Tag Archives: art rock

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.

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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.

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straight from… Dubai

6 Feb

Who would have guessed that Facebook adds actually serve some purpose? And that the advertised music can be soooo damn good?
Who would have guessed that you can get one of the best albums of the previous year from… Dubai?
Hah! You don’t believe me, don’t you?

Personally I hate Facebook adds and I never pay attention to them. If I ever do, it usually means they have to be utterly stupid to focus my attention. However, an add for a band called Absolace haunted me for a while and at some point, though I get lots of music adds, I decided to give it a try. And I was blown away totally! Their debut album, Resolve[d], was released last year (sometime early summer but cannot find exactly when) and, oh, what a shame, I found out about it only now 😦

A rather unknown band from Dubai, consisting of different members – a multicultural taste (Arab vocalist, Greek drummer, American guitarist/bassist/pianist) – this is what Absolace is. And it’s just amazing.

Ok, I have to admit that guys are not revealing nothing that we don’t know already. The similarity to other contemporary art/prog rock/metal groups influenced by Middle Eastern rhythms is obvious. Especially Tool resemblances are huge! Still, I have to admit that in the world in which, really, nothing new is created and everyone copies after other musicians, I have to admit that guys from Absolace chose a real hard way. After all, copying Tool (even if it is a copy) is aiming at the stars. And, well, you gotta learn, right? Why not learn from professionals? 😉

On the other hand, I would probably defend Absolace as a unique thing. The similarities are there, ok. Each band has its own masters and influences. Absolace, however, being very Tool-ish remains geniuine. First of all, the amazing voice of Nadim Jamal. He has a natural way of singing. Not streching his vocal cords, not trying to pretend anything. This simplicity proves to be actually far more emotional than any screams. Although, when needed, sure he can scream. Luckily, we’re past the 1980’s and nobody expects rock and metal singers to pretend they’re having constipation (Brian Johnson of AC/DC and Axl Rose for instance, though, as a child of the 1980’s I have a little sympathy for Rose). Jamal is just amazing in this. The simplicity of melodic lines and the natural way in which he uses his voice create something which is just touching.

The other thing is that – however weird it may sound since Tool is a very progressive and experimental band and has always been – Absolace seems to be more eager to experiment with electronics. Sure, it’s not industrial and the electro tunes do not go far beyond a pretty simple synthesizer. Still, it adds a nice prog-spice to the whole.

And speaking of Dubai… not all of the rhythms come from the Middle East or traditional Arabic music. Some of the tracks will really surprise you by how true they are to the American rock tradition.

Just enjoy. You will love it! Honestly – I did.
And, please, do share this information, spread it, buy their CD! All the info you need is available at their myspace profile – click here). These guys need our help in promoting their music!

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