Archive for December, 2007

December 18, 2007

Frightened Rabbit!

Time for the dreaded Christmas single.  It is virtually impossible to hear anything with a hint of depth or emotion when the Xmas singles are released each year.   Just because it’s the season for festivities doesn’t mean all the songs have to sound like a drunk at a party.   It is also a time for reflection and a display of human emotion.  Of course there has been the odd Christmas gem, most notably the greatest seasonal song of all, ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.

Another single that can sit proudly alongside that timeless classic is:

Frightened Rabbit with ‘It’s Christmas so we’ll stop’

Listen @ http://www.myspace.com/frightenedrabbit 

Following in the same vein as Fairytale it charts the melancholy of Christmas, highlighting the superficial culture of the season.   Imbued with irony, lead singer Scott laments the lonely and depraved, adding authenticity with his cracked vocals.  Like Fairytale the song offers hope and salvation as it builds into a biblical & poignant finale, complete with Christmas choir.   A dark festive tale that offers redemption.

  

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December 12, 2007

Flamenco @ the Apollo

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In what will probably be my last gig of the year it was gratifying to save one of the best for last.  Rodrigo and Gabriela  http://www.rodgab.com/were scintillating.   

Performing at what was their biggest indoor show in England to date, they captivated the crowd with jaw-dropping guitar histrionics and old fashioned crowd pleasing. 

http://music.guardian.co.uk/live/story/0,,2225837,00.html

After touring the festival circuit around Europe this summer these two Mexicans have built-up a wave of expectation and  it is through their infectious charm and engagement with the crowd that no one is left disappointed.  The sheer dexterity and dynamic of their playing is beholden in itself.   Rodrigo – fret master, squeezing every possible note out of his guitar while Gabriela – Rhythm queen, strums to percussive perfection.  At times their playing borders on a telepathic nature, with intrinsically woven patterns.  Crowd favourite ‘Tamacun’ made several shape changing appearances, from graceful to explosive.

The textual changes of each composition was particularly impressive, with each song changing its dynamic several times.  Audience participation was keenly summoned, creating a third instrument with the crowds handclaps and yelps  Only their cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish you were here’ was a slight let down as much of the crowd didn’t know the words (shameful, I thought everybody knew that song?).   Standard classics like ‘Orion and ‘Stairway to heaven’ were as punchy and vivacious as ever.  

 Performing for over 90 minutes they displayed a vitality and passion that sub-missed a crowd already spellbound by the technique of these two dueling matadors.

December 11, 2007

Artists of the Year

Everyone else is making lists:-

http://music.guardian.co.uk/pop/story/0,,2225649,00.html

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article2961411.ece 

So here is my definitive list of the year:

Album of the Year – The White Stripes

Their best one yet!  Jack White keeps raising the bar with his idiosyncratic take on the blues.  Visceral rock, that never fails to raise the pulse.

Song of the Year – Arctic Monkeys – Fluorescent Adolescent

Genius song title married to a killer hook.  The perfect combination of wry lyrics and pop rhythm.  

Band of the Year – Radiohead

Confounded the critics yet again.  Created a seismic event with the unconventional release of ‘In Rainbows’.   While the album itself transcended all the hype by becoming a Radiohead classic.

Solo Artist of the Year – Amy Winehouse

There could only be one winner here.  Biggest selling album.  Unharnessed natural talent that is starting to resemble the lifestyle of a tortured genius.

 

Most likely to disappear in a Canoeing accident and resurface in Panama

Glastonbury festivalgoers

 

After trying to escape the lake at Worthy Farm and getting caught on a tidal wave in the Atlantic.

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December 7, 2007

Single Reviews

Here are two great singles I’ve just reviewed. Both are released this Monday (10 Dec).

Check em out.

http://www.myspace.com/younggalaxy

Outside The City – Young Galaxy Yet another band to emerge from the art-house breeding ground of Montreal.  Young Galaxy, like their elder statesmen Arcade Fire emit a sense of grandeur on a scene that is dominated with post-Libertines indie-skiffle.  Outside the City’ – the second song to be released off their debut album – is all shimmering cosmic pop.  Built around a bass that sounds remarkably similar to ‘With or Without You’ the song floats along with dreamy vocals and an impressive wall of sound.  This is art-pop at its most luscious.  Side B, ‘Walk a Thin Line’ is equally grandiose, all mellifluous harmonies and hypnotic chorus.If Spiritualized didn’t take themselves so seriously this is what they would sound like.  Young Galaxy could well be stars of the future

.http://www.myspace.com/neilmcsweeney

A Rope to Hang – Neil McSweeney With a plentiful supply of singer-songwriters since the start of the millennia it is becoming increasingly hard to get excited when a new troubadour enters the fray.   Not so with Sheffield born Neil McSweeney.  ‘A Rope to Hang’ is a beautifully poignant song that evokes the best of ‘Heartbreaker’ period, Ryan Adams.  Stripped down, exposed with only acoustic and voice, McSweeney delivers an ode to a failing relationship that strikes the perfect balance between melancholy and intimacy.  Such delicate strumming allows him to showcase the richness of his impressive vocals, which reveal just a hint of vulnerability.  Plying the same route as Adams’s nostalgically tinged Americana will no doubt serve McSweeney well, especially on the performance of this standout single.

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December 4, 2007

Morrissey Palare

Morrissey 

And so it continues……

Now Morrissey has re-entered the debate himself. 

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/music/2007/12/morrissey_responds.html

This time though he chose to distance himself from the immigration issue by not really dicussing it.  Slightly dissapointing as Morrissey could have clarified his views, it was probably a missed opportunity to set the record straight. 

He did however chose to torch and burn the timber house of the NME.  Splints and embers abound as accusation upon condemnation was scorned upon the iconic music weekly.  The tone was scathing to say the least and probably the biggest single attack ever witnessed against a music publication.   Totally justified in his remarks about lack of decent content in the current magazine and of a journalistic style that is imbued with nastiness and barbed comments.   

This is a man who has survived countless changes and trends to a musical landscape.   This whole affair will only seek to bolster his reputation and cement his longevity even further.   In the end both parties have actually benefitted from the publicity and in the age of multi-media it is possible for them to have their soapbox whenever they chose.  Not sure if Tim Jonze’s career will now sink or flourish though?

December 3, 2007

Gig of the year

 

 

 Patti Smith  – Shepherds Bush Empire 

October 20th 2007

 

Ever since performing at the CBGB in Lower East Side, New York, back in the early 70s Patti Smith has celebrated the life of French symbolist poet, Arthur Rimbaud.    Essentially tonight is another cause celebre, inspiring Smith to translate her muse into something inspirational.

 

The counter-cultural icon is on irrepressible form tonight, whether rallying against corporate greed or encouraging self-worth she imbues the spirit and freewheeling attitude of the 60’s without ever falling into parody.

This is highlighted by a clarinet led version of ‘Are you experienced’, which floats and meanders with mystical charm.  Her rendition of ‘Gimme Shelter’ is positively brimming with attitude while guitarist Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine adds trebly texture to the mix. 

 

Led by her long time collaborative partner Lenny Kaye the band show versatility, adept at expressing the changing moods of Smith’s show.  This is most apparent during the poetry readings, with the band caressing the sound around Smiths messianic figure.   

Her affections for the poet transcend beyond the usual parameters of a gig and truly engage the crowd.  She ad-libs her way through the mesmerising “Beneath the Southern Cross” and imbues a sense of theatre with the tragic reading of “Abyssinia”. 

 

Smith conveys a passion that remains undiminished since her early days.  During her cover of Nirvana’s  Smells Like Teen Spirit” she completely inhibits the song, exhuming the spirit of Kurt Cobain with a potent, trance-like finale.

Her biggest selling single “Because the Night” exudes majesty, while the loudest cheer of the night is reserved for an incendiary medley of “Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/Gloria”, which through the sheer energy of the moment Smith bounds around the stage completely uninhibited.

 

The venomous punk-tirade “Pissing Factory” completes the encore with Smith admonishing the ills of a capitalist society.  Remaining as subversive as ever Patti Smith retains the attitude of a golden generation.  Firmly secured in the pantheon of rock tradition she continues to fly the flag of expression whilst maintaining an air of undiluted integrity.

 

 

December 1, 2007

Morrissey on Question Time

Sitting watching Question Time on Thursday night (29 November) I was amazed and intrigued when someone quoted Morrissey in a question regarding English Identity.  

 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/question_time/default.stm

This follows on from the comments I made that same day. 

Interestingly all of the politicians on the show chose not to condemn Morrissey for his comments on the matter, instead they focused on the debates surrounding identity and immigration.  Surely this has vindicated Morrissey’s original statement.  The fact that this issue was aired and debated on National television a day after NME was distrubuted highlights the importance of discussing this issue and raising it in the public sphere.  We can not all become accusational libertarians like NME for fear of turning this country into a righteous dictatorship!

Admittedly Morrissey’s use of language was not the most appropriate, but he is a famously romantic anglophile that lives and dies by the pen.  To accuse a writer of  symbolic language is to accuse a dog of wagging its tail!