Tag Archives: Music Review

Mike Shinoda releases his Post-Traumatic EP and it is Deep

Linkin Park’s MC shares the battles he’s dealing with since Chester Bennington’s death last Summer.

It’s taken me a while to write this one up as it’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster when it comes to all things Chester Bennington, and Mike Shinoda’s three-track EP, entitled Post Traumatic, is part of that ride.

Linkin Park’s fan-base have been hit hard by the passing of Chester Bennington, with many fans having used their music to help them get through their own struggles with depression and anxiety for nearly two decades. The immense impact his death has had on their supporters has been palpable from the moment the news broke last summer. That said, nothing could really match the grief and struggle that his family and his band mates must be feeling, especially Mike Shinoda whose bond with Chester was tangible. For Shinoda and the other members of Linkin Park, an extra layer of anxiety comes with Chester’s death: what do they do now? This is explored in Shinoda’s aptly titled Post Traumatic EP – the battle between losing a friend, a band brother, and seeing his life’s work under threat. ‘Place to Start’ is a track questioning that outlook. It is an anxious track about new beginnings, at a time he felt he was at the top. It’s a track that acknowledges that with the death of his friend, he fears the death of his career is following. It’s a very honest admission.

It is the second track, ‘Over Again’, that has arrested the Linkin Park family (the fans) the most. It’s a song they could relate to. The anxiety represented in ‘Place to Start’ continues, focusing on having to perform without Chester. As a life-long fan of Linkin Park, I can honestly say that when they performed the memorial concert, as the lump catches in Shinoda’s throat, it does with all of us. There were tears in the audience, and tears at home from the people who streamed the concert online. When the band played ‘Numb’ with an empty spotlit mic, it was difficult to watch. It was difficult to listen to. ‘Over Again’ is a receptacle for Shinoda’s anger towards the situation too – which is part of the grieving process. These emotions can be heard in Shinoda’s voice, making this track raw, and he must be admired by allowing the world to see his vulnerabilities and fears.

To conclude this confessional EP, ‘Watching as I fall’ is the best produced of the three tracks, and perhaps the saddest. As the chorus kicks in, there is an impending sense that Chester’s vocals are about to feature, and this impacts on the impression of the track.

The EP seems structured in such a way that it takes you on an emotional journey, leaving you feeling the same uncertainty of the future that Shinoda clearly feels. And although it draws out the sadness and grief in us all, I’m happy that Shinoda decided to share this with us.

No one knows what’s going to happen with Linkin Park in the future. In a Q&A with the fans recently, Shinoda said he’s going to focus on some solo projects for a little bit, to see how they develop. It’s hard, as a fan, to see Shinoda feeling lost in such anxiety. But it’s also be uplifting to see the Linkin Park family support him and encourage him.

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A New Raw Biographical Soundtrack from Rap God, Eminem

A RAW AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SOUNDTRACK TACKLING HIS PERSONAL LIFE, HIS CAREER & THE POLITICAL UPHEAVAL IN THE USA

Eminem dropped Revival in December 2017, four years after his last album The Marshall Mathers LP 2. Over the last couple of decades, Eminem’s music has evolved into a profound narrative, spattered with entertaining tracks allowing the listener to really appreciate the complexity which is Marshall Mathers. This 19-track album is a psychological rollercoaster that gives us a front seat view through Eminem’s eyes.

Revival opens with ‘Walking on Water’ feat. Beyoncé which thrusts you straight into the cranium of Eminem – his thoughts both light and dark, and contemplative and honest. ‘Walking on Water’ conveys his feelings about being an idol on the pedestal of his fans. Its revealing narrative explores his battles with his ability and confidence in his material, his vulnerability within the industry, and the expectations with every line he writes. Back in November, Eminem performed this track on Saturday Night Live with Skylar Grey singing the part of Beyoncé, and I wish he had used Skylar for the album track as her emotional delivery balances his faultlessly.

POLITICALLY ANGRY

The album explores the current American political landscape with a series of tracks hitting out at the police force and Donald Trump. Eminem’s playful Slim Shady persona makes an appearance, in all but name, in the fun but very serious ‘Untouchable’ track – a politically charged rant about racial segregation in America, specifically the issues surrounding white members of the police force and the black communities. It’s certainly an anthem of Black Lives Matter. This track is another demonstration of Eminem’s ability to give us an unforgettable tune whilst discoursing on a politically charged subject.

The present dogmatic state of America is a catalyst for Eminem’s frustration and sorrow. He has pride in his country, and yet he is heartbroken at where it is now. This is most notably broadcast in ‘Like Home’ feat. Alicia Keys, which responds to Trump and the division he is causing, as opposed to the home he was raised in – the real America. This is a very patriotic song..

DRUGS, SEX & BREAKDOWNS

The biggest surprise here was perhaps ‘River’, not the subject matter of domestic abuse and failed relationships – which is familiar in Eminem’s work – but the part of Ed Sheeran. I’m guessing a large portion of Eminem fans don’t listen to Ed Sheeran. The song itself is another autobiographical exploration, but I think it will be hard to accept Ed Sheeran’s place on the song. That’s not to discredit Sheeran’s standalone talent, more that the two don’t marry well.

Another duet on the album worth noting is with the ‘Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken’ singer, P!nk. ‘Need Me’ is certainly the complete reverse to P!nk’s track feat. Eminem, ‘Revenge,’ from her most recent album Beautiful Trauma, and yet the subject matter is also very similar: the distress of a relationship, the mixed messages, and the complexities and confusions of being in a relationship. As usual, P!nk delivers an incredibly moving performance, which is the undertone of ‘Need Me.’ She is equally an artist who wears her heart on her sleeve, and is very open with her opinions and life’s demons.

OLD SKOOL EMINEM & SAMPLES

As a reprise to the heavy emotional narrative of Revival, Eminem has given us some phenomenally catchy tracks, many of which sample some classic songs, such as ‘Remind Me’ which sounds like Eminem is channelling Slim Shady two decades later – it’s fun, it’s memorable and samples the rock hit ‘I love Rock n Roll’ by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. ‘Heat’ is a sexually fuelled track sampling the introduction to ‘Feel the Heat’ from Boogie Nights, and ‘In Your Head’ samples The Cranberries ‘Zombie’ track – which somehow feels more significant since the passing of their lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan back in January. It is also the track that marks the beginning of the end of Revival. The last two songs, ‘Castle’ and ‘Arose’ are perhaps the most confessional and heart-breaking tracks, which unveil his feelings about his career, his daughter, his depression, his addiction, his breakdown, his near-death experience, and ultimately his Revival. Combined with his trademark sound effects which bring another dimension to his music, the stark reality of his life is very much at the forefront of this album.

I’ve seen many different reviews of Revival, which has received a mixed response from the critics. However, whether you miss Slim Shady, or old skool Eminem, this album is clever and truthful, and can only really be commended.

Earlier this month, Eminem announced a two-date show in London. Tickets sold out fast (I should know, I managed to get a couple of tickets in the pre-sales which sold old almost immediately too). I hope to bring you a gig review in July.

 

This Time It’s Personal with John Cooper Clarke & Hugh Cornwell

Gig Review: John Cooper Clarke & Hugh Cornwell at the Waterfront, Norwich, 25 November 2017


Mancunian Poets, 50’s and 60’s classics, and the legend which is Hugh Cornwell in an intimate performance in Norwich, UK. 

The Waterfront, Norwich hasn’t exactly been my favourite venue to see live performances as of late, due to the poor sound. The last gig, The Buzzcocks, I had serious hearing problems for over a week, with the vocals of Pete Shelley drowned by the volume of the band.

Then:

Saint Anthony – Saint Anthony
Please come around.
Something is lost that can’t be found

Talk to me of Albion Anderton and art
The arndale
Alan Turing
Acid House
Alexandra Park

Bez the Buzzcocks bouncing bombs
The beautiful Busby Babes
Curtis
Cancer Christies Catholicism
Crack and Curt Cocaine

– Mike Garry

The cheeky Northern accent of Mike Garry projected perfectly across the open room, a dedicated and intimate group, up for more than the average turn out when the warm up act takes to the stage. Laughter, heart felt applause, and genuine admiration for Mike’s talent. He is a genius with his words, in his ability to capture the North, but he’s something else, something special, when he performs. He spoke of a place that I haven’t thought of for a long time. He spoke of the North. Although I’m originally from Staffordshire, the culture of Manchester infects the surrounding areas, it seeps in, it influences. We are proud of what was birthed from Manchester’s music scene.

Needless to say we were warmed up for a northern legend, or two. First purchase of the night Men’s Mournings by Mike Garry, dedicated, and signed by the man himself.

Old classics pumped from the speakers like a radio station DJ’d by Dr John Cooper Clarke himself, it proving to be very difficult not to start dancing, or at least stiffly moving, somewhat in time to the music. More people wandered in, having missed one of the best warm up acts I’ve seen. Then I noticed a man standing next to me holding a signed LP. Off I ran like a kid to a candy store. I returned with one signed LP. A short wait later the legends that are Hugh Cornwell (of The Stranglers) and Dr. John Cooper Clarke, walked on stage, very casually and almost like we all knew one another.

This Time It’s Personal


And boom, we go straight into It’s only make believe. Dr. John Cooper Clarke has this amazing tone to his voice. Different music keys evoke different emotions, and Dr. John Cooper Clarke’s voice does that. The tone evokes emotions that are routed deep. You can really feel what he says. Way down yonder in New Orleans, and we’re transported, This time it’s personal.

Spanish Harlem was a treat, but I have to admit, I was gearing up to my favourite track, Johnny, Remember Me – there was silence, and then a whirling of wind. Dr. John Cooper Clarke walked a few steps to his left and smiled a smile that lit up the room, a smile that showed a mischievous side. The strumming took me to the Wild West, with cowboys and vast deserts, and that tone of Dr. John Cooper Clarke echoed inside my body, then they brought us down again with Macarthur Park. At this point Dr. John Cooper Clarke is fully engaging with this intimate group, enjoying the admiration that is palpable, and also spinning in a bit of comedy.

She’s a woman gets everyone moving again, including a guy in a long beige trench coat, grey beard and longish messy grey hair, who seemed familiar with a polite smile when he caught my eye. Donna and Jezebel continue our journey back in time, and then they pull it out of the bag again with Love Potion No. 9. With only one song to go, and having watched them on stage for a little over 30 minutes, we were content should the night end there. Sweeter than you closed the show, and what a delight it was.

The fans called for an encore, and Hugh Cornwell and band, returned. We got another treat. About half an hour of Cornwell songs and The Stranglers songs, with an amazing rendition of Walk on By. That man knows how to play the guitar. He’s a perfectionist, ensuring that the sound was always the best it could be, calling in the stage hand when needed.

How could this night get any better?

Dr. John Cooper Clarke walks back on stage as the band start playing the tune for I wanna be yours. At this point I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. Anybody who knows us, who came to our wedding, knows we had this read out in our service. It was the source of much humour, discussion and memories on what was the best day of my life. The show was concluded with a couple of Dr. John Cooper Clarke’s poems and then a few duets with Hugh Cornwell, singing No More Heroes and (Get a) grip on yourself, which were just fantastic.

They say their final goodbyes, and I was straight over to the merchandise stand asking the guy to reserve a signed CD for me whilst I popped to the money stealing cash machine in the venue, you know the ones that charge you for using it…I ran back across the floor and watched the guy sell the last signed CD. My heart sank. He turned to me, recognised me and from under a cardboard box flap he pulled out the CD. I beamed, asked for a T-Shirt for my hubby, and we left the venue high on Hugh Cornwell and Dr. John Cooper Clarke. Quite frankly, I have only been to a small handful of gigs where that has happened.

And so I have found I miss my home. I miss the hills. I miss the people of the Northern lands.

And she taught me that the more I read the more I see
The more I see the more I know
The more I know the more I grow
The more I grow the more I am
And I would give the world and all its riches
To simply hold that woman’s hand one more time
And say thanks
“Thanks”
– Mike Garry

THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL SETLIST:


  • It’s Only Make Believe
    (Conway Twitty cover)
  • Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
    (Henry Creamer cover)
  • Spanish Harlem
    (Ben E. King cover)
  • Johnny Remember Me
    (John Leyton cover)
  • MacArthur Park
    (Jimmy Webb cover)
  • She’s a Woman
  • Donna
    (Ritchie Valens cover)
  • Jezebel
  • Love Potion No. 9
    (The Clovers cover)
  • Sweeter Than You
  • Black Hair Black Eyes Black Suit
    (Hugh Cornwell cover)
  • Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
    (The Stranglers cover)
  • Stuck in Daily Mail Land
    (Hugh Cornwell cover)
  • Walk On By
    (Dionne Warwick cover)
  • I Wanna Be Yours
  • 36 Hours
  • No More Heroes
    (The Stranglers cover)
  • (Get a) Grip (On Yourself)
    (The Stranglers cover)
  • Hanging Around
    (The Stranglers cover)