Archive for August, 2008

The Disraelis: Demonstration EP

August 31st, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The Disraelis
Demonstration
(Optical Sounds; 2008)
6.8/10

The Disraelis’ debut EP could work beautifully in the right context. Say Spinal Tap were based on The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen and New Order, instead of hair-metal bands: Demonstration would be the soundtrack you’d love to pick up after the movie ended.

Singer Cameron Ingles slurs his words like a drunk, gothic Joe Strummer on downers (that’s a compliment) and the band sound tight behind him. The generous reverb, dark synth and ringing guitars complete the 80’s illusion masterfully. The songs are all well written, alternating between lovely, romantic dance-tracks like the New Order rip “In Memory,” and dark Cure-esque swirlers like closer “On Earth”. The Disraelis, like The Brian Jonestown Massacre before them, are great at combining their influences and everything they loved about them but they don’t really bring anything original to the table.

It just sounds exactly like you’re listening to one of those cool English bands from the 80’s, but with an awesomely drunk lead singer. I can still see the purple fashion attire in sweaty Manchester clubs -and I was only a fucking embryo for most of 1989.

That is the band and the record’s fatal flaw. They’re nothing more than a throwback to post-punk; a genre that’s already birthed thousands of bands over the last five years that pay tribute while still sounding unique and modern (see: Interpol), Sure, The BJM get away with re-doing the music of the past but they still twist it up a little (Anton Newcombe’s a little too crazy to just play straight) and besides, you can’t have two bands doing that. That would be like an unoriginal-palooza. The Disraelis are good at what they do, but unfortunately for them, it’d be better if they did something else.

Deerhunter

August 29th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This week’s band of the week is releasing a new album soon. And it rocks. Of course, everybody hears the leaks early now, right? Oh well, that’s just the way of the world. We want everything now. No, actually, we want everything before now. We live in a pre-now society. But enough about society, this week’s band of the week’s front-man makes enough big, reflective, intriguing (and often bullshit-ridden) statements to allow me to take a break from them for a bit. This week’s band of the week is:

DEERHUNTER!!!           

In 2006, Deerhunter became a big name in hipster circles due to the very-warm reception of their album Cryptograms by the blogger community and it’s 8.9 “Best New Music” review, courtesy of hype-powerhouse site, Pitchfork.com. Luckily, it was mostly deserved.

Another push-factor was outspoken front-man, Bradford Cox. Cox suffers from a disease called Marfan Syndrome, which caused his limbs to grow to be long, lanky and spindly. Standing at 6’4, Cox never shied away from the fact that he looks kind of different. He even used to wear dresses when performing, which only made him stand out more.

His love-him-or-hate-him personality matched his appearance in it’s grandiose weirdness and made him a notable interview-y that year, drawing an enormous amount of attention to his blog (http://deerhuntertheband.blogspot.com/), which then became the stuff of legend. Reported on by pitchfork just about daily, there he posts new songs and playlists constantly for free download. His opinions are also free, as yes, you are entitled to them.

Though Cox’s use of the internet as a tool of promotion and expression is one great example of the benefits it has afforded us in our new society, none of it all would matter much if the music wasn’t good. As I said before, it is. Not only is it good, but it’s as interesting as he is. Though he acts as spokesman for the band, members Moses Archuleta, Lockett Pundt, Joshua Fauver and Whitney Petty all write and work to make it the great unit it is. Together, they as Deerhunter create beautiful, experimental and sometimes disturbing shoegaze-inflicted dream pop that nods to krautrock, electronic music and bubblegum pop.

The new album, Microcastle, is even more-so all of the above. It’s their loveliest, most melodic and densely constructed album and acts as the logical next-step after Cryptograms and (Cox’s solo project) Atlas Sound’s Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel. Is it going to start cracking the pop-charts? No, because those things are fucking retarded- but regardless. With it’s beautiful anthems of alienation, it’s going to gain the already infamous Cox more followers and fans.

Not only is this good for the band, but it’s good for society to have more of his sort of anti-rock stars. Only in the surreal field of rock music do we see the freaks become the kings. Like Joey Ramone, Morrisey and Johnny Rotten before him, Cox is shoving his existence in the face of the world and if they don’t like it: they can fuck the fuck off. 


www.myspace.com/deerhunter

Archive: Lights (Album Review)

August 13th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Archive

Lights

6.9/ 10

(Warner Music France; 2006/2008)

            Archive’s album Lights is clearly the product of a great deal of thoughtful, calculated studio work and admirable experimentalism. It’s production is a wonderful collage of noise, bliss and weirdness that makes for a fantastic sonic experience. Unfortunately, the band doesn’t match their work ethic with as inspired songwriting, resulting in an album which, though accomplished and interesting, sometimes gives out when it comes to songs that resonate with any kind of humanity or emotion.

Basically, Archive is a lot like Spiritualized but lacking J. Spaceman’s heavenly conviction. Many of their melodies feel uninspired (“I Will Fade”) or borrowed (the Verve/Stones/Spiritualized rip “Veins”…which is probably the album’s best song…not such a bad thing actually…). The singing is tight but it feels unnatural at times, as if there’s a singing coach there giving tips. What the album lacks is “chutzpa”.

I was listening to the first Dinosaur Jr. album today and no, it’s not the greatest album. It’s messy, some of the writing’s not great and the performances are not quite up to snuff, but still, they had chutzpa! They had that essential spark that makes Dinosaur Jr. the great band that they are. Archive’s Lights is sort of the opposite: the writing is sharp, the production solid, the album is well organized and the performances are great but there’s just no chutzpa.

Even with the lack of chutzpa though, the album is very listenable and admirable for what it accomplishes.  The Radiohead-esque songs near the end, such as the moving “Headlights” and “Taste Of Blood”, are affecting compositions comparable in their power with the songs off OK Computer and The Bends. The aforementioned “Veins” has a chorus with backup singers and gospel organ that is actually pretty uplifting. The rest is all just very solid, well-written psyche for the millennium generation.

I have no problem seeing plenty of well-fed Europeans loving this album and band but I don’t see it happening with hipsters here in North America. We’re all a bunch of fuck ups and these guys trying to make fucked up music don’t sound fucked up enough, really. J. Spaceman’s got a broken heart and he wants SO badly to find g-d and all and Thom Yorke is freaked out by everything because he’s just too smart and cool to be alive but I can’t feel that fucked-ness in Archive. There’s pain in the songs but it doesn’t come through strong enough.

Relating this back to my grand theory of music as the ultimate form of communication between individuals, this album fails to make that connection as no individual voice ever emerges. At the end of the day, Lights’ brightness is limited by it’s lack of idiosyncrasy. 

http://www.myspace.com/archiveuk

Pulp

August 13th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is also from Britain. Maybe the reason I’ve been listening to a lot of British bands recently is because Britain has more literate songwriters than we do in North America, and I’ve been feeling the literate-ness lately. Sure, we’ve got a couple pretty literate guys like Okkervil River’s Will Sheff or Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and nobody’s lyrics can match Dylan, but still. Britain’s got Morrissey, Ray Davies, Paul Weller, Elvis Costello, Hal Davies, Richard Thompson, Mark E. Smith and Van Morrison (er, he’s Irish, but close enough) and the songwriter of this week’s BotW. Which is…

PULP!!!

Lead singer Jarvis Cocker is Pulp’s iconic primary songwriter, responsible for hits like “Common People” off their masterpiece album Different Class. Cocker’s lyrics are often hilariously intelligent musings on life, people, romance and sex.  Cocker’s (oh shut up) intellectual take on sex is one of the things I love most about his writing. “Live Bed Show” (off Different Class) is a perfect example of Cocker’s excellent ability to illustrate a character and their particular sexual dilemma with skillful poignancy. He writes “She doesn’t have to go to work but she doesn’t want to stay in bed/ Cause it’s changed from something comfortable to something else instead/ This bed has seen it all from the first time to the last/ The silences of now and the good times of the pastSomething beautiful left town and she doesn’t even know its name./ Now every night she plays the sad game ooh ah ah/ Called pretending nothing’s going wrong oh, oh class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size:small;">.” 

Musically, Pulp is a great mix of synth-brit-pop that transcends that genre’s limitations due to Pulp/Cocker’s fanatically tight songwriting and interesting arrangements. Often Pulp has an anthemic sound, with loud crunchy guitars, orchestral synthetic padding (until they got to the Scott Walker produced We Love Life at which point they got real orchestra treatment) and big drums. Cocker’s overtly British singing is inimitable and suits what he writes perfectly; able to convey emotion, humor, sarcasm and sympathy perfectly and always in way that is undoubtedly Jarvis Cocker. 

Recently, Pulp has called it quits and Jarvis Cocker released his first solo album (which is just as good as any Pulp album). If you’re in the mood for something to satisfy the head and the heart at the same time (assuming your not listening to The Queen is Dead all depressed 24/7) check out any of Pulp’s last four albums and/or the self-titled Jarvis Cocker album. Clearly it’s songwriting worth writing about.  

http://www.myspace.com/pulpfun


British Sea Power

August 5th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is from across the pond. They’re a band with a big anthemic sound that’s moving and majestic and will swing your heartache beautifully. I was listening to them on the pod while marching over to my friend Charlotte’s goodbye-bonfire (I’m not going to see her for a good, long time now cuz she’s on a hitchhiking trip across Canada and by the time she gets back home I’ll be up in Halifax) and it was just fantastic. More on their sound in a bit, this week’s band of the week is…

BRITISH SEA POWER!!!

Hopefully many of you already know BSP but if not, you’re in luck, cuz once you listen to them they’ll blow your brains out of your bumholio. These brits released their first album, The Decline of British Sea Power, in 2003 to wide acclaim but not much press over in North America. A shame, because they were totally ahead of their time, playing anthemic indie rock before The Arcade Fire got huge. The first album displayed a love of the Pixies, Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine and it’s first half is more spastic and Frank Black-esque with the second half containing the more drifting, pretty songs like “Carrion” and “Fear of Drowning”. Their second and third albums (2005’s Open Season and 2008’s Do You Like Rock Music?) left behind most of the Pixies influence, with Open Season focusing more on prettier, softer songs and DYLRM basically blatantly attempting to out-anthem The Arcade Fire.

Many of the band’s lyrics are poetic meditations on life and politics. Allusions to water and escaping to the peace of the ocean are quite common as well. Then again, some songs like “No Lucifer” off DYLRM are just random words thrown together with no particular meaning. Regardless, you probably won’t pay much attention to the lyrics other than the one’s that really jump out like “The salt, the spray, the gorgeous undertow/Always, always, always the sea/Brilliantine mortality” in “Carrion” or “Oh it left my heart broken/ It took my breath away/ A lesson open/ A little more each day/ A little eyesore/ A little Nytol/ A little heartache/ A little soothe-all,” in “To Get To Sleep”.

Listen you assholes, find someway to hear these damn albums because they’re huge and beautiful. Get them onto your ipod and go for a run and you’ll feel like the seraphim are uplifting you unto a land of topless glory. Don’t pay attention to the title of the first album, there’s no decline here, BSP has power to spare.

http://www.myspace.com/britishseapower