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 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 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.