All 13 entries tagged Alternative

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June 05, 2007

Judder Judder Bam!

It’s funny how sometimes a song sounds like another. It’s come up again recently, the rather fine new single from The Cribs, ‘Men’s Needs’, sounds curiously like Placebo’s ‘Black Eyed’ but with a squiggly guitar riff over the top… and slightly less campness. It’s not an altogether unfair comparison either. The Cribs have a wonderful new album full of sparky little pop indie nuggets, rather like Placebo themselves. Plus they’ve chosen to produce their new album with Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand, rather than in a bucket.


Indie pop aceness.


Endearing goth pop silliness… and the drummer was taught by the same geography teacher as me!

The Cribs – ‘Men’s Needs’

Placebo – ‘Black Eyed’


April 21, 2007

Manic Street Preachers – 'Indian Song'

Writing about web page http://www.manics.co.uk

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.]


March 28, 2007

The Science of Sleep

The Bearlet Underground

Last night I had the extreme pleasure of seeing The Science of Sleep, one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen for a while. It’s not brilliant by any stretch of the plot, but the sheer amount of visual surprises and ideas just seem to tumble over one another to enchant your attention. Gael Garcia Bernal puts in a great performance as the innocent but childish Stéphane, and in one of the scenes, he performs along with the rest of the cast the most twee song in the Velvet Underground’s catalogue, After Hours. The words have been completely altered to fit the title If You Rescue Me, and the arrangement more defined and elaborate but the song’s sentiment remains the same. A very cute love song for a very cute moment.

I think the bear-suits kind of add to that.

From The Velvet Underground (1969):
The Velvet Underground – After Hours MP3 Expired
[Buy]

From The Science of Sleep Soundtrack (2007):
Gael Garcia Bernal and Cast – If You Rescue Me MP3 Expired
[Buy]

[The Science of Sleep Website]


January 20, 2007

Kubichek!

New year, new music!

2006 was fairly good for music I hope you’ll agree but 2007 also promises to be rather spiffing. Some of the acts who you will really need to check out are going to be profiled here over the next few days and we are going to start off with the latest slice of delicious indie goodness to escape from the north east of England.

Kubichek! are another band with a thing for exclamation marks. Not as bloody awkward to write as ¡Forward, Russia! or as goddam impossible say as !!!, they are part of that gang of bands which has thrown up The Futureheads and Field Music yet manage not to sound like either.

Kubichek! take the jerky new wave format which has served a lot of indie bands well over the last few years, and add muscle and speed. These are bigger and faster songs than we have been used to. Yet to soften the blow for those sensitive indie kids they layer their tracks with some rather lovely vocal harmonies. There’s something pleasing about the relentlessness and the sweetness, kind of like being licked to death by puppies. But with less drool.

They’re soon to release a new single, ‘Nightjoy’ which is a brilliantly danceable piece of pop magnificence which I’ve personally been inflicting on indie discos for over a year now. The long gestation period of this band has also apparently contributed to a tight live set which will be exhibited next Saturday 27th January at the Coventry Colosseum. Go and see them, it’ll be good for you! You’ll start adding exclamation marks to everything you do! And won’t that be like being five years old and high on sweeties again!!!

Here are the demos of ‘Nightjoy’ and ‘Hometown Strategies’. I could be controversial and claim that the ‘Nightjoy’ demo is better than the single but actually both are ace.

Kubichek! – ‘Nightjoy (demo)’

Kubichek! – ‘Hometown Strategies (demo)’

More tour dates for non-Cov residents
24/01/07 Carlisle, Brickyard
25/01/07 Barnsley, Lucorum
26/01/07 Swindon Brunell Rooms
27/01/07 Coventry Colosseum
1/02/07 Kingston, The Works


November 29, 2006

Magic In The Air

Badly Drawn Boy

Love is contagious,
When it’s alright.
Love is contagious,
When it’s alright.
Love is alright.

These simple lines had to be cut from the album version of Magic in the Air by Badly Drawn Boy on his Mercury winning (and one which I personally think he’s never bettered) album, Hour of Bewilderbeast.

When I first got the album, these extra lyrics were printed in the booklet and confused me completely. Was there a hidden verse I wasn’t hearing? Apparently, they were seen as ‘taken’ from another song by hip-hop artist Taja Seville and thus later pressings of the album had an instrumental break in place of these lyrics.

Strange, but here’s the original with end lyrics intact. Not much of a difference, but it does sort of add a more poignant ending to a beautiful song.

MP3 Expired [Buy Hour of Bewilderbeast] (less than a fiver! bargain!)


November 16, 2006

Klaxons

One of the best things about indie is that it is ridiculously broad. Compare it, if you will, to metal where anytime a band comes along which doesn’t sound exactly like some pre-existing band they are rewarded with their own sub-genre. At the most recent metal genre census it was revealed there are more metal genres than inhabitants of Belgium. But indie is just nice and broad…

Which is why it can be intensely frustrating dealing with the music press sometimes. At the moment they (and by “they” we are largely concerned with the magazine everyone loves to hate but read – NME) are currently enthralled by their latest concoction – New Rave. New Rave is the fusion of late 1980s/early 1990s rave music with modern indie, encompassing dayglo clothing, glow sticks and whistles. It has had a lot of print space, and is seeping into the broadsheets, figureheads already appointed. There’s just one slight problem. Musically it’s the emperor’s new clothes. And the best example is the ‘genre’s’ leading lights – Klaxons.
Klaxons glo
I have long been accustomed to scepticism about NME hype bands – I maintain Pete Doherty has yet to write an entire song which is worthy of the praise he gets (although he’s managed some excellent parts to songs) – so naturally I treated all talk of Klaxons with a roll of the eyes. As a fan of indie and electronica I was wondering exactly what the hell New Rave could actually be. Apart from the non musical accessories (and to be fair if you like the Manic Street Preachers you’ve almost certainly seen gaudy clothing and glowing items at an indie concert before anyway) I couldn’t get my head around how it could all be rave. So the best solution was to go and see Klaxons live.

Conclusion: They were great! Really really good live, excellent atmosphere, great songs, good stage presence. Where they New Rave? Were they bollocks. It was indie. Fast indie, indie with a disco beat, indie with sampled sound effects occasionally, but INDIE! According to NME the fact they cover two rave songs (‘The Bouncer’ and ‘Not Over Yet’) was a sign they were true New Rave. Well the other day I heard the Magic Numbers doing a cover of Hot Chip’s ‘Over And Over’, surely this makes them New Rave too. And the Arctic Monkeys’ cover of ‘Love Machine’ makes them a girl band who formed on a TV talent show. Tell me I am not alone in seeing the stupidity of all this.

Klaxons Live

The Grace cover, ‘Not Over Yet’, was a set highlight, it was brilliant. It also sounded like an indie song. Whatever its dance origins, Klaxons’ turn it into a good quality indie stormer, musically like a souped up version of The Research, and vocally reminiscent of loads of good bands, albeit none of which are regarded as trendy by the NME.

Even their singles, like ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’, don’t sound like rave songs.

Klaxons – ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ MP3 Expired

Klaxons – ‘Not Over Yet’ MP3 Expired

So there you go, you might want to hate them for what they’ve been hyped as, but there’s no need. Klaxons are not the punchable pretentious genre-name-droppers they might appear to be, at least not when their songs are cranked up. Have a listen for yourself.

As ever, don’t believe the hype.


October 23, 2006

The Long Blondes

Writing about web page http://www.thelongblondes.co.uk/

So shoot me! Does the fact that a huge proportion of the music blogs out there in the inter-ma-web have gone mental for the Long Blondes mean we shouldn’t? Should we be different, rise above, and call them crap and mock them? Can we not? I really really like them, and know at least one of the other main ALD contributors does too.

Unsigned for ages, prompting claims across the music world of sexism, the Long Blondes are one of the best things to happen to music in a while. In a year which has seen a raft of very good female fronted indie bands arise (CSS, Howling Bells, Metric, The Organ) the Long Blondes might well be the best of the lot. Apart from the fact that a great many indie girls are now adopting the 1950/60s chic the band pull off so well, they have something which is somewhat important – the songs.

Taking the indie-punk-funk template and deciding to add in little details like Kate Jackson’s amazing voice, switching between aloofness and emotional with a sultry elegance, or possibly the clever lyrics – who else has referenced “Edie Sedgwick/Anna Karina/Arlene Dahl”with quite a much style and (yes, finally I can use this word in ALD) élan! That particular song, ‘Lust In The Movies’ has pretty much the same drum beat intro as the wonderful ‘Banquet’ by Bloc Patry, but it might be (whisper it quietly) a better song. Whilst you splutter into your cheap lager (why are you drinking cheap lager and surfing the internet?) also bare in mind that ‘Lust In The Movies’ is not their best song. This is why ALD can’t help but concede to the consensus and place a preorder at Amazon/Play/Fopp for their forthcoming album Someone to Drive Me Home (out 6th November, and yes, I do want it for my birthday, ta).

So after all this excitable wittering I’m guessing you want some evidence. Alright. Try these three:
‘Darts’ an amusing little b-side which shows their ability to make even the trivial sound fascinating and sexy.

The Long Blondes – ‘Darts’ MP3 Expired

Next up we have the BBC Radio 1 session version of one of their singles ‘Appropriation (By Any Other Name)’ which has brackets in the title (woo!), and manages to cram British Rail and fox hunting into a tune which is perhaps the best example of their self declared description of their music as “glamour punk”. It’s also the best instance of Kate singing like a female Jarvis Cocker, something she does occasionally (well, they are both from Sheffield) and which is something always guaranteed to make ALD writers happy.

The Long Blondes – ‘Appropriation (Live At The BBC)’ MP3 Expired

Finally ‘Polly’ which doesn’t sound like glamour punk at all, more a waltzingly louneg tune with an edge. It’s a sign of the variety they are capable of. It’s also the sort of thing you wish you could have had at your school disco.

The Long Blondes – ‘Polly’ MP3 Expired

Look! You can preorder their album and everything!


September 30, 2006

Duels Duels Duels

Writing about web page http://www.duelsmusic.com

Duels

I’ve always been searching for a good fun indie band channelling early-Bowie (well, okay, Hunky Dory-era Bowie, i.e. not Suede) into modern pop songs with youth and vigour. Over a year ago I happened across Duels who had come out with a little song called What We Did Wrong. The quirky piano melody was there, the la-la-la harmonies and thick lead guitar lines, it was pretty much perfect. Their website heralded a few more gems in the form of a radio recording of Young Believers and a few snippets of songs here and that they were in the process of recording.

With just two full songs I was hooked.

I’d just arrived in time for a single, Potential Futures, another stomper of a tune that lead me to my first online digital purchase; I was that enthralled. For the next six months though, there was no news of album recordings and a seemingly lacklustre follow-up single in Pressure On You. Time passed and earlier this year I caught wind that they were recording again, and the resulting album, The Bright Lights and What We Should’ve Learned, has turned out to be a cracker. It’s an album which I’ve rarely found, where a band actually lives up to that first promise you heard in them with so much hope. And a British one at that.

Full of these wonderful melodies and hooks, with the tracks I loved re-recorded with even more relish (that they deserve), giving songs like Pressure On You a bigger kick that just wasn’t present before. It’s hard not to mention the obvious influence of the Britpop era in songs like Animal and Brothers & Sisters but they manage to couple the more upbeat driving tracks with a more paranoid undercurrent in slow burners like The Slow Build (duh!), Young Believers and Taxi Song, showcasing a bit more depth to their sound.

The album came out at the end of July but being out in NZ it took me a while to actually realise it. They also have an EP to be soon released with the title track, Once in the Night, which I’ve included here alongside Animal. I’ve also included the first demo version of What We Did Wrong which captured me in the first place. If you dig around the website to find the ‘Little Monsters’ section then you’ll be treated to a few more free musical treats such as a rather sweet cover of the Talking Heads’ Heaven ( which funnily enough has also been covered by Discothéque favourites, Voxtrot ).

The Bright Lights And What I Should've Learned (2006)
Duels - Animal - MP3 Expired
Duels - Once in the Night - MP3 Expired
[Buy from Amazon]

Bonus: Duels - What We Did Wrong (demo) - MP3 Expired
Duels YouTube Channel


August 20, 2006

Field Music

Field Music

Made up of three core members (Andrew Moore and the brothers Peter and David Brewis) from Sunderland, Field Music write beautifully crafted indie pop gems. And I say crafted, because each song is littered with production flourishes and sounds that put the music one step ahead of any traditional indie fare you might think of.

People often bring up The Futureheads and Maximo Park with regards to the sound, not just because of the area they are from, but mostly because Barry Hyde from the Futureheads has been a former member and the drummer from Maximo Park (Tom English) often plays with them. Field Music are more contemplative and the vocals more subdued than those two bands and they play down the accents, but they keep the tight rhythms and group harmonies that the related bands have been recognised for. Each song has the uncanny ability to take sharp turns in structure without disrupting the flow or unsettling the listener.

A new album, Tones Of Town is released early next year, and the first single In Context, out in October, is a corker. The taut drum sounds return with the falsetto harmonies but this time with spicier guitar hooks following each line before exploding into a great chorus lifted by stabbing strings.

From Tones of Town (2007):
Field Music – In Context MP3 Expired

The first self-titled album is by no means redundant, with plenty of quirks and tunes throughout its brief runtime. It’s amazing how crammed with hooks and melodies songs like Shorter Shorter and You Can Decide are despite barely breaking two minutes. They’ve also released a rather competent B-sides collection earlier this year (how in-vogue is that nowadays), Write Your Own History, which includes the brilliant Alternating Current, which I’ve included here alongside the free mp3’s they have available on their site.


From *Field Music* (2005):
Field Music - You're So Pretty
Field Music - Shorter Shorter
Field Music - You Can Decide
[buy from Amazon]

From *Write Your Own History* (2006):
Field Music - Alternating Current _MP3 Expired_
Field Music - I'm Tired
[buy from Amazon]

A few more songs can be heard on their MySpace page .

Man, I really am spoiling you…


August 03, 2006

Music for adverts

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!

Vashti Bunyan

Vashti Bunyan

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']

Feist

Feist

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']


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