Green Day – iDos!

After a career spanning nearly 25 years, most bands are usually sat with their feet up, raking in the cash from the release of a greatest hits collection by now.

Not Green Day.

The evergreen (no pun intended), American, punk rock giants are in the middle of releasing a studio album trilogy with the second installment of the series, iDos!, being released in the UK yesterday. The first part, iUno!, was released only last month where as the final chapter of the trilogy, iTre!, comes next month on December 7th to complete the series.

Cover art for idos!

Cover art for iDos!

Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong has described iDos! as being “more garage rock—a little dirtier like you’re in the middle of a party” and after a few listens, it’s easy to see where he’s coming from. The title of the second track, F*** Time,  definitely echoes Billie Joe’s thoughts. The song, in a nutshell, is about sex, which is illustrated in Armstrong’s spicy lyrics  “You know I really wanna make you mine, Oh baby baby, it’s f*** time”. The song delves into 60’s rock and roll with its catchy blues riffs and solos and is reminiscent of the style of Green Day’s side project, Foxboro Hot Tubs. In fact, a recurring theme throughout the album is the similarities in its sound to Foxboro Hot Tubs, and this differs from the previous release in the three-part trilogy, iUno!, which has a more punk rock vibe to it.

The fourth song on the album, Lazy Bones, is one of the only songs on iDos! which carries Green Day’s full signature sound and could quite easily sit on many of their previous album releases. It contains a chord sequence which has been plucked straight from American Idiot’s, Give Me Novacaine, and has the chord changes and catchy choruses which Green Day have been writing all their careers.

With bass player Mike Dirnt appearing on the artwork for iDos!, I was expecting a big input from him on the album and he obliges on the tracks Makeout Party and Stray Heart. Both songs stand out in particular because of Dirnt—especially the lead single from the album, Stray Heart, which is driven by his signature bouncy, bass lines.

Towards the end of the album there are a few fillers—especially the track Nightlife which comes complete with guest vocals from Lady Cobra—the singer from the band Mystic Knights of the Cobra. The song is very experimental by Green Day’s standards in that it features Lady Cobra rapping and it could be questioned whether it fits in with the garage/60’s rock theme of the album. The final track, Amy, is a fitting way to end the album however. It’s a mellow ending so could be compared to Nimrod’s Good Riddance in that sense. If you pay close attention to the lyrics too, you get the sense that the song might just be dedicated to the late soul singer Amy Winehouse.

Overall iDos! is a good album from Green Day. It might not be as solid as some of their previous albums, and it certainly has a different feel to it, but having released ten studio albums now, the band can’t keep churning out the same material. The overwhelming feel from the album trilogy so far is that Green Day are having fun again and they have taken a new direction after the politically themed albums, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. With a career spanning nearly 25 years, some would forgive them for having a little fun.

It doesn’t look like they’ll be sitting with their feet up, raking in the cash from a greatest hits collection (post International Superhits), any time soon.

This Week’s Top Picks – 9th November

Ryan Keen – Back to the Ocean

by Luke Botham. 

This shows the cover of Ryan Keen's album. It shows a cartoon scene of boats riding on the sea towards the horizon in the night.If you’ve not heard of Ryan Keen, then it could easily be argued that your ears have missed out –big time. This year’s been a pretty amazing year for the Devon born singer/songwriter. Not only has he been on tour, had his music played multiple times on radio 1, and toured the UK, but he’s also received rave reviews and released a new EP just this week.

He’s an incredibly talented guitar player, and the calm and rhythmic way he uses it supplements and compliments his voice so well. His lyrics too are amazing, if you listen you can genuinely hear them pouring from his heart. They’re super personal and could be related to by so many people, and these are also perfect for his soft, calm, soothing voice. The obvious highlight of this EP, of course, is Ryan’s collaboration with Newton Faulkner on Reflections in the Water. Their voices, whilst slightly separate, do almost become one perfect uber voice on this song. And it’s amazing – it really proves both artists’ talents as singers and shows the Ryan Keen is a name you should be watching out for. If I had to compare him to anyone, aside of course from Newton, I’d say he has some slight similarities to Ben Howard, and that’s really nice to hear!

For more info on Ryan, you can check out his Facebookor follow him on Twitter.


My Chemical Romance – Number One

By Paul Battison.

American alternative rock band, My Chemical Romance, have been branded as a lot of things over the years. From post-hardcore, to ’emo’, to pop punk—what they’ve always consistently been is unique. They seem to reinvent themselves and their sound for whichever new album they are releasing. However they appear or sound though, most importantly, one thing always stays the same: their fans stay loyal. For their latest release then, a double sided single called Number One, things should be no different and there’s a good reason for this which I’ll get to.

This is the cover for My Chemical Romance - Number One.

Number One is part of a ten-song series of material called Conventional Weapons which will be released over the next five months. All of the material is previously unheard and on first listen, it sounds like My Chemical Romance have drew inspiration from their previously released albums which will please fans of the band. The A-side single, Boy Division, could quite easily sit alongside songs such as Give ‘Em Hell, Kid and Thank You For The Venom on their 2004 hit album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. It’s a punk rock song which brims with energy angst filled lyrics. The B-side single, Tomorrow’s Money, would be more comfortable sitting on the band’s last studio album, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys. It’s very upbeat and catchy and after only a couple of listens, you’ll find it sitting comfortably, laid back feet up, inside your head.

Number One is a solid release from the band and leaves you yearning for the next installment in the ten-song series. My Chemical Romance reinvent themselves so often, you’re often left with the question of “what next?” from band. With this release, it’s no different. They have so many styles and personas they can call upon when writing music, which direction the four-piece act from New Jersey is going to take next, is anyone’s guess.

You can find out more about the band by checking out their Facebookor following their Twitter.


Christmas Songs!

by Luke Botham

This is the cover for Now that's what I call Christmas 2012. It shows these words bursting out of red wrapping paper.

You might have read this title and had to look twice. But you’re not seeing things – this year’s first big Christmas album, Now That’s What I Call Christmas 2012, was actually released earlier this week.  It’s jam packed with everyone’s favourite Christmas songs, and let’s be honest, who can listen to the likes of Last Christmas and I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day and resist singing along? And even though it’s been released rather early, it is nice to see an album full of merry and seasonal tunes dropped in to the charts in comparison to some of the slightly grimmer songs that are out this week.

The only thing really bad about this album is the age of some of the tunes, which really are miles past their sell by date now! But there are a few people trying to remedy this situation this year. 90s boy band Backstreet Boys have released a brand new Christmas song –and it’s their comeback single! Whilst it is very cheesy, it’s surprisingly rather catchy, upbeat enough to work as a Christmas song, and you’ll almost definitely have it stuck in your head for hours after a few listens.


The Popdogs – Cool Cats For Pop Dogs

The city of Lincoln produces some great local bands, and these local bands can create some truly jaw-dropping tunes. Most people have a saddening habit of overlooking local music, so lets move the spotlight onto one Lincoln-based band that has me VERY excited.

Today I’ll be reviewing the upcoming debut album of a group of very clever canines who really shouldn’t be overlooked, no matter who you are, or what music you like.


I mean come on, throw the dog a bone.


This is the album artwork for The Popdog's new album - Cool Cats For Pop Dogs.

The Popdogs upcoming debut album:
Cool Cats For Pop Dogs


From Lincoln-based power-pop band The Popdogs comes the stunning new album, Cool Cats For Pop Dogs. The album features ten terrific tunes, including the seriously catchy “Queen Of The U.S.A”, and my personal favourite, the metrical and melodious “Honest Guy”.

The songs are simply structured for the most part, but that just adds to the seamless flow that every song possesses. Easy-listening, tuneful, and catchy as hell. It would be prudent to mention the classic power-pop guitar work in this album; the whole collection of songs is rife with bright melodies and well-articulated chords.

Each song retains the classic nuances of The Knack, R.E.M, The Beatles and The Byrds amongst other great power-pop bands, but with subtle modernisations that make the genre more accessible. For example, you won’t find the dominant bass riffs that this genre of music is known for (My Sharona by The Knack is a good example here), nor will you hear constant vocal harmonisation. What you WILL hear, are bright arpeggios in just the right places, and vocal harmonies being used to enhance choruses and other key parts in the songs.

It is, in my opinion, a very efficient and attractive design.

Other identifiable aspects of The Popdogs music include a real sense of rhythm. I challenge you to listen to their track “Kelly’s On” without bobbing your head along with it. Some of their songs are driven by punchy sequences of power chords for the melodies to float on and weave around. If you listen to Poison Heart by The Ramones, you’ll notice that The Popdogs have a bit of punk pedigree too.

Onto aesthetics, and you cannot deny, the album artwork is also pretty damn cool.

Have you ever seen a more awesome looking dog?


As far as the band goes, James Styring is the man behind the microphone providing those classic pop vocals, something which he does phenomenally well. Those bright guitar chops you hear are courtesy of  Mr Tim McKeating.

Once again, the album is called Cool Cats For Pop Dogs. You can find The Popdogs on Facebook, and you can find them on Reverbnation. Check ’em out, and give them your support.

This Week’s Top Picks – 2nd November

Ben Howard – The Burgh Island EP

This image shows the cover of Ben Howard's The Burgh Island EP, which is a black and white stormy image. You’d be forgiven for thinking Ben Howard had been around for years if you listened to his music. But he hasn’t. In fact, he only really started to hit it off with fans just over a year ago. His debut album, Every Kingdom, reflected this new popularity, peaking at number 6 in the UK and doing almost as well countries across the world.

His newest EP deserves just as much success.  It (an in particular Esmerelda) has a much darker tone. Its stormy and eerie melodies encapsulate you in the world of Ben perfectly, taking you to a place that’s super relaxing, yet a tad weird. The music has clearly grown and developed too, with instruments being used to blend and mould with his spine tingling vocals in the most interesting of ways. Sections are reminiscent of Every Kingdom, and this is particularly relevant to To Be Alone. It’s not quite as dark as the others and shows that this EP is a brilliant way of bridging his debut album with whatever is coming next. If winter had a sound, it may very well be this collection of tracks. And it works beautifully. It’s almost ironic too, that an EP which seeps with spooky and mysterious melodies should have been released on Halloween!

He’ll be playing at Lincoln’s very own Engine Shed later this month, on the 20th. You can check out his Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

Lower Lands – Socialise With Closed EyesThis image shows the cover of Lower lands' single cover. it shows two cartoon skeletons against a purple and green background

Lincoln’s alternative rock band Lower Lands have been going from strength to strength since their debut a couple of years ago. They’re fresh off a tour with Hawthorne Heights, and in the past have shared a stage with bands like Deaf Havana. This year also saw them getting signed to I Am Mighty Records.

They released their newest single, Socialise With Closed Eyes, on Wednesday. And it’s an absolute cracker. The guitar riffs at the start are an awesome way to kick it off and set the upbeat tone of the song, and when they starts belting out their vocals, they’re nothing short of beautiful. They entwine some light, catchy melodies with some proper rock voices in a superb way to produce a tune you’ll instantly fall in love with. It’s really upbeat, feel-good rock and is a definite improvement on their older stuff, with a slightly less heavy tone that makes it super friendly to willing ears.

It could easily be mistaken that they’d been making music for much longer than the short time that they actually have been, and whilst they are fairly unique, it’d be fair to say they produce music to the quality and style of bands like Lostprophets.

You can read our new interview with the band here. Alternatively, check out their Facebook, or follow them on Twitter


Matt Cardle – The Fire

This image shows Matt Cardle looking away from the camera against an orange background. After what could only be described as a whirlwind of year following the release of his debut album, Letters, X-Factor winner Matt Cardle has released his second album, The Fire. He parted with his original record label earlier in the year, but this has had nothing more than a positive effect on his music. He sounds happier and almost less restrained on this album, and that’s probably because he was given full control of the writing and production.

Lead single It’s Only Love shows this. It’s catchy and quite different to the Matt we heard in Letters. You can tell instantly that this is the music he’s meant to make. It’s flooded with passion and attention to detail to a degree that makes for listening heaven. There’re also a few slightly more emotional and deep sounding songs on the album. All that matters, for example has a very sad feel to it, with lyrics like ‘I just pray somebody loves you, somebody somewhere, cause I can’t hear you cry, not one second more, it’s killing me.’ Yet because of the notes that Matt can reach, it’s hauntingly nice, and in an odd way, soothing. Another track worth mentioning, because of the rocky turn taken, is bonus track Your Somebody. Matt’s voice is really raw and heavy in this track, and it doesn’t rely on his high notes in the way many of the others do. This just proves how diverse of a singer Matt really is, and also how much he’s grown and come on since his X-Factor days

For more info on Matt, you can take a peek at his Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

Nirvana – Nevermind


Back in 1991, a band crept out of the Seattle Grunge underground to release an album which would transform the music industry forever. Nirvana’s second studio album, Nevermind,  brought alternative rock to to the large mainstream audience and paved the way for many of the alternative rock bands we hear today.

Nobody in the world, including the band, could have predicted the level of success Nevermind would enjoy. In January 1992, it knocked pop icon Michael Jackson’s album off the top of the Billboard charts and of today, has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. The album spawned four hit singles—the first being the hugely popular track, Smells Like Teen Spirit, which can still be heard shaking the foundations of nightclubs today. The other three singles released were Come as You Are, Lithium and In Bloom.

Nevermind cover art

Nevermind cover art

The late Kurt Cobain was the front man and main songwriter in Nirvana. He cited bands such as the Pixies and the Meat Puppets as his biggest influences when writing the songs for Nevermind. The album starts with arguably the most famous alternative rock track of all time, Smells Like Teen Spirit. As soon as Cobain’s simple four-chord, clean guitar intro subsides, the song and album come to life, exploding with the sound of crashing symbols and distortion. This is a regular theme throughout the album, with the band sounding quite mellow in the verses before surprising the listener by erupting in the choruses.

Make no mistake though, Nirvana and the album Nevermind have a lot more in their locker than the surprise element. Tracks such as Come as You Are show the band’s talent as it contains perhaps, one of the most recognizable guitar riffs and bass lines ever created. The fourth track on the album, Breed, is full of aggression, driven by drummer Dave Grohl’s relentless drumming and bassist Krist Novoselic’s pounding bass line.

Kurt Cobain’s lyrics add the gloss to these songs. Whether he’s singing lyrics from somewhere deep inside or screaming at the top of his lungs, he has the voice which compliments every song on the album in its own unique way.  The seventh track, Territorial Pissings, is just over two minutes of punk rock onslaught where as the song Polly, is a beautiful acoustic track, showing there’s far more to Nevermind than loud amps and distortion pedals.

In truth, there’s not a weak song on the album and every track has something memorable about it. Nirvana opened the doors of success for many of the bands around today, including Flyleaf and Staind who both cite Nirvana as major influences. It’s 21 years on since the release of Nevermind and the album still sounds like it could have been released in this day and age.

For me, albums which stand the test of time are the best ones and that’s why Nirvana’s Nevermind, will go down as one of the greatest albums of all time.

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