Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Foo Fighters- Wasting Light

Dave Grohl used to be in Scream. Dave Grohl used to be in Nirvana. Dave Grohl used to be in Queens Of The Stone Age. Dave Grohl used to be in Probot. Dave Grohl played drums for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers once. Dave Grohl is now in Foo Fighters. Well, he’s been in Foo Fighters for ages. For ages Foo Fighters have been mundane ‘Dad Rock’ who would have one to two good songs on an album and the rest was blatant filler, including ‘Long Road To Ruin’ a contender for worst song ever. Some people bitched and complained about this, the vast majority though, lapped that shit up and had the balls to ask for more. We really are a masochistic society.

Thankfully Grohl has decided to listen to us with ears and has produced a better album this time around. Looking back into his history, Pat Smear from The Germs is back in the band full time, Butch Vig produces and Krist Novosellic plays bass on one track. There is also a lot more balls, and best yet, no sloppy, sappy ballads. Songs like ‘White Limo’ stand out with the snarl that should be present on every Foo Fighters song. It does make you wonder though with lyrics like ‘Fame, fame, go away’ on ‘Arlandria’ why Grohl has always made mainstream Radio Rock to appeal to the lowest common denominator. If this is his attempt at an ‘In Utero’ trying to cast off fans, then making a balls-out Rock album, that is his best maybe ever, then I don’t think that plan is going to work.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Record Store Day 2011

Today is, if you haven't realised yet, is Record Store Day. I got up early to join the queue at my local independent record store, Acorn Records, where I was somewhere near the back of a long queue. I saw some old friends and made some new ones while waiting to be let in. After about 40 minutes I finally managed to get into the shop and to peruse the purdy vinyl. My first notice was an Iggy & The Stooges 'Raw Power Live' release. This threw me a little, as I had checked the releases on the Record Store Day website and this was not among them. I tossed up the idea of buying it for a while, but decided to not go with it and to continue looking. 

The first record I bought was Vorwarts by Mute Records. It is a compilation containing unreleased, exclusive and rare recordings from bands on the Mute roster. It includes a composition by Can as well as numbers by Grinderman, Liars and Yeasayer. It comes on a beautiful translucent orange vinyl.

My second choice was this wonderful split between Oval and Liturgy from Thrill Jockey. Oval produce four tracks, a 6-minute one and several shorter lengths that remind me of all those CDs the Wire gives away every once in a while. Liturgy offer one long track that was apparently recorded at Shea Stadium. I imagine that was a joke unless there is a studio at Shea, but I doubt it. This had an extremely limited release of 150. So limited when I looked on ebay earlier this was not on there. It must be worth millions.

This yellow 7" is a split between ZZ Top and Mastodon, both playing 'Just Got Paid'. If you play the ZZ Top version at the wrong speed it still sounds quite good and a lot more arty.

My final purchase was The Clash's 'rap' song 'The Magnificent Seven'. On the Record Store Day website they say this is backed with 'The Magnificent Dance'. It's not. I've got number 341 out of I presumer 1,000.

All in all a good haul, in my opinion. Unfortunately I could not get hold of Flying Lotus' 'Cosmogramma Alt Takes' or the Yeasayer 7". Oh well. There's always next year, where I'll see you there.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Arcade Fire- Funeral

While researching this album I had noticed Pitchfork, in all its wisdom, gave this album 9.7 out of 10. Now I know it’s easy to kick Pitchfork what with its attempts to mathmetise the impossible (music), but come on; this is not an almost perfect album. I can pick plenty of holes in it. Songs like ‘Haiti’ go nowhere and while going nowhere do not do anything that interesting. Well certainly not a 0.3 away from being the most interesting song of all time.

This was not intended to be a critique of Pitchfork Media through the medium of ‘Funeral’ by Arcade Fire so I will try to steer away from that. Coming out in 2004 I have heard of many people claiming this album being their gateway to less popular music. I remember around the time Arcade Fire getting a lot of publicity and plays, coming out of a time when Post-Punk Revival was all the rage. While I would not call ‘Funeral’ Post-Punk, in fact being closer to Post-Rock, it is easy to see why they led to better things. They have a handful of catchy little numbers, ‘Rebellion (Lies)’, ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ being the most notable, although somewhat ruined by the BBC’s appropriation of them over Christmas. Then you get to songs like ‘Haiti’ that is nowhere near as entertaining. However these songs contain depth not seen by the likes of Bloc Party or The View and so will eventually pull up alongside the catchier tunes as your favourites on the album.

It is an excellent album. Not a 9.7 album.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Just Kids by Patti Smith

I was not originally going to buy this book. I had read Ian Penman’s scathing review of it in The Wire (Issue 315 if you are interested) and finding Smith’s musical output usually rather staid and insipid had not bothered to look it up. However a sunny full day in Taunton with absolutely nothing to do after look in Black Cat Records led me to HMV where the book was on some sort of discount (all books in HMV are generally less than RRP. The Taunton one has a wide selection of choice. I also recommend the Plymouth branch for books).

My previous knowledge of Patti Smith’s writings extends to a few of her poems and her epic ‘The Coral Sea’. ‘Just Kids’ follows ‘The Coral Sea’ in subject matter. It is an autobiography of Smith and her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith is an excellent writer and I cannot but help feel that Music’s gain (loss possibly) the literary world has lost a great, especially if she is as fond of crime fiction as she states she is in the book. She could have been a more poetic Elmore Leonard. There are issues with the book. I have to echo Penman’s criticism about Smith filtering everything through art. You are not Lee Krasner because you stole something. You are either poor or a wrong ‘un.

Patti Smith has written an excellent recollection of her time with Robert Mapplethorpe and just because she quickly glazes her musical work is not a reason not to buy or Lee Krasner the book. It is an excellent piece of work that Penman wrongly criticised as Smith’s art filter and naivety hardly spoil the flow and interest of the book whatsoever. My biggest criticism would be the tacked on chapter at the end of the paperback version, which tends to be a regular occasion for autobiographies, which serves no purpose except to show some photos and some small poems.

Rancid- ...And Out Come The Wolves

I came into this album not expecting much. I have and love ‘Let’s Go’ by Rancid and knew ‘...And Out Come The Wolves’ as the multi-million seller and thought this would be a massive sell out album. Obviously I was a little confused. I took the Minor Threat aping cover the wrong way and thought it was a shameless attempt at trying to get some cool points rather than the honouring of their heroes it probably is. I thought their deliberation over whether to sign to a major label was a proper deliberation and did not realise that this album came out a little over a year from their previous, so the deliberation probably didn’t take too long.

Having said that, it is obvious that Rancid had tempered their attitude slightly to be more commercial. The average song length is over two minutes making them more radio friendly. There songs are a little less Hardcore Punk and a bit more Reggae-Clash-’77 Punk inspired. Still all the songs here their mark and will have you singing aloud after only a couple of listens. My personal standout track in ‘Junkie Man’ that has an all-star performance from original Punk poet Jim Carroll.