Friday, 12 December 2008

Discovery - A little Catch Up (Part Two of Three)

Part One

So, here is the next set of newish albums and bands. Some in here are a bit more... me, but still different.

Max Tundra – Parallax Error Beheads You
6 years can be a long long time in music – I mean, in 2002, Franz Ferdinand were only on the horizon and Arctic Monkeys had only just started playing guitar, and that was when Max Tundra’s last album hit the shelves. He then set to make one of the most complex pop records ever and… well, he mangaded it. Parallax… is one of the oddest, most interesting albums I have listened to this year, even making it into my top 5 albums if you ask me at the right time of the day. It is filled with the techno-like blips and bleeps of the afore mentioned Crystal Castles but is filled with the smart melodies of a canny song writer and the gorgeous production of an artist that understands the craft of a great sounding song. Also, in the album, there are some fucking great tunes that get my tapping my feet – and that can’t be said of many bands these days.
Max Tundra (Myspace)

My Latest Novel – Wolves
So, you might be wondering where are my Scottish bands that I have been shouting about for ages, and also where are my regular Indie stylings gone with all this hiphop and glitch rock? Well, look no further than My Latest Novel, a fantastic band from my neck of the woods… and another, like Aereogramme, I totally missed out on when I lived down there. They are similar to Blur’s later years with the darker pop songs, similar to Arab Straps gloomy wordings and twisting vocabulary, but mostly they share their sounds with this years Scottish band of indie types, Frigthened Rabbit. The dark, soulful, almost folky sounds of the album push them into the forefront of a pack of bands from the central belt that are taking over from the old crew. Along with We Were Promised Jet Packs, My Latest Novels’ new album, due in 2009, should be one to watch.
My Latest Novel (Myspace)

God is an Astronaut – God is an Astronaut
Post rock, huh? Surely nothing can be done more than the sprawling Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the short but rocky Mogwai, the fullforce heavy 65daysofstatic and the simple melodies of Explosions in the Sky? Surely with Slint and Do Make Say Think everything is covered? Well not quite as this Irish trio really have made me realise that you don’t need to be dark and dreary to emote through post-rock and in this album there are some absolutely stunning examples of why the band should be more revered in the Post-rock community – the liberal use of piano and strings are welcome, and the effect is a grand scale only matched by th longer periods of Godspeed’s Life Yr Skinny Fists Like Attenas to Heaven, but am I comparing the two? Well, that is like me saying the most recent pop album from a recent act holds it’s own to Sgt. Pepper, and that is high praise indeed.
God is an Astronaut (Myspace)

Discovery - A little Catch Up (Part One of Three)

It’s been a while since I posted about new bands that I have recently been getting into so here is part one of quite a large list of them that should let you get back up to speed with where I am musically at the moment. I went on a bit a new music binge the last few weeks… and it has been bloody brilliant. Anyway…

Sunn O))) & Boris – Altar.
This is way left field for me and is the frist drone/doom album I have listened to for any length of time. Basically Sunn O))) (ignore the rather pretentious punctuation, call them Sun) and Boris are two bands that collaborated on an album that is held by some as the seminal record in both doomrock and dronerock. However some see it a quirky footnote to the band’s careers… and I don’t know yet. The album is something of an ordeal and an experience, being nothing like I have listened to before. There are no discenrable structures and no real “song” parts as it is uses guitar drums and production values to create an epic wall of sound that only really be described as Lightning Bolt without the riffs and the lyrics. The track at the middle of the album is stunning, “The Sinking Belle”, but is it easy to listen to? No. Is it like anything I have listened to before? No. Will people like it? Probably not…

Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
Glitch computer electronic trance dance rock. As many descriptors as I can give and it still doesn’t make up what Crystal Castles are like – their debut album is made up of sketchs of ideas and short pieces with distored vocals that make the voice sound more like an instrument than a lyrical line of words and that effect is something that I have loved on The Knifes album. Here is works with the Mega Drive / Atari blips and bleeps that make it sound like nine people are playing different games of Mario Land, Tetris and Paperboy in a dark room with lasers and smoke blasting the atmosphere with a punctual demounr like a scattering spray of shotgun pellets into fabric. The album is different again and is something that I have grown to love.
Crystal Castles (Myspace)

Why? – Alopecia
I missed this the first time round, even when it was being rammed down my throat by hundreds of screaming fanboys and glowing reviews. I perceived them to be either rocky like Johnny Foreinger or indie like British Sea Power, but what I was not expecting when I popped the album in was a trip-hop rock band with some of the greatest rapped vocals I have heard since Beastie Boys’ in the heyday of the Jurassic Five. I am not big a fan of rapping to be honest… but the melodies here are strong and the lyrics are downright incredible… “I lost the first game of Chess I ever played” and “I saw to guys fucking in a dark corner of a basket ball court” being two choice examples, and the way that they are wound around the music, performed by a live band, make for a very compelling album and a worthy investigation. Pushing for my favourite find this month.

Why? (Myspace)

Friday, 28 November 2008

Belle and Sebastian - The BBC Sessions

Belle and Sebastian are my favourite band. They have sound tracked the last few years, with each album that I have acquired being more worrisome than the previous, as I come dangerously close to exhausting my ability to find new material of theirs to covet and cherish. It was earlier this year that I finally took the plunge and picked up the maligned Storytelling and the gorgeous Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant – both these albums split opinion of the band down the middle like a lightning strike.

So, hearing that they have a new album on the way, albeit seemingly a soundtrack to a film, I knew I was in safe hands – then they announced the grandest prize off all for a fan, a collection of rare recordings of the band during their heyday.

And this collection is no mean collection. Unlike the recent Smiths best-of that should be revered for being able to make a great singles band such as the Smiths and turning them into a soulless cash in best-of collection. This album is a 2 CD set of BBC recordings from sessions taken during the era of the band that is their ethereal peak, 1996 to 2001. Here there are versions of their grandest songs, such as Dylan in the Movies and a rather early version of Lazy Line Painter Jane.

The version of I Could Be Dreaming is pure poptastic genius – a perfect version of one of the bands greatest songs. Also, The Stars of Track and Field is one of the darkest songs the band have written, and is deeper, echoing here like never before, a shine of dark spreading over the production.

The first CD is a good addition to the back catalogue, even if it is essentially a tapered selection, obviously limited by what the band recorded. The second CD is a live concert from Belfast, which has a few rather interesting songs, such as fan-sang covers of I’m Waiting for the Man and The Boys Are Back In Town, proving that the band have a little more to their live performances rather than just playing the album tracks live.

The problem is that we already have extensive collections of live version of songs from the band – Push Barman to Open Old Wounds is the greatest collection of B-Sides and non-album tracks ever assembled and the live version of If You’re Feeling Sinister is a pinnacle for the band. BBC Sessions is essential, and you really should get it, but there is so much more to this band, so much more to discover. The only thing that I can think of that is more exciting than listening to this album and this band over and over again is the feeling that you have not even discovered them yet – truly one of the greatest Scottish bands of all time.


Monday, 27 October 2008

Review - Keane - Perfect Symmetry

Keane. The dirtiest word in modern day indie-rock. Probably. They came out of the blue in 2005 to blow all the little middle of the road Radio 2 listeners away with their piano led haunted chiming and the soaring epic vocal of, finally, a indie singer that can truly sing. It was a revelation. They never quite got the indie crowd behind them, bypassing that and going straight to Snow Patrol stardom. They do the Coldplay thing much better than Coldplay do it.

So their debut album sold millions and I was one of the mugs who bought it – indeed, curiosity mostly, but also because I was in Barcelona and it was cheap. If I can remember where I bought it surely it made some impression. It was a solid record – pant wettingly epic at points, but some of the tracks are pretty much great – Untitled and Sunshine are two of the greatest songs the band have written, hands down. The follow-up was again picked on by my self, this time on holiday in Malta, where it’s swaying epic choruses’ soundtrack going to get a paper in the morning and bottles of water. It was a good album.

But earlier this year we heard rumblings of trouble in camp Keane. A solo record? Cocaine addiction? Trumpets? It was all pointing to a Be Here Now disaster… and incredibly they managed to avoid it.

How? Well, Perfect Symmetry is an album of interesting direction changes but no distance gained. For example, Spiralling, the lead single, is a rather outlandish use of synth, spoken vocals and slap retro-bass, but keeps the structure of a Keane track. Second single, The Lovers Are Losing, is plain sailing for Keane. The use of Guitarish sounding synth or synth sounding guitar on You Haven't Told Me Anything the is a good idea, as hemming into just using instruments set out in the beginning is a sure fire way of failing the next-album test, but again it’s strides into the right point on the experimentation compass but stays rooted firmly on the spot.

The glances in new directions are good. Indeed, another album of samey bland ballads would kill the chances of the band outstaying their welcome, but it won’t appease the hoards of indie shirkers who see Keane as exactly what is wrong with music. The album is good, probably very good, but has a few troubles.

Firstly, the ballads that are present are crap. The title track is simply appalling – Keane doing a bad cover of Keane. The choral flourishes towards the end compound the lack of ideas on this track and to bestow it with the album title gives it clout it should never have, as well as lasting well beyond its allotted time frame.

The album is darker in places but mostly brighter than the “troubled” Under the Iron Sea, and the new look Keane and new sounding Keane are much much much more interesting than their earlier incarnations, but are still the same old band, with the same old problems. The only advantage that they now have is that it will be hard to predict where to go now – and that might be enough to keep everyone interested.


Wednesday, 8 October 2008

One Line Reviews - Deerhunter, TV On the Radio, Oasis, Verve

Just a quick one, as I have been trying to write full write-ups of these albums for a few weeks... and kinda have had to give up. So, here, are short little lines about my feelings for the albums.

Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul
- Okay, so they are past it, and are all grown-up, but this album is a good return to form, with some very good tracks on it, with most wearing their inspiration proudly on display. 5/9

Verve – Forth
- A comeback that is completely wasted, as there is nothing more than a below par Richard Ashcroft solo track on here, with almost nothing carried through from the Verve name; a wasted opportunity. 4/9

Deerhunter – Microcastle
- What to make of this record I don’t know, but it is very good, with some excellent ideas and well executed songs… but it lacks something to make it truly great. 7/9

TV on the Radio – Dear Science
- I have tried to write a full review on this album for the last few weeks, but nothing has worked out – and I can understand why, and it is because I don’t think I “get” it… I like all the different styles, the lyrics, and the music, and I know the impressive praise that the album has got, but I can’t figure it out yet. 6/9

Friday, 3 October 2008

Review - The Dears - Missiles

I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with The Dears over the last few years, much like they have had with themselves. From their awe inspiring indie master piece that is No Cities Left, seeing them live, and then the received coolly by critics Gang of Losers that was played to death by myself and the disappointment that it was not as good as No Cities Left, before realising that it didn’t need to be, I have travelled in peaks and troughs with this band. Seeing them live for the second time in October 2006, which truly feels like an age ago, was a good point to confirm that I really liked this band but they had their flaws.

So, I had my reservations about their fourth album – my third album with the band. Hearing from various sources, then direct from the band, that things were not going too well back stage was confirmed by the departure of four members, leaving two, was disheartening. When coming into contact with the album early last week I have been slowly gathering my thoughts, having played the album many times in my car, in my work and in the quieter moments, I have decided that this is a fantastic record.

It is dark. There are moments of true despair in these10 tracks, mostly wrapped in a dirty production that harks back to their No Cities Left era. The musicianship is of the highest quality, and the little flourishes of guitar and piano that are sprinkled over the record radically affect the tone and style of the band.

Opener Disclaimer is a good pace setter. It starts dark and slow, adding vocals, with Lightburn crooning in his most desolate style. The album readily calls dark winter nights – these are the nights that I associate with the Dears.

On Lights Off the band let things go, unleashing towards the other end of the quiet-riot spectrum, instead unleashing a rasping guitar solo that is not out of place on a true rock record. The length of the song amplifies the journey to get there, and the moment it hits doesn't jar with the slow, more soft approaches on the album.

The rather insipid Meltdown in a Major was the album's preview and it did little to convince me - and in the album setting, I still feel ambivalent towards it. It doesn't resonate with the rest of the record, though it's story, tellingly, is the most terrifying of the album. The simple piano stabs, filled with dread, add to the dark flavour of the album.

The stand out tracks, however, come with quieter moments and more experiment moments. The second track, after epic Disclaimer as previously mentioned, is subdued and calculated - Dream Job is the kind of song missing from Gang of Losers but was in abundance on No Cities Left. "Here comes another Heartbeat/beating like a drum" softly intones Lightburn, gravitating towards a place not ventured into since Lost in the Plot. It is a great rallying call. The other stand out track sees a vocal performance from the other half of The Dears that survived the recording session, Natalia Yanchak, on Crisis 1 & 2, she evokes a warmer vocal line but is joined in a fantastic twist at the end by Lightburn - much in the same way that exchange works in 22: Death of All the Romance on No Cities Left.

However, for me, the greatest song on the record is Demons; starting with a synth loop the guitar and drums kick in pushing the beat to a faster pace than thought before. The vocal melodies, coupled with the bass line that propels the song forward, hidden in front of the rather out of key strings, act out a dramatic scene in a grand mix between the great rock record of Gang of Losers and the epic of No Cities Left.

In comes to the end, and with out wondering why or how, you have realised that the album is a more complete set of songs than both previous records. You feel the heartache and break that it takes to create an album of this type, and the style changes from the earlier to this work add up to a logical conclusion that makes more sense as a continuation of a previous chapter than a brand new instalment. This is the album The Dears needed to make, and it is very exact in it's execution. It is not the best album of the year, that is so far going to either The Walkmen or Elbow, but it a strong candidate, and reaffirms why I fell in love with Lightburn's vocals and the band's songs in the first place. A very solid record.


Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Review - Iglu & Hartly - & Then Boom

I wish I could make up some long winded review, but that would really be a waste of my time, a waste of your time, and most importantly, give these utter wankers more of their coroprate 1990s shit-white-rap-shit that is permeating the airwaves in a manner that can only be likened to severe famine in Africa, a nuclear explosion in the second world war, or, quite simply in one word. That word is:



Monday, 29 September 2008

Travis - Ode to J. Smith

There is something about Travis that makes me really sad – it is something to do with the fact that they have perennially be labelled as “rubbish” since their third album The Invisible Band. Whilst it might be true that it was not exactly the greatest record ever, it stands as a good example of the time, which was easy listening and catchy pop hooks. It wasn’t always like that though, as for a while they were, like Starsailor and Coldplay, the indie darlings, after the simply overplayed brilliance of their second album, The Man Who. Recently, with 12 Memories, they went grown-up and the masses turned away with glee. 4 years later they followed it up with The Boy With No Name, which was much better aimed at the same audience that gave them their ascendancy and it worked a bit.

But this, the bands sixth album, comes just more than a year later, and with the added interest of many older fans – this is, as it said, is more like their debut album, the blindingly good Good Feeling, a truly excellent debut album.

This album is good. It is much better than I’d expect and is louder, but there are a few problems with it. Firstly, it seems to by trying to be different. Take the title track (well, almost) J. Smith, with the angular riffing and the bass inflected drum beat, it sounds on paper like it should be impressive, but towards the end it goes all Arcade Fire with choral voices and epic crescendo building layers. This is not to say it is a bad song – indeed, it works, but is this Travis?

Again, we are surprised to find on the single Something Anything even more angular guitar and a solo not out of place on a Pink Floyd out takes album. The next track is direcrlty lifted from the first album to the point of parody – it feels so 1990s that waves of nostalgia over come me every time I hear it’s opening bars.

There are a few parts of the album that will make the fans of the middle period of Travis, namely the Invisible Band, will be affronted with. They won’t like it and I think that it is intended to be like that. The album jars from first listen to last and there is a reason for this: Travis are no longer this band. They were, but they are not and have not been in years. So why are they performing these songs, writing these songs now? I don’t know.

What I do know is that it is very good and worth a listen. Whether or not it works as a Travis album, I don’t know for sure, but it proves that they still can sing All I Want to is Rock with fervour and honesty.


Thursday, 25 September 2008

Review - Mogwai - The Hawk Is Howling

It is a well held belief that silence can be more powerful than words. This is not unsurprising when we are shouted each day by hundreds of television and print adverts to buy different types of nonsense that we don’t really need. I am a culprit of such a thing – I recently got an iPhone and, even after saying that it didn’t bother me much, it is very good, and now the things it does are quite important to me, like the GPS system. But there is nothing better than sitting down with an album, and listening to the music.

Where Mogwai fit into this is that they are a rock band with lyrics – or at least, use them minimally. On their seminal album Come On Die Young they did add lyrics to the mix, albeit soft spoken and sampled, but they were there to punctuate the material. Otherwise, they leave the music to do the talking.

This is not exactly unusual – indeed, it is quite a cyclical outlook on music, as most of the most emotive pieces of music are instrumental, be it a classical score, operatic or even a film score, it puts music to emotion with having to spell it out for everyone in words. Mogwai are the Scottish equivalent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. They are the often cited Post-rock stalwarts, having perfected the 6 minute long passage of music built around noise, tinkering with arrangements, and repetition.

Their last album proper was Mr Beast, a hit and miss selection of Mogwai cuts, kind of like a good pack of ham. Plenty of good taste and texture, but it just wasn’t the same meat as you used to get. They released an interim album, a soundtrack to the wildly interesting and on the face of it, boring, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, simply following a football player over 90 minutes. This album was more delicate and measured, with a theme of simple guitar lines and an over arcing riff. It gave me hope that the mix of tracks on Mr Beast, a piano led track, an acoustic track, and loud track were just a blip and the layered multi faceted experience of Come on Die Young would return.

Interestingly there seems to be a mix of them on this album. Starting with Jim Morrison I am Dead, the album lulls you into a quiet ascendancy, slowly lifting your chin up to gaze at you, with a smile on your face. After this slow, but measured, introduction to the album, instead of gently stroking your chin, it Glasgow Kisses you and runs off into the night laughing with the uproariously loud and heavy Batcat. It sounds forced, almost manufactured, and even though it harks back to the sounds of Mogwai Fear Satan, it is never going to capture the ferocity of that track, simply because that was then, and this is now.

This is the era of production and electronic blips and bleeps. On The Sun Smells Too Loud they are there in force, and work well. It is to the end of the album where things get interesting, with I Love You, I am Going to Blow Up Your School being intricate, and The Precipice, ending the album with a swage of perfect post rock.

It is a mixed bag, but six albums in and the band can’t be expected to keep innovating in the same way that they did previously in their career. It feels like a good summation of the bands career and is a great addition to the discography, but with Mogwai each album feels like a little story. And when you listen back to The Hawk Is Howling it feels much more disjointed – almost like a Mogwai best of would sound. For other bands, this might be a strength, but for Mogwai this is a disadvantage.

The problem with success and creative experience is that you can ruin you back catalogue or improve it. Mogwai have done neither – The Hawk Is Howling is not essential, but definitely worth a look. Their greatest work will always lie behind them.


Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Discovery: Portugal. The Man, My Bloody Valentine, Glasvegas

Listen to me carefully: I have never known a period in my musical history like the last year. The lucky thing is that whilst my methods of musical consumption have changed my fervour for new music is higher than ever before and now, via this blog and reviewing on God is in the TV, I have found more new bands that I like and have expanded my musical repitore further in the last 9 months than in years, closely related to 2003 for new bands.

Portugal. The Man
Experimental rock? Dividing musical opinion? Sounding like a best of compilation of various genres? Portual. The Man, apart from playing havoc with the Word grammar check, are one of those bands found whilst browsing message boards and Wikipedia genre lists that via the love of and Myspace they perked my intrigue. A couple of downloads later I have decided that they are good. The take influences from the last 500 years of music distilling that impressive and imerssive sound clash and came out with a sound that has made other critics go “This is just piss” and some go “I like the nature of this”. I fall in the latter camp, and really quite like them.
Sounds Like: The Mars Volta being told to make their songs 4 minutes long or they wil be forced to play Girls Aloud songs.
Try: Chicago, from Waiter: “You Vultures!

My Bloody Valentine
Okay, I am late to the party with this one. I had not even heard to My Bloody Valentine 4 months ago. Well, that might not be true – I am sure I had heard them, but knew who they were? Understood their importance? Not a chance, but after the furore over their live shows in the last months (including 20 minutes of white noise) I have to admit I missed them pretty outrageously. Why? Not sure… but they are fantastic, especially Loveless, their second album. Is there a third album due 18 years after they stopped? I hope so.
Sounds Like: The Smiths being thrown into a box of explosions
Try: I Only Said from “Loveless

I might have been late to the party with My Bloody Valentine by I have been on the bleeding edge with Glasvegas, finding them a year ago playing Libertines raw rock now they are the second coming of shoegaze. To many young indie boys I will call shenanigans on the Twilight Sad or Proclaimers shouts – that is just people realising that most Scottish artist sing out of the accent, good or bad. However, following the lead of Roddy Woomble in his later years, the Scottish Accent is going the way of Arab Strap and making a resurgence. And it works on the Glasvegas records. Expect a review of the album soon.
Sounds Like: The Beach boys with a hang over playing at the far end of a room

Friday, 5 September 2008

Review - The Walkmen - You & Me

A long time ago I saw The Walkmen live. In fact, it was so long ago I remember little to nothing of them. Actually, that isn’t so much true, as I saw two other bands that rainy night in Edinburgh; Idlewild were the main act, and blew me away. It was truly the epiphany that live music can be. The Walkmen preceded Idlewild and were dark, brooding, and loud. I remember a couple of their songs from the night but nothing sticks out more than the other bang, the Star Spangles, a terrible punk throwback band, who almost ruined the night for me after their interminable set.

Fast forward almost a hundred years and I have started listening to The Walkmen for the first time properly. And this album, their fifth album of dark melancholic New York rock that sounds every bit part Interpol and Strokes, is absolutely fantastic.

You & Me sounds very much a winter album. The crooning of Hamilton to the dark regress of piano and bass propelled by a thudding battery of drumming, washes over the senses and paints a bleak sparse landscape of New York. I would at this point mention 9/11, but we can probably sidestep past that whole “post-9/11” drivel by pointing out similar artists from a simpler time, such as Joy Division or The Velvet Underground. The reason why The Walkmen remind me of that is the melody hidden under a sheen of dark intonement and expression, so subtle that it takes several listens for the whole album to unravel.

I find this band in mate early 20s and they mean so much and make so much sense to me that I feel that if I had been involved with them any early I might not only became the muso that I am threatening to become, but like Pulp, I wouldn’t have understood the point of The Walkmen. They sit atop a pile of bands that are intellectual without sound pretentious, expand their musical sound without having to resort to high wage producers, and have crafted a level of album consistency only equalled in measurable success by Elbow, and this album, with tracks as dark as the opener “Donde Esta La Playa” and the rolling “Postcards from Tiny Islands”, serve as the perfect introduction to a band who seem to channel the grandeur of an age of music that is long forgotten.

This age of music that made sense, had meaning, was as successful as R&B today, is long gone but never more relevant, and The Walkmen are the best there is, and You & Me is one of the best albums this year.


Thursday, 4 September 2008

6Shuffle - 04/09/08

Stereophonics – Check My Eyelids for Holes
Stereophonics’ debut album stands the test of time as a great debut and a good statement about the way the 1990s were for music. Coming at the tail end of the decade they might have been slightly late they are the band that became Oasis in terms of critical derision, especially from some on their previous albums from some super amazing reviewers. This song is a perfectly good highlight from their early album and is a good place to start if you are wanting to listen to the band for the first time, but knowing people who read this, they will already dipped their toes in that pool and said “Nah, that is too shallow for me.”

The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Ah, the Smiths, one of my favourite bands ever. This, one of the most mystical tracks from the 80s superstars, is one of my favourite tracks, if only for the lovely flutle like woodwind “dodododo” at the end which is great. Morriessey, signing about death and killing people, never gets old, as Mozzer runs around a jaunty guitar rhythm dotted with strings swaying back and forth over the arrangement.

The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
My attempt to write about these tracks as they play might be hard here as this is a punk track that last no more than 2 minutes of quick rock and roll. This band don’t rank that high on my favour lists but I can admire their zeitgeist that they pioneered and what they stood for. The “Hey Ho Lets Go!” has became a signature of punk rock and –

(The Song Ended)

Lightning Bolt – Assassins
Well, how do you describe this band to someone. I have no idea how to explain this band without it sounding like I am talking rubbish, so I am not going to try. The sound like a war fighting a set of pianos inside a traffic cone aimed directly at a loudhailer. It is intense and very technical… not at all like some of the other stuff I listen to. In fact this is probably as left field as some of my music taste goes. Still, it has some charged energy about it and listening to it makes me very excited and my feet tap fast than a strobelight.

The Verve – Lucky Man
The new verve album will be reviewed here soon as I get my hands on it, but I don’t expect much from their newest single, Love is Noise, which is ruined with the little “DooDooo” sample played through every single second of it. I think it would have been much better without the over use of it and maybe sounding a little less like Richard Ashcroft’s solo stuff. Which is what Lucky Man sounds like. Their album, Urban Hymns, is fantastic, but this song will forever be ruined as the song I first learned to play on the drums, and hearing it strangled by a 13 year old boy with no rhythm in the drumming lesson could destroy the most universally liked track of all time. And no, the boy wasn’t me, as drumming is only musical ability I seem to posses.

Queens of the Stone Age – The Blood is Love
Not really sure of this song… it is from the album that I played to death for months on end but don’t really have an opinion on other than it is all right. I don’t rate the Queens of the Stoneage that highly seeing as it really is just a solo project for Josh Homme. I do have to admit that he has a way with melodic rock, and this album and song do have a nice bit of melody about them… especially Burn the Witch.

Bonus Seventh Spin:
Belle & Sebastian – To Be My Self Completely

Friday, 25 July 2008

Muxtape: A little Different.

I have been diligently updating my Muxtape the last few weeks every so often and this week I decided on a theme. This week’s muxtape is slightly more esoteric, a little more unique as it goes to the extremes of the genres and the songs that I like. In here you will find post rock, noise rock, dance electro, some funk dance and regular epic prog rock. Should be an interesting indicator of what I listen to in my more unique moments.


The Following is a run down of the bands on the Muxtape.

Lightening Bolt are a recent discovery thanks to the Drowned In Sound weekly album club, it blew me away with the amazing use of noise, guitar work, and the fact that it sounds like nothing else I had heard before.

Muse are one of my older loves Muse have fallen out of favour with me recently since they entered proper epic stadium rock. The track I have chosen, from the Hullabaloo soundtrack, is more interesting, with sprinklings of piano and no lyrics.

Metronomes is Al Paxton’s solo work (he of Stapleton “fame”) and is some very chilled out post rock. He plays every instrument and the albums have a charm like no other record I own. I really love driving down the road, with the windows down listening to his record.

Mogwai are the true Scottish stars of Post Rock, and this track is taken from the recent sound track to the Zidane film of 2006m which is a truly mesmerising watch of a football match perfectly linked to the rather bleak and epic meanderings of guitar drum and distortion.

Aereogramme are a band I found just too late, discovering them in early 2007, months before their split. I missed out seeing them live twice, though I doubt they would have played this, my favourite (and the longest track on the muxtape) track of theirs. The name is a good description of the track, as it wanders on a path through 11 minutes, revealing a warped narrative and mastery of sonic landscapes.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow are an enigma to me, but this track needs to be on this list as it is so different and infectious.

I know Sigur Ros and so do you – they became rather famous due to a little programme called Planet Earth. This, from their newest album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, is a good starter for 10 of their material.

Radiohead’s Kid A was the commercial suicide album that is one of my favourite albums of all time. This, the title track, is a great experiment in vocalization and piano work over an unusual drum beat, which is the formula for most of the albums and even their more recent work. True Marmite music.

St. Germian are funk soul dance music, and that is all I need to say. Have a listen, and I bet you that your foot is tapping.

Remember Jose Gonzalez? Well, this is the original version of his hit Heartbeats, albeit recorded live, this is The Knife. Notice it gets a large cheer… I recently heard someone recount a story that said that he over heard someone ask who had covered Jose Gonzalez… philistines! Consider yourself educated.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Review - Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Melodies and harmonies are the order of the day with the eponymous debut from Fleet Foxes, and the rather incredible and sweet vocals that drift lightly through this most summery of summer albums, you are dragged into a world of dandelions and rolling hills via the rather driving guitar work and vocal harmonies.

To say who they sound like it is hard - there is twinges of Dylan, slights of Beach Boys, but mostly I hear a band that are not well known to the record buying public - Cosmic Rough Riders, a band obscure and whilst they have been a long time away, it has be assured that they are not over yet.

But to fill that void, Fleet Foxes do a sterling job. On the opener the harmonies start sounding a little too country, but it pulls away and becomes hymn like with many voices singing softly in melodic gold. The sound is organic, whilst it treads water musically, each track has a top tapping pace that carries it on and into a good territory where the band seem to settling on a certain rhythm. It starts to sound very good, and on Ragged Wood the vocals, strained on the longer notes, have an organic quality, much like Twilight Sad's style.

It is a real summer album, but it lacks legs, burning out after 8 or so tracks. Like all good Indie albums the band have tried to define them selves, and Fleet Foxes have done so especially well. A true treat of 2008 so far.


Monday, 30 June 2008

Review - The Offspring - Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace

There is such a thing as growing old gracefully and after the release of their Greatest Hits, I would have wrote off an eighth album from the Californian "punk" megastars. I use punk as a loose term as these guys have not been punk probably since the release of 1998's Pretty Fly (for a White Guy). My roots with the Offspring stem this, essentially a novelty record and discovered them backwards.

My exposure during my adolescent teen years was inspirational - Americana is an album that I can return to in a moments notice and so too Ignition and Smash, but recently, I have noticed how recycled the sounds that we used on Conspiracy of One and Splinter. They have basically been singing the same songs on each album ever since.

Don't expect anything new here - there are some good track in this collection - a definite improvement from Splinter, that is for sure, but in the clouds of relapse into the teenage years sountracked by the speedy drumming and basic power chords, I return back into real life and feel disgust coming over me as my post-rock post-hardcore self is repulsed by the insinuation that I can be captured by such basic song structure and mediocre melody.

Then I listen to You're Gonna Go Far Kid or Hammerhead and I smile, remembering that ever young child needs to go through the cathartic punk moment, and this, whilst nothing new, groundbreaking, or really any good, will serve as this generation of teenagers' soundtrack if My Chemical Romance or Foals have no stolen the crowd.

Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace is pretty bad, but I can't get away from the fact that I shouldn't like it, but I do, in a way, in a childish way, and I have to give it to Dexter Hollland - he knows how to sound like a highly strung teenager even into his early forties.

2/9 when I am in control, or 7/9 when I think like I used to. Take your pick really.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Review - The Music - Strength in Numbers

A few years ago, Colin and I were in Glasgow city centre, and were looking at buying a CD or two. I decided to buy The Music’s debut whereas Colin expressed interest in Dove’s album Lost Souls. It is rather interesting that both these bands have been away for a long time, either working out demons or trying to create a new album. In fact, Both released their last albums over 3 years ago, and in the case of The Music, 4 years ago. In that 4 years we have Klaxons, Franz Ferdinand, LCD Soundsystem and Arctic Monkeys. The musical landscape has changed massively and of that era, few British bands have survived – Hundred Reasons are still plugging away on a lowly label, Hell is For Heroes similarly, with the Cooper Temple Clause out for the count.

It comes to 2008, 7 years after I first fell in love with The Music and the danceable break beat rock they produce and I have changed too – I went from school student to University to student to employed office worker, and with that my musical taste has slightly evolved, from NU metal to indie and post-rock champion of sorts. Colin too has changed, becoming more specific in heavier post-hardcore. So, have The Music suitably changed?

The answer is kind of. The guitar work and melodies are intact, with the rousing vocals of Getaway and Breakin’ making it onto this album, and the sound is of a band who took a long time off to find themselves and their feet, and suddenly remembering what made them pick their instruments up in the first place.

The Spike and lead single Strength in Numbers are Music defining – large beats, leading guitar work, and rousing high pitched vocals echoing in the background, slightly lower in the mix than most bands. The production on the LP is slight, a sheen that is very different from previous albums – strings are echoed, the vocals are processed slightly and the synths are prominent.

On the dark and brooding Idle the band experiment slightly with their sound and it is a welcome respite, as it is bookended by some rather impressive tracks. This seems to be the new model The Music, with a slightly subdued sound, unlike their original work.

To be honest, this is a good return. Probably a million times better than some would have expected from them. Some times it seems they are trying to escape the constraints of their previous albums and they do succeed in certain places – the album is a rallying call, a statement that says that they were away but they fancy a second chance in the new landscape of late noughties rock, and with this album, it might not be sterling, but it is very much welcome, and if they survive the next few years (and we don’t have to wait till 2012 for their next album) we could be interesting records indeed.


Discovery - The Night Marchers

It's been a while since I've posted here so I think it's best that I get back into the flow of things now. I've been listening to a lot of new bands recently, desperately searching for a new band which will influence me as much as my discovery of Rocket From The Crypt several months ago. In my search I thought I'd look into what "Speedo" from Rocket has been doing since his departure from the Crypt. I'm surprised to say that he's been a very busy guy, producing 3 albums with the excellent Hot Snakes (I'll save them for another post) and then going on to form The Night Marchers in 2007. The album See You in Magic sounds very similar to RFTC minus the trumpets and I'm delighted to say is an excellent, excellent punkesque record.

The opening track has a very catchy riff as I have come to expect from Speedo, and his harsh vocals work incredibly well. The second track is one of my favourites, I Snore ZZZZ and it's the wacky lyrics that I love about it most. The rest of the album is medocre, with a few moments of genius coming through on Whose Lady r u and You've Got Nerve. What I love about the album the most is that's its so easy to listen to, with the catchy riffs strumming nicely along in the background.

Overall, an excellent album if you love Rocket / Hot Snakes, it's definately one I'll be listening to a lot in the future and I look forward to hearing more from them soon. A UK tour would be awesome though I feel that they're unlikely to come here anytime soon.

Some tracks for you to try:

Closed For Inventory
In Dead Sleep (I Snore ZZZZ)
Whose Lady R U

Grab the ZIP here.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Review - Feeder - Silent Cry

Feeder are a constant for my musical pallet having been introduced to them during the later years of my high school tuition, they represented a point in my life that a few other bands, namely Travis, Coldplay, Linkin Park and Papa Roach, will occupy for giving me my first own bands, ones that I sought out my self, found my self, and fell in love with (and out of love with) along with many of my friends. In fact, Colin, who I blog with, also rates Feeder quite highly and owns many of their early albums (if not all). I however, only have two in my collection. Yesterday Went too Soon and Polythene, so you should be able to guess from those two records where my opinions lie on their most recent bought of records.

Comfort in Sound is not the album I wanted from Feeder. It was neither loud nor exciting as most of the melancholy arrangements were obviously inspired partly by the suicide of drummer John Lee but it also felt like a left over of the previous couple of albums. Grant and Taka were beginning to run a little on fumes and whilst their spirited rocking out on Godzilla and Come Back Around sounded loud, live they paled to Insomnia, Buck Rodgers and the in-between single Just A Day. With 2005s Pushing the Senses doing nothing to convince me otherwise and the band reaching for the Coldplay/Keane/Snow Patrol heights of late noughties selling out to the epic over produced masses seemed to turn on all the older fans who were there in beginning. The became middle of the road and Grant's skills as a songwriter probably benefited from the rise into success but gave fans a little kick knock down.

So, seeing them live in late 2005 gave me hope. They performed mostly from their older albums, including High, and seemed enthusiastic about louder material, and in 2006, Grant did announce that the next album would be "heavier". I had been burned once before and amazingly Feeder have delivered not an amazing record, but a return to form that I never expected. From the first song you must fear the worst - We Are the People is potentially their worst single, and sets the album up for a fall but from there on in, with Itsumo, Miss You and Tracing Lines following packing punches you wonder where did they pull this from? These are some of the best feeder tracks since Yesterday Went to Soon and indeed seem to pushing to replace it. The lyrics are still a little insipid but as the guitar work and hooks are expertly pushed around you smile for the return of an old friend

The album sound like a sigh of relief. No longer fighting for the commercial success or the fans they needed, Feeder are able to spread their wings and self produce this album (just like YWTS) and it feels like suddenly Grant has realised not only what he enjoyed to write but also what the fans need - good, 4 minute pop rock songs, and while Silent Cry is not exactly the best album of the year, it is a fantastic record to listen to on a summery day and try to forget that whole "Dove Grey Sands" rubbish from the last album. Stick on Polythene, YWTS, Echo Park, Swim, and Silent Cry and they flow together well. Feeder, Mark I, are back.


Feeder Official Website
Feeder Myspace

Friday, 23 May 2008

Discovery - Drive-By Argument, The Mae Shi, 4 or 5 Magicians, Dananananaykroyd.

Drive-by Argument - I gave this band a rather glowing review on God Is In The TV and still after a couple weeks can't get over how much fun this band actually are. The synth led hooks and choruses are simply put fantastic. While they do nothing special other than grab a good rhythm and melody, bands are slowly beginning to realise that is pretty much all you need to do. Drive-By Argument are technically a manufactured band, being thrown together by their lecturers at college. From this rather un-rock and roll start (compare it to a band that I am beginning to name drop more and more on this blog, Franz Ferdinand, where they were started over a fight for a bottle of Vodka) they have the whole rock and roil thing down to a tee. In fact, they blow the socks off any of the latest crop of Indie bands that are literally pouring out of gig halls and into Record Label books every 5 minutes.

The Mae Shi - Who? you might be asking. What? you will be asking after listening to their second LP, HLLLYH. Procured before my meeting with them a few weeks ago the band blew me away with the rather post-punk synth type of rock that not only looks at time signatures with loathing, but also grabs that lovely thing called "fun" and cuddles up to and squeezes it till it goes blue. While they might sound obtuse at first and even on the third listen you might be wondering how anyone is supposed to sing along to the random tracks that sway from stomping rock riffs and crunching bass to light shouting and singing. Under all the random firing from all corners lies a band having such fun that it can only rub off onto the listener. Like We Are the Physics you will be smiling and taping your foot. You might be asking how do you pronounce the album name HLLLYH - there are two thought on this, either Hallelujah or Hell Yeah! After asking the band I decided Hell Yeah; they seemed to agree with me. Seeing them live is something else - the Mae Sheet is something that when told about you won't believe. Literally, a big sheet is pulled over the crowd. I loved this band.

4 or 5 Magicians - Up and coming small band who are making waves in and around the scenes at the moment are worth having a little listen to. Sounding mature this early in their career is something that should be commended - plus, there are always places in the world of Music for a good strong vocal and chord progression.

Dananananaykroyd - Hailing from Glasgow I am still to catch these guys on tour but listening to them you can see where the buzz is coming from. There will be a bandwagon coming for these guys so jumping on it this soon will gain you indie credibility. I expect fun things from these guys.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Review - We Are The Physics - We Are the Physics Are OK At Music.

Something that sounds genuinely new and interesting should be celebrated with a large fanfare and a parade down the local high street – for We Are the Physics are here. The thing is that while these guys sound different and sound unique you realise after a couple of listens that they are not doing anything completely different, but are just taking bits from loads of bands, throwing them into a big pile and running through it, diving into and all the while shouting loudly.

They sound like mix of Franz Ferdinand, Les Savvy Fav, The Hives and Belle and Sebastian. No, wait, let me explain; the band have taken the shouty vocals from Les Savvy Fav 9and a bit of the high fret board guitar work), the danceable rhythm from Franz and a smattering of tongue in cheek from The Hives. So where does Belle and Sebastian fit in?

Well, the key to WATPh is that while they are jumping about the stage, frantically drumming, shouting, barrelling lyrics off, they have a handle on some rather exciting melodies that will stay with you for most of the day. A great example of this is the bass line from “Bulimia Sisters”, the shouty chorus from “You Can Do Athletics BTW”, and rather frantic shout along “This Is Vanity”. The tunes are infecting and will burrow deep inside that mind of you – your foot is tapping and you smile is widening before you cans top your self.

There does seem to a bit a problem with the album though, and I might say it lies in the production. The amazing riff that is buried in deep in “Pylons + Other Modern Art” is lost – if the riff was as prominent as the “solo” 1.00 in then it might have lifted the song above the rest of the album. Elsewhere the scatter technique of the drumming lets the songs go of in insane tangents almost every 10 seconds which can berate after a couple of listens.

The sum of the album though is that this is a good collection of songs. Fans of the band will recognise a few from singles that the band have released – there are a few tracks new to this album that will not have heard, but the quality of those singles (which for months have been on the band’s Myspace) are good enough to warrant a purchase. A great album, though not for everyone, I can’t wait to see what the band can do with their second album.

Did I mention that three of the four are called Michael?


Band's Myspace
Buy Album from MP3 Downloads

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Apologies - Service will be resumed...

So, it has been over a month since either I or Colin updated this site. Don't worry! It is not dead - infact, far from it. Colin has been working on a rather interesting website - Coldwired - Video Networking - and I have been recruited as a writer for another site.

Colin's site will somehow find it's way to be included into this site in some fashion (like Music videos or something) and I will also be including some content based on what this new opportunity gives me. I had my first "real" review posted recently, and this avenue gives me routes to new bands that I have never had before - I have 10 or so promo copies of albums in my possession (and will have some more) and next week I have one of the biggest new bands of the moment (Johnny Foreigner) to see and will write them up in due course.

So, what I am trying to say is that not only has this blog suffered a bit, so has my personal blog, but slowly I am ramping up the writing on both, no I have incentive.

In the meantime, hit up this: This weeks Muxtape. Ra Ra Rasputin.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Discovery - AVAST! & The Whitest Boy Alive

Two bands in one Discovery post is something I was trying to avoid, but I am bursting to describe these two new bands that are stunning their way into my lists of bands that I must see live, and where they are quite the same, they are also slightly different from each other. But, in a weird twist, are linked by one simple fact that makes them quite unique in my recent acquisitions - I have bought their records my self.

AVAST! are a Scottish indie band that are born of the same basket that Stapleton were, and have pilfered most of their members. Jingle jangle pop guitar with shouty vocals make them sound like Dartz!! but with a slight tweak to the formula in that the songs a dripping in rather luxurious melodies and stamped with the same Indie pulse-watching that Stapleton should be famous for. Avast! keep the rhythms, the guitar and the lo-fi production but have the charm to make it work. I seriously suggest you listen to them and love them. They have inflections of Post-hardcore that can't be ignored too.

The Whitest Boy Alive are another similar offshoot from a band that I love. Kings of Convenience are one of the bands that no matter what mood I am I can return to either of their two main albums and smile at the acoustic guitars duelling with each other and the improbable sound of two men sounding so intune with their harmonies that it seems like they were born of the same tree. The Whitest Boy Alive then, is slightly different, being only Erland Oyes this time around pulling the guitar from various levels of distortion and the drumming that is steeped in disco inflected groves but recorded on a track that makes it sound so organic. It is no surprise when listening to the album Dreams that they started as an electronic artist as the music pulls at the high-low troughs and peaks of dance music and almost every track here has a groove do danceable it should be illegal. The simplicity of some of the melodies and arrangements shouldn't be off putting as the songs are little wonders of 21st century indie.
You may be surprised to see my jumping from Post-Rock to poppery Indie, but be warned: My tastes are much more varied than that.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Review - Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

I am a fan of Elbow and have been since A Cast of Thousands, so listening to their fourth LP I might be slightly biased towards the "drinking man's Coldplay", a tag I detest more every time I hear it. Their last album, born of the tours that almost ripped the band apart, was slightly disjointed and flowed jarringly, but still had the epic and warm feeling mixed with a sense of Guy Garvey smoking, creased suit jacket, and a guitar, writing musings on the world.

This time the band have produced the album themselves, and this increases the warmth of the record as you know that every guitar string, echo, synth and organ are all there for a reason as it adds to the music, and the sound levels will be perfect for telling the story that the band had dreamed of when writing the music. And, while it is not a concept album with a story per se, there is a feeling that each track is a chapter in a tale wrapped within the soaring strings, grungy bass lines and melodies so pure and well crafted the album is closing in on perfection.

At least, after the first six tracks, we are there. Mirrorball is sublime in the purest way possible, with a piano sprinkling and a high to low vocal track that tugs at my heart with every word. The single, Grounds for Divorce, thunders in at a pace unmatched on the album but fits with the rest of the slower, quieter, smoother edges, and it tugs at you jacket. Running outside into the sun, to have you jacket caught by the door handle and that single moment where you smile and think how the world works, Grounds for Divorce is one the stand out tracks, but the opener, Starling, has to take the title of one of the best Elbow songs ever. An Audience with the Pope and The Fix (with Richard Hawley appearing) are also shining lights on this record.

In summation, The Seldom Seen Kid is a contender for Album of the Year, along with 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons. The "drinking man's Coldplay" they are not, unless the drink is White Wine, Whisky, and possibly tap water.


The Fix

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Discovery: Try These Three

Discovery: Try These Three

Every so often I will find a band or an artist that I think someone else should be listening to. Also, every so often I will randomly mention it to a friend to find that they have already found them previously or in some cases, seen them live by accident. In my head I have a running total of bands that various friends have recommended to me and the other way round, when I have impressed a band onto a friend. I have an altogether different music taste from most of my friends, but these three are in vogue at the moment.

The Safe Bet: Broken Records
Edinburgh band that seem to have the whole of the indie scene looing their way with a glance at both their potential and also with envious eyes. Their EP was released earlier in the year but these days it is better to Myspace them and you can get a good idea from the what kind of ban they are but these guys are probably going to be huge. There is Arcade Fire, there is Modest Mouse, there is Dylan, but alos there is a smattering of what gives young Scottish bands that little kick up the arse – there is the Travis, Idlewild and Franz Ferdinand effect where success is only a short leap away. Without a contract an album is probably a while off, but I suggest you try them and try to see them live. Very exciting times indeed.

The Outside Chance: The Knife
This brother sister duo from Sweden are not only compelling but mystical; they are rarely seen live, preferring to hide behind wondrous and magical visual screens, with lights shot complementing the music. It is all part of the feeling and the album Silent Shout is one of the most amazing records I have heard in a very long time. It is not what I expect to be everyone’s taste – it is nothing like Broken Records for a start, but the techno-electronic melodies are so artfully constructed and the vocals affected with nods to Bjork, you feel not only is the lyrics not that important, but they are used as an instrument. Listening to this album with headphones might be one of the most cathartic experiences on record. This album is essential. Try “We Share Our Mothers Health”, “Heartbeats (that one made famous by Jose Gonzalez and Sony)” and “Marble House”

The Old School: The Smiths
I cannot talk highly enough of this band who last year I found, wrapped in critical rapture, and they have became my favroutie band of all time, no question. I can listen to any album from any point in their career and not skip one track ever, they songs are that interesting and the guitar work is that intricate. I truly would love them to reform, but at the same time would love them to not reform, keeping what they did 1983 – 1987 as a testament to the late 80s Britain and the Thatcher years. This is what makes it great to be a indie fan – and whilst they might have become the band that most love to hate (because of the actions of Morissey, like my father) I would implore anyone who has indie credentials to get The Queen is Dead and Strangeways, Here We Come, the two seminal albums.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Monday Mix - 03/03/2008

Every Monday it is my intention to share 5 tracks that I have been listening to over the past week and I feel that you should definitely listen to at least once.

Ok, this is really a Tuesday mix but what the hell...

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly - Find The Time
It's nice to see Get Cape return with a followup to their excellent first album, Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager and this song keeps up the standard I'm beginning to expect from Sam Duckworth and Co. The song is the first single off the new album Searching For The Hows and Whys, an album I have yet to listen to properly, only having downloaded it yesterday. The song is upbeat and reasonably catchy and the sound is exactly what I'm used to with Get Cape. I recommend you listen to the rest of the album which comes out on the 10th of March - sounds promising.

The Bluetones - Bluetonic
The Bluetone are a survivor of the 90's Britpop era and are still going today, although with only a fraction of the popularity they used to have. This song is probably their most famous, you're bound to recognise it as soon as it starts... If you like it, try their Best Of album Expecting To Fly, it's got other good tracks on it such as Slight Return and Cut Some Rug.

Weezer - Blast Off!
This song comes from Rivers Cuomo's first solo album Alone The Home Recordings Of Rivers Cuomo which is basically a collection of B-Sides from Weezer over the past 10 or so years. This song happens to be one of my favourite Weezer tracks even though it is unfinished, just cutting off at the end. It has what you'd expect of a Weezer track, a heavy, addictive riff with some excellent song writing thrown in from Cuomo. Definitely worth a listen if you're a Weezer fan.

Kerbdog - Sally
Kerbdog are an Irish grunge band from the mid 90's and this song comes from their 1997 critically acclaimed album, On The Turn. This song is easily the best song on a great album, an album I had to buy (remember buying CDs?) to hear in full. The best £4 I've spent in a while...thank you eBay.

The National - Green Gloves
Not much to say about this song expect it's a pleasant indie track from the excellent 2007 album Boxer. Try this is you like The Arcade Fire, Sons and Daughters or Interpol. Also try the first single off the album, Fake Empire.

Review - Stereophonics - Pull the Pin

The last two reviews have been of recent, or close to recent, releases from artists as I can imagine that reviewers are supposed to review, but this album is not recent, but already been out for a few months, but I have started to listen to it thinking I would give it a chance, but that might have been a mistake.

Stereophonics have been awful for ages. Since their first two albums that caught the same zeitgeist that Oasis had rode in on, they went all rubbish in the same way Oasis fell apart (if you believe the press, I can now listen to those albums with hindsight and be very impressed by them). The problem with Stereophonics is that they mellowed out beyond what you can call still actively making a record – they were not only slow and mellow, but also it seemed lazy, almost drifting along doing nothing but chords and mismatched lyrics talking pish about nothing but the “rock and roll” that Kelly Jones and experienced a few years previously.

All this make 2005’s Language Violence Sex Other a return to form in a sense with the heavier rock and gnarling riffs from their earlier stuff, and it still sounds like a really good album even today – but the worry is that their sixth album, Pull the Pin, would return to the chilled out arsey rock of their previous releases, and you might be relieve as they don’t as the distortion is turned up and kept on at a loud level, but missing is everything else.

Rifss slip out like mumbled words after a few drinks, the drumming, whilst trying hard, still feels laboured and as an after thought, and the lyrics are even more generic that you can imagine, describing such boring things such as a Bank Holiday Monday, and all this hidden in a loud package that seems to say “yeah, LOUD, but BORING”.

The problem is that there is the regular amount of acoustic, slow rock and fast riffing here, and the regular and required amout of swearing for the average chart listener to think they are listening to a Rock band, but in fact Kelly Jones have not ever been on, and have never been the master lyricist that they are perceived to have been – just back in the Performance and Cocktails they had energy, and Word Gets Around they had enthusiasm, but now they pretend to have both, where they really just have Major Label cheques and Yes-men who hang about saying “That is rock” when in fact it is “distortion based pop music”.

Stereophonics are still awful, and Pull the Pin should by all accounts be their last album, but it won’t be, as the Radio1 crew bought it and put it to number 1. I wonder when they will release their “greatest hits”.

Passing the Buck, probably the best track on the album.
Bank Holiday Monday, probably the worst track on the album.


Wednesday, 27 February 2008

6Shuffle - 27/02/08

In My Arms by Mylo from Destroy Rock and Roll
Okay, so we have a problem – I have never heard this track before and while I have the album in my library it was taken from a musical “society” where we share music from out respective collection, so I have not listened to the album or even the singles yet. This track samples Betty Davis Eyes as a good riff in the background, but in all action, nothing really happens, so I don’t know if it sounds better with the rest of the albums.

The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles from Let it Be… Naked
Recently I have been listening a lot to early The Beatles, from Please Please Me, With the Beatles, Beatles for Sale and Abbey Road, but have not started to listen to this later music yet. I love the early Beatles, they sound so fresh even today, and the albums, especially With the Beatles, are so funky and 60s sounding, with more melodies that the whole of the chart right now, they make for great early morning, and Monday morning music. This is a classic track, but the exact kind of Beatles track I hate – I know it so much more from everywhere else rather than my own discovery, it feels out of context. The production on this track is very scattered, and rather unsettling, and is taken from the re-released version of the album that strips away all the ridiculous production of the original.

Patty Lee by Les Savy Fav from Lets Stay Friends
I had heard this track well before I knew who Les Savy Fav were, I had even tried to learn it on the guitar. This, from their latest album, is very exciting, and has some excellent lyrics with exactly the kind of music I have been wanting to get into – critically acclaimed but still outside the mainstream. They are close to being a subject of a discovery post by either me or Colin – he included the track that follows this song in his first Monday Mix. I am still deciding on the band, but they seem like a good driving-song band. Along with a few other new recommendations, such like Neutral Milk Hotel, 65daysofstatic and Broken Records, these bands will make up fair portion of my listening homework of the next few weeks.

Airbag (WMA) by Radiohead from OK Computer
Radiohead have been subject to my ranting on my personal blog a few times, mostly about their more recent output – but this album, and indeed this track, even for an album that is 11 years old, still sound absolutely seminal, with songs that have still be to equalled, and a cohesive record that Radiohead have only last year came close to reaching again. It hints at the future of a band, that when you are reminded of the climate in music (Oasis, Spice Girls, Blur and B*Witched) you can’t believe the impact it had, who would venture in unknown and unwanted territory without even a sideways glance at the commercial successes they were achieving with their alternative rock, and gave 1990s rock its biggest question; Old Radiohead or New Radiohead?

Ways & Means by Snow Patrol from Final Straw
Another band who probably have more in a hand for the creation of this blog than I can really credit them with, this track is my favourite from their break through album. The slowly spoken and droning vocals have more in common with the band’s original ouput rather than their epic popness that the recnt album lends to. The dark song, with close to a lack of a tune, has a brooding melody hidden underneath the screaming guitars and crashing cymbals and a story is told using these in a way that stands taller than any other tracks on the album Run included.

68 State by Gorillaz from D-Sides
Taken from the outcuts album that followed Demon Days, this instrumental track is included in an album that not only is odd, but also has moments of sheer genius that shows just how much creativity is still bibbling underneath the surface in Damon Albarn’s repitore. I loved the first album, and love the second album also, and this, a sequel of sorts to G-Sides, the album that was released after the eponymous debut (G-Sides for Gorillaz, D-Sides for Demon Days). There are a few tracks on here that are sketches (like this one) and others that are stand out should-have-been-album-tracks, like We Are Happy Landfill, Bill Murray and People, a song that uses everything from Dare except the vocals, putting lyrics over it, giving a track that sounds more like 19-2000 than the original. Got Demon Days? Pick this up, it is a very interesting aside.

Bonus Seventh Track – It Takes Time to Build by Beastie Boys from To the Five Boroughs

Monday, 25 February 2008

Monday Mix - 25/02/2008

Every Monday it is my intention to share 5 tracks that I have been listening to over the past week and I feel that you should definitely listen to at least once.

Rocket From The Crypt - On A Rope
It's not often that I get excited when I discover a new band but finding out about Rocket From The Crypt through the Drowned In Sound forums has definitely created an exception to this rule for me. Someone had posted a message thanking members for recommending him/her At The Drive-In and I simply asked about any similar bands that people knew of later in the post. RFTC was mentioned along with a few others that I have still to investigate. This song comes from what I regard as their best album, Scream, Dracula, Scream! an album that I will review in the near future. A post-hardcore / punk song is what to expect from this song although it still has the catchyness of a regular pop song - definately worth a listen.

The Icarus Line - Slayer
The Icarus Line are a band I've been meaning to listen to for a while and I'm still undecided on what I think of them. This song comes from their 2007 album Black Lives At The Golden Coast, an album I will be listening to more this week. I do like this song, it's very different to the harsh opening of the album, this song is far more melodic and mellow which I think I prefer from this band.

Les Savy Fav - Fading Vibes
Okay, so I'm posting another Les Savy Fav song. I've been listening to them again this week and I'm delighted that Mark has now got into them too, which is part of the point of this blog - sharing music interests. This track is off their 2004 album, Inches, which is a bit hit and miss but with it consisting of 18 tracks you can't expect every song to be a masterpiece. This song is one of the better tracks, a catchy almost pop-y kind of song. I'd recommend giving Inches a listen after trying their 2007 album Let's Stay Friends.

Rocket From The Crypt - Carne Voodoo
This track is from their earlier album, Group Sounds. Just like On A Rope this song is very Punk-pop, with a catchy riff that you begin to expect from this band. Definately worth a listen after you have played Scream, Dracula, Scream! to death...

Drive Like Jehu - Human Interest

My final choice of the week, Drive Like Jehu are another band I have picked up on recently. Their album's are notoriously difficult to find, I managed to download Yank Crime after waiting for about 4 days for it. They're more heavy than my previous choices, but still very post-hardcore. I'm still undecided on the album, some songs are a bit hit or miss and some appear unnecessarily long. However, this song along with Golden Brown are definately worth a listen.

Review - British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?

British Sea Power have always promised lots, and the hype each time they get close to releasing some new material sometimes reaches fever pitch, and the last few times it has not really delivered, meeting the thin line between good indie and bad indie - think first album Coldplay and the latest album from Embrace. Can they survive an unfavourable situation created by them this time?

In a small way, yes, but not without a few mistakes here and there. The opener All in It is very epic, and sets the tone, for an album that depicts the universe, expansive and wonderful, but with the problem that it is viewed from earth. Instead of the full universe, with all the supernovae and the planets, we get a few blurry pictures, the promise of space and amazing new worlds, and a few comets every so often.

The following tracks have worrying tones that at any moment they might break into twee or stadium-epicness without needing to, see Atom for one that does fall into this. The over blown production allows it to seem epic with going into the stadium chorus staple, and the problem is that it does use the wall of sound and higher-pitched guitar and individual notes of U2, but wrapped in a warmingly indie package that transcends the rest of the song. Think Arcade Fire during a volcano eruption, and the alarming thought of world war and the album will feel like it should.

But, herein lies the problem with British Sea Power, and in essence, with Do You Likes Rock Music?; it promises much, gives a lot, but allows just never reaches where you want and expect it reach. The feel of a band exploring its reach, and the boundaries their musicianship allow them to go for. The album does lull slightly after the first listen but initially, if this was based on first listen only, the album would have got full marks. Listening to it again and again, and wondering where that feeling I had achieved the first time was, reminded me of the question that the title asks: Do You Like Rock Music? I do, and I like this – but, in actuality, and infinitely, is this even Rock Music, capitalised?

This is a journey, a great, warm, epic, stunning, sometimes universal, most of the time life assuring, and all the time fantastic journey, that whilst the first time you make it you will be impressed and surprised, the returning journeys will be less exciting, like returning to your favourite holiday destination from when you were a child as an adult. British Sea Power have always promised lots, and wile this does give, it just falls slightly short, and, cripplingly, over stretches what it does have.


Friday, 22 February 2008

Retrospective - Starsailor

The new acoustic movement was hailed as the next big thing, and the left overs are a bunch of bands with albums that at the time were monumental to the listening public but today seem to have been left languishing at the bottom of the late 1990s early 2000s pile, forgotten about when comparing genres.

A few survived, some spectacularly, some less so. Coldplay are the forever eminent, becoming the superstars they probably were never supposed to be had they released the albums outwith this rather amazing moment in UK rock.

One band that today can still make me smile while listening to their records is Starsailor, a missing member of the Acoustic movement. The debut is stunning, beautiful, and acoustic beauty with the warm vocals from James Walsh and the little guitars licks really light up an rather depressing album. Love Is Here has not only one of my favourite vocals, but one of my favourite songs as well, and probably will be for a long time to come. The massive choruses were tamed by the crowds, and the emotion heard in some of the tracks can be at times of weakness overwhelming.

The follow-up might be one of the best 2nd albums of all time, with the same intimate tracks, such as Shark Food and Fidelity, but adding the stadium fillers that their counter parts Coldplay mastered. The stadium fillers don’t sit so well, but the song Four to the Floor is a great tune, with a rhythm that will get you taping your feet, especially it being book ended in an album of intricate music and lightly played chords that seem to exaggerate the rockiness of a track that is stand-out on this record.

The reason for this misty eyed feeling is that while I know the first two records very well, the third, On The Outside, is less well known to me – in fact, I don’t think I had it properly. Later this year I hope Starsailor return with an album that they deserve, and the commercial success that they deserve too – but the scene has moved on, and other misfits from that period, like Turin Brakes and Elbow, are having to deal with that fact too. I wonder what the years have done to the voice and music of the band – I am awaiting their fourth album with mild anticipation.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Discovery - Thrice

Thrice are an experimental rock band founded in 1998 while the members were still in high school. This is clearly evident when you look at at their early work, it is full of immature songs that have a very harsh sound to them. Yet I find this harsh sound strangely compelling and I must say I find their earlier work far more enjoyable. I wouldn't call myself an expert on this band, they have 5 full length albums and I've listened to 4 of them rather infrequently. However, I can spot a good track quickly and sadly of the 4 albums I can find only 5 or 6 songs that I really enjoy. However, these tracks are really good and hence I feel that Thrice are a band definitely worth listening to.

Who are they like I hear you ask? Well, even though they aren't classed as 'emo' I still think of emo bands when I think of similarities and The Used immediately spring to mind mainly due to the high pitched singing they both feature. However if you enjoy a bit of post-hardcore music definitely give Thrice a listen.

Here are 3 tracks you should listen to - the first two are nothing short of brilliant...

Don't Tell and we Won't Ask
The Artist in the Ambulance
Ultra Blue

Six Shuffle – 20th February 2008

In this, a new feature, I will click shuffle on my rather large and unwieldy music collection, and discuss the first six tracks that come up, not able to skip any tracks. Discounting podcasts and other such non-music tracks, this should fling up some rather unusual tracks and “not listened to in ages” albums.

Into this wild yonder, we go.

Shatter by Feeder from The Singles
- This is not set up in anyway, but Feeder are the first track to come up in a totally random way. I have enjoyed Feeder for the last few years and have kind of fallen away with this type of music, so I am not really anticipating the new album which is due out this year. Sure, their older stuff holds a keen part of my heart that I have, and is a good stepping stone to leap from pop to rock, but recently they have gone all sickly emo. This track has the louder style of the previous album but it feels too over produced and relies too heavily on a simple melody and chords to get me too excited these days, but I do enjoy it and appreciate a good tune and catchy chorus, which this does have.

Lists, Plans by A Sunny Day in Glasgow from Scribble Mural Comic Journal
- How interesting, the shuffle throws up an album I have no been able to get into yet, but have planned on returning to it. Sunny Day in Glasgow are one of those bands that have appeared in recent years with tunes so different they are hard to categorise. Sunny Day are pretty much exactly like this, with little or now structure to their tracks, and hearing this out of the context of the album is a little surreal. It has an erie tune, slow meandering charm, the sort that these days I might be more inclined to listen to. The shuffle seems to be throwing up some rather interesting tracks. If I was choosing the tracks, I would have skipped this one.

Keep Talking by Pink Floyd from The Division Bell
- This is turning into a bit of a joke, you will not believe that this is random. This track, on of the best from The Division Bell, features samples from Stephen Hawking, of which I have just finished his startling book “A Brief Histroy of Time”. It details his theories on space and time, along with a fantastically written summary of where science is (well, was in 1987) and how and why he finds it so fascinating, and it really is exactly what he was trying to do – make a popular book that without the need for extensive knowledge in the subject to get a feel for the impact of the last few decades in space-time theory. The track has the usual Gilmour riffing and the production, but lacks what makes some other Pink Floyd tracks so special. It does have a good message and sounds great, but that, and Sorrow, from A Momentary Lapse of Reason, are the better of the more recent Floyd albums.

Autobahn by Anberlin from Blueprints for the Blackmarket
- A guilty pleasure they were introduced to me by Jonny, a staunch Christian, and tricked me into admitting that they were pretty good, before the big reveal – they are a Christian rock band. I shrugged – their heavy riffs and emo lyrics are the same as ever other band the same, the are also lyrically obtuse, and not explicitly singing about God and other such things that might have alerted me. I have fallen out of favour with them, though this track sounds good now, it has the produced sound that I am wary of now.

Tangled Up In Plaid by Queens of the Stone Age from Lullabies to Paralyze
- “Oh Yeah...” This is one of the tunes from QOTSA that I really enjoyed listening to and had totally forgotten about them – the album is still sometimes used on rotation, but if you had told me the title I would have no idea what the song was, even though I can quite easily drum along to it and sing every word. It creeps up on you, like almost every other song on that album. Burn the Witch is in my head now, even when I am listening to a different track from that album.

YYY/NNN by Soulwax from Any Minute Now
- This is one of the tracks from the album that I read a review of that suggested it was absolutely garbage, and taught me a good lesson – reviews are most of the time wrong. Any Minute Now is not LCD Soundsystem good, but it is still a good album, and this track is typical of the album, but to be honest, pretty rubbish. One comment I read about this album is the lack of “warm” sounds as it is mostly bass and drums mixed with some lyrics. I don’t know what that says for Metal, but it is a catchy tune, and probably a killer to dance to. Soulwax are more famous for the DJ incarnation 2many Djs, which I have to say I prefer. It is telling that when 2many Djs remixed Any Minute Now, as Nite Versions, the album was better for it.

Bonus Number 7 – I’ve Never Understood by The Reindeer Section

Note: I will endeavour at all times to give you MP3s to download, but when the player shuffles to a WMA, I will upload that.