Post # 14 - Ghost Stories - Coldplay (2014)
"Reset. Recalibrate." This is what Coldplay set out to achieve, according to drummer Will Champion, with Ghost Stories, the follow up to their hugely successful 2011 album Mylo Xyloto. I’m of the opinion that X&Y (2005) was Coldplay’s last great album. Viva La Vida (2008) definitely featured some amazing tracks, but it was already hinting at the over complicated, synth heavy, electronic and over produced direction and sound that dominated Mylo Xyloto. 
Coldplay’s success lies in their simplicity. They have the unique ability to take a simple melody, couple it with a simple chord progression and make it sound unnaturally sublime. It’s the secret formula behind all their early hits, and what made them one of the best bands of the past twenty years. Sadly, we have seen less and less of this style of songwriting from Coldplay in recent years, and so it was both refreshing and exciting to hear the above comment from Champion.
So, does Ghost Stories accomplish what it set out to achieve? For the most part, definitely, but not quite in the way that one would expect. All the singles I’d heard leading up to the realese of the album had me worried. Magic sounded nauseatingly repetitious and slightly boring, Midnight sounded out of sync with anything coldplay had ever released and A Sky Full of Stars sounded too inlfuenced by its co-producer, Avicii. However, when you listen to these songs in the context of the album in its entirety, they’re quite spectacular, especially Midnight. 
Ghost Stories begins with the ethereal Always In My Head, which eases into Magic.The album gradualy builds up over the next few tracks, and its at this point that Midnight begins to pick up the pace. The listener’s patience is rewarded as track seven, Oceans, blends seamlessly into A Sky Full of Stars, which is ultimately the culmination of all the preceding tracks and the rhythmic climax of the album. From here, the album subsides once more, with the piano ballad enitled simply as O, and the remainder of the album subsequently tapers off. 
Overall, both musically and lyrically, Ghost Stories sounds like a deep and often dark introspection. The album is noticably more stripped back in parts, and Coldplay undoubtedly sound as though they have taken a deep breath, stepped back, and “recalibrated”. My only gripe with Ghost Stories is that it ends on a slightly weak note, and is mostly devoid of the aforementioned style of song writing which would have given the album a bit of a much needed boost at certain times. In saying that, I may be longing for a foregone style of music, seeing as Coldplay have now been around for over fifteen years. 
Ghost Stories is certainly Coldplay’s most mature, complex and experimental work to date, and while some may find the pace of the album to be too slow or be disheartened that Coldplay have not gone “back to their roots”, it definitely offers enjoyable discoveries with each listen, and heralds an interesting change in artistic direction for the band.

Post # 14 - Ghost Stories - Coldplay (2014)

"Reset. Recalibrate." This is what Coldplay set out to achieve, according to drummer Will Champion, with Ghost Stories, the follow up to their hugely successful 2011 album Mylo Xyloto. I’m of the opinion that X&Y (2005) was Coldplay’s last great album. Viva La Vida (2008) definitely featured some amazing tracks, but it was already hinting at the over complicated, synth heavy, electronic and over produced direction and sound that dominated Mylo Xyloto.

Coldplay’s success lies in their simplicity. They have the unique ability to take a simple melody, couple it with a simple chord progression and make it sound unnaturally sublime. It’s the secret formula behind all their early hits, and what made them one of the best bands of the past twenty years. Sadly, we have seen less and less of this style of songwriting from Coldplay in recent years, and so it was both refreshing and exciting to hear the above comment from Champion.

So, does Ghost Stories accomplish what it set out to achieve? For the most part, definitely, but not quite in the way that one would expect. All the singles I’d heard leading up to the realese of the album had me worried. Magic sounded nauseatingly repetitious and slightly boring, Midnight sounded out of sync with anything coldplay had ever released and A Sky Full of Stars sounded too inlfuenced by its co-producer, Avicii. However, when you listen to these songs in the context of the album in its entirety, they’re quite spectacular, especially Midnight

Ghost Stories begins with the ethereal Always In My Head, which eases into Magic.The album gradualy builds up over the next few tracks, and its at this point that Midnight begins to pick up the pace. The listener’s patience is rewarded as track seven, Oceans, blends seamlessly into A Sky Full of Stars, which is ultimately the culmination of all the preceding tracks and the rhythmic climax of the album. From here, the album subsides once more, with the piano ballad enitled simply as O, and the remainder of the album subsequently tapers off. 

Overall, both musically and lyrically, Ghost Stories sounds like a deep and often dark introspection. The album is noticably more stripped back in parts, and Coldplay undoubtedly sound as though they have taken a deep breath, stepped back, and “recalibrated”. My only gripe with Ghost Stories is that it ends on a slightly weak note, and is mostly devoid of the aforementioned style of song writing which would have given the album a bit of a much needed boost at certain times. In saying that, I may be longing for a foregone style of music, seeing as Coldplay have now been around for over fifteen years. 

Ghost Stories is certainly Coldplay’s most mature, complex and experimental work to date, and while some may find the pace of the album to be too slow or be disheartened that Coldplay have not gone “back to their roots”, it definitely offers enjoyable discoveries with each listen, and heralds an interesting change in artistic direction for the band.

Post #13 - Misery - Victor Murdaca (2014)
Misery is the debut single from Australian born/New York based singer and song writer, Victor Murdaca. Late 1970’s funk disco has undoubtedly experienced a resurgence in the last couple of years, evident through the release and success of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Bruno Mars’ Treasure and Nile Rodgers recent collaboration with Tensnake on his track Love Sublime, just to name a few. Murdaca is clearly experimenting with this retro sound in Misery, and ultimately pulls it off remarkably well. The song has all the trademarks of an infectious disco tune - a warm, grooving bass line, lush yet cutting guitar chords and an understated synth hook; an aspect of this genre which is often overlooked in modern times. However, Its Murdaca’s vocals which truly stand out on this track. Throughout Misery, he effortlessly explores his vast vocal range, and delivers the lyrical content through his unique sensually husky yet soulful tone. The end result is a well balanced, syncopated, and catchy tune which is sure to bring the listener anything but misery.

Post #13 - Misery - Victor Murdaca (2014)

Misery is the debut single from Australian born/New York based singer and song writer, Victor Murdaca. Late 1970’s funk disco has undoubtedly experienced a resurgence in the last couple of years, evident through the release and success of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Bruno Mars’ Treasure and Nile Rodgers recent collaboration with Tensnake on his track Love Sublime, just to name a few. Murdaca is clearly experimenting with this retro sound in Misery, and ultimately pulls it off remarkably well. The song has all the trademarks of an infectious disco tune - a warm, grooving bass line, lush yet cutting guitar chords and an understated synth hook; an aspect of this genre which is often overlooked in modern times. However, Its Murdaca’s vocals which truly stand out on this track. Throughout Misery, he effortlessly explores his vast vocal range, and delivers the lyrical content through his unique sensually husky yet soulful tone. The end result is a well balanced, syncopated, and catchy tune which is sure to bring the listener anything but misery.

Post #12 - Supermodel - Foster the People (2014)
Foster the People set the bar high for themselves after the release of their debut album, Torches, which spawned the insanely popular hit, Pumped up Kicks. While I’ve never been the biggest fan of their sound, I could appreciate that these were three highly talented musicians, evidenced by some impressive musical arrangements featured on Torches. Said talent is still prevalent throughout their second album, Supermodel. However, it appears as though their many diverse influences and styles, ranging from indie pop to electronic psychedelia, for the most part, fail to gel successfully. When they do achieve this fine balance, the result is quite rewarding. This is most notable on tracks such as the melodically intricate Are You What You Want to Be?, The Truth and the upbeat, funky  jam, Best Friend, which features a damn sharp horn section. Other tracks such as Pseudologia Fantastica, and Fire Escape would work wonderfully as stand-alone songs, yet in the context of the entire album, sound out of place and haphazard, while tracks like Goats in Trees and The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones sound entirely forced, unnatural and psychedelically obscure just for the sake of it. Supermodel definitely features some memorable moments and presents interesting possibilities as to where the band will take their sound in the future. The problem is that apart from these “moments”, Supermodel sounds largely inconsistent and incoherent. 

Post #12 - Supermodel - Foster the People (2014)

Foster the People set the bar high for themselves after the release of their debut album, Torches, which spawned the insanely popular hit, Pumped up Kicks. While I’ve never been the biggest fan of their sound, I could appreciate that these were three highly talented musicians, evidenced by some impressive musical arrangements featured on Torches. Said talent is still prevalent throughout their second album, Supermodel. However, it appears as though their many diverse influences and styles, ranging from indie pop to electronic psychedelia, for the most part, fail to gel successfully. When they do achieve this fine balance, the result is quite rewarding. This is most notable on tracks such as the melodically intricate Are You What You Want to Be?, The Truth and the upbeat, funky  jam, Best Friend, which features a damn sharp horn section. Other tracks such as Pseudologia Fantastica, and Fire Escape would work wonderfully as stand-alone songs, yet in the context of the entire album, sound out of place and haphazard, while tracks like Goats in Trees and The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones sound entirely forced, unnatural and psychedelically obscure just for the sake of it. Supermodel definitely features some memorable moments and presents interesting possibilities as to where the band will take their sound in the future. The problem is that apart from these “moments”, Supermodel sounds largely inconsistent and incoherent. 

Post #11 - Jakubi - Feels Like Yesterday (2013)
Feels Like Yesterday is the third single from Melbourne electronic funk/pop group, Jakubi. From what I’ve heard so far from these lads, they’re on a winning formula. Their music is undeniably catchy, and their live shows are quite a spectacle too. Feels Like Yesterday follows in the same vein as their previous singles, yet noticeably more funk orientated, which is where the band sounds most comfortable and natural. Lyrically, the song paints a very personal account about childhood, brotherhood and growing up, and the lyrical content itself is a notable yet refreshing departure from their previous work. The song opens with a subdued keys intro, layered with front-man Jerome Farah’s sensually smooth vocals, before breaking into a groovy jam with a bass-line funky enough to turn the straightest priest into a flare wearing, coke loving, regular at Studio 54. The overall mellow yet driving vibe is maintained for the remainder of the track, with plenty to be discovered in the way of intricate instrumentation and an engaging chordal structure. The impressive work from Melbourne producer Malcolm Besley on this track should also be noted. Thanks a lot, Jakubi, I was planning on having a quiet Wednesday night, but now I’ve got my dancing shoes on. 

Post #11 - Jakubi - Feels Like Yesterday (2013)

Feels Like Yesterday is the third single from Melbourne electronic funk/pop group, Jakubi. From what I’ve heard so far from these lads, they’re on a winning formula. Their music is undeniably catchy, and their live shows are quite a spectacle too. Feels Like Yesterday follows in the same vein as their previous singles, yet noticeably more funk orientated, which is where the band sounds most comfortable and natural. Lyrically, the song paints a very personal account about childhood, brotherhood and growing up, and the lyrical content itself is a notable yet refreshing departure from their previous work. The song opens with a subdued keys intro, layered with front-man Jerome Farah’s sensually smooth vocals, before breaking into a groovy jam with a bass-line funky enough to turn the straightest priest into a flare wearing, coke loving, regular at Studio 54. The overall mellow yet driving vibe is maintained for the remainder of the track, with plenty to be discovered in the way of intricate instrumentation and an engaging chordal structure. The impressive work from Melbourne producer Malcolm Besley on this track should also be noted. Thanks a lot, Jakubi, I was planning on having a quiet Wednesday night, but now I’ve got my dancing shoes on. 

Post #10 - …Like Clockwork - Queens of the Stone Age (2013)
…Like Clockwork is the sixth studio album from the American alternative rock group, Queens of the Stone Age, and the first release of new music by the band in almost six years. Given the tumultuous and turbulent circumstances surrounding the band since their hiatus, such as the near death of lead singer, Josh Homme and the departure of long-time drummer, Joey Castillo, it’s a miracle this album was ever recorded. Joey Castillo managed to collaborate on four tracks before he was fired and replaced by David Grohl, and there are many other high profile artists who feature on this album, including Trent Reznor, Alex Turner and Elton John. Considering the vast array of personnel involved in the making of this album, and their different influences and backgrounds, one would expect Like Clockwork to sound confusing, disjointed, and mismatched. However, the end result is quite the opposite. For the most part, the album is well balanced, engaging and focussed, and this is mainly due to the collaborators successfully complimenting each track, instead of trying to impose their signature sounds or styles. Queens of the Stone Age have made a resounding comeback with Like Clockwork, and it’s refreshing, as well as re-assuring, to hear that many rock veterans of the 90’s have still got it. 

Post #10 - …Like Clockwork - Queens of the Stone Age (2013)

…Like Clockwork is the sixth studio album from the American alternative rock group, Queens of the Stone Age, and the first release of new music by the band in almost six years. Given the tumultuous and turbulent circumstances surrounding the band since their hiatus, such as the near death of lead singer, Josh Homme and the departure of long-time drummer, Joey Castillo, it’s a miracle this album was ever recorded. Joey Castillo managed to collaborate on four tracks before he was fired and replaced by David Grohl, and there are many other high profile artists who feature on this album, including Trent Reznor, Alex Turner and Elton John. Considering the vast array of personnel involved in the making of this albumand their different influences and backgrounds, one would expect Like Clockwork to sound confusing, disjointed, and mismatched. However, the end result is quite the opposite. For the most part, the album is well balanced, engaging and focussed, and this is mainly due to the collaborators successfully complimenting each track, instead of trying to impose their signature sounds or styles. Queens of the Stone Age have made a resounding comeback with Like Clockwork, and it’s refreshing, as well as re-assuring, to hear that many rock veterans of the 90’s have still got it.