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albums - may 2014


   
 

My Chemical Romance - May Death Never Stop You

My Chemical Romance were one of those bands that engendered strong feelings in their fans, in that same way that a band like The Smiths did. Born out of Gerard Wayís New Jersey boredom and a wish to provide something meaningful in a post 9/11 world, My Chem became huge. Their second album went platinum and their third, The Black Parade, was a ďconceptĒ album. Fans enthusiastically joined the Black Parade and I was among them; won over by the emotional lyrics and how the members seemed to be sweet, earnest people.

By the time My Chem split up in March last year I was less interested in them and their tumultuous personal and band lives (theyíre hard on their drummers and have had a few) but I was still interested to hear this greatest hits collection.
It seems like the best greatest hits collections are ones that you could present to a non-fan to act as a good intro to a band. May Death Never Stop You is definitely that, spanning the bandís whole career. It starts with an unreleased track, Fake Your Death, which wouldnít have been out of place on The Black Parade except that its lyrics are much more cheerful. Even the title is a game with fans: maybe reports of My Chemís death have been greatly exaggerated.

The next fifteen tracks are split between My Chemís four studio albums and are probably what youíd expect: singles like Iím Not Okay, Teenagers, and Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na). Iím somewhat surprised by the inclusions of Cancer and Mama, since both are SUCH depressing songs. Iím glad that four tracks were included from last studio album Danger Days, since it often feels like that album was overlooked as it was quite different Ė and the band had a very different look Ė from The Black Parade.

The last three tracks are demos. Some fans may have already got these but for those who havenít, theyíre worth listening to. Skylines and Turnstiles is the song Gerard wrote in the wake of 9/11 so hearing it is like going back to Year Zero for a My Chem fan. The demo version retains some innocence that the album version lost somehow. Second demo Knives/Sorrow is a little bit less polished; it would have needed a lot of work to bring it up to album standard but itís still a great previously unreleased treat for fans. Itís pure My Chem, though, with Gerardís lyrics coming across beautifully. Last demo, and last track on the album, is a demo version of Cubicles, from My Chemís debut album. Itís quite different from the album version and definitely worth a listen to.

Personally speaking I like hits collections for driving and singing along to. My Chem were made for road trips, so for that alone this is great for fans and for the non-believers.

Rebecca McCormick

 

Gletscher - Devout

Gletscher are two gentlemen from Switzerland and one little girl (Joileah Concepcion) from Brooklyn, who play rock metal in Zurich.

Their album Devout starts with an acoustic duelling guitar ditty with a pretty vocal, it lasts all of 39 seconds before the true Gletscher sound is unveiled - with the dark, menacing and broody titular track Devout . It s all palm muted guitars, desperate breathy melodic vocals, with harmonising guitar bends, a rock steady beat (with plenty of high hat and cymbal work) and screaming tremolo-picking solos. The contrast between the two tracks works brilliantly and Devout is undoubtedly a great track, (it has been duly saved to my iTunes library).

After such a promising start I couldn't help but be mostly underwhelmed with the following six tracks on offer. It s all much of the same fare but without the same gutso. The opening contrast works well but as far as pace and style goes, after track two the album lacks variety. Gletcher are no doubt technically competent but provide too many uninspiring instrumental sections that play out longer than needed. Take December a sprawling six and a half minute prog/metal indulgence that refuses to end, whenever the final snare hit I felt a palatable relief. The best moments come when Concepcion s vocal are given the spotlight, but as things progress these moments a fewer and further between.

A promising start but a disappointing execution.

Milo

 

Secret Colours - Peach

From the sound of the Secret Coloursí sophomore album itís currently 1991 in Chicago Illinois. Well Manchester, 1991 in Chicago Illinois to be more precise, as Secret Colours have produced an album that wouldnít have sounded out of place next to Inspiral Carpets, James, The Charlatans, Gomez* et al.

Iím sure thereís some sort of irony in getting sent this album the same week the BBC are celebrating 20 years of Britpop. But Iím giving Peach a disservice as this is not just a tribute to Britpop, Secret Colours have taken a classic sound and recorded an album thatís genuinely engaging and stands alone all by itself.

Opener ĎBlackbird (the only one)í could have been penned and recorded by Tim Burgees ďback in the dayĒ, and is as good as any early Charlatans album tracks. Itís followed by ĎFreakí which hitís the brakes and takes you on a psychedelic trip ďYouíre just like voodoo, why canít I get away from you?Ē, featuring some beautiful sounding guitars.

In fact thereís gorgeous guitar sounds throughout this album, thereís lovely acoustic guitars (see titular track ďPeachĒ), they get dirty and fuzzy when they need but always complimentary, never overpoweringly. Also thereís some beautiful chorus effect guitar linesÖ something Iíve not heard done as well since the mid 1990ísÖ..

So thereís no getting away that Secret Colours wear their Britpop influence on the sleeve of Peach. As a result (and having been a teenager in the 90ís) I struggled initially to listen to it without biasÖ get past that though and thereís no denying the quality of the song writing, production and attention to detail thatís gone into producing Peach.
Itís worth giving a bit of time too, it's a peach of an album.

Milo

*Yes, okay, Gomez are from Southport, but itís only 45 minutes down the coast on the Merseyrail.