Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ed Bangin'

Ed Banger Records is a French label run by Busy P, who also happens to be the manager of Daft Punk. By now, the Ed Banger label had really made itself known worldwide, especially in Melbourne after the Ed Banger party, and Sebastian & Kavinsky's amazing set at Golden Plains festival. These guys have been putting out fantastic, dirty dance music for a while now, and it's all gotten better with their Ed Banger Records Vol. 2 compilation. You can get a hold of their stuff from the U.S. here, and from France here.

For now, here's one of the originals (and best) from the Ed Banger archives: SebastiAn - Ross Ross Ross

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Album Review: Dead Frenchmen - Wonderland

When I first heard about Dead Frenchmen, I thought “Wow, what a cool name for a band!”. But I was wary. You see, too many times have I allowed myself to be swayed by a band before I’ve heard them, simply by how cool their name is, or how awesome their album art is, or how hot they look. Whatever. I’m superficial. But for once, I’m pleased to announce that Dead Frenchmen are more than just a really cool name. They’re a great band, that’s just released a really cohesive debut album.

When I say ‘cohesive’ I mean that
Wonderland is an album that isn’t rough around the edges; it sounds streets ahead of what you’d expect from a debut album, in its song writing, production, and how well-rehearsed the band sound. From listening to Wonderland, you’d easily be mistaken in thinking this was the second or third effort from the band, once they’d had a chance to get their game together and polish things up a little.

Dead Frenchmen have already been (fortunately or unfortunately) garnering the Interpol comparison that so many bands receive, particularly if the vocals sound like the low crooning voice of singer and guitarist Michael Pledger. But the vocals are really the only thing that’s similar to their peers. Together with drummer Greg Doig, and bassist Toby Dundas, the band exhibits none of the NY pretentiousness, and instead exudes a genuine intensity that only comes from a band loving what they do. The trio have managed many great moments on the album, with songs like ‘
Passenger’ and ‘Out Of Phase’ sounding fantastic. However, one criticism is that at times it seems that the album lacks variation, with some tracks tending to sound a little too much like the previous one, partly because the levels of the instruments on each track sound exactly the same throughout the album.

Wonderland is a great album as far as debut albums go, and hopefully, if the band tries some new things with their song writing, their sophomore effort will be something to eagerly anticipate.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Album Review: Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City

It was always going to be a little difficult for Bloc Party. After releasing a debut album that was both commercially and critically salivated upon, the stakes were high. When a band releases their second effort, it seems they often follow one of two paths: they either stick to what worked on their previous album, or they might try and branch out a little. Unfortunately for the band, whichever they choose, there will be fans who deride the band for either being ‘lazy’ or ‘pretentious’ (Radiohead's Kid A, anyone?), respectively.
There have been many bands in recent years that were hugely hyped after their first album, only to release a disappointing album after. Bloc Party haven’t done this. They’ve released a good album, it’s just not great.

A Weekend In The City, Bloc Party, with the help of star producer Jacknife Lee (U2, Snow Patrol, Kasabian) decided the only way to go from their debut was bigger, brighter and bolder. From listening to the album, however, it seems that all three of those goals were attempted through the mixing desk, rather than through the band members themselves. As a consequence, while the first four tracks on the album, including the lead single ‘The Prayer’ have great riffs and pulsing drums that are now iconic of the ‘Bloc Party sound’, they lack any of the conviction that made their first album so endearing. Instead, the songs on AWITC sound decidedly hollow, which is also partially a result of so many of the tracks having long-winded openings or breaks devoted to lead singer Kele Okereke hurting my ears with his falsetto.

In trying to satisfy the entire listening public, Bloc Party have made their rock tracks sound rockier, and their ballads ‘more ballady’. However, AWITC just ends up sounding like Bloc Party diluted. While there are some great songs on the album, that will surely find their way onto indie dance floors around the world (Song for Clay, Hunting for Witches), in trying to be the jack of all trades, Bloc Party simply come off as appearing the master of none.