Thursday, 6 December 2012

Flynndie Reviews: #35 - Top 10 Albums of 2012 - Part 2

Written 7th December 2012:

Top 10 Albums of 2012 – Part 2

Ok, so following on from my last Blog here is the second part of my favourite 10 albums from 2012.  If you missed Part 1, fear not dear reader as you can still find the Blog here or by simply scrolling down the page to after this post.  However, if you did read Part 1, well firstly many thanks for the support and secondly I hope you enjoy reading Part 2 which, with air-guitars still at the ready, we shall jump straight into with a great up-and-coming young band hailing from The US-of-A, Minneapolis.

#5. Howler – America Give Up (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #22 – 8/10)

Arriving on the scene in early January this year, young up-starts Howler released their debut album ‘America Give Up’.  Now long time readers may know I’m quite a fan of this bright, young band’s slasher, surfer-rock Indie style and this debut album certainly didn’t disappoint when it arrived.  With a collection of fast, catchy garage-rock tracks the band very much remind me of a lite version of The Strokes from the beach-party styled opener ‘Beach Sluts’ to ‘This One’s Different’ reminding me very much of the juke box from the old TV series ‘Happy Days’ (ask your parents kids!).  ‘Told You Once’ continues the classic 60’s Diner theme, while uniquely titled ‘Pythagorean Fearem’ reminds me a lot of the dark, sinister sound the band ‘80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster’ were famed for.  Throw in more fast, paced garage-rock with incredibly catchy tracks ‘Wailing (Making Out) and excellent closer ‘Black Lagoon’ and what we have here are a fun, exciting young band, which if you’re a fan on band’s like The Strokes, The Vaccines and to an extend The Libertines and missed this early album from 2012, then I would highly recommend it!

Recommended Tracks: ‘Beach Sluts’, ‘Wailing (Making Out)’, ‘Told You Once, ‘Black Lagoon’
Personal Favourite Track: ‘This One’s Different’ -

Howler brought their Surfer, Garage-Rock sound to The Garage back in January
#4. Maximo Park – The National Health (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #26 – 9/10)

Our next stop on this journey through 2012 see’s us arrive in the North-East; Newcastle to be exact with the long-awaited return of Maximo Park and their 4th studio album ‘The National Health’.  And in my opinion it was well worth the wait as ‘The National Health’ saw the band on real top-form this year, really pushing at the boundaries of the fast, paced guitar sound the band are famed for.  From opening piano ballad ‘When I was Wild’, a surprising start to the record but sets it up nicely, we then had the more ‘traditional’ Maximo Park guitar sound on title-track ‘The National Health’ and the sound continued to be found on tracks ‘Until the Earth would Open’ and ‘Wolf Among Men’, which I always find I can’t help but dance to every time I hear it.  Also featuring more, ‘darker’ electro-pop on previous single ‘Hips and Lips’ and ‘Banlieue’; we also then had the sweeter, more romantic side of Maximo Park on tracks ‘The Undercurrents’, ‘Reluctant Love’ and ‘Unfamiliar Places’.  It’s fair to say the band really challenged themselves and packed quite an impressive range of tracks into a 40-minute record and again this has been another record I’ve found myself listening to a lot this year.

Recommended Tracks: ‘Hips and Lips’, ‘The Undercurrents’, ‘Reluctant Love’, ‘Wolf Among Men’
Personal Favourite Track: ‘The National Health’ -

#3. The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #24 – 9/10)

We next head further North still to Kilsyth, Scotland as The Twilight Sad released their 3rd album in February this year with ‘No One Can Ever Know’, the follow-up to their fantastic second album ‘Forget the Night Ahead’.  The distinctly Scottish band returned with another collection of dark, intense and cryptic songs with a generous dose of synths, electronics and even accordions applied to tracks throughout the record.  Each track acts very much as a ‘chapter’ through the record, ranging from opener ‘Alphabet’ setting the more synth-based direction of this album, to the more traditional guitar tracks by the band in the momentum building and fast paced guitar track ‘Dead City’ and then the excellently told tale by third track ‘Sick’.  More synth-heavy tracks appear on the album in the form of ‘Don’t Move’ and ‘Don’t Look at Me’, while we have two excellent Indie-dance tracks closing the album with Joy Division-esque track ‘Another Bed’ and the excellent, building closing track ‘Kill It in the Morning’.  The Twilight Sad seem to remain another very underground Indie band but their style of dark, cryptic and intense guitar and synth-based tracks have a real charm about them and ‘No One Can Ever Know’ is yet another brillant album by a band I would highly recommend to check out and especially go see live.

Recommended Tracks: ‘Alphabet’, ‘Sick’, ‘Don’t Move’, ‘Don’t Look at Me’
Personal Favourite Track(s):
‘Dead City’ -
‘Kill It in the Morning’ - (Live)

The Twilight Sad stormed through an intense set at The Borderline earlier this year

#2. Two Door Cinema Club - Beacon (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #30 – 9/10)

From Kilsyth, Scotland, we next travel to Bangor, Northern Ireland as September saw Two Door Cinema Club release their much anticipated second album ‘Beacon’ the follow-up to their successful debut album ‘Tourist History’.  ‘Beacon’ was released the same week as The Vaccines album ‘Come of Age’ and while the latter may have won that particular chart battle that week, I’ve found myself listening to this album slightly more of the two over the course of the year.  A record laced with the band’s now more familiar fast-paced, guitar and synth pop tracks this album really builds on the band’s debut record for me.  Each track tends to unfold a tale through lead singer Alex Tremble’s falsetto voice and lyrics; this is particularly evident on tracks such as opener ‘Next Year’ and previous single ‘He Sleeps Alone’.  Some of the tracks on the album are just brilliantly put together and build slowly then explode lavishly bold in their style of music and vocals see ‘Sun’, ‘Settle’ and particularly ‘The World is watching (with Valentina)’ for examples of this and overall this has been a highly enjoyable album.

Recommended Songs: ‘Sun’, ‘Sleep Alone’, The World is watching (with Valentina)
Personal Favourite Track(s):
‘Someday’ - (Live at Reading Festival 2012)
‘Settle’ - (Live at Brixton Academy)

#1. Bloc Party - Four (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #29 – 8/10)

So the final date on our tour of 2012 sees us arrive in London as Bloc Party returned with their cunningly named fourth album ‘Four’ also ironically released four years after their previous album ‘Intimacy’.  There was a lot of speculation as to what direction the band would take with this album, after their very rocky, Indie-based debut ‘Silent Alarm, to the more ‘chilled-out’ ‘A Weekend in the City’ and the previously mentioned ‘Initmacy’ which showed more of a nod to the Indie Dance scene.  I think what we got with ‘Four’ from Bloc Party was actually a blend of all three of their previous albums to date, making for a unique, eclectic range of tracks from intense, guitar-heavy Indie rock on tracks ‘3x3’, recent single ‘Kettling’ and ‘V.A.L.I.S.’, to the more serene, softer tracks such as the banjo-featuring ‘Real Talk’ and the beautifully sublime ‘Day Four’, to the post-punk sound found on closing track ‘We’re Not Good People’.  Throw in some dance-vibes on comeback single ‘Octopus’ and the excellent and urgent ‘Team A’, plus a couple of old-school sounding Bloc Party bonus tracks in ‘Mean’ and ‘Leaf Skeleton’ on the deluxe version of the album and basically this album formed a great return from the band.  I said at the time I reviewed this, the album felt like ‘a grower’ and this has certainly proved to be the case for me during 2012.

Recommended Tracks: ‘Octopus’, ‘Day Four’, ‘Real Talk’, ‘We’re Not Good People’
Personal Favourite Track(s):
‘Kettling’ -   
‘Team-A’’ - (Live at Koko)

So that concludes my Top 10 albums of 2012, I hope you’ve enjoyed my selections and if you have any good recommendations of albums I may have missed this year and are not on my list, feel free to send me some recommendations across on Twitter or leave them in the comments section below.  Many thanks for taking the time to read the Blog and here’s looking forward to some great Indie and alternative music in 2013!
Rocking into 2013


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Flynndie Reviews #34: Top 10 Albums of 2012 - Part 1

Written 4th December 2012:

Top 10 Albums of 2012 – Part 1

So following on from last year, I’ve decided to compile my favourite Indie/alternative albums from the past 12 months and list my personal favourite selections here again. I personally think 2012 has been quite a good year in general for fans of Indie and alternative music, with the main theme seemingly to be all about ‘the comeback album’ with quite a few bands returning with either their eagerly anticipated follow-up to a decent debut record but also in some cases the long-awaited return from popular, fan-favourite bands with the big question being: “Have they still got it?”

I’ve again decided to split this Blog into two parts with 5 albums each and of course these choices are just my personal preferences. I have no special criteria in picking which album I’ve rated higher than another, after all this list is purely for fun, other than which albums I’ve genuinely enjoyed listening to the most through the year. Yet even putting this list together it has really taken me quite some considerable time to pick an order for the ‘top ten’ so basically if an album appears on this list then at the end of the day it’s an album I would recommend checking out. You may also notice that I’ve rated some albums I previously reviewed with a lower mark higher than others but this is purely because of what mark I gave the albums when I reviewed them at their time of release while this list focuses more on what I’ve eventually found myself listening to more during the course of 2012.

Anyway, that’s enough of the introductory waffle for now, let’s pack our air guitars and head out on tour, starting in Llandudno, Wales…

#10. Catfish and the Bottlemen – Beautiful Decay EP (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #25 – 8/10)

Right, so I’m ‘breaking the rules’ slightly on the list straight away by sneakily sneaking in an EP at #10 here but having listened to this band a lot in 2012 I felt it would be a shame for them to not feature in an end of year review. So the EP in question is the ‘Beautiful Decay EP’ from Llandudno’s very own Catfish and the Bottlemen. What we have here is an excellent, tight, Indie-Rock 6-track EP, kicking off with two excellent tracks ‘Sidewinder’ and ‘Bodies’ both of which would make great debut singles for most bands. The EP is packed full of the band’s distinctly, incredibly catchy guitar melodies and solos, not too far off capturing the type of sound of some of the early Arctic Monkey’s material in my opinion, while lead-singer Van’s crisp, clear vocals depict tales of the fast-paced, hustle and bustle of life and every day relationships, a tried and tested formula but one that everyone can relate to and really done to great effect here on the record. The most impressive thing about this EP for me though, is how tight and spot on the band are with their timing but this is surely down to the fact that these lads tour relentlessly! Honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen many other bands put in a commitment to a live schedule in 2012 as much as these lads and I genuinely believe they are one to watch for 2013 which will hopefully see the release of a full debut album by them.

Recommended Tracks: ‘Sidewinder’, ‘Harlot’, ‘Tyrants’
Personal Favourite Track: ‘Bodies’ -

Catfish and the Bottlemen played Queen of Hoxton earlier this year

#9. The Vaccines – Come of Age (Previously un-reviewed)

Early September saw the return of garage-rock favourites The Vaccines with the follow-up to their 2011 debut ‘What did you expect from The Vaccines?’ with this year’s release ‘Come of Age’. And for me this is an appropriately fitting album title for the band, with this year’s follow-up really seeing the band progress and mature musically from their previously successful debut record. ‘Come of Age’ saw the band cleverly put together a record featuring tracks of nicely written Indie-Guitar-Pop on tracks like opener ‘No Hope’ and ‘Teenage Icon’ to the desperate, urgency on ‘Bad Mood’ to charming tracks ‘Aftershave Ocean’ and ‘I Wish I was a Girl, while yet, and here’s the clever bit, blending them with very much 60’s Blues sounding tracks such as ‘I Always Knew’, ‘All in Vain’ and ‘Weirdo’ and while the mention of Blues may set off alarm bells ringing for some, I genuinely think the band capture the style very well here on this record, giving them a much more distinct identity and really see the band ‘Come of Age’. (Boooooo, terrible pun!)

Recommended Tracks: ‘No Hope’, ‘Aftershave Ocean’, ‘Bad Mood’
Personal Favourite Track: ‘Teenage Icon’ - 

#8. Muse – The Second Law (Previously un-reviewed)

Moving swiftly on, 2012 saw the long-awaited return of Muse with their 6th studio album ‘The Second Law’. Arguably one of the biggest band’s in the World these days, there is always extremely high-anticipation when a new Muse album is released and I think that while not quite on par with their first four albums, ‘The Second Law’ mostly delivers another great Muse record to the fans with a few ‘marmite’ tracks on it that you’ll either like instantly or take time to get into. Packed with some great tracks throughout from the very James Bond-esque opener ‘Supremacy’, to the epic building ‘Follow Me’ and then the low-fi piano and bass driven, old-school sounding Muse on ‘Animals’ there are a great range of tracks throughout the record as well as debut lead vocals from bassist Chris Wolstenholme on tracks ‘Save Me’ and ‘Liquid State’. While I initially struggled with previous singles ‘Madness’ and ‘Survival’ they have grown on me with more listens and overall I felt this was another great, ambitious album in Muse’s repertoire, with a hint of Queen thrown in throughout the album as well.

Recommended Tracks: ‘Supremacy’, ‘Madness’, ‘Follow Me’
Personal Favourite Track: ‘Animals’ -

#7. Reverend and the Makers – @Reverend_Makers (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #28 – 8/10)

Our next album on the list sees us arrive in Sheffield with the return of ‘Reverend and the Makers’. After their excellent debut album ‘The State of Things’ and it’s follow-up ‘A French Kiss in the Chaos’, 2012 finally saw the band return after a long hiatus with their latest effort '@Reverend_Makers'. Going back much more to their roots of the first album, this latest record from the band sees them effortlessly blend a great range of Indie tracks with very much a dance vibe at the heart of them, with tracks like ‘Bassline’ and ‘Depth Charge’ restoring memories of the Hedonistic sounds of the Ibiza Clubbing scene back at the end of the 90’s. However, the real credit to the album has been its success despite very little mainstream airplay and this is because the tracks on the album really stand out on its own and has built a good following via word of mouth. Throw in a bonus CD with remixes and a further few extra tracks and this year’s return from Reverend and the Makers was certainly worth the long wait and a real return to form.

Recommended Songs: ‘Bassline’, ‘Warts ‘n’ All’, ‘The Wrestler’
Personal Favourite Track: ‘Out of the Shadows’ -

#6. Nine Black Alps – Sirens (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #32 – 7/10)

From Sheffield we next head to Manchester and the return of Indie, grunge rockers Nine Black Alps with this their latest fourth album ‘Sirens’. This album goes much more back to the band’s roots of the grunge rock which featured heavily on their debut album ‘Everything Is’. Featuring, instant, catchy rock tracks throughout from opening tracks ‘Be My Girl’, ‘Don’t’ Forget to Breath’ and ‘My One and Only’ the album has a real feel of a personal note from the band back to the fans with tracks having a traditional Nine Black Alps feel to them. The album also features cleverly layered Indie tracks that build throughout, for example on the brilliantly titled ‘Phospherence’ and ‘What You Wanted’, but for me one of the stand-out tracks on the album is the brilliant acoustic ballad ‘Waiting Room’, showing the real-depths of song writing the band are capable off. Nine Black Alps still remain quite an underground Indie-Rock band but this album sums up the sound of the band very well and is a good starting-point if you have not heard any material from them before.
Nine Black Alps rocking the Borderline back in October

Recommended Tracks: ‘Be My Girl’, ‘Don’t forget to Breath’, ‘Phospherence’, ‘Penny Cinderella’
Personal Favourite Track(s):
‘My One and Only’ -
‘Waiting Room’ -

So that covers my first five selections in my ‘Top 10 albums of 2012’ list. Needless to say in the 2nd part of this Blog, which I plan to post up within the next week, I shall reveal my top 5 albums of the year!

Still Rocking in 2012

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Flynndie Reviews: #33 The Birthday Suit - A Conversation Well Rehearsed

Written 10th November 2012:

The Birthday Suit – A Conversation Well Rehearsed

The Band: Rod Jones (vocals/guitar), Jacqueline Irvine (keys/vocals), Steve Morrison (Drums), David Jack (bass), Sean McLaughin (guitar), Catrin Pryce Jones (Violin)

So today’s review comes from a Scottish Indie band I’ve been getting into a lot recently, The Birthday Suit. Hailing from Edinburgh the band are fronted by Rod Jones (also known well as the lead guitarist of Scottish Indie Rock band Idlewild) and are returning with this their follow-up to their 2011 debut album, ‘The Eleventh Hour’ and today’s review subject ‘A Conversation Well Rehearsed’. So let’s get straight into this review and see what type of sound the band captures on this record here.


1. Uh-Huh Uh-Huh
2. You Hear the Drums
3. Out of this World
4. You Deserve so Much Better
5. A Can of Worms
6. Wait for the River
7. Less Worthless Years
8. Ten Years Past
9. Bad Dreams
10. My Gang
11. Talk to Yourself

Starting with a series of Holy-sounding ‘Ahhh-Ahhh’s’, opening track, the unusual but delightfully titled ‘Uh-Huh, Uh-Huh’ sets of an early, rocky pace for the record with a fast, menacing guitar riff backed with urgent bass and drums. The rollercoaster nature of the main riff is interspersed with the boldly stated line “I Don’t Think So”, before a quick silent pause then followed by the chorus still maintaining the fast early pace set by the song with the ‘Uh-Huh, Uh-Huh’ of the track’s title thrown in its middle. Overall the track sets up the album nicely. ‘You Hear the Drums’ still has a brisk pace about but here we have a much more serene, melodic track by the band with backing keyboards and violin in full effect accompanying the track throughout. It’s also the first time on the album we hear Jacqueline’s backing vocals complement Rod’s voice and lyrics, which in my opinion creates a sound that really helps create a nice distinct identity for the band. It’s certainly a charming track, after the raucous paced opener. The charm continues with ‘Out of this World’, another delightful guitar track, again laced with the beautiful fiddle of Catrin’s violin throughout, while the chorus builds-up in tempo slightly more as Rod’s poginient lyrics suggest of moving on from a troubled relationship “All that you wasted on stating the obvious/Left us with everything we ever wanted/And all that time you spent on calling the same names/Gave us directions to find our way out of this World”.

‘You Deserve so Much Better’ initially opens as the most low-fi track on the album so far, with a nice, gentle repeated guitar riff steadily steering the track before we see the energy and tempo of the band explode in unison with the cryptic, fast paced chorus “You Deserve so much better/But you’re not the only one/You always want what you can’t have/You’re a Twentieth Century son”, the track is drawn to a lone piano peacefully closing it. ‘A Can of Worms’ is anything but peaceful; with another deliciously dark, menacing guitar riff at the heart of the track while Jack’s bass and Steve’s percussion provide the up-tempo pulse to it. Featuring another rocky chorus “You’ve opened up a can of worms/It’s no longer on your terms”, a guitar solo and even a violin solo, this an urgent but cleverly built, complex track and all the better for it in my view. ‘Wait for the River’ is a piano-driven ballad mid-way through the record, soft and delicate it again highlights the charm the band seem to have a great knack for capturing on this record. It’s certainly a beautiful track and one that feels right as the long winter nights draw in at this time of the year.

• The Birthday Suit live at The Camden Barfly this past October

Previously available as a download ‘Less Worthless Year’s’ is one of the more jolly, upbeat tracks on the album. A fast paced romp of a track, the verses see vocals from both Rod and Jacqueline sung at quick pace before a series of “Der-Dum-Dum’s” through the track, it’s a catchy track and you can judge for yourself from the YouTube link below. ‘Ten Years Past’ is another more up-tempo guitar track, steadily building initially before a short guitar solo, the track then finds full gear after this with its “Leaving me calling\Leaving me calling\Just leave me alone” providing an urgency while guitars from Rod and Sean duel it out in style here. It’s another decent track and although while I’ve been trying to avoid any comparisons in this review, this track really does have a feel of the style of an Idlewild track from their more recent albums, which is always a good thing in my opinion. Backed with a somewhat military percussion rhythm ‘Bad Dreams’ follows and is a short, sharp, punchy song with a repeated high-pitched riff layered through it “I don’t need your eyes looking down on me\The bad dreams satisfied of a memory” before the second half of the track features a nice keyboard solo with backing guitar, it’s another instant track but with an underlying intensity to it.

Penultimate track ‘My Gang’ lightens the sound of the record with another instant catchy guitar hook and melody as the lyrics through the track unfold a tale of an individual being caught up in ‘gang’s’ as such initially portraying an antagonists feeling down on their luck, while reflecting during the chorus “My gang is better than your gang/An argument of your design”, while the second half on the track unfolds the individual comes to the conclusion that they are better off with their own company “My gang is better than your gang/An argument of my design”. Closing track ‘Talk to Yourself’ opens initially with low-fi jangly guitar and an opening lyric featuring the album title “Talk to yourself/It’s a conversation well-rehearsed/A better way for you to say”, before the track finds it’s full backing from the band and then returning back to the initial jangly guitar, while the second half of the track sees gentle violin and keys backing. It’s another charming, pleasant song to close the album with and these last two tracks on the album for me have a little touch of The Smiths in their style and sound which is high praise indeed.

I’ve been very much enjoying this record in the recent few weeks I’ve been listening to it. It has a good blend of some fun, fast-paced Indie rock tracks ‘Uh-Huh Uh-Huh’ and ‘Can of Worms’, to the more serene, melodic ‘You Hear the Drums’, ‘Out of this World’ and ‘Wait for the River’, but also with some Indie Pop in ‘Less Worthless Years’. The album captures a great range of tracks all in under 35 minutes which is a fair reflection on the talented musicians that form the band. I found that while listening to this record that a lot of the tracks were easily accessible and very instant while Rod’s poignant lyrics really give them some much added depth; for me there is a little more going on than first meets the eye with this record. It’s been on repeat plenty for me recently and I’m going to give the record 8 Cans of Worms out of 10 as it’s an album I can still see me listening to plenty still in the future. The album receives a general release on the 3rd December (see the band’s website below for details) and I would personally recommend to check The Birthday Suit out sometime as they craft some excellent, catchy yet thoughtful Indie tracks.

Still Rehearsing Conversations

Track 7 ‘Less Worthless Years’

Band website:

Monday, 8 October 2012

Flynndie Reviews: #32 - Nine Black Alps - Sirens

Written 8th October 2012:

Nine Black Alps - Sirens

The Band: Sam Forrest (lead vocals/guitar), David Jones (lead guitar/bass), Karl Astbury (bass), James Galley (drums)

Disclaimer: Please note this review contains the word ‘rock’ a lot for which I make no apologies!

So October (or as it’s better known Rock-tober) sees the return of Manchester’s very own, no-nonsense Indie rock, ‘grunge’ band Nine Black Alps with this their fourth album ‘Sirens’.   The band first arrived on the scene with their debut album ‘Everything Is’ back in 2005 and let me say the album ‘Is Everything’ you would want to see in a debut record: a great range of catchy-rock songs, with fast, frenetic rock-heavy riffs, to full-on grunge tracks and then a couple of brilliant acoustic ballads, it’s a gem of an album and one I’d happily recommend the effort in tracking-down.  This was subsequently followed up by the somewhat more poppy but still guitar-heavy Indie effort ‘Love/Hate’ in 2007, before the band went back a bit more to their roots with the again heavily Indie-rock-influenced, maybe a little bit more psychedelic ‘Locked Out from the Inside’ in 2009.  So after a 3-year break what form of Rock can we expect from the band’s latest record ‘Sirens’? 


1.                Be My Girl
2.                Don’t Forget to Breath
3.                My One and Only
4.                Phosphorescence
5.                Living in a Dream
6.                Waiting Room
7.                Hand Me Down
8.                Penny Cinderella
9.                Away From Me
10.             Find It My Own Way
11.             What You Wanted
12.             Another World

Crashing in with a jolly, rocking, foot-stomping guitar riff, opening track ‘Be My Girl’ immediately has a typical Nine Black Alps feel about it, as it bounces along with a catchy rhythm.  It has a nice fast tempo about it with a catchy bridge in the middle “If you could save me……You must be crazy!”  It gets the album off to a fun, rocking start and sets the overall tone for the record.  With a much more industrialist, heavier grungy sound to it ‘Don’t Forget to Breath’ quickly follows and shows the band in full-flow of capturing their live sound on record, with the heavy grunge sound pulsing along right through the track.  Previously made available to download online, it’s another rock-heavy track with an instantly likeable chorus.  ‘My One and Only’ see guitars quickly accelerating and duelling with each other throughout it as Sam opens with the catchy lyric “Tell me doctor/What’s the worse/Am I blessed/Or am I cursed?”, it’s the fastest paced track on the album so far and nicely features a guitar solo of the main rhythm of the song in the second half of the track from David which works very well.    

‘Phosphorescence’ is not only a word that I had to look up (a process in which energy absorbed by a substance is released relatively slowly in the form of light”) but also finally gives the listener a bit of chance to catch their breath after the hard-hitting opening three tracks.  With a slowly picked electric-riff for the first 30 seconds before more heavy backing guitars and bass start chugging along and help build the full sound and flow for the track overall.  The track has a nice tempo and rhythm to it and it’s on the whole quite a serene track, while yet still retaining a rock edge to it.  ‘Living in a Dream’ picks up the pace again, and features a fast punchy, grungy sound to it, which would easily see Wayne and Garth from ‘Wayne’s World’ happily head-banging along on cue.  “I don’t want it/I don’t need it/I don’t have to see the feeling”, the track smacks of a punk-angst feel to it all while “Living in a Dream/Dream/Dream!”  With steady, delightful guitar picking ‘Waiting Room’ is the acoustic ballad of ‘Sirens’.  Despite, the Alps being most renowned for a guitar-heavy sound, when these lads pick up acoustic guitars not too many do it better in my opinion.  This is a delightfully, charming track albeit tinged with a feeling of sadness and sorrow “I’m so sorry to hear/That you got so near/Fell down way to soon”, the song hints an individual’s pursuit to move onto bigger things but is dealing with reality of things not quite working out.  It’s a beautiful written track and features some excellent guitar picking throughout and a nicely picked solo in its second half.  ‘Hand Me Down’ instantly raises the tempo of the record, with jaggered guitars assaulting the listener’s ears at full-pace while a distinct and brutal bass line, from recent new band member Karl, really helps to accompany the fast-paced rhythm here and complete the full-on, fast sound of the track.  Expect to see this track backing a Formula-1 compilations clip near you soon!

Swaggering its way confidently onto the album is track 8 ‘Penny Cinderella’, with another punchy 1-2 guitar melody to it, you can really hear the guitars being slowly worn away by the band here through its verses and I love the bridge in vocals mid-way through the track “So many times I tried to break out/There’s no excuse, there is no way out”, it’s really effective and then is followed by excellent, effective guitar solo.  ‘Away From Me’, has a bit of an American college-feel to it for me as it confidently and care-free swaggers into the record with its flowing guitars and bass and punchy percussion from James, it’s another quite instant, likeable track, while ‘Find It My Own Way’ raises the tempo of the album again, initially with ‘distant’ guitars before the track fully-finds its own groove, of a little bit more heavier, faster guitar melody, rocking away happily like a drunken grandparent at a wedding after discovering the Sherry!  

‘What You Wanted’ initially opens a bit more understated, again with an initially picked riff, its interspersed by a nice, typical Alps guitar melody as it features the song-title’s hook throughout “If that’s not what you wanted so far”, before a more slowed-down melody in the middle and another solo from David in its second half, it’s a cleverly structured track and probably the most complex on the album featuring small collections of guitar riffs neatly packaged together, it works very well and is another highlight on the album.  Closing track ‘In another World’, initially features gentle, delicate guitar as the track slowly dictates its own pace as Sam’s lyrics depict a journey over land and water as metaphor “Sail down/Sail down/A dirty river” before the much more rocky chorus with the snarling line of the title-track “In another World/In another World/You heard what everyone says/Your gonna do it your way” which also helps to close the track and ultimately the record.

So in closing, Nine Black Alps have returned with yet another, standard fare of solid no-nonsense Indie rock with this ‘Sirens’ their fourth album.  I think with this record the band have gone back into the studio after a good 3-year break and have decided to further their own familiar sound to their fans, while at the end of the day capturing their dynamic live sound both of which they successfully achieve here, but here’s the trick, while these style of tracks are of a rock/grunge nature may lack originality to some, the Alps always seem to capture this style brilliantly effortless and are one the better bands that are capable of this in my opinion.  I’m going to award ‘Sirens’ 7 blue flashing lights out of 10 as I genuinely really like the album, for the fun, tight rock record that it basically is and, I’ve listened to the album plenty already and can see me still listening to this plenty in the future, however, if you like have fun listening to rock music and, if like me, are still the proud owner of an air guitar, add another mark on to this review as I’m sure you will enjoy this album for the pure and simple rock album that it is as much as I currently am!


Track 2 ‘Don’t Forget to Breath’

Track 5 ‘Living in a Dream’

Nine Black Alps track-by-track guide to ‘Sirens’ – Part 1

Nine Black Alps track-by-track guide to ‘Sirens’ – Part 2

Band website:

Friday, 28 September 2012

Flynndie Reviews: Blog #31 - The Rialto Burns - Learning to Fight

Written 28th September 2012

The Rialto Burns – Learning to Fight

The Band: Adam (vocals), Pottsy (bass), Alex and Cogsy (guitars), Shaun (drums)

So today’s album review comes from a band that someone kindly recommended on Twitter after which I decided to go out and look up a few of their tracks, and after hearing their most recent single (at the time) on the band’s website, ‘While you Sleep’, I immediately thought that the track sounded great and showed some potential.  I then found some more tracks on YouTube ‘Radiate’ and ‘For the Asking’ and I quickly found myself hooked on this band’s instant style and sound. “So who is this band?” I hear you ask (knowing full well you already know from the review title!) and the answer of course is Liverpool’s own ‘The Rialto Burns’ and today’s review covers the band’s debut album ‘Learning to Fight’ where I hope to expose more of the instant style and sound of the band that I hinted on earlier.

Round 1…..FIGHT!!!

1. Release
2. While you Sleep
3. For the Asking
4. Show me your Colours
5. Back to Life
6. Cold Hands
7. Learning to Fight
8. Radiate
9. Fingers and Thumbs
10. Slow/Fade
11. While you Sleep (Part II)

Initially opening, with buzzing, razor-sharp guitars things get underway with opening track ‘Release’ and we get our first taste of Adam’s deep, dark vocals which immediately creates somewhat more of a unique sound and style for the band. The track steadily ebbs and flows, between its gentle bass riff back to the buzzing guitars from its initial opening and keeps constantly flirting between the two. With gentle synths before an incredibly catchy, high-pitched guitar riff that accelerates the track along, ‘While you Sleep’ is a very instant Indie track, with lyrics “It takes a touch of innocence/To gain perspective on your sins”. The track constantly builds throughout but it’s the main opening riff that for me gives this track potential future ‘Goal of the Month’ backing music on Match of the Day, which is a high accolade for any band to achieve in my book! ‘For the Asking’ features high-pitched guitars blending with deep, flowing bass creating quite a chiselled sound on the track while lyrics flow “Put it on the ground/Just for the asking/I got the blues/You got the blues”, while solo guitar riffs continue to build constantly throughout the track.

Opening with a very electronic synth feel to it and a very much 80’s influenced guitar sound ‘Show me your Colours’ really does have quite a retro feel to it, with its melody and rhythm giving it much of an 80’s U2 feel about it in my opinion but with a modern take with the style of vocals and synths used throughout. The track coasts along blending its retro mix of guitar, bass and synths with a confident, carefree swagger all about it, before the track signs off with high-pitched, building synths, something you don’t see much on modern Indie albums these days but done to great effect here. Deep, heavy bass sets the early tone for fifth track ‘Back to Life’ and these continue while short, sharp guitar riffs dig and interject their way into the track nicely. “I walk these streets tonight\With a little romance in my life” vocals, being interspersed by still constant deep bass and guitars that are now slowly taking more control of the track as it goes along, it’s another track that still retains a bit of a retro feel for me and builds constantly, as quite a few tracks on this album do, finishing with repeated “I’m a sucker for love/I’m a sucker for love and it’s killing me”. ‘Cold Hands’ follows next and enters with a fast, sharp guitars riff pulling the track along, before we reach a brilliant crescendo of a chorus “I want you falling at my feet/Falling on me now/Falling from the sky” it works really well in context of the track and you soon find yourself humming along to it intentionally or not, as this track has a sense of a forlorn urgency about it throughout. Title-track ‘Learning to Fight’ is a particular percussion-driven track, with a repeated quick drum rhythm at the very heart of the track throughout, we again have softly-sung, deliberately slow vocals here really creating a brooding atmosphere for the song overall. The track features a nice guitar solo coupled with synths midway through to nice effect but overall despite the upbeat percussion this is quite a slow-burner of a track but very much deliberately so, building in its impact and atmosphere that it creates.

“Radiate my soul/In this world so cold” are the distinct opening vocals from ‘Radiate’, as guitars are again steadily, constantly building to another fast and urgent chorus. This was another very instant type of Indie track for me when I first heard it and a track I’m still enjoying on repeated listens; it’s pretty much a well-written, easily accessible Indie-pop song and is all the better for it in my opinion. Gentle, twinkling synths against cutting guitars build the basis of the melody for ‘Fingers and Thumbs’, another slower, more deliberate track here by the band before one of my favourite tracks on the album ‘Slow/Fade’. With an excellent synth slide guitar effect backed by a brilliant guitar riff, the track then eases as vocals from Adam depict an individual’s fiery characteristics, before being re-joined by the excellent synth and guitar, it’s a very pleasant, easy-listening track for the listener and one I liked instantly. The album closes with ‘While you Sleep (Part II) and this really is the ‘darker’ side of the earlier track on the album, with really brooding guitar and synth effects and no-nonsense percussion throughout, it really puts the band’s closing statement on the album and captures the complete style of the band as a whole.

So, overall what we have here is decent debut album with a band really defining their own unique sound, really capturing dark, edgy, brooding tracks with an emphasis on short catchy guitar riffs duelling with synth effects. If I could make a comparison to their sound it would be somewhat of a cross between The White Lies and ‘forgotten’ Indie band The Bravery, with certainly a hint of 80’s era U2 thrown in there as well in my opinion, it’s a very distinct sound the band produce here! I’ve been listening to the album for some time now and it’s certainly a grower with each listen and I’m going to give ‘Learning to Fight’ 8 punch-bags out of 10 here. I think it will be interesting to see how the band follow up this album and it actually shouldn’t be too long to wait now with the band already releasing the video to their next single ‘Hibernation’ which you can also see below, with a follow-up album due out soon, I currently have The Rialto Burns as “one to watch” in my book right now!

Knocked Out

Track 2 ‘While you Sleep’

Track 3 ‘For the Asking’

Track 8 ‘Radiate’

New single ‘Hibernation’

Band website:

Friday, 14 September 2012

Flynndie Reviews: Blog #30 - Two Door Cinema Club - Beacon

Written 14th September 2012:

Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon

The Band: Alex Tremble (lead vocals/guitar/synths/percussion), Kevin Baird (bass/synths/vocals), Sam Halliday (guitar/synths/vocals)

So recently saw the return of Bangor’s very own Two Door Cinema Club with the release of their 2nd album ‘Beacon’, the follow-up to their highly impressive debut album ‘Tourist History’ (which I previously reviewed here in Blog #11). At the time I awarded that record “8 family-sized bags of popcorn out of 10” and suggested that “these lads are a good one to watch out for in the long-term future as well”. So fast-forward 18 months since that review and the band have released their follow-up album but does this new record live-up to the high standards set by their first album and fulfil the early potential shown by the band? Well hopefully, we can cover that question in today’s review and find out what their latest offering brings.

Now Showing

1. Next Year
2. Handshake
3. Wake Up
4. Sun
5. Someday
6. Sleep Alone
7. The World is Watching (with Valentina)
8. Settle
9. Spring
10. Pyramid
11. Beacon

‘Next Year’ gets us underway with trademark synths that the band are well known for before being accompanied by an upbeat percussion rhythm and then both suddenly pausing as Alex’s distinct voice opens “I don’t know where I/Am going to rest my head tonight” before being re-accompanied by the opening synths, percussion and now an excellent, catchy guitar riff during the verses of the track. The track ebbs and flows nicely for the listener and even features a Muse-esque guitar riff midway through and overall gets the record of to a steady start. Next up we have ‘Handshake’ which opens with very much an 80’s style synth melody before the track gathers pace with guitars after 30 seconds. The synths continue to pulse throughout the heart of the track as guitars gently flow in the background before an incredibly catchy, sing-a-long chorus “She said the devil will want you back/And you’ll never find love in another man/Shut your eyes, so you’ll see young girl/And know you always have this if it’s needed back”. It’s quite an instant track, and the verses cleverly build to the big crescendo chorus.

‘Wake Up’ follows next and has a modest bass and drum rhythm initially pushing the track along, before trademark duelling guitars bridge midway through the track. The track is constantly building with guitars steadily duelling throughout before big vocals come in from Alex on the second half of the track “You got lost, lost through the night/It’s no loss, you’ll be alright”, at this point giving the track a big, epic feel to it. ‘Sun’ opens with delicate piano and Alex’s distinct vocals with the line “Ocean Blue/What have I done to you?” and features a gentle backing ‘electronic’ guitar riff throughout. It’s a very well-polished track with a backing brass section in its latter stages and is actually a nice ballad for the album. ‘Someday’ starts off with an excellent rollercoaster of a guitar riff from Sam, while Alex belts out lines “Is it a race or a chase/It’s a difficult one/Are you running faster and further away/Or just trying to keep up”. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album; it’s instantly catchy and again helps to create a big sound for the band. I could easily see this being a future single for the band. Speaking of which previous single from the album ‘Sleep Alone’ shows up next and features a fast drum rhythm against gentle guitar riffs before the band again up the tempo, with a fast and urgent rhythm as Alex’s lyrics possible portray an individual’s battle with Insomnia “He Sleeps Alone\He needs no army where he’s heading\Cause he knows they’re just ghosts\And they can’t hurt him”, this is again a big-sounding, instant track and fitting return single for the band. ‘The World is Watching (with Valentina)’ follows next and is a gloriously, beautiful track! Opening with a chilled out, calypso guitar rhythm this time we find Alex’s vocal are backed throughout the track by beautiful female vocals, possibly the Valentina of the track title itself, and although that description may sound cheesy in this review, on the record itself, this track is brilliantly put together and surprisingly works very well on the album.

Just when you starting thinking what else can these three Northern Irish lads have up their sleeves next on this record, they then turn with possibly the standout track on the album for me ‘Settle’. Unwinding with a soft, looping guitar riff the track steadily builds into a big crescendo of guitars, drums and bass and I could easily see a track like this have an entire crowd captivated by every guitar note though it’s epic journey, this is simply a brilliantly, beautiful track and the highlight of the album for me. We come back down with ‘Spring’ but with a subtly infectious picking guitar riff this is cleverly done, and again we find another track that starts slow but gathers momentum throughout while never leaving the listener behind such is the brilliance of the melody of the track. Another instant type of track, you can’t help but get caught up in the flow of the pacey guitar melodies here.

Penultimate track ‘Pyramid’ opens with one of the more understated guitar riffs on the album, a little quirky but a sound that helps to portray that associated with the mystery of the song title’s architecture, before the band pulling off their seemingly effortless trick of throwing in yet another incredibly catchy chorus and guitar riff right in the middle of the track, this is another great track on the record. Title-track ‘Beacon’ closes the album and features piano backed against a steady guitar rhythm and drum percussion, while an echo is used against Alex’s voice to great effect in its building verse before, yes you’ve guessed it, another effortlessly catchy chorus, it helps rounds off the record nicely.

So I must admit I had quite high hopes for this record leading up to its release. I’d always enjoyed the band’s debut album ‘Tourist History’ and I was hoping this album might steadily build on it but if I’m being honest I think this record not only matches their debut album but actually take the band and their music on to another much-higher level here, with no disrespect intended to their also brilliant debut. What we have here is a genuine ‘Album of the Year’ contender for me, with excellently crafted tracks, layered with brilliantly catchy synths and some outrageously good guitars riffs and rhythms throughout the record. There is no question for me that the tracks written on this album are designed for headlining the big summer festivals and arena tours and this may actually be fitting as I can genuinely see the band moving up to this level within the next few months as I think this is a record that will gain a genuinely big following via word of mouth and the potentially excellent singles this album could deliver in the future. I can genuinely only see big things for this band in the future, they’re just too good for anything else in my book, so get on board ‘Beacon’ now then as I’m going to award this album a precedent 9 Summer Blockbusters out of 10!

Cinema Goer

Track 5 ‘Some Day’ (Live at Belsonic)

Track 6 ‘Sleep Alone’

Track 8 ‘Settle’