Wading through endless blogger hype so you don’t have to…
COLD WAR KIDS
Fullerton, CA area group are in the running with Tapes ‘n Tapes (yay) and Sound Team (meh) for the annual Apple of the Blogger Eye Award. Their recently skewered by Pitchfork internet “hit” “Hospital Beds” clocks in at a pedestrian 4:48 but feels twice as long. A four-note piano loop slowly bludgeons as singer Nathan Willett rips off Jack White at his bluesy nadir wailing about your nieces and cousins putting out a fire. The nonsensical lyrics wouldn’t sound out of place on The Loon, but the music is totally devoid of any tangible emotion and is as interesting as this year’s Real World (read: not very). Thankfully “Hang Me Up To Dry”, also found on the Up In Rags EP, drops the piano out of the forefront and replaces it with a steady guitar lick. Lyrics here have Willett giving up to an abusive lover (you almost feel for him), but at least we have the guitar solos to look forward to. POTENTIAL: LUKEWARM
THE LITTLE ONES
The cover art hearts the Shins and we get pop that the band hopes will change your life too. The band’s Sing Song EP has one of the most slept on songs (and best bridge) of the year in “Lovers Who Uncover”, a song that reaches for the stars and almost touches them. And the Little Ones have chops too. On “Lovers…” the handclaps star, drums rumble along on “Cha Cha Cha” and dual guitars get their due on closer “Heavy Hearts Brigade”. A little deviation from verse-hook-verse-bridge-hook-hook wouldn’t hurt, but again, these guys can fucking play. On tour with French Kicks. POTENTIAL: BOILING
Though saddled with an obviously terrible name, 120 Days are Pitchfork approved and getting a major blog push after Norway’s recent Řya Festival. Breakthrough single “Come Out (Come Down, Fade Out, Be Gone)”, a beautifully arranged synth orgy, deserves all the hype. Though no other songs from their upcoming Vice release have been, um, released, “Sedated Times” from a 2004 EP pushes the bass to the front but can’t help but succumb to dreamy synth madness. In other words 120 Days> Junior Boys. POTENTIAL: BOILING
Birdmonster’s goal is to “Rock so hard that one of [them] faints” (actual quote). Work harder fellas. We’re met with your every day bass/guitar/guitar/drum lineup, but Birdmonster can occasionally make things interesting. So they may be a few steps away from Foo Fighters and Wolfmother, but “Cause You Can,” off of their upcoming debut No Midnight, builds up a rather attractive rhythm and “The Resurrection Song” goes all distortion on us, which I happen to love. Lyrics are all run-of-the-mill rawk, but that isn’t what Birdmonster is, or should be, about. Also on tour. POTENTIAL: SIMMERING
Before I got distracted by the shocking news that a singer in a multi-million selling rock band has taken some drugs, I was intending on posting this…
Yesterday I went into Virgin Megastore Exeter, picked up Idlewild by Outkast, noted its hideous lenticular cover, and decided outright there and then that I wasn’t going to waste Ł9.99 of my money on this crap.
Does this mean that I’ve failed in my capacity as a reviewer? Three years on I can count on the fingers of both hands the tracks that I’d still be pleased to hear from Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. I can’t remember the last time I listened to Aquemini even though, if you asked me, I’d say it was great. Ditto Stankonia. Ditto a dozen… no, a hundred… no, a THOUSAND other records sitting in my stacks.
I’m stockpiling records on the off-chance that I might want to listen to them at some point in the future. If I take out a small moment of my precious, time-is-money time, and actually think about what this means… I’m spending money for pleasure that I’m never being pleased by. On a very basic level, this is insane. Insane like smoking when you know it kills you and makes you stink is insane, like getting the same newspaper every day when all you do is whinge about it is insane, like tailgaiting someone who cut you up is insane.
I’ve gotta start exercising some discretion. Does anybody want to buy a load of secondhand CDs?
This makes so much sense. They really will live to regret their future. The only question is why are people surprised by this (scan fan forums - the kids are distraught) - Chaplin’s a puppet, a puppet for Rice-Oxley who writes all the music, a puppet for the record company, a puppet for the fans to project their nice-nice ideas on, a puppet for everyone. He’s in a great big enormous shite pianorock band and he hates himself - of course he’s going to be gorging the sweeties to make life bearable.
Here’s a piece by Associated Press music critic David Bauder on how little he knows about the Top 40. He does an interesting rundown of common themes and topics found in today’s Top-40, but he makes a great comment that the niche-oriented record industry and Mp3 technology has further splintered American pop culture. “If you want to ignore the Top 40, it’s quite easy,” he writes.
Do you believe that the Top 40 is losing its cultural relevance?
A few new and fairly good bands that aren’t receiving much press/blogger hype:
Envelopes are a Swedish five-piece that have been heavily compared to Architecture in Helsinki, but where AiH uses a toy chest full of instruments, Envelopes sound is based through the electric guitar, and some of the most memorable moments on their debut album Demon are when the instrument is allowed to shine (the outro of “Glue”, the solo on “Massmouvment”). But what I love most about Envelopes is their wide-eyed and instantaneous look at the world around them. Their writing is peppered with things that any average Joe might blurt out to a friend in every day situations (“You’re the greatest thing I’ve ever seen!” or “If I were you… I would watch out for that guy over there”). That matched with the couldn’t-be-more-perfect voices of vocalists Audrey Pic and Henrik Orrling make for one of the most refreshing albums of the year.
Tokyo Police Club
So it turns out that the best new UK post-punk band is actually from Toronto. TPC’s debut EP A Lesson in Crime has post-punk hallmarks (simple guitar play, literary politics, interjecting keyboards) but blows a number of bands with that same recipe out of the water with a relentless energy that makes their songs stampede out of speakers. Expect major hype surrounding these guys as they embark on a tour of the US and properly release A Lesson in Crime stateside.
The Young Knives
The Young Knives operate in the vein of a majority of post-punk bands, but what separates YK from every other NME Band of the Century is that upon first listen it is obvious that this band is having fun. So while haters will throw out “It’s the Futureheads Take Two” insults when their debut The Voices of Animals and Men hits, the Young Knives are a lot more Art Brut then they are Kaiser Chiefs. Their latest single “Weekends and Bleakdays (Hot Summer)” is instantly grabbing and features the least pretentious refrain of the year (“This! Is! The! End! Of! The! Summer!). Finally, a post-punk band that even Eddie Argos can like.
What current artist will have the best greatest hits compilation? Early candidates are…
“Gimme the Light”- 2002
“Like Glue”- 2003
“Get Busy”- 2003
“Baby Boy (with Beyonce)”- 2003
“I’m Still In Love With You”- 2004
“We Be Burnin’”- 2005
“(When You Gonna) Give It Up To Me”- 2006
In terms of consistently great singles, there might be not one artist in pop music right now that can step to Sean Paul. His should-be-cheesy girl/guy ballads seem effortless but are always arrestingly tremendous, and his singles are always great dance tracks. His ability to maintain success with an audience that most likely doesn’t understand 80% of what he says speaks to his brilliance with melody and his penchant for always sounding fresh in an age of follow the leader.
My Chemical Romance
“I’m Not Okay”- 2005
“The Ghost of You”- 2006
Out of the whole Wapred Tour brigade, these may be the only guys who are actually genuinely good. The hooks are anthemic but nauseating, the guitars are fast and dumb and the songwriting is ace. We’ll see if they can keep it up, but anything half as good as “Helena,” will be a triumph.
“And Then What”
Jeezy’s debut Thug Motivation 101 might be coke-hop’s best non-mixtape album and every single off of it is an absolute monster. Jeezy has a unique ability to carry great hooks by himself and though much is made of his ad-libbing he is lyrically at the top of the game. In a region where everyone seems like a carbon copy of a carbon copy, Jeezy’s vibrant personality is a breath of fresh air.
“Shut Up”- 2000
“Take it to Da House”- 2001
“I’m a Thug”- 2001
“In Da Wind”- 2002
“Let’s Go”- 2004
Before the South was huge Trick never was, and now that the South is…Trick still isn’t. Which is kind of sad because “I’m a Thug” should have been one of the biggest songs of its year; same with the pre-Gnarls Cee-Lo assisted “In Da Wind.” Admittedly, his latest work pales in comparison to his earlier songs, but Trick was the South’s biggest star long before T.I., Lil’ Wayne, etc.
An open letter to Neko Case was posted to Turntable earlier this summer. I wrote a similar one to Brett Anderson, lead singer of Suede and The Tears.
I love your voice. I’ve loved it since I first heard “Beautiful Ones” on the radio years ago. My favourite one, though, is “Still Life” the last track on Dog Man Star. The way you howl in the middle of the track: “Still life / All I ever do / There by the window quietly killed for you.” It makes me shiver every time. Some people think your singing is weepy and girlish. They’re right. Your singing sounds girlish and weepy, but that’s why I love it. On one song though, “Trash” your singing irritates me. It sounds like you had some helium before going to studio. Maybe you didn’t like it either? You did re-record the vocals for Suede’s singles compilation.
Almost all of your lyrics are terrific. Of course this is just a fanboy-opinion, but I think most people agree that you’ve made some brilliant things. Early on, you really hit the feelings of kids stuck in suburbs in the 90’s. Even if I didn’t know a thing about suburbia, drugs, love, or depression, when I first heard Suede you made it possible for me to imagine it.
I even liked A New Morning. Nobody really hated Suede’s last record, it just didn’t matter anymore. I think that you and Bernard should keep The Tears alive. Though you were dropped from your label there must be plenty of chances for your band. It’s been ten years since Suede was big, but people still remember you. It doesn’t matter if you have only hardcore fans nowadays, so does Morrissey. Here Comes the Tears was a wonderful album and you should do more records with the Tears. It would be a pity if a song like “Europe After the Rain” was never recorded. You could have it so much better.
Jaako Ranta | 2:45 pm | Comments Off
Current Listening / Watching / Reading
UNDER THE STYLUS
Stewart Voegtlin WOLFMANGLER, Protected by the Ejaculations of Wolves [Split CD
NEGATIVE PLANE, Et in Saecula Saeculorum
MORTEM, De Natura Deamonum
Theon Weber The Hold Steady - Seperation Sunday
Annuals - Be He Me
Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food
Ethan White Bruce Nauman - Raw Materials
Ennio Morricone - The Red Tent OST
Stereolab - Serene Velocity
Bryan Berge DJ Olive - Sleep
The Chap - Ham
V/A - Trap Door is an International Psychedelic Mystery Mix
Jonathan Bradley Green Day - American Idiot
Fall Out Boy - From Under The Cork Tree
Brand New - Deja Entendu
Justin Cober-Lake Stevie Wonder - Music of My Mind
Keith Moon - Two Sides of the Moon
Allen Toussaint - Life, Love and Faith
Ian Cohen Maritime- We, The Vehicles
Mannie Fresh- The Mind Of Mannie Fresh
Lupe Fiasco- Food And Liquor
Elizabeth Colville Magnetic Fields - Get Lost
Joan as Police Woman - Real Life
John Vanderslice - Pixel Revolt
Iain Forrester The Dresden Dolls - Yes, Virginia...
Hot Chip - Coming On Strong
The Knife - Deep Cuts
Andrew Gaerig Trick Daddy - Thugs Are Us
Broadcast - The Future Crayon
V/A - Rio Baile Funk: More Favela Booty Beats
Todd Hutlock Uncle Tupelo - March 16-20, 1992
Rockpile - Seconds of Pleasure
Andrew Weatherall - Hypercity
Andrew Iliff Thom Yorke - The Eraser
Mr Lif - Mo' Mega
Tricky - Live at Leeds Town and Country
Thomas Inskeep Cameo - The 12" Collection and More
Sonic Youth - Really Ripped
Panic! at the Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
Josh Love Cassie - Me & U
Paris Hilton - Paris
Alan Jackson - Greatest Hits Collection