Tag Archives: review

Film review: Project Almanac (USA, 2015)

project almanac feature

THERE are two ways you can go when making a movie about time travel.

The first is to do a bit of research into the science and at least have a stab at including some form of explanation about how it’s done in your movie (see Interstellar). The second is to throw the scientific journals out the window, say “to hell with it” and simply have fun with the whole idea (see Back to the Future, Bill & Ted and a million others).

Project Almanac is most certainly in the second category, but while the idea of a found-footage movie starring four relatively-unknown American early-twenty-somethings playing 17 year-old schoolkids who chance upon plans to build a time machine may seem painful, the reality is somewhat different.

Seventeen year-old David Raskin (Jonny Weston) has followed in his dead father’s footsteps by aspiring to be a scientist and inventor. Needing to get a scholarship to attend a prestigious university, he roots around his father’s old spare parts for project ideas and finds a video camera containing footage of his seventh birthday. Watching it with friends Adam (Allen Evangelista) and Quinn (Sam Lerner), and his sister Christina (Virginia Gardner), he spots his 17 year-old reflection in a mirror on the video. They find blueprints and a mysterious mechanical object in the basement, and in a montage that would do Team America proud, they build the machine (don’t ask – it’s something to do with car batteries and hydrogen).

So far so good. After a few test runs involving sparks, bright lights, blatant product placement and not much dialogue beyond “Woo, yeah! Did you see that?” the fun begins. With the class babe Jessie (Sofia Black D’Elia) along for the ride, the quintet use time travel to pass exams, win the lottery, avenge bullying, get backstage passes at Lollapalooza and generally become the cool kids in school.

However, it’s not long before everything turns to crud when the gang realises that the tiny things they change in the past have huge consequences for events in the future – David and Jessie not getting together, their school football team not winning the championship and a huge plane crash being the main three, seemingly in no particular order of importance. It’s only when David realises he has to go back in time by himself to confront his father, destroy the blueprints and still work out how to get the girl that the climax is reached.

So, does the dodgy plot or unnecessarily cheesy love story ruin Project Almanac? On the whole, no. It’s a harmless bit of fun with decent acting by a young cast, and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, mainly courtesy of excellent supports Evangelista and Lerner. Just don’t think about the science.

PROJECT ALMANAC IS IN CINEMAS NOW.

For Scenestr

Record review: Clowns – Bad Blood (2015, LP)

clowns bad blood

Here’s a question you’d expect to hear at a football riot, not read in a music review: who’s ready to have their face ripped off? This second album from Melbourne punk quartet Clowns will not only do brutal things to your kisser, but it’ll have a go at putting your ears out of commission while it’s at it. Their 2013 debut album was a savage tribute to partying and punk rock, and while Bad Blood continues in a similar vein, it comes with a growing range and belief. Like a school bully who lets you think you’re off the hook before hitting you a slap, opener ‘Human Error’ takes a full minute to kick into gear; its scratchy riffs build anticipation for what’s to come. Single ‘Euthanise Me’ is an early highlight; its melodic elements and broken-down interludes are welcome additions to a powerful punk track. Next comes a trio of 90-second hammer blows in ‘Figure It Out’, ‘Infected’ and the title track, which is perhaps the most metal here. Closing anomaly ‘Human Terror’ is easily the most interesting; at 11 minutes it’s at least three times longer than anything else and isn’t a journey for the faint-hearted. While Clowns’ brand of punk is as ferocious as ever, it’s the longer songs that impress most, as the band have grown significantly in terms of musicianship since their debut. That isn’t going to do your face any good, all the same. (Poison City)

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Record review: Dorsal Fins – Mind Renovation (2015, LP)

dorsal fins

Hey, did anyone see the Grammys this week? No, me neither. I was too busy listening to the debut album by Melbourne ten-piece Dorsal Fins, and FOMO can GTFO because this stuff is smokin’. Patched together by Liam McGorry (Eagle & the Worm, Saskwatch) and members of the Bamboos and New Gods, Dorsal Fins are a band on a genre-bending trip of sometimes dreamy, always layered alt-pop that twists, turns and captivates at every moment. Just about everything is a high point; Ella Thompson’s perfect pop vocals on the express train of a synth-pop track ‘Monday Tuesday’ are especially fine, while McGorry doesn’t hold back on his social commentary cuss-fest ‘Jacqueline’. The fact that the first few bars of ‘Heart on the Floor’ sound like the drum intro to Spinal Tap’s ‘Big Bottom’ before the song turns into an ‘80s Madonna-esque pop ballad reflects the wonderfully random tangents the album takes throughout. Elsewhere, the title track cranks the psych-rock guitars while ‘Cut the Wire’ is all dark electronica, and there are beautiful and melancholy ballads in ‘Escape Me’ and ‘Superstar’. Being a ten-piece means that Dorsal Fins have a multitude of tricks up their sleeves, so hopefully this won’t be simply a side project to the band members’ other more well-known ventures. With this album, Dorsal Fins have marked themselves as serious contenders; not even a Grammy win could make me dislike them. (Gripless/Remote Control)

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Book review: ‘My Bon Scott’ – Irene Thornton with Simone Ubaldi (2014)

bon scott

Most biographies or memoirs of great rock ‘n’ rollers take the sensational approach – get to the dirty stuff and get to it fast. After all, why do rock fans worship these guys after all? Besides the music, it’s sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll that people want. Mostly sex and drugs, if Mötley Crüe’s landmark rock bio The Dirt is anything to go by.

Perhaps this is what makes this new book about AC/DC’s Bon Scott so interesting. It’s not a tell-all tale of heroin and orgies (although there are hints of both at various points), but it relates the story of the Scottish-Australian singer’s life from his wife’s point of view, just before, during and just after he hit the big time.

The result is perhaps the truest written record of the ‘real’ Bon Scott in all his complex glory, told through the affectionate and highly personal memories of a young woman living in a man’s world; someone who loved and stuck by her guy when she had every reason to turn her back on him. The inclusion of 15 never-before-published letters only serves to make this even more of a personal insight into the head of arguably Australia’s greatest ever vocalist.

In 1974, Australian rock music was in a fairly grim spot. Skyhooks (or ‘Cunthooks’, as Scott referred to them in a letter to Thornton) dominated the charts and Bon Scott was a washed-up singer pushing 30 who had failed with his two chances at stardom with the Valentines and Fraternity. It took the Young brothers and Scott to make AC/DC kick it into life with their high-octane, fuel-injected brand of rock ‘n’ roll that stole much from Chuck Berry yet still sounded fresh.

That much everybody knows, but it’s Scott’s life just before his big break which is much more fascinating, and it’s all here.

Thornton enters the scene when Scott is plying his trade in the pubs and clubs of Adelaide with prog-rockers Fraternity, earning next to no money and spending all his spare time partying in the Adelaide hills. A quick marriage later and the two head off to London with the band in an attempt to make it big, but the strain of living in a communal house takes its toll and the band and relationship fall apart. Throughout this time Thornton paints Scott as, perhaps unsurprisingly, selfish and chauvinistic, although there’s never any malice or bitterness in her words. In fact, it seems she could have said a lot more.

It’s at this point Scott joins AC/DC and never looks back, and despite a string of obvious affairs and general bad-boy behaviour, he still sees Thornton as his wife and keeps in regular contact via the letters that make this book better than your average rock biography.

“Not bad for a 29 year-old, 3rd time round has been,” he writes in one, describing record sales of the High Voltage album.

In some ways the story of the start of Scott’s success with AC/DC is hinted at being the beginning of the end of the true period of happiness in his life, although that, of course, is probably truer of Thornton. As she grows tired of his constant boasting about sexual and business conquests and moves on with her life, he catches her off guard with a few lines that don’t sound like the normal Scott cockiness.

“I just wanna be famous I guess. Just so when people talk about ya it’s good things they say. That’s all I want. But right now I’m just lonely.”

This isn’t high literature, but then Scott’s lyrics never were either. It’s simply an affectionate and fascinating look at the makings of an Australian legend, told from a never-before-heard point of view.

MY BON SCOTT BY IRENE THORNTON WITH SIMONE UBALDI IS OUT NOW.

For the AU Review

Record review: Peace – Happy People (2015, LP)

peace happy people

English indie-rockers Peace are an infuriating bunch. Their 2013 debut was a promising affair; all early-90s influences and shiny approaches to love, life and happiness. On their Australian tour they proved themselves to be a powerful live act, capable of raining red-hot riffs on punters the length of the east coast. Why, then, is this second effort so excruciatingly dull? Is it the crippling sameness of the vast majority of the 18 tracks? The draining middle-class angst peppered heavily throughout the lyrics? Or just simply, the lack of a good tune or two? The combination of these things doesn’t leave much to be admired, except perhaps groovy single ‘Lost On Me’ and the rougher ‘I’m A Girl’; songs that provide hope that it’s only difficult-second-album syndrome that’s stuck its nose in here. Everything about the painfully atrocious ‘Someday’ and singer Harrison Koisser’s misguided suburban rapping on pseudo-funk sonic-fart ‘World Pleasure’ provide low points, while most of the rest blends into itself with nothing left but blandness. “Try to change the world you live in, oh you, try to make it better for your children, oh you,” he sings on opener ‘O You’ – and that, people, is your cue to dry retch, while closer ‘The Music Was To Blame’ pretty much sums up the whole album just by its title. Being a ‘big’ band is great and being a cult band is better, but unfortunately Peace are neither of these; for now they’re stuck somewhere in the murky middle, filed under “meh”. (Columbia)

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Live review: St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Brisbane – 31/1/15

perfect pussy brisbane laneway
Perfect Pussy

“It’s so hot; how can you live like this?”

These are some of the first words Benjamin Booker mutters into his microphone as he takes to the stage at yet another talent-packed and heatstroke-inducing St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. And he’s from New Orleans…

It’s an appropriate question from the 25 year-old singer-songwriter, as rivers of sweat run from every pore on every square inch of every dancing punters’ skin under the punishing Queensland sun. But since when did a few rays and humidity stop Brisbane having a party?

Particularly perfect party-starters are New York’s Perfect Pussy (try saying that after a few ales); the noisy five-piece charge through a blistering set of shouty punk and hardcore. Singer Meredith Graves may look fairly angelic in her all-white get-up, but once her brutal vocals and flailing arms get going, you realise she is a force to be reckoned with. The juxtaposition of her meek “thank-yous” and ferocious vocal performances is truly a wonderful thing.

Leeds likely lads Eagulls are plying their own brand of guitar noise over at the Good Better Best stage, although theirs is more of the post-punk variety. The harsh afternoon heat hasn’t stopped Brisbane’s music fans from turning out early in large numbers, and the quintet go over well.

Back at the Mistletone stage, Connan Mockasin is one of a few artists who will experience sound problems today, although the New Zealander takes it in his stride, seating himself on a monitor and pulling off some of the most laid-back licks on show today. His woozy psychedelia is perfect for hot days and stiff drinks, which is pretty damn appropriate.

At the Never Let It Rest stage, American singer Raury’s sound is the first of the day to go beyond big and into massive territory; the Atlanta native’s final song ‘God’s Whisper’ being the finest on show so far, as his band mates’ hats fly from their heads, are replaced and fly off again as they bounce around the stage.

Next is South Australian ball of energy Tkay Maidza, who is, quite simply, an infectious delight throughout her entire set. The teen rapper has justified all the hype surrounding her over the past year, and if she keeps pulling out performances that make audiences want to move as much as this, surely world domination isn’t just a pipe dream. ‘Switch Lanes’ is a highlight, as is the ridiculous ‘Brontosaurus’, but it’s Maidza’s I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-but-fuck-it grin that makes her the most fun to watch.

Andy Bull receives a suitably colossal reception from an ecstatic crowd at the Never Let It Rest stage, just before Benjamin Booker gets his sweat on next door. Despite initial problems which force his rhythm section to jam while a pedal is fixed, the classy Louisianan remains unfazed, even while one confused and inebriated woman shouts “Where’s Agnes?” No lady, this is not Mac Demarco, and go drink some water FFS.

jungle laneway brisbane
Jungle

Back at the Mistletone stage, Norwegians Highasakite finish off with an epic sing-along to their single ‘Since Last Wednesday’, before a storm warning is announced under a heavy and ominous cloud. As English duo Royal Blood kick off and bassist/singer Mike Kerr asks a heaving audience “are you ready to get wet?” that’s exactly what happens; the sky briefly opens and a temporarily-concerning mass of sopping punters surges towards the gates, causing a crush. “If you push me any harder, this girl in front is going to end up pregnant,” announces one guy caught in the mass of bodies, and the band play on, unperturbed.

The rain clears and normality is restored, and Courtney Barnett takes to the stage in front of another huge audience. After kicking off with ‘Lance Jr.’, the Melbournian proceeds to shred with aplomb throughout her entire set; a fact that only increases anticipation for her debut album, set to be released in March.

Now comes perhaps one of the most anticipated moments of the day: Mac Demarco and his dear old mum. In a cheesy move, Agnes introduces her “talented and beautiful son”, before the man himself starts into ‘Salad Days’ with all the right amounts of quirk and whimsy. The almost God-like status he is afforded by a baying audience is puzzling, but it’s all silly good fun, so what the hell.

Future Islands draw somewhat less of a crowd than might have been expected if their slot didn’t clash with both Banks and Little Dragon, and while their synth-pop is tailor-made for a festival of this size, the majority of people present at their set are clearly only here for that song, which frontman Samuel T. Herring almost introduces with a sigh, as he says “Okay – let’s do it”. The crowd at the front at this point goes suitably mental, while the rest of us hope ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ doesn’t become the band’s ‘Creep’.

Now: shit gets real as English soul collective Jungle prove themselves to be a major highlight in the dark of the Never Let It Rest stage. An opening salvo of ‘Platoon’ and ‘Julia’ is enough to get every person present moving more than they have all day, before fourth track ‘The Heat’ whips the crowd into even more of a frenzy. ‘Accelerate’ is good, but ‘Busy Earnin’’ is great, and as this reviewer finds himself involuntarily shuffling past the probable brilliance of St. Vincent, ducking his head under the water tap before tumbling into a taxi with demands to be taken to the nearest vendor of pizza slices, he realises Laneway has defeated him for another year. Jolly good show, St. Jerome.

For Scenestr

Record review: Fences – Lesser Oceans (2015, LP)

fences lesser oceans

Fences is a Seattle-based musical project centred on the songs of vocalist and guitarist Christopher Mansfield. His approach to song-writing is different to many Seattle natives before him; you won’t find any of the grunge stylings of Nirvana or earthy folk of Fleet Foxes here. Indie-rock lite is the cornerstone of this particular album – the band’s second in five years – and while the general feeling of pleasantness can be a little tiring after ten songs, it’s perfect for Sunday mornings or polite company. Opener ‘Songs About Angels’ sounds sweet but has some fairly dark lyrics, possibly based on Mansfield’s past struggles with alcohol and a stint in rehab. Most well-known to Australian audiences would be sprightly single ‘Arrows’, which has had a decent share of radio play here, undoubtedly aided by an appearance by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to add some big-name glamour as well as some well-placed cuss words in a pop setting. ‘My Mountain Is Cold’ features some nice mandolin touches and the title track references the band’s hometown with the words “it’s okay, it’s mostly grey,” before confirming that their biggest strength is their vocal interplay between Mansfield and bassist Lindsey Starr. This is a nice enough album, but the difference in quality between the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis tracks and everything else makes it a little disjointed, fostering a feeling that the album isn’t far off being a single with eight B-sides. (Elektra)

For mX

Record review: Human Nature – The Christmas Album (2014, LP)

human nature

Human nature is roughly defined as the qualities which are common to humanity, so it comes as no surprise that this attempt at a Christmas album is the most vacuous form of crowd-pleaser. The Sydney vocal quartet’s pseudo-Motown shtick may be big in Vegas, but then so are gun crime and gambling away your kids’ inheritances, so don’t expect anything other than bitter disappointment from this album. All the obvious choices are here – ‘White Christmas’, ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and a particularly cringeworthy rendition of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. It has to be assumed the regularly-excellent Jessica Mauboy’s appearance on ‘Sleigh Ride’ is a record company obligation, while the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra’s choice to be a part of ‘Amazing Grace’ could be described as foolish at best. The rest just sounds like a rejected boy band at an especially bad office party. Smokey Robinson provides the only touch of class on ‘Please Come Home For Christmas’, but it’s nowhere near enough to save this album from being re-gifted. In the end, it’s the contrivance that rankles most; nothing says Christmas like a bunch of soulless, insincere crooners flaccidly warbling their way through such an obvious attempt at lining their pockets. My IQ is lower, I feel like a lesser person and I may have nightmares after listening to this album. For the love of Santa’s sack, don’t let the same thing happen to you. (Sony)

Record review: Food Court – Big Weak (2014, EP)

food court

Some garage bands should probably stay in the garage, and others have a duty to kick the door down and explode into the street with a furious blast of colour and imagination. Sydney’s Food Court is most certainly of the latter variety; this gang of jangly fuzzmeisters is exactly the type of shot in the arm Australian guitar-rock could do with right now. Recorded by Straight Arrows’ Owen Penglis and mastered by the always-excellent Mikey Young of Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring, this seven-track EP takes more from ‘90s garage than it does from the original ‘60s wave, with hints of Weezer and early Green Day, and the results are all good. Single and opener ’14 Years Young’ is the obvious high point; its shouty chorus and brash guitars set the quartet’s stall out in no uncertain fashion. ‘Red Wine Teething’ is more measured, even if it reeks of hangovers and walks of shame, while ‘Dripping’ is rougher around the edges and points to what ought to be a pleasingly destructive live show. The cocky swagger of ‘On The River’ is a fitting climax to an EP that sits well beside anything from Palms to The Frowning Clouds, and a lot more besides. Building from here is what will make or break the band, but with only one song out of seven finishing up anywhere near the four-minute mark, this is urgent and necessary stuff from a promising addition to garage-rock goodness. (Independent)

For mX

Record review: The Ninjas – The Ninjas (2014, EP)

the ninjas ep

Swagger can take you a long way in music, and garage-rockers The Ninjas have it in spades. But when it comes to the crunch, you have to be able to back it up with great tunes, and luckily the Brisbane quartet have come up with the goods on this five-track debut EP. As with many first releases, it’s a record of two halves; first comes the angular lo-fi indie-rock, before the riff-heavy second half cranks the rock up to eleven. Opener ‘Can’t Go Back’ could have been lifted from The Strokes’ underrated Room On Fire album, while second track ‘Kill ‘Em All’ combines Josh Stewart’s towering Britpop vocals with Pat Ferris’s likely-lad guitar glory à la The Libertines circa 2002. What possessed Ford to use the sleazy bass-driven grooves of ‘Yeah Yeah’ in an advert for their latest gas-guzzler we may never know, but it’s a driving and danceable track that’s more suited to a Happy Mondays gig than a used car lot. Pleasingly, the closing double of ‘Boogie On It’ and ‘Never Had Much Time’ show that this is a gang whose hearts truly belong to the golden Gods of rock and roll and all their resplendent glory. While there’s probably not a jot of martial arts talent among them, it’s reassuring to know this particular band of ninjas are slinking around the shadows of Australian music making tunes that pack a punch as powerful as this. (Independent)

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Record review: Twin Peaks – Wild Onion (2014, LP)

twin peaks wild onion

Despite having the same name as the brilliantly-disturbing cult TV series, Chicago quartet Twin Peaks are much easier to figure out, even if their second album finds them expanding their sound in an attempt to ‘grow up’ and edge away from their scratchy debut. While barely out of their teens, this is a gang whose sound has seemingly been spewed forth via the power-pop of Alex Chilton, sloppy party-rock of The Libertines and blue collar appeal of The Replacements, with a whole lot else stuffed down the middle and wrapped up in one big messy musical burrito. While there are some dirgy moments, as on the floundering ‘Ordinary People’, and they get caught belting out unnecessary hell-for-leather power chords at a couple of points, the overall vibe is of a fresh and energetic guitar album that’s generous and enticing at 16 songs. There are some great riffs spattered throughout, including on the shimmering, arching ‘Flavor’ and the excellent Faces-meets-Blondie ‘Telephone’, and when the the type of dual guitar interplay that Thin Lizzy would have exhibited pops up, new reasons to appreciate Wild Onion are found. ‘Sweet Thing’ shows the band know the power of a rhythm guitar in driving a song’s groove, while the instrumental ‘Stranger World’ catches them trying to bring sax back, before giving up a minute later. It’d be easy to write off Twin Peaks as just another bunch of rowdy indie upstarts, but this album is well worth getting your onion-loving tastebuds all over. (Grand Jury)

For mX

Record review: Mere Women – Your Town (2014, LP)

mere women your town

DIY post-punk trio Mere Women recorded their second album in a cold-storage warehouse, and if ever a record’s surroundings affected the final sound, it’s here.

All hauntingly-focussed vocals, stabbing guitars and dark disdain, Your Town is the type of brutally abrasive collection of songs that would never make sense played in daylight or with anything on your mind except thoughts of anger, helplessness and schadenfreude.

The Sydney trio of keyboardist/singer Amy Wilson, drummer Katrina Byrne and guitarist Flyn Mckinnirey have been knocking around since 2011, and their 2012 debut Old Life earned them acclaim as an underground act worth keeping an eye on. Since then they have honed in on a more cohesive sound that perfectly captures the crushing, claustrophobic feeling of small-town-anywhere in all its depressing glory.

If the title track were a person, it’d be one of those pent-up, vaguely unhinged people you meet on public transport who fill you with equal amounts of intrigue and dread. Single ‘Our Street’ is the musical manifestation of suburban solitude, as Wilson asks “will you still want me when I’m old and frail?” and “will you think of me when I’m cold and pale?” with a jagged pop melody, as Mckinnirey’s relentless riffs flail and stab.

Waiting for the gloom to ease off over ten songs is a long and exhausting process, but by the time closer ‘Moon Creeper’ tries to lull you into a false sense of security with a soft opening 30 seconds, you know it isn’t going to happen, and another Mckinnirey riff proves you right.

Overall, Your Town is a well-crafted and worthwhile album of post-punk, even if after listening to it you’ll want it to creep back into the shadows of the ill-lit warehouse it crawled out of. This is music for dank basements and crushed hopes.

For FasterLouder

Record review: Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin (2014, LP)

bob mould beauty and ruin

Fans of Hüsker Dü tend to favour either the tracks on which guitarist Bob Mould or drummer Grant Hart sang; the former taking a more brutal approach at the mic and the latter being a more melodic soul. It’s been 26 years since the Hüskers broke up in acrimony and 25 since Mould’s debut solo record, but 2012’s Silver Age saw Mould triumphantly return to the rush of angry alt-rock riffage Hüsker fans loved him most for, and it’s in this vein Beauty & Ruin continues for the 53 year-old. Not that you’d think it after listening to sludgy opener ‘Low Season’; the longest track here at four minutes. With that out of his system, it’s straight into the two and three-minute blasts of rock ferocity, with ‘I Don’t Know You Anymore’ and ‘The War’ being particular stand-outs. ‘Forgiveness’ eases off enough for a mid-album catching of breath, and isn’t unlike some of REM’s earlier work, while ‘Tomorrow Morning’ is Candy Apple Grey-era Hüsker Dü rebooted for the 21st century. It’s refreshing to see and hear a rock musician still doing it better than many bands he inspired, and as Hüsker Dü’s classic Zen Arcade came out 30 years ago this month, maybe it’s time for a re-evaluation of Bob Mould’s standing in the annals of rock. On Beauty & Ruin, he’s a musical force of nature; just like he’s always been. Green Day et. al: this is how it’s done. (Merge)

Record review: George Ezra – Wanted On Voyage (2014, LP)

george ezra wanted on voyage

Let’s get straight to the point here, because there’s nothing else necessary than a simple, quick comparison to describe the debut album from British singer-songwriter George Ezra. If you’re a fan of Jake Bugg or Ed Sheeran you’re going to love Wanted On Voyage. You’re going to lap these twelve songs up, consider the 21 year-old to have a spiritual, if not a direct musical lineage to the likes of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, and use terms like “old head on young shoulders” when describing his wondrous story-telling-by-guitar abilities. However, if you’re neither a fan of Bugg nor Sheeran; congratulations! Move right along, forget the name George Ezra and sleep soundly with the knowledge your music taste is probably slightly less rubbish than everyone else’s. Most aggravating is the fact that Ezra clearly has a decent voice; huskily in contrast to his baby-faced appearance, but if ever a musician’s song-writing style lets him down, it’s here. Breakthrough single ‘Budapest’ is about as sophisticated as a bowl of goulash (no offence intended, Hungary; goulash is fantastic), and painful low point ‘Stand By Your Gun’ comes off like a catastrophically-executed mix of Culture Club and Talking Heads. So, who’s buying this stuff? God only knows. One thing is for certain: this album sounds like it should be dished out as a give-away in a Sunday broadsheet alongside the “Which yacht?” supplement and the adverts for retirees’ rail holidays. In short, this is housewife guitar-rock at it’s blandest. (Columbia)

For mX

Record review: 360 – Utopia (2014, LP)

360 utopia

If you believe everything you read on the Internet and most music press, then you either love or hate Matthew James Colwell, a.k.a. 360. The likely truth, to which this reviewer can relate, is that you’re probably one of the silent majority of music fans who simply couldn’t give a fiddler’s fart about the 27 year-old Melbourne rapper’s music or persona, and the only reaction the constant “is he or isn’t he a sell-out/scumbag/self-obsessive” questions bring about is a jaw-cracking yawn. On his third album’s opener ‘Still Rap’, he tries to address the common criticism that his music is too “pop” and that he can’t rap… on a track that is ironically one of the most “pop” here. Lyrically, there’s no real direction throughout; the bulk of the subject matter involving sulky reflections on the price of fame (literally, on ‘Price Of Fame’, featuring Gossling) and getting sober, as on ‘Must Come Down’, ‘Early Warning’ and ‘You And I’; the latter coming off like a bad Temper Trap B-side. Ultimately, there’s very little that stands out, and each song plods along at a similar pace with no real zip or zeal. ‘Uncle 60’ may be the biggest rapper to come out of the Australian scene, barring Iggy Azalea (if she’s still being considered an Aussie), but this latest pop-heavy, rap-light stab at hip hop utopia shows that he could really do with a bit more musical meat if he wants to continue to be a heavyweight contender. (Inertia)

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