Thursday, 20 December 2012

Anchorman Sequel To See Release in December 2013



Paramount Pictures have announced an official release date for Anchorman: The Legend Continues, the long anticipated sequel to 2004's cult comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The film is expected for release exactly one year from today on December 20th, 2013.

Will Ferrell wil return as Burgundy alongside Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David  Koechner in the film which sees the original news team foursome reunited. Christina Applegate will also reprise her role as Veronica Corningstone while Kristen Wiig is set to star as a potential love interest for Brick Tamland (Carell).

Ferrell will script the sequel with original director Adam McKay, and McKay has hinted at a custody battle being involved in the storyline. Shooting is set to begin in February.

Check out an official trailer for Anchorman: The Legend Continues here.

HMM Presents: The Best of Music in 2012



It's been a good year for music with the likes of Bloc Party, The xx and Crystal Castles among the most prominent releases of 2012 while Kendrick Lamar and Purity Ring announced their arrivals in style with excellent debut albums from each. Electric Picnic 2012 was a landmark year for the ever growing festival and saw The Cure, Elbow and Sigur Ros dominate the main stage.

So what was my favourite album of the year at Heavy Metal Mouth? Here's my top 5.


5. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city
Lamar has been touted in recent times as the next Kanye West, Drake or even Biggie Smalls and it's not hard to see why. Following the release of his acclaimed debut mixtape Section .80, Kendrick dropped good kid, m.A.A.d city in late October to near universal critical approval and rave reviews which compared the Compton rapper to the late Notorious B.I.G for his storytelling style and lyrical ability.

A concept album laden with atmospheric beats and low key production, good kid, m.A.A.d city has been rightfully ranked in several end-of-year best lists already and it makes Heavy Metal Mouth's with ease.

Best Tracks: Sherane/The Art of Peer Pressure/Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst


4. Grizzly Bear - Shields
It says a lot about the year in music that Shields was my number 1 pick for album of the year before a string of late releases beat it to the top. Grizzly Bears fourth effort was a worthy follow-up to 2009's Veckatimest, an album I'd certianly rank among the finest releases since the turn of the century. Daniel Rossen took a stronger position in the band with lead vocals on stand out tracks such as ''Sleeping Ute'' and ''Sun In Your Eyes'', and it was easy to hear that this was Grizzly Bears most collaborative and balanced effort yet. Despite Ed Droste's reduced leadership role, the groups founder had by no means lost his touch, demonstrated most effectively on lead single ''Yet Again''.

Ultimately, Shields represented a continued streak of standout releases by a band rivaled only by The Arcade Fire for consistency in modern times, and gives me real reason to believe that Grizzly Bear are capable of many more quality records over the next decade and perhaps even longer.

Best Tracks: Sleeping Ute/Yet Again/Sun In Your Eyes


3. Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man
Natasha Khan has enjoyed another prosperous year in the spotlight that has seen her status increase to even greater heights following the release of The Haunted Man in October. Her third effort followed an appearance at Electric Picnic which recieved great acclaim from the Irish audience who were witness to the Londoner's set.

The Haunted Man continued Bat For Lashes' outstanding streak of releases following Fur & Gold in 2006 and Two Suns in 2009. Kicking off with ''Lilies'', Khan couldn't help but draw comparison to Kate Bush for her near identical vocal delivery, which was mentioned back in our original review of the record. Khan's vocals dominate the record on tracks such as ''All Your Gold'' and ''Deep Sea Diver'' which stripped back much of the instrumentation used in previous releases while ''A Wall'' and ''Marilyn'' upped the electro approach found on signature hit ''Daniel''.

Khan's third record is a synth pop pleasure that more than deserves a place on this list and many more before the new year begins.

Best Tracks: All Your Gold/Laura/Deep Sea Diver


2. Crystal Castles - (III)
(III) felt like a watershed moment for Crystal Castles on first listen; gone were the hysteric electronic freakouts of (I) and to a lesser degree (II) in favour of a softer side which often resulted in a gloriously affecting, emotive sound that had eluded Alice Glass and Ethan Kath on their earlier releases. Songs like ''Affection'' and ''Child I Will Hurt You'' broke down emotional barriers and introduced a developed, matured approach that many never thought was possible from the Toronto pair.

The possiblities seem endless for Crystal Castles following (III) and thoughts of what their next release will sound like are already exciting listeners, but first of all there's an incredible live show to look forward to from the always reliable performers.

Best Tracks: Affection/Violent Youth/Child I Will Hurt You


1. Purity Ring - Shrines
I actually came across Shrines while searching for something Crystal Castles like to explore and the results were quite amazing. While I can still see the original comparison that led to my discovery of Purity Ring, nowadays I'd liken them more to SBTRKT meets Joanna Newsom, due to Corin Roddick's penchant for chilled electro dub beats and Megan James' strange yet enticing lyrical imagery (perhaps most obviously in ''Fineshrine'' with 'Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you') and her playful vocal delivery.

Originally Shrines stood 5th on this list, then 4th, then 3rd, 2nd and now 1st simply because everytime I returned to it I loved it even more than the first. The idea of ranking a small-time, not as yet truly established act from Montreal, Canada ahead of Grizzly Bear, Bat For Lashes, Crystal Castles and many more seemed a little odd at first, but the fact remains that Shrines was the best album released in 2012 (at least for my money) and if you haven't heard the electronic beauty of it all yet you are doing yourself a real injustice. So start listening now because this is a truly wonderful album from a band with potential to be incredibly special. Watch this space.

Best Tracks: Fineshrine/Belispeak/Shuck


Well they were my favourite albums released this year but on a shorter note here are ten of my top picks for song of 2012.

10. Arise, Awake - Paul Banks (Banks)
A tense build up that recalled the old days for Banks on a second solo effort that was suprisingly solid. If he could craft more songs like this for a new Interpol record then hopefully the damage could be repaired in the next few years for the bands mundane self -titled fourth in 2011.

9. Heart - MMOTHS (MMOTHS EP)
An intimate electronic tune that became a signature hit for rising Irish star MMOTHS in 2012. The Dublin born performer is set to grow in stature over the next 12 months and it's easy to see why after a nostalgic beauty such as this.

8. 212 - Azaelia Banks (1991 EP)
Taken from the 1991 EP, 212 was a shoe in for this top ten and I have no doubts it will feature in many other year end lists with the American rapper set to realise her obvious potential in 2013 with the release of debut album Broke With Expensive Taste.

7. Yet Again - Grizzly Bear (Shields)
Ed Droste's powerful vocal performance dominates this track which was one of many stand out songs taken from Shields. A perfectly constructed lead single which announced the return of the band in some style and will most certainly become a live fan favourite in years to come.

6. Chained - The xx (Coexist)
Coexist was seen by many as the most complex and divisive album of the year, splitting both the band's fan base and critics with it's sparse, minimal style and I must admit it was a confusing one for me to review aswell. Originally taking a positive stance and defending criticism of the album back in July, my mind was then changed following their headline performance at Electric Picnic and I then decided it was an unusually dull, disappointing follow up to the London trio's flawless debut.

Following many repeated listens and a second, much improved live show, Coexist is finally starting to make sense to me and I feel a lot more positive about it come the end of this year than in recent months, but even at my most negative stance regarding te album, ''Chained'' was one of the highlights of my year for it's call and response vocal delivery from Sim and Madley Croft. The aching ''Ooh ooh ooh'' of that chorus carries more emotion than any words uttered on Coexist and for that, it stands out as my pick of the bunch.

5. Child I Will Hurt You - Crystal Castles (III)
The culmination of III was a callback to the closer of the band's debut album, ''Tell Me What To Swallow'' no only in terms of its quiet, unexpected beauty but also in the abusive childhood issues it raised. In any case, it served as a beautiful closer to Crystal Castles best yet and is eaily counted among my all time favourites by Alice Glass and Ethan Kath.

4. The Healing - Bloc Party (Four)
Four was another album that I found difficult to review this year, mainly due to the fact that Bloc Party just didn't sound like themselves as they bizzarely attempted to introduce an almost metal, grunge-like element to their work which just didn't fit. When they slowed things down though, the results were amazing and ''The Healing'' is the perfect example of this, recalling Radiohead's In Rainbows era, particularly the stunning ''Nude''.

So while I may be frustrated at the band for ignoring the oppurtunity to create a softer, well-crafted release that expanded on tracks like ''Real Talk'', ''V.A.L.I.S'' and ''Truth'', I can also take great comfort in the fact that ''The Healing'' stands among Bloc Party's finest moments.

3. Fineshrine - Purity Ring (Shrines)
The finest example of Shrines ten track long electronic orgasm, ''Fineshrine'' brings together James' erotic, unusual imagery with one of Roddick's finest constructions. It's chillout electronica at it's finest although you'd be unlikely to be able to sit still or lie down after hearing the opening ten seconds as a glorious, haunting beat kicks in before James' takes it away with her chilling, unique vocals.

2. The Art of Peer Pressure - Kendrick Lamar (good kid, m.A.A.d city)
Probably the best track I could use to summarize Kendrick's ability to effortlessly meld songs together, what starts out as a floating piano ballad quickly transforms into a disturbingly real account of Kendrick and his friends criminal activities in their home city of Compton on an average night out for the gang. It's a shocking tale that exposes Lamar's culture better than any other song on the album and showcases his outstanding lyrical ability and delivery perfectly.

1. Laura - Bat For Lashes (The Haunted Man)
Natasha Khan takes a break from the electro pop soundscape of The Haunted Man to break down the record with a piano ballad centrepiece that recounts the story of broken hearted party girl Laura with a genuine empathy and quiet sadness. ''Laura'' is Bat For Lashes at her most effective as the raw emotion and brutal honesty of the lyrics pour through the listener in a manner that almost no other modern day artist could hope to acheive.



So that's what made 2012 for me, hopefully 2013 can bring even greater things. Happy New Year and Merry Christmas from Heavy Metal Mouth!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Eminem Set For Slane 2013



Eminem is set to play Slane Castle in August 2013. The controversial rapper cancelled an appearance at the annual concert in 2005, but is set to return to Ireland following his headline performance at Oxegen 2010.

The announcement of this huge Irish date was made this morning by Lord Henry Mountcharles, who stated: ''In 2005 I said Eminem was a stunning artist. He is even more so today. I am thrilled he is going to play Slane.''

Tickets go on sale Wednesday December 19th and gig is set to take place on 17th August.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

One To Watch: The Boxing Plot



The Boxing Plot are an unsigned Irish four piece based in Clontarf, Dublin that have recently began making airwaves around the city with a recent appearance on Phantom having been shortlisted for the rock radio stations ''next ICON'', which specialises in promoting homegrown music releases.

Consisting of Harry O Cleirigh (Guitar, Vocals), Oliver Kelly (Guitar), Oscar Leonard (Bass) and Maurice Healy (Drums), the band was formed in 2009 and has played to venues such as The Academy and Whelans.

Influences such as Arctic Monkeys and Two Door Cinema Club are made clear through the bands guitar-driven sound but O Cleirigh's distinctive vocal delivery provides an original element to The Boxing Plot which could take them far in the near future.

Check out their video for ''NSA'' here:


                               

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The xx at The Olympia Theatre (8/10/12) - A Review



Following The xx's headline performance at Electric Picnic 2012, the London trio returned to Ireland this weekend for a set of shows in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin.

The summer gig was highly acclaimed for the most part, but as a huge xx fan myself I had to admit disappointment, having felt that their presence outdoors on the Main Stage was awkward and made for a non-existent atomsphere in Stradbally that evening. So the announcement of a December gig in the Olympia of all places was an extremely welcome announcement, providing the chance to see the low key act bring their notoriously intimate live show to an intimate Irish venue.

Support was provided by rising Irish star MMOTHS who completed a short set in just under 30 minutes before the band took to the stage and kicked off with ''Coexist'' opener ''Angels'' and crowd favourite ''Heart Skipped A Beat'' to an extremely receptive audience. From there the band bega a long list of songs taken from their latest as ''Fiction'', ''Reunion'' and ''Sunset'' were played with excellent remixes of ''Crystalised'' and ''Shelter'' in between. The same two had been reimagined for their set at Electric Picnic but while their alternate versions fell flat on a festival audience, in this venue both sounded excellent in a new style with a different setting, as a funky drum track was added to ''Shelter'' while ''Crystalised'' was stripped down and slowed up.

An impressive stage set up added the band's trademark style to proceedings while percussion and beats were controlled by the eternally unsung hero that is Jamie xx who pulled the electronic strings behind Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim all night long.

A string of hits from the debut album in the form of ''VCR'' and ''Islands'' helped to wind up the set alongside my personal favourite taken from ''Coexist'', ''Chained''. EP closer ''Infinity'' was once again the last song of the set and a more than worthy finish with blinding lights flashing as the drums pounded over Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim's provocative vocals.

Chants followed the band as they exited the stage and as the three returned for an encore performance they received an incredibly loud reception for ''Intro'' and ''Tides'' before ending with a song that was noticably absent from their festival set, ''xx'' closer and their greatest in my opinon, ''Stars''. It was the perfect way to end the night and bring a close to a set that by far exceeded the band's previous Irish performance and gave the audience something to remember for a long time.

Hopefully it won't be long before we see The xx return to an Irish audience, and with the style that they executed last night's gig, I'm sure they'd be very welcome.



Setlist
Angels
Heart Skipped A Beat
Fiction
Crystalised
Fantasy
Missing
Reunion
Sunset
Night Time
Swept Away
Shelter
VCR
Islands
Chained
Infinity

Intro
Tides
Stars

8

Friday, 7 December 2012

''Turn On The Bright Lights'' Interpol - 10 Years On



Yes, it's been a whole ten years since we were first introduced to Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, Carlos D and Sam Fogarino on ''Turn On The Bright Lights'' but a decade later, it sounds just as relevant and innovative as it did back then. Let's take a look back at one of Heavy Metal Mouth's all time favourite albums, a landmark of the 00's and arguably the greatest product of indie rock since the turn of the millenium.

Everyone is aware of the fact that the 00's in New York was a time of mass creation and celebration for indie acts with the party being led by The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs with their debut releases ''Is This It?'' and ''Fever To Tell'' respectively, but Interpol were in no mood for festivities when their turn came; in fact, they sounded hopelessly lost, and this atomospheric darkness that consumed ''Turn On The Bright Lights'' was what seperated them from the bands they emerged alongside. The release of Interpol's debut was met with universal praise, introducing a new generation to the sound of post-punk as sculpted by the likes of Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen.

It's all been slowly downhill for Interpol since their debut and it's not hard to see why- the bar had been set impossibly high. Turn On The Bright Lights quickly led to inescapable comparisons with Joy Division following it's use of a minimalist rythym section led by Carlos D's slient but deadly basslines accompanied with the wandering guitar lines of Kessler and Banks, who seemed to thrive playing against each other throughout the record. Banks' monotonous yet somehow strongly emotive vocal delivery only increased the shadow of Ian Curtis that dominated most reviews at the time of it's release, but in reality he's more Lou Reed- effortlessly cool and boldly aware of his own intelligence and sexual appeal.

The fact is that Interpol are a far different band than most would have you believe to Joy Divison or any of their predecessors. To compare the two is futile and insulting to the NY four piece because Turn On The Bright Lights has become a classic in it's own right, one that stands alongside ''Closer'', ''Ocean Rain'' or ''The Queen Is Dead'' and in my opinion even surpasses them.

The beautiful, shoegaze influenced sounds of opener ''Untitled'' and single ''NYC'' are in stark contrast to the explosion of guitar that dominates the album on songs like ''PDA'', ''Say Hello To Angels'' and ''The New'', while it's all finished with ''Leif Erikson'', a soft yet aggressive track that seems to combine the two approaches found throughout TOTBL and executes it's final moments in perfect style.

The beauty of Interpol's work and the reason they've always been so enjoyable live is the apparent simplicty of their work, but the fact is it took real creative and technical genius to acheive something as epic and glorious as ''Turn On The Bright Lights''.

So ten years later, Interpol's debut ranks as Heavy Metal Mouth's pick for album of it's decade and the century so far. And I'll be surprised if I'm not saying that in another ten.


10

Friday, 30 November 2012

Purity Ring at The Button Factory (29/11/12) - A Review



Last night in The Button Factory we were treated to an exceptional live performance from electronic duo Purity Ring.

The Canadian outfit played the ten tracks of their debut album Shrines, released earlier this year to critical acclaim, with particular highlights including ''Fineshrine'', ''Crawlersout'' and ''Lofticries''. The use of a custom built electronic drum machine by Corin Roddick throughout the set was a refreshing change of pace from the usual 'press play' style of DJ's and electro acts these days, while an impressive light show and stylish stage set up added to the atomsphere.

Roddick's beats drove the stage lighting and were backed by Megan James' vocals which sounded even better in a live setting and as the pair ended with album closer ''Shuck'', chants of 'one more tune' went unanswered as the band simply had no more to play. There were no complaints from the crowd though, who had just witnessed a well-rehearsed, accomplished show from a very promising act who are slowly beginning to receive the recognition they deserve for their brand of chillout electronica.

I spoke briefly to Megan James following the gig and asked her about the band's touring schedule. ''Well we're gonna head home for the holidays and after we'll be touring America starting January till March. Maybe then we can think about heading back to the studio.''

When asked about how the show compared to their previous Irish performance at Forbidden Fruit during the summer, James said ''This was definitely better, the crowd were really into it, so we were happy with tonight.''


8

Friday, 23 November 2012

Paranormal Activity 5 Confirmed For October 2013



Paranormal Activity 5 has been confirmed for an October 2013 release date by Paramount Pictures.

The announcement continues the trend that has seen a PA film released every Halloween since 2010, as the franchise continues to take over from the ''Saw'' series, a previous Halloween favourite which ended after its seventh outing.

Curiously, the fifth addition to the franchise will be shot partly in Spanish, possibly hinting that events will take place elsewhere than its usual US setting, although Katie Featherson is set to reprise her role as Katie, who is still possessed by the demon.

The franchise has been a box office sensation, and the original film currently ranks as the most profitable ever, having been made for a measly $15,000 and returning $193 million. PA 3 was the most critically successful of the four, and also the most profitable, generating $205 million worldwide.

While PA 4, released last October, was met with a lukewarm response from critics, it continued the trend of box office success for the series, making a total of $135 million worldwide.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

''(III)'' Crystal Castles - A Review



''I am the plague''. This is what Alice Glass declares as we begin Crystal Castles III, and it's true that there's always been a certain contagious nature to the Toronto duo's brand of electronical experimental music; detestable and depraved to many but undeniably infectious and intense as far as the band's loyal fanbase is concerned.

The style that Ethan Kath and Alice Glass pioneered in 2008 with I led to an eruption of dark, glitch techno partnered with a soft vocal touch and created the likes of Purity Ring, White Ring and You Love Her Coz She's Dead, bands that developed a genre of shock electronic music and took it to further extremes than it's original leaders. Suddenly, Crystal Castles don't sound so shocking. So where do they go from here?

Well, for a start things have calmed down quite a bit. II was certainly a step in a slower, more synth based sound with songs like ''Not In Love'' and ''Celestica'' introducing a gentler element to the band, but III is a full realisation of Crystal Castles soft side. Third single ''Affection'' is the most noticable example of this early on with a near dubstep approach that Alice croons over to excellent results, while ''Violent Youth'' is a very danceable combination of the band's early work and their newfound delicacy that sounds like a potential single.

The already released ''Plague'' and ''Wrath Of God'' are definite highlights that sound great in the context of the album, while ''Kerosene'' and ''Sad Eyes'' keep things moving along with striking pace. In fact, there's not a single lowlight to be had over the 12 tracks Kath provides us with on III, but the most special of all is saved for last. ''Child I Will Hurt You'' is the most misleading title of the band's discography because they have never made a more beautiful sound. It's a song that shares many similarities with I's finisher ''Tell Me What To Swallow'', and not only in it's domestic abuse subject matter. Both execute their respective records in a poignant, affective manner that couldn't be less expected following a record packed with hardcore electronic tunes and showcases the songwriting talent of Alice Glass who perhaps draws from personal experience. In any case, it's a thing of startling beauty that ends III perfectly and brings a close to an album that has quite simply upped the game for Crystal Castles.

Ultimately, III is the beginning of a new era for Ethan Kath and Alice Glass as they leave behind their shock tactics and begin exploring a mature, developed sound. The fact that there is no ''Alice Practice'' or ''Doe Deer'' on III tells me that Crystal Castles don't need to shock anymore- they're better than that. So while the likes of Purity Ring have impressed in recent times, III ensures that Glass and Kath can look down on the bands they helped to create with assured confidence and know they are still pioneering an area of music that began with them 4 years ago. In a year that has seen it's fair share of disappointing releases from big names, Crystal Castles have delivered, and in some style.


9

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

''The Haunted Man'' Bat For Lashes - A Review




From the very beginnings of the 00's, we have witnessed the rise of the female solo artist to dizzying heights, from chart topping performers such as Florence Welch, Lily Allen and Ellie Goulding to the acclaimed sounds of Joanna Newsom, Regina Spektor and Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes. With the rise in popularity of these femme fatales, naturally (and often annoyingly) the tag of ''new Kate Bush'' has been thrown around quite a bit too much for anyone to take it seriously anymore. I'm not going to use it again, but I will say that if there was ever an artist to rival the artistic quality and vision of Bush in the past 12 years, it's been Khan, who continues her fine streak of releases this year with ''The Haunted Man''.

Following the critically acclaimed duo of ''Fur & Gold'' and ''Two Suns'', Bat For Lashes could seemingly do no wrong. A growing fanbase was ensured through lengthy touring and impressive support slots for both Radiohead and Coldplay, while she also found time to collaborate with Beck in between. All of which means that Khan has found her name increase in status, leading to considerable hype for her third studio effort this year. Usually this type of build up is a recipe for disaster or at the very least disappointment, but Khan's latest is a seemingly effortless collection of chilled electronic tunes.

''Lillies'' is a slow burning opener that sets a darkened atomsphere before latest single ''All Your Gold'' kicks the album into life, and Khan continues from here with the upbeat, almost playful sounds of ''Horses Of The Sun'' and ''Oh Yeah'', showcasing the Londoner's penchant for creating seriously danceable electro music, a feature of hers previously explored on signature hit ''Daniel''.

Things are slowed down for ''Laura'', the albums lead single as Khan uses just her piano and voice to create a haunting and poignant ballad, with a piano line and delivery reminiscent of Bush classic ''The Man With The Child In His Eyes''. It's raw, naked emotion at it's finest.

Following ''Laura'', Khan sets about finishing the second half of the album with a dreamy synth pop touch that makes for more excellent dream pop soundscapes in the form of ''A Wall'', ''Rest Your Head'' and closing track ''Deep Sea Diver'' as Khan croons her way to the end of a stunning conclusion.

Ultimately, ''The Haunted Man'' is a confident, sexy, intelligent statement that marks the completion of a superb trilogy of albums that has confirms Bat For Lashes presence among the elite in contemporary indie music. My reluctance to tag Khan as a newer version of past female greats in music is simply because to label her such would not only be disrespectful but also inaccurate due to the original, innovative style of her music.

Natasha Khan is not concerned with being the next Kate Bush, Bjork, or Tori Amos; she'd rather be the only Bat For Lashes.


8

''Banks'' Paul Banks - A Review



The title of Paul Banks second solo release is telling- his desire to be recognised as an individual artist and disassociate himself from Interpol is clear, and made all the more evident by his switch from the Julian Plenti alias to his given name. This was an issue that undermined Bank's debut in 2010 with ''Julian Plenti Is... Skyscraper'', an album that felt more like another addition to the Interpol catalogue than a new direction for the frontman.

So how does ''Banks'' compare to its predecessor? Well in truth it's more of the same, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. ''Banks'' is most definitely a product of its environment and the frontman fails to establish the new identity that he set out to on the record, but it's a solid collection of songs from Banks that serves to enhance his reputation as a solo performer.

It kicks off with lead single ''The Base'', a stomping opener full of purpose and conviction that announces the album in style. From there tracks like ''Arise, Awake'' and second single ''Young Again'' are highlights which showcase Banks' trademark powerful vocals, while ''I'll Sue You'' and ''Paid For That'' are reminders of the strangely danceable tunes that filled Interpol's earlier work, in the vein of ''Say Hello To Angels'' and ''Evil''. ''Banks'' is not without a couple of duds though; the all too familiar ''Over  My Shoulder'' and ''Another Chance'' bring the record down, the latter comprising an awkward sample of movie dialogue from ''Black Out'' which is unsuited to Banks' music and stands out for the wrong reasons on the record.

Overall however, ''Banks'' is a surprising triumph for the Interpol frontman, surpassing the band's recent self-titled fourth effort and ensuring that Banks has bounced back from the criticism levelled at him following Interpol's latest. While it may do little to separate him from his original group, it proves the New Yorker's consistency as a solo artist and gives reason to hope there is a brighter future ahead for the acclaimed post punk outfit. However, if rumours are to be believed and Interpol are planning on a lengthy break, more solo work of this standard from Banks would surely be welcome.

7

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Kendrick Lamar Hits Dublin In January



Promising Compton hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar will perform in Dublin early next year.

Lamar is set for a date in Vicar Street on 14 January 2013 following the recent release of his widely acclaimed debut album ''good kid, m.A.A.d city''. The album was recently reported to be the highest selling debut of any artist in 2012. The storytelling style and lyrical ability showcased on the record have seen Lamar compared to rap legends Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.

Don;t miss the chance to experience an intimate gig with the rising rapper before the world catches up; next time, don't be suprised if he's playing the O2.

Tickets go on sale Thursday and are available here.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Electric Picnic 12 Nominated For ''Overseas Festival Of The Year''


Electric Picnic 2012 has been nominated in the category of Overseas Festival Of The Year at the UK Festival Awards. The annual Stradbally music and arts festival was headlined by The Cure, Sigur Ros and Elbow this year, and also featured excellent performances from Crystal Castles, Grandaddy and Explosions In The Sky. In recent years EP has gained a rising reputation which now see's it ranked among the elite festivals of Europe such as Glastonbury, Benicassim and Tomorrowland.

Speaking of The Cure, they've received a nod for Best Headline Act for their performance at Reading & Leeds, but they'll face stiff competition from fellow nominees The Stone Roses, Metallica and Jay Z. Another interesting category is Anthem Of The Year, which see's Florence And The Machine, Arctic Monkeys and The Vaccines up for their hit festival tunes ''Shake It Out'', ''R U Mine?'' and ''Teenage Icon'' respectively.

The awards are decided by public vote so get onto www.festivalawards.com for more information on how to get involved. We'll be voting for Electric Picnic for reasons that should be made obvious by reading our review of the weekend below.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Star Wars VII: A New Hope?




You'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard the recent announcement that Disney has acquired the rights to Lucasfilm and intends to release a sequel trilogy beginning in 2015 with Star Wars VII. The news has sparked an expected backlash from fans of the sci-fi series who are still plauged by nightmares of Jar Jar Binks and the prequel trilogy as a whole, but here at Heavy Metal Mouth, I'm cautiously optimistic and I'll tell you why.

First of all, Disney's proven track record of producing quality films on a consistent basis is a reason to be hopeful. In the past, takeovers of Pixar and Marvel have proven extremely successful, resulting in the release of ''Toy Story 3'' and ''The Avengers'' in 2010 and 2012 respectivley. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Disney can't do the same again and produce a film perhaps not as brilliant as the original trilogy, but certainly an improvement among the latest releases.

Another reason to be positive is the fact that I-III were so bad means that VII-IX has to improve. Disney aren't stupid; they will know very well that the prequels were a huge disappointment and they'll be doing everything they can to set that straight. In fact, I believe that the trainwreck that was the prequel trilogy will actually serve as a catalyst to jumpstart the series again in 2015 with a higher quality product. Disney will examine in depth the reasons for I-III's failure among fans and address specific issues in order to fix them and gain a new following while also retaining the dedicated die-hard fan base of the originals.

Lastly, the fact that George Lucas is no longer at the helm of the project means there is an oppurtunity for Star Wars to be envisioned through the eyes of another director with a fresh approach. Lucas has single-handedly destroyed the reputation of the series since Return Of The Jedi and most likely this is because of his complete creative control; there was no one to tell him otherwise. Under the direction of a new mind with new ideas, Star Wars could be reinvented and reimagined in ways we didn't think possible.

Which brings me to the main point of this article. Who should direct Star Wars in 2015? I've got some ideas about who would work and why, so here are my top 3 choices for the new man behind the legendary sci-fi classic.

1. Christoper Nolan
Who: 
Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Memento.
Why:
Nolan is the hottest director in the world at the moment following his completion of The Dark Knight trilogy, and it's not hard to see why. His complete reinvention of the Batman franchise was an unexpected masterpiece that received unanimous acclaim from critics and long time fans for it's gritty realism and intense atomsphere. The possibilities would be endless for a Star Wars trilogy with Nolan at the helm.

2. Joss Whedon
Who:
The Avengers, Serenity, X-Men (Screenwriter), Toy Story (Screenwriter), The Cabin In The Woods (Screenwriter)
Why:
Whedon has proven himself a sci-fi visionary from early roles producing classic shows such as ''Buffy The Vampire Slayer'' and ''Firefly'' before moving on to larger projects, most notably ''The Avengers'' last year which was a huge box office success that proved popular with fans and critics alike. Whedon would provide a much needed insight as a fan of the series himself while growing up, even if only in a screenwriter role.

3. Guillermo Del Toro
Who:
Hellboy, Hellboy 2, Pan's Labyrinth, The Hobbit Trilogy (Writer)
Why:
Del Toro is another director with a particular love of the fantasy genre and as such, he could bring an element of magic to the new trilogy with his skilled scriptwriting and stylish direction. A rich backstory and major character developement would be a newfound focus of Star Wars as seen through Del Toro's eyes.


So have some faith; in 2015, Disney could yet provide us with a new hope for Star Wars.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Rate The Albums: Bloc Party

This week on Rate The Albums, we're taking a look at Bloc Party.


                                         


1. Silent Alarm
An astonishingly accomplished debut by a band that sounded as though they'd been playing together for 20 years, Silent Alarm is an explosive guitar classic that showcased the individual talents of each member of the group. Because unlike the majority of major label bands these days and long before, Bloc Party are far from a one man band. Okerere is without doubt a lyrical genius, weaving literary and cultural references into his intelligent songwriting and unique delivery, as heard on ''So Here We Are'' and ''Plans'', two tracks that best define the theme of wasted modern youth that is repeatedly referenced throughout the album. But then there's Russell Lissack, one of the most gifted guitarists in modern music today, who dominates on tracks such as ''Helicopter'', ''Pioneers'' and ''Luno'' with his experimental lead guitar and alternative techniques, while the rythym section of Moakes and Tong compliment each other perfectly, most noticeably on signature hit ''Banquet''.
Utimately, Silent Alarm showed that in an ever increasingly bland indie music scene, there are still bands like Bloc Party with original and special talent.

''I am trying to be heroic in an age of modernity'' was the line Kele chose to open sophomore album A Weekend In The City. Sounds pretty accurate to me.

Best Tracks: Like Eating Glass/This Modern Love/So Here We Are

2. Intimacy
Intimacy received a sharply polarized reaction from fans and critics upon it's release, with criticism mainly focusing on it's rushed release and electronic style. These are the two elements that make it a huge favourite of mine as the newfound electronic approach made for an aggressive, pulsating sound on ''Mercury'', ''Trojan Horse'' and ''One Month Off'' while there were also hints of delicate beauty throughout, heard on ''Biko'', ''Signs'' and the magical ''Ion Square''. The rush release of Intimacy can be heard within the album- it's obsessive compulsive, quickfire nature is central to the record's sound and it was clear to see that the band were fearless in their approach, giving no thought to the consequences of making these bold stylistic changes. Kele's lyrics examined relationships and gave greater insight into the frontman as he wrote on a more personal level than Silent Alarm and Weekend, giving Intimacy a heartfelt and intimate touch that provokes an emotional reaction in the listener.
Some are still unhappy with Bloc Party's third, but for what it's worth I see Intimacy as a daring acheivement that exposed a newfound side to the band that personally I would love to see developed in the future.

Best Tracks: Biko/Signs/Ion Square

3. A Weekend In The City
It was tough to place A Weekend In The City third, but the consistently brilliant nature of the band's first three made it difficult to order and meant it came out on the wrong end of a great series of albums. So obviously I'm still a huge fan of Weekend, mainly because it's an album that did what so many band's have failed to after such a hyped debut- it delivered on the original promise of the first record.
Themes of alienation and growing older dominated Weekend, as heard on bombastic opener ''Song For Clay'', the triumphant climax of ''Waiting For The 7.18'', and the aching, delicate beauty of  ''SRXT'', in which Kele adressess the issue of suicide in adolescents. It's an memorable, affecting closer and one of the band's finest songs. There were also broader issues such as terrorism and drug use in the UK on tracks like ''Hunting For Witches'' and ''The Prayer'' respectivley, while ''I Still Remember'' was an early indication of the relationship themed nature Kele's lyrics would take on the following release as he recalls a crush on a fellow student in school which never amounted to anything more.
The band's second effort was received with unanimous praise and acclaim much like it's predecessor, but while A Weekend In The City is another incredible collection of songs, the most important thing about was that it proved Bloc Party were here to stay, and they were very much capable of delivering more great albums.

Best Tracks: Waiting For The 7.18/I Still Remember/SRXT

4. Four
Four years later, with the four original band members (in spite of rumours suggesting otherwise) came Bloc Party's fourth release, and unfortunatley their fourth best as well. It's not that Four is a bad record, far from it, but it most definitely doesn't hold the impact and lasting effect of the three that came before it. Maybe that would have been a tall order- it was great just to hear a band that years earlier looked doomed to split, and there are absolutely great tracks here such as ''V.A.L.I.S'' and ''The Healing'' which would be worthy of previous albums.
The heavy nature of many tracks however, is Four's greatest downfall and the result of a misguided attempt to revert back to the guitar/bass/drums approach of Silent Alarm. Songs like ''Kettling'' and ''So He Begins To Lie'' are the only real successful outcomes of this style, while ''3x3'' and ''We Are Not Good People'' expose the band at their weakest, reduced to cliched garage rock that simply doesnt suit Bloc Party. Another problem I find with Four is it's lack of direction- previous Bloc Party albums seemed to carry a message with them as a whole, but Four just feels like a random collection of songs.
Ultimately, it's a very good collection of songs for the most part, and while Four is far from the album many would expect from such an accomplished band, it gives me hope there is more left in this exceptional group of musicians.

Best Tracks: V.A.L.I.S/Truth/The Healing


Next Week: Interpol

Monday, 29 October 2012

Slane On For 2013, But Who Will Play?



The annual Slane Castle concert will return in 2013 after it's break in 2012. Following an announcement on Friday, the event organisers have stated that the concert will take place on two dates in Summer, with one in June and one in August.

It will be only the second time the gig has taken place twice in one year following U2's performances in 2001. Other memorable appearances at Slane include R.E.M (1995), Red Hot Chili Peppers (2003) and Oasis (2009).

The headliners will be announced at a press conference tommorrow morning so stay tuned to hear who we'll be seeing this year. Speculation is suggesting The Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Green Day, although we'll be hoping for something more like Radiohead or Blur, another two names being mentioned.

UPDATE: It's Bon Jovi. And ticket's are 79.50. Oh dear.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Rate The Albums: Death Cab For Cutie

This week on Rate The Albums, we're looking at indie giants Death Cab For Cutie.
                          

                          



1. We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes
The lo-fi stylings of sophomore album 'We Have The Facts' could certainly be blamed on the fact that the band were still working with bad equipment, but it's this sound that combined with Ben Gibbard's lyrical musing on his impending adulthood that created a brilliant record dealing with themes of adolescent friendships, loss of youth and (as per usual) complicated relationship situations.
The strength of Death Cab for me has always been the personal relationship I felt with them, coming from the outstanding, always relatable words of Ben Gibbard. So 'We Have The Facts' was always going to be special to me; when I first heard it, it became the soundtrack to my summer and I couldn't bring myself to listen to anything else, mainly due to the fact that I felt nearly all of the ways Gibbard was describing throughout. His disillisionment with change and moving on from simpler times was the first connection I made but it went much further than that; at times it felt as though he was speaking for me through his own words.
Aside from my own thoughts on the records meaning and my personal interpretation, much has been made of Gibbard's lyrical prowess on the album (fan speculation on the concept behind it dominates forums), having developed significantly since debut Something About Airplanes. Backed by Chris Walla's multi instrumentation approach, We Have The Facts is an assured, confident acheivement by a band at the peak of their career, as lack of expectation or responsibilty led to both critical and commercial success, earning Death Cab a well deserved breakthrough.

An album that truly defines a particular time in my life and therefore one that I'll never forget.

Best Tracks: Company Calls Epilogue/No Joy In Mudville/Scientist Studies



2. Transatlanticism
'Transatlanticism' marked a mid way point in Death Cab For Cutie's career as they began to leave the early style of 'Something About Airplanes' and 'We Have The Facts' behind them, in favour of a more pop orientated, accessible sound. 'Transatlanticism' was the intersection of Death Cab's early and late styles and they came together beautifully on this as Ben Gibbard writes a record chronicling the break up of a long term relationship with striking accuracy and a poignant touch that he had developed on 'The Photo Album', and perfected on 'Transatlancism'.
The main difference between 'Transatlanticism' and its predecessor is the records flowing style; while 'Photo Album' felt more like a collection of individual songs strung together for a track list, 'Transatlanticism' tells a story from beginnining to end in what feels like chronological fashion and it works excellently. We're taken into the highs and lows of a significant time in Gibbard's life with a suprising initimacy that few other songwriters I've heard can acheive.
It's pretty obvious from the above that I'm a huge fan of Gibbard's lyrical style, and it's always been the main factor in Death Cab being one of my favourite artists, but even for his standards this is a step up; as I've already said the greatest thing about the band has always been their ability to convey and create emotions in the listener and 'Transatlanticism' is a prime example of Gibbard's ability to cut deep and write truly relatable, affecting songs. The fact that the bands growing pop sensibilities make the backdrop to the words admittedly catchy only works in the albums favour.

A very personal favourite and impossible not to relate to and find comfort in for anyone who's ever had a similiar experience.

Best Tracks: Title And Registration/Transatlanticism/A Lack of Color



3. Something About Airplanes
If you didn't know Death Cab and listened to 'Something About Airplanes', then fast forwarded 6 albums to 'Codes And Keys', you'd think you were hearing a different band. The debut album by the group starkly contrasts with their later work; recent albums seem more than happy to produce a mainstream sound, appealing to the masses, but 'Something About Airplanes' was experimental indie rock at it's finest. The droning, detatched attitude of just about every second on the album made for a unique sound that was fearless in it's unusually apathetic approach. Nowadays Death Cab are just another indie rock band in a world filled with their kind, but back in 1999 'Something About Airplanes' was the beginning of a group who, at the time, sounded absolutely like no other and that's the main reason why it deserves to be recognised as a classic.

Best Tracks: Bend To Squares/Your Bruise/Line of Best Fit

4. The Photo Album
'The Photo Album' saw Gibbard and co. first begin to develop on their earlier sound and introduce a cleaner, guitar driven approach that created one of the band's very best. Earlier I said that 'The Photo Album' felt like a random collection of songs compared to the storytelling nature of 'We Have The Facts' and 'Transatlanticism', but that's not a bad thing whatsoever; the scrapbook nature of the record cosincides perfectly with it's title, blending an assortment of memories and experiences that come together beautifully.
Walla was at his best on tracks like We Laugh Indoors, Why You'd Want To Live Here and I Was A Kaliedoscope, all of which are filled with hooks that beg for repeated listens, while Gibbard paints vivid pictures in the listeners mind over it's ten tracks with the ease of a true poet. This was very much the sound of Death Cab in the middle of their prime.

Best Tracks: Steadier Footing/A Movie Script Ending/Debate Exposes Doubt


5. Plans
In my mind, 'Plans' was the last truly brilliant Death Cab release. An album that marked the end of a band at the height of their powers, and demonstrated for the last time, the genius of Ben Gibbard before it began to wane. Plans is dominated by themes of death and love, a simple concept but one that makes for incredible songwriting as Gibbard ponders the true nature of love and it's existence in the afterlife on affecting ballads like ''What Sarah Said'' and the magical ''Stable Song''. The album's true masterpiece however is 'I Will Follow You Into The Dark', an intimate ode to a lover of remaining faithful in death that never fails to provoke an emotional reaction in the listener. Possibly the band's best song and one of my all time favourites.

Best Tracks: I Will Follow You Into The Dark/What Sarah Said/Stable Song


6. You Can Play These Songs With Chords
Essentially a demo recorded by Gibbard before the formation of the band as we know it today, but 'You Can Play These Songs With Chords' deserves to be recognised among the rest of their releases simply because it contains a number of Death Cab classics. 'Song For Kelly Huckaby', 'Prove My Hypotheses' and 'Army Corp of Architects' stand alongside any of the band's studio recorded work, and are absolute classics within the band's catalogue that merit the inclusion of the early work of Ben Gibbard.

Best Tracks: Prove My Hypotheses/Song For Kelly Huckaby/Army Corp Of Architects

7. Narrow Stairs
I've found myself talking about the band's latest releases more than I'd like, but it all comes back to the fact that when I listen to their lastest two albums it's the sound of a very different band creating very average music. I feel as though I've lost one of my favourite artists to a mediocre substitute attempting to imitate them, but having said so, Narrow Stairs is a far step above the mundane Codes & Keys. Tracks like 'Bixby Canyon Bridge', 'Grapevine Fires' and 'Long Division' are a reminder of Death Cab's power, but even they can't make up for duds like 'Talking Bird', 'You Can Do Better Than Me', and the terribly obvious lyrics of closer 'The Ice Is Getting Thinner', which is incredible to hear from a songwriter as accomplished as Gibbard. An inconsistent record with a number of tracks worthy of listening, but ulitmately a huge disappointment for a loyal Death Cab fan such as myself.

Best Tracks: Bixby Canyon Bridge/Grapevine Fires/Long Division

8. Codes & Keys
As I've said, Narrow Stairs was a step above Codes & Keys for me, which doesn't mean much for my opinion of the band's most recent release. It's difficult to find traces of the group who wrote Something About Airplanes and We Have The Facts in this, and as such, it's an album I didn't take much away from and don't find myself coming back to often. A particular lowlight is 'Stay Young, Go Dancing', a simply cringeworthy song that serves as a damning indictment of a band past their best and happier to succeed in the mainstream media than with their original fanbase.

Best Tracks: Home Is A Fire/Doors Unlocked And Open/Underneath The Sycamore



Next Week: Bloc Party

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Early Oscar Predictions 2013



The Guardian have recently released their predictions for the 2013 Academy Awards and among the films tipped for success are Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained', the film adaption of stage classic 'Les Miserables', 'The Master', 'Life of Pi' and Steven Spielberg's biopic 'Lincoln'. While the majority of these would be nominations have yet to even see public release, their reception at film festivals and advanced screenings has given an idea to critics early on about what to expect.

So let's take a short look at what these contenders are about and when you can see them in theaters.

Django Unchained
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L Jackson.
Release Date: 18 January 2013

This spaghetti Western comes from the mind of visionary director Quentin Tarantino and as such, the hype surrounding it was to be expected. His latest since the success of 2009's Inglorious Basterds, Django will be set in the Deep South and see Jamie Foxx play the title role as a freed slave who must travel across America with German dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Waltz). As well as being tipped for Best Picture, Foxx is seen as a dark horse for Best Actor while Tarantino could also find himself nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.


Les Miserables
Director: Tom Hooper
Starring: Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Helena Botham Carter.
Release Date: 11 January 2013

This ensemble cast will be hotly tipped to land awards and it's no surprise given the weight of acting talent at director Tom Hooper's service. The film adaption of critically acclaimed muscial 'Les Miserables' tells the story of an escaped prisoner who becomes mayor of a French town. Expect Crowe to be in with a shout for Best Actor, while Hathaway and Hathaway is a favourite for Best Actress.

The Master
Director: P.T Anderson
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Pheonix, Amy Adams
Release Date: 2 November 2012

This is the sixth release from director Paul Thomas Anderson, a favourite at Heavy Metal Mouth for his work on epic masterpiece 'Magnolia' as well as porn drama 'Boogie Nights'. He also directed 'There Will Be Blood', a huge success with the Academy, earning 8 nominations in 2009. More will be expected this time as Anderson has already picked up awards at numerous festivals for The Master, which is said to be inspired by Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard. While the film has already been released in the US to critical acclaim, we'll have to wait until early November to see it.

Life of Pi
Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Shuraj Sharma
Release Date: 21 November 2012

Ang Lee is no stranger to the Academy, having taken Best Director in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain, and his adaption of popular children's novel Life of Pi will be tipped for glory. The film boasts an entirely international cast and no names of note, but with Lee acting as the driving machine behind it all, Life of Pi is sure to be a success both critically and at the box office. Lee should find himself picking up nominations for Best Director again, and possibly Best Adapted Screenplay.

Lincoln
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, Joesph Gordon Levitt
Release Date: 16 November 2012

Two time winner for Best Director ('Schindler's List', 'Saving Private Ryan') Spielberg films are an Oscar favourite and Lincoln is expected to be no different as Daniel Day Lewis leads an exciting cast in a biopic charting the life of America' most famous President. An Oscar for Gordon Levitt would be the best possible way to end a year that's seen him dominate the box office with hits such as The Dark Knight Rises and Looper, while Day Lewis will be looking to build on his Best Actor award for 'There Will Be Blood' in 2009.

Other Tips

Aside from the obvious contenders, others such as Ben Affleck's 'Argo', 'Silver Linings Playbook' starring Robert De Niro, and somewhat surprisingly 'Killing Them Softly' are expected to be featured among the nominations when they are announced in January. Stick with Heavy Metal Mouth for reviews and news as we approach Oscar season.

To read the Guardian article and their tips in full, go to http://m.guardiannews.com/film/filmblog/2012/sep/21/oscars-watch-2013-academy-award-nominees?cat=film&type=article

Friday, 19 October 2012

Rate The Albums: Elliott Smith

As part of our new weekly feature at Heavy Metal Mouth, we'll be counting down the discography of our favourite artists from first to last. We started last week with Bright Eyes, which you can find below.

This week, it's Elliott Smith.


                                             



1. Either/Or
Either/Or was the logical next step in Elliott Smith's career following his self titled 1995 release; that was an album consisting of only a voice and guitar for the most part, but when it's Smith's voice coupled with his incredible gift for words to release his ever present depression and self doubt, it makes for great listening. So the incorporation of a full band and extra instrumentation was a forward move that made Either/Or possibly the greatest album in Smith's catalogue and definitley my personal favourite.
The combination of Smith's early lo-fi sound and his increasing ambiton made for an album that demonstrated melodic simplicity and the lyrical complexity Smith was famous for. His vocals never sounded better either; examples including the world weary resignation of Rose Parade, self loathing, aggressive delivery on Cupids Trick and the quiet, tragic optimism of Say Yes (the only song in Smith's catalogue that could be rightly classified as uplifting or positive, but even so it's dripping with self doubt and anxiety).
After this Elliott developed his sound even further; the full band on Either/Or was introduced to a full scale orchestra and multi layered compositions that brought new technically complex heights but left behind the sheer intimacy of what had come before. As good as XO and Figure 8 sounded, they just couldn't match the quiet, touching pain and effortless masterpiece that is Either/Or.

Best Tracks: Ballad of Big Nothing/ Rose Parade/ Say Yes


2. Elliott Smith
As said above, Either/Or took a step forward from Elliott's self titled second album and introduced a backing band to the singer, but while it's my top choice, that's not to say Smith couldn't be just as effective with his voice and acoustic guitar. The self titled is stripped down, basic instrumentation but it's filled with raw emotion and burning intensity, the like of which you'd expect to hear on a hardcore punk album, and Elliott acheives it with no more than his voice and guitar. With the exception of his final recordings, it's as dark as he could ever get too; Needle In The Hay sets the anxious tone early on and it follows up with haunting ballads such as Alphabet Town and St. Ides Heaven. The best is saved for last though- The Biggest Lie is an affecting tale of a failed relationship, and one of the late songwriters finest moments.

Best Tracks: Needle In The Hay/Alphabet Town/The Biggest Lie

3. From A Basement On The Hill
I can see how this would be a controversial choice for Smith fans; the fact that Basement was incomplete at the time of Elliott's death meant that the track selection was left to others judgement, and the huge catalogue of recorded material left behind by Smith made it impossible to choose a final product for fans to be happy with. I don't blame them; Ostriches and Chirping was neither written or recorded by Smith (It was actually a sound loop created in studio by the record producer) yet it accidently made the album ahead of a number of incredible B-Sides like Abused, Some Song or Placeholder.
But the fact is Elliott was gone and we were never going to get the double album he'd originally intended; it needs to be accepted for what it is and when listened to with an open mind, Basement is an extraordinary collection of songs that expose the fragile mindset of a troubled genius in his final days. Similiar to In Utero in this aspect, Basement is unrivaled for its brutal honesty, intense emotive delivery and the aching sadness buried deep within every track. Lyrically, Smith is at his peak; King's Crossing burns images into the back of your mind to convey Smith's depression and failure to overcome his drug addiction, while A Fond Farewell addresses the end of close friendship that Smith acknowledges was his own fault. Later in the album, The Last Hour, a song written originally in the early 90's during the Heatmiser days, sounds as though it could have recorded minutes before his death as a deflated Elliott whispers ''I'm through trying now/ It's a big relief/ I'll be staying down/ Where no one else is gonna give me grief/ Mess me around/ Make it over....''.
It's difficult to listen to the desperate nature of such a remarkable talent- Smith sounds even darker than in his early solo work, but From A Basement On The Hill deserves to be remembered as his final gift to his fans before an untimely death that took an incredible mind from the music world.


Best Tracks: A Fond Farewell/ Kings Crossing/ Shooting Star



4. Figure 8
The second album following Elliott's major label transition and the last recorded and released before his death. Much was made at the time of how Beatlesque the whole thing sounded- granted, songs like In The Lost And Found could have been taken straight from McCartney's discography (and Elliott actually used an old piano of the legendary songwriter in it's recording), but mostly, Figure 8 is an inescapably Elliott Smith affair- that is to say it's aggressive, incredibly passionate and morbidly bleak. Elliott never sounded more angry; songs like Somebody I Used To Know and Everything Means Nothing To Me were bitter tales of betrayal and hopeless sadness that ached through the speakers for Figure 8's 15 track length, and unfortunatley it seemed to suggest that things were only getting worse for the soon to be gone singer.

Best Tracks: Wouldn't Mama Be Proud/Happiness/I Better Be Quiet Now


5. XO
XO introduced a new side to Smith as he took on a grand scale production process for his fourth album and major label debut. The result was successful, with XO's epic style showcasing a more ambitous, developed sound to Elliott and beginning a process that he would continue on Figure 8 on the posthumous From A Basement. Highlights include the heartbreaking nostalgia of Waltz #2, dreampop of Independence Day and the finale of the record, which is executed through the one two punch of the aggressive Everybodys Cares, Everybody Understands and quiet defeat of I Didn't Understand.

Best Tracks: Waltz #2 (XO)/Independence Day/Waltz #1


6. Roman Candle
Roman Candle was the solo debut of the late songwriter and introduced the dark, brutal honesty of Elliott's world with songs like the burning, rage filled title track and the bitter, resigned Last Call. It was early days and Roman Candle was the closest Elliott solo album to his work with Heatmiser, so in truth the debut can't hold up against later solo efforts, but it's still the sound of a remarkable talent, who would soon be developed on the self titled second album.

Best Tracks: Roman Candle/Drive All Over Town/Last Call


Next Week: Death Cab For Cutie


xx Announce Dublin December Shows



The xx are set to play two shows at the end of the year in Dublin following an announcement yesterday. The gigs will take place in the Olympia Theatre on 7th and 8th December and tickets (which are a steal at just 29.50) go on sale Monday. The London trio are touring following the release of their second album Coexist.

When we reviewed the band at Electric Picnic 2012 it was said that the show was a disappointment due to the lack of intimacy and connection with the crowd in an outdoor, large scale setup so the choice of venue here seems to be an excellent way to remedy their underwhelming headline act at EP. I'll definitely be there anyway.

You can find tickets at http://www.ticketmaster.ie/event/18004952E8485301?artistid=1355628&majorcatid=10001&minorcatid=1

Or for more information on their touring schedule, go to http://thexx.info/tourdates/

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Top 15 Breaking Bad Episodes



Recently, I've come to the realisation that Heavy Metal Mouth hasn't yet featured any TV articles so expect to be reading about the likes of The Sopranos, The Wire and Lost starting now as we list off our favourite episodes and characters on the silver screen.

To kick it all off theres no better place to start than with Walter White, Jesse Pinkman and AMC's astounding drama Breaking Bad, which recently concluded at the half way point of it's fifth and final season. We'll have to wait another year for it's return, but until then let's remember the reasons we love it so much in the first place. Here are Heavy Metal Mouth's Top 15 Breaking Bad Episodes.

WARNING: For anyone who hasn't seen the show in full (that is to Season 5, Episode 8 at this point) do not continue. This article contains massive spoilers.



15. Breaking Bad (S1, E1)
The debut episode of the show opened with a memorable sequence involving Walter speeding down the motorway in an RV loaded with chemicals as he is pursued by sirens and records a tearful message to his family. It's a remarkable opening and from there we are introduced to the mundane life Walter lives with his beloved and heavily pregnant wife Skyler, and teenage son Walt Jr. who suffers from cerebal palsy. Walt's terminal diagnosis leads him to embark on a dangerous scheme involving troubled former pupil Jesse Pinkman and so Walt begins his new double life as crystal meth manufacturer, albeit comically unsuccessfully at first.

The pilot is an excellent demonstration of the mix of black comedy with drama and serves as a terrific starting point which the show quickly developed on.

14. Dead Freight (S5, E5)
The first of many highlights from the incredible fifth season, this episode sees Walt, Jesse and Mike carry out a train heist for chemicals that goes to plan until a passing boy witnesses the robbery and is duly executed by new recruit Todd. Other highlights of the episode include Walter installing a bug in Hank's office as he deviously cries to his brother in law to create a diversion. An action packed finale with a shocking conclusion.


13. 4 Days Out (S4, E9)
The first of several so called 'bottle' episodes in the show, and in my opinion, the best. Walt's deteriorating condition and lack of substantial money to leave behind leads him to bring Jesse deep into the desert for a marathon cook, only for the RV to die on the pair, leaving them stranded. An episode that developed the relationship between the pair and the first real indication of a father/son bond that would later become clearer.


12. Peekaboo (S2, E6)
An episode which significantly developed the character of Jesse as he is faced with the task of reclaiming stolen drug money from two meth addicts following their ambush of Skinny Pete. Jesse comes to realise he's not the tough enforcer he is expected to be, and forms a strange bond with the junkie couples child. The first time we see a truly empathetic side to Jesse and a real breakthrough for Aaron Paul as an actor in the series.


11. Hermanos (S4, E8)
Simply a showcase for the acting powerhouse that is Giancarlo Eposito as we are given further insight into the past of fast food empire and drug kingpin Gus Fring through a series of flashbacks involving his dealings with the cartel. Mark Margolis is excellent as the despicible Tio but it's Eposito who steals the show, and it is a true testament to his ability that he could generate sympathy from an audience who already knew his evil nature all too well.

10. Live Free Or Die (S5, E1)
The remarkable opening flash forward scene of season 5's inaugral episode is enough to ensure Live Free Or Die's position among the great episodes of the series, but this episode is notable for it's complex examination of Walt's character as he begins to transform into the monster he destroyed in the season 4 finale, Gus Fring. Walt's hunger for power and status has outgrown his love of family and he is no longer in need of money. He is simply a different man than the bumbling, desperate but kind-hearted teacher we met in the pilot episode and Live Free Or Die is confirmation of Walt's dominant alter ego. Anna Gunn is superb as Skyler, who is horrified at her realisation of Walt's change.


9. Box Cutter (S4, E1)
The season 4 opener is once again dominated by one man's performance; Giancarlo Eposito is mesmerizing as Gus makes a menacing statement to both Walt and Jesse following the murder of Gale. His execution of Victor before their eyes is brutal, and Eposito's cold, silent demeanour is chilling and makes for one of the most intense scenes in the show's history.

8. End Times (S4, E12)
The final three episodes of season 4 are television at it's finest and End Times acts as the mid section to the trio, providing 47 minutes packed with action as Walt and Jesse team up to kill Gus. Aaron Paul submitted this on his behalf for Best Supporting Actor at the Emmy's, recently winning the award, and watching this makes for compelling evidence in his favour.

7. Phoenix (S2, E12)
A significant moment for Walter as he begins his moral descent by witnessing Jane choking to death on her own vomit. This terrible act also proved his love for Jesse however, as he refuses to allow his partner to remain an addict, even if it means the death of his beloved girlfriend.

6. Crawl Space (S4, E11)
An episode containing probably the most memorable scene of the entire series and the finest acting moment of Bryan Cranston's career as Walt is dragged out to the desert and informed by Gus that his family will be murdered if Walt continues to attempt to interfere with Jesse. Walt's reaction upon racing home to discover that his life savings are gone is shocking and disturbing; his manical laughter echoes through the house and there is a sense of chaos that would make anyone viewing on edge. The fact that Vince Gilligan and Cranston can transmit this type of uneasiness on the viewer is testament to the strength of the show and makes Crawl Space a Breaking Bad classic.

5. Gliding Over All (S5, E8)
The latest episode of the series, Gliding Over All marks the mid way point of season 5 and leaves us craving more as it bows out for the next year in style. Walt's organized execution of the 9 prison inmates on Mike's payroll demonstrates just how far Walt is gone and completes the transition of his character from sympathetic family man to sadistic villian, in a stunning montage that recalls 'The Godfather'. The conclusion of Gliding Over All is it's best moment however, as Hank literally makes a pants shitting discovery in the bathroom and finally uncovers Walt's secret identity.

4. One Minute (S3, E7)
An episode dominated by Dean Norris as Hank undergoes investiagtion at work and faces the possibility of losing his beloved job after an assault on Jesse. Norris' potrayal of Hank is at it's best here, establishing him as a character of primary importance, nearly on par with Walt and Jesse. The shootout of the final scene is a stunning conclusion to the episode, and left the audience stunned as it truly seemed like anything could happen; it felt like Hank's life was really on the line and for it's sheer realism and breathtaking drama, One Minute is a firm favourite.

3. Say My Name (S5, E7)
From the cold open of Say My Name, it was obvious this was going to be a special episode. Walt is stone cold cool in his delivery of that line (''You're goddamn right'') and it's by far the most badass sentence ever uttered by Cranston in the show's history, as Walt ensures a deal goes down his way out in the middle of the desert with fellow crooks who are now well aware of the reputation he holds as Heisenberg. Later on, Walt's execution of Mike is both unexpected and saddening as one of the show's greatest characters passes on and falls victim to a man now desperate for power and status over any amount of money. The final shot of Mike and Walt by the river in the sunshine is as stylish as TV direction gets.

2. Face Off (S4, E13)
The conclusion of the fourth season see's Walt and Jesse finally rid themselves of Gus Fring through a carefully executed plan involving Hector Salamanca, who also gets his revenge on the fast food entrepeneur. Mark Margolis is exceptional in his final appearance as he has been throughout the show, but it's Giancarlo Eposito who will be missed most; his chilling potrayal of Fring will surely go down in television history.
As Walt and Jesse shake hands and make up, the final reveal of Face Off tells us the shocking truth about Brock's poisoning as we are shown the very plant that caused his near death experience in Walter's backyard. An incredible set up for the final season as Walt ensures he is now the main man in ABQ, and is willing to do anything necessary to make sure of it.


1. Half Measures/ Full Measure (S3, E11/12)
Maybe you'll think it's cheating to have both of these at 1, but Top 16 Breaking Bad doesn't quite have the same ring to it and to me, both of these episodes are inseparable both in terms of quality and storyline, as the third season is brought to a close in dramatic fashion. Jesse's determination to murder two mid level drug dealers for their execution of his friend Combo as well as young Tomas spells trouble for both him and Walt as Gus threatens death upon Jesse if he does not step off.
There are so many exceptional scenes over these two episodes but I'll go with my favourite three as examples of why they are the finest Breaking Bad episodes ever- Mike's discussion with Walt about half measures and full measure is haunting and gives great insight into Mike's character through it's excellent dialogue.
The final scene of both Half Measures and Full Measure ensure I had to pick it as my number 1 however, as Jesse and Walt both prove their extreme loyalty to each other and seal an unbreakable bond by saving one another from the wrath of Gus in a desperate manner. Walt's last minute intervention and murder of the two dealers before they could kill Jesse is perfectly executed after an unbearable amount of tension is built by Jesse's doomed approach to them. Later in Full Measure, as Walt is captured and set to be killed by Mike, he screams down the phone at Jesse to murder Gale before anything can happen to him. As Gale unknowingly opens his door to find Jesse staring at him with a gun in his hand, the ensuing close up of Aaron Paul's distressed and unhinged face is an unforgettable shot and makes for a cliffhanger ending to season 3 that will stay in my mind for a long time.


So that's it, my personal countdown of Breaking Bad's Top 15 and whether you liked it or not, I'm sure we can all agree that it's been an incredible 5 seasons so far. Now we wait until next July.


Monday, 15 October 2012

xx Release 'Chained' Official Video

The xx have released an official video for 'Chained', the second single taken from sophomore album Coexist. You can check out the video here:


'Chained' seems a good choice for the follow up to lead single 'Angels', and was among the best songs on an underwhelming yet solid second effort from the London trio, who are currently on tour in North America. You can read our review of Coexist below.

Nicholas Winding Refn Talks ''Drive 2''


Nicholas Winding Refn, director of last year's 'Drive', has dismissed reports of a straightforward sequel to the cult hit, but expressed an interest in using Ryan Gosling's driver character again in another film.

The character, known simply as The Driver, made a lasting impression which helped propel Gosling to superstardom last year following his appearances in a string of box office successes.

When asked of a possible sequel, Winding Refn stated: ''That is never going to happen. But the character of The Driver might return in another film. We're playing with that idea. We'll see what happens.''

Previously, talk of a sequel had been positive, with Winding Refn saying he intended to make a sequel involving two drivers, one playing a villian counterpart to Gosling's character. Gosling himself has gone as far as to say he would ''love to make Drive 2''. There has also been a sequel published to the original James Sallis book entitled 'Driven' which came out in April this year.

We'll be hoping at Heavy Metal Mouth that the pair can collaborate again soon, for reasons which should be made all too obvious by reading our review of the film below.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Rate The Albums: Bright Eyes


As part of a brand new weekly feature here at Heavy Metal Mouth, we'll be taking our favourite artists and ranking their albums from first to last. So get involved, let us know your opinion, and any artists you want rated in the coming weeks.

This week, we're starting with Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes.

                                      

1. I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
I'm Wide Awake was the first album I heard by Bright Eyes. It came to my attention after reading several best of lists at the end of 2005, and deciding I had to check it out. From the moment that guitar kicked in after Oberst's opening monologue, I was hooked. It felt like something I'd been waiting to hear my whole life had arrived- the raw passion of Oberst's vocal mixed with his lyrical genius was astounding, and from that moment on I began a relationship with Bright Eyes that has lasted to this day, and will continue long into my adult life.

When I later gained context for the album, it was clear to see that this was the moment Conor Oberst truly left behind the angsty teenage fuel that drove his early work, and developed his songwriting to perfection. The matured sounds of Bright Eyes saw Oberst begin the social commentary and world outlook that would dominate later releases, and it was a magnificant change. I'm Wide Awake is no doubt a watershed moment of Oberst's career, he left behind the boy and became a man, right in front of our eyes, and for that, it is a special album that should be recognised as the finest moment for the defining voice of the 21st century.

An acoustic masterpiece that perfectly captures a scene in the listeners mind (New York City in summer against the backdrop of the impending War on Terror) and personally, an album that will always stay close to my heart.

Best Tracks: Lua/Landlocked Blues/Poison Oak

2. Lifted, Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground
Lifted began the process that eventually saw it's climax in I'm Wide Awake, as Oberst began to take a different look at the world and leave behind his dramatic teenage persona. There were still traces of it though, but that's what makes Lifted so great; it was the perfect mix of both Oberst personalities rolled into one- the lovelorn youth exposed himself in ''You Will?'', ''Lover I Don't Have To Love'' and ''Bowl of Oranges'', while taking a decidely more Dylanesque outlook in ''The Big Picture'' and epic ten minute closer ''Let's Not Shit Ourselves'.

Best Tracks: You Will?/Bowl of Oranges/Let's Not Shit Ourselves

3. Fevers & Mirrors
You might think from my first two choices that I was anti teenage Conor. Far from it; Fevers & Mirrors was the soundtrack to my teenage years and a 16 year old me would have it firmly at number 1. I've grown since then maybe, but it doesn't change how important the words of Fevers were to me then and still are now. This is as dark as Bright Eyes gets, songs like ''A Spindle'' and ''Sunrise, Sunset'' being particular examples, but it wasn't without Conor's trademark humour as an Oberst parody following ''An Attempt To Tip The Scales'' poked fun at the pretentious personality of the young songwriter, showing he could take a joke sometimes aswell. And after all the anger and angst, ''A Song To Pass The Time'' brings Fevers to a close in a gloriously uplifting manner.

Best Tracks: A Spindle, A Darkness, A Fever And A Necklace/When The Curious Girl Realizes She Is Under Glass/A Song To Pass The Time

4. Digital Ash In A Digital Urn
The electronic counterpart to I'm Wide Awake didn't receive nearly the same plaudits from critics as it's acoustic twin, some even going as far as to pan Oberst's attempts at the genre, and I'll admit it took me a long time to grow fond of Digital Ash, but when I did, I realised what an electronic beauty it was. There were hints of Oberst's electronica love early on in songs like ''Touch'' and Digital Ash fully delivered on it's experimentation, creating a new side to Bright Eyes that we'd see later on The People's Key while also retaining it's human touch and affecting nature as songs like ''Take It Easy'', ''I Believe In Symmetry'' and ''Devil In The Details'' addressed the personal issues that were largely overlooked on I'm Wide Awake.

Best Tracks: Arc Of Time(Time Code)/Take It Easy (Love Nothing)/I Believe In Symmetry

5. The People's Key
Bright Eyes latest release was promoted as being their last as Oberst stated he wished to ''lock the door and say goodbye'', but if anything The People's Key sounded like a new beginning for a band still full of life and very much in it's prime. Oberst's songwriting is at it's very best on the record, and opener ''Firewall'' announces the album in much the same style as ''The Big Picture'' on Lifted, but it's heavier and with more purpose. ''Shell Games'' addressess Oberst's relationship with the media and is both insanely catchy and full of meaning, while ''Ladder Song'' recalls older Bright Eyes as Conor gets personal for a moment, allowing a glimpse into the darker side of the frontman, but for the most part, The People's Key sounds like a happy, content and settled Oberst. So while ghosts of the past may have been resolved for Bright Eyes, their muscial prowess and ability is far from it, and I for one will be truly heartbroken if The People's Key is the end of Conor Oberst as Bright Eyes.

Best Tracks: Shell Games/A Machine Spiritual (In The People's Key)/Ladder Song

6. Cassadaga
It feels wrong to have Cassadaga at 6 on this list, because it's an album that I absolutley love, which is something I know many Bright Eyes fan are deeply divided on. The sound of Conor having matured and moved on to social analysis and bigger questions was horrifying to many who grew up listening to the hopelessly depressed tone of his original work, but the times were changing and Conor Oberst was now a very different person than the one we met on A Collection of Songs. Personally, the new direction of the band was exciting and refreshing to me, and also made for some excellent music; ''Four Winds'', ''Cleanse Song'' and ''No One Would Riot For Less'' being particular highlights. But the best was saved for last- ''Lime Tree'' see's Oberst at his deepest, and most affecting, proving he could still tug at heart strings when he felt like it.

Best Tracks: Four Winds/No One Would Riot For Less/Lime Tree

7. Letting Off The Happiness
In many ways, Letting Off The Happiness was the mid point of Conor's teenage years, caught in between the bratty ranting of A Collection and the more focused, yet still angry Fevers & Mirrors. There were traces of brilliance that would soon be developed (''June On The West Coast'' would be the main contender for this) but mostly, Letting Off The Happiness was the sound of a young man who was yet to realize his full potential. That's ok though, he was 18 years old, and considering that, this was very much an exceptional record, and showcased the rapidly developing Oberst, who had come a long way in just two years from his Bright Eyes debut.

Best Tracks: Contrast And Compare/Touch/June On The West Coast

8. A Collection of Songs Written And Recorded 1995-1997
Even at 16, it was obvious he was special. Make no mistake, there are some duds here, but what could you have expected from what was essentially a child? A Collection of Songs, at the very least, showed Conor was an exceptional talent and with tracks like ''Falling Out Of Love At This Volume'', it was plain to see there was a songwriting genius inside this 16 year old Nebraska boy.

Best Tracks: The Invisible Gardener/Saturday As Usual/Falling Out Of Love At This Volume


So that's what we think, but what about you? Comment and rate Bright Eyes yourself.


Next Week: Elliott Smith