A new batch of CD Reviews – this month I take a look at the the latest effort from pop-punksters Paramore; chill out and try not be disappointed by the latest from David Gray; and re-visit the debut by grunge rockers Nirvana. Enjoy!

ARTIST: Paramore
RATING: 3.5 out of 5

I’m going to be honest – to start with, I didn’t know if I liked Paramore or not.

Let me explain: the pop-rock group led by flaming red-haired beauty Hayley Williams struck chart-topping gold in 2007 with multi-platinum album Riot! capitalising on the success of hit single “Misery Business”.

The thing is, when I first heard the track I didn’t know whether to label it as cheesy pop or serious rock. But given time (and multiple listens) the song grew on me and I had to look further, finding myself pleasantly surprised by the groups’ body of work.

Brand New Eyes (typeset as brand new eyes) picks up where the group left off. As before, first single “Ignorance” doesn’t seem stunning on the first listen, but as time goes on you start to realise that you’re humming the song as you walk to work, and begin to appreciate Williams’ vocal work and penchant for clever lyrics and unique vocal timing.

Album highlights like “Brick By Boring Brick” and “Looking Up” follow suit, while a brace of softer ballads, such as the gorgeous “Misguided Ghosts”, prove the groups’ legitimate talent, making Brand New Eyes one of the surprisingly good albums of the year.

ARTIST: David Gray
RATING: 2 out of 5

Just between you and me, I’m something of a closet David Gray fan.

His previous album, 2005’s Life in Slow Motion, is one of my favourite albums of the decade, and an accompanying live performance released a year later holds a place of pride on my DVD shelf. I’ve read numerous magazine articles, interviews, reviews, you name it.

In fact, let me say this: I think Gray is one of this generations most talented singer-songwriters, hands down.

So what do you do when an artist you love so dearly releases an album that really doesn’t strike a chord with you?

Such is my dilemma with Draw the Line, Gray’s latest collection of songs. I was uber-excited to hear this album, frantically ripping open the plastic wrapping and inserting the CD into my player … and thats where the trouble began.

From the opening notes of first single “Fugitive” it’s clear that the record isn’t much of a departure from Life in Slow Motion – it’s hard to explain, other than to say it just sounds the same. Through the albums 11 tracks, there really isn’t anything new here, and therein lies the problem.

(Don’t worry David, I won’t hold it against you.)

ARTIST: Nirvana
RATING: 4.5 out of 5

Re-issues invariably come with a high level of nostalgia attached.

For me, Bleach – Nirvana’s oft-overlooked 1989 debut – was an album that I initially discovered in the mid-1990s; I was a young lad, head-banging to the sounds of the groups 1992 smash hit album Nevermind, in the aftermath of Cobains’ tragic suicide, and had decided to investigate further into the band I was growing to love dearly.

I can clearly remember feeling disappointed at the time.

Unlike Nevermind – and its 1993 follow up, In Utero – Bleach was devoid of the kind of hard rocking hooks and stylised production I had come to know and love, instead sounding like a band finding its feet, discovering its own sound, and (dare I say it) coming over as quite generic.

Years later, as I sit back and listen through this classic again, I realise what I was missing in my youth: if Nevermind really is the most important album of the grunge movement, then Bleach is the most important album to Nirvana – the blueprint for their later success is all here, from the simple guitar movements, to the Beatles-esque arrangements, to singer Kurt Cobain’s straining, howling vocal work. A must have for fans of both the group and the genre.