Monday, April 23, 2007

At The Drive-In - Relationship of Command

You may have noticed that I enjoy being scathing in my reviews. That's because I do not suffer fools, I do not suffer crap music, and I do not suffer my toast going cold before I get my butter on it. One of those is relevant, sometimes two. In this case, "fools" is most definitely the only one relevant. This is my favourite album of all time, co-written and partly performed by one of the worlds biggest penises, Cedric Bixler.

This is the album that is responsible for the screamosplosion that's ruined the last five years of music for me. All of these bands who puke out adrenaline-shot riffs and scream indecipherable lyrics about plankton and shit got their ideas here. All of those bands who would rather jump around the stage and break things than perform got their ideas either here or from Idlewild when they were called iDLEWiLD. And all of those bands who are horribly skinny, wear tight jeans and have wafros... well, I'm glad they're limited to Wolfmother.

It's hard to put into words quite how perfect this record is, and because you've heard it all before, I'm not even going to bother. I think the fact that, six and a half years after its release, it's the only record ever released that I can still listen to, start to finish, and be as excited, captivated and awestruck as the first time we came across one another. It is the yardstick to which all albums are compared, be they hardcore, post-emocore, new prog or country and western. Songs like One Armed Scissor, Cosmonaut and Invalid Litter Dept, three songs that piss all over the combined career output of 99% of bands, are timeless, essential, and examples of sheer, undiluted genius.

Such a shame it is, too, that Cedric and Omar have gone on to form the worst band in the entire world, The Mars Volta, and that Jim isn't getting the press he deserves for releasing three albums, two good and one amazing, with Sparta. Man, I REALLY HOPE THAT THE MARS VOLTA DIE IN A HORRIBLE GAY-SEX RELATED ACCIDENT. Cedric is getting plenty of press, however, for being a complete and utter cuntflap, and writing songs with guitar solos, drum solos and fucking sound-of-farting-caterpillars-solos so long, pointless and destinationless they could aptly soundtrack a disabled dogs attempt to drive around the world in a Reliant Robin just because it can. Whilst Jim makes upward looking rock which seems the logical progression from ATD-I in the mainstream direction, Cedric is content to vomit out discs crammed with musical sewage, pointless 16 minute songs and three minute swirly whooshy sound effects that sound like being lost in the woods at night. And that is definitely NOT something I'd pay £12 for the privilege of doing. Perhaps the biggest travesty of them all is that he is busy creating seventeen minute sonatas for indier than thou spastics and that kid from school who sat in the dark room and said you didn't understand him rather than the kind of visceral, urgent stuff on Relationship of Command. What a waste of fucking talent.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

+44 - When Your Heart Stops Beating

I don't really know what Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker want to achieve with this. I really can't fathom it. Mark is utterly minted already, Travis made some fairly cool stuff with some of his punk friends on that Transplants record that was out a few years ago. What I can tell you is this;

This disc contains some of the most insipid, uninspired pop-punk toss that I have ever heard. It's not even that most of the tracks are shit. That would be kind to them.


Arctic Monkeys - Brianstorm

Once upon a time I thought the Arctic Monkeys were alright. I had an .mp3 of a decent enough song called A Certain Romance but I couldn't get past the fact that the riff was a complete Ocean Colour Scene ripoff. I was then reviled by the fact that, when they finally deigned to churn out an album, it consisted almost entirely of songs they'd already released for free to their fans on interweb, and filled in the gaps with some other songs that sounded exactly the same as the rest. It was the most 5/10 album of the year. It wasn't terrible, but likewise, it had nothing special about it, and yet it got lapped up by the record buying zombies nationwide. Travis. Coldplay. Snow Patrol. Arctic Monkeys.

This single sees them make their ill advised return. You'd have thought that having seen the backlash reserved for Maximo Park and Arcade Fire that they'd have split on the spot. I certainly would have, rather than release this record. The problem is that it's View From The Afternoon V2.0. Only it's not, because it's crapper. You should never release a shit rework of your own song as a single. Absurdly, Brianstorm is the second track on this single. Lead track "If You Found This It's Probably Too Late" starts off with some strings before burning out in one minute, just like a furious wank.

Then the single itself shows up. You've already heard it on the radio so I won't bother commenting on it. What I will comment on is underage girls in indie nightclubs. Why do they always scream when their favourite song comes on? And why do they scream the loudest for this painfully average candy floss? If you want to hear something really, really awesome on the dancefloor, request the Soulwax remix of Gravity's Rainbow.

The third track is completely disposable, and bizarrely features Dizzee Rascal in a straw-clutch for some more credibility, and the fourth track is probably the best, being feedbacky and noisy and stuff. It's pretty cool once you get 1 minute in, and it's basically GRUNGE at 1 minute 45. The Vines wanted a song like this to put on their second album.

However, I do not await the Arctic Monkeys album with much expectation.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Holloways - So This Is Great Britain?

So this is the sound of a bunch of talentless chancers picking up some instruments and singing some puns about STDs? Yes, I'm afraid that is pretty much it. In fact, to be honest, I can't believe this CD exists. There isn't a single redeeming feature about it except for the weather forecast on the cover which is just as good as the Met Office one. The first track is a laughable attempt at God knows what. The fact that you know it's fallen flat on its face and failed miserably despite not even knowing what it was aiming to do is indicative of the quality of music on offer on this record.

This is the sound of Pete Doherty taking a shit then sticking a tin whistle up his arse and farting, recorded on a broken four-track and mixed by clinically insane four year olds.

Seriously, I listened to this abortion of a record twice. Once because I had to and once in a futile attempt to find anything good on it. Most of the crappy sub-Libertines albums that have been released (note to Holloways - mostly about three years ago)
had at least one or two goodish songs on them. If The Others, The Paddingtons and even Thee Fucking Unstrung could manage one or two passable songs, why can't The Holloways?

The answer to this question, I'm afraid, is that they are inestimably shit.


Fields - Everything Last Winter

I like it when a band is from funny places. They usually make really cool and weird music like what SyStEm Of A dOwN did and what all the iceland people do. Fields are like a wierd combination of iceland people and cockney geezers, I think. I hope the iceland person is the chick. Women from iceland are kinky and have good sex. Bjork told me.

What ends up happening with this combination is that they make some good songs. They sound kind of like a more exciting Arcade Fire crossed with some more simple Sigur Ros songs moving fast with some violiny bits in, and some whispy vocals that you can tell are from iceland and some pretty cool heavy guitar stuff by the cockneys. It sounds a bit like Mew sometimes. You can't tell that they share a producer with MARILYN MANSON because they are a lot better than that bisexual cockgobbler and sound totally different, thankfully.

This album is really good at the start. There is a song called "Song For The Fields" that's amazing. I don't know why it's called that. It should be called "Song From The Fields", which would be very descriptive. The next song is called "Charming The FlAmEs" and it, too, is really good. The problem from the third track until the amazing ninth isthatthewholealbumseemsto fadeintooneanditgetsincreasinglyand frustratingly difficulttotellthedifferencebetweenthetracks andtorememberwhatwaswhat whenitsfinished. It all seemingly runs into one. That's not to say it's particularly bad, which it isn't.
It just plateaus a bit in the middle I'm afraid. Or whatever a plateau is called when it's lower than what is around it. A basin? I've done a Geography degree and I don't know.

Track nine, though, is amazing. It's called "If You Fail We All Fail", and it's been on EPs and stuff. If you don't like that track, don't buy this album. I really like it though, so I bought this album. And I'm not disappointed with my decision. What I am disappointed about is not being blown away by this in the same way that I was blown away by the quality of their Reading set.

I don't think this is the last we'll hear of Fields, because they are good.


The Pigeon Detectives - Wait For Me

Sheffield. Young. Pop. Lyrics about going out at night and being a teenager in the north. Still reading?

You shouldn't be. Like the rest of us, you should be fucking sick to the back teeth of this crap. Shit like The Twang and The Holloways and The View who shamble uncouthly into the lime-twighlight dragged on the coat-tails of the Arctic fucking Gibbons or whatever that fucking band is called. You should click that big red x in the top left or, if you're seriously bored, go on some porn.

Or form a band with your friends. Three chords, two guitars, one idea and no talent are all back in fashion now, you know.

You're probably, therefore, going to be surprised by the fact that this record is actually good. It's lively, it sticks in your head, it has a couple of genuinely brilliant tracks and, at only 39 minutes, it doesn't drag. In comparison, The Kooks debut album was 39 minutes too long.

This band has a legion of really, really catchy choruses. "I Found Out", "Caught In Your Trap", "Can't Control Myself" and especially "I'm Not Sorry" benefit massively from this. The album doesn't really flag much. A perceived slight dip in quality after the half way point of this album is only noticeable because the middle three tracks are so damn good.

I don't expect any lastability from this album whatsoever. I won't listen to it beyond this summer, but at this isn't 1977 by Ash, I'll let them off. There are no hidden depths to plumb or pentatonic octave-shift polyrhythmic arpeggios or shit on this record, but because this isn't a BeHoLd; ThE aRcToPuS review I won't hold it against them. There are no original ideas whatsoever on this record, but because this isn't a Bjork review, they are off the hook.

This record is really good fun to listen to, and now that the weather is getting nice and the women are all wearing shorter skirts and flirting with you more, you need music like this. In fact, I challenge you to listen to a Porcupine Tree album or a Sunn O))) album or a Dimmu Borgir album and then go score some fangita out and about. Even better, try and get hot women to get into your car whilst you play Dimmu Borgir out loud and scream something unintelligible out the window about SATAN. Bonus points if your car is the Batmobile.


Yourcodenameis:milo - They Came From The Sun

Yay! YCNI:M are one of those bands I'm never ashamed to admit liking. Remember when they popped up roughly around the same time as the second Jetplane Landing album and Kill Kenada and 65daysofstatic and everyone got really, really excited about music again? That was a good summer, or winter, or whatever. I don't know why, but I always seem to remember everything good coming out in the summer, whereas in my mind the depths of winter only seem to offer lots and lots of Fratellis singles. But I digress. We have an album to discuss. And guess what? Today is the first day of british summertime!

The album starts off sounding vaguely like Wolfmother, of all bands. At least for the first 30 seconds or so. Should we really be surprised? Probably not, especially from a band who have gone from making jarringly dissonant post-hardcore on their debut mini-album 'All Roads To Fault' to sea shanties with their friends on Print Is Dead Vol. 1, via soaring, stellar anthems like '17' on 'Ignoto'. Via the semi-prog 'Schteeve'. Via the apocalyptic, and frankly amazing, 'Rapt. Dept.' Wolfmother? The real surprise is that they're not sounding like either Vivaldi or the Spice Girls this week.

Don't let comparisons to everyone favorite snooze-prog revivalists put you off reading this review, though. That would be a crime and a disservice. I'll let you in on a secret. This album is excellent. Really, really excellent. Not quite genre-defining or legend-making, but I am a man of faith. My faith that they still have a record like that up their sleeve is only strengthened by what's on offer here.

That first track, 'Pacific Theatre', really comes racing out of the speakers. Urgent, inistent and loud, it works as a brilliant base for Pauls still wonderfully camp, soaring vocals, which in turn work brilliantly to make the lyrics sound as demented as they are meant to.

Single 'Understand' pops up third after the tension filled 'All That Was Missing', sounding like a refined '17' with even more of a pop sensibility, crazy vocorders going off all over the place, a chorus that will stick in your head for weeks, and which contains a brilliantly geordie "Hullow hullow". Fucking A+ grade material, without a doubt.

The album loses just a touch of pace thereafter, kinda petering out a bit. This isn't totally a bad thing, because the next three songs are still good, but as the insistent, stomping 'I'm Impressed', early Cooper Temple Clause referring electronic noodling of 'About Leaving' and the delicate grower 'Sixfive' pass you by, you can't help but both applaud the band for their range of sound, but wish they'd be a little heavier a little more often.

Your wish? Their command. 'Translate', an upcoming download-only single, sort of comes across as this albums 'Rapt. Dept.' As the song builds, sparse, almost ghastly vocals surround guitars and a pounding drumbeat. Eventually, these give way to the brutally heavy second half of the song, the main riff tearing at your skull, amps set to 11 or 12, and as pitch dark as you like. It's all very exciting. A highlight? Definitely.

The next track, 'Evening', continues in a similar vein. Equally heavy but with far more urgency than 'Translate', it makes for a fitting follow up, with yet another standout vocal. Are you growing tired of me talking about them yet? The vocals have always been, and remain, a highlight of any YCNI:M release. Pauls voice is distincive, very unusual, and fits the music like the metaphorical glove, and definitely helps to elevate this band to their position above their peers. 'Take To The Floor' just confirms this, whilst the rest of the band continue in the heavy proggy manner of the last few tracks. It's also about this point there the record starts to make sense as a whole, rather than just a collection of songs. From raucous and poppy, to calm and delicate, to brutally dark, you can only wonder where they're going to take us next.

Back to 'Sixfive' it seems at first, although 'To The Cars' is only as delicate for the first half of its stay. From the two minute mark, it becomes towering, monolithic, and triumphant, but also very uplifting. The sound is very Pelicanesque. It's nowhere near as dark as 'Evening' or 'Take To The Cars', either. It's not even in the same postcode. The band have taken you all the way down, and now they're bringing you, by the hand, back up for air.

You break the surface as 'Screaming Ground' begins. As an uptempo, positive track, it definitely has more in common with the first half of this album than the second, and it works superbly, hand in hand with the outro 'Dicta Boelcke', to bring the listener full circle. Only relaxed, calm, optimistic, and in awe of a band that can produce an album this coherent, this simultaneously dark yet uplifting, and this plain heavy. This is indisputably the new high water mark for YCNI:M. It's probably 2007's high water mark thus far. It's a step forward for British post-hardcore the size of which hasn't been seen since Hundred Reasons and Hell Is For Heroes bothered the charts back in that hazy summer I alluded to before. And, in a musical landscape that is increasingly dominated by next weeks Libertines and last weeks Kaiser Chiefs, albums as inventive and ballsy as this have to be cherished. I hope, for all of our sakes, that this isn't as good as it gets for British post-hardcore, because if it's not, then we have something really, seminally special to look forward to before the decade is out. And, on this evidence, there is no reason why Yourcodenameis:milo can't be the band to offer it.

The Butterfly - Impatient Orchid EP

Every once in a while a band comes along, and hits you with something so immediate, so forceful and direct, and yet so off kilter, that you can't help but be impressed on the spot. The last band that did this for me was The Butterfly. This EP is the reason why.

Bouncing, urgent rythyms, songs that dip, weave, and head in the most unexpected of directions, and a voice that ranges from subtley intense to utterly demented are the ingredients. Visceral yet sublimely controlled urgency punctuated by the occasional, perfectly judged rest for the listener are the methods used to create the glorious result; music that is as complex as it is instantly memorable.

The EP begins strongly. Very, very strongly indeed. The intro to and first minute of lead track 'Priorities' would be perfectly at home on any System of a Down record, but then something brilliant happens. The song turns into the kind of raucus indie blast that bands like Franz Ferdinand would knock out if they were any good. Then it fuses these two influences almost seamlessly as it heads towards the two minute mark at breakneck speed. So it ends. Completely brilliant. And yet the fun has only just begun.

The second track, 'Eros and Thanatos', is, at its outset, somewhere between funk, atmospheric eloctronica, and the demented rantings of someone who took too many drugs ten years ago. Chugging chords then herald the arrival of a flamenco breakdown. Tthe band somehow find a way to make this make sense, in spite of the crazily brilliant lyrics (Think At The Drive-In), and having covered all this ground within the first minute of the track, keep it interesting to the end.

I haven't heard much like it, ever. Well, I have, but in so many different places, by so many different bands. The Butterfly are almost like a pre-school collage of guitar music, different ideas thrown around with the reckless abandon and joyous enthusiam of children, forming one staggeringly varied yet strangely coherent whole.

By the conclusion of the third track, 'The Art Of Falling', you can add the trademark razor-sharp riffs of Jetplane Landing, twinkly post-rock climbing oriental sounding scales, and more of that brilliant voice. By the time the punk-metal-headfuck 'Dispatches From De Clerambaults's Patient' has blown past you, you'll have heard all the chaos offered by Mike Pattons best work, but not before a cheesy 70's metal outro highlights this bands number one achievement. Even though I can't emphasize enough quite how amazing the passionate, individual and utterly barmy vocals on this EP are, and even though I can barely begin to illustrate the scope of influences on show here, this band never, ever loses sight of it's sense of fun.

Chet - Chet EP

How good is your memory? Colour of Fire, anyone? The Chet EP rumbles to life with the same pounding rythym and machete-sharp riffs, but towers about ten times higher than said Robot Rockers as the chorus to opener 'Chet's on Fire' rolls around. And yet, somehow, it sounds as melodic and sugary as it does furious. They're pissed off that they've run out of Haribo. Throw in synths, too, and you're dealing with a track that is so damn catchy that you'll have it flitting through your head for the rest of the week. Trust me, I know.

The standard doesn't drop an inch as 'What', despite threatening to resemble a Casio keyboard demo of 'There She Goes' for about six seconds, then morphs into the strongest, and most poppy, track on this EP. Here lies another stellar chorus and the most awesome repetition of one word in a song since MC Hammer mused "My my my music hits me so hard". You can literally feel youthful exhuberance, passion, and balls pouring from your speakers for each four and a half minute session you will spend in the company of this tune. Not bad for a straightforward pop song about nothing too weighty.

'Don't Back Down' roars out the speakers once more, but again, it's poppy, it's melodic, and yet as heavy as you like. The synth really lends this track it's unique edge, as it genuinely is something different. In fact, this band band lie on the rarely trod ground somewhere between the criminally underrated Colour of Fire, and the Killers, just with far better songs, and without an annoying dick for a frontman.

As the EP comes to a close with 'Hideous Sight' you can forgive the band their occasionally cheesy moments, and the fact that the EP becomes less memorable towards it's conclusion, and even the fact they probably listened to Bravery records in the past. The rest of their record collections are probably way, way cooler, and hey, who cares about all that anyway when the tunes are this good, right?