Artist: The Mad Capsule Markets Album: Osc-Dis Genre(s): Digital Hardcore Subgenres(s): N/A Released: 1999 (Japan), 2001 (UK and USA) Length: 41 minutes Language(s): English, Japanese Label(s): Victor, Invitation, (Japan) / PalmRyko, Palm Entertainment (US/UK)
03. Square Wave (Pulse)
05. Mob Track
06. All the Time in Sunny Beach
10. Step into Yourself
11. Good Girl
12. Midi Surf
The Mad Capsule Markets Osc-Dis Cover
The Mad Capsule Markets Osc-Dis Review
Osc-Dis (shorthand for Oscillator in Distortion) is the 9th studio album by Japanese digital hardcore band The Mad Capsule Markets, who meld drum machine loops and samples with live percussion and their hardcore punk foundation. Not content with this combination already creating as much sonic mayhem as possible, all of the vocals are heavily distorted to the point where you often can’t tell where the English begins and the Japanese ends. However, this isn’t necessarily a negative because the lyric delivered in English haven’t translated that well so this mask of distortion plays right into their aesthetic and ultimately their advantage. Whether this is by design or sheer coincidence will never be truly be determined.
From the nu metal inspired Tribe to the gabber fuelled Restart! or drum and bass infused hardcore punk anthem Square Wave (Pulse), which is arguably their most well-known song in the Western world after being featured in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 video game, this proves that The Mad Capsule Markets influences are many and are still able to find a cohesive vision through all of genre mixing. The only time that the band properly slows down and takes things in the opposite directions is on the 10th song, Step into Yourself, which has the guitars playing more like a wall of static rather than anything with a discernible melody and features some quasi-rapped vocals, the monotonous chant of “step into yourself” and some more choppy drum machine loops that certainly creates a unique song although it doesn’t have the same appeal as many of the others.
With both English and Japanese lyrics clashing together alongside hardcore punk and an assortment of sounds from electronic music genres, Osc-Dis is where worlds collide in an undignified yet entirely gripping fashion.
01. Temple from the Within
02. Vide Infra
04. Rusted Embrace
07. Numb Sickened Eyes
08. In the Unblind
09. One Last Sunset
10. Prelude (1999 Demo) (Bonus Track)
11. Soilborn (1999 Demo) (Bonus Track)
12. Vide Infra (1999 Demo) (Bonus Track)
13. In the Unblind (1999 Demo) (Bonus Track)
Killswitch Engage Killswitch Engage (2000) Cover
Killswitch Engage Killswitch Engage (2000) Review
Killswitch Engage released their first self-titled album in 2000, which also happens to be their debut, and is much coarser than their subsequent releases. With nothing much in the way of melody Jesse Leach’s vocal style is mostly gut-wrenching screams that sound positively savage when paired with Killswitch Engages raw and uncompromising metalcore sound.
One needs not look further than the first few seconds of Temple from the Within to experience this and while he momentarily dips into a melodic refrain he’ll immediately revert back to the aggro like there’s nothing to it. There’s also the uncommon pairing of singing over blast beat drumming on Irreversal and death metal growls during the breakdown at the end of the song which shows a completely different side of Killswitch Engage in their earliest incarnation.
Underneath all of this are some positive lyrics dealing with individuality (In the Unblind) as well as on Soilborn which refers to striving for truth and integrity but it’s difficult to follow most of it without the lyrics written out in front of you unless you have a keen ear for it.
There’s already enough testosterone for it to start leaking out their ears but on the rerelease of Killswitch Engage there are four demo versions of songs from the album that are somewhat less refined, relatively speaking, and there are a few differences like the lack of whispered vocals and drum introduction on the Prelude demo. One Last Sunset is the second instrumental and final song on the original album which shows a willingness to experiment with an emphasis on atmosphere that develops over the first half of the song before the tempo picks up and it grows into a foreboding march before a few more twists and turns appear.
The first self-titled Killswitch Engage album is a worthwhile Metalcore album for fans of the genre as well as for those that want to hear what Killswitch Engage were like before having major mainstream success.
Jesse Leach: Vocals Joel Stroetzel: Guitars Mike D’Antonio: Bass Adam Dutkiewicz: Drums, Backing Vocals
Artist: Lights Album: The Listening Genre(s): Electronic Subgenres(s): Synthpop Released: 2009 Length: 43 minutes Language(s): English Label(s): Universal Music, Sire Records
02. Drive My Soul
04. The Listening
07. The Last Thing on Your Mind
08. Second Go
09. February Air
10. Face Up
13. Pretend (Reprise)
Lights The Listening Cover
Lights The Listening Review
The Listening is the debut album of Canadian synthpop solo artist Lights. It is a low key outing that puts her voice, which is so sickly sweet that it could give you diabetes, at the front and centre of each song. This isn’t inherently a bad thing but the music itself can feel secondary at times and this approach leads itself into a by-the-numbers result when looking at this in the context of a full album.
Saviour introduces the listener to The Listening and sets the tone nicely while also making use of auto-tune software that isn’t necessary because Lights has a voice that should be able to stand on its own merits. It is also prominent on the title song and its use might simply be a by-product of the pop trend for auto-tuning voices that arose in the mid to late 2000s. All but two songs are under three and a half minutes long so their shortness will lend itself to a good amount of replay value on individual songs rather than as a whole album.
Both Pretend and The Last Thing on Your Mind take on a downbeat mood and feature an acoustic guitar which adds to the sincerity of the performance with the latter breaking out of the mould further by having a distorted guitar playing in the crescendo to the finale. This also has Lights singing far more intensely over a comparatively rapid paced beat and makes it a standout moment for the album. Being placed in the middle of the album, it is a good way to break up the pacing although it would have made for a better closing song.
Lights sounds rabid in her choppy delivery of the second verse of Ice and combined with the frantic synthesiser part that follows it, it quickly becomes a stand out moment like Pretend (Reprise), a reimagining of Pretend as a piano ballad that strips away all of the polish associated with the synthpop sound and gives a glimpse into another side to Lights.
Many listeners will undoubtedly be won over by Lights’ voice alone but since The Listening has Lights and her co-producers working within certain parameters and only ever tip-toe across the line, which is what yields some of their best results, it shows that there is room for growth.
Lights: Vocals, production (all tracks) Thomas Salter: Production (tracks 1–3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 14, 15) Dave Thomson: Production (tracks 4, 7–9, 12, 16) The Angry Kids: Additional production (track 15)
Artist: Lykke Li Album: Youth Novels Genre(s): Indie Pop Subgenres(s): N/A Released: 2008 Length: 51 minutes Language(s): English, French Label(s): LL Recordings
01. Melodies & Desires
02. Dance, Dance, Dance
03. I’m Good. I’m Gone
04. Let if Fall
05. My Love
07. Little Bit
08. Hanging High
09. This Trumpet in My Head
10. Complaint Department
11. Breaking it Up
12. Everybody But Me
13. Time Flies
14. Window Blues
Lykke Li Youth Novels Cover
Lykke Li Youth Novels Review
Youth Novels is the debut album of Swedish singer Lykke Li. Accompanied by producer, musician and co-writer Björn Yttling the pair craft out a series of sleepy indie pop songs that focuses on youth, self-discovery, bashfulness, love, closeness and sex. For anyone paying attention to Lykke Li’s saccharine voice the title of album will become self-evident in a short while.
Melodies & Desires is an obvious example of this with the mood coming from a creative blend of a vibraphone, theremin, piano and other keyboard/electronic instruments. The use of percussion is minimalised as Lykke Li delivers instructive spoken word verses of “follow these instructions/do exactly as I do/lean your shoulders forward/let your hands slide over to my side/move your body closer/let your heart meet mine” and later “…then I’ll be the rhythm and you’ll be the beat/and love, the shoreline, where you and I meet.”
This contrasts to Dance, Dance, Dance in which Lykke Li sings about discovering how to express herself through dance (“having trouble telling how I feel/but I can dance, dance, dance/couldn’t possibly tell you how I mean/but I can dance, dance, dance” and “when I’m shaking my hips, look for the swing/the words are written in the air/ooh dance, I was a dancer all along”).
Complaint Department wakes up Youth Novels by moving into synthpop territory as synthesisers and drum loops become the backbone of the song but Lykke Li retains her soft voice and the contrast in moods from both sides results in a hit-and-miss combination unlike Tonight, which showcases a much stronger vocal performance. Unfortunately the same can be said for the lost opportunity that is This Trumpet in My Head. This is because while it has some poetic lyrics (“and you say you can’t stand me when I’m quiet/and so I shot you with my silence”) the other lyrics are too sparse to offer any additional context or meaning and finds itself between being an interlude and a short song in and of itself, as odd as that might be.
One of the most striking things about Youth Novels is that the lyrics don’t glamourize anything and instead they explore the insecurities and uncertainties of personal and social situations honestly. Be it the bashful Little Bit (“I think I’m a little bit, little bit/a little bit in love with you/but only if you’re a little bit, little bit/little bit in love with me”) or the self-awareness of Everybody But Me that describes an introverted mood at a party where everyone is getting on with the event while Lykke Li is “standing in the corner” not wanting to be a part of what’s happening and proclaims that “I don’t wanna be seen, touched, heard, bothered/by the fellas who got a look in their eye/they wanna take me home without knowing my name”.
The spacious arrangements allow for each instrument to breathe easily and in turn this reveals the great depth of thought that has been put into Youth Novels, ranging from the subject matter to the surprise keyboard solo on Breaking it Up and the small jazz flourishes that come out from the saxophone and trumpet on many songs or the string quartet. Ultimately Youth Novels is a reflection of an introverted personality in musical form and the low-key presentation is what will endear it to many listeners.
Additional personnel for the international edition:
John Eriksson percussion (on “Everybody but Me”) Per “Ruskträsk” Johansson flute (on “Tonight”) Lars Skoglund cowbell (on “Tonight”); drums (on “Everybody but Me”) Björn Yttling electric bass, piano (on “Tonight” and “Everybody but Me”); celesta, organ, percussion, rocksichord (on “Tonight”); flute, trumpet (on “Everybody but Me”)