Friday, 31 August 2007 2 No Reply

THE KOOKS - Inside In/Inside Out (2006)

Love songs, acoustic guitars, and a charming singer follow by a band gaming to be rock stars, this is the British band The Kooks, a band that like to play simple songs of two or three minutes (with just one exception).

The LP Inside In/Inside Out, the debut of The Kooks has 14 songs, I used to think that was the perfect number of tracks for an LP, seven tracks on each side, but I was influenced by the vinyl format of the 1960's LP. In the tape era, the perfect number of tracks were reduced to 10, but in the CD era this is not a topic. At least you could say that a debut album is preferred not to be long. In this case Inside In/Inside Out is perfect, 14 songs in 40 minutes (by the way, you can actually buy new music on vinyl).

Inside In/Inside Out could be a '60's record, or it could be another immortal gem from the British invasion if their musical ideas were new. But the LP sounds fresh in spite of its collection of '60's musical tips, the bucolic intro tune (“Seaside”) remind me of the acoustic songs of The Beatles, the rock tunes remind me of the riff guitar of The Kinks and some vocalizations, which brings to our ears the sound of The Rolling Stones (specially in the first part of the song “Time Waits”).

Although there is happy sonic presence of an acoustic guitar, this is not a quiet LP. After the bucolic intro, they attack with a strong rock song guided by a precise distortion guitar (“See The World”), this is their best featuring style: a couple of bars, a couple of lyrical lines and then they hurry the catchy choruses. With this style they produce their highlights: “Ooh La,” “You Don't Love Me,” “She Moves in Her Own Way,” and “I Want You Back.” But to be honest discount the intro song and the last two ones, and the rest of the 11 songs all have the same potential to be singles. Inside In/Inside Out is a very balanced LP, without the songs shining over the others.

Taking the distance (and please take the distance) The Kooks have produced a record with the classical line up of two guitars plus bass and drums that leave a smile in your soul, like the perfect Rubber Soul (The Beatles, 1965), the almost perfect Aftermath (The Rolling Stones, 1966), or the less perfect The Who Sings My Generation (The Who, 1965). This occurs 40 years after those albums, in the middle of the digital era, with an infinite range of technical and musical possibilities. Still, the best way to play a song that could break your heart or mend it again is with wood, strings, acoustic percussion and an engaging voice. The Kooks have done it, for goodness sake.

Published on Blogcritics 29-08-2007
Friday, 24 August 2007 0 No Reply

BADLY DRAWN BOY - About a Boy (2002)

The original soundtracks (OST) from movies should be an independent musical genre where one of the requirements could be how well the music reminds you of the feeling of the movie and another requirement could be how many people appreciate the LP without having seen the film before.

I don’t know if it’s a shame, but I saw the movie first. We’re talking about About a Boy, with Huge Grant and Nicholas Hoult. I liked it a lot, especially the scene where Grant comes on to the stage to sing “Killing me Softly” with Hoult, just unforgettable. But the idea is to talk about the music of the film, recorded just by one artist: Badly Drawn Boy. This is unusual in the OST genre.

About a Boy is a good album with sophisticated arrangements and different textures produced by an acoustic guitar, symphonic orchestral support, and some electronic sounds. The soundtrack is well balanced between instrumental tunes and songs done in a folk songwriter style. His mission, to write song for a film, has improved his writing style. I’m talking about the songwriting style of the third millennium like James Blunt or Jack Johnson. The voice of Damon Gough (a.k.a. Badly Drawn Boy) is warm and soft; he uses different styles of vocalization dependent upon the songs.

The instrumental tunes catches some feelings from the film, like tenderness and the lazy days, very well. The songs are good enough to be singles, especially “Silent Sigh” and “Something About You”. Growing and loving are the topics of the lyrics (of course, those are the topics of the film): “I bet at your age /That's easier for you to say” on “A Peak You Reach” and “I will take you as you are / Please accept me as I am” on "Above You, Below Me".

This LP came to me a couple of years after seeing the movie and reminded me of the film, but when I saw the film I didn’t have a special feeling about the music (except for the “Killing Me Softly” part). If you need a reference, when I saw Pulp Fiction, after the first scene, when I heard the opening song (“Misirlou”), I said very excitedly to my brother sitting besides me in the cinema: “tomorrow I will buy the soundtrack”. The same when I saw Magnolia on cable TV, after the scene where the song “Momentum” plays I said to myself: “I will download the soundtrack.”

I think that you could love this LP without seeing the movie, but as I said, I saw the movie first and it’s recommendable too.

Published on Blogcritics 21-08-2007
Friday, 10 August 2007 0 No Reply

KAISER CHIEFS - Yours Truly, Angry Mob (2007)

Each time I listen to Yours Truly, Angry Mob, the second LP from the British band Kaiser Chiefs, my mind, in an unconscious way, tries to link their sound with the perfect cross between a new wave band from the 80’s and a brit pop band from the 90’s. Trying to describe an album using the popular knowledge of some famous bands is a lazy and cheap trick that I won’t waste your time trying to explain.

Dancing songs filled with unforgettable choruses, pop melodies, rocking guitars and adolescent lyrics. This is Kaiser Chiefs, a band that “read the papers everyday day” (“The Angry Mob”) and wants to be famous right now! (“Retirement”). And there is nothing better to get their aim across than a couple of smash hits with choruses that have just a couple of words going around in your head (“Ruby” and “I Can Do Without You”).

But not all are dance tunes, Yours Truly, Angry Mob, also features “Love's not a competition (but I'm winning)” that is a nice ballad with the most interesting lyrics on the LP; which is one of the highlights, a perfect song to play on your guitar in your room, alone. Other quiet moments are “Try Your Best” and the shorter track “Boxing Champ”, but those songs cannot change the main proclamation of the LP: get on your dancing shoes! (Oops, any relationship with Arctic Monkeys is a coincidence).

Kaiser Chiefs will not change the fate of the music, they are just trying to record the perfect pop song, and well, sometimes we need a band that gives us a couple of new lines to sing in our cars or in the shower. Quoting their own lyrics “I can do it, I can do it, I can do it, I can do it without you / But it wouldn't be very good”.

I think that they didn’t have problems with that, especially if they are trying to look like a new version of Beatles for Sale (the quoting of LP cover is so obvious), and also trying to sound like a cross between their favourite bands; something like Duran Duran mixed with Oasis, or Spandau Ballet mixed with Blur, or Human League mixed with Suede (finally the old cheap trick comes to me). You can choose your own couple.

Yours Truly, Angry Mob is a fresh LP with songs that stick in your head for a couple of days.

Published on Blogcritics 10-08-2007

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Tuesday, 31 July 2007 0 No Reply

ARCTIC MONKEYS - Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)

Like a hyper kinetic kid that always has problems with his teachers and mathematics, Alex Turner sings in a vertiginous way with all the words that his tongue and his lungs let him modulate, without taking care of the timing and the rhyme. But it’s infectious; you never get bored with his style, which gives more energy to the music than the riff guitars, although all the instruments are played in a strong way. In fact the opening track “Brianstorm” has a demolition intro with drums and bass, an excellent choice to introduce Favourite Worst Nightmare.

Although the Arctic Monkeys are talked about as being really new band, being new in rock and roll is quite a hard thing to do. I could say that they have a ‘new’ style, or at least when you listen to the Arctic Monkeys you don’t try to link their music with other bands. For this reason all people talk about them like ‘the new saviour of rock and roll’, but for me rock and roll is saving itself everyday in thousands of bands that never reach the mainstream and play without earning a pound or a dollar. By the way, putting on the shoulders of four young men the heavy burden of being the ‘saviour of rock and roll’, is too much, and The Beatles were The Beatles.

Favourite Worst Nightmare is an amazing LP, an improvement from their debut, the acclaimed Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. It is an improvement because its songs have more personality, more careful arrangements and more demanding vocal work. Although the sound of the guitars, bass and drums are similar on each song, the LP doesn’t sound like a long track of thirty-seven minutes with a dozen of little mute pauses.

A sarcastic and conceited smile flows from the first to last track, “the confidence is the balaclava” they say while they hit their darts on the third millennium yuppies (“Brianstorm”) or the second millennium old neighbours friends (“Fluorescent Adolescent”), although a couple of quiet tracks with more mature lyrics appear on the LP (“Only Ones Who Know”, “Do Me A Favour”, “505”), “Do the bad thing” is the concept (“Take off your wedding ring, But it wont make it that much easier, it might make it worse”).

Favourite Worst Nightmare is not an LP where you would easily find songs that could be promotional singles, the commercial success seemed to be an aim far from their music, but it is precisely what gives them success. You have other bands and singer that have recorded the choruses that you can download as ring tones to your cellular phone.

Finally I can’t resist to compare Arctic Monkeys with The Ramones, a band that only have one musical idea and development that through 30 years without a smash hit (the only way to recognise the songs from the 70’s to the songs of the 80’s or the 90’s is the technical quality of the recording), but influenced thousand of bands all over the world.


Published on Blogcritics on 30-07-2007

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Thursday, 26 July 2007 1 No Reply

ARCADE FIRE - Neon Bible (2007)

So “Not much chance for survival / If the Neon Bible is right”. Damned! What can we do now?

The last album, Neon Bible from the Canadian band Arcade Fire talks about the hypocrisies, the lies, the ambition, and the cynicism of a society that searches for shelter in religion but always finds more pain, more lies, and more ambition without noticing what is happening in front of their eyes.

With a large dose of ironic criticism towards the media establishments (“Neon Bible” and “Windowsill) they have a couple of songs with real explicit lyrics, like “Intervention” (“Working for the Church while your family dies”) and “Antichrist Television Blues” (a song that talks about a father that exploits commercially the talents of his pre adolescent daughter. Does it sounds familiar?). When I say 'real explicit lyrics', I'm not talking about bad words (this is just a dirty commercial trick).

Arcade Fire sounds like the alternative bands of the nineties, but with the typical sound of the new bands that seem to all have the same producers. Sometimes, when I listen to a new song on the radio I can hardly tell if it's from Bloc Party, Interpol, The Rakes, or The Killers. Well, I suppose that people say the same at times of British invasions, glam rock, or grunge groups.

Although they recorded a couple of rock songs, the urge to dance doesn't hit you when you listen to the LP. The quiet songs have precise arrangements, broadcasting the feelings of the lyrics, especially the last track “My Body is Cage”.

The little details make this special, like the voice of the artist and sentimental couple Win Butler and Régine Chassagne as well as violins, accordion arrangements, and some lyrics in French.

Well, if darkness is the feeling of your soul and you were recently born when The Cure recorded Pornography or Disintegration, this could be your new favorite band, side by side with Bloc Party.

Finally, I want to recommend the song “No Cars Go”, the only one with a positive message, at least that is how I felt. The best song of the LP, It has a solid arrangement, a beautiful duet with Butler-Chassagne, and the timing is almost perfect. It is the song that Arcade Fire should never forget to play live.

I know a place where no cars go too.

Published on Blogcritics on 26-07-2007

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Monday, 9 July 2007 0 No Reply

THE RACONTEURS - Broken Boy Soldiers (2006)

The first thing you think of when you're listening to the debut album of The Racounters is 'what is that? White Stripes trying to sound like Deep Purple?'.

Take it easy. Jack White himself plays on this album; this is his new project. In his own words, it's "A new band made up of old friends." Specifically, it is Brendan Benson and Jack White; they co-write the ten songs as other legendary partners did (Lennon-McCartney, Jagger-Richards) and sing almost all the tracks in duet. Their sound is completed by drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence.

Broken Boy Soldiers is a big album, with all the power of rock and roll and blues. The sound appears to be influenced by The Pixies (intros of “Steady, As She Goes” and “Broken Boy Soldier”), Deep Purple (the keyboards on “Store Bought Bones”), Janis Joplin ("Blue Veins"), The Kinks ("Yellow Sun") and the psychedelic songs of The Beatles (the reverse effects on “Blue Veins”).

The Racounters recorded an album that is so natural, spontaneous, and powerful that it makes you say: "Where is my guitar! I can write songs like that." They makes it look easy when it’s so hard; That's talent.

There is nothing new in the guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums. The arrangements are good and are mixed well. All the songs smell like seventies rock anthems. The influences are so obvious, but all the songs are very good. Please don’t ask me for highlights! When all the new bands are trying to sound like something really new (is this possible in rock and roll?), we have The Racounters that give us ten solid songs. That is what the listener wants; good songs. If you insist on the highlights, my favourite is “Together” but the singles are “Steady, As She Goes”, “Hands” and “Broken Boy Soldier”.

Benson and White sing almost all the songs as a duet. They make very interesting vocal arrangements, which build up the 'Racounters sound'. The vocal timing on “Blue Veins” is amazing, Janis would cry in her grave. But, I need to say that the arrangements on “Call It A Day” remind me of Alice in Chains. I don’t know if the band had the soul of Stanley in mind when they recorded it.

There is nothing special about the lyrics, but with all of those emo bands buzzing your ears, you really appreciate a band with a mature way of seeing life: “Your friends have shown a kink in the single life / You've had to much to think, now you need a wife” (“Steady, As She Goes”). As they sing on “Together”: “You've gotta learn to live and live and learn”.

I would like to mention the design of their web page. It simulates the old 80s computers.

Finally a blasphemy, Jack White does it better with The Racounters than the White Stripes. Sorry Meg, maybe rock and roll is a game for boys.

Published on Blogcritics on 07-07-2007

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Saturday, 30 June 2007 0 No Reply

THE RAKES - Ten New Messages (2007)

The Rakes new album sounds like it was recorded with the same instruments and amplification as Bloc Party, but happier, like Franz Ferdinand. At least, you feel this in the mood of the songs and in their lyrics.

The Rakes plays listen-able, dance-able rock. It's a great addition to your MP3 player. But it's rock with enough energy guitar too, with an important amount of the new 'classical riff guitar' that plays only quavers (were The Strokes the first?).

Another characteristic of their music is a singer with a mature voice that sometimes sings tired and some sound effects that appears in a couple of songs. The female voice in “Suspicious Eyes” gives more texture to the short disc of forty minutes long. The conversations over the melodies are a good trick, better than the typical voice-over.

Ten New Messages has entertainment as its vocation. This is very different in comparison with other new British bands with similar sounds who cannot liberate themselves from the melancholic and their dark vision of life. Maybe The Rakes have the same view (in fact “Down with Moonlight” sound like a Placebo song) but you can see that they had fun recording this LP. The Beatlesque melodies are a case in point.

The opening track raises your expectations. “The World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect” is a funny song that reminds you of Tony Blair's cynical smile as he said everything is OK in Iraq, but it's really talking about the simpler things in your life, like how many times you accept your bad fate (“sometimes troubles finds you no matter what you are”) just hold on waiting quietly for your lucky day.

The expectation is met with the single “We dance together” and other highlights like “Trouble” and “When Tom Cruise Cries” that talks about cynical friends too, quoting the film Magnolia (a honorable mention to the sample of an interference produced by a cellular phone being too near to a radio).

The quietest song “Leave the City and Come Home” was the best option to close the LP, which makes you to play the album again.
Monday, 18 June 2007 0 No Reply

PAUL MCCARTNEY - Memory Almost Full (2007)

At the symbolic age of 64, Sir Paul McCartney has released his new solo album Memory Almost Full, recorded in the way that he likes most: alone, or almost alone. He plays all the instruments by himself (except for the strings) and does all the voices by himself too.

There are many interpretations of the title Memory Almost Full which you can find in a sea of reviews about the album, but for me it’s just the evidence of a man in his third age thinking seriously about his death (“The End of the End”), looking over his shoulder at the long and winding road that he had taking (“Ever Present Past”, “You Tell Me”, “Vintage Clothes” and “That Was Me”).

But also the title Memory Almost Full is about the feeling of his soul after his painful divorce, so tired after that old deal because he really loves that woman (“Gratitude”).

Before listening I was thinking about this album like the last part of a third millennium trilogy with Driving Rain and Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, but I was surprised by the album that reminds me of the best moments from Wings, with some musical déjà vu of the Flaming Pie.

Can we expect something really new from Paul? Hard question, looking back in retrospect. Press to Play sounds new compared with his first eighties albums, although for me the lowest point on his solo career was Press to Play. On the other hand, the amazing Run Devil Run was really something new compared with the albums released in the last 20 years; furthermore it was a vindication of the rock and roll after the decaffeinated CHOBA B CCCP album.

Asking again, Can we expect something really new from Paul? Yes, Memory Almost Full is a bit different, more fresh, more rock, more raw, and more emotive than the last albums, but of course it has the typical Macca clichés and it has the same musical tips which we love in his music. This is what we want: his charming voice in the emotive song (“You Tell Me”), his powerful and hoarse voice in the rock tune (“Nod Your Head”), his unbeatable arrangements and his infinite talent to play bass, guitar (great solo on “House of Wax”!), piano, and drums.

Let me quote: Paul collaborated with Ringo on Vertical Man, and while they were mixing the album, Ringo said to Paul with a little disappointment, “hum, it sounds like The Beatles” and Paul answered, “hey man, you’re a Beatle!”. Paul didn’t have a problem sounding like his old records, because what he is, is what he is (“Vintage Clothes”, “That Was Me”).

Now it’s time to disagree a little with Sir McCartney, I don’t like “Dance Tonight” as the opening of the album, even more, I don’t like this track on the album. After the kicking rock tunes that opened the last albums (“Lonely Road” and “A Fine Line”) I was waiting for a stronger tune, specially after he announced that he would work with David Khane as producer. “Only Mamma Knows” would have been a better option than this monotone track that could give you a lazy preview of the album.

This is not an album to introduce a new audience to Paul, but the most successful songwriter alive hardly needs that. This is just the album that fans were waiting for, thousands of fans all over the world.

Published on Blogcritics on 18-06-2007

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Wednesday, 13 June 2007 0 No Reply

THE DEARS - No Cities Left (2004)

When you listen to the opening track of No Cities Left you may think that Jeff Buckley has come to life again … and this feeling rules the entire LP, the third in the The Dears musical career.

How important is the first track? Usually you pre-judge an LP from the first song and usually the artist tries to give you a preview of what's to come, sometimes they raise expectations and use a little track (an “intro”) to introduce the first song. Is “We Can Have It” a good opening? At first listen, I would say yes. It has an emotive musical development, but if you attention to the lyrics you can feel so much sorrow and frustration (“Someone somewhere says they've got it all / But that's not even what we want / Not even close”). If you listen to the rest of the album, the songs are easier to listen to.

Personally I prefer as a first track a song that takes risks like “Pinned Together, Falling Apart” with its messy intro (reminiscent of Pulp's This is Hardcore).

On the next tracks the British influences appear. It's so hard to postulate if it's Suede, Pulp and Blur, or Morrissey’s band that have influenced The Dears the most. Maybe they took musical ideas from all of them. Sometimes, it seems, they took more than just the ideas though. For example, the arrangements of the fourth track “Don’t Lost the Faith” are too similar to “There is a Light That Never Goes Out”.

The lyrics dramatically cover all aspects of life: the new high stress tension that can lead to an unsatisfied adult life (“Don't Lose The Faith”), reminiscing about a kiss that eventually broke your heart (“22 The Death Of All The Romance”), worrying too much about the little things (“The Second Part”), and the dream of breaking out of your mundane everyday life. (“Imagining and planning out the course of both our lives”).

No Cities Left is a good LP, full of melancholy, sadness, and passion. It's only weakness is it becomes a catalogue of the alternative brit pop cliché, using intros, arrangements, and vocal work that always reminds you of songs you have heard before.

It may seem like a new concept, but in reality it's not new at all if you thing about the use of samples. At least it's a different development.

Published on Blogcritics on 13-06-2007

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Friday, 1 June 2007 0 No Reply

INTERPOL - Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)

The debut album from the NYC band INTERPOL sounds like it was recorded on the green grass lands of the UK. It has the same melancholy feelings of many British old bands and the powerful and messing guitar of the new bands like Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party. However sometimes it reminds you of The Pixies, specially on the solo guitar track “The New”.

But there are two musical elements that rule the LP. The first is a kind of dark mixing. Although some songs are strong rock tunes, you don’t want to dance, you can feel the weight of the emotions on the tracks that pass one by one slowly like a big and heavy wheel climbing up a hill.

The second musical element is the way that the singer of the band does his job. Without a good register, he sings like he was rushed to say all the words his soul needed to say, like now or never. Sometimes he puts more words than the musical timing allows, and sometimes faster. He finished the phrases after the instrumental line had completed leaving some strange space without singing, like mute notes. Paul Banks sings, forgetting the pop rules of how to build a perfect song.

But the LP flows naturally with little surprises, maybe with the exception of the longest song (“Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down”) but this track is like an abstract of the musical ideas of the band. The second longest track (“The New”) doesn’t justify its length of six minutes either.

Talking about the lyrics, they are focused on a man flattened by a lover that “Was A Diver And (She) Was Always Down” that is the object of all his devotion and desperation, almost all the songs talks about it (“Untitled”, “Obstacle 1”, “Pda”, “Say Hello To The Angels”, “Obstacle 2”, “Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down”, “The New” and “Leif Erikson”) Maybe I should quote the songs with different lyrics.

It’s not easy to recommend highlights from this LP, although one guide are the singles (“Obstacle 1”, “NYC”), but I can pick up a couple with good lyrics, like “Leif Erikson” and “Obstacle 1”.

Published on Blogcritics on 01-06-2007

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Monday, 28 May 2007 0 No Reply

JARVIS COCKER – Jarvis (2006)

While you are listening to the Pulp hit “Disco 2000,” about a loser and an illusion, you feel the height of all the Pulp History in this song. A naif illusion. But it’s ironic, this song changed the fate of his composer, singer, and Alma Matter of Pulp, Mr. Jarvis Cocker.

After Pulp disbanded, Cocker, the only one permanent member of the band, released his first solo album simply titled Jarvis in 2006.

Before continuing, we must ask ourselves a question, was Pulp really a band? I mean, normally in a band at least two people are involved in composing and making arrangements, sometimes one person writes the songs and involves other members of the band to prepare arrangements. This is the way bands normally solve musical problems. You don’t have a band when the musical leader does the entire job.

We have here an Lp that sounds exactly like the last singles from Pulp (ex. “Last Day of the Miners' Strike”). Did Cocker do all the work in the band? Or did not he have enough of his own musical ideas? Maybe the latter is the right option, if you notice that some songs have less effort in musical arrangements. When the member of a band starts his solo career you expect a different sound, for better or worse.

The Lp opens with a little instrumental track (“Loss Adjuster”) and then continues with one of the highlights, the perfect pop song “Don't Let Him Waste Your Time” and then continues with “Black Magic” that uses a sample of the characteristic part of the 70’s hit “Crimson & Clover”.

“Heavy Weather” could be another Pulp song and on “I Will Kill Again” the cheap keyboards attack again. (Lazy arrangements, as I said Jarvis doesn’t have a good enough voice to sing warmly, only with the keyboard.).

Some people need to be sad to compose good music (an unfortunally example is Cobain), some people loose thier charm when they growth old, and Jarvis is one of them. He’s not a loser anymore, he’s a family man singing “Baby's Coming Back to Me”, “Disney Time” and “Fat Children”. He’s now a different class of common people, he’s the kind of person that wants to have a boring life after he's lived all the emotions, cried all the tears, and bled all the blood. But it’s not the end of the world baby! Lennon recorded his best solo songs after five years being a housekeeper. (Double Fantasy could be the best Lennon LP without the one on one song with Yoko.)

It’s a good album if you miss Pulp, but it isn’t a new This is Hardcore. Maybe Cocker needs to wait a couple of years to start his solo career if he just wants to be Jarvis.

Published on Blogcritics on 28-05-2007
Friday, 18 May 2007 0 No Reply

SUPERGRASS - Road to Rouen (2005)

Supergrass is one of those bands that remind you The Beatles were the biggest in musical history and also that you don’t need to miss them too much, because there are a lot of new bands always recording beatlesish songs. Of course, the Fab Four is not the only influence of Supergrass.

The funny, energetic rockabilly mixed with Mersey Beats sounds of the Supergrass give us a good number of powerful songs, like “Alright”, “Pumping on your Stereo”, “Moving”, and “Grace” but on this LP, the band remembered their influences also recorded melancholic songs.

Road to Rouen is a short LP, just eight songs and a little instrumental tune, where they try to show themselves in a more sophisticated way than the most. The opening track has the 'progressive rock' title of “Tales of Endurance (Parts 4,5 & 6)” with a musical progression where you notice 'different parts' and ad hoc lyrics: “We hail commercial suicide / Kiss the love you leave behind / And let it bother you / Well you do what it takes to get what you can”.

The song “Roxy” is six minutes, unusually long for the Supergrass catalogue, with lyrics dedicated to the dead mother of the Coombes Brothers. It has a big ending very much inspired by the song “I’m the Walrus”, too inspired you may find.

The McCartney style appears on the second and quieter track called “St. Petersburg” (one of the highlights), with more accuracy than can be remembered on the LP Ram (and with more precision than the song “Dear Friend”). By the way, Supergrass has the same influences as Oasis and Gaz tries to sing like Liam on this song and on the next, called “Sad Girl”. This song has a middle section that reminds you of the single “Around The World” from the Oasis LP Be Here Now (but both remind you of the Magical Mystery Tour and Their Satanic Majesties Request by The Rolling Stones).

But the other tracks are reminiscent of The Kinks, The Who, and Rolling Stones, but not in a bad sense. Road To Rouen is a big LP for as short as it is, with very sentimental lyrics and a couple of kick rock songs like “Kick in The Teeth”.

Maybe Supergrass doesn’t want to be just a funny band or maybe Gaz is now a mature man looking over his shoulder at the past. Maybe Gaz saved the most mature tracks for the end, like mid-tempo song “Low C”: “We were younger / Oh the way you turned my head, ooooh / I wonder if I'd care / If I saw you again / Would you hurt me like before /Or would happiness be there” and the song “Fin” (Spanish word for “End”) a beautiful slow track, recorded with a drum machine, that asks you: “Hey, the song, do you feel / Leave your light on through the night”.

Published on Blogcritics.org 16-05-2007
Friday, 11 May 2007 0 No Reply

BLOC PARTY - A Weekend in the City (2007)

Bloc Party, a post punk band they say, but the lyrics make reference to all the social diseases that made punk a social movement. Maybe it is not a punk record only because has a professional production.

But we have the same feeling against the mainstream and his new form of control over you after the USA 11/S and the UK 7/7 in the very powerful first tracks “Song For Clay” and “Hunting For Witches” or the old form of reject you in “Where is Home?”: “in every headline we are reminded that this is not home for us.” (A song that talks about the death of young black boy.) It’s so hard to raise up your self esteem in a city that is like a vampire in front of you (Song For Clay), the necessity of love and recognition appears like a lawful demand on “The Prayer”, “I still remember” and “Sunday”.
Although the disappointment appears in every chord of the LP you have some special songs about it "Waiting For The 7.18" ("If I could do it again / I'd make more mistakes / I'd not be so scared of falling"), "Uniform" ("There was a sense of disappointment as we sped away / All the young people looked the same") and "Kreuzberg" ("After sex / The bitter taste / Been fooled again / The search continues").

But the story of disillusion, racism, and homosexuality that ends badly appear in the last track “SRXT” ("Being a man made me coarse / When I wanted to be delicate"), where the suicide is the worse chance, but a chance at least ("Tell my mother I am sorry / And I loved her").

Talking about the music, of course this is not punk that we know, but is punk a kind of guitar riff? Call it Bloc Party post punk if you want it. Here we have a couple of good strong guitars, powerful drum and bass, a voice that communicates the feelings of the lyrics with a big quota of drama when it is necessary (There are a lot of happy tunes with sad lyrics), and some good melodies that need to improve a little to be unforgettable.

Returning to the post punk concept, you can recognize some typical musical clichés given by the new technologist (Protools) that lift the sound of the new rock bands, but it was the same at the times of the British Invasion or the keyboard attacks in the eighties.

A Weekend in the City is a very good CD but in second place behind Arctic Monkeys.

Published on Blogcritics.org 06-05-2007
Friday, 4 May 2007 0 No Reply

PAUL WELLER – Paul Weller (1992)

If you don’t know who Paul Weller is, you may think that it’s a man in his midlife crisis, after a boring youth, asking what I am. Because, almost all the songs talks about it, with the exception of a couples ones, that talks about the love to his woman. Musically it’s an Lp that’s sound like Motown music, but without the sexy style of the black singers. Weller cannot liberate from the bitterness of the British music, and don’t have problem with that (as bitterness rises from the ashes of your youth), it’s a nice mix that fits very well and was use it at that time by others artists from UK who recorded successful LP in this style, like Simply Red and Jamiroquai (you can find some similarities).

Paul Weller homonymous LP it’s a collect of good and carefully arrangement songs, very equilibrate, although the first four songs are noticeable the best. A lot of guitars (three or four per song), nice flute arrangement, some sixties details and a remarkable voice works. Its music that your enjoy listen, its cool, calm and collected, but if you want to dance just do it. The music goes smooth between tracks, linked by the lyrics and a global musical concept from the first song to the last: soul with energy, sometimes with tranquillity, sometimes with honesty.

Now it’s time to remember who Paul Weller is: the old front man of the most popular British band of the punk era, influencing legions of English rockers that ranged from his mod revival contemporaries to the Smiths in the '80s and Oasis in the '90s. Before you think that it’s the same name but not the same man (jumping from punk to soul!), maybe causality, you need to know that between The Jams and this LP, Weller recorded a couple of disc with the band the Style Council, where he made and unsuccessful transition from the aggressive and noise sounds of punk to the gentle and neat sounds of soul music, a transition that finished when Weller broke up the group and lost both his record contract and his publishing deal After Polydor rejected the Style Council's fifth, house-influenced album in 1989.

Now we can declare that Weller was at this time (started of ‘90s) in his midlife crisis (always there to confuse and fool ya! – when you scared of living but afraid to die), trying to be the artist that he was, but without a plan: “tomorrow I’ll walk to the harbour and catch the first boat that’s coming in” (Bull Rush), just doing what he feels (here we go in this moment in time).

And now we can say that Weller leave his past and recorded a big LP, that after fifteen years still be in force, his voice it’s warm and expressive, and it’s necessary to mention that he recorded all the guitars and almost all the bass line.

Finally a couple of trivia data: you may think that last track on the CD has a hidden track, but not, it’s just a coda of the last songs. And if you take a look of the pictures of the cover CDs you may notice that Weller also influences the rock fashion of all the Britpop movement.
Friday, 27 April 2007 0 No Reply

JEFF BUCKLEY – Grace (1994)


A beautiful and emotive voice not necessary gives you a beautiful and emotive record; maybe the karma of Jeff Buckley (the son of cult songwriter Tim Buckley) was to be bigger of the tragic legend of his father, include his own death.

A very ambitious musical work, great arrangements, sometimes a rock band, sometimes just music, but always a big vocal expression, a fatuous vocal expression that give the feeling that he use the songs just like a way to demonstrate his musical capability.

In the songs “Grace”, “Last Goodbye”, “So Real” and “Eternal Life” Buckley tried to be a rock singer, but his pretensions not let him reach the feeling that other rock singers reach at that time on classic rock ballad, like E. Vedder on “Black”, B. Corgan on “Disarm”, C. Cornell on “Black Hole Sun”, L. Stanley & J. Cantrell on “Down in a Hole” or the most famous performance of K. Cobain for the MTV Unplugged.

But all his sins are forgiven thankful to his interpretations of the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah”, where he put his talents to the service of the song, maybe this was possible because he not wrote this.

Next song after Cohen cover is “Lover, You should’ve Come Over”, less haughty than the first tracks sounds like the perfect equilibrium between his talents (and his karma) and the interpretation that the song demand (of course, if you believe that some songs demands some kind of interpretations, because the lyrics, the melody, his history…). You can find this perfect equation on “Corpus Christi Carol” (Lyrics freely after anonymous 15th century text, melody by B. Britten) and “Lilac Wine” of J. Shelton (but originally performed by Elkie Brooks, but actually inspired to the version sung by Nina Simone), both cover songs.

Another chapter are the opened and the ended tracks: “Mojo Pin” and “Dream Brother” that Buckley wrote in cooperation with a friend and members of his band respectively. In these songs we can recognize an original sound, a musical style, a kind of lyrics, a beautiful voice work, definitively the essential of Jeff Buckley music.

It’s a shame the fate of his blood, Buckley (like his father) died young, Jeff at the age of 30 years old… maybe his soul knows that his first album was finally the last and for this reasons he tried to put all the universe only in one hour.

A post album appears a couple years after with some lost songs.
Friday, 20 April 2007 0 No Reply

JACK JOHNSON - In Between Dreams (2005)


If UK put on top of the charts a guitar singer/songwriter like James Blunt, USA strikes back with Jack Johnson. But “In Between Dreams” isn’t the first LP of Johnson, actually it’s the third.

Just nice songs with a warm voice in a beautiful day, like the CD cover, a drawing of Johnson with his guitar on back pick up a leaf from a big tree in the afternoon. Songs to play on guitar, with friends, on a beach at night, beside a little fire, well it’s easy to imagine Johnson doing this, because he was a champion surfer before started his musical career, by the way, he’s an Hawaiian native

Basically an acoustic guitar with minimal arrangement, just added drums & bass and sometimes a second guitar and a shy keyboard, some chorus with a second voice recorded by Johnson himself (an electric guitar appears on funky track “Staple It Together” but didn’t change the colours of the LP). Some touch of folk, rock ballads, funk and reggae you can listen in some passages of the LP.

No need more arrangement when the message it’s so simple, so pure, so clean, no need more when the message it’s just love.

Love is the answer, At least for most of the questions in my heart”, sing Johnson in “Better Together”. “Love is the answer” sung John Lennon thirty years before on “Mind Games”, maybe an inspiration, at least a quote.

But Johnson have his own touch in the way he sing, putting a lot of words in each verse, singing one after one without a musical pause, this could be tired, but he has a natural rhythm in his voice, that let him flows for each verse without lose the melody. Similar to Rap concept, a vocal works between talk and sing.

The highlights of the LP are “Better Together”, “Sitting Waiting Wishing” and “Good People”, the only one with a different concept in the lyrics which is focus on criticism the media (news on tv) asking “Where’d all the good people go / I’ve been changing channels / I don’t see them on the tv shows”.

But mainly simple scene of his personal life appears in the lyrics of the LP like in “Banana Pancakes” (But Baby, You hardly even notice / When I try to show you this / Song is meant to keep ya) and “Do You Remember” (Do you remember / When we first moved in together / The piano took up the living room / You'd play me boogie woogie / I played you love songs).

Was written before … love is all you need.

Was written then … Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs / And what’s wrong with that?

Friday, 13 April 2007 0 No Reply

THE THRILLS – So Much for the City (2003)


Nice, beautiful and simple songs results when five friends travel abroad from the cold land of UK to the sunny beaches of the west coast of USA and wrote the songs in complete relaxation. The Spanish names of the cities of the old Spanish colonies appear here, there and everywhere in the lyrics of the LP: Santa Cruz, San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Big Sur.

Although the influences of the Beach Boys, and others bands from the flower revolutions in the sixties, it’s so obvious they don’t avoid his British references like the beatlesish phrases in “Your Love Is Like Las Vegas” : Don't you know, You're like Pete Best, Bitter after all these years, Just let it go. You can almost hear Liam Gallagher when Conor Deasy (the lead singer of the band) sings with the same hall vocal effects in “Big Sur” the words “hangin’ around …” (I try to remember the name of a side b or a demo song of Oasis when Liam sings the same words but I can’t).

US music references it’s more directly in “Big Sur” when they quote the main title of The Monkeys series, in the Burt Bacharach’s intro of the “Deckchairs And Cigarettes”, and in the slide guitar of “Hollywood kids”. But they never loose his British sounds; it’s so elegant to be a US group.

All the songs on the LP make references to the holidays in the beaches, some more explicit than others (“Don’t steal our sun”, “'Til The Tide Creeps In” and “Santa Cruz (You're Not That Far)”) where all the concept it’s maybe resume in the lyrics of last songs, the hidden track called “Plans”: the girl travel to the city and he didn’t follow her but asked her to come home, to the holidays …

A couple of slow songs, a couple of more rocker songs, but the all lp sounds like one big song, little details it’s not enough to make remarkable differences between them, whatever this it’s not necessary a critical point, but sometimes it’s a little boring.

It’s a nice record to listen without your shoes on a warm day with the sunset on the ocean holding a glass of white wine.
Wednesday, 4 April 2007 0 No Reply

THE CORAL - Magic and Medicine (2003)

There is a man looking at the sunset on a cloudy winter day, you can notice some bitter and some comfort in his eyes, Liezah has gone and he only remembers that secret kiss and a melody in the forest, Looks out the window and thinks in vain If I could only be that boy again.

Like slides of a heartbreak – history, the songs from the LP “Magic and Medicine” (2003) of the Hoylake band The Coral, flows one to one with melancholic and nostalgic sounds. A gentle vocal work, acoustic guitar, reverb electric guitars, harmonica, Mersey beat drums and mystery keyboards. A lot of the sound makes references to 1967-68 periods which you can recognize.

The Lp opens with “In The Forest” a kind of mystery song talking about a romance that never was and the feeling of longing for something and never have the opportunity to get it. “My only crime was to want too much / I could look but I could not touch” said the lyrics with an unfinished phrase in the chorus “You'll never know how much I......you”, maybe a lot of pain to sing “I love you”.

The next song is one of the singles of the Lp with a video that rotate on MTV: “Don't Think You're The First”, with a faster tempo (in comparison with the other songs) it’s not a danceable song, nice flute arrangements give some colours to the song. Melancholic lyrics talks about leaves the sadness and notice there is always one person besides you that loves you, and all we have problems, as Mick Jagger sings in Mixed Emotion (you’re not the only one with mixed emotions).

Third song is “Liezah”, maybe the name of the girl who inspired all this songs. Like a folk song with correct plucking of acoustic guitar it’s a gentle tune talking about a girl that all men wants, but all need to resign themselves to be just only one page in his diary book “She leaves their silver but keeps their gold”.

Next song is “Talkin' Gypsy Market Blues”, the rockiest songs of the LP, it’s no precisely blues, but it’s rock and roll, tells the history of a wandering boy representing in a pairs of gypsy boots. Nice drums fill gives to the song more style.

Then appears “Secret Kiss”, the best song of the LP, it’s a single too. With an hypnotic tempo and remarkable mystery keyboards sounds, the melancholic arrangement are the indicate to give you the feeling of a secret kiss as a little treasure that give you some comfort in your boring winter days. As Cobain sings “I miss the comfort to being sad”.

“Milkwood Blues”, also isn’t blues, although the lyrics talks about “Black Crow nights n' chimney tops and one too many sad songs”. With some jazz like changes of tempo and some in voice effects, it’s the most alternative rock style song of the Lp, but try to looks interested with more complex arrangements not always give you a good song.

“Bill McCai” it’s a rock tune about the saddest history of a man that pass his life trying to be a boy again, with hope, innocence and a whole life to live. Nostalgic more than melancholic it’s the feeling of this song that continues gives you the idea that all the days are clouds in the sky.

Although “Eskimo Lament” started with a beautiful a saddest intro with guitar and piano suddenly changes to a happiest tune, but the lyrics continues the frame feeling all of the Lp “But all my truths are lied All my secrets have been told”.

Like a bolero, “Careless Hands” says please don’t love him, he doesn’t care about you, but never said “’Cause I do”. Again unfinished lyrics about an unfinished love history, songs writing with the nostalgic melancholy of knowing that it’s too late. With a good tempo, acoustic guitars and nicest electric guitar fill it’s a one of the best song of the LP.

“Pass It On” It’s the other single (but here in Chile only sounds Secret Kiss and Don’t Thing You’re the First), it’s a happy and gentle rock song, happy in the context of course, “When it's done, and all this has gone, just find a feeling, pass it on” a little hope you can find.

I don’t know it’s “All Of Our Love” is a song just for fill the LP, eleven songs it’s enough for a good LP, but it’s ok, with the voice as an second layer of sounds it’s like a intermission more than song like the others, the problem is that the next song (the last) it’s not a smash hit.

“Confessions Of A.D.D.D.” closest the Lp with more energy than the rest of the songs, with lyrics focus on social criticism didn’t loose the melancholic sounds that characterized all the LP. A good song with trumpet arrangements but not qualify as a single (as I said before).
 
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