All entries for April 2007

April 21, 2007

Manic Street Preachers – 'Indian Song'

Writing about web page

Every so often a song comes along which does exactly what it says on the tin. An Indian Summer is a period of warm weather appearing unexpectedly in the autumn, long after all concerned assumed that only crappy weather was on its way. Not everyone appreciates these indian summers, of course, but most people love the pleasant surprise of something you assumed lost reappearing. And now Manic Street Preachers have come up with a song called ‘Indian Summer’ and y’know what? It’s fantastic.

They look cool again!

The last two Manics albums have been somewhat divisive. Know Your Enemy was meant to drive away the casual fans but it nearly drove away most of their hardcore fans too. Lifeblood was an attempt to accept their late 1990s role as purveyors of shiny indie-pop-rock… except it was too shiny, too smooth, it sounded like all the nice slow songs off Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours without the fast exciting ones. For most people the Manics were artistically dead, looking like wandering into that autumn of a career where periodic but uninspiring albums would be produced in order to justify another nostalgia tour (we’ll call it ‘Rolling Stones’ Syndrome’). But that’s not very Manics now is it? No…

‘Indian Summer’ is off their new album, Send Away The Tigers. It’s ace. The whole thing is an completely unexpected return to form. The band sound like they care again. You can tell because, unlike the previous two albums, it sounds nothing like Nicky Wire has described it. KYE was a mess which scared away fans. Lifeblood was overly smooth and eleagic. SATT is not their debut Generation Terrorists updated. It’s way better than that. It’s like EMG, the album this writer regards as the best of all time. Obviously, it’s not that good but it’s loud, fast, melodic, etc etc.

It is the unexpected dose of the stuff you feared was gone. In short, an indian summer, and best of all, the song which bears that name is the best thing on the album (from what I’ve heard).

Manic Street Preachers – ‘Indian Summer’
[Preorder Send Away The Tigers and watch a short film on the making of the album.]

April 18, 2007

The Rakes Live From Amsterdam Webcast

Writing about web page

The Rakes

The Rakes will be performing live tonight from Melkweg in Amsterdam at 7.30pm. The entire concert will be webcast live over the Internet with both video and audio on and after tonight the concert will be included in the video archive to watch on-demand.

The Rakes – Fabchannel Webcast

April 06, 2007

A Break (An Easter One)

So my run of consistent postings lasted just under four weeks. Ahh well. It’s not that I’d run out of things to say, far from it. It has just been the last week before the Easter mid-semester break and all that work I should have been doing when I was blogging and obsessing over music finally caught up. The moments of madness are over for the time being, but I doubt I’ll be reaching the dizzy heights of three posts a week again.

I’m preparing some pretty lengthy posts for some bands I love that don’t get much coverage in the UK and also a lot more little gems from the bands that do (or at least did).

But for now, I’m taking a rest from madness.

So here’s something by The Rakes to kick us back into gear.
A new album Ten New Messages, should be out now (in fact, two weeks ago, alas, I am that out of touch) that seems to mine more eclectic territory sonically, but they’ve always been the masters at capturing that feeling of the daily grind. So regardless of what you do, you can probably find something to relate to here, with this track off the debut, Capture/Release:

The Rakes – Work Work Work (Pub Club Sleep)
[Buy Capture/Release]

And Happy Easter…

April 02, 2007

A Listeners Guide to Electric Soft Parade

Electric Soft Parade

Electric Soft Parade are a ‘classic’ indie band. In the same way as you get ‘classic’ rock, but without the potential for being appalling or having ridiculous hair, leaving just badly unshaven faces and good tunes. The brothers Tom and Alex White (no secret marriages here folks, they are actually brothers) have been going at it now for at least 6 years under this guise, although there was a heavy hiatus (i.e. they were dropped by their label) after second album, The American Adventure, to pursue side projects (included the much lauded Brakes). They bounced back to release the great Human Body EP on Truck Records late in 2005 and have spent the past year making full length No Need To Be Downhearted, ready to be released round about April 30th I think. But more on that later…

Holes in the Wall

Their debut, Holes In The Wall, is single-heavy, hook after hook from songs like Empty at the End and There’s A Silence from riffing guitars and keyboards. It’s not spectacular, but they knew their way around pop structures, despite some experimentations with the formula that don’t quite work (the 4 minute trainspotting outro in Silent to the Dark anyone?), there’s not a bad song in there. The album closes with two of my favourites though. Biting The Soles OF My Feet, as disgusting as it sounds, manages to fit verses, choruses and bridges all over the place, subtleties in the layers of music never making its 6 minutes a long haul. The final track Red Balloon For Me, is just a simple Beatles-esque ballad that is executed with perfect aplomb before cutting a left-turn into tape destruction.

The American Adventure

Follow-up The American Adventure should have been big. At least, that’s what the record label were hoping. What the White brothers delivered was a lot more introverted and meandering (not to mention possibly rushed) than the previous effort. The singles Things I’ve Done Before and Lose Yr Frown were the lighter exceptions. Song structure is played with a lot more, the centrepiece title-track starts with shoegaze, strips down for a verse, gets bass heavy for a while, another three different song ideas are played with before a violin bow drops us down where we end up with a Pavement pop song coda. It’s definitely a bold move to step away from the straightforward pop, but as an album it’s a heavy drag to get through. However saying that, the two-three combo of Bruxellisation and Lights Out is the best section of the album, playing with more luscious production without compromising the songs. The former is full of twinkling guitar lines, build-ups and let downs without shoving it your face, before seguing into Lights Out a chunky reimagining of their established sound with a killer chorus.

The Human Body EP & No Need To Be Downhearted

The album pretty much bombed commercially, the band seemed to disappear. I heard snippets around that they were still going somewhere, but there was no output. Suddenly in 2005, Brakes appeared with Give Blood, and suddenly ESP were preparing an EP. A Beating Heart, which opens The Human Body EP, shows exactly where they ended up. A relentless thumping bass drum leads us into the first of three sections of the song, where the middle orchestral instrumental opening us up for the final punk thrash. There’s a lot more confidence on display, in both production and also with the full-on-ness (a new phrase I made) of the tunes. New single If That’s The Case, Then I Don’t Know is the obvious follow-up, another driving rhythm, a proper sugar-coated monster of a riff, coupled with a few hiccups in the chorus to keep you on your toes. Misunderstanding and Appropriate Ending continue the trend, great, nay, ‘classic’ indie pop tunes that stray from the formula just enough and with enough vigour to become staples of my head music playlist at any rate.

Look out for the rest of the album when it drops on April 30th, it’s about time for a comeback…

From Holes In The Wall (2002):
he Electric Soft Parade – Biting The Soles Of My Feet MP3 Expired
The Electric Soft Parade – Red Balloon For Me MP3 Expired
[Buy The Album]

From The American Adventure (2003):
The Electric Soft Parade – Bruxellisation MP3 Expired
The Electric Soft Parade – Lights Out MP3 Expired
[Buy The Album]

From The Human Body EP (2005):
The Electric Soft Parade – A Beating Heart MP3 Expired
[Buy The EP]

From No Need To Be Downhearted (2007):
The Electric Soft Parade – If That’s The Case Then I Don’t Know MP3 Expired
The Electric Soft Parade – Misunderstanding MP3 Expired
The Electric Soft Parade – Appropriate Ending MP3 Expired
[Pre-order the Album]

[The Electric Soft Parade Site] [MySpace] [Fansite]

April 2007

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