Posts Tagged ‘Indie Rock’

I haven’t reviewed an album in what must be knocking on two years. This tragic hiatus from the world of amateur music journalism can largely be attributed to the fact that I haven’t even bought a CD in half of that time. Jack White Blunderbuss may well have been my last purchase to date. Jesus!

Rather, these days my bank balance at ATMs tends to read “don’t make plans you’re broke” a la Hard Fi – Cash Machine. In spite of my economic woes, I cobbled together enough disposable income at the end of last month to live for the weekend and make a long-awaited addition to my record collection. On recommendation from my brother I went for Franz Ferdinand’s fourth installment entitled Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action (RTRWRA).

Right all round - Franz Ferdinand's third album.

Right all round – Franz Ferdinand’s third album.

Ok, first things first, I acknowledge that my review has arrived a little late – RTRWRA was released in August 2013. Nevertheless, this record has gone so far to rekindling my love for scratchy guitar music that I believe it merits a mention on this space!

On first impressions, I agree whole-heartedly with Tonedeth in that this isn’t a record that will blow you away. This is a record to blow your whole bloody house and all its content away! No, that is an exaggeration too far – in all honesty RTRWRA is a typical Franz Ferdinand album; nothing more, nothing less.

Contra to the way the old saying goes, Alex Kapranos et al. keep managing to reinvent the wheel… but rather well at that. The Franz wheel is now an embellished one; featuring sublime traction courtesy of their second album You Could Have It So Much Better and sparkling alloys afforded by their stonking third record Tonight.

All in all, RTRWRA is a classic 10-song serving of indie rock – a brand of music which any reader of Riot on the Radio will know I am more of a sucker to than a baby is a dummy. ‘Music for the dance floor’ or ‘for a night of hedonism’ as Free Girl in Paris so elegantly yet accurately puts it. Never is there a dull moment, from the fruity twangs of Fresh Strawberries to the incessantly probing Bullet. Textbook ‘This Fire’-esque opening riffs are omnipresent in tunes such as Treason! Animals in contrast to the gorgeous slow-burner that is The Universe Expanded. As A. D. Elliott states over at ‘The Remarkables’ – every song is worthy of a repeat.

The Glaswegian quartet always had a little too much style and originality to survive the post-2008 cull of indie bands. Whereas The Horrors tweaked their sound and acts like The Vaccines arose to target the teenage fanbase; Franz have just stuck to the same formula. And why not? After all, this is a tried and tested formula that ‘took out’ the nation in 2004!

As if I haven’t sung their praises enough already, FF are signed to Domino Records, the label responsible for (amongst others) Arctic Monkeys, Hot Chip, Villagers and Animal Collective. What’s more, lead singer Kapranos produced the third album, Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever, for another favourite outfit of mine, The Cribs. And to wrap it all off, I’m reliably informed by Wikipedia that the Franz frontman spends his time outside of recording/touring in a carpentry workshop crafting ‘abstract furniture’. Hence, on the basis of this triple whammy, I wish to boldy proclaim Alex Kapranos as a ‘treasure’ – a status that I recently assigned to Alex Turner.

Apparently, and unsurprisingly, RTRWRA is equally good live. Me for one, I can’t wait to sample it. Right on!

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Toy are a band causing a stir. How many time have we heard that before?

Visually they resemble (to me at least) a reshuffled, slightly unkempt Slade-looking outfit, plus señorita Alejandra Diez on keyboard. They are also three parts Jing Jang Jong: singer Tom Dougall, guitarist Dom O’Dair and bassist Maxim Barron having since separated from Joe Lean.

Motoring,  below, is a blur – and I’m not just talking about the video’s psychedelic effects. No acute guitars, Toy’s second single is fuzzier than a heavy night on the juice. To use a cliché, Motoring is a “wall of sound” with the drive of an Ash song.

Released on Heavenly Records, a London-based label under the mighty umbrella of EMI – can Toy be truly classified as indie? Probably not.

 

Under their YouTube clips, Toy are described damningly as “the best Horrors tribute band out there” – a statement backed by the act’s close association, support slots and public receipt of praise from Faris Badwan’s troupe. However for me Toy’s sound is a lot less dark and dismal.

Listen to Toy’s first single Left Myself Behind here.

It’s not new, it’s just bloody brilliant! Riveting stuff from the Southend-on-Sea spooks.

 

Read this article you Horrors enthusiasts!

See Stevo’s live review of The Horrors at Rock City here.

Hard-Fi turn Hindustani on Killer Sounds number Feels Good

After a four year hiatus, Hard Fi are back to ruffle some more feathers with their third effort Killer Sounds.

Despite the ruthless media received by second album Once Upon a Time in the West, it was still a number one record. For some the stale stories of suburbia coupled with (no) cover art cockiness were a poor recipe. Others felt the Staines supremos delivered a decent follow-up to their Mercury-nominated debut, a record they were always unlikely to eclipse.

Here Hard-Fi continue their progression, blending dance-punk sounds often in sensational soundclash style like on Sweat and with a Hindustani sitar on Feels Good. Recurring references to politicians, war, Friday nights, the working class and thinning money will inevitably fuel critic’s calls of a lyrically-thin album. But Killer Sounds only claims to be ear candy, not poet laureate material.

Good for Nothing is in equal measures a swaggering anthem and a pugnacious statement. Presumably it’s Richard Archer’s message to the archetypal music critic who amongst other things “just talks, never listens, complains about his love of music, and don’t like him because he don’t fit”. But Archer is in fighting mood. “Tell me are you happy? What are you good for?” he demands to know. As if to acknowledge the band’s burgeoning Latin American fanbase he translates the main message into Spanish, “bueno para nada”.

Starting off more Fedde Le Grand than The Jam, it’s obvious who Fire in the House is meant for: a club-coiffured cocktail of lyrical smoothie if ever I’ve heard one, to carton alongside The Killers’ Mr Brightside. “We danced all night, we kissed all night” Archer smooches on the second single which sees their much-mentioned dance influence come to the fore.

Title track Killer Sounds maintains the fine Hard-Fi tradition of acoustic album-closers, adding to Stars of CCTV and The King. “You’ve gotta play it cool, real cool, you’ve gotta let frustration be a friend to you” reckons Archer who has faced a fair bit himself since 2007.

Sweat & Fire in the House are the sort of buzzwords usually exploited by mediocre rappers not supposed indie rockers, no offence Snoop Dogg. Bring It On and Give It Up are killer tunes, throbbing with energy. Love Song has refreshing punch, though Excitement fails to justify its name and is instead a class A example of an experimental B-side.

Recently I saw a gig listing for Hard-Fi describing the band’s music as “kitchen-sink” soul pop. What this implies I am unsure. Perhaps it was an insinuation that their produce is destined for the plughole rather than the earhole. On this evidence I would strongly suggest not.

Exactly what is says on the tin.

Velociraptor! – the fourth album produced by Kasabian was released yesterday. By no means is it a dinosaur of an album, but neither does it suggest the Leicester band’s success is heading towards extinction.

First questions first: the name? According to lead vocalist Tom Meighan the album is so titled because “it’s a cool word… Latin… prehistoric”. Meighan has clearly done his background for Velociraptor means ‘fast hunter’ in the language of the Romans. And it surely won’t be long before Kasabian’s burgeoning fanbase pounce on this latest effort and propel it to the top of the album charts.

Contrary to what you would expect from an album named after a reptile, Velociraptor! doesn’t take long to warm up. Let’s Roll Just Like We Used To is an intriguing opening track as it totally contradicts the classic Kasabian song formula. At times it echoes of Last Shadow Puppets‘ orchestral pop, far removed from their typical electronica overtones. Following in this vein are La Fee Verte and Goodbye Kiss, where it’s surprising to hear Meighan, a caged tiger of a live performer, singing about love. “I hope someday that we meet again” he purrs over tambourine clatters in the 60’s-belonging ballad. 

The sharply-named pre-release Switchblade Smiles reverts more to type, relying on a heavy assortment of bass which parallels Club Foot. In fact it’s so similar to that  it could well be the same song played backwards. Still it’s catchy enough for FIFA 12. It also features on Match of the Day 2, something which will please guitarist Serge Pizzorno – a decent footballer in his prime. Remember this?

New single Days are Forgotten lacks the creativity of a typical Kasabian number and is consequently staler than a week-old loaf of bread. BBC Breakfast presenter Sian Williams compares the #28 single to the OK Computer days of Radiohead which the band gratefully accept as a “huge compliment. Personally I count that as an admission of a 4 minute durge.

Title track Velociraptor! adds pace and bite to proceedings with a clever riff and an explosive, comical chorus of “Velociraptor, he’s gonna find yer, he’s gonna kill yer, he’s gonna eat yer”. Elsewhere Re-wired reacquaints with the space rock genre while Acid Turkish Bath with its Arabian influences wouldn’t be out of place in a desert crossing of a Middle Eastern film.

After playing with Fire in West Ryder… Kasabian show here that they have plenty of other tricks in their act. Songwriter Pizzorno describes it as a “jukebox record”. I wouldn’t advise skipping through any of this selection.