What is it about Eoin Loveless’ voice that so unsettles?
Many might attribute it to its deep baritone, others simply due to the vocals themselves. But in reality there have been many singers with such a downtrodden tone, like Stephin Merritt from The Magnetic Fields, who have sounded equally as fascinating, but never as menacing.
There have also been countless bands singing of troubling things, but they just never ring so true.
So, here returns Drenge with their phenomenal new album ‘Undertow‘. From its very opening moments this album wastes no time in setting out its stall. This record isn’t the fireworks and frenzied subversion of their self-titled debut, it’s not about shock and awe, it’s no simple blow to the face. When they appeared, they exploded out of the gate with a feverish intensity, and it lead to the simple question – how on earth could they maintain it?
Here is their very simple answer: they won’t even try.
Confession time: up until very recently at Live4ever we’d barely heard of millennials, writing the word off as a glib media term used to sheep-dip millions of people around the planet into buying certain makes of computers and clothes.
In many ways they’re merely the next composite brand of youth culture, identified by this trait or that belief system, but up until now we hadn’t really detected their voice on anything much to speak of. This was before Courtney Barnett‘s ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit‘ arrived.
This isn’t any sort of denigration of millennials, their values, or the 24-year-old Australian who on this evidence has managed to distill their sense of paternalistic liberalism into the form of these 12 songs. What we do get is almost overwhelmed by happy, random feeling neuroses: within the album’s first few songs we’re presented with lyrics that talk about existentialism, inner monologues, soya mince and smoothies.
When Live4ever mentioned we were reviewing ‘Sparkle In The Rain‘ to a friend, their reaction was to wrinkle their nose and opine, “Ah yes – the bombast”.
Bombast is a word used so frequently in conjunction with Simple Minds that it sometimes feels like it ought to be the third word of their name: in his essential précis of post-punk and beyond, Rip It Up and Start Again, author Simon Reynolds describes the Glaswegian band’s work as ‘increasingly bombastic’ as they made their way towards Live Aid, The Breakfast Club and songs like the winsome ‘Belfast Child‘.
‘Sparkle In The Rain’ lies at the absolute mid-point of that journey, a record that finally dispensed with the art-punk and latterly dreamy ambiance of their previous iterations. In tone it feels like a preparatory step, an intake of breath before jumping into the void of pop stardom. It constituted a definite evolutionary step from its predecessor ‘New Gold Dream‘, on which Jim Kerr crooned ephemerally over songs from a niche which was part New Age, part New Romanticism. Along with contemporaries U2 and Big Country, at the time Simple Minds vied for the unofficial mantle of ‘Kings Of New Stadium Rock’, the spoils of which was ultimately unit shifting beyond the wildest dreams of their rain-coated Northern British critics.
2015 may still be in its infancy, but musically an apex may have reached. ‘Strange Trails‘ is a majestic and intoxicating album, equally as haunting and yearning as it is beautiful and warm.
This is impressive considering just how good their debut, ‘Lonesome Dreams‘, was. Yet, it knocks the achievements of that record out of the park. Lord Huron’s Ben Schneider delivers a set of songs that is intoxicating, it is a record full to the very brim with verve and intent.
The shape of electronic music has shifted and evolved over the course of the Prodigy’s twenty-five year existence, but few groups have had a larger impact on the genre and culture itself.
Initially born out of the late-80s rave scene the Prodigy, along with fellow British acts Fatboy Slim and The Chemical Brothers, pioneered the Big Beat explosion which bombarded the mainstream in the mid-late 90s.
Fearless in musical direction by combining elements of punk and break beat, the group has pushed the boundaries of what exactly defines electronic music. Six years after their last release, Liam Howlett and company return with their ferocious sixth album ‘The Day Is My Enemy‘, re-establishing the group’s place as one of the most hard-hitting bands in all of music.
There’s a ridiculous amount of talk surrounding the latest record from The Cribs, ‘For All My Sisters‘.
Unfortunately, much of it has centred around the decision to employ Ric Ocasek (of The Cars fame) as producer; the thinking, somehow, that this is some bid by the Jarman brothers to go pop, and leave their punkier roots behind.
On listening to the record, it would appear that much of this hysteria stems from people who have never listened to anything recorded or produced by Ocasek, but also by people who have not heard The Cribs before, and more importantly who have not listened to ‘For All My Sisters’.
Now Ocasek, undeniably, has a very particular style, this much has always been true. The Cars were a wonderful power pop band, but it’s this title which may be misleading people.
Power pop was merely punk rock that had a pop sensibility, but in no way pop music. And this is where this fit seems so perfect – only someone who had never listened to The Cribs before would fail to spot their music has always had a wonderful pop sensibility.
This album is no different.
Little Comets seem to be all about harmony, both musically and within the world they live.
In the years since first album ‘In Search Of Elusive Little Comets‘ their voice has grown and grown and grown, and today they speak loudly and clearly about the world in which they live – but more important than this clarity is the honesty they bring to the discussion.
What bothers them is often what many people just don’t want to face. And this is probably why it bothers them, but also where much of the power of what they do comes from.
Modest Mouse’s sixth album, ‘Strangers To Ourselves‘, comes out after an eight-year hiatus which included prolonged recording sessions and a cancelled tour.
Since the release of ‘We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank‘ in 2007, the band has lost three members – Eric Judy (bass/multi-instrumentalist), Johnny Marr (guitar), and Joe Plummer (drums/percussion) – meaning leader Isaac Brock has filled out the lineup by adding Russell Higbee on bass, Jim Fairchild on guitar and Lisa Mollinaro on keys; all of whom joined the band between 2009-2012.
Indeed, Modest Mouse has undergone its fair share of lineup changes over the years, but the band has distinctly remained true to its own brand and sound. Although there may be a bunch of new faces making the noise, ‘Strangers To Ourselves’ for the most part sounds familiar, and after eight long years that’s sure to please fans.
The NME Awards tour is synonymous with NME’s vision; this isn’t a night about the newest or ‘hottest’ (awful term) bands around.
Typically NME always appear to be going for something grander, it’s almost their attempt to define the times. Tonight is no different. It’s an impressive line-up, while not being an obvious one. All the bands worthy of note. So, to put some kind of order on things, let’s start with the least and head towards the most exciting, as it were.
The anomalous Cold War Kids are one of the most consistent rock n’ roll bands of the past decade.
The Long Beach rockers first busted onto the scene in 2006 with their cult hit ‘Hang Me Up To Dry‘ and, despite changes in both sound and lineup, the band has continued with steady success.
The dynamic and anthemic ‘Hold My Home‘ is their fifth album and is the sound of a band growing and settling into its own identity, but it also has all the stylistic shifts and turns that one would expect from these idiosyncratic types.
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