Wednesday, 19 December 2012

My Chemical Romance: The World Is Ugly/The Light Behind Your Eyes- Coventional Weapons


A-side: The World Is Ugly:

It is different to the other songs so far, a welcomed change of tone and pace. Opens with a sweeping icy synth before guitars powerfully crash in together. Its got a ‘Welcome to the black parade’ feel to it, though less anthem-y and lower key, but it posses the same pride filled feeling. Gerard’s vocals are the softest and slowest yet, but as passion filled as ever. It’s the comforting song, like a old favored blanket in winter, full of hope and understanding. Guitars sweep and swirl grittily in unison, with the odd solo guitar sweep and spike and some nice solo gritty guitar near the end. Very typical but they do it so well that its not even a bad thing. Its subtly with this band, not blinding differences, most the time. Much better than ‘Ambulance’ and ‘Gun’.

B-side: The Light Behind Your Eyes:

Well well. The hidden gem of the singles? It opens with soft mournful violin sounds, soon joined by a gentle acoustic guitar and Gerard’s bare, emotional vocals. The song builds with layers of piano, acoustic guitars and violins creating this beautiful reflective yet subtly hopeful atmosphere. Very nice.
Wailing electric guitars take over for the grand finale build, turning it a little bit more typical, but goes back to how it began for the very end, so the last thing you hear as it slows down and fades out is piano, violin and Gerard’s melancholic mumbles. I could listen to this song on repeat, its simply perfect. Whenever they’ve set out a song like this before, its been much more raw, hopelessly seeking comfort when this time they are comforting us. A nice little twist.


Thankfully a step up from last months single, but it also raises the bar in my eyes. This single seems to be the pause, the refection. Makes me even more curious for next months.
 



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Ambulance/Gun - Conventional Weapons, My Chemical Romance


The second single from Conventional Weapons, ‘Ambulance‘- will it live up to the expectations set by the first?

'Ambulance', on first listen there's mixed impressions, but its worth sticking  with. It’s the song that creeps up and grows on you. more than likely becoming the favorite out of now where.
It opens with the band impersonating a church choir, but are thankfully soon joined by MCR typical, yet still very enjoyable guitars. Not that they don’t all have lovely harmonious voices, but I’m glad it only lasts for 30 seconds. I’m all for progression and experimentation's, but really guys? 
The songs got the ‘Rock Pop’ chorus, think ‘I’m Not Okay’, with thick choppy Punk guitars. They sure do know how to use their two guitars to create that rich full sound. Gerard’s clear strong vocals posses his gorgeous mournful cry. The song even contains very simplistic and brief piano, its a nice little touch. Personally I still prefer ‘Tomorrows Money’ though.


‘Gun’, is a lot more direct and more instantly likable. It opens with pounding drums then a very deep fuzzy synth. It’s a very nice introduction. Gerard’s bold vocals are more frantic, the guitars are more defined, sharper, with some nice subtle feedback. Not a bad song, lively and energetic. The only problem is how repetitive it is.
 


 The more I hear the more I can understand the scraping of the album, but, having said that also why they have chosen to release it anyway, so far there's hasn't been a bad songs.

In conclusion, good but not great. There was just something more with the first two tracks, they posses a certain spark that these songs miss ever so slightly.

One thing I do really like is the art design. The gritty dull colour's and minimalism works well, really adding to the overall effect and atmosphere being slowly built up.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Boy Division-/Tomorrows Money- new/old single from My Chemical Romance


Boy Division-/Tomorrows Money- new/old single from My Chemical Romance

For the less fanatical fans, or interested passer by, this is a seriously exciting news. Let me explain. The Black Parade came out in 2006, then came the four year void with a scrapped album being the only news. Then in 2010 they graciously give us the treasure trove that was Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys.  Skip to 2012 and being released single by single, so two songs at a time, is the scrapped album that has been christened Conventional Weapons. On hearing the first single ’Boy Division’ with the B-side ’Tomorrows Money’ I can understand why this album was scrapped, for it is technically a step backwards but for the fans, we’re on a our knee’s thanking the band while clutching this tiny peep hole into the lost years of MCR close to our hearts.

There fast, furious and as passionate as ever; its Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge but matured, with a hint of that new twist they perfected and turned into Danger Days.

With ‘Boy Division’ there’s no messing or wasting time, we immediately go into the song, not the slightest hint of a introduction. Its fast powerful and so very Revenge in a great way. Choppy guitars dominate with Gerard back to wailing passionately. Its like Black Parade never happened, the pop of ‘Teenagers’ forgotten, but the fast cynicism of ‘It's Not A Fashion Statement, It's A Deathwish‘ back in full force.


‘Tomorrows Money’ is the fun B-side, it’s dancing in outside in a thunderstorm, the fun in funeral. It’s Revenge with that catchy pop edge that turned into Danger Days. Distorted vocals menacingly croon cynical lyrics, thick scratchy guitars and a fast beat; perfect.

The Cure- Wish




 The Cure- Wish (1992) – Fiction Records


Merely three years on from the infamous Disintegration album and they hand us their ninth studio album, Wish, which in my opinion brings them right back on form. It’s simply stunning.

The album opens with, get this ‘Open’, got to love their wit at times. Guitars swoop in and mop round in circles as Smiths wonderfully dull bored vocals come in. It’s all low key, with irritated guitars circling like a bad thought you can’t get out of your head and eventually takes hold. This is the bored anger that follows the despair of Disintegration. Single, ‘High’ picks up the mood as it shimmers in next, with chunky jangling innocent guitars and wistful vocals, singing lyrics of a lover, for when is he not? You can’t help but smile at this happy little tune, the perfect contract to the ‘Open’.
 

 ‘Apart’ drops the mood again and gives up all hope. Guitars are shy and simplistic as the dominant sound is the solemn, church like keyboard. Robert heart brokenly whispers sadly of a lost love. This slow minimalistic six minute song represents perfectly the emotions you would be inescapably feeling.  This general sound and mood continues with ‘From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea’ while staying low key, is bolder, catcher almost with its faster pace, Roberts voice more demanding, begging for attention or forgiveness.

This all changes with ‘Wendy Time’, the perfectly placed Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me throw back. Its upbeat, fast paced and funky with its squelching guitars and prominent drums. It really highlights The Cure talent for pulling off complete style and mood changes, but to be honest, it isn’t the best song on the album. The mood is not only continued but gets happier and brighter with ‘Doing The Unstuck’ and the famous pop hit ‘Friday I’m In Love’.  ‘Doing The Unstuck’ is witty, cheeky and ever so positive, simply makes you want to dance giddily as it shimmers round you like the warmth of summers sun. ‘Friday I’m In Love’ is the typical Cure pop love song, but my oh my do they pull it off once again! It’s everything you’d want, simplistic, memorable, silly happy lyrics and lovely little hooks. If they didn’t have at least one song like this on all their albums, you’d think it to be a parody, even the videos silly and fun. 

‘Trust’ brings everything back down to Earth again. It’s slow, with lamentable piano to open, soon joined by a soft church organ like keyboard, which continues to build up with timid acoustic guitar joining. All these gentle lowly layers of instruments are perfect; Smiths remorseful voice fits perfectly as always. It’s a truly beautiful song. ‘ A Letter To Elise’, despite being a single, I believe isn’t the best song on the album. Musically or lyrically it’s not bad or missing anything, I just don’t connect to it at all. Personally I find it whiney after a few minutes. ‘Cut’ picks up the mood and sound of the first half but much more aggressive. Its furious electric guitars dominating over a fast beat with Smith almost shouting at you. It’s a hopelessly passionate song.
 

‘To Wish Impossible Things’ is a stunningly beautiful sombre song. It builds throughout the long introduction with delicate layers of slow acoustic guitar, echoed soft bongo drums and violins. The occasional muffled clash of a gong and tambourine adds to the general atmosphere and grant landscape of the piece. I could repeatedly listen to this song without it becoming boring or would it lose its great emotional effect. Roberts voice is as beautiful as he tenderly whispers of lose wishes.

 ‘End’, the closing track, is more symbolic of a title then it first appears to be, as the band were, yet again, at breaking point and Robert wanted to end it all, get away from The Cure, its fans, everything the band had become and had ended up representing. The fans did have a scare as the next album, Wild Mood Swings, didn’t appear till 1996, and was, in my eyes, a disappointment. Thank god for the following album Bloodflowers from 2000.
Back to ‘End’, the song’s resentful, bitter in tone as irate guitars coil menacingly round and round, getting increasingly darker. It’s a very sour way to end such a diverse album but it’s very much a Cure way to do things. It links nicely to the ‘Open’-ing track, rounding it all off with no loose ends, like life or the final goodbye? The album certainly does include most of what The Cure does best.  The song even had a harshly sarcastic ‘Du du du’ in the middle, most famously found in their happy-go-lucky pop songs, further adding to the atmosphere. It all finishes with the repeated bitter phrase “Please stop loving me, I am none of these things”, a direct message to the adoring fans?


Wish is a love affair, or maybe even their view on life. It reflects all the real emotions; the love and fun, the mistrust and betrayal, the loneliness and remorse. Then finally nothing but bitterness. The album switches emotions almost randomly to reflect the reality of it, we have joyous moments and downcast moments, but we always round back to anger and bitterness. I believe it to be a brilliant album, a shining example of The Cures endless musical and lyrical talents.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9xXCK28wDU - High 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzZ-Mgi1My4 - To Wish Impossible Things 

Monday, 22 October 2012

CITIZENS! Album Review




Citizens! - here we are (Kitsune- Cooperative Music)

Minimalist, Icy Indie Pop


Citizens!: London’s winning entry for the ‘Hipsters personified by music’ award. Not that that exists, hopefully. The albums fun, youthful, but bit too repetitive in places.

‘True Romance’, the album opener is a sweet and innocent introduction to Citizens!, with its delicate piano like keyboard dancing over an almost R&B drum machine beat. Alexis Taylor’s tender vocals wistfully singing of what all teens dream off.
‘Reptile’ then follows with its icy synth and bored vocals. Catchy, poppy yet wonderfully cold. Watch the video and my opening comment will make much more sense.
 

The album continues to follow very much in the same vain but with ‘Love You More’ adding a nice twist. The verses are lead by tribal bongo drums with the suggestion of xylophone and bare vocals but the come the chorus and its back to a big catchy pop melody, sugary vocals and swirling keyboards. 

‘Lets Go All The Way’ is a prime example of where ‘here we are‘ goes a bit wrong. Its darker then the rest, suggestive, very simplistic, with a lovely vocal but it doesn’t go anywhere, the tracks skip-able because the repetition gets boring which really is a shame as its not a bad song.

‘(I’m in love with your) Girlfriend’ thankfully picks the album back up with it’s brassy bold 80’s esque synth and longing yet challenging vocals. Its fun, upbeat and cheeky. ‘Nobodies Fool’ again is an excellent song, introducing a more prominent funky sassy sound, a less busy and warm Friends. Again ‘Monster’ follows the same funky trend, bass lead but with more shimmer.  Its insanely catchy, sweet; a prime example of what Citizens! do best.

‘She Said’ is another let down after this sequence of amazing tracks. The annoying thing is that its not a bad song, its almost as if they can’t keep up to the high standard they set themselves. The song starts off well, its brass,  with a big pop chorus, but it’s the verses that let them down, they’re dull in comparison, which is a shame because the opening and ending of the song are good. 


The last two tracks are rather different to the rest of the album, ‘I Wouldn’t Want To’ is off steady, reflective and quiet mature. His vocals as soft as ever lead by a simple drum beat. But come the chorus we’ve gone into MGMT territory, with out of space psych pop sounds swirling around. While ‘Know Yourself’ is basically the same, with a very out of space psych keyboard sound it’s less bass lead, with more layered. 


This sudden slight change in style leaves it more opened ended, almost suggestive of their next musical direction. Clever Citizens!. ‘here we are’ is a very good debut, its has its fair share of faults but I strongly believe that the rest of the album is brilliant enough to make up for it

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA0lYaekxxk - Reptile 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHZQmk3ESwc - Love You More

Thursday, 18 October 2012

DIVV - Oshin

DIIV- Oshin (Captured Tracks)
 

Luscious, washed out, distorted pysch pop.

DIIV (Dive) started out as a solo project for Beach Fossils Zachary Cole Smith but soon turned into a whole new band when his childhood friends Andrew Bailey, Devin Ruben Perez and Colby Hewitt hopped on board. After only hearing Oshin once, it’s easy to see why its caused such a online buzz.
 
 
Side A opens with ‘Druun’, a dreamy brief instrumental introduction. Gentle layers of jangling melodic guitar and simple piano slowly builds and blends together. They ebb and flow, ever so slightly out of tune and harmony with itself.  Following track ‘Past Lives’ has a Smiths sound to it, while also keeping this washed out feeling. Spaced out, soft echoing vocals add a psychedelic twist to it as melodic guitars swirl round. It’s a very whimsical, wistful sound. This is very much the overall tone of the album.

 Single ‘How Long Have You Known‘, is more poppy but still distant and a bit dreary. Think a less harsh, brassy My Bloody Valentine. ‘Wait’ is slightly different; floating in the background is a shimmering organ, giving it an early Cure feel, while this increasingly prominent distorted guitar takes over. By the end of this rather short song you have this innocent church organ and fearsome distorted guitar clashing perfectly. 


Side A, closes with ‘Earthboy’ which takes us into a more experimental psychedelic dream.

Side B is opened by ‘Druun Pt. II‘, the perfect continuum and opening.
‘Follow‘, ‘follows’ suit, its dreamy, happy and that bit distorted. 


‘Doused‘, another single, is fantastic. Faster paced, vocals a frantic echo, distorted guitar rushed, while all the time an ominous organ sounds in the background. There’s a strong sense of running away, but you can’t go fast enough, like in a bad dream. Its more down to earth and darker then the rest but it doesn’t lose their style. ‘Home’ closes this incredible album on a sombre, melancholic note: “ we’ll never have a home” is repeated as its swirls gently, vocals soft as ever.

Oshin is like watching the sea in the late Summer. Guitars and keyboards ebb and flow like the waves, mood occasionally changing while his vocals echo round you like a comforting wind. It’s changeable in subtle ways, oddly fascinating and carefree.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KI79GPXAICM - Doused

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L702zw6Ilqs - Wait

Thursday, 16 August 2012

FUTUREHEADS ~ Rant

‘Rant’ certainly is an intriguing fourth album for the harmony and melody loving Post Punk Northerner’s. For one its entirely acapella. Secondly, the album consists of covers, mostly their own songs and the rest, well traditional folk songs. But by far the strangest thing about this album is how brilliant it is. Despite the lack of any instrument is it not boring, repetitive nor slow paced. Each song is clearly thought out and really quiet enjoyable.


The opening track, ’Meantime’, from their first self titled album, is as fast, upbeat and witty as the original. The second track caused some controversy as it is a cover of Black Eyed Pea’s ‘Meet Me Halfway’. The songs slow paced and filled with longing as their voices are deep and mournful. Yet they still manage to make it entirely their own. Its not a bad cover but not their best nor the strongest track on the album.
 

Old favourite from the first album ‘Robot’ follows, picking up the pace and never failing to bring a smile to your face. It’s a relatively simple song but without losing the fun of the original.

A personal favourite ’Beeswing’ (originally by Richard Thompson) Is sweet, innocent and catchy little tune which tells the tale of a young untameable girl. Its old fashioned and quaint with its humming and clapping. Its all very summer in the country with high spirits and hopes.
‘Thursday’, from the second album News And Tributes, is a much slower, simpler, sombre song. Its serious and mature, yet offers up a hint of hope. 
 


‘Sumer Is Icumen In’ is chirpy and brief. It is actually an old English Medieval round (type of music where one line is repeated but by different peoples at different times) The whole time the bands thick Sunderland accents shine through giving the album even more of a personality and making it very much a Futureheads album despite the range of styles explored.

‘The Keeper’ is insanely catchy and enjoyable. With only the lead singer singing the verses and rest of the band coming in for the chorus. It’s more simple and bare then others, and has the feel of a ho-down. It circles, building ever so slightly but barely lasts two minutes. The next cover is truly hilarious. ’The No. Song In Heaven’ ( originally by The Sparks) opens with a slow empty atmospheric introduction before breaking into good but funny guitar imitations that continue throughout with soft harmonious backing vocals. It’s an interesting cover and technically a single from the album. If that wasn’t enough, next we get a story in acapella song form.
 

 ‘The Old Dun Cow’ tells the tale of a pub burning down in a very amusing, annoyingly catchy way. I promise you it will get stuck in your head, which is rather bizarre. You can just imagine being sat round the bar singing it, old friends arm in arm as the lead singer tells us the tale and everyone else joins in for the chorus.
 

‘Acapella’ is set out like a normal song, with vocals again imitating instruments, creating an almost drum beat, while the lead singer sings solo with harmonious backing vocals. Weirdly enough it’s the love song of the album. ’Man Ray’, the closing track and a single from the first album, is probably the best and most thought out song from Rant. It is quiet literary an entirely vocal cover; fast paced harmonious Post Punk. The perfectly layered vocals change, became increasing more frantic as they build up into a crescendo only to abruptly end. Rant even contains is a quiet frankly disturbing short unnamed bonus track.

Overall it’s a very upbeat, catchy and heart-warmingly quaint album. Unusual but every bit enjoyable and very Futureheads. 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3VB4NOB1Ak - Beeswing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-nVDFRaRGs - Man Ray

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Editors Live at the Birmingham HMV Instiute.

Tuesday 26th June 2012- Birmingham HMV Institute
Editors supported by Free School and Peace


First up was Free School, a local band who, despite not having been around for long, have already released two EP’s ‘Ranting and Raving’ and ‘Unravelling after the lottery’ which was released in January. They’re not an easy band, that’s for sure, but talented and very experimental. They’re an entirely electronic, apart from the drums, outfit with four members who mix electro, dance and house in an unique way, making it indistinct but melodic. They were confident in their music, energetic on stage and fun to listen to once you get into it, that and the homemade lamb masks they wear.



Second were Peace, who also hail from Birmingham. A five piece Indie Rock band, with clear influences of grunge and punk. They were lively, youthful and raw with plenty of feedback. To say they have only just signed to Columbia records and have a single, ‘ Follow Baby/Li'l Echo’ coming out they were surprisingly tight, with a unique sound and impressive on stage and got a good crowd reaction. The singer even had a dream catcher attached to his guitar, which clashed with his leather jacket, but that sort of sums up the band, especially since the bass player had twee knitted jumper on. In my opinion, one to watch.


Then finally the main event, Editors, stepped out onto a smoke filled darkened stage to be greeted by a enthusiastic crowd. 
Opening song ‘Sugar’ was incredible, but so was the whole gig. Guitars were sharp and soared as Tom Smith echoing voice crooned darkly to us from the piano, as blue, red and white lights flashed, the drums and bass pounded giving the whole place this eerie atmosphere as the bright lights silhouetted the band. 
Editors - Tom Smith

The band then kicked into a few singles such as ‘Racing Rats’ off their second album (End Has A Start), which opens with melancholic piano and pounding drums, the crowds already singing along as the sheer power of the roaring guitar washes over us. Stand out song and single, also off the second album was ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’ which proves without a doubt the bands talent for making melodic songs explode with pure energy. Also singles and old favourites from the first album (The Backroom) ‘Munich‘, ‘Blood’ and ‘All Sparks’ saw the whole place sing along enthusiastic as half the room swayed and the other leaped.
 

 Single off the third album (In This Light And On This Evening) ‘Eat Raw Meat=Blood Drool’ was something different. It was dark, strange yet seductive with its trade mark bizarre sample sound. The odd superb new song was played also, proving their skill for natural evolution without ever losing what makes them Editors. A new album is rumoured to be emerging soon.
 

Editors
Tom Smith is an effortlessly amazing front man, he puts every last cell of energy into his performance without expecting anything back. His vocals are just as good, on some tracks better, then on record: mournful but powerful. Each new song had different lighting, so each time a new atmosphere was created. Even the slower tracks were passionate, like ‘Fall’ off the first album, which has a steady pace with bursts of hopeful guitar. The crowd was just as lively, feeding off this power crashing around us.
 
It was a very varied crowd too, old married couples bounced next to teenagers. It all ended too soon with only a three song encore which opened with the incredible dark, synth lead ‘In This Light And On This Evening’, which slowly builds till raw dirty guitars kick in, lights flash as the band really gave it their all. This was followed by the equally as impressive ’An End Has A Start’ and concluded with crowd favourite and single off the third album ’Papillon’. An instant classic with its ice synth hook and fast relentless beat. Naturally they drew it out, made it raw and joined the crowd in going wild. Quite literally, a standing ovation.





Goyte-Making Mirrors.



Yes this is the same Goyte who sings that incredibly catchy ‘60’s esc. No.1 hit single ‘Somebody That I Used To Know‘, while in the nude covered in paint. Did you know that it made it to number one is most countries including his homeland Australia, Germany and Israel of all places and it stayed at the top in Britain for roughly 6 weeks? Now surely that is a sign of better days to come.

His third studio album (yes third- in fact this is a side project as he is in a rather good Australian Rock & Roll band, The Basics who have been around since 2002 and have released four studio albums); ‘Making Mirrors’ is an eclectic collection of songs with loose comparisons ranging from Bon Iver ,to  OMD to Cee Lo Green. This albums got everything from percussion, to synth’s to trumpets and saxophones. ’Making Mirrors’ is a fun album to listen to; it’s full of twist, turns and plenty of surprises. He not only self produced the entire album but plays pretty much every instrument(which is listed, along with all credit due to other artists involved above the lyrics for each song) on the album. One things for certain, Mr Wally De Backer is one talented man and deserves every inch of fame he finally receives.  

Opening track ‘Making Mirrors’ is a gentle, mystical introduction with Summery almost psychedelic swooping  synth’s and barely audible vocals. Following track and single ‘Easy Way Out’ sounds vaguely Black Keys-ish with its fast beat, dirty fuzzing guitar and soft vocals. The pace is eased back down again with that heat throb song ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’. It echo’s 1960’s jingling psych. Pop with its twangy acoustic guitar, subtle drifting percussion and xylophone. An instant classic.  

‘Smoke and Mirrors’ is a gem of a song. Its got a very jazzy, blues sound to it, very deep and sassy. Its got a repetitive beat, saxophone and sprinkles of harp and organ.  Mr De Backer never fails to adapts his voice perfectly to each new area he explores and experiments with. He switches between bare powerful vocals to subtly layered whispers. The song builds and gets gradually weirder and bigger as a wider range of instruments are introduced and the tribal bongo drums becomes more prominent.

The mood and atmosphere of the album drastically changes as we delve into the middle section of the album. ‘I Feel Better’, surprise, surprise, does this wonderfully. Its actually a bit of a cheesy “classic” with its big brass introduction and retro Motown feel. The piano’s dancing, the bass skipping, his voice is clear, full and powerful. How can it not cheer you up? Hidden gem ‘In Your Light’ follows with that same retro Motown beat and my gawd does it make you want to dance. Its got funky acoustic guitar, brass, hand claps and even a sprinkling of synth. This song is all the glee and laughter of Summer time with your friends: simply joyous.

Now this next track is odd, to say the least. Its not a bad track, simply very experimental. Its back bones is a cracking sassy, hip swaying Reggae beat with lovely experimental electronic samples layered on top. A bit ‘Einstein A Go Go’ by Landscape. But his vocals, well he sounds like Marvin, the depressed robot from ‘The Hitchhiker Guide To The Galaxy’ trying to sing: very deep and very slow. I can see why he’s done it, but I personally think he  ruined a potently great song.‘Giving Me A Chance’ is a slower more calm track, it takes the best of 80’s synth music, and pairs it with soft vocals and a basic drum machine beat. Its got the sound and atmosphere of ‘Souvenir’ by OMD, but more modern. It’s a very personal feel to it, another little gem in my opinion.

The ending track, ‘Bronte’, I will admit is a personal favourite. Its melancholic but honest. Its carried by deep slow tribal drums meanwhile subtle percussion and glittering synth’s float around in the background. His vocals are soft and oddly comforting. The whole song has this soothing effect on you, as soon as his voice comes in you can almost feel all your worries melt away.

‘Making Mirrors’: All in all, is a stunning third album.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le34ygtODfI - Bronte 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdH6sfd3fRQ - In Your Light 

Quasi- American Gong- Review

Portland based Quasi first came onto the Indie Rock scene in 1993 with a self titled album, self released only in cassette form. American Gong,  their latest effort and 10th studio album, which was released in 2010 on Domino records, includes the original band line up of Janet Weiss (Wild Flag. She also produced the album), Sam Croomes (Pink Mountain) and Joanna Bolme.
I think it’s simply a masterpiece of pure basic Rock & Roll. You’ve got your Ramones guitar, Pretty Things instrumental breaks and Who esc drumming. Who could ask for more?

Opening track and single ‘Repulsion’ is fast paced, catchy and sharp. Whining guitar and vocals dominate this effortlessly perfect song. ‘Little White Horse’ follows in the same fashion but with a more strangled guitar sound and a lovely little guitar and drum break that almost twinkles. Witty yet bleak lyrics tell of growing old, “ Blah blah blah said the tongue to the ears”.
The songs are uncomplicated but nether the less are still interesting. The composition and guitar sound is rather similar to Wild Flag’s debut but the feeling of the songs are very different. While American Gong has a sense of helplessness and tends to have empty spaces where there are only suggestions of piano and vocals; Wild Flag is fast and furious with no gaps.

Bye Bye Blackbird’ should have been a single. It opens with a twinkling guitar and hopeless vocals but soon picks up with Who esc drumming, ‘aaahh-ing’ and lots of fuzzing guitar, before descending into a chaos of squealing feedback, backwards swoops and pounding drums that counties to speed up into a crescendo of noise. Its like a mix between The Pretty Things and Sonic Youth. Just when you think the tracks ended the same bare vocals and twinkling guitar pops back in, which then build back up into the song.
‘The Jig Is Up ‘is a lovely acoustic track, with smatterings of backwards feedback to keep it interesting, which concludes Side A.



‘Black Dogs and Bubbles’; Side B’s opener keeps things simple and catchy. This track highlights the bands knack for composing great austere tracks and their skill for smooth time changes. ‘Death Is Not The End’ is not an easy track to listen to first time round. It’s the devastating love song with a slightly out of time and tune piano, with Coomes crooning mercilessly along. Its hopeless and out of tune but is beautiful in its own deranged way with it’s broken violin opening the track and sweeping around in the background. Weeping guitars swoop in for the chorus’s, briefly taking over from the piano. It’s a track that grows on you. ‘Rockabilly’ speaks for its self and picks the album back up again perfectly. Bolme accomplices Croomes on vocals which adds to the feeling of wandering around a sepia toned barn out in the “Wild West”.  ‘Now What’ is bassy and deep with Croomes willing you to “rise up”. It the kind of song that makes you sway at the hips, pouting and swish your long locks suggestively.

Album closer ‘Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler’ (translated means ‘Let the good time roll’ which completely contracts against the whole atmosphere of the song) is another piano lead song, but in tune this time but with mostly French lyrics. The song is another hidden gem. It gives the impression of a backstreet bar, in the 1930’s, New York. The world is in grainy black and white, like a faded photograph. Its just that one drunk left, half passed out at the bar and the tired old owner in his white apron mopping the tables and stacking the chairs. Its about 2 in the morning, the bar closed hours ago, and that lonely lost musician is back on the stage, playing the piano with his imaginary backing band and female backing vocalists. By the end of the song he’s just talking to an empty room over the weeping music.
Its a rather saddening way to end an over all lively and upbeat album, but maybe that’s how they now feel about the band after nearly 20 years of being Quasi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IET0it5Vqw - Repulsion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pH5vmnTa_mw - Bye Bye Blackbird 


Acrtic Monkeys- Suck It And See.

Talk about a new sound; opening track ‘She Thunderstorms’ is very sweet and innocent sounding with jangling guitars and Alex Turners voice crooning soft as silk. It’s a gentle introduction, the sound of a more mature Artic Monkeys.

Single ‘Black Treacle’ is bass lead, with choppy catchy guitar. It’s stripped back with a bouncy 1950’s rock pop chorus.  ‘Brick by Bri


ck’ drops the innocence and replaces it with leather clad rock and roll. Its got dirty fuzzy guitar and deep pounding bass; Turners voice is demanding and suggestive. Apart from having an amazing name, ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ has a big empty room feel to it, as the guitar echo’s, bass leads and Turner whispers witty metaphors into your ear.
 

Single ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ is threatening and serious with the most ridiculous lyrics: of course. It doesn’t get much more back street in the dead of night then this. But I can’t help but think that the bands being a bit sarcastic with this song. Stand out song ‘Library Pictures’ is a ‘Florescent Adolescent’ throw back, but with a leather jacket and a quiffed hair do. Its fast paced with fuzzing guitar and distant vocals that appear to mock. ‘All My Own Stunts’ keeps things fuzzy and dirty but oh so catchy. ‘Piledriver Waltz’ calms the pace back down, its charming and just a tad melancholic with its jangling melodic guitar and velvet vocals.  The album ends how it begins, with nostalgic melodic songs that have a warm summery feel to them compared to the grainy wintry feel of the middle section.

Title song, ‘Suck It And See’ is a wonderful little song, its like listening to a more rock and roll Frankie And The Heartstrings and without the brass, with its 1950’s atmosphere. His witty sarcastic lyrics are whispered sadly as the song jingles along. Only Artic Monkeys could get away with such a stunning sweet humble love song with lyrics that compare girls to “post mix lemonade” while the girl its all for is “as rare as a can of dandelion and burdock”. Aww.
It’s an album you don’t want to end, soon as it does your clicking the ‘play’ button again, eager to hear it all over again.

Well, Artic Monkeys, you’ve done it again. You’ve got yet another class album under your belt.

Explained - Charlotte Sometimes (Song)

All the faces, all the voices blur...

Charlotte Sometimes is an haunting single by The Cure released in 1984. It is also a brilliant children's books by Penelope Farmer released in 1969.
And they are two of the same thing. 

I grew up with both but only noticed the song was actually written about the book years later when I bought a Cure lyric book and reread the Penelope Farmer book. 

Read on if you wish to learn how those magical lines describe an enchanting children's book. 

(Spoilers ahead)

Firstly, let me briefly explain the basic plot. It is about a girl called Charlotte Makepeace who starts Boarding School but the next morning wakes to find that she has travelled back in time 40 years to 1918, where she takes on the life of a girl called Claire and befriend her sister Emily, Claire also travelling forward taking Charlotte's place. 

The book is set out in three parts just as the song has three main parts to it.
The first chapter is quiet literally the opening chapters of the book.

All the faces
All the voices blur
Change to one face
Change to one voice
Prepare yourself for bed
The light seems to bright
And glares off white walls
All the sounds of
Charlotte Sometimes
Into the night with
Charlotte Sometimes


This is describing Charlottes first night at Boarding school. “By bedtime all the faces, the voices had blurred for Charlotte into one face, one voice.”
“The light seem to bright for them (her eyes), glaring off white walls, white sheets and bedcovers….”  “ All the sounds about her were unfamiliar.”
These are quotes taken straight from the book off the first page.

Night after night she lay alone in bed*
Her eyes open to the dark**
The streets looked so strange***
They seem to far away
But Charlotte did not cry*
The people seem so close
Playing expressionless games****
The people seemed
So close
So many
Other names


Again some of the lines are quoted from the book: 

*“When the lights went out Charlotte lay alone in bed, trying not to cry because everything, everyone seemed to be against her now.”  

**“Night after night Charlotte lay in bed her eyes open to the dark” 

***“The streets looked strange, light less, save for the moon, which laid no glitter or shine…”   This when she becomes trapped in 1918 as her and Claire's sister Emily get relocated to Flintlock Lodge. 

**** “Playing expressionless games” 

This line is referring to Emily. In the first half of the book we get a few hints that Emily knows something is up and has even figured out that Charlotte is not her sister. As you read on, partially in the beginning of the second part, you get the sense that Emily is being distant on purpose as she is trying to figure out  who is this impostor aka ‘playing an expressionless game’.

But this verse also has many different possible meanings. At this point in the book and song Charlotte is feeling very lonely, lost, tired and a little homesick. Living two lives as two different people with a 40 year time difference is taking its toll on her, together with her being very distant at this point the girls that could be her friends have turned on her. So even though it has stolen some direct lines, it still creates the same atmosphere and story as the beginning of the book.

(Chorus)
Sometimes I'm dreaming
Where all the other people dance*
Sometimes I'm dreaming
Charlotte sometimes
Sometimes I'm dreaming
Expressionless the trance
Sometimes I'm dreaming
So many different names**
Sometimes I'm dreaming
The sounds all stay the same***
Sometimes I'm dreaming
She hopes to open shadowed eyes****
On a different world
Come to me
Scared princess
Charlotte sometimes


The chorus is open to personal interpretations and ideas as I struggled to find many references to the book. I would love to hear your ideas on the possible meanings behind it.

The dreaming part could be an idea towards how Charlotte can travel back in time 40 years to live another girls life while she lives hers. 

‘Charlotte Sometimes’ is literal as she is only Charlotte, some of the time. 

*“Where all the other people dance”  I strongly believe this is a reference to the dancing that breaks out in the streets when the Armistice is announced.

**“So many different names”  This could be referring to how overwhelmed Charlotte must have been, having to learn  two sets names of fellow students, teachers names and two sets of rules.

*** “All the sounds stay the same”: A possible reference to when she gets stuck in 1918.

**** “She hopes to open shadowed eyes/On a different world” 
This is about how much she wants to get home to her own time, how alien the past is to her, how different the people are, rituals and way of life. 

The last few lines of the Chorus I can only guess is Robert Smiths view on the character of Charlotte, how a need to help this poor lost girl grows in the reader. 

On that bleak track (see the sun is gone again)*
The tears were pouring down her face*
She was crying and crying for a girl*
Who had died so many years before*


*These are pretty much direct quotes. When she gets home she speaks to Emily's daughter, a fellow student, and finds out Claire had died of flu not long after getting home.  “On that bleak track, the sun had gone again, tears were pouring down her face. She was crying and crying for a girl who had died more then 40 years before”   

Charlotte Sometimes crying for herself**
Charlotte Sometime dreams a walls around herself
But its always with love
With so much love it looks like everything else****
Of Charlotte Sometimes****
So far away****
Glassed sealed and pretty***
Charlotte Sometimes


** "She was crying for herself, perhaps, and for Emily.”  This is from the same chapter as above.

The rest of the verse is open to personal interpretation as there are no direct quotes from the books. My educated guesses from reading and studying the book are as follows:

*** “Glass sealed and pretty” One night in 1918 at Flintlock Lodge Emily puts the marbles in a glass full of water. When Charlotte is back in her own time she puts the marbles in a glass of water and places them on her desk as a remembrance of Emily. “The marbles looked very pretty everyone said, and Charlotte was pleased…”

****If you were to read those lines slightly differently as the sentence: “Everything else of Charlotte Sometimes, so far away”, then the possible meaning becomes much clearer. Near the end of the book Charlotte muses to herself how much Emily and Claire had became a part of her, that she felt that she could never go back to how she was before her experiences and that Claire shall forever be a part of who she is. 

Charlotte Sometime dreams a walls around herself
But its always with love 


Could be Roberts opinion on the Charlotte. How he interprets her coping strategy, maybe he see's her distance as protecting those close to her. Only he knows. 

Any other interpretations and opinions are more then welcome.

Top 10 Over Looked Debut's of 2011

2011: what a year. Indie/Alternative music finally started to fight back! With Florence & The Machine's second album 'Ceremonies' bringing her well deserved fame and The Horrors third album 'Skying' reaching number 3 in the Charts, I decided to celebrate what I felt were the 10 best debuts of 2011 that no-one seemed to notice.

10) Esben And The Witch.
     ‘Violet Cries’ was released 31st January on Matador Records
      From Brighton

Album opener ‘Argyria’ is slow starting with a long haunting atmospheric intro with echoed sounds, a slow chiming guitar and heartbeat drums. It slowly speeding up as strangled cries fills the room and the guitar becomes raw and sharp till finally ethereal vocals swoop in.
Single ‘Marching Song’ opens with demanding military drums and dark twisted guitar which gives way to raw vocals and echoed screams that make it claustrophobic and just a bit scary. ‘Hexagons IV’ is driven by distant piano and crashing drums with a electronic sound, like a room of old fashioned computers beeping…underwater drifting in the background.
Listening to the album is like walking through an unfamiliar forest at night surrounded by strange indefinable sounds that fuzz, echo, ring and chime while all the time the changeable heart beat drums pound. You don’t know what to expect or where it will take you. It’s exciting but just a little bit scary!

Look-up: ‘Marching Song’ and ‘ Chorea’.

9) Iceage.
   ‘New Brigade’ was released sometime in the summer on Escho/Abeano
   From Denmark


The albums opens with ‘Intro’ with is 45 seconds of industrial sounds: clanging and searing metal. Oh, did I forget to mention that Iceage are single-handily bringing back Punk? The album clocks in at just over 24 minutes yet contains 12 songs.
Single ‘White Runes’ pounces straight in with shouted vocals, thrashing deep raw guitar and rapid drumming. Its back to basic’s with Iceage. Fast. Deranged. Raw. It seems to ooze ‘if you like it, well that’s good for you but I’m having fun and that’s I care about.’ Its full of energy, not anger like most Punk bands, just raw energy. This album actually gave me a headache it‘s so full on and fast, but I enjoyed nearly every song. Stand out song ‘Collapse’ opens with squealing guitar before simply crashing into chaos. I feel sorry for what’s left of their instruments.

Look-up: ’White Rune’ and ’Broken Bones’.

8) Joy Formidable
    ‘The Big Roar’ was released 24th January on Atlantic Recording Corporation
   
 From North Wales, now based in London.
Album opener ‘The Ever Changing Spectrum Of A Lie’ is a seven minute epic starting with the sound of bubble wrap popping before raw thrashing guitar soars in with pounding drums and powerful vocals. It speeds up and up before descending into a whirlpool of fuzzy white noise. The album is chocking big rock anthems filled with angry vocals, raw whirring guitars that fills the room and dominate the songs while the drums pound and bass bounces. Single and stand out track ‘Austere’ is catchy and upbeat. Lead by a bouncing bass with harmonious backing vocals before building up to a crescendo crashing whirring noise.

Look up: ‘Austere’ and ‘Whirring’

7) Wild Flag.
    ‘Wild Flag’ was released 13th September on Wichita Recordings ltd.
     From Washington DC/Portland
Its all the girl, all American pop punk dream team with each member having being in several notable bands including ‘Helium’, ‘Minder’ and ‘Sleater-Kinney’. The drummers ‘name’ is even Janet Weiss: this band couldn’t get more cool. Its fast, fuzzy, bouncy and oh so catchy. These girls know what their doing. Stand out song  ‘Boom’  is a no messing song with sudden bursts of scratchy guitars and raw vocals shouting that “if you want a pretty picture then look away, look away now” and isn’t even three minutes long.

Look up single and album opener ‘Romance’ and ’Black Tiles’


6)
Foster The People
    ‘Torches’ was released 23rd May on Columbia Records.
     From Los Angeles
At last! Interesting Electro Indie Pop.
‘Torches’ is energetic, youthful and quiet strange and experimental at times with definite funk influences on tracks like ’Don’t Stop(Colour On The Wall)’: yet is brimming with catchy single worthy tunes. It’s a welcomed breath of fresh air for pop music. I’d go further and describe stand out songs if I could! The band pride themselves on being impossible to categorise, with a million and one influences in one song and a range of instruments used, from keyboards to piano to drum machine to acoustic guitar. One things for sure, they’re not scared to push boundaries and explore while also having the cheek to create bold insanely catchy chorus’s demonstrated on “Call It What You Want” and “Life On The Nickel”.  Just look them up.

Look up singles ‘Pumped up Kids’ and ‘Call It What You Want’.

5) Veronica Falls
    ‘Veronica Falls’ was released 20th September on Bella Union.
    Based in London
The album opens rather ominously with ‘Found Love In A Graveyard‘, everything’s deep before the pace quickens and guitar lightens and soft sing-song vocals pick the mood up, slightly.  The albums fast paced, laced with sharp, even jangly guitar, bouncing bass and melancholic vocals. Its full of contracts, as if half the bands trying to craft Indie-pop songs and the others all about the doom and gloom, but it somehow works, creating a gloomy but C86-ish sound. Like a photograph of a pretty vibrant flower made dull and grainy.
Single ‘Beachy Head’ is catchy, fast and actually quiet up-beat with deep backing vocals and shimmering guitar. ‘The Box’ is bouncy and has high pitched almost optimistic vocals, just to shake things up. Another band out to make my job that bit harder.

Look-up: ‘Beachy Head’ and ‘Bad Feeling’

4) Frankie & The Heartstrings
    ‘Hunger’ was released 21st February on PopSex LTD/Wichita Recordings ltd.
    From Sunderland

An instant classic filled with retro sprinkled short, catchy, upbeat songs. It’s got bouncy guitar, playful lyrics crooned by heart throb Frankie Francis and even saxophones on ‘Hunger’. Guitar pop is back! The albums got a timeless feel with single ‘Tender’ that makes you want to dance and wouldn’t sound out of place in a 1950’s dance hall. But don’t go thinking that the album all sounds the same. Also a single ‘ Fragile’ is a long brooding track that builds up to a crescendo of soaring guitars and has Frankie crying out that “if your gonna breakdown, then just breakdown”. While ‘It’s Obvious’ may keep up the previous fast pace has a deeper sound to it. The album was produced by none other than Edwyn Collins from Orange Juice. You simply can’t help but fall in love with this band.

Look up ‘Tender’ and ‘Ungrateful’  

3) Chapel Club
    ‘Palace’ was released 8th February on Loog/Polydor Ltd.
     From London
Albums opener, instrumental ’Depths’ consists of strange backwards noises and sparkling synth’s. ‘Five Trees’ opens with walls of soaring guitars before giving way to deep soft male vocals, a strong deep bass and strangled guitar that sweeps in and out. The album filled with vast, room filling, fast paced soaring songs with poetic lyrics. Single and stand out track ‘The Shore’ opens with the sounds of the waves and seagulls before a wave of gliding guitar crashes down around you, sweeping you away on a “billboard holiday”. Its slower paced with a dreamy seaside feel to it. ‘O Maybe I’ is faster paced with strong deep bass, shimmering guitar and catchy chorus. Its an album that leaves you smiling and humming several chorus’s.

Look-up: ‘The Shore’ and ‘All Eastern Girls’.

2) Yuck
    ‘Yuck’ was released on 21st February on Fat Possum/Mercury Records Limited
    Based in London.
‘Yuck’ is definitely an album of contrasts. Opening track and single ‘Get Away’ opens with a wall of soaring fuzzy guitar which gives way to crooned vocals you can barely hear and a pounding bass. ‘Holing Out’, ‘The Wall’ and ‘Operation’ follow suit but the rest of the album is slow and melodic with lyrics and vocals filled with teenage angst. Its actually quite a beautiful album with its sugar sweet acoustic guitar, leading bass and sombre lyrics, “ I could be your suicide policeman”. Another surprise comes in the form of ‘Georgia’ which is very up beat and well bouncy, still with fuzzy guitar. Throughout the album you can tell definite influences of Sonic Youth, The Cure and My Bloody Valentine. Closing track ‘Rubber’ is quiet a force to be reckoned with, with its gradual build up, barely audible lyrics and wall of feedback.
Look up, ‘Get Away’ and ‘Stutter’

1) S.C.U.M
    ‘Again Into Eyes’ was released on 4th October on Mute Artists Limited.
     From London.

Named after a radical Feminist manifesto written in 1967 by Valerie Solanas, S.C.U.M have been on the London Underground scene for the last few years but with nothing but word of mouth and snippets of live clips on Youtube to their name until, finally, the debut is released. But my oh my was it worth waiting for!

‘Again Into Eyes’ is a haunting fairytale. A fairytale designed to go on a vinyl record. What should be ‘Side A’ soars, swoops and echo’s; while also thrashing and pounding with wistful lyrics crooned straight into your heart. Opening tracks ‘Faith Unfolds’ and ‘Days Untrue’ swirl around you, threatening to swallow you whole while stand-out track ‘Casts Into Seasons’ is brooding with demanding tribal drumming, echoing keyboard and swirling guitar. The paces picks back up with the raw, sharp demanding sounds of ‘Amber Hands’ and ‘Summon The Sound’.

Now we move into what should be ‘Side B’ as the sound changes quiet drastically. The songs here are slower, more melodic and rather strange as feedback, echoed keyboards and softly crooned vocals drift in and out. This side is a lot more open and atmospheric; there’s less going on as ‘Side A’s songs are fit to burst there so full of different sounds.
Stand out track ’Paris’ is piano lead and heartbreakingly beautiful, even with the guitar feedback cutting in and out; “Bury my love in Winter air, in solitude”. Album closer ‘Whitechapel’ is the last burst of haunting fairytale energy, combining the sounds from both ‘sides’ with a bouncing bass line that will get stuck in your head.

Look up ‘Amber Hands’ and ‘Whitechapel’