Posts Tagged ‘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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A belated return to the world of blog posting here at Riot on the Radio is sparked by the much-discussed acceptance speech made by Alex Turner at last week’s Brits ceremony for British Album of the Year.

With accusations flying round of Turner being “pretentious” and a “pompous tool” I would like take this opportunity to defend the enigmatic Arctic Monkeys‘ frontman.

First and foremost, Alex Turner hails from High Green, Sheffield. Since when has anyone from Yorkshire ever been accused of being pretentious? Belligerent, stubborn and opinionated maybe but pretentious… Lest we forget this is a breed of human that refers to what a southern softy may label a “roll” as a “breadcake”, the second syllable of which is drawn out longer than a five-day match of test cricket.

Secondly, so what if Turner didn’t conform to stereotype and deliver the inevitably dull, automated thank you message that characterised most of the night’s winning acts. Was it not refreshing to hear an unrehearsed lyric-worthy reel hailing the resilience of rock music? More to the point, Turner comically alluded to what most will interpret as any non-rock ‘n’ roll genre as “sludge”. For that he deserves a slap on the back not round the face! Let’s face it – those most critical of Turner are most likely to be the sort who listen/acclaim to the kind of Black Treacle tosh that typifies 21st century chart music. 

Thirdly and finally, so maybe he did go on about 20 seconds too long but Turner isn’t a stand-up comedian with a born sense of timing. Such a mishap is inevitable for an off-the-cuff speech. Leeway has to be granted to the boy, whom with humour and humility, famously accepted the 2006 Mercury Prize with the opening line, “Someone call 999, Richard Hawley’s been robbed!”

No. Alex Turner deserves praise not persecution. In Turner’s embodiment we have arguably this generation’s only true musical genius. With David Bowie collecting the Best Male Solo on the night, I would expect nothing less than Turner to one day go on to receive the lifetime achievement award; following in the footsteps of Weller and co.

Rock ‘n’ roll is in rude health ladies and gentleman with Alex Turner at the helm. As Alex points out, Britain’s best-loved genre is once again primed to “smash through the glass ceiling looking better than ever. Yeah that rock ‘n’ roll. It seems like it’s fading away sometimes but it will never die.”

Amen.

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.

Just unearthed some cracking footage of The Hives firing off songs to a 300-strong crowd crammed into New York City‘s Webster Hall Studio

Rocking up in suits and top hats, the smartly-dressed Swedes immediately set the ‘tone’ dial to raucous with Come On, taken from their new (at the time) album Lex Hives.

“I shall be responsible for no broken teeth or property” cries ever-wild front-man Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, before launching into Try It Again

 

Pelle’s stage antics are synonymous with Hives’ live act and he’s on fine form here: trademark high kicks, spouting philosophies about the cause of madness & swinging from the ceiling bars like a primate. Combined with Nicholaus Arson‘s thrillingly raw guitar riffs and chicken-necking, Hives are on fire!

What I love about The Hives is that they don’t take themselves too seriously, beginning with their crazy stage names: Howlin’ Pelle, Arson, Dr Matt Destruction, Vigilante Carlstroem & Chris Dangerous. And, contrary to many bands of their era, Hives just keep getting better, five studio albums and going strong. Surely the five-piece are one of the planet’s most underrated bands?

Below is a video of 1000 Answers (also off Lex Hives) which The Hives performed on Jools Holland, broadcast back in May this year. 

Raw, shouty, stuffed with punch and relentless pace, punk is alive and well ladies and gentlemen.

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.