The Flaming Lips have finally delivered a trailer for their much awaited film Christmas On Mars, promising freaky technology, aliens and a strange dude in a Santa suit. It’ll be at selected film festivals and there’s a DVD set for a Christmas release appropriatly.
Suitably strange for a band that wrote the song “Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles”.
Been a bit busy at work recently, which hasn’t help me writing as I usually listen to music all day in the office. However, a fairly full training period has been underway, and couple with a lot of changes to the way we work, my hours are now erratic to say the least. Today I finished at six, where as two weeks ago I finsihed at almost 11pm. Anyway, enough excuses, I will try and get something up soon, but here’s some more vids from some albums I’ve been enjoying recently. FIrst up is apparently the official video for “Bones” by Editors, which unfortunately takes the route of concert footage/backstage guff all mashed up. Shame really, as this is the best track on the whole album:
Editors – Bones:
Neon Neon – I Told Her On Alderaan:
R.E.M. – Man-sized Wreath:
It seems funny looking back how picked apart Radiohead’s 6th album was; 10 years since their debut the group had surged from being alt. rock nearlys’ to the “best band in the world”. Then they appeared to commit commercial suicide with the brave and expeirimental Kid A and Amnesiac, released just a year apart from each other. A live album followed and then rumours of Radiohead plugging the guitars back in and promising the sound of old. Is it strange that a return to the band’s rock roots is what we all wanted? Nonetheless, despite the clicking sound of a guitar lead being plugged into an amp, Hail To The Theif continues Kid A’s experimental vibe but somehow manages to convey a frantic live feel that the band’s two previous album’s lacked.
Whereas Kid A and Amnesiac often forsaked the traditional song formula, in exchange for texture and dynamics, Hail To The Theif manages to combine both. “2+2=5” is a pulsating burst of almost punk-like energy that jolts to a sudden stop. “Sail To The Moon” sounds like a smokey, nocturnal dream, whereas the skittering electronic pulse gives way to a motorised beat that is hard to ignore. Indeed the electronic drone feeling of the earlier tracks continues all the way through the album, excluding the booming “There, There” and the wry “A Wolf At The Door”.
There’s only one problem with Hail To The Theif; it’s too long. Songs like “Go To Sleep”, “I Will” and “We Suck Young Blood” don’t really offer anything new and don’t seem to have any momentum. Take these three tracks off and you’ve got a trim and tight 11 track, 45 minute album. However, the brilliant “Where I End And You Begin” more than makes up those track’s failings, with it’s swooning synth atmosphere and it’s crunchy guitars. Hail To The Theif lags towards the end slightly, but I’ve been surprised as to how good the songs still sound today. Half the tracks here could easily be some of the band’s best in my opinion and the rest is solidly put together. Maybe Hail To The Theif lacks some of In Rainbow’s conhesion and light touch, but that’s no bad thing. It certainly doesn’t deserve the reputation as “the album Radiohead should have given away for free”.
Radiohead – There There:
When you listen to the Arctic Monkeys, you think of the North of England; working class accents, gritty upbringings, kitchen sink dramas and the minutiae of everyday life. Listening to the Last Shadow Puppets makes me think of continental Europe, the mystery and intrigue of the cold war, the epic sweep of romance and operatic tragedy. The contrast between Alex Turner’s main band and his side project with Miles Kane couldn’t be more pronounced: their album, The Age Of The Understatement harks back to a by-gone age of orchestral pop that recalls Scott Walker during his mercurial solo career. The album has been made with the collaboration of Simian Mobile Disco member James Ford, who produces and plays the drums. The other key collaborator is Owen Pallet of Final Fantasy who arranges the sweeping orchestral sounds that help give the album a grandiose feel.
Despite sharing vocal duties Turner and Kane sound very similar, so the effect is more akin to the technique of double tracking the vocals. The big string sound envelopes every track, often abetted by brass and some canny use of echo effects. The songs never hesitate or rely on a slow build up: it’s straight in, deliver the goods and then they’re gone. Even the longest track on the album, “Black Planet” is only four minutes long (although there’s an artificially extended outro, which feels unnecessary). The whole album is done in just under 35 minutes.
The Age of The Understatement shows why the Arctic Monkeys could surpass Oasis as one of the best British Bands of recent times. The Gallaghers were content to be a pastiche of themselves by the time they’d recorded their second album. With this album, Alex Turner shows he can be more that just the sum of his influences. Even a track like “I Don’t Like You Anymore” could conceivably be an Arctic Monkeys track manages to expand it’s origins into a force able guitar-driven pop song. There’s plenty of standouts, especially the nocturnal “My Mistakes Were Made For You” and the driving title track.
The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of The Understatement:
Here’s some more videos for some of the recent albums I’ve written about:
The Presets – This Boy’s In Love:
Enter Shikari – Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour:
Vampire Weekend – A Punk:
Band Of Horses – No One’s Gonna Love You:
I actually have a smidgen of sympathy for so-called “MySpace bands”, which are bands that have supposedly used the internet to gain a following but seen to be passed it by the time they actually release any tunes. Vampire Weekend formed in 2006 but it’s taken until early 2008 for them to release their first album, despite a wave to hype and interest surrounding the band throughout the previous year. Maybe that’s a good thing: now the interest has subsided a bit, their self-titled debut album will have to stand on it’s own merit. What also helps is that Vampire Weekend really don’t sound like any other band right now. Taking the literary approach to rock and adding it to a world-music vibe makes for a really unique album in 2008.
Much has been made about the afro-beat influence on the band and indeed the drumming definately incorporates the layered “poly-rhythmic” african influence, especially on the lead single “Mansford Roof” which starts off kind of frenetic only to have a light chiming guitar and keyboard that mellows the track considerably. The songs on Vampire Weekend tend to be fairly short, normally lasting 3 minutes and this is a good thing: the songs are short and crafted, with short bursts of strings that lend a nice extra texture on some songs, like the jaunty “Bryn”.
Picking one track to highlight doesn’t do the album justice: Vampire Weekend works best as a cohesive album, rather than a collection of songs. At times, it reminds me of Paul Simon’s African inluenced Graceland album (the breezy melody of “One (Blake’s Got A New Face” and the percussive “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”). Indeed, I think my favourite track is nestled at the end, “Walcott” has this amazing chiming sound which is either a piano played really far away of a very distorted guitar. When the second verse starts up, there’s a wonderful violin solo propelling it on. I hate recommending an album purely on the basis that it’s original and it stands out from the crowd, but Vampire Weekend really does sound different and it’s stuffed full of songs that have a lightness of touch about them which makes this album an intoxicating listen.
Vampire Weekend – Mansford Roof: