All entries for August 2006
August 11, 2006
I'm fascinated by the subliminal way songs seem to sound directly like each other. Someone commented on the Elastica post that the song Connection is said to rip the riff from Three Chord Rhumba by Wire (who have also just been covered). I don't know how deliberate it was, but I've got a couple of occurances here that are so unlikely to not be anything but pure coincidence.
Spoon – The Streets
I was completely flummoxed by this pairing at first, because the Spoon song appeared way back in 1998 album A Series of Sneaks. Yet I only got the album around when the second Streets album A Grand Don't Come For Free was about to be released.
Mike Skinner details a laddish holiday out on the pull, while the Spoon boys take a shorter slower stomper through the riff. I love 'em both, so take your pick here:
The Avalanches – Jens Lekman
This second pairing seem a little further apart but they are closer and more obvious than you might think. Jens Lekman has obviously inadvertantly sampled the same record as those Avalanches, and despite the differing genres these artists represent, they are both relaxed bittersweet tales of love. I prefer Jens Lekman's cut, just for the beautiful lyric of a simple misunderstood conversation and the brilliant double drum loops, beating the Australians at their own sampling game.
"She said our love was make believe,
But I thought she said maple leaves,
And when she talked about a fall,
I thought she talked about Mark E. Smith,
I never understood at all"
August 10, 2006
Last year was a very good year for music, in my opinion.
Acoustic Ladyland, QOTSA, Eels, Jose, Bloc, British Sea Power, The National, Van, the Coral, Beck, Sufjan, CYHSY, probably some more I forgot.
Maybe this year has passed me by, but it seems like there hasn't been a decent album.
Maybe I'm still too upset by the poor outing of Van Morrison and the positively unlistenable efforts of Belle & Sebastian and Flaming Lips to search out any.
Perhaps someone could point me in the direction of some good music from this year, because I can't remember any. Jose EP, I guess.
Click on album art to buy from amazon.co.uk
Punk wasn't about being stupid. The poor musicianship was a result of the egalitarian sentiments it espoused not the movement's principle tenets. People who sneer at any music which has the audacity to have more than three, poorly played, chords is an idiot and not punk. Anyone could play guitar. That was the point. And sometimes those anyones were quite good at it. It was allowed for people to be clever, although there was a line that could not be crossed (if you believe the hype that line was labelled "Beyond This Point Lies Pink Floyd"). 'Good' clever meant having songs shorter than the normal punk shortness (30 seconds was sometimes enough), or smart lyrics, or being daring. Doing any of these things would be enough to make your band quite ace. Rather sensibly Wire did them all.
From direct steals to the subtlest of acknowledgments, Wire have had a tremendous impact on modern indie, even for bands who probably don't realise they've been influenced. With every incident of Elastica running off into the night carrying entire riffs (or songs), to The Futureheads' disregard for traditional verse–chorus–verse, to anyone who ever decided to not even bother trying to fit in, Wire have shown it's allowed in music to be a bit cleverer than the rest. They were students, again something which some 'punks' saw as a kind of class treachery. Anyone who thinks this is an idiot and I'm not just saying this as a student.
In three albums Wire tried a massive experiment – was it possible to get in there, make your point, and leave without being pinned to the floor by your record company and then abused until you've stretched out your songs to 'traditional' sizes? As it happens the answer was "no". Ish.
Most of Wire's songs were as long as necessary. 'Field Day for the Sundays' was merely 28 seconds of joy. Sneeze and you could probably miss many of the songs on their debut, the wonderful Pink Flag. Cramming 21 songs into 35 minutes doesn't leave much room for... well, any flab at all really. Even when they decided to be a bit less frantic on their followup Chairs Missing they still sat on the suitcase to get those 15 tracks into their alloted 42 minutes.
But the beauty of all those tracks, short and not–at–all–long alike, is that they sound like they were released yesterday. Seriously. Being an evil bitch I like to play people their songs, exclaiming "they're the next big thing", and then tell them that those tunes are 25+ years old later. Riffs which are everywhere in indie don't sound out of time when you hear those who came up with them first. And lyrically it's great – Pink Flag opener 'Reuters' is a worryingly accurate sounding description of any of the world's conflicts, with it's sinister chanted vocals and the agonised yell of "rape" at the end. In contrast 'Ex–Lion Tamer' has the humour telling of the titular hero with his "three fingers all in a line". Obtuse but comprehensible. This is where The Futureheads are coming from.
And then there's their near hit, 'Outdoor Miner'. As mentioned, Wire weren't immune to record company meddling and 'Outdoor Miner' the single version was expanded to bump it up to the length of a short but normal pop song. It works, surprisingly, by shoehorning in a quite lovely piano solo to one of their more laid back numbers. Of course the record company then buggered it all up by making errors in the single's release so it wasn't eligible for the charts. There's probably a moral to this story somwhere.
In any case we heartily recommend their first three albums as essential indie albums
Top notch short arse songs to be sampled in a frenetic surge of adrenaline:
Wire – 'Outdoor Miner (single version)' from Chairs Missing - MP3 Expired
Wire – 'Ex Lion Tamer' from Pink Flag - MP3 Expired
Wire – 'Field Day For The Sundays' from Pink Flag - MP3 Expired
+1 to Andrea for already being down with the Wire love.
August 08, 2006
And now a few words from Moz, who would like everyone to know that, though he has left Warwick many moons ago, he is still very much concerned with our ears and would like to give them something they might like...
Having grown up on a steady diet of metal and grunge, in my mid–teen years I started to get a bit disillusioned with the whole metal scene– some of my favourite bands started to release rubbish albums (like Metallica) and the up and coming bands were all identikit nu–metal acts targeted at your angry suburban teenager. Around this time I started to get more into experimental rock, and came across a band who married my love for heavier music to a more progressive approach than most other rock bands lacked– the almighty Tool.
However, there didn't seem to be any other bands like them (except for A Perfect Circle, featuring Maynard James Keenan of Tool on vocals), and so I started getting into more progressive and so call post–rock bands, as well as other types of music, and drifted away from my 'metal roots.'
Fast forward until a few months ago, and things were beginning to look up – I'd recently gotten into crazy modern progsters The Mars Volta, and droning doomsters Earth, who had both somewhat restored my belief that it's possible for a band to be heavy AND experimental. Then one day I was in a record shop in Edinburgh, and while browsing around, my ears pricked up due to the music coming from the in–store stereo. It was at times heavy, at others sparse and atmospheric, and sounded pretty damn good to me. So I asked the guy behind the counter what the album was, and he told me it was 'The Eye Of Every Storm' by Neurosis. I didn't buy it then, but when I got home a few days later I picked it up, and proceeded to be blown away by the album. Combining the dynamics (and long track lengths!) of post–rock, the slow, pounding rhythms of sludge metal, quiet introspective passages and hardcore style vocals, I had finally found another band making intelligent yet aggressive music.
Upon doing some more research about the band on the internet, I discovered they weren't alone– another band called Isis played similar music and like Neurosis had started off playing somewhat simplistic and crushing hardcore before branching out dynamically and melodically. I picked up their latest album, 'Panopticon', and as with Neurosis, was blown away. Musically they're probably a little more uptempo than Neurosis, a little less bleak at times, vocals are used less, and the sounds tend to crescendo more gradually, whereas Neurosis often go from quiet sections to full blown assaults at the stomp of a distortion pedal. One thing can be said about both bands though – they're different to the majority of bands out there, and if you can imagine if Mogwai went 'metal' and used vocals, and that sounds like it might interest you, I'd check them both out as soon as possible.
As I said above, both bands have branched out musically from their hardcore roots, and so what to buy depends on what you're after. I only really own the later releases by both bands, but I'd definitely recommend 'A Sun That Never Sets' and 'The Eye Of Every Storm' by Neurosis and 'Panopticon' and 'Oceanic' by Isis. From what I've heard of Neurosis' earlier material, 'Times Of Grace' seems to be the point where they started to develop to their current sound, yet were more aggressive and abrasive than they are now. As for Isis, the EP 05' is a companion to their first album, 'Celestial' and is a good example of their earlier work. The MP3s should give you a good idea of what the two bands are like, but in the case of Isis I their work sits better being listened to as a whole album, as opposed to individual tracks.
Some samples of the bands:
Isis – 'The Other' MP3 Expired
Isis – 'In Fiction' MP3 Expired
Neurosis – 'Eye Burn' MP3 Expired
Neurosis – 'The Tide' MP3 Expired
Here are the Amazon links for the albums:
Cover versions are fun little things, because they allow songs to be reinterpretted in different ways and allow the listener to get into the music more. Sometimes they can be bad, particularly when it's one of your favourite songs that has been murdered by a pop princess wanting to reach out to a larger audience who don't want to listen, but occasionally you can find some real gems. Here are a couple that I've found over the past few days, for your enjoyment:
Sonata Arctica – The Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler) MP3 Expired
Four Tet – Iron Man (Black Sabbath) MP3 Expired
Beck – Hot In Here (Nelly) MP3 Expired
Beck – Diamond Dogs (David Bowie) MP3 Expired
Ben Gibbard – Thriller (Michael Jackson) MP3 Expired
Xiu Xiu – Fast Car (Tracy Chapman) MP3 Expired
Eels – I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (Prince) MP3 Expired
Sophie Koh – Creep (Radiohead) MP3 Expired
Tim Young – The Start of Something (Voxtrot) MP3 Expired
Also, Voxtrot are playing some UK dates in August. Someone buy me tickets, yay!
August 07, 2006
I feel a bit rubbish for not posting in so long, and not keeping up with my weekly art post. I had one lined up for the past two weeks but I've been away for the past two weekends and not had a chance to finish them off. I guess I'll just post when I can, so here's a relatively normal post while I get back in the groove
There's been a fair few sad announcements in the past week. Arthur Lee of the rather fantastic band Love passed away through Leukaemia a few days ago. He has been well remembered through tributes all around the music blog world so I suggest you check out all the tracks you can.
In other sad news, Top of the Pops said goodbye to our television screens. In the past few years I haven't watched it a great deal, but some recent brilliant performances have been booted around the YouTube circuit and are a testament to the fact that TOTP still had a little spark somewhere around it's deadening brain. I always used to watch TOTP in my younger days, and religiously taped the Christmas specials (I think each one from '92-'97). I don't know how/when/why it lost it's appeal, whether it was the cause of the 24-hour music channel, or just my taste in music just wasn't tended to anymore. I guess it's a fond farewell, but it's a shame I won't see any more performances from my favourite new bands such as Guillemots who have managed to pierce the chart bubble.
They are playing their last single Made-up Lovesong #43, and I have to admire bands that like to try something different from the studio version when taking it on the (televisual) stage (such as Gnarls Barkley's Crazy on TOTP/MTV Awards/Conan). Fyfe Dangerfield goes a little David Gray–crazy on the keyboards here, but the end result is a delight.
Watch the video on YouTube:
Guillemots - Made-up Lovesong #43 (live on TOTP)
Here's the mp3 for your portable audio player of choice:
Guillemots – Made–up Lovesong #43 (live on TOTP) MP3 Expired
[buy Through the Windowpane]
August 03, 2006
I've noticed in UK adverts recently that there's been a rather pleasing shift back to alternative acoustic music in order to sell stuff. This pleases me because I love alternative acoustic music (I'm a sensie… one for Scrubs fans to pick out) and also because it allows me to plug two of my favourite female artists because their songs have been heavily featured in two ads in the UK over the past month or so. Yay!
I'd imagine that to be part of the psychadelic folk movement is a little bit pressuring. I mean, do you have to get high before you sit down and play your acoustic guitar? Do you have to paint pink and yellow flowers onto your guitar and wear pink tinted sunglasses and a headband? If you're Vashti Bunyan, then you just make great music. I'd almost forgotten about a copy of her EP, Just Another Diamond Day, that someone had given to me to borrow and I forgot to give back (sorry Dan) that I'd had on to listen a year or so ago until it appeared in a T–Mobile advert.
If you like Devendra Banhart, you'll like this.
Vashti Bunyan – Diamond Day MP3 Expired [Buy 'Just Another Diamond Day']
Leslie Feist, member of Broken Social Scene, slamming hottie, awesome artist. Has only really had one hit record, Mushaboom, but that's the one that I remembered hearing on a Silent Night commercial (I think it's also been on a couple of Lacoste commercials), and it's good… Enjoy!
Feist – Mushaboom MP3 Expired [Buy 'Let It Die']
August 02, 2006
As a music fan who tends to lean more towards indie, post–punk and dance–pop, Evanescence have always been a bit of a dirty pleasure that I've always been a bit embarassed to admit. Written off as a Christian angst–rock group that should be kept exclusively to 13 year old goth girls with dyed black hair and far too much eye makeup, Evanescence have never been the most fashionable of bands to like, but you can't deny the catchy, moshy pop appeal of their music.
Like most other Evanescence fans, I went to see Daredevil, which featured two songs: Bring Me To Life (which afterwards became a #1 hit in the UK) and My Immortal (before it was bastardised upon single release). I came home and pre–ordered their debut album, Fallen, on import and thanks to Amazon got it the day before its' release. It's a common story, and one which has been repeated several times with other bands whose mainstream appeal has been catapulted by a popular film. (See: The Shins)
Fallen, upon arrival, turned out to be rather good. In the meantime I've also purchased two of Evanescence's earlier demo/EP work: Origin, a demo, and a self-titled EP. Now, almost 3 years later, Evanescence are preparing to release a second album, The Open Door.
The first single, Call Me When You're Sober is, in my opinion, rather good. You can listen on Evanescence's MySpace or as a direct stream (see below for links). It's more of the same, but perhaps slightly more refined – it's out sometime in the future, it seems.