Music Review - Jan Sleigh's pick of the month

Boardseeker
Jan Sleigh Music Review

For this month Jan brings us the latest release from the Foo’s and a recent Linkin Park album both of which have been pumping out of his van on high velocity wave hunting trips as they are great for getting amped on the way to the beach. The third review is Radio 1’s Established 1967 compilation that is sure to have a track or two that everyone will love or hate. Finally something very different from Manu Chao.

 

     

 
Artists name:

Foo Fighters

Album:

Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

Wow! This is an album that kinda snuck up out of nowhere. I guess it’s been a while since “In Your Honour” came out. In fact it’s been about two years. With such a huge back catalogue of tracks, the Foo’s could almost be forgiven for putting out a “best of” or “greatest hits” kinda compilation. They’ve certainly got the material to pull it off with ease. Luckily they’ve not been resting on their laurels and have obviously been vigorously writing material to populate ESP&G, and cracking material it is. First track and single from the album is “The Pretender” and it’s a belter – getting a huge amount of airplay and praise on mainstream airwaves and in particular Radio 1. “Let it Die” – a slow building, massive crescendo kind of track is followed in quick succession by two super rockin tunes; “Erase-Replace” and the slightly mellower “Long Road to Ruin“. “Come Alive” rocks out again before “Stranger things have happened” slows the pace and cools things down. There’s another seven tracks to take in and play at full volume – I’ll just let you know that they are all awesome and you won’t be able to stop playing this album over and over again.

The album precedes a UK Tour and the Foo’s sold out the O2 pretty quick, but on the strength of this album, their stunning performance at Live Earth and one of the best concerts I have been to at Hyde Park last year, I decided I couldn’t miss them so have had to dig deep and pay double for standing tickets. But I can’t wait as I know that they’ll put heart and soul into a performance that will make it a night to remember from one of the best rock bands on the planet right now.

     
     
Artists name:

Linkin Park

Album:

Minutes to Midnight

There has been quite a gap since the last true Linkin Park studio album, “Meteora” in 2003. That’s not to say the band have not been busy. They’ve been involved in numerous side projects and charity work notably an awesome remix album “Collision Course” with Jay-Z plus Live Earth and Live 8 concerts, as well as helping raise money for victims of Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Tsunami victims. So ”Minutes to Midnight” has been a long awaited release for Linkin Park fans with a certain amount of anticipation as vocalist Chester Bennington had previously announced that their work would depart from the Nu-Metal rap rock fusion of their first two highly acclaimed albums. MTM is a definite change in direction and covers a lot of new ground in terms of styles. There are only two tracks on which MC Mike Shinoda raps. Indeed he sings on three songs and provides backing vocals on the whole album. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what sound this new incarnation of Linkin Park actually is, other than a unique blend that has its roots in their former style. The three singles off the album each demonstrates LP’s growth as a band and musically places them as a rock band that will continue to grow and change over time. “Bleed it out” is undoubtedly one of the best Linkin Park tracks ever and will be a sure fire, crowd pleasing, live anthem for them.

 

     
     

 
Artists name:

Radio One – Various Artists

Album:

Established 1967

Radio One has just celebrated 40 years of being on air with a full couple of weeks bringing back original DJs, special shows and hosted by rock legends such as Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Debbie Harry, Paul Weller, Gwen Stefani, Noel Gallagher, Fat Boy Slim and Ozzy Osbourne.

To count down to their birthday each day they played tracks by an artist of today covering a song of yesteryear – one cover for each past year by a current performer.

Whether you listen to Radio One often or not there is no escaping it. It’s as British as the Union Jack and sets standards across the world for radio presentation. There has been periods of my life that I have dipped into being a listener or have just been exposed to it, from taping the top 40 on a Sunday evening as a youngster, listening to Tommy Vance on the Friday rock show as a teenager, cringing at “our tune” each day while working in a factory in the holidays from Uni, Radio One has always been there, at the very least in the background.

So, with this in mind I was interested to hear the artists of today cover the work of the past. I’d heard a track or two each day, driving to work and got the album to fill in the gaps. Overall I have to say I am a bit ambivalent to it and here is why: there are some awesome renditions of tracks I didn’t really like, breathing new life into them by great artists. Then there are some really bad tracks as well, with the original song mangled to death. Plus there are great songs that stand the test of time and it probably wouldn’t matter who had covered them because they are just great songs. Undoubtedly the album will stir different emotions in different people hearing their favourite or not so favourite songs re-done but then that is what is so unique and different about this album. I think it was a pretty ambitious project to pull off and it’s been done well, but you can’t please everyone. I guess that’s what Radio One is good at – finding that balance as a mainstream radio station.

Highlights for me are: Teenage Dirt Bag (Wheatus) by Girls Aloud. Town Called Malice (The Jam) by McFly. Band on the Run (Paul McCartney) by the Foo Fighters. You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate) by the Sterophonics. Teenage Kicks (The Undertones) by The Raconteurs. Under Pressure (Queen & David Bowie ) by Keane.

     
     
Artists name:

Manu Chao

Album:

Clandestino

I was looking for something a little different to review and didn’t know what direction to look; pop, rock, R&B, rap, dance… but then I was recommended “Manu Chao”. Described to me as “take Jack Johnson and then sort of extract it out into World Music”, this got me intrigued.

It’s definitely not the sort of album I’d pick up and give any thought to but I popped it in and gave it a listen. The first track comes in with a bit of a reggae beat but then surprisingly breaks into a Spanish vocal and what follows is an eclectic journey with influences from African, Latin, Caribbean , Cuban, and Mexican styles of music with the songs written in and sung in Spanish, French and English. The album flows almost seamlessly with each song blending effortlessly into the next. If I am honest it is a very, very long leap from Jack Johnson to Manu Chao but it was a leap worth making as Manu Chao certainly delivers an album of playful and beautiful music even if I can’t understand much of it. It is pretty chilled out and relaxed so if you want to indulge in something completely different after your next surf or windsurf session then put it on.

 

     

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