I’ve never reviewed…anything before this…

Well, that’s a lie, I did review the film Predator once but that was for a University assignment so it was something I had to do, not necessarily something I wanted to do (but I did enjoy it either way).

So why do we review the things we like? more interestingly why do we review the things we don’t like? This is a question I’ve pondered a lot lately since RockHaq entered my day-to-day life.

Personally I feel it’s important to reflect on the art we consume and experience, especially those which bring to the surface a strong emotional response. It’s fantastic to be aware of what it is you actually and specifically enjoy about music and other arts and being able to express and communicate these feelings is one of the many steps to developing your written language skills (now I may sound teacher-like here but bear in mind I’m writing this in ‘my’ time, I’m just Dave ATM – not Mr. Watts :-P).

Music is amazing! It provides the soundtrack to my morning walk to work, my early eve walk back home from work, my lesson planning, my marking… well, practically any moment there is an opportunity to listen to music, you can guarantee I’ll have my headphones plugged in and will be blasting out some tunes.

For the past year I’ve discovered some amazing music, I usually tend to jump in and out of different genres and expose myself to as much variety in my music listening as possible. However I’ve firmly stayed put in one particular genre since listening to the album I’ve decided to review first – that is – Middleman’s debut Spinning Plates.

Middleman are a 4 piece band originating from Leeds and have been releasing material for some time now. Spinning Plates is their first album and it’s an awesome listen, at first they remind me of a kind of popular new ‘voice’ in British dance and pop that started years ago with acts like The Streets and later Hadouken! Fuse these new wave sounds with bits and bobs from the punkish Enter Shikari and the hip hop inspired Gorillaz and you get Middleman.

Spinning Plates clearly exhibits lead singer Andy Craven Griffiths’ talent with words – both in his content and in his delivery. Each song is very unique and subjects vary between describing a night out clubbing from a hangover’s perspective (Snap Shots) to stressing the difficulties of enjoying life in Britain today (Spinning Plates). Griffiths’ strengths are explicit as I find myself not just casually listening to his delivery, but clinging onto every word he says and following his, if you will, poetry with absolute focus. This to me, is the sign of good music and highlights the brilliance of hip hop’s key ingredient – the content and how its delivered. Griffiths’ voice and words are fascinating, simply comparing life’s woes to that of spinning plates is easily understood and his description of life ambitions facing reality is well put (‘I though’t I’d paint a masterpiece I thought I’d swim the English Channel… but no, as I’m too busy spinning plates, getting dizzy but can’t stop incase one breaks’). The track One Hundred and Thirteen – although being quite slow in comparison to its surroundings on the album (and a bit soppy lol), has unique interpretations of love and attraction, describing his interests beauty in new and articulate ways –  ‘dying the air almost Hitchcock’.

The music is very lively, big bass lines accompany heavy drums which (aside from the mentioned One Hundred and Thirteen) usually include a catchy riff and/or a catchy chorus to sing and dance along to. They’re one of those bands that make you ‘bop’ your head to the music; they know what music will get people dancing and use it to their advantage – if ever they come to Leicester I’m there on the front row waiting.

On the whole the album is great, each song stands out on their own and there is a Middleman individuality to their music which can only continue to develop (hopefully :-)). Key tracks are Spinning Plates, Snap Shots, Good to be Back and Chipping Away.