La Bête Blooms, CHAMBERS – Union Mash Up, Hull

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I was trying to make it to 666 days since my last post when La Bête Blooms announced a special tiny show in Hull to celebrate the release of their excellent new single, Breaking In. I sorta had to go on account of how much I love La Bête Blooms and The Adult Teeth Recording Company in general.

With a stick of liquorice in my pocket and adventure in my heart, I got myself to the venue and waited patiently for the doors to open. It was only after spending 90 minutes stroking the hessian walls and blocking the way to the toilets that I thought of asking somebody what the darn heck was going on.

“The show? That’s next door, mate,” said the nice man with his craft beer.

This comeback was off to a great start.

Lovely, lovely hessian.
Lovely, lovely hessian.

Thankfully I didn’t miss any of openers CHAMBERS despite being a moron and that is a very good thing. CHAMBERS are loud as shit and that’s why their name is in capital letters. They’re certainly a capital band.

tumbleweed
Sorry.

CHAMBERS describe themselves as a two-piece sister doom band which is probably one of the best things I’ve ever heard and tops anything I could say about them, so I’ll just add that they’re really good. Here’s a terrible photo to prove I was there.

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Spot the band! Send in your answers for a top prize.

Also, here’s a video to make up for the fact that I wrote my notes in the dark and helpfully smudged them all, leading to this section being a lot shorter than it ought to be.

CHAMBERS. As somebody behind me exclaimed when they finished, “shittin’ ‘ell!”

Shittin’ ‘ell indeed.

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La Bête Blooms, man. Maaaan. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan.

Fuckin’ love this band. They just keep getting better and better.

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Click the picture, hear the song! Internet magic.

Their new single kicks so much butt that if my butt had a butt on it then it would also have been kicked. La Bête Blooms are clearly as influenced by classic indie rock and Sonic the Hedgehog as everybody else but they stand out with their superior songwriting and passionate performances. Alliteration.

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It’s like 3D at the cinema but not.

Opening with the wonderful TV Speak from their debut EP, La Bête Blooms played a fast and powerful set full of new songs. A particular highlight was the second song of the night which I am assured will be appearing on their next EP. It was all dreamy and mysterious and it made me feel feelings. Always a good thing.

Sadly, all great nights must come to an end but memories are for as long as you remember them. La Bête Blooms put on a great show as they always do and CHAMBERS were absolutely superb. Give ’em a look for me, will ya?

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La Bête Blooms are set to release their second EP, I Know It’s Nothing, in 2017 on Adult Teeth and Warren Records. They’re on Facebook and Soundcloud.

I still can’t get over CHAMBERS. You can get a couple of tracks on Bandcamp and they’re also on Facebook and Youtube.

Union Mash Up was a nice place and had weird pictures on the walls.

 

 

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Review: Live From New York City, 1967 by Simon and Garfunkel (2002)

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There was a time when I thought that I was too cool for Simon and Garfunkel. It turns out that Simon and Garfunkel were too cool for me. Thankfully, I grew up.

Most of us have some sort of history with one of music’s finest duos, but even if somehow you don’t (!?!?!) then you will probably enjoy this album. Some things are just universally great.

Moomins, for example.

Maybe you know a few songs but you find the super-60s production a little overwhelming, perhaps you think it’s just fine the way it is but you like hearing things done a little differently, you could even be from the moon – my point is that Live From New York City, 1967 is an essential album. I don’t know how I lived without it.

Okay, so songs and stuff. There’s a nice selection here. I’m not going to take it track by track because that’s not the point of live albums. A bunch of the classics are here – Homeward BoundA Hazy Shade of WinterI Am a RockThe Sound of Silence… always a pleasure.

There are also fifteen tracks besides those above. They are beautiful. You might think I’m slipping into hyperbole here, but I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say that I love this album and intend to marry it.

“But why do you love this record to the extent that you’re willing to commit the rest of your life to worshipping it?” asks nobody in particular.

Nobody in particular is represented here by the world's everyman, Sasquatch.
Nobody in particular is represented here by the Sasquatch.

That’s a great question! In future though please keep your queries and comments for the end of the review. Thank you.

Well, besides the fact that every single song is entirely brilliant, Live From New York City, 1967 is a rare thing insofar as it is a Simon and Garfunkel record that features only… well… Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. This isn’t your usual Simon and Garfunkel and Drummer and Horn Section and Two Guitarists and Keyboard Player and Backing Vocalists and Bassist and Dude Playing Triangle live album and that is what makes it so special.

We all knew Paul Simon was an excellent guitarist, but wow he’s so amazing. I think he has an extra hand he’s not telling us about. Art Garfunkel is often done a great disservice in these sorts of pieces, cast as the amusical hanger-on, but the man simply has a stunning voice.

Together they are perfect, and that’s the real selling point of this live album: it’s a testament to the brilliance of Paul Simon’s poetry and the beauty of his and Art Garfunkel’s harmonies that the songs are somehow improved for being stripped down to their barest bones.

Basically, if you don’t buy Live From New York City, 1967 then you don’t have a soul.

Live From New York City, 1967 track list:

  1. He Was My Brother
  2. Leaves That Are Green
  3. Sparrow
  4. Homeward Bound
  5. You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies
  6. A Most Peculiar Man
  7. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
  8. The Dangling Conversation
  9. Richard Cory
  10. A Hazy Shade Of Winter
  11. Benedictus
  12. Blessed
  13. A Poem on the Underground Wall
  14. Anji
  15. I Am a Rock
  16. The Sound of Silence
  17. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
  18. A Church Is Burning
  19. Wednesday Morning, 3 A. M.

Review: The Drone by We Are Knuckle Dragger (2013)

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The Drone is the second album by We Are Knuckle Dragger. They’re a very good band and this is a very good album, but will you like it? Maybe.

Knuckle Dragger aren’t a group for everybody, but that’s fine. They make the music they want to make, which shouldn’t really be such a fucking novelty, and that music is beautiful. Not beautiful like Chopin, but beautiful, glorious NOISE.

A huge shit-eating grin spreads over my face every time that first slab of grumbly rumbly bass starts molesting my speakers. Perhaps such mucky stuff shouldn’t make me so happy, but I can’t help it.

This shit’s all over the place and I love it.

The Drone was produced by Ross Robinson, the man who invented Slipknot, and he’s a great fit. As much of a crime Korn was he totally makes up for it with this. We cool, Ross, we cool.

I’m not going to talk about The Drone song by song because it’s not that kind of record. Everything is brilliant, that’s what you need to know.

It’s also heavy. Really heavy. Really fucking heavy. Jesus Christ, it’s heavy.

Do you like heavy music? Do you like noisy noise? Do you like to boogie? Do you like to rock and/or roll? Do you like grunge? Do you like to do a depressed shuffle to The Cure? Into ABBA?

None of the above?

Billy Joel 4 life.
Billy Joel 4 life.

You should listen to The Drone anyway. It’s only 29 minutes long, what else were you going to do today?

It’s been very interesting to see this album develop. I was lucky enough to attend a secret show in Knuckle Dragger‘s rehearsal space where they played 9 of these 10 songs (the 10th wasn’t done yet) only a few days before they were recorded and beaten into shape. To then see them (in HMV, of all places) perform the whole thing front-to-back on the day of release was a real treat.

If they come anywhere near you then try and catch them while they’re still cheap to see. If you live somewhere near Newcastle-upon-Tyne then your chances are better than most (I’ve seen them three times this year without really trying) but they tour the UK fairly regularly and it’s surely not long until they can pop on over to mainlaind Europe to give them a good kicking.

Look! They're in HMV!
Look! They’re in HMV!

Here are a few videos to give you an idea of what’s what and the full album is below (on Spotify). Here’s their official website where you can buy their albums. Do it!

The Drone track list:

  1. This Better Be Life Threatening Norman
  2. Starting Strength
  3. Class of 94
  4. Bunch of Fucking Mutants
  5. Sucker
  6. The Moon on a Stick
  7. Learning by Doing
  8. Here’s Your Shit Sandwich
  9. Flapjack the Ripper
  10. Funhouse

Review: The Bones Of What You Believe by Chvrches (2013)

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I feel strange. I was aware of Chvrches through their name alone and was very put off by it – in my head it manifests as Chvurchevesezeches – and so I ignored them in the hopes that they’d go away.

Pixies were on Jools Holland last week. I watched it. Chvrches were also on and I was feeling open-minded (read: lazy) so I chose not to fast-forward it. Not exactly to my tastes, I thought, but certainly intriguing. Their second song came after an interview with Black Francis, so I couldn’t ignore it, could I?

On that Saturday morning, sat in my pants and eating leftover Chinese food, I found myself thinking that this band were actually kind of great. That thought stuck with me all the way ’til Wednesday, when I decided that I could take it no longer and marched myself to HMV.

I bought an album that’s in the top 10 this week… because of telly. They’re so goddamned new that only one of their members has a Wikipedia page.

It was a great fucking decision.

The Mother We Share is both the first track on the album and my introduction to the group. Plenty of interesting things going on. Snappy synths and a lovely warm wash of a chorus. I’m not sure you could find a way to not like something about this song. She also swears. I love swearing! We Sink has another fuck. Is it because they’re from Glasgow?

Gun is a single or something. It’s got a video. Lots of nice colours! I could probably boogie to this, and I hate dancing. I really do. That’s just how good it is.

It’s like I’m inside the song, man.

Time for the slow track. Yay. Tether is a nicely atmospheric track, gloomy guitars, muffly bass and the sort of beat your heart does when you’re about to do something terrible. This is probably the electronic equivalent of the classic LOUDquietLOUD dynamic. Naturally, things get more complicated towards the end. This song deserves a decent video at some point.

Lies is the song that swayed me on that cold morning, wrapped up in my quilt and cradling my rice. It reminds me quite a bit of Black Celebration-era Depeche Mode – it may seem to be conventionally poppy but there’s also something horribly wrong, something unsettling. A nice splodge of Nine Inch Nailsian noise at the end too.

Oooh! Under The Tide is sung by somebody else, but I don’t know who does what at this stage so you will have to make up his name. Far from simply being a ‘letting Ringo sing’ moment, it’s a very good song and fits perfectly on the record.

I bought the CD, but this is probably where you turn the LP over.

No interesting caption, just a cool picture.

Recover is a pop sandwich – bright and bouncy bread with a filling that pleads for better, some salad, some cheese, anything. An utterly brilliant track.

What’s going on here? Science/Visions is going on, that’s what. For some reason it reminds me of Akira. Does that make me a massive nerd? It’s a very oppressive song. I love it.

Lungs brings to mind some of the more damning songs from Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero. While it doesn’t necessarily sound like NIN it’s not lyrically dissimlar to songs like The Warning.

Closing time. You Caught The Light has some nice Martin Gore vibes and has other fella singing again. It ends things on a nice quiet note and leaves you feeling that, yes, you would quite like to play the album again.

You know what? That’s just what I did.

The Bones Of What You Believe is an excellent record and I’m very pleased that it exists and is successful. It deserves it. I’m also happy that people are buying such great music lately. Thank you, people.

Buy it today and make some Glaswegians happy.

Chvrches deserve all the success they can get. They write, perform and produce their own material and seem to do what the hell they like, which is always admirable. We have a female singer who sings like a real person and isn’t willing to take any of your shit. We also finally get some decent new electronic music that doesn’t have any shitting dubstep in it and isn’t trying to make me dance or buy trainers. It’s all very refreshing..

Everybody have a look at these people. They are awesome.

The Bones Of What You Believe track list:

  1. The Mother We Share
  2. We Sink
  3. Gun
  4. Tether
  5. Lies
  6. Under the Tide
  7. Recover
  8. Night Sky
  9. Science/Visions
  10. Lungs
  11. By The Throat
  12. You Caught The Light

Review: Shameless by Therapy? (2001)

Err...
Err…

A lot of people hate this album. I don’t hate this album though. I think it’s great, although it does have a few dodgy moments. Cover art included.

Shameless is Therapy?’s ‘American’ album, recorded by grunge hero Jack Endino in Seattle. Unfortunately not a gamble that translated into good record sales but one that produced a good rock record nonetheless.

Do you remember that thing music people used to do in the late 90s? That thing where some of the song would sound like it was on the radio? That’s what leads us into opener Gimme Back My Brain. It’s a little unfortunate, but it’s soon fixed with a great yelp and an excellent riff. Gimme gimme gimme baaaack my brain. Yeah! It rocks. That’s all it needs to do. It’s even got a bass solo/cowbell breakdown. The fuck more do you want?

What a nice segue! Dance is a nice heavy track, that strange sort of slow that you can still boogie to a little bit. Is there a lot to say about this song? Not really, although it does feature the line ‘welcome to fuckland’, make of that what you will. Oh yeah, and the guitar solo is pretty cool too.

Whoa-oh-oh-ah-whoa! This One’s For You is one of those should-be hits. Perhaps if it had come out a couple of years later amongst all this ‘Kings of Leon’ bollocks it would have been just fine, but that would have involved conforming and being appreciated which underground society tells us is wrong.

Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends. What a beast of a lyric.

I was lucky enough to see I Am The Money performed live, one of the only times since Shameless was buried in 2002. I was unlucky enough to see it the one time Andy Cairns decided to experiment with auto-tune technology and it all went a bit wrong.

What’s really shit in this case is that we have a fucking great song with an incredible outro that’s CUT OFF on the record. The full version languishes as the b-side on some single somewhere. Wank.

For serious though, a good song, just a bit castrated.

Wicked Man is pure Iggy Pop rip-off. It’s fantastic. What the hell is a heavy metal parking lot? I don’t care. Features some classic 1960s rock organ work by some dude. Theme From Delorean has an arguably quite stupid name which is a shame because it’s one of the best songs on the album, with a great bongo fury in the middle.

Now, as much as I love this album, I can’t deny that the quality does go down a smidgen from this point. That doesn’t detract from their merit as awesome slabs of rock ‘n’ roll, but they do suffer compared to what has come previously.

Tango Romeo brings us back to where we need to be just in time for the end of the record. It does seem to be generally disliked amongst the Therapy? faithful but I think they’re all wrong. Silly lyrics, maybe, but riffs ahoy! Stalk & Slash is a real car crash of a song, but that’s how every great joy ride should end, isn’t it?

Shameless is a flawed album but the intent behind it shines through. Therapy? obviously set out to make a fun album of maximum rock ‘n’ roll and in that sense it was a great success. Perhaps it came at the wrong time, after grunge stopped being novel but before it was okay to like it again. Perhaps that doesn’t fucking matter, because it’s a fantastic record. Listen to it!

Shameless track list:

  1. Gimme Back My Brain
  2. Dance
  3. This One’s For You
  4. I Am The Money
  5. Wicked Man
  6. Theme From Delorean
  7. Joey
  8. Endless Psychology
  9. Alrite
  10. Body Bag Girl
  11. Tango Romeo
  12. Stalk & Slash

Review: EP-1 by Pixies (2013)

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In keeping with their “let’s just release things when they’re fuckin’ ready” philosophy, Pixies stuck EP-1 on our internets recently, promising more to come.

We have two die-hard Pixieholics here on Off Your Shelf, so instead of fighting over it like hobos over meat it was decided that we both cover a side each. That’s a lot better, isn’t it?

Side One, by Sean

1) Andro Queen

2) Another Toe

Right from the start, Andro Queen is an unusual song in Pixieland. It’s not Gouge Away, so we’d better hate it, yes? Fuck you, Pitchfork. Fuck off back into your stupid hidey-hole of wankery.

Anyway, Andro Queen. It’s really quite pretty. Very spacesome, a little bit Bossanova II – Surfer’s Revenge. Is there a smidgen of auto-tune? Mayhaps, but it’s quite subtle and seems to be used as an artistic tool rather than to mask a lack of talent or ability. It’s certainly not as intrusive as it is on modern dancefloor smash Black Paisley.

It’s quite remarkable to have a Pixies release that doesn’t start off with a massive explosion of a song. Andro Queen is intriguing and invites you into the greater Pixiemystery that awaits within EP-1.

Another Toe is an interesting beast (and it is a beast). The rhyming progression takes a little getting used to at first, but it leads into such a stunning chorus that they could have just farted for the first 30 seconds and it would have been fine. We are treated to our first classic Joey Santiago licks on this track, masterfully underlining and enhancing without wanking all over the place like certain other guitarists might be tempted to.

Of course, when you let him loose he comes up with a great ghoulish bastard of a solo. Can you call it a solo? I’m calling it a fucking solo.

Are these songs insta-classics? No, but the Pixies have never been that way. EP-1 might take some time to sink in next to Surfer Rosa but it’ll get there. Buy it! And listen to side two, of course…

Side Two, by Holly

3) Indie Cindy

4) What Goes Boom

As a huge Pixies fan since the tender age of thirteen when a rather catchy track concerning a Japanese man driving his car over a cliff somehow managed to reach me on an existential level, I, like Sean, embraced this new EP with a happy face. Their first collection of songs in a number of years, and since the replacement of the inimitable Kim Deal with Female Bass Player Called Kim #2, a heavy sense of anticipation settles on the ears as one sits down to listen. Luckily, it doesn’t disappoint.

Indie Cindy takes its title from a term popularised by a semi-well known song by a band about as far removed from the Pixies as Meshuggah to Miley Cyrus. The good news is that the influence ends there. The song kicks off as classic Pixies, a smooth easy-going rhythm with the confident, casual lead guitar we’ve come to expect from these guys. Personally I hear a little Where is My Mind? influence touching the first half of the song.

The ‘new’ Pixies blasts into its own in the second half; fast, furious guitar licks just slightly too chaotic to be called ‘tight’, Francis’ hectic babble-singing riding over them. This works, somehow, by the quick transfer to the softly spoken, hypnotic chorus that has practically become a trademark. The song, according to Francis himself, is a direct attempt to re-seduce fans after their hiatus; suitably enough, it is comfortingly familiar while demanding that listeners stand up and take notice. And it works.

What Goes Boom, after the slow seduction, seems at first to be decidedly un-Pixies song. Squealing licks continue throughout, carrying Francis’ newfound confidence as he loudly proclaims his lyrics with an air of knowing that his seduction was successful. While the track slips past as generic rock on the first listen, subsequent attention reveals that many of the nuances and characteristics of the Pixies we’ve loved for years remain present, bold and strong. This track is just louder, more confident, slamming the band’s return to the music scene down in a way that can’t be ignored. And why would you want to?

Review: Disintegration by The Cure (1989) plus FREE BONUS REVIEW FOR FREE

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It’s raining. I’m at work. The servers are down, meaning no actual work to do…

So what should I do?

Listen to Disintegration by The Cure, you say? Well, if I must…

"Yus!"
“Yus!”

Plainsong has a bunch of pretty chimes, very chunky keyboards, very big drums. Robert Smith’s guitar playing is immaculate and ethereal as always, though I don’t understand a word of what he’s singing. It sounds like it’s probably super meaningful though. Something about cold and death and the end of the world. The usual.

The glittery shimmer effect makes its first appearance here. It’s always ridiculous. It fits.

More shimmers for Pictures of You, which is a million fucking minutes long. It’s about that time Robert Smith’s house killed itself (with fire) and he found some pictures of his wife afterwards. Or something. This marks one of the few times in history anybody has ever known what a Cure song was about.

It’s around this point where you start to think that Robert Smith is probably playing all of the instruments, apart from the drums. Everything is very… Robert. The drum sound is almost your typical EIGHTIES DRUM SOUND, but on closer listening sounds more or less like natural drums if they were played in a deep well. Very poetic.

Closedown continues similarly. Instrumentally it’s really quite stunning, with the wettest bass I’ve ever heard and a return to the chunky keyboards. Mmm, chunky. There are words in it somewhere, I think. It’s safe to say that they probably don’t live up to the music though. This is the Robert Smith problem, but I forgive him. Maybe you can too.

Lovesong is, according to Wikipedia, one of the more cheerful, upbeat songs on the record. Like fuck it is. It is, as the name suggests, a love song… but a remarkably desperate one. Cheer up, you bugger.

A man who knows a thing or two about poetry.
That’s a very good try, Robert.

Last Dance sounds like elevator music. It’s dreary and murky and not very exciting, like Doncaster. Boring. Just… fucking boring. Thankfully, Lullaby is next. You know this one. It’s the one where Spiderman is taking Robert Smith for dinner. It’s good and plinky, and occasionally you get a nice cold sweep of synth. What a shame there was such a shit song before it.

Fascination Street follows, with the best (only) extended bass intro you’ll ever hear. This is one of the few songs where it sounds like there’s somebody else playing instruments as well. Lots of nice guitar interplay while Smith sings like he’s driving his car too fast. His voice seems to serve as a reminder that it’s totally not murder if you die at the same time.

It’s a good song.

Prayers for Rain. Mope. Fucking mope, Robert. Unfortunately, the band decided to set their Yamaha to a sound that can only be described as ‘bass duck’ for the backing. How distracting. This song did not need to be six minutes long.

They got it the wrong way around.
Duck bass would have been the superior choice.

The Same Deep Water as You is nine fucking minutes long. That’s fucking ages. For fuck’s sake, Robert. I said I’d listen to your problems but this is a bit much. It’s good, but perhaps not nine minutes good. Seven minutes good. It’s all a bit dirgetastic. Maybe it’s symbolic and all, like Robert Smith is having a funeral for his fucking heart or something. Jesus. It rains at the end, like he prayed for.

Now it’s time for the title track! Yay!

Eight fucking minutes. I’ll be a fucking grandparent by the time this album’s done. Thankfully, this song has more in the way of progression and is also a bit faster. I swear I almost heard a gospel choir backing around five minutes in. Clearly I’m going mental.

Anyway, title track… lyrics about ‘the end’… should be the last track, shouldn’t it?

Nope. Bonus tracks for CD. You lucky vinyl bastards.

Homesick. Seven bastard more shitting minutes.

You know what? It’s great. It’s a real mid-afternoon hangover of a song. It brings with it a nice atmosphere of possible redemption. Maybe it’s because Robert is feeling better, maybe it’s because this fucking album is nearly over, who knows?

Untitled is a short track at only six minutes. It’s more or less a straight continuation of Homesick, thematically speaking. There’s a nice loooong fadeout at the end, leaving us with some synth accordion. Lovely.

Far from being superfluous, these bonus tracks serve to finish the album the way it ought to. Robert Smith deserves to be happy, as do all of you.

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Chin up.

BONUS REVIEW – ENTREAT

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It’s all the songs from Disintegration – apart from Plainsong, Lovesong, Lullaby and The Same Deep Water as You – played live in concert.

While the arrangements aren’t radically different, the songs do benefit from having the studio murk stripped away and the missing songs help to streamline the whole experience nicely, turning a 70+ minute slog into a neat 40 minute joyride.

The live sound is better for some songs than others. Last Dance is no longer so fucking boring, but Fascination Street loses some power. I can live with it though.

Prayers for Rain suffers the most, as bass duck is now one of the most audible elements of the track. Thankfully, it’s a full two minutes shorter this time. Thanks, Rob

All told it’s pretty straightforward, but a nice thing to have if you can get it for £2 like I did. I hear that the super-deluxe edition has the whole Disintegration album live. I’ll let you decide if that’s a thing you want.

Disintegration track list:

  1. Plainsong
  2. Pictures of You
  3. Closedown
  4. Loveson
  5. Last Dance
  6. Lullaby
  7. Fascination Street
  8. Prayers for Rain
  9. The Same Deep Water as You
  10. Disintegration
  11. Homesick
  12. Untitled

Review: Crocodiles by Echo and The Bunnymen (1980)

"Okay, everybody look like you're having a really bad day. That's smashing."
“Okay, everybody look like you’re having a really bad day. That’s smashing.”

The most remarkable thing about Crocodiles is that the Bunnymen had their classic sound right from the start. It might be a little way off the perfection of Ocean Rain but it’s just as essential.

If you’re not super familiar with Echo & The Bunnymen, they’re a post-punk band like Joy Division or The Cure but with more Bowie and less hair.

Like most in the genre, Crocodiles is full of chunky basslines, slinky guitars, atmospheric keyboards, vocals with heavy echo and also some drumming. I believe there is also a spot of xylophone or some similar instrument in Pride. How exciting!

The most Gothic of all the instruments.
The most Gothic of all the instruments.

That’s not to say that this is a typical ’80s goth’ album though. The thing is, when you invent your own style of music, you can kind of do whatever you want with it. Crocodiles sounds fresh and exciting to this day because the assorted Bunnymen were innovating rather than assimilating.

There are always exceptions, of course. Producer David Balfe (from The Teardrop Explodes) pops in for a spot of Ray Manzareking on Villiers Terrace. It’s rare that such an obvious tribute can fit well in the middle of an original song but they pull it off here – while the song is not necessarily in the style of The Doors it’s not hard to imagine Jim Morrison hollering about how he’d “been up to Villiers Terrace, saw what was happenin’.”

This expanded edition doubles the length with out-takes, early versions and the entirety of live EP Shine So Hard. For once these are welcome and actually enhance the album experience as a whole. Isn’t that mental? There’s a nice little gap between the album proper and the bonus material so you can pretend you’re flipping a record if you really want to.

Do It Clean and Read It in Books were both on the original US release of the album but not the UK one because some Warner Bros. bigwig thought they had swears in them. Read It in Books is especially notable for being the one song that Ian McCulloch and Julian Cope wrote together before they hated each other to death – Cope’s version with The Teardrop Explodes features on their album Kilimanjaro.

Although clearly they shared similar tastes when it came to colourful instruments.
Julian being normal.

Simple Stuff was the b-side to single Rescue but I’m pretty sure it should have been the other way around. The demo tracks that follow aren’t terribly different from the album versions apart from being a bit more stripped-down. It’s like seeing your school photos again – same songs, a little younger.

The live performances prove that not only could Echo & The Bunnymen do it live, they could do it BETTER too. What’s cool here is that we’ve got early versions of Zimbo (later retitled All My Colours) and Over The Wall from their next album, Heaven Up Here, alongside some absolutely smashing takes on Crocodiles and All That Jazz.

Shine So Hard is one of the few live recordings that truly seems to capture the chaotic feel of a real show, they may not be leaping about like they’re Slayer but the Bunnymen play with such intensity that you’re worried their instruments might fall to bits.

Crocodiles track list:

  1. Going Up
  2. Stars Are Stars
  3. Pride
  4. Monkeys
  5. Crocodiles
  6. Rescue
  7. Villiers Terrace
  8. Pictures on My Wall
  9. All That Jazz
  10. Happy Death Men

Bonus tracks:

  1. Do It Clean
  2. Read It in Books
  3. Simple Stuff
  4. Villiers Terrace (early version)
  5. Pride (early version)
  6. Simple Stuff (early version)
  7. Crocodiles (live)
  8. Zimbo (live)
  9. All That Jazz (live)
  10. Over the Wall (live)

Review: Midlife Crisis – The Very Best of Faith No More (2010)

Great effort, you guys.
Please don’t leave your interns in charge of graphic design. Please.

This compilation is at once a cheap cash-in and an incredible bargain. It’s structured without regard for chronological consistency or even who happens to be in the band but it also has no less than 14 B-SIDES AND RARITIES, making this a ‘Best of’ that’s far more valuable to people who already have every album than people new to the band.

Things start off pretty normally, blah blah blah We Care A Lot blah blah blah Epic blah blah blah Midlife Crisis. You’ve heard them all before. The album actually manages to mix up its own track list at this point, with Midlife Crisis and Falling To Pieces swapping places. How the hell do you manage something like that?

Not even Mike Patton can figure it out and he’s fucking weird.

The sexy e-bow vibes of Stripsearch are a welcome addition, although it is bizarrely followed by eight-minute epic The Real Thing. While it is perhaps one of their greatest overall, it also marks where this collection starts to go a bit wrong.

That’s right, here come the b-sides! The World Is Yours is fine enough but the tracks that follow are kind of shite, especially the over-long instrumental, Instrumental. Much better is Sweet Emotion, which was recorded during sessions for The Real Thing and later reworked into The Perfect Crime for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Adventure, earning it a double obscurity bonus. Score!

Arabian Disco and As The Worm Turns from the band’s yet-to-be-reissued debut album are really quite good, with As The Worm Turns in particular being far superior to Mike Patton’s recorded version. Unfortunately we have two from The Real Thing smushed in the middle – War Pigs and The Morning After. These are great and all, but it would be nice for Chuck Mosley to get a little more recognition for having been the singer for two albums rather than being the bread in a Patton sandwich.

Although he is meatier than you’d think.

Disc 2 is much better, mostly because it starts with Everything’s Ruined, one of the best songs from the already stellar Angel Dust. Bee Gees cover I Started a Joke is the first relatively obscure track and features Mike Patton singing with an awful fake English accent. Ick.

Defying all logic, This Guy’s In Love With You and Theme From Midnight Cowboy from the same (incredible!) live performance are separated by no less than four songs, one of them being the very excellent R’n’R from Chuck Mosley’s Introduce Yourself. Why’s it there? No idea.

Maybe best not to bother him. He looks like he needs a sleep.

Light Up and Let Go isn’t very notable at all but certainly quite tolerable. The perfect b-side! I Won’t Forget You and The Big Kahuna show us where all the nu-metal bands got their ideas from – as with all things Faith No More it’s probably a massive piss-take, but in this instance maybe they took the whole ‘irony’ thing a little too far.

Underwater Love is very welcome afterwards, because mermaids.

Little-known fact: Patton is a mermaid.
Patton unfortunately neglected to use underwater protection.

The cover of Spanish Eyes that follows is one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard – best synth-horns ever? Absolute Zero is the last b-side and is one of the few originals featured that really should have been on an album, perhaps if it had a little more polish we’d know all the words.

We finish up with totally awesome The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. Maybe the people who sequenced this album really did know what they were up to after all?

The Very Best of Faith No More is a worthy purchase as long as it’s a very cheap one, and is ultimately a bit redundant if you already own The Real Thing and Angel Dust. The Chuck Mosley era is a little better represented than usual but 5 out of 39 hardly seems fair, not to mention the lack of anything that’s not a single from both King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime and Album of the Year.

What you ought to do instead is just buy each of the albums. There are only five. Chop chop!

Midlife Crisis track list…

Disc one:

  1. We Care A Lot
  2. From Out Of Nowhere
  3. Epic
  4. Falling To Pieces
  5. Midlife Crisis
  6. Easy (Commodores cover)
  7. Digging The Grave
  8. Stripsearch
  9. The Real Thing
  10. The World Is Yours
  11. Hippie Jam Song
  12. Instrumental
  13. Highway Star (Deep Purple cover)
  14. Sweet Emotion (not an Aerosmith cover)
  15. Arabian Disco
  16. War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover)
  17. The Morning After
  18. As The Worm Turns

Disc two:

  1. Everything’s Ruined
  2. A Small Victory
  3. Evidence
  4. I Started A Joke (Bee Gees cover)
  5. Last Cup Of Sorrow
  6. Ashes To Ashes
  7. Ricochet
  8. This Guy’s In Love With You (Bacharach/David standard)
  9. R ‘N’ R
  10. Kindergarten
  11. Caffeine
  12. Land Of Sunshine
  13. Theme From Midnight Cowboy
  14. Light Up And Let Go
  15. I Won’t Forget You
  16. Underwater Love
  17. Spanish Eyes (Al Martino cover)
  18. The Big Kahuna
  19. Introduce Yourself
  20. Absolute Zero
  21. The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies

Live Review: Mudhoney, Meat Puppets, METZ (June 6th, 2013)

Mudhoney sign

Possibly the best show I’ll ever see, Mudhoney came to the O2 Academy Newcastle and they brought along some special friends for three and a half hours of incredible music – even the music played over the PA was great. Not bad for £16.

METZ being engulfed by the sun.
METZ being engulfed by the sun.

I found myself at the stickiest section of the barrier just in time for the first band. METZ are an exciting group (from Canada!) and noisy as shit.

It would be easy enough to compare them to ye olde grunge music but there’s some other stuff going on in there too, perhaps a smattering of NIN. There’s certainly a shitload of distortion and feedback but it’s used in a special kind of way that’s different to your regular Nirvana-types and very difficult to explain in proper words.

There’s also plenty of screaming, but it’s not your icky fake “I hate my parents” screaming, this is real “I’m so busy being rock ‘n’ roll that I can’t think of any words so I’m just going to yell instead” screaming. Excellent.

METZ put on an incredibly intense show and you should see them wherever you can. I don’t care if they’re opening for a band you hate, you go and see METZ and then you go home, they’re that good. Then go and see them again when they get a chance to headline. Just remember to take your earplugs out – tinnitus is just another type of feedback, after all.

Curt Kirkwood setting up. An unfortunately timed shot if there ever was one.
Curt Kirkwood setting up. An unfortunately timed shot if there ever was one.

Meat Puppets just sort of mosey on stage and are probably the most ridiculously laid-back guys you’ll ever see. Cris is the more animated of the Kirkwood brothers, bounding about the stage like a baby giraffe, while Curt is content to simply rip your face off with his guitar solos.

A personal highlight was Plateau from Meat Puppets II. Bombs could have hit and I’d have been happy just to have seen that song live. They of course played all the other songs they had to, with some beautiful harmonies on Oh, Me in particular and most songs being extended with some cool jamming and insane guitar work.

It's such a bad picture because I was busy having an amazing time.
It’s a bad picture because I was busy having an amazing time.

Meat Puppets are one of those rare bands who are capable of inducing a purely musical high and it was a shame to have to see them leave (support bands can do encores, can’t they?) but my life feels a lot more fulfilled for having seen them at all.

Mudhoney are probably some of the most natural performers I’ve ever seen, they were all laughing and joking on stage and generally seemed very happy to be there – guitarist Steve Turner cupping his hands to his mouth and yelling “WE’RE GOING TO PLAY TOUCH ME I’M SICK NOW” comes to mind.

Mudhoney playing another wholesome hit.
Mudhoney playing another wholesome hit.

At least one song was played from every album they have released (excepting 2006’s Under a Billion Suns) with the focus naturally being on latest album Vanishing Point. Despite picking and mixing songs from throughout their 25 year career it didn’t feel like a “HERE ARE OUR NEW SONGS, HERE ARE SOME OLD SONGS FOR PUTTING UP WITH THE NEW SONGS” show.

Every song was fuckin’ great and any one that wasn’t already a classic absolutely deserves to be.

Songs wot they played. Thanks to Rob Tolson for the photo.

Mark Arm played guitar most of the night (slide guitar, in fact) but it was when he took it off that he really showed us what a fantastic performer he is as he slunk about the stage like Iggy Pop reborn through a lemur.

Kind of like this.

It felt like a massive betrayal as the band left the stage after only an hour (and 19 songs!) even though I knew they’d be back for an encore, because why wouldn’t they be? What I couldn’t have anticipated was that the encore would be perhaps the best part of the show.

I’m used to bands coming out and doing a couple of songs as if to say “here’s a couple of songs we forgot to play, now fuck off” but Mudhoney came out and played 20-30 minutes of both classic tracks and some cover songs, Fang’s The Money Will Roll Right In being one of the most excellent things I’ve ever seen performed.

Every one of the bands who played would have been worth the ticket price by themselves but this tour has to be the bargain of the fuckin’ century – two classic and inspirational bands who are right now putting out some of their best material yet, and a new group who deserve our undying love and devotion because they’re already incredible after one album.

See them together, see them separately, just see them all before you die. You owe it to yourself.

Mudhoney played…

Slipping Away
I Like It Small
You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face)
Suck You Dry
Poisoned Water
In This Rubber Tomb
Where the Flavor Is
Sweet Young Thing (Ain’t Sweet No More)
Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme
No One Has
Good Enough
Douchebags on Parade
Touch Me I’m Sick
What to Do With the Neutral
I’m Now
The Final Course
I Don’t Remember You
Chardonnay
The Only Son of the Widow from Nain

Encore:
Into the Drink
Here Comes Sickness
In ‘N’ Out of Grace
The Money Will Roll Right In (Fang cover)
Hate the Police (Dicks cover)
Fix Me (Black Flag cover)

Here’s some Spotify for those of you playing along at home.