Classic Album Reviews: The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses are one of the biggest and most idolised bands to ever come out of this country and that is mostly in part to this debut album they released in 1989. The Manchester music scene desperately needed a hero after the split of The Smiths and The Stone Roses felt they could fill that void. Stand alone single ‘Sally Cinnamon’ became a sensation and set people up very nicely for a following album, what came was out of everyone’s wildest dreams and it soared the band to global fame, creating a new image, a new sound, and a new platform for neutrals to join. The Spike Island gig of May 1990 is often regarded as one of the most memorable and groundbreaking shows of all time, alongside Oasis’ Knebworth shows and The Beatles’ stints at Shea Stadium, and all of this delirium had come from one solitary album.

I Wanna Be Adored – 11/10:

The best intro to a song you will ever hear in your life, if anybody tries to tell you differently then please ignore them because no matter what they pick, it won’t trump the opening 1 minute and 41 seconds of this song. Once Ian Brown kicks in vocally he utilises the brilliance of the instrumental and rides the wave of psychedelic passion created by John Squire’s guitar and sings some of the most memorable lyrics of a generation. “I don’t have to sell my soul, he’s already in me” may not be D.H. Lawrence level of wordsmith but it sticks with you and is a line you’ll never forget. The whole aurora of the song is just magnificent and the memories it brings back for me personally will last a lifetime thanks to those Etihad gigs in June 2016. Simply the greatest way to start an album, bar none.

She Bangs The Drums – 10/10:

To move into this after what we hear previously is just incredible and for me this is the Stone Roses track which best demonstrates the magnanimous talents of all instrument playing members of the band. The bass riff Mani gives us is as memorable as a stunning guitar solo and has everyone swaying around, John Squire’s guitar riff is fast, energetic and sounds modern even today, truly a talent way ahead of his time. As for the drums from Reni, they had to be brilliant didn’t they, I mean just look at the song title. It is so uplifting to listen to when all the cogs come together and say what you like about Ian Brown, he does a good job on this and can never fail to get a packed out crowd singing every word to this song.

Waterfall – 10/10:

Soft and passionate from Ian Brown in his whispering style alongside yet another staggeringly good instrumental, arguably one of the best on the album from top to bottom. The drum beat is steady yet technical and always mixes up the sound, keeping everything fresh. Mani provides us with an iconic bass riff which sticks out so well on a song like this, despite the glory of Squire’s guitar riff which sounds like it’s been crafted by an angel. The solo is just great, nothing too silly or unnecessary it is just a great way to end the song, as the Roses do so well.

Don’t Stop – 8/10:

A very clever follow up from Waterfall as it almost remixes the riff from it and crafts a mesh of sounds together which slowly fade into the tune of this song here and it is very cleverly executed. Now understand me when I say that although this may be the weakest song on the album it doesn’t mean it is a weak song, it just means it doesn’t weigh up well compared to the others on this album, most of which are classics of the British music industry. My favourite part of this song is when Ian starts singing and sounds very stop/start in an almost robotic way, it fits the bizarre aspects of the instrumental well.

Bye Bye Badman – 9/10:

This song is much more of a laid back one than previous hits, mainly due to the steady riff played by John Squire which no longer becomes the standout of the band; instead we get a more balanced sound and get to hear everything else just as clear. Ian won’t dazzle you vocally on this song, or any song for that matter, but what he will do is fit the style of the song and become somewhat of an instrument to contribute to the band fantastically. This is a great song with a really cool bridge and a raw talent on show from all involved.

Elizabeth My Dear – 8.5/10:

53 seconds long, this one is hardly an epic but it is soft on the ears and very easy-listening. The acoustic guitar playing of John Squire is something to behold and it puts a smile on your face, the reason it isn’t a higher rating is simply down to the quality, or should I say lack of, of the vocals by Ian Brown which are exposed in a song this quiet and slow. With that being said it is still thoroughly enjoyable and one which makes the setlist in their live shows as a result. A good set up for the next song.

(Song For My) Sugar Spin Sister – 9/10:

This song would be 10/10, but it is something about Ian’s voice in the verses which irritates me ever so slightly. Everything else is absolutely incredible and Ian himself does a far better job in the chorus where he chirps up and rides that metaphorical wave once again that is delivered by the instrumental. Reni’s drums steal the show here as he really sets the tone for the instrumental and does the ultimate drummer job of keeping it all together. Squire keeps it tight and occasionally throws in a couple of beauties in his riff, the bridge is bloody fantastic for that. Great stuff.

Made Of Stone – 11/10:

A real contender for the best song on the album, it provides an atmosphere like no other, particularly in that quite brilliant chorus which is built up fantastically within the track’s entirety. The riff at the start is enough to give you goosebumps when it is isolated and introduces the song with real effect. Lyrically it is one of their better songs too even if some of the words do seem a bit pointless, it all weaves together and makes for a very pleasant listen and complete delirium within the masses of people who either see it live or have it in their playlists. Squire’s guitar solo knocks it out the park and the instrumental on the bridge as a whole works brilliantly in a way only The Stone Roses can pull off with that much personality. Blinder of a tune.

Shoot You Down – 10/10:

This is just so cool, I love this song to the moon and back even if vocally it is immensely simple, the attitude in it and the instrumental make it all worthwhile. It has a very subtle psychedelic nature about it with all the minor effects added to the instruments and it just sways at a constant for the whole song, it’s just absolute class and even if it isn’t technically one of their best hits, it is one which I have really struggled to let go of and that is the thing with these Stone Roses songs, they grip onto you and never leave you alone, but you’re eternally grateful for them in the end.

This Is The One – 11/10:

Even if it is a song which is associated with Manchester United, my mortal enemies, this is a song which really does capture your imagination. It’s influence is felt far and wide and that’s not just because of the bloody incredible progression of the instrumental and the slick guitar riff, it’s also because of the power in which the vocals are delivered by Ian Brown, getting louder and louder each time he says it and really riding the wave of emotion the song brings. It will be a regular feature on my desert island discs feature I am sure of it, and that is a testament to the brilliance of this as a song. It starts with a bang and never once disappoints you, genius.

I Am The Resurrection – 11/10:

As soon as you hear that first hit of the drum you already know, that is a special skill to have on a song and it is something The Stone Roses do better than almost anyone. Lyrically it is the best song on the album, musically it is right up there too and it is, other than Fools Gold, their biggest and most well-known one. The three verse build-up to that rip-roaring chorus is special, you can feel the song picking up with every strike of a chord and every word being sung. Once it does hit it is infectious, raising your arms aloft and bellowing out those infamous words: “I am the resurrection and I am the life”. Stunning doesn’t even come close to describing it and it is right up there with the best songs ever to be written. Let’s not forget that absolutely staggering instrumental which lasts about four minutes but every single second is absolute gold dust, from Mani’s funky bass to the rapid strumming of John Squire and the shake of those Ian Brown tambourines.

Fools Gold – 10/10:

The tune that everyone knows and loves from the Roses and that’s down largely to the brilliance of that John Squire riff. It created a disco indie sound, something which no band had even come close to replicating until The Stone Roses came along and it had the world alike up on it’s feet dancing away. At just under 10 minutes long it is understandable as to why people may skip this song about half way through in today’s climate but given the influence it possesses and the sheer genius of it at the time, it can’t be given a rating any lower than the perfect 10/10. It’s also the song that was used on This Is England and therefore created a new wave of younger Stone Roses fans.

Overall – 10/10:

The term ‘legendary’ thrown about an awful lot nowadays, but this album truly defines what a legendary album should be. It has a unique sound, the ability to sell, talent in abundance and above all it has memorable tunes, from Fools Gold to I Wanna Be Adored, this thing is just stacked with classic British indie anthems. It is unfortunate that they couldn’t follow on from this album with quite as much efficiency but the fact that they have such a standout place in the music industry from just one truly brilliant release and another okay release says all you need to know about these boys, they’re incredible and this album takes some topping.

 

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Classic Album Reviews: Travis Scott – Rodeo

Texas born rapper Travis Scott has seen a meteoric rise to fame in the past couple of years, mainly thanks to his acquaintance with Kanye West and the release of debut studio album ‘Rodeo’ in 2015, the latter being the topic of this post today. His previous mixtapes were well-recieved but struggled to branch to a widespread audience due to only being accessible online and having next to no radio airtime but everything changed for him with this project, which is being described as a modern classic already and one of the most unique hip-hop albums of the last decade. With a couple of songs on here I feel you may know and a feature list as broad and exciting as you could wish for, ‘Rodeo’ caters for all hip-hop fans and even veers down a prog-rock avenue with the occasional wacky instrumental switch-up.

Pornography – 10/10

This is getting a 10 for one reason and one reason only, T.I. doing a spoken word monologue at the start is quite possibly the best and worst thing I have ever heard in my life all rolled into one. The beat is gritty and very underground while the vocal delivery is very throaty and dark, even in the chorus which has a bit more of a harmony to it and sounds great. It is hard to ignore the little segments of instrumental which don’t sound like your typical hip-hop song, particularly the Elton John styled piano with steady drums before a complete snap and switch into that cold hearted Travis Scott flow we know and love where he turns into a complete savage. This, for me, is a brilliant introduction and it has T.I. speaking, what more could you ask for?

Oh My Dis Side (feat. Quavo) – 10/10

Dark, moody and downright strange in it’s delivery because everything about it suggests it both shouldn’t work and shouldn’t sound this powerful; after all, it is hardly a challenging hook to deliver but the verses are fantastic, the interchanging chemistry between Travis and Migos member Quavo is hard to ignore as they set fire to this fairly subtle beat. I think that Quavo outperforms Travis on this but that is no slight to Travis that is just because of how good a job Quavo does. The best part of the song is the switch up and it makes your initial perspective of the song completely change. The song now becomes a two-parter, with ‘Oh My’ being the first half and ‘Dis Side’ being the second part. Bloody fantastic.

3500 (feat. Future & 2 Chainz) – 10/10

Any track with Future on it bangs, if you don’t know that by now then hip-hop isn’t for you I’m afraid. Put him together with Travis Scott and this happens, pure fire so someone better call 999 ASAP. The beat is space-age with those twinkling chimes and it is a theme that sticks throughout, helping it sound different to your usual trap hit because without them, it would be a great track but with them it adds concept to the story of the whole album. Travis’ verse is huge and probably the best one of the three, but Future runs it pretty close. The less said about 2 Chainz’s verse the better but that is just personal preference of mine, I am not his biggest fan and I am sure plenty of people will love his part on this track. The instrumental in the last minute or so becomes angelic and staggered it is just stunning, a fitting finale to a quite brilliant song.

Wasted (feat. Juicy J) – 9/10

This sounds nuts again and it will take you time to fall in love with it given the very extravagant beat and the groaning hook but when it is weighed up alongside the verses on the song it sounds incredible. The turn it takes about two minutes in suits brilliantly with the introduction of Juicy J and his verse which actually surprised me with how well it flowed and how he held the beat down with such effect. As is often the case with this album, the instrumental is the major talking point as it all comes crashing down at the end, implying it could be a bit of a comedown from any drugs he took while he was ‘Wasted’ which in itself creates a whole new dimension to the song and album as a whole.

90210 (feat. Kacy Hill) – 11/10

This song made it onto my Desert Island Discs with very good reason, it is just majestic, an absolute stroke of genius from a man with the world at his feet. The best way to pay homage to this song would be to tell you with absolute confidence that I listen to it multiple times a day and never tire of it, every last second is like a master painter’s next brush stroke on the canvas. It is a steady build-up on the song which seems like it may never arrive but actually the build-up itself is stunning, particularly the individual keys used in the instrumental to partner the vocal of Kacy Hill. About two minutes in you get the feel that something crazy is going to happen and you would be right, just nothing like you would expect. At precisely two minutes 27 seconds my life flashed before my eyes when I heard those piano keys start to kick in and i realised we were actually getting a Pink Floyd-esque sound behind a Travis Scott verse, it is like every Christmas rolled into one. As if it couldn’t get any better, the verse he puts over it is quite possibly the best verse he has ever done, rapping about making his parents proud and how much his life has changed in such a short space of time, all while maintaining impeccable flow and stunning delivery. Please, I beg of you, listen to this song, every last second is art.

Pray 4 Love (feat. The Weeknd) – 9/10

From a masterpiece to The Weeknd, this album is such a treat on the ears with the way it fades and cuts from track to track. The dark side of Travis Scott returns on this song with an immensely eerie sounding hook from The Weeknd setting the tone for an angry and emotional track over a heavy, dark trap beat. Travis’ first verse is perfect for the mood of the track as he raps about all the people he prays for and all the encounters he has had to deal with over his short career. His second verse also follows suit but as the pianos start his attitude picks up and he starts rapping about all the things he is going to do to make his mum happy and it is wonderfully heart-warming. One criticism is that in the bridge he sounds like a strange mixture of Kanye and Kid Cudi but luckily that phase only lasts a few seconds before we are swept off our feet by Abel himself. The Weeknd knocks it out the park with a haunting vocal about how amazing he is and to be honest I agree every word he says. What a rollercoaster anthem this is.

Nightcrawler (feat. Swae Lee & Chief Keef) – 9.5/10

The most understated lit track ever, the beat is so dirty and progressive and when Swae Lee, better known as one half of Rae Sremmurd, starts his hook it just sounds biblical. The holy aspect only gets better when Travis Scott jumps in himself and the beat rises into this alien styled synth and I am not sure which is better, Travis’ flow or the crazy beat behind it. Swae Lee steals the show without a doubt with his usual soft but bopping hook and he sounds better on here than he has on any Rae Sremmurd song, that’s saying something considering how many bangers they have done. Enough of this serious reviewing stuff, let’s talk about Chief Keef. This dude is a mess but for some reason it is impossible to dislike him, he raps about McDonalds and cake in this verse and it bumps hard, that’s what Keef does. This is such a brilliant song I love it but I would like a tiny bit more Travis Scott if I were to be picky.

Piss On Your Grave (feat. Kanye West) – 10/10

Every bone in your body will try and force you to hate this song, because logic dictates that it should be appalling, but I have a challenge for you. Try and dislike it, try and criticise what he does with the prog-rock instrumental before turning it dark and demonic with his and Kanye’s verse.Travis Scott is one of Kanye’s latest projects and there’s a thought that Travis is carrying the legacy on, with verses like Travis’ where he completely squashes Kanye, expect huge things. The one way to describe this track is rule breaking, it is rebellious and full of attitude and I absolutely love it, probably because it has two of my favourite artists together going crazy over a prog-rock beat.

Antidote – 11/10

The song that gave this man fame. The most infectious track he will ever do and that’s not just because of it’s drug link. The hook is memorable and impossible not to sing along to, the drop on the beat is pure filth and his bars are almost as catchy as the ad-libs he puts on the end of each line. Travis went “straight up” to the top with this trap banger and it just gets better and better the further on the song goes, just when you question where the track will go next, Travis has the answers and switches up the style to something even cooler. His hard rap verse towards the end of the track is incredible and shows his ability to spit as well as the ability to create hooks better than anyone in the industry at the moment. Wow, just wow, what a track that is and it is reviews like this that make me realise truly how special and how hype that song is.

Impossible – 9/10

Very psychedelic and it paints the picture of a heavily under the influence Travis Scott trying to talk to this girl and tell her how much she means to him. It puts Travis in a rare position of weakness in comparison to how he usually sounds when he is the guy girls come to rather than him chasing them, I like that switch and the hook is very catchy with a unique sounding vocal performance, thanks mainly to the wobble of the autotune. The track is almost satanic as he sinks to his lowest ebb and feels the effects of his lavish lifestyle all crashing down on him at once. It is a very clever song and rather than being a complete banger like an Antidote is, it follows a narrative within the album’s story and fits perfectly within it. Great work.

Maria I’m Drunk (feat. Young Thug & Justin Bieber) – 9/10

The combination of these three artists is just too intriguing to ignore and when it came to this point of the album on first listen I was ridiculously excited about what these three would deliver. What I was given didn’t disappoint, as the song suggests it follows on from the previous song and could suggest that the girl Travis was swooning over in ‘Impossible’ was in fact Maria from this one. The beat is very spacey again as is to be expected from a song from Thug and Travis about a girl and drinking. Some people may not be the biggest fans of the fact it takes so long to kick into action but I like that as it suggests a planning process for inviting the girls to get drunk and picking up the confidence to do it. Bieber’s verse is absolutely electric and makes the song really and he sounds like a singer way beyond his young years. Young Thug is very understated by his usual standards but his regular hook inclusion of “call your friends let’s get drunk” is very cool. The best part of his verse is the HUGE screech of “SKRRRT” about half way through and it almost confirms Thugger’s presence on the track. Another huge track.

Flying High (feat. Toro y Moi) – 9/10

More of a feel good track than the previous two as perhaps he has got drunk and now he feels on top of the world, that is the best part of this album ordering, it becomes a beautiful narrative and gives us a great insight into Travis’ lifestyle while also not forgetting to give us banging songs on the way through it. In all honesty, he does sound a little bit like Kanye on this song but that is only momentarily on the hook, once he jumps into his verse he takes his own persona again and it makes the song all the more better. Toro y Moi does a brilliant job at creating this angelic feel around the track both in the beat and the way the vocal compliments it. The piano keys in the chorus help paint the halo over their heads before Travis throws it on the ground and stamps on it in his hard verses. Tune.

I Can Tell – 9.5/10

The drums on this track are amazing they create such a brilliant pace setting tone to the track and add something new to the trap sounds. The thing that stands out to me is that you can tell pretty early on that this song is going to go insane at some point, mainly due to the drums and the incredible pace Travis shows in his flow in the first verse. The hook can get pretty boring but it is very much like floating on a cloud, you get lost in it and as is the case on the previous song, Travis snaps into action and gets you back in the room in the verses. Literally as soon as he says “take it up another notch” he sure as hell does and the song becomes a 90210 style jam with the instrumental, with the snares and the wobble guitars becoming prominent. Fantastic track, could have probably been a single it was that good.

Apple Pie – 10/10

Contender for the best beat on the whole album, I absolutely love the occasional phantom cow bell he chucks in there along with what sounds like a heavily remixed Zelda theme song. The chorus is beautiful and the pianos make it even better, just bloody stunning I can’t get over it. This is a seriously good way to end an album and as is always the case with Travis Scott, the layers on the track mean you will never ever get bored listening to this, after the second chorus there is an overlapping of about 20 sounds before going into a crazy verse which does a brilliant job of bringing Travis’ part to a close. Then we get the finale and if you guessed it you can be my new best friend, there is ANOTHER spoken word verse by T.I, oh lord have mercy on our soul.

Overall – 9.5/10

An absolute delight to listen to and I feel it will never age, it is the pace setter for modern trap artists and it is what I often describe as an accidental concept album, he literally stumbled upon the concept and put it all together, what a guy. Seven or eight tracks on here could be singles and that pays homage to how well Travis does in making sure that he finds the balance between concept and narrative, as well as the the ability to make great songs that can be listened to and enjoyed outside of the album. Simply a remarkable job done very effectively by one of hip-hops new superstars.

Classic Album Reviews: The Strokes – Is This It

The Strokes are an American pop-rock outfit who have been in the music industry for just over 15 years, perhaps taking the crown alongside Arctic Monkeys as the kings of indie music. When they released this debut album ‘Is This It’ in 2001 the band went from relative unknowns to global names thanks to upbeat bounce hits such as ‘Last Nite’ and ‘Someday’ and they’re perhaps best loved for the style of music they delivered. With Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi playing dual roles with electric guitar they became a legendary duo who created some of this century’s most memorable riffs. Partner that with a cool, stylish and edgy lead singer with a fantastic rock and roll voice (Julian Casablancas) and you have one hell of a band, not to mention Julian had one of the best names on planet Earth.

Is This It – 9/10

The title track is often the one they start their headline shows with and it is plain to see why with it’s steady start and gradual instrumental build up as they individually add different aspects of the band the further the song goes on, starting with a slow drum beat before adding the first guitar which compliments the drums well before Julian comes in and adds such a calming influence on the track. The bass and the second guitar’s inclusion make this song very well-rounded and create a glorious sounding band in the end, particularly the bass riff which is full of funk.

The Modern Age – 9.5/10

Plenty more energy here let me reassure you. The drums are frequent and the guitars sound crisp and clean as the song builds into the verse. Once again, you feel encapsulated by Julian when he begins to sing and it is such a phenomenal trait for him to have, baring in mind he was in his early 20’s when this was recorded and came out. Immense talent on display in the guitar solo which shreds very hard alongside the typical clockwork sound of the rest of the band and the solo seems to prompt an increase in tone and volume for Julian who suddenly seems to sing with more urgency about a summer love affair “in the sun, sun, having fun” which is a quirky and happy line. One of the album’s best tracks for sure.

Soma – 9/10

The guitar riff is sweet and slick and kind of takes centre stage to begin with but once Julian raises the volume he shows how great of a rock singer he is by demonstrating that brilliant range he has without losing control of the song’s tune and atmosphere. The whole song just puts a smile on your face even if the song title is quite confusing, I still to this day don’t know what ‘Soma’ is but I won’t complain if this is the sort of quality it produces. I can guarantee you that after listening to this song you’ll have the riff stuck in your head it is just so catchy it borders upon obsessive.

Barely Legal – 10/10

Very unique sound to this one and it is tracks like this that made The Strokes such a huge hit so quickly, nobody sounded like them for the simple reason that nobody had the ability to sound like them. Everyone was just simply brilliant at what they do and this song demonstrates it better than ever, the guitar riff seems fairly subtle until that crazy lick in the first pre-chorus which is just beautiful, it’s like a drug. Julian sounds better than he ever will do on this song, especially about half way through the song where he steps up and makes the song his own while allowing the band to take a back seat and watch him go. The lyrics are very witty regarding the love of this girl who may be out of his reach for whatever reason, perhaps it’s her sister, who Julian says in the song he “doesn’t give a fuck” about? Who knows. One thing we do know is that this song is bloody brilliant and it takes some serious skill to play those instruments like that.

Someday – 11/10

My love for this song knows no bounds, a simply timeless piece of music and that opening drum beat will be the soundtrack of my life I am sure of it. It is literally impossible to pick a fault with this song and lord knows I have listened to it enough to try. That is probably the greatest strength of it, I have never once tired of it, even after hundreds of listens it sounds as enjoyable and as good as it did the very first time I heard it, that’s a rarity for me as well. The verse sounds like a chorus the lyrics are that memorable, the whole song makes you feel warm inside and just makes you want to get up and dance, the words’ meanings are strong and passionate, flawless.

Alone, Together – 10/10

Another memorable riff thanks to Albert and Nick who seem to create these in their sleep there’s that many of them that I can remember. It is very easy to get lost in the wonderful world of that guitar riff and completely forget that other things are going on, such as a brilliant supporting bass riff and a masterful vocal performance from Julian where he tells the tale of rushing into a relationship with a girl and the dangers of taking things too quickly and getting caught up in the moment. It is a very clever concept indeed and makes for very intriguing and above all, pleasant listening when you hear it back.

Last Nite – 10/10

You’ve all heard this one and if you haven’t then please direct me to the cave you have been living in as this is without doubt one of the most well-received and cherished indie anthems there has been, whether it be the progressive riff or the rasp of the first line of the song, everyone should know and love this track. There’s not a lot that can be said about it that hasn’t already but in terms of my own opinion I would describe it as the first day of spring, or the summer smell of freshly cut grass, it brings back so many memories of youth and enjoyment and that is what The Strokes will carry with themselves for so many people, not just myself. Probably their most recognisable song and there’s no prizes for guessing why that is and long may this be played at every indie night across the globe.

Hard To Explain -10/10

The first single they ever released and wow what a way to announce yourselves, it is also the title of the EP they handed to record labels in an attempt to get signed. Anyone who would’ve turned them down after hearing a track like this needs to leave the music industry at once because for a first single this is special, it has all the credentials of a band who are destined to great things and they have duly delivered. I absolutely love the pace and the overlapping in the chorus where the whole thing just seems to fall beautifully into place. The song is about breaking up with someone and all the dramas that follow, trying to prove you aren’t a bad person despite the mistakes you make, explained brilliantly in the “I say the right things but act the wrong way” line. What a belter of a tune this is.

New York City Cops -9/10

A bit deeper of a guitar riff to start things off and the vocal is muttered more than usual but once the song really kicks in it is stunning the way they just click instantly into that upbeat mode again with the high-pitched guitar riffs and the elongated vocals. Even the chorus which literally just repeats the song’s title is so catchy and what follows is a fantastic guitar solo courtesy of Albert Hammond Jr and we thank him dearly for that piece of heaven to our ears. The pre-chorus has a stunning piece of guitar and bass playing where they link together in fantastic harmony without drowning each other out. The song is just fantastically advanced and shows the skill set they all have.

Trying Your Luck -9/10

This song is brought in very nicely by the previous one as the guitar riffs seem to follow suit for the most part and stick to a similar format but the drums are a bit quicker and more distinct which I think is a good thing to help create that well-rounded band sound The Strokes are so renowned for. The lyrics are fairly hard-hitting too as it seems like Julian is begging either for forgiveness or for an initial chance with this girl but deep down knows he isn’t going to get what he wants. The lyrics are very sad which juxtaposes the riff of the guitar which sounds so clean and innocent to imply everything is okay, perhaps papering over the cracks of Julian’s true emotions and feelings. Strong stuff if you look deep enough into it but it’s a bloody good song regardless of the deep analysis.

Take It Or Leave It -9.5/10

Stunning way to end the album and you can hear yourself singing the words to the chorus before a word has even been muttered thanks to that guitar riff which is a brilliant skill to possess and once the chorus does start, no matter how often you listen to the song, the severity of Julian’s pitch and tone still takes you by surprise as he opens the grenade pin and unleashes his emotion onto the microphone while screaming the song’s title a few times. I like how with this change in speed from Julian is matched in perfect co-ordination by the drummer who kicks it into overdrive in an instant. A fantastic way to end a fantastic album, really.

Overall -10/10

This album just doesn’t have a weakness, at all. It is the most fresh and original album you will have heard in years and that is 16 years after it’s release so imagine how trendy it would have sounded back in 2001. It’s an album full of classic hits, classic riffs and classic memories that are attached to the band’s stigma and that much is enough to give this album the highest possible form of praise. In case you hadn’t noticed already, I have a slight man crush on Julian Casablancas and probably rank him alongside Jesus Christ as the coolest JC there has ever been.

Classic Album Reviews: Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Sheffield born and bred, Arctic Monkeys have become perhaps the biggest band in the world over the past decade and are now five albums deep into their immensely good discography. The pinnacle of this is their debut album which was released in 2006 and absolutely dominated the indie genre which was booming at that time with bands such as The Kooks and The Libertines at the peaks of their powers. Alex Turner didn’t pick a guitar up until 2001 and this album came from it five years later, that alone is earth-shattering. The band won just about every award going for ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ and went from strength to strength to help model the supergroup they are today, headlining Glastonbury and breaking America. It is the fastest-selling debut album of all time by a band, has gone quintuple platinum and outsold Oasis, not too shabby.

The View From The Afternoon – 10/10

The song which showed us all just how good Matthew Helders is on the drums, it is an absolutely mesmerising and pulsating introduction not only to a song but to an album and it all just clicks, creating an absolute gem and letting us know we are in for something very special with this album. The change-ups of the instrumental are brilliant from start to finish as we get a completely different sound in the verse with this stand alone raw guitar string sound created before the carnage continues again in the chorus which in itself is wonderfully catchy and energetic. Those two words are the perfect way to describe this song, brimming with energy and full of toe-tapping or head-banging possibilities, it’s all personal preference I guess.

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – 10/10

One of the most memorable songs of the 21st century and perhaps one of the best indie rock anthems of all time, this is the tune that gave the world a glimpse of Sheffield’s finest project since Jarvis Cocker and Pulp. The one song that was played at every single party known to man that didn’t involve a dirty drum and bass beat and that is a testament to how good it truly is, everyone loved it and everyone still loves it over 10 years later. A song quite literally about a night on the town, probably about a filthy night in Corporation in Sheffield where everything and everyone looks better through beer goggles and darkened lights. “Just banging tunes and DJ sets” is the most British line you’ll ever hear and probably why so many fell in love with Alex and the boys, they were just normal lads who made it big it’s as simple as that. A tune for the ages and one which will probably go down in British music folklore.

Fake Tales Of San Francisco – 10/10

It is just banger after banger with this album and the freight train doesn’t stop here. Another local anecdote about hitting the town of Sheffield and going to a band night and witnessing fights and tear-ups left, right and centre. Alex Turner takes a bit of a narrator role on this song as he appears to be looking over on the night rather than being a part of it, that is until he jumps in on the highlight of the song, the bridge, where he calls out this bloke who gives it large about his life when he’s “not from New York City” he’s “from Rotherham”, different class. Once again the instrumental is thrashed and separated between chorus and verse and the way it is executed is brilliant once more. Just another huge song that even to this day I sit and listen to regularly, easily one of my favourite Arctic Monkeys songs.

Dancing Shoes – 10/10

Something very very different and unlike anything that was released by an indie band, a dance track that had a seriously hard rock riff, there’s a fine line between crazy and genius but I think these boys have found the balance with this tune. A short and to-the-point- track at just under two and a half minutes but there’s plenty crammed into it for all to enjoy, such as a rocking guitar solo, a cymbal crashing drum beat and a cheeky lyrical showing involving a very iconic line: “get on your dancing shoes you sexy little swine” is as memorable a it gets. Blinder.

You Probably Couldn’t See For The Lights But You Were Staring Right At Me – 9/10

First things first, what a song title that is, that’s the sort of thing you’d expect to see on an album by The Smiths with such a long title, but alas this isn’t Morrissey, oh no it is Alex Turner and his local anecdotal nature but we will take that. Even with the cheeky song title and the fast-paced instrumental, you recognise a frailty to Alex Turner and how he felt the same nerves that every lad feels when trying to chat up a girl in a club, talking about his heartbeat and how red his face has gone. It is a very witty song which focuses more on the lyrics than most but the instrumental is still brilliant with it’s progression as the song goes on it feels like it gets quicker. This is another short and snappy song which feels even shorter given the pace of the instrumentation but it is still satirical and above all, great.

Still Take You Home – 9/10

From the outset this song has an infectious sound to it with the guitar riff going on before switching into a more acute sound being played further down the neck and creating a better sound for the verse. Alex’s vocal delivery is VERY Sheffield, more so than on other tracks on the album and I like that, in usual circumstances this song could have been viewed as a bit silly and a bit of fun but with that northern twinge on his vocals it makes it all very relatable and very real. It is the idea of taking girls home for the sake of notching another mark on the bedpost or for bragging with the lads rather than for having genuine affection, not necessarily an opinion Alex himself has agreed with and that’s probably why he made a song about it, calling it out as a typical teenage act. With that being said it is still a fantastic tune and has you hooked on the story of it all.

Riot Van – 10/10

Scrap everything about what has been heard before this song in the track listing, this song blows it away. A stunning acoustic cut about run-ins with the police from the perspective of Alex himself who is clearly scared but going along with the antics in order to impress his mates. It pinpoints an incredible perception and insight into the council estate lifestyles of teenagers in rough areas of the whole country, not just Sheffield. What I love most about the song is the slowed down pace of it, making the whole mood very melancholy to suit the atmosphere surrounding the context of the song. A brilliant change of direction sonically while sticking true to the local anecdotal path they take on the whole album.

Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured – 10/10

These are the famous words you will see etched inside every single taxi in a big city on your way to and from a night out and the song they create from it is just absolutely brilliant, literally a track about planning a night from the minor details of booking taxis:”won’t they let us have six in? If not we’ll have to have two” is just perfect. As is the case with all the songs on this album, the story they tell with the lyrics is absolutely brilliant and scarily accurate of a messy night out, from fights to queuing for cashpoints. I adore this song and think it is so incredibly layered and put together, it is without doubt one of the more under-appreciated songs from this track list.

Mardy Bum – 10/10

A song which has been sung along to thousands of times all over the place and has captured the imaginations of millions in this country with it’s typically British humour as well as the realism within the stresses and strains of young relationships. The acoustic part of it is another way to view this innocence of youth as it clearly wouldn’t suit a hard post-punk instrumental but also because it is such a soft sounding track it follows suit to have a softer sound to this one. Above all it is a lyrically stunning track and it juxtaposes the typical idea you have of an acoustic love song as it uses coarse language as well as being largely informal but that’s the beauty of it, the lower class feel of it all makes it what it is.

Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But… – 9.5/10

Once again a bloody brilliant song title and a classic spin on the teen lifestyle of urban England with the idea of staying out late and not sleeping with all the drugs being taken. Drugs are the forefront of this song’s tale implying that these people have become stale vampires with no other motive than to take these drugs, “I know you’re certain to fail” is an accurate representation of the aspirations of these people. The song itself is fairly advanced in it’s creativity through the use of bongos in the bridge as well as really funky bass riff that you’d expect to hear on a classic Stone Roses tune. The outro is the best aspect of this song without doubt, the guitar solo is brilliant and it is just the way you think the song is over and then you hear that background bellow of “ALL YOU PEOPLE ARE VAMPIRES” and it kicks back in again. Sheer brilliance from the boys.

When The Sun Goes Down – 10/10

That opening sequence is genius, a wonderfully crafted story about a prostitute in desperate need for money and the sleazy people who take advantage of her, particularly the bloke who “told Roxanne to put on her red light” (lovely reference to The Police there). That part of the song is good enough, but what follows is special, truly special. As soon as you hear those words “I said he’s a scumbag don’t you know” it is a guarantee it’s kicking off in full effect. A brilliant instrumental follows with a particularly cymbal favourable drum beat along with a memorable guitar riff which has people from all over the nation chanting it’s tune. Blatantly obvious as to why this one was released as a single as it is such a radio-friendly track while also being absolutely incredible, it is the song that made me fall in love with the band and I have never looked back since.

From The Ritz To The Rubble -9/10

A real bop of a track about a nightclub queue and particularly the dramas of bouncers and the fights they have to deal with. The riff on the chorus of this song is fantastic the way it stagnates from pure energy to nothing each time in instalments is so catchy and clever and my personal highlight of the song, although the bridge is pretty special with that real football hooligan styled chant by the whole band as the song fades to black. It is strange because I love this song but in terms of quality I would probably rank it as the weakest on the album and if I did have to skip one on the track list it would be this but it is still absolutely blinding and luckily for me I don’t have to skip any.

A Certain Romance – 11/10

This song is the closest thing to perfection to have graced my ears in a long long time and in my most humble of opinions, it ranks alongside the likes of ‘Champagne Supernova’ by Oasis and ‘I Am The Resurrection’ by The Stone Roses as one of the best album closers ever to exist. The intro is magical with that pulsating drum beat into a slow fade and a head swaying toe tapper. The very second Alex starts singing the standards raise even higher as he sings about Classic Reeboks and fighting with pool cues in hands, it’s just staggeringly good and relatable to the masses. For me it is the best song they have ever done and ever will do and I say that in confidence because it truly is that good, a modern classic of our time and one which should rank alongside the all-time British great songs. Quick mention of the outro, listen to it. It’ll change your life. That is all.

Overall – 10/10

On ‘Definitely Maybe’ levels for me, it is that good. It is an era defining album in it’s own right as it fought the intense competition of the indie genre and blew them to smithereens, helping Arctic Monkeys headline Glastonbury just a year after this album’s release, something that only, you guessed it, Oasis have achieved before them. The best album of the 21st Century? Maybe. The best indie album? Without question. If only Alex and co. could realise how good they sounded back then and not turn into ego-maniacs with the release of ‘AM’. Don’t get me wrong I love ‘AM’, but it’s not quite this is it.

Classic Album Reviews: Oasis – Definitely Maybe

Oasis are this country’s loveable rogues and the lead flag-bearers of a 90s generation that recaptured it’s love for rock and roll music. For that three year stint between 1994 and 1997 Oasis were untouchable, easily the best band on earth and had millions upon millions of fans singing ever word to every song. The hostility of the relationship between brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher still stands tall today and is perhaps the band’s greatest asset as they conquered all obstacles and became global phenomenons. This album went a long way towards aiding that rise, the debut album of a generation and perhaps one of the most iconic albums ever to exist, ‘Definitely Maybe’ is a must in everyone’s collection.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Star – 9.5/10

An absolute explosion of energy and the blueprint for a rock and roll classic, the name gives you a pretty good idea as to what this song is all about. A huge anthem about being grateful for having very little and savouring every last moment of life, no matter what path you take and if that isn’t relatable then I don’t know what is. The riff from Noel and the rhythm guitar from Bonehead stick in the memory even to this day and really epitomises the image of Oasis and the era they were an integral part of. A mention for Liam’s vocals too as he does this song immense justice with his arrogance and typical stamp, sounding like he’s always wanted to sound, a modern day mixture of John Lennon and Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. The highlight of the song is the hardcore climax to the track which just brings the roof down from the drums to the guitar. It’s just rock and roll.

Shakermaker – 9/10

The second single they released, the second song on the album, and the evidence that we might have had ourselves a second coming of The Beatles on our hands. AS psychedelic as it gets with head-scratching lyrics such as “I’d like to build myself a house out of plasticine” which placed Oasis within a Sgt. Peppers era of hard drugs and a rock and roll lifestyle they assumed to be living, little did they know it’d only get bigger. I have one complaint about this song and it is that the outro seems a little too long but that doesn’t stop me listening to it in full every single time grinning like a Cheshire Cat as i enjoy the nostalgia Oasis carry with them.

Live Forever – 10/10

Easily the best song on one of the best albums of all time, now that’s saying something about the quality and legacy of this song. It is a track which is wholeheartedly appreciated by Oasis fans but one which I feel was underrated on a worldwide scale compared to ‘Wonderwall’ for example because it is perhaps the most technically gifted song Noel Gallagher has ever crafted. The lyrics are a huge pick-me-up and have been chosen to create a beautiful aurora around having nothing but celebrating it. A true lesson about the importance and value of life and how nobody should want theirs to end. It is often seen as a bit of a middle finger to Nirvana’s song ‘I Hate Myself And I Want To Die’ which Noel Gallagher described as “not on” and that “kids shouldn’t be hearing that”. If you match that motive with a powerful Liam vocal and a great guitar riff you have yourself a truly staggering song.

Up In The Sky – 8.5/10

A simple but brilliant guitar riff used to maximum effect ass we hear a real Britpop banger as a result. My favourite aspect of this song is that it gave us all that memorable sound to Liam Gallagher’s voice where his true Mancunian twang comes out with words like “sky”, “fly” and “high” and it is just infectious the way he elongates and delivers them. To be massively critical, this is perhaps the weakest track on the album but that’s not ruling it as a bad song by any stretch of the imagination, it just ranks fairly low alongside an album full to the brim of timeless classics. If this is their idea of a ‘filler track’ then that is evidence of how special a band they truly were.

Columbia – 9.5/10

The opening track when they played those iconic gigs at Knebworth and it’s easy to see why, a brilliant build up to this one with the cymbal taps and the steady progressing guitar within it. You can just picture Liam now strutting around to the instrumental of this in his typical swagger. When he kicks in vocally he captures your imagination without sounding technically stunning and not many before him or since him have been able to do that with such effect. On this track he is very reminiscent of a Mick Jagger style character. The chorus is memorable and brings up that rise from nothing and how the superstardom is “oh so new” to them. Another very big hitter.

Supersonic – 10/10

Could well be my favourite song on the album simply for the audacity of it all. First single, nobody knew who they were and bang, these two lads from a poor family in a Manchester council estate are “feeling supersonic” and are aware of the fame they’re about to grasp. There really aren’t many words you can say regarding this song and how good it is, nothing can really do it justice other than saying it’s absolutely remarkable. Yes, the guitar riff seems very similar to the influences that came before Noel, the liked of T-Rex or George Harrison, but when it sounds this good and this fresh, does it really matter? Also, the music video is bloody brilliant despite it’s low budget simplicity. Give me Gin and Tonic.

Bring It On Down – 9.5/10

In the words of Alan McGee, owner of Creation Records at the time and the man responsible for handing Oasis their first record deal, this song is just punk, the pace, the vocal delivery, the lyrics, all of it. “Your’re the outcast, you’re the underpass, but you don’t care because you’re living fast” is just stunning by the way, what a start to a chorus that is. The drum beat is constant, simple and a real pace-setter, it tested the limits of the then drummer Tony McCarroll but it sounds fantastic. I can only imagine what it would’ve been like to have heard a band make a tune like this back in 1994, even today it beggars belief.

Cigarettes & Alcohol – 10/10

It gets better and better every single time you hear it and for me it is the true sound of Oasis, the focal point of a band who were announcing themselves on the grandest stage. You can bash Liam Gallagher’s vocal range all you want, obviously he isn’t going to have pipes like Whitney or Freddie Mercury is he? He’s in a rock and roll band who saved his life from an eternity of weed and the dole, also listen to what he is singing about. Either way I think he sounds absolutely brilliant and suits the track perfectly, anyone who thinks otherwise is someone with a fairly big agenda against him as a person in my opinion. The song itself is once again full of a bittersweet attitude where they seem completely care-free as to who will critique their music, they’re writing songs like this to demonstrate how fortunate they are to be making the music they love and I for one commend that.

Digsy’s Dinner – 9/10

A short and simple song but the motive of it is very strange, who is Digsy? Why is she having lasagna with Liam Gallgher? The lyrics border upon ridiculous but it’s not your typical love ballad is it, you wouldn’t hear Mariah Carey singing about not living very wise behind a rocking instrumental. All in all it’s an unorthodox blinder of a love song, a view into the looking glass of suburban Manchester. I could think of quite a few people who’d have a lasagna with Liam Gallagher in all honesty.

Slide Away – 10/10

Paul McCartney’s favourite Oasis tune and he’s got a point, it’s absolutely brilliant and has a deep lying meaning which has rung true for over two decades. Often described as the stand-out vocal performance of Liam Gallagher’s career, it was the song which really propelled him alongside the rest of the band as not only a great frontman with a rockstar attitude, but also with a rockstar voice too. The lyrics are a beautiful homage to this girl that is being sung about as they imply that he and that girl are the only two people in the world that matter at that moment, with “slide away” meaning getting away from it all and running off together. The guitar is stunning, the vocal delivery and lyrics are even better, the song is just fascinating.

Married With Children – 9/10

A gorgeous acoustic cut to end the album on a serious high as Liam softens his tones and Noel strums his guitar with blissful soul and happiness. The lyrics themselves take a bit of a deep turn as Liam sings about all that is wrong with the girl and her “music shite” which is probably one of my favourite Oasis lyrics ever. The song epitomises the acoustic Oasis sound, a crazily simple guitar riff that sounds so good that it often makes you question how it was never done before but that’s what Noel exploited throughout his Oasis career. A brilliant sing-along tune.

Overall – 10/10

I could hardly rate it any lower could I? As a whole I think this album is pretty much faultless and it’s easy to see why even after 23 years of this masterpiece, we still worship it to this day. Without question the best album Oasis ever did and it might just be the best album a British act has ever created, you wouldn’t be a fool for believing that trust me because it is certainly up there for me too. ‘Definitely Maybe’ has it all, from soft-thought provoking ballads about love and life to punk-influenced rock music which sounds raw, unassuming and undeniably British. What an album and what a band.