All 2 entries tagged James Riley

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November 01, 2007

Broken Social Scene Birmingham Academy 17th October

Broken Social Scene presents… Kevin Drew

Live @ Birmingham Academy - 17/10/2007

James Riley

Kevin Drew loves you. In fact, Kevin Drew loves everyone. He made a particular effort to show this at the last Broken Social Scene gig I attended while they were promoting their last record. He clambered off stage and came out into the crowd during their closer, hugging everyone that cared, including myself, before eventually running out of people and getting back to the microphone to finish off the song and set. In any other circumstance, you could probably label the act as ‘hippy’, as ‘pretentious’, but with Kevin and BSS, there’s something different, something more sincere happening.

Openers Noah & The Whale were very sincere indeed. Starting tentatively with a pluck and a croak, it built very gently, in almost complete silence, until drums, violin and harmonium filtered in to reveal a band sounding almost as if Alfie were resurrected not from Manchester but the West Country. I thought their barn burning songs would become too much but they rescued it with the closing pair of Rocks and Daggers and chirpy (sold out) single 5 Years Time.

The words on the ticket may have said ‘Broken Social Scene’ but anyone actually expecting the sprawling collective to be together here would inevitably be disappointed. Instead, we got six typical indie-rock guys filling the room with feedback interspersed with the melodies and harmonies that come from one of Spirit If…’s better moments in Lucky Ones. It was loud, and it ruined a lot of the subtleties that come across on the actual album. Inevitably, it was no surprise that the best songs in the first half were BSS’s ‘own’. Cause=Time, Stars and Sons and Superconnected all got an airing, suiting the loud and pulsing dynamic, whereas Tbtf, Fucked Up Kid and Safety Bricks didn’t really work well amidst the fuzz and actually missed the female counterpoint that BSS usually have.

It took an abortive attempt at Gang Bang Suicide later on to really kick the songs into gear. Kevin stopped mid-song to reprimand some talking in the front row, before leading his band into two sublime performances of Farewell to the Pressure Kids and Bodhi Sappy Weekend. Entering the final stretch, they followed this up with an extended version of the already brilliant Lover’s Spit, adding trumpet courtesy of Jimmy Shaw from Metric, breaking it down before blowing it up again. After such an amazing ending, it seemed redundant to add the ‘encore’ of Major Label Debut. However, it was poignant to have Kevin shouting the lines “It means I love you!” to finish off.

After the talking altercation, Kevin walked down to the front row and apologised to the people he embarrassed, proving that yes, Kevin Drew does love everyone, but he loves his music more.


October 24, 2007

Hourglass

Title:
Rating:
2 out of 5 stars

I feel sorry for Dave Gahan. It must be hard to try and live down a legacy as long-lasting as Depeche Mode’s when all you want to do is make some decent electronic music on your own steam away from your main band. It must be even harder when someone like Thom Yorke releases something like The Eraser that steals all the best tricks and then lets his band release another stormer weeks before your own. Admittedly, his solo debut Paper Monsters came out first and recent Depeche Mode album Playing the Angel included the rather good single, Suffer Well, one of the few songs written by Gahan that has been released by Depeche Mode. It’s a shame that Hourglass does little to suggest he’s got the material to last a whole album.

It’s by no means a mediocre album; Tony Hoffer behind the desk has ensured that the sounds are there, the beats wholesome, the atmospherics lush and the vocals clear in the mix. The problem is that it’s more electronically orientated than Paper Monsters, inevitably leading to a repetitive slog through similar sounding songs when some different instrumentation might have proved more interesting. There are some misplaced dynamics in this album, meaning a bit of trimming or rearranging could have upped my score a notch or two. Opener Saw Something kicks in four minutes too late and then disappears immediately after. New single Kingdom and Deeper and Deeper fare better with more consistent danceable beats but then the middle section of the album drags horribly with slower tempos and more sparse arrangements (although ‘Use You’ might wake you up, it’s still quite dull). By the time you get to (I hope ironically titled) Endless, there’s no momentum left to enjoy such a slow builder, despite it essentially being a cooler but darker brother to Goldfrapp’s glam stomp stylings on Supernature. Gahan’s lyrics have not improved much either, but as with Depeche Mode, his delivery has always the one of biggest pulls. It’s in full emotive force here, tricking you into thinking lines like "Open the door, it’s only me" (from ‘Kingdom’) actually mean something profound if you’re only half listening.

When the band actually turns up on closer ‘Down’, you certainly think a better album or a brilliant EP could’ve been crafted from this selection of songs, but unfortunately instead we get something distinctly average, if not below.

James Riley


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