Friday, 31 August 2007

When Paul Weller found me

Today I’m going to lose my “reviewing virginity” and who should I do it with but the god that is, Paul Weller.
Back in my early teens I was in a very dark place. I neglected the classics I grew up with. I cringed when forced to listen to Springsteen on family holidays (whilst secretly loving his music). Even Costello tapes were shoved to the back of my wardrobe.
Instead I adopted a disgraceful taste in music whilst attempting to define myself as an individual. Avril Lavigne was a favourite, Pink songs sang loud and clear and shamefully enough, I sometimes even pulled out a bit of Busted.
That’s before Paul Weller found me.
This epiphany took place when I was attempting to learn to play the guitar. (Something I soon gave up on realising I was royally terrible at it)
On being asked if I wanted to learn a Paul Weller rift, I committed a sin that I will regret to this day. Dare I say it? I shamefully replied with, “Who’s Paul Weller?” (I cringe at the memory) The look on my teachers face was enough to make me realise I had said something truly terrible and unforgivable. To not know who Paul Weller is a tragedy. I have come to realise he is one of the few artists who fully deserves to be where he is. Not many people have this.
His songs are delivered so effortlessly yet with so much feeling. It takes a lot for a song to touch me emotionally and I will shamelessly say at least half of his have done such that. His voice is distinguished, slightly husky at parts, a twang here a there, and an ironic light deepness to it.
I’m not just talking the classics such as “You do something to me”, although this is a classic for a reason.
On educating yourself on Weller you can take two paths. You can take The Jam road. This is probably a good idea yet I would say I personally prefer his later work as a single artist.
The other road is Stanley Road. As Josh has already said, Stanley Road is a “
rich production, beautiful lead guitar work and vocal layering, all tied together by a tight rhythm section.” But aside from the musical technicalities, there is a lot of truth and sentiment in the lyrics that really hit a spot.
“Time Passes” is an all time favorite song for me. Its captivating combination of piano and guitar assist you through the song whilst the lyrics speak emotional truths. With other great songs such as “Changing Man”, “Gilded Splinters” and “Broken Stones”, I would have no qualms in saying “Stanley Road” is one of Paul Weller’s greatest productions.
If you’re however dying for more, have a listen to the album “Wild Wood”. “Sunflower” is a bit more upbeat whilst “Wild Wood” is defiantly more chilled. I would say “Wild Wood” is the more soulful album whereas “Stanley road” is more uplifting so it really depends on your musical preferences.
I would however recommend ending you Paul Weller journey with “Moon on your pyjamas”. With a title like that you just know it’s a corker.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Carling Festival 2007: Leeds (Part 2)

Saturday morning and with memories of the Pumpkins still as fresh in the mind, as the dew on the grass, we were up and about early for the day's music. First up was the second half of The Pipettes and although it was hard to judge on a few songs, I think these girls coped well with the early slot, getting some early birds dancing to their Motown grooves. Searching for some undiscovered gems, we moved on to the Carling Stage to see fresh faced Nashville punk rockers, the Turbo Fruits. Blasting through a 30 minute set that included 3 chords, 2 ripped string vests and 1 lonesome blow up ball the kids tried their best and at times managed to sound at least a little like The Stooges. By the looks of it, time is on their side so maybe they'll be back again next year.
So, if we had waited 10 minutes longer for the mysterious "Hooks For Hands" we would have been presented with the greatest surprise of the weekend...a secret gig from Leeds very own Kaiser Chiefs, and, although I am by no means a huge fan, I have to say I would have love to have caught them. We moved on quickly, to the sunny main stage, and I had another chance to see The Long Blondes, another local band, who have risen to fame off a critically acclaimed debut album. They were again, pretty fun and almost marked a real start to the day in terms of music.
Next, I decided to venture off alone and I returned to Carling Tent for my first band of a planned double header. Blood Red Shoes were meant to just be my warm up but they turned out better than expected and their tight, edgy two piece rock showed an early ear for hooks and clever melodies. Next up was the one I had waited for, Frank Turner. Almost at the front, I was in prime position to sing, shout and jump my way through his charismatic and warm show. This is a guy who is writing some of the most interesting tracks in the singer/songwriter field and his live performance showed off the personality that is spawning such clever and catchy songs, all with his angry folk/punk edge.
After, with many friends going to see Maximo Park on the main stage I thought I'd come along as there was nothing else that caught my attention. This is a band I've never really been into, but in the live setting they really weren't so bad and all my mates seemed to have a great time dancing and singing to the hits! Interpol were next up on the main and I faced a major clash, them or The Bronx. After much deliberation, I went with my heart and ran off to catch LA's finest for my second occasion. They really didn't disappoint. This is a band which sweats and bleeds passion, a punk band I really believe in and the show was fucking awesome. Spending more time in the crowd than on stage, frontman Matt Caughthran, actually means it when he says he wants to break down the barriers between audience and band. For me, this brings so much respect, and after seeing several bands already profess such things and not really live up to their outlandish claims, it was a refreshing change. Racing through no end of hits like "Shitty Future" and "White Tar" (which I think I got to shout a line on!) the band showed that they meant business. For the former, he lead with the line;

"The bad news is here comes the next song. It's for all the psychopaths. It's feeding time!"

After which he dove into the crowd for what seemed like most the set. All that needs to be said about this band now is, if you want hard rock to believe in and to motivate you, look no further than these guys!
After that exhilarating experience, the fun didn't stop as Kings Of Leon took to the main stage. I've always loved KOL but this performance cemented their place as one of my favourite bands, they are the consummate rock band, a band at the height of their powers. With style, panache and truly brilliant songs they rocked through a set that lasted a little over an hour and took in material from all three records. Slowing it down, on tracks like "Fans" and the beautiful "Knocked Up", and then rockin' out again, with others like "Spiral Staircase" and "Four Kicks", Kings Of Leon are a band that deserved to be entertaining 60,000 smiling fans on that Saturday evening.
Finally, we sat on the grass for a more relaxed view of headlining act, Razorlight. As a big fan of the first album, but not its follow up, I was interested to see these guys, especially after they disappointed me back last year in Nottingham. Plus it was a good chance to just hang out with friends and chill. My overall impression of the set was that they were, not bad. I respect the fact that the songs they have written carry alot of emotion for millions of people and in that area they seemed to entertain their fans, but to me, the new material is a little flat and unexciting and this is highlighted in the live situation. Excluding 'those' two singles, I didn't hear anything that, was up to par with the songs from "Up All Night", the edgy, paranoid and essential debut. Personal highlights for me were when they dipped to the bottom of their relatively shallow bag of songs, to pull out classics such as "Rock & Roll Lies" and "Rip It Up" which did sound as good as when I first heard them. Overall then, they were better than in Nottingham, and maybe with a more creative third effort they'll be able to find another, more interesting, direction but on that Saturday evening they were thoroughly outclassed by everyone's favourite American band of brothers.

Set List
'In The Morning'
'Hold On'
'Golden Touch'
'Back To The Start'
'(Don't Go Back To) Dalston'
'Fall To Pieces'
'Pop Song 2006'
'Can't Stop This Feeling'
'LA Waltz'
'Leave Me Alone'
'Rock 'N' Roll Lies'
'Rip It Up'
'Who Needs Love'
'In The City'
'Funeral Blues'
'Stumble And Fall'
'Somewhere Else'

Monday, 27 August 2007

Carling Festival 2007: Leeds (Part 1)

My first festival experience, beautiful weather, amazing friends and a brilliant selection of bands. Maybe I was blessed this weekend, but Leeds 2007 was just about perfect and here is my review of the weekend, musically and a little more.

Thursday was the day of arrival, and as we dragged our bags through the camp the size of the whole thing dawned on me. Have to say I was pretty impressed when we managed to get a beaut of a camping spot, right near a security tower in loads of space and in a place, that was dead easy to find. Downside was being in the "Orange funfair camp" which meant close proximity to an array of rides pumping out a mix of the star wars theme tune and chart house until the early morning, aka half past 4 or even later! We learnt to live with this and all was well after the first night. At risk of using too many private jokes and going on, I think I'll try and leave the social/friend commentary here and concentrate on the least until Sunday night!

After a poor nights sleep, we arose early for the music on Friday only to be caught in the one logistical nightmare of the weekend, a massive bottleneck of people around the main entrance which meant being stuck for an hour and a half, and missing any acts before half one. My first show of the weekend then, was Billy Talent. They were much better than I expected and musically very sound although those vocals did grate on me a little bit. Still, a fun show and good way to start. After that The Used came on the main stage, and after a couple of songs I decided to leave with a couple friends and sample some of the other music. Unfortunately I stumbled across a pretty poor attempt at lad rock, named The Sunshine Underground and decided to return to the main for the rest of The Used and a chill in the sun. Bert McCracken made an early claim for most annoying frontman of the weekend with constant whining about parents, school, money etc so we all had a good laugh about that.
Next on were Funeral For A Friend, a band I liked very much a while ago, so I watched with a few friends, reminiscing in the sun, and ended up having a great time. By the end of the set I had restored alot of respect for this band and had my first good sing-a-long to tracks like "Juneau" and "She Drove Me To Daytime Television". Hunger kicked in, so I moved on again to grab some lovely Mexican (my favourite all weekend!) and have a listen to the Cold War Kids. I didn't hear the whole set, but they sounded better than when I saw them a couple months ago, and my friend Rick, who watched the whole set, was really impressed, again saying they had improved since the last time.
To the lock up next for some punk and a chance to catch the highly regarded Against Me! who had a huge VIP crowd watching including members of Billy Talent. I haven't heard much of this folk/punk outfit but they put on a really tight live show, which seemed very geared to those loyal fans. Something that was nice to see, even as a casual punter. Next up were the massively hyped Gallows, from London, bringing their blend of hardcore and classic brit-rock/punk to a full crowd. Energy levels were through the roof and despite annoying me a little, I can give credit to the band for thoroughly pleasing their fans, and winning some new ones. Special credit goes to the two guitarists for performing some epic Hendrix style, through each others legs maneuvers.
After this I had chance to buy some food, a lovely warm jacket (for a fiver!) and prepare for the main event, at least it was for myself. Slightly late, but completely captivating, The Smashing Pumpkins played a set, which took in new and old and seemed to please everyone who hadn't buggered off to see the Klaxons! Summed up best in one word, mesmerizing, the set seemed to span about an 1hr 45mins, actually longer than billed and included loads of hits like the big two "Tonight, Tonight" and an acoustic "1979". Starting with "United States" they bravely set out their stall, with grandeur and faultless musicianship. Some people decided to boo them during this opener, and pronounce Billy as a "bald twat", but they didn't really seem to understand the song at all so never mind. With the rest of the set its really a case of where do you start! Personal highlight for me was "Stand Inside My Love" but even that is at a stretch as the set worked as a single entity, pretty much perfectly. Chamberlain had his moments of glory and received a chant of appreciation during "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" which was clearly special. As for the new members, I thought all three were excellent throughout with Reyes having the spotlight on "Hummer" and Schroeder shredding throughout! Also, it must be said..."you probably would the bassist". On that rather coarse low note, it's time for me to continue catching up on sleep so i'll move onto Saturday tomorrow!

Set List
'United States'
'Tonight, Tonight'
'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'
'Glass And The Ghost Children'
'To Sheila'
'Stand Inside Your Love'
'Doomsday Clock'
'Heavy Metal Machine'

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Lack of Posts

Sorry for the lack of posts but I just lost my internet for a couple of days and now I have Leeds Festival! Anyways, if I get a request for something festival related then I could probably throw that up later and when I get back it'll be all systems go with my festival highlights and a return to regular posting. So...keep coming back, please!

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Shame Video by Ingmar Bergman

With the excitement building for Leeds festival the Smashing Pumpkins have been high on my listening agenda and tonight I found this cracker of a mini video for the song "Shame" my favourite from Adore, and a very poignant track.


Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Smashing Pumpkins - Gish (1991)

After my furore into the world of Paramore I think it's time
we returned to something a little more classic and here it is, with the Smashing Pumpkins legendary debut.
Like many I'm sure, I got into the SP through the Rotten Apples greatest hits and while that kept me satisfied long enough, after a while I had to dig back into the catalogue and Gish was the first studio album I checked out. From the first seconds of "I Am One" with its pounding drums, and ringing chord I was pretty certain that I'd be paid back for my interest. The next two tracks represented more familiar ground, as they were included on Rotten Apples, but the haunting feedback at the end of "Rhinoceros" leads you into the rest of the album perfectly. Of course, the guitar work from Iha and, in particular, Corgan is breathtaking as well, not just your standard solos. "Bury Me" and "Tristessa" follow the same vain, just brilliant rock tracks with abit of groove as well, courtesy of D'arcy and Chamberlain. However, around these songs, there are a collection of beautiful slower tracks of which my favourite would have to be "Crush",

"And this feeling shivers down your spine
Love comes in colors I can't deny
All that matters is love, love, your love "

As a whole this is just a top album where every track plays its part and for me, even though this was recorded 16 years ago, it still sounds fresh today.



Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Paramore - Riot! (2007)

With this one I totally risk losing the little bit of credibility I might have amassed so far, but never mind. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood for certain things, I just want a good solid rock/pop record to really chill out with or enjoy with friends and this is exactly what Riot! is. After the first album the band lost their rhythm guitarist and, no offence to the guy, but you wouldn't notice any difference as the music is tight, aggressive and engaging. Guitarist, Josh Farro, takes advantage of his lone role to put his only signature on many of the songs and this is refreshing to hear.
What Paramore, that so many other's fighting for the spot of coolest uncool band, is an energetic and star front woman like Hayley Williams. I've seen bits of live stuff on MTV and she definitely rises to live situation so hopefully I'll be able to catch these guys (and gal) at Leeds Festival. The two singles released so far, "Misery Business" and "Hallelujah" are catchy as hell with singable choruses and smart structures so chances are you've already had a sing a long to Paramore, whether you like it or not! To be honest though, I like it all!



Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Rancid - ...And Out Come The Wolves (1995)

A classic album from these stalwarts of the punk rock scene. First I'll get my only criticism out of the way, this is perhaps a tad too long. Okay, that's it!
The band has always drawn comparisons with The Clash and this is ever present on this album, but what Rancid have drawn from British punk/ska is only a benefit to their sound. The organ contributions on tracks like "Time Bomb" hark back to the sounds of the Specials and really help to give the songs a little something extra. Throughout, the rhythm section is extremely sound and Matt Freeman throws in many great bass fills all over the record, showing how much he has pushed modern bass playing. To cap it off you have the pair of Friedriksen and Armstrong giving the songs the bite and passion, each in their own distinctive styles. However, it's hard not to imagine abit of Joe Strummer in there somewhere. Again, just another cool summer CD!


Friday, 3 August 2007

Set Your Goals - Mutiny! (2006)

Really cool album from this positive-hardcore/pop-punk band. Ah, I'm no good with genre's anyways but this band blends lots of styles together to make a punchy album full of great hooks, excuse the pun. The vocals are split between two frontmen and feature rousing choruses. Lyrics themselves are actually very clever and its hard to listen to the album without singing along (well I do anyway!), first track "Work In Progress" perhaps being the best example. The riffs aren't exactly covering new ground but they are fun as hell, suitably heavy and well varied. I would say through these summer months this record probably comes into its own so give it a listen now, get it in your car or something!


Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

Thanks to Mewzique™ for this one, I decided to put up something that i've only just discovered myself.
This is a record with alot of critical acclaim so I felt somewhat obliged to give it a listen and I can see why people like it so much. Wilco's alt-rock sound seems to borrow much from the past and on listening to the atmospheric first track I was already to drawing comparisons to, long time favourites of mine, the Dandy Warhols. Songs like "Jesus etc" seem to show more pop leanings with great hooks and there are also folkier moments like "Radio Cure". I cant comment on this in comparison to their other records as I haven't heard them but I think this is well worth trying like I have done.