The Answer – “Everyday Demons”

Everyday Demons is the second album from the awesome rock band The Answer, and I’ve wanted to listen to it for quite a while since I got hooked on their sound after hearing their song Never Too Late off of Guitar Hero! I loved that song, and I thought it showed some real talent and originality from a band that are literally showing their influences as plain as day! The Answer sound like they should hail from somewhere Deep South-wise, but they’re Northern Irish, so they’re much closer to the homeland of rock and roll than some people realise. This band are SO good and SO talented, in fact, that they were actually handpicked by AC/DC PERSONALLY to open for them on their current European Tour! Now, you can’t really get much cooler than that!

The vocals of Cormac Neeson are really what first caught me about this band (that, and the mind-blowing guitar-work of Paul Mahon, who shreds with the best of them without breaking a sweat!) – sounding like the bastard child of Robert Plant and Brian Johnson, he can hit some notes men only dare to venture to and hold them. This guys vocals are so great, it’s like having crack for your ears!

Everyday Demons is a great example of The Answer’s sound, and what they’re about as a band – and what they’re about is proper, old-school hard rock! It’s so easy, at certain points in the record, to see why they were picked by AC/DC, because with the combination of deep bass grooves, sky-high vocals and riffs that grab you by the throat and never let go, The Answer are so easily accessible for anyone that has ever been into bands like Led Zeppelin or AC/DC, or still are. The song Demon Eyes sets the bar for the rest of the record, as after about 30 seconds into the song, a wall of sound comes at you as everything kicks in at once, and the pace continues into the songs Too Far Gone and (my favourite of the record) On And On, a song so feel-good it’s nearly impossible to not smile about!

The subject matter of Everyday Demons does take a turn for the darker at times, since it can’t always be good times and hard rock. The songs Cry Out and Why’d You Change Your Mind flow into one another, and deal with some strong issues (namely, someone’s attempted/successful suicide), but everything is brought back into the light with the anthemic, ascending riffs of Pride. Dead Of The Night is a fantastic song about what it’s like drinking in Belfast (a subject matter that The Answer know all about!) and Comfort Zone  is a wonderful love-song ballad that could please stadium goers everywhere, and where you actually hear Cormac Neeson’s Irish accent in-song. However, it is very rare that you get a record without a duff song, and on Everyday Demons  that comes in the form of Tonight. I don’t know what it was about this song, but it didn’t sit right with me. It was as if The Answer  had slipped away from their true influences and went all Bon Jovi. This, I thought, wasn’t the right sound for them – as if they were pushing it too much on a record that flows so easily for them. Besides that, Everyday Demons is a total gem of a record.

In short, this band is going places. REALLY going places. There seems to be a whole wave of so-called “Trad-rock” going on with bands like Airbourne (who are sound so much like AC/DC, it’s enough to convince you about human cloning!) going around, but The Answer really stand out for me as a genuinely original rock band, taking their clear influences and doing their own thing – complete with energy, talent by the sack load and lyrics that can really solidify their originality.

Jack’s Mannequin – “Everything In Transit”

To put it pretty bluntly, I’ve wanted this CD for a long time, and after listening to it I’m SO glad that I actually have it! If any of you out there are a fan of bands like All-American Rejects etc, but want something sounding more genuine in its creation, then THIS is what you want!

A bit of background information for those of you who don’t know of this band (and it’s ok, I don’t expect you to this time!), Jack’s Mannequin is the brainchild of one Andrew McMahon, who was originally in an alternative punk band called Something Corporate. That was, until he was diagnosed with Leukaemia and temporarily gave up music when he went into remission. After a while of going through chemotherapy and all the other processes one must go through, McMahon was rid of his Leukaemia and came back to make Jack’s Mannequin, a project with which he could explore all these feelings and stories of his time away.

I mainly bought this CD because of the song The Mixed Tape, because I heard it once and couldn’t get it out of my head for days (in the good way, not the annoying way!), but all the rest of the songs on Everything In Transit are just as good as that one. At the heart of it, this is someone telling stories, and each song represents a different story whether it be about his lifestyle that he lives as with opener Holiday From Real, or a story about not quite being on the same lines as someone you really like as with La La Lie. Whilst the subject matter may seem to revolve mostly around these two subjects, its entirely easy to see that each one is driven by different experiences and that you read into each of them what you will.

The cover to this album is a very attractive artists rendering of the Venice Boardwalk just off of Santa Monica, L.A. This, by sheer coincidence, happens to be one of my favourite places and is also very close to the 4th Street Studios where the album was recorded. As such, a few of the songs material is taken from the lifestyle this city exudes, whether it be the laid-back, bohemian hippie lifestyle of the Venice Beach area in Holiday From Real, or the picturesque portrait of a busy, carefree city in closing song Into The Airwaves. The Mixed Tape is constructed from quiet intros and harder verses, with melodies on the choruses that are so warm and enveloping, its hard not to lose yourself in the song matter, and it easily sets the bar for the rest of the album. The spoken interlude in I’m Ready also speaks a lot about how he views the way that people naturally think and act. But the albums most touching point comes possibly from closer Into The Airwaves, a song about living in happy surroundings and suddenly questioning things when he finds out someone he knew and cared about a lot has moved far away, the lyrics expressing “I’ll send this message through the speakers, They told me that you moved, I’ll cross this country on a frequency.”

Although Everything In Transit may sound all-too melancholy for those of you who prefer their music with more bite, this has every reason to be exactly that. Jack’s Mannequin aren’t setting out to be stadium-fillers a-la Fall Out Boy, and Andrew McMahon isn’t trying to be Pete Wentz. They’re setting out to be honest, tell it like it is and show people how much there is out there from the perspective of someone who nearly lost it all. This is a very strong, heartfelt mix of songs from Andrew McMahon (who is obviously very talented, providing writing, vocals AND all piano music), with each song telling a different story and never sounding quite the same as the last.

LISTED Film Previews – May/June ’09

Or, as I have unofficially dubbed it, “Geekfest ’09” for the sheer amount of sci-fi related ventures that the production companies are apparently indulging in this summer! Anyway, as always, I hope you enjoy. (Disclaimer – these WERE written months ago, in advance. So, if any details are not to your liking, or I haven’t portrayed an “accurate” enough picture for you – suck it up! When you’ve only got teaser trailers, a synopsis and a 500 word limit, you dont have much to work with, alright?!)

X-MEN ORIGINS – WOLVERINE: Hugh Jackman is back as the one mutant wrecking machine known as Wolverine in the origin story of arguably the most famous X-Men character ever! Including other characters such as the lady-magnet Gambit, The Blob, the perfectly cast Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, and Liev Schreiber as Wolverine’s nemesis Sabretooth. Staying true to the original character and storyline, this looks set to please all comic book followers and action junkies – essentially, this is the film X:3 really should have been! Definitely a must-see – Snikt! Released April 29th

DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION: The popular anime series gets its live action Hollywood make-over this year and, depending on its success, could helm the production for many others. A young Goku has to collect the seven mystical Dragonballs before the evil Lord Piccolo can destroy the Earth for his own evil needs. Confusing? This whole film will obviously make more sense and be a lot more appealing for those that were originally into the anime series (when they were about 12), but otherwise it might be best to research it if you’re adamant to see it. Released April 8th

STAR TREK: Resurrecting the popular original ‘60’s series is JJ Abrams, most famous for his work on Lost and Cloverfield. But don’t expect any mysteries and double-meanings in his work this time, just s sheer effects driven re-imagining of the series that put geeks on the map! Starring Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk, Zachary “Sylar” Quinto as Spock and (rather interestingly) Simon Pegg as Scotty, this film shall boldly go where no film has gone before (And not to mention, splitting those infinitives!). Released May 8th

TERMINATOR – SALVATION: Taking place years after T:3, Christian Bale takes up the mantle of future saviour John Connor as he continues to struggle against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future he has been raised to believe in may be altered in part by the appearance of stranger Marcus Wright. What does he have to do with the future of Skynet? How does his life affect Connor’s? Will they be able to stop Skynet again before humanity is doomed? Will there ACTUALLY be any Terminating in it? Only time will tell. Released June 5th

ANGELS & DEMONS: An adaptation of the highly successful prequel novel to The DaVinci Code has now been made into a, erm, sequel of the last film, which is almost as confusing as the book was. Regardless, Tom Hanks returns as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, this time working to solve a murder and prevent a terrorist act against the Vatican by the ancient brotherhood Illuminati. Released May 15th

TRANSFORMERS – REVENGE OF THE FALLEN: The Decepticons are back – and they want Vengeance! After the first film, Starscream returned to Cybertron and gathered Decepticon forces to attack Earth. But this time, Optimus Prime and the Autobots are ready and waiting with forces of their own, and working together with the international armies! If you thought the first one was good, or just enjoy seeing giant robots smashing the snot out of each other, make sure you see this – trust me, it’s more than meets the eye! (Oooh, no he didn’t! Sorry…) Released June 26th

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LISTED Review – People In Planes @ Hamptons – 2/4/09

The Hamptons hasn’t always been a venue with music as its primary demographic, but now it’s on the rise as one of Southampton’s main performance venues with their ever increasing list of big names putting on shows in their intimate space. And tonight’s performance from People In Planes may well soon stand as one of the names that reaches that list. After supporting such bands as Biffy Clyro, Funeral For A Friend and Stereophonics, they are out on a headlining tour of the UK in intimate, almost claustrophobic, venues such as this.

After the first support slot from an almost irritatingly dreary local band that had the small handful of people that actually turned up early watching the wall art rather than the stage, another local band named Plastic Toys get the evening off to the pace that it rightly ought to be. They take to the stage with conviction, armed with groove-laden rock n’ roll that demands proper interest from the crowd. They bring out the deep grooves mixed with their unique techno influenced undertones here and there that clearly give them their edge. Picture, if you will, Velvet Revolver fighting 30 Seconds To Mars, and you’re close to what they sound like. Definitely watch out for them in the future, because they’re going places!

Next to the stage is the main support band Prego, who clearly pride themselves on making atmospheric music placed in a higher register that gets people swaying and chanting along. Very Angels And Airwaves to start with until they pick up pace a little.

South Wales is a place that is gradually becoming more and more known for its rock music community. Spawning such recent bands as Attack! Attack!, The Blackout and Bullet For My Valentine, as well as two of the three bands tonight’s headliners have already supported, People In Planes are sure to be another big name in that community. Creating energetic and fast-paced music from the start, they sound pretty different live than their MySpace recordings would suggest, their hard grooving melodic rock clearly showing why they’ve been chosen to support such big names already.

From the start, it’s hard to immediately compare People In Planes to any other band, since no two songs in most of their set tonight sound entirely the same. Once they play their biggest song If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode), you can see how they could almost be the cousins of The Automatic, but their keys and sampling add an unusual edge to their sound.

When asked to describe their music in 3 words, bass player Kris states “To Be Continued” rather ominously. “We vary it up a lot and get a general mix put together. We don’t really argue about the music at all because of what each of us brings to the table.” This, if anything, shows that their originality speaks for itself.

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