Monday, 30 June 2008

prowling the dust- Cut Copy- In Ghost Colours (Modular)

Cut. Copy. Paste? If any glue is being used here, it's 80s neon, sticking the beats together into nostalgic bliss like Lego blocks built into a model of a square edged disco. Hype hype hyped on the blog assembly line, do Cut Copy have the songs?

The opener, 'Feel The Love' seems to suggest so, as it opens the album with a summer shimmy, doing a robot dance off your speakers as it jives around the dance floor. Keyboards plant butterfly kisses, little flourishes in the background as the vocals get ever more treated. 'Out There On The Ice' has sampled 'do do dos', as singer Dan Whitford does his best to do his ultimate Depeche Mode impression.

A hitch is soon hit, however, with 'Unforgettable Season', with vocals so like Johnny Borrell that the twat meter on my hi-fi broke. The mid paced track parambles round your ears going nowhere fast.

'So Haunted' marks the first proper appearance of guitars, as rare a sighting as a jackalope in this territory. The computers have largely taken over, destroying all things wood and string as best they can. Circuit boards reign supreme in this kingdom.

If you like your mid 90s trance in its worst excess, then check out 'Hearts on Fire', a track you just know Judge Jules thinks is 'banging' or an 'anthem' or some other filthy DJ word. It has even got that shimmering synth sound so that it sounds good when you're gurning around on E. Ick.

The quality is quickly brought back up with 'Far Away', channeling the melodies of great pop music with churning keyboards, funneling it all back into majestic dance music. 'Strangers In The Wind' brings to mind Hot Chip, just without the wry lyrics, the fault of inferior tribute that runs through this album. It might be good, but it ain't LCD Soundsystem. The influences have taken over that bit too much. Although 'Nobody Lost, Nobody Found' gets pretty close to overcoming the metaphorical hurdle.

This, the second album from Cut Copy, has a blueprint for great dance music stuffed into its back pocket, and shoves it in your face at will. Sadly, it just doesn't do it often enough. The computer overtones of the band name are reflected in the music, the record a cold blooded dance machine, its metal heart solely designed to get your body moving. Unfortunately, this lack of humanity leads the album to sometimes simply meander into synth burbles and generic dance clichés, its influences weighing it down like lead boots.


prowling the dust- Sunny Day Sets Fire- 'End Of The Road' (Brik A Brak)

Global warming and all that malarkey. The end of the world? The end of the world as we know it? Meh, who knows, but if it is, Sunny Day Sets Fire are partying like climate change is just a tiny cloud on the growing horizons of a knee high to a grasshopper Al Gore. Basically, this song is retro.

Starting with a surf tinged guitar, like a party scene in Heartbeat, the diverse nationalities of Sunny Day Sets Fire slowly bring the sixties pillaged riffs chiming into the background, just like the Coral used to do. Melancholy tinged, but a perfect tessellation of all the components that make sunshine skiffle pop. Beat, tremolo, stab chords. Like eating a sunbeam, but less dangerous.

'Lack Of View' replaces the upbeat with the down, a watercolour wash of summer sadness, a raincloud over your picnic. It meanders, a lazy river, before it flows into instrumental ocean crescendos and lullabies. Sunny Day Sets Fire to your heart. Swoon.


prowling the dust- The Lodger- 'The Good Old Days' (Bad Sneakers Records)

The good old days. Bobbies on every corner/used to leave your door unlocked/helping grannies cross the streets/casual racism/sexism/homophobia. Nostalgia for times just as broken as these. Whatever. The Lodger only seem to care about them in a 'I want you back' way.

Disco flecked, strutty guitar and all, but ultimately yawn inducing. “I have been so lost and broken, I have been so nasty to you.” The sounds of a wet blanket turned human and tapping at your window with a chewed up corner, trying to say sorry through the manly tears dribbling down its woolen face.

This song is like a Saturday Night Fever Coldplay, upbeat guitars and soppy lyrics, a sodden mess of a song bleeding its broken heart all over your speakers. I'm not crying with you, I'm crying for you.


Monday, 23 June 2008

prowling the dust: Those Dancing Days- 'Hitten' (Wichita)

They're Swedish. Cue monologue about how “Sweden have carried on their fine tradition of producing great pop bands, from Abba to the Concretes, to now, this new band from the glacial north, Those Dancing Days”. Well, glad we avoided that foible.

'Hitten' is much like their fellow Swedes the Concretes a combination of synths and twangy guitars and female sirens that lull the listener into a melancholy sunshine revelry. Swedish for 'The Hit', it is a self confident appraisal of a self evident truth. Slight hints of New Order and Peter, Bjorn and John play out. It's all, just, well, lovely. 'Tasty Boy' goes on about a lad tasting “soft and smooth” like strawberry ice cream, and the sweet melodies show off the potential Those Dancing Days have. The pop field has new Swedes to coo and preen over.


prowling the dust: The Mouth- 'Just Passin' Through' (Pure Groove)

The blurb says the phrase 'terrace anthems'. One that essentially notes that the band described makes traditional indie rock, talking about “pubs, birds and booze”. Basically, avoid. Nightmarish visions of Oasis, the Enemy, the Twang and any other generic northern rock band involved in some rise to the foreground. In the background, the actual music.

Unsurprisingly, terrace anthems is appropriate. 'Just Passin' Through' summons the rotting corpse of Kasabian, plagiarizing the swagger into a passable song, yet without a modicum of the charisma. 'Cocaine Lane' has a motif so ripe for ridicule there's not any point trying. The Mouth just remind the listener of what was so turgid and boring about the music of the mid 90s, full of barely passable bands filling the airwaves with their lack of charm, lack of ideas and lack of genius. Destined for big success, then.


prowling the dust: These New Puritans- 'Beat Pyramid' (Domino)

"Dost thou think because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" That's all this humble journalist knows about Puritanism, from the quill of Shakespeare. And if music doesn't involve cakes or ale, well, what's the point? Not that such trivialities really matter, cos These New Puritans don't really subscribe to the ideas of Malvolio and his ilk. Their seedy club boogie of broken synths and shouted hollers is as far removed from moralistic nonsense as can be.

Hailing Greek pottery, dubstep, Kafka and the Wu Tang Clan should make for a fairly wide depth of genre on display. Cool List appearances & friends with the Horrors, this Southend hotchpotch tick all the boxes on the form marked “Hype Band Application Form”. Sadly, as others have branded them, they do sound like a slightly younger, more southern, slightly less alcohol drenched version of the Fall.

'Numerology (AKA Numbers)' has lead singer Jack Barnett heckling like the poppered up son of Mark E Smith “what's your favourite number, what does it mean.” Despite the obvious influences, they have enough of their own sound to make it their own. 'Swords Of Truth' is like a heavier version of Liars gone all sinister disco, with a pinch of MIA clarion calls.

The album rides along its bass heavy furrows and crests, merging into a gritty piece of (whisper it) new rave-esque electronic . 'En Papier' clangs & crashes, with repeated mantras reminiscent of Foals at their glitch disco best. 'MKK3' manages to reference Michael Barrymore & Milton Keynes, scoring high on the “Lyrical Reference Point” scale. The slower pace of the track, filled with synth crashes & moody vocals, make it a welcome change in tempo.

A disappointing result from the perspective of their influences. A grand result based on the bit that matters (not the journalistic ephemera). And all at that tender age of 19. Despite a lack of variation in the oeuvre (a problem on a 16 tracker), this debut is a perfect demonstration of a group attempting something new in this era of retro raping copycats. Bigger than the hype?


prowling the dust: This Is Pop- 'This Is Pop' (This Is Fake DIY)

Is this pop? What is pop? Am I pop? Are you pop? So many questions, so little space. This ain't no essay. So sadly they remain bouncing round the cosmos, waiting for another place, another time. This Is Pop are French. They sing in English. They have accents. Like the Teenagers, this is a good thing.

'From The Front' bears some resemblance to the pop punk rantings of Elastica, with an added smattering of synth beats. It is filled to the brim with energy, like a toddler on a Lucozade, Red Bull & Tizer cocktail. This mini album goes by so quickly it's waving you goodbye before you've had chance to make its proper acquaintance.

'Outside' flails along the same lines, tempo racing to fast to the conclusion, snapshots of songs you want to hug and squeeze til they're a flopping corpse in your sweaty embrace. 'Ashes' briefly slows the speed, a temporary lull before feedback drapes you into 'BPM'. The Hives fronted by Justine Frischmann, and you're halfway there.

'We Play/You Come' is a glorious statement of intent, “We just want to be your favourite band” gargled over glee filled squelchy keyboards. 'X-Berg' adds disco handclaps to the heady mix, before the dirtysleazy computer workout of 'This Is Pop' closes the record.

This Is Pop is as accurate a description as you could get. Like 'cuntish nonsense' for the Enemy. Great melodies, shouty vocals, disco heavy sounds. Grand.


Sunday, 22 June 2008

Weezer- The Red Album/Weezer (Interscope)

There has been bad cover art. Think Hard Fi. Think Stadium Arcadium. Then look at this. Is it ironic? That cowboy hat. That moustache. They look like members of 3 different bands, and an IT consultant who wondered in by mistake. Which doesn't tally with the album, as this is much more of a communal effort than usual, with songwriting duties shared out.

After the 'unwrapping a present to find out it's a pair of socks....really boring socks.....really boring beige socks' of 'Make Believe' opener 'Troublemaker' promises better. Rivers claims with irony dripping from his lips that he is “such a mystery....such a special guy” over the trademark Weezer punky guitar riffs.

Weezer have claimed that 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived' contains 10 different styles of music, and certainly marks a departure from the likes of 'Islands In The Sun'. Epic, bombastic almost to Queen-esque level, featuring sirens, piano, choral work and falsetto. Religion tinges it, and it's hard to decide whether 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived' is a work of staggering genius, or a restless annoyance.

Lead single 'Pork and Beans', about not conforming to try to get a hit single shows Rivers Cuomo is down with the kids. Why, yes indeedy sir, he references Timbaland and everything, who “knows the way to reach the top of the chart.” Cool, maaaaan.

Rivers just “doesn't give a hoot about what you think.” The naffness of the lyrics doesn't matter, the pop punk melodies shines a sunbeam over it all. 'Pork and Beans' channels the stylings of the 'Blue Album' era to perfection, bringing to mind the 'Undone- The Sweater Song'.

'Heart Sings' slows the tempo as Cuomo reels off all his favourite bands- Springsteen, Baez, Cat Stevens, Iron Maiden, Judus Priest and Nirvana, amongst a plethora of others. It provides an intriguing view into his tender heart.

The inevitable lull is reached by the double beige of 'Everybody Get Dangerous' and 'Dreamin.' The first is an exercise in Weezer paint by numbers as the guitar parts break under the weight of their own dull repetitious inertia. 'Dreamin' is the same, but with the 'rawk' element toned down the scale a little.

Sombre notes are sounded with 'Cold Dark World', a more downbeat melody than Weezer are normally known for. A further departure is found in 'Automatic', bringing more traditional rock stylings onto the album, in a grand way. The bonus tracks are wretched, and so will be ignored, a wedged on attempt to make everyone feel more special. They add nothing, and perhaps take away from the overall impression of the album.

'Weezer' seems to be a meditation on Rivers's dislike of the cliches of the traditional rock star life. Although many of the elements that make Weezer are still present, they are all loaded to the front of the album, with a slow decline in returns as the album goes on. They obviously still want to innovate, and break out of their 'formula', but sometimes the ideas just don't come off right.


28 Costumes- 'Erika'

28 Costumes have been knocking around a few years now, wandering the streets of 'indie' like lonesome troubadours, bivouacs strapped to their backs. Looking a little bit like Fletch from Hollyoaks, but without the track marks.

'Erika' marks the band's return, a piece of epic guitar work, frantically scaling up and down the fretboard. Call and response vocals, and every line finishing with a shout all add to the bluster, buffeting your ears with beautiful melodies. It channels a pinch of British Sea Power, a hint of the Killers, but makes the influences their own.

On the flipside of the CD (well, not technically, it's not vinyl. On the flipside is the label. Duh) comes 'Death Mask', a similarly paced frantic race. It fails, though, with just not enough going on to match 'Erika'. Few tracks can, however, with enough ideas and promise to get tongues salivating for the new record.


Dirty Pretty Things- 'Tired Of England' (Mercury)

Once upon a time every teenage boy had an Arcadian dream in his heart. 'Time For Heroes' playing over and over their minidisc players. Red guardsmen jackets were bought. Jeans were artfully ripped.

And then, as we all know, the happy ending was ruined as the Libertines descended into hatred and mistrust, and were cleaved into 2 sides. Doherty, and the rest. But, more than the sum of their parts, the subsequent bands have failed. Neither Babyshambles nor Dirty Pretty Things manage anything close to their gasping heights, with only Doherty only very occasionally managing to get within 100 yards through his addled, Winemouse afflicted mind.

And here, DPT return. Have they improved? In a word, no. In two words, definitely not. 'Tired Of England' shows absolutely no progression from the first album, carrying on the Libertines wading through molasses tempo, with the added bonus of having all the interesting corners knocked off.

“How can they be tired of England?” Carl asks. Because this kind of idea-less, plodding tedium, makes you want to smash your speakers up with a claw hammer. It dominates the English 'indie' scene and leads to despair at how interesting bands like Los Campesinos! are relatively ignored in favour of this shit.


Beck- 'Chemtrails' (XL)

You know those white lines in the sky, look like clouds? Well, they're contrails. But some people believe they are chemtrails. If you don't know, chemtrails is a conspiracy theory that the contrails of aeroplanes are chemicals sprayed out as part of a secret plan by the government to control our minds. Maybe to make us buy more cakes.

Beck is a Scientologist, so is well versed in these old conspiracy theories (jokes, Legal Department of Scientology). 'Chemtrails' evokes the floating of clouds, borrowing heavily from Caribou's electronic toy box. Gentle synth washes and sparse instrumentation create an airy, atmospheric feel, before propulsive drumming creates real movement in the piece.

Beck has made like a male Madonna and yet again reinvented himself for his new album. 'Chemtrails' is like a more electrified 'Sea Change', ambient and slightly sombre, but beautiful nonetheless. It's a gentle ease back into the public's ear, a slow afterburner.


burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars...

the first post.
it's a biggy. in fact, i can't think of anything to say, so for now, make do with a link to a page about meerkats (which is in fact kind of irrelevant, as this blog will actually have nothing to do with meerkats. it will largely be a blog of the nonsense i write. about cds i get sent).

so, hold the party poppers for the minute, put down the whistles, don't let out that celebratory whoop i know you were just waiting to give...because i'll probably forget i ever set this up, or forget to update it, and so it will go to blog limbo.

"does he even care about me?"

"where did he go? he used to write to me all the time"

i could carry on personifying my blog, but I won't.
ta ra tata ciao