Today’s favourite tune is by Bombay Bicycle Club
One way of whiling away a quick lunch-break, is skimming through articles like this that miss the point. The Horrors are a bunch of posh kids playing at being their favourite bands. On record, they are rather good (their second album, Primary Colours, was produced by that guy from Portishead). What they don’t have is The Common Man styling of Oasis or The Verve (or most famously, for a bunch of middle-class kids whose parents could afford the start-up costs, The Beatles) and so even if they could play well live, a wider audience is never going to connect with them. So much of music, especially at a time where fans have access to up-to-date, unmoderated comments made by other fans online, is about the back-story.
I’ve been listening to the new album, Skying, as I’ve been working in the studio this morning creating a new lino-cut image and while I’ll admit that I like the new album, I don’t love it in the way that I still enjoy listening to Primary Colours. As I was listening, I was wondering why the album hadn’t been released earlier in the year so that it could be promoted at as many festivals as possible. By the end of the second listen to the album, I think I had the answer: as with many musicians, they’ve slowed-down in their advancing years when what they needed to do was make an ‘anti-album’: a couple of EPs of blistering high-energy tempos that could be rehearsed until they could be performed live with blistering frenzy, before leaving the stage promptly and causing a riot from fans clamouring for more… a bit like early incarnations of The Jesus & Mary Chain.
While the counting of puddles may have announced the arrival of summer in Scotland, it meant that fans of Springwatch will have to wait until autumn to see the presenting genius that is wildlife presenter Chris Packham. In the most recent series, he was packing-in references to The Manic Street Preachers:
One of the amazing things I’ve found with Spotify is that it doesn’t break the bank to keep on trying music you’ve never heard before. You know how you click through links on websites like Amazon to see what other folk have read and enjoyed who also enjoyed the stuf you liked? It’s a time-consuming business really because what Spotify is doing apart from rewarding procrastination is encouraging curiosity.
The last ‘big concept’ album I listened to was Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ and that was sometime around the celebrations over the destruction of The Berlin Wall .ie. what feels like a very long time ago.
I like the idea of a band called ‘Fucked Up‘. It’s offensive and deliberately divisive. Obviously, this is punk music but is far from the three-chord concept of The Ramones as it’s possible to get. This is hardcore but with an ambition that reaches beyond the local fans. Weighing-in at 78 minutes for what is a four act play set in Thatcher’s Britain – with meta-narrative – requires no small commitment from the listener and that must have been the band’s intention. Good music should take a commitment from the listener: you can’t doze off when you’re reading a book, right?
I’ve been made to listen to the sort of anodyne Autotuned nonsense that passes for ‘music’ so often – even in the workspace – that it should be classed as abuse. Those who can see no wrong in claiming that less-than-talented vocalists like Katherine Jenkins can sing (by which I mean can not only stay in tune while singing but actually project personality with conviction) should avoid this album. One thing Damien Abraham’s vocals are not is Autotuned. He has the sort of primal growl that causes granny to have palpitations as she grumbles that ‘BT are digging up them roads again…’ and on this album, it works perfectly. Simply put, men do not sound like Chris Martin warbling over a twinkling piano or that other witless spod, James Blunt.
The David of the narrative is troubled by the same rage and frustration that every man is expected to keep buried beneath the civilised facade of modern working life. Abraham has used his limited vocal range to good effect and his trademark growl is set in harmony with the perfect counterpoint of vocals from the likes of Madeline Follin (of NY band, Cults) but the guitars… I simply don’t believe the story that the manager is the only one who knows how to tune a guitar. Three guys on guitars sound like a full symphony on this record.
This is not easy listening. This is great listening.
I really liked this article. My top tunes – a proper post in itself, surely – would include not only ‘Music for Airports’ but Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack music which I’m dialling-up on Spotify as I write this.
There are few tunes I could listen to over any period of time and not get tired of. There are fewer still that are accompanied by a great video (no embedding available – sorry). No jiggery pokery, just a bunch of guys blowing stuff up. Sometimes the simplest solutions really are the most effective. Play this at my funeral.