And, now that im thinking about it, there were only about 10 people there, so this really is a minority group review. Think yourself lucky you lot, most reviews are done for hundreds, if not thousands of people. The combined number of people that saw the gig and read this review is, probably, under 20. Hmmmmm.
Anyway, enough of this, I want to review, like Ive never reviewed before (well, meaningfully?…er, no). It was a dark and stormy thursday night, Bristol was, maybe unsurprisingly, under a torrent of rain. All that we had to protect us was the surprisingly cheap (at on only £2) gig on at Mr Wolfs, central bristol. Put on, i believe, by ingue records ( http://www.myspace.com/inguerecords ) what option did one have?
First up were line, local post rockers, who have a natty range of brass instruments in their ranks, along side three, thats right, THREE guitarist. They work very nicely, producing slighlty understated, slighty finger pickeringy ambience, and while the brass could have maybe done with being slightly better mixed in, overall a good job done. Could the following two bands follow such a good opening set?
Wasp display, unfortunately, couldnt. Trying to offer some kind of doom, metal rock meted out by Shellac or surgery or the bomb (hi guys!) It didnt pick up or excite at all.
Finally Hreda came on, apparently a band from Oxford, but im from there, and ive never heard of them, so maybe their lying. They certainly couldnt have formed in the last two and a half years, they were far to fucking good for that…… he, thats right, Hreda came on, took Line’s gauntlet and said, lets rip this place up, big style. The three piece band played some pretty sweet post/maths rock rythms that we all loved (all 20 of us). And interestingly their ep (check out the myspace) is more sweeping than their pretty don caballero esque live set (though,oh ,Look! they are supporting don cab in oxford. hopefully they will blow them away, now that don cab arent that good any more. oh come on, who listens to world class listening problem over any other one of their albums?????? no one. thats who).
So, cheers ingue records, looking forwards to the next gig.
Elbow win the Mercury prize, a much overrated, uncared for award that M-people won back in the day, and often regarded as a good way to kill a career, which would be rubbish, because elbow are very good. tho i dont own their album wot won in
(ps im just putting this kind of stuff in to get more traffic coming through my site. sorry if you got lured in, but feel free to peruse the rest of the toss that ive written. wow, that will draw you in wont it!!!)
now, im not one for publishing “news stories” on this blog, because im about as cutting edge as a sheathed butter knife. However, when one of my favourite bands do some interesting, i feel like replicating verbatim the press replace from Matador records, the new home of alt supergods, Sonic Youth. No more are they on Universal subsiduary Geffen (worse than starbucks?) but now a more indiefied land.
SONIC YOUTH ON MATADOR RECORDS
From Matador Records:
“After rampant speculation, Matador Records can confirm the label will be releasing a new studio album from Sonic Youth sometime in 2009. Having fulfilled their contractual obligations to the Universal Music Group, Sonic Youth recently reached an agreement with Matador to release the band’s 16th album of new material in all worldwide territories, save for Japan.
While Sonic Youth’s status as one of the more innovative and influential bands of the past 30 years needs little explanation, the group’s most recent recordings for Geffen — 2006’s ‘Rather Ripped’ being their final for the label — rank amongst the current decade’s best. For Matador, the opportunity to work in partnership with a group who’ve made such an profound impact on our roster/hometown/collective consciousness was one to jump at. Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley will commence recording the new Sonic Youth LP/CD this autumn and we look forward to sharing further details in the very near future.”
Most recent in 2006? pah. well yes, for Geffen. But SY are a bit more productive than that. maybe ill have a round up some day…
So, Mogwai, scottish post rockers extrodinair, have their new single batcat out this week (now available in all good shops on cd & 12 inch). Its pretty good, more post rock esque than much of their last album, Mr Beast, which was as close to rock as you can get without just being, er, rock. B-sides are OK, though im not sure about the third track, which has some one who sounds not unlike michael stipe warbling over the top of it. normally mogwai vocals are fairly under undermixed on tracks, and its rather startling to hear this voice. Hopefully as a B-side its not too indicative of their new sound.
However, Stupid Prick Gets Chased By The Police And Loses His Slut Girlfriend, the second track, is what we ALL want to talk about really. Chris claims that it is more a track name that you would associate with Blink 182….dick lips? waggy? degenerate? whats my name again? Their school boy humour seems unable to shine through into original and witty song titles. for shame. and mogwai mange to do it ironically, or in a way that insults a large number people, either way is a much more interesting and engaging concept.
Ah so, The Mars Volta, and band that splits opinions in a way that At the Drive In (Cedric and Omars previous band) generally managed to unite. On the one hand, people love their mad guitar skillz, overblown music and, especially, their big, big hair- http://drownedinsound.com/release/view/12482 on the other hand, people hate their overblown concept albums, the prog/jazz/free funk (i think i might have just made this up) ideas they have incorporated into their music, and just want them to sound like atdil… http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/48358-the-bedlam-in-goliath (and probably feel that they sound like they do because, apparently, the humungous amount of drugs they have done over the last few years) (though are they clean nowadays? I DONT KNOW)
Soo, ooh, who is right? Well, i think you will find you have come to the right place to answer these questions, AND MORE. And its certainly not just an opinion nor nothing. To start with, i like ATDI, but i didnt really listen to them at the time, and only bought relationship of command a couple of years ago from Virgin for a mere four pounds and ninety nine pence, so I dont have some huge stiffy for these guys that refuses to go away (indeed, this is concept that annoys me. Wow, i liked a band you used to be in, therefore im going to like your new band. this might be true, but i dont really think that it blinds people to the actual quality of the music. people arent that dumb. are they. dont answer that). Secondly, i like the mars volta! Yoinks! Im in that group of people that like their prog rock fusion, that they are pushing the boundaries of music in a good way…. though i remember being severly unimpressed by their last album (amputechre) when it came out, and almost writing them off, even though i had thoroughly enjoyed frances the mute. But when i heard they had a new album out…i returned to amputechre, and found actuallly it was a darn tooting good album.
So, what does this all mean for The Bedlam in Goliath? Well, the first thing that you notice is, actually, that its really REALLY LOUD. Bejesus is it loud. Hey, i was listening to amputechre while walking into work today (dont look quite so surprised, im good at pretending to be able to read and write…) and was waiting for some real rock action to kick in, and waited, and waited, then it did. And of course, i only got through about 2 songs during my walk, because all the tracks are so bleeding long. However, with Goliath you just get noise, immediately. wow. And er, it doesnt stop. You get about 74 minutes of constant, loud music. Now, im not one to turn down loud music (im still deafened by a Merzbow gig) but for this album, its opening track Abernikula, set the tone for the rest of the album. I I like to have some variety in my music (what with variety being the spice of life and all that) and enjoyed the quiet, loud bits that they had utilised in previous albums. This album however, is just loud loud. loud.
I found that during each of the last 3 or 4 tracks i found myself thinking, ah this must be the end, but then just getting another track. then another one. And i like long albums too (saves energy to get up and change cds). Im impressed they had the energy to keep going, but at the same time, editing. Though, editing has never been their strong point i suppose.
LOOK AT THE HAIR!!!!!!
So, go buy frances the mute, or deloused in the crematorium, and maybe even amputechre. But I dont really think ill be returning to Bedlam very often really…
So, in celebration of the fact that I am to see Mogwai for the third time next month (they are playing, oh yes, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, on Londons South Bank – http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/ ) Tragically, I only managed to see them after they started playing a lot more quietly than when they started (i saw them in march 2006 at the Birstol academy – however, after seeing merzbow last night, maybe my hearing will thank me). Yep, in the last few years, Mogwai have become more melodic, more thoughtful than anyone could even begin to imagine… surprisingly really considering the fact that Mr Beast, their last studio album, was a return to a more rockier approach than their previous two (Rock Action & Happy Songs for Happy People, their hilariously ironically titled album) though around the same time they released the soundtrack to the Zidane movie (Zidane: 21st century portrait), which almost acted as a companion piece to Mr Beast, like the post half of post rock.
It would be fair to say that Mogwai were one of the elder statesmen of the “post-rock” scene nowadays. I was first aware of them in the mid 90’s when I read an article about them in select magazine…. though pretty much all I can remember is that they were wearing Kappa branded clothing, because they were sponsered by them. Now, I was fairly unadventurous back in the day, and rather than checking them out, probably just bought another Oasis album instead (oh, what was I thinking! Its not like they were the biggest band ever at the time or anything. And im certainly not cool enough to listen to Mogwai now, let alone when i was 15).
However, their Slint (and Steve Reich) influenced tunes soon came to me (via the edmund fitzgerald) and so learnt to love them. They do have quite a daunting back catalogue, 5 studio albums, 4 compilations, 2 soundtracks, eps… where on earth are you supposed to start? Well, 10 rapid is a compilation of early singles, and while it is very good, I wouldnt say that it was very representative of Mogwais sound in general. Young Team is certainly a tour de force of a debut, punching way above its weight (it was highly critically praised when it came out) and features Like Herod and Mogwai Fear Satan. I also really like Summer…..
Come on Die Young (or CODY as people confusingly call it on the internet) was next, and no one liked it (this could be a lie) However, it was the first album that i heard by them and i was not blown away. It does contain Christmas Steps, which is fantastic, and also a track called Kappa. Ah….marketing :) I do like it, but maybe not a great place to start.
Then, Rock Action & Happy Songs for Happy People, my two favourite Mogwai albums, which bought a certain amount of restraint to the mogwai sound. Im not saying that their rock out bits arent great, but the lushness of these two albums is just too overpowering. Its like a 90’s my bloody valentine. I enjoy the quiet drone, the restrained noise that is fighting to get out.
Which is what Mr Beast does. Starting with Auto rock, which does resemble the last two albums, you know you are in for a ride when Glasgow Mega Snake comes in. ROCK! You could say that Mr Beast succesfully combines their previous sounds, and i do like it a lot, but return more often to their previous two.
(and if you want some really riff tastic action, get the My Father My King EP. 20 minutes of riff basically. and accidently???? just too long to be chart eligable. hmmmmm)
I also really like EP+6, which is a collection of eps from around the time of the first two albums, that is more of the more relaxed sound, but at the same time brings in loudness to the equation. Its also great because it is really long, which minimises getting up to change cd effort. sweet.
Ah, so, Growing have a new EP out, this time on The Social Registry ( www.thesocialregistry.com/index2.html ) having previously released a couple of albums on the mighty Kranky. I have no idea why they didnt stay with them, but hopefully it was their decision, and not just a dumb move by the boys at Kranky, because as this EP shows, they still have plenty of creative juices that need expurging all over the drone scene. After the His Return EP that came out a while ago, Growing come back, however, this time it isnt all loud aural soundscapes and what have you (their first album ky runs into the sea, lulls you into a sense of security before you realise that, actually, its REALLY FUCKING LOUD). This time, stuff actually happens in their songs! OMG! While i realise this might actually be seen as slightly not really being drone (i mean, look at Sunn o))) for a band that stick with what they are good at) it does mean that you have to listen to it, rather than sitting back and letting it wash over you (though, feel free to do that if you wish). And yes! They have vocals! And everything! Well, apart from drums. Or bass. Or anything like that, but there are vocals for sure!
So they come in more obvious waves of sound this time. You have peaks and troughs, taking you on some kind of boat journey of blissfull guitar sound (there are sounds on the last track that almost sound like seagulls) (go figure). Its almost a suprise everytime you hear a riff, because you are so used to prolonged guitar feedback from their previous releases. But this is only a good thing, as how many times can you realese albums like that before you run out of FX pedals for your guitar to make it sound new and exciting? We all know what happened to kevin shields now, dont we!
A lot of the other reviews i found while googling for the image all talked about ambience, but i feel that they have moved slightly away from this tag, and making something a bit more adventurous, and maybe making something a bit more epic in the process?
Whatever, I know for a fact that I am going to see them support Boris on tour, and that they are going to be very very good. See you there?
This album rates higher than another album that i like slighty less
Well, he might not, because he is probably quite a nice man. I dont know, I havent met him. Let me look him up on wikipedia a second (i am actuall doing this, though you wont be able to tell, because the way this works, it will look like i wrote it all in one go. i cant do much about this, except ask that you believe me. PLEASE)
So, www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merzbow tells me he is 52. to old you say? Well I say NO way daddy o. The king of noise, as i like to call him, could easily take on that other dude, michael jackson, in the fact that he is still producing kick arse music, is relevant, and hasnt had any court proceedings bought against him (guilty or not guilty. as far as i know – which isnt very far i spose)
So, anyway, im listening to this: http://www.nofunfest.com/nfp24.jpg and it is really rather good. As we all know, noise music is rather niche market. My housemate would say, it isnt really music. but we all know better. Recorded live at the NO FUN FEST (oh, i will go to it one day) in Brooklyn new york, produced as wikipedia tells me by some laptops, this takes your music and breaks it over your mothers face. More dense than some of his previous albums (such as merzbear) and a lot louder (though i might just have my stereo turned up…) the 40 odd minutes mutates and evolves, taking and idea, fucking around with it for a bit, then spitting it out when the flavour has gone. there was a nice bit at about 18 odd mintues, but it soon got dicarded in favour of some more filthy filthy noise. fantastic.
So, it might not have like, rhtyhm, or indeed vocals, but you are not here for that. You are here for a man on a mission, ooooh yeah.
I reward this album square out of circle
MERZBOW UPDATED – I just got Merzbuddah on Important records, and it is hella good. The first thing that you notice is it that it has a beat! A kind of throbbing, loud bass line that could be merzbows heart beat, pushing the energy round the track. Then you notice that there is a kind of wall of white noise over the top, but you only notice it once it has stopped, when everything suddenly goes very, very quiet. Its not Merzbows normal, all out sonic assault, but it really is vert good. It makes up for me being unable to by merzdub (well, for less than 20 english pounds)
OK, so, in accordance with everyone else in the world we (well, I do, I dont really know what Liam thinks, but im prepared to talk for him. Its easier) are presenting our END OF THE YEAR REVIEW 2008. 2007 even. Yes, i know that its 2008 and we should be looking onwards, and upwards, but ive been eating mince pies and drinking wine all christmas, and also dont have a release schedule for next year either, so i cant do much about that. sorry.
Anyway, I think my 2007 actually started in 2006 (well, musically anyway) because i went to my first ATP, curated by personal hero Thurston Moore. I originally just went because of my love of sonic youth, but two things (three?) were presented to me – “Noise Rock” and i suppose the Magik Markers. Noise rock, you say? is that even music? Better men than me have asked that question – see bob down the pub. However, i believe it is, and i spent a lot of this investigating it further. Part of this was done via ecstatic peace ( http://www.ecstaticpeace.com ) which is Thurston Moore’s record label – home to The Magik Markers, 16 Bitch Pile Up, and more gentle contemparies such as MV + EE, who almost released a classic rock album this year…!! and i loved it, and Be Your Own Pet. The Magik Markers
( http://www.myspace.com/theemagikmarquers ) had released a load of cdrs (now fairly darn hard to get hold of. believe me, ive tried. not even peter nolan himself has any) then toured with the Youth, then got Lee Ranaldo to produce Boss… (my album of the Year!!! Huzzah!) they produce loud, no-wavey distorted guitar, with Elissa attacking the guitar with drum sticks and such alike (though, tragically, apparently she can play it now) and improvising lyrics over the top. songs reguarly lasted 20 odd minutes. Their Latitudes album is also fantastic, and more representative of their earlier sound than Boss. it will be interesting to see where they go this year…
I also discovered No Fun Fest ( http://www.nofunfest.com ) who are the ironically (maybe not for all) titled record label and music festival based in New York ( i really really want to go to this. But its hard to persuade people. Do you want to Fly to New York for some NO FUN!!?!??! er, no, thanks is often the answer). They released the C.C.C.C. 4 cd box set of their early work, which really is Japanese Noise rock at its most White Noiseliciousness. its fab.
Great noise rock albums i heard this year, regardless of when they came out
1. Sun Baked Snow – Boris & Merzbow
2.Basalt Fingers – S/t
3.Consumer Electronics – Nobody’s Ugly (though Wire compared it to watching jeremy kyle…??)
4.Any of the 150 albums Thurston Moore has released, including 20 this year (Volcanic tongue, the record shop released on very good one – Dream/Aktion Unit – Blood shadow rampage. buy it now!
5. Yellow Swans – at all ends (sounds almost my bloody valentiney, but not.
I hope this has persuaded you at least to check it out. Fuck Buttons also signed to ATP records, and released a single – bright tomorrow, which is kind of restrained electronic noise building to a climax. They are one of the few noise bands that dont use guitars. (nb, guitars do rock! Dont worry!)
Yeah, so if you want to here about what actually happened this year check http://www.drownedinsound.com or something, where you can here about how battles rule the world (they arent as good as don caballero) and animal collective (slightly dissapointing live). Sonic Youth playing through Day dream nation (whoo!) and mono live (gig of the year! if you dont like noise rock check out some post rock, im telling you!! explosions in the sky are playing in january and also curating an atp in may, so post rock will be in your face! learn all about it now! (future post maybe liam?)
And the Book “Our Band Could Be Your Life” made me listen to a whole lot of bands – Beat Happening, Husker Du, the Replacements. 80’s alternative rock for the win!
So, albums of the year?
1.Boss – Magik Markers
2.Outside the Academy – Thurston Moore
3.Liars – s/t
4.Lets stay friends – Les Savy Fav
5. In Rainbows – Radiohead (probably. i only bought it today. im rubbish at these kinds of lists)
oh!!! I got to see slint live this year too!!! fathers of post rock
And everybody, Foals are shit, listen to The Edmund Fitzgerald if you can. so so so much better.
Have a good 2008!! I hope we do. though im sure no one will still be reading us.
update: i fucking forgot Trans Am – sex change, and Surgery or the Bomb – best bristol band ever. not that im biased. and of course artic circle. And me and liam are going to be in a band too. just wait till i have some talent
This is Curtis Eller:
That enough ought to get your attention, but in case you’re the kind of sicko who isn’t intrigued by moustachioed, baggy-trousers-wearing banjo players, allow me to elaborate:
Curtis Eller is the best live act doing the rounds at the moment. He is possibly one of the greatest live music performers ever, steeped in Coney Island showmanship and toting songs about Buster Keaton, Abraham Lincoln, and circus elephants. He high-kicks around the stage, yodelling through instrumental sections, and occasionally pausing mid-song to explain some of the more obscure American history references in his lyrics.
Last week he played in Bath’s Moles Club (supported, incidentally, by the mighty Smokehand), and for the third time I came home and resolved to practice my banjo, write songs, and basically be like Curtis. Actually, that’s not true; the first time I saw him I went home and decided to get a banjo. During that show, Curtis decided that the stage was too far from his seated audience, and promptly unplugged and performed his whole set leaping on tables and chairs amongst the punters. The second time I saw him, he managed to coax the whole club into singing ‘When the Red Red Robin Goes Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along’ a capella for so long that we kept going for a good minute or two after he’d left the stage.
This time round was no disappointment either, as he sang from atop a chair, his head up in the lighting rig, crept around crouched low and singing about Jack Ruby, and lectured his audience on the finer technical points of a good yodel. “Buster Keaton,” he reminds us, “is dead, by the way, so you’re gonna have to yodel louder than that…”.
If I’m making Curtis out to sound like a novelty act… well, he kind of is, but not in a bad way. His persona harks back to the days when a showman was a showman, a gimmick was nothing to be ashamed of, and whether what you were doing was good was a consideration secondary to whether it was entertaining. “Make ’em laugh” and all that. That Curtis Eller’s music is in fact by turns haunting, rousing and brilliant is some kind of wonderful bonus.
He’s coming to the UK again in April, so make the effort and check out a true entertainer.