The best thing about this album is how self aware it is. It does’t present itself as anything but a ‘fun-loving’ frollick, with jangly London riffs and hollow sounding vocals. The songs pretty much primarily concern themselves with love, or love lost, so the formula gets pretty tired after the first few songs. That being said, the first few songs are fun, and you think to yourself, well, I really could, get to enjoy this album, I’m glad I picked it up. If only, they picked up some steam at some point, and charged into a different territory. The closest they come is All In White, but it’s hardly a standout song, and only offers a different pace from the usual raconteuring on the album. What starts off as a pretty funky, fun dip into indie rock, turns into a really bland, mediocre mess. It’s a lot better to just pick one song off the album at a time and listen to it by itself, rather than trying to enjoy the album as a full record. The album works on it’s ability to pack a whallop in single doses, I’ll give it that, and those singles are certainly enjoyable. Norgard, Post Break-Up Sex, and If You Wanna are all fantastic songs, but the mess they form together gives a lack of texture to the record that is irredeemable.
The bizarre and quirky world of the Flaming Lips was once again opened up to the general public on May 17 1999, when they released The Soft Bulletin. Highly underrated, this album is the first cohesive piece of work the Flaming Lips had made up to this point, and it is beautiful intricate and interwoven. Throngs of layers cover each other in every song, and it is impossible to keep your ear on a certain aspect of sound as it fades in and out of the track. It was the first album the Flaming Lips had released in which they fully embraced their insanely wierd style of neo-psychadelica/space rock, as up until then they had mostly blended it with a more mainstream appeal dose of guitar rock. But in The Soft Bulletin, Wayne Coyne and Co. delivered their full weirdness in the greatest example of multi-textured goodness I have ever heard.
The greatest thing about this record, as I’ve mentioned before, is it’s richness and abundance of sounds. The absolute calamital blend is chaotic at first, but it soon eases its way past the abrupt stage, and before you know it, it’s a very mature and enriching experience. Wayne Coyne’s falsetto is pitch perfect as always, and it’s a nice touch adding a brass and string section to the majority of songs. There are countless other hidden instruments, like a strong percussion section in The Spark That Bled, but it’s the swooping and abrasive sections that really make the songs. My personal favourite is the inspiring violins in Race For The Prize and What Is The Light?, and a close second, are the ting tings of the triangle and drum claps in Slow Motion.
A nice surprise to this record is how much more accessible it is to the average listener. As an avid Flaming Lips fan, I’ll listen to anything they put out, however they do put out a lot of long tracks, and strange, rapid, quirky things happen within the songs. This album, as well as Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots would be their most accessible records, as the sounds that emanate are inspiring, and yet completely mature and not that joking, screw around haphazard Flaming Lips we’re all so used to. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic to have it in small doses, but can start to get boring after a while if you don’t counterbalance it with records like The Soft Bulletin. This is why it is one of The Flaming Lips greatest records, withstanding even today. That is some feat, considereing they’ve put out 14 records, and there’s no sign of slowing down.
The Olympics have just started, and even though I’m not a huge fan of everyone dropping their shit for 2 weeks to pretend to care about sport and their nation’s pride, and that the Olympics is an elaborate pissing contest over which country can spend more money on superficial things, it is based in London, which is a pretty good excuse for a list of my favourite British bands
10. Kasabian: I had the pleasure of seeing Kasabian earlier this year live, and it’s no wonder their boasted as being one of the best live bands around. With their stadium ready anthems and booming rhythm section, the band can never fail to excite.
9.The Prodigy: Listening to the Prodigy is like submerging yourself in ecstasy. The drug, I mean. Everything is a schizophrenic, violent attack on the senses and the music shreds your soul like a razor blade swinging in a nightclub.
8. Black Sabbath: Considered one of the first, and certainly one of the greatest heavy metal/ doom metal bands, they breathed new life to what could be considered music with Tony Iommi’s unique style and Ozzy Osbourne’s howling ramblings. The thundering riffs are unmistakable and beloved by parent hating kids the world over.
7. Franz Ferdinand: One of the more radio friendly, yet still British-ly absurd bands to come out of Glasgow. They have their amicable, dance ready riffs always handy and a catchy sing along chorus at the forefront of every song. They’ve stayed out of the spotlight for a while, but their new album is due very soon, and should see them rearing back to the top of the charts even quicker.
6. The Clash: The Godfather’s of punk. They gave birth to music that was more about the idea than the guitar solo. A fantastic politically aware band, that could both start a mosh pit amongst a bunch of rowdy kids and have scholars talking about their lyrics.
5. Bloc Party: With their jumpy, party ready indie anthems, Bloc Party have always been cheeky and left of centre. Kele’s voice is so unique, being very British and expansive, and their jangly mix of guitars, mellow synths, and heartfelt lyrics, they’re standout British music icons.
4. Gorillaz: The animated alternative hip hop group by Damon Albarn are very dear to my heart. The music is so carefully crafted, diverse and always features such a range of superstars, you never really know what you’ll listen when going to the next track on a Gorillaz record. You do know it will be fantastic, but not how.
3. Joy Division/New Order: Joy Division was on the brink of being one of the greatest and biggest bands in the world, and left behind two fantastic bodies of work after Ian Curtis committed suicide. However, the remaining members forged on, and continued their legacy of post-punk brilliance. With their trippy riffs and Peter Hook’s fantastic bass lines, New Order and Joy Division cemented Britain’s post-punk brilliance in the 80’s and have cemented their own place in history as two of the greatest bands in history.
2. Blur: The greatest of the Britpop bands (sorry Oasis) Blur just had that grittier and more dangerous edge to them. Damon Albarn had a gift of crafting rock music that had pop appeal that still appeared to come from the dirtiest upbringing possible. A wolf posing in a sheepskin jacket, if you will. Consistently pumping out hit after hit, from classic album after classic album, Blur are on of the crown jewels in the queen’s crown. It helps that none of the band members are total arse holes and can carry themselves in a side project (ahem, Liam Gallagher).
1. Radiohead: These are the highest calibre of musicians that the 21st Century has to offer. Every album (bar Pablo Honey) is pure musical genius and although Thom Yorke is the main genius behind it, the Greenwood brothers and the other members play just as an important role in the overall beautiful sounds reached by Radiohead. Their soaring, eloquent, strange, weird, wonderful, verbose, minimalistic, brooding mix all concocts itself into a magical journey for the soul. And they’re from Britain.
Bratty, snotty, gritty garage punk has never returned to it’s roots harder and spewed forth yesterday’s lunch with such gusto. It’s the 70’s surf-punk mentality mixed with fuzzed out stoner riffs of Drunk Mums that really give the song power. The four/five piece out of Cairns is releasing their debut album soon, and if the single “Rubbing Your Gums” is anything to go off, it’ll be a rip roaring ride of nostalgia and throwbacks. The choruses are shouted, the guitars cranked up to ten, and the reverb pedal is straining at breaking point. Jake Doyle’s vocals are picture perfect for a garage band. Hoarse, out of tune, yet howling-ly catchy. His vocals echo through your brain like a bad acid trip, leaving bits of grit and sand trailing behind.
Don’t think of this band as just another garage band. Think of them as the next garage band. They have the ethic of a punk band and a sound similar to the Black Lips or Thee Oh Shees. There is fun to be had amongst these simplistic songs, as long as you can kick back and enjoy them for the simple masterpieces they are.
Triple J Unearthed: http://www.triplejunearthed.com/DrunkMums
Since growing up in Sydney, I’ve been exposed to a diverse range of sounds in the ‘Aussie’ rock scene. And who leads these legendary sounds? THE FRONTMEN! So here’s a tribute to the greatest Australian frontmen to come from Down Under. I feel like the biggest dickhead for writing that.
10. Jonathan Boulet: A true craftsman. Jonathan Boulet doesn’t play songs; he constructs them and executes them with deadly accuracy. His indie-gem self titled debut was full of beautifully subtle numbers that cause a collective sigh of wistfulness
9. Kevin Parker: The entire brains behind the psychedelic rock kings Tame Impala, Kevin writes all the songs himself. And what songs they are! Fuzzed out guitar over bashed drums, with sonic grooves a plenty. It honestly feels like riding the worlds chillest roller coaster listening to one of his songs.
8. Kim Salmon: Guitarist extraordinare. This man was part of two of the greatest post punk bands to come out of Australia and indeed the world. The man was a genius in The Scientists, taking his dirty, scuzzed guitar licks anywhere he could play, and only toning back on Beasts of Bourbon so not to dim Tex Perkins sunshine.
7. Daniel Johns: Although a laughable shadow of his former self, Daniel Johns is still an Aussie rock hero. Silverchair’s first two albums, (and to a degree, their third) were grunge brilliance, Australia’s smart ass answer to Nirvana. Hell, young Daniel Johns even looks like Kurt Cobain.
6. Bernard Fanning: Similar to Daniel Johns, although to a lesser extent, Bernard Fanning has seen better days (GEDDIT?!). Powderfinger’s earliest work was also amazing, however they stayed a little more on the straight and narrow, and kept things a little more simpler and rock n roll. Still, Powderfinger persevered and stayed relevant for much longer than any of their contemporaries, and have become Australian icons in their own right.
5. John Butler: One of the most sincere and honest men on the planet, John Butler has been around for ages, always staying relevant and up to date on social issues. You can guarantee if there’s an issue thats pressing, John Butler will be there. And he has always conveyed that in his beautiful music. His loving, acoustic songs cover everything from drug abuse, to land rights, from boat people, to the woman he loves.
4. Brendan Suppression: Is there a more mental frontman than Brendan Suppression? No. This man is insane, belting out his lyrics at the top of his voice over his band, the infamous Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s trashy rhythm section and haphazard drums. His stage presence is enormous, as anyone who has seen the band will lay claim to, and Brendan is at the front of it all, the star of the action. Even though all his songs sound pretty similar, he makes each one so damn special.
3. Dave Hosking: The pensive frontman for Boy and Bear, he quietly goes about his business, but makes just as loud a splash as the rest of these frontmen. He is cool, calm and collected, and easily indie-r than anyone you’ve ever met. His folky tunes tug on heart strings, and his band are just as rippled with talent as he is.
2.Luke Steele: The brainchild behind both the fantastic Sleepy Jackson and Empire of the Sun. His electro/pop/indie whisperings are so perfect and diverse, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was a whole team behind his band’s albums. He also serves as a kick arse producer.
1. Nick Cave: Who else? He is Australia’s greatest musical export, fronting bands The Birthday Party, Grinderman, and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. He pens only the greatest ad sorrowful of Goth/Post-Punk of tunes, and every word that comes from his jangled, insane mouth is pure lyrical genius. His frenetic energy is unmatched, as well as his moustache. Not happy with being one of music’s all time greatest legends, he also sideline’s as a producer, script writer, and talker. Because, why not? The man is pure genius
Think of it as the perfect cross between Beck and Fleet Foxes. Incredibly hip and cool, and submerged in relaxation. The great thing about Opossom is that he doesn’t strive for enjoyment, like most indie-pop groups, but he just casually floats his music across the airwaves, and says if you like it, well….thanks.
Opossom encapsulates the perfect teenage dream. His songs waft around, not really settling on anything, taut and intimate, but with vocals that are stretched out like a towel on the beach. He’s an artist with no worries on his mind and it’s completely reflected in his music. Songs like Why Why, Girl, and Blue Meanies could be the perfect soundtrack to a beach trip. Although not a diverse artist, Opossom certainly departs from the frontman’s previous band The Mint Chicks, who were garage rockers through and through.
This must be why Opossom is such a buzz artist at the moment, getting recognition from Rolling Stone to Spotify. He is sure to do amazing things in the future, but just for now, his debut record seems enough to soak up and enjoy. The happiness emanates of his music, and you can tell he’s just got a massive smile on his face the entire time he’s making it. So if your in the mood for upbeat, dreamy pop, his debut record Electric Hawaii just came out.
Quick playlist of my current favourite tunes, some old, some new, stretching from Goth to dirty Garage, from dubstep to psych-pop. Enjoy!
1. Take A Walk-Passion Pit
2. Immigrants-The M Machine
3. Charcoal-Super Magic Hats
4. Rubbing Your Gums-Drunk Mums
5. Candy Flu- The Walking Who
6. When I’m Stoned- These New South Whales
7. Weekend Wars- MGMT
8. Madder Red- Yeasayer
9. Go Right Ahead- The Hives
10. Alone & Stoned- King Tuff
11. We’re Gonna Boogie- Primal Scream
12. Girl- Opossom
13. Mr. Television-Toucan
14. Wise Up-Ruby Boots
15. Warrior- Kimbra, Mark Foster, A-Trak
16. Girl- March Of The Real Fly
17. Charleston- Set Sail
18. Destroywhitchurch.com- Future Of The Left
19. Bangarang- Skrillex
20. Temple of Love- Sisters of Mercy
It seems like Primal Scream just enjoy switching between weird, cutting alternative-electro music, and depp-fried Southern rock-n-roll. This album falls into the latter. It’s a whirling combination of the musicianship and gusto of The Jim Jones Revue and the drugged out, laid back vocal stylings of Iggy Pop. It hits the perfect note of serious and fun, with tracks like Country Girl and Suicide Sally & Johnny Guitar waltzing along in a boppy, carefree tune that hails to the time of old, and then We’re Gonna Boogie providing a feel good soundtrack tune. The album is perfectly rounded out by Sometimes I Feel So Lonely, which is a regrettable love story, that uses organ tones, a harmonica and gospel choruses to evoke such emotion, that it’s hard not to hold back a tear.
The real beauty of this record is that it sounds like it was recorded in an Alabama sound studio in a few weeks by a couple mates trying to tackle music, when in reality it was made by a couple of ex-junkie musicians out of England. Not bad, not bad at all. Riot City Blues still has nods and hints of Primal Scream’s smash hit Screamadelica, but it has it’s own quiet beauty and confidence that it stands apart and regards itself with dignity and respect, pretty much like any of Primal Screams’ other albums. There is nothing not to love about the underrated Riot City Blues, and it’s catchy feel good country/rock/blues vibes. It’s pretty much impossible not to get up and start to swing when The 99th Floor starts blasting halfway through.
Ok, first off, I have no idea why they bother going under the moniker of Handsome Furs. This record is a Wolf Parade record through and through. The similarities are endless and yeah, i know Dan Boeckner is in both bands. but still, if your going to have a side project, you need to expand your musical palette, and do something different. This just Dan Boeckner being Wolf Parade without the other members.
This being said, it’s an alright album. It’s cohesive, it’s well structured, the songs are well executed, and it’s the perfect modern Sub Pop Records band. The album has all the key character traits of Wolf Parade- soaring vocals, bluesy-rock guitars, and those just basic enough drum beats. The songs are fuzzy and warm, and it kindles up warm winter nights with your family and friends. I mean, it’s not like Dan Boeckner was trying to take over this world with this record, he was just trying to make something with his wife. Some couples try to learn golf, others make soulful rock records. It’s intimate and quietly entertaining, but it just can’t shake the fact it sounds like everything done before, and it needs to be pointed out that it’s the Handsome Furs playing, and not Wolf Parade.
So yeah, unfortunately it can’t really stand up on it’s own, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely shit. GO BUY IT!
So its a bit more than halfway through the year. Here is my ultimately useless list of my personal favourite cool artists so far. Whether they can keep up the hype is up to them.
10. Frank Ocean: Member of controversial OFWGKTA, soul musician, talented, just came out as gay.
9. Tame Impala: Been quiet of the past few years, recent resurfacing with new track Apocalypse Dreams which is awesome, co-headlining Parklife.
8. Lykke Li: Awesome, sleazy, girlish pop, very stylised, very cool.
7. Hunting Grounds: Young Australian band bound for the top. I liked them when they were called Howl, but their latest album In Hindsight has them in a familiar but new direction.
6. Grimes: Too cool 4 school synth. Outcast pop.
5. Beck: Silence since 2008’s Modern Guilt broken by the new Jack White produced single, which is traditional Beck aka very cool. Headlining Harvest as well
4. Jack White: Huge year for Jack White. Headlining massive festivals world over, including Splendour, and it helps that his solo record, Blunderbuss, is one of the greatest blues/rock/garage records of the past few years.
3. Dune Rats: Their single ‘Fuck it’. ‘Nuff said.
2. Azaelia Banks: Although I’m not a massive fan of her music, she is easily one of the coolest people ever. All her interviews are interesting, and she isn’t afraid of anything, a shining star in the otherwise pretty bleak and tame hip-hop world. Also…..sooooooooooo sassy.
1. Damon Albarn: He’s cutting off Gorillaz (maybe), bringing Blur back to the mainstream, with new songs, and an Olympic event headliner, released his own rock-opera, and is producing some of the coolest up and comers, as well as old timers (don’t think i just forgot about Bobby Womack). Consistently cool.