Thursday, 31 January 2008

Retrospective - Pulp / Different Class / 1995

So I missed Pulp. I don’t mean emotionally, but I think I was steered away from them. I am not exactly sure why, but it might have something to with the same reason I also had to force the hand to even begin to listen to Jamiroquai. My father is a muso, and only listens to music by Chris Rea or other blues artists. Occasionally his tastes get wider and excompass something slightly more new, like Keane or Muse, or even (rather shockingly) Lostprophets.

Pulp, then, was a bit of an enigma, and only last year did I get a hold of Different Class. I suppose this might be a proper review, or even a discovery, but it is with out a doubt a good album. I notice how great the lyrics are, how different the music itself, and how annoying it must have been to be Jarvis Cocker at a time when Britpop ruled the charts and bundled in with those louts.

Blur and Oasis were the south and the north, whereas Plup were the outsiders. The underdogs, or even, the alternative. They are alternative in everyway possible way – especially with the album of tracks about Disco 2000 (the great pop song) and the rather ludicrous I Spy, which changes halfway through, starting as a ditty about girls and that, until… well, her husband walks in. Oops.

To be frank I don’t think I would have got the lyrics back then – they are similar to Morrissey in the meandering way that they mimick real conversations but have that poetic charm, that slight subersvion and that mad but unhinged but also perfectly real feel about them

But, mixed in with the fantastic lyrics, is the brilliant music which takes the songs to the air and the radio. It is an album for summer evenings, after having a bottle of wine and sitting back in the patio, with a beer and the sun slowly burning away, the heat cooling down and that brilliant summer smell of a garden that has just been hosed down.

These memories should be from my childhood when I listened to this album, but as an adult I get the songs, and you should to. Here is Disco 2000and I Spy. Two of the best on the album which give you a good look at the style of the album.

Retrospective - The post-hardcore movement

Post-hardcore is probably my favourite music genre over the last few years and it wasn't until recently that I realised this was the term for the style of music I listen to almost every day. To quote the ever-expanding Wikipedia; "Post-hardcore is typically characterized by its precise rhythms and loud guitar-based instrumentation accompanied by vocal performances that are often executed as whispers or screams."

It is the precise rhythms and loud guitars that I love most about the post-hardcore sound. A number of bands that I listen to fit this category, but the one I feel has been the most influential to me is At The Drive-In. ATDI hail from El Paso, Texas and were active from 1993 to 2001. Not a month has gone by over the past few years where I haven't listened to some of their music and I never tire of hearing their catchy riffs on the way to work every day. They are the perfect example of a band that has got better and better with every album they have released with Relationship of Command easily being their best work. I won't go into detail about their albums here, I believe this warrants a post on it's own, but I strongly suggest that you check them out if you haven't already.

The thing that strikes me most about the post-hardcore sound is the varying level of vocals in the bands most fitting to the genre. For instance, Ian MacKaye - the frontman of Fugazi (Fucked Up, Got Ambushed, Zipped In), one of the founding post-hardcore bands, doesn't have the strongest of 'voices'. He definitely wouldn't make it through an X-Factor audition that's for sure. But it isn't the vocal talents of the lead singer in hardcore bands that makes them stand out, it's the song writing, heavy riffs and catchy background beats that makes their songs really worth listening to.

Other bands that can be classified under the post-hardcore genre include: Quicksand, Glassjaw and Les Savy Fav to name but a few. I suggest you give some of them a try if you're a fan of alternative rock, punk-rock, emo music or just looking to listen to something a little different.

I'll leave you with a few select post-hardcore tracks that I feel really describe the genre as a whole.
  • At The Drive-In - One Armed Scissor
  • At The Drive-In - Napoleon Solo
  • At The Drive-In - Invalid Litter Dept.
  • At The Drive-In - Sleepwalk Capsules
  • Fugazi - Waiting Room
  • Fugazi - Bed For The Scraping
  • Fugazi - Styrofoam
  • Quicksand - Fazer
  • Quicksand - Dine Alone
You can grab the zip of the above tracks here