Saturday, October 22, 2005
In recent years there have been movements such as alt.country (Country Indie), serious cross-over attempts and even Country heroes covering Nine Inch Nails songs. Nice attempts, but these are the exceptions, not the norm. Country will always be the illiterate, illegitimate son of rock'n'roll and folk music. It will always live in backwater shacks with its sibling / partner, Western.
That doesn't mean that amongst the sewage you can't occasionally stumble upon a watch or ring that someone has dropped. If you'll forgive the imagry.
NB: Officiados of Country and Western music, won't mind a bit of what I say. They consider themselves a breed apart. Well, an inbreed apart. They probably welcome the derision of outsiders as the herecy of the non-believer. This attitude was best summed up in the film The Blues Brothers when they blag a gig at a giant shack of a bar. "What kind of music do you guys have here?" they ask. "Both kinds." replies the proprieter, "Country AND Western."
Richmond Fontaine belong to the recent alt.country movement. They are lo-fi balladiers, croniclers of bleak, dispossessed lives. A sort of Tindersticks from the sticks. Except they are not from the sticks. They sing of urban decay: desperate crimes gone wrong; sad and lonely deaths; cheap sex in unfulfilling motels. Don't expect to bounce up and down at a Richmond Fontaine gig. But do expect to be richly rewarded with beautifully-painted verbal-imagry, even if the palette is very dark indeed.
PS since writing the review, I did go to a Richmond Fontaine gig. They are a lot more upbeat live, than their last album suggest. More alt.country than Mourn-o-billy.
Rating: 3 dead ex-con thumbs poking up from the undergrowth.
Monday, October 17, 2005
It's been a while since dEUS released an album. The last was 1999's An Ideal Crash. That's a long time. Oh, there have been numerous side projects and solo albums in that time, but from the group themselves, there have just been the occasional gig. This year there is a new album and more tour dates. The problem is, An Ideal Crash was such a corker of an album, it's not easily going to be topped. The album does not top An Ideal Crash, but it is their most approachable album yet - a long way from the impenetrable "My Sister = My Clock."
The usual mix is here: quirky lyrics, good tunesmanship, the rock/jazz/pop influences, the great production. It's an album that fits in very well with the current trends of today, especialkly with bands the likes of the Kaisers, the Franzes and the Art Brutes around. There aren't any real dancefloor fillers (although Nightshopping and Sun Ra come close), but there are plenty of head-nodders and a few lines that make you go, "ooh, nice."
So what are they link live now? Well, that I'll tell you next week.
Rating: 4 Thumbs to the clouds
Sunday, October 09, 2005
The Goo Goo Dolls have a passion about them. They don't just throw out a few choice sentances that rhyme and fit the line, they write thoughtful (even intelligent) songs that hover in the grey area between euphoria and dejection. They also have the ability to write killer hooks. And these songs they sing with a poignancy and feint sinisterness that grabs you by heart and squeezes.
And even if I did hate them for reminding me that Bon Jovi exists and for the fact they are definitely in the pop camp, albeit in the rock corner, I would still have to admit that if someone started to play "Iris" (From 1998's fantastic "Dizzy") in the metro, I would find it impossible not to sing along to that glowing hymn to the bitter curse that is love.
Rating: 4 black nail-varnished thumbs up
Friday, October 07, 2005
Part Chimp recall dirty grunge rock bands like The Bastards and Bullet Lavolta. They also recall the days when metal was dirty, like the early days of Black Sabbath. There's even some occasional 60s keyboards thrown in for that, stoned, garage band feel.
Rating: 3 skeletal thumbs up.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
The Killers sound is very much of the here and now, super-influence, retrospective indie rock. Maybe that should be 'hear and plough' instead of 'here and now'? I'm not being harsh. The current trend for guaitar bands is very retro. Right now is a very good time to be a fan of Joy Division. On Hot Fuss there are several moments where you go, "Mmmmm. Whatever did happen to Joy Division? Oh, yeah."
But there are other moments where you go, "Mmmmm. Late Beatles," "Mmmmm. New Order," and even "Mmmm. Glam Rock." Don't let this put you off. The album has a nice sound, and when the strong influences are peeled away, you can get some great tracks. There are two absolute corkers on this album, but you know them as they have both been released as singles. But there are several other tracks that are very good indeed, but not floor fillers in the same way.
The corkers are of course, "Somebody Told Me," one of several songs on the album refering to pursuing girls in clubs. In this case feeling you are in with a chance with a girl because she went out with a boy who looks like one of your ex-girlfriends. But the trouble is, our lads are a bit too sensitive as is evinced by the other corker, "Mr Brightside." There has been much debate about what this song is actually about. Sure, jealousy is in there, as it is screamed fairly often. But what is the story? My take is that it is the tormet of a sensitive soul who during a party or the like kisses a girl, but she goes home (seemingly) with someone else. Thus our hero imagines all sorts of disturbing goings on (chest touching and dress removing), but he also realises this is just in his head, and this could be the start of something destinal. After all, he is Mr Brightside (he keeps telling himself).
Since then I have listened again, and I am now erring towards it being that the relationship is blossoming (but not started) and he sees her kiss someone, but not neccessarily sexually and all the jealous anguish he is going through. He has not kissed her yet.
It's a very reminiscent thematically of Rialto's epic "Monday Morning, 5:19," a classic tale of a man anguished by not being able to get hold of his girlfriend through the night who, he concludes, must be cheating on him. We never know if it is true or if she just switched off her phone.
Rating: 4 thumbs up.
Since I published the review, I now realise "Mr Brightside" is all in the mind of Action Man. This is because of the line, "Open up my Eagle-Eyes®"