There’s been a lot of talk this year about Kurt Cobain.
Primarily because of the Montage Of Heck documentary, which examined his life in a detail of the kind that had never been seen before.
Much less publicised, but examining his death in just as much detail, is Soaked in Bleach, which in some respects could be viewed as an addendum far more important than just one more brick in the myth-building of the man, as the former no doubt is.
Or it could be viewed simply as the obsessions of a private investigator called Tom Grant (‘the name Kurt Cobain goes through my head at least 300 or 400 times a day’), who has nothing better to do other than imply that one of the world’s biggest rock stars didn’t commit suicide, was in fact murdered, and Courtney Love had something to do with it.
Yorkshire’s musical output over the years has been – and this is an understatement if ever there was one – quite commendable.
FANS is one band from the region to have recently ventured out of their familiar territory for a gig at the Sebright Arms in London; sounding something like The Vaccines abutting The Strokes, or the other way around, the three-piece played a set which made up for in energy and sheer loudness what it lacked in length.
A former session musician for the likes of Caribou and Yeasayer, ‘Mars‘ – frontman Ahmed Gallab‘s second album with Sinkane – was something of a slow burning revelation when released at the beginning of 2013.
Stringing together inspirations as disparate as blaxploitation soundtracks, krautrock, The Steve Miller Band and vintage Roxy Music, the collage effect was as hip as it was engaging, with its follow up ‘Mean Love‘ adding a layer of (probably needed) pop sensibility, one which helped achieve the band a much deserved higher profile.
If ‘Mean Love’ won them friends in higher places, this new four track EP ‘Mean Dub‘ is however less of a nagging reminder of its excellence so much as a trip right off the reservation.
We’re into August already, and as the last of the summer festivals come into view on the horizon Live4ever has been looking back on some of the very best albums to have crossed our path during 2015. Here, just ten have been picked out which we feel deserve revisiting time after time or which you should be discovering before it’s too late. Click on each artist and album title to find our reviews in full.
Oasis had been together for around ten years when they released their fifth album; by then predictable and a bit of a bore in hindsight.
Beach House is in a similar position now, minus the boredom.
‘Depression Cherry‘ comes after the success of previous albums ‘Bloom‘ and ‘Teen Dream‘, albums that shone the duo under as much mainstream limelight as they are likely to feel, which isn’t a lot but enough to hermetically seal them in as one of those good bands you don’t actually want to grow any bigger for fear that you might end up sharing in their gossamery thoughts with your parents one day.
This kind of music is reserved for you and your friends only, but it was enough for Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully to aver that the new collection is a return to the more simplistic sounds of the first two, with less live drums and fewer instruments, as previous successes had driven them to a bigger and more aggressive place, away from their natural tendencies.
The Maccabees understand dynamics, always have and seemingly always will. Lyrics, tunes and ideas, also not a problem.
From the simplest of conceits they can conjure beauty, literally stopping you in your tracks. Songs like ‘No Kind Words‘ are simply majestic, while alternately they can be beautiful and twee; ‘Toothpaste Kisses‘ for instance all hazy, early morning Magnetic Zeros at their most saccharine. Then turning again, hammering home a point – ‘Latchmere‘ and ‘Love You Better‘ hit hard and fast with humour and passion laced throughout.
Unquestionably, they are a band at the peak of their powers, still exploring and pushing at what can be achieved. Yet with this brilliance there was always a slight feeling of disparity. The previous albums, all brilliant, were more a wonderful collection of songs than a cohesive whole or vision.
With ‘Marks To Prove It‘ this feeling ends. It’s certainly a cohesive whole; tone, mood, songs and intensity all come together across every track. It’s a culmination. An end result.
The story goes something like one day Matt Radke was watching School Of Rock with his three sons and afterwards felt inspired enough by Jack Black‘s tutelage to go out and buy a guitar, much like people having that transient urge to run outside and throw shadow punches up and down steps after watching Rocky.
His son Dee picked up this guitar and became very deft at it, eventually borrowing his younger brother Isaiah‘s bass guitar to join a covers band.
Isaiah, growing resentful of the female attention his sibling was receiving, insisted that, along with youngest brother and drummer Solomon, they start a band themselves, suffixing their surname with a ‘y’.
Radkey was born, managed by their father.
Two EPs, a few singles and with a slot on Later… with Jools Holland already achieved – not to mention playing SXSW, Download and Coachella – they are now on the brink of releasing their first album, ‘Dark Black Makeup‘, which is likely to find itself squatting somewhere between the punk and rock aisles, maybe both, although de facto band spokesperson and bassist Isaiah, who gives off an uncanny Phil Lynnot aura, has said they are “straight up rock”, but being called punk is “cool”.
The Strypes‘ first album was literally and figuratively speaking a nostalgic, confident snapshot of garage rock and boom blues.
Bursting with energy, the band’s back to the basics brand of rock n’ roll gained them fans ranging from Sir Elton John to Dave Grohl, and while their workmanlike musicianship and textbook knowledge of the blues set them on the course to stardom, it was also clear these teens still had a lot of untapped creative potential ready to explore.
Fitting then that on ‘Little Victories‘, The Strypes bridge the gap between retro blues and modern rock whilst solidifying and expanding upon their own identity.
Dave Grohl is a greedy man.
Five years ago he released an album as part of the supergroup-trio Them Crooked Vultures. Not quite sated with that musical sojourn, he’s now part of Teenage Time Killers — less a supergroup and more a megagroup bulging with nearly 30 musicians including, amongst the better-known ones, Slipknot‘s Corey Taylor, Lamb Of God‘s Randy Blythe and Foo Fighters‘ Pat Smears.
Conceived by Corrosion Of Conformity‘s Reed Mullin and Mike Dean, this audacious attempt at lassoing together members from hardcore punk to rock and metal in one place can be heard on the group’s wryly titled ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 1‘ album.
Late discovery can often lead to a feeling of loss; people hearing those half buried treasures years later can sometimes experience a sense of being strangely unfulfilled, hostages to the fortune of an obscure record from which they’re no longer able to glean context or comparison.
Many listeners to the work of Michael Head, be it in the guise of cult heroes Shack or here as frontman of The Strands, are struck at first with that kind of profound realisation that – without hyperbole – one of the voices of a generation has been orbiting around them, tantalisingly out of reach until some sort of chance encounter.
The Liverpudlian’s story is as tragi-comic as any artist of the twentieth century, one which even severely abridged includes major label head fucks, studio fires, lost master tapes and drug addiction. The good news, however, is that the counterpoint was yard after yard of brilliant, exquisitely crafted songwriting which in retrospect should be as ubiquitous as it is mercurial. Sadly, the singer remains the kind of buried treasure only those lucky enough to find the end of rainbow will know about.
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