Tag Archives: indie

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.



valentine’s day – and the most influential or interesting love songs of the previous two decades

15 Feb

Since it’s right after Valentine’s Day, I decided to pick some of the most influential and/or interesting songs on love from the last 20 years (2011 not included, of course).

I generally percieve the 1990s and 2000s as a very important moment in popular culture. Not only because it was the time of my high school/university years but mainly because it perfectly mixed influences of the music made by previous generations with new possibilities and music techniques. Grunge emerged from the influence of the 1960s rock. So did R&B which is rooted in funk, soul and, most importantly, blues. Rap continued to develop since the 1980s and so did punk rock. The 1990s however were direct descendants of the 1980 electronica and new wave. And since our age is defintely the computer age, we witnessed creation of new electro music genres and blending them with other musical influences. We witnessed the birth (or continuous development, as some may say) of industrial rock and industrial metal, nu metal, electro in a variety of genres – from early 90s trip-hop to contemporary electroclash.

Also, I think many things have changed in terms of defining ourselves as human, naming our needs and our emotions. Not only feminism became more important than ever but also many countries started their fight for LGBT rights. Racial and class divisions were and are discussed in all the parts of our world, especially since there is still a large group of fundamentalists in each and every of the religions that has ever existed – not that I am anti-religious, not at all. But,
frankly, I hate every fundamentalism.

Sex is also discussed in a different manner. And popular culture has been very important in the process of expressing our sexuality, our love, our desires. I think some of the songs of the last two decades reflect that process. Let’s take a look at some of them.


Sinéad O’Connor Nothing Compares 2 U
Written in 1986 by Prince, O’Connor re-recorded this song in 1990 and quickly it became not only one of the greatest hits of this year but also O’Connors trade mark which made her rise to fame. A falling apart relationship of the past reaches its climax in the lyrics full of regret and passion at the same time which is only strenthened by a great voice of O’Connor. Her vocals tremble with passion and are torn apart with pain. Mesmerizing.
To view video click here.


Justify My Love

Written by Lenny Kravitz and Ingrid Chavez. Highly controversial song with even more controversial video that’s  been censored and/or banned almost everywhere in the world. It marks the point in which Madonna slowly shifts from corny pop songs of the 1980s into much more ambitious projects which may have been pop but remained top quality and the best example to follow for the future generations. Also, it marks a slow shift from corny and puritan Reagan/Thatcher-era love imagery to a vision of a somewhat complicated sexuality. After all, can we imagine love and sex today without general questions about ourselves and human nature? Can we think of it not reffering to pain, hurting someone/ourselves, rediscovering our sexual identities, whether we’re straight, gay, or avoid labels at all costs? In 1990s it wasn’t that obvious. Luckily, we’ve got Madonna and we know that she turned her attention to wherever she spotted a taboo-topic.
To view video click here.



Pearl Jam Oceans
Hard to say whether Eddie Vedder sings about his love to another person or about his love to surfing. Whatever it is, it is emotional and it marks the rise of grunge which dominated popular music for the most of 1990s.
To view video click here.



En Vougue My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)
In fact a very difficult song – not every vocalist will be able to repeat it, trust me. Marks a trend for the years to come of forming girlsbands which do not necessarily need to know how to play an instrument but have to be sexy and, ok En Vogue, I gotta give you that, need to sing damn well to get to the top. It’s years before Destiny’s Child or Spice Girls (this one isn’t maybe the best example cause they vocally suck, LOL).
P.S. Check the choreography! What the fuck are these guys doing??? X-DD I just looollleeed! Nobody dances like this in vids anymore.
To view video click here.


Red Hot Chili Peppers Under the Bridge
Kiedis sings about his love to L.A. A true classic. And a classic video displayin less of L.A., more of Kiedis’ hairless chest opposed to long, shiny, commercial-like hair on his head. He actually moves his whole body in a way so you can take a closer look at both X-D
To view video click here.



Metallica Nothing Else Matters
An anthem. And a very insightful and sincere confession of James Hetfield (“I never opened myself this way”). Is he confessing to his bandmates or his girlfriend? Noone knows, but, what the heck, nothing else matters.
To view video click here.



Nirvana Heart Shaped Box
Grunge at its height, less than a year before Kurt Cobain’s death. This song’s got it all. A strong riff, powerful chorus, amazing lyrics. It’s debatable whether it is about love although many sourses claim that the song was written for Courtney Love. Everything about love-hate relationships is written exactly here. And, though from the grunge era musically it is Alice in Chains and Soundgarden that I value most, I have to admit Cobain had a mesmerizing voice and great ability to write lyrics. As Wiki says: “Charles Cross wrote in his biography of Cobain Heavier Than Heaven that with the lyric “I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black”, Cobain “sang in what has to be the most convoluted route any songwriter undertook in pop history to say ‘I love you'”.”
Well, I won’t argue with Cross.
To view video click here.


Radiohead Creep
Less about love. More about the lack of it. An anthem of all the freaks, geeks and nerds. All those who were and are misfits. And a generation anthem as well. Used in Fincher’s Social Network last year and, earlier, covered by KoRn during their Mtv unplugged session – and there was a good reason for it.
“I want a perfect body. | I want a perfect soul. | I want you to notice | When I’m not around. | You’re so fuckin’ special. | I wish I was special (…)”. Hell yeah, welcome to modern times in which you have plenty of identity possibilities, well, far more than your grandma had, and, at the same time, none of them really suits you.
To view video click here.



Blur Girls & Boys
Marks the point at which britpop is gathering more attention. Also, marks slow changes in our society that are still pretty new for some: “Love in the nineties | Is paranoid. | On sunny beaches | take your chances – looking for | Girls who are boys | Who like boys to be girls | Who do boys like they’re girls | Who do girls like they’re boys” – and a sweet conclusion – “Always should be someone you really love”.
To view video click here.


Tool Prison Sex
Less about love. More about the dark side of being a human. After all, it’s Tool. And, since it’s Tool, you can be sure it’s about pain, desire, having power over one another and excercising it on one another. Amazing song.
To view video click here.



Alanis Morissette You Oughta Know
A feminist and a little hysterical scream in the post-grunge genre which, at the time, was considered rebellious. Today noone would consider these angry lyrics rebellious. Today it’s rather common that we express the feelings like: “It was a slap in the face how quickly I was replaced | Are you thinking of me when you fuck her?” At leasts in the songwriting, LOL.
To view video click here.


Portishead Glory Box
The video features Beth Gibbons dressed as a man. And, with her amazing and touching voice she sings: “give me a reason to be a woman”. Tiredness and helplessness. As in most alternative songs love is a more of a haunting experience rather than a sweet, pink-colored commercial for selling mascara.
To view video click here.



Tori Amos Professional Widow
Widely rumored to be about Courtney Love who, maybe because of her artistic pseydonym, is definitely the muse of most rock and alternative songs of the 1990s.
Whether it is about Love or it’s just about any difficult man/woman relationship, it’s there. And, as it always is with Tori Amos, it’s breath taking and hard to classify.
To view video click here.


Bush Swallowed
Partly on love, partly on drugs. Definitely about obession. A rather forgotten British post-grunge band whose frontman is known more as Gwen Stefani’s husband. A pretty sensual video which more or less shows the tastes and trends of the 1990s.
To view video click here.



Björk Jóga
An amazing song with the ever powerful vocal of Björk. Dedicated to a friend. Soulmate love and a very Shakesperian/turn of rennaissance/baroque theme of universe being in perfect harmony.
To view video click here.




Massive Attack Inertia Creeps
A cryptic sensual message that doesn’t include love and sex only. Intense Middle Eastern/Indian motifs and a trance rhythm. Also marks the rise of trip-hop and development of future electro genres. Extremely powerful lyrics that start with: “Recollect me, darling | Erase me to your lips | Two undernourished egos | Four rotating hips” and a disturbing video.
To view video click here.


Placebo Pure Morning
The rise of softer still alternative rock. And an another cryptic message that makes me guess the relationship is or was somewhere in between being sex friends and lovers. Of course, it’s rock, so some guilt and regret spices up the whole. Amazing video and a sexually disturbing image of the androgynous Brian Molko.
To view video click here.



Smashing Pumpkins Ava Adore
Marks the slow death of the grunge-era bands. Smashing Pumpkins are, also, slowly going down. But Billy Corgan still remains disturbing being stylized as Nosferatu, from the 1922 German expressionist horror classic Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, and singing: “It is you that I adore | You will always be my whore”. Of course in terms of style it’s a little rip off off Marilyn Manson. But, heck, it’s Corgan. I will always forgive him.
To view video click here.


Foo Fighters Walking After You
A Foo Fighter love song which embarrasses Dave Grohl until today. The song’s cute. His acting in the vid is a bit hysterical. Still, many of those who were raised on grunge as teenagers consider it a damn sexy video (even though Grohl looks funny in a suit.)
To view video click here.



Nine Inch Nails We’re in This Together
It’s Reznor, so it’s always about torment, pain and obsession. Off of The Fragile, one of the most amazing rock albums in the history. And a culminating point of industrial rock hitting the largest audiences in history ever. Of course, as it always is with NIN, a damn good video. And, btw, more or less a moment when each rock star cut their hair and one day all of them (Chris Cornell, James Hetfield, Reznor and many more) appeared with a completely new hairdo X-D
To view video click here.


Beck Sexx Laws
Off of Midnite Vultures – the album which is totally devoted to love and sex. With a little of Beck’s amazing wit and some funky tunes.
Those who happen to know this album and live nearby the Baltic probably will remember Mixed Bizness with the lyrics: “Do you wanna ride on the Baltic Sea | I’ll be your mistress C.O.D.” although I suppose Beck meant the Swedes not the post-communist block X-D
To view video click here.



PJ Harvey This Is Love
She keeps on rocking in the good old style. And still having a great sense for catchy rock riffs and sharp lyrics.
To view video click here.




Peaches Lovertits
She’s a hardcore feminist, she’s crazy, her performances are awesome and she speaks of love and sex with an almost exhibitionist sincerity. And she’s amazing. It’s the year 2000! Electroclash is rising!
To view video click here.




Depeche Mode Dream On
Depeche Mode’s big come back after David Gahan’s fight with drug addiction. And a further rise of electro which actually owes a lot to Depeche Mode.
To view video click here.




White Stripes Fell in Love with a Girl
A catchy rock song of a great band that in a quick time proved to be extremely professional and true to the roots of American rock. Great rhythm and a great riff. Plus, of course, Jack White’s vocal which you cannot confuse with anything else in this world. And lyrics in which he treats love seriously and she’s a player.
To view video click here.



Beyonce Knowles feat. Jay-Z Crazy in Love
A consequent rise of the mix of R&B, soul and a bit of funk. And an addition of rap/hip hop. From En Vogue until Beyonce it’s over 10 years. Today, noone can imagine the world without Beyonce, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Sean Paul, Busta Rhymes and many more. Well… it’s not so obvious. It’s enough to imagine the pre-1990s with Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Prince etc. Not that I do not value them (I value Prince the most) but it’s been a long time and much has changed. Also the fact that Beyonce and Jay-Z are now a married couple X-D
To view video click here.


HIM Join Me in Death
The iconic anorectic kinda (but only kinda) dark and kinda (but only kinda) gothic king of Finnish rock. Lame lyrics and lame songs. And dozens of bands following this path. A slow birth of emo-crap.
To view video click here.



Maroon 5 This Love
The iconic anorectic kinda (but only kinda) nerdy and kinda (but only kinda) cute king of whinining pop rock bands for teenage pussies. And dozens of bands following this path. A slow birth of contemporary “alternative” pop rock bands which have nothing to do with the word “alternative” whatsoever.
To view video click here.

Yes, I want to doom the year of 2004 and erase it from the history X-D


All-American Rejects Dirty Little Secret
A little pop rock shit with some teenage boys trying hard to look all sexy. Sadly, this is what defines many bands pop & rock bands today. But at least they play their instruments.
The love message is unclear but, heck, what do I know about contemporary disturbed teenagers?
To view video click here.



Amy Winehouse Back to Black
She may be drugged, hideous and sick. I don’t care. Noone sings with her voice. Noone sings with such tension. Noone is as funky and soul-ish at the same time. And noone is so cruel as she is when she sings: “He left no time to regret | Kept his dick wet | With his same old safe bet | Me and my head high | And my tears dry | Get on without my guy”.
To view video click here.



Regina Spektor Fidelity
One of those who follow the path once established by Tori Amos who is a pioneer in here. Ok, some may argue Carole King was first but that’s a different story, imho.
An amazing example of how alternative pop may mean something ambitious and, still, widely known.
To view video click here.



The Raconteurs Old Enough
A little bit of folk rock and a little sour lyrics: “you never speak so I have to guess you’re not free”. Great song and a little hope that maybe whining teens is not everything that is left.
To view video click here.




Lady Gaga Poker Face
She actually looks kinda pretty in this vid. Who would have guessed she’d become the Marilyn Manson of pop? Still, though I’m not a pop fan myself, I’m happy for her achievements. She’s still far more talented than most of the pop starlets and, at least, she has a strong voice she knows how to use instead of Britney’s hums, ohs and umhs which annoy me as hell. Plus, when it’s about love, Gaga is more into obsession, gambling with the feelings and love/hate relationships. And she tries to escape any label. As an electro fan, I definitely prefer this when it comes to pop than Spice Girls or Backstreet Boys :-]
To view video click here.



Deftones Rocket Skates
As usual for Moreno the lyrics are cryptic. But, in my opinion, it does include a difficult love/hate relationship. Moreno’s voice is perfect as ever and the whole strength of emotions that tear him apart culminate with the words: “Guns, razors, knives | Fuck with me”. One of the best singles of 2010.
To view video click here.



Violent Soho Jesus Stole My Girlfriend
A nice rock tune with a little sarcastic lyrics by an Australian alternative rock band. She leaves cause Jesus means more to her than him.
To view video click here.





timeless cover: Within You Without You by the Beatles

13 Feb

One of the timeless songs that make a perfect cover is George Harrison’s Within You Without You. A perfect taste of the late 1960s – heavily influenced by classical music from India it still is deeply rooted in the contemporary trends in rock. Harrison actually was a master of incorporating Hindu musical themes into the pieces he wrote for the Beatles. And this is definitely one of his master tracks. Funny, being the least “starish” of the Beatles and the least wanted (girls usually scream either for John, Paul or Ringo), he was probably the most qualified and perfectionist of them all, not only as a musician but also as a composer.

Within You Without You was covered by various artists of different musical genres. From Patti Smith to Thievery Corporation, in this song anyone could find something close to their heart. I decided to pick four of them just for some comparison of how different it may sound.

Unfortunately, I am not including a cover by Adrian Belew – the cover itself is amazing and Belew is one of my favorite musicians of all time. However, as far as I know he never released this song on any of his albums. And the youtube videos of Belew performing Within You Without You are of really poor quality.

First of all, the original. Completely perfect. Harrison performed it together with musicians from India. It is, actually, his solo track. Except him none of the Beatles are featured on this track. It was issued in 1967 on the famous the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Patti Smith. A legend in itself. This is where Great Britain/India meet the American spirit. She’s touching as ever.

Sonic Youth, the legend of the late 1980s and 1990s. Of course, as a noise band they do perform it in a noise style. What makes an amazing experience is that they go very much in the direction of the Velvet Underground. Actually, that was my first thought. If Velvet would have ever covered Within You Without You, this is how they would sound.

Easy Star’s All-Stars cover featuring Matisyahu. The dub version which was included in the album Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band. It could actually be interesting for both, fans of the Beatles and dub fans since the whole album is a dub reggae tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s.

And finally the band that I’ve never been a fan of, however, gotta admit they’re professional. Oasis – who perform the song in a manner very close to the original.


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.


if only Kurt Weill was a woman, his name would be… Amanda Fucking Palmer

9 Feb

Yes. She strikes back. With an absolutely brilliant record. And I have to admit that Amanda Palmer surprised me a lot. Being a fan of the Dresden Dolls I wasn’t really convinced if I liked her solo works. She absolutely is an amazing lyricist. Probably one of the best of our time. But musically? Meh… Her first solo album lacked the punk influence that the Dresden Dolls absolutely had. Actually, this is one of the things that make me love the Dresden Dolls. The amazing lyrics of Amanda Palmer, her voice, her stage persona combined with raw, angry, post-punk music. I may be wrong but I just have a feeling she was much more angry back in the old days.

That doesn’t mean, however, that something is wrong here. Palmer changes her style, her music, her stage personalities with utmost virtuosity. She’s an extremely professional stage musician who made an unbelievable transformation from an angry punk girl into a chanson-singer who is deeply rooted in cabaret, in the songs of the Kurt Weill/Bertold Brecht duo, in Broadway. Influenced by an amazing variety of musical genres, not even being afraid of finding a way to incorporate some Russian musical themes (A Formidable Marinade), she remains brilliant as ever. Or even more than ever.

The pleasure of listening to Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under is also strengthened by the fact that most of the tracks are written and/or recorded during her Australia/New Zealand tour in 2010. So you get a taste of not only her music and the amazing lyrics but also a little insight into what her connection with the audience is like. And, Amanda Fucking Palmer, I gotta give you that – you’re amazing when interacting with your audience. Witty, charming, in-yer-face enough but never bullying, perfectly capable of making jokes and improvising in both, music and acting.

When it comes to the lyrics. Awww… I don’t want this whole post to look like I’m praising Palmer without any criticism at all. But she mastered it a long time ago. And she remains perfect.

Is there any criticism at all then? Well… yeah, sometimes I wish she could revive the Dresden Dolls and perhaps develop in a new direction. I just miss this band, that’s all. But I’m sane enough to see that she will develop and change her styles, make ups and ideas. I just need to wait for her new crazy album and I’m sure each time she can give me something new but still true to her roots and musical interests. After all. As I said before. She’s just brilliant.

p.s. Below – a video which is great but not really showing the spirit of the album and a song which… shows the spirit of the album :-]

p.s. 2 I also hate vegemite!