Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Does he cry through broken sentences like "I love you far too much"?

Apologies for my recent lack of writing,to be entirely honest I've been far too preoccupied to discuss music lately as for the most part I've been consumed by Harry Potter,what with 'The Deathly Hallows' and 'The Order of the Phoenix'.Well I did my part with the midnight queuing and was rewarded with a pristine copy for only £5.I won't share my views on Harry Potter here as it's not the place but suffice to say that I enjoyed every minute of it and cried lots.My reading since have been a lacklustre experience in comparison.My current read is my initiation into the 33 and a third series on classic albums,my first choice is Colin Meloy's book on The Replacements 'Let it Be'.It reads more like a memoir than a book about the Replacements,and as a bona fide fan of The Decemberists it's nice to read about Meloy's formative years.

In musical news I am honoured to announce I will be seeing a certain Ryan Adams again in a matter of months in what looks like a beautiful venue in Cardiff.I feel beyond lucky,and can only assume the two tours this year are my cosmic payload for the shitty reasons behind missing last year's solo tour.(There was a hospital stay and much trauma and general devestation,both from being ill and missing Ryan).I will also be seeing Rilo Kiley next month,which I am looking forward to despite the godawfulness that is 'The Moneymaker'.A funk-style song leads to just one question:"WHY?"

In another attempt at discourse on my most treasured albums I bring Bright Eyes 'Fevers and Mirrors'to the table.After listening to it whilst travelling through some of the Midlands less desirable spots yesterday I was overwhelmed by how fucking much I love this album.Not a new revelation of course but one it's worth remembering despite,or maybe because of my recent Conor bashing on this blog.Songs like 'The Calendar Hung Itself' and 'Haligh,Haligh,A Lie,A Lie'never fail to move me.I love the desperate emotion in lines like "she had eyes bright enough to burn me,they reminded me of yours" and "I was determined in Chicago but I dug my teeth into my knees".As for 'Haligh...'that has the honour of being the first song I added to my favourites on the arrival of my MP3 player and it's still there.Every line is exquisite,where has that attention to detail when discussing despair dissappeared to?So it was nice to be reminded of the awe I experienced when first listening to Bright Eyes is still there.I then listened to 'Letting off the Happiness' and Read Music,Speak Spanish',the latter being an album I need to be in a certain kind of mood for but completely adore.

So all in all a time for revisiting and rediscovering old favourites rather than new ones,but that's certainly cheaper for me anyway.I am also playing 'Born to Run'religiously,and must say that it's a perfect soundtrack for washing up.The soundtrack for reading 'The Deathly Hallows'consisted of much Bruce Springsteen and Ryan Adams and a healthy side order of Harry and the Potters.How awesome is it that Harry Potter has inspired so many bands?I mean come on,'Voldermort Can't Stop the Rock'?There are no words to desribe that level of greatness,wizard rock rules.

And on that note,my geekiness fully exposed I will depart and return soon with word of my latest fixations.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Stylish Kid in the Riot

As promised,here is the first of my 'influential albums'posts.I'm not sure why I chose to feature The Libertines 'Up the Bracket' first apart from that a few words to say on it have been rattling around my brain for a few weeks.It doesn't seem very 'cool'to like The Libertines now what with the chaos Pete Doherty's life has become and the shambolic disarray of Babyshambles.Since the arrival of the Arctic Monkeys et al it seems the Libertines influence and impact has been woefully overlooked in favour of newer,and in my opinion inferior bands.

Although it took me a little while to pay full attention to the Libertines,once I listened to 'Up the Bracket'properly it seemed ridiculous to have not noticed it before.The sound was so visceral,urgent and raw and the effect was like tearing off a plaster really quickly.I'd go so far as to say it's one of the greatest debut albums I've ever heard and is almost certainly the best from the last 10 years,particularly in England.Most of the time,particularly recently I feel ashamed of English bands who become successful as they often have so little to say and what they do say is painfully embarassing to hear as it usually revolves around drinking tales and little else.Of course The Libertines were drenched in booze and the sleazy trappings of groupies,but more importantly they managed to capture a sense of England in a way that hadn't been seen since the likes of 'Modern Life is Rubbish' and 'Definitely Maybe'.Their sound somehow managed to incorporate punk with something entirely modern and fresh and their influence seems to be ringing out with so many bands now it makes me feel a little nauseous,mainly because most of them have recaptured the sound but not the spirit.

'Time for Heroes'really should be considered a modern classic as it's a majestic song,I always smile at the line "there are fewer more distressing sights than that of an englishman in a baseball hat" followed by the much more striking "yeah we'll die in the class we were born".It is apt too that my memories of this song largely revolve around hearing it whilst travelling through one built up and often grey local region after another.

If you don't appreciate The Libertines and their collosal impact on modern music it's unlikely I've managed to convince you of otherwise with this rather clumsy post,but nevertheless I thought it was important to note that aside from the Pete Doherty circus he helped to create something truly great,even if it did implode pretty quickly.That's not to overlook the involvement of Carl Barat too,who I think is overlooked far too often,particularly as Dirty Pretty Things are awesome,and produced my favourite and most played album of last year,as well as providing me with four sublime gigs within one calendar year.At the moment there's some discussion about if the two will reunite,I'm not sure it could work in the old way but regardless they did something amazing and it's worth remembering the way it felt to hear 'Up the Bracket'a few years ago.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The scales always find a way to level out

Firstly I have to say that being an obsessive music fan isn't as easy as the casual fan might be led to believe.Because just as there is always the chance that something new or previously undiscovered/unnoticed song or album might be unearthed and enhance your existence,there is also the threat that something previously amazing and untainted,might suddenly become humdrum without a second of warning.This may be coming across as wholeheartedly melodramatic,perhaps even trivial.If that's the case it's probably better you find your way to another blog entirely,you see this one isn't about discussing the world and its many conflicts,its much more micro than that,and it concerns itself only with my various rantings and ravings about music.

Anyway,the artist the above paragraph most relates to at the moment is Bright Eyes.As previously mentioned I've been struggling,nay wrestling with 'Cassadaga'since its release,and this week came to the conclusion that I could do no more.I resigned myself to not liking the album and managed to accept that it isn't my fault,sometimes these things just don't work out.However,I still felt a trickle of glee at the thought of seeing Bright Eyes live and hoped the most recent songs would fully come to life live.Alas,that was not to be and so another,slightly less crushing blow was dealt.The gig was at a rather large venue and indeed my least favourite local venue.I struggled to see easily despite changing location several times,and eventually chose to stand fairly near the stage with an awkward side view some of the time.The gig lacked the spark of previous Bright Eyes gigs and the only real moment of connection I felt was during 'The Calendar Hung Itself',one of my very favourite Bright Eyes song.Even one of my favourites from 'I'm Wide Awake...'and the only song from that album not featured last time I saw them('First Day of My Life'for fact fans)rang hollow in its new,speedier version.I spent the majority of the gig feeling frustrated and aching(both physically and metaphorically).

So there we are,another perfect relationship in shreds.I know it seems unreasonable,idealistic and all the rest of it to expect your favourite artists to keep you happy,but such is the euphoria when you first discover them that you feel confident they could never disappoint you,until one day the manage to easily when you're not expecting anything.

It's a shame that this post is so heavy with its own woes,but after endless posts detailing my love and excitement concerning various artists,I guess the balance needed to be addressed.Don't worry about my negativity though,the next post will be about a life changing album.At the risk of repeating myself I will say that the life of any hardened music fan is always swinging from disappointment to hysteria,the risks have to be taken I suppose.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Oh My God,Whatever,Etc

It may seem,to anyone who has noticed that I've been somewhat quiet considering 'Easy Tiger'was released this week.Well,that's not because I dislike the album or any such nonsense,more that I've been trying to decide precisely what to say about it.Of course I rushed out in the rain on Monday to buy it and decided on the slipcase HMV version because well,I fell for the gimmick of it I suppose.I listened to it as soon as I got home and it felt a little odd as besides the UK bonus track 'Nobody Listens to Silence',I'd heard all of the songs already,(I hadn't heard 'These Girls'or the new 'Off Broadway'but neither really counts as 'new')and as one who tends to avoid internet 'leaks'as much as possible that felt odd.

I've since listened subsequent times and with each listen have discovered a lyric,a sound or a little sigh I like,I enjoy noticing these nuances that bring me back for more.I must say too that I've found much that is worth returning to 'The Sun Also Sets'blew me away the first time I heard it on a bootleg and the recorded version is fifty times more powerful,the lyrics are ferociously good and the way Ryan sings "next time,next time,oh be sure"shakes me every time.I also love 'I Taught Myself How to Grow Old'.his voice sounds so angelic and wonderful.Yes,it seems that once again I am drawn to the songs most heavily seeped in sadness,that's what appeals to me I guess,and probably explains why I'm a Ryan fan.I'd been adoring 'Goodnight Rose'for months and the recorded version does not dissapoint,in fact it emmulates my favourite live version(one without all the muso type stuff).Also,unlike most other people I've seen discussing it,I absolutely love 'Halloween Head'.I wasn't very keen from the early live versions but I love the recording,and the lightness of it shakes things up a bit.

So,there it is.Predictably the mighty tiger has eclipsed dear Jesse Malin for the album of the year(so far at least).It's a really subtle record and very consistent,it flows easily and even less memorable songs like 'Rip Off'have their moments.I prefer the 'Suicide Handbook'version of 'Off Broadway',although it's namely the drums that spoil the new one for me.It's the same with 'These Girls' vs.'Hey There Mrs Lovely'really,although I love the line "one christmas I got a funeral and they handed me the receipt".

While I'm writing a post dedicated to everything Cardinal I may as well mention that I greatly enjoyed the interview on Bob Harris Country this week too.It's so amusing to listen to interviews with Ryan cos you hear people laughing along in that bemused way that suggests they're not entirely sure if he's joking.And when you hear him begin an interview on a country specific show by saying "I always hated country music but being from North Carolina I could just play it"you know it's going to be a classic.

Right,fan geeking over(for now at least!).I'm planning to do some posts about some albums that are important to me in the coming weeks to break up the "stuff I'm liking at the moment"type posts.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

I would be sad

No matter how low my spirits might plummet there is always something good just around the corner to pick me up again,musically speaking at least.My latest love and probably soon to be a passion leading me to rant on about them uncontrollably,is the Avett Brothers.I heard snippets from 'Emotionalism'recently and fell under the spell,leading me to buy the album speedily.It is gorgeous and sure to be right up there in the albums of the year(yes,that rears its head yet again,what can I say?I love list making and music geekery fits snuggly alongside it wouldn't you say?)The style,for the uninitiated is bluegrass meets alt-country with heart tuggingly well observed lyrics.There are more upbeat moments too to balance out the touching heartache of the rest.Unmissable for those who like their heartbreak well articulated.

So,'Icky Thump'.I haven't fully digested it yet but my response after one listen is that's it is a solid beast of an album.My worries were quickly cast aside as 'You Don't Know What Love Is(You Just Do As You're Told)'burst through the headphones.It's a fantastic blend of rock and country and my favourite song on the album so far.Generally it's a vastly consistent record though and I am suitably pleased.For once this year my fears were not realised,but I'm sure my fellow music obsessives can relate to my skepticism,2007 has been a lacklustre year for albums when it should have been brilliant.

I've also been indulging in a little Amy Winehouse recently.I really didn't like her previously and absolutely detest 'Rehab'but I thought I'd give her a shot after I heard 'Back to Black'on the radio and it sounded much better.In an odd twist I fate I also saw her the street in Camden last week which was suitably random!I've been listening to a few songs and do quite like them.I don't think I'll ever be a 'fan'as such but I can see what the appeal is more so now I think.

Last night I went to se Charlotte Hatherley performing her first ever acoustic show.I was never her biggest fan when she was in Ash,having assumed she was responsible for their weaker offerings.That said I wanted to give her the opportunity to impress solo and she certainly did.I generally prefer her debut album to 'The Deep Blue'as I love the unabashed pop of songs like 'Summer' and 'Kim Wilde'.All of the songs sounded great live though and she did some interesting covers like Kim Wilde's 'Kids in America' and The Beatles 'I Want You'.So overall a suitably pleasing event.I love live music for its spontenaity,you can go and see a band you love dearly and be dissapointed or see someone you have little expectation of and be massively impressed.

So that's about all for this dose of musical morsels,but thank you for visiting and feel free as a bird to leave comments or suggestions!

Sunday, 17 June 2007

You cried the union forever,but that was untrue girl

I've set up a 'stats'feed for this blog so I can see how many visits it's getting and I must say that I've been pleasantly surprised so far and hope that by posting regularly I can increase that gradually.Thanks to those of you who do read,in particular those who have left comments,it's always nice to have made connections with other people,especially as a lot of the time I feel like one of the only ones who feels so strongly about music.(I know I'm NOT,I just don't come into contact with like minded types too often,certainly not in 'real'life anyway as gigs seem to be populated by morons).

Anywho,I was in London for a few days this week which was fab as always.I love it there,the vibrance and the noise and the hustle and bustle.It is also the location of my favourite bookshop in the country.I haven't visited every one in the land of course but it's safe to say that outdoing this one is not possible.There are also some lovely record shops there and I found some wonderous things,like 'The River'.Perhaps belatedly I am in the grip of a Bruce Springsteen fixation and am very slowly building a collection of his records.'The River'was particularly sought after as it's considered such a classic,and double albums are always worth perusing.It is a fantastic album and I'm very glad I found a reasonably priced copy.I also found 'Tim'by The Replacements,which sent me into a music fan stupour,another fantastic record.Sadly there was nothing by The National to be found but I will persist,and I am more than happy with my purchases.I also found Eleni Mandell's 'Miracle of Five'for £1!I believe I was introduced to her by a certain Lis( and the album is lovely stuff.

Of course the main reason for my visit was to see The White Stripes,but my description of that can only be a heavy hearted dissapointment.I'm not sure what it was about the performance but I just didn't feel the spark that would mean the gig would forever be in my mental hall of fame.It didn't help that the crowd was huge and unbearably squashed close together.The other times I've seen them were much better and this time seemed a little perfunctory to me.I wasn't keen on the meandering solos either,but I guess you expect all the crowd pleasing flourishes at such a huge gig.I left feeling a little hollow though,glad to have seen them again but feeling as if I hadn't heard most of my favourite songs.I also hate it when bands have one very iconic song that the majority of the crows is waiting to hear and will inevitably be the gig's finale.Of course that song is 'Seven Nation Army'and while I like the song a lot and do think it's probably amongst their best I hate the predictability of its appearance and the crowd's response.Especially as a guy behind me remarked "everyone in the place is just waiting to hear that opening riff",well actually,I wasn't.I would have preferred 'The Hardest Button to Button','The Union Forever'or 'The Big Three Killed My Baby'.I'm still looking forward to hearing 'Icky Thump'for the first time tomorrow,although I must admit not being that impressed by the couple of live previews.

As I write this I am listening to the Bats for Lashes album.I got it about 8 months ago and listened to it but had neglected it since then,until today I stumbled across a rather magnificent cover of 'I'm on Fire'which led me to rummaging around for the album.It's a lot more memorable and loveable this time so I guess it's a grower.The opening track 'Horse and I'really reminds me of old Bjork.I love the first three Bjork albums dearly but have liked the more recent three less and less.I can't really get into 'Volta'at all,I just find it overwhelming,it seems to have taken on far too many styles.

Well,this has seemed like a very long post to type so I will end it there,I'm sure I'll be back soon with my thoughts on a certain 'Icky Thump'.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

You gotta play that music for who's listening,you gotta have someone you wanna sing it to

I don't want this blog to seem like the 'Ryan Adams music blog'(who am I kidding with that one?)But something on my musical mind at the moment is the thorough dismissal of '29'.At the time I did wonder if it was possible for any mere mortal to produce a hat-trick of jawdropping albums in a mere year,but after hearing the album I no longer wondered.To me the album will forever be tangled up in some unfortunate personal history but despite that I adore it.No it isn't the lightest listening experience but the fragility and poetry on display are both utterly inspiring and phenomenally devastating.Yet it seems such thoughts are in a big minority,with even the Ryan-friendly 'Uncut' describing it as "weak",with 'Filter'calling it an album that meant "pretty much nothing to no-one".I'm sorry but it meant and means an awful lot to me.So that's the rant of the day.The album isn't necessarily easy to digest but it's well worth investing some time in,for 'Strawberry Wine'alone.The lyrics read like short stories and tell well woven stories of heartache and loss.

Elsewhere musically I am enjoying Emily Haines a lot at the moment.I saw her live recently with the Soft Skeleton and she was wonderful.'Knives Don't Have Your Back'is an awesome record.At first I wasn't hugely impressed but it worked its magic on me in a subtle style.Again the lyrics are well written(basically the first thing I look for in music)and the simplicity of the piano accompaniment is really striking and effective.That sounds like I'm writing a review but I guess I am,informally at least.I have since invested in 'Live it Out' by Metric too.I have listened to them before and liked what I heard,but the beguilling Emily Haines has led me to investigate her repetoire further.

I'm also enjoying delving into Bruce Springsteen's back catalogue at the moment,although I have a long way to go.It seems I can only ever discover or become a fan of bands with a vast expanse of back catalogue.Like The National.I listened to 'Alligator'and wasn't fully moved,but still investigated 'Boxer'and well,that was that.'Slow Show'will be on my end of year mix.Yet my initial joy at finding them gave way to a sigh after seeing they have a total of four albums plus an EP to their name.I mean really,is it too much to ask to like a band with only one album?I guess not because I seem to favour the more mature artist,the kind with a lifetime of dysfunctions to their name.Meaning lots of CDs and little cash is a constant state for me.Still,I will be in London tomorrow for the White Stripes meaning I have an excuse to rummage through some record shops along the way.