altrocklife’s favourite underrated albums

Hello altrocklifers! As a music blogger, it’d make sense for me to be obsessed with all things rock, punk and alternative music.  I’ve actively been seeking out the best new music since I was in secondary school, and all of my friends and family know that when I discover a new album I don’t stop talking about it until everyone I know has a) listened to it and b) is as in love with it as I am.

That said, there are a number of albums that I feel haven’t received the appreciation they deserve.  Whenever I mention said albums, even to fellow rock and punk fans, they’re often met with “I’ve never heard of that band”, “I heard that album was rubbish”, or “I didn’t like the band’s earlier/later music so I didn’t bother listening”.  So I’ve put together a list of my favourite underrated albums and my reasoning for why they’re so damn good.

Gallows – Gallows

Understandably, a lot of Gallows fans were disappointed when vocalist Frank Carter left to pursue his now defunct side project, Pure Love.  After being replaced by Wade MacNiel (previously of Alexisonfire and Black Lungs) many fans shunned the band, suggesting that without Frank Carter they could no longer call themselves Gallows.  Now, I love Frank Carter as a musician as much as the next person, but he left Gallows of his own free will, and he needed to be replaced.  The band’s self titled album is an absolute cracker, and is in fact the album that introduced me to Gallows in the first place.  It seems like a number of people simply wrote the band off after Carter’s departure, which is a real shame.  Here’s Cross Of Lorraine, one of my favourite tracks from the album.

Band Of Skulls – Himalayan

It seems to me like Band Of Skulls are a criminally underrated band.  They have slow, chilled acoustic tracks back-to-back with the wailing guitar solos of their heavier tracks, and who can resist a band with both a male and female vocalist?  One of the album’s singles, Asleep At The Wheel, got a little radio airplay last year, but definitely not as much as it deserved.  The video for Hoochie Coochie is really interesting, and a great fit for one of my favourite Band Of Skulls tracks.

Avenged Sevenfold – Diamonds In The Rough

This album, released alongside the band’s Live In The LBC live DVD, seems to be regularly forgotten by A7X fans.  That is, aside from their cover of Pantera’s Walk, which is pretty much unanimously considered a fantastic cover.  Diamonds In The Rough includes B-sides and a number of tracks never heard before its release.  Unfortunately there is no official video for either of my favourite songs from the record, Girl I Know and Until The End.

The Blackout – Start The Party

Start The Party was the last full-length album by The Blackout, and it definitely struggled to get the recognition it deserved.  Some would argue that the album was a lot more pop oriented, and I wouldn’t disagree with that entirely.  Unfortunately the band’s (intentional or otherwise) attempt to appeal to the masses didn’t seem to work, and just over two years later The Blackout is no more.  One track which never fails to get me in the party mood is the record’s title track below.

Twin Atlantic – Great Divide

Following the huge success of Twin Atlantic’s second studio album, Free, many fans believed that their third album was made to appeal to a wider, more mainstream audience.  While it’s true that Great Divide isn’t quite as heavy as its predecessor, there are still a number of awesome tracks alongside poppier numbers.  Take a listen to Cell Mate, one of my highlights of the album.

Green Day – ¡Dos!

Due to lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong’s admission to rehab around the time of the release of Green Day’s trio of albums, neither  ¡Uno! ¡Dos! or ¡Tré! received the recognition they deserved.  Unfortunately, publicity was focused on Armstrong rather than the release of the albums. Out of the three, ¡Dos! is by far the best, as it demonstrate’s Green Day’s ability to incorporate a number of different genres and styles in one punk-rock package.  Stray Heart was the only single released from this album, which is a shame as tracks such as Nightlife are, in my opinion, much stronger.  Make your own mind up about Stray Heart below.

What do you think of the albums I mentioned?  What’s your favourite, criminally underrated album?  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.

Currently listening to: BonesYoung Guns

6 incredible tracks you need in your life – June 2015

Since I last wrote a post like this in May, a whole host of new, incredible singles have been released.  Here’s my run down of the best of the bunch.

Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes – Juggernauts

After Pure Love went on indefinite hiatus, I had no idea what to do with myself knowing there would be no new music by Frank Carter in the world.  Thankfully, his latest band has set things straight.

Slipknot – Killpop

Killpop is Slipknot’s latest single from their fifth album, The Gray Chapter.  You can read my review of that incredible album here.  Killpop was one of my highlights of the album, so I’m glad they’ve released it as a single and produced another of their creepy videos to go with it.

Have Mercy – Two Years

Have Mercy’s latest track from their new album A Place Of Our Own is a great track which tugs at the heartstrings.  I really like the combination of quieter, almost mumbled verses with the raw, powerful choruses.

Refused – Dawkins Christ

Following on from Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes’ latest track, June is turning out to be a great month for lovers of heavier songs.  The introduction to this song has a great atmosphere.

Nothing But Thieves – Trip Switch

I absolutely loved Nothing But Thieves’ previous track, Itch, and Trip Switch is just as good.  I also have a weakness for videos made up of clips from vintage films, so this video was right up my street.

You’re A Germ – Wolf Alice

I also have a weakness for female vocalists in alternative/rock bands, so if you do to, Wolf Alice are a safe bet.  I like how this track starts off slow, then surprises you with screeching guitar and crashing cymbals.

What do you think of these tracks?  Are there any great singles that I missed?  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.

Currently listening to: River, RiverLonely The Brave

#OOTD: 22/06/15

Hello altrocklifers! First of all I’d like to apologise for the slightly misleading post title: today’s outfit of the day is not the outfit I wore today (shock horror!).  Instead it’s the outfit I wore out to my super early birthday bash last week, and it’s honestly my favourite outfit in my wardrobe right now.

Shirt, clutch bag, boots: New Look
Shorts: Drop Dead
Necklace: Become Antique

Unfortunately, due to the club’s logo being photoshopped over the bottom half of my outfit, you can’t really tell what I’m wearing, so let me break it down for you:

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I’m so glad I bought these shorts, as they’re now one of my favourite items of clothing.  Up until last week I struggled to find a top to match them with, but this outfit is a solid back-up.  I wouldn’t normally wear so much black in summer, but I think the Drop Dead shorts are best suited to monochrome, and they were the feature of the outfit after all!  The gold touches on the clutch, necklace and buttons of the shirt, as well as the glittery thread running through the shorts, helps to keep the outfit from blending into the background.

What do you think of this outfit?  How would you style these shorts?  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.

Currently listening to: Jet Pack BluesFall Out Boy

Verses The World – Homesick/Roadsick

Take a look at my latest Scene Better Days post. This time it’s a review of Versus The World’s latest record.

Scene Better Days

Even though I had never heard of Versus The World before their latest album dropped into my inbox, the title Homesick/Roadsick told me it was likely to be a punk rock record. As it turns out, my hunch was correct.

Every punk rock fan will be familiar with the whole homesick vs road sick paradigm. It’s a topic that has already been well covered – or some may say overdone. If you’re in the mood where you want to listen to an angsty vocalist singing about how much they hate their washed up hometown but really miss the family and friends and left behind, Homesick/Roadsick is a prime candidate.

The first three tracks of this 11-song LP are stand out, and a really promising start to the album. I love the riff-heavy triple guitar intro to ‘Black Ocean’ – Versus The World’s third record definitely benefits from its three…

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So far in 2015: the year of musicians injuring themselves on stage

The music world hasn’t been having the best of luck so far in 2015, has it?  In February I wrote about the sheer number of musicians leaving bands, which really shook up the alternative music community.  Now, however, there’s a slightly more worrying trend: more and more musicians are injuring themselves on stage.  This isn’t just limited to rock, punk or alternative musicians, so let’s take a look back at some of the more memorable musician injuries of 2015 so far.

It all started with Madonna in February, who suffered whiplash on stage at the BRIT Awards.  The costume of her backing dancers caught on her cape which she was unable to untie, leading to her being pulled over backwards by her neck.  Ouch.

In April, at the legendary Coachella Festival, Florence Welch of Florence And The Machine jumped off stage a little too energetically, breaking her foot in the process.  She hopes that she’ll be recovered in time to perform at Glastonbury later this month.

In May, U2’s The Edge fell off stage while performing in Vancouver.  In this video shared by The Telegraph, it appears he simply mis-judged his step and walked right off stage.  It’s good to know that even big-shot musicians can make mistakes and be clumsy, right?

And now for the icing on the cake.  Last Friday, during a concert in Sweden, Foo Fighers frontman Dave Grohl fell off stage two songs into the set, resulting in a broken leg.  Ever a trooper, after being rushed off to hospital Grohl returned and the band were able to complete the set.

Following the injury Foo Fighters cancelled two further dates of their Sonic Highways Tour, however it is currently unknown whether they will cancel their Wembley Arena dates on the 19th and 20th of June, or their set at Glastonbury.  Now, I’m well aware I’m biased as I have a ticket to see the band perform on the 19th, but I really hope the concert isn’t cancelled!  Whatever happens, though, Grohl’s health comes first, and I’ll respect whatever decision the band makes.

That was the run-down of the most noticeable injured musicians so far in 2015.  Let’s hope this trend doesn’t continue!

Do you have tickets to see Foo Fighters on the rest of their tour, or any of the other injured musicians mentioned in this post?  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.

Currently listening to: KillpopSlipknot

Review: Drones

As an aside, before I start this review I just realised that this is my 100th post on altrocklife!  It’s always exciting to reach milestones like this, and I’ve had a fantastic time writing all of these posts.  Thanks to all of my loyal readers who have continued to read altrocklife, and I look forward to the next 100 posts.

Back to the matter at hand: Drones is the seventh studio album by Muse, the Devon three-piece formed in 1994.  I’m one of those rare creatures that has enjoyed everything Muse have ever released.  In my opinion, even though Muse have never really stuck to one genre and continued to experiment with their sound, every musical risk they’ve taken has paid off.

Saying that, Drones is a return to Muse’s heavier, prog-rock roots, and it sounds absolutely fantastic.  Vocalist Matt Bellamy’s wailing vocals are as powerful as ever and strong throughout, and there are plenty of instrumentals and guitar solos that are sure to keep every listener happy.  Plus, for fans of The 2nd Law, electronic influences still play a role on this record.

The record has a good mixture of heavier tracks, such as Psycho and Defector, and slower ballads like Mercy.  The autotune and heavy use of synthesisers in Reapers adds something a bit different to the track and helps it to stand out from the rest of the album.  And for fans of Muse’s 2003 album Absolution, The Handler has been lauded as Stockholm Syndrome on steroids, or its cooler, more badass older brother.  The title track is a bit of a strange way to end the album, in my opinion, but that doesn’t detract from the overall package.

Muse’s most recent albums have followed a theme, and Drones is no different: Matt Bellamy, in an interview with NME, hinted that the album would follow the themes of World War Three, deep ecology and the empathy gap.  These themes are apparent in every song on the album, which helps to make it a more complete package.

Drones weighs in at almost an hour long, and with almost every song over four minutes long, each track is a saga in its own right.  The two short filler tracks help to break the album into more manageable chunks.  I was listening to the album on Spotify Free, which saddens me as I was unable to access The Globalist, which is a Spotify Premium exclusive.  The album doesn’t seem to suffer without it, however having never heard that track I’m unaware of what I’m missing.

One criticism I have is that, by the time of its UK release on June 8, Muse had already released seven out of the 12 Drones tracks.  This made listening to the finished package a little underwhelming: it’s difficult to get excited while listening to an album for the first time, when you’ve already heard over half of the tracks.  That doesn’t make the record any less fantastic, though!  To be fair to Muse, with so many amazing tracks on the album, I’d struggle picking two or three to release as singles as well.

To conclude, for existing Muse fans who enjoyed their first three albums, this album should be a dream come true.  In my opinion, this band can do no wrong, and I’m extremely jealous of everyone who’ll be seeing them headline Download Festival this weekend.  My favourite music is music with a message, and Drones is certainly that.

Highlights: The Handler, Reapers, Defector

Review: Ones and Zeros

Hello altrocklifers! It’s good to be back blogging again after my exam hiatus, and what better way to welcome you back than with a review of Young Guns’ latest album, Ones and Zeros.

Ones and Zeros is the third album by the Buckinghamshire five piece, a band who have consistently evolved stylistically from record to record.  I doubt I was the only Young Guns fan surprised by I Want Out, the first single released from their latest album.  It was definitely a change of pace, with a lot more electronic influences, but deep down at its core the track is still unmistakably them.  If you missed it when it was released last August, here’s the music video for you to check out:

Admittedly, once the second single Speaking in Tongues was released, I started to feel a little worried about what Ones And Zeros would be like.  I wasn’t a massive fan on the first listen, feeling like the track had lost its alternative rock roots and was leaning too far towards electronic or dance music.  The track has grown on me though!  Plus, the release of the third single, Daylight, managed to win me over and get me excited for the album once again.

The album opener, Rising Up, is an explosive yet atmospheric start, combining heavy guitar riffs, synthesisers and strings, which makes it sound almost orchestral.  It’s obvious that the band are still making good use of vocalist Gustav Wood’s distinctive voice.

Lullaby is a mid-album change of pace, which forces you to take a step back and really listen to the lyrics.  However the album quickly picks back up again with the distinctive introduction of Daylight.  The fast-paced guitars during Colour Blind are awesome, and if you’re a fan of strings, Die On Time is likely to be your favourite track from the album.

For die hard rock ‘n’ roll fans, Ones and Zeros might not be the best album for you.  However, if you’re more open minded when it comes to combining genres, you should definitely give this record a try.

With 12 tracks clocking in at just over 45 minutes, this album is a fairly significant effort.  With just under three years between their second album, Bones, and their latest record, I’ve been chomping at the bit for more music from Young Guns.  While it’s obvious that each of the tracks belong to Ones and Zeros, each one has its own defining elements that made me feel like I was in my own little world listening to each track.

The big question, however, is will Ones and Zeros top Bones as my favourite album by the Buckinghamshire five piece?  Bones has a special place in my heart, and it’s probably one of my favourite albums of all time, so understandably I had big expectations for Young Guns’ third record.  Stylistically they have their differences, which makes them pretty difficult to compare.  Right now, I think the scales tip towards the direction of Bones, but who knows?  I’m sure I’ll be giving Ones and Zeros many, many more listens, so it could come out on top after all.

Highlights: Memento Mori, Daylight, Gravity, Ones and Zeros