sabato 10 ottobre 2009

The Shining "True Skies"

Insomma, mettiamoci anche nei panni di questi componenti dei Verve, sono sempre li a chiedersi...e adesso, quanto dura questa reunion? Ci arriviamo al prossimo disco? Ecco che nel 2002 e due verviani, Simon Jones e Simon Tong, decidono, tra una rottura e l'altra, di far uscire questo disco del loro gruppo estemporaneo. Niente per cui rompersi la testa, pop alla Hurricane #1 se vogliamo, poco Verve e più classico quindi, ma qualche buono spunto salta fuori. (2002 Zuma)

After The Verve broke up for the second time, it became apparent that it was for good (this time) when Richard Ashcroft actually released his debut solo album. Alone With Everybody was an overproduced pile of bunk that only extended the disappointing MOR rock that was Urban Hymns. While Ashcroft still showed glimpses of his genius on Alone, it was still sad realizing that things were never going to be like 1993 or 1995 again.
The Shining contains another chunk of Wigan’s finest, and unfortunately, it isn’t guitarist Nick McCabe that is involved. The two Simons—bassist Jones (a founding Verve member) and guitarist/keyboardist Tong (an Urban Hymns contributor), are the key selling point, especially when the band was set to tour North America before they even released a record in July this year (the tour was actually cancelled). Luckily for them, the sound of the band has not taken much of a detour, adding the missing link of The Verve that Ashcroft failed to provide with his solo music.
True Skies is not at all like A Storm In Heaven, yet it does flash moments of A Northern Soul’s raw, drugged out rock ‘n’ roll and Urban Hymns funkier side, making it clear that Jones and Tong did have more musical input into the past records than one would think. There are a lot of classic rock influences here—in the form of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Sly and the Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix. Before the band settled on a permanent lineup, the Stone Roses’ John Squire was jamming on guitar with them, an influence that still remains in the music today. Whether it was conscious or not, who knows.
Duncan Baxter is a 22 year old that looks like Kelso from That 70s Show, and has a voice that resembles both Robert Plant, and, oddly enough, at the right moment, Richard Ashcroft. He is the perfect singer for The Shining. He can howl near perfectly, carry a tune to a tee, and when necessary, perform ballads without any difficulty. He doesn’t have that immediate allure that a frontman like Liam Gallagher has, but “Danger” is better than any song Gallagher has sang in the past seven years. Dan McBean, lead guitarist, may not be Nick McCabe, but listen to “Quicksilver” and you hear one of the heaviest riffs this side of “Whole Lotta Love”. His performance throughout the album is one of the band’s stronger features, fluctuating constantly from aggressive to surprisingly gentle. Regretfully, Simon Jones never reaches the plateau he set with “Life’s An Ocean” on this record, but The Shining isn’t as bass heavy as his former outfit.
The Shining shouldn’t get too much flack for True Skies, because filling the shoes The Verve left is next to impossible. Ashcroft surely didn’t do it, and overall, this record is way more fulfilling than Mad Dick’s. At least these guys haven’t gone soft and forgotten how to rock. (Cam Lindsay -

It's simple really, if you're gonna steal, steal from the best and then just make sure you've got the balls to front it out. Kicking off your album with what is effectively the riff from Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' and then turning it into a psychedelic northern soul juggernaut is a perfect example of this in action. But then bizarrely just as the band have captured my imagination, it appears that that was enough of that, and they would spend the rest of the album settling into a comfortable AOR groove.
The letdown is considerable: after the acid soul of opener 'Quicksilver' the stodge that follows is particularly unpalatable, and we have to wade through nine more Travis-lite tracks before they remember to do something interesting again. Only with 'Until The End' and a reprise of 'Quicksilver' do the band come alive again: for the intervening forty minutes it's all baleful acoustic numbers or dull middle of the road pseudo-indie rubbish.
What's worse though are the lyrics. 'It's not easy being real, what's in my head is how I feel' the singer whines on 'I Wonder How'. Hardly Dylan, now is it. It wouldn't really matter so much if the band weren't so obviously trying to be deep and meaningful. You'd like to think bassist Si Jones and guitarist Simon Tong would know better, having previously been in The Verve, one of the few genuinely world class bands to have emerged during the Brit-Pop years. But True Skies fails to deliver on so many levels.
Finally as the album draws to a close the band stop trying to sound like a third rate Travis and crank things up again, but it's too little, too late, and just further drives home what a wasted opportunity this album is. Over-produced but under-developed, 'True Skies' has more of the feel of a band's second or third album, where commercial pressures are starting to take their toll on creativity. For a first album on an independent label, there are none of the rough edges you'd expect, the mistakes and risks that add a thrill, and that get harder to create as a band grows up. Instead they've gone straight for commercial success with a bland radio-friendly sound, but one that is indistinguishable from any number of other one-trick guitar bands. (John Power -

- Quicksilver
- Young Again
- Find a Reason
- Crest of an Ocean
- Show You the Way
- I Wonder How
- I Am the One
- Danger
- Find Your Way Home
- What You See
- Until the End
- Quicksilver (Outro)


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