Sunday, August 28, 2005

Supergrass - Roud To Rouen

You're always in trouble when reviews of a band's new album continually focus on a band's new found maturity. That usually means that the band have jettisoned all that made them great to listen to in the first place in favour of a duller sound. And whilst this is not entirely true when it comes to Road To Rouen, its clear that the youthful exuberance that once fuelled Supergrass has long gone.

As ever though, with a new Supergrass album comes a new classic single to devour. This time its the delightful St.Petersburg which sounds delightfully Beatles-esque, and deserved to be a far bigger hit than it was. Other highlights include Kick In The Teeth, and the delightful Sad Girl.

Kicking in at around 35 minutes, this is a concise album which threatens something wonderful and falls just short. Credit should be given for Supergrass resisting the temptaion to release "another" In It For The Money or I Should Coco, but however much we credit them for evolving their sound, you can't quite escape the fact that they just don't manage to pull it off 100%. And if you are going to alienate large swathes of your fan base, your new direction has to result in a killer album. This, sadly, isn't quite it.

Icon's View - 3 out of 5.

Editors - The Back Room

Most critics are at pains to point out how heavily influenced by The Cure, Echo And The Bunnymen and Joy Division the Editors are. Well, I've never been a fan of any of those three acts and, to be honest, have never really took the time to check out much of their stuff (as brief initial forays left me cold) so I can come to The Back Room with a completely clear palete.

Initially this reminded me a little bit of Nirvana. Not in the sense that the music sounds anything like Kurt Cobain's grunge masters, but there is definately that knack of twinning catchy choruses with dark and brooding sentiments.

The one problem is that whilst the album starts off with a blast, the first five or six tracks could be taken off some long standing group's Greatest Hits collection, the rest of the album can't quite match up to this early promise, as if the inspiration has run a bit dry. It's by no means an awful second half, but its the musical equivalent of taking a two or three goal lead in the first half and then just settling back into a comfortable stroll after half time, safe in the knowledge that the match is already won. Still, there is enough here to suggest that the early promise could be molded into something very special indeed next time around.

Icon's View - 3 out of 5.

Stars - Set Yourself On Fire

First things first, lets acknowledge the the obvious comparisons with Arcade Fire, another Canadian band currently wowing the critics and the fans. There is definately the same grandiose and epic imagery on this album that there is on Funeral, but whereas Arcade Fire can be very dark, Stars take, on the surface, a much breezier approach, with more of a "pop" feel to this album.

We start off with the sublime "Your Ex Lover Is Dead" which set up the almost conversational element of the album, with lyrics which tell a story more eloquently than half of the novels currently taking up the bestseller lists. The sheer breadth of arrangements on the album is also striking; the title track breezes by in a whirlwind of strings whereas Reunion almost personifies perfect guitar pop. And no matter what instruments are playing, the quality of the songs remains the same.

Much like the recent effort from Goldfrapp, Stars never lose sight of the fact that it is the melodies that make a great pop song. And the result in a charismatic, energetic set of tunes, which cannot fail to delight anyone with a keen ear for a killer melody. It really does seem that Arcade Fire have a true contender for their crown of Canada's greatest band.

Icon's view - 4 1/2 out of 5.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Anna Nalick - Wreck Of The Day

Well surprise suprise that I should be drawn to a rather attractive piece of teasely that plays the piano... :D

Anyway, such concerns are not relevant here, the point is whether or not the album is any good...? And for the most part it is. Definately striking for the same kind of sound you would expect from Tori Amos or Fiona Apple, this is a very good album indeed, all the more satisfying considering it is a debut, and Anna recorded it at the age of 21.

However, as it is a debut, she seems to have been rail-roaded into the occasional over-production of tracks when it seems clear that her voice is more suited to more subtle, paired-down surroundings. Hit US single Breath (2 Am) is the kind of song that should have been a huge success over here (being as it is about 300 times better than the warblings of James Blunt) whereas Citadel aims to match the best that Fiona Apple has, and very nearly succeeds in doing so. The standount tracks however are Paper Bag and Satellite, both of which add a bit more tempo to proceedings and have the kind of sing-a-long choruses that Radio 2 listeners seem to love.

The album does petre out towards the end (save the sublime Catalyst) but even so, for a debut album this is a wonderful slice of piano driven pop. It augurs well for the future.

Icon's View - 3 1/2 out of 5

Friday, August 26, 2005

Goldfrapp - Supernature

Black Cherry certainly was a critically acclaimed album, but the fact was that only Strict Machine and Train really stood out as blinding tracks. Lead single "Ooh La La" (which would have been number one for years if Kylie had done it) was a clear indicator that we were in for more of the same, but thankfully the overall quality of this album is markedly higher than Black Cherry, and suggests that the time might indeed be now for Goldfrapp to really break out.

This is one of those albums where everything seems to remind you of something else (Number 1 sounds a lot like Blondie for instance) and yet the record remains fresh and unique in many ways. A lot of that is down to Alison Goldfrapp's breathy and sensual vocals, which come into their own on tracks such as Fly Me Away.

Although I think some critics have been a little over-keen to lavish this album with praise, it's still a remarkable piece of work, which never forgets that the secret of a good pop tune is that fact that it indeed has a memorable tune. There is enough on here to suggest that Goldfrapp will be riding high in the charts for some time to come.

Icon's View - 4 out of 5

Weezer LIVE

The Xav man was back in da hizzoouse for the long awaited chance to see the one and only Weezer in concert, and what a night it was too. The mega rich Xavi got me my tea in that nice pub whose name I can't remember for a start. The burger tasted like one of those in a "100 for £1" packs you get, and the barmcake was a bit stale, but bloody hell, the Onion Rings were bloody gorgeous.

Then it was over the road, just in time to catch the support act, the rather fabulous Nine Black Alps. Ok, so it's as if Nirvana never died (well Kurt Cobain) but if you like that kind of thing then they are bloody good at it. And I truly like that kind of thing. Looking forward to seeing them headline their own show later in the year.

Then it was onto the main event. Walking onto the strains of When You Wish Upon A Star, Rivers and the boys then proceeded to spend the next 90 minutes blowing the crowd away with a stream of classics. There was none of that "we must promote the most recent album" malarkey here (only 4 tracks off Make Believe, and two of them were singles of course), instead they treated us to tracks from right across the board.

Particular highlights for me were Say It Ain't So (my favourite Weezer song EVER I think), Buddy Holly, We Are All On Drugs, Undone - The Sweater Song, El Scorchio...hell it was ALL top notch. Add in Rivers solo acoustic version of Island In The Sun - PERFORMED ON TOP OF THE FUCKING BAR!!!! AND RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!!!- and him having to crowd surf his way back to the stage, and you have what was, quite simply, an absolutely AWESOME night. I was singing so much and so loudly that I virtually lost my voice. A definate contender for gig of the year!

Plus, I was able to purchase a freaking awesome green Weezer sweatband - and a big WHATEVER to that mardy bitch at the bar who thought it was the height of sadness for me to be wearing it - and what must be one of the finest Tee's ever, the soon to be classic WEEZER - ROCKIN' THE BITCHES SINCE 1994 shirt, and you have the icing on the cake!


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

New Stuff On The Way

It's been a while, but some new reviews are on the way in the next few days. So strap in and get ready for the following....

Stars - Set Yourself On Fire
Anna Nalick - Wreck Of The Day
Supergrass - Road To Rouen
Super Furry Animals - Love Kraft
Goldfrapp - Supernature

And of course, the Weezer concert review will be up in due course :D

Take care my friends, until the next time.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Supergrass LIVE

Or not as the case may be. Ill health (via hospital stay) meant I was unable to make this one. By all accounts it was good, but I am seeing them later in the year in all their electric glory so all is not lost.