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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