Sunday, October 9, 2011

Music Review: Evanescence - Evanescence

It's been five years since we were last graced by the stunning voice of Amy Lee. Now Evanescence, who were touted as 2003's new Linkin Park, are back with their brand new self-titled album and proving that they are no one-hit wonders. The album has everything of their standard trademark complete with ethereal vocals, moody lyrics, wailing guitars and pounding drums.

From the blasting opening track and lead single What You Want, it's quite clear that you are going to have any amazing journey ahead. It's also evidence that Lee has lost nothing of her song writing ability. The song is catchy and instantly memorable. The piano almost sounds of place as the song goes on but is also strangely fitting.

Following is Made of Stone which is heavier rock and a darker version of Evanescence than we have previously known. The guitar scratching in the background and vicious lyrics are showing that this is a new and more adult version of the band. The song shows such growth that it is nothing short of amazing.

The Change and My Heart is Broken set a new standard for all other similar bands to live up to. The key to loving these tracks is remembering what endeared the band to you to start off with. It's a return to their The Fallen days and it's not experimental. It's Evanescence at their rocking best. It's the melody. It's the sheer stunning quality of Lee's voice. It's the music. It's the best way to describe these two tracks.

Skipping forwards a few tracks and you find Lost In Paradise. Here we have a much subdued track. Yes, they did a ballad. This is what the original version of My Immortal should have been. It plays along quietly, a true ballad and then at the right time, the band comes in with guitars wailing. It may sound like a bit of disaster in written word form but when you actually hear the song, it is amazing and perfect.

Sick is a return to the darker and heavier version of the band that we first found on the track Made of Stone. This song will rock you and you will love it. This is both lyrically and musically emotive. It's a highlight of the album with both the story it's telling and the performance. Listen to this track and tell me that you don't love it.

Returning to their original style are the tracks End of the Dream, Oceans and Never Go Back. It's like listening to their early work with a more mature song writer which is what was missing from The Open Door. They let go of the feeling that was there in their debut. Now, with their third album, they mastered how to mature and reach back to their roots. Don't be disillusioned into thinking that this is old work rehashed, it's not. This is something all new and no matter what gets written, nothing will prepare you for what you will hear.

Closing the album is Swimming Home which is an electronic, rock, ballad mix up. Nothing you have ever heard before will prepare you for the song. It's stunning. This is something that you've never experienced. Lose yourself in it's sheer beauty. The song is amazing. 

The album doesn't have a My Immortal or Call Me When You're Sober but it does have more than it's fair share of stand out tracks. This album may have taken five years to reach us but it's certainly been time well spent writing and perfecting the album. If you have only ever liked one of their songs in the past, this album will appeal to you. Even if you don't put the album on your 'To Buy' list, make sure as hell it's on your 'To Listen' list.

Evanescence is out now through EMI Music

Friday, October 7, 2011

Music Review: Gotye - Making Mirrors

One of the biggest names to be thrown around of late is Gotye. With the release of his sophomore album, Making Mirrors, he is gathering attention from around the globe. With this smooth harmonies and catching melodies, Gotye is being hyped around the world. This time, believe the hype.

From the opening of Making Mirrors, there are 12 tracks that you can't help but fall in love with. The beats, the drums, the harmonics, the riffs and that smooth vocal performance. This album is nothing short of astounding and will be played non-stop in an attempt to appease the ear.

By now everyone should be familiar with the single Somebody That I Used to Know which features the talents of Kimbra. The song is memorable and engrossing. Listening to it time after time and the song does not get tiring. Gotye has found the joys of highs and lows in his music and changing tone from soft to loud.

Following is Eyes Wide Open, which was the lead single on the album which was released October 2010. Since then it has been well received and even clocked in at number 25 on Triple J's Hottest 100. It's up-tempo and catchy riff that leaves will have even the most leaden of feet tapping in time.

Smoke and Mirrors is a strangely stunning mix of alternative rock and smokey blues. The chemistry of the track is no less appealing that any other track on the album. It's rich sound and smooth performance arrest the ear. It's preformed with such light and shade that it's listening pleasure at it's best.

When you first here I Feel Better, you are forgiven to think that you're listening to something that has appeared from somewhere between the 70's and 80's. The track sounds closer to something that you would expect to hear Cliff Richard sing back in his heyday. The brilliance of the track though, is that it still works and is just as captivating as the rest of the album. The catchy feel of the song. The up-tempo, foot tapping enticement that is so rich throughout the song.

The personal favourite track of the album, however, is State of the Art. The song feels seductive and layered with enticement that clings to the skin and will turn your head to pay attention to the track. The overuse of vocal exciter and digitization of Gotye's vocals breaks the sound the rest of the album goes through. Right up until the chorus when the the harmonics are just breath taking,. The jazzy and electronic feel of the track are an absolute fusion that is just amazing.

The closing track is Bronte which is far more subdued than the rest of the album though no less appealing. It's actually a welcome change and quite fitting way to end the album. It's delicate nature and almost dream like performance means that it is set aside and given extra notice that it otherwise may not have been. Let your breath be stolen... it's worth it.

The album has been given hype by people around the world. Guess what, it's deserved. The mixture of melody, harmonics and just out and out talent, means that this album is worth listening to. You do want to grab it with both hands and have a damn good listen. It's highly recommended for everyone and anyone to get their hands on this album and hear what all the noise is about.

Making Mirrors is out now through Universal Music

Monday, August 15, 2011

Music Review: tyDi - Shooting Stars

Music Review: tyDi - Shooting Stars

Who wants one of the hottest dance albums of the year? Well, here it is. One of the hottest DJ's in not only Australia but worldwide, is here with his second phenomenal album. 

Back in 2009, Brisbane boy tyDi released his stunning album Look Closer. It turned the Australian dance scene on it's ear and set a whole new level for aspiring DJ's and electronic music artists to live up to. Many have striven but none have achieved the same standard.

Now signed to the penultimate of dance music labels, tyDi has release his album Shooting Stars on the Armada label which is known for having some of the biggest and most amazing artists on their books.

Spread over 18 luscious tracks is evidence why so many people have taken notice of this young musical mastermind. The moving music, the spectacular composition of lyrics and sound. From the opener Take A Chance to the uplifting Vanilla to the almost ambient Long Nights on Fast Planes. There is something to appease every electronica lover.

The album features some of the most known vocalists within the dance world. Gracing the track Greater Heights is Jennifer Rene who featured on the Armin Van Buuren track Fine Without You. Her is rich and full and lies over the top of the stunning and steady beats that pulse beautifully through any type of speaker.

Also appearing is Audrey Gallagher who every knows from epic track Big Sky where she appears with John O'Callaghan. The track World's Apart may not have the same anthem like qualities that Big Sky did but it is certainly captures the ear and demands attention. Even when the album plays as background music, Gallagher's ethereal voice starts to play out of the speakers and you will pay attention. The song is easily an eargasm just waiting to happen.

The sheer and simply beauty of World's Apart is so dynamically different to the following track Never Go Back featuring Brianna Holan that you will check to make sure that it is the same album. The steady, driving beats that ripple throughout the track are addictive. It's hard to look past this track as a favourite.

For those who don't know, tyDi studied at the prestigious Conservatorium of Music and has a classical background. On the closing track Ariana, you can understand why. It's an instrumental track that is unrivaled in it's beauty. The delicate piano, the gentle strings and the calm soaring percussions that glide throughout the song are stunning. There are no real words to describe the sheer rapture that can be found in listening to this track.

This album is sheer brilliance and proof positive of just how diversely talented an individual can be. From the arrangement and production, to the effort that would have been put into writing this album. 

Don't be fooled by the hype, this album is worth it. You don't just want this album, you need it. For want of a better description, this musical journey is nothing short of astounding and breath taking. This man has been touring the world, head lining music festivals and has played club after club and garnered the attention of dance lovers world wide. To understand why, listen to this album.

Shooting Stars is out now through Armada

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Music Review: Zoë Badwi - Zoë

Music Review: Zoë Badwi - Zoë

It's been two years in the making, but the unmistakable talent of Zoë Badwi is now recorded and ready for you to take home. This unmissable vocal powerhouse has released her first album and it's worth every cent.

From her first release back in 2009 with Release Me to 2011 with the release of Accidents Happen, Badwi has shown that Australian artists can produce absolutely amazing music. Her debut album, Zoë, is just that evidence.

The album starts thumping from the outset with the opening track Freefallin. It's a track that brings back memories of so many nights out. People moving on a dancefloor, gyrating to the beat as Badwi's voice soars to high notes that no human should be able to hit. It's certainly one of Badwi's best known tracks and a welcome inclusion to any clubbers library.

Following is the amazing track Until You're Over Me. It's got the thumping bass that we have come to know and love as part of Badwi's signature that combined with soaring vocals and slick production, leave no doubt that it is destined to join her other singles as a club staple.

For those who were wishing, praying and hoping for it's inclusion, yes, Release Me has been thrown in. The throbbing beat that we all fell in love with and threw our hands in the air to so many nights. It also plays nicely into Carry Me Home which, while still dance-like, has a much more demure approach. It's certainly a pleasant change of pace in comparison to the rest of the album.

Skipping forwards a few tracks is Reckless. The song it catchy and will get your foot tapping. It also sounds very similar musically to Wynter Gordon's smash hit Dirty Talk. The lyrics, however, prove that this is a Badwi production. 

The only other comparison on the album is One Step Behind which has a similar feel to Kylie's X album. This leaves Minogue dead in the water though. Badwi presents the song with enticing beats and seductive vocals that stimulate the ear and drag the listener's attention.

Badwi's other, lesser known, single from 2009 was In The Moment and has been included on the album. It's catchy and flashy. It's something else to behold and start dancing to. Slick production, steady beats and a healthy amount of bass mean that it's club ready and deserved more attention than it got.

Badwi does have a softer side. Included on the album is Believe You. The album's token ballad. It's a beautiful piano based track which matches Badwi's voice perfectly. For this one, stunning song, Badwi croons rather than belts out the tune. The performance has a raw and vulnerable quality to it that is endearing and heartfelt.

The album closer is The Other Side. Don't try and compare it to anything else that you know of Badwi. The minimalistic instruments at start gives way to the vocal dynamics that have, by now, come Badwi's trademark. She proves her vocal range is just out of this world with the high notes she hits. It's hard not to at least nod your head as the music ripples and entices the listener.

For a debut album Zoë Badwi couldn't have done any better. This is the strong type of album that is missing so often in today's music scene. While it sticks to primarily one genre, it excels and shows just how talented Badwi really is. This album is phenomenal and any lover of electronica will want this album.

Zoë is out 5th August 2011 through Neon Records

The latest single Carry Me Home:

And the club favourite, Freefallin:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Live Performance: Zoë Badwi

Live Performance: Zoë Badwi 

She's been captivating Australia's dance scene hearts for a couple of years now and she's finally releasing her debut artist album. Zoë Badwi is ready to take the Australian music industry by storm and she's got a set of pipes that will floor a nation.

From starting off with the club smash hit Release Me back in 2009, Badwi has firmly planted her name in the international dance scene. With her voice that belts out over any speakers and a style that sets a whole new standard for vocal dynamics, Badwi is set to turn the music scene on it's ear.

The comparisons are instantly obvious. She's a Melbourne girl who is not only stunning but very girl-next-door, but she's also very personable when you speak to her. Badwi is a star in her own right and nothing will dissuade that visage that she has created.

Wednesday, 3rd August 2011, Badwi had her Melbourne album launch at the Greyhound Hotel in St Kilda. Climbing up on stage, Badwi blew away the crowd that had gathered to hear what she had to offer and the response was spectacular.

There had been whispers among the crowd that Badwi would be auto-tuned within an inch of her life. Those whispers were soon squashed and the gathered audience amazed at the true talent that the tiny star had to offer. 

From the opening song Freefalling, which any good club goer should know, to the breathtaking acoustic version of Accidents Happen, Badwi left the audience in sheer amazement as she belted through song after song. There was even a stunning cover version of Estelle's classic American Boy thrown into the mix. Badwi showed how brilliant she is by performing it as an acoustic version featuring her friend Isaac.

There were members of the audience who danced along to each track and didn't stop dancing, even on the one ballad that she performed to a more than receptive audience.

There was no theatrics or spectacular visual displays. There was Badwi on stage with backing music and her voice. What a voice it is. Strong, powerful and distinctly feminine. Some vocalists tend to lose themselves in scales and electronic enhancements, Badwi isn't one of them.

This is certainly an up and coming performer that needs to be watched. From her dynamic vocal ability to club heavy tracks, she's got it mastered and carved out a spectacular niche for herself. Not only within the Australian music scene, but as an international dance artist. Should Badwi play near you, make sure you go and see her belt out your favourite track but to witness her pure bliss as she sings each song to her heart's content.

Zoë Badwi... keep an eye out for her. This is the next big music export from Australian shores and will be setting your local club ablaze with little effort.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Music Review: Roger Shah - Openminded!?

Music Review: Roger Shah - Openminded!?

When thinking of premier electronic artists who can easily grace the speakers of any music love, it's hard to go past Roger Shah. His work under his own name and several nom de plume have carved out a niche market in this fickle music world.

With his last solo album, Songbook, being back in 2008, Shah has returned with another breath taking album that is sure to turn the ears of so many back to the trusted trance beats. The steady driving rhythm that plays right through the album is an absolute delight to listen to and will get the most uncoordinated toe tapping away.

His signature mixture of stunning melodies and driving beats are ever present throughout the album. Coupled with the brilliant choice of vocalists featured throughout, it would appear that Shah can do no wrong.

The first single to be lifted from the album is Morning Star featuring the breath taking vocal dynamics of Moya Brennan. For those who don't know the voice, think Saltwater by Chicane. The sweeping sounds of Brennan's lush voice and the almost orchestral quality of Shah's music will sweep you away.

Not one to leave a good song lie, Shah has recruited Sian Evans of Kosheen fame and redone their 2002 worldwide smash Hide U. It keeps the same feel though, at the same time, takes on a life of it's own. It's hard to pick the version to prefer. The original classic, or this newer driving force. The more dynamic electronic sounds ripple with energy and can't help but captivate the club kids who remember the first release, or the new listeners who will be dragged into the magic of the beat.

Realising that he's on a good thing, Shah brings Evans back twice more on the album. She features on tracks In The Light and Shine. Both the tracks are worth any hype made about them. 

When first listening to In The Light, the ethereal quality of Evans' voice, couple with the grit of the heavy trance throbbing creates a feeling which can't be clearly described in simple words. There is something magical about the way the pair work together. This can only, we hope, be an indication of what is yet to appear in the coming years from the music industry.

Shine itself is not without merit. There isn't the harshness of the sole heavy beat. Evans' voice proves that it can be quite melodious and enrapturing all over again. It proves how she has grown as an artist since we first heard her voice with Kosheen all those years ago. Breathe in the wondrous beauty of the song and it's uplifting feeling.

Also appearing for a track on the album is Chris Jones. Hot on the heels of his success with Armin Van Buuren in the song Going Wrong, Shah has brought him in for the floor filler Obsession. Apparently it's not just a Calvin Klein fragrance. It's also an eager track that will pound out over club speakers and have the highs and lows playing out as you lose yourself to the shamelessly enticing sounds of the song.

A dramatic and spicy highlight of the album is Porque. It features the amazing talent of Salma Ros. It would appear to be a debut for the songstress as there is very little information about her out there. The rich and smooth vocals are addictive. The track can be repeated several times over and still not get boring. The excitement of the track and the divinity of the production with the voice all creates a breath taking piece of musical breakthrough.

Appearing as an added bonus for those who buy the digital copy of the album, there is a second Chris Jones track Summer Days. It's got the open and uplifting feel to it that the title would suggest. It's actually hard to describe. There's so many positive things that can be said, it's hard to pick just one or two. The song if just a phenomenon on it's own.

As with any Shah production, there is a second version of each song that is more down tempo. The serenity of each track with a laid back and ambient feel, it's hard not to have your breath catch in your throat. Having Porque stripped back is addictive. Listening to Shine as an acoustic production just enhances it's beauty. It all proves just how truly versatile Shah really is with his production. 

Openminded!? is a masterpiece of electronica. Shah is constantly evolving and learning the art of his craft and applying the evolution to each release. It's crisp and modern yet still timeless. This is a fantastic release that is ready to have the uptempo versions playing before a night out and the down tempo ready for the recovery the next day. Whatever the time, this is an album and trance lover must have.

Openminded!? is out now through Armada

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2

It's over. It's finally over. The last of the Harry Potter movies is now in cinemas and the franchise has finished.

For those who aren't in the know, a boy wizard has to show down the big bad that killed his parents. It's been an epic story of magic, mystery, mischief and an infusion of romance as the story moved forwards.

The story picks up immediately where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1 left off. Voldemort has retrieved the elder wand and is now ready to take over the magical world. Muggles and half-bloods are doomed to misery as his pure blood supremacy takes full force.

The movie is, amazingly, quite true to the book. There are a few bits and pieces which have been dropped or altered to make it a bit more spectacular for cinema goers. Not enough changes, though, for too many grumblings. There's the fact that Harry didn't repair his wand at the end and they did change what Harry did with the elder wand.

Emma Watson is stunning in her role as Hermione, which no doubt fits like a second skin now. The producers must be counting their good fortune when they first cast her in the role all those years ago. Watson has grown into a talented actress with stunning looks.

Daniel Radcliffe has shown he has a career ahead of him. He could possibly turn out to be much like Elijah Wood. A few good movies and then disappears into nothing before coming back with a vengeance. The difference is Radcliffe has done seven well known movies. Note the use of term well known and not good. Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2, however, are certainly the jewels in the crown.

Rupert Grint. He's meant to be one third of the Golden Trio yet his performance didn't dazzle or amaze. He did his role competently but didn't set the screen on fire with his enthusiasm or stage presence like Watson and Radcliffe.

Alan Rickman, however, was a sight to behold. Finally showing the true depth behind Severus Snape, Rickman portrayed his character with an easy grace of the well seasoned professional that he is. Only as the final scene featuring Snape appears, do you truly realise just how amazing the character really was.

For the people who are waiting for that one line between Molly Weasley and Bellatrix LeStrange, it's there. Many were worried that it would end up on the cutting room floor but it didn't. Hearing Julie Walters calling Helena Bonham Carter a bitch... priceless.

The special effects are what you would expect for such an epic fantasy movie. The dazzling lights of the spells and the CGI of the stone gargoyles coming to life and just amazing and absolutely captivating.

All in all, the team did very well for this final piece of cinematic, and literary, history. Should anyone every decide that the will re-boot the series as Hollywood has taken to do doing at the moment, they won't come out of it unscathed. The series is ended, now let it rest. The movie is certainly well worth a look - go and see it now.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2 is in cinemas now!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: Diane Adams - Rearranging Stars

Book Review: Diane Adams - Rearranging Stars

Diane Adams has successfully returned to the the literary world with her latest story, Rearranging Stars. True to typical style, Adams has written a story that tugs at the heart strings and at the corner of the lips with a smile.

It's her first outing which doesn't fall in with her The Making of a Man series. Instead, this emotional drama, introduces two brand new main characters Grey and Drake. Both are equally endearing for their own character traits. Drake, a guardian angel, with his innocence and Grey, a vigilante mechanic, with his world views.

For those confused how this could work, the answer is very simple, incredibly well. Drake becomes Grey's guardian angel. Most startling to Drake is the fact that his charge can see and hear him. Grey is special and can see the guardian angels and hear what they have to say.

Drake himself is unusual for guardian angels as well. He requests to be a guardian for gay men. Most angels, when their charge passes away, forget their charges but not Drake, he claims to remember them all. He gets asked why at one point and the response is beautiful that they deserve to be remembered and not just forgotten. Adams handles the scene with easy grace and it's one of those precious moments when you choke on your own breath at the beauty of the words.

For anyone familiar with Adams other work, they will be aware that there is more than just crying and tissues with emotional overload. There are also the scattered one liners which are throughout the story. There's also a healthy dose of smut to run your eyes over. That in itself can lead to amusement as they try to work out how to have sex without hurting Drake's wings.

There is precious little that can be said about the story without sounding like hype and that's certainly not something that Adams deserves. The more hype, the less people are going to believe it. This is certainly not the case. This is a great read and an endearing story that sits proudly on display with so many other writers of her genre and sets an all new standard to read by.

Rearranging Stars is out now through Silver Publishing

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Review: Diane Adams - Stronger in Your Hands

Book Review: Diane Adams - Stronger in Your Hands

So it's finally here. This on going story that chronicles the lives of Alex and Jared has hit the point where Alex is finally 18. Yes, we all know what that means. He's now legal to participate in more adult activities.

Capturing the heart, Adams characters are nothing short of breath taking. The trials and pain that each character faces stops the heart and leaves it clenched. The sadness faced by Alex's best friend, Stevie, will leave tears in the eye of even the most stone hearted reader. The flawless wording leaves nothing to the imagination of the anguish that each character bears in the story.

Fortunately, the story is not completely maudlin. There are some beautiful and uplifting moments throughout. The favourite being the very last scene where the older version of Alex and Jared are dancing together in a park while it rains after the fourth of July fireworks. The scene is moving and the words that grace the screen reveals just how truly intimate the pair are and the deep love and affection that they share.

Of course, now that Alex is 18, there is an entire other side of the story which is more focused to the adult readers out there. Jared is now introducing Alex, a man 5 years his junior, to the world of sex. It's not by any means smut in it's description. Instead, Adams has managed to made it sensual and fun. The interaction between the pair shows an entire new level of intimacy and shows just why The Making of a Man is such a heart warming series.

Do not be afraid to fall in love with the characters as their on going relationship is endearing and even after you've read the title for a second or third time. Every time you read, it feels like a voyeuristic look into the life of a couple who are committed to each other and their relationship . Thankfully, it also feels like catching up with old friends. 

Diane Adams has written a world in which you are welcome to join and love along with the people who are featured. This is recommended for anyone who isn't afraid of love in all it's forms.

Stronger in Your Hands is out now through Silver Publishing

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Coming Soon: DJ Fresh feat Sian Evans - Louder

Coming Soon: DJ Fresh feat Sian Evans - Louder

So you know Sian Evans as the vocalist of Kosheen. She's teamed up with the amazing DJ Fresh and have dropped what is set to be one of the years biggest dance anthems.

This track is very dub step and, as a result, has come under heavy fire. Apparently, not every one likes dub step. Yeah, it is a surprise. Still, this is a testament to the ability of both Evans and DJ Fresh as they have kept their finger on the club pulse and have listened closely to what people are loving.

With Evans' soaring vocals and slick production on the part of DJ Fresh, it's an easily accessible track. Every time Evans hits the chorus, there's an urge to start pumping the fist in the air. This is certainly a collaboration that leaves most other recent releases in the genre behind. They have set the bar and they have set it high.

This is an exciting summer party tune (if you live in the northern hemisphere that is) that will rock the world around. Sorry folks, there doesn't seem to be a release date for the southern hemisphere at this stage... best bet is to add it as a favourite on youtube.

Louder is out July 3rd through Ministry of Sound

Have a look, see what you think:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Movie Review: Transformers Dark Side of the Moon

Movie Review: Transformers Dark Side of the Moon

Well here it is boys and girls. The final installment in the Michael Bay franchise and the movie he should have made instead of Revenge of the Fallen. Bay has it all this time around. Action, romance and comedy.

The first notable difference is the lack of Megan Fox and the addition of Rose Huntington-Whitely. There has been some less than friendly reviews about Rose's acting in the movie. Those reviews must have been written by jealous Megan Fox fans who were annoyed that Mikaela didn't return. How was that worked around? She dumped Sam apparently. Precious little gets said about the character which, for some of us, is a positive.

Also appearing in the movie is the legendary Leonard Nimoy. No stranger to the Transformer universe, Nimoy voiced Galvatron in the 1986 animated debacle Transformers: The Movie. Nimoy comes on board to play Sentinel Prime, the leader of the autobots before Optimus assumed the role.

Other stars pop up such as Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand and Ken Jeong. They have their own roles. Some you can't help but like. Others... well. No so much. They do give it a good go though, don't hesitate to believe otherwise. Of course there is also the franchise staples like Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and John Turturro.

For those not sure how Bay handled the movie, the answer is simple. Very well. The movie contains all the explosions of the second movie and the chemistry of the first movie and blended them well together. The fanboys and fangirls are going to try to tell you it was a bad movie. Sorry children, the cannon has changed and the original cartoon universe no longer applies.

The story is actually well put together with only one or two flaws but, all in all, isn't a bad yarn. The one that was heard most when leaving the cinema was "That's BS. How can there be Sentinel Prime in this movie when they said Optimus was the last prime in the last movie?" Apparently, people didn't actually consider that no one knew Sentinel Prime was still 'alive' until NEST soldiers told Optimus.

Without trying to reveal the ending, it seems highly unlikely that there will be any more movies in the franchise. Unless, of course, they decide to do a reboot in which case they're just going to irritate a lot of people.

The final verdict... it's a good movie. The audience, mostly, seemed to enjoy it. There's a lot going on in the movie and it's certainly a no-brainer. The story line is easy to follow, the one liners are perfectly delivered and the last hour is back-to-back action sequences with stealth, big bangs, fireworks and lots of oversized robots dying. The twist though, was perfectly thought up and well delivered. They say the third time is the charm. In this case, it certainly was.

Transformers Dark Side of the Moon is out now.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Music Review: Wynter Gordon - With The Music I Die

Music Review: Wynter Gordon - With The Music I Die

So you're saying that you've not heard this dance diva? She has dominated the airwaves since the release of her solo debut album Dirty Talk which hit number one on both the Australian ARIA charts and the US Dance charts. 

Gordon has also worked with dance mastermind David Guetta on his album One More Love on the track Toyfriend. Not to mention her rise to fame started with writing the title track for Mary J. Blige's 2005 album, The Breakthrough. She's also had a hand in writing no less than four of the tracks on Jennifer Lopez's latest album Love. Gordon also worked with other dance heavy weights The Freemason's on the non-album track Believer. Adding to her credits is her track Putting It Out There which was the theme for Sydney's 2011 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Not only is this woman an amazing talent at writing outstanding songs, she can also belt out a track. With slick production and catchy lyrics, there is no way that Gordon's debut artist album isn't going to be something that classics are made of.

Opening the album is the title track With The Music I Die. It's catchy, it's got a good beat. It's also not the strong album opener that one would expect. It's a not a bad track, don't be mistaken. It's just not the great track that an album should open with. Gordon's vocals sound shaky and like she is competing with the music when she really shouldn't have to.

Thankfully, here to save the album is Dirty Talk. This Australian three time platinum selling album reminds us why Gordon is in the industry. The catchy lyrics and easy beats are made for your pleasure. With seductive lyrics that put Rhianna's S&M track to shame, it's not hard to realise why this song took the world by storm.

Continuing the mission the get you dancing is Don't Stop Me. It's got a catchy riff that will get stuck in your head and a beat that bounces amiably along and is perfect if you're one of those people who like dance music before heading out. Gordon's vocal recovery is strong and confident. The music is just as powerful but, thankfully, doesn't threaten to overwhelm Gordon's singing.

The tracks Buy My Love and Still Getting Younger are both happy and playful. They prove that Gordon has set a new level and standard for all future dance diva's to live up. Her talent shines through with her dynamic and, at times, almost ethereal voice.

The track Rumba features Kevin McCall and is catchy like you wouldn't believe. It's certainly one of the reasons that even if you don't want to buy the album, you should listen to it. Fusing together dance music and Spanish guitar playing, the track is such a side step into something new, that it can't be described properly. It's a grabbing track that you want to hear.

Dance maestro Robbie Rivera also pops up on the album. He works with Gordon on the track In The Morning. It's as close to a ballad as you're going to go on this album. The rolling music that comes in waves from ambience towards up tempo and then back down to ambient is all very signature from Rivera and suits Gordon's voice perfectly. It's a track that's designed for a Sunday morning recovery after a big Saturday night out.

Gordon closes the album down with Renegade which features Static Revenger.  It's, again, quite a side step from the general sound of the rest of the album. It's very heavily electronic with the beats and basic melody. It's quite an addictive song with the way it deviates from Gordon's standard formula. It's catchy all the same, so don't worry. Just be ready to have a bump and grind dance time.

Despite the shaky opening, the album is quite strong in it's production and delivery. One slightly questionable track out of twelve is pretty good stats by anyone's imagination. this is certainly not a 'one listen only' album. The more times you listen to it, the more times you hear something different which you hadn't picked up on before. She's our new dance diva and definitely has something to share.

With The Music I Die is out now

Friday, June 10, 2011

Music Review: Above and Beyond - Group Therapy

Music Review: Above and Beyond - Group Therapy

Baby you think you've heard good music, you ain't hear nothing yet. Above and Beyond have just dropped their follow up artist album Group Therapy and it's fantastic! Hold onto your hats, you're in for an exciting ride with this album.

You learned to fall in love with Above and Beyond when they released their debut album Tri-State, now learn to fall in love again. This release follows a similar, almost ethereal, trance sound as the last did. This time, however, it branches off into it's own unique path and redefines the talent that Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki possess and sets them firmly back into the spotlight. 

There is heavy temptation to refer and compare to Tri-State but that wouldn't be fair to either body of work because both are exception beacons of what is very right in the trance world at the moment.

If you did not understand the previous comment about how they can produce an almost ethereal track, listen to the opening track Filmic. It's a clever move on the band's behalf as it is almost misleading as to where the album itself will go. It's haunting and near spiritual with the serene beauty of the track.

Unsurprisingly, they do have vocal trance tracks on this album. Rather than polluting the album with a new singer for every track, they have used the same two the entire way through. Zoe Johnston has returned to add her stunning voice to five of the tracks which includes the outstanding highlight Giving It Out. The steady driving beat and up tempo make it easily one of the most enjoyable songs on the album. 

The other vocalist on the album is Richard Bedford. We've all heard the first song that was released off the album being Sun & Moon but don't take that as the penultimate song Bedford will be featured on. There's also the stunning track On My Way To Heaven which has an almost symphonic opening before ensnaring the senses and dragging them to the dancefloor.

Then, of course, there is the latest single Thing Called Love which is a strong reminder of just where Above and Beyond started. That's moving people on a dancefloor with heady beats and pulsing rhythms. If this track hasn't become a favourite at music festivals yet, you can't help but wonder why? This is trance. This is the track people want to dance to. This is the track that trance artists inspire to write.

For those who like pure trance track with just the steady beat that will get you moving, you haven't been forgotten. As mentioned, the album opens with Filmic but then you get halfway through the album and your senses will be blown open with Prelude. Don't worry, it's not a 15 second filler track that some artists do. This is sensory bliss that will have you amazed and moving your head in time up until midway through the song where the anthemic and symphonic music kicks and you can't help but raise your eyes towards the heavens in agreement. Just wait for the tribal chanting, you'll know beauty.

Closing out the album is the other instrumental track Eternal. It's a blended elegance between piano and eletronica. There's something spellbinding by this piece of work that you will listen to it repeatedly. It really is the perfect song to have as the final track on a release. It's serenity and beauty is seamless and just breath taking.

All in all, Above and Beyond make have taken 5 years to release this album but it's more than worth it. If more trance artists could follow in this group's footsteps, we would have any amazing world of dance music out there. This album is going to be a legacy. This album is going to get played for years to come, just like it's predecessor. This album will remind you why you fell in love with trance music. You want this album.

Group Therapy is out now through Ajunabeats Records

Monday, June 6, 2011

Music Review: Josh Gabriel Presents: Winter Kills

Music Review: Josh Gabriel Presents: Winter Kills

In a musical era where reproduction and mimicry are so common place, it's refreshing to find original work that stands tall above so many other acts. The stunning release of Josh Gabriel and Meredith Cal's work under the guise of Winter Kills is welcomed with open arms to an industry where astonishingly mediocre is considered highly acceptable.

The introduction to Winter Kills was made back in 2009 with the release of the club phenomenon Deep Down. Since then, the team have been in the studio, not only working on their own debut artist album but also contributing to Armin Van Buuren's last artist album with the track Take A Moment

The first thing that is apparent as the album takes hold is the innovation and unrestricted musical freedom that the duo have been given to create this brilliant piece of art. The slow pick up of the first track, Tomorrow, to the steady beat of the latest single, Hot As Hades, and onto the eerie Deep Down. The album is a journey that loops back on itself and, at the same time, keeps soldiering forwards.

Meredith Cal's voice across all the tracks is haunting and enticing. The songstress has found her niche in the market full of pretty faces and dainty voices. Her singing ability is genuine and refreshing. Her talent undeniable. When this is coupled with Josh Gabriel's 25 odd year career, there is something undeniably right about the release.

Surprisingly, they even include a cover version of I'll Stand By You. It's been modernized since the original 1994 release by The Pretenders. Cal doesn't try to replicate the sound of Chrissie Hynde's voice. She finds her own footing in the track and makes it her own. The two version cannot be compared as they are so unique and different that to say one is like the other or one is better than the other is to do it no justice.

Over the 13 tracks of diverse musical creativity, it is difficult to find stand out tracks as the pair have worked hard on each and every track. The success of the album will make that apparent to anyone who takes the chance and listens all the way through the album. 

As a debut, this is the album that many artists want to release. Showcasing an awe inspiring talent and commitment to the perpetuation of the music industry by providing a legacy that will live on, even if Gabriel and Cal choose not to continue with the Winter Kills project.

Josh Gabriel Presents: Winter Kills is out now through Armada Music

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Music Review: Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Music Review: Lady Gaga – Born This Way

We all knew her return was inevitable. Following up on the world wide phenomenon first album, Lady Gaga is back with her sophomore album Born This Way. It’s bold, brave and exciting. From the Queen of the Kooky, she’s proven that she has what it takes to dominate the charts for a second time.

The best thing about this album isn’t that it doesn’t try to mirror the success of The Fame/The Fame Monster. Gaga has kept a similar formula for creating her songs but has also expanded. It’s quite easy to hear the 80s influence which plays across each track while still staying true to her dance/pop roots.

By now we all know Born This Way, Judas, and Edge of Glory but the show doesn’t stop there.  For example the opening track Marry The Night. When the track starts, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d just put in the latest Glee soundtrack. That is disillusioned pretty fast when the tempo and talent kicks in. It’s a great start for the album and you just know that you are in for an absolute treat with the next 16 tracks.

SCHIEβE is a brilliant club stomping track. With the start delivered in what, to an untrained ear, sounds like flawless German, the track is just fascinating and then after you get past the intro the heavy house music influences kick in and the beat starts. Please move to the dance floor and dance like you really don’t care.
Not content to remain in just the pop style of music, 

Gaga also dabbles in electro-rock with the track Bad Kids.  It’s an interesting combination which works to Gaga’s advantage. The lyrical content of the song is a story in itself. The younger generation who are, in essence, good people but have been told that they aren’t or are a ‘bad kid’. Those labelled a degenerate and those who have nothing the offer.  It’s a song to remind them that they aren’t the lost causes and they are still a person with a heart that is pure.

There’s also the track You and I which has a country influence. It’s not the banjo playing, foot stomping, swing your partner around country.  Don’t worry it’s not talking about the cows dying or the tractor breaking down either.  It’s a story about the joy of having something special with that someone special.
Closing out the album is Edge of Glory. It’s catchy and filled with that Lady Gaga magic that singles out each track as hers. Of course, it has the club influence interpolated with the trade mark pop music that Gaga is so renowned for.
If you were wise enough to get hold of the deluxe version of the album, you will be delighted with that second disc which contains 6 remixes for your listening pleasure. Included is Born This Way (Country Road Version) which was streamed by Gaga not long after the initial release of the song. It’s such a change from the usual music we hear from Lady Gaga but it’s certainly a welcome change given fact that it does show her diversity. Also included on the second disc are remixes of Judas, SCHIEβE and another remix of Born This Way.
Many discounted Lady Gaga as a fad who was disappear quickly after the initial craze. With the release of this album, she’s proven that she isn’t going anywhere and is a musical force to be reckoned with. The album is going to garner her more attention and loyal fans. Be ready for the world to keeping going mad for Lady Gaga for some time to come. Either get on board with loving her or keep quiet. Either way, Gaga and her army of little monsters aren’t going to be silenced.
Born This Way is out Monday 23rd May 2011.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Music Review: Ali McGregor - Jazz Cigarette

Music Review: Ali McGregor - Jazz Cigarette

Australia is certainly well known for it's superb talent and to follow the tradition, let us introduce the stunningly fabulous Ali McGregor.

To some she is a household name after her appearance on the soundtrack to the 2004 film, One Perfect Day performing on the Paul Van Dyk remix of the title track. Since then, Ali McGregor has gone from strength to strength travelling the world and performing one stunning show after another.

Now in 2011, we have the release of McGregor's breath taking album Jazz Cigarette. With her sultry voice and unmatched talent, McGregor has hit the right notes to make a truly stunning album. From the captivating first notes to the enticing closing of the album, jazz lovers will fall in love with the genre all over again and embrace McGregor as a shining star.

As mentioned, McGregor sang the title track from One Perfect Day and then the second introduction to this heavenly voice was at the 2010 Melbourne International Comedy Festival where she sang with our favourite comedian Mr Sammy J. The audience at Sammy J's solo show Sticky Digits was blown away by the powerhouse vocals that this dynamic lady displayed. 

These vocals are out in full force as you traverse the 14 tracks of sheer listening pleasure that makes up Jazz Cigarette. The traditional jazz sounds met with the operatically trained voice of McGregor leaves such an impression that this album will be put on repeat and listed to at any chance.

The album includes traditional tracks such as Whatever Lola Wants and Georgia On My Mind. Also appearing is the Cry Me A River Medley which interpolates the classic 1953 song penned by Arthur Hamilton and also 2002 song by the same name performed by Justin Timberlake. The track is nothing short of amazing.

Also popping up are two surprises. The first being Sweet Dreams. Not the same as you are used to by the Eurythmics but instead a brilliant jazz version which meets beautiful smoky cabaret and sweet vocals which fuse to create one of the absolute stand out tracks on the album.

The other surprise is the adaptation of Oops! I Did It Again by Britney Spears meeting similar treatment. As an added bonus, McGregor works with the highly talented James Morrison on the track. The pair together make it a track that stands out and is more memorable than the radio disposable version that we are used to.

This album has been made for anyone who loves stunning music. Whether you are a jazz fan or not, after listening to this album there's no doubt that you will fall in love with the stunning Ali McGregor and her breath taking performances and sultry voice. This album would be amazing to play at a dinner party or have playing on a Sunday with a good book and nice glass of wine. Get this album now and fall in love with the voice of Ali McGregor.

Jazz Cigarette is out now.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Music Review: iiO - Exit 110 (feat Nadia Ali)

Music Review: iiO - Exit 110 (feat Nadia Ali)

After an extended break, iiO have returned with their follow up to the hugely successful debut album, Poetica. Continuing with their electronic experimentation, Exit 110 sees the return of Nadia Ali as the divine voice of the band.

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since iiO captured the hearts of clubbers worldwide with their debut smash Rapture. A track that has spawned dozens of remixes from the likes of Armin Van Buuren and Deep Dish. A track which, a decade on, still get heavy club rotation. Now, a decade on, we are getting new music from the band. Those looking for a rehash of old material will be sorely disappointed however. As any musical entity must, iiO have grown and so has the music. Still close to their electronic roots, it's no longer the overall ambient feel from Poetica.

The album starts strong with It'll Be Like. This is probably the closest track on the album to Poetica material we're used to. The song is captivating and enchanting. It's steady beat thumping away behind the stunning vocals. Both parts work together to capture the ear and attention of the listener.

The next three tracks More (Love Hi), All I Need and Meant to Be have quite a heavy 80s influence while still remaining uniquely modern. The seductive tones of Nadia Ali's voice and the excited energy of the music all work and fuse together to make each track an adventure for the ear. The three tracks are proof of just what made iiO such a household name.

Going sideways from the 80s style, the track I Don't Know branches off into a steady and almost tribal feel track. The beauty of the track though, is that the musical styling can't be quantified or actually defined given the fluidity of the track. It's electronic, it's tribal, it's got both a house and trance feel to it. As messy as that makes the track sound, it's actually not. It's polished perfection showing how easily the boundaries can blend.

Also on the album is P.I.C. (Partner In Crime). A track that returns to the 80s influence and even features an interpolation of Funky Town. It's a refreshing track with energy and excitement running free. 

Don't Talk to Her and Fiends are not the best tracks that iiO have ever released. As much as they are exciting and energetic, there's just something about the two tracks which make them feel a little bit like fillers which isn't something that has ever been said about an iiO track before. Each track has it's own merits, don't be mistaken. They just take a few listens before they start to grow on you.

Featured towards the end of the album is Poetica II. A musical sequel to the spoken word conclusion of the Poetica album. The track follows in the same vein as the original but Ali's voice tends to be drowned out by the music which runs over the top. It does, however, lead nicely into the closing track Exit 110. The slick production and instrumental track shows that MarKus Moser can create masterpieces on his own without Ali. 

All in all, Exit 110 is a great album. People looking for a mirror or reproduction of Poetica will be disappointed. The sound is similar but different at the same time. There will be those who don't like the evolution that has occurred and there will be bothers who embrace it. No artist can release the same album twice and iiO haven't either. Even if you don't have this album on your 'To Buy' list, at least put it on the 'To Listen' list.

Exit 110 is out now through made records