Coldplay – Parachutes (2000) Review

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Back in 2000, Coldplay were the new band on the block, with their second single ‘Yellow’ storming up to no. 4 in the UK chart, soon after, their full album ‘Parachutes’ debuted at No.1 in the UK.

Coldplay’s mainstream success and ability to write universally appealing songs hasn’t changed since they started, however the Coldplay of 2000 is quite a different one to now. We didn’t have the joy (or agony) of watching Chris Martin dance around in a weird hopping fashion, and they would be happy to rock up to a gig in their lazy Sunday clothing, other than their multi-coloured attire of today.

Their music has changed a lot too, you won’t hear any catchy pop hits like ‘Paradise’ or ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’ on Parachutes. There’s more breathing space, with tracks like ‘Trouble’, ‘Spies’ and ‘Everything’s Not Lost’. The space gives an overall sense of melancholy, and leaves room for Jonny Buckland’s guitar parts to shine. Particularly in ’Spies’, helping to give atmosphere and glue the track together.

There’s a Jazz influence on ‘Sparks’ and ‘Everything’s Not Lost’, this is something we haven’t heard prominently on any other Coldplay album, and is a really nice addition, there’s also a Jeff Buckley style vocal performance on ‘Shiver’, and you can hear nods to Radiohead on ‘Spies’ and ‘High Speed’.

The production quality is brilliant on Parachutes, but importantly doesn’t feel overproduced, and still has a raw, organic feel to it. The simple instrumentation helps with that ‘raw’ sound, with predominantly just Bass, Drums, Guitar and Piano.

Many fans have been longing for a Parachutes esq album from Coldplay for way over a decade, I however think it would be a step backwards if they were churn out something similar. We already have a Parachutes, and it’s brilliant. This album marks the start of Coldplay’s reign as one of the biggest bands of the Noughties.

Favourite Song – Trouble

Hidden Gem – Everything’s Not Lost

Rating – 8.5/10

Parachutes

Owned on CD.

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Coldplay – X & Y (2005) Review

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Coldplays third studio album ‘X&Y’ features huge choruses, bucket loads of electric guitar, and some of my all time favourite Coldplay songs.

In interviews they have expressed that this is their least favourite album they’ve made, without going into detail as to why. Some people think this is where their music started to go downhill, and tend to swear by their first two records whilst dismissing anything else they’ve done. However, lots of fans regard this album as some of Coldplays best work, myself included. Popular tracks include ‘Fix You’, ‘The Hardest Part’, & ‘Speed of Sound’, all incredible songs in my opinion, plus there’s plenty more great tracks that are relatively unknown.

In terms of the instruments and sound of the album, not much has changed since A Rush Of Blood To The Head. They haven’t exactly re-invented themselves, but I don’t really have an issue with that. I would say that Parachutes and AROBTTH have a more raw feel to them, which is perhaps what some fans miss with X&Y. Despite this, tracks like ‘Talk’, ‘Swallowed In The Sea’ and ‘What If’ show their ability to write great songs, and I can see X&Y in my top 3 or 4 Coldplay albums.

The use of organ really works in this album. It’s heard more prominently in ‘Fix You’ and ‘The Hardest Part’, and is used in a way that sits in the mix nicely without it becoming cheesy. The combination of strings and organ in ‘Fix You’ whilst the words ‘Lights will guide you home’ are sung is heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and is definitely a highlight of the album.

One of my favourite tracks ‘Swallowed In The Sea’ is written in a sort of nursery poem style, which oddly works really well. The track builds up from nothing and ends on a huge chorus, with the help of the Martin’s vocals and Johnny Buckland’s impeccable guitar parts, which really help the track come alive. Buckland’s guitar parts deserve a mention on tracks such as ‘Twisted Logic’ and ‘Low’, where his riffs and ability to make the guitar sound huge give brilliant light and shade to the songs.

In my opinion, there isn’t a bad track on X&Y. It’s a well crafted record, and shows their ability to write great songs that relate to millions of people on a personal level.

Favourite Song – Fix You

Hidden Gem – Swallowed In The sea

Rating – 9/10

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Owned on CD.

Thin Lizzy – The Adventures Of Thin Lizzy (1981) Review

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The Adventures of Thin Lizzy is a great starting point for our fledgling record collection. Striking album artwork coupled with a simple, yet, evocative title inspire a keen sense of intrigue and anticipation even before the chords of the opening track, ‘Whiskey in a Jar’, can be heard.

Unlike many albums, which throw the kitchen sink at the first track before slowly descend into mediocrity, The Adventures of Thin Lizzy starts by leaving you with the sense that more is to come. Whilst the dynamic of this album is slightly different, given that it is a ‘greatest hits’, it still trumps other albums that would pale in insignificance when compared to this record. It is at this point I should like to point out that this blog prefers not to review ‘the best of’ as we view it as counterintuitive and hypocritical. However given the sheer scope and expense of record collecting I think we can be pardoned on this occasion.

For those familiar with Thin Lizzy then front man Phil Lynott is a household name. For those who aren’t, Lynott’s vocal prowess becomes apparent from the beginning of the album. The opening duo that kicks off side one – the aforementioned ‘Whiskey in a Jar’ and ‘Wild One’ – are an easy listen yet leave you wanting more. Both tracks serve as somewhat of an appetiser for what will transpire to be a thoroughly enjoyable musical feast.

The two marquee songs, originally from the album ‘Jailbreak’, that follow tracks 1 & 2 are seen to be held responsible for cementing the bands status as stars. It isn’t hard to ‘see’ why. The frenetic pace of ‘Jailbreak’, complimented by the instantly recognisable ‘The Boys are Back in Town’, serves to really up the tempo on this album. Lynott’s proclamation “tonight there’s going to be a jailbreak” yelled over the top of some catchy guitar riffs signify the album is ready to deliver the main course. ‘The Boys are Back in Town’, arguably the bands’ most famous song, creates a sudden urge to tap/sing along to this vintage tune.

 ‘Don’t Believe a Word’ and ‘Dancing in The Moonlight’ complete an enjoyable side one. The former is very much in the ilk of tracks 3 & 4. The latter, one of my favourite Thin Lizzy songs, demonstrates the dynamism of Lynott – the song is groovy and upbeat, whilst simultaneously giving off a relatable down to earth vibe.

Physically getting up and turning the record over to side two, whilst glancing at the delightful artwork on the sleeve, is one of the many joys of owning vinyl. The change to side two carries on from where side one left off. ‘Waiting For an Alibi’ ups the ante again as another foot stomper showcases a quintessential Thin Lizzy track – Scott Goram and Gary Moore’s lengthy guitar solos typify this.

 ‘Do Anything You Want To’ follows suit adequately. The temporary slowing of the tempo, from the impassioned ‘Sarah’, is quickly raised again by ‘Chinatown’ – the penultimate track on this album. The album concludes with ‘Killer On The Loose’, a great way to end this record.

Whilst Lynott is sadly no longer with us, his & Thin Lizzy’s work endures. The larger than life way in which he lived his life is really reflected on this great album. The Adventures of Thin Lizzy is a credit to Lynott and the rest of the band. A must have for any fan of 70’s music.

 

Favourite Song – Dancing In The Moonlight

Hidden Gem – Sarah

 Rating – 8/10

 

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Vinyl exclusive, owned on vinyl

 

Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox (2012) Review

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Bruno had a lot to live up to after the huge mainstream success of his debut, but instead of slipping into the dreaded 2nd album syndrome, he hit back with another no.1 album and a string of hits under his belt.

Mars’s ability to delve into other styles shows what a rounded artists he is, Rock, Rnb & Pop are the main players, and he dips between them with ease. Due to more artistic freedom from his record label, the lyrical and musical themes are expanded; Mars stated that this album is ‘more of him and what he stands for’, and as a result we’re given darker themes of sex and drugs in songs like ‘Gorilla’ and ‘Money Make Her Smile’.

I’m a sucker for a pop melody, and this album certainly ticks that box for me. Tracks such as ‘Moonshine’ and ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ are in my opinion, melodic perfection; so good in fact, that he could get away with singing about anything and I wouldn’t care. For me though, contrary to popular critics, he delivers on a lyrical level too; I especially like ‘When I Was Your Man’ for this – a simple & universal theme about love and heartbreak that leaves your heart wrenching, with the musical chops to back it up.

Mars’s live performances are off the scale, and I prefer them over the studio recordings a lot of the time. I’d much rather this than the other way round (a good album but a shoddy live performance). He tends to switch up the arrangements, which I really like, so much so that when I listen back to the record I miss that live magic. ‘Treasure’ is one that sticks out for me; it sounds great on the record, but when played live it seems to groove better.

When I stick on an album, I like to be taken on a journey. The vast amount of styles featured in ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’ doesn’t allow this in my opinion; and although the tracks are all great, I feel that as a collection they don’t fit together as well as they could. That being said, this album is a brilliant listen with some real pop masterpieces. The Hawaiian megastar seems unstoppable at the moment. Since, he’s gone on to release smash hit ‘Uptown Funk’ and incredible new album ’24k Magic’, surely making his mark as one of Pop’s greatest solo artists.

Favourite Song – Locked Out of Heaven

Hidden Gem – Moonshine

Rating – 7.5/10

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Signed copy, owned on CD.