Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Exciting new music!

Have you heard the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club? It's a really good, I think. A re-imagining of a song by the Call, the band fronted by the singer's late father, it's got that druggy loose vibe that I look for from BRMC, but it rolls with the swing and heft of a much heavier band- like QOTSA or maybe later Led Zeppelin.
Then, as I mentioned, I've been ill and in hospital, and so I really got a chance to dig into the new Joy Formidable LP, "Wolf's Law". I have to get rid of the bad first: if you've been paying attention over the past year, you have already heard the highlights- "This Ladder is Ours", and "Cholla", and they do have the tendency to plunder from the same vein again and again. Also, they do have a sophomore album disease- this thing is over-produced even beyond what Thirty Seconds to Mars, Muse and Placebo do to their music- and that clearly is the crowd that The Joy Formidable are shooting for, these days. That having said, I prefer this to the Big Roar- there is a lot more range and dynamics this time around. The songs still tend to resolve themselves into a big dizzy blur, but they hold off a bit more, and it brings out the songs a bit. So, call it a near miss, as opposed to "hit or miss" as the Big Roar was. But, if the thought of Siouxsie meets Lush meets pop-rock Gods level Muse amuses you, as it does me, this is well worth it. I mean take "Bats"- there are sections that sound like a feminine version of mid-1990's Killing Joke- tell me that's not worth it! Or, consider the Maw Maw song, which combines a rolling fuzz bass, icy electronics and a big prog rock chorus, like Thirty Seconds to Mars meets Rush, but with lyrics that seem like a piss-take of all the above. There's nothing on here that truly carries through on the promise their sound implies- some kind of profound melodramatic take on shoegazer music, but it's still better than their male peers in that neo-prog genre that they're inching towards.
Then, I also heard the new Bad Religion- True North. Umm, well, it's a Bad Religion record. Rarely have I heard a band that clings so closely to their formula. Seriously, since the late 1980's they sound pretty much exactly the same. Now, it's a decent sound- syrupy sweet vocal harmonies, on fairly verbose socio-political pop punk, held to the tightest structure this side of Rockabilly.So, yes, it's ear-pleasing, and there's nothing to  complain about, and I actually find it comforting to listen to, and, if I'm honest, I'll admit that it's very appealing to me. However, Bad Religion are a super-group. You've got members from best-selling most influential etc, etc punk rock artists here- from Hetson being in Red Cross to Baker being in Minor Threat. With that pedigree, I'd expect more- and they've hinted that this is it- their last record. Why not go out on some kind of statement? I suppose following the formula is the statement- this is Bad Religion, and nothing more or less. So maybe if you have found a sound you should just make that sound and allow others to find their sounds?
I don't know, I find that hard to swallow. I find it more exciting, and more engaging when a band is trying to find sounds to express who they are today, even if that's more volatile with a bigger chance of failure, than of success. But, is it the point of music to be exciting? what of pleasure? What of comfort? What of warmth and nostalgia, and sentiment? I don't know if I'm right to want more, I just know that I do want more.

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