Archive for May, 2008

May 29, 2008

Indie-finable

 

 

 

With the release of the Pigeon Detectives second album – Emergency – this week, it has suddenly become all-too worryingly familiar. Commerciality has suffocated the UK indie music scene and consequently there is a dearth of talent that has disguised itseslf as indie-rock.  Now is the time to address this issue.  What has happened to the bravura, style and creativity of our indie heroes?  They seem to have been replaced by this overwhelmingly banal form of skiffle-indie-pop.   Everywhere one looks; charts, festivals, TV, the country is swarming with them!  The Hoosiers, The View, Joe Ling and the Jing Jang Jong, The Kooks, The Wombats etc, etc, etc; there is a faint possibility that other countries will think we like this music.   Of course, it is really only following the cyclical trend of the industry, soon the bubble will burst and some other scene, maybe dub-pop or gothic techno, will enthral the country?  Better, for all these bands to cash in while they can –especially with the anxious encouragement from the big labels – hence the reason the Pigeon Detectives released their second album in 12 months, regardless of any decent songs.   So how did we get to this point?

 

2001

Remember a certain band that exploded out of the New York scene called The Strokes, released a seminal album which shook up the indie-rock world and has sent tremors through the genre ever since.  After a fallow period of nu-metal and sensitive-soft rock The Strokes reinvented stylish, savvy and spiky indie with an album that had the tunes to match.  We are now suffering the long, drawn out hangover.  With every great band follows a thousand imitators, with the labels all-too-keen to comply.  After The Strokes we had a myriad of bands with retro slacks and angular riffs. The Libertines followed with their Blake-inspired romance and urchin indie, to be followed by the crunching riffs and locale vernacular of the Arctic Monkeys.  Each band took the fundamentals of the former and spun their own unique and thrilling style.  It is a shame now that we have a plethora of bands that sound like a homogenised version of all three, without the talent. 

 

 

To continue the theme of cyclical and cultural rebirths we now look to the States and particularly New York once again to provide us with indie heroes who have innovation, verve and panache.  Yeasayer, Mgmt, Vampire Weekend, Battles, Black Keys, Band of Horses, to name but a few who are all brave enough to follow their own instincts, cast aside the desire to formulate a successful career and have faith in their art.

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May 19, 2008

White Riot

Ever since Meg White anounced at the end of last year that she had acute anxiety it seems The Raconteurs have become Jack White’s major concern.  Even before this weeks gig at the Hammersmith Apollo there was talk as to whether Jack’s new band could be taken seriously, excluded from the hysteria of The Stripes.  This latest performance has just proved to the doubters, critics and cynics alike that The Raconteurs are very much alive and kicking.    Though led by the hyperactive intensity of White he by no means brings everything to the table.  Benson, Keeler and Lawrence bring a dynamism, power and flexibility that at times overshadows anything the Stripes could muster.  From the opening riff of ‘Consolers of the Lonely’ the full frontal assault and sheer ferocity of their sound is bewildering.   Benson adds much needed light to White’s darkness, while Keeler and Lawrence flex and jam with supple precision.

Of course White steals the show eventually, though only after everyone has been given their time in the spotlight.  Benson’s tour de force is ‘Many shades of Black’, with its powerful key changes and sing-along chorus, while the rythm section undepin every White nuance with aplomb especially on the riff heavy rock of ‘Salute your Solution’ and the epic blues closer of ‘My Blue Vein’ – complete with ‘Since I’ve been loving you’ type intro.   White’s energy consumes the stage at times and drives the band into showstopping climaxes – steel blues shuffle ‘Top Yourself’ careens into a delightful bar-room boogie.   Many of the songs are treated with the same joyful exuberance while the crowd rapturously feed off the frenetic vibe.  When White becomes animated  – stabbing his finger whilst screaming out his lyrics – the Apollo erupts, in turn exciting White to further raise the tempo.  

Many of the songs were from the new album, with only a smattering of hits from the first, suggesting confidence in the new material and with a band that is just discovering its full potential.  Carolina Drama’, finishes the show – another Jack fable, about a boy, his red haired mother and the milkman.  It splendidly captures the playful essence of the band while displaying a fittingly freewheeling climax to a memorable show.

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