Thursday, 30 December 2010
'You With Air' is the new single from Melbourne band Young Magic and with it's slow swampy half time beat brings something interesting to the table and also to the genre that would have probably chosen a double time disco beat if it had fallen into the hands of the record label. Now based in Brooklyn Young Magic have assimilated their new surroundings and this is the finished article.
I don't know how strong a single contender this is having not heard the full album yet but there isn't anything really immediate about any part of it (even after repeated listen throughs.) This seems to be a exercise in having 1 hook and grinding it around and around in the blind attempt to make a finished product.
The B-side 'Sparkly' is more polished and complete but like 'You With Air' relies heavily on the beats and echo choir vocals although in my opinion would have been a better choice as the A side. I think the best hope for both tracks is they fall into the hands of a DJ that gives them a both re-mix as they have the ingredients for big sounding tunes but in this case have been let down by the execution.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 14:23
Wednesday, 29 December 2010
Now the festive celebrations are once again over for another year and some of you out there (me included) have fistful's of vouchers and pounds all ready to burn at the local record shop/exchange/iTunes here is a quick review of a new record you may be interested in purchasing...
If You Can't Smoke Em', Sell Em'
Being the lowly music appreciator that I am I tend to listen to a lot of music, whether it be from the links I'm sent, CD's, EP's and singles, all expecting me to give my 2 cents about them (in the nicest possible way.) Honestly? Most of it is mediocre or shamelessly poor although every now and then a glint of light shines through and makes its merry way to my playlist which will remain there forever. A glint of light doesn't begin to describe Rodeo Massacre, they blind me.
I'm happy I have the new album If You Can't Smoke Em', Sell Em', because if I just had the single or EP I would be clawing the walls like an aching junkie needing more. I always try my best not to group everyone together and compare to other artists to one another..but. If I had, to and you were the pigeon hole police standing at my door I would say imagine if Jefferson Airplane and The Raconteurs had a super group (for this listen to 'Heaven or Hell'). From the Grace Slick/Janis Joplin/Patti Smith yelps and moans to the mariachi trumpets this is a group that are going to be climbing the cool charts in 2011. With reverb laden 12 string guitars, screaming Hammond organ and powerful vocals this is a record that is going to push them into the mainstream as, shock horror; they have massive songs with hooks and chorus's as well.
I have listened to the record in its entirety 4-5 times now in a row to make sure I'm not making some grave rash decision but it stands up. It’s fucking brilliant. The song writing is top notch, the musicianship and production fits perfectly and even the flute playing which borders being from Ian Anderson licks to Ron Burgundy on occasion but still doesn't outstay its welcome especially on the psych cover of Alice Cooper's 'I'm Eighteen' which sounds like it could have been the original that the 70's hit was taken from instead of the other way around.
There are a lot of bands trying to "do" the 60s thing and more the late 60's. This is genuine appreciation and homage without being pastiche or simple imitation as they sound like themselves and that’s a good thing.
Rodeo Massacre are a London 3 piece who will be touring in 2011 and I for one will be making the pilgrimage to see up close, although as a 3 piece I'm interested in how they are going to create the sound live. For those of you who haven't tuned in, turned on and dropped out I advise you to follow the white rabbit and dive into wonderland feet first.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 09:25
Thursday, 23 December 2010
Hello readers out there in cyber space, just to let you know that I have loads of stuff slowly building up ready to be posted, but at the moment some of it needs to be printed on another site before I can "officially" post it here, it seems that I have sold out already and my daily blog/diary has turned me into a contractually bound media whore.
Some things to look forward to over the next few weeks/months
Reviews of the new albums and singles from Rodeo Massacre, Young Magic, Miles Kane gig review and exclusive interview as well as other gig reviews including Anna Calvi (also with interview)
in the meantime happy christmas to you all... eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we snuff it!....
*Christmas (Baby Please come home) - Darlene Love
*All Alone At Christmas - Darlene Love & The E Street Band
*I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - The Ronettes
*White Christmas - Otis Redding
*Santa Claus Is Back In Town - Elvis Presley
*Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - The Crystals
*Happy Christmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon
*Fairytale Of New York - The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl
*Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
*Run Run Rudolph - Chuck Berry
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 09:01
Monday, 20 December 2010
Captain Beefheart.Don Van Vliet. Never the twain ever met although you've seen them in the room occasionally. Trout Mask Replica?, strange fella, mojarve desert tan, slightly sun burnt,clear spot, the Spotlight kid, safe as milk? Definitely, 5 star.
1) Diddy Wah Diddy
2) Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do
3) Zig Zag Wanderer
4) Call On Me
5) Dropout Boogie
6) I'm Glad
8) Ice Cream For Crow
9) Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 14:01
Saturday, 18 December 2010
Restless Hearts And Silent Pioneers
Restless Hearts And Silent Pioneers is the latest offering from the Sheffield 6 piece Screaming Maldini, although before any visions of steel, Arctic Monkeys and Richard Hawley flicker through your fringed brows these mis-guided stereotypes couldn't be further from what is hidden in the grooves of this new EP. With influences collected from Arcade Fire to more abstract and almost Disney influenced classic sweeps that just well….make you smile and brighten your day.
This 4 track EP includes a varied array of sounds and arrangements complete with christmas bells and ghostly harmonies over some old fashioned craft songwriting which is very much against the grain of the times as most bands seem to turn their nose up at a hook, a whistleable chorus and a song that you remember after hearing it for the first time, those cads!. Tracks here include the immediate title track, which begins in an almost Bloc Party (sorry) vein before building up the arrangement with a dance bass line and unfolding circular piano figure which references Coldplay in a world where they actually enjoy themselves and stop crying long enough to smile.
Other tracks include the trumpet led instrumental 're Sledging' along with its classical motifs and whistling clarinet is a pleasure to listen to and the only downside to it would be at clocking in at 2 mins 44 seconds it's not long enough, and although building up into a crescendo it seems to end abruptly. Spoilsports. 'The Dreamer' follows with its full production and vocal choir singing the melody and is one of the few tracks that includes a standard overdriven guitar which is almost shocking when it arrives as it hasn't been something that is missing from other tracks which in itself is a triumph in the rock and pop genre which is dominated by it's inclusion and over use.
Screaming Maldini seem to live in a world where Bacharach and Brian Wilson hang the moon and more alternative bands like Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips are the bench mark they aim towards as opposed to the latest Babyshambles track to leak from the web. Classic and zen-beauty. File next to Deserter Songs and Song Cycle.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 15:59
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
The Loves are a Cardiff band who have recently relocated to London and who with this release (their 4th no less!) will be making waves when they hit the circuit in 2011. They are a band that manages to stay both contemporary as well as having one foot in the past in case they need to bring out something Technicolor (they often do). In my opinion they never go too far and become pastiche like or clichéd in their choices and arrangements. Similar to band's such as The Turtles or early Mothers Of Invention from that late 60's time period or even a band from today such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre or The Explorers Club they manage to sound like a group that has been transported to today from the 1960's rather than one who has simply bought Beatle wigs and gulped down fistful of LSD in search of inspiration (Yes I'm talking to you MGMT)
"...Love You" is their new 10 strong collection of songs to date that range from power-pop gems that reference everyone from "A Wizard, A True Star" era Todd Rundgren to scratchy Doo Wop 45's. Previous efforts from The Loves have managed to attract criticism because of their apparent reliance on novelty and joke pop although I think this is totally mis-guided and obtuse as they are clearly bringing something very new to the recently very bland and stagnant indie rock market. Tracks such as "King Kong Blues" (complete with false intro) drop hard from the start and are sure to be a highlight of their live set with its loose bass looping line and bluesy riff. While they have also managed to include tracks such as the first single "Bubblegum" that mixes The Hives with the off beat garage rock of a Nazz track while throwing a late curve ball as it morphs into a 50's era "Earth Angel" style torch song for the last 30 seconds.
Later tracks on the album such as "That Boy Is Mine" and "December Boy" have a wide appeal and make use of the female vocals in the groups arsenal and with more Raveonettes style to their sound show that The Loves can do "straight" as well as music with "eye-brows" to use a Zappa-ism.
The penultimate track of the album is "It's....The End Of The World" and features an audio cameo from ex-Velvet Underground member Doug Yule who play's Jesus, who's holy answer phone message says "hi this is Jesus i'm not here right now, I'm EVERYWHERE...please leave a message after the tone...BEEEP!" and is a slice of fried gold.
I look forward to seeing The Loves when they tour and promote this in early 2011 although I am slightly apprehensive to whether they are more of a studio band and worry that their live set can only fall short in a gig setting. I hope not.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 21:52
One of the benefit's of getting older is that you start to get a backlog of experiences and (mildly) interesting stories although to actually label them as anecdotes or finally perfected Niven-esque gems might be pushing it.
Blues is where its at children, as my ipod is now charged and keeping me company on the cold winters mornings now I'm letting the "random" function fly constantly and have found it to be bringing up Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, Albert King and Buddy Guy by the earful. This daily soundtrack has opened up my memory banks and I've remembered a meeting (unplanned as it was) of one of my guitar heroes and influence to everyone from Eric Clapton to Jimi Hendrix, ladies and gentlemen Buddy Guy.....
The scene of the crime for you all is London's Royal Festival hall and after sitting through the frankly pathetic warm up act of The Police's chorus effected guitar twanger Andy Summers and his "jazz" trio which made me for the first time ever start to appreciate Sting.
After the curtain had gone down, a few refreshments later and suddenly the show was on! Horn sections blasting out the Muddy Waters "I Just Want To Make Love To You" with all the balls of a Chicago blues band that you could hope for. The gig progressed and held my attention throughout although my previously mentioned refreshment's started to remind me of their presence and I had to excuse myself and visit the gents, although I had waited for a slow song so I didn't miss any of the fireworks. After I had finished I attempted to walk back into the room to my seat but a firm hand blocked my way and I was told I had to wait till the song finished and in the applause I could slide in, "sorry...house rules"...I could hear the music muffled as it was from the other side of the door and then as the band were winding down they picked up the tempo and dropped straight into "Damn Right I've Got The Blues" and started tearing the neck of the guitar with such fire that the crowd were whipped up into a cheering frenzy. By then I'm almost fighting the doorman to get in and see this natural wonder but "sorry, rules is rules" bloody jobsworth...the cheering got louder and louder while I got more and more disappointed and annoyed out in the foyer.
Then it happened.
The door that had been so firmly shut in my face only minutes before was now open and walking out of it with his polka dot stratocaster was Buddy Guy himself, his guitar plugged into a wireless pack and a few roadies behind him clearing his path while he'd played the solo walking through the crowd, he'd reached the door and was now walking past me and the doorman, he caught my eye, smiled, walked past the bar and then back past me again, all along soloing furiously.
Then it happened.
I don't know why, maybe I wasn't paying attention... It seems like a dream now, definitely in slow motion but I didn't realise my leg was sticking out at an angle.
Then it happened.
Buddy tripped over my converse...down,down,down he went. Like a fat girl hit with a foot ball, he stumbled and fell to one knee, his once riffing Stratocaster now feedback like stabbed seagull...he got his balance back and carried on walking, while shaking his head.
Damn right I had the blues...
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 11:23
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
1940-1980“Boy you’re going to carry that weight a long time….”
It’s been 30 years since John Lennon was assassinated on the doorstep of his adopted home in New York City, and for someone that has such an influence on me it’s hard to imagine (sorry) that I haven’t actually been alive in his lifetime.
Explaining to someone why John Lennon is such an enduring figure still today is easy on some levels (i.e. the music of a generation that possessed a timeless quality to it) but also I think it's the man himself that hold's the attention and universal love. By no means a perfect being or saint he spoke to the everyman and every woman all living their lives together, the up’s and down’s the good times and the bad. He used his fame and voice to speak for the people who weren’t heard. He also was the seed of a new generation that had come out of the post WW2 years. The generation before had lived through the blitz and just wanted some piece and quiet to raise a family and live their lives (and who could blame them) but Lennon’s generation were the “atom bomb” generation where the whole world could end any day now so what’s the point in sitting around and counting the pennies its time for rock and roll! Before Punk, before Metal, before The Prodigy there was John Winston Lennon and he’d do it all better than you 20 years before you’d even think to.
Celebrity grave robbers like Albert Goldman tried to tarnish the image with stories about violence, drugs and painting Lennon is as bad possible light as possible, although who ever made money saying good things about a celebrity?
I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that although I never met John Lennon face to face or had any contact with him on any level I felt that I knew him through his songs and interviews because he didn’t hold back or sugar coat anything (unlike today’s pop stars that demand a copy of the list of questions by a publicist that will scrutinize every question and prepare ready made answers) you could ask John anything and you’d get a honest response which sometimes could be beautiful, angry, funny or cruel depending on the subject, day or mood of him at the time. Interviews concerning his former “fiancé” Paul McCartney have gone from “the only thing you did was yesterday“and “The sound you make is muzak to my ears” to later on “We are like brothers (McCartney), I’d do anything for him and I’m sure it’s the other way around too”.
Quotes and interviews followed Lennon about his life but at the time of saying any of them he 100% believed it and that is why people loved him, his heart was stapled to his sleeve at all times, it was sincere. He did make innocent and sometimes “angry sixth-former” comments too that sounded stupid and mis-guided by the time they hit the press but although bandwagons were jumped on regularly, they were usually jumped off a month later, everything from primal scream therapy to macrobiotic food, tarot cards, David Peel and left wing “smash the state” revolution on the streets politics, even a cheque that he had signed for a charity made it’s way to the IRA (and then later to the newspapers surprisingly) all happened with his good intentions behind them, only to have to apologize to the various complainers down the line ready with a microphone shoved in his face. Influential people don’t get much higher up the pecking order than Lennon at that time, Richard Nixon has been taped while talking to an aid mentioning “Lennon, he could be a problem, he is the type of person that could sway an election” and ordered phone taps and cars to follow him. Can you imagine that happening to Justin Timberlake?
The music in The Beatles from which he was 1 quarter and half of the greatest pop music song writing partnership of the 20th century is without argument and his solo output although short (only 10 years, 5 of which were spent at home looking after his second child Sean and not releasing anything) So with only a possible space of 5 years he released the songs he is most remembered for from this solo period of his life, still an achievement in a world where pop stars take 4 year breaks between releases and tours. Songs like “Imagine” and “Jealous Guy” are already the new standards of today and the former being lifted to an almost spiritual and political anthem which amazingly I never get bored of hearing even after the millionth run through. Not everything he recorded was 5 stars gold, there were some patchy songs here and there but the good outweighed the bad and as only 1 quarter of the greatest band in history he was never going to be able to carry the entire load by himself. Recently his back catalogue his been re-mastered and loaded onto “Spotify” so if you have a free hour dig out these solo year’s gems and turn of your mind, relax and float downstream with him.
01) Instant Karma (We All Shine On)*
02) Gimme Some Truth*
06) Out The Blue
07) Jealous Guy*
08) Oh Yoko!*
09) Aisumasen (I’m Sorry)
10) Cold Turkey
*=produced by Phil Spector (just for your information..haha, FREE PHIL!)
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 10:18
Monday, 6 December 2010
Saturday 11Th December. Its penciled in my diary now so it must be real. Or in other words I've accepted the "event request" on Facebook so it must be real. I am Djing as part of a night of music for one of my old mates who served and did his bit for fun and laughter and rock and roll before exiting the film far too early. Now I'm at a loose end when it comes to track selection. After all this shouldn't be a somber affair as the last thing any one wants on a Saturday night is another wake or run through of the funeral, it needs to be upbeat and loud. But balancing sentiment while still remembering the occasion involved seems to be the worry I'm facing. It's not a greatest hits or perfect play list, hopefully rather a revival of a party heavy night that reminds us that were there the first time around what it used to be like while at the same time giving a night to those that missed it a taste of what came before. New tracks that were made after his passing will be scattered within dyed in the wool classics and I will be uttering the opinion that anyone raising eye brows or flicking NME play lists wondering if mid 90s tracks are being played "ironically" or not will be escorted to the back room for a brief but firm kicking.
Here are a couple of choices that will definitely be getting a play.
1) Head To Toe - Kings of Leon
2) Fade Away - Oasis
3) Made Of Stone - The Stone Roses
4) This Is Music - The Verve
5) Club Foot - Kasabian
6) Stay Young - Oasis
7) Local Boy In A Photograph - Stereophonics (I know! Its amazing that they were once amazing)
All requests will be taken with the contempt they deserve.*
*requests basically mean "i don't like what your playing, play THIS"....
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 11:17
Thursday, 2 December 2010
December is officially here and all of the news stands and newsagents are full of various rags listing the "official" BEST OF the years music, Q magazine will be full of the Elton John's of the world, MOJO with Americana and London Roundhouse non commercial releases and NME either Arcade Fire or a myspace band that started yesterday and broke up before the record was released.
As part and parcel of me having and operating a blog is that occasionally I actually contribute to it I think it's only right and proper for me to include my list of what ditties have been clogging up my eardrums in the past 12 months, some will be new and some will probably (definitely) be older although personally I think it's all relative as the first time I hear a track or album then it's "new" in my opinion.
Here goes my tracks of the year (who buys whole albums any more right?)...me that's who...but that's beside the point...*deep breath*
01) READY TO START - ARCADE FIRE (best track from their 2010 album "The Suburbs")
02) YOU KNOW THAT I'M NO GOOD - WANDA JACKSON (this Amy Winehouse cover produced by Jack White for Third Man records does the impossible and makes Winehouse's version sound like the cover!)
03) PICK YOUR BATTLES - ELI 'PAPERBOY' REED (Still one of my favourite artist's around at the moment, amazing live and even better on record. Bringing real R&B and soul back to the masses)
04) PYRO - KINGS OF LEON (from their latest album, and not hidden under a layar of stadium ooohs and aaaahs)
05) TELEPHONE - LADY GAGA (Just for the "wha-wha-what did you say" bit alone)
06) LOVE WON'T BE LEAVING - ANNA CALVI (youtube and myspace this badboy...sorry girl)
07) FUCK YOU - CEE LO GREEN (How could I not mention this? A great,great pop song with motown a'la Four Tops hook and vocals)
08) BETTER THINGS - SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS (from the attention the Dap Kings got being the backing band for Amy Winehouse during the "Back To Black" sessions they are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Sharon Jones can wail, moan, and seduce you with her voice..all in the same song usually)
09) RAINBOWS IN GASOLINE - THE GHOST OF A SABER TOOTH TIGER (This is the new band from Sean Lennon and his girlfriend and muse/model Charlotte Kemp Muhl, acoustic whimsy with strong melodies)
10) INHALER - MILES KANE (While we wait for the upcoming The Last Shadown Puppets second album in 2011 we have this single from the soon to be released solo album to tide us over, expect great things, loads of 60s hooks and winks without being cheesy and obvious...wonderful)
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 09:24
Monday, 29 November 2010
Just finished my re-read well worn copy of the Brian Wilson autobiography “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (available in all good book shops and Amazon easily enough) It’s a controversial book in as much as whether Brian Wilson had anything to do with its writing and completion is a matter that has been brought up time and time again. At the time of its completion Brian was actually still in a psychological 24 hour a day programme with a doctor who would become the infamous Dr Landy. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Dr Eugene Landy saved Wilsons life as he was over 300lbs (over 21 stone) smoking 4 packs of cigarettes a day and shovelling enough food and cocaine into his body at such a rapid rate that would make Keith Richards blush. Dr Landy sorted all this out, got him trim, healthy, clean and de-toxed and able to converse and go about his daily routines without any bother. He also traded one addiction for another and made Wilson totally dependant on him and his “programme” and at a whopping $35,000 a month plus expenses wasn’t a popular option from the other Beach Boys and his family although he got Brain back on his feet and back from oblivion.
Brian Wilson’s story is a saga and he was never going to be a flash in the pan live fast die young rock and roller, he was in it for the long haul. Whether he is firing on all cylinders any more is another discussion but considering what he’s been through the fact he is so lucid can still sing like a bird and produce like a pro is testament to his staggering abilities that haven’t diminished (for proof of this see his magnum opus SMiLE completed finally in 2004 from its initial birth in 1966)
Like a lot of the bands of the 60s that reached massive heights The Beach Boys have turned into McDonalds and Coke and people assume they know all about them because they’ve heard “Surfin USA” or an early hit like that or “California Girls”, songs that have been played to death on the oldies stations without delving into the goldmine of music and non single tracks that make up Brian Wilson’s musical legacy. Due to the lack of respect companies like Capitol gave Wilson and his music all the tracks are available on sites such as Spotify and you can buy 2 for 1 album’s 3 for £20 at most record shops so their loss has been our good luck. Spotify the following tracks to here why everyone from Elton John, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Sean Lennon, Fleet Foxes to Bob Dylan all agree that Brian Wilson is still the benchmark to aim for when producing and creating true musical beauty.
Add Some Music to Your Day –
01) Till I Die
02) Caroline No
03) God Only Knows
04) Time To Get Alone
05) Sail On Sailor
06) Blue Hawaii
07) Surfs Up
08) Love And Mercy
09) Soul Searchin’ (with Carl Wilson)
10) Let’s Put Our Heart’s Together (will Marilyn Wilson)
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 11:23
Friday, 26 November 2010
LONDON ON THE INSIDE
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS LIVE@ XOYO, Old Street, London - 24/11/10
APTBS (I'm not about to write their name out 20 times during this review) are hailed as "the loudest band in NYC" so it's no surprise to me to hear them sound checking their equipment as I walk up the street to the venue from a good distance away. After meeting their label I'm introduced to the band and ushered into the quietest room of a very noisy venue which was now coming to life as cables were plugged in and lights flickered into action. My interviewee for tonight was vocalist and guitarist Oliver Ackermann who was nursing serious jet lag and on a promise of a good meal but who wasn't going to let a little thing like food and sleep get in the way of shaking up XOYO and annoying the ears of anyone in a 5 mile radius. (See interview below)
After the interview had finished and now ear plugged and ready to go I artful dodger a few crafty beers from the bands ample rider and find a good spot to see the band in full force. They open with "I Know I'll See You" from their self titled first album and are already showing their hand and making it very clear to the crowd that they mean business with its looping baseline courtesy of new boy Dion Lunadon and powerful drums and guitar. Segueing straight into new album track "Heart In Head" which kicks in the fuzz and raise feedback ghosts from LA.Blues and Fun House with 60s Spector drums anchoring everything tight. A flutter of delay from Oliver and we're into fan favourite "To Fix The Gash In Your Head" along with this and the previously mentioned there will be another 2 tracks from the debut tonight along with new material from the latest album "Exploding Head" including "Ego Death" which strangely reminded me of "This Is Music" by The Verve although I think I may have been the only person to see the similarity between the two bands. "In Your Heart" followed the set with it's filling rattling bass notes and garage rock chords and gave APTBS their first chance to expand their playing giving the drummer, Jay Space, a chance to earn his stripes firing fills like a machine gun from his snare drum.
Throughout the set tracks like "Missing You", "Lived My Life" and "Ocean" shower the audience in waves of feedback and waves of noise while keeping their own personal idiosyncrasies intact. The bands set ran up to 60 mins and there was no distraction from the manifesto of noise rock they were dishing out. They finalised their set with a 1-2 combination knock out audio punch of "Drill It Up" and "Deadbeat" which concluded with guitars being twirled around and feedback screaming through various pedals and delays to the delight of the blessed out swaying audience.
Tonights audience were packed in tight to the stage and captivated by the band throughout. The 3 piece from New York only played one London show on this tour before flying off to Belgium and then heading to Berlin to meet up with The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Tonight they were supported by Dark Horses (5 piece) who's line up included a Bez/Joel Gion character on tambourine and whipping a chain on a empty oil drum as his effort to their Velvets/BJM sounds but although showed great promise and had some good songs felt a little like the cranky little brother to the headliners tonight.
(transcript of the interview from before the show) Chris Lancaster Interviewing Oliver Ackermann
You're famous for your Death by Audio pedals, any new inclusions on the horizon effect wise?
Definitely, we're working on a lot of stuff doing a lot with spring reverb and we're making these things that really overdrive the sound we're gonna have multiple chambers with different springs all combined into one. We're getting springs from a different manufacturer but it's taking ages talking to people from Taiwan and China but that will definitely be the next pedal we're coming out with but it totally sounds wicked and awesome! But we're always working on tonnes of other stuff (Oliver is the main designer of the pedals, a couple of other guys help build them.)
You've undertaken some support acts with bands such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Dandy Warhols, BRMC that all initially come from the San Francisco psychedelic scene, do you identify with that style of music - more retro than pop?
I love New York and the scene, but there is good bands all over the place and I just love good bands. Anton (TBJTM) is cool to hang out with, hopefully we will get to hang out with him again in Berlin.
Where do you hang out when you're in London?
We always go out as much as we can while we're here, shit I don't know I like going to new places…. the Hawley Arms in Camden is good… shit I could be there now!
Volume plays a large part in your live set, is this something that is integral to your 'sound', or is it more of a fuck you to the crowd (i.e. try ignoring this!)?
Both are really important, it definitely has to do with the sound though, this really cool thing happens when an amplifier is on the verge of exploding and you get a really cool sound, it makes things more unpredictable. Part of what is so cool about the sound is the speaker almost not being able to handle it. We're looking for raw energy and chaos.
Listening to some of your set I've picked up some dance orientated drum rhythms, does dance music influence you at all?
Totally! Definitely! Of course… though it's probably not the same as dance music that people would relate to, but I love electronic music, we're not trying to do anything in particular or stick to a particular genre or style we just go with what sounds cool.
You have a real DIY ethic to how a band operates, do you feel more bands would benefit from this given the state of the record industry and that music would bounce back in a more underground fashion i.e. releasing their own material without the aid of a major label?
Sometimes you just have to do it by yourself but it depends on the situation you're in if you know someone that's really into the music and has a better vision of what you can achieve then you could definitely benefit with going with someone that could help you out, although for me when I'm in the studio they are always the people [label people] that end up fucking things up where you end up fighting with the engineers over recording techniques like "what happens if we crank this up", even if these people are really cool one on one in that environment it causes problems…but maybe I'm just too picky I dunno (laughs).
Are they any bands that you are into at the moment that you are into/influenced by?
Sure, Weekend are great, there is a tonne of good bands out there at the moment.
What would you pick as your record/album/EP of the year?
The All The Saints record is great, I'm not sure if it came out yet but I got a copy and that is fucking wicked. So if you can find it definitely get it.
Do you feel restricted by being a three-piece or does having limited instruments force spontaneity and creativity?
It can be restrictive but it can also help you because it gives you control of what we can do… you can almost do whatever you want to do at any given moment, I'm almost sometimes jealous of bands that are a two-piece, because when you're just playing with a drummer you don't have to play along with anyone else but playing with a three-piece is the next step. At any given moment you can take a song into any direction you want to. Playing with three makes it easier to change the dynamic of each song like if you want to go mellow, you don't have to explain it to five people!
Thank you to the band and Zoe Miller from Mute Records
photo by Bruna Volpi
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 21:56
Another day another random list for you to ignore...
Here are 5 songs getting a proper rinsing at castle de'Lancaster at the moment, in the beauty of Spotify there is no reason to miss out, look em' up, listen to em', absorb them, then amaze your friends with flawless taste...
1) You don't have to camp around - Todd Rundgren - From his magnum psychedelic opus of "A Wizard A True Star" album comes this little ditty, with enough in jokes and satire thrown in with an off beat and catchy hook that will have you all swaying about in smoking jackets and quoting Oscar Wilde while smoking cigarettes through an empty biro.
2)Heroes and Villains - Brian Wilson - I've chosen the recently found Original recording of this classic SMiLE era song actually sung by Brian Wilson in the 60s as a guide for Al Jardine to copy later. I would have chosen the re-make from Brian Wilson a few years back but something about this one shows the madness at the peak of his powers that is still so exciting.
3)Part Time Love - Luther Allison - One of the most underrated blues men of all time delivers this great lost gem of a track. Owing a passing resemblance to an early Otis Rush minor chord blues but with the grit of a Stax classic, and a great falsetto ending to leave the hairs on the back of your neck standing up.
4) Its All Too Much - The Beatles - Yes The Beatles! have I lost my mind you gasp, surely there isn't a person in the known world that hasn't listened to every song a million times? But this George Harrison track from the Yellow Submarine album shows what a powerful rhythm section they had in Paul McCartney and Ringo. A great 60s era psychedelic pop track although I still think it would have been better with John Lennon singing it rather than Georges boring Liverpudlian drawl....
5) If You Want Me To Stay - Sly Stone - Sly Stone is releasing a new album early next year and I for one am not really on the edge of my seat as the man who made all those classic tracks in the late 60s and 70s such as "Everyday People", "Stand", "I want to take you higher" as well as the benchmark albums like 1971's "There's A Riot Goin' On" has been lost in the wilderness of drug abuse and writers block for too long to pull back, so for now listen to this track from his solo album "Fresh" and remember where Prince, Outkast and countless other artist got it all from...
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 11:27
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Anna Calvi is one of Domino Records' newest signings and with her name gently building up momentum in the music press of late I would go as far to say that 2011 will be the year that makes her. Her live shows are talking points long after the bouncers have ushered fans out of the venues and with patronages from such rock luminaries as The Corals former guitar hero Bill Ryder-Jones, Brian Eno and of course Nick Cave (who’s taken Calvi on tour as support for his Grinderman band) she is certainly making waves on the circuit.
Although small of statue physically, on stage she is a giant, cranking lightning out of her telecaster and red Vox Amp, not seen this side of Jack White, and due to her taste in flamenco she weaves a wave of sound back at the audience in such a way that she can sound like two players at once, something which she describes as: “creating the impressionistic element of the music”. Her playing style musically quotes everything from Django Reinhardt to Jimi Hendrix and even classical writers such as Debussy and Ravel, while at the same time accompanying her own distinct operatic like vocals.
Her first single 'Jezebel' is a cover of the Edith Piaf track and is a great introduction to the dramatic sound and voice of Anna Calvi, with its rolling rhythm reminiscent of 'Conquest' by the White Stripes if it had been cut for a Robert Rodriguez film and her controlled powerful and passionate vocals. It is the first taste of the band before the debut album is released on the 17th of January 2011.
I have seen her live show twice in as many months at The Borderline and then at Soho’s Madam Jo Jo’s and after hearing some of the material to make the album I think that before long she will be the “name” to drop when discussing new music on the scene with such songs as 'Love Won’t Be Leaving' making many the top tracks list upon release and may be first hand in bringing back guitar solo’s to the indie world with some guts.
Supported live by a very small band consisting of Daniel Maiden-Wood on drums and backing vocals and musical twin Mally Harpaz on what seems a mystery bag of shakers, harmonium, percussion and anything else to hand she has found two musical allies to bring the gospel of rock and roll back to the masses while still being able to get sexy and bluesy with the best of them. Look out Grinderman, you better pull out a hell of a show.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 11:01
Monday, 22 November 2010
As Ernest Hemingway once quoted "the daily trauma of the blank page" was always something that frustrated him no matter how many books he completed, there was always going to be a fresh piece of paper in his type writer smiling at him. Now not for a single micro-second would I be brash enough to compare myself with someone of Hemingway's statue but I understand the predicament. Recently I have been attending gigs, writing reviews, churning out general rants and pointless lists of songs that I have chosen to "educate" the proles who prefer to thumb through copies of NME rather than find out where the music actually came from and seeking the source rather than the copy cats. Recently I'm starting to grasp for idea's to report on between getting official assignments from the 4 sites I now write for. On the plus side I did get a "friend request" from Vincent Gallo after I had emailed him in regards to a Travis Bean guitar that I had seen for sale on EBAY and knew he'd been looking out for recently (yes the word obsessive geek doesn't even start to describe my insanity sometimes)so that was a nice result.
Monday 22ND November is now here and with 4 days to go before pay day I am going to have to either flick through Spotify to hear any new albums/singles or try and knock up a piece discussing either an old band or something current.eeek!...
With nothing through yet from Music Magazine or Artrocker this morning (10.28am) I think that the least I could do would be to bring you all up to speed regarding your heroes current listening habits for the weekend. So far they have included Miles Kane's new forthcoming single "Inhaler" which is right up my alley as well as a recently found new mix of the Brian Wilson classic "Till I Die" which has always been a firm favourite of mine from the "Surf's Up" album but in this new mix stretches the song out as well as bringing all the instruments in one by one showing the complexity and harmonic structure of Wilson's mind from the inside out, truly beautiful.
Briefly yet fleetingly had the idea of starting another band last night although as the cold sweats started when considering all that would involve decided against the bullshit and backstabbing these things include and preferred getting a Chinese in and practicing my sweep picking until I get the call to join Steely Dan.
*PEG - STEELY DAN
*JOSIE - STEELY DAN
*REELIN' IN THE YEARS - STEELY DAN
*INHALER - MILES KANE
*TILL I DIE - THE BEACH BOYS
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 10:16
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
The Beatles VS iTUNES
It’s official (well since 3pm today) that one of the most hallowed back catalogues in pop music history and also the one that was conspicuous by its absence in the iTunes gallery was that of The Beatles. Lawyers were going back and forward for years about a meeting of minds between the two parties involved. This has been going head to head before iTunes as both The Beatles own label APPLE CORP. and APPLE COMPUTERS (obviously share the same name and similar logo). A decision was made that as long as there wasn't a conflict of interests i.e. FAB FOUR COMPUTERS then it would be ok.
Now after the recent re-mastering of all The Beatles music it seems that it is a good time to package it up and ship it out one more time before EMI lose the rights (yes it’s been that long). In fact the last Beatles album in the cannon was released over 40 years ago!
Cynics will say that who cares? The Beatles were so long ago it might as well be trying to get a 14 year old into world war 1 music but the difference is that a song like "All You Need is Love" or "Hey Jude" are timeless and whether you play it for the 1000th time in your car or on your turntable or for the 1st time on your MP3 player, the experience will be new and fresh to the listener. As a Beatles fan bordering on obsessive it can only irritate me when I hear people who apparently "love all music" but don't "get" the Beatles. As if there is something to "get". It’s not a joke or a hidden magic eye picture, they are amazing songs, played amazingly and the soundtrack to a generation out side of the one when it was originally recorded. Brick Lane sceenster kids who only like new, new, new bands from 11am today only can listen to a song by the new flavour of the week without seeing the blatant link from The Beatles. From the newest drum and bass song mixed last night The Beatles already recorded "Tomorrow Never Knows" in 1966. The new X-factor slow ballad with slow building strings and vocals edging for xmas number 1? The Beatles already have such tracks as "Here, There and Everywhere" and "Something". Even the most Avant garde' act out there have a while to go before they top "Revolution #9" from The White Album. The Beatles are yesterday, today and tomorrow, get over it. For those of you who only know the singles and the hits take the chance to browse the catalogue on iTunes and find the nuggets of gold in them fab mines...goo goo ga-joob!
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 17:26
Monday, 15 November 2010
Right as of late I haven't been posting as much as previous months, mainly because I have been juggling reviews and gig write ups for a few music sites and most recently ARTROCKER which is a real bonus. Just going through the world of myspace to find new bands and new tracks to listen to (gotta keep the brain ticking over till the new dylan album)
Here are a few songs for you to listen to along with the band names and myspace links (I'm far too nice to you really)
MONA - listen to your love
THE EXPLORERS CLUB - Do you love me?
go in peace brudders and sistas!
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 21:30
Friday, 12 November 2010
It’s been a long time coming that’s for sure. Who would be the NEW band, the NEW thing? Who would take the indie baton from the old guard and basically strut along keeping the status quo of music boring? Well I can happily say that it’s not FLATS, they might occasionally pop up in the weekly music rags but part of the indie elite they are not. Asking lead singer Dan Davine what he thinks of the latest NME top 10 chart is like asking a pit-bull what he thinks of the EU summit, firstly you get a look of confusion, closely followed by anger then a quick run down of bands you should listen to instead of the watered down drivel we are spoon fed week in week out. His hatred of bands such as Gang of Four and “angular guitar riffs over a disco beat” is something that follows him around and always makes him popular as he joins the list of “if you don’t want my answer, then don’t asking me the question” template of outspoken musicians that came before him. FLATS have an underlined manifesto of give it out fast, loud, heavy and nasty (they pull all of this off track after track in their set) they aren’t here to re-invent the wheel they are just happy to be here and want to get their kicks while the night is still young and before the rollercoaster comes to an end.
Tracks up on their MySpace page and which litter their set in under 2 minute bursts include “Rat Trap” and “Mucky Pup” which kick out at the very people that think they’re being contemporary and influential but are singing from a hymn sheet so outdated you wonder if they even know the Vietnam war has ended. The former “Rat Trap” itself screams out at Mods, revivals, The Jam, The Who with such venom that even though they are bands which have a special place in my heart you start to get caught up by the noise and contemplate frisbeeing that well worn copy of “Quadrophenia” over the dual carriage way before its over, although as it ends you just prefer to place it back down again and wipe the sweat from your brow.
Punk is a word and genre that gets attached to all types of bands and styles in recent times and I can see how a band like FLATS would want to steer clear of such standard pigeon holing but Punk seems to be the only genuine phrase I can think of that sums them up with any degree of accuracy. Forget Mohawks and studded jackets like the “welcome to London” post cards show punks to be like. FLATS are punks, fucking noisy little punks that will hopefully create a big enough gap in the generation from the last that there will be people the right side of 25 smashing their MP3 players in disgust of “the state of music today” when one of their songs comes up.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 10:26
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Limit To Your Love
At first glance this cover of the Feist 2007 track seems a little understated and uninspired although upon repeat listens it seems to take on a life of its own with its stark production and slow build up that always backs down before over spilling into cheesiness or cliché. James Blake has a fair voice although as I haven't seen any live performances of yet I can't really judge how its soft fey tenor will hold up with a live band. A nice example of studio restraint in a genre of music that praises over indulgence and 'more is more'. Blake comes from both the dub-step world as well as that of Joni Mitchell and slow melodic soul singers and with the subtle syncopated piano chords, steady metronome like drum machine and subtle treatment of his voice he creates something original and interesting.
With his album on the way to follow previous efforts like the hailed “CMYK” James Blake will find himself being pulled from the underground to the mainstream sooner rather than later with Radio DJ's such as Zane Lowe, Jo Whiley and Annie Mac already adding him to their play-lists with the former Lowe presenting this track as his “Hottest Record In The World” on September 29th. Expect good things.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 19:20
Tuesday, 9 November 2010
Good morning children, as many late night watering holes have found out the drunker a party of people get the more in depth and detailed the conversations go. In the world of Internet enabled mobile phones it is easy to check and double check points while making them and many the chin stroking comments can be shot out of the water in the time it takes to line up another round of drinks. A topic that comes up time again is "what album was that on?" when discussing a good,bad or indifferent track. Today's topic is a quick list of those curve ball songs that direct you to the albums of the same name but aren't in fact on those albums either because they weren't completed in time or worst of all the artist or band was laughing from their mansions at the forehead twitching fans wondering if they'd bought the right version or not.
I've kept it simple today trying to stick to the classics as its pointless mentioning some random Japanese b-sides only album that had a different mix of some long forgot Elvis Costello track on. Lets show the wood for the trees today.
Houses Of The Holy - Led Zeppelin, a great track but one not on the album of the same name but in fact released a few years later on Physical Graffiti.
Bring It On - This track from Gomez was the title of their Mercury Award winning debut album although the track itself Bring It On didn't appear until the follow up album Liquid Skin, cheeky scamps.
Exile On Main Street Blues - This is a bit of a cheating one but I think still worth a mention. "Exile On Main Street Blues" was a track recorded during the mixing sessions of The Rolling Stones classic album of the same name but instead of appearing later on it was given away free in NME (on a plexi disc..whoo whoo) as part of the promotion.
Waiting For The Sun - The Doors were never conventional and hardily surprising that they would confuse their fans by keeping this more progressive sounding track for a later album rather than adding it to their second album, or maybe they just had better material lying around but liked the title. This finally surfaced on Morrison Hotel.
There have been others that have simply been relegated to b-sides not even making it to hallowed track listings, these include:
Midnite Vultures - Beck ; b-side BECK (EP)
Screamadelica - Primal Scream ; Found on the Dixie Narco EP (ten minute dance track)
His 'n' Hers - Pulp ; The sisters EP
Siamese Dream - The Smashing Pumpkins, on the single Disarm b-side
I hope this has shown you that X never marks the spot when it comes to musicians and pop stars and they'll happily send the punters down a blind alley if the stars aren't in alignment or the final mix of the violins isn't quite right yet before sneaking it out disguised at a later date...
thank you for your time, there are tea and cakes in reception...
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 09:26
Sunday, 7 November 2010
Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa
Frank Zappa 70th Birthday celebrations
Saturday 6th November
Tonight's show was part of what would be Frank Zappa's 70th birthday celebrations (Zappa Died Dec 4th 1993) and here is day 2 of the 3 day occasion and is the "band" night performed by Zappa's eldest son Dweezil on lead guitar and a band of highly skilled musicians who handle the extremely complicated and challenging music with aplomb as part of the Zappa Plays Zappa ongoing touring line-up which is wowing die hard and new fans alike by bringing Zappa's music to a new generation and performing it flawlessly.
With over 80 albums released in his discography finding material to perform was never going to be an issue and tonight's idea of cherry picking an album to perform in its entirety was a great idea. The 1974 album "Apostrophe" performed tonight was one from Zappa's most accessible and strongest period (early 70s) and after the initial introduction was started straight into "The Gumbo Variations" before starting the "Apostrophe" material with "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" and its follow on song cycle of the wonderfully named "Nanook Rubs It", "St .Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast" and "Father O'Blivion". Along with the band's own performance we were also treated (to great applause from the crowd) with Frank Zappa himself via old concert footage with his guitar and vocal audio mixed in with the live performers on stage. The idea of mixing the generations and across the veil worked perfectly where other people that have tried this device have failed (see the Elvis show.)
Tonight's show also included special guest from the family and past line ups including 1970-1971 Mothers Of Invention era Jeff Simmons on "Wonderful Wino" and 1981-1988 era bassist Scott Thunes on "Pick Me, I'm Clean". Also in a rare outing was Moon Unit Zappa (eldest daughter) who appeared with her own daughter Matilda for a version of the hit song from 1982 "Valley Girl". One of the past line up from what some would call the "classic" era line up was Ian Underwood who was advertised on the tickets and programme but wasn't anywhere to be seen at the show or earlier Q&A. As of yet there hasn't been an official reason for this although the recently released ZAPPA magazine Mojo special includes new interviews with Underwood who in no uncertain terms mentioned that the "Apostrophe" era material was a bit gimmicky and puerile for his tastes, whether this was taken as a knock and he was sent packing is still unknown at this stage.
Along with the album tracks from the already mentioned "Apostrophe" album included in the set were live staples from Zappa's concerts such as "Montana", "Inca Roads" (both with Franks vocals and guitar solos from 70's on screen) and also "Cruisin' For Burgers", "Baby Snakes" and finishing with guitar duels from BOTH Zappa's in unison with the standout "Muffin Man".
Tonight's show and all the other events of the weekend were filmed as part of SKY Arts channel and will be shown in early December and is worth checking out. Overall this was a triumph for both the Zappa family and ensuring the legacy of one of Rocks most enduring and sometimes misunderstood geniuses.
The Gumbo Variations
Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow
Nanook Rubs It
St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast (with FZ footage)
Father O'Blivion (with FZ footage)
Cosmik Debris (with FZ footage)
Inca Roads (with FZ footage)
Dumb All Over (with Scott Thunes & FZ footage)
Montana (with Scott Thunes & FZ footage)
Pick Me, I’m Clean (with Scott Thunes)
Wonderful Wino ( with Jeff Simmons & FZ footage)
Cruisin’ For Burgers
I Promise Not To Come In Your Mouth
Valley Girl (with Moon & Matilda Zappa)
Muffin Man (with FZ footage)
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 20:38
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
With every high street and bus stop reminding me that we have only 7 odd weeks to Christmas the shops are already twitching with bargain hunting consumers looking to get that "perfect" present for their UN-grateful offspring. As a music lover (bordering on rock snob) I tend to get music based goodies including Cd's,DVDs etc, but what of the rubbish and 1 star material that is available out there on the shelves by good artists that the great Auntie Mildrid's of the world would purchase because of the artist on the front for their nephews and grandchildren. Awful records by famous stars....pray to Santa, Jesus, The Easter Bunny,The Tooth Fairy and all the other beloved children's characters that you don't get one of these in your stocking Xmas morning....
1)HAVING FUN WITH ELVIS ON STAGE -Elvis Presley
A live album released in 1974 of Elvis Presley which features NO SONGS, just the chatter, random drug induced humming and lame jokes that were recorded between the songs (each "track" is faded before the songs were to start), still made number 9 in the Billboard Charts on its release so there is no end to the stupidity of fans.
2)ARC-WELD - Neil Young & Crazy Horse
The companion piece to the excellent live album "WELD" (which features Neil Young & Crazy Horse in fine form re-inventing some of Young's best songs for the early 90s grunge generation) but this "album" collated by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore consists of the feedback and guitar squeals from the live records and made into an avant-garde sound collage....ignore, rubbish.
3)METAL MACHINE MUSIC - Lou Reed
Already given my write up on this piece of crap on previous posts, but lets just say that time isn't a great healer with a double album of feedback that even the artist involved hasn't listened to all the way through.
4)LIVE AT THE SCENE CLUB:NEW YORK 1968 - Jimi Hendrix
When a great artist dies young and still commands interest its only to be expected that the record company is going to scrape every barrel and check every inch of tape for NEW recordings to pack,ship and sell to the public. Jimi Hendrix has had everything but him singing in the bath released at some point (15 albums released so far and counting when he only lived to see the release of 3 of them!) Some of the recordings have been 5 star gold (see First Rays Of The New Rising Sun) but this is the worst thing ever given the "Hendrix" name. A live recording from New York's Scene club recorded after a gig with guest artists such as Jim Morrison, Johnny Winter plowing through lame versions of blues songs and Cream and Beatles tracks ("Sunshine Of Your Love" and "Tomorrow Never Knows") Complete dogshit, I could make a more convincing Hendrix album with a tennis racket guitar and headband.
5)DYLAN & THE DEAD - Bob Dylan & The Grateful Dead Bob Dylan in the 80's on tour with The Grateful Dead sound as bad as all that? Yes it is. Dylan songs re-arranged and given the treatment from the San Francisco peddlers of space rock and LSD munching never ending solo's, what was blowin' in the wind? A wet fart of an album
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 12:13
Sunday, 31 October 2010
12 Dirty Bullets - LIVE @ The Garage, Highbury & Islington 29/10/10
Today's review is of local boys and Trinity Bar fellow good timers 12 Dirty Bullets, and separating Friday night's gig at The Garage from the other gigs I have attended and reviewed recently is that I chose this gig because I wanted to go, rather than being assigned to go with the promise of a few Red Stripes and a fistful of silver so you'll have to excuse me for being less than objective when reviewing mates rather than the usual posers I see.
12 Dirty Bullets have earned their stripes and done the grafting to warrant a gig at newly re-opened Garage (although personally I didn't even notice a lick of paint or new door knob different to that of the old one) and have filled the venue with actual record buying fans as well as some friends and family rather than 80-20 ratio the other way which is very ofter then case of up and coming bands on the circuit.
They start the set strong with "Black Roses And Violence" from their debut album and new track "Dreamers" and by the time the band has fallen in around lead singer and guitarist Jamie Jamieson's intro the crowd are already behind them and up for a good night for all.
Tonight's gig includes 8 tracks from their debut "Downsides To Making A Living" including "Sweet Susie", "Rock 'n' Roll Pretty Boys" as well as 5 new tracks being road tested before the second album is released such as gem and definite single worthy "She Could Love You Forever" with its Billy Bragg sounding lyric cradled within a strong money chorus that could be the turning point up the ladder for the band.
The set continued with "Keep Chancing", the first single "Fatman" and crowd favourite "Good Time Girls" which puts 12 Dirty Bullets above a lot of bands in the same genre simply because of the craftsmanship and quality of songwriting involved.
12 Dirty Bullets have never been shy in wearing their influences on their sleeve or in the case of songwriter, Jamie Jamieson, his chest (tonight he sports the classic "Hi how are You?" t-shirt from indie underground legend in his own lunchtime Daniel Johnston) although this was probably missed by the majority of the crowd as they prepared to launch beer at each other and perform high risk shoulder standing acrobatics during the Arctic Monkeys influenced track "Champagne And Cocaine" (another live favourite and a drink spiller unless you watch from a safe distance). This is one of their strongest tracks to date and shows each member of the band playing full tilt as a unit which shows that this isn't a one man show but a well oiled and good old fashioned rock and roll band.
Bringing the set to a conclusion was a 1-2-3-4 combination of first album closer and guitarist Michael Smith's ivory tickling "Away With The Stars", new track "Riddles" and Four Tops Motown hit "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" that although shows the dexterity and versatility of the 4 piece seemed to border on playing to the crowd rather than winning them over on their own steam, although this is small change and simply personal taste during an otherwise faultless set. Currently on tour across the UK, catch em' why you can.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 19:14
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Swanlights - Antony & The Johnsons
The 4th full length album from Antony Hegarty and his band The Johnsons (no sniggering at the back of the class) was something I was looking forward to reviewing as I'd been a fan since I heard "I'm A Bird Now" and although I felt the next EP and album were worthy inclusions neither of them reached the level of their predecessor. Although with this in mind I was still looking forward to "Swanlights".
The album begins in a haphazard manner that in some ways will underpin the whole album "Everything Is New" meanders along and although features a lot of Hegarty's trademarks doesn't really go anywhere. The album is lifted if only briefly with the track "The Great White Ocean" which reminds the listener of why they loved Antony & The Johnsons in the first place, with its heartfelt lyrics often sung through the tear stained vibrato in his voice although after the initial breakthrough seems to lose direction and energy and slows to a premature end. "Swanlights" continues on with "Ghost" and "I'm in Love" 2 tracks that never hit the mark (wherever they are aiming) "i'm In Love" especially which begins reminiscent of "Going Out" by Supergrass of all bands which shocked me into thinking my playlist had shuffled before Hegarty's voice wobbled into audio horizon. With "Violetta" clocking in at an unimpressive 35 secs it seems that the masterpiece I was preparing myself for seems to be falling through my fingers track by track.
Next in the firing line is the title track itself "Swanlights" which although admirably tries something new with its almost "Everything In It's Right Place" era Radiohead chopping and editing of the vocals lose the lyrics beneath the heavy use of organ and reverberated "oohs and aaahs". When writing this review I found it hard to understand why such an obviously below par record was made from someone so talented and top shelf as Antony & The Johnsons but it seems that the track "The Spirit Was Gone" answers these questions for me with its title although I hope its just a break rather than a permanent vacation.
The only passable single on "Swanlights" is "Thank You For Your Love" and so this is the case drums and steady backbeat have been included. Antony sings "when I was lost in the darkness, thank you for your love" harking back to the New York days when he first arrived. The most bankable track on the album although they aren't the type of band to trouble the top 10 any time soon.
Even "Flétta" - FEAT BJORK comes as a welcome shot in the arm as a possible album saver although prominent in the track and stamping her personality over it doesn't hit the heights of "Boy George" or "Rufus Wainwright" from his second album "I'm A Bird Now" with its starts and stops and quirky arrangement that goes from almost whisper to building conclusion before trailing off may have been better suited to B-side. The album concludes with the double header of "Salt Silver Oxygen" and "Christina's Farm" that have much better titles than they deserve, the equivalent of a dog turd wrapped in fifties. "Christina's Farm" is the better of the two with its lone piano that gives a subtle flicker into what might have been, its still an end to a very mixed and confused album.
"Everything is new" the vocals sing but didn't convince me that the new is always better, "if it ain't not broke-don't fix it" should be something to consider in my opinion. Back to the drawing board and to woodshed those Nina Simone albums again….
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 21:46
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Another grey cold wet day in Albion and what better to do than to find some pleasure in the soaking clothes and flu nosed grime that is today than to listen to some great songs all with one thing in common....the RAIN!....
So flick on your spotify and bring up your Tuesday Rainy play lists...
1) Rain - The Beatles ; The b-side to Paperback Writer and the first use of backwards singing, cuts straight to the point with this mid 60s classic.
2) Purple Rain - Prince ; The marmite song of his set list but with the bombastic guitar solo and slow build up shows a masterclass in light and shade (even if its all purple)
3) Rainy Night In Georgia - Brook Benton ; This Tony Joe White penned track is a staple of late night soul and r&b classic stations and with this low rumbling velvet vocal from Brook Benton and the expert cradled production by Arif Mardin you can understand why its a classic
4) Have you Ever Seen The Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival ; CCR (because I'm not continuously writing their name out) made the fashion faux pas of making hit singles one after another in a time where it was ALL about the albums. Leader and chief songwriter John Fogerty made classic rock and roll records where all that mattered was "a great title, a great guitar riff" that harked back to pre-Beatles swampy boogie woogie when everyone else was "progressing"...a great song. Even see George Harrison and John Lennon jamming this during "Let It Be" documentary.
5) Rainy Days And Mondays - The Carpenters ; This would have been a double hitter if I'd updated this page yesterday but as its now Tuesday I guess I'll have to roll with the punch. The Carpenters came about in the early 70s that for America was a turbulent time with Nixon, Watergate, Vietnam, Kent State etc and adult contemporary music with subtle horn accompaniments weren't exactly what "the kids" were reaching out for. But sales don't lie and with this as another number 1 of their 12 top 10 hits (including 3 number ones) there wasn't a riot goin' on in Downey,California.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 14:25
Thursday, 21 October 2010
Guitar Heaven : The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time
Santana and more importantly Carlos Santana knows what works and what doesn't. After many years in the touring wilderness without a hit to hang onto he joined forces with Arista Records legend Clive Davis and the “Supernatural” album was made in 1999 and brought to him a whole new audience along with a host of supporting acts and solo stars who would “FEAT:” on the tracks. A clever game plan as a name like Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean can definitely get you some air play on stations outside of his usual FM oldies station. The plan paid off and with it 9 Grammy awards followed along with his biggest hit in 20 years “Smooth” featuring Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas. Santana were back.
They have followed this template since with the album “Shaman” and “All That I Am” which made use of his little black book of “friends”.
This new offering “Guitar Heaven : The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time” is a collection of cover versions that reads like the back of a Guitar Hero Game or the best of lists found at the back of a Xmas edition of Guitar Player magazine. The song choices are obvious, as good as the tracks are and as well executed they are played (Carlos Santana playing has never sounded so incendiary and ballsy) it doesn't really knock the originals out of the limelight i.e. “Can't You Hear Me Knocking” feat: (obviously) Scott Weiland is a great choice but isn't going to worry Mick Jagger any time soon for early retirement (or is that late?). Only the classy re-arrangement of the George Harrison Beatles track “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is worthwhile, with its Mexican mariachi guitar playing the initial piano figure of the original and a restrained vocal from India.Arie give this a stylish make-over. Other tracks include the awful “Photograph” (original Def Lepard) to the confusing “Back In Black” feat: Nas turns AC/DC's original into a strange money spinner hoping for a hit by “updating it” for today, lame.
The Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek appears with Chester Bennington on the remake of his former bands “Riders On The Storm” without any of the heart of the original Jim Morrison or the the bands interpretation. A definite wasted opportunity as both Manzarek and Santana have the chops to solo into jazz territory instead there is just a lifeless Friday night covers band version here. “Smoke On The Water” (yes I know THAT obvious) is next and like the previous track you just need to walk into any bar in any city and hear a comparable version.
Van Halen's track “Dance The Night Away” was chosen although I have no idea why, can Carlos Santana really think this is one of the greatest classics ever? Its not even in the top 10 of Van Halen's tracks although maybe he possibly decided against bongos with “Hot For Teacher”. Bush front man and the current Mr Gwen Stafani Gavin Rossdale appears on the 2 star version of the
T-REX classic “Get It On” or “Bang A Gong” as its named here by that ol' hippy Carlos.
An album with this title would seem a total lame duck without the inclusion of Jimi Hendrix so its no surprise when one of his great tracks “Little Wing” appears with a left field selection of Joe Cocker on vocals. Like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” before in the album, they have tried to change the arrangement a little but while this worked previously this only seems to take the guts out of the original as the majority of the Hendrix guitar work is replaced by keyboards that hold the arrangement down enough for Carlos Santana to solo merciless over while Cocker seems lost by the whole thing.
The album picks up from disaster with the inclusion of Jonny Lang and his run through of the Willie Dixon penned Howlin' Wolf classic “I Ain't Superstitious” which has the feel that everyone in the room was firing on all cylinders and the A&R guys were locked outside. This version owes more to the Jeff Beck cover than the Howlin' Wolf original with Lang's vocals leaning towards Rod Stewart's rasp rather than Wolfs growl. The set concludes with run through's of Creedence Clearwater Revivals “Fortunate Son” and Red Hot Chilli Peppers ballad and monster hit “Under The Bridge”, both never get off the ground and are forgotten by the time both familiar choruses kick in. A pointless affair. Download “I Ain't Superstitious” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and bin the rest.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 19:46
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Kings Of Leon - Come Around Sundown
"Come Around Sundown" the 5th album from the band who when their not dividing the country and indie fraternity on whether they are any good any more or just a bunch of stadium rock sell outs are here to stay and still making some of the best music of their ongoing career.
The new set of songs starts in the same vain as the previous album with the slow rumbling bass of "The End", after all there is no point whacking the single as track 1 boys after all, don't want to blow your load too soon, that's saved for track 2 "Radioactive" with its Edge style circling delayed guitar riff that pretty much carry off where "Use Somebody" left off for the stadium rock crowd.
Kings Of Leon could have played this hand very easy and simply made "Only By The Night" part 2 but sticking with the fashion and progression of their last efforts they have moved on while showing a few musical bread crumbs of what came before them earlier. From track 3 onwards they have shown some new colours in their pallet with the almost Tom Petty-esque swinging "Pyro" and while the chorus like a lot of their recent songs is very stadium friendly this is also going to be one for the isolation of headphones on the bus home as well. Other standout tracks include the almost "Boys Don't Cry" type chords of "Beach Side" with its trademark Caleb Followill opening lyrics that sound like a wordless drawl. This is followed in turn by "No Money" which would be my bet for next single due to its meter reminiscent of "King Of The Rodeo". Only the track "Pony Up" seems well.."pony" as it seems to be a bit of a Kings Of Leon by numbers and definitely should have been relegated to a b-side (if such a thing even exists any more) the album doesn't end there and with the track "Birthday" they manage to bring the level up again with this future definite live favourite. The country influences that Followill often talked about in interviews are present here in tracks such as "Back Down South" which its steel guitar bends and slides and the mariachi style "Mi Amigo" complete with "Ring Of Fire" style trumpets which show more influences of drugstore truck driving men rather then skinny jean wearing fey sensitive indie boys. "Come Around Sundown" ends with "Pickup Truck" again with the standard fade in and echo guitar (starting to get a little tired by track 10 lads). A nice enough bookend to the album and a strong enough contribution although as with some of the other tracks including "The Face" and "The Immortals" some how missed opportunity arrangement wise simply relying on their set bag of tricks and sometimes end up sounding a little tired and boring where once there were the NEW sound.
The indie elite of NME and other magazines seem to have already had the jury's decision back 10 seconds after hearing "Sex On Fire" and have hung,drawn and quartered the band for the very un-cool crime of being popular and becoming successful beyond their piers. I understand that when your mum and the milkman start whistling the chorus to your favourite songs in your teenage years you feel like the only way to regain the balance is to distance yourself from it and spit at them but like it or not Kings Of Leon are here for the long haul and are making strong work. On first listening it doesn't grab me the way "Because Of The Times" caught my attention from the opening bars but this is small potatoes when I'm sure after the multiple listens I'll get from every radio station, TV advert and probably (god forbid) X-factor auditions I'll be hearing some of these tracks for the foreseeable future and whistling them myself as I get my semi skimmed 4 pinter. File next to "auto-pilot", they haven't re-invented the wheel nor have they gone back to horse and cart, they have made a good solid record to be proud of, if only R.E.M could produce an album this good rather then resting on past glories maybe NME would cheer up about KOL's success.
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 21:08
What do you write about when you don't really have any topics to discuss? I need to write something to keep a working daily blog valid after all. I was sent another CD to review but as it was some drum and bass racket I politely declined rather than ripping it to shreds verbally (after all who am I to judge the work of a drum and bass artist especially when I own zero Cd's in that genre and couldn't compare shit from gold)
The record currently on my player is "A Wizard, A True Star" by Todd Rundgren and the book in my line of sight this week is a biography of Charles Bukowski (poet and writer from the beat generation)a typical insight into the mind and life of another of the "suffer for your art" kinda guys, this has always been something I was never sure of. I like a warm bed and a hot bath before I go into the studio to record anything, the idea of having to stay up and destroy a million brain cells before I'm "ready" seems a bit too much of an effort. Either that or I've seen the abyss from the sidelines and never really fancied jumping in feet first. I'm all for being able to pull a riff out of the bag like Keith Richards but do I really want his morning wheezing cough? On the other hand I definitely could do without sliding into the Eric Clapton picture of health safe as milk play by numbers ball ache he calls music these days. Better to paddle your own canoe I guess, just be aware where the rocks and waterfalls are.
Load your spotify's and dig out the following nuggets....
1)Down Boy - Yeah,Yeah Yeahs
2)Since I Lost My Baby - The Temptations
3)Let Your Shoulder Fall - Matthew Jay
4)Life's A Gas - T-Rex
5)She Smiled Sweetly - The Rolling Stones
Posted by Chris Lancaster at 09:19