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.

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

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

Or for more information on their touring schedule, go to

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

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Track Listing Released For Crystal Castles III

Here at Heavy Metal Mouth, I for one am incredibly excited about the upcoming release of Crystal Castles III, the third album from the Canadian electronic duo. As previously reported, the album is set to be released on 5th November.

Yesterday track listing was unveiled for the album:

1. Plague
2. Kerosene
3. Wrath of God
4. Affection
5. Pale Flesh
6. Sad Eyes
7. Insulin
8. Transgender
9. Violent Youth
10. Telepath
11. Mercenery
12. Child, I Will Hurt You

''Plague'' and ''Wrath of God'' have already been released and are available to listen to below this post.

Here's to hoping that III lives up to the hype.

Stick with Heavy Metal Mouth for a review next month.

Looper - A Review

Looper is the third release from director Rian Johnson, known to audiences previously as the man behind Brick (in which he first collaborated with Joseph Gordon Levitt) and The Brothers Bloom. Both of Johnson's previous films had warm receptions, but Looper comes on the back of particular hype in the film world, the reasons for this likely being the general acclaim Looper has recieved following advance screenings, Levitt's recently increased status following The Dark Knight Rises and also the fact that Summer 2012 noticably failed to produce a standout Science Fiction thriller- or at least one that audiences could agree on, with movies like Prometheus receiving mixed reviews and Totall Recall falling flat on it's face. So the timing of Looper seems excellent, but does it live up to the anticipation?

Well, fortunately the hype is very much to believed as Looper is without a doubt the best sci-fi film of the year and a real treat for fans of the genre. The story follows Gordon Levitt as Joe Simmons, an assassin or 'looper' who is paid by criminal organisations from the future to murder and dispose of bodies. This is all made possible by the invention of time travel in 2074, and so victims are sent thirty years into the past where they are taken out by loopers such as Joe.
When Joe is confronted by his future self (Bruce Willis), he fails to prevent him from escaping. Old Joe is hellbent on destroying the loop and keeping himself in the present, and attempts to warn Young Joe of a destructive leader in 2074 who rules the city, but Young Joe is only concerned with killing his future self, as failure to do so will result in death by his current employers who are hunting Joe as he chases his older form.

While this may sound like a lot to take in, the film is relativley straight-forward and will not pose any problems for audiences who are in fear of getting lost in the plot. In fact, Johnson chooses to focus more on emotional depth and character development over a complicated plot structure, in contrast to recent sci-fi classics, and Looper benefits hugely from this. Old Joe has cleaned up his act and is desperate to explain to Young Joe that he is deeply in love with his future wife, and while at first Young Joe refuses to comprehend this idea, hi mind is soon changed following his encounter with lonely wife Sara (Emily Blut) and her troubled, yet strangely gifted  son Cid (Pierce Gagnon), as he hides out at their barn while attempting to escape the mob.

The romantic angle of the story is unusual for this type of film, and yet it works perfectly, tying in well with the pace of the 118 minute running time, and it never feels as though it is interrupting the overall plot. There are also some fun comedic moments which help to lighten the tone, but make no mistake, this is an action film and there are plenty of explosive scenes to take from this that ensure it stands up to comparisons to films such as The Matrix and Inception.
Another huge strength that Looper boasts is in it's excellent casting, and while the leading duo of Gordon Levitt and Willis are their reliable selves, the standout performance of the film is Pierce Gagnon as a young, confused child, who possesses powers he does not understand and cannot control. Gagnon effortlessly steals every scene he is in with an exceptionally creepy performance that will be remembered for years to come.

In conclusion, Looper delivers on it's promise with it's intelligent, thought-provoking script and stylish direction. The comparisons have been justified; Looper is a stone cold sci-fi classic and demands to be seen. A serious contender for film of the year.


Saturday, 6 October 2012

''Four'' Bloc Party - A Review

Just a couple of years ago, it seemed as though Bloc Party's future was in serious doubt. A polarized, mostly negative reception to third album ''Intimacy'' (which I'm obliged to say I thought was an electronic beauty- a daring acheivement that ranks ahead of it's predeccessor ''A Weekend In The City'') led to the band taking a break as Kele Okerere decided to pursue a solo project and further his electro ambitions while rumour spread that the rest of the band were auditioning lead singers to replace their frontman. Here they are though, four years later with their fourth record and united as the four original members of the band that created Silent Alarm in 2005; hence ''Four'', I suppose.

Speaking of Silent Alarm, it's very much back to basics for Kele and co. as they return to a traditional setup- its 2 guitars, bass and drums, make no mistake. Bassist Gordon Moakes remarked around the time of ''Intimacy'' that the band disregarded ''whether a song could be recreated live in concert in the same way as it would appear on the record'' and in some ways, ''Four'' seems like a direct response to that; these songs are made for a live setting, there's no room for the synths that dominated ''Weekend'' and the drum machine sound of ''Intimacy''. As the band return to their rock roots, they've also developed a taste for a heavier, grunge like sound, which can be traced back to Queens of the Stone Age and even Nirvana, of whom Okerere admits he listened to frequently during the recording process.

It works for the most part (sometimes not so much, which I'll get into later)- ''Kettling'' is the best example, a stomping guitar track with a singalong vocal line that will sound great live. Other highlights of are ''So He Begins To Lie'', an opener which demonstrates Russell Lissack's unquestionable ability on lead guitar and announces the arrival of the band in style, while ''Coliseum'' begins with a hint of ''Grounds for Divorce'' before paying off with a typical Bloc Party riff.

The best moments however, are when the band gets quieter, and focuses on intimacy over impact. ''V.A.L.I.S'' is a soaring ballad that recalls older tracks like ''Plans'', while ''Real Talk'' slows things down to showcase Kele's vocal, but the best song of the album is undoubtedly ''The Healing'', a masterful beauty that recalls ''In Rainbows'' era Radiohead, specifically tracks like ''Nude'' and ''House of Cards''.

It would have been a fitting closer, and a far better note to end on than ''We Are Not Good People'', which I can safely say is the worst Bloc Party song I have heard to date. A hardcore punk riff that simply does not suit the band combined with clumsy lyrics makes for an awful finisher and an underwhelming end to ''Four''. Another criticism of the record would be it's lack of direction; previous Bloc Party albums have all carried a certain message within them as a whole- ''Silent Alarm'' addressed modern British youth, ''Weekend'' took on terrorism and drug use, while ''Intimacy'' examined relationships. ''Four'' feels more like a random collection of songs- a very good collection perhaps, but one without a consistent meaning throughout.

In conclusion, however, it's great just to hear them again; a band that seemed near it's end only a short time ago now feels more united than ever, and more than anything, ''Four'' makes me excited for Bloc Party's future. So while ''Four'' may not be the album Bloc Party fans will have been hoping for, it makes me believe there is potential for another ''Silent Alarm'' in this exceptional quartet, and that's enough for now. Following the conclusion of ''Real Talk'', Kele can be heard joking ''Oh I was just talking about my feelings'', but I'm inclined to suggest that the evidence (''This Modern Love'', ''I Still Remember'', ''Ion Square'') points towards this being the very thing that makes for Bloc Party's greatest strength; their ability to connect with their audience and make moving, affecting music. So my message for next time is simple; less heavy, more heart.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Bloc Party Announce Irish Tour Date

Bloc Party have announced a long awaited concert for Irish fans on their 'Four' tour. The gig will take place on February 12th in the Olympia Theatre and tickets go on sale Friday morning at 9.00am.

You can get tickets for the show here:

For more information on Bloc Party's touring schedule go here:

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

''The 2nd Law'' Muse - A Review

From the very beginnings of their career, Muse were plauged with comparisons to Radiohead, to the point where British record companies were reluctant to sign the trio in spite of their early promise, meaning the band had to go to America in order to get a record deal. It was always a strange accusation, and an unjust one; with the exception of Matthew Bellamy's falsetto laden vocals, their brand of progressive space rock never bore any resemblence to their British peers. In fact, Muse have always taken far more influence from Queen, largely due to the band's fetish for extravagent, ambitous arrangements and their prominent use of exaggerated guitar solo's.

This is a comparison that Bellamy obviously takes great pride in, and since 2005's ''Black Holes and Revelations'' the band have taken several steps towards imitating Freddie Mercury and co., upping the grandoise themes of their work, indtroducing orchestral arrangments and embracing the admittedly cheesy nature of their work. The result of this was the largely overblown and inconsistent ''The Resistance'' in 2009, so change was to be expected, and while ''The 2nd Law'' see's the band continue in this style, there are also some interesting new additions to their sound.

The album kicks off with 'Supremacy', a typically epic opener which makes for a promising start as Bellamy screeches his trademark vocals over a shredded guitar. It all seems to be pretty standard Muse, but from here things get very stange. Lead single 'Madness' is a curious number; a song that would not sound out of place on a Scissor Sisters record, but it sounds as though Muse are comfortable with it, and while perhaps a unusual choice for lead single, 'Madness' works. While you may find Scissor Sisters to be a wild comparison, the funky disco sound of 'Panic Station' is even weirder, and inexplicably similiar to the 'Wham Rap!', which I can't believe is a coincidence. Yes, I just compared Muse to Wham.

From Wham to more familiar territory, 'Survival' recalls a more traditional Muse number that would fit into Origin of Symmetry and as such, is probably the strongest song on the album, while 'Explorers' is a track in the vein of 'Invicible', but while 'Invincible' came off as nothing more than a sappy love poem, 'Explorers' is a more intelligent and less obvious ode which fits nicely into the track listing.

For all of the fuss made about dubstep influences on The 2nd Law, we don't actually hear any of the sort until 'Follow Me', led originally by Bellamy's lone vocal before exploding into a dub feast that, much to my suprise, sounds great and works as an excellent payoff to a song that sounded as if it was going nowhere fast. Dubstep crops up again on Unsustainable, the first of two tracks paired together under the title of ''The 2nd Law'', but while Unsustainable is a ferocious, glorious beast, second part 'Isolated System' is a disappointment, leading to nothing and sitting awkwardly alongside it's far superior counterpart. It's an underwhelming end to the album, and it's not the only mediocre aspect of ''The 2nd Law''; there are average tracks in the form of 'Animals', and while Chris Wolstenhome should be comended for his songwriting efforts this time around, 'Save Me' is another dud on a decidedly weaker second half of the album.

Overall, however, ''The 2nd Law'' is a suprisingly enjoyable affair- at times it sounds as though the band are playing a parody of themselves with their up front, over-the-top cheese rock, yet it also seems they are fully aware of it, and while further establishing Muse's penchant for glamourous opera rock, it also executes it's dubstep style with conviction and purpose. The band's die hard fan base are sure to be pleased, and for the casual listener, ''The 2nd Law'' is a worthy listen that introduces a new side to Muse, and ensures many incredible live performances in the future, which after all, is their greatest strength and the main reason we keep tuning in.