Wrockin’ Down Under

So, for a while (two years or so?) I’ve had a band called Mimbulus Mimbletonia. We are a big fish in a small pool – well known in the Australian wizard rock scene, but relatively unknown elsewhere. What is wizard rock, you ask? Well, it’s a genre of music popularised by Harry And The Potters, where you play songs about Harry Potter and the wizarding world in general. It’s a big underground scene in the US, with annual “Wrockstock” festivals held, as well as the “Wrock The Boat” cruise – a week long cruise featuring big names in wrock performing on-board, such as Draco And The Malfoys, the Cruciatus Curse and Catchlove.

Want to get into wizard rock? Good for you. Recently, a compilation was released featuring all the big Australian wizard rock bands, and it’s free to download (plus, a very very small download file). It’s called “Wrockin’ Down Under”, and you can get it here. I would advise you to get it right now. If you need more incentive, Mimbulus Mimbletonia is featured on it.

Also, try the worldwide home of wrock at http://wizrocklopedia.com, it’s a great place to get started, and features a massive list of every single recorded wrock band in history.

So yeah. In short, download that compilation, it’s brilliant. Stay tuned to my own band’s site, http://www.myspace.com/mmwizardrock/ for new songs, updates, and an announcement of my (extremely delayed) debut album.

Have fun!

Not Going Home – Faithless

Electronic juggernauts Faithless have departed from their recent delve into trip hop and returned to their roots in pure house music. In Not Going Home, the trio drop their politically conscious lyrics in favour of dance-hall influenced lines such as “I watch the rhythm slide right up your dress”. Maxi Jazz’s smooth, gravelly vocals are sure to melt even the coldest heart. The production work is also great, with Sister Bliss and Rollo sticking to repetitive, catchy hooks and clever vocal effects, all set against a typical house drum beat. It all sounds very simple, but to put it all together and get it to work is a complex task.

On the surface, the whole track is just a standard, generic house track, but when you look deeper into it, the intricate, thick programming and production and smooth, brilliant vocals make “Not Going Home” stand out amongst the recent crowd of dance music and pave the way for a comeback from one of the UK’s most beloved electronic acts.


Crystal Castles’ second LP

It’s called Crystal Castles. Yep. The same thing as their first record. My music library is screwed. Not Crystal Castles II, just self titled. Again. I just got it, but I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’m going to very soon, I’m a big fan of their first one. I still think that it should be Ethan’s solo project – all Alice does is sing/scream in about a third of the album’s tracks, and he seems to do all of the production, songwriting, etc. It’ll be released on May 24, but it was leaked online, so you can get it at about a thousand different websites now.

So yeah. I’m not that good at writing news articles and the like, but the short is: I’m pissed off at their second record having the same title as their first.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Reform

Efrim Menuck in 2000

Biggest music news of the year for me. Post-rock gods Godspeed You! Black Emperor have decided to return to the road, after a hiatus that begun in 2003. Even though they probably won’t release a new record before calling it quits again, and they almost definitely won’t come to Australia on their tour of “a handful of British and European shows, and then 9 American towns”, I’m still over the moon about their reformation.

They’re not doing interviews, or taking other offers, or anything. For now, all they want to do is play the Northern hemisphere shows. I’m hoping and praying that they change their mind and come down under.

Source: http://www.1119732.net/

“My World 2.0″ (2010) by Justin Bieber

My World 2.0 is the hip new record from everyone’s favourite pre-pubescent sixteen year old. A contrast from all the records I usually review, I know. But will I hate it as much as you’re probably expecting me to?

Well, yes. I did listen to it with an open heart, open ears, open arms and an open mind, and it just isn’t good. He’s no pop revolution or icon or anything. Beneath all that hair, there’s no child prodigy hiding, waiting to be released. Justin’s just another pop star, who, after his fifteen minutes of fame and numerous accusations of beating his girlfriend, will be doing an Usher and promoting the latest upcoming 16-year-old pop star.

But about the music. Is it that bad? Yes. For starts, Justin’s voice is completely blank and devoid of all real emotion. While the songs are written from the point of view of a 15 year old, they haven’t got any sense of authenticity to them – it’s like someone older wrote them to sound like a 15 year old, not like a 15 year old actually wrote them, leading to very phony sounding lyrics. Plus, he uses the word “shorty” way too much, when he’s probably shorter than most of the girls that the songs are targeted at. His vocal ability is evident, but only half cooked – and the thing is, the amount of time required to cook it to a perfect golden brown is longer than the (estimated) amount of time before he hits puberty, so he’ll most likely have a shithouse, deep voice by his next record, and lose the fans he’s gained because he’s so young and cute.

The music is all very generic and boring. Maybe one or two of the tracks are catchy and have potential, but the better part of the album is filler. The ballads are cringe-worthy, the upbeat, dance songs such as “Eenie Meenie” even more so. The rhythm is very simplistic in all the tracks – something which works for a few contemporary R&B artists, but not this one.

I’m hoping that, with his next album, Bieber might try writing his own songs – no, Justin, putting your name on all of the song’s writer credits isn’t fooling anyone. Oh, and make better album titles and covers. Maybe then you will be more convincing and accessible. But, until then, you’ll have to be contempt with your fan base of 7-18 year old girls and a few sad men going though their midlife crisis.

Choice tracks:
U Smile; That Should Be Me
If you like: Usher; Miley Cyrus; early Justin Timberlake

3D Block [NES]

What the naked silhouette is doing on the title screen, I have absolutely no idea. There’s no girls, tits, or stilettos in 3D Block. No, the “Block” you’re going to encounter is not a 3D penis. All this game is is 3D Tetris – and not the cool, Avatar-style 3D either. I mean three dimensions – instead of just horizontal and vertical, as is in normal Tetris, you have a top-down perspective over a square where the blocks land.

For the first few minutes, this game made absolutely no sense to me. The graphics aren’t good enough to see which direction your active piece is pointing, so most of the time it’s just guesswork and “holy shit I hope it’s pointed the right way.” There’s a lot of button mashing in desperation to get the piece in the right place. Also, I got up to Level 8 before getting bored and pissed off, and I swear that level 2 was the hardest – the pieces were moving so much faster.

Hmm, yes, I understand exactly what is going on here

For some reason, level 3 was skipped completely. I just completed level 2 when I was greeted by a big “04”, leaving me with a raised eyebrow. And why do all NES games have such ugly colours? What’s up with the mustard yellow backdrop? Can’t they use a nicer colour?

But why put a naked woman on the title screen? On the box art, fair enough – entice young, horny males to buy your game with the promise of pixelated tits. Great marketing scheme. But the title screen? If you can see it, it means you’ve already bought the game. So why is it necessary to continue lying, even though the sale is already made? At least there’s four blocks on the title screen too, to give you a little hint to what you’re about to play.

I couldn’t work out what that window on the bottom right of the screen was trying to tell me. Yes, I know I’ve fucked up and I’m right at the top of the pile, you really don’t have to remind me. I mean, I suppose it was trying to do something helpful, but I had no idea what it was.

The obscure NES title 3D Block was boring and repetitive. It would have been fun for ten minutes or so, but I played it for a lot longer than that and so now I’m very, very sick of it. I only played it because I recently downloaded every single NES ROM, and it was number 2. I don’t see myself returning to it very soon.

3-D Battles Of WorldRunner, the [NES]

Embark upon an enthralling journey! Play as the space-cowboy WorldRunner, or, as he is known in Japan, “Jack”, and defend Solar System #517 from the evil alien race, the Serpentbeasts, who are ruled by Grax. As is the case in 99% of all NES games, this story is in no way mentioned in the game itself, but is detailed in the manual.

Apart from having a story that sounds like a Scientologist holy text, along with a fairly generic title, there really isn’t much to fault about this game. So don’t go expecting a hilarious review shredding the game to bits, because it’s not going to happen. Sure, it wouldn’t be brilliant if it were released today, but for 1987, I can imagine it having some pretty new and fun features.

As a gamer, I was drawn in the moment the title screen said it was developed by Square. I mean, fucking Square. The three blokes who did this also created fucking Final-fucking-Fantasy. It has to be awesome. Plus, while the music is repetitive and annoying, I thought it was really good, especially for a NES game. This was explained when a little bit of research exposed that is was composed by the one and only Nobuo Uematsu, the brains behind most of the Final Fantasy music.

Hey, what's that rapidly approaching black bar doing?

The whole game is repetitive. World One is you, Jack, running forwards constantly, dodging obstacles and jumping over chasms in the path, which are just big black rectangles that look nothing like an actual gap in the road. World Two is pretty much the same, with different looking enemies that don’t change in function very much and a space background. At the end of each world, you fight a big snake like thingy like the boss in Arkanoid, or a flying one of those cacti with faces in Mario. There are also a few very Boo-like jumping ball things. And you collect stars, for some reason. Not sure how that ties in with the plot, but whatever.

3-D Worldrunner sees you tie together ridiculously long strings of jumps off springs floating in chasms, avoid columns because you think they’re bad for you and then find out they’re good for you by reading the game’s Wikipedia article, and more. Plus, it has an awesome 3-D mode that you can activate by pressing Select. Pity it’s now pretty much useless because it’s near impossible to get a pair of glasses that were packaged with the game, and other 3-D glasses aren’t the right colours/whatever for it to work (I tried), because this game would be fucking awesome in 3-D.

But look, the game is clever and fun. I got a lot more entertainment out of it than I thought I would when I loaded it up. Oh, and Jack is such a bad-ass mother fucker that he runs and jumps around in space without even caring about stupid, unnecessary stuff like spacesuits.

That is hardcore


LA natives Carney induce thoughts of Bends-era Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Buckley, and post-rock music; so if you like any or all of them, you should definitely get listening. Great, under-appreciated band that you have to hear.

Here’s their covers of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the Beatles’ classic “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”

And here is a great original song, “Tomorrow’s Another Day”

I reviewed their debut record, if you want to take a peek here. Oh, and this is their website. I don’t know how you’d going about buying their record in Australia, but I assume it’s out at JB Hi-Fi, if anywhere – have a look there. Your search will be well worth it.

“Heligoland” (2010) by Massive Attack

They’ve been away for a while, but Massive Attack’s fifth studio album has definitely let them re-stake their claim as the kings of trip-hop. Even though Heligoland is their biggest departure from the true trip-hop sound, it’s equally as good as any of their previous work, if not better.

Heligoland encapsulates everything that Massive Attack is, but manages to not sound the same as any of their previous works. The vocal work throughout the record is wonderful, featuring a whole array of notable guests such as Damon Albarn, Guy Garvey, Horace Andy and Tunde Adebimpe, as well as amazing delivery by the duo itself. As one would expect from a Massive Attack record, the production is sublime. Eerie noises stand out, but don’t detract from the creepy and depressive music. There are the weird beats and rhythms, strange melodies, and clever use of repetition that we’ve all come to look forward to from Massive Attack.

But this isn’t pure trip hop. There’s not as many slow, chilled songs, and much less (if any) record scratching and eerie, drawn out vocals. This really works for them, however, as it prevents them from being another washed up 90’s band, opening them up to a new audience. While there’s no one definitive stand-out track, the whole album works, and each and every track on its own. To put it very simply, everything just sounds plain great.

The lyrics are great and somehow manage to not become cheesy. It’s their simplicity that works in their favour, the fact that they can get the message across in as few words as possible, and can be sung with a perfect melody to accompany the song. They seem as though they were written not for the words, but for how the words sound – their rhymes, tones, structure, length, etc. But that doesn’t lessen the quality of the lyrics themselves. They’re still clever and fitting, blanketing the whole record with the perfect lyrical theme of love, distance and isolation.

Heligoland is a more than welcome release from one of the best groups in the last twenty years. Head-bobbing and interest-grabbing, it’ll keep you listening, most probably on repeat, for a long time to come.

Choice tracks: Pray For Rain; Splitting The Atom; Girl I Love You; Saturday Come Slow; Atlas Air
If you like:
Portishead; Tricky

“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