Alternative music reviews

January 15, 2010

Coolnoise Is Sleeping…

Filed under: Uncategorized — @ 2:22 pm Comments (2)

I don’t expect to publish any more opinions or reviews. Existing reviews are being kept as an archive.

Cheers

Dave

August 24, 2009

GG Allin

Filed under: gg allin — @ 2:33 pm Comments (0)

As I mentioned in my review of Varshons, I needed to check out GG Allin after hearing the Layin’ Up With Linda track. First was the Wikipedia article GG Allin. I urge you to follow the link and read the article because it is a fine example of just how far you live a life to the extremes.

I then listened to his album “The Singles 1977-1991: Expose Yourself” to try and get a complete picture of GG Allin’s career. I wasn’t impressed with a such a limited voice and fairly turgid, predictable music. On some of the live material he does sound disturbingly like an Iggy Pop soundalike - try comparing Cock On The Loose with Got My Cock In My Pocket from Metallic KO and numerous other Stooges bootlegs and you could barely slide a cigarette paper between them. But Iggy was doing this in the late 60s onwards and also had made some of the most imnportant and influential albums of all time.

I view this material as of historical interest only. Much like Charles Manson’s album I’m glad I’ve heard it but the best thing is really the notoriety of the protagonist as musically it is pretty poor. It has increased my admiration of Evan Dando who managed to make a very palatable Country number out of one of his tunes (although I have yet to hear the original). He certainly proved, unlike what my Grandmother used to insist, that you can polish a turd.

August 18, 2009

Varshons by The Lemonheads

Filed under: lemonheads, reviews — @ 12:17 pm Comments (0)

Some of my favourite records are by The Lemonheads - I loved “It’s A Shame About Ray” and then went back in time to discover the wonderful (and very different from “Ray”) Pop/Punk of the early days. But I lost interest - perhaps put off by the cult of Evan Dando and his celebrity rather than the music. Now The Lemonheads (just a name for Dando now, from what I can gather) have a collection of covers for our entertainment.

The album is dominated by a Gram Parsons style (and starts with one of his song) but ranges into a vaguely psychedelic sound at times. The cover of Wire’s Fragile is very brave - it almost suceeds in humanising Wire’s characteristic detachment and adding a sort of acoustic grungey quality to the chorus. The GG Allin track Layin’ Up With Linda makes me want to rush out and find out more about the original artist. I love the sound of Dando’s voice in this lower register.

if you are going to cover one of the greatest songs ever written by a legend like Townes Van Zandt then you are facing a big challenge. Dando’s version Waiting Around To Die is really very good. He has a great voice (better than Townes) and delivers the song with conviction.

What covers album wouldn’t be complete with a real stinkers. Dirty Robot certainly fits the bill. Kate Moss over an electro backing. My first reaction was it’s so bad it’s almost good but that has now worn off completely and it is just awful. Thankfully he hands Liv Tyler a less embarassing song and she just about survives a very predictable version of leonard Cohen’s Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye.

In the end, I just feel that Evan Dando has one of the finest voices in Rock but perhaps has too much talent. He can make just about any style of music and it turns out well without him really putting his heart and soul into it. But I like this album more than I like him, if you see what I mean; it is varied and entertaining with some cracking songs.

The Lemonheads

July 17, 2009

The Farm by Dinosaur Jr.

Filed under: dinosaur jr, reviews — @ 1:30 pm Comments (0)

Farm by Dinosaur JnrContinuing the theme of listening to bands populated by the over 40s, I had a listen to the latest Dinosaur Jr. album “The Farm”. Exactly the same elements that made them such a likeable band in the 90s are there - the constant fuzzed out guitar, J Mascis’s slacker vocalising, and the sort of guitar solos that have similarities to what you can hear in RAWK music. I’m afraid it left me with my normal Dinosaur Jr feeling - everybody should have one album by them just to give them the chance to revel in the sound but buying a second is folly because they do sound similar. If you don’t yet have your compulsory album then “The Farm” is a good one to get - or, as in my case, your album is on vinyl then this can be your more digitally accessible version. I think that is a roundabout way of saying it is amongst the very best of Dinosaur Jr albums.

There’s No Here

There’s No Here by Dinosaur Jr. (Clip)

One big difference between this line up and the original is that Lou Barlow is allowed to play two of his songs. - previously he had left the band to form Sebadoh to play his own material. I really don’t think it works because one track, Your Weather just reminds me of how magnificent Sebadoh were and throws me out of any J Mascis mood. But despite that slight error this is an album of a band that haven’t lost their youthful energy or inspiration. I’m pretty sick of all the old bands getting back together to milk the Slippers and Cardigans brigade of their money but Dinosaur Jr. show themselves to be exceptions because they are actually making worthwhile new music.

Your Weather

Your Weather by Dinosaur Jr. (Clip)

July 10, 2009

The Eternal by Sonic Youth

Filed under: reviews, sonic youth — @ 1:11 pm Comments (1)

The Eternal by Sonic YouthDid you spot what I was really saying in my review of Bill Callaghan’s album? I must promise to be straightforward and say it like it is - there are two brilliant songs and the rest is pretty disposable. Sometimes I like to lose the negative spin and so don’t write it. So if I was to do a review of, say, the latest Sonic Youth album then I wouldn’t mention that they are merely reliving old glories and say instead that they still make a nice noise.

Well, that might have been what I would have wanted to say about recent albums such as “Sonic Nurse” but the latest one, “The Eternal”, is just brilliant. Tracks such as What We Know and Sacred Trickster are as good as anything Sonic Youth have done since “Daydream Nation”. I would rate Massage The History alongside their best work ever. Their control of the music is effortless, drawing on elements that they have developed over the past 20+ years. It is fun to listen to the songs and figure out exactly which album a track could fit on. Mostly I placed things around the Goo period but Poison Arrow is more suited to whichever Lou Reed album it could have been on.

Sonic Youth have been doing this Rock and Feedback thing for so long that their kids probably say every year, “Mum/Dad, I appreciate you playing Happy Birthday but do you always have to add the 20 minutes of feedback?” (I imagine they all live in a big house together, by the way.) But even in their advanced years, they are still capable of surprises. The short clip I’ve chosen is from the rather cool Malibu Gas Station and the reason I like it is that it is a melody in the verse that strikes me as unusual for Sonic Youth. It’s a tiny detail but they are still moving forward with their music.

Malibu Gas Station by Sonic Youth

Malibu Gas Station by Sonic Youth (Clip)

June 24, 2009

Bill Callahan

Filed under: bill callahan, reviews, smog — @ 11:11 pm Comments (0)

Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle  by Bill CallahanSmog/Bill Callahan first got me hooked when I heard the track Bathysphere with it’s Cello backing and a curiously detached baritone vocal intoning about about childhood dreams of living under the ocean. It was magical and reinforced by by the rest of the Wild Love album. I stayed wrapped in their embrace for many years marvelling at some of the finest examples of songwriting you could ever hope to hear. Eventually we parted ways and after hearing the Knock Knock album I let the relationship drop.

On hearing that the latest solo album by Smog’s Bill Callahan featured a return to use of strings and horns as adornment I decided to see what was going on now. The album Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle contains two stand out tracks that rate alongside the best that Smog ever did. All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast is an entrancing poetic song that still hides the meaning behind the metaphor but you know it is about desire. The simpler song is Eid Ma Clack Shaw. Have you ever woken up in the night convinced you have found the answer to some great problem? On the more mundane level, I once woke up at 5 am on a Sunday morning with the design of a Haematology Laboratory Computer System in my head. I wrote it down and it proved a real success when I implemented it. Bill Callahan is a bit deeper than me so he wrestles with death’s pain and is shown the way to overcome the sadness. The answer is a song and he writes it down and then reads it back in the morning. All he finds are nonsense words. This is delivered with that magnificent voice, the controlled phrasing, and pulsating musical backing (including a klaxon sound just for fun). A masterclass.

Eid Ma Clack Shaw by Bill Callahan

Eid Ma Clack Shaw by Bill Callahan (Clip)

June 18, 2009

As Bad As The Downloaders

Filed under: richard buckner — @ 11:42 pm Comments (0)

I’ve just realised that the updating of my Richard Buckner collection hasn’t benefited this wonderful singer-songwriter at all. I bought the first three albums retail before my financial straights but all my recent purchases have been through Amazon marketplace and therefore second-hand. So I can sit in utter amazement at the man’s voice and astonishing songwriting but I haven’t paid him a penny for it.

I’ve not downloaded anything illegally but even so I am surely as guilty as the illegal downloaders. I just wish he had some t-shirts available on his website (currently being re-jigged) so that I could show my appreciation. I’m killing music…

Richard Buckner

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