Tag Archives: alternative

The five best albums of 2013 (that you’ve probably never heard of…) | Review | Music

In something of a departure from the norm for TIE, allow us to present five great albums from last year which you’ve might have missed, compiled by guest poster Jordan Thomas. Agree? Disagree? Confused? Leave a comment below.

Five albums from 2013 you might have missedTonight Alive - Tonight Alive – The Other Side (Sony Music)

Tonight Alive’s first album was a decent pop punk album in a world filled with samey pop-punk bands, this second album however raises them far above the rank and file. While it doesn’t exactly break the mould for the genre it does show exactly how it should be done. The underwhelming cover art aside, this album is stunning; every song is catchy and immediate, with grounded lyrics you can actually relate to and  massive, clear sound production (not to mention Jenna’s fine vocal performance). With Paramore having moved onto new grounds these should be your go to guys for your pop-punk fix.

Check out: Lonely Girl

Katatonia - Dethroned and UncrownedKatatonia – Dethroned and Uncrowned (Kscope)

Dead End Kings was one of the best metal releases of 2012, so how did the band think they could top this? The answer as it happens was to take that same album, strip it of all guitars, aggression and metal and use it to craft a haunting semi acoustic masterpiece. All of the songs work surprisingly well, with the biggest difference being Buildings, with heavy thumping piano replacing the crashing guitar of the original. While the original record was gloomy, this is a whole different league, the songs are slow and dripping with melancholy. it is not a happy record by any stretch, but it is a beautiful one, one which deserves repeated listens to hear all it has to offer.

Check Out: The Racing Heart

Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused to SingSteven Wilson – The Raven that Refused to Sing (and Other Stories) (Kscope)

From his humble beginnings making tapes of supposed forgotten bands to his current status as one of the most revered men in music; Wilson has always been making excellent boundary pushing prog rock. Building on the jazz influences of his last solo outing this album pushes his sound even further away from that of his other works. Extended jazz solos (courtesy of the excellent Theo Travis) are frequent, and though his heavier side is still there it’s more in the background, with gentle melodies being allowed more of a front row. Like Katatonia, it is not an album to cheer you up, but it is one to close your eyes and listen to in mellow bliss.

Check out: Drive Home

Deafhaven - SunbatherDeafheaven – Sunbather (Deathwish)

Take the dreaminess and distorted melodies of shoegaze, and slam it together with the pummelling heaviness of black metal and you get Sunbather. The resulting album is not always an easy listen, but is a worthwhile one. BM screams and drumming are the main meat of the sound, but there’s nearly always melody from the guitars, and slower instrumental parts and spoken word help to break it up into a more manageable listen. Since the album’s release, it has gone almost mainstream, bringing with it the usual hype and backlash, but regardless of whether it is really as important a release as some claim, it is undeniably an excellent one.

Check out: Dream House

Pet Shop Boys - ElectricPet Shop Boys – Electric (x2)

I haven’t really kept up with the animal themed store boys lately, my knowledge spans pretty much their heyday period and drops off when they did. However this one seemed positively met so I decided to give it a go. Boy, am I glad I did. It’s obviously PSB, but manages to sound very modern as well. More bass heavy than a lot of their famous stuff, with a strong dance feel running through the album it’s an exhilarating listen, Bolshy and Love Is… are probably the most recognisable stuff on offer, with the interesting additions of pseudo dubstep (Shouting…) and a surprisingly decent piece featuring Example (Thursday) giving the album a nice bit of variation. Whether you be a fan of pop, dance or just the PSB this is an album you should consider.

Check Out: Love is a Bourgeois Construct

Jordan Thomas

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Music | Album Review: Lostprophets – Weapons | This Is Entertainment

I'd rather die on my feet than ever live on my kneesWith American bands outnumbering British by at least 10 to one, to find a band going strong is a rarity. Lostprophets stand on the brink of British-ness – fiercely Welsh in everything they do – but the consistency shown in latest effort, Weapons, deserves praise worthy of Her Majesty.

The spirit of the album is one of rebellion, and builds on the seeds sewn by songs like ‘Everyday Combat’ in previous work Liberation Transmission to reach a climax of defiance.

The message of opener ‘Bring it Down’ is clear, a call to arms to keep fighting despite the odds, and this could well be the motto of the band itself. Things haven’t come easy for Lostprohets, they’ve had to work hard to stay close to the top for the past decade – since winning Best British Newcomer back in 2001. Despite an impressive number of stand-out tracks to their name, the band have never really taken off in the same way that heavyweights like Muse or The Strokes have, nor have they seen any chart success.

You get the impression that the band don’t really care though. They aren’t interested in fame and fortune, but the fun and games of being on the road and making music.

What has changed though, is the band’s attitude to their home town – Pontypridd in Wales – which was once “a town called hypocrisy” but now leading man Ian Watkins concedes that it “still feels like home” in ‘A Song for Where I’m From’.

The album takes the best aspects of the band’s sound and builds on them. Stand-out ‘Jesus Walks’ – surely a shoo-in for the next single – riffs on the underrated ‘Where We Belong’ from 2010’s The Betrayed, while the band’s catchiness this time around is played out in a more gang-vocal style in the anthemic ‘We Bring an Arsenal’.

Those who may have heard advance single ‘Better of Dead’ shouldn’t be put off by its bizarre rap-inspired verse. Despite being seemingly out of character for the band it fits in well with the context of the album, and is more of an experiment than a new direction. In all the musical direction is doing what the band do best rather than trying to re-invent themselves.

The energy and passion doesn’t let up from start to finish, making it an album ideal for live shows, and with no screamo-esque tracks in residence it means the entire album feels less rough around the edges. The sombre side is shown through reflective, semi-acoustic number ‘Somedays’, hinting at the depth the band can reach when they take a moment to catch their breath.

There is plenty of inspiration drawn in from American post-hardcore rockers Rise Against on this album, particularly the line taken as the theme for the album: “I’d rather die on my feet than ever live on my knees.” In fact the line appears in Rise Against’s last album Endgame in the song ‘Survivor Guilt’, which talks about the destruction of great empires. Not quite over the line of anarchism though, Lostprophets are happy to make a stand for themselves rather than ‘getting political’ about proceedings.

Weapons then is Lostprophets battle cry, stating load and clear they aren’t going away quietly without a fight, and even with so much quality through their back catalogue, this album manages to be their most consistently high quality offering yet. Long may the ‘prophets prosper.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry