Friday, June 6, 2014

Kasabian- 48 13

ok, you can give me crap for liking a band that's going to headline Glastonbury. I understand it. But, here's the thing- yes, Radiohead, Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, etc, etc ad nauseum are pushing guitar music forward, but who's pushing Rock music forward? Apart from fairly underground noise, metal and crust bands, there's no one on the national scene who's trying to push rock music forward. Whether you're talking Jack White or the Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age or Kings of Leon, there's plenty of rock music out there, and most of it is looking backwards. I don't mind, as I enjoy certain things that are retro, and some sounds haven't been explored enough, but I honestly think there are only a handful of acts that can play stadiums that are genuinely trying to make rock music, and trying to make that rock music go in a direction it hasn't gone before. On the European continent, you've got dEUS, and Kashmir, and Ghinzu. But in the UK, I think Kasabian are really it, the only ones. By combining their Oasis-style Brit Rock with Kraftwork, and Tangerine Dream, and electronics from Italian horror movies, then harnessing a Hip Hop sense of percussion, it genuinely sounds new and different, but with a definite "rock sensibility". It doesn't sound like disco, and it doesn't sound like post-rock, it sounds like the same kind of music that put Britain on the map, from the Beatles to Blur. I think the thing that keeps them off of critics' lists is simple- lyrically, they're thick as bricks. I don't know when it got conflated, but I've got a good guess that it's a Baby Boom thing, that music critics expect musicians to be articulate and literate. Certainly, some are, but I never thought of musical talent as necessarily translating into verbal talent. Actually, from most of the musicians I know, I think it might be antithetical. Seriously, if Tom Morello really had the words for what he wants, would he play a guitar? If Mark Lanegan  could write as well as he sings, why would he sing? He'd be better off writing scripts. No, the best musicians are musicians because their best talents are musical. That doesn't mean that I don't appreciate thoughtful, witty, and insightful lyrics, only that I don't think it's necessary for the music to be good.But, you see, most music critics are basically English majors. They're writers, first, and music lovers second. Well, I make no bones about it- I'm no writer. I bet there are a dozen grammatical errors, and a score of spelling errors in this paragraph alone, and I bet that my structure is laughable. I'm clearly a music lover much more than an appreciator of poetry. So, yes, Kasabian write some pretty dumb lyrics, and not even ironically dumb like the Ramones or something. That doesn't matter. What matters is that they write anthemic, syncopated rock music that people can dance along happily while listening to it. For Rock music that really is the final word. Tracks like "Stevie", "Eez-eh", "Doomsday" "Bow" and "Bumblebee" are great rock songs, but they're off kilter and psychedelic with synth lines cribbed from a Dario Argente movie and beats that don't quite add up. It's like the Happy Mondays got infiltrated by Suicide and Eric B. Which is to say, it's definitely new, and different. I think that's genius enough.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Damn, Doc Neeson is Gone.

OK, Yes, he was crazy, and not always in a good way. Yes, his best work was behind him, and yes, the cancer he had might very well have been caused by his own misadventures, but it still sucks that he's dead. He had a unique voice, a literate way with words, and a fantastic stage presence. They don't make rock stars too often, and none like him.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Think I can objectively discuss a new GODFLESH EP? Think again.  I don't care that it's exactly the GODFLESH I like ( Streetcleaner levels of aggression with Pure levels of programming) it's a freakin' GODFLESH release!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bob Mould- Beauty and Ruin

This will have to be a "first pass" kind of review- I generally take about 20 listens to fully appreciate a Bob Mould record, and I've only had eight go-rounds with this one.
The nutshell is this- musically, this has exactly the Bob Mould record I want- folk song structure, with passing chords, and complex melodies, but clearly made for noise and probably composed on an electric guitar. Lyrically, Bob is still in his "grandpa" phase, all philosophical remembrances and reflections, with a few platitudes re-examined, but his inspiration seems lacking.
I still think Silver Age will stand as a better LP, but this one is less for the marketplace, and more for the fans. How do I know? Because it musically reflects his slightly harder-to-love side- Stuff like the Beaster Ep, the "Hubcap" LP, and "Dark Sheets of Rain" albeit with a much better production than any of those. Looked at from that prism, the worst track on here is the obvious single: "I don't know you anymore"- and think about what that says- the most pop track is also the most resigned.
Meanwhile, I could listen to opener "Low Season" on repeat- it's the most disconsolate on the record, and is all suspended fifths and drones, like a Richard Thompson song, but with sonic guitars.
Second track threatens to be a "Beaster" slow burn, until the second bar when it accelerates into a pissed off punk riff- like the Wipers gone on a Stooges bender. Absolutely gorgeous to me- so, yes, "Little Glass Pill" is, again, the Bob Mould I want to hear. "The War" is another great folk-gone Punk track, that, again, could find a home on "Beaster" or "Black Sheets of Rain" ( it reminds me of that LP's B side) .  And "Forgiveness" has Bob finally getting an acoustic sound that I actually really like, not just accept because the song is so good.
Much will be said about "Kid with Crooked Face" by people who weren't there. In no way does this sound like hardcore era Huskers. At best, it's like a track on "Candy Apple Grey" when the band was just referencing who they used to be.
I like "Fire in the City" but lyrically, it doesn't seem, at first blush, like Bob's "A grade" work- and it reduces the song to a thing that reminds me of Evan Dando.
In a different way, "Tomorrow Morning" is a slight let down, too- the last bridge is a needless callback to his Sugar riffing, that struck me, even then, as filling in a song, when he didn't really have it all the way written.
And then less said about "Hey Mr Grey" the better. Of the eight times I've played the LP, I've skipped this track six times. Not my favorite track. Also, the penultimate track? "Let the Beauty Be"?' I'm trying, here, but it's reminding me of a smart guy I used to know, who had embarrassingly bad musical taste. Few things have even been so uncomfortable as watching that guy singing along to "Sweet Home Alabama" trying to imbue every word with a better meaning than it had. This collection of homely homilies reminds me of that.
So, it's premature- maybe I'll warm up more, later, but right now? I'd call it a collection of B sides, and rough sketches, with a handful of really rewarding tracks...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Die Antwoord- Donker Mag

Die Antwoord took a break from their movie careers! Well, they're still at it.I think they've spread it too thin, and have run out of ideas. That's not to say they're completely done. There are about 4 tracks on here that are worth a download: Raging Zef Boner, Cookie Thumper! Pitbull Terrier, and Rat Trap 666. The rest are skits or over oevergrown skits disguised as songs. As even the titles indicate, the intention is to be crude, and dark, and overtly, offensively sexual. in other words, a kind of  rap Tenacious D. So why do I even mention it? Because I've only recently figured out that DJ Hi Tek is a real person- Justin De Nobrega  and I fink he's freaky, and I like him a lot.