Saturday, August 11, 2007

the classical, and singles (and albums)

hmmm... not the greatest of starts for alloa athletic, then.

if you reckoned we didn't like classical music - aside from the seminal action painting! a-side return of 1993 - you've been wilfully misled we're afraid (probably by us), although of course we only listen to those "post-punk" classical recordings made post-1976... anyway, evenings with radio 3 during the proms season are ever a joy - highlights so far, from those concerts we've been able to dip into were mahler's surprisingly accessible symphony no. 9 in d, and schumann's surprisingly arresting symphony no. 2 in c major...

now... dap-c "the boy who cried wolf" - a formulaic chorus hook maybe, but this is smilingly trumped by the perfectly balanced verses from c, with his ever-recog geordie lilt, finsbury park star skinnyman shaping for mud fam, and best of all the way under-rated s.kalibre, whose gruff, blokeish tones still offset dap-c's so well, just as they did on dap's "character building" opus a few years back... as he rightly invokes krs-one in damning hip-hop's self-inflicted, increasingly oafish public image...

the pains of being pure at heart... great band, terrible name (like manhattan love suicides)... but TPOBPAH are the best thing from new york since team shadetek... take yr pick from either a 3 tracker, sub nom "this love is fucking right!" on cloudberry, or those 3 plus 2 more on an eponymous ep on painbow... well, this love is not wrong... the press releases have picked out the reference points (for once correctly) of early mbv, black tambourine et al, although there's something about the wavering vox on "orchard of your eye" that gives us a church grims glow too, and there's a hint of the close lobsters' trebly guitar sunshine to "right!"... all 3+2 songs, are well worth a listen...

similarly, liechtenstein's "stalking skills"... starts with a blissful thud of just shop assists drum n' bass fuzz which the rest of it can't quite live up to, but while it's lighter and frothier than the shoppies or the frenchmen, say, it still stalks prettily and (with some skill) talulah gosh, early aventuras de kirlian and free loan investments...

and whereas the pains of being pure of heart and liechtenstein records could quite conceivably have been recorded in 1988, the bodines' "shrinkwrapped" ep on the ever-excellent firestation records definitely actually was... yet here the songs appear, for the first time, as a single - and the title track is everything you'd expect, which is to say a lyrically spiky, tuneful 2 1/2 minutes of glistening, highest-notch indie...

saxon... yes, saxon... it's come to something when the ultimate butt of jokes, the pariahs of the rockistocracy post-spinal tap, creep onto our playlist... but "need for speed" is as addictive as it is dumb, it marginally outmuscles maiden's last 45, and these days being free of both blandness and pretention is a rare and glorious thing in music...

tinchy stryder "something about your smile"... lots of rotation on channel u, as he takes the "breakaway" formula (i.e. good verse, slushy wailing crossover chorus) that bit too far... too polished, just too polished... but as he cheerfully admits elsewhere on the ep, "this year i'm trying to get mainstream money"... and yet the beats (davinche again) still clap so smartly, and tinchy is still so likeable an mc, that we're even falling for this ep a little... aah...

there's been at least 30 great singles this year so far: we weren't expecting one of them to be by gravenhurst... but "trust" ... on one of those labels that is still largely badge of quality, warp records... combines jangly guitar atmospherics with curving, gently rasping bass to positive effect... a 7", well a 7" a-side, of some class...

julie ocean... a band name that celebrates an overlooked masterpiece... songs taking up where the saturday people left off in many ways, a joyous jumble of british-style power-pop a la the jam, and the hurtling, endearing east coast indie adrenalin of prime tree fort angst... records soon, please...

if we told you that the new cockney rejects album was brilliant, we would be lying... indeed, it is nothing more than a sad parody of what people think the cockney rejects sounded like back in the day, when the reality was often a pleasant surprise (not just the testosterone-packed early singles, one of which we still proudly quote on this very page, but the almost go-betweensy melodies that started to appear by album four and then the difficult-to-manage evolution to proper metal by album five)... more upsettingly, by turning so unreconstructedly against modern youth culture in the lyrics they're actually rounding on what they used to be, i.e. the new kids shaking up the block, equal parts irritant and inspiration... although the "look up to wankers like liam gallagher / just give me sugar ray and marvin hagler" lyric nearly redeems it... and the reality is that we don't need the cockney rejects any more now that we've got lethal bizzle... (and as for lethal himself, well "bizzle bizzle" is still a lot of fun, but as for the lp, it's so perplexing to see him so desperately trying to cross over into [the overcrowded market of] terrible indie music... much as we've loved him over years since we first bigged up "oi!", we suspect this is where lethal and ourselves finally part ways)...

if we told you that the new bad brains album was brilliant, you might think we were also lying... you would be wrong, because as we've hinted before it not only includes some of the dreamiest, most perfectly-picked roots reggae we've heard for a country while but also some of the more coruscating hardcore tunes we've encountered since the heyday of the great m.d.c... be prepared for it to place high in our year-ends...

l.man "who's that white kid ?"... well, judging by this he's a piledriving grime mc... we know that's only one string to his bow... and where once every four-piece guitar band whose singer had read a book were the new smiths, now any rapper who happens to be white is the new eminem... but he is not the new eminem (thankfully)... see the great interview in this month's hip-hop connection (ace issue including a countdown of uk top 50 albums we nearly agree with) where he makes this entertainingly clear...

bombstrike's "religion of the lost" and "downfall" are from their "born into this" sessions... part of a swathe of fine music coming out of stockholm at the moment... these days, most of you seem to run labels... so why not try and release these tracks... they make spectacular listening sense...

white town's "socialism, sexism and sexuality"... finally available again, sadly only through i-tunes, but it still sounds infinitely better than any double album called "socialism, sexism and sexuality" by a (then) obscure indie band beloved of cassette compilation er, compilers had any right to... plenty of elegant little lo-fi bundles of considered, sometimes mannered indie-pop a little in the mould of east midlands contemporaries bulldozer crash's similarly slept-on album on sunday records... while taken as a whole, the sheer number of tracks ends up spreading jyoti's then-creative powers a little thin, it's hard to see how any other band from that tape-trading craze, those now fading days, could have thrown up quite such vivid creations as "my baby will love me", "all summer in a day" or "why i hate christmas"... fabulous songs about society, about outsiderdom, about "masturbation and politics", as mr mishra would have it, and yes, about socialism, sexism and sexuality... musically designed to appeal to those, like us, who adored the wedding present and the field mice in near-equal measure, so many tracks shambling along nicely like the former, while "that's just so" in particular tends towards the yearning for exploration of the latter... with brittle drum machine clicks, wake keyboards and almost sublow hiscock-style bass...

and finally, it wasn't just roque santa cruz who had a dream debut.

1 comment:

brogues said...

I never thought I'd see the day when Saxon, Schumann and Black Tambourine were mentioned in the same article! Good work :)