Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Dinosaur Jr - Pieces: Let's play like it's 1993!

Released through PIAS on 21.09.09

Say this release by Dinosaur Jr sounds like Nirvana or Foo Fighters and you would be right. However, to say 'Pieces' - for it's what the single is called - is ripping these guys off would be wrong. 'Why?' I hear you ask. That would be because the band formed in 1984 and arguably influenced the likes of Kurt Cobain. They reformed in 2007 and this offering from this year's Farm album shows they've still got it.

The single somehow manages to straddle the worlds of 90's grunge and old school 1980's rock and roll. The distorted guitar riffs and the slightly droning vocals of J Mascis certainly wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1993. However, they still sound good and many young pretenders of alt rock could only dream of playing this way (mentioning no names of course...).

At four and a half minutes long, Pieces is a long single but within it are some excellent instrumentals. Riffs like these were all the rage during the 1980's and I dare anyone who listens to 'Pieces' to look me in the eye and say they wouldn't want to get down on their knees and play air guitar along to one of these fine solos; Dinosaur Jr's music hasn't featured in certain guitar based video games for nothing after all.

The music may not be revolutionary and yes, Mascis may slightly mumble the lyrics - but what grunge band in the early 90's did record music with perfectly clear vocals? They may now be in their forties but based on the evidence of 'Pieces', Dinosaur Jr can certainly still provide the goods.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Like DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake, some things will always be great. (A pun lost on anyone unfamilar with Art Brut)

Like DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake, some things will always be great.

Art Brut are probably one of the most underrated bands in the country. Their songs sound great, their lyrics are both clever and witty and they don't sound like anything else around. So when they played a live show at 229 near London's Great Portland Street it was fantastic.

The set list comprised mostly of offerings from their debut album, 'Bang, Bang Rock and Roll' and their third - most recent offering - 'Art Brut vs Satan' (Pictured above) Fans were also treated to a select few tunes from 'It's A Bit Complicated'

After a brief introduction, the band went straight into 'Formed A Band' and even in this first song, front man Eddie Argos was already chopping and changing lyrics. (We're going to be the band that writes the song, that makes America and Scotland get along) Incidentally, he was sporting a rather fetching spiky new hair cut - rather different to his usual fringe. But this isn't a fashion show, it's all about the music and after the energy filled opening number it was obviously going to be a good set.

Almost every song came with it's own story or improvised lyrics. For example, Eddie Argos announced the next song was about "Really bad sex" before the band went into 'Rusted Guns of Milan' complete with an additional story about...well just that in a tent at the 1997 Glastonbury Festival. The stories fitted nicely with the music provided by the rest of the band because Argos doesn't do much actual singing anyway, it's more - as he said himself during the show - "shouting into the microphone" but it works. Really, really well.

This slightly depressing tale was immediately remedied when Art Brut launched into 'Good Weekend' Like much of what the band played the song had a raw feel to it with guitarists Jasper Future and Ian Catskilkin providing excellent riffs on guitar. The band actually froze like statues when there was a pause in this song - it was actually quite impressive as to how very still they all became before jumping straight back into action.

Another pause came during 'Alcoholics Unanimous' this time however, Argos didn't pause explaining it was there because the song - about drinking - makes him thirsty. And so he drank before normal service resumed and 'My Little Brother' followed. The charismatic front man changed the lyrics yet again adding a mini cover of The Ramones 'Blitzkrieg Bop' into the middle of it

More anecdotes came with 'Emily Kane' and 'The Passenger' Argos made a point of saying that the love of transport in the latter isn't about the London Underground while the song also nipped briefly into Iggy Pop's iconic track of the same name before heading straight into 'DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake' (Those unfamiliar with Art Brut will understand this reviews abstract now!) This, their latest single sounded absolutely brilliant. The track is excellent anyway but it sounded much spikier and even better for it - one of the best parts of a fantastic show.

The band finished with Direct Hit from their second album providing the crowd with what are probably some of their wittiest lyrics. (He can't talk to members of the opposite sex, he starts to talk, they start to look perplexed) It seemed like it was the end, but of course with a couple of fan favourites still yet to be played there was bound to be an encore, and an encore there was.

A brilliant rendition of 'Bang Bang Rock And Roll' was followed by an equally impressive one of 'Summer Job' - Always the show off Eddie Argos started skipping with his own microphone lead during this second encore song - and he didn't even trip over it! The finale came with an almost ten minute long rendition of 'Modern Art' a song that on Art Brut's debut album only lasts two and a half minutes. This much loved favourite involved Argos apologising for his earlier remarks about Transport for London before suggesting everyone meet up at the Tate Modern. It was a fitting end to an excellent gig.

Art Brut are unique, and it's amazing they don't have higher profile. Even if you're unfamiliar with their work they are well worth seeing because not only does the band put on a great live show, they just ooze charisma and they just keep getting better and better. They're one of the best live acts around; you must try and see them - especially if it's in a smaller venue.

(Originally written for and published at Gobshout)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Get Back Guinozzi! - Low Files Tropical/Police And Thieves

Weird - but in a good way. That's the best way to describe this debut single from Get Back Guinozzi! Singer Egantine Gouzy says the song is about an Indian monk who was 'half, monk, half junky' So it's probably right to suggest that Low Files Tropical was always going to be rather interesting to listen to.

The single has a rather tropical sound - as suggested by its title. It's pleasant, and it's inoffensive with a steady drum beat backing up a jangling guitar and a keyboard. It's easy to imagine an instrumental version of the Low Files Tropical being featured on a Mediterranean holiday programme

This isn't entirely surprising given that Get Back Guinozzi are originally from the South of France. It's therefore fair to suggest this could be the reason behind some rather odd (some would stay CSS style) lyrics which are actually quite difficult to get the mind around - and that's before Miss Gouzy's lyrics have been doubled up!

Low Flies Tropical certainly veers into the experimental, and occasionally even sounds dreamy. However, the tropical sound is pleasant and the 5 pieces first release is rather pleasing to the ears.

The band's double A-side debut offering also features a cover version of Junior Murvin's 1976 release Police and Thieves. Of course, The Clash covered this just a year later, but Get Back Guinozzi's version certainly feels closer to the original version - the tropical beat owes much to the Murvin's reggae sound. (Note: This is not a swipe at The Clash!)

It's upbeat, it's catchy and it's easy to understand why it's been added as part of the release.

Both tracks certainly offer something different to the skinny boys in even skinnier jeans direction a lot of bands are going in, so if you're after something a bit different - maybe with a French tropical vibe - you should have a listen to this.

Friday, 4 September 2009

You Me At Six - Kiss And Tell

This sounds awfully familiar

Out on September 7 through Virgin Records

There's a Lostprophets influence on this record for sure. Well... I say influence, if I heard 'Kiss and Tell' by You Me At Six on one of the nations fine radio station's I'd probably think I was listening to Lostprophets. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course but listening to this two minute and forty five second single could just strike you with the feeling of having heard it before. (You could actually be forgiven for believing you were listening to the introduction of 'Town Called Hypocrisy' by...well you can probably guess)

You Me At Six can obviously play their instruments well and their recent slot at Reading Festival is an indication of their talents, but this offering doesn't project a unique sound that would make a listener think 'Oh it's those lads from Surrey' The somewhat cliched lyrics about (admittedly rock or emo) romance don't exactly do them any favours either.

The boys do have talent, but 'Kiss and Tell' suggests they need to find their own - as a wise psychedelic monk once did - new sound.

That said if you do like bands such as Lostprophets and Fall Out Boy, you'll probably like this.

(Originally written for Gobshout)