American hard rockers Kiss have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years; 2009’s ‘Sonic Boom‘ – which was the band’s first record of original material in over a decade, and also the debut studio release of its current line-up – recalled their glory days, right down to its comic-style cover art.
Lead single ‘Modern Day Delilah’ was immediately hailed as a classic, and they took no prisoners as they embarked on a glorious 36-date European tour.
Looking to build on that momentum (producing an album every three years might seem routine for the majority of bands, but then not many have been going strong for almost 40 years), ‘Monster‘, Kiss’ 20th studio album, is more of the same – straight-up rock and roll that pays homage to their 70s pomp and stays true to principles that have seen them rack up album sales in excess of 100 million, including 28 gold records, during a storied, globe-trotting career.
Books about bands – and, for that matter, rock music in general – are big business, playing on the compulsive need of fans to know the finer details; to inhabit a space and time in which the songs they so lovingly play on their iPods and car stereos flourished, to take a peek between the ears of the artists who created them.
It’s no surprise then that when such books are penned by bands and artists themselves, a more coveted bounty of music ephemera is laid bare.
Peter Hook’s Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division is a lucid and unromantic account of the band’s short life and a veritable treasure trove for those aforementioned fans. Between chapters, a detailed timeline is presented, sketching Joy Division’s gigging history and notable events of the period, including the rise of bands like the Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols, and the goings on at the then-nascent Factory Records.
Indeed, most modern bands would scoff at desiring such a thing, but The Killers undoubtedly occupy the upper echelons when it comes to stadium appeal, international success and sheer bigness.
Wearing their ambition and bluster with pride (frontman Brandon Flowers once declared 2006’s ‘Sam’s Town’ as “one of the best albums in the past 20 years”), they now unveil ‘Battle Born’, their fourth studio album of original material and the follow-up to 2008’s commercial smash ‘Day & Age’. And in keeping with the band’s penchant for not beating about the bush, it’s a doozy.
That record – steeped as it was in rich, harmonic Delta blues and lush, pastoral meditations on life, love and loss – seemed sure to precede a major assault on a mainstream which had been largely passive toward her output since 1995’s ‘Dear Sir’.
Six years and one covers album (2008’s ‘Jukebox’) later, ‘Sun’ has been described by the singer as “a rebirth” and about “personal power and fulfillment.”
Few indie bands have been as well-hyped in recent years as Spector.
Telegenic, impeccably styled in a la mode suits and leather shoes, and occupying a berth on the BBC’s Sound of 2012 list, they seem almost too vogue to be believed.
Whether you’ve succumbed to the publicity or not is now irrelevant however, because their debut album is here – there’s no longer any pithy witticisms or ham-handed proclamations to hide behind; just 12 songs that constitute ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts‘.
Even the great first records tend not to stretch the artist’s artistic license too much, but in just eight songs which comprise Eugene Twist’s debut ‘The Boy Who Had Everything’, a heady fusion of blues, jazz, 50s rock, soul, psychedelia and pop marks the 25-year-old musical polymath as a true original.
While the musical landscape often seems awash with singer-songwriters, one hasn’t truly washed up on the mainstream since Jack Johnson tumbled into the charts bearing Banana Pancakes and a surfboard. Which isn’t to say there hasn’t been some excellent ones along the way – Cheval Sombre and Adrian Orange spring to mind – it’s just that their avowed loyalty to the familiar folksy themes means you know what you’re getting the moment you pop their CD in the car stereo.
Guns N’ Roses, Glasgow has missed you. But, to borrow an oft-used phrase peppered throughout their demi-god ex-guitarist’s autobiography, “We’ll get to that in a little bit.”
Chief support act Thin Lizzy take to the stage as the blazing sun which had arrested the city all afternoon begins to lower behind the asperous shell of the SECC, taking a leaf out of Axl Rose’s book by arriving on stage a little after their 8PM slot. No matter – with this crowd (baying mob would be a better term, such is the devotion of show-starved GNR disciplines), a little tardiness isn’t going to provoke a riot.
You remember The Enemy, don’t you? Like The Fratellis, The View and countless other bands to achieve public attention in the last seven years. This lot emerged, fiercely intent and carried along on a wave of positive sentiment from certain quarters of the music press, only to largely disappear under the weight of big expectations when their second album dropped. ‘Streets In The Sky’ has been hailed as a return to form, but aside from this record having a great title (like debut, ‘We’ll Live And Die In These Towns‘), does it share any other similarities with the band’s #1-selling debut?
The Horrors come bounding out of the blocks at a packed 02 ABC (situated on that most amaranthine of Glasgow’s streets, Sauchiehall), launching into ‘Mirror’s Image’, as if to demonstrate to those who launched themselves upon the ‘Skying‘ bandwagon that there’s plenty more where that came from in the back catalogue. Drenched in new wave, ‘Mirror’s Image’ is the perfect opener for this time-warp set.
Faris, who barely moves from his microphone stand all night but to wipe his brow with a leather-jacketed arm, as well as to exhort the crowd to “jump around” and “push the people who’re standing still out of the way” about midway through the set (at which point a dozen or so diehards convoke at the front barrier, jiving like Bez minus maracas), commands the stage like an enlivened interlocutrix beanstalk, eyes boring straight ahead, vocals relentlessly baritone.
While the title ‘Generation Freakshow‘ conjures up images of, well, chaos, the latest Feeder album is less a snapshot of the generational zeitgeist than a whistle-stop tour of the band’s back catalogue.
There’s little to differentiate this, their eighth studio album, from the output the Feeder boys have been producing since their formation over 20 years ago, which is to say the songs here showcase good ol’ fashioned rock, with a generous emphasis on the trio’s pop sensibilities.
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