Music Junkie
Tuuunes - A Playlist (searching Soundcloud for electronic bliss)

I have been hunting around on Soundcloud, over the past few weeks, looking for some interesting music. This is the result.

Tuuunes includes tracks from up-and-coming artists, like Kidnap Kid and Dauwd, interspersed with more established names, like Bonobo and Four Tet. Other artists include Marek Hemmann, Machinedrum and Dusky, as well as remixes of music by the likes of Jack Dixon and Caribou. To keep things as fresh as possible, most of these tracks have been posted to Soundcloud within the last few months.

This collection shows a love of the deeper end of house, along with IDM, future garage, liquid bass and other electronic sounds. Happy listening!

-By Music Junkie UK

New music by Electus

Here’s an up and coming electronic artist, who is well worth checking out, if you are after something both pulsing and atmospheric. I came across Electus, while scouring the internet for some spaced-out beats. Hailing from Norway, he creates melodic dubstep, of the kind that brings to mind images of epic icy landscapes (kind of like parts of Norway might look, in the middle of winter). Two tracks, ‘Sea of Dreams’ and Tangled’ particularly caught our attention, as they mark Electus’s first drum & bass efforts.

Of course, you would never guess that these were his first D&B efforts, as both tunes are remarkably accomplished. ‘Tangled’ is particularly good; a track that flows with such exquisiteness that it sounds like it was borne out of a glacier, in one of those aforementioned landscapes, rather than simply ‘being produced’. His recent track ‘Beyond the Sky’ is also particularly lush, shuffling along on a downtempo liquid beat.

Anyway, have a listen below.

-By Music Junkie UK

Weezer’s Musical Career: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (part 2 of 2)

Click here for part one

Make Believe – 2005

At the time, this was billed as their ‘big pop album’. They had Rick Rubin on board as their producer and they were going to bring out a pop-rock masterpiece. And then the single ‘Beverly Hills’ hit the airwaves. Yes, this is a moment that many long term Weezer fans view as the beginning of the end. Despite being a commercial success (like the album itself), this lead single was something of a jump the shark moment. Weezer, geek rock legends, had embarked on an ill-advised foray into the world of R&B. It subsequently turned out that this single was not particularly indicative of the rest of the album, although not in the way many fans hoped.

With the exception of a couple of songs, the majority of the tracks on Make Believe sit at the duller end of power-pop balladry. While much of the material is not terrible, it just isn’t very good either. The remaining songs on the album, which aren’t in this aforementioned bracket, include the frankly awful spoof-metal clunker ‘We Are All On Drugs’ and the eighties synth pop-influenced ‘This Is Such A Pity’, which bizarrely is one of the better songs on the album. Make Believe was certainly a disappointment. It had a few okay moments and a couple of terrible ones, but it was mostly a moderately underwhelming effort.

Listen on Spotify

Music Junkie Rating: 4/10


The Red Album – 2008

With the release of The Red Album, it was clear that Weezer were once again positioning themselves as having returned to their roots; lead single ‘Pork and Beans’ certainly suggested a return to the ‘classic Weezer’ sound. However, it was not to be. In fact, The Red Album turned out to be Weezer’s attempt to be ‘experimental’ and play with new sounds. Rather than them doing a Kid A or a 13 though, this simply translated as them being a band clearly dry of ideas, chucking everything at the wall, in the hope that something might stick. Put short, the record was a complete mess.

Unlike Make Believe, which was consistently underwhelming, this record heavily contrasted a few genuinely worthwhile moments, with a lot of genuinely terrible ones. The good ones include ‘Dreamin’ and the aforementioned ‘Pork and Beans’. It is also worth mentioning ‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived’, which is entertaining for its sheer preposterousness, as it switches between multiple genres in the space of a few minutes. These were not enough to outweigh the bad moments though, which were far worse than anything on Make Believe. Listen to the Eminem-aping rap of ‘Cold Dark World’ or the frankly embarrassing idiot-rock of ‘Everybody Get Dangerous’ if you need convincing. Then there is ‘Heart Songs’, which starts fairly innocuously, before morphing into something altogether more hideous. Even the opening track, ‘Troublemaker’ is one of those bland, paint-by-numbers songs that rapidly fades from memory.

Listen on Spotify

Music Junkie Rating: 4/10


Raditude – 2009

There really is no way of sugar-coating it; Raditude is an appalling album. Even the fact that it’s called ‘Raditude’ isn’t enough to prepare you for quite how bad it is. It’s tragic enough that this record was blatantly recorded as a cynically commercial way of selling records to kids. It’s even worse that songs are so terrible. I can honestly say that listening to Raditude is an excruciating chore. What started as a blip with Make Believe and grew into a bad patch with The Red Album, becomes a full blown clusterfuck on Raditude. It is never pleasant when ageing bands start trying to appeal to audiences half their age. In Weezer’s case, they don’t pull it off in the slightest, as Raditude falls flat on its face. When you consider that both the band and many of their longer term fans were approaching their forties, by the time this album was released, the decision to record a shallow teen-pop album seems all the more baffling.

I won’t bother dissecting the songs as there are no good ones, although ‘Can’t Stop Partying’ is worth highlighting for crossing a particular line that should never have been crossed. Weezer doing a bad disco/hip-hop crossover track, featuring a rapping section from Lil Wayne was presumably meant to be tongue-in-cheek. However, when self-parody becomes the default setting, and there are no songs with genuine substance to fall back on (in a similar manner to Muse’s The 2nd Law but way more tragic), the joke often becomes the reality. Sadly that is the case with both this song and the rest of the album.

Listen on Spotify

Music Junkie Rating: 1/10


Hurley - 2010

Well… at least it isn’t as bad as Raditude. Unfortunately it’s still pretty bad. Actually, the best thing about this album is the name and the cover artwork, if you are a fan of the TV show Lost (before it reached its terrible final season that is). In fairness, this album is by no means painful to listen to, but the songs are so bland and generic, that any group of unoriginal punk-pop drones could have written them. If you heard the songs come on in a bar or a shop, without being told it was Weezer, you would never realise it was them. And you would never care.

Despite the opening track being called ‘Memories’, it soon becomes clear that there is nothing memorable here. The only song that even comes remotely close, to capturing any of the substance you would expect from a decent Weezer track (‘Unspoken’), is fleeting at best.

Listen on Spotify

Music Junkie Rating: 3/10


So here we are. It is 2014 and the new Weezer album, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, will be out in just over a couple of months. Let’s hope that they can reverse the trend and prove that everything really will be alright in the end. Regardless of how it turns out, at least we will always have the likes of The Blue Album, Pinkerton and Maladroit to hang on to.

We will add a short review of #EWBAITE to the bottom of this article, once it is released, so check back then for our thoughts.


Everything Will Be Alright In The End – 2014

Music Junkie Rating: ?


-By Music Junkie UK

Weezer’s Musical Career: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (part 1 of 2)

Weezer will be releasing their ninth album on the 30th September (2014). The new record, called ‘Everything Will Be Alright In The End’ (aka #EWBAITE), will be the first since 2010’s Hurley. Their career has certainly had its good and bad aspects, over the years, with most long term fans lamenting the steady decline in their quality of output. One disgruntled group of fans even went to the lengths of starting a campaign to raise 10 million dollars, so that they could pay Weezer to break up, to stop them from releasing any more bad records.

On that issue of declining output, I recently came to the uncomfortable realisation that the number of good Weezer albums was now equalled by the number of bad ones. I further realised that if the next album tuned out to be a turkey, then the number of bad albums would actually outweigh the number of good ones by five to four, throwing their career into total disarray. It left me wondering if it would have been best if the band had just called it quits years ago, to prevent them from continuing to piss all over their musical legacy.

On the other hand, #EWBAITE could still turn out to be the (long-overdue) return to form that many of their most stoic, long term, fans have continued to hope for. In fact, there may well be some reason to be hopeful of a light at the end of the tunnel. A series of teasers, posted on Weezer’s Youtube channel over the past few weeks suggest that the new album could be something pretty decent (or maybe even something quite special). The presence of Ric Ocasek as producer also adds some weight to this theory, as he was the producer on both The Blue Album and The Green Album. With that said, it is still too early to say, since a whole album can never be accurately judged from just a few snippets.

While we wait with bated breath, it seemed appropriate to do a Weezer retrospective, covering each album in chronological order. So, here we go:

The Blue Album – 1994

For many fans and critics, this classic album is still viewed as their finest work to date. The combination of loud guitars, pop-hooks and strong melodies, made geek rock cool and influenced the direction of guitar music for years afterwards. The Blue Album will always be remembered for its original style, in being able to combine punk and grunge influences on the one hand, with surf pop aesthetics and Beach Boys style vocal harmonies on the other.

Tracks like ‘Buddy Holly’, ‘Undone - The Sweater Song’ and ‘Say It Ain’t So’ still carry as much weight today as they did twenty years ago. The production of the album also sounds fantastic, managing to carry a lo-fi quality, while still achieving a lush sound, with incredible attention to detail.

Once you dig beneath the singles, you will find an album where there are no weak tracks and where each song is a classic in its own right. ‘My Name Is Jonas’, ‘Only In Dreams’ and ‘The World Has Turned and Left Me Here’ are particularly potent examples.

Listen on Spotify

Music Junkie Rating: 9/10


Pinkerton – 1996

Pinkerton was to The Blue Album, what In Utero was to Nevermind. The approachable, fuzzier noise of The Blue album was replaced by a darker, more caustic sound. Lyrically, the mildly pessimistic geek-rock had now morphed into a combination of sexual despair and personal crisis. It’s clear that these brilliantly fucked-up little masterpieces of songs were the product of a highly troubled mind, although often the best music is.

Opening track, ‘Tired Of Sex’, is abrasive right from the moment it starts and that is before the heavy guitar riff kicks in. With that said, Pinkerton is not strictly a ‘heavy’ album in the way it is often portrayed. As the album progresses, a noticeable fragility enters many of the songs, with the excellent ‘Across The Sea’, being a prime example of Rivers Cuomo’s tortured emotional core. Also, the closer ‘Butterly’ provides one of the quietest and most reflective moments of their career. ‘The Good Life’ and ‘El Scorcho’ are probably the two best known tracks of the album, both showing that Weezer didn’t completely abandon their knack for injecting pop hooks into their sound. Meanwhile, ‘Pink Triangle’ is an illustration of how there can still be dark humour in moments of despair.

At the time of its release, Pinkerton was panned by many critics and poorly received by fans. However, as time has passed, Pinkerton has rightly become viewed as a masterpiece. It is certainly our number one.

Listen on Spotify

Music Junkie Rating: 10/10


The Green Album - 2001

After a hiatus, when the future of Weezer was uncertain, the band finally returned with their third album. The Green Album was an obvious attempt to return to the style of The Blue Album. Aside from the cover-art, they also had producer Ric Ocasek back on board. Indeed, the album was a success of sorts, in achieving this aim. The first two tracks, ‘Don’t Let Go’ and ‘Photograph’, both contained the mixture of the guitar-pop hooks and geek-rock charm that you would expect. Most of the other songs on the album continued in this manner, although ‘Hash Pipe’ deviated from the formula with its metal influenced riffs, while’ Island In The Sun’ went for a more mellow pop vibe.

This album was not without its flaws though. Considering the ten tracks amount to less than half an hour in length, the songs do quickly start to feel quite samey. There is less of the originality and quirkiness of their earlier work here too, both musically, but also lyrically – it all feels a bit like ‘Weezer-lite’ at times. There is also the annoying fact that the guitar solo in each song is just the vocal melody from the verse played on a guitar. Despite these flaws, this is still a decent album, with a particularly strong set of four songs to start the album off.

Listen on Spotify

Music Junkie Rating: 6.5/10


Maladroit - 2002

Maladroit is something of an overlooked album in Weezer’s back catalogue, often being crassly portrayed as an extension of The Green Album. If you listen to it though, you will quickly realise that this is not the case at all, as Maladroit ditches the easily digestible format of The Green Album in favour of big metal-drenched riffs, eighties influenced guitar solos and jarring rhythms and hooks. Maladroit is a darker album than its predecessor. At its time, it was also notable for being the most slickly produced Weezer album to date.

Opener ‘American Gigolo’ immediately sets the scene, with thundering drums and a colossal riff. ‘Take Control’ and ‘Fall Together’ are almost certainly the heaviest sounding tracks Weezer have created. Even on the poppier songs, such as ‘Dope Nose’ and ‘Keep Fishin’, the band can’t resist the temptation for some moments of satisfying guitar noise.

The only real downside of the album is that it races through its 13 songs at such speed. It would certainly have been good to have spent more time on the slower, brooding ‘Death and Destruction’ or the sun-kissed funk rock of ‘Burndt Jamb’. With that said, there is barely a wasted moment on Maladroit and it contains some of the best material of their career, particularly the fifties influenced album closer ‘December’. Despite a hard-core cult following, Maladroit is a massively underrated and underappreciated album. It rightfully deserves better recognition amongst Weezer’s back catalogue, as the third best Weezer album to date, after ‘The Blue Album’ and ‘Pinkerton’.

Listen on Spotify

Music Junkie Rating: 8/10


To be continued… (Click here for part two)


-By Music Junkie UK

Field Day 2014

Wow.. what a great weekend! Field Day 2014 will certainly be one to remember. As I write this article, I am having something of a slow Monday. In truth, I am in recovery mode, after two days of sun (yes the rain mostly stayed away in the end, apart from early on the Saturday), music and hedonism, in London’s Victoria Park.

Field Day (or should that be ‘Field Days’?) has progressed from a one day event, into a two day weekender. Saturday focused largely on the electronic side of things, while the slightly scaled down Sunday event was mainly live bands.

It was a packed event too - in fact it was by far the busiest Field Day I have been to. On that note, Field Day may be on its way to becoming a victim of its own success, following a similar pattern of evolution to Lovebox (the crowds even felt more Lovebox-ish this year, rather than the more relaxed vibe of previous Field Day events). But let’s not dwell on that for too long. I suppose it is inevitable that good events can never stay the same, as they grow in size and popularity.

There were plenty of memorable moments too. Dusky played a good set on the Saturday, sticking with harder beats, rather than their more mellow material. This suited the mood of the festival; or at least the continual raving taking place in the Bugged Out stage! Then there was Drenge on the Sunday. Seriously, how is it possible for two people to make that much noise? It was pretty mind-blowing stuff and great to hear some proper rock music thrown into the festival mix too.

Other bits that spring to mind, include the guitar noise provided by Thurston Moore, as well as solid set from George Fitzgerald, and also the back to back psychedelic rock of Pond and Temples. The two headline acts, Metronomy and Pixies were still the show stealers though, even if it does feel like a lazy choice to single them both out, amid such a vast selection of alternative music.

Metronomy have gone from strength to strength over the last few years, after some slightly shaky beginnings. Their Field Day set was a hell of a lot better than the last time I saw them live in their pre-The English Riviera years.

And then there is the Pixies. Not only did they totally nail their set, but seeing them live also serves as a reminder of how many iconic songs they have released over the years. The new material also fitted in well among the classics.

Until next year then…

-By Music Junkie UK

New Music – Kosher by Ciaran Lavery (EP)

Kosher is the new EP from Ciaran Lavery, following on from previous releases Not Nearly Dark and Other People Wrote These. Ciaran, hailing from the small Irish village of Aghagallon, has been garnering a well-earned reputation as a master song-smith.

With this latest collection of five songs, Ciaran has further honed and developed his sound. The result is a rich, encapsulating set of alt-folk ballads. His ability to combine wonderfully-crafted melodies, with a beautiful singing voice, makes for a strong musical brew. What’s more there is a real heart and soul at the centre of his songs that shines through.

While all of these tracks are strong in their own way, ‘Sophomore Rising’ is a particularly fine example of Ciaran’s ability to create songs with a real depth and texture. This is particularly apparent as the song progresses from minimal beginnings to a big crescendo. ‘Left For America’ is another treat, which has also been released on Youtube with an eye-catching music video.

Ciaran is able to vary his sound across the five tracks, most notable on the (later-career) Eels-esque ‘Orphan’. ‘Boxer’ has a darker feel, with some lashings of guitar fuzz bubbling away below the surface. ‘A Ragtime Song’ sticks closer to the elegant folk leanings and gentle melodies that Ciaran is known for. Kosher is a great addition to Ciaran’s impressive catalogue of music.

Kosher will be released on the 19th June 2014.

See Ciaran’s official website for more info:

http://www.ciaranlaverymusic.com/

-by Music junkie UK

Mobstr Exhibition - Sex, Drugs and Painting Canvases

Last month we went to Sex, ‘Drugs and Painting Canvases’, the debut exhibition from the artist Mobstr. The big question beforehand concerned how he would adapt his usual street-art style, to fit into the context of an indoor exhibition. This question was answered with something of a surprise twist. Instead of a selection of indoor street-art designs, Sex, Drugs and Painting Canvases was a satirical send-up of some of the stupid trends that have dominated the commercial side of modern art over the decades.



While many of the pieces were clever in their own right, the main focus of the exhibition was basically a massive two-fingered salute to an often pretentious contemporary art world. It is up for debate whether you could really classify this as an ‘art exhibition’ by its own definition. With its combination of incisive critique and sharply humorous lampooning, the term ‘anti-art exhibition’ is probably more fitting.



The highlight of the exhibition was the large centrepiece installation in the darkened middle room. Titled ‘Writer’s Block’, it was both a play on words (the hooded mannequin sat at the desk, at the far end of the room was clearly suffering from writer’s block, while also being sat on top of his own writer’s [wooden] block), and a powerful set piece, which clearly took considerable time to assemble. The room behind the aforementioned writer was filled with a mountain of discarded balls of paper, signifying potentially thousands of creative dead ends. Each piece of paper was covered in notes, ideas and doodles (as we said, it must have taken a long time to make).

I wasn’t the only person present who had to fight the urge to take a running dive into the mountain of paper.



The reception to the exhibition, on its packed opening night, was overwhelmingly positive. This strong reaction was present amongst both fans of Mobstr and the large proportion of new-comers to Mobstr’s work. With that said, this exhibition is bound to have stoked up some controversy within the art establishment… and it’s a good thing too, so keep it coming Mobstr!

Find out more about Mobstr via the official website here:

http://mobstr.org/

-By Music Junkie UK

Jacques Greene - Phantom Vibrate EP - Review

Phantom Vibrate, the new three-track EP from Jacques Greene, is a another strong addition to his ever-growing catalogue. It represents something of a leftward move, after 2013’s slicker, more commercially-attuned ‘On Your Side’ collaboration with How To Dress Well.

Opening track ‘No Excuse’ will get the most attention of the three, for reasons that will become obvious. While there are still the familiar touch-points of swelling synth builds, his trademark deep sound, and (what I think can reasonably be described as) ‘Jacques Greene-esque’ vocal samples, this song marks a progression in his style. His past releases have always involved a decent amount of genre-splicing, but ‘No Excuse’ delves deeper into the hip-hop, R&B and post-dubstep influences he has flirted with before.

In particular, the sequences of powerful drum crashes provide muscle to the track, allowing jagged punctuations to burst through the smooth sonic-sheet of the rest of the song, as it curves and bends seductively. This juxtaposition of hard and soft sounds gives the song an enticing tension, while still leaving enough space for the hooks to do their work.

Feel What’ ploughs a similar line to ‘No Excuse’, albeit with a softer more rounded feel. The vocal samples take on a slightly gospel tinge, which works well with cavernous sound of the track, as the beat skitters and grooves away in the centre of it. While it is not as impressive as ‘No Excuse’, it is a strong track that sits well alongside it.

‘Night Tracking’ is a slightly more sparse sounding song, sticking with a more familiar house groove. This more down-tempo take on some of his earlier work, pushes his sound into Floating Points-esque territory. The result is a pleasant close to the EP, even if it the least memorable of the three tracks.

Phantom Vibrate is a refreshing release from Jacques Greene, showing how he is willing to experiment with (and further evolve) his sound. It is certainly a step up from 2013’s more so-so ‘On your Side’ EP; which was expertly produced, but a somewhat safe effort as far as the title track was concerned. ‘On You Side’ was also marred by a rather flaccid b-side in the form of ‘Faithful’. Fortunately, the second b-side ‘Quicksand’ was an encapsulating and understated beauty, arguably one of his best releases to date. Phantom Vibrate is certainly change for the better.

Eschewing full length albums and releasing a series of EP’s, is a tactic that has been working well for a number of electronic artists and producers, with the post-Untrue Burial EP’s being an obvious example. Jacques Greene has thus maintained interest in his work, with a steady drip feed of music. With Phantom vibrate, the individual tracks don’t quite reach the peak of certain previous songs (such as the elegance of 2013’s aforementioned ‘Quicksand’, the compulsively-listenable brilliance of 2010’s ‘Tell Me’, or the cult-classic appeal of 2011’s ‘Another Girl’. However, the three tracks form a strong EP, which stands tall amongst his back catalogue. Phantom Vibrate will further cement his reputation as one of today’s most important electronic artists & producers.

8/10

Download Phantom Vibrate from Jacques Greene’s website here:

http://jacquesgreene.com/


-By Music Junkie UK

Sex, Drugs & Painting Canvases - debut exhibition from street artist Mobstr

Sex, Drugs & Painting Walls Canvases is the much anticipated debut exhibition from up-and-coming street-art talent Mobstr. The exhibition will be housed at The Old Truman Brewery in East London, with the opening night taking place from 6pm on the 15th May 2014. RSVP is essential if you would like to attend this - please see details above.

Mobstr’s work is an original take on street-art, with a focus on subverting features of the public space. Much of it involves a humorous and thought-provoking critique of the way our public spaces are continually filled with advertising messages. However, Mobstr’s creations have taken on a variety of forms over the years, so this exhibition is likely to be something special.

Read some more of Music Junkie’s take on the work of Mobstr here.
View some of Music Junkie’s favourite Mobstr work here.

In terms of the exhibition itself, Mobstr had the following to say: “I’ve called it sex, drugs and painting walls not because it contains any of those 3 things but simply because it has a nice ring to it. Also it’s what I’ve been up to for the last 12 years.”

The exhibition will stay open for a further week, following the launch night. For more details please see The Old Truman Brewery Website here.

If you would like to find out more about Mobstr, please see the official Mobstr website:

http://www.mobstr.org

-By Music Junkie UK

The irony of the irony of it all…

I’m sure you have found yourself in a similar situation before. You are at a house party, where you don’t know that many of the people there and you end up being the one who is stuck talking with the complete wanker in the room. In this case, it was a mouthy, cocky, aggressive, Stella-drinking wanker, who for the purpose of this post, I shall herein refer to as ‘Terry’.

If you find yourself in the kind of situation, where you are faced with a massive cock like Terry, a temporary way of making things a little more bearable, is to at least try and find some common ground for a discussion (until you can ditch said cock, for a better corner of the party). In this instance, we somehow found our way onto talking about The Streets. This suited me, because despite the decline in quality of the later albums, the first two albums from The Street have a number of great tracks on them.

The debut ‘Original Pirate Material’, in particular, contains a number of urban/garage/street poetry classics, including ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’, ‘Has It Come To This?’ and the frankly brilliant ‘Weak Become Heroes’.

I thought to myself, ‘okay, cool. I’m fine with this. I’ll happily chat about The Streets for a bit, and then fuck of to the fridge for a beer at the next convenient moment’. After a couple of minutes, we got onto talking about the track ‘The Irony Of It All’. If you are unfamiliar with this, the song is a humorous commentary on existing drugs legislation, where a mellow, pacifist weed-smoker named Tim is seen as a criminal in the eyes of the law, while an aggressive, violent piss-head named Terry (you can see the link now), is seen as a law abiding citizen. The song basically pits the two characters against each-other, in a way that descriptively shows ‘the irony of it all’.

Anyone with any sense takes Tim’s side, of course, as that is the whole point of the song. Except that (and I’m sure that you have guessed it already), Terry took the side of his namesake - and I do not mean in a tongue-in-cheek way. I mean he seriously took the side of Terry, even to the extent that he came out with the corker, ‘yeah, that song’s hilarious. This really wicked lad completely trounces this complete stoner-loser’. I mean seriously, what kind of wanker takes the side of Terry? For fuck’s sake! His favourite song by The Streets is probably ‘Geezers Need Excitement’..

And there you have it; the entire meaning of a song completely turned on its head, in the form on one massive wanker.

The irony of the irony of it all…

-By Music Junkie UK