Tag Archives: album

recipe for cake (as opposed to absolute monarchy)

19 Feb

Yeah, that’ already known to everyone. It’s so known it’s become a cliche. But… Yeah. Take some funk, some 1960s rock, even some prog rock, a little bit of Mexican folk influence and, sometimes, a bit of talking mixed with singing. Add a lot of humor and you get Cake.

It’s nothing new. I’m aware of that. Cake is so easy to recognize, you really have to have no idea on what the band is playing to mistake them with someone else. And, on one hand, someone may say that with my obsession on developing and progressing in one’s music, it may be weird that I liked this album. But, hell, fuck it. I liked it a lot ;-P

Everything that I like Cake for is in Showroom of Compassion. The really funny, wordplay lyrics of John McCrea, some nice rock tunes as well as folk influences from both, American folk music and Mexican folk. There is some, so typical of Cake, sound of the oldies and you may even feel like you’re in the surfing California of the turn of 1950s and 1960s (Bound Away). There is even a little taste of Frank Zappa, which I found amusing, at least in the little 1960s prog rock taste with an addition of a political cabaret (my fav, Federal Funding).

Is there anything wrong then, except the fact that I am not a devoted Cake fan, so, probably, I will listen to this album twice or three times and there’s little possibility I’ll come back to it (unless I have guests who want to drop in, chat a bit and are not used to some weird sounds)? Well, frankly, I don’t know. It’s an album as good as any other. Not outstanding though. It’s hard to expect Cake to be experimental. And maybe that is something I should stick to, when listening to such music. I find it cute that there still are some bands who are complacent with performing simple, amusing music that is not meant to demand your attention. And, after all, all of us need a break every once in a while. You can’t stay alert every single second.

Yes. And here goes the other thing. Cake was such a relief after listening to Omar Rodríguez-LópezUn Escorpión Perfumado. Ok, the album, released in December 2010, is just gorgeous. Rodríguez-López is, as usual, a perfect musician whose imagination is beyond average. However, also usual for him, he’s an absolute monarch. His records demand your whole attention and you just can’t do anything while listening to it. I’m not even talking about something that needs effort, not even talking about reading or writing something. I’m talking about simple things. Omar doesn’t let you eat, drink, smoke, surf the web. You just can’t focus. And, perhaps this is why his records are just brilliant, in my opinion, but I can’t listen to them all the time cause I’m pretty wasted after spending one day with his music, LOL.

So, generally I had a great day. Un Escorpión Perfumado was like a big meal that takes meticulous preparation and leaves you stuffed. And Cake… well, Cake was a relief. The desert that I needed bad before my head would have exploded from the amount of sounds that Rodríguez-López filled it with.

Btw, I’m including my fav track of Rodríguez-López’ album (Mensaje imputente) and Sick of You by Cake. True, my fav (Federal Funding) also has a video but I think Sick of You is just better as a vid.

Share

Advertisements

a must for those who love alternative guitar

16 Feb

I’m a pretty orthodox person when it comes to rock. If it’s too soft, somehow, it’s difficult for me to consider something to belong to the rock genre. However, I found the newest album by Wire, a British alternative band, pretty easy to listen to. Maybe because of the mood of it; melodies and a dream-like atmosphere remind me of the 1990s.

The whole is basically an easy album to listen to but it’s also pretty varied and soft rock songs are often contradicted by those who have a punk influence (such as Two Minutes). I think that Wire, which was found in 1976 has a pretty interesting story. I’m not exactly an expert on their achievements, I know some of their songs but not necessarily whole albums. However, I think that as in 1990s many artists claimed that Wire had a huge influence on their music today the 1990s definetely has an impact on Wire. Just to remind you, even though Wire never achieved a huge commercial success, some of most important bands of our time claimed that it was important for their own musical development. Among them R.E.M., The Cure, Manic Street Preachers, many britpop bands (Elastica, Blur), many of the contemporary British bands (Franz Ferdinand) or even, overseas, artists which rocked much harder, e.g. (this may be a surprise for you) Henry Rollins.

Red Barked Tree is varied but it also is consistent. And, what is charming about it, is that anyone can find something for themselves. I mean, what would be wrong with Moreover being performed by any of the post-Velvet Underground bands, or even by any of grunge bands in the 1990s? Or Down to This by (let’s hear it!) Joy Division? Or Two Minutes performed by the Pixies or any of the today’s post-punkbands? Or A Flat Tent being performed by the Clash or even the Police? Or Adapt, which is one of my favorites, being perfomed by R.E.M.? Or Smash being performed (if it wasn’t for the vocals) by Queens of the Stoneage?

It’s also fun to listen to, if you’re into guitar sounds, especially typical alternative rock guitar sounds. This album presents such a variety of differently sounding guitars, it could actually be used as a guide for those who want to learn how to play guitar in an alernative rock genre.

All in all, it’s not my kind of music exactly but I appreciate this record a lot and I think it’s well written, professionally performed and brilliantly mixed and engineered.

A really good album. And one more thing which is crucial in my situation. It’s not so easy to make my co-workers go crazy and kill me for listening to it. I can listen to it in my office and nobody will get angry or shake their head with disapproval. And there is high chance that some may move a bit to the more energetic tunes or even ask me to borrow the record.

p.s. Funny addition. Colin Newman of Wire collaborated with ex-Minimal Compact musicians in a band called Githead. What is funny is that I used to listen to Malka Spigel, who was a member of Minimal Compact, in early 1990s. So… yep, 1990s and the history that comes back. Music is like outter space. Noone can track its routes with exact details, it’s too abstract. But if you find one it’s like finding a star in an unknown galaxy.

Share

silly

12 Feb

Be careful what you wish you for. Not only it may not come true but you, also, may appear silly.

Alice in Videoland, from Sweden, is a self-proclaimed best electropunk band in the world. Well. Guess what – it isn’t! Not to mention the fact that they’re not punk in any possible way whatsoever. LOL!

I had a hard time listening to their newest album A Million Thoughts and They’re All About You. I have to admit that if I went to a club in which this music would have been played, I’d have a pretty good night and I would dance until the dawn. But claiming it’s the best electroclash band in the world is a huge misunderstanding (and lack of any self-criticism).

Sure, there are some songs which are pretty ok but it’s a little disappointing that the best track of the album is Buffalo Stance, which is a cover of a cult single by Neneh Cherry. I’m also afraid that most of their songs incline more into the direction of a very mediocre disco rather than electroclash. In itself, it’s sad. The broadly understood electro has so many possibilities, you can really go into most psychedelic loops, you can rock hard (which is not worse than most though rock bands), you can create experimental things and you can play really catchy, however, ambitious disco songs.

Well, A Million Thoughts and They’re All About You doesn’t have ANY of it! From the musical point of view, both experimental artists and most disco ones are much better than this crap. From Peaches to Aphex Twin, from Bodyrox to Seefeel – everything is better than this! God, at some point I thought that even Britney Spears is better than this, at least she’s consequent in her genre and a big bunch of professional music engineers work their asses off to turn her whining into a dancefloor hit (and, in most cases, they do succeed, you gotta give her that).

What is even more embarrasing is that this album doesn’t differ at all from hundreds of really cheap and shallow records of local Eastern European disco bands. Remember the Romanian band O-Zone? One of the worst songs in the history? Or the Russian band of pretending to be lesbians, t.A.T.u.? Ok, Eastern European music engineering sucks completely. But apart from the fact that you can tell Alice in Videoland has large quantities of money that allows them to buy most expensive computers and hire most expensive experts, what is the difference between them and O-Zone or t.A.T.u.? Well, I’ll tell you: NONE!

Let’s think. Cheap rhythms – in both cases. A shallow, very overestimated vocal of really mediocre abilities – guess what, t.A.T.u. has it as well. Completely repetitive and boring melodies – surprise, surprise, you can find them anywhere.

Some of the songs are not that bad. I mean, if I hear In a Band in one of the clubs, I won’t run away or anything. But nothing, absolutely nothing can force me to listen to this record ever again. Once is absolutely enough!

I’m cruel but… fuck it. To make you compare what we’re talking about, I’m adding four (!!) songs/videos. Little Bird by Alice in Videoland. Sparks by t.A.T.u. which is not so much different in terms of quality – meaning, both of them completely suck; or worse, t.A.T.u. is not so bad compared to Little Bird. Then: the best song of the newest album by Alice in Videoland, Bender – and, actually, it’s the only song worth listening to. And, finally, Bodyrox feat. Luciana. An old hit. I know. But just as a reminder, how this shit should sound like.

This is crap no. 1:

Crap no. 2, which proves to be far better, imo, than crap no. 1:

This is how the whole album should be like, the best song of the album:

This is how this genre should sound in general. An absolute height in the wide disco/electro/dance genre, however, Alice in Videoland will never reach this level, let’s be honest:

p.s. I won’t even mention the quality of lyrics because this is where Alice in Videoland hits rock bottom and doesn’t have, absolutely doesn’t have one single song on the album that would defend them from my cruel comment. Just don’t google their lyrics. It’s for your own safety.

Share

girl panic! – fuck yeah! I panicked!

11 Feb

I thought the world would end, cause I was afraid I would like the new Duran Duran album. But I didn’t, so…

Now, let me explain you here. Not being a fan of Duran Duran I… yes, it’s going to be embarrasing… I… I have to admit I love some of their records. Such hits as Ordinary World or Hungry Like a Wolf are absolute classics. I may feel ashamed that I love these hits but, on the other hand, should I feel guilty? Most amazing and groundbreaking artists admitted that Duran Duran was important in their musical upbringing. Artists as different as Beck, Courtney Love, Jonathan Davis of Korn, Goldfrapp, Franz Ferdinand or Gwen Stefani. Yeah, you heard me. That means not only those who are active in the broadly understood genre of electronic music but also hardcore rockers.

I was wondering, if I’d like the newest Duran Duran album issued digitally at the end of December 2010 (which will be released physically in March 2011) – All You Need Is Now. Why I didn’t? There are a few answers to that and, of course, you don’t need to agree.

First of all, it’s a very diverse album in terms of quality (yes!) There are songs which are great and remind you of the greatest days of Duran Duran. Such as the eponymous track that opens the album. Such as Blame the Machines which clearly shows that Duran Duran didn’t only influence generations but that new achievements in electro also influenced Duran Duran. The highlights also include the somehow dramatic but still touching Before the Rain and – definitely – the disco track Safe (In the Heat of the Moment) which features Ana Matronic of Scissor Sisters. This one is a perfect dancefloor track.

But there are also songs which lack something. Either they’re a bit boring or just don’t have any kind of a strong feature that would have made them outstanding. The corny supposed-to-be a kind of a ballad Leave a Light On is just boring and tiring. Runaway Runaway doesn’t differ in any way at all from hundreds of new wave songs whether they were created in the 1980s or today. The Man Who Stole a Leopard is just a very bad disco song which is extremely cheezy. Girl Panic! includes the most horrible synthesizer solo I’ve ever heard in my whole life and it is truly shocking that Duran Duran didn’t (somehow) realize that much has changed since the last 20 years and that creative possibilities of electronic music are much wider now but also (huh-huh!) chose Girl Panic! as the second single of the album. I mean… really, guys, whose idea was that???

The second thing is… right. The test of time. I’m not saying that Duran Duran shouldn’t stay true to its music and that it should record something completely new. I’m not even saying they should go in the direction of Warp Records (although I am a Warp fan, definitely). I just think that it’s a shame that such acknowledged and, after all, talented artists didn’t use the new possibilities, didn’t even try to add a fresh spice to their music, didn’t feel a need to experiment at all.

The third thing is… uhm, ok, that’s the last one. I don’t want it to become a list of mistakes. I’m not sure if it’s engineered correctly. Mark Ronson is considered one of the best living producers. He’s the one responsible for the rise to fame of many new artists such as Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen or Adele (whose newest album I also need to listen to). Maybe I was wrong but I expected that All You Need Is Now would have been a bit more funky. And it’s not. I’m sorry to say this but the music sounds just flat. And when, in cases of some though experimental electro-shit, it’s an advantage, here – I’m not so sure about it. The sound doesn’t have the depth it should have. One step further and it would’ve become a bunch of midi-generated melodies (sic!)

Luckily, Simon LeBon still has the voice of his youth. He’s over 50 now and this boyish, metallic voice still amazes me.

Btw, I just had the most silly thought. Maybe it’s the British accent but… in All You Need Is Now (not in the chorus, though) doesn’t LeBon sound like Liam Gallagher’s brother? o_O

Share

rock? it’s bigger than us (but we’re dealing with it)

10 Feb

I’ve never been a huge fan of White Lies. Basically, I am not a fan of the current rock scene in Great Britain (and Europe in general) with maybe a few exceptions that include Pulled Apart By Horses and Manchester’s Elbow. I absolutely am a fan of the current (and former) British electro scene, which was and is mind-blowing. Good days of British rock scene ended with the Jesus and Mary Chain decaying, Blur recording their last two albums (which were far better than their previous albums) and Radiohead getting involved more in the electro scene rather than rock. Somehow PJ Harvey still kept rocking and there were and are several alternative bands that really work hard to defend the honor of British rock. But what is mainstream now is hard to define as any of the rock genres.

Hence, I was pretty surprised with the newest album of White Lies. I wasn’t even very happy to listen to Ritual. A friend of mine kept forcing me to borrow it from him at least. And I was like a hardcore fanatic.

Finally I borrowed Ritual and listened to it. And? Well, I was shocked. Ok, it’s not perfect, it’s not my kind of music. It’s corny, naive, too soft for my taste, too repetitive, too… without any taste really. But I was surprised that it’s not so bad after all. Somehow (I think I’m getting old, damn!) I found it peculiar that I could actually feel the pleasure of listening to simple melodies and corny synthesizers were, actually, pretty entertaining.

What is, however, most touching when it comes to this album, is that White Lies, against all odds, is not afraid to use elements of other musical genres. I love the influences of glam rock and new wave. It’s somehow Bowie-ish, maybe a bit Joy Divisionesque and, above all, very much indebted to the legacy of New Order. It is something that, for sure, deserves some attention.

The downside of this album, though, is that I have a feeling as if it starts with several catchy and interesting songs and gets more and more repetitive and boring in the end. The last few songs bored me to death, which was disappointing, since tracks that open the album (Is Love, Peace & Quiet, Streetlights among them) do make you focus on music and I even (good Lord!) caught myself singing along with it. I wouldn’t blame the structure of the album though. I think it may be the sole problem with this kind of music – soft rock accompanied by synthesizer that is rooted in new wave – that if you listen to it for too long, you just fall asleep after 20 minutes. LOL.

It’s not my type of music, that’s for sure. But it’s not a bad album. I had some kind of weird, subversive pleasure of listening to it. I’m sure those who are fans of the current British rock scene will love it.

Share