Tuesday, 20 March 2012


The 2012 radio and record industry in general happens to be bumper to bumper with countless songs that convey the same message, in the same manner, with the same style of sound. A lot of us these days are left wondering exactly where the 'creative' part of being an artist actually lies. Maybe it's in the album artwork.

So, what do we need? A game changer. Who's going to change the game? The Mars Volta, that's who. The duo of Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez have always been ones to try and do something different. Long gone are the days of At The Drive-In. The post-hardcore outfit that imploded (personnel wise) just before they were to due to explode in terms of popularity. At least so we thought until the group announced a reunion to take place this year. You'd have expected the guys would have too much on the table to release a new studio album, but evidently not. Noctourniquet will arrive on March 2.

Opener 'The Whip Hand' isn't a million miles away from home for long time fans of the band. An irregular drum beat coupled with Cedric's melodic wailing quickly changes to something a little more frantic and desperate sounding, with the inclusion of a heavy synth that wouldn't sound out of place in a Lady Gaga single. 'I am A Landmine' he shrieks at the climax, backed through multiple vocal layers. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is not quite as prominent as some might expect.

He certainly makes up for it in 'Aegis' and 'Dyslexicon, however. Two of Noctourniquet's hardest rocking tracks. Omar's chord pattern in 'Aegis' forms a brilliant platform for Bixler-Zavala to lead the way with one of his finest vocal performances yet. The chorus is astonishingly good.  'Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound' is as close to a commercial ballad as The Mars Volta will make. A sparse guitar is matched by Cedric's gentle vocal melody, but soon enough turns into an epic slow, but soulful explosion of sound to end the song. The stand out track on the album is truly haunting. 'The Malkin Jewel' harks back to Captain Beefheart with an almost spoken word vocal and a funky on-the-upbeat rhythm section swagger.

Lapochka's drum beat is almost incredibly satisfying. A little teasing in fact. Try nodding your head to it, you'll see what I mean. One of the catchiest (if not the) most radio-freindly song. In Absentia is classic, frantic TMV, before dropping into a ghostly outro with Cedric's sirenesque weaving through reverb keys.

The album is just completely different to anything I've heard. It's incredibly original, and at all times is emotionally convincing. It's been received extremely well by fans and critics alike, so if you're still on the fence just go and do it. Open your mind and let Noctourniquet do it's thing. Give it time, perhaps a little patience too and you won't be disappointed. Album of 2012, so far.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Strokes Begin Work On Album #5

After headlining several summer festivals this year, many hints were dropped by various members of the Strokes that a 5th album is on the agenda. With 5 year break between First Impressions of Earth and Angles, it would appear that the follow up will arrive in a much shorter amount of time.

Bassist Nikolai Fraiture tweeted
Number 5 is alive! (No disassemble)

The Angles sessions were somewhat troubled; the band didn't seem to be recording as a unit but as 5 seperate parts being pieced together. Vocalist Julian Casablancas often recorded his vocals separately and kept his distance from the other members, supposedly to encourage them to bring more to the table. (Casablancas has sole writer's credit on almost every Strokes song before Angles)The 4th album really divided fans, with some claiming it to be the band's best work and others writing it off as garbage. Overall the opinion on Angles seemed to be positive though, I'd say it was the 2nd most well received record after the game changing Is This It. It'l be interesting to see what methods of writing and recording the band use this time around.

Three members of the band are on twitter:
@N_Fraiture - Nikolai Fraiture
@Casablancas_J - Julian Casablancas
@alberthammondjr - Albert Hammond jr

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