All 3 entries tagged The Clientele
August 25, 2009
One thing that Emusic seems to be alright at, is stocking those little filler EP’s and singles that seem to get lost and never listened to when you’re wandering through your CD collection. I managed to gather a few, and all these bands have been featured on this blog sometime before I’m sure…
The National – Wasp Nest
At the same time as grabbing this, I picked up the self-titled debut, but that, understandably, felt a little unfocused. By contrast, this stop-gap EP between the sophomore LP Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers and the breakthrough Alligator is happily a more succinct distillation of what the band are all about. It features a song each from both those albums (in my opinion, the best ones – a live version of Murder Me Rachael and All The Wine) along with five non-LP originals.
At worst, these do feel like outtakes from the albums, and keep a rather stately pace compared to the featured two, but The National have always been about these understated buildups. Matt Berninger’s deep distinct vocal wrapped around cycling guitar and piano figures or sometimes also a battering rhythmic section (see the end of Cherry Tree or Murder Me Rachael), cementing the identity the band have built up over the course of their career. Rinse, lather, soak, if you’re feeling better… repeat. While it’s no means the best place to start (I’d say the latest, Boxer), if you don’t have the time to delve into the back catalogue, this allows you to dip in at your leisure.
Spoon – 30 Gallon Tank EP
I love Spoon, so I was a little gutted that the Emusic catalogue could only muster up this EP as an offering. The titular single was taken from their sophomore album Series of Sneaks (back in ‘98!), and has the guitar squall of debut Telephono and the more careful arrangement and production approach that would come to the fore with next album Girls Can Tell. That said, unless you really like the band I can’t recommend this record alone, the ‘remix’ of Car Radio (subtitled ‘Different’) is pretty much unlistenable, and the other two tracks pretty much define the term ‘B-side’.
However! Don’t let it put you off the idea of getting into Spoon… they are great! Honest!
The Clientele – That Night, A Forest Grew EP
I have posted about the last two Clientele albums on this blog and this EP acts as a compass pointing towards the next one, Bonfires on the Heath, arriving anytime soon. That forthcoming album will feature one of the tracks here, Share the Night, that shows a blissed out, dare I say, funky side to the Clientele.
All the tracks here share a similar ‘bounce’, an energy that expounds upon the previous effort’s glimmers of sunshine. However, Alistair still sounds as resigned as ever (“Somehow in this dream I’m getting tired” he laments in jaunty opener Retiro Park) yet the Zombies guitar freakouts that poked their head out from the haze on Impossible and Garden at Night make a return with more purpose and more vigour.
A great EP from these guys (and gal), making the wait for the new album, if not unbearable in anticipation, at least somewhat bearable with four fun pop songs to stick on repeat while we do…
Okkervil River – The President’s Dead
I’m going to see the band up in Glasgow in a few weeks, and in a moment of momentary madness I grabbed this single, even though you can download the track for free here and listen to the B-side The Room I’m Hiding In on Spotify.
That said, I love the song, it’s by no means their best, but a great stream of consciousness opening with a simple four chord turnaround before eventually bursting (literally) into a glorious one-line title-repeating chorus with that keyboard line that sounds like it’s breaking the speakers it’s being played through. These things don’t have to be complicated… just good. The B-side is less good, but who cares? This is goooood.
The Long Blondes – (various B-sides)
Just a couple left here from the now (very sadly) broken up Sheffield five-piece, so I’ll make it easy for you. B-sides are generally composites of other ideas or experiments… aren’t they?
Five Ways To End It = A Knife For The Girls x “Couples” more dance-y direction
Fulwood Babylon = Giddy Stratospheres – Giddy + (backing vocals x (chorus + reverb)) + a groove to kill for…
In layman’s terms, yeah, pretty good actually…
Next up: rather predictably… August! In another predictable move I’m going to change the format again! And do single albums again, because I tend to write more, and more clearly… I think.
March 28, 2007
Lo and behold, a week after posting about my favourite Clientele tracks, they go and post one of my soon-to-be favourite Clientele tracks up on their MySpace. Bookshop Casanova and Nothing but Sunshine have been added to their playlist and if it weren’t for my awful internet connection, I’d be all over the page and the recordings. However as it is, I’ve had to slyly record it (complete with buffering gaps) and fix it up in Audacity just to hear the bloody things.
They are fantastic by the way…
...And if you haven’t caught the tracks I posted earlier, grab them now because they’ll be gone in the morning.
March 14, 2007
God Save The Clientele
That’s the title of the new album that’s due to arrive in April. But I think I’m already way ahead of myself. I’m sure many Americans have already witnessed The Clientele, as they supported Spoon on an American tour and also from the rave reviews for Strange Geometry, their third LP (after semi-compilation Surburban Light, and follow-up The Violet Hour) that have graced the web since it’s release. It also help that big indie label Merge are behind them across the pond. They are in fact from London, and it’s a fact that baffles me.
I can definitely understand why they aren’t more popular here. In a national music scene of bold dramatic statements of retroism and laddishness or every attempt to be bigger than the last big band or more different or whatever, who wants to know about a slightly morose band with subtle arrangements, a penchant for reverb and a tendency to sound ‘intelligent’? (I can’t think of a better term, sorry). One of the songs on Strange Geometry is spoken word prose! It would never fly in NME!
Regardless, the truth is people are missing out here. Songs from the first cut, Joseph Cornell and I Had To Say This, show off a jazzy shuffle over Alasdair’s voice-in-a-church-hall laments with a bit of groove coming across like a mix between Love and the Zombies. And that is a good combination.
Strange Geometry cleaned up the act, paring down the reverb and adding gorgeous string sections (from Louis Phillipe) and is worthy of all the praise it’s been given. They are not afraid to show off that sometimes do let loose, the solo in E.M.P.T.Y. and the coda of Impossible, dare I say it, ‘rock out’, but you know, not too much. It was never all about loudness anyway, the album being packed with those late evening reflections built over graceful fingerpicked electric guitar and shuffled drums. Since K Got Over Me is built as one giant melodic guitar line running through the whole song, Alasdair’s playing being another unique selling point. Songs like Spirit and (I Can’t Seem To) Make You Mine are beautiful numbers, building and releasing gently like when you’re sat outside the club on a park bench wondering how the hell you’re going to deal with the morning. Strange Geometry hits the right amount of highs and lows, but previous album The Violet Hour took it too far, actually pushing to make you depressed.
And that (somehow) brings me back to where we began, a new album. Described as being ‘happier’ and introducing a new keyboardist/violinist, Mel Draisey, whilst incorporating ‘disco beats’. Intriguing to say the least, but maybe this will finally make people get up and take notice.
God Save The Clientele indeed.
From Suburban Light (2000):
The Clientele – Joseph Cornell MP3 Expired
The Clientele – I Had To Say This MP3 Expired
[Buy album from Amazon]
From Strange Geometry (2005):
The Clientele – Since K Got Over Me MP3 Expired
The Clientele – (I Can’t Seem To) Make You Mine MP3 Expired
The Clientele – E.M.P.T.Y. MP3 Expired
[Buy album from Amazon] (highly recommended)