Saturday, 19 July 2014

Short Attention Span Record Reviews - July Part II

The Loud Stuff 

BLUES PILLS – Blues Pills 
Yet another competent Swedish 70’s revival outfit, you’ve heard it all before but this lady can sure belt ‘em out. Hyped up as the next big thing, more likely to be the next slightly larger than average thing. (7) 

DOG FASHION DISCO – Sweet Nothings 
If you can’t live without your Mr. Bungle and your System Of A Down and can’t wait for the new Faith No More material, then these alt-metal veterans are back with your methadone. (7) 

ENTOMBED A.D. – Back To The Front 
Basically it’s  L-G Petrov’s solo project, sounding like Entombed attempting to reenact their glory days with mixed results. Stockholm still kicks Gothenburg’s ass though. (6) 

OPETH – Pale Communion 
Better than “Heritage” and “Watershed” and having absolutely nothing to do with metal anymore, this is a thoroughly enjoyable top-notch prog rock record. (8) 

THE ANGELS – 40 Years of Rock Vol. 1 40 Greatest Studio Hits 
Triple CD. Great compilation. The Best Band In Australia. Buy. Discover. Now. (9) 

The Other Stuff 

COUNTING CROWS – July 4th Spectacular 
Quick n’ dirty live album released to coincide with their current U.S. tour. I’d have thought that their radio-friendly brand of folk rock would come across more energetic in a live setting. (6) 

JOHN HIATT – Terms Of My Surrender 
From the Tom Petty/Ry Cooder generation of great Americana rockers, Hiatt is back with a fantastic album that compensates for some lack of originality with an abundance of quality. (8)


MORRISSEY – World Peace Is None Of Your Business 
I feel an overwhelming need to apologize to my ears for making them listen to this bombastic load of pretentious crap. I’m sorry, ears. (3)

If Bob Dylan had never switched from acoustic to electric, loved punk rock as much as Woody Guthrie, was more fun, and could actually sing, he might have sounded a bit like the Old Crow Medicine Show. (8) 

Best band name ever, even though it would be more suitable to stoner rockers rather than to this reverb-drenched acoustic bunch that sounds like a bluegrass version of My Morning Jacket. (7) 

VINTAGE TROUBLE – The Swing House Acoustic Sessions 
Great stuff, but not as great as their usual soulful electric blues rock. Guys, plug in please. (7)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Short Attention Span Record Reviews – In The Armpit of Arabian Summer Version

The Loud Stuff

ABRAMIS BRAMA – Enkel Biljett
As a rule non-English speaking old-school hard rock sucks but these guys miraculously sound just fine in Swedish. I don’t understand a single word of course, for all I know they might be reciting the Muppet Show chef’s recipes. (7)

ANTEMASQUE – Antemasque
Despite being basically the same band, it doesn’t sound like the Mars Volta at all. You can actually tap your foot and sing along to this without a PhD in Quantum Physics! (8)

Godammit Pepper, surely you’ve got enough riffs for two bands? Come back home now, these guys are no fun without you anymore. (5)

EVERY TIME I DIE – From Parts Unknown
Wow! Just, like, wow! And this coming from someone who doesn’t particularly like screaming metalcore. (9)

JUDAS PRIEST – Redeemer Of Souls
Full of clichés and the lyrics are really stupid but what did you expect, “OK Computer”? This is Judas Priest for fuck’s sake, it’s supposed to be full of clichés and really stupid. (7)

ORIGIN – Omnipresent
Brutal but very technical death metal. Handle with care, this is pretty extreme stuff. Not for the weak of heart or the wimpy of musical taste. (7)

THINE – The Dead City Blueprint
Well, with Anathema trying to be Porcupine Tree, someone had to step up and be Anathema. (7)

Forget black metal and guitars, this is ambient, all analog synths. Sounds more like Tangerine Dream than like Xasthur. I think Tangerine Dream is fucking boring. (5)

The Other Stuff

LANA DEL REY – Ultraviolence
Hype aside, this is a pretty decent Chris-Isaac-meets-Cowboy-Junkies album. Fantastic single (“West Coast”), relatively limited amount of filler. (7)

Reshaping Mauritanian folk music into pentatonic desert blues, funkier than Tinariwen and with a voice as old and wise as time, this lady has just released the World Music Album of the Year. (9)

Weird and wonderful experimental hip-hop. Be warned: You can’t dance to it, you can’t lowride to it and you can’t pimp to it. This is more Jaz-Z than Jay-Z. (8)

WILLIE NELSON – Band Of Brothers
Country music’s answer to Lemmy Kilminster is unstoppable. 150 years old, smokes a ton of weed every day and his 500th album still sounds great. (7)

Monday, 30 June 2014

Almost Perfect > Perfect

I had a brilliant idea the other night and I woke up around 4:00am with a fully formulated 1,800-word thinkpiece for this blog in my mind. It was smart, it was funny, it was definitely one of the best essays I had ever come up with for the original concept of "I Was A Teenage Music Geek"! I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper, jolted down a couple of keywords so I wouldn't forget to write the thing when I got up, and went back to sleep.

The next morning I found a piece of paper with the words "almost perfect" scribbled on it and no fucking clue what it meant and what I was supposed to write about. Almost perfect my ass. Oh well.

So anyway. Regardless of what the original drunken and already long forgotten idea was all about I will seize this opportunity to go on record stating that I like imperfect things, especially imperfect music. It's much better than perfect music, it's more human. Like, for example, this performance of "Anywhere On This Road" by the late Lhasa De Sela. This live version is empty without the excellent middle eastern-ish instrumentation of the studio recording (from her 2003 album "The Living Road"), Lhasa's voice cracks here and there, and the percussionist loses it towards the end.

But these flaws are exactly what make this performance so beautiful: Art is all about capturing the essence, the spirit of the subject, wheras "perfection" is all about the pursuit of a sterile, polished external appearance. That's why punk killed prog rock, that's why Picasso's "Guernica" touches you in a way Bob Ross cannot, that's why the imperfect songs of this fragile, strange, funny girl called Lhasa who dropped out of school to literally join the circus and died far too young touch me so deeply. Fuck perfection.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Short Attention Span Record Reviews – June 2014

The Loud Stuff

BOB MOULD – Beauty And Ruin
This is the most Mouldy-sounding Bob Mould record in ages. It’s got all the Husker Du rage and the Sugar melody and lots of big guitars and it’s a must-have. (8)

BODY COUNT – Manslaughter
OMG this is hilarious, Ice-T at his most cartoonishly violent backed by a hardcore/thrash band that’s tighter than a duck’s ass. I love it! (8)

FUCKED UP – Glass Boys
“David Comes To Life” was contemporary hardcore punk’s “Tommy”, so I guess getting contemporary hardcore punk’s “Face Dances” this time around doesn’t quite cut it. (7)

GODFLESH – Decline And Fall
You’re gonna love this EP if you never had a problem with Godflesh’s fucking annoying drum machine sound. This as as apocalyptic as any of the old stuff. (7)

LINKIN PARK – The Hunting Party
I hate all their albums except “A Thousand Suns” which I love and their hardcore fans hate, so I guess their fans are going to hate “The Hunting Party” because I think it’s great. Guest slots by Rakim, Page Hamilton, Tom Morello and Daron Malakian for extra street cred. (8)

MASTODON – Once More 'Round The Sun
Only played this once so far and my mind has already been duly blown. Definitely their most melodic album to date, and quite possibly their best. (9)

MAYHEM – Esoteric Warfare
Back in the day we used to call this “intelligent black metal”, but nowadays it’s getting a bit old and Attila Csihar’s Mongolian Vampire shtick is more funny than intelligent. (6)

OCTOBER FILE – The Application Of Loneliness, Ignorance, Misery, Love And Despair
I’m torn between the fact that this is such a blatant Killing Joke rip-off and that it also kinda rules. (6)

RIVAL SONS – Great Western Valkyrie
I’m torn between the fact that this is such a blatant Led Zep/Yardbirds rip-off and that it also kinda rules. (6)

“Symphonic death metal” is The Thing That Should Not Be, but Septicflesh somehow manage to pull this shit off magnificently. Impressed. (8)

This is not slowed-down-power-metal doom. This is low-frequencies-that-make-you-shit-yourself-while-maggots-are-eating-your-eyeballs-out doom. (7)

TOMBS – Savage Gold
Pitchfork metal©. (7)

The Other Stuff

BLACKBERRY SMOKE – Leave A Scar: Live In North Carolina
Proud sons of Skynyrd and Steve Earle, they own that damn stage and kick your ass six ways to Sunday. Awesome facial hair too. (8)

I like my country boys bad and my country girls gritty and this couple is a bit too vanilla for my taste. First-class songwriting though. (7)

The Blasters brothers reunited and playing Big Bill Broonzy covers. If you like the blues and juke joint jumpers you’re going to have a blast with this one. (7)

DJANGO DJANGO – Late Night Tales
This compilation sounds like a really cool cocktail party where everyone is smartly dressed and gorgeous and making hip small talk on the veranda, but makes me feel like I’m the weirdo misfit guest in shorts drinking alone. (6)

JACK WHITE – Lazaretto
Dude really knows his blues and his rock and this time he takes an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach with fiddles, rapping and gothic choirs. More fun that the Black Keys album! (8)

LEE FIELDS – Emma Jean
Fields’ old-school funky soul is real, honest, timeless, feel-good music. (7)

Like a (more) redneck version of Taylor Swift, she’ll bake you an apple pie one day and aim her shotgun at you the next. (7)