Monthly Archives: February 2011

Radiohead – The King Of Limbs

 

Okay, a very abbreviated review of Radiohead’s The King Of Limbs, which revealed itself a day early. It is eight tracks and 38 minutes long. Opener ‘Bloom’ is a staccato mid-paced number that sounds like a jazzy Amnesiac relative. ‘Morning Mr Magpie’ is a groovy rat-a-tat number, which bends and shape-shifts. ‘Little By Little’ is both pastoral and deeply unsettling, with Thom Yorke sounding wonderfully ominous. ‘Feral’ is an utterly odd little instrumental, while ‘Lotus Flower’ (with its mad video) is a manages to sound utterly experimental but achingly familiar. The album ends on a high – the final trio of songs comprising the beautiful piano-led ballad ‘Codex’ and the wonderful head-fuck of ‘Give Up The Ghost’ before ending with ‘Separator’ which is fuzzy, yet detached and otherworldly.

The King Of Limbs doesn’t seem to have the immediate human warmth which In Rainbows so beautifully captured, but it is sonically more experimental and endlessly intriguing. It sounds like the next great Radiohead album.

Buy the album here: http://thekingoflimbs.com/

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Get Your Ears Round This – #2 EMA

If you watched the Brits last night and wanted to put your head in the nearest oven, then EMA may just pull you back from the brink.

EMA is Erika M Anderson, a native of South Dakota and the ex-guitarist in LA band Gowns. Her debut solo album, Past Life Martyred Saints, is out in May and it is sensational. EMA manages to sound like both Cat Power and Kim Gordon, while bending her guitar sound past Spacemen 3, Neil Young and onwards to planet Loop. When she sings “I wish every time he touched me / It left a mark” on ‘Marked’ I don’t know whether to swoon or be terrified. Guitars drone on ‘Grey Ship’ – a song about the Viking’s take on the afterlife – while closing track ‘Red Star’ pulses with molten menace. It all sounds pretty extraordinary to these ears.

For a free download of ‘Grey Ship’, click here: http://www.souterraintransmissions.com/souterrain/free_downloads.jsp?release=22780&artist=22740


The Editor’s Cut: Bright Light Bright Light

I have a propensity to waffle. On and on and on. Sometimes editors feel the need to cut down my articles (which can be painful in many ways) – which is undoubtedly a good thing. However, if they chop out some potentially good stuff, I’ll post it on this blog. First up, some words that didn’t quite make the final piece from my recent Quietus interview with Bright Light Bright Light.

British pop music has had a rough time of it recently. While the ‘X Factor’ epidemic seems to have sucked the life-force out of any genuine new talent, it seems that the male species gets an even shoddier hand – either shoved into suits to hammer out ballads or airbrushed into unlikely sub-Take That boy-bands. Therefore, Rod Thomas, a handsome Welshman, is a refreshing blast of positivity. Under his “project” pseudonym of Bright Light Bright Light (one for 80’s film buffs), Thomas wants to make his own brand of pop music and connect with the masses. Last year’s debut single ‘Love Part II’ made a fine start; a viral hook swaddled in sweaty Hi-NRG.

It does seem that all the big solo stars in recent years have been women – Gaga, Beyoncé, Rihanna etcetera. I also saw a piece on you that heralded Bright Light Bright Light as this decade’s answer to Robbie William or George Michael. Is there is a sense that British pop music is overdue a new male solo star?

BLBL: I think so. The music industry needs another guy who does his own thing and works really hard at it. There are a lot of male solo artists who work extremely hard and get a bit of a rough deal. There is a female bias; they seem to put a lot more into giving the girls their own identity than the guys, who they just put in a suit and get them to sing a song. They don’t allow personality, or charisma, or ideas. What George Michael and Robbie Williams did very well, was put a lot of personality and a lot of themselves into the music. I really want to be part of a project that allows that to happen.

So, you are setting out to make pop music and, therefore, the success of the project will be judged on sales of CD’s, tickets and merchandise. Is this how you see it?

BLBL: Maybe in other people’s eyes, yes. It’s very obvious with pop music – people get slated if their song only gets to number 48, whereas if you are an indie band it’s a huge achievement. There is more pressure in terms of sales and wider success, but for me, playing gigs like the one at Koko in front of 1,300 people and they all danced, was amazing. Supporting Ellie Goulding, and I haven’t even released an album yet, means that the project is a success in terms of it being fun and we are getting to connect with loads of people. So, in the next year, with the album coming out, we can really attempt to get it to another level.

And you are also entering a medium of art which is prey to media intrusion. How would you feel about getting papped or having outrageous gossip written about you?

BLBL: I’m fully aware that it is likely to happen. People are desperate to write gossipy things about anyone with any degree of fame. Even at school people are searching for gossip about others. It’s the same principle over and over again. It’s funny in a way. You just have to be careful about who you talk to and what you say. It is an odd part of culture; that desperation to have all these photographs and follow people around to get them.

But surely a clever PR campaign would involve you appearing in ‘Heat’ magazine?

BLBL: Ha ha. I’d love so much to be in ‘Heat’. So, I’d best look after myself and not go to the supermarket in my tracksuit.

The Quietus article can be read here: http://thequietus.com/articles/05660-bright-light-bright-light-interview


Get Your Ears Round This – #1 The Milk

This blog will frequently attempt to big-up a new band I’ve started to love. I’ll call such posts ‘Get Your Ears Round This’ and number them. I never said it would be rocket science.

When four Essex boys got sick of flailing around in punk bands, they downed tools, retreated to their garden shed (tis true) and obsessed about Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys.  The result is The Milk, whose debut single ‘(All I Wanted Was) Danger’ is a roaring piece of old-school soul. Produced by cool-as-fuck hip-hop producer Brad Baloo of The Nextmen, it sounds like Cee Lo Green after just the right amount of Sunny Delight – it’s a huge, smiley pop song. The B-side is just as good – ‘Dynamite’ is a three-minute party about the perils of Viagra. Other demo tracks reveal more disco and hip-hop influence: The Milk seemingly have something for everyone, and made me want to think about Dexy’s Midnight Runners when they were very, very good.

Never heard of them? Exactly. You will.

Check them out here: http://www.thisisthemilk.com/


NME Awards Tour: A win for Crystal Castles

The NME Awards Tour rode into Manchester last Friday night. It’s a bit depressingly corporate – branded t-shirts for the bar staff and ‘NME babes’ dishing out leaflets and competition offers. However, the ol’ rag knows how to put a line-up together. At the early hour of 7.20 pm, the hyped-to-the-max Vaccines take the stage to an already sizeable crowd. They are okay; with a couple of songs (including ‘Wreckin’ Bar, (Ra Ra Ra)’ and ‘If You Wanna’) that fizz into the memory banks. Hype, though, is a mysterious beast.

Second up is hometown favourites Everything Everything. They play a storming set which everyone seems to love. Except me. ‘Photoshop Handsome’ aside, I don’t get their appeal. Also, I thought the lead singer was a dwarf but then we saw him in the bar later on and he is the same height as me. He must have tall bandmates. I am a bitter, heightist man.

Next up, Magnetic Man. I’m not big on dubstep and when the stage gets set up to resemble an Apple shop with its bank of laptops, my concerns go onto red-alert. Unfortunately the bass is so deep that it makes me feel like I need a poo. I retreat to the bar area. Their set is too loud, too tuneless and my depressingly entrenched hatred of the genre continues.

Thankfully, Alice Glass is a trooper (and a mad woman) and arrives to save the night. The Crystal Castles singer has broken her foot, but against doctor’s orders she’s carried on touring and ensures the Canadian duo blow tonight’s other bands into the middle of next week. Amid a barrage of strobes and dry ice, Glass screams like a rave banshee, while pogoing on her good leg and waving a crutch in the air. Her hooded accomplice Ethan Kath drives her on amid a bank of keyboards and the effect is exhilarating. Glass is an out-of-control Gothic pixie queen and songs such as ‘Fainting Spells’, ‘Doe Deer’ and ‘Yes/No’ sound extraordinary live. It makes the previous bands seem staid and seriously dull.

Don’t believe their hype.