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.

'Run'- The most important leak of 2008?

Enough time has passed for me to face the prospect of even mentioning Gnarls Barkley again. The first few times I heard 'Crazy', it gave me the goosebumps, but over the months it became an unstoppable juggernaut, seemingly following me from place to place, in its original form or transformed into the thousands of covers, remixes and re-tools which dominated the music world for months. But as much as I grew bored of it, the song was fully deserving of its critical and commercial acclaim.

A couple of days ago, Mission Freak leaked a new Gnarls Barkley song called 'Run', said to be a part of a new album, 'The Odd Couple', which is due out in April. This is an exciting leak, purely because it's great to have concrete proof that Cee-Lo and Dangermouse are continuing to create music under the guise of Gnarls Barkley. I must admit, I had my doubts after they pulled 'Crazy' from the download charts, saying that it had 'had its time'.

The song itself isn't anything new, but I find its familiarity both comforting and enjoyable. Cee-Lo and Dangermouse are sticking firmly to their comfort zones: DM with old-school samples and Cee-Lo with his now-trademark soulful intensity. Fortunately, they don't need to do anything else to stand out from the crowd.

'Run' is no 'Crazy', but given the hype surrounding this band, it will still set the world alight. If my gut instincts are on the money, this isn't a potential single, and the second album may have much more to offer. Okay, so Rolling Stone have heard the 'latest cuts' and were slightly impressed, but I doubt Gnarls are going to reveal all their tricks months before the release.

Get your hands on it now, before it disappears in a puff of smoke...

Gnarls Barkley- Run

(Link removed at request of label)

P.S.- This song is a legal nightmare, so its only going up on yousendit. 100 lucky people will get their hands on this track. Oh, and if the label is reading this, I will be more than happy to take it down for you. Peace...

Two Keys: One To Your Heart, The Other Your Inner Dancefloor

Rating: A masterful blend of the floor-fillers and ballads which made them popular

On the first spin, its blatantly clear that 'Made In The Dark' is not 'The Warning Mk. 2'. Split into two distinctive halves, the band tend towards heavier electronics on their dance tracks, and have really become masters at their clincher, the pop-balled. Opening with banging club anthem 'Out At The Pictures', this song sets an upbeat mood for the first half of the album, and the pace never really lets up, only gradually tailing off towards the end. However, there are a few reprieves, such as album closer 'In The Privacy Of Our Love', 'We're Looking For a Lot of Love', 'Whistle For The Will', and the title track, where the band showcase their fully developed skills with the down-tempo songs. These aren't throwaways, and are key to this album- without them, it just wouldn't work.

This is an ambitious third release- 13 tracks long, with most tracks easily breaking the 4 minute mark. However, the length isn't an issue- all the songs here feel as if they've been given room to breath, and the band's success has obviously given them the confidence to stretch their creative license. Take 'Hold On', for example, a potential third single, which, at 6 minutes long, might be pushing the envelope. Not quite- consumed by a serious groove, this mammoth tune just keeps going and going, layering vocals and synths right to the loopy ending, full of 'beeps', 'bloops', and yes, you guessed it, 'bops'. Even more ridiculous is the fact that this high-point was recorded live in a single take. Ridiculous!

In Alexis Taylor, you have a soul-tinged, distinctive front-man, and he really is the heart and soul of this band, and this album. I'm not playing down the other member's (and Joe Goddard's, in particular) contributions, but Alexis is obviously crazy, different, and exceptionally talented. In another life, I could easily imagine him giving in to his soul roots.

Designed to make you move, this is an album half-full of songs mimicking the bliss of 'Over And Over' and yes, they match its quality. Track 2, 'Shake A Fist', complete with Todd Rundgren sample and mid song breakdown, is still my favourite Hot Chip song to date. Next came 'Ready For The Floor', a beefed up 'And I Was A Boy From School', with the required harmonies, discordant backing and weird video (see bottom of post)- a perfect choice for the first single

Hot Chip are a great live band, but I found myself wanting for more after my last experience; I saw them at Lowlands 2006, and I felt the set lacked upbeat songs... I am confidently informed that their recent performances bear no resemblance to the days of old. Whereas back then slower ballads such as 'Colours' toned down the mood, their live set now is said to be full of more upbeat tracks from the new album, which is a definite move in the right direction.

Hot Chip are never going to be a band dominated by expectation- the pressure was great, but with 'Made In The Dark', they've produced an album superior to 'The Warning', with many more standouts tracks, and a truck load of potential, unexpected singles. Each new Hot Chip album has been better than the last, and its no coincidence that on this, the best yet, they have fully embraced their quirky, intelligent and distinguishing characteristics.

Hot Chip- Out At The Pictures
Hot Chip- Hold On

'Made In The Dark' is out on February 4th, and can be purchased here

12PM 28th January 2008, A Time To Remember?

This could just be a momentous occasion- the night that music first became truly free. Qtrax, a service which has been in development for years now, if available for beta download at 12PM tonight.
Qtrax is "the worlds first, 100% legal and free Peer-2-Peer music application". The premise is simple- adverts around the browser are used to pay the artists. However, many have tried, and most have failed- somehow, the people behind Qtrax have found the winning formula- the browser looks sleek, and the adverts aren't distracting.

Effectively, this could be the turning point, the first time when a 'free' music service really takes off. The fun days of Napster are about to be recreated, except this time you don't have to feel guilty every time you download a track.

Obviously, the choice will be 'limited', at a massive 25 million songs. This pales in comparison to services such as iTunes, but the choice will no doubt be increased over time. Anyway, I really recommend you give it a try- it can be downloaded from 12 tonight... I own a Mac, so I wont be trying it out for while. Any comments on its initial performance would be appreciated...

Download QTrax here

A track to herald the new age, perhaps?

Michael Jackson ft. Akon- Wanna Be Starting Something

Inbox Round Up, Numero 2

I'm feeling really uninspired today- creativity is out of the question- and a couple of great bands have been literally festering in my inbox for a while now. Well, today, your time has come.

The Mission District- An interesting one, this. Canadian 6-piece The Mission District sound as if they know exactly what they're doing, and where they're going, mixing the best bits of textbook rock and pop into some infectious tunes. Their debut EP, 'Youth Games', is due any day now (March 1), and you can take it from me, its fairly impressive. For an up and coming band, the production blows most of the competition out of the water, with clean cut vocals, catchy riffs and some cool electronic effects. David Rancourt also holds a place deep in my heart for his distinctive voice, one day destined to be heard on a radio near you.

The Mission District- Heartbreaker (removed by request)

Replaced by: The Mission District- Anchor

Check out their MySpace page for more tracks and info...

The Hysterics- Another band, another distinctive voice. About halfway through 'Mostly Untitled', the band unveil 'Good Vibrations'-esque harmonies and some mature musicianship. March 4th is a date to mark in your diary, when their long awaited debut EP is finally released. They've had a hard time of it, after being picked up by V2 just as it fell apart; the album was finished though, and this time around its being released on their own label.

The Hysterics- Mostly Untitled

Hear more on thier MySpace page

The Black Hollies- Retro is the word that first comes to mind, and whilst the band might dislike the comparisons, they are unmissable. If you like Cream, Pink Floyd or other classic groups, then the Black Hollies are most likely for you. 'Paisley Pattern Ground' sounds like the 90's never happened, taking you back to your heyday (I'm a bit young for it)... They've taken the music right back to its roots, and then developed into something familiar, but fresh.

The Black Hollies- Paisley Pattern Ground

More tracks are available on the MySpace page

The LK- My favourite, and most unexpectedly awesome submission of the week was this unknown band from Malmo, Sweden. 'Private Life Of A Cat', the only track that has yet graced my ears, is a beautiful song, emanating a real sense of warmth and happiness. For a few minutes, I really felt quite warm and fuzzy, an emotion which music doesn't generally elicit in me. Under label The Kora Records, the band- a collaboration between Lindefelt and Frederik, both popular artists, I'm informed- will be releasing 'Vs. The Snow', and touring, including dates at SXSW and The Kennedy Center.

The Lk- Private Life Of A Cat

Check out their MySpace page for some more tracks

Dev Hynes, the first artist to blitz 10 genres

Rating: A charming, almost perfect debut

Dev Hynes is a pretty special person. You might say I'm jumping the gun here, but on the evidence of Test Icicles and his new Lightspeed Champion album, he's not going anywhere other than up. In reference to the title, given the multi-genre nature of Test Icicles and his acoustic pop/folk solo project, Lightspeed Champion, Dev is one of the first artists to succeed in so many different genres, and also make such a big musical turnaround.

I remember when Test Icicles first graced the Radar section of NME, and I clearly recall reading an article in which Dev was accused of spending too much time on MySpace. The page was headed by an image of the three, with Dev holding a fluorescent pink guitar. Incidentally, the article prompted me to check Test Icicles out, and whilst I wasn't massively impressed by the band (other than a couple of ace songs), the premise was intriguing. His Test Icicles band-mates may have been right about his MySpace obsession, but even back then, he had the right idea. Even now, Dev regularly writes and updates his Lightspeed Champion blog, a great read. He obviously understands the importance of web media- something I really respect- and even commented on one of my posts about him (what a legend!), see here.

'Falling Off The Lavender Bridge' is one of the first great albums of 2008, and really warrants no complaints. From start to finish, I really couldn't find any glaring issues or emissions, and for Dev, this album is a brilliant introduction, complete and showing much potential on his part. In time, he may develop into one of the 'great' British songwriters.

On the 12 songs here, Devonte seriously flexes his lyrical muscles, with some witty, quirky and compelling verses. 'Galaxy Of The Lost', wrapped up as a sweet pop song, caused me to almost fall off my chair when the line "as we kiss, and I'm sick in your mouth" popped up. These surprising moments are oft repeated, such as on the 10 minute 'Midnight Surprise', which features the lyrics:
“I’m waiting in silence
And cloaking my violence
You, almost encourage
My happiness, but I know best
Wake up, smell the semen”
Epic and meandering, 'Midnight Surprise', the 2nd single, starts off tender, and builds, builds and builds to a rollicking finale. Most of the lyrics on this album are universally accessible, but there are a few exceptions to this:
"Come over
I just got the new O.C.
And if they can sort their problems out
Why can't I get out the house?"

Kudos must go to the backing band, comprised of some big names (in their own right), including Emmy The Great and Florence (of Florence And The Machine). However, there have been some unjustified claims that the backing vocals make the tracks, and I just want to clear these up. If you cut the production, backing and guest vocals out, leaving only Dev and his guitar, it would still be Lightspeed Champion.

The only reason this album doesn't achieve a perfect rating is the simple fact that one of my favourite songs, 'Waiting Game', was left off the album. Regardless, the 12 tracks on this album are all worthy of their selection, other than the slightly misfiring 'Salty Water'... The ones to check out if you're short of time are 'Everyone I Know Is Listening To Crunk', completely effortless brilliance, and 'Dry Lips', a song simply about the last time Dev had a hangover. Sounds basic, but the simplicity and honesty make it stand out...

Test-Icicles fans may be surprised and -possibly- outraged by 'Falling Off The Lavender Bridge'. I challenge you, listen to 'For Screening Purposes Only' followed by Lightspeed Champion's debut, and try and find a musician who has undergone a bigger transformation than Dev. In the short time between bands, he has regrouped and undergone a huge change of musical direction. His history as a Test Icicle will make his (now guaranteed) rise to the top of the folk/pop ladder one of the most unlikely to occur, in the history of music. There isn't anyone around at the moment with this level of talent, and more worthy of success. Good luck with it Dev, and keep the music coming...

Lightspeed Champion- Everyone I Know Is Listening To Crunk
Lightspeed Champion- Midnight Surprise

'Falling Off The Lavender Bridge' can (and should be!) purchased here

Captain, and twee music, return... or not?

Captain- Spoils

I had pretty much removed Captain from my collective memory until I saw NME reviewing a new album track, 'Animals', on their website. I'm not here to talk about that track, because I have something else, a demo version of 'Spoils', a song which clearly signals a change in direction for the band.

This really doesn't sound like the Captain I know. Instead, it sounds rawer, more visceral, and much, much better. Drums and bass are right up front in the mix, and the heavy rhythm is obviously the focus of this track, devoid of all their tell-tale keyboards and usual synths. The song itself isn't as good as the likes of 'Broke', but as a demo, it bodes well, and suggests that the band might have adopted a new sound altogether for their second album.

'This Is Hazelville', their first album, was a bit of a disappointment to me, but my expectations were a little bit high. Songs such as 'Broke', 'Glorious' and 'Frontline' set the bar exceedingly high, and the rest of the album didn't quite emulate the joyous brilliance of these singles.

Despite this, they have a huge, devoted fan base, and thus the band haven't been deterred by this slight mistep, beginning recording their second album in November. If 'Spoils' is any indication, album number 2 could upset the die-hard fans of 'This Is Hazelville', and possibly be a case of second time lucky...

'This Is Hazelville' can be purchased here...

CRS- Child Rebel Soldier/Crossover Supergroup???

CRS- Us Placers

I've only recently heard 'Us Placers', the first (of hopefully many) releases by CRS, or Child Rebel Soldier. This could also be short for 'Crossover Supergroup', given the pedigree of talent in this three-piece side project.

Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell Williams are all artists that can confidently hold their own as producers, rappers and musicians on a solo standing. Put them all together, and things begin to get crazy. Kanye, the rebel, Pharrell, the soldier and Lupe, the child (echoing 'Little Weapon'), recorded 'Us Placers' a long time ago, and this was released on Kanye's pre-Graduation 'Can't Tell Me Nothing' Mixtape. The song picked up a pretty big following on the internet, which was duly noted by the three's respective record companies. According to sources, a deal is being ironed out as we speak...

Onto the song- unusually sampling (and even referencing) Thom Yorke's 'Eraser', this weird backing choice already hints that this supergroup might go the distance, both in terms of originality and commercial standing. And I needn't explain the talent of the three artists. Of the three, Kanye's experience shines through, winning the prize for best rhyme, dropping this and much more about halfway through the song:
"Just last week they want to see ID
Now they got you in VIP, huh?
How many people almost famous
You almost remember what they name is"

There are no concrete plans for a full length CRS album yet, but in Lupe's words, "Everyone's focused on something else at the moment, [We're trying to find] two or three weeks to sit down and hammer it out." Recently, Lupe let on during an interview that we can be expecting a CRS release in late 2008. It will be an agonising, infuriating wait.

The 'Can't Tell Me Nothing' mixtape can be bought here

(Image courtesy of mus-ik.com)

The Cool Volume I: January Blues

Today, I'm going to introduce you to the newest feature of The Cold Cut, 'The Cool'. Mixtapes are the lifeblood of many blogs, and I feel optimistic that they could become a respected feature of The Cold Cut. 'The Cool Vol I' is my first foray into this area of music blogging, and I hope you enjoy my first attempt. Expect many more; they will come as soon as they're ready. Comments and criticisms are always welcome...

The 'January Blues' are a phenomena that many of us suffer from: the comedown from the Christmas season is a difficult one, and the reality sets in that summer is whole half year away, and the following Christmas even longer. Then you have the extra pounds that we all put on, the fact that work starts again, and the dire weather. My first mixtape is designed to help you overcome and directly deal with this situation. Split into two halves, the first signifies the melancholy first few days, and the second the light at the end of the tunnel. Sad/Happy listening...

January Blues- Download complete zip (single tracks available for download below)

Click the (B) to buy the album each song is from...

The January Blues

1.Queens Of The Stone Age- You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire (B)
2. Longwave- Meet Me At The Bottom (B)
3. Lupe Fiasco ft. Jonah Matranga- The Instrumental (B)
4. The National- Black Slate (B)
5. Dangermouse- Threat (B)
6. Metric- Grow Up And Blow Away (B)
7. Imogen Heap- The Moment I Said It (B)
8. Calla- It Dawned On Me (B)
9. Cee-Lo- Childz Play (ft. Ludacris) (B)
10. Bloc Party- Rhododendron (B)
11. CSS- Superafim (B)
12. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah- Over And Over Again (Lost & Found) (B)
13. Doves- There Goes The Fear (B)
14. Faithless- Hour Of Need (B)

Bonus Track
Jennifer Raffety- January Blues


Just thought I should keep everyone at bay- I've got a couple of exams at the moment, so there won't be any updates until after tuesday, when I have my final exam....

British Sea Power- 'Do You Like Rock Music?' Review

Rating: "Anthemic Music For Dummies"

British Sea Power. Even the band name has something totally underwhelming about it. And true to form, two albums in, the Brighton four-piece have yet to make a noticeable impact on indie (with album numero 2,'Open Season', charting at number 13). That may be all about to change, and so will their genre, from indie, to stadium rock. My experience with 'Open Season' was limited, but very enjoyable, and even still it pales in comparison with 'Do You Like Rock Music'.

This is an epic album. Many bloggers have already drawn comparisons between their updated sound and Arcade Fire, and you would be hard pressed to deny these. However, Neon Bible took things to their natural conclusion: their sound couldn't get any bigger, and there was something noticeably absent, lost in translation from their Funeral days to the 'bigger is better' Neon Bible. British Sea Power, on the other hand, are a completely different ball game. Rather than chucking in every instrument and sound that they can find, the band have obviously taken a more careful approach to updating their sound, and this has really paid off. The predecessor, 'Open Season', was a solid album, but not quite the Mercury-nominated album that many people thought it could be. You have to feel sorry for British Sea Power, when Arcade Fire seemingly pulled the rug from underneath them, taking the road to success with a very similar sound. Well, one good turn deserves another, and the time has come for British Sea Power.

Enough of the comparisons. This album has some brilliant songs. Take 'Waving Flags', the first single (out January 7th), which just may go the distance, giving them their first top ten single. The sound is big, with chanting choirs, violins et al, except they haven't gone so far as throwing a hurdy-gurdy in for good measure. Next comes 'Atoms', an anthemic mid-album track which opens with some quaint piano, which sharply cuts out, and then the trademark angular guitars open the floor. Another highlight is 'No Lucifer', a deep song with some questionable lyrics (which I'll let you work out!):
"Come on, allons y, let's go
We can always just say no
To the anti-aircraft crew
The boys from the Hitler Youth"

British Sea Power aren't your average band. Reviews of their live shows are littered with tales of their 'special' onstage antics, including assorted plant displays and a giant bear called Ursine Ultra (more on that one here). And you could say that there are many distinguishable factors on 'Do You Like Rock Music', setting them apart from their counterparts. First an foremost, we have the fact that they can reel off an album of this quality, no questions asked. Secondly, there's no denying their talent: the previous two albums have been met with widespread critical acclaim, but disappointing figures in the US. Could this be their crossover album? I truly, deeply, madly hope so.

It feels odd to say this now but this just might be- whisper it- the album of 2008, or at least a contender. For the band at least, I feel that this year might be like- to quote Stephen Spielberg when he won his Oscar- 'a cold drink after a long walk in the desert'. Do I Like Rock Music? Hell yes!

British Sea Power- Waving Flags
British Sea Power- Atom

'Do You Like Rock Music' can be bought here...

Submission Tips

One of the things I most enjoy about the burgeoning popularity of this blog is the band submissions. A couple of months ago I started to receive a trickle of emails from up-and-coming bands, which has now developed into a proverbial torrent of emails in my inbox. Its a great feeling when people start to value your input, and unfortunately I haven't really gotten around to listening to the majority of the music that's been sent to me. A bit of time has passed, and smaller bands like Destroy Cowboy (see here) have all of a sudden become bigger, supporting Stars and Cold War Kids. Living proof that music is a rapidly changing thing. Anyway, here are a few of the tips that grabbed me:

Silky smooth. Those were the words that came to mind when listening to Synthar's new album, 'Evenings And Weekends'. A digital composition, including contributions from musicians all around the world, this album is more of a composition than a series of separate tracks. There are a few wonderful moments- such as on '047' and 'The Robots Among Us'- where a track-to-track transmission occurs, without any indication. The latter song is blessed with a brilliant, choppy guitar riff and some old-school synths. My other recommendations would be 'Beating Drum', a rumbling bass-scape, and 'Hurricanes', which probably walks away as the best track on this album. For a debut, this is impressive stuff, and if true, its a travesty that they are still unsigned. Check out their MySpace!

Synthar- Hurricanes

In short, Tubelord are a bit of a crazy band. On the face of it, they don't seem that different to the dirge of other 'alternative' bands fighting for the podium finish. However, once things kick off (take 'Obstacles'), things go a bit mental. For the first time in a while, I can't quite place my finger on what makes them different, but they are most definitely alternative, stuffing discordant screaming contests and lovely harmonies into cohesive songs. Visit their MySpace here, and listen to Propeller. You won't be disappointed.

Tubelord- Obstacles (link expired...)

Css, Bonde De Role... what more has Brazil got to offer? Nancy, that's what. It makes me shudder to mention Nancy in the same sentence as the admittedly psychotic CSS and Bonde De Role. No- Nancy are placed miles away at the other end of the spectrum. Whereas CSS/Bonde De Role play high octane songs at 1,000,000 beats per minute, Nancy are a bit more subdued, less in your face, but no less intriguing. And as much as I love Lovefoxx's lyrics ("music is my beach-house!"), I'm not sure they're a full representation of what Brazil has to offer. Head over to their MySpace and take a listen.

A french dance duo. You don't say? Bringing a noticeable hint of originality to this familiar premise, brothers Bregere were indie musicians by trade, but traded that in for the 'animal beats' of the techno world. The two producers (not musicians, by their own admission) are already a big hit in their native Lyon, crossing over into the blogosphere, and this attention has even found Kylie Minogue request a remix (which still hasn't seen the light of day). I can't really say it better than they themselves: 'Spitzer creates a new map without boundaries nor rules, frenetic and grandiose techno music set in between Nathan Fakes grandiloquence and the rhythmic scathing of Trentmoller'. Their first EP, 'Roller Coaster', is pretty damn good, and whilst individuality is rarity in the techno/dance genres these days, Spitzer do more than enough to keep it fresh, and keep us moving. Visit their MySpace for a few more tracks...

Spitzer- Kaspersky

Not really a submission, but Danger is tied to Spitzer in that they're both playing live together at the Local Heroes gig in Lyon on 18th January, and they're both bloody good. Regarding the nature of this post, he isn't getting a full write up, but check out the track below and his MySpace if you're interested.

Danger- 11h30

Destroy Cowboy

About 8 seconds into Destroy Cowboy's '1000 Candles' a huge electronic klaxon kicks it. That sound announces the arrival of an important band. Fronted by affable publicity-machine Steve State, and comprising Andy Porteous on guitar and 'keys' (as they put it), Andy Moore on bass, Ryan O'Donoghue on guitars and Kieran Petvin on drums, this Birmingham five piece have been making waves for a while now.

Unfortunately, with the nature of their sound, they have their work cut out for them. They aim high, but they don't falter. Destroy Cowboy possess an epic sound, encapsulating a diverse range of musical styles, instruments and ideas into some seriously impressive, catchy songs. Their songs, as pop-nuggets, have a lot of studio potential. The likes of '1000 Candles' are just a bit too long for your average listener, and could be easily cropped to perfection with some studio sheen. Regardless of this, their music has some serious crossover potential- its complex and epic, whilst remaining enjoyable listening. Not an easy trick to pull off...

Time for a bit of name-dropping- over the last few months, Destroy Cowboy have supported Cold War Kids, Tapes ‘n Tapes, The Stills, Tokyo Police Club, Humanzi, 2ManyDjs and 1990s. And just like that, its obvious that we aren't the only ones taking notice. On 28th January, they're supporting Stars at the Birmingham Barfly, a milestone if there ever was one.

Their music is such that they almost wear their hearts on their sleeves- its obvious that they want to be massive. Help them out a bit, will you? Head over to their MySpace, tell your friends, whatever. Give them what they deserve...

Destroy Cowboy- 1000 Candles

Standing Ovation: The National

Christmas is great fun. Not only do you eat, drink and generally live the life of a slob, you get to spend it with family and friends. I had a great Christmas. There was much gluttony: roast dinners, turkey pies, turkey this, turkey that. Some great presents (a non red-ring of death Xbox 360- touch wood), books, and chocolate. And whilst I love my presents, sharing is the spirit.

I was very happy, then, when my Dad tentatively unwrapped a CD shaped parcel, which thankfully contained both 'Boxer' and 'Alligator', the last two albums by The National. He, and I, have both been very interested in this band since the days when they began to dominate the hype machine popular lists for days at a time. After a long wait, we would deservedly get a listen to what many people say are two of the best albums in a long, long time.

Firstly, 'Alligator', which has a reputation as a 'grower', a word oftern misconstrued as meaning 'difficult'. With both albums, what you put in dictates how much you get out of it. The band have already done the hard work in producing two deep, excellent albums. The question is, how much are willing to give to the albums?

The National- Looking For Astronauts

I gave 'Alligator' my full attention. And its great. People were justified in thinking that 'Boxer' might not match it. Unfortunately, they were all wrong:

Next 'Boxer'. Wow- if you have yet to hear it, the stories are true. It is that good. Even on opener, 'Fake Empire', you can sense the magic. Matt Berninger has a brilliant baritone, and its a fitting opening. Track two, 'Mistaken For Strangers', is amongst the best songs they've yet recorded, brooding and melancholy. Throughout the whole album there is always an overwhelming sense of intensity, maintained from start to finish. Bryan Devendorf, their drummer, is the hero, and for me at least, he makes this album. There is always a militaristic, measured style to his strokes, and his addition alone makes these songs into much more than they could have been.

They are a few other stand-outs: 'Ada', with Sufjan Stevens lending a hand on piano, also features a contribution from touring member Padma Newsome on horn. 'Slow Show' is scathing, but don't read too much into the lyrics (as many people do with 'The National).

The National- Mistaken For Strangers
The National- Slow Show

It's frustrating that I didn't have the opportunity to listen to 'Boxer' in time for my end of year list, as it would most certainly have placed in the top 10 (replacing what?- have a guess).

Ahh, but which is better? An important, but necessary, question to pose. I can answer almost without thinking; 'Boxer' is superior, in that the sounds produced are those of a band at the top of their game. The National are here to stay.


Just to let you all know that I'm trying out new ad formats and themes, so just bear with me. Oh, and let me know if you love/hate something. I need to know what fits with The Cold Cut.

So Apple are launching a record label with Jay-Z? Fabulous!

Probably for the first time ever on The Cold Cut, I get to combine two of my greatest passions: music, and Apple. And before I hear numerous cries of 'Fanboy!', let me state my case. Just a few days ago, Apple's computer market share broke 8%. Their shares now lie at somewhere around $200, when but a year ago they were valued at $80. They've produced some of the most iconic products of the last decade (iPhone, iPod, iMac, Macbook (Pro)). So what's not to love?

As I sit in my room, writing this potentially important post on my Macbook Pro, I can't help thinking what this means for the music industry. If the rumours are true, Apple will be launching their own music label with Jay-Z, possibly at Macworld 08 (15th January onwards). Jay is a great partner - after stepping down as CEO from Def Jam, possibly one of the most successful hip-hop labels in existence- and Apple already hold one of the most important cards: iTunes.

Many music labels already look upon iTunes as 'the enemy', after Apple made music legally available over the net, at low prices. Since online music sales beg an to rise, the format in which music is sold has rapidly changed. Could Apple, and Jay-Z, be the ones to work out the winning formula? Given their track record, almost definitely.

Here's a little celebratory Jay-Z track:

Jay-Z- Encore

Pete And The Pirates: Strike Two For Crap-Band Names

In the wake of my recent post about British bands to watch in 2008 (which, for the hungover, it now is), there is no way Pete And The Pirates aren't getting a mention.

If you can get past the name (just as with Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong), then we're all set. New single, 'Knots' personifies what this band is all about. Its a rip-roaring example of how to make great pop music, compressed into a two minute lesson. Yes, Joe Lean, you've just been schooled.

'Little Death', their debut album is out on 18th February. And whilst I'm looking forward to it, the thing that intrigues me most is how fully formed the band is, this early in their career. No joke, some of their songs are really polished, equaling veteran bands in their quality. Angular guitars, desperate lyrics and a hint of punk create a sound that is chock full of energy. They aren't perfect (in execution), but as I already said, they know what their strengths are, and they play to them.

Pete And The Pirates- Knots

Check out Shattered Satellite for a interview with the band. They seem a nice bunch of guys... Head over here to pre-order Little Death or just buy some of the cool merchandise.