Friday, 25 March 2011

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Song for the Day...finally!

and 2 for the price of 1

build a rocket boys! review

Despite their long history, Elbow’s fifth album, ’build a rocket boys!’, has almost been treated as their difficult second album, such has been the worry about them selling out their style to put bums on seats. There was no need to worry in a way, Elbow’s big hearted tunes were always going to carry on to a bigger audience, and at the gig I saw them at a few days ago there was weird mix of old and young at the gig, whom were extremely polite but also enthusiastic and bereft of the idiots that often sour being at the front. This balancing act of remaining artistic credulity while appealing to stadium sized audiences is a difficult one, and Elbow’s deftness of touch pulling it off is commendable.

Despite this, there have been tradeoffs with the new album, and while their accommodation of their new position has produced some great songs, there does seem to be a diminished anger and fire in the songs. On High Ideals Garvey sings “the fire in my chest / has turned to acid at the very best” perhaps relevantly. The Grounds for Divorce style guitars return for Neat Little Rows but that seems almost a perfunctory hark back to the song, even if it is good in and of itself. The rest of the album remains pretty low key musically, simmering electronics on ‘The Night Will Always Win’ and strings on Open Arms. You are left wanting something to challenge, some element of the music to surprise you.

The album’s start is highly promising, if slow, 8 minute 'The Birds' followed by the 6 minute 'Lippy Kids' hardly promise a snappy album, but they are both very well constructed, the music of the former explodes towards the end, whereas the gentle Lippy Kids is quietly spectacular. Later highlights include the subdued and nostalgic ‘Jesus is a Rochdale Girl’ which has some of Garvey’s best writing to date. High Ideals is a grower, and the final track 'Dear Friends' is soppy in that good way only Elbow can really do, it's the musical equivalent of being pleasantly drunk at 2am in the company of friends in front of an open fire.*

While musically unadventurous, it is also solid, and occasionally brilliant, and Guy Garvey’s song writing is still pretty superb, it’s very warm and pulls off being incredibly positive without getting too cheesy. When it does veer towards the cheesy, particularly on ‘Open Arms’ it seems so shameless it gets away with it, though it is also perhaps the sort of sing-a-long chorus Guy Garvey can slightly lazily write in his sleep. It is an album that won’t blow anyone away, and in the end probably doesn’t quite match Leader’s of the Free World or Seldom Seen Kid in quality directly, but it gets under the skin and rewards plenty of return listens. Now to wait for their promised Shoegaze album.

Must Listen to Tracks:

Lippy Kids

Jesus is a Rochdale Girl

*credit to Neil :P

Sunday, 6 March 2011

A baby reviews my jukebox selections.

I was sat at my normally favourite pub in Northallerton and as ever took advantage of the jukebox. However there was also a baby in the pub who seemed determined to share his general displeasure at my selections. Here are his apparent reviews.

1.       Bob Dylan – Tangled up in Blue
Ooh eeer...Sadly I also seemed to pick a live version by accident that wasn’t really working over the slightly quiet sound system so it sounded mostly acapella. The baby did not like this one bit and gave a judgement of WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.  2/10 from the baby I’d judge.

2.       Pulp – The Trees
Better, the baby stayed quiet during most of it.  6/10

3.       Doves – Snowden
Again the baby seemed quite lulled, but did interrupt some of the middle. 8/10

4.       Radiohead – Knives Out
Oddly probably the best received of the tracks, heard barely anything during this 9/10

5.       Gorillaz – Glitterfreeze
Oh dear. Mark E Smith scares babies, it’s official. 3/10

6.       Magazine – Shot by Both Sides
Shut the baby up almost immediately! However the baby clearly felt it went on too long and spent  the last minute whining loudly. 7/10

7.       The Beatles – Nowhere Man
Quietened but not perfect, maintained a constant sound of slight dissatisfaction, suspect the baby is more of a McCartney than Lennon fan.  6/10

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Day for the Song!

Sometimes, this is my favourite song ever.

New Wild Beasts!

Albatross - Wild Beasts

Sounds more introspective than last album, that music is very very lovely, actually reminds me of Seperator by Radiohead a bit.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Another Song for the Day...

Glitter Freeze by Gorillaz, criminally underrated track from the album, I have the live version here because it was live that turned me completely to the song. Sadly no Mark E Smith who managed to look cantankerous and confrontational, which is something often lost from big scale live music, normally all bands go for the Coldplay nice guy routine to win over a big glastonbury performance for him, but the sound quality seemed a little quiet on that and everyone looks depressed...

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Where is Home?

Sometimes a song will stumble on a sound so great, so gorgeous that I could listen to it, or I so think anyway, forever. Burial’s album Untrue is gorgeous and beautiful enough, but it is his remix of Bloc Party’s Where is Home that really got me. It is a remix that so directly and so completely taps that minor key soulfulness of all the good dance music. It is a remix that completely reconstructs the original song and completely beats not just the original song but the whole album at its whole game. A Weekend in the City from which it comes is purportedly about a night out in London, but it never comes close to capturing the sound of a rainy night out in a city as evocatively as this remix.
The original vocal appears in stabs of chipmunked vocals as well as more direct samples, but also at a minimum. A dubstep beat keeps time, and dips out occasionally, and the piano is echoed into oblivion. This is top drawer stuff to obsess and obsess over.

Ok if this goes any further things are going to get silly

First we get the bonkers Lotus Flower video, and now REM have a silly dancing video (you can find it here)

Sadly it's not Michael Stipe doing the dancing, which is sad, since imagining the video with Stipe makes it 1000000x better.

Take a tip from Yorkie Fruit and Nut there and do it yourself next time, though I suppose he did do the very funny video for Mine Smell that Honey that happened without much comment

Another shocking instalment of Song for the Day

Scott Walker! No not that one! The good one!

The New Strokes

Strokes have a new video out (you can watch it here)

There has been a moderate bubble of hype developing over the new album, and while this sounds reasonably fun is anyone really expecting great things from them anymore? I don't think this track really has much going on (Casablancas sings "everyone's singing the same song for the last 10 years", surely that's rather been what he's doing really, the rest of the music scene has been fairly fast moving this last decade) yet is pleasant enough.

It is actually reasonably sad though, too many bands are condemned for never matching up to their debut, and some never actually do, The Strokes and Interpol being the main offenders. It always feels a cheap shot, the difficult second album is not a myth, and further is often a response to growing audience so flattening or simplifying the sound can make it work better in bigger venues. Conversely a band trying to rescue a diminishing fanbase can be led the other way, desperately changing their sound towards new and not necessarily successful. Think of how Snow Patrol managed to become fairly insipid stadium pop as soon as Run became a hit, when previously they actually have some pretty interesting if unoriginal albums in the back catalogue.

Neither is necessarily bad but this new Strokes isn't doing much for me. They were always somewhat soulless, it was almost their gimmick, but now somehow that's caught up with them, and the cool veneer has slipped away to leave a middling band. The lockstep guitar rhythms that are their bread and butter work fine, but the melody is not that special and it advances at a pretty slow pace. The lyrics aren't brilliant and aren't quite laconic enough or screamed enough which was always the two sides to their song writing.

Lets all just watch them absolutely kill Take it or Leave it on Letterman 10 years ago. No shame in playing this same song for the last 10 years, just fingers crossed this new album improves when I hear more of it, and they can reach this level of intensity again.

Very First Impressions of Collapse Into Now

I did have some mixed feelings when it comes to anticipation for this album, but having listened through now first impressions are good. I like the rockier songs such as Discoverer, All the Best and Mine Smell like honey, and a lot of the slower ballads such as Every Day is Yours to Win and Uberlin worked well, even though the latter maybe pillaged their earlier masterpiece 'Drive' a fair amount.

Some bits didn't work for me, me, marlon brando, marlon brando and me didn't really do anything for me, nor did alligator aviator antimatter autopilot.

Concluding the album however Blue sounded absolutely fantastic, recalling E-Bow the Letter a bit with spoken word and gorgeous guitar underneath, with Patty Smith again providing longing singing over the top. Wonderful.

In summary, decent album veerying to good, probably still not top drawer sadly, REM albums probably damned to ever suffer in comparison to what has come before, but very much a keeper and definately not another Around the Sun. File next to Out of Time for not that great but lovely stuff on it on present listen but obviously early days, only heard it once. It does seem to be much richer in texture than REM have been for a while, when actually listening to the layers of instruments can be very rewarding.

REM - Collapse into Now is now streaming at NPR

Collapse into Now

So far haven't actually finished listening to it myself yet, it has reviewed fairly poorly so far which perhaps is cause for concern, but I have liked the tracks I have heard so far. Will post impressions later.