Tag Archives: Album Reviews

Album Review / Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Guest Review By Brendan McGroggan

Transgender_Dysphoria_Blues_The last time I saw Against Me! live was in June of 2012. It was Laura Jane Grace’s first tour and the place was full. Their set that night was absolutely incredible, and a good portion of it was new material. Really, really killer new material. Not only that, Laura Jane was the happiest lead singer I have ever seen. I mean, her grin was ear to ear the entire set, and her voice was epic.

After waiting a year and a half since that night for their new album, I can tell you, it was more than worth the wait. Transgender Dysphoria Blues is here. It is the first great album of 2014 and the most powerful punk rock record I’ve heard in a long time.

Since Tommy Gabel became Laura Jane Grace, the music of Against Me! has changed, becoming even more revolutionary and outspoken than before. In the opinion of this fan, better. This change, inspired by Laura’s change, and fueled by a pure punk rock engine, birthed something truly remarkable on “Transgender…”. It’s as if the album is a molten fire punk rock fist smashing through the icy waterfall of hate that breeds ignorance. I’ve heard albums that speak out before, but this one takes it to a whole new level.

It’s Laura Jane Grace, not Buch Vig, as producer on the album and it’s obvious that she knows what she’s doing. James and Laura’s guitars sound like punk rock jet engines, the drums remind me of echoes from a war machine, the bass destroys, and the vocals are nice and loud. NOFX’s very own Fat Mike even played bass on two of the songs, with Laura Jane playing bass on the others.

Atom Willard (RFTC, Angels & Airwaves) plays drums on “Transgender..,” and has recently become AM!s official drummer. His chops are noticed right from the start of the first song. After several options were considered, Atom was clearly the right person to join Against Me! on drums. He has that Against Me!-style animal inside of him, the one that comes out when he performs, both on the stage and in the studio.

am!

When you hear the lyrics to the opening song, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” you will know what I mean when I saw the band’s new direction is revolutionary. The lyrics pull no punches and neither does the energy. Though Laura Jane doesn’t swear much on the record as a whole, when she does, it sounds absolutely warranted and more than appropriate.

Songs “True Trans Soul Rebel” and “F***mylife666” are up next and both appeared on the TRUE TRANS EP released in June of 2013. They were great then, but it’s really something to hear them with a full band.

“Dead Friend” also appears on the album. Again, I’ve been waiting to hear this song specifically on a record for the last year and a half. Again, I was not disappointed at all. Anyone who’s lost a friend will want to hear this song. In it’s morbid nature is pure beauty. Any friend you have in heaven knows these lyrics are how you really feel about them being gone.

“Two Coffins” is an acoustic number that comes toward the end of the album. After hearing “Dead Friend,” this acoustic ballad is welcoming to the ears. The two songs are opposite sides of the same emotional coin. “Two Coffins” also, in its morbid nature, holds pure beauty. “How lucky I was to see the way that you smiled at me. Your little moon face shining bright at me. One day soon there’ll be nothing left of you and me. Two coffins for sleep.” Laura reminds us again, life is short.

The album ends with “Black Me Out,” which is perhaps the most powerful song on the album. The guitar line is so inspired, erasing any doubt of the talent behind Laura’s songwriting. It sounds like another song that was raised on the acoustic guitar, before being unleashed by the full Against Me! beast. When the last hum of distortion goes quiet, you might want to hit “repeat all” to take the ride again. I know I did, many times.

Since this album began streaming for free on NPR, I have been listening to it on repeat at work. I highly recommend it to fans of punk rock (both old and new), all Against Me! fans, all fans of rock music, and anyone out there in the world feeling trapped. Set yourself free.

Pre-order Transgender Dysphoria Blues here.

www.againstme.net

EP Feature / Soul Saboteur – Clip Your Wings

Soul Saboteur - Clip Your WingsSoul Saboteur are an alt-blues-rock band based in Manchester, who formed in November last year and have already managed to record an outstanding EP featuring four powerful tracks. Clip Your Wings is a strong and ambitious piece of a musical art, filled with effective melodies and the wowing vocals of James Stone, who’s excellent lyric writing adds to the special atmosphere, which this engaging music provides.

The title track Clip Your Wings sets the bar high with it’s bluesy guitar melody and the ‘Eddie Vedder like’ howls from singer James. The second track Medicinal Venom comes with a mind blowing vocal intro and straight away becomes your favourite. You realise that this band has created something very special here. Next song Dark After Dark impresses with its lyrics “I would have given my right arm for you, just to have held the hand that hung from it. Now more hangs from my neck than this bow tie…” and you feel the deep emotion running through this record from start to finish as Stranded (in the devils council) closes up with its intense and colorful blues vibes.

Listen to the whole EP here!

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MGMB’s Top February Albums

February has been so good to us musically and provided us with some records worth shooting up the ‘Best of 2013’ lists.

Here are MGMB’s favourites:

THE VIRGINMARYS – KING OF CONFLICT 

The Virginmarys - King of Conflict

It’s been always pretty clear that The Virginmarys are going to deliver with their debut album King of Conflict. But what they’ve really managed is without a doubt one of the most exciting and mind blowing rock and roll records you’ll hear this year. Creating a huge storm in the music world, the album reached a well deserved second spot in the US iTunes Rock Album chart, and was also the Editor’s Choice album in the US. It’s been a thrill ride for the trio from Macclesfield and this is only the beginning. The UK tour has already started and it’s been selling out at the speed of light. The guys are also heading to America for a tour in April. With their dazzling rock and roll and a true passion that mirrors in each of their songs, The Virginmarys will take over the world before we know it.

www.thevirginmarys.com

PURE LOVE – ANTHEMS

Pure Love - Anthems

This album has been on repeat the whole month and it’s not going to change any time soon. Anthems is a record that simply makes you feel like you’re standing on top of the world. The songs are loaded with catchy melodies, Jim Carroll’s grand guitars and Frank Carter’s sincere vocals. The lyrics are encouraging and honest, and you’ll soon find yourself singing every word. Being fortunate to see Pure Love twice this month, I have to say that there is not so many bands out there, who literally give their everything to the audience, make them a real part of the show and take them for a very special, crazy and fun-filled journey.  Pure Love fully live and enjoy the live performances with people. It’s rare, it’s unforgettable and once you experience it, it will make you love their music even more.

www.therealpurelove.com

THE BRONX – THE BRONX (IV)

The Bronx - The bronx IV

The Bronx have returned with a new album after 5 years, which might seem like a long time to some people, but I don’t think any of the fans of this LA hard/punk rock group really mind. Why? Simply because this album is nothing short of extraordinary. The sound is heavy but embraces big melodies together with the insanely good vocals of Matt Caughthran. You can let go and scream along the lines with Matt and take in all the benefits of this perfectly mastered hard rock record that offers a great emotional release. I’ve seen The Bronx live this month and it was mental in the greatest way possible. This is a real example of heavy music providing a cure for any soul.

www.thebronxxx.com

NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS – PUSH THE SKY AWAY

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds deliver this hypnotic, dark and romantic masterpiece with Push The Sky Away, awaking the emotions of love, desperation, anger and everything in between. Its atmosphere draws you inside Nick Cave’s remarkable vocals and songwriting and the mellow, haunting melodies in the background. Whether you’re the lonely type or someone in love, once you put it on, it’s hard to resist its fascinating appeal and so damn easy to sink right in. It has this indiscribable magic surrounding it. This might as well be one of the greatest records written in 2013.

www.nick-cave.com

EP Review / Windmills – Tilting

Windmills

Photo by Envasion Cre8tive Graphics

Last year, I interviewed a Canadian loop artist – Windmills aka Cory Myraas, who is about to release his new EP called Tilting this week (February 9th), and the very lucky me has had the privilege to listen to this stunning piece of work before it’s available to all of you music lovers.

windmills - tilting

At the time of our interview Cory spoke about his excitement for this EP and described it as a more advanced, and a step forward from his previous record – Keep Moving. And after hearing Tilting from start to finish, I have to say that Windmills really keep moving in the best direction possible. This gifted artist composes music that’s nothing like you’ve heard before. His unique creation process draws a colourful world of a truly original sound and vocals, all full of depth and meaning. It has such a charismatic appeal and you find yourself wondering, how it is even possible to master something so special. But it’s here, stretching towards you and taking you into its world.

The first track – Things Fall Apart engages you with its magnificent melody and lyrics ” And these words, they’ll echo with the fallen tongues of poets, drunks, and thieves… and that sounds good to me”. There is something beautiful and heartbreaking happening here…

The following song – A Body At Rest features soft guitar tunes and a few simple but powerful words, leaving you in awe of the true beauty of music and its never ending spells, while Architects makes us question different affairs as we get lost in Cory’s songwriting “But now I’m left with all but words, and questions still remain defining what is sinister and adding up the blame”.

Gentle guitar riffs, calming melodies, the sincerity in Cory’s voice, goose bumps all over… all these remain with the following tracks Thirst (Water, Water Everywhere…) and the beautifully mastered Tilting, which closes the record with “But maybe I was blind, I couldn’t realize that with time, you always hurt the ones that will come asking for more”. 

Windmills take us on a pure, heartfelt journey with this 5-track EP full of emotion and relatable matters. It’s truly compelling.

One thing is for sure: Windmills keep moving us.

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Album Review / The Chevin – Borderland

I have been looking forward to this album since December 17, 2011. That’s the day I saw The Chevin live for the first time.

They opened for White Lies at the Wembley Arena, and as soon as Coyle Girelli started to sing all the beautiful high notes he owns, I knew that a band with such a gift won’t go unnoticed for too long. With that range of vocals and melodies, it was impossible not to think that The Chevin are one of the best bands the UK recently produced. If you haven’t heard of them yet, then you are missing out big time.

I have been following the band’s updates since that very day I saw them and it’s been quite a journey. The 5 track + one remix Champion EP was released in 2011 and it kept me sane along with the releases of this year’s singles Drive and Blue Eyes. Somewhere along the way the guys managed to perform on Late Show with David Letterman, while the first lady Michelle Obama was also a guest on the show (whaaat?!) and later on, after the US album release, they performed on Conan. Now, something like this doesn’t happen to many upcoming UK bands, so really well done to the guys for making it!

Finally, since last week, their debut album Borderland has been available to the UK audience.

Starting with the well known hit Champion, an upbeat track that will get you moving and singing along, if you dare to hit those notes…is a perfect start to the record if you’re not familiar with the Chevin’s music. This track should give you a good enough impression. The pace doesn’t ease a lot with track two – Drive, also one of my favourites from the band.  Here you can truly admire the outstanding vocals of the lead singer and also, you start to realise that the lyric writing is pretty damn good too!

Blue Eyes, the track number three is more on the acoustic folk side, a romantic track that’s perfect for summer evenings spent at an open fire. Dirty Little Secret relaxes your spirit, slowing the tempo of the record, while making you absorb and appreciate the beauty of The Chevin’s sound completely. The slow pace continues with a beautiful ballad Love Is Just a Game, the title track Borderland and Beautiful World. You are starting to realise, there has not been a bad track on this album so far. And it won’t change, trust me.

Gospel is my other favourite track on this record, perfect one for any musical soul that enjoys heartfelt lyrics and mesmerizing sound. With Colours, a song telling about a heartbreak, the tempo steps up a notch and you start tapping your feet once again. By now, you are totally in love with this album. So Long Summer ends this amazing musical journey with some killer high notes once again.

You need to hear The Chevin because they really have a special gift. They bring us the kind of music that runs right through our veins and leaves something beautiful behind.

And that’s what real music is all about.

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