When you think about modern rock music and big bands, few have reached the levels of fame and success as LINKIN PARK. Their breakthrough album “Hybrid Theory” propelled them to super stardom back in 2000, and really they've never looked back, until now that is. Having sold millions of records worldwide, and constantly changing and evolving their core sound to incorporate a more and more electronic style, this consistently lighter approach started alienating a lot of their fans, especially the ones who have followed them since day one. People believed they were no longer the band they had grown to love, that they had sold out, releasing mediocre records (see “A Thousand Suns”) instead of the past hits such as “Crawling” and “Feint”. How have Linkin Park responded? They've released this; “The Hunting Party”…have they given the fans what they've craved for, for so long? Or is the hunt more of a wild goose chase?
Press play and we’re greeted with Chester Bennington screaming angrily through your speakers with a computerised vocal distortion in “Keys To The Kingdom”. The guitars are crunching, the drums are being beaten with a sense of purpose, it’s seems they've reignited their sense of passion and they’re playing with a rekindled sense of intensity. It’s a promising start indeed. “All For Nothing” sounds huge, it’s given a grimy urban vibe with Mike Shinoda spitting his rap-inspired lyrics along-side guest vocals from Page Hamilton of HELMET. Lead single “Guilty All The Same” features more guest vocals, this time from acclaimed American rapper RAKIM, who adds a touch of class to proceedings, showing Shinoda how it’s done, albeit briefly.
“Wastelands” and “Until It’s Gone” keep the party going mid album, the latter sounding similar in style to some of the works LP have done for the TRANSFORMERS franchise. “Final Masquerade” dips into softer territory, showcasing what a great singing voice Chester actually has when he’s not screaming; the man can hold a note or two, before we finish up on “A Line In The Sand”. Sounding very much like a statement, Linkin Park are back, it’s as though they've turned to the fans and said “Hey, you wanted attitude, you wanted the Linkin Park of old, well you got it”. It’s the perfect closing track. This new album may not be quite as good as their début (and quite frankly, I doubt anything ever will be), but what’s important here is that they've stripped everything back and self-produced a raw, rough and ready album full of great rock songs. There is a slight nostalgia about the record, it sounds as though it could easily slot in between “Meteora” and “Minutes To Midnight” on the bands album timeline, and quite frankly it’s a welcome return to form. Just, please…don’t ruin it with another remix album. 
"The Hunting Party" is available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-hunting-party/id873395041
Charlotte Emma Aitchison, or, Charli XCX to you and me, was born in Hertfordshire in 1992 and has been writing songs since she was just 14 years old. With influences said to range from anything between The Spice Girls and Lil' Wayne, this electro-pop songstress has finally released her debut full-length album, and at just 21 years old, "True Romance" is quite the effort!
First track, "Nuclear Seasons" is a stripped back synth driven affair, it's got a slightly dark, DEPECHE MODE feel to it, drawing you in with it's undeniably catchy simplicity. "You (Ha Ha Ha)" has more of a light hip-hop vibe, while "Take My Hand" dives right back into the kind of electronic pop you'd pluck straight out of a CYNDI LAUPER album.
"So Far Away" could potentially be described as a ballad with street cred, on one hand, quiet, soft and ambient, on the other hand defiant, middle finger proudly pointing skyward. "What I Like" starts off with the impression that it's going to be some crazy trance number, when it suddenly dies down into another urban style soft rap number, a bit of a let down if I'm honest, but "Black Roses" makes up for it with it's dirty 80's sounding synthesizers and big chorus.
"True Romance" as an album, is quite hard to pin down, it's core sound more of a mash-up of experimental styles, but Charli XCX has given an often over-done retro sound a fresh and modern perspective. Her enthusiasm for creating music from real experiences and the diversity in which it's delivered is a sign of a truly inspired artist, and at such a young age, all she can do is continue to learn and develop, not only as a writer but as a performer too. Already having collaborated with the likes of MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS and having a chart topping single with Icona Pop, things are looking highly promising indeed. With a little more experience under her belt, Charli XCX could very easily fly the flag for British female recording artists in the future. There is nothing wrong with pop music, as long as it's real. Charli XCX is real, and her music deserves to be heard. 
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Gavin J Griffiths, a.k.a GavTheGothicChav, lover of new music and supporter of bands. Inspired by a mixture of horror and comedy, and fueled by a blend of alcohol and sarcasm...if you're singer / in a band and would like a review written up, please do get in touch via the email address at the top of the page and I'll get back to you ASAP. Much love x