Biffy Clyro – Rank The Albums

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Well, this’ll be difficult. After all, Biffy Clyro are one of the few bands I can recall having a consistent delivery of high quality music over their career though that may be a bit bias seeing as I’m a huge fan of them. Initially I thought this list would be a lot easier as I know my favourite yet here I am, shuffling the albums in my mind on a metaphorical table hoping to come up with my definitive choices.Oh and I’m not putting any b-side albums down since I’ll be here for ages making a decision so put down your pitchfork/torch and have a read, the mob isn’t set to arrive for another hour.

6.Only Revolutions

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Favourite Song : The Captain

Well this choice was one of the easier ones but don’t get me wrong, OR was a good album full to the brim with stadium anthems and the sing along lyrics that you expect from a Biffy release. So why the bottom position? Out of all the releases that the boys have released, OR felt paper thin both lyrics and sound wise. The other records felt like they had more depth to them which may sound odd but I can’t describe it any other way so let’s move on to….

5.Puzzle

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Favourite Song : Get Fucked Stud

Puzzle is, to put it simply, the album that got me interested in Biffy. Beforehand I had a very limited and abysmal music taste that consisted of Basshunter and Scooter but that was 2007, a skidmark on the towel that is my life. As soon as I put my earphones on and listened to Get Fucked Stud, I knew that I had stumbled across something great. The tracks on offer feature a few classics that need to be seen live to truly be experienced but enough of that, let’s focus on…

4.Infinity Land

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Favourite Song : Glitter and Trauma

This was the first pre-puzzle I got my hands on and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Glitter and Trauma? Classic. Weapons are Concealed was like no other Biffy song I knew of and The Atrocity is far from disastrous. Anyway, let’s avert our attention to…

3.Opposites

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Favourite Song : Different People off of The Sand at the Core of Our Bones and Spanish Radio off of The Land at the End of Our Toes

Now this one was forever swapping places with Infinity Land but at the end of the day, what’s better than one biffy album? A double one, that’s what. A while before Opposites came out, I thought the quality wouldn’t hold up as well as there was more of a running time which is a challenge for any artist.Thankfully this wasn’t the case as fans and music lovers alike loved the new album and what it had to offer. I was lucky enough to see them live last year and the tracks survived the transition from album to concert incredibly well. Now to the runner up…

2.Blackened Sky

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Favourite Song : Joy.Discovery.Invention

The one that started it all off and what a way to kick off. Biffy’s early sound was very different to their current one but that obviously doesn’t make any current releases worse for it as you can see from Opposites. Blackened Sky was, to me anyway, musically raw and was all the better for it as every nimble pluck of a guitar string by James Johnston, every crack in Simon Neil’s voice and every attack of drums by Ben Johnston were all great indicators of a band that were different from any other in Britain at the time. Finally….

1.Vertigo Of Bliss

imageFavourite Song : All of them?

Last but by no means least, Vertigo of Bliss is simply every great aspect of Biffy multiplied by 11. Every track on this album grabbed my attention as soon as I put it on and some of the best tracks I’ve ever heard feature on this, be it Toys Toys Toys Choke, Toys Toys Toys which has a barrage of screams and cymbals or All The Way down that shows that even when the pace is slowed down, their quality still shines undeniably. Out of all the albums I’ve listed, this is the one that always sticks out in my mind and the one that I could listen to for hours upon hours.

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Looking For Alaska by John Green

“When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

It’s no surprise that John Green has became the successful author that he is today. Thanks to his strong character development, unique humour and his style of writing which comes across as highly relatable to teenagers such as myself, Green has managed to win various awards as well as reaching number one on a New York Times Best Seller list. Whereas most writers’ first piece of work is usually not nearly as developed or as great quality-wise in comparison to their later work,Looking For Alaska is not only Green’s best piece of work, it’s an engaging book with interesting characters as well as all the traits you’d expect from a John Green book and then some.

The first thing that should be noted is the fairly unique structure of the book itself. Unlike how most books stick to the traditional chapter style of using numbers/names, Looking For Alaska is in two halves (Before and After) and uses a countdown function (e.g One Hundreds Day Before, Ninety Nine Days Before etc.) which helps us learn what happens before the main event and the events that follow, a nice change of pace and style from usually being flung into the middle of a scenario with no prior knowledge of the situation. The title character Miles is an extremely likeable protagonist who has the trait of learning famous people’s last word, an interesting quirk which could have potentially became a gimmick through repetitive use actually relates to the story that unfolds. Meanwhile Alaska, an extremely beautiful girl who drinks and smokes seems the complete opposite of Miles and it’s no surprise that Miles quickly falls in love with her in traditional teen fiction fashion. However, the event that follows soon after changes everything and we soon begin to see a different side of Miles (though not in any Walter White / Heisenberg kind of fashion.) The second half of the book reads something like a John Hughes coming of age film with Miles searching for closure with companions such as Chip “The Colonel” who supplies most of the books humour and a favourite amongst fans of the book. Without giving away too much of the plot away, the book is at times extremely touching as well as entertaining and the blend of the two help create a refreshing book which is hard to put down once you’ve read the first few chapters.

After reading Looking For Alaska, it was clear for me to see that the book deserved the awards that it had won. The characters were easy to like, the plot was a change from the typical sappy romance plot that teen fiction seems to be riddled with nowadays and is also thought provoking at times. One of the many famous last words that Miles had memorised was from the great writer François Rabelais which goes “I go to seek a great perhaps.” This is something that I think we’ve all asked ourselves at some point in our lives, especially during adolescence, and is still to this day one of my favourite lines from a book. Even if you aren’t a fan of John Green, I’d recommend this book to anyone as it not only entertaining but a book that will have you thinking long after finishing it.

CLASSIC REVIEW: The Strokes – Is This It

Whether you like to call it the 2000’s or the noughties,there’s no doubt that the decade was a very exciting time for music as not only were applauded albums by former well praised bands released, Radiohead’s Kid A as an example, but the new wave of bands not only surprised critics but intrigued them as well with bands like Bloc Party and Arctic Monkeys releasing some of the best albums to be released in the past 15 years.

One band that can proudly admit to being a part of this new wave are The Strokes, an American rock band that hail from New York, who came out of nowhere to not only release one of the most exciting pieces of music in the past couple of decades but also change the face of modern rock as we know it.

Throughout this album, there’s an ever present mood and atmosphere that are wonderfully brought to life by various aspects of the band, be it Casablancas’ hauntingly mesmerising voice which narrates the 11 tracks on this album, the dexterous and dazzling guitar performances by Valensi, Hammond Jnr and Fraiture or Moretti’s consistent flow that he provides on drums.

The songs on this album are of a very high standard and observe the life and times of living in a metropolis such as New York City. A song which represents this very well is the opening track Is This It? that tells of the manipulation that relationships can be a victim of with Casablanca’s voice hovering gracefully over the sound of quiet drums and a calming choir of guitars and this same theme continues over to Last Nite. This track gained the band a lot of initial hype and tells of the disappointment and aggravation that relationships can provide over time with a very upbeat tempo which will stick in your mind long after the album is finished.

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New York City Cops is clearly a not so sly hit at the city’s police department with a tongue in cheek snort at the end that adds to the album’s unique charisma. Take It Or Leave It is the concluding track and what a send off it is with Casablancas shouting over a hyperactive clash of drums and guitars that provide a brilliant album for the band’s debut.

What else can be said about an album that hasn’t been said by the hundreds of thousands of people that have listened to it? The album not only provides an insight into life in New York City but also provides the kind of character and charm that most albums can only dream of having. The album is a milestone is music and it’s no surprise that the album is regarded as one of the best albums ever made and the thing that makes me appreciate the album is even though the themes on this album were initially to give an insight of a life in a metropolis, it’s oddly relatable and explains why the album is cherished by music lovers all around the world as well as showing why this album is the greatest record produced during the noughties.

Tyler The Creator – Goblin

So recently I wrote a review on Earl Sweatshirt’s debut Doris, praising it for showing off the potential the Odd Future member had and for solidifying his career in the genre. The person we have to thank, other than Earl himself, for that record even being possible is Tyler The Creator, the leader of the Odd Future collective who found him on Myspace under the identity of Sly Tendencies. So how does Tyler’s 2011 album debut following his critically praised debut mixtape Bastard match up? Surprisingly well in fact.

Now before listening to Goblin or any Odd Future release for that matter, you need to go in expecting the trademark gags and grotesque raps that the collective are now well regarded for (though recent albums from members of OF have been more mature in comparison). The production value on this album is top notch with the little touches really adding up to a polished album that has beats just oozing with charisma. Opening track Goblin shows off this with Tyler rapping about criticisms that he’s a bad influence and exaggerated claims that he’s a Satan worshipper over light machine gun rattles. As well as showing off the impressive production value, this track also features Tyler talking to his therapist about his problems which is a running theme on Wolf, Bastard & Goblin which when listened to in that order tells the fictional story of Tyler and gives the albums a lot of replay value and shows that Tyler isn’t the stupid, emotionless 22 year old that the majority of the media have him pigeon-holed as. What follows is the fan favourite Yonkers which features a memorable beat with Tyler having a conversation with his alter ego Wolf Haley in which the two contradict each other which shows the wild side of Tyler that we’re used to seeing but also the emotional Tyler that is shown on Goblin. Radicals is a tongue in cheek track with a chorus of voices shouting “Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School” over an aggressive, blaring beat with a follow up of calm sounds with Tyler speaking to the listener, making the album feel more atmospheric for it. Frank Ocean also features on this album on the track She which is a romantic tale of Tyler’s sappy, passive aggressive obsession with a girl with Ocean’s sublime voice providing the chorus and really shows off the talent of the 25 year old. Tron Cat is another eerie sounding track which also features rapping about Tyler’s other alter ego Tron Cat and disses about Chris Brown.

Unlike most rap albums which feature tracks that feel like they’d be better on a B-side or not on a record at all, every track on this album is necessary for explaining the story of a fictional Tyler which I have to refrain on spoiling but has already produced a number of theories on a rumoured EarlWolf album. The cameos on this album are the usual odd future member appearances but are thankfully impressive and do not feel lacklustre in the slightest. Window is a great example of this showing an emotionally unstable Tyler having an intervention with Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Hodgy Beats and Mike G who each tell what is important in their lives and adds to the running story on this record. Any fan of the rap scene should give this album a listen to as there is a track that you’re bound to like for numerous reasons and really shows that even though Tyler might be seen as a controversial, attention seeking man-child of sorts, he definitely has the talent to make his mark on the music industry.

Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe

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Now this album could have gone horribly wrong. Chvrches could have produced a bland album with repetitive and dull songs and been a total let down from the potential they had shown on their previous EP’s as well the hype they had accumulated on the music scene.Thankfully this is not the case with The Bones Of What You Believe being an exceptionally refreshing piece of music from the three-piece Glaswegian band.

        Instead of rambling through the tracks that are on offer on this album, I’ll just give a few favourites of mine on TBOWYB. The second track We Sink has a ridiculously catchy chorus and shows off the great talent of Iain Cook and Martin Doherty who have selected a great pallete of sounds with Lauren Mayberry’s voice gracefully fitting in and never feeling out of place. Gun, the following track which previously has been on its self titled EP, retains the same traits as the preceding track which creates a strong introduction for the album. Tether goes in a different direction by replacing the vibrant beats with more calming bursts of synthesizers with Mayberry providing a calm and confident vocal performance over it which nearer the end becomes likes the previous tracks in the best way possible by introducing the vibrant beats yet again, creating a stand out track which is very much enjoyable. Under The Tide allows a change of vocals which is a welcome change with a lovely production value. Recover is a favourite of mine and is the first track I heard from the band a few months ago and still holds up now with Mayberry’s confident voice fluttering over the resonant and vivid beats which is sure to be the band’s concert gem like The Captain is for Biffy Clyro.

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The album is by no means a perfect one. Some tracks can feel a bit half hearted and many might feel that the album can feel repetitive at times. However, it does take a lot of guts to release debut album from a band that are relatively new to the majority of the public at the same time as bands from the same genre (MGMT) and popular bands from other genres (Arctic Monkeys) are releasing their albums and thankfully, the band’s unique voice provided by Lauren Mayberry with special kudos to the other two members of the band Ian Cook and Martin Doherty ,who handle the synthesizers for the tracks on this band like any experienced musician would, make this a top notch debut album and gives Chvrches a very promising future.

Arctic Monkeys – AM

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     With four albums under their belts, many would think that Arctic Monkeys could perform a “Jay-Z” of sorts and just release a similar sounding album to anything they’ve released previously and sell millions due to the popularity the band have internationally. Thankfully, this isn’t the case and they’ve delivered quite a different album which is as stylistic as it is well made.        

Arctic Monkeys have been critically applauded since their 2005 debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not so it should be no surprise to anyone that Do I Wanna Know? is a brilliant opener that is full of fluent, romantic lines that show off the talent Turner has with “been wondering what time your heart’s still open and if so I wanna know what time it shuts” being a memorable one. Another classic stadium rocking gem for the band follows in the form of R U Mine? which features a catchy beat and strong performances from Alex, Jamie, Nick and Matt. The atmosphere soon changes though in the track One For The Roadwhich is more chilled out and this same vibe carries on to Arabella which also contains a strong chorus followed by even stronger performances on guitar which mantains the same back up vocals that are difficult not to sing along with so there should be no surprise that this is a personal favourite of mine on the record. Want It All, which should be pointed out for a great beat that’s hard not to nod your head along to in appreciation, is the preceding track to No.1 Party Anthem which is one of the more unique tracks which represents how stylistic this album is. Mad Soundscomes after this and is an average track which will most likely be lost amongst the other tracks. The same can also be said about Firesidewhich feels more filler than killer. Thankfully Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? redeems that and it’s lovely tempo and beat make it a track which is difficult not to like. Snap Out Of It features the same great vocals that can be seen on the whole of AM  as well a great beat to go with it and Knee Socks keeping up the record’s reputation of great tracks. I Wanna Be Yours retains the same chilled vibe from One For The Road and Arabella and although it is a good track, compared to the rest of the album it can be seen as being lacklustre.

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       Suck It And See is regarded by some fans of the band as one of their best pieces of work while others see it as their most dissapointing. Fortunately, this split opinion shouldn’t be the same case for AM as the band have proved themselves yet again by producing a great record that every music fan should give a listen to as even though it has a few lacklustre tracks, it’s an album that’s worth your attention.

Biffy Clyro – Opposites

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Now this is a long overdue review. I’ve only recently started reviewing music and only have one article under my hypothetical belt so where better to start than the latest album from Biffy Clyro.

Biffy Clyro are a rock trio from Scotland and originate from the area where I live. They’re not a new band and have been making music for more than a decade now and are one of the best live bands currently in the music business, recently touring with Muse in America. Opposites is their sixth album and their first double album, a point that was being discussed from the album’s early days by front man Simon Neil who was divided on whether or not it should be a double or triple album. I was lucky to get the album on release and was anxious for the result.Thankfully, Biffy have released not only a great album but one of their finest albums that can sit along with the likes of Puzzle. Different People can only be described as being a stadium anthem and is definitely one of the best tracks on the album with Victory Over The Sun being a personal favourite of mine. One of the strong points of the albums is the energy that you can practically feel when listening, probably due to the amount of years they have been in the business for. One problem with any double album though is the strong possibility that the tracks may be thinly spread about, dipping in quality but thankfully songs like The Thaw provide sweet relief from the hard rock songs.

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Biffy Clyro have managed to produce a great album that’s only downfall is the quality of some tracks manage to make others feel minuscule in comparison, a problem that many may have feared in the build up to the release of Opposites but at this stage in 2013, Opposites looks like the Rock album of the year.

Mumford And Sons – Babel

If you were to ask any member of the public a few years ago if a band dressed like they worked on a farm and performed folk music would become internationally recognisable, you’d be ridiculed but that’s exactly what has happen with Mumford & Sons. Their 2009 debut was a surprise and up to now is still an indie gem full of foot stomping anthems that many songwriters dream about making so it’s no surprise that the build up to Mumford’s new album was full of both excitement as well as anxiety. It can be said that most of these worries can be put to rest as Babel has delivered the goods.

Whereas their debut started off with the chilling Sigh No More before venturing off into The Cave and Winter Winds, Mumford are very much aware of where they are in the media’s attention as a refreshing, energetic band and so start off with Babel, a track that’ll be on their setlist at gigs and festivals for years to come which is followed up Whispers In The Dark, a song full of beautiful lyrics and a classic chorus that will have fans of the band shouting and screaming during it from the top of their lungs. It’s at this point in the album that you would expect things to die down into something a bit slow but with the confidence that the band are showing, they belt out hit after hit showing that they’ve not lost the same charisma that have made the band instantly recognisable. So what can be wrong with something full of enthralling tracks that are admirable and brilliant? Well the problem with Babel is it seeming a little too safe which can be argued as being exactly what fans wanted but it almost seems like there’s something Mumford are holding back on and they may just be waiting for their third album which is currently in development to showcase this but this may leave some fans feeling a little let down but with tracks like Lover Of The Light and Hopeless Wanderer, they’ll hardly be complaining. 

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Babel is proof that Mumford & Sons deserve to be in the position that they’re at in the music world and the charisma that they portray in both of their albums is best to be experienced live. Babel’s only downfall is the fact that it plays it safe and many like myself would like to see them experiment with their sound to show progression that would make their mark on the music world. Babel is proof that they’re well on their way to do so.

Kanye West – Yeezus

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Now this is an odd one. No matter what your opinion on Kanye might be, he’s not one to be pigeon-holed, be it 808’s & Heartbreak which was controversial for the musician drifting away from rapping or his recent album which even after listening to it multiple times is hard to come up with a proper opinion.

After the release of 2010’s critically acclaimed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it’s hard to think what the egotistical Mr West could possibly come up with this time around. If your guess was sick beats, rapping about croissants and a cameo from Daft Punk then kudos to you because that’s what West has delivered and at first listen, it’s an odd album to say the least. Whereas most of his albums had a focus on certain subjects such as The College Dropout, Yeezus seems confused, sometimes focusing on the issue of racism but this issue often seems ignored by West himself when he raps on certain out of place tracks such as I’m In It. While this is a downside, the sound of Yeezus is so refreshing and as many people have said before, like it’s from the year 3000. Yeezus, musical wise, is darker than it’s predecessors and combines different styles such as acid house, chicago drill and more which gives it a unique sound that helps the album stand out.

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Kanye is in a pretty stressful position with the media paying an awful lot of attention on him after his disputes with members of the paparazzi as well as his partner Kim Kardashian which may have cause the short comings of Yeezus but as it stands, Yeezus is a solid album that’s only downfall is it’s loss of identity, something that’s been the reason for the success of West during his whole career.

blink-182 – Greatest Hits

The term “pop punk” is thrown around quite a lot nowadays, usually assigned to bands such as All Time Low, Paramore and Fall Out Boy and is successful for presenting punk rock with a whole new twist on it. Even though now nearly any new bands nowadays can be classified as being pop punk, one pop punk that have been around since the start and celebrated their 21st anniversary on Friday are blink 182.

Now blink-182 aren’t unheard of as they’ve had success both commercially and critically, being well known for the energy and charisma that thrives in their albums as well as their live performances. Greatest Hits was released during the hiatus of blink-182, a hiatus many fans and critics thought would never end and who could blame them. Tom DeLonge was already having mild success with his band Angels and Airwaves and Mark Hoppus was also working on various musical projects such as +44 with fellow bandmate Travis Barker who, in my opinion, is one of the most talented drummers in music right now, expanding his talents to different genres outside of the genre he had conquered with blink-182. Enough with the reminiscing now, with blink-182 back with an altered style which is fresh and still as great as ever, it’s time to look back at their greatest hits. I couldn’t have picked a better track list if I’m being honest, as the selection on this album contains tracks from the early days with Scott Raynor on albums such as Buddha and obviously ones from Enema Of The State where he was replaced with Barker and blink began to experience major commercial success. Of course there is the obvious choices such as All The Small Things that’ll have you chanting “nananananananananana” over and over again and Carousel that lets you reminisce on the early days of blink and back on a younger Tom DeLonge’s odd vocals. As well as that, there’s also the dark Adam’s Song which is chilling even now and Stay Together For The Kids, two songs that show that blink weren’t only about dick and mum jokes but about the hard times of adolescence and life itself. I Miss You and First Date are both good choices as they show another well known problem of adolescence, romance. The latter represents more of the awkward guy’s version of a date with the paranoia of screwing it up and so makes it a very relatable song with a very cheesy, romantic chorus.

Negatives? The only problem I have with this album is the absence of certain tracks that shows the humorous side of blink which would make for a slightly better compilation album but the tracks that are on the episode can’t be argued with. After listening to it more than I’m glad to admit, I still have no issues with any of the tracks on this album.

At the end of the day, blink-182 will be many things to many people, not all of these things positive as is the case with every band. Ignoring that fact though, every fan of the punk genre, no matter what their preference is should listen to this album. For fans of the pop punk genre, it’s a must buy as it not only shows why blink-182 are successful but how the genre as a whole was born. Plug in your headphones, turn up the volume, play and enjoy.