Sunday, 23 June 2013

Album Review: Letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful

When L.A rockers, Letlive, announced themselves with their third album, 2010’s stunning ‘Fake History’, the post-hardcore scene was treated to a controlled frenzy of fierce, chaotic and gritty music, along with truly explosive live shows.
Thankfully, the immense sound that makes up Letlive’s core – the pulse-pounding energy, the in-your-face ferocity and striking choruses - is still all there, left untampered with on their fourth album release, ‘The Blackest Beautiful’. But from the very first lyrics of lead single Banshee (Ghost Fame),We’re here to fulfil every one of your dreams’, it’s clear that the band mean business.  This, along with the politically charged America’s Beautiful Black Market reveals the band’s ever-growing maturity when it comes to song writing, as does the groove-orientated The Dope Beat, which focuses on staying true to your roots, ‘…Burnt down my house, now I’ve got nowhere to call home’.
Punchier songs, Empty Elvis and The Fear Fever are album highlights, showcasing the band’s ability to mix aggression with delicate melody. The latter is an adrenaline-filled party anthem, reminiscent of ‘Fake History’s, Renegade 86’, while the former packs a punch with its piercing chorus wrapped in brutal vocals, delivered brilliantly by frontman Jason Butler, who’s personality and swagger shine through more than ever.
Indeed, the album is littered with these shining moments from Butler, making it truly his finest performance. When the haunting Virgin Dirt – a laid back, yet intense affair – kicks in, creating a great contrast to the two previous tracks, we’re treated to another of his flashes of brilliance and passion; the rawness of the song only emphasised by its ending, when Butler, after tearing out some his most personal lyrics, takes a moment to compose himself, then mutters the words ‘I’m okay’, before violins see the song out, adding to the its beauty.
Dreamer’s Disease is an incredibly lively song, containing one of the album’s most memorable choruses, while Pheromone Cvlt focuses on the melodic talents within the band, providing a tantalising and thought-provoking song.  
27 Club is another anthem; it’s incredible hook leading way to an enigmatic outro to finish the album off perfectly.
As always, Letlive provide a refreshing and welcome change from a lot of today’s bands; their music full of an attitude rarely seen these days, which this album had in abundance. It’s a deep and at times emotional set of songs that make ‘The Blackest Beautiful’, unquestionably, an ‘album of the year’ candidate.


- Amy Parker

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Ten Years Ago Today...Album Review: Brand New - Deja Entendu

Ten years ago today (17-06-2003), one of the most beautiful and influential albums I've ever heard was released to the world. It's release went virtually un-noticed by the mainstream music world, as has a lot of Brand New's work. But this album changed my views on music and how lyrics can be used to tell stories - something that I feel no band does better than Brand New, at least not one that I've heard. 
'Deja Entendu' is still an album that inspires me tremendously to this day and it was also one of the first albums I ever reviewed. 
So, to celebrate the ten year anniversary of one of the greatest albums ever released, here is my review. While you read, I'm going to listen to the album once again. And if you've never listened to 'Deja Entendu' - please do, because you're seriously missing out.


'There’s a lot to be said for a band such as Brand New. A band of four young guys, who instead of succumbing to the temptation of fame and the fortune it brings, have stayed true to their morals, their hearts and their fans. They’ve taken the high road; declined countless offers to ensure them the commerciality that would surely see big paycheques rolling in. They have remained and plan to remain, a fan’s band. And for a band like Brand New to create a stunning album such as this, their second album, it is almost painful to realise just how much potential they have and how big they could become if only they took on one of those offers. At the same time, being so un-commercial is one of the main reasons they have the vast and passionate fan base that they do. But I digress…
Getting more to the point, the four alternative rockers, hailing from Long Island, New York, are positive to attract ever more followers and even more attention with the irresistible sound revealed within their latest musical instalment. Deja Entendu opens with a slow, melodic intro that leaves much to the imagination and instantly intrigues you as front man and lyrical saviour Jesse Lacey uses his soothing voice in almost a whisper on the track simply titled Tautou.
After this, a more upbeat sound graces the listeners ears. Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades, is every bit as powerful as it is mysterious. A song, which explores the physiological turmoil’s of sex and relationships in the cleverest of ways and holds a chorus that will instantly get a crowd moving and singing along.
Track after track, this record deals with conflictions of the mind on a much more mature level to the album’s predecessor Your Favourite Weapon. Songs such as, I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin light – which presents the pressures and downfalls of life constantly on the road and Okay, I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t - which portrays enhanced feelings of anxiety, dread and paranoia in the most sincere of ways, are both poetic and deep. As Lacey spills out lyrics flooded with a smug humour, ‘I am heaven sent, don’t you dare forget’, there is no person who would doubt him or doubt that Brand New are serious this time.
Songs Guernica and Good to know… are highlights. They harbour some very moving melody lines and hooks that catch you and are unwilling to release their grip until you’ve listened very closely, until you’ve realised just how great this album and band are. Along with all this, the haunting rendition of Play Crack The Sky provides the finishing touches to a near-perfect album and still, it is sure to leave listeners wanting more.
If one thing is for certain, it’s that the band have a lot to say. Jesse Lacey exposes his very soul on every track with a powerful emotion. It’s almost as if the greatness of his lyrics can make up for all the other empty and ungraceful words seen in the world today. He just simply cannot be matched for his willingness to bear all, both the good and the bad. This adds to the spectacular musimanship – very much improved on over last couple of years as it showcases each member’s ability to be different and try new things. Throughout this album, the band stays in firm control of every song. They take their music through highs and lows, ups and downs and not at one point, do you feel they are lost. They know exactly what they are doing.
Often sounding like a sombre tribute to life and its tests, Deja Entendu is an album for any music lover and definitely an album for anybody needing a shining light to guide them through all the struggles life can sometimes bring. It will take a while to find another record quite like this, one that drips with honesty and exhales inspiration. A record that can at times take your breath away, yet at the same time, can breathe life into you.
Brand New have always been underdogs - intensely artistic and rare underdogs at that. So much so, that with a hint of cynicism, they shrewdly named this album Deja Entendu – which derives the French meaning of 'already heard'. After listening to this album, you will realise that no words have ever been more misleading and yet ironic at the same time. But this is all part of what makes Brand New such a special and enigmatic spectacle of a band. Accordingly, their second album happens to be the very epitome of passion and creativity.'

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- Amy Parker