Overdue #2

Originally written: 1st September 2011

 THEY’RE (STILL) RED HOT

 While not as ‘overdue’ as my last review, it’s still a bit after the release date of I’m With You, the latest offering from Red Hot Chili Peppers- their tenth album to date.

Before even listening, one wonders how an album without John Frusciante on guitar will sound, but new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer comfortably slots in to the line-up. He has helped them build on their signature style. Some will argue he will never match up to Frusciante, but Josh has a different style altogether; Flea claims, “It’s not so much about the big riff- it’s more subtle, sublime…” and he’s right, it works brilliantly here.

The sound has progressed but it still remains upbeat, with the jazz/funk influence that runs throughout their works. However, what really grabbed me was the lyrics. The meticulous attention paid to rhyming, typical of the Chili’s style, comes into play throughout and though the music sounds incredible you can’t take your ears off Kiedis’ vocals. He defies you to be moved by Brendan’s Death Song and Police Station. Even the faster, ‘happier’ songs pack an emotional punch.

All 14 tracks are nothing short of a delight- once again the band has produced a great work, one that’s a definite contender for album of the year.

Their name is well known, they’re one of the most prolific rock bands of the past 20 years. The album went straight to number one around the world, but there seemed surprisingly little hype about it. Kiedis was featured in Q a couple of months back, but it seems that for a band at their level this album has almost… slipped out unnoticed. But that is perhaps the hidden beauty of it- it may not contain so many obvious ‘anthems’ as their earlier works but it is not to be dismissed. From the first listen, it’s obvious they’re on to something special, further plays only reinforces it.

Fans will complain when a band keeps the same style too long, and complain when they change their sounnd. What RHCP have done is merely capitalise on the sound they have honed for many years now, taking it another step further, and one thing’s for sure- they’re (still) red hot.

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Overdue #1

Originally written: 27th June 2011

WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM, THAT’S WHAT I’M NOT

 Six years after its release, I have finally shrugged off my musical inhibitions and listened to the whole of Arctic Monkeys’ critically acclaimed debut. Pushing my previous musical snobbery to one side using this album was surprisingly easy. What I had, aged twelve, dismissed as ‘ned-rock’ when I first heard some of the songs has now come alive in my eyes- or should that be ears?

Perhaps it’s more related to the lifestyle I had then compared with now, but it’s all so… relevant. So true to life.

What before I had deemed ‘nonsense lyrics’ have become astute social observations in an album that takes the listener from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning in thirteen tracks. And, thankfully, without the hangover. What Arctic Monkeys have done, in their signature tongue-in-cheek style, is to bottle the spirit of teen culture and douse it all over their record. The world may move fast these days, but they should be pleased to know that over half a decade later, their debut has lost none of its shine. It still serves as a sharp and witty exploration of songs about the youth experience in modern Britain.

From the anticipation of a night out (A View From The Afternoon); a scathing critique of the posers at a gig (Fake Tales of San Francisco); spotting a girl on the dancefloor (Still Take You Home) and eventually getting a taxi home (Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured), Arctic Monkeys capture every aspect of a typical night out, always maintaining a somewhat critical distance.

By getting fully involved, they step back and see what’s wrong.

The satire of the lyrics is somewhat masked by the indie-rock riffs which make the songs all the more listenable- increasing their appeal to the very group which star in their songs. The fact that Arctic Monkeys grasped this formula on their first album only foreshadows the success and recognition they have gained since.

Closing track ‘A Certain Romance’ sums up the boys’ attitude- I would argue it’s the one which has the biggest impact on the album, it’s undoubtedly my favourite. In spite of all that Saturday has brought- the drama, the promise of something more- the reality of this song at last sinks in. There is no glamour, no romance to the town. It’s always an overwhelming disappointment. It’s desolate, dead. No amount of Saturday nights will help them escape that.

Despite that somewhat depressing message, it’s arguably what makes the album so great. The band threw it out there- the product of their own youth in such a place, and millions of young people have caught it. They verbalise the reality that their listeners feel- the role filled by any band, but Arctic Monkeys seem to somehow bear this mantle more easily than the others. And that rage, the frustration at being stuck in such a backwater, makes it all better. Because someone else knows how it feels. They’ve been there, done that and didn’t bother to buy the t-shirt because it was shit. It helps so much, to know that while they may be taking place in a crappy setting, for now, Saturday nights are all they have. Though the people are vampires and act like dickheads, there is the knowledge that things can only get better. And until they do, this incredible album is there for the journey.

Blood Pressures – The Kills

Originally written: 18th April 2011

I was thrilled to pick up a copy of Blood Pressures, the new album from The Kills. Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince truly do make beautiful music together, and their latest offering is no exception. Words that spring to mind when I think about The Kills include edgy and hip, but without crossing into the realms of overblown and arrogant. The music has swagger, but it’s not showy about it.
Single ‘Satellite’ demonstrates well what the album is about. The same themes run all through ‘Blood Pressures’- raspy vocals; vague lyrics you know have some hidden meaning; that heavy, distorted guitar sound that no-one could fail but move to. All of these elements go into the formula that The Kills have honed over the years. They have truly perfected their brand of rock music: it has an old-school sound to it, but little is more innovative compared with the dominance of manufactured music today. The album has an economical air- simply voice, guitar, drums. Within this, the band experiment with a variety of tracks, from the slower, more ballad-y songs (Wild Charms, The Last Goodbye) to those that just make you want to dance (DNA, You Don’t Own the Road). Influences from rock and pop from the 60’s to the 80’s to more recently can  be heard throughout.

‘Blood Pressures’ is a welcome addition to The Kills’ catalogue, slotting in nicely beside their other works. The album promises all you’d expect from the band, but delivers beyond that.

Picks: Heart is a Beating Drum, Nail in My Coffin, The Last Goodbye, You Don’t Own the Road.

Manifesto

This blog is an archive of articles I have written, primarily on music and fashion, however I do foray into current affairs at times (at my peril). The vast majority are pieces I have written in my spare time and remain unpublished- unless otherwise denoted- although I suppose you could argue they technically are ‘published’ now, just not in any official publication.

‘I’ am a first year English student at the University of St Andrews with grand ambitions for a career in the media. Depending on how much the relevant parties like what is posted here…