Lava Lamp's NZ Music Reviews

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Feelers - One World

a crap album
It baffles me how this band is so popular in New Zealand. I read from various sources that their three albums to date have all gone multi-platinum in their home country. Now, whether you can achieve this feat in NZ by having everyone associated with the band buying copies of said albums for friends and families at Christmas time I'm not sure, but, whatever the case, it certainly tells me something about a great many New Zealanders.

It tells me they're morons. And probably going deaf.

For this new album is just punishing to listen to. There's been some discussion over at the forums recently about compression and production values with regards to the 'loudness war', and nowhere is that conflict better illustrated than with this album. Check out the waveform on the title track from the album, the preposterously and pretensiously entitled 'One World'...

Just look at it! It's so ... fucking ... LOUD! And the whole album is like this. Everything is compressed (ie. quiet bits made louder, louder bits made quieter), then the resulting flat sound has been cranked up (literally) to 11 at the final mastering phase, resulting in this travesty of noise you see above, that spends more time in the red area of your audio monitoring meters than out of it.

And that's about all I've got to say about this album. I couldn't actually listen to it for more than 10 minutes at a time without having to stop to give my ears a rest. The constant mind-numbing onslaught of noise removes any sense of dynamics entirely, and without any dynamics, music just sounds boring. It doesn't help, of course, that lead singer James Reid spends a lot of time sounding like a constipated Bruce Springsteen during his 'Born in the USA' era, or that not one single song has anything in the way of a discernible hook, innovative structure, or slightest hint of actual emotion.

The absolute epitome of bland, soulless, homogenised corporate rock.

Avoid like the plague.

RATING: 0/10

no star no star no star no star no star no star no star no star no star no star

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Loop Recordings - Various Artists - OE:Brazil

Okay then, my hand has finally been forced by the latest travesty of music to appear from Loop Recordings. Having been an avid listener of New Zealand over the last decade or so, I have decided I am now going to start writing about some of the excellent, good and not so good music that comes from those fair southern islands known as New Zealand. Let's start, then, with the not so good...

Not content with boring me to tears with their second Fly My Pretties album and the blandification of the 'Wellington sound' in general, Loop have now let the epically dull Barnaby Weir loose on another nation's musical culture.

Poor old Brazil had to put up with Barnaby and some other kiwi yawnsmiths for six weeks, the result of which is OE:Brazil - kinda like a Fly My Pretties with some Brazilian beats thrown in for good measure. Yes, it is as absolutely appalling as I make out...

And the thing is, it starts off so promisingly. The opening track 'Ka Hoki Nga Mahara' is an atmospheric soundscape that initially made me think the whole album was going to be some sort of avant-garde experimental exercise in mixing traditional Maori sounds with Brazilian rhythms and beats. But then, inevitably, it dissolves into the worst sort of cafe background music with the second track 'Doa Doa' - an inoffensive latin shuffle that one imagines any decent Brazilian hotel band would probably fart out without even taxing their buttock muscles.

Weir doesn't actually make his first appearance until the third track - the appallingly entitled 'Doin' It For Brazil' (as opposed to 'Doin' it for my Bank Balance') - but even then it's all I can do to not rip my headphones from my head and go running into the desert screaming at the top of my lungs in an effort to purge my body of any potential contamination from the tedious viruses that are so obviously running rife in his body.

At least the presence of Weir's soul-sapping musical leanings makes some of the other artists look a little less ordinary in comparison, and a couple of the Brazilians manage to rise above the mundane, particularly Marcelo and Funky Buia on 'I'm Not Gonna Back Down' which, with a couple of great vocal breaks, they rescue from being just another notch in Weir's sub-par UB40 white-boy reggae belt.

But, really, there's not one single track on this album that is memorable in any way. No hooks, no magic, no passion - it seems to be just one exercise in middle-management music creation from start to finish.

Just like Bacardi, who sponsored this musical misadventure, this album looks good, may seem vaguely tasty to start with, and go down without too much effort, but will leave you with a bastard of a headache the next morning, no memory of what actually happened, and have you swearing not to go near it again as long as you live. Just stay away...

RATING: 1/10

one star one star one star one star one star one star one star one star one star one star

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