About The Cold Cut...

The musings of a teenage audiophile. Indie, Rock, Hip-Hop, Rap, Dance, Dubstep, Garage, Metal... music crosses all boundaries. The Cold Cut is devoted to giving you a taste of what's going on in music at the moment.

About Me

A 17 year old taking his first tentative steps into the world of blogging. In my first year, its been up and down, from the slow first months to a busy time around the one year anniversary.

Track Of The Day- 30/12/07

The new year is upon us, and 'BOOM', I get hit by a brilliant song. I'm really late on this one, but Ida Maria's 'Oh My God' is that awesome. I must credit my Dad with this one; he pointed it out to me a couple of weeks ago, but in my general (teenage) mood I swatted him away. Coming out of nowhere (or a minute village in Norway), there is something crazy about her, and her music- in a good way. On 'Oh My God', she's bold with her (repeated) lyrics, a heavy guitar riff and even some shrieking at the climax. A solid song, and I can't wait for the album, out next year.

Ida Maria- Oh My God

Flying the British flag... 2008

2008 is shaping up to be a huge year for music, and these are the best of the British bands releasing new material this year.

Cajun Dance Party- These 5 London teens are still at school and yet they've already released two spectacular singles, The Next Untouchable and Amylase. Which is pretty amazing given the time constraints of A-Levels (trust me, I'm in the same boat!). Their album will be amazing.

Cajun Dance Party- The Next Untouchable
Estelle- This West London born hip-hop artist is widely respected in the music world, and not without reason. At the age of 27 she already owns a record label, Stellar Ents, which allowed her to release her own album, 'The 18th Day', 3 years ago. If you haven't heard '1980', one of her singles, download it now. Her new album, 'Shine', is out on February 12th, and whilst she has the talent, Estelle has never hit the bigtime. Signing to John Legend's label can't hurt, and neither can production by Will.i.am, Kanye West and Wyclef Jean.

Estelle- 1980
Estelle- Wait A Minute (Just A Touch)

Glasvegas- Everyone compares them to The Jesus And Mary Chain; its a fair comparison, but why not relate them to something new? Purely because no-one sounds like Glasvegas any more. Alan McGee has been gushing about them for ages, but whereas this is generally unfounded, for once he is right. Destined for great things...

Glasvegas- Daddy's Gone

Foals- These guys are going places. 'Antidotes', the first album, is out March 2008, and already things are hotting up at the Foals camp. Not content with the production, they re-mixed the entire album themselves, to their specifications. Ballsy, but will it pay off? Yannis (centre above), the mop-topped lead singer of this Oxford based five-piece, obviously thinks so.

Foals- Hummer

The Courteeners?- The question mark isn't a typo. Liam Fray (closest in the pic), lead singer of The Courteeners, is following in the footsteps British frontmen by mouthing off about how his band are going to create one of the best British albums ever. Sometimes, this is the truth: see Oasis, Stone Roses etc. Sometimes, however, it isn't: take The Twang as a recent example. Which will he be? On the evidence of 'Cavorting', the latter. But that doesn't stop me wondering 2008 will be the year when we witness his fall from grace.

The Courteeners- Acrylic

The Ting Tings- I'm not even going to attempt to explain this one, other than that they're a boy-girl duo who make fun pop music. Oh, and they wont disappointed; they've been around for a while, signing to a major label 3 years ago, but the deal fell through due to creative 'differences'. A new deal is in the works, but just let their music speak for itself.

The Ting Tings- Great DJ

Those who will be big but I don't need to write about:
Adele- Possibly the voice of 2008?

'Back To Black' is the best selling UK album this year

Hope everyone had a great Christmas- what new music did you get, if any?

It must bring some hope to Amy Winehouse, that, amongst all her personal issues, her music is still soldiering on. I was quite shocked to find out that 'Back To Black' is officially the highest selling album in the UK this year. She even beat Leona Lewis, whose debut 'Spirit', sold an annoying 1 million albums in a month. Amy, on the other hand, sold 1.5 million over the whole year. Still impressive, but Lewis' figures make her album the fastest selling UK debut, ever. Okay, her voice is great, but she's an X-Factor winner. Aren't people starting to get bored of the whole formula?

I must admit, whenever I see Amy on TV I find myself shouting, pleading that she would sort herself out before she becomes the next Pete Doherty. Regardless, 'Back To Black' is great, and her voice is definitely special. If she could stay of the sauce and sort her live shows out, she'd be back on track. Good luck with it, Amy, and I hope album number 3 is coming along soon. Get your shit together!

Amy Winehouse- Rehab (Ah- the irony!)
Amy Winehouse- You Know I'm No Good
Amy Winehouse- Valerie (Not The Ronson Version)

Merry Christmas

A very quick post to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I hope you enjoy a day of family time, relaxation and general cheer.

Band Aid- Do They Know It's Christmas (1985)

End Of Year: Films and Oldies

As much as I love music, film has always been a passion of mine (check back to the beginning of The Cold Cut for proof), and I couldn't go without listing a couple of the best films this year. I also forgot in my previous post to list a couple of older albums that I really got into this year.

Most Spun Old Albums
1. Lauryn Hill- The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill is, without a doubt, the best female MC ever. Its no wonder 'The Miseducation...' won her a load of Grammy's.

Lauryn Hill- To Zion

2. Joy Division- Unknown Pleasures
It took a film as brilliant as Control to finally get me into Joy Division.

Joy Division- She's Lost Control

3. Artful Dodger- Its All About Stragglers
The birth of real garage music. This album is incredible, flawless, and a musical gem. I really can't find anything at all wrong with it.

Artful Dodger- Something

4. Bruce Sprinsteen- Born To Run
The definitive Bruce Springsteen. And I don't care how good Magic is...

Bruce Springsteen- She's The One

5. Black Star- Black Star
Classic rap. Talib Kweli, finally living up to his promise. He hasn't reached the same heights since.

Black Star- RE: Definition

6. Radiohead- Kid A
Okay- In Rainbows was effortlessly amazing. Kid A, is experimental, brave, and as a result, sensational.

Radiohead- Idioteque

Top Films
1. The Bourne Ultimatum- The thrilling conclusion to the best action trilogy in a long, long time.
2. The Lives Of Others- The Oscar was well deserved.
3. Control- The film that finally made me love Joy Division.
4. Michael Clayton- George Clooney pulls of the most surprisingly great thriller of the year.
5. The Host- Only visionary Korean director Bong Joon Ho could produce something so wonderfully convoluted.
6. Half Nelson- If you've seen a better piece of acting than Ryan Gosling's cocaine addled teacher, please comment.
7. Sunshine- Unfortunately, Danny Boyle dropped the ball with the ending, but other than that slight hiccup, this is a sci-fi masterpiece.
8. Infamous- And you thought 40 Old Virgin was good? Look again!
9. American Gangster- Put two of the greatest actors of their generation together, and a slightly lesser Goodfellas is what you get.
10. Hot Fuzz- Never the equal of Shaun Of The Dead, but still one of the funnies films this year.

Round Up: Top 20 Albums

After a four day stretch, I've finished the list, and I'm honestly quite proud of it.

The quality of music released in 2007 was high, and because of this, many special albums didn't find their way into my top 20. Therefore, its only fair that I have a post devoted to a round-up, including the notable mentions, who just missed out on the top 20. I will post a couple of great tracks as well...

Top 20 Albums:

1. Lupe Fiasco- The Cool
2. Patrick Wolf- The Magic Position
3. M.I.A.- Kala
4. Arctic Monkeys- Favourite Worst Nightmare
5. Arcade Fire- Neon Bible
6. Burial- Untrue
7. ?- The Good, The Bad And The Queen
8. Radiohead- In Rainbows
9. Daft Punk- Alive 2007
10. Les Savy Fav- Let's Stay Friends
11. Kings Of Leon- Because Of The Times
12. The Shins- Wincing The Night Away
13. LCD Soundsystem- Sound Of Silver
14. Justice-
15. Bloc Party- A Weekend In The City
16. Interpol- Our Love To Admire
17. Klaxons- Myths Of The Near Future
18. Jay-Z- American Gangster
19. Bright Eyes- Cassadaga
20. Foo Fighters- Echoes, Silence, Patience And Grace

Notable Mentions:


Rock/Indie/Pop

The Maccabees- Colour It In: If I'd given this a few more listens, it probably would have flown into my top 20. Unfortunately, I never really gave it the time of day. I'll quote my brother on this (a HUGE fan): "I see this album as the coming of a really great band".

The Maccabees- Latchmere

Band Of Horses- Cease To Begin: To the trained ear, this was apparently worse than previous Band Of Horses album 'Everything All The Time'. If that's the truth, Everything All The Time must have been bloody amazing.

Band Of Horses- Is There A Ghost
Feist- The Reminder: The experience from dozens of other projects gave Leslie Feist the necessary grounding to produce such a great solo album. Easy-going, memorable, and remixed to death, The Reminder has established Feist as a serious songwriter.

Feist- My Moon My Man

Maximo Park- Our Earthly Pleasures: Our Earthly Pleasures got destroyed by the NME for some reason, and although I don't believe its top 20 worthy, it still chock full of great pop songs.

Maximo Park- Books From Boxes

Hip-Hop/Rap:

Kanye West- Graduation: Graduation was a return to form after the disappointing Late Registration. Other than 'Drunk And Hot Girls', it gels to perfection.

Kanye West- Good Life (ft. T-Pain)

Wu-Tang Clan- 8 Diagrams: Have you been missing the way rap used to be? Look no further. 8 Diagrams is the Clan doing what they do best, and their sound is almost totally unchanged from the throwback days.

Chris Brown- Exclusive: This guy can do it all. Sing, dance, act (for 15 minutes of Stomp The Yard at least). And whilst Exclusive isn't really good, it does show the smallest bit of progression on Chris' part. Maybe he will be the next Michael Jackson after all?

Dizzee Rascal- Maths+English: Now twice nominated for the Mercury award, and much deserved. No tricks- what you see is what you get.

Dizzee Rascal- Sirens


Chamillionaire- Ultimate Victory: No, he isn't a one hit wonder. His flow is almost unmatched in my opinion ("so fluid its like drinking a song"), and he has really improved between albums.

Chamillionaire- The Ultimate Victory


Things I haven't heard but really should do:
Bruce Sprinstein- Magic
Spoon- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Of Montreal- Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

The National- Boxer

Top 20 Albums Of The Year: Part 4 of 4

The final 5. How emotional *wipes tear from eye*. These are the five albums that I really connected with this year, and the only advice I can give is to buy them now if you haven't already. As usual, comment, and click the album title to buy it, or the artist name to find out a bit more about them.

Come back tomorrow for a round-up, as well as some more end of year lists.

5. Arcade Fire- Neon Bible
Neon Bible seems to be the epitome of 'bigger is better'. They bought a church, converted it into a recorded studio, learned some new instruments (hurdy-gurdy and organ, for starters) and had loads of fun whilst recording a more rocking second album. Its a slight departure from Funeral, and I wouldn't go so far to say its equal in quality, but Neon Bible is still one of the most complete rock albums this year.

Favourite Track: No Cars Go

Its been around for a long time, but this song has really benefited from being re-recorded. A rollicking tune with some grandiose production.

4. Arctic Monkeys- Favourite Worst Nightmare
How do you build on such a brilliant introduction as Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (WPSIATWIN!)? Take a cue from this band- get better at your instruments, improve production and up the tempo- then the world's your oyster. Okay, Favourite Worst Nightmare isn't as instant as WPSIATWIN, but the quality of songs on this album absolutely trounces their debut in my opinion. Its bigger, faster and more brutal- a high octane beast of an album. Where next? Only time will tell.

Favourite Track: Teddy Picker

Teddy Picker- the bass driven third single- concerns modern society's chase for fame. In the wake of rubbish like Big Brother and X-Factor, you can see how true this is. They also made the brave move of recording using a live audio track in their video. Watch it here

3. M.I.A.- Kala
Kala was definitely the most diverse album of 2007, and M.I.A. continued her party trick of splicing styles and cultures together into an epic musical concoction. First off, the beats are ridiculous; some of the samples on this album would put most rap/hip-hop albums to shame. Lyrics have always been a key part of M.I.A.'s appeal, and thankfully, her style wasn't hugely altered between Arular and Kala, with political verses still featuring strongly:
"Do you know that cost of AK's
Up in Africa
20 dollars ain't shit to you
But thats how much they are"
All in all, its comforting to see Kala high up on many end of year lists, and once you've heard it, its easy to see why.

Favourite Track: World Town

Who would of thought that the sound of a gun cocking was so cool? M.I.A., ever the pioneer.

2. Patrick Wolf- The Magic Position
With the Magic Position, Patrick Wolf was no longer only for those with 'eclectic' musical tastes. Some critics have accused him of taking the easy 'pop' route, but when the results are so encouraging, it really doesn't make a difference. Patrick recieves very little recognition, which may have been the reason he moved in a 'poppier' direction, but even on unfamiliar ground he excels. The title track is the definition of happiness, but halfway in, things turn dark with Bluebells. Other than the confusing Secret Garden, this is a flawless, undervalued album.

Favourite Track: (Let's Go) Get Lost

No explanation required- listen, and you will be swept up by this song. Happiness, wrapped into a 3 minute package.

1. Lupe Fiasco- The Cool
This album was the latest, and best, addition to this list (full review here). Quite simply, Lupe Fiasco is a legendary rapper, and its a massive shame that he will be retiring after LupEND, his next album. Both Food And Liquor and The Cool are both serious contributions to the musical archives, and illustrate that Lupe is not your generic rapper. He really has something to say in every instance, and a lot of his rhymes contain content that is 'now'. He will also go down in history as the only rapper to ever record a succesful concept album, and a rare lyrical talent. Truly revolutionary...

Favourite Track: Little Weapon (I've bought the album, and its now out, so I feel okay about posting one track)

Fallout Boy singer Patrick Stump produces, and in the process creates the best backing track of the year. Lupe pulls a trick, opening with the line:
"I killed another man today
shot him in his back as he ran away"
All is revealed at the end, when we realise that this is, in fact, occuring in a video game.

Top 20 Albums Of The Year: Part 3 of 4

Things are ticking along nicely now, but I've decided to include a few more categories in my 'best of year' list. Keep checking back daily for updates, and comment, whether you like my list or not.

As ever, if you want to see a bit more about each band, click on their name, and if you want to buy the albums, click on their titles. If you think I've missed something glaringly obvious, please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for new material to promote... if it isn't here, I either haven't heard it, or I'm not a massive fan.

10. Les Savy Fav- Let's Stay Friends
I've literally been bombarded with opinions over this album, from those who claim its the album of 2007, to those who think Les Savy Fav are 'past it'. I didn't take the time to listen to it until very recently (i.e this week, when I started noticing it appearing all over the shop), and I lie firmly in the first category. Les Savy Fav have been slogging away for 10 years, and if their back-catalog possesses anywhere near this quality, they have been dealt a great injustice. Somehow, they produce a distinctive guitar sound (come on, its the most popular instrument in the music nowadays), and lead singer Tim Harrington's slightly loopy lyrics brighten things up. Now all I have to do is listen to their formidable collection.

Favourite Track: Patty Lee

Whilst many tracks on this album are extremely crazy, Patty Lee retains the fun side of things whilst focusing a bit more on a cleaner sound. It helps.

9. Daft Punk- Alive 2007
Alive 2007 really came out of the blue, and although live albums don't possess the same sheen as studio ones, I can confidently say that this is the best Daft Punk album, ever. Homework and Discovery are fully deserving of their cult-status, but when you meld them (and the better moments form Human After All) into an hour live set, something far superior is created. On the basis of this, Daft Punk are on of the few bands who are technically and musically better live than on a record.

Favourite Track: Too Long/Crescendolls/High Life

8 minutes, 3 songs, 2 robotic DJ's- the best dance song in a long, long, time.

8. Radiohead- In Rainbows
No surprises here: even if 'In Rainbows' hadn't turned out so great, it would deserve a place on this list for the controversy surrounding it. With their 'you choose the price' scheme, Radiohead proved a valuable point, and made shed loads of cash in the process. By cutting out the middle man, they took all the money, and despite all those who paid nothing (a little bit shameful), the average price paid was still higher than what they normally receive for a label-supported album. A much deserved victory for a band that produce consistently first-rate music.

Favourite Track: Reckoner

Only Radiohead could pull this off. 2 minutes 20 seconds in, and a breakdown occurs- one of the most chilling moments in music of 2007. Beautiful.

7. ?- The Good, The Bad & The Queen
Damon Albarn should really be given a medal or something, for high-standard prolific songwriting. First came Blur, then Gorillaz, and now this. Unfortunately, I was turned off immediately by his pretentious claim that the band didn't have a name, and that The Good, The Bad And The Queen was just the album title. However, I got over it, and once that happened, I was fully able to grasp the quality of this album; its a supergroup, and oh boy, is their music super. After three side-project albums, Albarn's hopefully got them out of his system, and the Blur reunion can move ahead.

Favourite Track: Herculean

The first, and best, single from The Good, The Bad And The Queen. Its about a post apocalyptic wasteland:
"And the medicine man here 24/7
You can get it fast in Armageddon
Everyone on their way to heaven
Slowly"
By no means cheery, but genius nonetheless.

6. Burial- Untrue
As well as being one of my top 10, Burial also wins the prize for 'biggest surprise of the year' and 'most sensitive timing for album release'. Untrue came along at just the right time for me, just when I was in the gutter after being rejected by Cambridge with 'no prospect of gaining a place'. Pretty harsh, but this album was almost like therapy. I've never heard anything like it before; when dubstep is a household genre (in 2020 of course!), Burial will be remembered as the forerunner.

Favourite Track: Shell Of Light

The first time I heard this- on the Hype Machine of course- it opened my mind to another world of musical opportunities. I really have never listened to anything that is simultaneously so wrong, but so right.

Top 20 Albums Of The Year: Part 2 of 4

5 down, 15 to go. This is proving more taxing than I initially thought, but on the plus side the fact that I'm struggling emphasises the quality of music that has been released in 2007. Keep checking back daily for the countdown. Any guesses for my top 5? And what are yours?

15. Bloc Party- A Weekend In The City
I wasn't instantly won over by this, but the brilliance of 'Song For Clay', 'The Prayer' and 'On' had me in a head-lock from the start. The album won the battle, and its pleasing to see that their style is changing (and now we have Flux!). Unfortunately, they missed out on a golden opportunity by not releasing the B-Sides with the album- some of the bonus tracks are better than those on the release itself. Even without this addition, A Weekend In The City is a progressive, solid album, whichever way you look at it.

Favourite Track: Song For Clay (Disappear Here)

A brilliant opener, hectic and with more bass than ever seen on a Bloc Party song. Kele takes it to new heights with his falsetto. Tragically, the rest of the album couldn't quite live up to it, but it set the right tone straight off.

14. Justice-
D.A.N.C.E. is one of my favourite tracks this year, and † lived up to the immense hype surrounding it. The common misconception is that Justice sound like Daft Punk, but as I've made efforts to point out, this really isn't the case. From experience, I've realised that you can't put this album on in the background (try learning for exams with †! Ain't happening...), and that when 'Genesis' kicks in, there ain't no going back. † demands your attention, and you had better give it.

Favourite Track: D.A.N.C.E.

It had to be, didn't it? Now all I have to do is find one of those awesome T-Shirts...

13. LCD Soundsystem- Sound Of Silver
Before Sound Of Silver, James Murphy was an unknown to me, his music an enigma. Despite this, I found it hard to ignore a well crafted, 9 track (no duds) dance album, held out in front of me by my brother. Crafted around the unstoppable trio of 'North American Scum', 'Someone Great' and 'All My Friends' (the latter two are both contenders for my favourite song of the year), Sound Of Silver is a rarity in that the dance beats are actuallly coupled with something meaningful, in the form of Murphy's lyrics.

Favourite Track: Someone Great

This one's for you, Michael! Destroys All My Friends on the emotion scale.

12. The Shins- Wincing The Night Away
The Shins are a frustrating band; whilst they might be big in America, they have yet to make an impact in the UK. That might be in the works, but an 'OC/Garden State effect' might help them along.

Just as with The Hold Steady, its great to see a group of 'older' guys making great music together. I absolutely loved Chutes Too Narrow, and with Wincing The Night Away, things only get better.

Favourite Track: Sleeping Lessons

This caught me off-guard the first time I heard it; unfortunately, it doesn't happen much in music nowadays, but I like being suprised...

11. Kings Of Leon- Because Of The Times
Third time around, the Kings took the road less travelled, and made things difficult for themselves. They emerged on the other side with the new outfits (skinny jeans, leather and new hair) and an updated sound. Because Of The Times pulls a new trick on us, and rather than re-hashing the excellent, but dated, Molly's Chambers and Red Morning Light, there are many signs of progression on their third album proper. Their most challenging, accomplished album to date.

Favourite Song: My Party

It is what it is- the high 'oooooohs' and the relentless guitar feedback make this gritty song into a classic. Textbook Kings with a twist. 'On Call' who?

Top 20 Albums Of The Year: Part 1 of 4

This is a daunting post. Not only am I walking an exceedingly well trodden path, I'm also aware that my top 20 might not fit with your idea of great albums. Oh well- blogging is about opinion, so here we go. This will take the form of 4 posts, each with 5 albums. I should be done before Christmas... If you want to buy the album, click on its title. If you want to see a bit more about each artist, click their name.

After I've got through the top 20 there will be a round-up, with some notable mentions, my top tracks of the year, top films and a general 'best of the year' feature. Enjoy, and have a merry Christmas. As usual, leave comments, both good and bad. I like to read what you think.

20. Foo Fighters- Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
I've debated long and hard as to whether this deserves a place in my top 20, but I was bowled over by its simplicity and balance between anthemic rock and intimate ballads. If you are willing to take this album for what it is- a balls to the wall stadium rock album with a few soft moments- I'm sure you'll feel the same way.

Favourite Track: The Pretender

When coupled with its explosive video, 'The Pretender' becomes my favourite rock song of the year. No contest...

19. Bright Eyes- Cassadaga
Before Cassadaga, Coner Oberst had never really met my expectations. I mean, come on, being proclaimed a 'musical prodigy' ramps up the pressure a bit, doesn't it. Well, Cassadaga finally fulfilled what he, and Bright Eyes, were capable of. You could say he came of age, although he is already 27.

Favourite Track: Four Winds

Has to be 'Four Winds', for its provocative lyrics concerning religion. Folk at its most enjoyable.

18. Jay-Z- American Gangster
At the time, Jay-Z coming out of retirement was a massive mistake in my eyes, and he put fuel to the fire by releasing 'Kingdom Come', which seemed superficial and over-produced. American Gangster, on the other hand, has put my mind at rest: a concept album such as this is just the medium required for Jay to show what he is still capable. It's one of the few solid rap albums of this year, and it fully deserves its spot in my top 20.

Favourite Track: Roc Boys (And The Winner is...)

Roc Boys is a celebratory track, and Jay is obviously enjoying the fruits of his efforts. Thankfully, this song is so good that we can enjoy the moment with him. Rolling Stone's favourite track of the year, and for a good reason.

17. Klaxons- Myths Of The Near Future
So the Klaxons brought "new-rave" back to life? I don't really know what new-rave is, and to be honest, I don't really care. What's really important is that Klaxons are a weird (in the good way), revolutionary band, and Myths Of The Near Future is a fantastic debut album. Winning the Mercury award was a lovely present to cap off a brilliant year, and hopefully they will capitalise on their popularity and release some new material soon.

Favourite Track: Golden Skans

Golden Skans, a song which simultaneously invaded your conscience with its ah-wooh-ah-wooh-ah-wo-oh's and inventive video. After they released this, they became contenders.

16. Interpol- Our Love To Admire
Interpol have pulled the sneaky trick of writing the same album, three times in a row. It doesn't bother me though, and whilst 'Turn On The Bright Lights', 'Antics' and 'Our Love To Admire' are all very similar, each album is better than the last. Next time round I'd like to see a bit more progression, but you can't help loving an album with great songs such as 'Pioneer To The Falls' and 'Mammoth'.

Favourite Track: Pioneer To The Falls

A song which they now open live performances with, this song says more about Interpol than 'Turn On The Bright Lights' and 'Antics' bundled together. Looking for a chilling, atmospheric composition? Look no further...

Well, thats it for now. Parts 15-11 will be up tomorrow.

Daft Punk- Alive 2007 Review

Rating: 'That't Hot!'
I've never been lucky enough to see them myself, but I'm told that their live shows are nothing short of sensational. After seeing them at the 02 Wireless Festival in London last year, my brother told me (in a tired voice) that they were one of the best acts he's ever seen. Whether he still feels that way remains to be seen, but that Daft Punk can have such an impact over one performance says something about them.

It was, with great fascination, then, that I picked up the new Daft Punk live album, 'Alive 2007', the first Daft Punk branded CD (other than mix album Musique) since the disappointing 'Human After All' in 2005. And don't even mention 'Electroma' the duo's first foray into film, which was met with mixed reviews: not surprising considering the plot, which concerns two robots'- essentially Daft Punk's- quest to become human, a la 'Human After All'. Stop wasting your time on films and make some more music!

I was hoping that this album would give me a small picture of what a Daft Punk performance is like, but I got way more than I bargained for. First off, this album is not just a spin-off to keep the die-hard fans happy- its a solid album which stands up on its own, and unless you've seen them live, you will never have heard Daft Punk in this way before. Listening to 'Homework' and 'Discovery' is all good, as they are both excellent albums, but 'Alive 2007' takes Daft Punk to a whole new level. The main difference is the way the music is performed- the 'Alive' set contains all the hits, blended together masterfully into a non-stop mash-up of all their best material, and the set doesn't let up once throughout their (give or take) hour long performance. After seeing Justice at Lowlands 2007, its easy for me (and any other Justice fans) to see where they get their live cues from. Another thing this live album has going for it is the great sound quality: you are able to witness the full Daft Punk sound in all its glory. You can hear the crowd going insane (at the Palais Omnisport, where this was recorded), which is a nice touch, but the quality of the music is untouched. The blending of the songs is such that I actually prefer some of the versions on this album to the originals. Take the 'Too Long- Steam Machine' mix- 'Steam Machine' is a pretty boring song on its lonesome, but when joined with 'Too Long' it becomes one of my favourites on this album.

Daft Punk are special, and I don't believe that Justice will ever measure up to their greatness. There is a lot of intrigue surrounding the two: from their names (the ludicrous Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter) to their robot suits and their day-glo pyramid-enhanced live shows, the mystery surrounding this band has always been one of their calling cards.

I now have another band to add to my ever-increasing list of must-see acts. Has anybody seen them recently? Were any of you lucky enough to be at the O2 Wireless festival? Alive 2007 is one of the best live albums I've heard, and its a good representation of why Daft Punk are still the most popular dance act in the world. Whilst on that topic, I think its right to mention that Daft Punk's music transcended the dance genre a while ago. Maybe thats why they're so bloody amazing...

Daft Punk- Robot Rock/Oh Yeah
Daft Punk- Too Long/Steam Machine
Daft Punk- One More Time/Aerodynamic

'Alive 2007' can be bought here. Discovery and Homework can be purchased here.

The musical equivalent of laughing gas...

I've always been a Mylo fan. Naming your debut dance album 'Destroy Rock & Roll' is an audacious move, and although Myles Macinnes didn't live up to this claim, he had a bloody good go at it. Everyone has their reasons for liking this type of dance/electronica music, but mine is the happiness it instills in me. There's nothing better than a well-thought out dance tune to cheer me up on a cloudy day.

This genre is a rapidly evolving one: you might wonder how many combinations of synths and beats there can be, but the artists at the top of the pile consistently impress, and talent is a prerequisite. Listen to Hot Chip and tell me they aren't talented- do any of you have the guts to say that 'Over And Over' isn't a go-to guide of genius songwriting?

This type of music is a blessing come the winter months; how great it is, then, that new Hot Chip songs are clogging The Hype Machine and Mylo begins releasing new material (which I'm not going to post, given how new it is). Hot Chip's third album, Made In The Dark, comes out on February 4th next year. Here's a couple of new dance tracks that I'm feeling at the moment. Any tips within this field of music would be much appreciated.

Flatpack- Sweet Child Of Mine (Guns N' Roses Cover)- (Mylo Remix)
Hot Chip- Ready For The Floor
Hot Chip- Shake A Fist

The worst live cover version... ever

Another day, another song murdered by an rubbish musician. Fergie put in a horrible performance of 'Live And Let Die' at Movie Rocks, and completely murdered the classic track. I'm not sure if its the suggestive interpretive dance, the diamond encrusted gun stand or Fergie's terrible singing, but this is without a doubt the worst cover version I've ever heard. I've included the Beatles' version of the song as a point of reference. Do you reckon you have song that could challenge this in terms of its mediocrity? Gimme your best shot.

The Beatles- Live And Let Die

Lupe Fiasco: The Cool Review (Track By Track)

Rating: Red Hot

Don't ask me how I know this, but Lupe Fiasco's sophomore album, 'The Cool', is killer, meeting my 'sky's the limit' expectations following his brilliant debut, 'Food And Liquor'. Not content producing a bog-standard rap album, Lupe has tread into dangerous territory by recording a concept album (yes, a rap concept album!). Thankfully, he emerges untouched on the other side, and even with a few more strings to his bow. Not only does Lupe outclass his peers on their ground- in terms of beats- he repeatedly demonstrates that he possesses a keen eye for a good rhyme, producing unbelievably brilliant metaphors from his bag of tricks. We, the fans, can only hope that Lupe receives the credit he deserves second time around, and finally becomes recognized as the modern savior of hip hop/rap.

When rap started off, the focus lay on the lyrics, and yet over the years personality has been slowly sucked out of this genre, and what we are left with is a group of bland,(mostly) untalented people who drop "rhymes" about their money, girls and cars. Thankfully, these are exactly the things Lupe attacks on 'Dumb It Down', establishing himself as a variation on this theme. This album is a breath of fresh air in a genre dominated by glamour and money, both of which Lupe is privy to, despite not having sold his soul by producing identikit rap. This album is almost a statement of war: both against the majority of other artists in this genre and bootleggers. If I remember correctly, 'Food And Liquor' leaked a full 6 months before it was released in September 2006. Second time around, Lupe has been more careful, but he still hasn't completely stamped out leaks; tracks from 'The Cool' have been around for a couple of months now.

Lupe album's are different in that they challenge you, just as music should. And that's just what is missing in rap nowadays. Out of the current rappers, most of the ones I rate have been around for a while: Nas, Common, Wu-Tang Clan and Talib Kweli, who focus on the lyrical content of a song, and let the beats come as a bonus. It doesn't take a genius to work out what Fiddy is talking about when he says:
"She know's just how to move to seduce you
She gone do the right thing and touch the right spot
Dance in you're lap till you're ready to pop"
A world away from this, on the other hand, lies Lupe, who crafts songs that unfold after each listening. Every time I hear the album I decipher a new rhyme, and there are many that I still don't understand... 'The Cool' is chock full of pop culture and rap references, almost like a puzzle that is waiting to be solved. It actually hurts to think about how he comes up with some of the stuff on this album, and after two intelligently executed albums there can be no doubting that Fiasco is a pretty smart guy.

In his sophomore effort, Lupe adopts a darker tone than 'Food And Liquor", and Fiasco has obviously vented his emotions over a tough few months directly into this album:
Complex Magazine- "So would you say that this album is darker than your first?"
Lupe Fiasco- "Oh yeah, it's much darker just on the strength of the situation that I'm in, in life right now is kind of a happy period. It's a lot of success but it came with a lot of sacrifice and having my pops pass away and just recently having an aunty pass away and then having a friend pass away, Stack Bundles, a rapper in New York who got murdered out here and then to also have my partner get locked up, to get 44 years, all that stuff came along with the situation. It made the setting for me a more darker because I'm a little bit sad."


'The Cool' gets of to a relatively slow start with 'Baba Says Cool For Thought'. We are welcomed to Lupe's world by the familiar voice of Iesha Jaco, who replicates the 'Intro' on 'Food And Liquor', a cool theme which Lupe has stuck with, finishing with impact:
"Freeze- cause the problem is we think its cool too.
Check your ingredients, before you overdose on The Cool."

'Free Chilly (ft. Sarah Green & Gemstones)' doesn't have a lot of good things to its name: at this point I found myself waiting for the album to kick off, and we are deprived of Lupe for this one minute song. I'm not quite sure I understand the point of an interlude before the album has started. But hey, its got some great soulful singing by Sarah Green and Gemstones... unfortunately, they aren't who I paid to hear.

'Go Go Gadget Flow', despite possessing a popular sample (from Go Go Gadget) and a repetitive hook, kicks off the album on Lupe's terms. He switches up the flow: I'd never heard him rap this fast, and its a refreshing change. The beat is solid, Lupe is on point, and whilst its not the intro I was expecting, this song still kills most of competition. Lupe's rhymes are ridiculous, and he almost out-Twista's Twista...

After track three, things start to get interesting, and you are hit by a barrage of truly brilliant songs.

'The Coolest' is where the concept comes into the equation. Lupe fans will remember 'The Cool' off 'Food And Liquor', which told the story of The Game, The Cool and The Streets. This is a direct continuation of that story, with parts of the dark tale coming to a close over this album (see here for a full explanation). I absolutely love this song (42 plays on iTunes and counting): my fave rap/hip hop song of the year.

'Superstar (ft. Matthew Santos)'- We've all heard this one by now, and its really growing on me. Relative unknown Matthew Santos should replace Chris Martin as rap's male vocal go-to-guy (after the horrendous 'Beach Chair' with Jay-Z and the passable 'Homecoming' with Kanye). Boldly, Lupe has obviously chosen him to sing all male vocals on this album, which is a good move IMO. The combination works well...

'Paris/Tokyo' is textbook Lupe, with a catchy beat, brilliant chorus, great flow on Lupe's part and solid production by Soundtrakk. This is a potential second single, which I could see doing well on the charts due to its crossover potential. Ace.

'Hi-Definition (ft. Snoop Dogg & Pooh Bear)'- I've heard a lot about this one, but I really wasn't blown away by it. There is almost too much packed into 4 minutes: Lupe, Snoop Dogg, Pooh Bear, samples from Common, synths and heavy beats. Snoop Dogg slots in an amazing verse, but there's something grating about the overall sound of this song. And as good as Snoop is, Lupe still walks all over him. A possible mis-step, but disaster is averted through the sheer awesomeness of Lupe and Snoop's rhymes.

'Gold Watch'- Dominated by a sample which threatens to drown out everything. Has enough bass and instrumental to save the day once again. The subject matter is sensitive, concerning the effect of fame. A little less volume on the sample, and this would have been brilliant- how could something so easily altered get past post-production? This and Hi-Definition are the two weakest tracks on 'The Cool'- from here on it's plain sailing.

'Hip Hop Saved My Life (ft. Nikki Jean)'- The story of Michael Young History, a rapper from Houston, Texas. A strong vocal contribution by Nikki Jean (a Fergie sound-a-like) and the most commendable piano instrumental (it turns up quite a lot on 'The Cool'). Lupe is dependable as ever, telling Michael Young History's (=My Cool Young History) story:
"Reps north side so he rocks them braids,
1100 friends on his MySpace page,
stack that cheese got 700 plays,
producer made him take it down, said he had to pay"

'Intruder Alert (ft. Sarah Green)'- A really ominous song about the outcasts of society, and those with some serious issues. Someone give Sarah Green a solo album already.

'Streets On Fire'- I can't do this one justice: you have got to listen to it to understand how Lupe owns this song. Get over to MTV now to listen!

'Little Weapon (ft. Nikki Jean)'- Produced by Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, this was a very pleasant surprise. To start with, a slow-mo voice over, with some gothic chanting, had me worried that Stump had gone all emo on Lupe. What comes next, then, completely blew me away. The beat on this track is unbelievably new and unfamiliar, with a catchy snare and vocal hook. The originality of this rock-influenced track is a blessing, and its one of my favourite tracks on 'The Cool'.

'Gotta Eat'- A song from the perspective of a cheeseburger. Again, intriguingly fresh, this song works due to its creativity, a general theme on 'The Cool'.

'Dumb It Down'- This song is the most complete display of Lupe's lyrical abilities thus far. He absolutely trashes it:
"'I'm flying on Pegasus you're flying on the pheasant
Writer of the white powder
Picker of the fire flowers
Spit hot fire like Dylon on Chapelle's skit"
Check out a more complete review of this song here

'Hello/Goodbye (Uncool)'- Another rock-rap song, produced by UNKLE, who does a great job with the instrumental. This is a really gritty song, and is one of the darker on this album. A tune in the mold of 'Little Weapon'.

'The Die'- Gemstones really compliments this track with his Twista-esque rapping. A continuation of the story, with a little interlude ending. Listen carefully to the radio, and you will hear 'The Cool' from Food And Liquor' playing in the background. The song ends with gunshots. On a Lupe record? Thats a new one, but its a concept album after all, and from here on the album tends towards the darker end of the musical spectrum.

'Put You On Game'- Sinister is the name, a classic track is the game. Lupe invades 90's rap tradition on this song, harking back to the old Wu Tang albums, and emulating their grimy sound. Its a valiant effort, and he pulls off the new (or should I say old?) sound.

'Fighters (ft. Matthew Santos)'- The end is in sight, and things begin to slow down, aided by Santos' melancholy vocals (which just get better and better, by the way). Lupe reveals a devoted fan's blog address at the end of the song: check it out- http://www.lupethefiasco.blogspot.com/

'Go Baby'- A bit cheesy, but a jubilant ending it most definitely is. Lupe signs off with a cheer, and we are left astounded by the greatness of this album. Hip Hop/Rap album of the year, hands down (pipping 'American Gangster' to the post).

There are two occasions when the brilliance of this album is almost shattered: 'Hi-Definition' and 'Gold Watch'. Catastrophe is averted, however, and this is mainly down to Lupe himself. Convincingly pulling of a concept album is unbelievably difficult, but Lupe has succeeded in this endeavor and rewarded with a brilliantly fresh rap album, with some unassuming rap songs and interesting stories to boot.

You can listen to 'The Cool' in full here: what do you think? A good follow up? Or has Lupe dropped the ball second time around? Oh yeah- don't let history repeat itself... buy this record when it comes out and support Lupe. Get him on top of the Billboard chart. No tracks, as I don't want to spoil Lupe's chances this time around. Here's an old gem though, to keep you ticking over until you buy 'The Cool'.

Lupe Fiasco- Cold Blooded

Lupe Fiasco is a talent to watch- at the age of 25 he already possesses far more lyrical prowess than most of the other members of this genre. He is unique, bucking the trend at each and every turn. On 'The Cool', he really has something to say, and delivers on the promise of 'Food And Liquor'. It's a shame that he's retiring after his next album, LupEND; hopefully he'll pull a Jay-Z on us. This album is a masterclass in lyrical skills, and Lupe's peers could do worse than take a leaf out of his book, and write about something meaningful. Somehow, coming this late in the year, 'The Cool' has already found its way into my top 10, even before its release. There is an unprecedented amount of variety on this album, and everyone is bound to find many things that they like. 'The Cool' is a masterpiece, and I hope you all buy it when it hits on the 18th.

Nas made the claim that 'Hip Hop Is Dead'. Well, it may have been, but Lupe has most definitely brought it back to life.
.

Wu Tang Clan: 8 Diagrams Review


After a bit of a wait I've finally got hold of the fifth Wu Tang Clan Album, '8 Diagrams', and on first impression, I'm pleasantly surprised. The most obvious difference lies in the production, and the Clan have won a small victory in refining their sound without ending up like the million other generic rappers flooding the genre (see here for my full rant). It's refreshing that most of their grimy sound remains, a full 6 years since their previous attempt 'Iron Flag', a mediocre album which lost a lot of the Clan's distinctive grit.

Well, the six years since 'Iron Flag' have been interesting ones: most noticeably, Wu Tang Clan return minus one of their members, Ol' Dirty Bastard, who collapsed and passed away in 2004, at the age of 36 (the cause of death: accidental overdose on cocaine and Tramadol). The gap left in his absence is a hard one to fill, but album opener 'Campfire' is textbook Wu Tang Clan, with a great sample, solid rhymes and a sinister air; at this point I was very hopeful, and I wasn't wholly disappointed by the rest of the album in this respect. Somehow, despite numerous stories of these 8 MC's have re-created their chemistry, a difficult feat considering their highly different styles.

Out of the eight remaining MC's, RZA, Method Man and Ghostface Killah pretty much carry this album, from start to finish. RZA is clearly still the creative leader of this group, although it has always been tradition that this isn't spelled out in full. His production skills are still sharp, and '8 Diagrams' is a tribute to his reliable ability with samples. Method Man impresses, spitting the first, and best verse, of the whole album, bringing us right back to the Clan's glory days. For the last few years, Ghostface Killah has been busy becoming the most accomplished MC in the world, and returns triumphant (after creating a successful solo career, including brilliant latest album "Fishscale"); although his contributions towards '8 Diagrams' are limited, each and every one is brilliant. I'm sad to say that other than these three stalwarts, the remaining contributors are unreliable. Whilst in some songs Inspectah Deck spouts brilliant verses, he drops a stinker on 'Unpredictable, an otherwise brilliant song, claiming that "Wu-Tang keep it fresh like tupperware". Inspectah Deck's variations on a theme almost sums up this whole album: its probably one of the most uneven I've ever heard: one of the benefits, and issues, of having 8 MC's is that you never know what you're going to get with each song. There are some truly brilliant moments: take 'Wolves' or Ol' Dirty Bastard' tribute '16th Chamber O.D.B. special', their last recorded song containing his eclectic rapping skills. And whilst these aren't outnumbered by the low points, there are a few songs on "8 Diagrams" which bomb. Check the suitably named 'Weak Point' for proof, where further editing was obviously needed.

If I have one problem with this album it is the presence of guest artists. If possible, some of the songs on '8 Diagrams' hold too much variety, and at times it can be difficult to keep up: when there are 8 MC's on a song and a host of guest artists, things get a bit hectic. Surprisingly, there are moments when this formula works...

Anyone who knows their way around Hype Machine or Elbows will have heard first single "The Heart Gently Weeps" by now. My brother pointed it out to me a long while back, but on first listen it didn't blow me away. Using a Beatles riff isn't hugely ghetto, but don't let the twinkly piano fool you. Whilst most of the gems on this album are dark, brooding songs, this is one of the few lighter songs which works. Featuring Dhani Harrison (yes, late George's son) on acoustic and Red Hot Chilli Pepper's John Frusciante on lead, this is a cool song. Yes, cool... not ghetto- never an adjective one would associate with the Wu. Hardcore fans will immediately question the presence of guitars on a rap record. Yes, they are there, and they work. Nothing is removed or altered by their inclusion, and this song is a testament to WTC's decision to include them on '8 Diagrams'.

If you, like myself, struggle with the majority of "rap" music that is released nowadays, this album is for you. '8 Diagrams' is a steady reminder of what rap (now hip-hop) used to be, and whilst it may not be Wu Tang Clan's best offering, it retains their characteristically grimy sound. Those of you expecting classic Wu Tang Clan will find some of what you are looking for, but as I suggested this album is highly inconsistent, with moments of brilliance and a handful of painful songs. For hardcore fans, this is a must, but you will already have it by now. What do you think? For the uninitiated you would do better starting with their classic album, "Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Diagrams)", and then moving on to this. It's a difficult album, but you might take a shine to it after repeat listenings. Persevere, and you will be rewarded...

Wu Tang Clan- The Heart Gently Weeps (ft. Erkyah Badu, Dhani Harrison & John Frusciante
Wu Tang Clan- Wolves (ft. George Clinton)
Wu Tang Clan- Campfire
Wu Tang Clan- Unpredictable (ft. Dexter Wiggle)
Wu Tang Clan- 16th Chamber O.D.B. Special

Track Of The Day- 07/12/07

Another late night, another great track that I can't not write about. Lupe Fiasco's latest 'The Cool' is leaking like nobodies business, and I've only heard the results this afternoon. 'Dumb It Down', the last track to break camp, is a brilliant verbal tirade of abuse against the rap industry. And lets be honest: it deserves it.
"pour champaign on a bitch
(dumb it down)...
you'll sell more records if you
(dumb it down)..."
Go on, admit it. The rap industry is rapidly deteriorating, and individuality is a rarity nowadays. There are three or four topics which conclusively find their way into rap and hip hop songs, and you don't need me to list them. So 50 Cent makes shed-loads of cash from a song called "I Get Money", with abysmal rhymes and a great beat? Who the hell buys this shit? I could make you a better beat on a drum machine or Garage Band... Why would you want to listen to someone telling you how rich they are, when there are numerous alternative rappers who have more talent, and actually deserve the cash? Well, at least we have one young guy going against the current; Lupe probably doesn't even know the meaning of the word stereotype.

Food And Liquor, Lupe's first album, can be bought here.


The Cool (December 18th) can be pre-ordered here

Lupe Fiasco- Dumb It Down (ft. Gemstones & Graham Burris)
Lupe Fiasco- Superstar (ft. Matthew Santos)
Lupe Fiasco- The Coolest

Tip: The Dodos

As I said before, its about that time when everyone is depressed, and everything seems to come and once. I'm in a massive rush, but I just wanted to get a quick post in before bed (unfortunately, I do need sleep!). Well, my tip for the day is newly signed band The Dodos. I received an email tip today informing me of the fact that the San Fransico based guitar and drum duo have signed to Frenchkiss Records, also home to Les Savy Favs (post on them coming soon) and The Hold Steady. That's not a bad alumni to have, and I think it bodes well for The Dodos. Other than an admittedly painful name, these two guys have everything going for them. Putting together a "country-blues-loving guitarist and a metalhead drummer" (see their website) and this what you get. And what is 'this'? Well, you can't really pinhole them, but its energetic, its folky, its fun and its easy to listen to. Good enough for you? I bloody hope so...

I've been listening to their back catalog all day, and what I've heard has we wondering where they've been... okay, their older songs are far too long and they need focus, but I've seen many horrendous bands unjustifiably making it big. Just goes to show you there's no justice in the music industry... All I can say is, good luck to the duo on their latest album 'Visiter' (out March 2008), and leave me a comment if you like the tracks I've posted: one track from each of their three albums, including their latest single, Fools.

The Dodos- Fools
The Dodos- Nerds
The Dodos- Notes

Music For The Dark Times

You would expect that the Christmas spirit would make people happier, but in reality, Christmas spirit at school is an absolute nightmare. The teasing advent calenders reveal how little time is left at this place. Songs are even recited by the lower years:
"One more day to go
One more day of sorrow
One more day in this old dump
And I'll be home tomorrow!"
Reading that, I realise how childish it is, but this place is depressing. Considering we have excruciatingly long days at my school, even on Saturday(!), you would think the staff would cut us a little slack, with only a week left. But no; instead they press on. It's not as if I haven't got enough to worry about with a 4000 word physics research project. My only comforts and distractions are my friends and my music, which save me from the general moodiness and depression that occurs when the sun sets at 4 o'clock.
There is one artist that has been on repeat at nighttime, due to the fact that I feel like his album was written for me, to suit my mood at this exact moment in time. A quick search on Google shows that I am not alone in this: Burial's new album 'Untrue' is a late entry for best album of the year. But classing it among the other great albums of 2007 is a mistake, because none of the other albums on my list (soon to be posted) are as unique and daring as 'Untrue', or lie under such a cool moniker as 'dubstep'.

Burial is the working name of an anonymous dubstep artist thought to reside in London. He doesn't do live shows, and despite being a ghost he's released two critically acclaimed albums since 2006: his self titled debut and 'Untrue'. Both of these albums are a bit special; I can't quite pin my finger on- or explain- the way they make me feel, but lets just say they are both brilliant. Which is weird, I suppose, considering that you would do well to find a more solemn couple of albums. The main reasons they appeal to me are the layered beats, synths and vocals. It's not so much your typical music as an emotional recording of sounds. And it works...

Burial- Shell Of Light
Burial- Etched Headplate
Burial- Ghost Hardware
Burial- Archangel