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  • Writer's pictureR’nR With Rylo

Spin #98 : Broken Machine : Nothing But Thieves


I remember when I was spinning Nothing But Thieves' third album, 'Moral Panic' that I should have started with this album instead for R'nR. Can you believe that was 80 spins ago! It was selected randomly (divine intervention?) and we have waited and waited until this record would come up to spin as our 98th Sunday drop. Finally, we are here and ready to place 'Broken Machine' on our turntables. It's the second studio album from the UK band and one that has a lot of meaning behind the music. Thanks again to my friend Dr Jazz for introducing this band to us, even though he enjoys their 'Self titled' album a lot more. For me this album would be my favourite and even though I find myself singing 'Dead Club City' quite a bit, I find that I can sing along to all of these songs a lot more.

Night Kat Kiz has brewed up some coffee (I believe the beans are called - Shadow Boxer) as we prepare to drop the stylus on this black and white split coloured vinyl. I remember when I was spinning the 'Moral Panic' album that it was with my Sennheiser headphones late at night when everyone was asleep. Now our daughter has entered the land of nod and we can't play this one too loud. She is growing a lot and a new daycare routine is catching up to her today. I think it is catching up to all of us to be honest. Plus to make it easier next week, our son is beginning school!

If you want to check out our review of their third album after reading today's spin, please click here - Spin #18 - Nothing But Thieves - Moral Panic. For now, sit down on a comfortable chair in the shade or air-conditioning and sip on a cold drink.

Image: Dom Craik (Guitar), Joe Langridge-Brown (Guitar), Conor Mason (Vocals), James Price (drums) and Philip Blake (bass guitar)

It's time to #dropthestylus on 2017 album 'Broken Machine' !! For today's spin, we will be playing it slightly quieter in the front room set-up. Unless our daughter wakes up from her slumber and then we will turn it up louder.

'Broken Machine' has two album covers, an ebony and ivory profile of female statues showing cracks underneath to signify something is broken. I didn't realise there were two versions but I found out that our copy came with extra songs to download online. The standard version is the white cover and the deluxe version is the black cover. Our LP is also a two toned black/white split and looks like an Oreo cookie spinning on the platter. It's the first pressing of this album and has risen in value over the years too. If you were lucky enough to get yourself this copy, keep it stored nicely in your record units/cubes.

Opening the record is the fast drum beat style song called 'I WAS JUST A KID'. Drummer James Price is in fine form to open this song and brings the energy and high tempo instantly to your ears. The pressing is remarkably good and the clarity is up there with some of the best in our collection. Even as we listen to the album at a softer level, we can still hear the emotion ripping through the song with those guitar riffs of Craik and Langridge-Brown. At first I thought I was transported back to the early 2000's and listening to Queens of the Stone Age shredding everything in their wake. It settles slightly with Mason on vocals doing what he does best. That is giving you goosebumps with his vocals that make your hair stand on end (in the best possible way) - "Yeah, you give me something....something to believe in". There were a lot of strong albums released in 2017 and I rate this album right up there with everything released. Some examples are: Saturation II - Brockhampton, Villains - Queens of the Stone Age, DAMN. - Kendrick Lamar, Flower Boy - Tyler, the Creator, Flying Microtonal Banana - King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Drunk - Thundercat, Aromanticism - Moses Sumney, Melodrama - Lorde, Process - Sampha, Mirror Reaper - Bell Witch, Paradise Lost - Medusa, and CTRL - SZA.

We then roll into the organ sounds and bass playing of Blake on the second song, 'AMSTERDAM'. It was a huge song and one that was added to a lot of best of year lists. The song is so easy to sing-a-long with, "So I hit my head up against the wall, Over and over and over and over again and again. Cause I don't wanna be like them". This song builds and builds towards the end until you are tapping along and picking up the pace yourself with your hands and feet. Mason's falsetto singing is with passion and his emotion that is shining through is infectious.

Our son is building some Lego while his sister sleeps and I think he has finished putting the fire station together. He was pretty proud of himself building it and following along with the instruction booklet. We took the kids out this week to the duck pond, which is about 15 minutes away by car and it was a bit muggy. The kids always have fun looking at the ducks but there were a lot of bugs and the wattle was setting off Night Kat Kiz and my sinuses. Our daughter loves to run across the big open grassed area and I would let her do it, but there are a lot of cars using the road as a circuit and sadly no fences around it. Plus people have been seen to let their big dogs run around off the lead and they would think she is a rabbit to chase. Our son also crashed his R/C car into the only hard surface within the duck pond and it's now in Daddy's workshop. It was an accident and he was very upset. Hopefully I can fix it.

Starting with the remorseful vocals of Mason is the third song on the album called, 'SORRY'. I was listening to this song and thinking of its inspiration for the sound. I swear this one has paid homage to 'The Killers' sound and I love that you can hear their own style within the song too. Such a different sound to the tracks that opened the album, giving us as the listeners, time to reflect on a lot of things - big and small. I know that Night Kat Kiz and I are doing our best for the kids and trying to also exist ourselves in a fast paced world. Unfortunately we are sometimes a little stressed out and anxious with what to expect for the rest of the year or in 10 years time and not appreciating the moment.

When I first heard this album I was 27 years old and married without children. Now listening to the album, still married but have two beautiful kids - all in the span of 6-7 years. I remember buying this one at the store and it feels like it was yesterday. Up next is the title track and overall concept/theme of the album, 'BROKEN MACHINE'. It's ok to feel a bit broken sometimes and reset your point of focus. Our main goal is to give the kids love and find time for each other along the way. I was watching our daughter walk around the outside undercover area this morning and hitting a tennis ball around with a piece of wood. It looked like she was harnessing her Mummy's field hockey skills without knowing exactly what she was doing. It was coming naturally to her. Now the sounds of 'BROKEN MACHINE' are coming through the Marshall Woburn II speaker and it sounds so different again to what we've been listening too. I love the change in direction that this band can pull off with ease, yet sound distinctly recognisable as Nothing But Thieves. A band that is on our list of concerts to go and watch in the future.

Yesterday, we listened to the hottest 100 of 2003 on Double J radio and we were transported to a time of what Year 9 in high school was for Night Kat Kiz and I. I was either 14-15 years old and my sister was graduating high school that year. It was a good time for music and I remember being introduced to a lot of albums in her CD collection and on the radio that year. It was nice to reflect on the music from that year as our children raced around on their bikes and helped broom the grass away from my whipper snipping. Shannon Noll and Guy Sebastian were battling it out on Australian Idol and the top song was by Australian Band, Jet with 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl?'. Worth checking out the list to see how many songs you recognise and that list can be found online or streamed through Spotify. I preferred listening to the 2003 list more than this years hottest 100, but I appreciate these lists are time capsules for the year that was in music.

My favourite song on Side A and possibly the entire album is called, 'LIVE LIKE ANIMALS' and was a song that got me up and dancing back in the day (haha). The industrial electronic sounds and faster lyrics hook you in instantly and I love the heavy beat that hits after Mason sings, "Dancing around, dancing around the light". This one is the one you want to have playing loudly through your speakers, in order to get the most out of the production. If you can't turn it up loud, get yourself some noise cancelling headphones and enjoy it that way. Towards the end of the track it really slows down and strips back that electronic sound before the big return or drop emerges again. Love it and one I wish that I could have on repeat.

Last track on Side A is called, 'SODA' and really embraces that persona of a broken machine - "I don't wanna be myself, Just wanna be someone else. Yeah, yeah yeah". The vocals are so light sounding but singing about depression and escapism. Interestingly the music reminds me so much of a band that I can't remember the name of right now and It's annoying me. Our daughter has woken from her slumber now and is in a cranky mood. I get it. The weather is warm, she isn't feeling great and out of sorts. Maybe for Side B I will show her the record at a louder level and get her smiling. The stylus hits the dead wax and returns back to the cradle to let us know that it's time to flip the LP over.

Favourite lyric:

"The TV tells us to be scared. We'd make a difference if we cared. We put our lives all up for sale, We get our truth in the Daily Mail. It's madness, get used to it" ~ Live Like Animals - Side A

Heavy bass sounds start coming through on Side B's, 'I'M NOT MADE BY DESIGN' and remind me of Lez Zeppelin or Rival Sons initially. If the ending of Side A was a bit sad, then the beginning of Side B is showing some resistance by the persona Mason is singing about. They have accepted what is going on and that they are indeed not made by design. It was a hard decision because I love the guitar chugging and riffing on this song so much, but I think the best song on Side B is up next. What bands do you hear within these songs as you listen along? Let me know in the comments below or on our social pages.

'PARTICLES' is a beautiful song and I would love to hear this one live. The range in Mason's vocals is AMAZING! Someone has accepted that they are troubled and going through a bad patch, but willing to work on those 'particles' in order to show their loved one that they won't give up. Probably the track that is most like their self-titled album sound but I feel it works really well within this track listing. Best moment: "My mind plays tricks and I don't sleep no more. Doctor, Please. I can't switch off" and then make sure that you turn up your speakers/headphones for the wave of sound. Our daughter had a funny moment during the week that startled Night Kat Kiz and I when it happened. She had managed to open her door in the night for the first time and ran into our room yelling, "Water, Water, Water, Water". After multiple attempts to get her back to sleep, we thought that we we're successful only to hear her chatting to her sleeping brother and poking him in the face to wake him up and play. This was probably between 1:00AM and 3:00AM.

More Rival Sons sounding music (not a bad thing) is up next in the form of 'GET BETTER'. Maybe I'm just hearing that within the tracks or hearing The White Stripes sounds because that is what I have been listening to a bit this week. The depression battle is being fought in the mind of the person singing and is a drum and guitar driven rock song. I think that it's a good song but hard to top what has preceded it. I was having some fun during the week by looking up the Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion beef and catching up on the diss tracks. Is it all a stunt to help promote both of their careers or is there some truth in the back and forth hatred? I know that Megan Thee Stallion signed a new label deal this week and it will see her albums re-released on a wider scale. Nicki Minaj recently had an album released and I'm sure if this beef is real, it won't be too long before we see another album come out. Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly did something similar a few years ago and it seemed to help both of their careers. Rappers need rivals in order to succeed and sing about and maybe this is a good (planned) thing.

The next song starts talking about the current weather and yes it is just a little bit warmer. 'HELL, YEAH' is a slower more somber song initially that reminds me of the band Phantom Planet. I like the pace of this song and the different take on the song title. At first I thought it was someone saying, "Hell yeah" to something but when the lyrics of Mason are sung, it is clear. "They call it hell, yeah. Why don't we go there? It's way down below there, It's just like home". It leads into the last song on the album titled 'AFTERLIFE'. Some bands have a knack for pulling on the heart strings and Nothing But Thieves are excellent at writing uplifting and emotive music, as well as tear jerking, heart wrenching ballads. I think that they would suit writing a James Bond theme for the next Bond movie.

The last song on the album has some great lyrics and this song is severely underrated. I'll include a couple here for you to follow along with - "It was only ever you, It was only ever you. My baby, It feels like a lifetime, Oh god, I don't think I could do two". Sadly, this means the person has reached the point where they are no longer broken and have been put out of their misery. This one with the backing of an orchestra would sound amazing in a live setting. The stylus has now reached the dead wax on Side B and that tells us that the album has come to an end. I think that this album is a fantastic snapshot into the band and could be the starting point for you to delve into their other albums.

Our children are now getting ready to go for a swim and have been getting confident in the water lately. Our son is enjoying monkeying along the side and jumping in near the steps to practice his kicking. He has also kicked so fast in the pool that he is almost running on top of the water as he floats along. Our daughter has been walking through water with her floaties on and laughing when she tips forward slightly like a dippy bird. We have to keep reminding her to keep her legs kicking but for being only two years old, she is doing incredibly well.

Make sure that you take time this afternoon to get some R'nR and recharge those batteries for the week ahead. Thanks for everyone getting involved in the MWSP this week and only one of you guessed it correctly, well done Dad. Next week will be a real curve ball for what we have been spinning lately and I'm excited to share it with you. Maybe you already have it within your record collection or maybe you don't. Hug your loved ones, play some ring toss outside and keep spinning records.

"Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do....maybe it's the same with people. If you lose your purpose, it's like your broken" - Brian Selznick

Until our next Spin, be Kind to remote control cars and be Kind to your Wax!











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Nothing But Thieves up on stage during the album cycle

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