Muse – Madness – Song Review

 ‘Madness’ will gain fans, as well as lose some… 20/08/2012

You can listen to the song here.

Muse have been one of the world’s largest, most successful rock bands for a long time now, and the hype surrounding their latest effort ‘The 2nd Law’ isn’t surprising. The band have stated once again, that they will be experimenting new sounds on the album, such as dubstep (on Unsustainable). In the past, the band has claimed to experiment with new sounds, like before the release of their previous album ‘The Resistance’. However, throughout the waves of experimental sound, there has always been that one aspect of a Muse song that sounds like Muse, and when you listen to it, you still know its Matt, Dom and Chris behind that layer of bizarre. This is clear in the song ‘Survival’.

The same cannot be said however, for their newest single, ‘Madness’. It’s some sort of blend of R&B and electro music, with even more hints of Queen.

In my opinion, Matt’s voice doesn’t sound at all comfortable in this sort of song, it just doesn’t seem natural. The song has a voice throughout the song saying ‘Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-mad-mad-mad’ which I suppose isn’t a bad touch, but the song acts as if it could be built up into something a lot more than a U2-esque ending that sounds nothing like Muse at all.

Some people may fall in love with ‘Madness’, but sadly I’m not one of those people. In my opinion, ‘Madness’ is one of those songs that will gain fans, as well as lose some. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of Muse, but I honestly hope that ‘The 2nd Law’ holds more promising material.

By Daniel Tumani

Green Day – Oh Love – Song Review

By Daniel Tumani

A back to basics, power-pop sound… 16/07/2012

Oh Love is the first song released from Green Day’s highly anticipated new trilogy of albums: ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tre!

My first impression of the song was that it was good but fairly repetitive, however on my second listen I definitely grew to it more due to the hooks of the verse and the extremely catchy chorus which is quite a new sound for Green Day. Billie said that “we were thinking about making a killer power-pop record – dirtier, back to basics” and this really shines through in Oh Love.

The song starts with just Billie and a crunchy guitar, before an organ slowly enters and Mike and Tre join the song and the chorus breaks through. The melody that’s put with the lyrics “Far away, far away, waste away tonight” gives me a feel that it would fit as a b-side on American Idiot.

After another round of the pumping verse and the addictive chorus, a well needed guitar solo bursts through. I personally love this solo, and it gives a great feel to the song. Oh Love is the final track on ¡Uno! and I think this solo will end the album perfectly in true Green Day fashion. After the solo, it returns to the introduction. By the time it comes round to the final chorus you will most definitely be singing along.

Billie said that “with the first album you’re getting in the mood to party. On the second one, you’re at the party. And the third album you’re cleaning up the mess.” I can definitely relate to what Billie has said, because Oh Love is a song that starts off fairly dull but it really builds up, and with it being the last song on the album, it sets up ¡Dos! perfectly to release its high party energy.

Muse – ‘Survival’ – Song Review

Muse

By Daniel Tumani

A skillful yet bizarre song… 27/06/2012

Muse have just released ‘Survival’, a 5 minute epic for the London Olympics full of classical music, choirs, guitar solos and Matt’s falsetto voice. The first time I heard it I thought it was weird. It just seemed filled with so many types of music. When I listened to it for the second time, I was definitely more drawn to it.

There’s a prelude before the song, which is a typical Muse classical piece. It’s very reminiscent of the Exogenesis Symphony. After the prelude, a lively piano is introduced, which reminded me of I Belong to You at first. It’s very catchy to be honest and I actually quite like it. The verse soon kicks in, with Matt singing in a very hushed tone. I don’t like the lyrics in the song, there is the very cheesy, pointless ‘I’m gonna win’ which I thought was only there for the Olympic feel; it didn’t mean anything else. Halfway through the verse, Chris (I believe) comes in with very Queen-esque backing vocals, which I think is a nice touch. The song starts to build up with Matt’s vocals getting edgier and a choir in the background. The song then really starts to kick in.

A pounding distortion guitar breaks through, Matt plays a great solo with the choir still backing the track. The cheesy lyrics come back again ‘It’s a race, I’m gonna win’ but this time with more power. After more build up, Matt unleashes his classic falsetto voice which breaks into an amazing break filled with heavy guitars, pounding bass, more crazy solo’s before ending with one more falsetto.

I didn’t really like the song at first, and I still think it’s pretty wacky, but it suits the Olympics well and I really like the ending to the song. It’ll be an interesting song when performed live as well; I think the guitar will have more of a place in a live performance. Survival is a good song, but at times it seems like an over generic Olympic track with strong hints of Queen. I still look forward to The 2nd Law and I’m sure Survival will keep growing on me.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011) Movie Review by Aaron Jackson

Beautifully heart-warming, 26 June 2012

Movie – Poster

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME – 7.5/10.

I can honestly admit that prior to watching this film I was expecting a half-hearted attempt at a wannabe-indie-comedy; this is only because there had not been much buzz around it here in the UK so I foolishly assumed that it was one to miss. I could not have been more wrong. This film has more heart than any film I have seen in a while and it truly is beautiful.

The main reason I did decide to watch this film was the seemingly impressive cast, namely the two lead actors that are Jason Segel and Ed Helms, both of whom have delivered extraordinary performances in the past. First of all who better to play a slacking yet lovable pothead than Jason Segel and he does it with such grace on this particular occasion that when it comes to the second half of the film you almost forget entirely the fact that his character, Jeff, was essentially down and out from the film’s inception. Then you have Ed Helms’ character Pat who you are forced to dislike within mere minutes of being introduced. From the outset Pat is impulsive and inconsiderate which immediately provides an exquisite conflict between the two dominating personalities in Jeff, Who Lives at Home.

Essentially there are three different plots running at the same time here, the first being the most prominent which is Jeff and Pat’s mission to uncover the secrets of Pat’s wife, Linda (played by Judy Greer) and her affair. Surprisingly I actually felt that this storyline was the weakest in terms of meaningfulness despite being the most entertaining but I think that this is mainly due to the fact that it got the most attention from the writers as it is the fundamental basis for the other two plots. There really isn’t much to comment on here apart from the fact that this is the storyline that generates the most laughs; mainly from seeing Ed Helms run around with a strained expression on his face as he tries to track down his wife (or Porsche, whichever seems more appealing at the time) while Jeff trails behind still half-stoned.

The second plot is the alarmingly touching sub-storyline of Jeff and Pat’s mother Sharon (played extremely well by Susan Sarandon) and her ‘secret admirer’. This took me by absolute surprise because it is just so far from what we would have expected to happen in a scenario like this. The easy way out would have been to provide Sharon with a strapping middle-aged role model to act as a father figure for Jeff and Pat however it becomes evident that the Duplass (Jay and Mark – Directors/Writers) brothers don’t like taking the easy way out and I can’t praise them enough for that. The turn that this particular plot takes is so fantastic that spoiling it for you would be a sin in my eyes – you’ll just have to go and see it for yourselves.
Finally we have Jeff’s ongoing personal struggle to try and discover his destiny in life. This is introduced to us as soon as the film starts where Jeff ponders the film Signs (M. Night Shyamalan’s multi-million dollar blockbuster starring Mel Gibson) whilst poised in a majestic fashion on the toilet whilst trying to figure out what his future might have in store for him and how he can use signs to help him find it. This plot is just sort of dragged through the whole film while the first two take the spotlight however it is in the final 10 minutes or so where you are once again swept off your feet. At risk of saying too much I will stop now as I really can’t do it justice with words.

All three of these plots are equally engaging and perfectly written. The reason I believe these are perfectly written is because when all of these plots come together at the end of the film it makes your heart warm! It is absolutely astounding the effect that the Duplass brothers manage to induce onto their viewers with this movie! It is certainly not as dark natured as Cyrus (2010 release from the Duplass brothers, stars Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly) but in my opinion it is a lot more developed in terms of script and character development, it is also a hell of a lot more engaging.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home is marketed as a comedy. While it certainly does contain some comedic value I would say that this film is essentially a drama, and a very good one. If you were, like me, expecting a comedy please do not be put off because I guarantee that you won’t be let down by this movie as it is in my virtually impossible to dislike. I may go as far to call this the most likable movie of 2011.

blink 182 – Neighborhoods – Album Review (2012)

Album Cover

 By Daniel Tumani

 Lyrically dark yet musically lively… 24/06/2012

blink-182’s Neighborhoods has been out for a long time but I thought I’d review it since I’ve had a long time to listen to it, and because, well, I like it so much.

Neighborhoods is not like anything blink have ever done; they have all matured (off the stage anyway) and created a masterpiece in which the music is genuinely great. The album also perfectly reflects where blink are with their career. The darker lyrics that were explored in their self-titled album have returned, but this time they are in the context of what has happened since the breakup of the band back in 2005. Although the lyrics are somewhat darker, the music is as lively as it’s ever been.

The opening track Ghost on the Dancefloor highlights just that. With lyrics such as ‘It’s like the universe has left me, without a place to go, without a hint of light, to watch the movement glow’ it’s still an energetic song, with an essence of synth and a memorable chorus sang by Tom DeLonge. Straight after Ghost on the Dancefloor, Natives is sprung into action. It starts with an infectious guitar riff reminiscent of M&Ms and Angels & Airwaves’ Young London. It’s also the first song on the album which has Tom and Mark singing, and it works as well as it has in the past. There’s the first single from the album Up All Night, with a heavy riff and alternating singing in the verses. It’s a great first single, and the song fits perfectly on the album. After Midnight is next, followed by Snake Charmer, which is a sonic driven anthem that really showcases the different elements from each member coming into place.

After a mellow Hearts All Gone Interlude, Hearts All Gone is unleashed, which is a fast paced punk song that really shines a light on Travis Barker’s expert drumming. Wishing Well is a dangerously catchy song, with Tom’s signature ‘da, da, da’s’ in the chorus. Kaleidoscope follows which lyrically stands out. Lyrics such as ‘Stop banging away on my kaleidoscope, stop draining the colour out of my scene, just play me something I can dance to, I can dance to anything you wanna sing’ which Mark Hoppus stated that ‘It was kind of about people in their late teens, early to mid twenties, trying to find their way in the world.’ This Is Home is an animated song with, in my opinion, Tom’s best vocals on the album. Another fast paced, Mark fronted song is next: MH.4.18.2011, followed by Love is Dangerous. Love is Dangerous has a very Angels and Airwaves feel to it, but that isn’t a bad thing here. There’s great synth involved, with Tom singing his heart out. It’s a great song. Fighting The Gravity is probably my least favourite track on the album, but it’s still a good song. It’s the most experimental, with heavy sonic elements to it. The album closes with Even If She Falls which is a song with lighter lyrics than most of the songs on Neighborhoods.

blink-182 could have returned from their hiatus and put out an album full of 3 minute long pop-punk songs, with a few dick jokes here and there. Instead of doing that, they challenged themselves to write a meaningful, mature album, what with Travis’ plane crash, and long term producer Jerry Finns’s death. They have pulled it off; it’s an amazing album, with elements from Mark, Tom and Travis, and lyrics influenced from everything that’s happened since their messy breakup. blink-182 will be recording a new album soon, and if Neighborhoods is anything to go by, it’ll be a cracker.

NEIGHBORHOODS:8.5/10

Halestorm – The Strange Case Of… – Album Review (2012)

By Daniel Tumani

Great rock album with split friendly and aggressive sides…

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Album Cover

THE STRANGE CASE OF…: 7.5/10

Halestorms’ second album, The Strange Case Of… is an impressive album. It’s filled with energetic, radio rock songs, aggressive lyrics and a couple of sensitive ballads. From the catchy, reckless opener Love Bites (So Do I) to the more heartfelt songs such as Break In, this album has it all. Mz.Hyde has cheerful yet sarcastic verses, and a dark, heavier chorus, with haunting lyrics like ‘Welcome to the nightmare in my head’. It showcases Lzzy Hales ability of using a delicate singing voice and then the use of destructive, in your face vocals. There’s the powerful I Miss The Misery and anthemic Freak Like Me which really captivate the listener, both with hard rocking sounds. Rock Show is a cheesy, fun song that will be stuck in your head all day. The guitar riffs on the album are reminiscent of Foo Fighters (You Call Me a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing) and even AC/DC (American Boys). The final track on the album, Here’s to Us is a song filled with power and emotion, which finishes the album on a high. The bonus tracks are also great; Don’t Know How to Stop is a big clump of energy, with a huge chorus. Private Parts featuring James Michael of Sixx:A.M is a brilliant song, it just has fairly weird lyrics. Some people may compare Halestorm to Paramore just because they have a female lead singer, but this comparison is far from the truth; Halestorm are more edgy and powerful, and The Strange Case Of… shows just that.

 

Jarhead (2005) Movie Review by Aaron Jackson

Intriguing thought provoker about a Jarhead who got lost on the way to college…, 12 June 2012

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Pre-release movie poster

JARHEAD – 8/10.

First of all I’m not a massive fan of war films. Sure I loved Saving Private Ryan and Full Metal Jacket etc. but honestly films like Pearl Harbour and Black Hawk Down have never seemed appealing to me personally, no idea why. The only reason I watched Jarhead was because of a recommendation from a friend and it far exceeded my expectations.

This is not an action film. There are bits that have small action elements to them but Jarhead is not full of explosions and gunfights by the minute. If you are a fan of ‘high-octane’ action films please do not be put off by this. I cannot stress enough how the fact that just because this isn’t a fast paced film means that it is boring. Jarhead is far from boring.

The reason I enjoyed it so much is the fact that (possible spoiler ahead) the heroes were not actually heroes; they did not get a big battle at the end and they far from went out with a bang. Even someone who isn’t a Jarhead like myself understands that this is the reality of war and I think the writers embrace that. That being said some parts of this film really start to make you think and chances are you will be put out of your comfort zone with some of the emotions you feel during this film because there is such a perfect blend between the comedy and drama, you will feel disturbed, you will feel excited and you will be moved.

The acting is very good, not ground-breaking but Jake Gyllenhaal does a good job at breaking down when he needs to. To summarise Gyllenhaal plays a Jarhead by the (nick)name of Swoff and the film is really a psychological journey through his time in the marines and how he deals with various scenarios – good and bad.

If you, like me are a fan of well-crafted films that make you feel then Jarhead is for you.

Linkin Park – Living Things – Album Review (2012)

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Album Cover

By Daniel Tumani

Linkin Park: Living Things Album Review.

Best of Both., 22 June 2012

LIVING THINGS – 6/10.

2010 saw the release of Linkin Park’s fourth full length studio album, the experimental, multi-concept album A Thousand Suns.  The album split fans down the middle. Some fans were fond of the new sound; however some, including me, were disappointed with the drastic change in direction for the band. After this somewhat risky release, followers of the band were left wondering if Linkin Park had changed their sound for good, or if they were to return to the gritty nu-metal sound which gave the band their place in the industry. The short answer to that question is no, they haven’t gone back to their roots. However don’t dismiss ‘Living Things’ as another disappointing release, because it isn’t. Living Things combines musical elements from all of the bands previous albums; from the aggressive drop C guitars to the more recent electronic aspects of songs. Living Things is a truly unique album, and somewhat of a summary of what Linkin Park is capable of. If they hadn’t have released Hybrid Theory or A Thousand Suns, then there would be no Living Things. It contains features on at least one song that will appeal to a Linkin Park fan, old or new.

Tracks that stand out majorly for me are Lost in the Echo, Castle of Glass, Victimized and Until it Breaks.

Lost in the Echo, the album opener is one of the strongest songs on the record. The band has managed to capture the raw energy from Hybrid Theory whilst adding in fresh high energy electronic elements. Mike raps on the verse with aggression, reminiscent of A Place for my Head, and Chester’s clean vocals sweep the chorus in a very Minutes to Midnight-esque fashion. In my opinion, Burn It Down was a fairly average song; the song never really went anywhere. At first, I thought Lost in the Echo would repeat this, and the song wouldn’t be taken anywhere interesting or more energetic. Luckily I was wrong; the screams burst out after the second chorus which instantly gives power to the song. The use of screams and electronic mixing is used very well here. I thought it would be similar to Blackout, a very toned down and somewhat powerless scream however with the pounding guitars in the background, it works perfectly. This song sets the tone for Living Things and it’s a very strong album opener.

In My Remains is quick to follow, which is a good track; an electronic track with big Minutes to Midnight sounding guitars and vocals. The third track and first single Burn It Down is next, and as I stated earlier, I wasn’t a huge fan of the song. Lies Greed Misery comes bursting through afterwards. For me, this song is packed with energy. It’s like Meteora meets A Thousand Suns. It’s a solid track; electronic beats and edgy hip hop in the verses with an aggressive chorus; ‘I wanna see you choke on your lies, swallow up your greed, suffer all alone in your misery’. The song also shines at the end with attacking screams. It goes out with a bang. I’ll Be Gone is track 5, and similar to In My Remains. It sounds fairly similar to Minutes to Midnight and New Divide. It isn’t a bad song, but it doesn’t capture your attention as much as Lost in the Echo and Lies Greed Misery.

Track 6 is Castle of Glass, and this song stood out for me. The song begins with a pounding electronic drum and it soon comes in with an interesting and catchy synth line. The verse is haunting, with the deep vocals. In the chorus, Mike and Chester’s voices sound similar, but you can still hear the difference. Their voices complement each other well as they claim they’re ‘only a crack, in this castle of glass’. After the first chorus, the song builds up with pounding drums and the synth line again, which effortlessly sounds good.  There’s another round of the haunting verse and chorus, this time more upbeat. After a Chester takes a soft interlude, the song bursts back into the chorus, more lively and louder. Castle of Glass is a simple song, yet one that catches the listener’s attention.

If you’re feeling a bit mellow after listening to Castle of Glass, don’t settle down just yet. Victimized doesn’t wait to introduce its aggressive, lively sound. After a very short break, thunderous drums and intense electro/guitar break in to the song. After the storming introduction, more haunting vocals are sung by Mike, but this time it’s building up to something huge. Before you know it, Chester’s violent scream of ‘Victimized’ is being thrown into your face. Straight after the chorus, the song takes another twist, as Mike starts to rap. However unlike previous rapping on the album, this song adopts an identical rhythm to the one in When They Come For Me. This works perfectly; it’s a bouncy verse yet you can hear the sarcastic, playful tone. After another round of being Victimized, Chester prolongs the scream, and a Given Up effect is unleashed. Straight after that, it’s over. This song is my favourite; it’s a perfect example of how Linkin Park have combined elements of each album and mixed them all into a song. Shame it’s only 1 minute 47 seconds long.

Roads Untraveled follows, which is a break from the boisterous Victimized. It starts with bells, before breaking into an introduction reminiscent of Iridescent. Again, Mike sings the verses, and Chester takes the chorus. The lyrics in this song stand out for me; ‘Weep not for roads untraveled, weep not for paths left alone, cause beyond every bend, is a long blinding end, it’s the worst kind of pain I’ve known’. The song builds up and goes out in a true Linkin Park fashion. The song reminds of me of In Between crossed with The Messenger.

After the folk/electronic Skin to Bone, Until It Breaks is unleashed. This song is very interesting. It starts with fairly heavy hip hop, and suddenly breaks out into a soft chorus. The song is soon back into the hip hop but then takes and unexpected turn. A hymn like melody is released, and it doesn’t sound like Linkin Park. With lyrics such as ‘We swim against the rising waves, and crash against the shore, the body bends until it breaks, the early morning sings no more’, we’re taken by surprise. From heavy hip hop to hymn like singing, this shows Linkin Park’s experimentation. When you compare any song on Hybrid Theory to Until It Breaks, it’s truly shocking. I personally think Linkin Park experimented too much with the sound at the end of this song, and it takes the raw emotion that the song began with, from it. If the song had ended before the hymn like singing, a song like Nobody’s Listening could’ve been created. The hymn singing could have been used as an interlude; it would’ve worked better in my opinion.

Tinfoil is a short break, until Powerless, the final track, is played. Powerless starts almost identical to Burning in the Skies. It is a standard Linkin Park piano track. It is a good song, with good lyrics. It ends the album well; on a mellow note that builds up to an epic outro.

Living Things is a not a bad album. It’s full of some great songs, and some disappointing. It’s a big improvement from the ‘too experimental’ album A Thousand Suns. None of the songs really compare to the classic Hybrid Theory/Meteora tracks, however they are still good songs. I believe if you don’t listen to this album with the mindset of wanting Hybrid Theory, you will enjoy it. Yes, Linkin Park have changed, but whether there’s loud distortion guitars, or pounding electronic beats, this album proves they can still write good music.

Wanderlust (2012) Movie Review – By Aaron Jackson

Surprisingly Disappointing…, 16 June 2012

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Pre-release movie poster.

WANDERLUST – 5/10.

Being as I am more than fond of both Judd Apatow (Producer) and Paul Rudd (Lead Actor/Co. Producer) I was extremely eager to watch Wanderlust but came out of it disappointed and honestly quite shocked by the fact that Apatow had produced something so mediocre!

That being said I did laugh in this film on quite a few occasions actually, in particular the mirror scene which was to say the least hilarious. In my opinion it was these rare moments of overstated humour and light satire which made the film the bearable. Another strong point is the running time; thankfully this film doesn’t drag on too much to the point where it becomes tedious.

Rudd is consistently brilliant in nearly every release he has been in and Wanderlust is certainly no exception, but the person that stole the show for me personally was Joe Lo Truglio as Wayne the nudist novelist. I feel that in previous films Truglio has shined, never having a large part but still managing to have a huge impact on the overall humour of a film, notable examples are Kuzzick in Role Models (also alongside Rudd and director David Wain) and my personal favourite Lonnie in I Love You, Man (again, alongside Rudd). I feel that Truglio has this same effect in Wanderlust and that he played one of the more likable and overall interesting characters amongst a cast that is generally dull.

Jennifer Aniston tries. Everything she does in this film comes off as a bit too eccentric, for example the weird acid trip she has just felt awkward and kind of unnecessary. The only thing that she does to a truly good standard is playing the ‘un-employed go-getter living in the midst of a bustling Manhattan’ but to be fair this sort of role has got to be second nature for her. Frankly the more in-your-face kind of comedy is a little out of Aniston’s comfort zone and this does show a bit in Wanderlust.

A lot of other reviews are advising you not to watch it but I disagree based on the fact that you could definitely do a lot worse. You should especially watch this if you enjoyed Wain’s Wet Hot American Summer being as both films share a light form of satire. Wanderlust does not match Wet Hot American Summer in terms of overall comedy but I feel that the two are still comparable. Sure, nothing in Wanderlust is worth writing home about (apart from maybe the mirror scene which truly is, hilarious) and it is fairly forgettable but if you are ever in the mood for something light-hearted not to be taken too seriously kind of film then you can’t go wrong with Wanderlust.