Broken Social Scene: Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene seem to made up of about 1000 people, and on some of the songs on here it sounds like they’re all playing at once. In different keys, and almost different tunes. It’s a chaotic album full of sounds, but it’s beautifully put together and once you can crack through the various layers and different harmonies you find a beautiful human celebration of life and love and friendship and sex. Take the best parts out of Sonic Youth, The Go! Team, The Memphis Horns, and Arcade Fire and you’ve nearly got the style of Broken Social Scene.
Compared to their previous (‘breakthrough’) album, parts of this one are all over the place. Melodies are hidden by wailing feedback or screeching guitars. Distorted keyboards are recorded over the main tune but rather than sounding oppressive or even offensive it sounds stunning and beautiful. It’s also very definite. Its no error or fluke, it’s been purposefully recorded that way and it works like a charm. Loads of reviewers criticised the recording when BSS was released, calling it arrogant or self indulgent but for me it’s a stroke of genius. When the sounds build up into a wash of noise, and the crescendo peaks into a mess, these stunning horns come marching through the fog and triumphantly announce that life is actually ok! You can’t help but smile, its one of those moments. And this album is full of those moments. Stand up and sing from the top of your lungs moments.
Other songs are recorded in a way that takes BSS out of their comfort zone. They stop being an Indie Rock band and try to become a pop or a hip hop act (in the sleeve notes they show lists of ‘things to do’ to finish the songs, stuff like “record bass” “thank Leslie for her lungs” and “sound less like a Rock Band”). Again, this works really well and maybe it’s the amount of thought that’s gone into this album which makes it so special.
When you listen to BSS it sounds like a summer’s day. It sounds like you’ve been invited to the best BBQ in the world with the coolest people in the world, and the worlds best looking Girl has just handed you a burger. Your sitting in the sun and the joint’s being passed and the beer is cold. But that gives the impression that it’s insular and cliquey. That it’s a ‘scenester’ record and if you’re not Cool enough, you can’t come in. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s very much a celebration inviting everyone to join in and dance and sing and bang drums and hug and bounce and laugh and dance. Its really one of the most positive albums I’ve heard, it fills you with life. You get the impression that BSS are Hippies at heart and want to drive across the country in a big old hippy van with a bubble machine on top giving people in Small Towns hugs and good Acid.
The final track ends in the most wonderful way. A true fanfare of Horns and Guitars and feedback and it leaves you stunned. Your whole body feels exhausted by it, but you can’t wait to go back to the beginning and start the party again.
Sonic Youth: Murray Street
ok so having finally decided MS way my favourite SY LP (eh? eh?) i supposed i'd better talk about why and stuff.
Like i said, i fell back in love with SY when i heard this album. I bought it when i was drunk, after watching an England game in the 2002 World Cup. We'd gone down to see friends in Bournemouth and cause the game was on so early we were drunk by lunch time, and walking home after the match took us past an HMV where i picked this up.
It mixes both sides of Sonic Youth very well, just enough experimentation to go along side the pop. Tunes like Empty Page and Disconnection Notice would (in my world) be great singles if they released singles, and the long Sympathy for the Strawberry and Karen Revisited prove that the band are still valid and are still pushing themselves (and music) in the right direction.
Its a very laid back album. The tort Plastic Sun is the only 'sharp' song on there, and that only lasts a couple of minutes. Rain On Tin has immense crescendos and interwinding guitar melodies and very little vocal but even that seems like a day out on the beach, chilling in the sun watching the rollers come in. Its a truly beutiful and moving song, and one of the most Human songs i've heard. The only Lee Ronaldo song, Karen Revisited, has two 'parts'. The second section is a long improv jam which winds its way around various ideas and moods, melting you with its charms and devices and the first section seems a bit sinister, talking about an old ex (a theme which seems to repeat itself in Lee's songs)
When Sonic Youth began recording in their own studio you could imagine it was like kids in a sweet shop. So much to do, so many ideas to try out. I think the 2 albums prior to this, and the SYR series of ep's all led up to this point with Murray Street being the peak. 1000Leaves and New York City Ghosts and Flowers had so many new ideas, there was bound to be some duds in there (i'm looking at you, Kim) but they seemed to have better quality control on their ideas fo MS. At the time of its release, Lee was said to describe Murray Street as the closest they has come to a Thurston Moore solo album, and maybe thats why it works so well.
Although i love loads of Kims songs there are always ones where her vocal just grates me too much. She seems to trying a bit too hard to be Avant Garde for me. Lee's songs are incredible and allways sound fresh, but there just aren't enough of them. So Thurston's songs seem to be the stable for me, which is probably why i love Murray Street so much.
It finishes though, with Sympathy for the Strawbery which has 2 Kim vocals. Its a lush slow paced song with bundles of cuddly fuz/noise in the background and an almost Motown back beat and an organ to add to the velvety nice-ness of the song. its gorgeous and is a fitting end to a gorgeous album.
Sonic Youth: Nurse/Washing Machine/1000 Leaves?
This might be a long one.
Sonic Youth are my favourite band at the moment, and have been since 2002 when i heard their Muray Street album. Trouble is, they've been about for years and years and have about 156 albums so how am i supposed to choose a favourite? You could say they're a bit Bob Dylan in that respect. They've also had certain 'periods' in their career which help me break them down: Early Doors, Geffen, and These Days.
Early Doors. Unfortunatly, i dont know much from this period. I have a live bootleg which f**king rocks but i dont actually own any albums (except for Daydream Nation). Its on my long list of things to get, but so far so bootleg. Schizophrenia is an excellent tune, Teenage Riot is brilliant but other than that i'm a bit naive. I dont really like Daydream Nation which is odd because its Sonic Youth's 'Classic Album'. Its the one everyone says about, the one that made them great rather than good, and the album that got them signed. But i dont really like it much.
Geffen. The Geffen Years are where Sonic Youth went a bit mainstream, but that was more a fault of the mainstream than the band. SY were signed, released 2 classic indiepunk albums (Goo and Dirty) which had noise-pop songs on and made videos with Cool Skate Directors like Spike Jones. Dirty was my 1st SY album (awww) and tracks like Sugar Kane and 100% really hit home for me more than the Mudhoney's or Soundgardens of the time. Even though SY weren't 'Grunge' it was common for the media at the time to lump all american bands together into 1 genre which meant that they did get more media attention than maybe they would have otherwise got. They then released Experimental JetSet Trash and No Star which was only notable for Bull in the Heather and some of Steve Shelley's best drumming. Then things all started to change....
Washing Machine (which might be my favourite SY record) was a big change for SY. They changed the way they approached song writing and began creating vast sprawling improvised tracks like The Diamon Sea, Washing Machine and Becuz (Becuz actually got split in 2 by Geffen because they thought it was too long to have as an opening track). Kim Gordon stopped playing bass and picked up a 3rd guitar and the songs grew and breathed and chilled out, allmost relieved to be free from the constraints of the noise scene. It was a sign of things to come...
These Days. The mood and feel of Washing Machine continued as the group really started getting their teeth into Improvised works. They'd built their own studio with the money they'd made and this allowed them the freedom to record what they wanted, which led to the SYR series (a set of EP's that were too strange/noisey/avant garde for Geffen to release). Ideas brought up in these free jams turned into songs released on 1000 Leaves (which also might be my favourite SY record). It is packed with odd little things hidden under washes of noise and bizzare repeated ideas/melodies and i'm still finding new things to this day. Its not a particulaly easy album to listen too, but then Sy aren't a particulaly easy band to listen to, but if you can put up with Kim's droning, there are some absolute gems on there. Some absolute beauty moments and some of the best music i've ever heard.
The theme was continued with New York City Ghosts and Flowers which was a bit less User Friendly than 1000 leaves and famously got a score of 0.0 from Pitchfork. It still has 3 stunning tracks which piss all over most of the stuff released today and i still enjoy listening to it, but as with many of their albums, the good is in with the bad. The way they played the guitars seemed to have evolved too, delicate pickings/hittings. Theres hardly a strummed chord to be heard.
Then Murray Street was released and mixed the 2 side of Sonic Youth perfectly. 10 minute free jams sat alongside perfect pop tunes. Guitar noise with blissed out crescendos. I've just decided that Murray Street is my favourite SY record (and i'm sticking to it).
Which makes the last section of These Days pretty irrelevant, except to say that Sonic Nurse is rare in that every track is amazing, especially I Love You Golden Blue (best song ever?) (!) and that Rather Ripped seems to look back further to their punkier roots, and has freshened the band for it
The Velvet Underground and Nico
To be honest, i dont really want to talk about this album. I don't know why i put it in the list. It is classic and its important and it has some astounding songs on it (All Tomorow's Parties, Heroin, Waiting for my Man) but when i listen to the Velvets these days it tends to be their 'Best of' because that has Rock n Roll, What Goes On, and Sweet Jane and to be honest The Velvet Underground and Nico does annoy me sometimes. Its one of those contradictions of mine. Sometimes the shitty quality of the recordings sound really Cool and intimate, but other times it just feel like one of Warhols bad jokes.
So its off my list (although i do love it. What's a boy to do?) and instead i'm gonna talk about some other albums that could have made my oh so important top10.
Grandaddy: The Software Slump
I absolutley love the mood of this, and Jason Lytle's voice is one of my favourites. It has a real gentle meloncholy feel to it and its one of those albums that instantly transports me back to the time when i first heard it (holiday in a cornwall cottage: quite fitting). None of my friends seemed to 'get it', i think because of the slow pace and length of the opening track (dont ask) but it fitted me perfectly and every now and again i stick it on with a cup of tea and a good book. Rock n Roll.
British Sea Power: The Decline of...
BSP seem to be the in band right now, and their new album is very very good, i just hope they dont become swamped by hype and become Arcade Fire. Their first album snuck up on me, i think i first heard them on a radio session (Carrion) and when i got the album it lived up to my expectation. I like Noise, and it had noise. I like subtle delicate melodies, and it has subtle delicatre melodies. I like a fragile voice and it has a fragile voice. It has nothing wrong with it at all. Even Remeber Me which sounds like early Oasis doesn't sound cheap like early Oasis. We had a mushroom session in the woods once and i think Lately sent my mate a bit funny. He had to lie down in the tent for a bit, and thats got to score points?
Primal Scream: Vanishing Point
I'm a bit embarressed that i like a Primal Scream record so much (that'll teach me), normally people think of shambolic live shows, drugs boasting and crap country rock. But Vanishing Point is a brilliant album , and further proof that 1997 was a high point in Rock. Kowalski, Star, in fact the first half of the album (or first 'side') is f**king genius. Burning Wheel should be the National Anthem its so good. A Blissed out call to arms for the spaced generation that makes you wanna sit down and run around at the same time. I've not listened to it for a while so i think i'll have it on tonight while i cook
The Beta Band: Hot Shots2
I first heard the Beta Band when someone played Its Not Too Beautiful on the radio. It really confused me and when i heard their debut i fell in love and went and bought The 3ep's. They never really had the commercial success i think they deserved (and maybe they tried too hard?) but Hot Shots2 was probably their best shot(2). It mixed together so many styles as usual and was the first time i'd heard a 'rock' band sound so RnB (in the new sense of the word). Squares had the same sample as another single and would surley have been a hit if they had released it before the other one, but alas...
I think this was their peak, such an amazing live band too
Spiritualized: Live at the Albert Hall
Spiritualized have gone a bit funny recently. Amazing Grace (their/his last album) was a bit of a let down to say the least. It was touted as a 'Garage Rock' album and people banged on about the energy and passion in the music. But it was a bit shit. Other than the uninspired songs it lacked what has made Spiritualized records so good. Magic. It was a straight forward rock record bues tinged rock record boring old rock record. And this at the time when there was decent rock records out. Lack of imagination from Spiritualized meant things had got pretty bad.
Anyway, way back before then they released this recording of their gig at the Albert Hall. Its an absolutley amazing album. Spiritualized live gigs are a bit of an event anyway (or rather, were...) and anything at The Albert Hall is a bit regal too so it was an exciting prospect. Spiritualized's drug/god psycadelia and the Albert Halls posh Ushers in bow ties. Sonic experiments and ice cream.
Spiritualized's music doesn't seem to age either. 10 years on and Electric Mainline still sounds baffling and exhausting and stunning. Cop shoot Cop still sounds paranoid and midnight and scary and Think I'm in Love still sounds heartbreaking and beautiful. I still can't help smiling to Oh Happy Day. Come Together sounds huge. And it is huge, its (the album) got Horns and Gospel choirs and about 30 guitars. You can hear the atmosphere in the hall, the excitment between songs. You can almost hear a thousand people gasp as Walking with Jesus starts. You can actually hear ballons bursting at the end.
I saw Spiritualized on their tour after Let It Come Down (the album after Live...) and was expecting to be blown away by them. After this album, the actual live gig was a bit disapointing, excpet the last track when they played Lord can you Hear Me. The whole place went multi coloured and was full of sound. It might be the best live experience i've ever had. A complete senses take over and i was stuck to my seat.
For me, Live at the Albert Hall is the closest i've come to that feeling on record. Close your eyes and let it take you. It really is like a drug trip without the drugs.
Its also pretty rare for Live albums to be anything other than record company cash-in's. A good place for someone to 'start' at a band. But this one is well worthy of its place in Spiritualzed's back catalogue and for me is their most vital album.
Mogwai: Happy Songs for Happy People
Now we're talking! 'Mon the 'Gwai!!
"vast sweeping soundscapes" (long instrumental tunes) "Dynamic Contrasts" (really quiet then really f**king loud) and "post rock" (dont know what that means) are often used to describe Mogwai's music. Its almost like people are given a little book of quotes to refer to when writing about certain bands.
I didn't get into Mogwai until Rock Action and the single release My Father My King. But it seems like they've been in my life forever. I can't imagine life without Mogwai, just like i cant imagine life without trainers, or bread, or Victoria Station. They're always there and they're absolutley vital. Necessary to modern living.
Rock Action is an amazing album with some of their best songs (my wife came down the Isle to the intro of 2rights make 1wrong) but when HSFHP cam out it was a revelation. It's (there's a pattern forming here...) a beautiful album full of intricate melodies and layers of sound, vast sweeping soundscapes with dynamic contrasts (bugger). But it has got beautiful melody's and it has got layers of noise. And these are a few of my favourite things.
It was their first album to use lots of samples and computers and sequencers and stuff but rather than just stick on a drum loop for the sake of it they made it a valid instrument important to the song.
I dont want to bang on about how lovely it is, but i suppose thats the whole point of this.
There's a layer in Rats of the Capital, just before it kicks off where one of the guitars does a little harmony thing on top of the piano which just melts me every time. If someone locked me in a room, looped that section over and over and fed me sandwhiches then i think i could call that heaven.
I think its Kids Will be Skeletons (not very good with song titles unless its repeated over and over in the chorus) which has again, one of the most beautiful melodys i've heard. Nothing fancy, just a simple repeated and expanded upon theme with laid back shuffely drums. Its a song laying in a medow on a summers day. Its probably chewing on a long piece of straw. Maybe even Huck Finn floating down the river with his fishing line tied to his toe.
I dont think HSFHP has a Mogwai anthem on it like Mogwai Fear Satan, Helicon, or Christmas Steps (you could argue for Rats...?) but i think its their best album, their best group of songs and its the one i play most by a long way. We drove around the Kerry in the South of Ireland listening to it over and over and it fitted in perfectly with the landsacpe. It aches.
I also like the way the cd cover is folded so the back says "Happy Songs Or Happy People" (clever that)
Bob Dylan: Bringing it all Back Home
No matter what i try to write about this album it all comes out like prententious bollocks. Its all a cliche when it comes to Dylan. Everything has allready been said before and in more depth and better and everything too.
I'm not even sure this is my favourite Dylan album. Its miles better than Blonde on Blonde (if you ask me) but is it better than Highway 61 revisited? Aren't they 1 album? And only the other night i was listening to Freewheelin' and decided that that was my favourite Dylan album.
So i don't know.
I really like BIABH, its got some of my favourite songs on it and i like the way that it was the first album of his in the new 'electric' direction (which is all bollocks anyway). I like the way the songs flow and I like the way its split in 2 but i dont think its my favourite. I dont think i have one. I'd lump this and Highway together and call it something rubbish and that would be my favourite Dylan album. Apart from Freewheelin'. Cause the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan has that classic feel to it.
BIABH has Mr Tamborine Man, the best song ever. But TFBD has A Hard Rains gonna Fall, the best song ever...
no thats not gonna work.
BIABH has got 'Its Allright Ma I'm Only Bleeding' but then TFBD comes back with Masters Of War..
All i know is that songs like Subterranean Homesick Blues and Mr Tamborine Man have been part of my life for all of my life and they dont sound tired. I'm still touched by the beauty of the melody of the 2nd guitar in Tamborine Man. It stays with me all day. I still get excited when Homesick Blues starts, still get that little rush you get when you hear really really good music. I'm baffled by how good Its Allright Ma is. She belongs to me is such a nice tune.
People talk about his lyrics and poetry style but that doesn't mean much to me. I like the surreal style to the 'side B' of this album and the fact that up till then he'd been championed for writing Protest Songs where the lyric was the most important part of the song. This album was a complete turnaround in that aspect. The vommiting lyrics stream of conciousnes style has been used time and time again by different artists but Dylan made it sound so logical and even common sense. Mixing dream like lines with statements about reality. Which is quite a trick really. To say something while spouting rubbish. Or to use intricate poetic skills to establish an individual style. Depending on who you ask.
So maybe BIABH is my favourite.
Although Highway does have Like a Rolling Stone...
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
I dont know what to say about CYHSY that hasn't already been said, so i'll not waffle too much about them as such. Except that they're one of the many wonderful groups that i've picked up on after hearing good things about them on efestivals (bigsmile). Which kind of makes them special for me.
It took me a few listens to really fall in love with CYHSY but when i did fall, it was from the 18th floor and i broke both my arms and shatterd both my legs. I couldn't stop listening to it. I remember the exact moment like it was yesterday. Me and Em were driving into town and it was playing away on the car stereo. The sun was shining but it was a cold. I was smoking and we were stuck in traffic. 'By the Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth' had just finished and the first "Woahh" of 'Is This Love' had just faded away and it struck me how good this album/band was. I was literally bursting with love/life/happiness.
I couldn't place them anywhere, except maybe an escaped lunatic singing in a country disco band. People say they sounded like Talking Heads but i didn't see it myself (except maybe his singing voice).
It's a stunningly beautiful, uplifting, and positive album (which seemed to sit nicely next to Arcade Fire's Funeral for some strange reason) which does what all good music should do, it takes you away somewhere secret and special.
I love the way that at the crescendo of 'Details of the War' rather than a crashing drum-roll-to-cymbal and blast of guitar they just use a Harmonica to emphasise the point. I love the way the lyric gets repeated in 'Upon this tidal wave of Young Blood' until he doesn't seem to be saying English words anymore. I love the way 'In this Home on Ice' flows. I love the way the guitars (sound like there's 15 of them) scratch around on 'Let the cool Godess Rust Away' (which sounds like a Velvet Underground song).
When we saw them live it was a shambles. The sound was way off, the singing was so bad it made me cringe. But still they got the whole place rocking. I've never seen so many Indy Kids dance around with smiles THIS BIG on their faces. It was a party. And it was all down to how good and how loved this album is. How deserved CYHSY were of our admiration.
Another great thing is how well its weathered. I play it so often for weeks on end and it doesn't wear out at all. It still excites me. It still sounds fresh (much fresher than Neon Bible) and i can't see it wearing thin.
I leant a friend this cd last year and never got it back. Now he claims not to have it. I think he's just stolen it. This makes me sad as its my favourite REM album and not having it in the flat leaves me feeling a little lost. Its not even an album that i play much. Normally if i want to listen to REM it'll be Lifes Rich Pageant or maybe New Adventures. Maybe even Automatic. But for some reason i keep coming back to Up if i want to convince myself that REM are a good band.
Its a really warm album. Its a pretty album. The follow up Reveal was said to be like their Beach Boys album, but for me Up is so much more deserved of that description, the way it plays with song structure and melody.
Having lost Bill Berry, REM had to reinvent themselves and the way they record albums and i think it really shows with Up. Its such a contrast to their previous 2 releases Monster and New Adventures in HiFi and Berry leaving was arguably the kick up the arse they needed. Peter Buck has said that he feels that the album is unfinished and needs work but i think thats part of the reason it sounds so good. Sometimes things can be overperfected.
I also get the impression that Michael Stipe fell in love around this time. He's said that At My Most Beautiful was his "1st ever love song" but tracks like Why Not Cry, Falls To Climb, Your in the Air and Sad Professor also give the mood of new found romance. And i'm an old romantic and heart (aren't we all?). One of my favourite songs on there is Walk Unafraid. Again i'm guessing at this but to me it sounds like a song by someone who is coming to terms with 'coming out' to the world (not just his close friends). He's singing in a way that so much more personal than before and it comes across in the music too.
Its like a really good Girlfriend of an album. Up will cuddle you and tell you your beautiful while at the same time keep you interested and might even make you dance.
I dont think REM have made a good album since. They've had good songs but disapointing albums (this is becoming a worrying trend) and for me its because they're tried to move away from the direction Up took them. Which is a shame
The Breeders: Pod
I think Kim Deal may be the coolest person on earth. A while back i decided to refer to her as The Kim Deal after an argument about her and Kim Gordon (in the end we decided one was The Kim Deal and the other was The Kim Gordon but i'm digressing). If there was a Cool-Off between The Kim Deal (TKD for ease of typing) the Fonze and Johnny Depp, then TKD would walk it, probably with a few beers and a cackle.
I first heard The Breeders when Cannonball came out. Bouncy bouncy cannonball. They were instantly my best band and i learnt the Bass to the Last Splash album.
Naturally i wanted to hear more so i dug out their first album Pod.
Compared to Last Splash it was a world away. I think it was the 2nd time i'd heard Steve Albini's production (after PJ Harvey's Rid Of Me) and was blown away by its rawness. It sounds so minimal and 'Live', i love the way you can hear a cigarette being lit at the begining of Happiness Is A Warm Gun, the way you can hear a cough in the back ground. While i love Last Splash it is overblown and over produced. Pod was an instant favourite. It sounded like the recordings my band were making in our bedrooms.
The songs were so subtle and beautiful, with little melodies and contrasts staggering along together. I love the lazyness of Only In 3's the scream of raw power in Iris but most of all i love the odd-little-brother of a song Metal Man, recorded so low until the guitar/drum burst near the end, but the most beautiful harmony's with the accoustic guitars.
Its an album which flows so well, each song melding into the next and it is a rare beast in that it has no filler. Its got everything i like, Steve Albini's drum recording, wailing feedback, passioned screams, subtle harmony's, sex, beer, monsters and love.
Its even got Tanya Donnelly on it! The more i think about it the more i like it.
If was an album, i'd love to be like Pod
(5 weeks and 1 day ago we had a baby called Katie, she's lovley and beautiful and is begining to smile and react to things.....)
When Radiohead started they were a normal, if a little shite, indie band with 1 or 2 (depends on who you ask) decent tunes. They got played on MTV and seemed to fit in and look odd all at the same time. Then they released The Bends and became huge to the People Who Knew. It was a cracking rock album angsty, vunerable, nonsense, gentle. They did cool wierd videos and hung out with REM. Things were looking up.
Then they went and released OK Computer and people litteraly creamed themselves listening to it. It was (and still is, unlike its predeceser) genius. It was unlike anything else heard before and in a time of bland Britpop it sounded like a spaceship had reocorded it. It made Radiohead so big that these days people denounce their new records without hearing them. Everyone had an opinion wether it was that they were genius, dull and depressing or "that weird bloke with the funny eye, the one who drowns in that video for that boring song". I read somwhere that at one point they did actually rule the planet.
They toured and toured and got praised and praised and praised and got totaly sick of it all.
So they released a follow up which was pretty much as uncommercial as could be. It had Electonic tunes on there, pieces rather than songs, spooky cover art, it was recorded with a Sister album and nearly broke the band up. Alot of the songs had half the band absent from the recording, or at least playing a table leg or something. It split their fan base in 2. It was a rather brave release for them.
I can't explain why i like certain music that well, but the mood of this album was perfect for me at the time. I liked the fact that lots of people hated it. I liked the fact that it was 2 fingers to the industry. But mostly i like the tunes. I hadn't come across a band before who melded electronic and rock music so well. Who's music was just what i needed at the time.
The songs had wicked beats, weird vocal effects and soothing sounscapes. It had only 2 conventional 'Rock' songs which were swampy and huge and scary.
I still play it alot now and its one of few albums that can still make me shiver, theres so much beauty hidden in there.
Radiohead haven't come close to being this good since. They've had thier moments (There There, 2+2=5) but for me i could never hear another Radiohead album again and they would still be one of my favourite bands, just because of this album.
well it took me long enough
in no particular order
The Breeders: Pod
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: CYHSY
Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home
Mogwai: Happy Songs For Happy People
Spiritualized: Live at the Albert Hall
The Velvet Underground: TVU and Nico
Sonic Youth: Sonic Nurse/Washing Machine/1000Leaves?
Broken Social Scene: BSS
this is more for me than you and i'll be back laters to talk about them there albums
Since my last post i've been on holiday. Me and Em went off to St. Ives a couple of weeks ago to spend a week in a caravan on a tacky caravan park. We'd normally camp but the bump (katie? The Enforcer?) means that thats not an option. Too uncomfortable so we had a caravan. Which was uncomfortable and small. I must have hit my head on the glass light shades 100 times. A day. And when i say light shades, i mean big heavy glass ashtrays out of the 70's stuck onto the ceiling with a bulb inside. I dont know if i was more pissed off with the caravan people for having such a stupid design of light, or myself for not remembering where the lights were and so avoiding hitting my head. Idiot.
Anyway, St. Ives was lovely (and voted the Best Seaside Town in Britain by the Guardian) with steep hills (ideal for a pregnant Em) sideways rain and IceCream stealing SeaGulls.
And before that i'd been on the Norfolk Broads with 'The Boys' so as you can imagine we had a 'Crazy' time with 'The Boys'. Its really beautiful there. Nothing better than sitting up on deck with a Bifter watching those little Birds fly about. Are they Swallows? Small and quick. Wicked little things.
And And And, i've decided that after my last couple of entries were a bit negative about albums i've bought, i'm gonna do a top10 ever review type thing where i say nice things about good music. Except that i'll probably never get round to it...
This year i've been vaguely disapointed by most of the 'Exciting New Albums' that came out. I got all giddy at the thought of new Bloc Party, Kings of Leon, Good the bad and the Queen, The Bees but was left feeling let down. They're not bad, but they're not classic either. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is the closest i've come to a Great Album so far, and even that one was disapointing compared to their last album. Same for Arcade Fire.
Their first album was, as you know, absolute genius. The way that it sounded like no other band at the time is (sadly) reason to celebrate them alone. But the whole majesty of them gripped me (everyone?) and the chaos and beauty of the music was enough to make you believe that they knew how to make everything good again. The songs themselves were mysterious too. Songs about tunnels and brothers, sung part in French just added to the magic. It drew me in and got played over and over. It still does.
Its one of the reasons that the new album felt like a let down. Like CYHSY they've had to follow an exceptional album and have put out a decent one, but nothing close to the debut. I dont know why, but i think its to do with the subject matter.
Its basiclly a political/protest album. Songs about rising sea levels, The Church, America, 9/11. Do we really need that? Haven't we all had the problems of the world shoved down our throats for the last 6 years? Don't we all know the worlds f**ked and Global Warming is gonna make the sea rise and take out Ipswich? Didn't we love Arcade Fire because they helped forget (for a while) about the state we're in?
I'm not saying it doesn't need repeating because the 6 years we've had of 'Awareness Raising' has done f**k all except Raise Awareness, but i dont want someone who cast such a spell on me, who gave people a reason to smile, to be preaching at me.
And i think its important for musicians to write about stuff that is effecting them. Its what keeps things pure and honest. So maybe i shouldn't grumble, people put out good political songs sure, REM and Radiohead have made careers out of it i guess. But i think its let Arcade Fire down. Same goes for Bloc Party. The songs on their album about how bad Coke is, or about how they slept in all day and missed the football are let down by the lyrics. Maybe the vocal is too far forward in the mix for my likeing. Maybe i think that songwriters have to be pretty arrogant to think that people want to listen to them whinge? I love CYHSY because they make no sense. They dont try to, they just try to make you move while singing about I've-No-Idea-What.
Maybe its because Pop has become so political since Live Aid that the impact of Pop Stars saying 'Save the Whales' 'Stop Global Warming' 'Make trade Fair' has been softened. Back in the day people listened to Dylan and the like because what they were saying seemed new. These days everyones got an enemy and they all tell you as soon as they've got back from Starbucks.
The music on Neon Bible has changed too. Its less 'new' and less chaotic. There are some great moments (the bit on 'Intervention' when the music steps up level, the end of 'The Well and the Lighthouse', "dont you know where i was at your age, i was working downtown for the minimum wage...") but it comes across very Safe and Comfy.
I do really like the album, but just not as much as the last one. And they came across much better live than on record although it was the old songs which lifted it.
Now, i am looking forward to getting Dinosuar Jr and Modest Mouse's new album. But i'm sure i'll be back in a few weeks moaning about it
Saw Bob Dylan on Sunday night at Wembley. Well, i think it was him. I actually saw a vague white cowboy hat in the distance and if i squinted it looked a little like a seagull.
sounded a bit like a seagull too if i'm honest.
although i think the guy is an absolute genius, i was apprehensive about the gig as i don't own any where near 1/4 of his stuff, and could quite possibly go through the entire gig not knowing a single song from the set. Turns out he's got bored of banging out the same songs for 40 years (fair enough) and has decided to perform new versions of his songs. This means that when, 5 minutes into a song, you vaguely recognise a lyric you get approx 3 seconds of ecsatay followed by a sinking feeling. A feeling that makes you kinda angry/upset/angry/sad.
One bloke stormed out 3 songs in taking his slightly embaressed wife with him (funny old crowd too. A Real mix of old hippies. Families reading the Society Section of the Guardian and 30somethings).
Some of the songs worked really well ("its allright ma...." was excellent "like a rolling stone" gave me goosebumps and there was one i didn't know, but it had a haunting stabbing keyboard and really nice instrumentation) but most were lazy rubbish 12bar ish pub band guff.
I don't blame him cause like i said, it'd get boring playing Tamborine man, Homesick blues, Maggies Farm etc the same way for so long. And the band would never get the same loosenes that the records have (the way the guitar is slightly too loud. The way the Organ is a bit out of time, or the Tamborine goes off. Things that make the songs so good).
And when he went All Funny last time and went all electric it seemed to work out well, so good for him. I still got home and put on Bringing It All Back Home and it still sounds amazing.
I've been listening to the new Kings of Leon album and its got me thinking. Thinking like i've never thought before.
Its quite good, even the Pixies rip off (suppose all decent bands do it at some point) is allright. Infact, i dont think that does it justice. Its An Excelent Album. Its just that it leaves me feeling cheap and dirty. Their last album is seriously good, it's one of my Top 10 albums ever and i was waiting with a boner for the new one. And i like it lots, but i get a feeling i'm being cheated.
When they first staggerd into town on their horses we all thought "hey, its the Black Crowes/Creedance Clearwater Revival. Cool. They sound like Cowboy Strokes apparently (if you aske the NMEc**ts)" and they sold like motherf**kers. But listening back to that 1st album it seems quite empty and light. I like the one about Shooting the guy in the head (for the comedy vocals) but really, its not all that.
Then the 2nd album came and didn't do much for the nme (ha!) but was infact awsome. Much fuller and dirtier. The songs were better and they stopped trying to sound like a cowboy band and more like a good band.
I've no idea when the album came out, but its been on and off my stereo for along time. I cant emphasise enough how much i like it.
SO. The new one has good tunes, is deeper and dirtier than the last one. So why aren't i bouncing around screaming about it? Whats happened? Has turning 30 taken the love out of me?
Or maybe its just that 3rd album fade out (see also Elbow and Doves). Or the fact that other bands have come along and shown what music should be like (Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah).
I've also recently got into Broken Social Scene, who sort of make Kings Of Leon sound like lego
all that and not one mention of Gay Love Songs?