“They are asking me to eliminate some of the women hate, but if you take into consideration some of the bitter hatred I had… (Eminem lyric from “Rap God”)
Eminem released his 8th studio album entitled The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and some have questioned whether society could do without the endless violent misogynist. An academic study (2004) by Edward Armstrong found that in his first four albums, violent misogynistic lyrics appeared in 63% of his songs while artists of gangsta rap’s foundational period only 22% of their songs had similar lyrics. Yet the 2nd Marshall Mathers LP has a different tone than previous albums. Eminem appears more self-critical and less aggressive in what he is saying. Yes, he still has signature Eminem rants threatening violence and mimicking death and murder but these sections come after verses of self-doubt and reflection on media and fan criticism. While Kanye West’s pride is shooting to the stars with songs like ‘I am a god’ Eminem has become less interested in shocking and more interested in making technically excellent rap that has meaning to him. In his song entitled Rap God’, which musically alludes to Kanye’s song, Eminem combines boasts, lyrical play, complicated rhymes, meaningless words, and words that have more meaning than we give Eminem credit for. Yes, at times Eminem’s songs contain violent misogynistic language. Yes, this is problematic and a difficult issue to navigate as a society. But The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is a reflective, angry, playful, and, perhaps, more ‘mature’ than his previous releases.
[Micah van Dijk]
This Hertfordshire three piece are being tipped to revitalize and revive the British rock market with their new singles like ‘Defection’ and ‘Mimic.’ An early explosion with popular singles has earned them comparisons to acts such as Stereophonics, Depeche Mode and The Editors, and that has done them no harm in trying to develop their sound into a pop chiming rock loop.
Cut Copy’s latest record Free Your Mind showcases the band’s efforts to create even more vibrant, colourful electronic pop music, edging further from their earlier, rockier material. They clearly take inspiration from dance acts like Black Box as seen in the title track, which is full of dreamy synths and piano melodies reminiscent of Ride on Time. ‘Footsteps,’ with its infectious hook in the chorus and soaring vocals, wouldn’t be out of place in a Pet Shop Boys or Frankie Goes to Hollywood compilation. The band works best under the influence of such eighties synth pop masters, from whom they take their best ideas and fuse them with the group’s own distinctive voice and character. The standout track is certainly ‘We Are Explorers,’ which could be the sequel to the outstanding ‘Take Me Over’ from Zonoscope.
Jake Morley’s Many Fish To Fry is the debut of a favourite on London’s live circuit. Recorded to reflect his reputation as a live artist, Many Fish To Fry is a stripped down, focused effort that focuses on storytelling and instrumental proficiency. Morley has a remarkable ear for catchiness and pop sensibility in his writing and his lap style guitar rhythms re-imagine a pop driven Andy McKee with excellent melodies and poetic lyrics. His emotive instrumentation, chirpy voice and everyday lyric content create a wholesome package. The lack of electronic equipment adds an undeniable skill to the two or three songs easily imaginable on radio. Acoustic artists rarely score radio hits but Morley could be an exception due to his infectious energy. He conjures images of a city boy getting by through the support of others, with as much humour and all the ups and downs a storyteller’s album needs. Records of this subject matter have a tendency to slip into the cliches of the singer songwriter. Morley does his job excellently, he might be lost to a territory saturated with similar artists.
Pearl Jam were always that band that your dad got jumped on for liking. But in his words, the t-shirt looked better with blood on. Lightning Bolt is their tenth album, released twenty-three years after they first formed – and show no signs of faltering.
Kings of who? Does anyone actually remember the Leon clan releasing a single sometime in the last year? A long time ago, before I decided to be a top dog and apply for university, I worked for the Kings. I spent thirteen hours selling overpriced, thin cotton t-shirts, that didn’t even have dates on the back, to fans who seemed to have a limitless supply of cash. Anyway, one of the highs of the job was getting to see the band for free; quite frankly I wish I hadn’t bothered. They were over ninety minutes late after a ‘hold up’ at London airport. Personally I think one of them spilled ketchup on their Levis and got sassy.
The record’s most immediately striking feature is its sense of movement and continuity. Scattergood puts great care into piecing each song together into one all encompassing pallet, like a collection of short stories. It’s a true album and requires an unabridged listen to fully appreciate its creators’ vision. Cuts like inevitable single ‘Falling’ and hushed closer ‘I’ve Got a Heart’ really exemplify her use of soulful, unpredictable metaphor coupled with a brilliant ear for melody. Like the best poetry, the lyrics demand your imagination, making each listener create their own individual setting and subject matter, whilst her ethereal, variable vocals further aid the records passion for true art. Even when her voice lacks strength, her choice in instrumentation prevents this being a weakness, with no power struggle for precedence in the production. However a few flaws remain; sometimes her more personal songs fall into twee territory. ‘Miss You’, for instance, is too much of a kooky-pop-ballad in its content and and falls into a piano trudge too similar to her contemporaries. ‘Machines’ too, is where her imagery fails to go beyond a much used dull call for personality amongst the masses. Nonetheless Polly Scattergood remains unique and inventive enough to warrant a listen in its entirety!
Remember when The Fratellis were a thing? Their songs played in beer adverts, they won a Brit Award and everyone in the west of Scotland claimed to have a vague Fratelli connection (true story: my uncle taught the drummer). This success however, proved difficult to maintain, and the follow up to Costello Music failed to match the same excitement and acclaim they had achieved so effortlessly in their debut. An apparent indefinite hiatus and solo efforts followed, but the band soon announced their return to touring and recording in 2012.
When DevilDriver burst onto the scene almost a decade ago, alongside Lamb Of God and Hatebreed, they provided the perfect soundtrack for the young metal fan who, typically, hated the universe (or at least school).