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Album Review: The Strokes – Angles

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd March 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

For a band who have achieved the level of fame reserved only for a select few, the Strokes were under a lot of pressure with their latest album. ‘Angles’ is the band’s first release in 5 years since ‘First Impressions Of Earth’ which, frankly, was not as strong as debut record ‘Is This It?’ Could the New York City rockers revert back to their former glory and create a record to elevate them onto the next pedestal of rock ‘n’ roll infamy?

At first glance, ‘Angles’ looks nothing more than a filler album. Ten tracks which come in at just under 35 minutes is nothing less than unconventional compared to band’s other albums. Similarly, the band recently revealed to ShortList magazine that they were already working on the follow-up to this LP. So perhaps ‘Angles’ is a stopgap between longer albums and is more of a glorified EP?

The album begins with the very ’80s ‘Machu Picchu’ laced with electro synth pop intertwined with Julian Casablancas’ unmistakable voice. Despite not being the usual Strokes-esque track, it is catchy and could easily be a single. For an album expected to be the biggest thing in American indie this year, it’s an interesting choice for an opener. The first single from the album, ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’, is one of the best songs on the album. It’s upbeat, catchy and grows on you faster than a tropical disease. It’s undeniably the Strokes and ‘Angles’ is a much stronger album because of it, as some of the tracks simply aren’t the same standard, or even the same style.

The majority of the album doesn’t fit the mould of the band. Despite there being an obvious undertone of the New York noiseniks throughout, a lot of the songs deviate from the band’s usual sound and ultimately don’t fulfill the urges of a Strokes fan whose been waiting with baited breath for years. ‘You’re So Right’ and ‘Call Me Back’ are packed with effects and are much slower affairs than the Strokes’ usual repertoire.

‘Angles’ can’t actually figure out what it’s trying to be. ‘Taken For A Fool’ has a funk feel to it, whereas ‘Games’ reverts back to the ’80s style of ‘Machu Picchu’ earlier in the LP; it even features pan pipes! There are, however, some songs which work incredibly well. In fact, the latter part of the album. ‘Gratisfaction’ is an upbeat and overall happy song: with its chorus, it brings a nice bounciness to the slower and at times weaker tracks before it.

Album closer ‘Life Is Simple In The Moonlight’ is another prime song on the record. It’s quite minimal and chilled but doesn’t wander off into nothingness like a number of tracks on ‘Angles’. It is one of the best examples of a slower song by the Strokes in their entire back catalogue. Its chorus is upbeat and keeps the song moving along, keeping the band and unique sound alive. A great way to end an album which, overall, could have delivered better on its promise.

6/10

‘Angles’ by the Strokes is available now.

 

Single Review: The Strokes – Under Cover Of Darkness

 
By on Monday, 14th March 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

After an extensive break from the limelight, New York City rockers The Strokes returned last month with a new single and a new album, ‘Angles’, scheduled for release next week. The Strokes have always been a cult rock band throughout the world, having found fame in both the UK and America. Their previous albums have been mainstays of any music collection of the past 10 years and with the hype around new album ‘Angles’, this is likely to continue.

Having not released a single since ‘You Only Live Once’ in 2006, the Strokes are out to prove something with ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’. Coming in at just under four minutes, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Julian Casablancas and co. It has that signature guitar sound and Casablancas’ unique voice pushing the song on until it is firmly embedded in your mind.

It is, however, a grower. At first listen it there’s nothing too interesting about the track, but once it has been played again the hooks and the chorus really deliver. It’s not quite as entertaining as ’12:51′ or ‘Reptilia’ and might not have the overall staying power of their previous hits, but ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ still stands out as an example of howtThe Strokes aren’t a band to pander to popular trends. They’ve kept their style the same throughout their 13-year career and aren’t going to change.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l09H-3zzgA[/youtube]

‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ is available now, and ‘Angles’ will be released on the 21st of March in the UK.

 

This Week’s Gonzo – the Vaccines and Ellie Goulding have a visit with Alexa

 
By on Friday, 11th March 2011 at 1:00 pm
 

So what’s on MTV Gonzo tonight? The Vaccines, the band you either like or cannot escape from, will be stopping by for a chat with Alexa. Also on the show will be Ellie Goulding, who will not only be talking with Alexa but will also perform a cover of Rihanna’s ‘Only Girl in the World’ (I didn’t see that one coming). American rapper Lupe Fiasco will no doubt be talking about his new Modest Mouse-sampling tune ‘The Show Goes On’ and will be fielding questions from the Gonzola.

Through the wonders of technology, Midwest alt-rock band Cage the Elephant will be filling us in what they’ve been up to since the release of their second album, ‘Thank You, Happy Birthday’, in January. In the weekly Director’s Cut feature, North London rapper Skepta walks us through his video for ‘Amnesia’. I guess it should go without saying that rappers tend to name-drop. Well, at least Skepta isn’t shy to do so, revealing, “Diddy invited me back to party at a pool with loads of girls and champagne!” If we were so lucky. New videos from the Strokes and Dr. Dre featuring Eminem round out the programme. It’s a good night to stay in.

MTV Gonzo airs tonight (Friday) at 7 PM on MTV Music, with a repeat at 8 PM on MTV Rocks.

 

Preview: Coachella 2011

 
By on Friday, 28th January 2011 at 11:00 am
 

Coachella, America’s second music festival of the year (after Ultra in Miami in March), will be taking place 15-17 April 2011 this year in its usual spot in Indio, California. The line-up was announced last week, with mixed reactions from fans and music reviewers alike. The headliners will be Kings of Leon (Friday the 15th of April), Arcade Fire (Saturday the 16th, pictured above), and Kanye West and the Strokes (Sunday the 17th).

Far more interesting are some of the bands in smaller type. Take for example the reunited Suede (well, the second incarnation of the Britpop group, anyway) and the return of Duran Duran, minus Andy Taylor. Then consider the acts that are well known in the UK but will be debuting (if I’m not mistaken) in the States, at most definitely in front of their largest American audiences to date: Magnetic Man and Beardyman on Friday; Scissor Sisters and the Joy Formidable on Saturday; and Tinie Tempah, Plan B on Sunday.

Tickets for the 3-day event cost $281 (approximately £178 at the time of this writing) before shipping and handling, and includes a $3 charity fee and a $9 facility fee. For more information on tickets, visit the official Coachella Web site. For the complete line-up, you can read the official Coachella line-up poster.

 

MTV’s Greatest Album Ever: Results

 
By on Thursday, 9th April 2009 at 1:10 am
 

MTV Greatest album (side)We introduced a few weeks ago MTV’s hunt to find “The Greatest Album Ever“. It raised a fair few questions, and a lot of angry responses from you guys as you listed your favourite bands who weren’t included.

Rather unsurprisingly, Michael Jackson topped the poll, having announced his sensational run of London shows between the announcement of the show and the results. Almost one in three of all votes went to the crazy American. In a shock move, Craig David was number 2 in the poll, and has been deemed more popular than Radiohead and Nirvana, receiving more votes than the Oxford based quintet and Seattle grungers combined. Surely that’s got to be some kind of mistake?

Over forty thousand votes were cast, which gives a pretty good perspective of what people think. Many in the comments of the previous post asked about some pretty seminal albums, however it should be noted that these are the best albums since 1981 – when MTV began, so many classics (Pink Floyd, Smiths, Who etc) aren’t eligible for the list. However, as Thom so rightly commented…. no Libertines? Crazy, no?

Speaking of wacko Jacko’s win, Trevor Nelson commented

I don’t think there’ll ever be another album like it ever in the history of music. There will never be a marriage of producer and artist and song writing and pop sensibility – it just won’t happen again. And also, due to the way people buy records now, there’ll never be an album that sells as many copies – and that’s the thing that will keep it at number one.

Interestingly, Zane Lowe didn’t agree with Craig David’s high ranking, commenting

The guy was hugely successful and there’s no denying that album is a great listen from start to finish as a pop record. It probably stands up as the greatest British urban pop record of the last twenty years. Still no one’s really topped it – apart from Winehouse. Should it be number two in The Greatest Album of all time? No, in my opinion, but I’m not going to begrudge anyone’s success, and if his fans voted for it then what’s encouraging for me is that they still consider that record to be an important part of their lives and that’s what music is.

After the jump: the complete list of albums
Continue reading MTV’s Greatest Album Ever: Results

 

MTV’s Greatest Album Ever

 
By on Thursday, 26th February 2009 at 3:42 pm
 

MTV Greatest album (side)It seems every awards season we have another “Greatest album” survey, most of them from one random source who have basically surveyed their friends to see what they like best that day.

However, when MTV do a survey you know it’s going to be the right choice. They’ve just launched their hunt to find the “Greatest Album Ever“, after they crowned Duran Duran’s Rio as having the “Greatest Video Ever” last year.

In conjunction with music industry experts, MTV’s flagship music channels VH1, MTV Two and MTV Base have each collated their top ten greatest albums since 1981, the year MTV launched. The debates to select the albums were chaired by channel presenters Edith Bowman (VH1), Zane Lowe (MTV Two) and Trevor Nelson (MTV Base).

Suggs (of Madness fame) was one of the key contributors to the shows, talking about Amy Winehouse’s decline and then subsequent rejuvenation:

It’s great to see her looking marvellous again. There was quite a gap between her first and second album and I used to see her around Camden a lot, and when you see someone regularly its harder to notice their demise. I’m so glad she looks well again. It was fate putting her together with Mark Ronson for Back to Black, and was so good for her putting her voice right in the middle of it.

Meanwhile, as only MTV can, Pete Burns gave us an, erm, “intriguing” insight into his friendship with Morrissey, who failed to make the top 10 for any of his solo albums, but whose Smith’s classic “The Queen is Dead” appeared in both VH1 and MTV 2’s top 10’s:

I knew him personally back in the day, he gave me a copy of this album. I loved it from track one. He has a very unique sense of irony and humour. As a person he’s very difficult and awkward to get on with. He stopped talking to me over a fur coat, and still to this day he holds a grudge about it!

Personally, I’d love to see REM get the award. All the others are great, but people seem to underestimate the consistency of REM. Plus, Michael Stipe is a legend in my eyes. Either that or Human League, but I can’t see them beating the big boys – can you?

Voting for the top album is now open over on MTV’s website. Each channel’s review of the top 10 albums can be seen this weekend, with Trevor Nelson presenting the MTV Base run down Saturday 28 February at 9pm, followed by Edith Bowman presenting VH1 and Zane Lowe MTV Two both on Sunday 1 March at 9pm. The final winner will be announced on Sunday 12th April.

After the jump, check out the top 10 albums chosen by each channel.
Continue reading MTV’s Greatest Album Ever

 
 
 

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