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November 14, 2005
- Jeffrey and Jack Lewis-City and Eastern Songs
Album opener ‘Posters’ will throw anyone familiar with Jeff’s previous recordings as it sounds like one of the rockier moments from ‘Last time I did acid I went insane…’ Though it has to be noted that the improved recording quality brings the songs into their own and creates a greater sense of immediacy than on previous recordings.
Not that direction has completely changed, tracks such as ‘Don’t be Upset’ and ‘Williamsburg Will Oldham horror’ should bring a smile to any fan of the Lewis’, not that the rest of this album wouldn’t.
Granted it is not ‘Last time I did acid I went insane and other favourites’ but nobody would expect or want it to be. ‘City and Eastern songs’ represents an evolution in the Jeffrey Lewis sound, in terms of recordings anyway. Not that ‘City and Eastern…’ is a poor record, far from it in fact. Jeff’s lyrical ramblings on album highlight ‘Williamsburg Will Oldham horror’ are perfectly executed over a rapid guitar line.
Yet despite the new found clarity of production, and perhaps more conventional direction ‘City and Eastern songs’ is rife with potential and suggests that the next record may even elevate the boys to the ‘new’ Moldy Peaches tag. Whether that would be a good thing is open to debate. This record, however, speaks for itself. Sublime.
Spots, excessive masturbation and Blink 182, the essence of every 14 year olds life. But now they have taken an ‘indefinite hiatus’ what are the youth of today to do? Well, they could buy ‘Greatest Hits’ for a start.
Let’s face it, Blink are not, and never have been the epitome of modern music. They’ve never set the world ablaze with their observations like the Smiths. They will never be revered for dying young like Ian Curtis, Mark is 33 years old for Christ’s sake. But they’ve never claimed to be either of those things. In fact they’ve admitted being immature and musically inept. Still, at least they’re honest.
Blink never particularly shone until the release of what may well be their final, self titled album. Tracks such as ‘I Miss You’ took them onto a level beyond their initial capacity, and this itself was a pleasant surprise. Of course, tracks like ‘Adam’s Song’ ‘All the small things’ and ‘Carousel’ are good enough to get the blood pumping. And, for Blink that was what it was about, having a good time. If you want a statement on the human condition try Proust, if you just want a laugh, you could do much worse.
Emo’s image is not helped by stereotypes; kids with floppy side parted fringes, black nail varnish, expensive clothing and heavy NHS alike spectacles. Not to mention far too many identikit bands, many of which disappear after the first record. Enter Story of the Year, with a name so grand you would have to expect big things. Unfortunately not. ‘In the wake of determination’ sounds like a watered down the Used with about as much edge as a heavily greased football. Like recent emo favourites Fall Out Boy the album reeks or predictability. Singles ‘We don’t care anymore’ and ‘Take Me Back’ could be any band doing this right now, it seems such a long time since American imports were innovative, think Pavement and even Weezer, the current barrage of imports are frankly as faceless as those who worship them.
Don’t get me wrong some emo is great fun; Brand New, Funeral for a Friend and British hopefuls Reuben all hit the spot. If you’re an emo kid looking for a quick fix try something else, Story of the Year may be America’s latest offering, but then again so is George Bush Jr. Avoid this like a cold sore in a brothel.
But German metal? No, certainly not a good idea. Then came Rammstein, possibly the campest men of their build and famed for such mastery of language as ‘Ich Will’ or ‘Wo bist du?’ Not exactly endearing images.
Yet their latest album ‘Rosenrot’ is, to a minor extent worth celebrating. Despite preconceptions of Rammstein being something 14 year old baggy trousered rascals listen to there is genuine worth in exploring for the music lover. For a start you’re unlikely to hear such a strangely listenable album this year (well, by a German metal band anyway) and who wouldn’t be enthralled by an album which boasts Rammstein’s ‘most romantic song yet’; the loathsome ‘Wo Bist Du?’.
Although changing direction to a slightly more rhythm driven sound Rammstein are essentially the same band; dirty guitars, seedy vocals and a theatrical camp-ness to both the music and the image. The almost hypnotic pulse of title track ‘Rosenrot’ is somewhat intimidating and one can almost picture a 1930s news reel of Nazi Germany. The evocative nature of this record is somewhat limited, mainly due to the language barrier but none the less ‘Rosenrot‘, is an impressive album it must be said.
Whilst not being the deepest record of the century it is a bit of light hearted fun and makes for what can be certainly be described as ‘interesting’ listening. Basically this record is for the open minded, if you can handle the out pourings of Germany’s campest band set to semi industrial beats this is for you. If you can’t what are you reading this for?
As some of you may have gathered Babyshambles, or Pete Doherty, in my opinion at least, have had far too many chances. No shows, cancellations, intoxicated performances. Everything you can think of that could go wrong from a fans perspective has. However, this is their final chance to show the world that they really do play and it’s not just another Milli Vanilli style PR stunt.
Doherty, as ever sounds fantastic on record and I’m afraid to say his vision of Albion shines throughout the release. Incidentally much of which sounds like a scrap between the Kinks and Beatles in an east-end lock up mixed with the more frantic moments of the Libertines, (think ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ meets ‘Dedicated follower of fashion’ for ‘A’rebours’ (formerly Curtain Call).
It’s this clash of past and present that seems to create Pete’s vision of England, Albion if you like and the next single, which is of course ‘Albion’ embodies this perfectly. Though gone is the defiant sense of optimism of the Libertines. Instead an overwhelming sense of sadness envelopes the lyrics, yet a typically Doherty-esque defiance does comes through. It’s just a shame that his recorded visions rarely make it in a comprehendible form to the stage as the majority of live reviews show.
The musical nostalgia of sorts is perfectly captured by Mick Jones whose influence has extended beyond the mixing desk in the Clash like ‘Sticks and Stones’, possibly one of Pete’s greatest moments. Remarkably the standout moments on this record are those that have not yet been released as singles, though many tracks have previously been available through the Babyshambles site. The most remarkable transformation is of ‘Sticks and Stones’ from a acoustic malady into a track both equally strong and reminiscent of ‘White man (in Hammersmith Palais)’ by the incomparable Clash.
Prizes for those who can identify that ‘mystery’ voice on opener ‘La Belle et le bete’ Which is of course Kate Moss. Another remnant of the whole Doherty is it isn’t it farce is the presence of ‘Back from the dead’; the B-side to the superb ‘For Lovers’ though the dizzy guitar line has been lost in favour of a bop-bop Baby bell bass line and what songs like jingling milk bottle tops. Yet despite this, it’s still a great track. Albeit a great track with dentures. It may be worth noting that if you listen carefully as the song draws to a close you can hear Pete shouting ‘Shoop shoop shoop de lang a lang’ another reference to days gone by. It might just be me but the sentiment of ‘Down in Albion’ is a distinctively Libertines’, one gets the idea that Pete is missing something.
All in all, the record is two songs longer than need be but it is a statement of, if not intent, then promise. Pete Doherty has created a minor masterpiece and a victory over his critics even if it is an album of what essentially sounds like demos. Excuse me whilst I eat my hat…