May 30, 2011

2011: the pillows - Horn Again

Known for their extensive soundtracking of the Japanese mini-anime series Fooly Cooly, their distinct mix of Weezer, Oasis and Stray Cats rockabilly has made them relatively popular in the western part of the world, and deservedly so. Almost no other Japanese band has such an extensive discography.

Horn Again, their seventeenth album, basically continues where OOParts left off, with plenty of energetic and fun songs and an all-round solidness that one might say bests their previous studio albums.
Their sound is a little less daring this time around though; for example there's no mind-blowing distortion like on the opener of OOParts, which is slightly disappointing. The band also doesn't explore the different aspects of pop music as much here as on the aforementioned album. Production-wise, Horn Again is also way more polished, which is fine, but leaves a craving for their previous rawness.

Instead there are plenty of solid songs fitted with inspired guitar solos and enough new sounds to satisfy old and new fans of the band. And though this may be a (small) step down from OOParts it is no doubt one step further in the right direction.

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May 13, 2011

2010: Shining - Blackjazz

It isn't every day the Norwegian music scene, or the international music scene for that matter, is graced by the likes of Shining's Blackjazz; an uncompromising, unconventional foray into the (black) metal genre:
A sound built up of grinding guitars, ferociously distorted vocals, menacing synthesizers and a set of bombarding drums. All leaving little breathing room for the listener - who as a result is constantly assaulted with an ear-shattering and heart-stopping record.

As off-putting as that might sound there are more than enough hooks to reel the listener in, and just enough experimentation to warrant a solid lasting value.
Perhaps the key aspect of Blackjazz' success is the tightly wound production, which is every bit as cutting edge and polished as the cover suggests.

Blackjazz may just as well lay the seeds of yet another subgenre of metal; elements of jazz, industrial and black metal are seamlessly put together in an utterly satisfying combination that is one of the best metal albums released in a long time.

Together with the well-known Kvelertak, they both might just prove that the more Norwegian musicians embrace their black metal roots, the more they stand to benefit from it, at least internationally.

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