Round 1 – Group 215:
1.) Who Built The Moon?: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
2.) Still On My Mind: Dido
3.) Chaleur Humaine: Christine & The Queens
4.) Classic Rock – The Masters: Compilation
Oh my days! Man, was this group tough going, a complete chore to get through. A less than inspiring group of albums which doesn’t say alot about my music taste, given that 3 of these albums were explicitly requested by me as Christmas ideas for the extended family to buy me, oh dear.
Who Built Moon? is easily the best offering here, although I don’t think it’s a good as Noel’s first solo album. These song structure are mainly hook based instead of verse chorus verse, which is more interesting than the material unfortunately. On the whole the album grooves along nicely, yet never having much of an impact. Highlights are It’s a Beautiful World, a track quite different to his Oasis material, The Man Who Built The Moon and the excellent Dead In The Water. I don’t think I’m totally convinced by this album, it wins the group mainly due to a chronic lack of competition.
Masters Of The Poo-Niverse
I used to subscribe to Classic Rock, from edition 4 no less. Their giveaway cover disks were always a bit hit and miss, the first one I got was one of the best and featured Porcupine Tree, who also feature on this 2007 ‘Masters‘ collection.
Despite the presence of the ‘Tree‘ (not sure if that’s what their fans refer to them as) it was with some trepidation that I tentatively listened to this. I’ve had run-ins with some of these bands before and it weren’t pretty. Megadeth, Dream Theatre, Stone Sour and Dragonforce have all produced albums that I’ve previously reviewed and been less than impressed with. Trivium I saw live supporting Iron Maiden and was frankly disgusted by their lack of quality. So yes, there were some low expectation going into this…..
Classic Rock were a magazine that used to mainly pine for the olden ‘golden’ days of Led Zep, Deep Purple & Black Sabbath while pretending to stay current. I remember an edition where they tried to make sense of Nu-Metal but it seems like they’ve eventually morphed in another Kerrang clone based on this compilation, it’s more death & thrash metal than anything akin to Fleetwood Mac or Genesis.
I dropped them once I came to the realisation that reading about music wasn’t as much fun and listening to it, plus they slagged off Big Country’s amazing Peace In Our Time album, suggesting it had a ‘tired’ bagpipe guitar sound. That annoyed me.
The Howling With Despair
Back to this 66 minute collection then. Humorously labelled as ‘Masters‘. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute, are any of these clowns really masters of anything? This 2007 magazine giveaway CD is nothing more than a selection of bad and ‘fair to good’ tracks. Opening with the ok but less-than-great Constant Motion by Dream Theatre which sounds like a generic Metallica copycat, it does offer a glimmer of hope immediately after with Porcupine Tree’s Fear Of A Blank Planet, quite a cool track.
Next we have to endure Megadeth’s barely tolerable Sleepwalker which is followed by Black Stone Cherry’s excellent Rain Wizard. Hit and miss but not a disaster right? Wrong! From then on it starts to go downhill fast, with the exception of The Howling by Within Temptation, which is ok. It’s the whole second section that ruins this disk, Dragonforce’s brand of cheese metal is terrible as usual, Opeth sound Satanic, Trivium are bland, Machine Head’s Now I Lay Thee Down blurs into Redemption and Beneath The Machine by some obscure metal acts and The Goatrider’s Hoard is a piss-take right? It must be. Final track Through Glass by Stone Sour is rather good though if you’ve managed to plough through the full 60 minutes of dirge to get you there. Last place for the ‘masters’.
Give You Both Up
Which brings us to a decider between Dido and Christine & The Queens for the all-important second place. Can I eliminate them both? Man are these albums dull, two more boring albums you’d be hard pressed to find methinks.
Still On My Mind contains the usual Dido attributes. It sounds elegant, her vocals delicate. The melodies are so whimsical they might get blown away in a mild breeze. The album is underpinned as ever by that subtle dance-like rhythm which she favours.
It’s clinical and polished but I don’t think there is any killer material here. The opener Hurricanes sets the template for the whole album, it’s interesting for a bit, then you lose interest for a bit, then it becomes interesting again, or does it?
I can’t quite make up my mind. I guess what I’m saying is that even though on the surface Give You Up, You Don’t Need A God, Still On My Mind and others are quite nice, it is incredibly easy to switch off when you’re listening to them which makes the album a bit of a drag to get through in one sitting.
Chaleur Humaine, the debut effort from Christine & The Queens is equally dull. It might be well produced art-pop with flashes of intrigue but overall it struggles to engage.
It’s less stiff than Still On My Mind and at least conveys some romance and passion, yet it never grabs me by the heart.
Actually I think this kind of music works best as a soundtrack to something visual.
Paradise Perdus would work really well as backing music on a film. Science Fiction and several others could slot liberally into any modern TV Show and would probably sound great. I just don’t think this is an album you sit down and listen to, it’s too boring, sorry! That being said, my 11 yr old seems to quite like it so maybe I’m just getting old?
In conclusion then, Still On My Mind limps over the line in 2nd place and Chaleur Humaine is consigned to oblivion.