Posts Tagged ‘Indie’

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!

Screaming Maldini is one hell of a name. Having mooched unwittingly in on their hedonistic 2010 Tramlines set at the Frog and Parrot, I’ve had big expectations for this particular band. Despite this they had fallen off my radar somewhat until their self-titled debut arrived this February, providing a timely punctuation to the monotonous mainstream tosh that continues to excrete itself in my ears.

The multi-instrumental Sheffield sextet have a bustling Harley crowd in full voice on Saturday, who are gathered to celebrate the album launch. The video for Summer Somewhere [below] combines a spine-tinglingly beautiful anthem in the picturesque backdrop of the Peak DistrictGina Walters delivers the powerful Adele-like vocals in her charming Adele-like body form. 

 

“Everyone has to have a favourite scientist” Nick Fox, Maldini’s co-lead vocalist, tells the Harley crowd. “Ours is Carl Sagan”. Mine is Charles Darwin Nick, and your band are a fitting example of indie’s descent with modification in recent years.

Mixing vocal harmonies and with flits of trumpet, Maldini boast a style of indie pop perhaps matched only by Los Campesinos! Decide for yourself.

Also listen to Life in Glorious Stereo and their self-titled debut here on Bandcamp:

Read Screaming Maldini’s feature on The Guardian’s Northerner Blog here.

Today my new (albeit year-old) Strokes CD arrived in the post, yippee! I gleefully scooped the package from off the floor of my porch in my pyjamas, noting the pair of Alistair Brownlee stamps. I don’t think even Britain’s gold medal-winning triathlete could have beaten me to the door this morning.

Tearing into the parcel I glimpsed an accompanying letter from the sender. ‘Careful – massive crack on cover’. Cheers Amazon Seller DVDs & Games 2008! Quibbles aside, Angles is a more-than decent comeback from King Casablancas and co. Machu Picchu is a brilliant opener, Undercover of Darkness and Taken for a Fool are classic Strokes, whilst the controversial Two Kinds of Happiness adds a melodious new dimension.

My favourite though, Gratisfaction, owes to the ringtone of a good friend whom I recently reacquainted with in Paris. I love how the song bursts into life tout de suite with such gusto.

Released in March last year, you may wonder why it’s taken me so long to get my mitts on a copy. Well – I’ll be brutally honest, I’ve been ignorant of The Strokes as a whole until recently. This might seem a shock to (the few) readers of this blog, considering the main genre of my articles is indie rock. And especially given that The Strokes are arguably the greatest ever indie rock band!

My defence is weak, hinging mainly on their blurry sound quality, inaudible lyrics, and even more pathetically – the constant playing of Last Nite in nightclubs. It sickens me! Too much ‘turning round’ perhaps? People go through phases though and mature musically. Thus I am frantically playing catch-up, listening to Is This It, Room on Fire and First Impressions of Earth. Finally folks, I am into The Strokes. Hurrah!

PS – another close friend would kill me if I didn’t mention that his namesake Julian attended the same school as him in Geneva.

For anyone without the luxury of 3G on their mobile, you will understand my frustration at Shazam‘s inability to work without internet connection. Whilst perusing the racks of bargain t-shirts in Topman today I heard this rather groovy track played overhead. Of course, due to the aforementioned technological inferiority of my mobile telephone I was unable to detect whom the artist was. Fortunately the lines “you thought you’d set the bar” and “cog in a machine” stuck fast in my mind.

Turns out the culprit is a Scottish four-piece bearing the exotic name Django Django. The double D apparently released their self-titled debut back in January, something I was previously oblivious to. Default (below) has gained them some notoriety, amassing over 800,000 YouTube hits. It’s no fluke either, these boys have their own brand of music and paint a colourful canvas of art-rockFurther tracks like Drumbeats and Life’s a Beach justify why The Guardian elected to award their debut 5 out of 5. 

Because Music records have the luxury of Django Django’s signature. The London & Paris-based independent label can also boast amongst their ranks synth supremos Metronomy, Justice and the highly individual individual Connan Mockasin!

Django Django will play Latitude and T in the Park festivals this summer. Check them, and double check them, on Soundcloud here.

Don’t you just love it when you rediscover a band?

Perhaps it is a song lyric dropped into general chit chat that sparks a memory. Perhaps a trivial everyday sound or tone makes the association. More often, and conventionally, a rustle through the old record collection helps revive the hidden gems.

One, I’m not sure which, of the above instances facilitated my recent unearthing of Editors‘ albums. Signed to Kitchenware Records, a truly independent Tyneside label, the Birmingham-based band have achieved platinum status. A true success! 

Their debut The Back Room (2005) signalled their Lights, Camera, Munich arrival on the music scene, earning them a Mercury nomination. 2007’s follow-up An End Has A Start furthered their chart success, rocking in as a #1 album. Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors [below] reached #7 in the singles chart.

 

Third album In This Light and On This Evening consolidated their commercial glory, again entering [and briefly residing] as a #1 album. Spawned from this sleeve was the excellent synth powerhouse Papillon.

Though Tom Smith‘s vocals do echo a la Ian Curtis, there is in my opinion little substance in comparisons with Joy Division. Nor for that matter do Editors even faintly remind me of Echo & The Bunnymen, one of their supposed influences. Moreover, only Interpol, a contemporary outfit, sound at all similar.

Anyroad, it’s knocking on three years since Editors’ last release and they have slowly slipped out of the public consciousness. Earlier this year the news broke that Editors and lead guitarist Chris Urbanowicz had parted musical paths. Editors will continue, we are assured, as a three-piece, their 4th record is hotly-awaited later this year.