He is committing egocide

I had my first of four exams today. It went well, thanks. Since the next one isn't for another few days, this is a nice opportunity to write a little somethin' somethin' about the new dEUS album, 'Vantage Point', which came out this week in countries that are worth living in.

Most striking thing: there are no epics on this album. It's more concise, which has its benefits, but there aren't any songs like 'Bad Timing' or 'Roses' or 'Lets See Who Goes Down First', which start quietly and grow and grow and grow and become monsters. I'd go so far as to say, 'Vantage Point' is the first dEUS album that doesn't have any "Shoot me dead right now because that song is fucking incredible" songs. That's a shame. There are even a couple of songs which are going to have to grow on me. 'Is A Robot' is one. 'Eternal Woman' is pretty enough, but songs with spelling in the middle are always dangerous. And though I'm a sucker for kids' choirs, the closing track 'Popular Culture' doesn't do it for me. Yet.

But this is my favourite band. So of course there's plenty I love here. 'The Architect' and 'Slow' are already old friends. I wasn't too sure about the backing vocals on 'Slow' to begin with, but the album version is a little longer and more thought out, and her from the Knife complements Tom's voice well. 'Oh Your God' is relentless but more tuneful than on early listens. I really like the scuzzy guitar and deadpan vocals on 'Favourite Game'. 'Smokers Reflect' and 'The Vanishing of Maria Schneider' are pleasant enough. 'When She Comes Down' has a nice groove, and a soaring chorus.

It's not as great as I'd have hoped, but I'm certainly not disappointed. Hopefully they'll come back to the States, and more particularly, somewhere within seven hours of where I live. I'm not holding my breath. I still love dEUS.

[Official site / Myspace / Pocket Revolution]

A bright and haunted age

British Sea Power / Film School
Jacksonville Jack Rabbits
April 19, 2008

"Come on, allons-y, let's go"

Somethings never change. It's been six years since I last saw British Sea Power, and they still look more like an expedition than a rock band. Hamilton's shirt was ripped so much it looked like he'd been to the Arctic Circle and back this very day. Now, though, they're augmented by a viola player (whose look owes a lot to the Lady of Shalott) and a keyboardist who didn't get knocked unconscious which was a plus.

"There's things that we all need to navigate"

Somethings do change. In 2002, I was terrified by the brothers' Demon Headmaster stare. Now, because they have a more polished new record out, they're a little more comfortable on stage. Still very little onstage chitchat, although at one point Noble mentioned Bill and Ben, which was cute. Primary impression of the gig: British Sea Power really fucking rock. I guess the album title is a hint, but oh my. I was surprised at how heavy they were, maybe because I still think of them as the awkward weirdos they were when they first started. BSP in 2008 are polished, seamless and loud as aw'hell. 'Canvey Island' lost a bit, I thought, under walls of guitars.

Some have criticized them for not being as spastic and mental as the olden days, but you can't expect a band to be young men forever. I would've liked to have seen 'Reme
mber Me' in there, though.

Lakes are forming on the pockets of your brain"

Highlights? 'Atom' and its shouts of "I just don't get it!" (a common reaction to molecular physics) was thankfully stripped of its extra intro. Viola and trumpet being heard above the racket for 'The Great Skua'. The double whammy of my two fave BSP songs, 'True Adventures' and 'No Lucifer' was pretty great. They finished, as is their way, with a 30 minute+ freakout that most of the audience left during, and was really loud, and saw Noble come into the crowd, and some gymnastics, and various guests, and lots of fingers-in-ears. It was okay, but clearly looked more fun for the band than for the crowd.

lights out for darker skies / atom / oh larsen b / down on the ground / how will i ever find my way home? / waving flags / the great skua / spirit of st louis / a trip out / canvey island / true adventures / no lucifer /
carrion / a rock in

Earlier, San Francisco's Film School played a very impressive set that made me wish I'd noticed their album 'Hideout' last year. Lots of reverb, heavy MBV influence, nice tempo shifts, an attractive bass player (named Lorelei? really?) and a guitar player with a sense for showmanship. I don't know how much this would necessarily be captured when listening to their CD, but if you get a chance, go and see them play live.

Worth making a 150 mile round trip for, the weekend before law school finals start? Fuck yeah!

[download British Sea Power - True Adventures]

[British Sea Power - official / myspace]
[Film School - official / myspace]

Like a cop who needs a clue

I'll write a track-by-track for Vantage Point sometime soon. It's exam season here, that's why I've been pretty quiet lately. The different levels of ERISA pre-emption are far more interesting that writing about my favourite band's new album. Humbug.

If you have a minute, print this out, put it up somewhere in your hometown and take a picture and send it to this guy. Karl's got a head like a fucking orange.

Oh, back to dEUS - here's a video of Tom playing 'The Vanishing of Maria Schneider' in front of a mirror. Vantage Point - out next week in Europe!

Vind meer video's zoals deze op Cafe de Liefde

Jump into your grave and die

Enjoying music is not about numbers, and that's just as well, because I've probably listened to 'Alas I Cannot Swim' at least a trillion times, beginning to end, in the past two weeks. Laura Marling's debut album does everything for me. I can't really explain it. Her voice is instantly recognizable yet not quite placeable. The arrangements are terrific, with warm strings and other instruments coming and going when needed and not needed. The lyrics really get to me. Almost every song is great, but particular respeck to 'Ghosts' and 'Cross Your Fingers'. And 'Failure' and 'The Captain and Hourglass' and 'My Manic and I'. Basically, 'Alas I Cannot Swim' is a very simple album that really seeps in and I cannot get enough of at the moment. I just got out of bed, at 12.30am, while listening, because I couldn't not write about this album any longer.

All this, and I didn't even mention that she only just turned 18. Holy smoke.

Listen to the whole thing at Laura's site, or watch a live show below.

[download Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers]
[download Laura Marling - Shine (live)] from last.fm

[Laura Marling - myspace / official site]

We cannot burn Mick Jagger

Here are some thoughts I had while watching 'Shine a Light', with precisely four other souls, on its opening night.

  • First and foremost, this is a concert movie, and as such it's a very good concert movie. I don't particularly care for the Stones, but I really enjoyed dancing in my seat. The absence of other cinemagoers probably helped.
  • The show was choreographed to death of course, but there were some cool touches - like Jagger walking through the crowd on 'Sympathy for the Devil' and guest appearances from Christina Aguilera, Buddy Guy and Jack White.
  • Never mind that the band's faces all look creaky and Mick doesn't wear men's clothes any more. Those fuckers can still play. This is definitely Keith's best film role of the last couple of years, although he wore a brooch commemorating his previous, much much worse, attempt at cinema.
  • The camera work was great - there were cameras everywhere. And the personnel was all very accomplished - some legendary cinematographers were involved.
  • It reminded of seeing recordings for Top of the Pops and The Cut with Jo Whiley, with genuinely great bands like Spiritualized, Manic Street Preachers, Busta Rhymes (!), and the atmosphere was always really awkward, because you're encouraged to be enthusiastic three or four times, but keep moving out of the way of all the cameras.
  • Speaking of - nobody in the audience looked like they were having as much fun as those on the stage. There was a narrow band of young, hot people at the front, and then a lot of sitting around. Come on, people! It's the Rolling Stones! Indoors! For charity! How about standing up?
  • Some critics have been saying "It's a good concert film from a band who already have a billion concert films... Who cares?" I can understand that, but having not seen any of those others, that didn't affect my own enjoyment.
  • Now here's my main gripe - the film wasn't too clear about what it wanted to be. It starts off as a documentary about the concert, with lots of Scorcese, his eyebrows, and the intense prep that goes into the show, but there wasn't much backstage footage. A funny bit where Hillary Clinton's mum says "Oooh, the drummer!" to Charlie, and meeting the President of Poland, is about the extent of pre-show action.
  • And then, the show is interspersed with random snippets of old interviews with the band, which don't really bring anything to the film. I mean, it's funny to see a panel discussion with fresh-out-of-jail Jagger, a bishop, a Member of Parliament and "Britain's leading Jesuit", but just throwing in little clips doesn't make it a documentary.
  • The bulk of the film is the live show, which is very entertaining - I just wish they'd not bothered trying to be more than a concert film.
  • It's a Scorcese film without Gimme Shelter in it. Wait, whaaaat?
[download The Rolling Stones - Miss You]

Everything is banal and jejune

Hey everyone - just a quick post today. I've made a muxtape with some songs from 2008 that I quite like, and hope you might, too.

It's at http://rambocky.muxtape.com and the tracklisting is:

Laura Marling - Ghosts (I really need to write about this album soon)
Guillemots - Big Dog (Ditto)
Los Campesinos! - We Are All Accelerated Readers (Album review)
Broken Records - If The News Makes You Sad, Don't Watch It (taken from the Song by Toad session)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - We Call Upon the Author
Sons and Daughters - The Nest (Live)
Hot Chip - Touch Too Much
Spiritualized - Soul on Fire
dEUS - Slow
Surrounded - Safe Tomorrow Sun (I picked up this album blind, on the strength of this review)
Elbow - One Day Like This (Album review)

Find It