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Reviews

Music reviews of bands and artists from Rockhaq

Album Review: The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form
8
1 month ago

Album Review: The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form

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In the age of music as content, churned out to fill playlists on streaming services, the album has had a bit of a crisis. What’s the point of arranging songs this way if they don’t have to fit onto a disc with a limited amount of space? The responses to this question have been varied but, as a trend, albums have become more bloated. R&B superstar Drake’s 2018 album Scorpion is an excellent example of an album dragged to nearly an hour and a half long to provide as many playlist-ready tracks as possible. The lengthy double-album is nothing new, of course, but these days an artist doesn’t tend to release one to make an artistic statement – like Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde or The Beatles’ White Album – so much as to have as much content to satisfy the greedy streaming ecosystem. More alternative musicians may have a higher motive – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ masterpiece Ghosteen was a double LP for a clear artistic reason – but for the most part popular music pursues length for the sake of it. 
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Album Review: Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot
7
1 month ago

Album Review: Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot

You return home, slowly locking the door behind you. Your ears still ringing, you make your way upstairs. Collapsing onto your bed, the same ringing that was once a comfort on your journey home now pierces the silence. High on the euphoria of the evening, you place your headphones on and search for the perfect album to play. Do you feel lonely? Or is it just the contrast of being surrounded by people and now being alone? You don’t know, but the evening now leaves a bitter taste. You decide on the B-side of Please. No- Bilingual. No- Elysium. You can’t decide. Further searching presents to you option D: Hotspot.
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Album Review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
10
2 months ago

Album Review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

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Since September 2018, Nick Cave has been communicating with his fans through the Red Hand Files, a website now home to over ninety funny, beautiful and insightful letters from the seasoned Australian bard. The sixth issue of the Red Hand Files sees Cave answer a fan’s question about communicating with the dead. “I have experienced the death of my father, my sister, and my first love in the past few years and feel that I have some communication with them, mostly through dreams,” the question begins. “They are helping me. Are you and (your wife) Susie feeling that your son Arthur is with you and communicating in some way?” “I feel the presence of my son, all around, but he may not be there,” Cave responds. “These spirits are ideas, essentially. They are our stunned imaginations reawakening after the calamity. Like ideas, these spirits speak of possibility. Follow your ideas, because on the other side of the idea is change and growth and redemption.”
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Album Review: Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
8
3 months ago

Album Review: Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

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The booklet for The Slow Rush – the latest album from the Australian psych-pop project Tame Impala – consists of the song lyrics scrawled over a calendar from 1992. This is just one of the many ways Kevin Parker’s fourth album as Tame Impala is obsessed with time. The album’s playfully oxymoronic title is another obvious one, but from the opening track One More Year to the closing song One More Hour, The Slow Rush is immersed in time.
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Album Review: Björk – Vulnicura
10
5 months ago

Album Review: Björk – Vulnicura

On the plastic sleeve for the vinyl of Vulnicura, computer generated and mutating, Björk lies with her back stretching over a rock. A crevice splitting her chest, she is the embodiment of pain. As if all of nature’s might has physically and emotionally cracked her in two. Broken and bleeding, she holds her mouth ajar, a silent scream hits you as hard as the rock that surrounds her. It’s one of the most visceral and daring album covers in her discography and, now five years old, it remains one of the most visceral and daring albums of her career.
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Album Review: Kanye West – Jesus is King
2
8 months ago

Album Review: Kanye West – Jesus is King

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There are few statements less controversial than the statement that Kanye West is controversial. Whilst known for stirring up trouble throughout his career, Kanye’s – to put it lightly – irreverent public behaviour has reached its pinnacle in recent years. Most notably, he’s an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump (who, just so we’re on the same page here, is a very bad person) and has said some remarkably awful things regarding slavery in particular. It makes one long for the days when the worst thing Kanye did was be rude to Taylor Swift.
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Live Review: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – London Alexandra Palace, 5 October 2019
10
9 months ago

Live Review: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – London Alexandra Palace, 5 October 2019

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Despite having been a fan since 2016’s Nonagon Infinity, before last weekend I had yet to see King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard live. The Aussie psych-rockers’ gigs are infamous for their energy and intensity and photos of injured limbs aren’t exactly infrequent posts on their Reddit page. On 5th October, the band played their biggest show yet at Alexandra Palace, selling out all 10 000 tickets for the London venue. One of those 10 000 was me, seeing not only Gizz for the first time but any band away from the safety of Leicester De Montfort Hall balcony or the polite middle-class crowd of Greenbelt Festival. Let’s just say I’d thrown myself in at the deep end.
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Album Review: Bon Iver – i,i
9
10 months ago

Album Review: Bon Iver – i,i

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Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver has always been driven by progress. His 2007 debut For Emma, Forever Ago began in minimalist isolation, rarely straying from the core combination of Vernon’s voice and acoustic guitar. Four years later, the self-titled sophomore album expanded into a more grandiose and atmospheric sound, propelled by a host of brass performers mixed elegantly into the compositions. Then, following several collaborations with hip-hop innovator Kanye West, Vernon released the audaciously experimental 22, A Million.
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Album Review: Steely Dan – Gaucho
10
11 months ago

Album Review: Steely Dan – Gaucho

Speaking about Aja, Steely Dan’s sixth album, guitarist Dean Parks said of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, “perfection is not what they’re after, they’re after something that you wanna listen to.” No other quote encapsulates the music of Steely Dan better. Indeed, on Aja, as evidenced by its sales, they really did find something you wanna listen to and, arguably, found perfection. It is what Parks said next that hits true poignancy in regards to Aja’s follow up: “… we would go past the perfection point until it became natural.” 1980’s Gaucho is evidence of what a Steely Dan album sounds like when it stops just before perfection- the sound of a band desperately striving for flawlessness but ending up with a finished product on the wrong side of their goal.
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Album Review: The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
10
11 months ago

Album Review: The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin

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The wonderful thing about The Flaming Lips is their ability to be profound without sounding pretentious. Unlike, for example, some of the prog-rock bands of the ‘70s, whose big themes often got lost in dense mysticism, The Flaming Lips remain down-to-earth. In recent years their personality has arguably become a little tacky and directionless, sounding more like a random quirky word generator than a band. However, at their peak, The Flaming Lips were able to ground their existentialism in accessible idiosyncrasies. Twenty years ago, they achieved this balance to perfection. Presenting life in all its beauty and heartbreak, with gorgeous melodies and lush instrumentation to match the richness of its themes, The Soft Bulletin remains the band’s crowning achievement.
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