All entries for March 2007
March 12, 2007
And now for something completely different…
You can imagine that being said any time the Soft Hearted Scientists are introduced, because they just are, I suppose. Among the instruments listed as playing on their site they have ‘Fruit Shaped Percussion’, ‘Massed Impulse Buy Broken Rusty Stringed Autoharp Sympathetic resonance’ and ‘Coaxing Percussive Purrs from Cats’. You may think they are joking, but a listen through to any of their studio recordings reveal they may be doing more than just taking you for a ride.
They are yet another band I’ve neglected to mention until now, but I’ve rather fortunately timed it right at this moment because new single, Siberia, arrives on shelves quite soon on April 2nd. It will be followed by an album proper as their previous long player, Uncanny Tales From The Everyday Undergrowth, was simply a collection of their first 3 EP’s.
Mount Palomar is the opening track from that collection and it’s a great entry point for listening to the band. Combining sonar sounds with a story that might just be about zombies and hot air balloons, or just about a mountain, it breaks off with a drum roll into a great chorus, before gently settling down again on whatever ground they were on.
I’ll Be Happy, I’ll Be Sleeping is a demo they posted earlier on last year that will appear in some renovated form on the new album. Gentle harpsichord swells break up acoustic pickings while the Scientists’ ruminate about what would happen if they existed in the seventeeth century, or it could be just about asking a girl out like most songs, I don’t know. I think it’s the only track ever that could possibly get away with the line: ‘If I hadn’t been burnt as a warlock, I doubt I would’ve succumbed to primitive dentistry.’
It’s all very soothing as acoustic music tends to be, but there’s something more going on here that breaks it apart. The endless experimentation with sounds means you’ll be lost for days listening to these songs and still find something new to pick out when the time comes around again.
And it will, I give Cubs honour on that (I never got to Scouts).
I think I’m going to settle in to a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule after this, so feel free to intervene inbetween… I still have plenty to write about
March 11, 2007
Writing about web page http://lemmyandbinky.blogspot.com/2007/03/in-honour-of-richard-joseph.html
War has never been so much fun…
Back in 1993, a poppy ska rhythm that wouldn’t be out of place on a Lily Allen record fades in and you get treated to one of the best video game music intros ever. The guy who wrote it, Richard Joseph, sadly passed away last week, and I’ve only just found out he was responsible for soundtracking pretty much my whole childhood playing video games. It is your duty to visit this tribute and realise that sometimes fake digital instruments through an ancient computer chip can entertain you as much as anything today.
March 09, 2007
I don’t know what it seems to be about 2007. A handful of my favourite bands from the nineties have been reinvigorated to attempt that elusive ‘return to form’ tagline that every band struggles with, after reaching any critical/commercial peak in their career. I’ve already posted new tracks from Idlewild and Ash that suggest a sort of nostalgia for a sound that the band has evolved away from but yearns to resurrect. The Manics are the next on the boat, with new single Your Love Alone Is Not Enough returning that bombast and confidence together with a pared down sound. Is it that as bands get older, their rough edges that might have endeared you to them in the first place have been worn down with sandpaper and (more likely) cleaner-cut production?
A lot of people seem to suggest that, claiming Idlewild’s A Remote Part and Warnings/Promises didn’t ‘rock’ as much so they weren’t on par with earlier releases. Is it just the tunes? the times? or that we can’t have the same emotional contact with a band’s 4th/5th album as opposed to their debut? In general I believe the latter to be the case. I could take someone like the Super Furry Animals, where every album is equally worthy of merit, yet if it came to a favourite album of theirs, I would have to side with Radiator, simply because that’s the one that first hit home. Again, Supergrass -> In It For The Money, same reason.
There’s been plenty of debate about the Modest Mouse album, how it’s trying to be a commercial retread of what they did on Lonesome Crowded West or The Moon and Antarctica. I’ve only heard a handful of songs from those two albums, and a couple off the new record, and I’d have to say that I prefer the new ones I’ve heard. Is that because my entry point was Good News For People Who Love Bad News? Is anyone else following me here?
Then again, there’s an argument that comes up to destroy any sort of discussion, saying that ‘it is as much about the person as it is about the music, so of course opinions are going to differ, noone’s right or wrong’. But that’s a cop out… and where’s the fun in that?
March 08, 2007
Does anyone miss Clor? They seemed to last barely a year in the public eye, with three fantastic singles, Good Stuff (obviously), Outlines and Love + Pain to their name. Unfortunately (for me anyway), these were the first three songs on the album and the rest of it just didn’t match up. Fortunately, Sheffield’s Darlings of the Splitscreen have stepped up to replace the gap with added vocal harmonies and Super Furry Animals levels of inventiveness.
DOTS are looking to release The Dash (geddit?) sometime in April, and if these two tracks are anything to go by, it should be pretty fantabulous. For only three guys, they make an awful lot of noise. Harmonies bounce all over the place with ‘oh-oh’s and ‘dot dot dot dash dash dash’s balancing out all the electronic riffs and sparkles. Dash Dots Dash is their Love + Pain, trading riffs for lines, before completely leaving the rails (if they were ever on any) halfway through to give us all a lesson in how to give a morse chorus. Something Beautiful begins with an almost ripped guitar line from the beginning of Art Brut’s Good Weekend before going all hyperactive like Field Music on substances of the amphetamine variety. In fact, if you listen to I Know What You’re Doing on their MySpace page you’ll be surprised at apt the comparison is for one of their less manic cuts.
Those cool folk among you (I’m sure you know who you think you are) will probably have seen them at the Ginger People Are Wizards club night that operates in Coventry (well, last December, I’m late. I know). These people are that same band with the same name!
Darlings of the Splitscreen – Dash Dots Dash MP3 Expired
Darlings of the Splitscreen – Something Beautiful MP3 Expired
March 07, 2007
The Lodger are a three-piece indie outfit from Leeds who make treble-y indie pop tunes with great success. Actual success is still awaiting them, but after just completing a tour with The Long Blondes, and an album Grown Ups sometime out this March, it might yet come along.
As the new album contains some re-recorded early tracks, they’ve rather nicely put all their original 7” releases up for download on their website. To save you the hassle, I picked the best few of the eight available in anticipation for the full length.
Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion is the first here, and the first single that I came across, way back in 2005 (and that’s like, two years ago now, wow). It’s hyperactive strumming and snare-rolling drums make it sound aggressive at first, but it comes across as a twee interpretation of The Jam instead of anything harsh.
You Got Me Wrong was the follow-up single in 2006, with more bouncy rhythms (you know, the one that goes bum-cha-bum-cha bumpa-cha bumpa-cha…) and melodies that stick around without the song actually sticking around for that long at all (barely over 2 minutes). It’s a sharper leaner pop song than it’s predecessor, and probably my favourite of the three here.
Not So Fast is the last song I heard (i.e. today) and wahey, it’s not a carbon copy of anything from the last two. A little slower, but builds with a better structure recalling Goldfinger-era Ash with perhaps less bombast. It’s growing on me the more I repeat it, so that can only bear well for the future when the album arrives.
The Lodger – Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion MP3 Expired
The Lodger – You Got Me Wrong MP3 Expired
The Lodger – Not So Fast MP3 Expired
March 06, 2007
Faces On Film are a band from Boston, Massachusetts who I’ve not heard a lot from (and their site doesn’t give a lot out either) since we received this track, Archers, later on last year. The instrumentation of The Walkmen is coupled here with the kind of raw energy you hear in early Idlewild material. It’s got dirty great but quirky riffs, powerful drum beats and that kind of recording quality that sounds more alive than live. It’s got lines shouted repeatedly over an unconventional song structure. And it makes me want to belt out the lines with it even though you can’t make out the words. You know, just like the tracks off Captain.
Word on the street is that they will be/are/have already been recording an album for release in the summer. Several tracks were given out for free from their MySpace page so I’ve got here another one that isn’t currently available for streaming.
I’ll Sleep To Protect starts out less lively than Archers with a gentle looped acoustic riff but builds slowly and surely (complete with rising ‘Oh oh’s’) to a much fiercer crescendo at the four minute mark.
They do have an earlier EP available called Seven Sisters, but I’ll be damned if I know where you can actually find it. Enjoy these for now…
Faces On Film – Archers MP3 Expired
Faces On Film – I’ll Sleep To Protect MP3 Expired
...and it looks like Tim Wheeler’s been learning to sing!
Ash have given out a high-quality mp3 of one of the new tracks of there as-yet-untitled new album. They recently parted with Charlotte Hatherley (who has her own album The Deep Blue) to return to being a three piece as they started out.
I never really got into Meltdown, and couldn’t forgive them for releasing the tragedy that was Candy as a single, never mind tainting Free All Angels’ runtime. This new song is a blinder, a little like previous sunkissed song Orpheus but with more assured vocals and possibly less embarrassing lyrics (okay, maybe that opening couplet is cheesy but hey, this is Ash still).
Ash have always been a band you wouldn’t usually imagine as successful, but they’ve always been bloody good at writing corking singles. Their Intergalactic Sonic 7’s compilation is flawless (apart from the aforementioned travesty) and it’s good to see them keeping the run going…
Ash – I Started A Fire MP3 Expired
March 02, 2007
So, I’ve come back off an amazing holiday in the South Island of New Zealand. During the travels, my iPod managed to break itself (seriously, I took it out of my pocket and there’s a big hole in the screen) in Christchurch so I’m mourning it’s loss and now having to use my phone as a rather tentative mp3 player. This means I’ve gotta choose an optimum playlist of songs that I could listen to on repeat or have done and will do. On doing this, I found a lot of brilliant tracks not found on albums or by bands who just aren’t recognised.
The Recoys were a New York band that split to join members of Jonathan FireEater and eventually become the powerhouse known as The Walkmen. They’re a lot less known than JFE (although to be honest, I barely know either) but after hearing this song, I was sold instantly on the Recoys.
Maybe it’s the fact that it’s just explodes out of the blocks from the get-go and doesn’t let up for the whole song or maybe the cute little ooh-ohh backing vocals, the whole overdriven lead guitar sound that’s so lo-fi it hurts (in a good way) or just the way Hamilton Leithauser delivers the lines ’...the cocktails made me a little forgetful… Oh!’.
The Recoys – Let You In MP3 Expired
[buy The Rekoys LP+3 here]
The whole reason I delved into The Recoys was because the Walkmen have an uncanny knack for writing simple but off-kilter pop tunes that throw you from their usual output. We’ve Been Had kicks off with a piano line that calls your favourite ice cream van down the street and stays for the duration, washing layers of keys over you until the van toddles off around the block, and Hamilton croons ‘sometimes I’m just happy I’m older’. A guitar joins in late at the party trying to make as much racket as possible before the song fades and you sigh in contentedness like when you’ve just bought a big whipped cream cone…
Sometimes I’m just happy listening to these songs.
The Walkmen – We’ve Been Had MP3 Expired
[buy Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone]
March 01, 2007
I searched this blog for anything about Death Cab For Cutie and found nothing.
Is that right? (In the sense that world peace is “right” and stabbing a baby in the eye with a fork is “wrong”.)
Here’s a clue: No.
Typical improbable environment band photo
Death Cab For Cutie is a band from Washington whom I have recently been hooked on by virtue of a memory stick full of goodness from my housemate. I should have heard of them before, given they’ve been out since nineteen ninety sev-EN and are quite good.
The name is from a song by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band on their 1967 album Gorilla and is also in the Beatles experimental movie, Magical Mystery Tour. Funny, wikipedia says the same thing. It is often mispronounced Death Cab For A Cutie. This is wrong (though not quite in the abovely defined sense).
They sound like a cross between The Pussycat Dolls and Ergo Phizzmizz. HA! They don’t! But such a lazy “they sound like a cross between…” construction isn’t a bad place to start as (seriously now) Death Cab For Cutie sound a lot like I imagine The Flaming Lips would if Elliott Smith did a guest stint as “creative” and singer.
If he wasn’t DEAD.
Like most (all) music, I have to just say “listen to it and see what you think”. There are three perfectly good tracks below to listen to as well as links to the albums on amazon. So what are you waiting for? Death Cab For Cutie are extremely worth listening to, I promise.
Bend To Squares
Why’d You Want To Live Here
Title and Registration