Thursday, January 31, 2008

Clinic - Free not Free

Clinic have got to be one of my all time favourite bands and when I received a notification that they are releasing a single on Feb 1st as a free download (how the hell does one insert a hyperlink???) I got well excited. Not only that but they are releasing their fifth album 'Do it' on the 8th March.

so after a ten year career are Clinic still a band with the same vigour they displayed back in 1997? or have they matured and mellowed out?

judging by Free not Free, it's a mixture of both.

The track itself opens up with a dramatic fuzzy riff which evolves into that typical residents waltz beat that Clinic are so fond of pulling off and basically the track alternates between quiet and loud, that is until the 1:50 mark when the melodica get pulled out and the track just turns into a spine tingling, haunting experience. The fuzz starts up again and the track ends like that.

the accompanying b-side (yep a b-side- and there's free sinister pyschedelic album artwork too!) Thor is a more menacing garage frazzled number that swoops and ducks at every opportunity, with added congas. It's not as slinky as the a-side but it is catchier.

In other words these tracks do show that the band are in fine fettle and still wearing their influences on their sleeves and creating that distinctive Clinic sound. But there is a certain laid back air which they've never really had before (well they tried it out with 2002's Walking with thee and it didn't work out). They definitely won't win new fans with this single but they are definitely pleasing the people who followed them from day one.

Still a great band through and through

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What I'm Listening to this week

Every week i'll be listing down three or four albums which have struck me. They can be old, new or a compilation.

so the big album of the week is :

Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

WOW what a jump. I know that Iron and Wine (aka Sam Beam) hinted at a more expansive sound on his Woman King ep but this completely took me by surprise. Combining African percussive techniques and shining melodies, especially on the bouncy ( yes bouncy!) House by the Sea. Not since Paul Simon or Joni Mitchell has a solo artist managed to fuse two different cultures so easily. Maybe through this jump Beam has lost some of his previous fragility but with such rich music I don't mind. Lyrically this has to be his angriest album to date as well but he disguises his disgust for politics very deftly. The Shepherd's Dog is the sign of an artist who is not scared to push boundaries and place his sound in different musical territories.

Danny and The Champions of the world - Self titled

Now this is one hell of an album. Danny ... are a floating collection of musicians and they churn out richly textured country guitar pop. Zithers, flutes and pedal steels all weave in and out of the songs creating something that grabs you instantly. Whatmore is that the band excude loads of energy, it non stop action with different sounds shooting at you from different directions. An album that should be checked out.

Various Artists - Juno OST

I haven't seen the film yet but when I received an e-mail notification from the moldy peaches mailing list last november saying that Kmya Dawson will be contributing some songs to this soundtrack, I had to invest in it. I'm glad I did. Juno OST actually feels like the mixtape some mate made for you when in the past. Belle and Sebastian, Moldy Peaches,Kimya Dawson, Mott the Hoople and The Kinks all feature and it blends acoustic naivety with soaring anthems with jangling sixties tunes. It's well sequenced and doesn't outlast it's brief 45 minutes at all. Plus it's a load of fun to listen to.


There's nothing more exciting then listening to an ooky kooky singer songwriter and frYars is a top man for this. There's a a British eccentricity running in all the songs presented on this talented man's myspace page. Loud and very proud, these four cuts show a man who is clearly going to take the world in a haughty stride.

With one single under his belt and another to be inflicted on us soon. frYars global domination has only started. I can't wait for an album to drop.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Classic Review

This review is one that I worte a couple of years (probably September/October 2006) ago for the alternativemalta website (at the mo it's undergoing a faclift so you won't be able to go on it) It's one of the very few 'story' reviews that I did as I try to vary my writing style from time to time and use reviews as my guinea pigs.

I'm quite proud of this critical appreciation and when it was sent to Alela Diane she sent a positive reply (and our local newspaper,as I was writing reviews for it at the time rejected it) . Anyway here it is :

Alela Diane – The Pirate’s Gospel
Holocene Music

The great ship sailed upon the crystal blue waters. Sturdy, intimidating and mighty, the S.S. Conquesta made every sailor shake and jump overboard. Not because the ship itself was dangerous, no, it was because it was manned by the filthiest most bloodthirsty pirates known to mankind.
Yes, they pillaged, stole, destroyed and left their mark all over the world.
The leader of this pack of ravenous hyenas was no other then Captain Rumfast. A man so evil and cunning that Blackadder wouldn’t be able to think of a similar analogy. A man who killed so many people that there was an actual dent in the world’s population.
But today these brutes were on a MISSION. They had discovered that there was an exotic treasure hidden on the mysterious isle D’Alela, a treasure that would amount to such riches and personal fortune that it would make their previous expeditions look like a waste of time.
Captain Rumfast was worried. He knew that this could involve some type of trap. Although a seasoned veteran, he couldn’t help feeling uneasy.
Finally the land appeared within his telescope. ‘LAND AHOY’ he bellowed, the ship crashed into the sandy beach and the horde of pirates tumbled onto the coast screaming and whooping as pirates are bound to do.
After hours of searching, Captain Rumfast, aided by his trusty sidekick Sideship Bob discovered a beautiful raven haired beauty sitting on a chair. By her feet was the coveted treasure chest. Both Captain and Sidekick were trembling with excitement. In fact Sideship Bob had to go and relieve himself in a nearby bush. Suddenly she pulled out an acoustic guitar and said and started to play.
And the songs she played!
Ten very short ditties, simple but so melodic and fragile that Captain Rumfast was struck with awe. He had never heard anything like it. This was music that people can only dream of. Absolutely unpretentious. Just a voice and the guitar. Mighty great song after mighty great song.
The maiden's voice, HER VOICE! Unsophisticated yet so very tuneful. Even her pronunciation had an alluring factor. Somtimes extending vowels, sometimes going high-pitched then morphing into a muted yowl.
What did she sing about? Pirates, the sea of loss, of love. It was spellbinding! Something an old sea dog could relate to!
When it was over Captain Rumfast stood still like a statue and fell in rigor mortis. She was a 21st century siren!
Sideship Bob (stll in the bushes) heard the fall, shot the maiden,stole the treasure, called the other pirates and boarded the ship.
On opening the chest the new captain saw it brimming with CD copies of Alela Diane's ‘The Pirate’s Gospel’. He gingerly placed one on the ship’s stereo, and even this time everybody toppled over in rigor mortis when it was finished. The ship continued to sail unmanned, disappearing into the crimson sunset, destined to sail forever, never landing, just gliding.

in other Alela news, there will be a new album out this year. Diane is a very talented artist, who can use a bare bones song sound resonant and affecting. Not to mention a voice that is truly distinctive. Do invest in her debut album as it will haunt you ( as it did to me) for years to come.

Los Campesinos

When was the last time you heard an excellent and young Welsh band? think? Right well, when Cardiff septet Los Campesinos' 'We Throw Parties, you throw Knives' single assaulted my earholes last year I became an obsessive fan. There is absolutely nothing I love more that a blaringly catchy tune. Thankfully so far the band have lived up to you throw parties.... and their other songs are very good indeed.Giddy guitar pop, melodies so fast and sweet it feels like and instant sugar rush. Yet they know when to hold back the sappiness which can plague a band like this. Their David Newfeld (of Broken Social Scene) produced debut album will be out on 25th of February (preceeded by a single on the 18th)Personally I say when that time comes make sure you clear your bedroom so you can play proper air guitar to the songs (yes they do induce that)

you can sample their greatness here :

Cobra Dukes

Ok yes I am championing a NU RAVE(ish) BAND (or at least one that can be lumped with the genre) but all I care about are the tunes and trust me this australian based in London group have tons of them. If you are a fan of 80's slightly cheesey synth pop tinged with the odd guitar lick then this is for you. All four tracks presented on the group's myspace are quite good.

Vampire Weekend

Yes I know that they are media darlings at the moment but dammit, some bands deserve all the hype and I truely believe that this little band from Brooklyn deserve it.

It's funny how certain past albums become in vogue, two years ago it was Gang of Four's Entertainment, now I'm sure that Paul Simon's Graceland and Talking Heads 'Naked' (Dare I mention Bhundu Boys as well???)are going to be the most talked about albums for the next few years. If you don't believe me look at all the up and coming New Yorcian bands that are cropping up. Yeasayer, MGMT and spearheading this sort of movement T.V. on the Radio. All are using polyrhythms and merging them with a western guitar pop (and in some cases prog) type of sound.

However I firmly say that Vampire Weekend are the best of the batch so far. Not only do their songs slam your eardrums from the first second the tune comes out but they attack their music with a certain energy that makes their self titled debut album very fresh sounding. At the moment I'm reading about people comparing them to the Strokes and I can see why. In essence Vampire Weekend take a genre which isn't in vogue and give it a youthful makeover. I mean song like Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa could have easily been tacked on as a last track on Naked but in the context of an album you feel a certain vigour that hasn't been present for a while.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Vindictive Jukebox : An introduction

You know writing an introductory post for a blog like this is actually quite difficult but after some plotting and planning I decided that the 'scope' of this project is this :

I am a hopeless music addict. I'm not going to to boast about credentials but my life does revolve arounds music and vice versa. So in other words this blog will be about one thing but my goodness it's got so many aspects that it's impossible to simply create a one route mission statement. So yeah this blog will be the place where I write about music, be it a cd review, talking about a new band which takes my fancy ( it happens a lot) , A gig I attended, maybe a rant about a band I don't like or a music book which I recommend. There will be nothing but music.It wont be necessarily rock either I believe that all genres are relative and that music is like ( to use a crude analogy) a huge plate of spaghetti - different strands that are awesome when combined and twirled together.
As the blog develops there will be more changes and improvements but the first few steps will be a bit shakey.
so let's start.............