Archive for September, 2011


Firstly, I encourage you to listen to the song before you read this blog. It’s a bit of an experience. Okay, you’re done? Excellent. Continue reading

Remember them? You know, the ones who were like, from England. They had the words by that one main guy, and they were all about going out and drinking and taxis and one of them had the bit about the bouncer. Still nothing? Really? There’s no way you could have forgotten that fast. It was only back in 2006 that Arctic Monkeys were official media darlings, with countless outlets breathlessly repeating the particulars surrounding the release of their debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. You can’t have avoided it; there are no doubt Buddhist monks living in the frosty embrace of the Himalayas who, despite their best efforts to pursue a life of contemplation free from the material trappings of the modern world, can still recount to you in some detail that album’s internet-fuelled rise to become the UK’s then highest ever selling debut album. If you were to venture deep into the dark heart of the Amazon you could find – oh, you’re getting something? Yes, the album with the Adam Sandler lookalike on the front. Yes, the ones from England, that’s what I said. So we can be certain that you knew of them once, then. Maybe you listened to their first couple of albums; maybe you even had one of their songs set as your ringtone. But, oh fickle Listening Public, you stopped listening, and you stopped caring, leaving it to people like me (you know the type) to nurture the flame until the inevitable reunion tour of 2030 when you will fork out for tickets and holler for the hits, providing we aren’t all still living with our parents. But why? Why did this happen? What has become of the Arctic Monkeys?

Continue reading

Reviewing “Head of the Hawk” made me remember this article I had written a year ago on my old blog. Despite a minor bit of editing, I think the article’s point is valid and indicative of what I see as an unfortunate trend in music, in which the playlist is replacing the album.

The more and more I look at it, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that we’re proving rather inept in the transition from LP to CD, despite its invention being a staggering 29 years ago. I’ll admit to being more into the age of the LP than that of the CD, yet what I have been noticing is the tendency for bands to create albums that are longer (not to mention louder, more trebly and with worse production), particularly amongst older rock bands – Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, but it seems to be a rather constant thing.

Having 60 minute records isn’t necessarily a bad thing – time itself is no reasonable judge of a record’s quality. But it’s no small coincidence that some of the better records of the CD era, of roughly 1987-onwards, have generally been less than an hour in length. Look at Appetite for Destruction, Nevermind, OK Computer – indeed all of Radiohead’s albums run for around 50 minutes, and they’re all the better for it. Continue reading

I never expected this album to be as good as it is.

But really, when you consider the quality of work on Bluejuice’s second venture, Head of the Hawk, I’m just shocked more people haven’t discovered this album. Well in fact, “Broken Leg” was voted no. 5 in the 2009 Triple J Hottest 100, but the Hottest 100 does have a very particular audience which isn’t necessarily indicative of mainstream opinion. Continue reading

Meanwhile

Also in Metal news, Megadeth have announced their new album, titled TH1RT3EN (facepalm.jpg). Actually they announced it a while ago, but interesting to note, it comes out on the same day as Metallica’s album. Did Metallica and Lou Reed want to encourage some ol’ fashioned rivalry? Knowing the two camps, even when they’re supposedly at peace I wouldn’t put it past them. After all, Megadeth stands no chance in any sales race (Metallica has 100 million sales, Megadeth has 20 million). Continue reading

Yeah, totally man

I HEAR SYDNEY LIKES IT REALLY HEAVY. YEAH FUEL!

-James Hetfield in Sydney, September 18 2010.

Any song, any song, but why oh why did such an intro warrant Fuel. Don’t even get me started on all his crap about “The Metallica Family” cos “man I hope our music makes you feel good cos it makes us feel good and makes us feel even better knowing people like you get something out of it”. Less talky more shouty. I want to hear you tell me I’m going to be ripped apart by demons/drugs/lightning/the justice system, not welcome me into your Christy family.

In the indispensable words of Otto Mann: “real songs are about deals with the devil, far off lands, and smoke in relation to water”. Not fucking Fuel.

Meanwhile, Metallica’s collaboration with Lou Reed, Lulu, is now seemingly complete and will be in stores by November. While not particularly familiar with Reed asides from Velvet Underground (unlike Diz’s obsession with him), I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m just hoping Lou insists on his production, not Metallica’s. I’m honestly perplexed at how someone as experienced as Rick Rubin can get as bad of a mix as Death Magnetic. Then again, Master of Puppets and And Justice For All are horribly mixed too, so it’s clear that Metallica don’t like the sound of their own instruments.

This is too depressing. Let’s relax by listening to Metallica when they actually sounded good.

John McLaughlin

Chunky. That’s really the best word I can come up with to describe this one. It may be the sinister precursor to early-onset dementia, but everything about this track just sounds chunky to me; the rhythms, the harmonies, the just-overdriven guitar and keyboard tones. Like the rest of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew (1970), ‘John McLaughlin’ – named for the album’s guitarist – is driven by constant, and complex, improvisation by the whole band, with the resulting fluid soundscape kept tethered by repeated fragments of melody. What sets this track apart is its sparseness and concision. In an album of gloriously bloated improvisational epics that you don’t so much listen as submit to, here are four and a half minutes of (comparatively) lean, dissonant rocking. ‘John McLaughlin’ is a brief reprieve, a moment to catch our breath and let the spotlight rest on the titular guitarist and his inimitable tones. The guitar wails, the keyboards bubble, and everything’s chunky. And then we get on with the show.

Fear of a Blank Planet

Porcupine Tree were a strange discovery for me. While the first few listens completely turned me off (“you call this prog rock?”), I gradually warmed up to them after being forced to put up with them while my brother was driving. Specifically, the song that really got my attention was “Anesthetize”, after my brother mentioned that Alex Lifeson (of Rush) guested on a guitar solo. Little did I anticipate how my mind would be blown.

Describing Porcupine Tree as a modern day Pink Floyd, while beyond high praise, is more than a bit unfair to Steve Wilson, the primary songwriter, guitarist and singer. However, it’s easy to see why such comparisons exist; the combinations of electronics and instruments, the flowing nature of each song, the layered keyboard textures and the sophisticated, thematic lyrics (hell, even the occasional clumsy lyric is classic Roger Waters) are all reminiscent of Dark Side of the Moon. Indeed, there is a rather logical progression from Dark Side to Radiohead’s OK Computer to Fear of a Blank Planet; each devliering more dystopian, damning critiques of society and the human condition. Continue reading

Fall At Your Feet

I never expected myself to like this song, or Crowded House really. Of course the name was familiar, how could it not be, but it wasn’t like I could really sing any of their songs. Then some guy on some forums told me to check them out, because they were “like the Aussie/Kiwi Beatles dude”. I’m still surprised as to how accurate that description is.

It’s tempting to call this song sappy, or just a “decent” pop song. After all; what is there to it? Simple drum beats (there’s barely a fill in it), simple bass lines and basic guitar and keyboard melodies. Sure the harmonies are nice, but they’re hardly difficult. It even follows a I-V-VI-IV chord progression for god’s sake.

But that doesn’t matter. Sure instrumentation isn’t difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. Those harmonies? They’re beautiful. Neil Finn’s singing? It’s so withdrawn, broody and confused in parts, yet  so clear and pure in others. As soon as that chorus hits, what sounds like typical soft-rock transforms into a transcendent moment of beauty, with harmonies so sweet that only siblings can achieve. And the shouting backing vocals in the bridge… just perfect. Did I even mention the lyrics?

I’ll stop. I love this song. More than any other in the last year it’s taught me simply to love music, to love singing and even to love life. Never before have I heard something so delicately powerful, and I dare say, I’m not sure if I ever will again.