Pearly Music

    18 Apr 2010

    "Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice, Chapters 1-13" (2010) by HIM

    It’s no wonder that the majority of HIM’s fan base is made up of pre-teen girls. But it is a wonder that the same people that are completely against emo pop groups such as Fall Out Boy are into HIM. They really aren’t that different at all. A lot of the time, HIM gets called a metal band. HIM, metal band? Fuck off. Screamworks is a work of pure emo pop. The only people that call HIM a metal band are their fans - people who like to think of themselves as metalheads, but don’t enjoy real metal, so they’ve found an alternative which they think is just as cool.

    If you want very cheesy lyrics set against even cheesier music, then you’ve come to the right place. That’s all there is on Screamworks. Bad riffs make up the majority of this record, alongside pretty poor vocals, lousy electronics and crappy, clichéd guitar solos. “We’ll drift along this river of sadness until we feel no pain”. Thirteen tracks at nearly fifty minutes is too long, especially for a record full of lame pop songs.

    To be fair, Screamworks does what it sets out to do. I’m sure it will satisfy even the loudest screaming teenage girl. There’s plenty of heartbreak, loss and loneliness to go around on this record. Some can pull off sad emotions with perfection and honesty, and, some can’t. It’s a pity that HIM fall into this “can’t” category - it just doesn’t seem authentic. As I said, it’s enough for any HIM fan, but for anyone who isn’t preconditioned to their music, it’s not good enough. The lyrics are purely cringe-worthy.

    The songs sound as if they were written by a machine, not by a human. Everything is so clean and perfect. Screamworks, just because of its themes, should be dirty and gritty, but instead it’s a crisply-produced emo pop record. Unless you’re a hardcore HIM/emo pop fan, it’s really not recommended.

    Choice tracks
    : Scared To Death; Dying Song
    If you like: Fall Out Boy; early My Chemical Romance

    16 Apr 2010

    "Phrazes For The Young" (2009) by Julian Casablancas

    Completely isolating fans of his ridiculously successful band, the Strokes, Julian Casablancas has kicked off his solo career with something so different from his usual material that everyone will raise their eyebrows at least once throughout the course of the record. And not in a good way. The thing is, Phrazes For The Young breaks no new ground – this is the same thing that was done by MGMT two years earlier, it’s just not as good as theirs. This LP is really just synthpop in its truest form – pure, boring, synthpop.

    You see, the good synthpop bands do original things, mixing it up a little. Like the Magnetic Fields, or MGMT, or Mew. They all make sure that what they do isn’t just average. Casablancas, on the other hand, doesn’t seem too concerned with being original, and is just playing what he wants to play. And good on him for not caring, I suppose, but that doesn’t have to make it good. The thing is, when you listen to this record, it seems like you’ve heard it all before. Like he’s grabbed a bunch of classic synthpop songs from the 80s, with their trademark cringe-worthy lyrics, and covered them.

    The songs are too long. If he wants to write pop songs, with such energy and power as they do, then they can’t all be five minutes long. One or two on the album, fine, that’s a good idea. But when the majority of the songs on the 8 track record are over 5 minutes, that’s getting a bit overboard. The real win-factor for this record is his voice. It’s great, as it always has been. Even it, however, seems to be a little bit weak when compared to his Strokes releases – there’s no emphasis on his powerful screams or catchy, simple melodic lines. And without these factors, his voice seems a little bit lackluster, like it’s missing something vital.

    It just hasn’t got the dream-like quality of Mew, or the bubbly-ness of MGMT or the Magnetic Fields. As well as that, some of the tracks (such as “River Of Brakelights”) seem to be a failed attempt at being Radiohead-inspired. It really doesn’t work within the record’s style. A brave attempt, but a failed attempt too. It’s got a clever wordplay at the end, but the melody is fairly shit and forced, and the lyric that is played on is also shit.

    Phrazes For The Young is a good first effort for Casablancas, but it’s not something that’s going to be remembered alongside his other releases.

    Choice tracks: Left & Right In The Dark; River Of Brakelights; Glass
    If you like: MGMT, Mew, Vampire Weekend

    9 Apr 2010

    "April Uprising" (2010) by the John Butler Trio

    Once upon a time, the John Butler Trio was one of my absolute favourite bands. This was before their breakthrough record, Sunrise Over Sea (2004). Nowadays, well, their output is just not in the same league as it was before. April Uprising is simply not important. It’s not original, or interesting, or all that enjoyable. It’s made up of about 7 mediocre, uninteresting tracks, accompanied with a handful that are absolutely horrible and cringe-worthy, and two or three that are a breath of fresh air amongst this record of mediocrity. All in all, the whole record just isn’t John Butler - the long acoustic guitar solos are replaced with typical electric guitar, the vicious, hate-filled, chastising lyrics are replaced with love songs and a few terrible attempts at being political, no longer are there any weed references.

    As I said, most of the tracks just aren’t very good, to put it simply. “I’d Do Anything”, “Close To You”, “Ragged Mile”, etc, etc. They’re boring, and it really is a little sad to see the once great John Butler write such average songs, when he once could write the likes of “Take”, “Money”, and “Crazy”. But, if you want to get the whole way through April Uprising, you have to be prepared for some huge stinkers. “C’mon Now” is a poor, poor attempt at god-knows-what, which invoked numerous facepalms the first time I heard it. Same goes for “Johnny’s Gone”, a pathetic shot at ex-Prime Minister John Howard. It’s hard to believe that the same man wrote such brilliant anti-Howard songs earlier on in his career, and how he’s sunk to this.

    I’ll give it some credit however. “Take Me” is quite a cool, slow, guitar-driven piece, showcasing Butler’s developing use of electric guitar. It shows that Butler really can play the guitar when it’s solid, it’s just unfortunate that he can’t play like this on every track. “To Look Like You” is a break from the constant stream of love songs on April Uprising - a dark, depressing tale from a teenage girl’s perspective, of how it is to look up to false idols from magazines. I mean, I can’t really judge, but he seems to get the emotions perfect. 

    Apart from these two, and maybe (possibly) “Revolution”, the record is made up of either bland, boring, repetitive tracks, or absolutely horrible, cringe-worthy songs. April Uprising is really just a boring effort from a washed up artist, which shows specks of brilliance that are, sadly, hidden amongst all the mediocrity.

    Choice tracks: Revolution; Take Me; To Be Like You
    If you like: Grand National; late Jack Johnson; Donavon Frankenreiter

    8 Apr 2010

    "Mr. Green, Volume 1" (2010) by Carney

    Los Angeles-natives Carney look like they’d be a band that I hate, but actually are a band that I love. At first glance, you’d think “ahh shit, another crappy Panic(whatever symbol they’re using these days) at the Disco-inspired group”. But you’d be wrong. While that’s the look they’ve adopted, their music is much more the lovechild of Jeff Buckey, Led Zeppelin, jazz guitar, the genre of post-rock and a strange French oddball sideshow thing. Yes, that’s right, a five-way love child.

    Reeve’s vocals are absolutely reminiscent of Jeff Buckley’s, there’s no denying it. The whole record is most reminiscent of Jeff Buckley than anything else. The pretty vocals, screamed vocals, soft songs with vicious, distorted songs, and certain little melodic lines just are so similar to Jeff’s masterpiece that it’s impossible to not think of it. Carney’s debut is very impressive in its own right, however. Zane is easily one of the best guitarists in a modern pop band. Piss off, Matt Bellamy, you can’t play anything like this. Jon, the drummer, plays with such energy that he has needed to be aided by paramedics after shows for exhaustion.

    The thing that separates Mr. Green from many other pop releases is its originality. They’re not doing a Muse, playing the stereotype of progressive rock with a stereotypical hip hop track thrown in for absolutely no reason. Carney play an absolutely original mixture. It’s like, “wow, is that Jeff Buckley? Wait, no, it can’t be, he’s singing that little bit in French, and it sounds a little bit too much like Robert Plant. Wow, that guitarist is a brilliant jazz guitarist! Oooh, weird noises. Hey, this song sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Shit, the singer has a huge range. Well that was a big crescendo.” and so on.

    The tracks are all good of their own accord, and they work together into a great record. Even the cheesy love song (“Think Of You”) is not at all cringe-worthy. Carney are really going to blow up into something huge. I would recommend this album, but you’d be very hard pressed to find it in any record stores, I got it from their show. Mr. Green, which came out about a week ago and, as far as I know, isn’t even out in their home country yet, is definitely a record worth owning if you can get a hold of it.

    Choice tracks: Tomorrow’s Another Day; Amelie; Testify; Nothing Without You; Think Of You
    If you like: Jeff Buckley, Led Zeppelin, Muse (as much as I hate to say it), Queen

    18 Mar 2010

    "Head Of The Hawk" (2009) by Bluejuice

    I honestly don’t know where to start with this one. It’s just so… bad. Yeah, bet y’all weren’t expecting that one. Bluejuice’s second album lacks what every good album (or any album at all, for that matter) should have - originality, functionality, and an overall enjoyment factor.

    So, after raping this album right up the poophole in my opening paragraph, can I draw any positives from it? This is what you may be asking yourself right now. And, the answer is not as funny as you may hope - yes, I suppose, there are some good things about this record. Well, one good thing. The second single, “(Ain’t) Telling The Truth”, isn’t half bad, I’ll give them that.

    But the first single? “Broken Leg”? When I first heard it, I thought they were covering “Be Good Johnny” by Men At Work - the keyboard-based intro is exactly the same. Like, I’m not even kidding here, it’s even in the same key. So, they’ve completely ripped a lead melody and chord progression off Men At Work, which is a sin in itself; but, as well as that, the Who influence sticks out unwelcome like a sore nail out of a thumb, or the Queen influences in Muse’s “United States of Eurasia”. And even with all that, I can’t get the image out of my head of Bon Jovi-style haircuts in glam suits smiling and jumping, swinging the mic stand around. Even though I know that that’s probably not what they look like.

    What about that stupid “Medicine” song? What the hell is up with that? That is not entertainment. No no no. What was the aim? If it was supposed to be dance-y, it failed; if it was supposed to be funny, it failed; if it was supposed to be entertaining, it definitely failed.

    All the songs sounded the same to me. Really, that was half an hour that could have been better spent listening to… well, anything else. Except for Brokencyde.

    Choice tracks: (Ain’t) Telling The Truth