no sense in ‘anging ’bout.

Fantastic Voyage. Drums. Guitar and piano. Familiar Bowie vocals and beat. A little woozy and gospel. Building. Big note. Sounds like the lyrics are just as vital today. A nice start.

African Night Flight. Noises. Worse noises. Bangs. Tribal space loops. Rapping. This is certainly different. Can’t help but smile at this one. I mean, it’s not good but it’s certainly hypnotic, ambitious, and draws you in. I think I wold like this more with multiple listens.

Move On. Guitar phased. Galloping. Deep vocals. So a lot of this is being inspired by Africa. Name dropping other places. Very loose. None of the songs have had a traditional structure or obvious hook yet, though each has been interesting in its own way and not off-putting. Shouty vocals now.

Yassassin. Jaunty guitars and organs. Reggae beat. Arabian string sounds. Arabian vocals. It’s interesting again, another one with a sound different to the songs before it. So far these are all songs that are difficult to capture on first listen – they seem dense and mysterious and will only reveal their secrets after a few more goes.

Red Sails. Low. Building drums. Faster. Asian vocals and noises. A little spacey. Crazy guitar. Crazy vocals. Like a bunch of space pirates on acid. It’s okay, it’s a little too close in pace and general style to his glam stuff, but different enough in sound to not put me off.

DJ. Drums. Disaster strings. Funky. Bass loopy, guitar disco. Lyrics sound like he is taking the piss out of DJs for self important. Goes on a bit too long.

Look Back In Anger. Fast. Boxing ring bells. Great drums. Guitar spikes. Good vocals. Another interesting one that does its own thing.

Boys Keep Swinging. Well, I know this one. Or more accurately, I know the Susanna Hoffs cover from her mostly crappy debut solo album. I haven’t heard the original before. That Hoffs album has notoriously bad production, this sounds better instantly. I can see why she chose to cover it, but it’s not amazing. Good bass. These last albums have all had fantastic musical work from the surrounding band. Solo. Sounds an awful lot like some of the solos on The Holy Bible so I assume the Manics borrowed this sound.

Repetition. Guitar chord. Bass weirdness. Falling through a dream. Dazed wandering through a crowded foreign city. Sounds like a song about beatings. The sound and song title suggesting madness and inevitability and no escape? It’s another weird one, but okay.

Red Money. More weirdness. Military beat, off kilter bass. Off kilter everything. This is slow and mesmerizing again, but along with the previous song feels like a slow down, or a peddle off the gas, both in terms of pace and quality. Still good though, but maybe a little too experimental for most.

I said this would probably be my favourite because I didn’t know anything about it, and honestly it’s pretty close. As I mention a few times above, I think the songs here demand multiple listens and unlike some of his other stuff I am more than willing to stick this one on again – it could be that the songs don’t work on a personal level after I hear them more and are more like cutesy tracks that only work once, but I expect them to grow on me more. There are no obvious hits here so I understand why this one is not rated as highly as others, but there are no weak songs here and each one is quite different.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Lodger. Were you around when it was first released? How do you rank it alongside Bowie’s other works?

Advertisements

The Gathering – Afterwords

gatrh.jpg

Coming hot on the heels of their exceptional 10th album, Afterwords is a bonus album featuring reworked cuts from Disclosure and a small number of new tracks. Fans hoping for more of the same after Disclosure are likely to be disappointed, so I’ll make it clear from the outset that the majority of this album are experimental, simplified versions of some former tracks, focusing perhaps on a particular single motif or idea, and giving it an electronic, ambient overhaul – most of these tracks are unrecognizable when compared with their counterparts. I’d say that this is one for the die-hard fans, while more casual fans may be left frustrated.

‘SIBALD’ opens the album, a fine ambient track which could have made the same impact at 1 or even two minutes shorter. There isn’t much to say about it – it’s a peaceful, ethereal piece with some fine trumpet work and melodic pieces.

‘Echoes Keep Growing’ opens well with whispered, distorted string based sounds before familiar vocals from I Can See Four Miles come in. Again, there isn’t any need for this to be almost 7 minutes, when much of the introduction could have been condensed, and when a bulk of the song is basic repetition. After the halfway mark, the song takes on a heavier sound, with heavily distorted guitar sounds taking control, but again this swirls, builds, and repeats until the end.

‘Areas’ is the first new, non-experimental track, a cool little track which will grow on you with subsequent listens. With the repetitive cricket-like (the insect, not the sport) sounds, flickering guitars, and simple melodies and lyrics, it’s a pleasant listen which doesn’t tax the listener. This isn’t a track which sounds much like other Gathering songs, so it probably fits well here. Being a cover of an early 80s synth song by New Musik, it works well alongside the other more experimental tracks.

‘Afterwords’ is easily the best song on offer, with wonderful, clean vocals from original Gathering singer Bart Smits. Sounding like a lost Depeche Mode track, this one has a great, dark tone to it, searing verse melodies, and a fine chorus once it erupts. Again, it may not be one which will capture you upon first listen, but it didn’t take long before it grew on me. It’s another song which doesn’t sound like what we expect from The Gathering, but as any Gathering fan knows – you shouldn’t expect anything from the band except brilliance.

‘Tuning In, Fading Out’ is a reworking of Missing Seasons, taking one of the more prominent lyrics from that song, and repeating them through a new electronic landscape. It’s a decent enough track, but difficult to recommend it as something you’ll wish to listen to frequently, though it is one of the stronger edits on offer here.

‘Gemini III’ – is another piece to the Gemini puzzle, using a lot of the same ideas, melodies, and lyrics from part 1 and 2. This one is a stripped down piece, with some chugging guitars added, and less of a focus on backing noise to let the vocals soar. Incidentally, someone on YouTube has added all 3 parts together for an interesting 14 minute listen. Another decent track, but again not essential if you already have Disclosure, more of a nice cult addition.

‘Afterlights’ is a short 2 minute track, a keyboard and organ led instrumental piece which is fine by itself, but works as introduction for the next track.

‘Sleep Paralysis’ is a distorted, vibrating remake of Paralyzed. It starts well enough, with a steady beat and angelic backing vocals. This basic idea gets stretched out over the next few minutes, but rather than acting as a distinct piece, it will have you wanting to put on the original instead. There is quite a racket caused by the end of the song, depending on my mood I take this as annoying, or pretty damn groovy. Again, only one for the hardcore fans.

‘Barenfels’ is a remake of the brilliant Heroes For Ghosts, but greatly condenses the many ideas, sounds, and emotions from that song into a more simplified, yet still epic piece. At over 8 minutes, it’s shorter than the original, and has a number of notable changes – the addition of spoken pieces, the stripping away of most of the music, vocals, and melodies of the original, and switches around the structure quite a bit – for example, the glorious opening trumpet piece from Heroes For Ghosts comes at the halfway point here. From that point, the song collapses into an unusual mixture of repeated riffs and rumbling drums, with some varied vocals thrown in to make something unique. A shorter length may have made this one a bit stronger as I’m less inclined to listen to an 8 minute track when there is so much repetition.

Like most of The Gathering’s Eps or bonus type albums, this one isn’t as essential as the ‘main’ albums. Areas and Afterwords are strong tracks, but the other songs range from one-off curios to average. Each one has some good moments, but the experimental nature means that most fans will be put off and will prefer to listen to something more mainstream, for lack of a better term. The band wanted to create a distinct atmosphere with this collection, and they succeed, but as a collection of songs that the listener will wish to listen to on repeat, it doesn’t work.

Gemma Hayes – Night On My Side

*Originally written in 2005 (or something)

nih

Gemma Hayes crept into the charts with a series of folksy rock songs, garnering the attention of fans and critics. It wasn’t until her first album was released to acclaim that people started to take note. Nominated for the Mercury Prize (not really much of an honour anymore to be honest) it was a fusion of rock, pop, and folk, with husky Irish vocals, anguished and honest lyrics, gentle melodies, and some interesting arrangements. The chart success in Mainland Britain wasn’t huge, but she became a bigger name in her home land, and a series of tours and festivals spread her name to wider shores. Night On My Side wipes the floor with most singer songwriters which have come out of this decade- those one hit wonders, those one trick ponies who won’t go away- there is a touching quality to her tender moments, and an unchained rage in the heavier songs. Everything is on show here, a dangerous thing for any artist to portray as it can lead very quickly to obsessive fans who feel they know her intimately from the words and emotions on display here. Gemma would leave the madness of, oddly enough, LA while she mulled over her next move. While she has continued to produce great work, this remains her most respected.

‘Day One’ opens the album in a fairly bleak fashion with the raspy vocals, soft guitars, and harsh ideas. It is a folk style song, with a country and Irish twist. The highlight here is the lyrics, covering violent images with dedication and love, but it is over very quickly. It is a decent opener, setting the listener up for what is to come, but I feel she had better non album tracks from this time such as Gotta Low which could have been added.

‘Hanging Around’ opens with distorted riffs and opening refrain from Gemma before exploding into big verse and chorus melodies ensuring that this would be a live favourite for years to come. On the surface a simple love song, the lyrics show greater depth on closer examination as she opens her heart to none and all. Above all though, it is a jump around song with some unexpected guitars from a small blond girl from Tipperary. This one proves that she can rock- when I saw her at Glastonbury a loud guy in the audience kept shouting ‘You Rock!’ at her, and asking her questions- she always answers, another nice feature of her live performances. After a chat between the two of them he made his way to the stage and gave her a shot of whiskey which she gratefully downed to huge cheers before continuing with the set.

‘Back Of My Hand’ starts with almost harpsichord sounding guitars and lyrics of desperation. Gemma’s voice here sounds like she is singing just to one person, just to you- one of the many reasons she has a fairly rabid fan base. This is another tale of lost love where she sings of the pain it can cause, but also that she knows of the strength to move on. The emotions move from the aforementioned desperation, to bitterness, to going on with head held high, mirroring the feelings of a real break up.

‘Over And Over’ slows the pace a bit, an affectionate love song with Eastern strings and deliberately sandwiched between two grief stricken and angry songs. This one deals with almost losing the person you love but preventing it just in time, all played to dreamy guitars and gentle tunes.

‘Let A Good Thing Go’ is probably Gemma’s best known song and a fan favourite. With its instantly recognizable introduction, sad and drawled vocals, big melodies, and excitable guitars it is as much a sing along at live performances as Hanging On. Again we get insight into Gemma’s thoughts and feelings, and her experiences with life and love through her words which never shy away from truth. While other songs on the album speak of people leaving her and the pain it causes, this one talks about the stark realization that she has ended something herself and now regrets it. Regardless of the gloomy subject matter, the audience never fails to bounce around to this one.

‘Ran For Miles’ knocks you offside by opening with gentle notes and beats which would typically make you think of lazy summer nights, then cracks you over the head with the emotional vocal delivery and lyrical content. You can almost hear the tears welling up with each line of the verse, and the tender climbing notes of the chorus never fail to leave you with a lump in your throat. It isn’t until the end that she belts out the final few lines, unleashing all the pent up emotion and you don’t know whether to smile or cry.

‘What A Day’ shows Gemma’s more experimental side with strange noises, chords fading in and out, and a distorted drum loop. Again the lyrics are packed with honesty, but simple, and the melody is soft. I don’t think this one is particularly memorable and something like Evening Sun would have suited the album better, but it’s still an okay song for the middle of the album.

‘Tear In My Side’ brings back the heavy guitars and is probably the loudest song on the album- not that we’re talking growling territory, just distortion and punching the strings rather than stroking them. The song simply repeats the refrain over and over with growing instrumentation and emotion. There are a few breaks in this growth where the background noise fades leaving the second refrain to repeat in a softer manner. This too grows louder before returning to the original refrain with even more feeling and sound. This is another great song which people tend to forget from the album.

‘I Wanna Stay’ is a beautiful track with an ever so minor country sprinkle (good as I can’t stand country music) on top. It is a quiet love song which for another time paints a picture of those lazy summer nights, just you and the one you love challenging the sun to never set. Simple lyrics which show devotion to one and nothing else, soft music, and airy melodies which will float through your mind all day. The song also features a hidden acoustic track at the end, just guitar and the sound of children playing.

‘Lucky One’ opens with mermaid/siren haunting vocals with Gemma insisting that someone is the lucky one. There are soft picked guitars with sudden distorted blasts and noise which increases through the song until it peaks with a blast off. Gemma continues her refrain as the wall of sound swells before fading off to Gemma’s light whispers.

‘My God’ is mostly glorious. The sad thing is that this is never played live. The lyrics are strong, story like, touching, the guitars wavering in the background while the vocals are packed with emotion and pleading.

‘Night On My Side’ closes the album in familiar style with laid back guitars and vocals, a few grains of country, and yearning lyrics. The melody creeps into your unsuspecting memory because everything is delivered in such a gentle, unassuming fashion. The hidden track ‘Pieces Of Glasses’ comes in after this, one of the softest songs on the album where Gemma admits a series of faults in typically tragic style.

Night On My Side is a brilliant debut, showcasing a growing talent. She already had much experience playing the bars in Dublin and releasing 2 EPs before this came out so her performances her are assured and confident. It is in the lyrics where her candor and strength truly lie here, slightly ironic given that she displays and lack of confidence in the subject matter. In an age of dreary middle of the road songwriters, Hayes is a breath of wonderfully fresh air, a unique voice who isn’t afraid to do things her own way rather than pandering to any chart style. If you’re looking for a new female voice with strong lyrics and memorable tunes, look no further.

All Reviews A-Z

Here is a thing which I will plan to update each time I add a new review. This should make it easy for anyone who is sufficiently depraved enough to enjoy what I write and craves more. There isn’t a huge amount yet, but I do have a tonne of reviews written years ago for IMDB which I haven’t posted here yet, along with all my other Album reviews for Amazon. This list will grow. For now, click on anything you like!

Movie Reviews

2001 Maniacs – Tim Sullivan

300: Rise Of An Empire – Noam Murro

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – Ana Lily Amirpour

A Hard Day – Kim Seong Hun

A Mighty Wind – Christopher Guest

A Nightmare On Elm Street – Wes Craven

A Tale Of Two Sisters – Kim Ji Woon

After The Silence – Fred Gerber

Airwolf – Donald Bellisario

Akira – Katsuhiro Otomo

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Declan Lowney

Alien – Ridley Scott

Aliens – James Cameron

Alien 3 – David Fincher

Arachnophobia – Frank Marshall

Assault On Precinct 13 – John Carpenter

August Rush – Kirsten Sheridan

Bad Lieutenant – Abel Ferrara

Bangkok Dangerous – The Pang Brothers

Baskin – Can Evrenol

Battle Royale – Kinji Fukasaku

Beavis And Butthead – Mike Judge

Beetlejuice – Tim Burton

Bedevilled – Jang Cheol-soo

Benny And Joon – Jeremiah S Chechik

Big Trouble In Little China – John Carpenter

Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey – Peter Hewitt

Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure – Stephen Herek

Black Coal, Thin Ice – Diao Yinan

Blair Witch – Adam Wingard

Bloodsport – Newt Arnold

Bodyguards And Assassins – Teddy Chan

Body Shots – Michael Christofer

Body Snatchers – Abel Ferrara

Braindead – Peter Jackson

Brooklyn Rules – Michael Corrente

Brother – Takeshi Kitano

Bruiser – George A Romero

Cannibal – Manuel Martin Cuenca

Carne – Gaspar Noe

Chasing Amy – Kevin Smith

Chasing Sleep – Michael Walker

Cockneys Vs Zombies – Matthias Hoene

Commando – Mark L Lester

Conan The Barbarian – John Milius

Cronos – Guillermo Del Toro

Cursed – Wes Craven

Cyborg – Albert Pyun

Dark City – Alex Proyas

Dawn Of The Dead – Zack Snyder

Day of The Dead – George A Romero

Daylight – Rob Cohen

Dead Snow – Tommy Wirkola

Death Sentence – James Wan

Death Wish 2 – Michael Winner

Demons – Lamberto Bava

Desperado – Robert Rodriguez

Dial M For Murder – Alfred Hitchcock

Die Another Day – Lee Tamahori

Dirty Pretty Things – Stephen Frears

Disturbia – D.J. Caruso

Dobermann – Jan Kounen

Dogma – Kevin Smith

Donnie Brasco – Mike Newell

Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead – Stephen Herek

Double Impact – Sheldon Lettich

Dr No – Terence Young

Dream Warriors – Chuck Russell

Drug War – Johnie To

Dumb And Dumber – The Farrelly Bros

El Mariachi – Robert Rodriguez

Escape From Sobibor – Jack Gold

Escape Plan – Mikael Hafstrom

Embodiment Of Evil – Jose Marins

Everyone’s Hero – Christopher Reeve, Colin Brady, Daniel St. Pierre

Evil Dead – Fede Alvarez

Final Destination – James Wong

Final Destination 2 – David R Ellis

First Blood – Ted Kotcheff

Fist Of Fury – Bruce Lee

For Your Eyes Only – John Glen

Freddy’s Dead – Rachel Talalay

Freddy’s Revenge – Jack Sholder

Freddy Vs Jason – Ronny Yu

Frenzy – Alfred Hitchcock

From Russia With Love – Terence Young

Game of Death – Bruce Lee/Robert Clouse

God Bless America – Bobcat Goldthwaite

Goldeneye – Martin Campbell

Goldfinger – Guy Hamilton

Goodnight Mommy – Veronika Franz/Severin Fiala

Grave Encounters – The Vicious Brothers

Grave Encounters 2 – John Poliquin

Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron

Halloween – John Carpenter

Halloween 2 and 3 – Rick Rosenthal/Tommy Lee Wallace

Halloween 4 – Dwight H Little

Halloween 5 – Dominique Othenin Gerard

Hard-Boiled – John Woo

Hard Target – John Woo

Hansel And Gretal – Yim Phil-Sung

Heartbreakers – David Mirkin

Heli – Amat Escalante

Hellboy – Guillermo Del Toro

Hellions – Bruce Macdonald

Home Alone – Chris Columbus

Horrible Bosses – Seth Gordon

Ichi – Fumihiko Sori

Ichi The Killer – Takashi Miike

Into The Mirror – Kim Sung Ho

I Really Hate My Job – Oliver Parker

Jaws – Steven Spielberg

Jaws 2 – Jeannot Szwarc

Jaws 3 – Joe Alvez

Jaws 4 – Joseph Sargent

Ju-On Black Ghost – Mari Asato

Ju-On White Ghost – Ryuta Miyake

Kickboxer – Mark DiSalle/David Worth

Kids – Larry Clark

Kill Bill Vol 1 – Quentin Tarantino

King Kong – Merian C Cooper/Ernest B Schoedsack

Kingdom Of Heaven – Ridley Scott

Last Action Hero – John McTiernan

Live And Let Die – Guy Hamilton

Loaded – Alan Pao

Macbeth – Orson Welles

Manuscripts Don’t Burn – Mohammed Rousalof

Milius – Joey Figuero

Mother’s Day – Darren Lynn Bousman

Mouth To Mouth – Alison Murray

Never Sleep Again – Daniel Farrands/Andrew Kach

Night Of The Demons – Kevin S Tenney

On The Road – Walter Salles

Origin: Spirits Of The Past – Keichi Sugiyama

Outrage – Takeshi Kitano

Out Of The Furnace – Scott Cooper

P2 – Frank Khalfoun

Peacock – Michael Lander

Perlasca – Alberto Negrin

Pieta – Kim Ki Duk

Pontypool – Bruce McDonald

Priceless – Pierre Salvadori

Project X – Nima Nourizadeh

Rhapsody In August – Akira Kurosawa

Rings – F.Javier Gutierrez

Rogue – Greg McLean

Room – Lenny Abrahamson

Room 237 – Rodney Ascher

Rosewood Lane – Victor Salva

Rubber – Quentin Dupeiux

Rust And Bone – Jacques Audiard

Sabotage – David Ayer

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World – Lorene Scafaria

Shanghai Kiss – David Ren/Ken Kernwiser

Society – Brian Yuzna

Sophie Scholl – The Final Days – Marc Rothemond

Staunton Hill – Cameron Romero

Still Walking – Hirokazu Koreeda

Street Trash – Jim Munro

Stripes – Ivan Reitman

Sukiyaki Western Django – Takeshi Miike

Survive Style 5 + – Gen Sekiguchi

Ted – Seth MacFarlane

The 39 Steps – Alfred Hitchcock

The Art Of War – Christian Deguay

Thelma And Louise – Ridley Scott

The Birds – Alfred Hitchcock

The Boss Of It All – Lars Von Trier

The Craft – Andrew Fleming

The Crow – Alex Proyas

The Detective – Oxide Pang

The Driver – Walter Hill

The Empress And The Warriors – Ching Siu Tung

The Evil Dead – Sam Raimi

The Evil Dead 2 – Sam Raimi

The Fifth Element – Luc Besson

The First Men In The Moon – Nathan Juran

The Gate – Tibor Takacs

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – Mamoru Hosoda

The Green Inferno – Eli Roth

The Grudge – Takashi Shimazu

The Guest – Adam Wingard

The Happiness Of The Katakuris – Takashi Miike

The Hitcher – Robert Harmon

The House Of The Devil – Ti West

The Idiots – Lars Von Trier

The Isle – Kim Ki Duk

The Kings Of Summer – Jordan Vogt Roberts

The Last Exorcism – Daniel Stamm

The Last Exorcism 2 – Ed Gass-Donnelly

The Last House On The Left – Wes Craven

The Man From Earth – Richard Schenkman

The Mannsfield 12 – Craig Ross Jr

The Pact – Nicholas McCarthy

The Red Squirrel – Julio Medem

The Secret Life Of Pets – Chris Renaud

The Storm Warriors – The Pang Brothers

The Stranger – Robert Lieberman

The Tortured – Robert Lieberman

The Windmill Massacre – Nick Jongerius

Triangle – Hark Tsui/Ringo Lam

Twins – Ivan Reitman

Unbreakable – M Night Shyamalan

Universal Soldier – Roland Emmerich

USS Indianapolis – Mario Van Peebles

Visitor Q – Takashi Miike

We Are What We Are – Jim Mickle

Wolfcop – Lowell Dean

Yellowbrickroad – Jessie Holland/Andy Mitton

TV Reviews

Are You Afraid Of The Dark

Back To School At 35

Breaking Bad

Friends

Game Of Thrones

Gladiators

Neighbours

Saved By The Bell

Strike It Lucky

The League Of Gentlemen

The Walking Dead

Music Reviews

18 Till I Die – Bryan Adams

3 Feet High And Rising – De La Soul

7800 Farenheit – Bon Jovi

A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles

A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

A Night At The Opera – Queen

Abbey Road – The Beatles

Accessories – The Gathering

Afterwords – The Gathering

Air – Agua De Annique

Aladdin Sane – David Bowie

Bedtime Stories – Madonna

Blaze Of Glory – Bon Jovi

Blue – Joni Mitchell

Blur – Blur

Bookends – Simon & Garfunkel

Bryan Adams – Bryan Adams

Closer – Joy Division

Conan The Barbarian Soundtrack – Basil Poledouris

Conan The Destroyer Soundtrack – Basil Poledouris

Crush – Bon Jovi

Destination Anywhere – Bon Jovi

Diamond Dogs – David Bowie

Disclosure – The Gathering

Dumb And Dumber Soundtrack – Various

Entroducing – DJ Shadow

Erotica – Madonna

For Sale – The Beatles

Heaven Or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins

Help! – The Beatles

Heroes” – David Bowie

Hey Stoopid – Alice Cooper

Home – The Gathering

How To Measure A Planet? – The Gathering

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

I’m Breathless – Madonna

Into The Fair – Bryan Adams

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

Keep The Faith – Bon jovi

Ladies Of The Canyon – Joni Mitchell

Lazer Guided Melodies – Spiritualized

Let It Be – The Beatles

Life’s Rich Pageant – REM

Like A Prayer – Madonna

Like A Virgin – Madonna

Lodger – David Bowie

Look Sharp – Roxette

Low – David Bowie

Madonna – Madonna

Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles

Mandylion – The Gathering

Manic Street Preachers Live In Belfast – Manic Street Preachers

Miles Of Aisles – Joni Mitchell

New Jersey – Bon Jovi

Nighttime Birds – The Gathering

Night On My Side – Gemma Hayes

On A Day Like Today – Bryan Adams

Pearls Of Passion – Roxette

Please Please Me – The Beatles

Pin Ups – David Bowie

Pure Air – Agua De Annique

Ray Of Light – Madonna

Revolver – The Beatles

Rubber Soul – The Beatles

Savage – Eurythmics

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

Sleepy Buildings – The Gathering

Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi

Song To A Seagull – Joni Mitchell

Souvenirs – The Gathering

Space Oddity – David Bowie

Spirit – Bryan Adams

Station To Station – David Bowie

These Days – Bon Jovi

The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie

The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

The Roads Don’t Love You – Gemma Hayes

The West Pole – The Gathering

The White Album – The Beatles

Tori Amos Live In Belfast – Tori Amos

Transformer – Lou Reed

Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman

True Blue – Madonna

Urban Hymns – The Verve

Waking Up The Neighbours – Bryan Adams

With The Beatles – The Beatles

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

You Want It You Got It – Bryan Adams

Young Americans – David Bowie

Youth Novels – Lykke Li

Book Reviews

1000 Zombies – Alex Cox

Atmospheric Disturbances – Rivka Galchen

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Dinosaurs – Navigators

Fang Of The Vampire – Scream Street

Japan Day By Day – Frommers

London 2008 – Time Out

London Free And Dirt Cheap – Frommers

Paris 2009 – Time Out

Play With Colours – The Happets

The Art Of Racing In The Rain – Garth Stein

The Devouring – Simon Holt

The Gargoyle – Andrew Davidson

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The Invention Of Everything Else – Samantha Hunt

The Mayan Prophecies – Gerald Benedict

The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Undead – Kirsty Mckay

The Gathering – Disclosure

ge.jpg

Seasoned fans of The Gathering will know that the band is all about change; they started out with a death and doom metal sound, merging male and female vocals, and on their third album brought in singer Anneke Van Giersbergen to approach a cleaner metal sound. For the next decade, their albums moved between a variety of genres, eventually ‘settling’ into their own created genre of Trip rock. Disclosure is the 2nd album with latest vocalist Silje Wergerland, and seeks to reach the more complex, expansive heights of previous albums, compared to the rather simple The West Pole.

‘Paper Waves’ opens the album and settles the listener in to the latest Gathering sound quickly. With jangling guitars and echoing drums, it is the most straightforward rock song on the album, but with a unique sound thanks to a great production. With swirling vocals merging with those jangling guitars, we get a fierce wall of sound which pulls you in and refuses to let go. Silje’s voice is at the forefront, a more ghostly, slight, dreamy sound than the sheer angelic power of Anneke. The song doesn’t simply rely on the same tricks, but offers enough refreshing moments throughout, from the sudden, powerful guitar riffs and piano additions, and packs in at least 4 strong melodies.

‘Meltdown’ starts with some funky, heavy drums, beats, and with dual male and female vocals. The first epic of the album, at over 9 minutes it bounces from the heavy dance style of the start, through a metal influenced middle, and on to a haunting, quiet close. With strong lyrics, accompanied by ethereal melodies, the opening half of the song, a massive attack of sounds, is a joy to behold. A sudden shift over the halfway point, takes the song in a completely different direction. The second half is the post-meltdown remorse, a soulful, sullen, prayer, a trumpet and soft vocal led which departs unending into the distance. Some may feel the song is a little stretched, but I find the more I listen to it, the more I want to listen again.

‘Paralyzed’ fades into view, a nice transition from the end of Meltdown. A haunting, slow paced track where the melodies wrap around each other, the lyrics a series of questions and thoughts covering a difficult, violent, relationship. An introspective, unsettling depiction of the mind of an abuse victim, it features a number of beautiful moments, and whose outro serves as a brilliant transition into the album’s best track.

‘Heroes For Ghosts’ is the second epic of the album, at nearly 11 minutes. Every second fortunately is perfection, with the band delivering one of their finest songs. With a mournful, brass led introduction, sounding like a military funeral salute, followed by a wonderful, Gilmour-esque guitar piece, the opening moments are awe-inspiring. More beautiful vocals follow, with the peak being a heartbreaking chorus. The spirit-like, floating music continues to chill and shatter our emotions until the song picks up pace before the halfway point. We move into an instrumental section, drum and trumpet led with pace and volume gradually increasing, given the sensation of a physical, or mental escape. More vocals collapse into the song, and a new range of brilliant melodies – the ending a mixture of anger, joy, relief, fear, and ecstasy.

‘Gemini I’ is another slow paced, moody track. Shimmering guitars, vocals shrouded in reverb and mist, it is an extension of the feelings of escape from a bad relationship – if the album can be seen as a concept album, then this is another glimpse of the main character being free, but looking back unable to fully escape. More than that, it features more gorgeous melodies, a forceful chorus compared to the bitter, soft verses, and exquisite vocals.

‘Missing Seasons’ is a short, piano driven song, a breather between the larger, at times exhausting tracks. Keeping the slow pace, and haunting melodies, it is a simple song, but one with melodies of extraordinary beauty. With one of the band’s most catchy choruses, it’s easy for this one to get lost among the larger tracks, but you’ll be missing out on one of the best.

‘I Can See Four Miles’ is the third and final epic, clocking in at over 9 minutes. Arguably the album’s most experimental track it features various distinct parts, with the opening featuring a gradual build of drums, bass riffs, and seemingly random guitar pieces. The song finds a loose structure once the vocals begin, but the emphasis is on ‘loose’. An off-kilter track for most of the opening, with organs, swirling backing vocals, and drums vanishing and re-materializing without warning, it is a chaotic melding of parts which all somehow fit together. About a third of the way through, the song shifts in focus, with sound bites, clashing guitar chimes, repeated pianos, and tribal drums with an Eastern tinge. The song continues to expand throughout the final 6 instrumental minutes with dramatic strings, and fantastic beats to create a euphoric climax.

‘Gemini II’ closes the album in an effective manner. Little more than a reworking of Gemini I, it continues the idea of being unable to escape your own memories and thoughts. Taking some of the central melodies of the first part, this one strips back the music even further, leaving Silje’s voice at the forefront. The vocals are not only more prominent, but louder, and more direct, as if making a final statement.

The Gathering’s 10th album is one which may take time to grow on the average listener, but once it clicks with you, you’ll recognise it as a fantastic album, one of the band’s best. In my ranking I’d say it’s their best since How To Measure A Planet, and indeed shares some similarities with that epic. It is a largely mellow, emotive rock album which will please long term fans, and will would resonate with a wider audience to fans of groups like Pink Floyd. While not a huge leap in terms of experimentation, it is instead a vast improvement over the last album in every department, taking the band back into that pantheon of artists who only seem to make quality with each release. While The West Pole was a transitional album due to a massive line-up change, and had a simple, middle of the road rock approach, Disclosure is an album which brims with confidence and which has allowed Silje to take control. From sprawling epics to moody rockers, Disclosure is a study of the band’s refusal to be placed in a box, and which should rank in any self-respecting music critics list of the best of the year.

Let us know in the comments what you though of Disclosure. 

Nightman Listens To – Bon Jovi – Crush

BonJoviCrushalbumcover

Greetings, Glancers. Bon Jovi have always been seen as an 80s band, but we know they had enormous success through the 90s too. After 1995’s These Days, the various members had gone and done their own things to varying degrees of success and by the time 2000 rolled around the musical landscape had changed dramatically. Could the band see in the millennium with another hit, and would anyone even care anymore?

You probably already know the answer to both of those questions, but if you don’t, here it is; yes. Crush was an instant smash, thanks to a string of hit singles and a sound which was both quintessentially Bon Jovi, but also found a way to speak to modern listeners. Even critics jumped on the bandwagon. I remember when the album was released that both people who outright refused to listen to guitar based music were listening to it, along with people who considered the band too soft and middle of the road. It’s an album I was pretty familiar with at the time, but haven’t listened to in a good ten years, so lets see how much I remember and if it holds up.

It’s My Life‘ was the first single and was of course a hefty hit. Harking back to their 80s sound with voicebox and references to Tommy and Gina, and reminds fans within seconds why they first fell in love. It’s big and brash, has a huge chorus, features lyrics designed to be belted out in a crowd, and is as simple a pop rock song as you’ll ever get. It’s not quite as euphoric as Livin’ On A Prayer, but it comes pretty close.

Say It Isn’t So‘ is another big single – they really front loaded this album with the big hitters – this can be a risky business if you leave the rest of the album without any instantly recognizable tracks. This one opens with an easy swagger, filtered vocals, and guitars reminiscent of many of the softer rock bands which were having hits around the time. I remember the chorus being stronger, listening now the vocals are really weird, the effect is too heavy and they waver around too much. There’s a strange keyboard part in the middle too, reminding us that 2000 was an odd time for rock music, as if it was unsure what direction it needed to move in.

Thank You For Loving Me‘ is a song I’m very familiar with and don’t really need to listen to again here. It was one of the songs my wife and I picked for our wedding day – she wasn’t having any outright metal for the ceremony, so the compromise was Bon Jovi. Nevertheless, it’s a great song and one of their best ballads. Sure it’s soppy stuff, but it’s good soppy stuff.

Two Story Town‘ opens with more turn of the millennium production – I can’t really say it’s dated but it is definitely a product of its time. This is a decent mid tempo rocker which doesn’t go full country – it flies under the radar but is good enough while it lasts. It’s clearly a step down from the first three songs.

Next 100 Years‘ starts with marching drums and a Sambora explosion before pulling back to a simple melody. It’s a good one too – nothing startling – and it builds up to an average chorus. It’s a song I try to like but it misses the mark while trying lots of different things. The brief bridge, the strings, and the solos are all good though – the song tries to go all Hey Jude for the ending, which doesn’t quite work, but it doesn’t totally collapse either. I like how they abandon this for the final minute and race towards the end with an epic solo and zippy violins.

Just Older‘ has another drum into, and again gets off to top speed for a brief moment before restraining itself for the verse. More lyrics about dreams and nostalgia fit well with the melodies and while the chorus doesn’t hit the heights, it’s fine. The verse and chorus compliment each other well, rather than having one outweigh the other. There’s another nice, twiddly solo leading into a softer section, though you know it’ll end with a bang.

Mystery Train‘ begins in acoustic fashion before the organ and electric guitars come in gently. I’ve always quite liked this one – it feels understated and genuine and again the verse and chorus are like glue. It feels like a song that most people will overlook or forget easily, but I think it’s one of their better non-singles – it doesn’t need to be so long though.

Save The World‘ starts steadily – drums, lots of string bends, and lots of violins. Those ‘education’ lyrics are a little cringeworthy, and the rest of the words feel cheesy, but it’s all well meaning. The melodies are great in places, but they are usually followed by something flatter rather than sustaining the quality. Again it feels too long, but it’s another fine song that just misses out on being really good.

Captain Crash And The Beauty Queen From Mars’ is Jovi going Bowie. Not really, but the name sound that way. Lyrics too. It’s a softer effort but a catchy one. This has single written all over it. It doesn’t have a huge chorus or anything, but it moves swiftly and I can see a lot of people enjoying it on sunny days. An easy love song, a little bit of poking at and making fun of young love while also revering those feelings.

She’s A Mystery‘ goes full ballad. That’s often a good thing for Bon Jovi, but sometimes a mess. This is a good one though, understated and subtle. It is missing a high point, instead happy to remain on a level. Verse and chorus melt into each other with the drums and guitar not really changing throughout. I like the backing vocals, I like the middle bridge, but it never reaches for that peak.

I Got The Girl‘ opens softly – low bass, light beat, whispered vocals. It suddenly bursts open for the chorus leading to a faster pace and mid level volume. It’s all pretty sweet, lyrically, melodically, and yes it is catchy too. This seems like another of those underrated ones that it’s easy to forget about or miss. No need for that extended ending.

One Wild Night‘ starts like a Disney song from the 1940s before moving forwards 40 years to the band’s 1980s heyday. This is pure 80s played 20 years too late. It’s good though, if you like that sort of thing. It’s as raucous as any of their bigger hits and has all the trademarks – chorus, guitars, melody, shouting backing vocals. The ‘na na na’ parts will get you singing along and the weaker among you may even roll down the windows to join the chorus.

Overall Crush is consistent – it opens big and closes big, and the middle has a mixture of ballads and rock standards. There aren’t any truly bad songs, while the best songs are pretty good examples of what the band does well. A couple of the non-singles are good enough to stick in your rotation but like most of their albums the majority of the album tracks are interchangeable. Still, it’s a decent album from the band and the last one I really know anything about – from here on out it’s uncharted territory for me. Next time around I’ll be checking out Bounce – an album that I’ll probably know a couple of songs from. We shall see. Let us know in the comments what your thoughts and memories of Crush are!

Nightman Listens To Bryan Adams – Room Service

51pbqjatyyl-_sx355_

Greetings, Glancers! Well here we are at album number 10 for Mr Adams. Quite a feat sir, quite a feat. We’ve had highs, we’ve had lows, but I’m still listening baby. If an artist or band hasn’t gone sour by album 10, they are a rare breed, but time catches up on us all. Has time caught up with Adams here? I’ve no idea as I’m not confident that I have heard a single song from this album. The song ‘This Side Of Paradise’ sounds familiar, but I won’t know till I actually listen. According to online sources the album still sold fairly well worldwide, but didn’t make an impact in the US due to Adams not having a record company or something. It seems like most critics had abandoned him by now too, not that they were ever really on his side, to be fair. But I will be fair, for I am The Nightman, and wherever there are experiences to experience, The Nightman will give his four cents (the other two are a tip). What was I doing again? Ah yes.

‘East Side Story’ starts with Guitar and swirly noises. Familiar scratchy vocals. Basic verse. Sudden chorus. Fine. Plain. Doesn’t really rock, doesn’t really sway. Just nice, music for happy, well adjusted types.

‘This Side Of Paradise’ sounds like another light one. Spoken vocals. Oldsmobile. Sweet again. Nice again. Plain again. No edge, nothing infectious. I have no memory of this. I assume in a month’s time I will have no memory of this. Come on Bryan, ain’t you got another good’un in ya?

‘Not Romeo, Not Juliet’ opens with a jaunty piano and guitar duet. A little bit blues, a little bit country, a little bit rock. Now a little chorus with a little organ. He really loves his not-quite-ballads. This is basically the same song three times in a row. You can’t help but yawn. Still, I can’t really criticize it, it’s the sort of thing plenty people will enjoy – for me, it’s boring and inoffensive.

‘Flying’ is, cripes, it’s another ballad. This one feels better. Do people actually have sex (sorry, ‘make love’) all day? Wouldn’t you chafe? This is one for the candles and lighters and swaying arms. It’s better but still a little dull when compared with his bigger ballads.

‘She’s A Little Too Good For Me’ is faster, seems more upbeat. Still in lovey dovey ballad territory though. Woo, there we go. Drums. Decent lyrics. Reminds me of ‘Never Be Another Tonight’. This is good then – not quite good enough to make me sing its praises, but fun enough to make me want to listen again. Short too.

‘Open Road’ sounds like something from the last album. Up-tempo again. Driving song. Should have repeated that ‘on and on’ piece to enhance the bridge. Okay chorus. Two better songs then, three if we include ‘Flying’. Which we probably should. Lower grade hits are these  – songs to hide in your shuffle that will only pop out every few hundred songs to remind you that they exist. Still waiting for another song you want to have on your shuffle every ten songs.

I Was Only Dreaming‘ gets off into ballad territory, but immediately this one is much stronger. I actually like the brass just after the chorus. The verses are plain but they feel as if they are leading to something stronger, which they do – a good bridge, and a good chorus. Naturally, I like the strings and the whole arrangement is sound – this is more of an honest love song without being bogged down in sentiment or effort and as such is the best song on the album so far.

Right Back Where I Started From‘ opens with decent guitar, sounding more like the successful mid-nineties Adams stuff. It’s mid-tempo, gently rocks, but crucially it has clear melodies in the big chorus and fluttering through the verses. It feels like a happy, fun song and continues the increase in quality in the album’s second half.

Nowhere Fast‘ feels like another decent song. It’s another love song, because of course it is. But the melodies are there – verse, bridge, chorus – all good. Again it feels honest, and nothing is strained or forced. Nice little middle break for a few moments too.

Why Do You Have To Be So Hard To Love‘ starts off like a slow country ballad, little flutterings of piano and subtle guitar licks. A little bit of string in there too. It’s sweet enough, a nice one for a swaying dance though I’m not sure if the lyrics really qualify for such close quarters. This is a song about frustration so it would be better suited to some romantic drama where the woman throws a mug at the guy and the guy sits alone at a bar while some temptation slides up beside him. And then it’s over fairly quickly, a good choice rather than dragging the song out, so quite good overall.

Blessing In Disguise‘ is.. ugh… he’s just gone full country. I just don’t like this whole sound, never have. Uppy downy guitar, honky tonk piano and the same melodies you’ve heard since Billy The Kid was cruising the bars in the Old West. Okay, it does end up more like a blues country song by the end, but it’s just the opposite of everything I like.

Well, that final song sure dampened things after they were picking up. The album got off to a poor, slow start abut things improved around halfway. There is a terrible reliance on ballads and too many of the tracks lack ambition or stand out enough from their brethren present or past. There’s a few songs here that I’d gladly listen to again that I wasn’t previously aware of, but it isn’t an album I’d recommend from Adams and until I’m more familiar with the few good songs I couldn’t recommend those over other more obvious picks from his back catalogue. Still, it’s interesting to see the direction he went in for this album and I’m interested to see if his follow-up 11 follows in this vein. I don’t have high hopes for that one, but maybe we’ll get a few surprises.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Room Service!