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Cosmonauts – A-Ok! (Album Review)

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Cosmonauts – A-Ok! (Album Review)

Have you ever had that moment when you look at your record collection, be it digital or physical, and can not recall why an album exists or a single song from it? 

Well, I have, and A-Ok! is one album that falls under that category. 

In order to write this review, I had to re-listen to the album. I had initially only decided to listen once because if I could find no compelling reason to pen a review, or keep it in my Apple Music library, then I was determined to delete it. Nevertheless, after the first playthrough, I found myself captivated and played it several more times. 

While the Cosmonauts are garage punk at their core, A-Ok! is different. Yes, there are punk elements, but much of the album has a smooth overture that is soothing and allows your mind to drift away. If anything, perhaps it would be correct to class A-Ok! as pop-punk. Regardless, music doesn’t always have to be assigned a specific genre, so join me as I take a look at the album and explain the reasons why A-Ok! will be remaining in my Apple Music library.

A-Ok! opens the album with plenty of energy and you may understand from the get-go why I class A-Ok! as pop-punk. It’s a great song and offers an interesting contrast as the vocal presentation is very much punk-inspired while the musicality is arguably pop-driven. That said, it works, really well! 

Doom Generation has a killer introduction. In some respects, I would have loved to have heard Doom Generation open the album, but it flows perfectly from A-Ok! Doom Generation reminds me somewhat of Babylon Zoo; a compliment as Doom Generation is thoroughly enjoyable and gets me moving to the rhythm.

Party At Sunday is the first mellow tune on the album and I absolutely adore it. Sit, turn the volume up, and close your eyes, you won’t regret it as the soundstage will envelop you and hold you there until the very last note.

Be-Bop-A-Loser picks up the tempo significantly from Party At Sunday, but at no time do you feel a jolt to the senses. Be-Bop-A-Loser isn’t overall a bad song, it’s most certainly on the punk side of the album, but it doesn’t necessarily offer anything to write home about. A B-side? Perhaps, but it is A-Side worthy, just not a standout!

Short Wave Communication, however, is a B-Side and a sonic mess.  

Heavenspeak is a killer song with an incredible rhythmic presentation; the total opposite of Short Wave Communication. 

Good Lucky Blessing is a song that reminds me of U2 and David Bowie. Yes, I know, sometimes my music correlations can be a little left-of-the-centre, but I do love how within a song, or album, I can hear a similarity even if it is completely unintended by the artist. When this happens, I often find myself heading across and listening to the other artist’s catalogue which makes exploring music an incredible experience. All that aside, Good Lucky Blessing is a solid track that works well within the context of the album.

Cruisin’ is a solid song, but you really have to lock in to that backbeat if you’re going to enjoy it as the chorus and overlapping vocals can be a little distracting, thereby temporarily removing you from the experience that is Cruisin’. 

Discophilia is probably my favourite song on the album. It is a mellow, guitar-riffing, wonderland with a perfect lyrical presentation and drum track. I could listen to it on repeat indefinitely. 

Graffiti is a solid song to close the album on with a killer fade-out that compels me to listen to the album again and explore more of the Cosmonauts growing catalogue of music. 

Overall, A-Ok! Is a thoroughly enjoyable album from start to finish and while I will most certainly be keeping it in my digital library, I don’t feel the need to own a copy physically. That isn’t a reflection on the album but more a realisation that I need to cull my physical library a little and ensure that I don’t get every album my heart desires; it can be quite an expensive hobby, can’t it? Plus, the Apple Music edition of the album sounds superb and therefore from a sonic perspective, I’m not looking for anything more. Of course, you never know, I have been known to be fickle and A-Ok! is most certainly good enough that if I came across it while crate digging, I’d likely pick it up. 

A-Ok! is available on bandcamp, Burger Records (Vinyl), and the iTunes Store

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The Adicts – And It Was So! (Album Review)

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The Adicts – And It Was So! (Album Review)

I think I'm a closet punk fan!

Yes, it's true, l've never identified with the punk era, but as I age I find that I’m being drawn towards punk-styled music genres and associated bands. As I reflect on my relationship with music, throughout the years, I’ve come to the realisation that I really have listened to a lot of punk music. Although, and this may be sacrilegious, I would refer to it as Rock and Roll or Alternative music. I know, I know, music lovers and musicians worldwide are rolling their eyes with that admission, but it’s true. Regardless of my own wacky relationship with punk music, I'd never heard of The Adicts, despite their decades in the business, until this last week. The album artwork for And It Was So! drew my attention, as I was browsing Apple Music. Upon hearing Picture The Scene, I was hooked.

Picture The Scene has an Alice Cooper styled entrance that I love. I'm not normally a fan of spoken word elements in songs, but this one is superb. The hook and rhythm of Picture The Scene is incredibly addictive and that guitar work throughout will get any rocker moving. What a great start to the album!

F****d Up World is a solid punk tune. Nothing to write home about, however, but perfectly suited to the album. The outro explosion is a little too lengthy, but I do like the approach they were aiming for.

Talking S**t is an excellent song. No, it's bloody brilliant! When I hear this song, I’m reminded of quite a few people who Talk S**t, even without the influence of mind-altering substances! At any rate, dear reader, you might assume I talk a lot of S**t. You wouldn’t be wrong but that’s okay as Talking S**t is hilarious and is one of my favourite songs on the album.

If You Want It reminds me of a few early Midnight Oil recordings, but this song arguably has a more upbeat rhythm. Regardless, If You Want It is a killer song and will have you toe-tapping and head-bopping in no time at all.

Gospel According To Me is a fun little song.

Gimme Something To Do is a little pedestrian and never really delivers. It's a B-side at best but is still suited to the album.

Love Sick Baby has a killer groove, I love it! It also has an underproduced feel to it that is, in my opinion, perfect for a punk record.

And It Was So is a great song.

Deja Vu follows on perfectly from And It Was So. Seriously, there is a little Deja Vu to be heard. A stellar track!

I Owe You another song! Yes, Adicts, you owe me another song. This one is horrendous and reminds me of songs that made the soundtracks of numerous bad teen flicks. Yes, I watched them in the 90s, but I no longer connect with this style of music.

Wanna Be is fantastic, although any song would be better than I Owe You.

You'll Be The Death Of Me is music gold. Undoubtedly the best song on the album and one of my ultimate favourites. I can listen to this song on repeat for hours and my kids find this song so funny that we have labelled it our family anthem. Geez, I must say You’ll Be The Death Of Me to them a little too often!

And It Was So! that from start to finish, The Adicts have released an album that I enjoy playing on repeat and one that encourages me to check out their entire back catalogue in order to see what I've been missing out on all these years. If this album is any indication, it's a lot!

And It Was So! is available on Vinyl, CD, and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, And It Was So! is available on Apple Music and Spotify.

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(When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton – [Compilation Review]

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(When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton – [Compilation Review]

Few would argue about the influence of Melbourne's music scene in the 70s, for it was the mecca of the Australian Music Industry at the time. That said, I'm sure my Sydney neighbours would fervently disagree. While I’m Sydney born and bred, good music is good music and (When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton validates that point. With a runtime nearing three hours, this compilation is an extensive trip down memory lane, but will also excite those of us that missed out on experiencing this wonderfully vibrant music scene during its heyday.

SkyhooksCarlton (Lygon Street Limbo) is the perfect song to open this compilation. Not only were Skyhooks one of the most successful bands on the scene, at the time, but Carlton (Lygon Street Limbo) incorporates the energy and musicality of the 70s. A sensational song!

The SportsWho Listens To The Radio? (Original 7" Version) is one of my all-time favourite songs, having heard it repeatedly, ironically, on the radio. Yet, until listening to this compilation, I never knew who the artist was. Now I do and I have this compilation and streaming music to thank for bringing me back to one of the coolest songs from the era.

Jo Jo Zep & The FalconsSo Young is another sensational song and reminds me, in spirit, of Tom Petty. I love it!

The DotsLowdown is a little rough around the edges, but that adds to the character of the song. However, I’d argue that while Lowdown isn't a standout song, it is thoroughly enjoyable and the compilation wouldn't be the same without it.

StilettoMiddle Of The Bed is a sensational classic with a killer vocal, rhythm, and an intriguing guitar tune.

The Bleeding HeartsHit Single has a disjointed musical style that surprisingly works perfectly. Hit Single is dynamic and never dull. I don't know about you, dear reader, but it’s a hit from my perspective. It also has a slight Skyhooks influence; what's not to like?

Mighty KongHard Drugs (Are Bad For You) is another rhythmic monster. Seriously, you have to listen to this compilation, it is hit after hit. Incredible!

Mondo RockPrimal Park is a solid tune but it has a little too much pop-influence for my liking. However, there are certain elements, such as the chorus, that are spot on and thoroughly enjoyable.

Mark GillespieSuicide Sister is pure perfection!

High Rise BombersFaster Than Light is a great song. That brass section undoubtedly makes the song and I could happily listen to Faster Than Light on repeat for hours.

The ToadsEudil is addictive. Yes, even that interesting near-pop-based backing vocal grows on you; the song would be lost without it.

The Pelaco BrosMechanics In A Relaxed Manner isn't a bad blues-based tune, but I find the mix confuses my mind as the vocal presentation is too forward and slightly offbeat to the rhythm. In some respects, it is as though two songs have morphed into one.

The Relaxed MechanicsTruckin' Casanova is a campy tune, but I can't help but love it. An absolute classic and arguably a song that only an Australian band could have conjured up.

MillionairesGossip has a shifting tempo that takes a little getting used to. It isn't my favourite song from the compilation, but there was bound to be at least one of the tracks that didn't connect with me.

The KevinsOut At Night is a great song. Yes, another campy tongue-in-cheek song, but such is Australian humour.

Martin Armiger & Buzz LeesonNo Reason is a killer classic rock tune.

ParachuteThe Big Beat isn't anything to write home about, but the compilation wouldn't be the same without it.

Spare ChangeLet's Get Rich Together is one of those songs that takes repeat listens to truly enjoy. That said, once the connection is made, you'll be hypnotised by this exceptional song.

The Glory BoysThe Ballad Of Good & Evil is a fantastic song. The rhythm is amazing, but that vocal delivery is off-the-charts. So Good!

Eric Gradman Man And MachineCrime Of Passion is a solid song with an interesting vocal overlay. The sonic shift, mid-song, is also intriguing and while I'm unsure of how I really feel about Crime Of Passion, it suits the compilation perfectly.

Martin ArmigerI Love My Car is certainly reminiscent of the era, but I’d argue that it’s not quite worthy of this collection.

The Bleeding HeartsBoys (Greg Macainsh Demo Version) is a great track. It kinda makes me wonder what the non-demo version sounds like as this edition was already ready for prime-time in my opinion.

StilettoRozalyn is a killer song. The vocal delivery, in particular, is absolutely sensational, making for one of the best songs on the compilation. That said, there is a little sibilance in the vocal that can be distracting, especially when listening via headphones.

The DotsI See Red is rather rough around the edges, reminding me a little of the early Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan recordings. Overall, however, it isn't a bad song but it could have been great with a little more spit and polish.

Jo Jo Zep & The FalconsOnly The Lonely Hearted isn’t a song to write home about, but it's a solid addition to this compilation.

The SportsSuddenly is a great song that improves upon each listen. I love the vocal style and Suddenly is perfectly mixed.

Mondo RockTelephone Booth has a great rhythm that is full of energy. I dare say Telephone Booth would have been exceptional when played live.

Daddy CoolSaturday Night (GTK Live) is merely satisfactory as there are much better Daddy Cool songs that could have been selected for this compilation.

SkyhooksHey, What's The Matter? (Steve Hill Demo Version) is awesome! Although, the final master recording is even better. Regardless, it's Skyhooks, what is not to like?

Company CaineBuzzin’ With My Cousin is a little too left of the centre for me. That doesn't mean that you won't like it, but I just don’t connect with it.

Captain Matchbox Whoopee BandRoll That Reefer is different and feels out-of-place, but it’s certainly a compelling tune.

Stephen Cummings & Dave FlettThe Third Degree sounds too much like The Rolling Stones. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the song is excellent, but I do value uniqueness.

Rock GraniteYou Got Me Where You Want Me is a toe-tapper and a head-bopper. Great tune!

Jo Jo Zep & The FalconsSomeday It's Gonna Come To You (1976 Demo Version) is far better than the demo tag would make you believe. A sensational song!

Mark GillespieComin' Back For More is thoroughly enjoyable.

AutodriftersLocked Out Of Love is not my type of song, but you may enjoy it; especially if you're a Hank Williams fan.

Fabulous NudesI'll Be A Dag For You, Baby is daggy! It isn't the greatest song and should have been omitted from the compilation.

The Pelaco BrosTruckdrivin' Guru is a solid song, but nothing to write home about and again we have a song that is somewhat influenced by The Rolling Stones. I guess imitation is really the sincerest form of flattery.

Peter Lillie & The LeisuremastersHangin' Round The House is brilliant! An Aussie Classic!

The SportsLive Work & Play (Nightmoves Live) isn't a bad song but I'm more interested in the polish that often accompanies studio recordings. That said, this is a strong live performance with plenty of energy.

High Rise BombersRadio Show is a great song and that jam session mid-song is superb.

Eric Gradman Man & MachineBright Boy has an addictive beat and is overall an exceptional song.

SkyhooksThis Is My City is a great way to close this compilation. It ensures that I'll listen again as Skyhooks can do no wrong in my opinion.

For those of you calculating the track listing, some will wonder why there are only 43 songs reviewed, rather than the 45 included on the album. Sadly, likely due to contractual permissions, Daddy Cool’s Boy You're Paranoid and The Indelible Murtceps' Blue Movies Made Me Cry are missing from streaming services. This discrepancy is yet another reason why owning the CD is a good idea as you're not limited to accessing the music you love by outside influences that are out of your control. Despite this, (When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton is an incredible compilation of Australian artists from the 70s and the reputable Melbourne music scene. While there are a couple of songs that don't connect with my soul, the compilation as a whole does. Subsequently, every song, regardless of my subjective viewpoint, is essential.

(When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton is available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes. It’s important to note that the aforementioned absent songs are available if you purchase the album.

If the omission of those two songs doesn’t worry you, you can also stream (When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Midnight Oil – Head Injuries (Album Review)

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Midnight Oil – Head Injuries (Album Review)

Head Injuries has to have one of the most recognisable Australian album covers in existence that truly captures the energy of the entire album and band. It certainly is an improvement over the visual absence of their debut album Midnight Oil, although many bands over the years have successfully adopted this simple design element that is as compelling as it is confusing.

As much as I adore the music from their debut album, it is fair to say that as a follow-up, Head Injuries takes their music to an entirely new level that is more reminiscent of the production qualities found in their later works. However, the shift between albums is more evolutionary than revolutionary; unlike Queen’s transition from their early albums.

Cold Cold Change has, in my opinion, one of the greatest guitar-driven introductions in rock music history. You can’t help but get your air guitar out and bounce across the room. It may just be the remastering of this song, but the hi-hats sound mashed to pieces. To me, the musicality of the piece just sounds a little hollow, as though too much treble has been dialled in. That, of course, doesn’t prevent me from thoroughly enjoying this ripper rock and roll track, but it is one aspect that I hope is addressed in the upcoming reissues. Thinking about vinyl production for a moment, this is one track that I’m sure would benefit from vinyl mastering and playback limitations.

Section 5 (Bus To Bondi) returns the band to their punk roots and reminds me of a band that were at their peak during the same era: 999 (Nine Nine Nine). Section 5 (Bus To Bondi) is fun and full of energy. While not my favourite song on the album, it does grow on you. Yes, even the self-serving guitar solo midway through the song.

Naked Flame has an incredible rhythm and I absolutely love Garrett’s high-pitched vocal introduction. I will probably get crucified for this comment, but songs like this make me immediately ponder if Midnight Oil was Australia’s answer to Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones. That isn’t to say any copy-cat action was taking place, just that it is interesting to ponder the thoughts of the mind as one is enjoying the music. I should also add that I don’t subscribe to the theory that Aerosmith is a carbon copy of The Rolling Stones. Yes, I can see the similarities, but claiming this to be the case undermines the longevity and success that Aerosmith has had. Despite all this, Naked Flame is an incredible song with some simply gorgeous guitar work and backing vocals. It is one of my favourite songs on the album and in their entire catalogue. In fact, this song is much more worthy of being included on a greatest hits album than Back On The Borderline.

Back On The Borderline is a good song, but I feel it is overrated. I know it is a Midnight Oil staple, but it has always been one of their songs that I have to be in the mood to listen to.

Koala Spirit has a Lou Reed vocal style that works extremely well for not only Garrett but the entire song. The composition while erratic is utterly perfect. Koala Spirit is both mellow and heavy hitting with an incredible level of musicality from the band. I absolutely adore the musical chorus throughout. It simply has the goods and delivers an exceptional performance in every meaning of the word. Unlike the poor mastering that is present in Cold Cold Change, Koala Spirit is simply magnificent. As I’m writing this review and listening to the album countless times, I am drawn to my own subjective thoughts regarding the songs that I would place on a Greatest Hits album by Midnight Oil. I dare say it would be significantly different to all that have come before.

No Reaction is the perfect song for you headbangers out there. It will get you moving and if you only ever listen to music to toe tap and head bop, then you should simply move on to the next song as this one is not for you. It is Australian rock and roll at its best.

Stand In Line has a Skyhooks vibe and I absolutely love the depth of the drums and the forward nature of the bass guitar throughout the song. As I listen to the song, I can understand exactly where Garrett's dishevelled dance moves come from. Your body simply relaxes and you move without conscious thought as you become one with the music. It is exceptionally enjoyable!

Profiteers slows the album down somewhat. The first minute or so of the song is a confused mess, but then the song comes into its own. It isn’t the greatest song on the album, but it isn’t filler either. Although, it is more instrumentally focused than the other songs on the album and that may put some listeners off. Personally, I enjoy rock and roll albums that have an instrumental focus.

Is It Now? has a very familiar guitar riff, yet I can’t place it. Perhaps the riffs have been mimicked over the years, hence the familiarity. However, Is It Now? suffers from the bad mastering that was present at the beginning of the album. If all songs, on this remaster, were done by the same mastering engineer then this discrepancy shouldn’t be present. I can’t help but wonder if the songs that suffer from the mashed percussions weren’t the result of variances in the recording sessions. Regardless, Is It Now? is still a memorable song and as the final track on the album, it does encourage me to listen to the album once again.

Head Injuries is currently available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store, and iTunes. Streamers can listen to the album on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Spotify, and Apple Music. For those of you interested in the vinyl release, you will have to wait until the release of the Deluxe Box Set as there has been no news about this album being re-issued separately. As mentioned in my Midnight Oil review, depending on how successful the re-issues are, I would assume it is likely that these albums will also be released separately, in order to capitalise on the 2017 concerts, just don't quote me on it!

This review was based on listening to the 2008 remastered edition that is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi. Other than the mastering variances, throughout the album, it is an exceptional release that should be part of any collection or playlist. As far as I am concerned, it sits amongst some of the best Australian rock albums and would certainly be included in my top 100 of all time.

There is little doubt, knowing Midnight Oil’s later works, that I will be picking up one of the new collections when they are released. Based on listening to Head Injuries, I have a feeling that I will order the box set through Matau Records as I have no doubt the Head Injuries album cover would look exceptional in the vinyl format. I’m also sincerely hoping the mastering artefacts, that I have heard on the existing remasters, are removed from the vinyl mastering process. I guess time will tell and it will all depend on which masters they decided to use for the project.

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Midnight Oil - Self-Titled Debut Album Review

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Midnight Oil - Self-Titled Debut Album Review

On May 5th, Midnight Oil is set to re-issue their entire catalogue in a Deluxe Vinyl Box Set, along with The Full Tank and The Over Flow Tank CD-based collections that are sure to appeal to many Midnight Oil fans.

While I do consider myself to be a fan of this iconic Australian band, I must admit that I have never really focused my attention toward their albums. Various singles and compilations have always given me my Midnight Oil fix. However, with the re-issues on the horizon, I thought it would be a good idea to review their catalogue of albums in order to ascertain if these new releases are worthy of inclusion in my collection.

I'm not currently sold on the vinyl box set as it is rather plain, especially when compared to the Tank editions. However, one of the key issues to be considered is the cost. At AU$299 for each Tank edition and AU$499 for the vinyl box set, one must truly appreciate the majority of their work, not just the singles and compilations as I have in the past.

I find it interesting that the CD collection is AU$200 cheaper than the vinyl release. Some of you may point out the differences in artwork and sonic representation and that would be totally valid. Although I believe Steve Smart of Studios 301 in Sydney remastered both sets of releases from the original tapes, hence there will be some consistency in the mastering and quite frankly mastering efficiency trumps format comparisons. Plus, if I want the previously unreleased material, then that is only available with The Over Flow Tank release.

Throughout the coming weeks I will be reviewing each album from their catalogue while discussing my thoughts and the decision making process, ultimately culminating in declaring my final purchase decision when I review the final Midnight Oil album Capricornia. Until then, let's take a look at their 1978 self-titled release, Midnight Oil.

Midnight Oil while their first release under that moniker, was not the origin of the band as prior to this release they were known on the Sydney pub scene as Farm. Farm was originally formed in 1972 and while this self-titled release is significantly different in style and composition to their later albums, such as Diesel and Dust or Blue Sky Mining, there is a certain level of polish and musicality that comes through in this Punk/Progressive Rock release, proving that the many nights spent traversing the Sydney pubs certainly provided a worthy training ground. As I listen to this debut album, I can't help but feel the energy that the band must have had when performing live. To say that this is one of the greatest debut albums wouldn't be an understatement, but I know many who would disagree with my subjective opinion.

Recorded in the September of 1978, Midnight Oil heralded a singular single, Run By Night. While I don't feel that it is the strongest song on the album, especially in an era when radio play was an essential element separating success from obscurity, it is a solid punk-inspired rock tune that highlights the recognisable tonality of Garrett's vocal delivery.

Opening Midnight Oil, Powderworks is erratic, yet organised in composition. You immediately get the sense that this is a band that is very familiar with playing in garages and pubs. I adore the guitar soloing mid-song and while the song is rough around the edges, it isn't a bad entry for the album. That said, in the era of music streaming you would be forgiven if you gave the album a miss based on this introduction track. Perhaps I am being overly harsh as the song would be genuinely enjoyable for fans of the band, but I fear new listeners may not feel the same way. 

Head Over Heels begins with a lovely guitar introduction that continues throughout much of the song. One element you will notice on Midnight Oil is the extended soloing. While some may not appreciate this showmanship, I find it to be suited to the songs and the overall sound of the album. Also of note is the layered instrumental backing. While it does force Garrett's vocals to be somewhat hidden in the soundstage, it is perfectly executed and my subjective feeling is that Head Over Heels is one of the strongest songs on the album.

Dust is a really interesting song. It is punk rock meets jazz. I know that sounds strange, but when you listen to it, you will understand what I mean. There is a distinct jazz fusion inspired feel to the song that is strangely compelling. The album wouldn't be complete without it and it is another highlight from this self-titled release. 

Used And Abused speeds the album back up to punk rock speed. Musically I thoroughly enjoy this song, but I don't feel Garrett's vocals were well executed on this song. As a result, I honestly feel that it could have been left as an awesome instrumental only track as the electric guitar work is once again glorious.

Surfing With A Spoon is a gorgeous track with a beautiful minute-long introduction. As I reflect on this song, I have to admit that the entire composition is a masterpiece that certainly merges punk-rock/pop with progressive rock elements. It is not only one of the best songs on the album, but one of their greatest.

While I have already discussed the album's only single, Run By Night, I feel it is important to note how well this song fits into the tracking of the album. There really isn't a song out of place on the entire album and Run By Night certainly grows on you the more you listen to it.

Nothing Lost - Nothing Gained is a sonic masterpiece that compels you to listen to the album again. In my opinion, it is the best song on the album with a perfect beat and gorgeous electric guitar riffs. It doesn't get much better than this as Garrett's vocal delivery is also perfectly suited for this song.

Midnight Oil is an exceptional debut release that should be in everyone's collection. It is currently available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store, and iTunes. Streamers can listen to the album on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Spotify, and Apple Music. For those of you interested in the vinyl release, you will have to wait until the release of the Deluxe Box Set as there has been no news about this album being re-issued separately. Depending on how successful the re-issues are, I would assume it is likely that these albums will also be released separately, in order to capitalise on the 2017 concerts, just don't quote me on it!

This review was based on listening to the remastered edition that is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi. While I have never heard the original release, sonically Midnight Oil is appealing and doesn't cause listener fatigue when listening on speakers. Headphones, by comparison, will bring you closer to the recording, but it does tend to present a shallower soundstage that is a little more jarring. This is most likely a result of the remastering process rather than the original recording. That said, I find Midnight Oil to be one of the few rock-based albums that can be enjoyed at any volume level. Seriously, try to listen to AC/DC at any volume below 60%. Yes, it's doable, but the experience is lacklustre. That certainly isn't the case with 'The Oils' debut release.

Overall, I find that I am enamoured with Midnight Oil and if this album is any indication, the box sets are going to be well worth the investment.

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Green Jellÿ – Cereal Killer Soundtrack (TIDAL Hi-Fi Review)

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Green Jellÿ – Cereal Killer Soundtrack (TIDAL Hi-Fi Review)

For years I have simply loved the song Three Little Pigs. No, not the beloved children’s classic, but the metal-infused Green Jellÿ version from 1993. I like the song so much that I never really gave the associated album any thought. I had originally envisaged that this review would be a one-hit wonder review, but then I decided to listen to the entire album again and I was surprised to find that I truly appreciate the comedic metal and punk infused music style that is applied throughout the entire album.

While it is convenient to dismiss what we don’t like at a given time, this is one example whereby time, and exposure to more music styles, has resulted in an appreciation for the Cereal Killer Soundtrack. I find it intriguing that as time has passed, my musical interests have continued to evolve. Perhaps, I’m finally growing up? Hmm…I don’t know about that, I think I will forever be 16 at heart. Nevertheless, I found that 999’s The Biggest Tour In Sport/The Biggest Prize In Sport really opened doors to the punk side of my personality and I feel there is an entertaining contrast that can be made between these two bands.

Anyway, enough about me, let’s take a look the songs on Green Jellÿ’s Cereal Killer Soundtrack.

Obey The Cowgod is punk heaven and a great way to start the album. The song is intense with punk tones and speed, while having vocals that highlight the metal aspect of the band.

Three Little Pigs is hands down one of my favourite songs of all time. I even added it to Graeme’s playlist when he embarked on his long walk across the Simpson Desert. I honestly don’t think any other song excites me as much as this one. I grin from ear to ear when I play the song and the volume gets pushed to 11. Adding to an already exceptional song is the incredible claymation music video.

Cereal Killer (Edit) is moody, creamy, rock and roll. As this is the edit version, I can’t help but wonder what the complete song sounds like. This edition is certainly worthwhile and reminds me in tone and style of Dio and Iron Maiden. Basically, it’s just bloody good!

Rock-N-Roll Pumpkihn has some seriously nice bass tracks, especially on the intro. However, the vocals in this song drives me nuts and unfortunately detracts from the musicality of the song.

Anarchy In The U.K. reminds me so much of 999 and early White Zombie. Awesome! Plus, for those of you who like The Flintstones, you’ll get a laugh out of this song. It also has a rocking groove that is so addictive, you will be unable to stay still.

Electric Harley House (Of Love) has a gorgeous acoustic guitar intro, but it is one that you know is going to be destroyed once the electric guitar enters the mix. I love music like this as it builds anticipation. This is hardcore rock and roll, with a little punk for added value. I love it!

Trippin’ On XTC is a punk/metal/reggae/R&B infused song that simply gets the body moving. About halfway through it becomes dark and moody in a shift that perfectly suits the song. I certainly appreciate the experimentation the band has shown with this track.

Misadventures Of Shitman has a great spoken and guitar riff intro. Yes, the song is disgusting, as the title eludes to, but it is bloody funny! Think South Park’s Mr. Hankey. I love it!

House Me Teenage Rave is a groovy house-styled song that uses a Monkey as a sexual innuendo point of reference. It is so good, but so inappropriate on so many levels. You simply can’t help but enjoy this track.

Flight Of The Skajaquada (Edit) is a song that has a guitar riff that again reminds me of Iron Maiden. Overall, the song is driven by a killer guitar riff and drum beat, but as any head banger will tell you, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Green Jellÿ Theme Song is the only song from the album, besides Rock-N-Roll Pumpkihn, that I don’t enjoy. The initial groove and beat are superb, but it never really developed into a song that I felt appealed to me. I also don’t feel it was a strong final track as it doesn’t encouraged me to play the album again.

The Cereal Killer Soundtrack, while not technically a soundtrack, is an incredible album that punk and metal fans must listen to at least once. The band is truly greater than the song Three Little Pigs. I can’t believe I ignored such an impressive album for so long.

This is the moment where I need to acknowledge the importance of music streaming services, such as Tidal Hi-Fi. If it were not for these services, my relationship with the band would have remained limited to a single song. Now, however, the CD is in my wish list and if the album ever gets a reprint on vinyl, I will certainly be ordering a copy. While reports regarding streaming services can lament the financial problems faced by the music industry, I feel it offers an opportunity for not only discovery, but for pre-purchasing decisions. Think of it as the modern-day listening booth. You just get to take it with you!

Back to the album and it is fair to say the mastering on this release is superb for this style of music. While it doesn’t have the greatest dynamic range, the stereo imaging of the album is exceptional. Fortunately, nothing has been done to this album since the original release. Fingers crossed it stays that way, it certainly doesn’t need to be ‘remastered’.

Green Jellÿ’s Cereal Killer Soundtrack is available for purchase on CD, iTunes, and the TIDAL Store.

The album is also available for streaming on Apple Music and Spotify.

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AFI – Burials (Vinyl) Review

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AFI – Burials (Vinyl) Review

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at AFI’s evolving sound with Sing The Sorrow. While the band has released the incredible Decemberunderground and Crash Love in the interim years, I wanted to take a look at their latest album, released a decade after Sing The Sorrow, to see just how far the band’s sound had developed. I also couldn’t wait to take the wrapping off this album as I was able to source a reasonably priced vinyl copy of Burials from Sydney’s iconic Red Eye Records.

The vinyl edition comes with the standard lossy MP3 download code for the album, although it did not include the complete album. The songs missing are the two final tracks Anxious and The Face Beneath The Waves. What is bizarre is these songs are not bonus tracks and therefore should have been included in the download. This isn’t necessarily uncommon as I have come across variations in downloaded albums that have been supplied with records in the past. Usually it comes down to licensing agreements, or region specific bonus tracks. Truth be told, with my ever increasing use of TIDAL Hi-Fi, the lossy MP3 codes are of little value to me personally, plus I can always do a higher quality needle drop with my Pro-ject Debut Carbon turntable. Hence, I think in future I may just give away, via Subjective Sounds, the MP3 download codes to readers. Regardless, I would much prefer the record labels give consumers the option to download either the MP3, or a higher quality FLAC or ALAC 16/44 copy that matches the quality of CD. Some record labels do this, but I’m sure most consider the addition of a download code, or CD, to be nothing but a loss leader to encourage the purchase of the record.

Speaking of the record, rather than being presented in a gatefold release, this double album is presented in a slipcase that accommodates both records. While I don’t mind either design decision, gatefolds are just awesome. However, they can be challenging to slip the record in and out at times. Tri-folds are worse, but that is a story for another day. There is also no additional inner liner notes as the record sleeves double as the liner notes. I have mixed feelings on this. Most of the time I prefer archival sleeves and in many cases I purchase them when they are not included. As a result, I can ensure the liner sleeves remain in pristine condition, free of ring wear, seam splits, and additional dust in those precious grooves. Personally, I would recommend all record buyers spend the extra money to get archival sleeves. There are a number of different brands available, but I have always found Mobile Fidelity sleeves to be of the very highest quality. I get mine from Goldmine Records. The reason why I raise this issue, is the record arrived with small seam splits and I need to change out the inner sleeves to prevent further deterioration. It wasn’t the fault of the record label, or Red Eye Records, as it was packed impeccably. It was most likely caused by my reckless mailman who believes it is appropriate to Frisbee throw my records onto the front porch from two meters away. Plus, when the better half works for the postal service, you hear so many horror stories that it is a wonder more parcels are not damaged by Australia Post.  

An interesting side note: When I order CDs online, if I order them from Australian companies then they always turn up with a cracked case. Yet, if I import them from the US or UK, they always turn up perfect. It drives me insane, but what can you do?

Despite the above mentioned issues, I am very happy with the vinyl release and The Sinking Night sets the tone for the album with what has almost become a signature introduction style for AFI, where methodical, rhythmic, and atmospheric sounds are mixed with a ballad-styled vocal delivery. It is exceptional!

I Hope You Suffer has such a demonically evil beat. It is moody, broody, but perfect for when you’re angered by the actions of someone of the events of a particular day. I don’t know about you, but I certainly use this style of music to deal with feelings of anger and frustration.   

A Deep Slow Panic is almost pop-punk. This evaluation is neither good or bad, but I feel that this song doesn’t present AFI at their best. The magic is lacking and it feels like filler. While I can enjoy the song in the album tracking, I would likely skip over it when listening on TIDAL Hi-Fi.

No Resurrection has magical guitar riffs that simply highlight the song and makes you want to hear more of that incredible twang. It is air guitar worthy, despite the song being a slow rock tune. It is strange to hear AFI slow down this much, especially with their punk background, but it certainly suits their sound and they have been able to capture their origins while also breaking new ground.

17 Crimes is a song that exists for the chorus. Throughout the versus, you just can’t wait to get to that chorus. I’ve experienced this a number of times in the past, but I must say that recently it is the exception, rather than the rule. Maybe it's because a significant amount of modern music is all chorus and the poor verse is minimised. Song writing is arguably not what it used to be. Anyway, 17 Crimes is an excellent song that suits the album and the band’s style.

The Conductor is my favourite track on the album, and it may even be my favourite of all AFI tracks. While No Resurrection had magical guitar riffs, The Conductor takes that statement to a completely new level. The guitar has a rhythm, a soul, and its own chorus. I just love the tuning of it, it is the epitome of an epic rock and roll song. I can only imagine how awesome this song would be when performed live.

Heart Stops begins intriguingly and beautifully, but as it reaches the chorus it is too reminiscent of other alternative music that has come before. This song is really for those of you who enjoy the verse as the chorus reminds me of any number of bad teenage movie soundtracks. AFI can do better than this. It had potential, but the chorus let it down.

Rewind isn’t one of my favourite songs. It is too whiny in vocal delivery for my liking.  

The Embrace has a unique bass track, but I would have loved to have heard it with a little more dynamic range as the bass becomes hidden very quickly once the rest of the band kicks into action. The Embrace is also the type of song that slows down during the verse and speeds up during the chorus. It works, but it really is a B-side, or in this case a C side. In fact, all three songs on side C could probably have been left off the album.

Wild is the final song on side C and therefore is included in my previous statement, but I do like elements of this song. The electronic elements present a sonic signature that is reminiscent of a video game soundtrack. Every time I listen to the song, I think it would have made a perfect addition to Adam Sandler’s Pixels film. Bottom line: it is a fun song.

Greater Than 84 has horrid dynamic range. Listen to the symbols and high-hats. They are compressed to hell and back again. When you listen to the introduction you think that this could be as bold in instrumentation as any Dire Straits album, but the ‘loudness wars’ has killed that hope. It is a shame because it is a solid song, but I just don’t enjoy the over compressed sonic quality. I know it is the ‘modern’ sound, but it is exhausting to listen to.

Anxious pays homage to AFI’s origins, especially in vocal style. It is a solid song, but nothing to write home about.

The Face Beneath The Waves closes the album out with a song that is enjoyable but again lacking in dynamic range. It truly could have been an epic end to the album, but compression in the studio just makes you want to put the album away after this song, rather than play the album again. Such a shame!

Overall, Burials is an excellent album and I am incredibly happy that it is part of my collection as the vinyl pressing is superb. That said, the dynamic range is lacklustre at best and destroys the hard work that the band has put in behind the scenes. If I can’t clearly hear the separation between drum beats, guitar licks, bass tracks, and vocals, then something is wrong and I know it isn’t my playback equipment or my ears. I would love nothing more than for AFI and all other bands who have accepted the industry practice of brick walling to turn around and re-issue the full studio originals. Not remaster, just the original master. If what I’m hearing is the original master, then maybe they should just go back and record the album again. 

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AFI – Sing The Sorrow (CD)

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AFI – Sing The Sorrow (CD)

AFI is an incredibly unique band. To pigeonhole them would be a grave injustice as their music spans punk rock and alternative rock genres. In essence, they are an exceptional rock and roll band that have continually refined their sound from serious punk rock, to a more mainstream rock approach. Some bands fail miserably when they shift their style, but AFI is certainly not one of them. Each album continues to be better than the one before; reminding me somewhat of Avenged Sevenfold.

Sing The Sorrow was released in 2003 and was arguably their largest shift in style when compared to their previous five albums. While I do have their previous albums in my collection, and enjoy them, their post-2003 work is exceptional and if you’re not punk inclined, you will likely prefer this latter body of work. That said, their punk style is still present within the music, it is just minimised.

My only disappointment with Sing The Sorrow is the low dynamic range of 06 out of 20. Yes, you can hear that it is overly compressed. A number of minor elements are just screaming to be heard, yet they sound so muted and distant that one would wonder why they are even included. Despite this, Sing The Sorrow is still a thoroughly enjoyable album and the low dynamic range doesn’t prevent me from enjoying it, but I would love to hear a remaster with a dynamic range closer to the original recording, if that exists.

The artwork and presentation is superb. Every millimetre of the liner notes booklet has been used. Even the graphic on the back of the CD case represents a reflective look at where the band have come from and where they are now. The window into another world, that is the size of the CD center spindle hole, showcases their fourth studio album Black Sails In The Sunset. It is the little details like this that can’t be overlooked and is still the reason to collect albums on CD or vinyl. The specific edition I have is the UK release with two bonus tracks [cat: 450 448-2(A)].

As regular readers would note, I’m not generally interested in lyrics and song meanings. I enjoy music without knowing the specific meaning. That said, I love vocals as an instrument. Davey Havok’s vocal range is exceptional as he not only has a great punk style, but he can hold some pretty serious notes. His occasional spoken word lyrical style is also nothing short of hypnotic.

The album starts with Miseria Cantare - The Beginning. Miseria Cantare meaning Sing The Sorrow. The song starts off with atmospheric noise and a deep beat with vocal overtures. It is exceptionally complex and lovely to listen to. It truly sets the scene for the rest of the album.

The Leaving Song Pt. 2 appears second in the track listing, but you may be wondering where Pt. 1 is. Well, that is located later in the album at track 11. The opening guitar work before the song begins, and then throughout and before the chorus, is beautiful.

Bleed Black is truly reminiscent of a slowed down punk song. If punk music gives you the same amount of notes, in half the time, then this 4m 15sec track could quite easily fit the average two-minute punk song length. That said, the song shifts in the final minute to be closer to an acoustic rock song, before speeding up for the finale. It is simply captivating and my mind and body don’t know how to digest it, but it works.

Silver And Cold is a beautiful song that begins with rain and piano keys, before proceeding into the rock track. It is mellow for AFI, but simply incredible. It is one of those songs where I change my views on lyrics as I want to understand the message and sing along.

Dancing Through Sunday is punk infused and a welcome addition to the album. It shows AFI still has it, but isn’t afraid to expand beyond their origins.

Girl’s Not Grey really needs additional dynamic range. The poor drummer sounds like he has a single drum that offers no depth or tonality. In-fact, the song is a musical muddiness that is monotone in presentation. Yet, you can tell there is more to the song, it just isn’t on this release. Such a shame!

Death Of Seasons is a song with an awesome beat, that even goes into dance territory, and exhibits some beautiful guitar and vocal work.

The Great Disappointment thankfully isn’t a disappointment. Instrument separation is present and the soundstage is nicely placed across the stereo field. When I suggest that vocals are akin to an instrument, this song highlights what I’m referring to. Davey’s vocals are beautiful and are perfectly suited to the song and style of music.

Paper Airplanes (Makeshift Wings) isn’t one of my favourite tracks. There is nothing wrong with it, I just don’t gel with the song. The cymbal work on the drums is just too compressed for my liking and I find the vocals are too whiny. It really sounds distorted! A little more spit and polish and I believe this song could have been exceptional. Additional detail may well be in the studio master, but we may never know.

This Celluloid Dream is most certainly a rock and roll track, but sporadically merged with punk. It works and the vocals appear as the lead instrument, or driving force, in this song.

The Leaving Song has an amazing vocal and (I think) acoustic guitar tune. It is punk length, but it is most certainly a ballad. It would have to be one of my favourite songs from the album.

…But Home Is Nowhere is an okay song. It is neither good or bad, but I truly don’t know what to say about it other than it fits into the track listing of the album. I can only think that it is too similar to the other songs and therefore doesn’t have a unique quality to explore.

Synthesthesia is the first UK exclusive track, followed by Now The World. Both UK exclusives are perfectly acceptable and are two songs that I feel work well within the tracking of the album. These songs were also available as a download for US audiences, from a link provided with the original album. That said, the site that was delivering the download is no longer operational and thus you will need to pick up the UK edition to get these additional songs.

The final unlisted, and therefore hidden, track is This Time Imperfect. It is a ten-minute epic that is exceptional and is my favourite song from the album. It is AFI at their very best! On the CD release, you will need to listen to Now The World before the hidden track will play, as it not a separate track. Whereas, on TIDAL Hi-Fi, you can listen to the track independent of the album.

Sing The Sorrow is an album of change. It is not a farewell to punk, but an evolution of sound that appeals to a greater audience while showing a new level of maturity and musicianship amongst the band. It is truly disappointing that much of the album is noticeably brickwalled, but that shouldn’t deter your interest in the album. It is worthy of any rock and roll, or punk rock collection. 

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