In a reversal of the usual pessimist's view that the sun only shines once you're back at work, this weekend was full of sunsheeeeine but the view from the tiny little air hole provided for us in Londonist Dungeons shows a distinctly gloomy Monday. It's particularly fortunate because Londonist spent the weekend chasing the sun around our postage stamp garden like a cat and any continuation of the good weeather would have kept us out there and deprived you of this week's Monday Music Review. Whether this represents good fortune or not is entirely, of course, down to your own point of view. To business then.
Winners of the highly-coveted Londonist Album of the Week award this time around are The Duke Spirit with Cuts Across The Land. The first thing in their favour is the fact they're a London band, not that we're biased towards Southern jessies. This album is a great dirty full-on no-fluff rock record which is a breath of fresh air from the current vogue of synth heavy post punk Joy Division wannabes or piano led Coldplay-ites, coming across as PJ Harvey meets the Velvet Underground whilst hiding some of that mournful Mazzy Star style melody underneath. Leila Moss sounds a great deal like PJ Harvey mixed with Nina from the Cardigans and makes we want to be her tambourine. Bruised, battered but happy! And that's a good thing in Londonista Mark's book. If we were in the business of giving ratings, we'd award four gherkins to this album.
CD Times are equally impressed, saying that "The Duke Spirit are sexy, driven and intriguing and Cuts Across The Land has tracks exemplary in fine musical cuisine." Our friends at The London Line also like this, giving a rating of 4.
Drowned in Sound are sort-of okay-ish in a roundabout way, awarding that stupid mark between 3 and 4 stars. Just pick three or four, for pity's sake. It seems DiS really wanted to love this album but couldn't quite bring themselves to doing so. "Highlights are abundant but inconsistent... With a little more attention to not-so minor details, [Cuts Across The Land] could have been a wholeheartedly recommended release, if not indeed one of this year’s finest from a British act."
The Guardian's not as keen although still manages to give a reasonable 3 stars. Leila Moss, they say, "flaunts a contrary femininity". Again, we assume, this is a good thing.
Equally unimpressed with the album as a whole, to the extent that they only give the album 2 out of 5, are Playlouder, fuelled possibly by the inevitable disparity between live performances and recorded songs: "The character and charisma that they've brought to their gigs has, on the whole, failed to transfer to record."
Screw them, we're still making this our Album of the Week.
Staying with the noisier side of the tracks then (where's Londonist Noise to do the reviews when you need him?) and we're onto Maximo Park's A Certain Trigger.
Every other review you'll ever read will do this so we'll get the obligatory 'fellow North-East rockers The Futureheads' mention out of the way. There, we did it.
Of course, 'every other review' is rather a moot phrase, given that we only found the one of any import or gravitas. The Observer is pretty enthusiastic about the Maximo Park album, attributing it to "the vision of singer Paul Smith, a man whose rhymes and phrasing are never obvious."
Getting even noisier, then, System of a Down release Mezmerize [sic].
The Guardian, which must have been in apathetic rating mode last Friday, gave this album 3 stars, too. Now, to be honest, we don't have much time for this nu-metal malarky but The Guardian does make this album sound interesting, citing "un-metallish influences, ranging from jazz to their own Armenian heritage". As The Guardian says, "Who'd have thought you could describe a metal band as 'intriguing'?"
Hmmm, maybe we should look at some of the more rock-oriented sites for a review. Ooh, what's this? It's about rock and it has reviews, it's - duh duh duhhhhh - RockReview.co.uk. Ah, this is more like it. A fully enthusiastic review from people who actually like and listen to this stuff, Mezmerize "draws you in and spits you out before you have a chance to fully appreciate its brilliance. This album truly is a masterpiece of modern metal and indeed Rock and Roll in general" and gets 9/10.
And that is it, as far as SOAD reviews go. According to The Guardian the band are paraonid about you evil file-sharing people out there, so they don't send out all that many advance CDs, if any. Well, if you're stupid enough to call one of your albums "Steal This Album" what do you expect?!
And that is it as far as this week's MMR goes. See you next week for another fun-filled installment.