Alternative music reviews

June 27, 2006

Wintersleep

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Wintersleep are from Halifax in Nova Scotia. They evoke the feeling being cut of by snow for 6 months and slowly edging into madness. The singer’s voice is strange but compelling. The intensity is one of emotionally tinged grunge but the music actually has a much more acoustic feel than that. If you like your music to explore the depths and desolation then you will love this.

The video is of the track Caliber from their first album.

Wintersleep on MySpace
Wintersleep website

June 26, 2006

The Hickories

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The Hickories
I like noise just as much as the next man. All right, I like noise more than most next men. But there’s a softer side to me as well. Sometimes I get excited and inspired by pure melodies, great pop songwriting, and an American folk/country twang. So, I’m happy to include The Hickories in my list of wonderful bands. They produced a great EP that lovers of The Byrds and R.E.M. should find addictive and rewarding. I regard the track Killers as one of the best songs of this young century. Add to that the romantic yearning of Lost In Pennsylvania and you can quickly see why they took a little bit of my heart.

The Hickories on MySpace

June 25, 2006

You’re So 70s, You’re So 80’s

Filed under: ramblings — @ 11:12 pm Comments (2)

looking cool back in the 80's
Sometimes I’m a little slow. Sometimes exceptionally so. No more slow than in my realisation that my whole approach to music has been mistaken. I have always searched out the new. Always looking for something totally original without precedent. How often have I actually found that complete originality? It’s been rare – The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, Teenage Jesus, Swans come to mind. But even these bands, when I check out their antecedents, I realise that they are really often just a very unusual mix of influences with a new twist added.

One of the biggest problems I had with the whole 1976 Punk explosion was that I considered I had heard the music before. Having spent a lonely musical adolescence with my Stooges and New York Doll’s albums, I already knew that any more than three chords was showing off. My time came later when bands were formed around the concept that you could just pick up an instrument, learn to play, and release your own record (but you could almost guarantee there was at least one card-carrying Muso amongst them).

But if I was young now, I would have the chance to look at 40 years of Rock and Pop music. I could take Lou Reed’s story telling lyrics, some My Bloody Valentine guitar glissando and mix it up. But I probably wouldn’t have much choice about revealing my essential music history and it’s roots in the 70s and 80s. There are only 12 notes in music (not quite true but I won’t go into John Fahey or Ligeti and beyond) so there are not really any new combinations left.

In truth, if I point out the 60’s/70’s/80’s influences of a band then what I mean is that they have a sense of history and musicianship. I remember John Peel talking about having a curry with the White Stripes before they recorded a session. He mentioned his love of Son House (a bluesman). Jack White then recorded a cover of a Son House song for the session. Now, that is knowledge. It tells me that the White Stripes are worth listening to (ok, I knew that from hearing the first single). Their music is not an accident, even if I choose not to get excited by the most recent recordings.

So, Apollo 13, Mars Bonfire, Phideaux, Breakup Breakdown – if I mention comparisons to earlier music, then I am saying that you know what you are doing and you are producing a deeper, more varied musical experience than any other band that just fits into a current genre.

Breakup Breakdown

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Breakup Breakdown
Let’s cross country to New York. Breakup Breakdown are a band taking inspiration from the garage. The track She Went Black IS Rob Tyner on vocals. I mean this is not someone sounding like the late MC5’s vocalist – it is his spirit come back to earth. Ok, the political lyrics have gone but every inflection, every imperfection in the voice is as good. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. The combination of genuine Rhythm & Blues and Goth and just great energetic music is electric. If Jimmy Page and Robert Plant had heard this then they would have formed Led Zeppelin as a tribute band.

Breakup Breakdown

June 23, 2006

Being 747

Filed under: ramblings — @ 10:51 pm Comments (0)

Back in Leeds again. Being 747 are Dave Cooke and the Morricone brothers of Scaramanga Six mentioned a few days ago. With a similar musical intelligence, great quirky songs, and a voice. Listen to Ghosts of Victorian Seances or Seedless Grapes and you will hear vocal performances that are reminiscent of The Monochrome Set in the early Rough Trade days.

Is the echo provided by the headgear?

Being 747 on MySpace
My review of Being 747’s Health & Safety

June 21, 2006

8mm

Filed under: ramblings — @ 11:50 pm Comments (0)

From New Orleans in the USA, come 8mm. They are a duo dealing in atmospheric music and a breathy female voice. You may notice that this is a favourite type of line up for me – I will can think of three other wonderful bands with this male/female combination.

Here is a video of 8MM with the song Don’t You Give It Up:

8MM on MySpace

June 20, 2006

The Tides

Filed under: ramblings — @ 11:15 pm Comments (0)

The Tides
No video for this band. Not even a single (soon, I hope). I’ve only heard a promo but that was enough. If you are really old you may remember Pavlov’s Dog or if you are younger you may possibly have heard Puressence or more recently the Delays then you will recognise the quality of the voice. Take that beautiful voice in the upper registers and add pure, emotional songs. Then wash it all over in swathes of guitar – the sort of guitar that isn’t just the sum of the notes played but manages to create timbres and interplay of acoustics that adds a new dimension.

You will get a glimpse of what they capable of on MySpace. But you will have to wait to hear the song You’ll Never Change. I think this is going to be on the first single. The version I heard was 6 minutes of glory.

The Tides website
The Tides on MySpace

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