mercoledì 30 giugno 2010

Friday Star "Defenceless"












Perchè sono andato a ripensare ai Friday Star? Beh, un pò di giorni fa sono li che guardo la Tv e nella pubblicità di quella cafonata di "Amici" sento un pezzo dei Jersey Line. Mi sono commosso. Ovviamente subito mi sono chiesto come cazzo avevano fatto i Jersey a finire su quel promo e poi poco dopo trovo a scambiare due chiacchiere con il bassista Andrea (il sosia di Massimo Ghini!!! Un dio!) su Rapidshare. Beh...mi è venuta nostalgia. Nostalgia di un gruppo fantastico, che con un solo disco all'attivo ha però lasciato un gran segno sulla strada del pop punk made in Italy (e non tiro in ballo la parola emo!!). Raramente ho sentito un gusto melodico così ricco e intenso come quello dei Friday Star. E non parlo così perchè a suo tempo mi trovavo tra i ringraziamenti del cd, anzi, se sono li forse un mio umile merito è che ho sempre creduto in loro fin dal primo ep d'esordio, che mi fece innamorare di loro e mi faceva venire voglia di passarli in ogni mi trasmissione radiofonica. Nostalgia, perchè vedere ora disastri ambulanti come Finley o gli stessi Vanilla Sky (totalmente allo sbando alla ricerca della cover migliore per mantenere quel minimo di notorietà che hanno), mi fa solo che venire voglia di riscoltare la genuinità e la sincerità dei Friday Star, un gruppo vero, con la V maiuscola e delle persone splendide! Non dimenticateli, non dimenticate questo disco e cercate i Jersey Line, il nuovo progetto di Andrea e Gianni. Sono con voi ragazzi, da sempre! (2003 Ammonia Records)


Finalmente è arrivato questo lungamente atteso debutto sulla lunga distanza del terzetto capitolino. Dico subito che "Defenceless" presenta luci ed ombre. Ad essere onesti però credo che si debba parlare di un debutto più che positivo. E' evidente infatti che i Friday Star abbiano del talento, scrivono infatti canzoni molto orecchiabili, di quel genere che dopo solo un ascolto ti si stampano nella testa. Il difetto più evidente d' altro canto sembra però essere una profonda uniformità a canoni già esistenti. Non c'è niente di nuovo in questo "Defenceless" ma anzi vengono riproposti suoni e clichè da tempo sfruttati da altri gruppi. Al primo ascolto il terzetto romano sembra essere l' ennesimo clone di bands come Ataris, New Found Glory e Get Up Kids ma viene salvato come dicevo poco fa dal talento di cui è provvisto. Prendete ad esempio Healing Blues: niente di nuovo certo ma sfido a trovare qualcuno che non rimanga colpito dalla stupenda melodia. Non siamo ai livelli raggiunti dai Fine Before You Came ma comunque questi Friday Star rimangono una piacevole promessa del vivaio emo italiano e il loro "Defenceless" è pur sempre un esordio di discreta fattura. Consiglierei loro di distaccarsi un pò dai modelli sopraccitati e cercare di imboccare una strada maggiormente personale. Ripeto: il talento è dalla loro parte e sarebbe un peccato vederlo sprecato per una totale mancanza di originalità. Per ora comunque promossi con buone speranze per il futuro. (http://www.emotionalbreakdown.com)

Spesso ho l'abitudine di leggiucchiare qua e là prima di scrivere di un disco, fosse solo per informarmi su band che non conosco. Così, da copione, anche questa volta metto su il cd in sottofondo per un primo ascolto distratto mentre preparo lo scheletro della recensione; scrivo i titoli, leggo la biografia, spulcio vecchie recensioni e anche i pareri degli altri ragazzi che hanno commentato il dischetto - che intanto gira nello stereo e mi infarina le orecchie per un ascolto più attento.
Sicché succede che leggo un gran bene di questi Friday Star, davvero lanciatissimi: produzione perfetta (Ammonia, mica una label così...), concerti a sostegno di nomi altisonanti (Propagandhi, Queers, Shandon, solo per citarne alcuni), tour in Giappone imminente e, nientemeno, due serate a Shibuya! E anche le recensioni lette finora riportano giudizi che vanno dal positivo all'entusiasta. Intanto le prime tracce che filtrano oltre la cortina della mia disattenzione, si presentano già lungo le coordinate dichiarate da band ed ascoltatori: Samiam, Ataris, Alkaline. Già, emo-punk, di quello bello melodico, di quello che, sempre a detta di tutti, pare proprio venuto 'from the U.S.A.', dove il fenomeno è ormai incontenibile.
E sono tutte cose verissime: la band ha sound e melodia, 'fa la sua figura' e se non fossi meglio informato direi che fossero gli States a dar loro i natali. Il disco comunque non ha momenti di stanca e tira davvero, con canzoni fatalmente destinate ad esser canticchiate nella doccia, in ufficio, o nella macchina. Vero è anche che la band non propone nulla di particolarmente nuovo - è pur sempre emo - ma che lo fa davvero con tutti i crismi. Ci sono quindi difetti? No, se vi piace l'emo più melodico e se le formazioni nominate qualche riga più sopra vi garbano; se invece siete fra coloro che privilegiano il lato più hard-core del genere, allora non troverete nulla che valga realmente la pena approfondire.
E tutto nella band, idioma compreso, fa ben sperare nella loro esplosione fuori dall' Italia, magari non negli States - che loro di simili formazioni ne han già troppe -, ma altrove hanno ottime carte da giocarsi, dato che il panorama emo dello Stivale rimane ancora un po' asfittico, almeno da parte della domanda.
E se un ortodosso come il sottoscritto non può far a meno di riconoscere gli evidenti meriti di questo disco - e di questa band - tutti gli appassionati non possono far altro che buttarsi ad acquistare il disco. (Andrea La Placa - http://www.rockit.it/)

- The Last Time
- Resetting The Game
- Erase The Memories
- Northstar
- April 11th
- All Of Your Avenues
- Healing Blues
- Not So Perfect
- Maybe You're Right
- Satellite
- Light And Sound

FRIDAY STAR

Friday Star "Split EP"



A suo tempo fu una gustosissima anticipazione di un primo disco che attendevo con tanta ansia, non a caso dopo aver sentito questi quattro pezzi decisi di intervistare i ragazzi per la mia trasmissione a Radio Popolare Verona e mi misi a fare una pubblicità forsennata ai ragazzi, passando i loro pezzi a più non posso.
In questo split con i belgi Square One, i Friday Star dimostravano che la via battuta era quella giusta e che le attenzioni puntate su di loro erano più che giustificate. In questo post riporto solo i 4 pezzi dei FS, perchè francamente degli Squae One non me ne frega ninete! Friday Star, che gruppo immenso. (2002 - Ammonia / Redhead)


Questo "Split Ep" (coprodotto da Ammonia Records) e’ il primo e vero proprio disco per RedHair Records , che parte subito con il piede giusto…
I primi quattro brani sono dei Friday Star, tre ragazzi romani, mentre completano il disco i pezzi dei belgi Square One. I due gruppi offrono un emo/punk di differente stampo; i primi hanno forti tendenze emo (soprattutto in "Far From Home" o "She vs. the World"), mentre i secondi propongono un punk sicuramente piu’ veloce e tirato.
I Friday Star non potranno che far contenti gli appassionati di gruppi come New Found Glory e Get Up Kids, proponendo quattro pezzi tutti ben suonati e molto interessanti, ognuno con spunti e sonorita’ diverse.
Mentre con l’iniziale "Far from home (close to you)" si parte subito decisi, veloci e melodici quanto basta si rallenta un po’ il ritmo con la melodicissima "Northstar".
La successiva "She vs. the World" non sfigurebbe in un album di qualche gruppo punk d’oltreaceano, cosi’ come la conclusiva "Healing Blues" che parte lenta, con la voce filtrata, per poi crescere ed esplodere in un bellissimo ritornello, confermando ancora una volta le ottime doti di songwriting dei Friday Star! (http://www.rockon.it/813/)

Si sente spesso dire che la scena punk/hardcore romana sia una delle più prolifiche e da tenere sott’occhio della nazione.
Nulla di più esatto!
Realtà come Die!, Vanilla Sky, Here to Stay e i Friday Star si stanno facendo strada nel panorama underground italiano.
Soprattutto i Friday Star si stanno facendo notare come uno dei gruppi emo-pop-punk più importanti d’Italia,insieme ai bravissimi Forty Winks.
Infatti i tre romani dopo un bellissimo demo autoprodotto,si sono affacciati sul mercato nazionale con un’Ep, anzi con un Ep condiviso con i belgi Square One.
Questo ep mette in mostra due band che hanno tutte e due a che fare con l’emo,ma non solo (soprattutto gli Square One,che preferiscono anche l’hardcore melodico).
Partenza a razzo per i capitolini con una bruciante e veloce Far from home (close to you) e già sì capisce che i Friday sono uno di quei gruppi che si attengono molto a quegli emo-cliche che l’emo pop-punk ha ormai radicati nella sua natura (stelline sparse per la copertina e l’artwork, testi per punkers dal cuore infranto e molto adolescenziali) ma dopotutto in Italia non lo avevamo mica un gruppo così… Si passa poi alla romanticissima Northstar e comincio ad intuire che se fossero nati negli Usa questi tre già ce li saremmo trovati su tutte le copertine dei giornali per quanto sono bravi (anche se non capisco come riescano a riproporre dal vivo le stesse sonorità del disco,avendo un solo chitarrista (e anche ottimo cantante) e il suono di due chitarre nelle tracce (comunque dal vivo spaccano)).
A seguire la punkettosa She vs the world troviamo l’emozionante Healing Blues che,con il suo avvio acustico dichiara che il turno dei Friday Star è definitivamente concluso (a meno che non mandiate indietro le tracce per risentirlo di nuovo,vi giuro che accadrà sicuramente) e possono uscirne a pieni voti. (Fat Emokid - http://www.emotionalbreakdown.com/)

- Far From Home (Close To You)
- Northstar
- She Vs. The World
- Healing Blues


FRIDAY STAR

Friday Star "...Long Life Debut"




Quanti anni sono passati? Tanti. Mi ricordo che stavo li nel negozio di Giulio della Green Records e mi cadde l'occhio su questo demo/ep. Erano i Friday Star. Giulio mi disse...sono ragazzi di Roma, melodici e molto interessanti. Presi il disco al volo, a scatola chiusa e fu amore al primo ascolto. La lezione indie pop punk americana appresa in pieno, ma con tanta voglia di giocarsi carte decisamente personali. Idee chiare che già cominciavano a manifestarsi. Grinta, stacchi, melodie, intensità...la magia dei Friday Star era già tutta qui. Un biglietto da visita a dir poco meraviglioso. (2001 Autoprodotto)

- Thousand Miles, Same Place
- Friday Star
- Red Hair Girl
- Maybe You're Right


FRIDAY STAR

martedì 29 giugno 2010

Serafin "To The Teeth"



Tra cambi di formazione, casini con l'etichetta e vicissitudini varie i Serafin pubblicano questo secondo disco, che se devo essere sincero non mi convince tanto come il primo, ma ha comunque delle ottime carte da giocare. Vedremo il futuro..se mai ci sarà un futuro per i Serafin...(2007 Our Rekords)

Chance pitches the freakiest curveballs from time to time. Just a few months after corresponding with Ben Smith about my original Serafin article back in 2006 I bumped into him moonlighting as a roadie for hapless electro-wazzock Ali Love. It was an odd experience, to say the least - clearly more surprised by the fortuity of the encounter than anything else, we chatted briefly for a few minutes before swapping e-mail addresses and going our separate ways. Last week he got back in touch with heartening news: five years after Warner Bros’ acquisition of Taste Media stuck the knife in their original plans, Serafin have finally regrouped to deliver the long-awaited follow-up to No Push Collide.
The hiatus has clearly not been without creative endeavour, with each member having indulged in a number of musical excursions whose diversity weighs heavily on To the Teeth. Shorn of a major production budget, the album is a scuzzy, down-and-dirty affair - musically and sonically it’s more off-kilter than their debut, and certainly a great deal more unhinged. The band’s trademark chunking guitar stabs remain intact, newly augmented by the hollow clatter of Christian Smith’s urgent drumming. Rhythms chop and change mid-phrase and there are several striking flourishes, most notably when an organ solo partway between medieval rhapsody and Ray Manzarek’s work in The Doors unexpectedly bursts to life. Interestingly, for the first time since his days fronting Stony Sleep, Smith’s world-music influence returns, with Bones adding Egyptian-flavoured strings to the mix and Lord opening with a quasi-religious chant that wouldn’t appear out of place in the catacombs of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Opening track To the Lost and Found establishes the album’s erratic tone with eerie intent, its skeletal melody descending tenuously like a spider on a thread. There’s definitely a feeling that the sense of purpose that characterised their early singles has been jettisoned in favour of a freer approach in which ideas are left to slowly coagulate rather than uniting from the outset. Consequently, To the Teeth ripples with uncertainty, fluctuating between desperate pleading (“Keep me like a brother / Please don’t treat me like any other”) and vitriolic defiance (“Screw you, and screw your friends”) within the space of a few songs. As a singer Smith sounds distracted throughout, his indolent vocals meandering over the melodies as if traversing some kind of scattered cerebral landscape; the album is littered with idle ruminations left casually strewn around like post-it notes - “I must remember to stop breathing”; “I think I’m going round the bend”.
Whereas No Push Collide was an album of full-frontal attack, oftentimes the songs here are drifting, non-linear affairs lacking a notable centre. Oddly, the record it reminds me the most of (in design if not sound) is the Arctic Monkeys’ Favourite Worst Nightmare – though in no way musically comparable, they share a sense of woozy disconnection, as if wandering giddily through a sickly daydream. Smith has always exhibited a fragmented perspective in his writing, but on this record he weaves a web of riddles and thought-patterns so complex that the cumulative effect is akin to emerging from a bad drug-trip: we arrive just at the moment of waking, unsure as to whether the feeling is one of muted euphoria or insufferable hangover.
Its standout track is Arms, a song which best embodies the album’s psychotic push-pull and also one of the finest things Smith has ever written. Haunted by a sad, almost Joy Division-esque synth line, its liquid chords drift aimlessly as they attempt to bring form to the singer’s evident resignation, before finally stuttering to attention to deliver a stark warning partway between violence and despair: “You’re in danger / in my arms”.
To the Teeth doesn’t always make for comfortable listening, but its languorous rhythm is certainly hypnotic and it’s an album that rewards perseverance. It’s occasionally pretty (Scars), often mesmerising (as in the wandering see-saw melodies of Snake), and frequently exhilarating (News is a pummelling beast of a track that would easily slot alongside Day by Day in the band’s live set). It’s an album that leaves questions dangling rather than seeking to provide easy answers: an unstable mistress who wins the heart then runs away. (http://carters-corner.blogspot.com)


- To The Lost and Found
- News
- Lady
- Key
- Arms
- Snake
- Scars
- Lord
- Religion
- Bones
- Question
- To The World

SERAFIN

domenica 27 giugno 2010

Polak "Rubbernecking"



E' impossibile per me parlare in toni "naturali" di questo disco. Mi vedrei sempre costretto a usare superlativi assoluti in positivo per descivere le emozioni e la magia che pervade da queste canzoni. Mi permetterò di dire solo questo: Coldplay umiliati. E che Dio benedica Piotr, ora e sempre. (2002 One Little Indian)


There was a touching moment at a recent awards ceremony when Echo & The Bunnymen publicly thanked Coldplay for their support. The reason for this may now be obvious: Polak’s RUBBERNECKING seems to be the bastard offspring of these two musical superpowers.
This is a good album, and its obvious stylistic borrowings do not greatly diminish its strengths. At its best, it is mesmeric - see SIGN, DUMBSTRUCK, and PAYBACK - and there are moments when it combines compelling guitar-based build with driving melodies.
Overall, though, the problems with the album are exemplified by the first track (DON’T WAKE ME). It builds well, promises much, but never reaches the crescendo it seems to require. Before you know it, you are 3mins30 into the song with no sign of a climax: tantric music. It is tantalising, pleasant, but rarely fulfilling.
However, there is only one serious 'faux pas' on the album. This is the ‘hidden track’. These are annoying enough when placed at the end of the CD: in this case, it falls between PAYBACK and the title track. It is by far the worst song here - lyrically, vocally and musically ham-fisted - and is irksome in the extreme in this relatively luxuriant company. For future reference, best to skip track nine.
Still, if you remove LOVE’S GOT HOLD OF MY HEART (or whatever the hidden track is called), this album offers a lot. With each play, you discover further depths; and with each play, the ghosts of Chris Martin and Ian McCulloch mercifully recede. Worth persevering with. (Adam Foster - http://www.phase9.tv/)

Britpop is saved!
Before you fall to quickly disbelieving that I would make such a bold and ridiculous statement, allow me to explain. You were not aware that Britpop was in a time of drought, and dangerously close to becoming stale and predictable; that as a segment of the rock world it was beginning to falter? Did you know that the hottest “Brit” band of 2001 is actually not British at all! That’s right, us Britpop fans have fallen for the Strokes –hook, line and sometimes sinker, even those of us that are fully aware of their New York origins. When Jimi Hendrix moved to England, did we suddenly hail him as a Brit? I think not. But fear not, for the little island that could turn good rock music into better rock music has once again given up the best album of the year, possibly of the century so far! And that album is Rubbernecking by Polak. That’s right, those fellows what used to be Adorable. Building on the strong foundations that were lain on their previous One Little Indian release Swansongs, Polak have arranged an album stunningly arrayed with a ne’er before seen depth, maturity and sonic excellence; Ten songs of blissful respite from the ho-hums of the current musical world.
The album kicks off with a downbeat, spacey number entitled “Don’t Wake Me”, which threw me for a loop the first time I heard it and has slowly grown on me with each consecutive listen. It seems the perfect introduction for an album that is sure to drag the listener through so many ups and downs; a sort of Alice in Wonderland-ish “try one eat some”. Chris Parsons makes his steadfast drumming presence quickly known in the beginning moments of “Love Lies”. The song floats along on a multiple layered rhythmic cadence, slowly building to the lyrical crescendo of Love fucks with you, and dropping back down to a semi-bachelor lounge musical underpinning. “Joyrider” continues the beautiful onslaught with an emo-esque guitar drone backed with brilliant drumming and layers of perfectly placed chaos noises. A lyrical high point of the record for me, this song makes the entire album shine by association. And if it’s all the same to you, can I have my heart back, please? ‘Cause I just need it to live and love and be. It’s a basic design flaw of human frailty… The album drops from the angry drive to a floating beautiful ride with “Sign”, which is a song at once haunting and charmingly pleasant. “Bar Angel” continues the slow ride and intricately detailed musicianship that is so prevalent on this entire record. It is a song that carries itself sweetly along the drunken drifting of the consciousness that tells the story. With slowcore tendencies and self deprecating lyrics, “Dumbstruck” also conveys perfectly to the listener the feeling of the storyteller as he drifts through remembrances and painful realizations.
Back to motion with “Something Wrong”; but the reflective lyrics continue unabated buried neatly beneath layers of swirling distorted guitars. I must have died and gone to heaven; everything is so right, there must be something wrong. Brightly chiming guitars belie the dark undertones of “Payback” with its Sopranos-esque currents and lo-fi musical depths. It’s a song to be peacefully dragged to the bottom of the river of life to, struggling against the concrete boots one wears daily. An untitled hidden track (#9 actually) is an ultra-expressive short with vocalist Peter Fijalkowski seeming to wrench out some inner turmoil for all the world to hear. The title track “Rubbernecking” is a milder, gentler short track which carries straight to the point with absolutely no frills. What do you want me to do? Put all my fuck-ups on view? Lie down and just bleed for you? And nicely tying the package up is the relaxed swirling floating tensely slowly-building maelstrom of “Come Down”. Solid rhythms, expressive and poignant lyrics, glittering synthesizers, and rambling chaos inspired guitars are the order of this song which leaves the ear lusting for more and more and more.
“Rubbernecking” is a record not only necessary to fans of Adorable and Polak, but also to anyone with a sense of what a great record should aspire to. It is a recording not necessarily perfect, but as close as these ears have heard for quite some time. The quality of songs is tremendously high and the musicianship is clever and precise without being stale in any way. Every single lyric in every single song is carefully placed and filled with meaning, albeit sometimes in a very psychedelic and meandering fashion. Caterpillars and hookahs. There are aural delights as well as lyrical, and never a moment for consciousness to lose interest and drift away. This record is an absolute must for every record collection. I swear to you, it won’t leave your cd player for weeks and weeks. (David DeVoe - http://www.hybridmagazine.com/)

- Don’t Wake Me
- Love Lies
- Joyrider
- Sign
- Bar Angel
- Dumbstruck
- Something Wrong
- Payback
- Rubbernecking
- Come Down


POLAK

martedì 22 giugno 2010

Lick "Turbulence"



Voglio ringraziare Angelo. Di cuore. Per avermi fatto avere questo disco e dato l'ok a metterlo sul blog e naturalmente anche Gary Cosby, per aver postato sul blog e aver realizzato con i suoi compagni di avventura un disco così bello. Un disco che però non troverete nei negozi. I Lick, dopo averci incantato con i loro singoli, fatti di sensualità, intensità lasciva e conturbante, melodie che rimandavano ai Suede e a un guitar pop che brillava di glam splendente e abbagliante, erano pronti a dire la loro nel panorama del Brit Pop anni 90 con il primo disco della loro carriera "Turbulence", ma l'album in questione non uscì mai. Rinchiuso negli archivi della Warner, rimaneva un tesoro dorato e incantevole che le nostre orecchie rischiavano di non poter mai più sentire....ma il miracolo si è avverato.
Lo abbiamo aspettato per anni....e adesso è qui...il primo e unico disco dei Lick.
Mi piacerebbe dire "in esclusiva per il mio blog", ma mi viene da sorridere. Penso solo che questi 12 brani meritavano più fortuna, perchè, semplicemente sono delle canzoni bellissime: quelle che mi aspettavo di sentire da un gruppo che mi aveva letteramente affascinato con i singoli che anticipavano il disco.
A voi! E ovviamente attendo i vostri commenti!

Riporto una bella intervista a Gary che trovate su: http://www.webcutsmusic.com/interviews/2007/lick-britpop-interview/, curata da Caleb Rudd nel novembre del 2007.


A Bitter Taste of Britpop with forgotten Lick frontman Gary Cosby

LickPeople generally pigeonhole bands that arose during Britpop as great; Pulp, Blur, early Oasis, Gene or ghastly; Cast, Northern Uproar, 60ft Dolls, Shed Seven. But there were another group of acts. These were bands who showed much promise but whose careers were shiftly ended in the Britpop cull. Lick were one such band. Formed after answering a Melody Maker advert, Gary Cosby (vocals, guitar) and Simon Moore (lead guitar) recruited Simon Walker (bass) and Andy Stone (drums) in 1994. On the strength of their live show and polished demos, Lick attracted the attention of Seymor Stein and signed to Warners UK. They released four amazing singles including one of the best songs recorded during the ’90s with “Stand Up!”. However their androgynous image and sexuality — Gary was openly gay — was at odds with the prevailing Noel-rock direction Britpop was headed. This, coupled with little support from radio and press led them to being dropped on the eve of releasing their appropriately named debut album Turbulence. Webcuts tracked down Gary Cosby and grilled him about the whole Lick experience.

First of all how did a guy from Rockhamptom find himself in Camden at the height of Britpop?

I know, I must have been the only Aussie who managed to sneak in to the Britpop shop. Long story short: I moved to London from Sydney about eight years prior to the whole Britpop thing taking off. I’d been playing in bands during my teenage years over there and wasn’t satisfied with anything I’d done. I’d always dreamed of living in the UK , where all the bands I’d loved growing up came from. After the band I was playing in split up I made the decision to leave everything behind — arriving in the UK with an acoustic guitar and ten quid. I made a conscious decision to start all over again. I was a complete loner, musically, for a while squatting around the Whitechapel/Bethnal Green areas of London spending my days strumming away, writing songs and thinking about where I wanted to go. I eventually hooked up with Simon Moore via an advertisment I put in Melody Maker looking for a musical “genius”. I found one. We experimented a lot — just the two of us, writing and recording in little home made studios we set up ourselves. Finally, in February 1994 we decided to get a band together. That band was Lick.


Who were some of the bands and people of the era you befriended?

I think we met or came in to contact with everybody at some point. We rehearsed at the same places as Suede, Gene, Pulp etc. I can remember Noel Gallagher giving us his blessing at a gig in Camden. Hee said he liked us because we were a bit “ropey” like Oasis, apparently. The Longpigs were nice, so were Menswear, Powder and Sleeper — we crossed paths with all of them at some point or other. I can remember us running in to Menswear on Tottenham Court Rd Station, we’d got signed at the same time, and we were so excited. I didn’t personally become friends with anyone though as I was too shy. The other band members were a lot more sociable than me.

Any bands or people you found yourself at odds with?

Damon Albarn was horrible to me backstage after a show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire where we supported Adam Ant. I remember standing next to him earwigging a conversation he was having about us, saying how great he thought we were. When we were introduced a bit later though he just snarled at me and wouldn’t shake my hand. An aquaintance of his consoled me later by saying that that was just “Damon”. Justine was gorgeous though.


What were some of the high points during your time in Lick?

For me personally, getting signed to the same label as my teenage hero Chrissie Hynde. On reflection, our popularity in Thailand was a high point, although it made me feel uncomfortable at the time. I think the whole of those couple of years was a high point — but was of course mixed with a lot of disappointment too.

Pre-Britpop Suede and The Manics flirted with androgyny and mascara, taking their cues from glam-rock and during Britpop and afterwards bands like My Life Story and clubs like Popstarz flourished, why do you think Lick were vilified for their image and sexuality?

I don’t think we were vilified at all by the public. I never had a member of any audience or the public attack me over my sexuality. There were journalists who genuinely disliked our image. I don’t think we looked “real” enough for them — or fit in with their ideas of what was right for the Britpop scene. I think we were a little ahead of our time and the whole make-up/gay thing overshadowed what was in fact a very good band. We had a strong commercial image that did hark back to the bands you mention — we were just taking it one step further. Some journalists at the time found that hard to swallow.

Do you think it was smacked of hypocrisy that publicly Britpop era bands predominately expressed an heterosexual image while privately things weren’t so clear cut?

That’s interesting, because I doubt there was very many gay men and women involved in Britpop… or was there? Do you know something I don’t? I’m thinking about bands who were around at the time, and who were directly associated with that scene. Martin Rossiter from Gene was bi-sexual, I think he talked about that in interviews, Debbie from Echobelly, but I really don’t recall who was or wasn’t. I think us gays were pretty thin on the ground to be honest! In direct answer to your question though, no, it’s not very inspiring that someone should hide their sexuality for the sake of acceptability/fame. I do think back then it would have been very difficult though if you were on that scene, were closeted, and in a band desiring success. I just wasn’t prepared to do that. No question. I also think sexuality isn’t ‘clear cut’ as you put it. The other guys in Lick were straight — but they dabbled — that doesn’t make them hypocritical declaring themselves heterosexual.

Was the Britpop movement actually pretty conservative both musically and sexually?

It’s highly unusual for anything to be commercially successful without it being a bit conservative, isn’t it? Britpop had all the right conservative elements/players to cross successfully over to the mainstream. So yes, musically it was conservative. Sexually, well, who knows what people get up to? It coincided with the whole laddism thing that was going on at the time and sound-tracked that perfectly. You had the “thugs” (Oasis) and the “Cheeky Monkeys” (Blur) and Pulp were the “Fops” who added an edge. I don’t think Lick conformed to any of that. We were certainly at odds with those bands though. We were something else.

From John Harris’ The Last Party (p263) “If throughout 1994 many of the groups that had caught the imaginations of journalists and talent scouts had cast themselves in Blur’s image, it was Oasis who were now paradigmatic…That [Select] article’s upshot was clear enough: if a group were fond of high-street casual wear, endowed with swaggering machismo, in thrall to The Beatles, and fond of the the word ‘top’, they were in with a shout.” If that statement was accurate it would be especially devastating for bands like Lick.

Success is all about being in the right place at the right time. It sounds ridiculous now, but back then, the porthole to mainstream success for bands was an extremely small one, and it was via those journalists and talent scouts mentioned in the above quote. There was no MySpace or any social networking sites. I can remember one label making no secret of the fact that they were holding off offering us a deal until they saw next week’s NME review. As an alternative band in the UK you really did need the backing of NME and Melody Maker first before radio or television would consider playing your songs or videos. It was a natural progression for bands that made sense at the time and which meant big trouble for a band like Lick.

We were coming from an entirely different direction altogether. We took our influences from Glam Rock, New Wave and the New Romantics. I do really think we could have easily attained commercial success though had we scored a reasonable level of exposure. That monopoly doesn’t exist today, thank god.

Did you solely write the lyrics?

No. The lyrics were written by me and a non-member of the band. A close friend who I had collaborated with prior to, and including the time I was in Lick. Post Lick too.

Apart from the obvious sexual themes in your lyrics, would you agree there also seems to be an angry defiance in the darker themed songs such as “Stand Up!”, “Are You Happy Now?”, “Filming” and “Lunapark?”

Yes. I was allergic to comfortable lyrical themes at that time. Maybe that came from subconsciously worrying about what I was up against. I hope they come across as passionate too.

Where did you draw your inspirations from when writing lyrics?

They usually began life as quite esoteric poems about relationships and feelings, pop culture and poems by my writing partner.

If I felt a connection I would sometimes continue on with them. Between the two of us we’d eventually come up with something that I would write a melody and chords for. Simon Moore would do the rest.


Does the 31 in My Summer 31 hold any significance?


Yes, it was my age at the time of the song’s concept.

It must’ve been devastating to be told that Turbulence was not going to be released. Was the reason given from Warners simply one of not selling enough singles or were there management/staff changes or other conflicts that factored into their decision?

Actually we were never told. The album was mastered, photos taken and a cover was in production. Prior to any final decision being made on it’s release the band made the decision to split. Andy and Simon Walker were unhappy with their roles in the band and there was a heavy cloud of disappointment and frustration with our lack of success. This coincided with a major reshuffle at Warners and, crucially, the A&R team that had signed the band disappeared. Our singles had sold well considering the very little airplay they had received, however it was very obvious by this time that NME & Melody Maker were not prepared to get behind the band — apart from cursory mentions. I don’t think the label knew what to do with us at that point. Nobody had any positive thoughts. Nobody except me.

Were you resentful after the positive buzz around your signing (Seymour Stein letter etc) that it ended how it did?

No. I think everybody was a little relieved once the plug was pulled. To be fair Warners gave us complete artistic control over everything. I think they only released our last single as a gesture of good will though. It was obvious they’d lost focus on us. A lot of my friends were aghast at how well I was taking it… but I wasn’t sure either by that time if Lick was right for me. I don’t think we had a good support system around us which is vital for a new act, and I don’t think we were given even half a chance.


Did you look into the possibility of releasing it on another label…


I doubt that would have been possible.

Did you ever consider continuing Lick?

Yes. I seemed to be the only person out of everyone, including management, who was saying ‘Let’s try and get through this’. As a parting gesture Warners even offered to honour the financial support for a tour that had been booked and advertised. No one saw any point though — a very depressing time — but ultimately it was probably for the best. We were obviously not very happy as a band.

Do you keep in touch with the other members of Lick?


I’m occasionally in touch with Simon Moore but I haven’t seen Andy or Simon Walker forever.

I see Simon Moore is composing music as part of Red Planet – have you done anything musically post-Lick? What about the other band mates (Simon Walker, Andy Stone)?

Simon Walker went on to have success and release two albums with a band called Vega4. I don’t know what Andy’s doing — I think he got into promoting bands. I’m no longer involved in the music business… but never say never!

So, “Are You Happy Now?”

Yes! I am still with my partner who was with me prior to Lick, and my writing partner is still my close friend. It’s amazing how Lick still pops up in my life and enters my thoughts regularly. I’m glad it happened and I don’t regret a thing.

- Stranger
– Life Is Everything
– Fire Boy
– My Summer 31
– Filming
– Come
– Still
– Smart Terrorist
– The Sweetest Thing
– Are You Happy Now?
– Stand Up!
– Lunapark


LICK

lunedì 21 giugno 2010

Polak "Swansong"



Dopo tre magnifici singoli (dei quali solo l'ultimo verra riproposto in Swansong), raccolti in "3x3", i Polak dei fratelli Fijalkowski arrivano all'album di debutto, ed è incanto.
Il senso di malinconia, smarrimento, solitudine propri di alcune pagine degli Adorable (penso a Summerside ad esempio), si ritrovano anche in questo disco, nel quale ovviamente non troveremo le chitarre brucianti del vecchio gruppo di Piotr, ma un suono più riflessivo e intenso, capace di portare oscurità ma anche forti bagliori accecanti alla nostra anima. La voce è quella di sempre, piena, incisiva, caratteristica....il "nostro favourite fallen idol" è tornato, e per lui un piedistallo e un tappeto rosso a casa mia non mancheranno mai. (2000 One Little Indian)

The dissolution of British band Adorable was a sad event for fans of '80s rock -- the band carried on the tradition of such great bands as Psychedelic Furs and the Jesus and Mary Chain while adding a terrific sense of song and lyric writing (courtesy of singer Pete Fijalkowski). Shortly after that band's breakup, though, Fijalkowski formed Polak, which released several singles sporadically but waited until 2000 to put together Swansongs, its ironically titled debut album. While it's a decent effort, Swansongs has little of the majesty that made Adorable's records so timeless and great. It still has Adorable's sound, not to mention Fijalkowski's unmistakably desperate voice, but Swansongs' songs just aren't quite up to his old band's (or even this band's) earlier material. That said, Swansongs does have undeniable moments of excellence, including the shimmering "Impossible" and the sly, slower "Gutter Song." As a debut, it's not bad -- and certainly no reason to write Polak off -- it's just not up to this band's (or its singer's) hearty potential. (Josh Modell - http://www.cduniverse.com/)

Unbeknownst to many, Polak's group leader, Pete Fijalowski, was once a member of a band who were set to take the Britpop scene by storm. Whilst their contemporaries Suede and Verve eventually did, the band Adorable were consigned to the dust heap, their short legacy apparently forgotten forever. That was until this debut effort from Polak which builds up a smoky atmosphere of misery and tension. Fijalkowski voice sounds bitter with experience as he meanders his way through a predominately slow-paced route of urban decay. The standout track is undoubtedly 'Tracer' which builds up slowly and eventually reaches a crescendo of guitars; it deserves to be a hit. Nothing else quite matches that on 'Swansongs', the remainder is too slow and not immediate enough to grab the ear of disillusioned teenagers. However, it is an album of some merit because efforts like 'Gutter Song', 'Impossible' and 'Shipwrecked' exude a lazy charm sounding like Echo And The Bunnymen's earlier, less orchestrated work. Polak could be a band to watch on this performance. (http://www.leonardslair.co.uk/polak)

"This could be the very last thing that you hear from me," Pete Fijalkowski sings in the opening and closing lines of Polak's Swansongs. And, well, it probably wouldn't make much of a difference to the music-buying public, who's largely unaware of the latest project from the former lead singer of Adorable, a pretty-good early '90s Britpop outfit largely unheard in the United States.
Swansongs contains some pretty decent tunesmanship, but doesn't exactly set the world on fire. Starting off strong with the aforementioned "Last Thing," the album keeps up its punch while heading into "Tracer," one of the album's strongest tunes.
Electric piano and quiet guitar medleys lay a perfect backdrop for Fijalkowski's low, half-spoken vocals. Analog beeps add a floaty, atmospheric ambiance. But when Fijalkowski lets loose and starts to sing, he gets into trouble as he wrestles with the high notes. This sort of thing has been done before — and better, too — by the likes of Suede's Brett Anderson, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and, hell, even Blur's Damon Albarn. In fact, that's the general rule of Swansongs: As long as Fijalkowski sticks within a few-note range, it's an effective, low-key Brit album about alienation and urban loneliness, the sort of thing Brit groups generally do well with.
Swansongs has plenty of moments for those who like this sort of thing, be it the crackling electricity of the untitled sixth track, or the uplifting, ballady "Impossible," which might have made the cut for the High Fidelity soundtrack had the movie based on English author Nick Hornby's novel set in England actually been made in England.
As for the rest of Swansongs, well, if it weren't for Polak's pseudo-eligibility for the Pollack Frolic (see below), you'd probably still not have heard from Fijalkowski. While songs like "Tracer" and "Hang Up" are pretty well crafted and should appeal to fans of the genre, the album holds up better as background listening than as the sort of thing on which you concentrate. Still, there's enough here to make future Fijalkowski efforts worth keeping an eye on. We'll keep you posted. (Eric Wittmershaus - http://www.flakmag.com/)


- Last Thing
- Tracer
- Nobody's Cowboy Song
- Gutter Song
- Storm Coming
- Impossible
- Love In Reverse
- Shipwrecked
- Hang Up



POLAK

sabato 19 giugno 2010

Joy Zipper "American Whip"







Adorabili, visionari, intensi Joy Zipper. Da amare insomma. (2003 Mercury)

With a real feel for summery pop and garage rock, Joy Zipper could easily slip into tight leathers and come on like The Raveonettes. Just as easily though, their way with spacey atmospherics could see them mutate into a several-headed Orb. American Whip, held up for over a year due to record company complications, sees them land somewhere between the two.
Opening with the warped instrumental "Sunstroke" (as blitzed and stumbling as its name implies), it moves into the breezy, ethereal pop of "Christmas Song", then the driving, scuzzy "Baby You Should Know". It's an impressive start, and it gets better. "Out of the Sun" rides on a garage riff, with vocals flying in from different angles and distances. "Dosed and Became Invisible" is hazy and innovative, while "Alzheimers", as its title suggests, drifts almost psychedelically in fuzzy dementia. Indeed, only the meandering instrumental "VSX" fails to command attention.
Variously produced by the band, David Holmes and My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, American Whip will certainly not go careering up the charts, but it is conclusive proof that Joy Zipper are one of the finest indie outfits to spring from the East Coast in recent years. (Dominic Wills - http://www.amazon.co.uk/)

When I was little I arbitrarily liked the Beach Boys. I admired "Good Vibrations" but wasn't sure why. I'd never heard Pet Sounds, and when I finally did, I just couldn't "get it." So it's telling that it took several listens for me to warm up to Joy Zipper's music. Originally slated for release in '03 before being shelved due to the usual label politicking, and then released internationally last year, the Long Island-based couple's sophomore effort, American Whip, is finally getting a stateside release in '05. The duo's stylish, baroque pop can be traced back to myriads of influences, but it's the psychedelic samples, live strings, sun-soaked harmonies, and crisscrossing vocal parts that are most prominent, recalling the Byrds and, yes, the Beach Boys' seminal 1966 album. Of course, other, more modern influences can be found in American Whip's rush of static-y guitars (My Bloody Valentine) and quiet electronic drones (David Holmes, who co-produced four tracks here, and Air). And speaking of Air, Joy Zipper's "33x" could have been Lux Lisbon's theme song in The Virgin Suicides—like much of the album, the song questions death and the meaning of physical life in particular: "Pulled back my skin and found a mannequin/If I'm straight like a line then I am dying" (they go on to use the word "mannequin" again on the very next track, "Out Of The Sun," this time as an adjective). It's this juxtaposition of probing, melancholy lyrics and sprightly background music that makes American Whip so entrancing. Dip your toes beneath the glistening atmospheres of tracks like "Valley Stream" and "In The Never Ending Search For A Suitable Enemy" and you'll find songs about madness, drugs, mental deterioration, and death. Brian Wilson should be proud. (Sal Cinquemani - http://www.slantmagazine.com/)



- Sunstroke
- Christmas Song
- Baby You Should Know
- 33x
- Out Of The Sun
- Drugs
- Dosed And Became Invisible
- Alzheimers
- Ron
- In The Never Ending Search For A Suitable Enemy
- VSX
- Valley Stream

JOY ZIPPER

venerdì 18 giugno 2010

Joy Zipper "Joy Zipper"



Quando ero più giovane, un grande momento delle mie giornate e anche di quelle di Claudio a dire la verità, era legato alle telefonate a Supporti Fonografici, dal buon Carlo Villa. Mi ricordo che l'ordine per questo disco lo feci dall'Autogrill in cui lavoravo all'epoca come barista. Ovviamente il tutto era partito da quella maledetta segnalazione su Rockerilla...MBV + Sarah Records. No, voglio dire..come si può resistere a una simile descrizione?
Telefonai e Carlo non fece altro che confermarmi il tutto: si, i riverberi dei MBV e il pop della Sarah. In ginocchio non potei altro che dire questa frase "Carlo, butta dentro!!".
Poi, ascoltando il cd, magari questa descrizione mi sembrava un pò strana....però ero felice...35 mile lire spese con gioia. Sopratutto quella di Carlo Villa. (2000 Bar/None Records)

Joy Zipper makes a couple of impressions before one has even placed the CD in the disc player. First, the title is intriguingly suggestive of something fun. Next, the CD cover features an evocative picture of a woman dressed in white with a small child, set against the backdrop of a beach. This leaves the listener in a receptive mood for Joy Zipper's debut, a lush mesh of songs that simply hypnotize. Guitarist/vocalist Vincent Cafiso, vocalist/keyboardist Tabitha Tindale, and drummer Charlie Chase create a dense layer of sound, much richer than their small number might suggest. "Booda" begins with a dreamy, back-tracked guitar, falls into a mellow grove, and then is brought to fullness by a lovely, wistful vocal by Tindale. In fact, most of the vocals by Tindale and Cafiso could be described as wistful. The harmony behind the lead vocal on "God" creates the sonic equivalent of floating, as though capturing the fleeting moment before one drifts into sleep. The oddly titled "The Power of Alan Watts" begins with the intriguing lyric "Alan Watts is dead" and then continues as an ode to the philosophy of the guru. There's a doubling of the tempo in the middle of the song, with driving bass and drums that keep the listener alert. Joy Zipper is very much a studio effort. Backing harmonies, bass parts, and guitars have been layered carefully, creating a cohesive sound for the entire album. Each pensive, dreamy song manages to be part of an intrinsic whole without being redundant. This lovely album will appeal to anyone who enjoys beautifully layered pop music. (Ronnie D. Lankford - All Music Guide)

- Like 24 (6+1+=3)
- Transformation Fantasy
- Check Out My New Jesus
- Pillow
- Christine Bonilla
- Pan Moota
- Booda
- God
- Everyday
- The Power of Alan Watts
- Apathy


JOYZIPPER

martedì 15 giugno 2010

Eska "Invent The Fortune"



Belli ruvidi e tosti i ragazzi....un disco da riscoprire decisamente! (2000 Gringo)


Finally out at long last, the debut record from Scotland's best kept secret, Eska. A band who have been around for god knows how long that have been on endless amounts of tours, released numerous 7" singles and had a stream of drummers (including one Stuart from Mogwai).
Probably the most accessible thing Gringo have released so far I think. The whole thing kicks off in a pretty spectacular fashion with the song Goodbye to Victories. It boasts some spectacular twisty riffery and great vocals, then the song suddenly changes and goes all math! Then track two Blast Theory really does sound like Black Sabbath raised on a diet of Don Caballero. Rock! I think one of the great things about this record is that a lot of it is really different. From Springboard to Highdive hints a bit at Superchunk, and the rest is reminiscent of bands like Archers of Loaf with the melodies of Mogwai. The highpoint of the record comes in the last song The Unbelievable Snow of 1999, which starts off slow and quiet, builds up into this great rock part and ends with a lovely guitar line at the end. Storming (hehe, storming. Unbelievable snow. Get it?). (Luke Younger - http://www.collective-zine.co.uk/)

Senza ombra di dubbio la band dalle maggiori possibilità commerciali fra quelle considerate. Sulle scene da diversi anni ma sempre sottovalutati (definiti "Scotland's best kept secret" dalla e-zine Collective), gli Eska - provenienti da Glasgow - sono autori di un guitar rock fantasioso e mutevole, molto creativo e interessante, basato su ottimi spunti melodici e su di un suono alquanto agitato e altalenante, che le note dell'etichetta riconducono a bands quali Chavez o Drive Like Jehu, ma che a me ricorda parecchio soprattutto gli Archers Of Loaf. E proprio come per questi ultimi infatti, vedrete bene, non è facile trovare coordinate precise e si finisce per elencare una marea di nomi. Tra i tanti il più ricorrente sembra essere quello dei Mogwai, con i quali la band partecipò anni fa alla compilation Camden Crawl (Lovetrain, 1996) assieme alle altre 'speranze' Delgados e Prolapse. Il vero motivo dell'accostamento sta però nel fatto che Stuart Braithwaite dei Mogwai ricoprì un tempo il ruolo di batterista per gli stessi Eska.
Si parte gia' impetuosamente con Goodbye To Victories (che da sola evoca diversi ricordi), per proseguire con gli scoppi obliqui e malevoli, alla Steel Pole Bath Tub, di Blast Theory ('teoria dello scoppio', appunto). Il brano meglio riuscito, nonchè ideale singolo, è però senza dubbio quello dal titolo più impronunciabile e difficile da ricordare: From Springboard To Highdive, che rappresenta alla perfezione la mia idea di indie rock...intensità, emozione, ruvida delicatezza e sensibilità. Tra Superchunk e Motorpsycho, obbiettivo perfettamente centrato! Altro bel pezzo è The Ghosts Invade, che, tra inusitati cambi di tempo ed intermezzi, potrebbe ricordare cose ben più pop. Decisamente piacevole in ogni sua parte, il disco lascia buone sensazioni anche nel caso di composizioni strumentali come Knives, Slowing, ma dà il suo meglio nelle sezioni di maggior intensità (la chiusura di The Unbelievable Snow Of 1999, prima lenta e malinconica, poi trasformata da una incontenibile energia). Insomma, una band capace e consapevole dei propri mezzi, che riesce con solo otto canzoni a convincere e ad appassionare grazie ad una sapiente miscela indie-pop-rock, trascinante, avvincente, ed in fin dei conti anche piuttosto personale. Un ottimo debutto per un gruppo di cui sono certo sentiremo ancora parlare. (Lorenzo Santinelli - http://www.sodapop.it)

- Goodbye To Victories
- Blast Theory
- From Springboard To Highdive
- Knives, Slowing
- The Ghosts Invade
- Between Kings
- ESP Does Work
- The Unbelievable Snow Of 1999


ESKA

domenica 13 giugno 2010

Cecil "No Excuses"



Gran bel singolo! Niente da dire. (1995 Parlophone)

- No Excuses
- Upside Down Smile
- Friend - Original Demo


CECIL

Cecil "Bombar Diddlah"








Muscoli, grinta e chitarre e melodia...ecco l'esordio dei Cecil. (1996 Parlophone)


- Dream Awake
- The Plastics Keep Coming
- Spirit Level
- Upside Down Smile
- Fishes
- My Neck
- No Excuses
- Poshinalagweedy


CECIL

Amityville "Pacific Radio Fire EP"



Poteva (e doveva) essere un nuovo inizio. In realtà è stata quasi una fine. Il nuovo gruppo di Andrew Montgomery ci esalta con questo ep, che inizia a farci fantasticare sulle sue potenzialità, dal piano atmosferico della brima traccia alle chitarre brucianti del secondo episodio e al pop del terzo pezzo....il tutto con quella voce che conduce direttamente al paradiso. Ep che va immediatamente sold out. E poi? E poi tutto finisce dopo poco, ahimè...(2004 - Comedown Records)


Amityville is the latest project from former Geneva frontman Andrew Montgomery. His voice has matured and attained a much more rounded quality since those early days touring with The Catherine Wheel and recording the Libertine album. This new band is far more advanced in attitude and sound, as well.
The Pacific Radio Fire e.p. is three songs that each have a distinctly different sound, while obviously living under the same musical umbrella. Montgomery's writing has become far more complex and dark, which is a great gift to my ears. These songs have sprung from some sort of melancholy of the soul, a place where the best music is ultimately born. Montgomery seems to have left off writing quirky and brilliant pop songs, and turned instead to exploring some of the depths of darkness that the human soul hides.
"Shots In The Distance" is a brilliant and up-tempo track that nicely showcases the musical influence that bands like the aforementioned Catherine Wheel have had on Montgomery. Filled with thick guitars and groovy drum lines, e-bow feedback-heavy hooks, and the soaring vocals of Montgomery himself, this song is a truly nice introduction to the new project. "How You Been?" is much more downbeat, with plaintive piano lines and strangely echoed vocal lines. A bit of the young Montgomery peaks out here, with the vocals not quite being as strong as I'd like to hear, but the lyrical content more than strengthens the overall song. Closing out the e.p. is "Closer Now", a very Brit-pop/college rock song that at times takes me strolling down memory lane to the early 90's and the pantheon of music that was being made at that time. Amazing production and tight rhythm tracks really make this song shine.
I'm eager to hear more music from Amityville, as well as see them live. I've gotten it on fairly good authority that the shows these fellows play in the UK are well attended, and for good reason. If these songs translate as well as the old Geneva songs did on stage, then I think Amityville has a very bright future. (L. Keane - http://www.hybridmagazine.com/)

This time last year all Amityville had under their belts were two gigs and a bunch of demos that drew comparisons to the then-rather-fashionable Aqualung. 2004 finds the band as an altogether different beast. Gone are the atmospheric piano songs (bar the best of the bunch, ‘How You Been?’, which appears as the middle track here), along with the pianist himself and one bassist. To fill the gap, guitarist Stuart Peck has been forced into turning up and rocking out, and boy has he risen to the challenge.
The other two-thirds of the EP are taken up with new songs, which, frankly, beat the pants off their older material. ‘Shots In The Distance’ is so confident with its steamroller-strength chorus and cascading drums that it almost makes one blush, while ‘Closer Now’’s inexplicable mixture of Neil Young and the purest of pure pop makes it a hot contender for the best song Big Star never wrote. And by god, Andrew Montgomery’s voice has never sounded more fragile and alluring than here, surrounded by the most perfect, perfect harmonies. If they carry on improving at this rate, the sky really is the limit. (Tom Edwards - http://drownedinsound.com/)

- Shots In The Distance
- How You Been?
- Closer Now


AMITYVILLE

mercoledì 9 giugno 2010

The Rain Band "The Rain Band"



Varie anime si fondono in questo pregevole disco, che se ben ricordo passò piuttosto inosservato a suo tempo. Peccato perchè mi sembrava un gruppo molto "fiero" e decisamente carico di ambizioni.
Riverberi di J&MC mischiati ai New Order, eclettici e intensi come i primi Mansun, luce e oscurità che si trovano e si rincorrono su un dancefloor. Il tutto però è durato fin troppo poco. (2003 Universal)


2003 is a confusing, chaotic time for the average music fan. New genres are being birthed at an alarming rate and existing ones are being endlessly subdivided. Some might consider these new derivations exciting, but increasingly it's starting to feel like a chore to keep up.

The situation has gotten particularly out of hand in the indie realm, where a movement that might have felt fresh only a year ago is already starting to go stale. (Hello, Jet and Star Spangles!) Part of the problem is the marketing, which has taken a more aggressive and insidious form, but even more troubling has been the sheer volume. Almost as soon as a band shows any kind of commercial success, their style is xeroxed and applied to yet another fledgling act. Rinse and repeat until any and all originality has been drained from the paradigm.
The Rain Band know something about this game; their lead singer, Richard Nancollis, played it once before as the front man for Sussed, a shoddy Oasis knockoff.
The short-lived Manchester band released a couple of singles before Be Here Now effectively dropped the curtain on the Britpop era.
Few come back from such a wipeout, but Nancollis has not only assembled a new band but appears to have learned all the right lessons: that it doesn't pay to blindly follow trends in search of success and that nothing truly worth fighting for ever comes cheap.
The self-titled debut album from The Rain Band would be remarkable enough for its complete disregard for the conventions of 2003.
In a climate dominated by niche records aiming for small victories, The Rain Band goes for the big, grand statements. Throughout, you get the feeling that the band is baiting the press, daring to be dismissed as unfashionable goofs.
While most of the current rock bands eschew production values in search of a more garage-oriented sound emphasizing the rattling crunch of guitars, The Rain Band have gone in the opposite direction, crafting a slick, groove-based record deeply rooted in '80s British post-punk and club culture as opposed to the facile punk of the '70s.
This is not to say that The Rain Band are throwbacks or are out of touch with the present movements, but rather that they never completely give themselves over to an easily classifiable sound. Mellifluous New Order synth lines rub shoulders with the brooding menace of Honey's Dead-era Jesus and Mary Chain.
The lush romanticism of Echo and the Bunnymen meets the melodramatic flair of Mansun. These sounds weren't meant to go together, but The Rain Band has thankfully thrown caution to the wind, and, in doing so, have achieved an alchemy that is at once ludicrous and irrepressibly brilliant.
But thankfully, this bold sonic stance doesn't merely depend on a well-honed aesthetic; The Rain Band is first and foremost an album of songs. This is one of the few records I've heard this year that doesn't try to slip a dud in hoping you won't notice.
The 11 tracks are perfectly situated, beginning with the pristine, amphetamine-laced drive of "Knee Deep & Down" down to the sobering, reflective glare of "Into the Light". In between, The Rain Band delivers a dizzying collection of mind-benders. "Eye for an Eye" matches its sinister title with Nancollis's snarling vocals and some densely dark guitar fuzz courtesy of Mark Lee.
"Long Day's Journey Into Night" coasts on a bed of amped-up guitars and a bass line that wouldn't sound out of place on Primal Scream's Screamadelica.
The Rain Band really hit their stride in the album's middle section, with "Ruins and Remains", "Lucifer", and "The Runaways". "Ruins and Remains" is the most thoroughbred dance track, drenched in post-Mondays sheen and elastic house.
Boasting an ominously quaking guitar line, "Lucifer" finds Nancollis and Lee exercising their most instinctual and scorching rock intuitions, proving that they can wield brute force just as effectively as tuneful harmonies.
But it's in "The Runaways" that The Rain Band have their true classic: a prodigious melding of progressive rock song structure and frenetic, oscillating beats, as Nancollis delivers his most bracing vocal turn, belting out perfectly vague lines like "Science is just fiction / When heels run to predictions" as if they were the gospel. It's a gorgeous centerpiece and the most arresting highlight in an album full of them.
So far, the album reviews that have trickled in from the UK have been tepidly positive at best.
Considering the commercial titans of late, the reaction is really none too shocking. It's hard to imagine a time when being a British band has been more of a stigma than now. Unless you specialize in post-Bends twaddle (see Keane, The Delays, Starsailor) or your band is called The Libertines, lots of luck to you.
The Rain Band offer no apologies for their Manchester pedigree or the pillaging of their country's rich musical past.
Here is a band that not only has the nerve to be British, but flaunts it in their gloriously sprawling arrangements.
But make no mistake: there is a future embedded in the stylistic gamut of The Rain Band, and it's an essential one given the America-centric vision currently being promulgated in their home country.
Their sound may be somewhat removed from the present, but that's also what's likely to keep them around long after Craig Nicholls has returned to flipping burgers at McDonalds.
Striking a balance between the electronic and organic, between dour guitar rock and euphoric dance, The Rain Band is defiant without being overtly experimental, accessible without being willfully commercial, a rare moment of clarity amidst the creatively stagnant commotion of UK rock circa 2003. (Jon Garrett - www.popmatters.com)

Manchester has always been a city rightly proud of its musical history. From New Order and The Smiths, through the halcyon days of the Roses and the Mondays, right up to Oasis, the north-west has always had the knack of producing quality bands.
The Rain Band are very much in that tradition.
This self-titled debut album has all the Manc trademarks of swaggering confidence and brooding moodiness. Stephen Taylor's bass playing has obviously been heavily influenced by Peter Hook, while Richard Nancollis' vocals inevitably bring to mind both Liam Gallagher and Ian Brown.
All of which means that it would be easy to dismiss the trio as nothing more than indie-boy copyists, but that would be unfair. While there may not be much originality here, the Rain Band have obviously chosen to be inspired by their heroes rather than just copying them.
Opening single Knee Deep And Down is dominated by that low-slung bass sound, and sounds rather like Doves doing a Mansun cover version. The arrogance and aggressiveness possessed by all the best bands is there in full view too, with titles like The World Is Ours and the chorus of Easy Rider promising that "I just wanna kill you all".
Like Happy Mondays and Primal Scream before them, The Rain Band are experts in mixing guitar music with elements of dance music.
The marvellous Ruins And Remains glides along on a cool, funky bassline, showcasing Nancollis' vocals to excellent effect. Elsewhere, Lucifer sounds as if it could be a prime target for trance remixers with its ecstatic rush of a chorus, while Journey To The End Of The Night recalls Death In Vegas with it's dark, menacing atmosphere.
There isn't much to criticise about The Rain Band, although it would be nice to hear the band explore their dance side more deeply.
The album does tend to tail off towards the end with a couple of non-descript tracks, but there's enough potential here to suggest that The Rain Band could well be soon following in the footsteps of their heroes. (John Murphy - www.musicomh.com/)



- Knee Deep And Down
- The World Is Ours
- Easy Rider
- Fist Of Fury
- Ruins And Remains
- Lucifer
- The Runaways
- Island
- Eye For An Eye
- Journey To The End Of The Night
- Into The Light


THE RAIN BAND

sabato 5 giugno 2010

Tetra Splendour "Splendid Animation"



Decisamente accattivante il suono dei Tetra Splendour. Molteplici influenze (si cita dai Radiohead ai Led Zeppelin...) che il gruppo riesce a plasmare con buonissima personalità. In seguito, licenziati dalla loro casa discografica hanno cambiato nome in People In Planes. (2002 EMI/Chrysalis)

Originally hailing from Porthcawl in South Wales, Tetra Splendour have set about creating an album that reflects their need to break away from small town life, and move on to bigger and better things.
What Tetra Splendour have in spades is a monstrous wall of sound, at times epic, on other occasions claustrophobic; their sound sums up their situation. Their sound is an amalgam of just about every indie-tinged band of the last twenty years, with singer Gareth Jones veering between the vocal styles of Noel Gallagher, Thom Yorke, Shaun Ryder, and at one point Sting. I swear.
The band themselves approximate anything and everything from Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd to Supergrass. This is not to say that Tetra Splendour don't have a sound of their own, but they are rooted heavily in the indie-rock category. Unfortunately this can hinder some of the songs presented here. Just as the band can sound somewhat derivative, Jones can sound a little too sincere and whiney for his own good at times.
Halfway through 'CFCs' he begins to complain about a raging headache. Now, I'm sorry but rock musicians don't complain about headaches, not even when they've been on a three-month bender and they're puking blood in their sleep. So pull yourself together, man.
'Splendid Animation' is no bad album though; songs like 'Bless My Soul', 'Global Village' and past single 'Mr Bishi' indicate a striking pop sensibility and insightful lyrics. Given that most of this band are still incredibly young, this is a very promising debut and there is every chance that Tetra Splendour could eventually provide us with something very special. Hopefully those bigger and better things are on their way soon. (Sam Shepherd - http://www.musicomh.com/)


- Landmine
- Global village
- ETA
- Pollenfever
- Bless my soul
- Muriel's motorhome
- Mr Bishi
- Derail
- CFCs
- In flight
- Manual
- Black and grey



TETRA SPLENDOUR

Last Days Of April "If You Lose It"



Continuano nel loro processo di allontanamento dal guitar rock degli esordi a qualcosa di mpiù morbido e rarefatto se vogliamo, e continuo a trovarli deliziosi. (2003 Bad Taste)

Much praised for their earlier offerings, Angel Youth and Ascend To The Stars, this Stockholm-based four-piece's latest offering represents something of a backward step. Gone are the rich arrangements and emotional diversity of the earlier recordings in favour of simpler, less interesting arrangements and a flatness of mood, with each song running seamlessly into the next, resulting in a kind of musical mush. It's strange that Last Days Of April were once considered one of the leading "emo" bands - it's hard to imagine a more detached, cold and neutral album than this one. Emotional it certainly isn't.
While songs such as If You and forthcoming single It's On Everything have an endearing, infantilistic quality, thanks to some simple, straightforward melodies and Karl Larsson's tranquillised, narcoleptic vocals, there's little else here to hold the attention. Tears On Hold, Me The Plague and Want To Go are but three tracks that drift aimlessly by, while Been Here All Time and Want to Go barely register at all.
One thing is abundantly clear, however: these boys have been listening to their Smiths, Durrutti Column and Joy Division records, for the arrangements bear all the hallmarks of the '80s Manchester bands (high end bass, chiming guitars, chugging 4/4 rhythm guitars), giving this record a strangely nostalgic quality.
This stylistic metamorphosis, from the punk influences of the band's early years to the shoegazing self-absorption of what used to be called indie-rock, can best be described as retrogressive. Part of the reason for this switch may be that Hives producer Pelle Gunnerfeldt, who recorded, mixed and produced the band's highly acclaimed previous two albums, took more of a back-seat rôle this time round, sharing production responsibilities with Mathias Oldén from the Bad Taste band Logh.
Only on Do For Two does the album take off, albeit temporarily, with an up-tempo slice of power pop that would surely make for a radio-friendly single. Closing track Fast, So Fast also has much to recommend it, and provides a suitably elegiac finish to the album.
Apart from these rare moments of inspiration, however, this album most go down as a major disappointment, especially following the musical advances of the last couple of years. (Simon Evans - http://www.musicomh.com)



- It's On Everything
- Been Here All The Time
- Tears On Hold
- If You
- Me The Plague
- Your Anyone
- Want To Go
- Do For Two
- Live The End
- Fast, So Fast


LAST DAYS OF APRIL

giovedì 3 giugno 2010

Last Days Of April "Ascend to the Stars"



Smorzano i toni i Last Days e aggiungono morbidi arrangiamenti elettronici a completare chitarre più gentili che in passato. La solita graszie e il solito gusto per la melodia, che non sono mai mancati al gruppo. (2003 Crank!)

With a '60s jangle that would suit the Anniversary, Sweden's Last Days of April abandons their hardcore roots for a gentle pop sensibility that recalls the Kings of Convenience and Turin Brakes. Ascend to the Stars' opening track, "Angel Youth," crunches like Bends-era Radiohead, and the gurgling electronic arrangement on "Piano" begins like an optimistic OK Computer. Only "Playerin" seems to resort to punk rock momentum, and that song is excellent nonetheless. The more you listen to it, the more Ascend to the Stars sounds like the quiet, alternate-universe follow-up to The Bends. It's not the most strikingly original album of 2002, but it is certainly one of the most emotionally rewarding. (Charles Spano, All Music Guide)

- Angel Youth
- Piano
- Playerin
- Too Close
- When I'm Gone, Will You?
- I'm Calm Now
- All Will Break
- Slow Down
- At Your Most Beautiful

LAST DAYS OF APRIL