Album review: Hans Zimmer – The World Of Hans Zimmer – A Symphonic Celebration

Han(d)s down Hans Zimmer is my favourite soundtrack composer (bar John Williams obvs), but I found many of the track choices on this album bewildering.

The World Of Hans Zimmer – A Symphonic Celebration is a collection of concert works, though the recording quality is so good you only really reminded of that by the occasional round of applause that pops up.

Zimmer has a wealth of film scores to choose from and he seems determined to work his way through as many as possible on this two-hour record.

Yet despite the length, not enough time was spent on some of his more accomplished works. The entire Dark Knight trilogy was dealt with in the first six minutes and his utterly brilliant work on Inception was limited to a four-minute rendition of the beautiful Time.

By comparison, Zimmer spends 20-plus minutes working his way through elements of the rather pedestrian soundtrack to The Da Vinci Code. There was also a rather overlong tribute to his work on Mission: Impossible 2.

Other odd inclusions were tracks from Madagascar, The Holiday, and Pearl Harbour – as if anyone needs reminding of that abomination of a film, ever.

There was a decent amount of time covering Gladiator and the album finishes off with the rousing theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately by that point I was pretty hacked off with what had come before, excluding a couple of brilliant moments.

Zimmer is a hugely talented composer, but I don’t feel this album reflects that particularly well. Feel free to cherry pick the best moments from it – in reality this could have been easily cut down to half an hour and you wouldn’t have been any worse off.

Release date: 15 March 2019

Rating: 5.5/10

Standout track: Inception: Time

For fans of:

  1. John Williams
  2. Danny Elfman
  3. Howard Shore

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New Music Friday 15 March – What to listen to

Looking forward to the new one by The Cinematic Orchestra this week, the band having produced some outstanding tracks in the past. The Brian Jonestown Massacre are back after what only seems like a couple of months since their last effort, and I’m looking forward to bathing myself in a bit of cinema soundtrack wondrousness from Hans Zimmer.

The Cinematic Orchestra – To Believe

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The Brian Jonestown Massacre – The Brian Jonestown Massacre

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Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima

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Auld – Mainstream Music

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The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

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Hans Zimmer – The World Of Hans Zimmer – A Symphonic Celebration

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Chai – Punk

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Shy FX – Raggamuffin SoundTape

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Devlin – The Outcast

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Snarky Puppy – Immigrance

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Flevans – Part Time Millionaire

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

08 March releases – Reviewed and rated

Despite my initial fears, this week turned out to have a little bit of gold dust sprinkled on it, with a shockingly great album from Foals. Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind offered us some good ‘ol rock ‘n roll while Flight of the Conchords proved their music can still make us laugh.

Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

Shockingly good first half of a two-part album by the increasingly mature Foals. A masterful display of how to build up songs.

Rating: 8.5/10Read full review

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Flight of the Conchords – Live in London

The comedy duo are at their very best in this live show from 2018.

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind – CollectiV

Numerous styles on display here, but at heart this is a very well executed rock ‘n roll album.

Rating: 7/10Read full review

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Indoor Pets – Be Content

Upbeat, preppy post-punk pop that’s a riot to listen to, though not hugely original.

Rating: 7/10

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The Coathangers – The Devil You Know

Lo-fi indie rock with some punk pretensions. Enjoyable but not setting the world on fire.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Sasami – Sasami

Oh-so gentle indie rock in classic singer-songewriter style from the former Cherry Glazzer member. There are some engaging moments that suck you in, just not enough of them.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Stella Donnelly – Beware of the Dogs

Female singer-songwriting in the vein of Lily Allen and Kate Nash. Bar the sometimes acerbic lyrics this is a little vanilla for my taste.

Rating: 6/10

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Nick Waterhouse – Nick Waterhouse

50s and 60s influenced beach rock. You would be better spending your time listening to the source material.

Rating: 6/10

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Ten Fé – Future Perfect, Present Tense

Dreamy pop with a folky influence. Perfectly inoffensive.

Rating: 6/10

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Malihini – Hopefully, Again

Softly, softly pop from this italian duo. Music to fall asleep to.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to releases from 8th March.

Album of the week: Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

Foals - Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1 album cover

Confession time – Foals haven’t been on my radar since 2010’s Total Life Forever, which featured the brilliant Spanish Sahara but little of interest.

With that in mind I wasn’t expecting too much from Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1, but how wrong I was. This is an exceptionally good half an album that manages to constantly catch you off guard.

It displays a mastery of song progression – with layers building and building on each other until you are incapable of anything but being sucked into the tracks.

On numerous occasions the first few bars of a track leave you with low expectations and little indication of what’s to come but by the end you’re left thinking ‘that was fucking brilliant!’

Prime examples are Syrups, a slower number with a dominant bass that adds keyboards, soulful vocals and guitars as it goes, while On The Luna starts all Maroon 5 but gets beefier as it goes and is beyond recognition by the close of the track.

Sunday is perfectly named, as it has a laid-back sunny Sunday afternoon feel to it. But even here we get some guitar and keyboard layers, a squelchy bass coming in and even a change of tempo that will be perfect for getting the summer festival crowd bouncing.

There are some more full-on numbers too, such as In Degrees, which is an all-out dance number – Foals style, and the brilliant White Onions, which has buzzy guitars and some delicious heavy notes in the chorus.

Even in the quieter moments, such as with the synth chorals of opener Moonlight and the solo piano of closer I’m Done With The World (& It’s Done With Me), there is still plenty of atmosphere and emotion on show.

I had to listen to this album immediately after finishing it first time round just to make sure I hadn’t been hoodwinked by it, but if anything it sounded better second time around.

Part 2 of this work is out in the autumn, and I for one can’t wait.

Release date: 08 March 2019

Rating: 8.5/10

Standout track: White Onions

For fans of:

  • The Twilight Sad
  • Editors
  • Klaxons

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Album review: Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind – CollectiV

Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind - CollectiV album cover

They may well try to disguise it under a number of styles, some incredibly growly guitars and even more gravelly vocals, but at heart Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind have produced a rather good Rock ‘n Roll album.

CollectiV starts with a very abrasive guitar riff in Sex Robot that is begging you to stand up and take notice. This riff roughmess is matched only by the rasping growl of the vocals. There’s a faint whiff of saxophone in the chorus, which is more on show in the following (and standout) track Satan’s Got His Heart Set On You, a jazzy, cajun-infused rockabilly romp.

O Genie pulls in a middle-eastern influence to match the deep, distorted guitars that are pervasive throughout the album, while there’s more that a dash of Nick Cave crooning and strings in Meth Church.

We have western-style guitars and piano over drawling vocals in the slower, more atmospheric Dark Secrets, and country influenced slide guitars in the ballady Going There Anyway.

But in all these songs, you never escape the Rock ‘n Roll influence, which is reinforced by more straight out RnR numbers such as Attack of the Killer Brainz, I Found A Love, and Shazam. Much like Motörhead always called themselves a Rock ‘n Roll band first and foremost, so it is with Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind. In fact in many ways, they are a bit of a Motörhead lite, if you will.

A very enjoyable effort but there’s just a tad too much rock cliché on show to stop it earning an exceptional rating.

Release date: 08 March 2019

Rating: 7/10

Standout track: Satan’s Got His Heart Set On You

For fans of:

  • Nick Cave
  • Tindersticks
  • Motörhead

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Album review: Flight of the Conchords – Live in London

Flight of the Conchords - Live in London album cover.

It’s been more than a decade since Brett McKenzie and Jermaine Clement burst onto our screens in the highly acclaimed series Flight of the Conchords, which followed the pair as they tried to break New York with their hapless folk band.

After two series and two albums, largely based on the songs featured in the series, they went on to have successful movie and TV careers separately, but clearly still pined for the good ‘ol days working together. So, last year they embarked on a reunion tour, which was recorded for HBO when they reached London, and is now available as an album.

While McKenzie and Clement are comedy actors first and foremost, they also know how to spin a good tune while working in their comedy gold. This album features the full live set and includes classics such as Inner City Pressure, Foux da Fafa, Mutha’uckas, Bowie and The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room).

There’s also new tracks that haven’t made a recording appearance before, such as Father and Son, Summer of 1353, and Iain and Deanna.

While I really enjoyed their previous albums, Live in London stands above those largely due to the welcome addition of banter between between the two and their ability to feed off the audience’s reaction.

Is it a comedy show or a gig? Both probably, but unlike with most comedy songs their music still stands the test of time. This is a great way to experience Flight of the Conchords, whether your a fan or a newcomer.

Release date: 08 March 2019

Rating: 8/10

Standout track: Mutha’uckas – Hurt Feelings

For fans of:

  • Spinal Tap
  • Tenacious D
  • Bill Bailey

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New Music Friday 08 March – What to listen to

Slightly slimmer pickings this week following a bumper crop or quality releases last week. However, there still may be some promise in the new material from Foals, Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind and Stella Donnelly, along with a live album from Flight of the Conchords.

Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

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Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind – CollectiV

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Stella Donnelly – Beware of the Dogs

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Flight of the Conchords – Live in London

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Nick Waterhouse – Nick Waterhouse

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Indoor Pets – Be Content

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Sasami – Sasami

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Malihini – Hopefully, Again

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The Coathangers – The Devil You Know

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Ten Fé – Future Perfect, Present Tense

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

01 March releases – Reviewed and rated

As hoped, this week turned out to contain some fantastic releases, though there were some disappointments on show too. FEWS managed to scoop the highest rating of the year so far, but kudos also to Snapped Ankles and Little Simz for some highly impressive albums.

FEWS – Into Red

A superb sophomore from the post-punk noise rockers that should see them move from a band with promise to broader acceptance.

Rating: 9/10Read full review

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Snapped Ankles – Stunning Luxury

An fantastically bonkers blend of dance, psych, post-punk and avent garde that almost always hits the spot.

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Little Simz  – GREY Area

An uplifting and powerful rap album. Little Simz manages to find optimism among hardship, while calling out some of the stereotypes found in rap culture.

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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Octo Octa – For Lovers (EP)

Three highly competent house tracks that are a treat for both your mind and your feet.

Rating: 7/10Read full review

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While She Sleeps – SO WHAT?

Classic metalcore from the Sheffield band. Nothing new here but it is exceptionally well executed.

Rating: 7/10

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Lonesome Shack – Desert Dreams

Edgy country blues and urban folk rock that is a lot better on the ear than you might expect from that description.

Rating: 7/10

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Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn

More interesting than normal Doom Metal, thanks to the female-led harmonics keyboards and occassional strings on show. Ultimately, it lacks enough variety in its bread and butter guitar riffs to be a great album.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Sebastian Plano – Verve

Some very delicate and emotive tunes on show in this neoclassical work, but there’s a lack of balance to the album as a whole. It feels like it needs something else to lift it to another level.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Mansionair – Shadowboxer

High production values on this debut from the Aussie indie-electro group. A bit too poppy and polished but some good moments.

Rating: 6/10

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Test Dept – Disturbance

In theory this should be right up my alley as classic industro-rock, but perhaps it’s a bit too earnest for its own good.

Rating: 6/10

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Sundara Karma – Ulfilas’ Alphabet

Some evidence of Arcade Fire and The Killers on this pop friendly album. Quite an enjoyable experience but not hugely memorable.

Rating: 6/10

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The Japanese House – Good at Falling

Etherial pop from solo artist Amber Bain. Inoffensive and occassionally pleasant, but unlikely to leave a massive impression on you.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Tom Walker – What a Time to Be Alive

What you’d find if you went looking for Rag n’ Bone man or Ed Sheeran in the centre ailse at Aldi. Can’t believe he beat IDLES to a Brit.

Rating: 5/10

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Pond – Tasmania

The eighth studio album from Australain psych-rocker fails to raise even an eybrow of interest. Tame, familiar and done better elsewhere. Yawn.

Rating: 4.5/10

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Weezer  – (Black Album)

Weezer invoke the spirit of Spinal Tap with their own black album. And this pretty insipid effort prompts me to quote one of the ‘Tap’s most famous reviews… ‘Shit sandwich’.

Rating: 4/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above should you wish to take a deeper dive.

Album review: Little Simz – GREY Area

Little Simz - GREY Area album cover

25-year old Simbiatu “Simbi” Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, a.k.a. Little Simz, is now on her third album and displaying an incredible amount of maturity for her tender age.

GREY Area is a powerful and provocative work that lays bare both her fragility and her steely determination. There is musical sophistication here to match her well-conceived lyrical lashings, which combine to deliver a quite impressive opus.

Simbi sets her stall out on opener Offence, which features some classic funk breakbeat, buzzy bass and jazz-style flutes as she essentially warns us that she doesn’t care who she offends. If you’re bothered by what she’s got to say – that’s on you.

There are other powerful messages contained in this album. Wounds, with its bluesy guitar and impatient keyboard and drum line, hits out at women who get embroiled in and end up supporting and glorifying gun culture.

Venom, possibly top track on the album, uses ominous strings and oppressive keyboards to call out sexism in the music industry and highlights how forthright women can be cast aside for being too intimidating.

There are a fair few self-reflecting pieces on here. Therapy finds Little Simz recounting how counselling sessions hadn’t worked for her, but did find redemption in the power of perseverance and self-belief.

Sherbert Sunset, another track driven by a fantastic funky bass line, is a classic break-up track, but manages to combine the relief of having dodged a bullet with regret at it having ended and counting up the damage done from both the relationship and the split.

We get some traditional Japanese melodies via keyboard accompanied by some cracking heavy bass on 101 FM. The track offers us the well worn gem that the most important lessons in life don’t come at school, but does manage to reference Crash Bandicoot and Mortal Kombat in the process. Priceless.

It’s not a perfect album, some tracks don’t develop as much as you may want, but there are enough highlights to keep your attention throughout, and to go back for a repeat listen.

Release date: 01 March 2019

Rating: 7.5/10

Standout track: Venom

For fans of:

  • Missy Elliott
  • Loyle Carner
  • Miss Red

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Album of the week: FEWS – Into Red

FEWS - Into Red album cover

The second album from Swedish/US post-punk group FEWS sees the band building on the unique sound developed on debut album Means.

What we have with Into Red is a more mature sound, greater use of atmosphere, heavier guitars and a sometimes slower pace. This is epitomised on opening track Quiet, which is anything but. It incorporates elements of shoegaze, isn’t afraid to hold the pace up where necessary, and sheds the sometimes jangly guitars of the last album for something much beefier.

Paradiso continues this trend, while still being unmistakably FEWS. The vocals have more of a drawl to them and the effect-laden guitars in the chorus section are something to behold.

There are some hark-backs to earlier days. More Than Ever is a classic up-tempo indie rock number that, while not hugely original in design, is brilliantly executed. Anything Else recalls Ill from their debut album, before taking us off in a slightly different direction with some stupendous guitar bursts. Over provides us with a proper post-punk opening, a high tempo and a fabulous chorus.

Elsewhere there are new delights to entertain us. Business Man is driven along by piano and bass until distorted synths kick in as the guitars keep building on each other. 97 provides us with a desolate opening using a single echoing guitar and soft vocal before the guitars break over you. It contains quite a discordant riff that at first sounds off, but eventually falls perfectly into place.

There’s even the addition of a little bit of 80s synth on Limits, though this is kept to a minimum across the album.

A highly impressive sophomore for this band, which I would advise anyone with a soft spot for loud guitars to listen to. You won’t regret it.

Release date: 01 March 2019

Rating: 9/10

Standout track: Quiet

For fans of:

  • Shame
  • Moaning
  • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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