Oliver’s 365 Album Challenge Weeks 2 & 3: Pope Of Reviewtown

Date 07/01/19
Artist: Marmozets
Album: Knowing What You Know Now
Review Type: Recommendation/Re-evaluation

Hugh Jackman stares into your eyes. “I’m sorry Oliver, you were right, this was the worstest shit, man. Yet again, you were right, as you always are” he says. “Hmm”, you think, “you’ve fucking lost your mind after the first set of albums“. “Listen to Marmozets, please, it’s the least you deserve” he pleads. You know you’ve lost your mind, but who are you to disagree with Huge Jacked Man?

Knowing What You Know Now came at the wrong time in the context of album of the year lists. By the time list season came round, you couldn’t remember it coming out, not this year anyway. However, looking back on it, it was easily one of the albums of 2018. The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets offered something fresh with a raw and aggresive sound, but Knowing What You Know Now was a complete evolution, keeping that raw and aggresive blueprint but adding so many layers to it.

Songs like Insomnia saw the band’s sound evolve, and even songs like Play, Lost In Translation and Major System Error stuck to the blueprint, but were just… better. Becca further cemented herself as one of rock’s leading frontpersons in waiting, effortlessly bending her vocals to fit the tempo, sound and feel of the song. The girl you hear on Insomnia is a different one to Play, and both fit the bill perfectly.

Rating: 10/10

Date: 08/01/19
Artist: La Dispute
Album: Rooms Of The House
Review Type: Recommendation

Christ these lads need to cheer up. Just have a can, you know? It’s not so bad. However, within the misery of their craft lies the beauty of it. Though sonically, Rooms Of The House is flawless, the perfection comes from the lyrics. Each song paints a picture that you live in for a few short minutes.

In Hudsonville MI 1956, you’re there as the hurricane approaches. Scenes from Highways 1981-2009 transports you to the bridge. In every song you’re invested in the lyrical content, with the music acting as a side show. However, that isn’t to say the music isn’t good. It’s easy on the ears and helps set the scene. Whilst yes, La Dispute’s music is pretty fucking miserable, it’s crafted so perfectly that it paints a picture of tragedy so vividly.

Rating: 8/10

Date: 09/01/18
Artist: Scars
Album: Author! Author!
Review Type: Recommendation

Right from the off, this is probably the most perplexing album that’ll appear on this list. Not from a sonic or lyrical perspective, it’s because without sounding too churlish, you’ve never heard of it. Not that weird, right? Wrong. It’s fucking brilliant, and how it’s been consigned to a footnote in the history books.

Released in 1981, it was the only album by post-punk band Scars, shortly before their breakup in 1982. If you look at the timelines, and listen to the albums, it defies belief that Scars aren’t up there with The Cure. YouTube comments, which is one of the few places you can listen to this album, tell you that Scars were that good, but poor management made sure they’d be forever deemed as obscure.

Songs like Fear Of The Dark, Aquarama and Everywhere I Go should have been hits, but the upside is you get the joy of discovering a hidden gem, something that’s fantastic but not widely known. However, it’s a shame that ten short tracks is all we’ll ever see from post-punk’s nearly men.

Rating: 8/10

Date: 10/01/19
Artist: Arctic Monkeys
Album: Tranquility Base Hotel And Casino
Review Type: Recommendation/Reevaluation

Tranquility Base Hotel And Casino is a funny old Hector. On the one hand, it’s a cool, conceptual album, on the other, is it trying too hard to be cool? Either way, the lounge concept of the album is fantastic and should just be accepted as a complete departure from Arctic Monkeys as we know it.

The wildest take is that were this to be rebadged as the Alex Turner solo album, it’d be lauded as one of the greatest albums ever written. However, as Arctic Monkeys are an accessible, indie rock band, the deviation into becoming a lounge act is admittedly a bit too much to swallow at once. But if you can handle it, you’ll be rewarded with a smash hit in any form.

Though with that said, songs like Star Treatment, Four Out of Five and TBH&C are just perfect. Maybe TBH&C will lead to more lounge albums penetrating the mainstream and we all get to sit around in velvet smoking jackets, snapping our fingers to easy listening whilst sinking a smokey single malt. And that cannot be a bad thing. Get to the taqueria on the roof lads, big man Al’s taking us to deep space, ask your mates (and your mum, see if she says yes).

Rating: 8/10

Date: 11/01/19
Artist: Popes Of Chillitown
Album: Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard
Review Type: Discovery

Aw come on, as far as Simpsons related band names go, these guys have got to be front runners. Popes Of Chillitown, name a better Simpsons related band and we’ll do a week dedicated to shitpostworthy bands. Popes Of Chillitown are a ska/dub/punk band and they are GREAT FUN, as you might expect. With a name like this and a sound like that, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to move to this band’s beat.

Ska/dub/punk is always a recipe for success, mixing the oi! of punk guitars and the fun horns of ska. Maybe that’s a little basic but we’ve much ground to cover in this article. It’s fun to dance to, easy to listen to and really well put together. The whole album is fantastic, with songs like Vexed, Get On/Get Off, The Last Elephant and Upside Down providing the most fun and games.

A photo of a naked soldier gamer will get 200,000 likes, so let’s get that for our shitposting ska heroes!

Rating: 9/10

12/01/19
Artist: Tiny Moving Parts
Album: Swell
Review Type: Recommendation

You know what? Listening to one album a day for a year is pretty fucking fatiguing and we’re not even halfway through January. Maybe when dry January draws to a close, you can just get hammered and listen to the same album. However, Tiny Moving Parts make it all the more easier with Swell, their 2018 offering. A lot of this will be albums that the author missed the boat on in 2018, because he’s a lazy idiot, and was too depressed to review some albums.

Apparently, TMP are a screamo/math band, which sounds like a delightful cocktail and goodness it is. The vocal delivery on Swell is beautiful, and the mathy guitar flourishes are always welcome. It’s hard to pin them down for a “For Fans Of”, but their sound feels so broadly appealing that anybody who enjoys guitar-driven music would easily get into these guys. They’re just an incredibly well put together band, and are a cohesive sonic unit, almost as if they’re made of… tiny moving parts… really makes you think.

It’s one of those awkward albums where you enjoy it all so you can’t pick your favourite tracks, but if you must, Wildfire. That feels like the benchmark for the rest of what is admittedly a largely flawless album. There seems to be a lot of hype around TMP, and hopefully they continue growing from what is clearly a brilliant album in Swell.

Rating: 9/10

Date: 13/01/19
Artist: Kanye West
Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Review Type: Recommendation

Remember the good old days where Kanye wasn’t that middle aged man in the MAGA hat who failed to hit deadlines with projects more frequently than legendary TRANSISTOR writer Oliver Butler? Never mind, Ye is nothing but a cautionary tale: Never love anyone.

Though back in the day, Kanye was just an out and out genius, rather than… whatever he is these days, and MBDTF was a hallmark of that genius. Though the roundly accepted 10 is overselling it a bit, perfection runs through the veins of this album. Runaway, POWER, Monster and Hell Of A Life are some of the best that Yeezy’s ever put out. Kanye’s production skills have always been A-grade, and yes, MBDTF is a masterclass in his talents with a synthesiser.

Is Kanye West a strange, confused, middle aged man in a MAGA hat these days? Yes, absolutely, but let’s not forget that less than ten years ago, he was an explosive genius.

Rating: 9/10

WEEK 3

Date: 14/01/19
Artist: Kano
Album: Made In The Manor
Review Type: Reevaluation

2016 was a good year for grime. In fact, every year seems to be a good year for grime. Remember the old days where it was Boy In Da Corner and lo-fi MySpace mixes of Serious by JME? Of course you don’t. Most of the people who read and write for this site are five years old. However, with Konnichiwa and latterly, Kano’s Made In The Manor being some of the year’s best album, 2016 was another good year for grime.

Made In The Manor contains one of grime’s, if not, music’s greatest lyrics. In album opener Hail, which is a study in how to write a good riff, contains the line “Gettin’ that belly like Sherman Klump”, which frankly, is just clever and funny in spades.

Sonically, Kano went to new heights with Made In The Manor, even inviting Damon Albarn on for a guest spot. The lyrical content of Made In The Manor was hugely poignant and thoughtful, with each song telling a story. T-Shirt Weather In The Manor, as daft as it sounds, makes you image in a sun-kissed evening. Whilst we feel the biting cold, that song can transport you back to the heatwave of 2018. Southgate, cans, Kano, it works.

Maybe this challenge needs to be revised for shit albums only, because you can keep going back to Made In The Manor and enjoy it every time for every mood. Fancy something a bit easier? Drinking In The West End. Want to feel powerful? 3 Wheel Ups. Songs for every mood.

Rating: 9/10

Date: 15/01/19
Artist: Skepta
Album: Konnichiwa
Review Type: Reevaluation

Well, when you’ve spent as much as you did to get this on vinyl, you’d be remiss not to listen and review it. As we said, 2016 was a good year for grime, with Konnichiwa no slouch. Containing one of 2016’s biggest songs in Shutdown, because even after 58,000,000 streams, it’s still fresh and still a banger. However, if you do get sick of Shutdown, listen to Slaves’ christ awful cover of it. How do they fucking ruin everything?

Konnichiwa was another album boosted by superior production quality. Obviously Skepta’s lyrics and flow were a-grade, but your flow is nothing if you don’t have the soundtrack to go with it. Corn On The Curb is a definite highlight, for both production and lyrics. And yes, we are gonna talk about how “Shower man down like Fireman Sam” is another highlight.

Skepta has long been one of grime’s premier MCs, whatever was in the water, it worked for the Adenuga family, with Skepta, JME and Julie Adenuga all being some of modern Britain’s best known musical figures. Konnichiwa was just another consistently brilliant album and hopefully, not the last.

Rating: 9/10

Date: 16/01/19
Artist: JME
Album: >Integrity
Review Type: Reevaluation

Fuck it, let’s get on a roll here. 2015 was ALSO a good year for grime, with JME sadly releasing his latest studio album >Integrity. As previously referenced, whatever was in the Adenuga family’s water worked, with JME being Skepta’s brother. It’s obvious that the highlight of >Integrity is Man Don’t Care featuring Giggs, with “Nostradamus couldn’t see me, expelliarmus coudln’t stop me” being a high point of a high point.

He’s only released 3 albums in the last 11 years and it fucking hurts. However, in that, you get to appreciate every banger he drops rather than being overwhelmed. Don’t @ Me, Pulse 8 and 96 F**kries are tunes, but you can’t help but feel the album is a bit too heavy on the tracklist, and can get a bit too much to handle in one go.

Rating: 8/10

Date: 17/01/19
Artist: Architects
Album: Holy Hell
Review Type: Reevaluation

Alright! Gig day! Architects’ future was in limbo after the release of All Our Gods Have Abandoned us and the death of lead guitarist Tom Searle. However, just two short years after Tom’s death, they were back with Holy Hell, arguably the best record of 2018 and the best of their career.

Architects set their stall out early with opener Death Is Not Defeat, which set the tone, and the mantra for the album. Just take a look at the density of this album. Dying To Heal, Holy Hell, Royal Beggars, Hereafter, Modern Misery, Mortal After All, Doomsday, A Wasted Hymn all stake a claim for the album’s best track. How the FUCK can you bounce back like this?

One of the highlights of the album however is in the liner notes for the vinyl, in the album credits, at the top, front and centre is a special guest star. Holy Hell contains some of Tom’s last riffs, noodles and ideas, allowing the driving force behind the last 7 albums to stay in the front seat.

Honest to god, this album, that gig, those boys. Fucking hell.

Rating: 11/10

Date: 18/01/19
Artist: The Twilight Sad
Album: IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME
Review Type: Release

For the FULL review of the album, you can catch it here. However, to give you the long and short, it’s fantastic. It feels poppier but without the cynical grab for the mainstream that a lot of bands seem to be going for.

Songs like Videograms, Sunday Day13, VTr and Keep It All To Myself are absolutely huge, mixing melancholic lyrics with big synths and hooks. It might have taken five long years for this album to come out, but the wait was worth it.

Rating: 9/10

Date: 19/01/19
Artist: Halestorm
Album: Halestorm
Review Type: Reevaluation

Halestorm are a funny old Hector. Funny old Hector in that they should be headlining festivals and be much bigger than they are. This should be a safe space for wild takes, so, here we go; Lzzy Hale is one of this generation’s greatest frontpersons. She oozes charisma and has the pipes to match it. Let’s also add in the fact she’s riffing to fuck whilst doing it. She is also, in no uncertain terms, a huge role model for young girls.

So their first self titled album, as you might imagine, was fantastic. The stall’s set out early with the power of It’s Not You. That follows a three song salvo finished with I Get Off and Bet U Wish U Had Me Back. Highlights past there include Familiar Taste Of Poison and the big riffs of Dirty Work.

However, compared to what followed, this was a shaky album in comparison, as they only got better, with 2018’s Vicious being one of the finest they’ve ever done.

Rating: 8/10

Date: 20/01/19
Artist: Freddie Mercury
Album: Mr. Bad Guy
Review Type: Reevaluation

Wild, wild take here, but this wasn’t that good an album. Yes, it has Freddie Mercury, giving it a high base score, but it doesn’t have the rest of Queen, which is what you needed. For instance, I Was Born To Love You as a Freddie solo track is sublime, but the full band version that was released as 1995’s posthumous cash grab, Made In Heaven, was even better.

That being said, when you consider the other disco-influenced, synth heavy album featuring Mercury, Hot Space, Mr. Bad Guy is a breath of fresh air. Living On My Own and There Must Be More To Life Than This are fantastic. But overall, it’s just not as amazing as your full-tilt Queen album. However, it’s just always so, so good to hear Freddie’s voice. We’ll never have another and that’s okay. He can never hurt us, never disappoint us. Somewhere in the cosmos lives a moustachioed man, singing I Was Born To Love You to the universe.

Rating: 7/10

Advertisements

Published by

Oliver Butler

I'm sorry.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s