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Album Review: Brandon Flowers - The Desired Effect
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Album Review: Sheppard - Bombs Away
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Album Review: Blur - The Magic Whip
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When it comes to giving out the 80s vibe, there’s no other man who can do it effortlessly than Brandon Flowers. The Killers’ frontman seems to have made a smooth transition from alternative rock to the synth-pop genre with his second solo album, The Desired Effect.

If you’re an oldies junkie, this is one of those records you would have probably stolen from your Dad’s music collection – except it’s released in 2015. Flowers’ seems to have established a unique tone for his solo works with his more soothing vocals which are distinct in The Way It’s Always Been.

However, this album won’t probably get you hooked on first listen. The tracks will take time to grow on you despite it’s narrative lyrics and powerful basslines. I would compare it to an authenic meal I’m trying for the first time – weird on the first bite but will leave me wanting more.

Enough of the food metaphors, do give this record a try. Jam to Lonely Town and Diggin’ Up The Heart if you’re feeling like having a “Throwback Thursday." The disco days are back.

 

 

Track Gems: The Way It’s Always Been, Untangled Love, Diggin’ Up The Heart, Lonely Town

Photo credit: Island Records

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If there was something between indie pop & indie rock, that's where you'd be able to find a lovely group of 6 Aussies, who call themselves Sheppard.

This indie band has brought a fun, fresh & new perspective on the widely debatable indie genre with their debut release, Bombs Away, which includes the worldwide hit Geronimo that is already rocketing them to success.

The unique group makes use of the diversity among them. 4 guys, 2 girls and a wide range of musical talent spread throughout the 6 of them. We hear the guys' soothing voices on most of the tracks, unlike in the female-sung pop ballad  A Grade Playa and in the soft-reggae-styled Smile.

Sheppard make music to take away your troubles and let you unwind with carefree songs like the sing-along duet, Lingering, and the acoustic masterclass in Let Me Down Easy, a campfire-worthy song with cheekily clever rhymes in the verses.

Their best work on the record has to be the consecutive This Electric Feeling & Find Someone. Hair-raising chord progressions, thought-provoking lyrics and groovy acoustic/electronic beats really set the songs apart from the rest. They should've just combined both songs into an epic 7-minute wonder.

The album started off with a definite hit in Geronimo and they unexpectedly ended with a contrastingly, dark song in Halfway To Hell, an interestingly intense tune to conclude a bomb of a debut album. There's just no telling how far these 6 people can go and Bombs Away is a most promising beginning.

Track Gems: Find Someone, This Electric Feeling, Smile, Let Me Down Easy

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One of the pioneers spearheading the 90's Britpop scene, Blur return together after 12 years since their last studio album with The Magic Whip, continuing to make use of experimental and indie rock influences to broaden their style from the simpler Britpop sound.

The opening 2 tracks Lonesome Street and New World Towers remind you of the band's experimentation on 13 and Think Tank, with the first one giving you that Coffee & TV vibe, one of their biggest ever hits.

Frontman Damon Albarn made the most of the band's unintentional extended stay at Hong Kong after a cancelled festival infusing Asian historical events into the lyrical themes of the album's tracks.

New groovier tunes like Ice Cream Man, which talks about experiencing the tragic 1989 Tiananmen Square events live on TV, and the Hong Kong-related Ghost Ship (best track here IMHO) really give Blur a new dimension to their already widened modern sound.

Guitarist Graham Coxon also seems a renewed man after many inconsistencies with being in the band and his guitar work sounds refreshed on the hard-hitting punk-ish track I Broadcast and on the soulful My Terracotta Heart that features sleek, seductive guitar licks behind Albarn's story about his long relationship with Coxon.

If you need more convincing about The Magic Whip, Liam Gallagher from Blur's long-time rivals Oasis tweeted

"Lonesome St by BLUR song of the year LG x"

Track Gems: Ghost Ship, Ice Cream Man, Lonesome Street, Go Out

Photo credit: Warner Music

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You may have heard a couple of their songs from films like The Fault In Our Stars, Horns and Love, Rosie. But this Irish group has more to offer. There is definitely no other way but up for Kodaline, especially with the release of their 2nd album, Coming Up For Air.

The album starts off with Honest which despite it's popularity, didn't really strike me as much as the other songs. However, I'm impressed by how they were able to arrange the order of the tracks in the album in such a way that it builds up a climax, leaving a good balance. There's a good mix of upbeat and slow tunes.

Autopilot, Coming Alive and Ready are tracks that give the signature Kodaline vibe that we've become familiar with. I've had these 3 songs on repeat since the album was released. Their solid sound is the lovechild of Coldplay and OneRepublic - compelling and expressive.

When there's a climax, there also needs to be a falling action. I have to give it to the track Moving On. I must say there's a contrast between the drum accompaniment in the 2nd verse and the whole mood of the song.

War may have a plain melody, but it somehow still leaves a mark due to its lyrics, "There's a war between my head and my heart." Now I understand how Kodaline's style falls into the folk rock genre. The album will make you want to dance and also cry your heart out with its soulful ballads.

However, Steve Garrigan, vocalist of the group, seems to be stepping up the game with his rich vocals in Love Will Set You Free. The smooth blending of the piano and guitar arrangement will get you hooked from the beginning. This song proves that they have the potential to sound like the band Journey without having to sacrifice their own style. Here's a live version of the song; It's flawless, get your tissues ready.

 

Do you adore this album as much as I do? Good news for you, Kodaline is gracing our island with their presence together with Sheppard! You can hear these majestic tunes live at Playspace at SCAPE on 13th August! See you there!

Track Gems: Autopilot, Unclear, Coming Alive, Ready, Love Will Set You Free

Photo Credit: Sony Music

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So, all the tease and the hype was worth it.

Back with another anthemic record, Palma Violets aced it once again. Songwriting was yet on point, complemented with foot-tapping, finger-drumming tracks.

Just like 180, Palma Violets’ debut album, the tracks in Danger in the Club are just as catchy with their rock dance twist. However, the only difference is that Danger in the Club is much more tamed, which reflects the band’s growing maturity together. Even their music videos look tamer, and less rebellious. Danger in the Club also sounds more like 70’s rock, rather than psychedelic rock which was heard in 180.

I remembered looking forward to the song Sweet Violets, thinking that with a name like that, it must be a really catchy track to serve as an opening. Turns out, it was just a 22-second audio where the boys sang without instruments, with the outcome of it sounding like a sweet lullaby. I was a little shocked, but I laughed it off, and continued on with the record.

The catchiest track from Danger in the Club would be Girl, You Couldn’t Do Much Better on the Beach. It’s a long-titled track for a song that lasted 2 minutes, but nevertheless it’s groovy and easing to the ears, with encouraging sing-along lyrics.

Coming Over to My Place may sound like a love song, but it’s just another slow rock of rejecting someone who’s chasing you. Palma Violets is good with that - think Best of Friends from 180 being the ultimate friend zone song.

I’d review every single track if I could, but words can only tease, and what you really want to do is listen to the record right now. So head over to iTunes to get your copy, or stream it on Spotify. Danger in the Club is not to be missed!

Here's English Tongue:

Track Gems: Danger in the Club, Coming Over to My Place, English Tongue, The Jacket Song, Gout! Gang! Go!, Peter & the Gun

Photo credit: Exclaim

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