Album Review: Audio Bullys – Higher Than The Eiffel

5 05 2010

Higher Than The Eiffel is the third full-length release from Audio Bullys, it’s been a long time coming since their 2005 effort, Generation, and after five years, you expect great things, don’t you? On first listen, there isn’t a huge pop single – their last album had the massive dance-floor filler Shot You Down, and their debut release, Ego War, had We Don’t Care – there isn’t an obvious hit on HTTE. The first single, Only Man, is however, a solid enough offering, featuring Audio Bullys trademark heavy beats and rock-star swagger – perfect material for a British club/drug culture flick where the guy and the girl meet, miaowed off their faces and make sweet sweet love together – think Renton and Diane in Trainspotting, a generation on.

Drug-references are evident throughout the album, the first words uttered are “What the hell are you on?”, whilst later on we’re treated to some clunky lyrics such as “too much cocaine, too much brandy”. It’s music to get messed up to, but as much as it seems like a party album on the surface, there’s a dark underbelly, with lines such as, “all the beauty i’ve created, turned me into everything i hated” / “i’m on the edge, i’m on the brink, imagining blood dripping down the sink”. It’s grim stuff at times, lyrically.

The most obvious comparison, musically, is to the Streets, but more dance-oriented with bigger beats and dumbed down lyrics. There’s a distinctive British rock-vibe too, you can hear hints of the Stone Roses and the Clash. The album’s flow is disjointed and it drags a little, particularly towards the end where some of the tracks are by-numbers (slow intro, banging techno, repeat). Drums is a poor opener (2 minute intro on a sub 4 minute song?), Daisy Chains is a Mike-Skinner styled spoken-word tune with a great pop chorus, slightly let down by an overly long and dreary ending, Twist Me Up is probably the album highlight, featuring (and highly influenced by) Suggs and Mike from Madness, it really is Madness 2010 – their customary ska-funk groove techno’d up and revitalized to make it relevant today. Feel Alright sounds like Gorillaz, whilst London Dreamer is another of the better tracks – it’s quirky, dark-pop which sounds like it’s delivered by a depressed circus clown, in a totally brilliant way.

With a disjointed flow and too much filler, this album probably hasn’t been worth the wait, in truth. Although there are some bright moments, it’s not hardcore enough for dance fans, not catchy enough for pop fans and too techno for Brit-rock fans, without a genuinely storming single to generate some attention for a group that have been out of the spotlight for several years, this one’s gonna be a hard sell.

Album Review: Ocean Colour Scene – Saturday

30 03 2010

**As originally published on PANICDOTS.COM – Mar 2010**

Remember the 90’s when TFI Friday was a highlight of the week, Chris Evans was still amusing and brit-pop was super-cool? A time when Ocean Colour Scene released Moseley Shoals, which included The Riverboat Song (that song off TFI Friday) and bona-fide rock anthem, The Day We Caught The Train. Those were good times.

Having just listened to this album, that seem like a life-time ago. Nowadays, you’d be forgiven for thinking TFI Friday was a restaurant, Chris Evans is just known as that irritating ginger twat that used to bang Billie Piper and Ocean Colour Scene have just released their ninth album, seven albums after they should’ve called it a day. If their current offering was a colour, it’d be beigey beige beige.

That’s not to say it’s terrible. It isn’t. Not really. It’s just bland. It’s inoffensive. Where their debut, Moseley Shoals, and even its follow-up, Marchin’ Already, had some genuine classic tracks, some proper rock-n-roll moments, some passion, somewhere along the way, Ocean Colour Scene lost that spark. It’s fair enough, they probably got old, it was 14 years ago that that magnificent debut was released. Scary thought that. There are a few foot-tappers here, such as title track Saturday, Mrs Maylie and Rockfield, but there’s a lot of fluff too e.g. first single Magic Carpet Days (which unsurprisingly failed to chart). The influences on display aren’t so much worn on their sleeves, more like they’ve weaved themselves some adult-sized romper suits out of the Beatles back catalogue, with a little Paul Weller shaped cravat.

If you’re a long-standing Ocean Colour Scene fan, you’ll probably enjoy this record. If you grew up with them, then your taste has probably matured alongside theirs, so this brit-pop dad-rock crossover is probably going to be perfect for you. If, however, you remember their classics fondly, but you’re not quite ready for your slippers and beige sweaters just yet, don’t ruin the memories, steer well clear.

Album Review: Anti-Flag – The Bright Lights Of America

2 05 2009

**As originally published on IHEARTAU.COM – July 2008**

Album Review: Four Year Strong – Rise Or Die Trying

2 05 2009

**As originally published on IHEARTAU.COM – June 2008**

Album Review: Cancer Bats – Hail Destroyer

10 04 2009

**As originally published in AU #46 – June 2008**

Album Review: Flogging Molly – Float

10 04 2009

**As originally published in AU #45 – May 2008**

Album Review: Millencolin – Machine 15

10 04 2009

**As originally published in AU #45 – May 2008**