Saturday, 7 November 2009

Shared wealth from The Sticks

This is a selection of the things I have listened to or seen over the last couple of months; handily classified in our new evolving style.

Excellent and worthy of Fanboy stalking:

Pearl Jam – Back Spacer:

Their best album in a decade. Eleven songs in just over 36 minutes, and the first four in just over ten. Classic rock / punk rock hybrid from a band simply having fun. They really have got it sussed nowadays: own studio, own merchandise organisation, they manage themselves…when they’ve recorded a new album they simply shop it around the labels to see who’s most prepared to promote it, then go with them for a one album deal (they keep the Masters, naturally). And they still sell out arenas.

They aren’t the only ones, but they record all of their concerts and stick them on their website for purchasing and downloading. And with every concert ticket you get an access code so that you can download the concert afterwards for free. Also, when you stick the new album in your computer you get to choose two concerts to download from the last couple of years.

They are also one of the bands that support my theory, which is:

All the best bands change their live sets from night to night.

I think this is even more important now that set lists, BitTorrent bootlegs and YouTube clips are all over the Internet. Don’t you think it’s crazy to spend £50 to go and see a band knowing exactly what they are going to play and in exactly what order? And with the live circuit being so important to band’s livelihoods nowadays, you’d think they’d make an effort. You’d think it would stop them getting bored. Wouldn’t you rather go to see a band and be surprised?

And it’s nothing to do with the size of the band or the production. I don’t know about the Green Day tour (though I could easily find out, if I was interested), but the two biggest touring bands in the world – The Rolling Stones and U2 – mix up at least part of the set each night.

Oasis, of course, could never be arsed. And neither, for that matter, could my old favourites Van Halen.

Richmond Fontaine - We Used to think the freeway sounded like a river: Nothing initially very striking about the music – standard Americana – but the best lyrics ever. Each song a vignette about some of life’s losers. Late night music. The singer writes books as well, which really isn’t a surprise – his lyrics read like plots.

Soulsavers - Broken: The band started life as a couple of DJs and they drafted in the odd singer, but now it’s turned into one of Mark Lanegan’s many bands (Screaming Trees; QOTSA; Lanegan & Isobel Campbell; The Gutter Twins; …a solo band). Surely the noughties version of Johnny Cash? Slow burning rock and generally about hellfire and redemption (though there seems to be little of that going)

Shearwater – Rooks: Knew enough about them to mark my card at End Of The Road festival and was blown away by them. This is their last album and it’s probably my favourite of the year. A bit Talk Talk, a bit Radiohead, a bit folky. Shearwater was originally a side project for members of Okkervil River, but ended up getting bigger. So one of them stayed with this band and the other stayed with Okkervil River

Jason Isbell – And The 400 Unit: Isbell used to be a member of The Drive-by Truckers and he always caught the ear as he tended to write songs whilst the others wrote excuses to have guitar duels. Having said that, his first solo album was pretty dull. This is much better. Americana again, but good lyrics, melodies and choruses. Isn’t that what it’s all about, really?

Eagles Of Death Metal – Anything ‘Cept The Truth: The first song on their rather average “Heart On” album. Like the best Rolling Stones meets the best QOTSA. Worth downloading and then playing really loud

Monsters Of Folk: A jokey title for a band formed by Coner Oberst (Bright Eyes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and M. Ward. Kind of reminds me of The Travelling Wilburys, - which might, or might not, seem like a good thing to you

Some films worth seeing:

The Damned United – much more affectionate than the book

State of Play – apparently based on a British TV series

Looking For Eric – Can’t tell what Cantona is saying half the time, but still a great feel-good film…with the ending filmed near where I used to live in Worsley!

In The Loop – Film spin-off of “The Thick Of It”, but even funnier. Some of the cast here play different roles but Peter Capaldi reprises his role as Malcolm Tucker

The Wave – German film about how a teacher embarks on an experiment to show his students how easily a dictatorship could rise

Arctic Monkey’s-like in it’s Shite-ness:

Muse – The Resistance: As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a big fan of this band – indeed they are one of the best bands I have ever seen live (do they change their live set nightly?). They have always of course been eccentric – it’s been one of their strengths - but this is overblown, sub-Queen bollocks. No chorus’s except for the first single where they steal “Call Me” (and the Dr Who theme tune)

The Dead Weather – Horehound: Jack White is starting to over-reach himself.

Transformers 2: I was stuck on a plane, what was I supposed to do? Stars Megan Fox, though

Just average:

The Black Crowes – Before The Frost: Can do much better. But the disco song is quite good

Archie Bronson Outfit – Derdang Derdang: Kind of reminds me of Franz Ferdinand, but gets repetitive

Boxer Rebellion – Union: Supposedly a new Bends-era type Radiohead, who caught my ear at Glastonbury. Dull.

Okkervil River – The Stand Ins: The highlight at EOTR, but I find it all a bit too arch and Noel Coward or Divine Comedy like. I wouldn’t be surprised if Paul likes it

7 World’s Collide – The Sun Came Out: Charity record with members of Crowded House, Wilco, Radiohead, Johnny Marr and KT Tunstall. They all got together in New Zealand in January to write and record an album. It’s all very nice and everything, and all the money goes to a good cause. But it’s all just a bit boring



  1. who's the girl at the bottom?

  2. That's not Van Halen! That's Van Hagar. Everybody knows that they were two very different bands. I demand a picture with David Lee Roth part of the band.

  3. Tremendous Avatar......brilliant

    And its Meg Fox again, I thought the word boring was a good enough excuse for a second picture.

    As for the Van Halen lot, I decided that we'd had enough spandex for one year.

  4. I listened to that Monsters of Folk thing, it's not even a clever name just a bit 'look how good we are'.
    It was the most MOR Americana I've ever heard. It couldn't have been more MOR if it was a cats eye singing chirpy chirpy cheap cheap. I kept thinking DO something, ANYTHING. Rant over , glad you liked it.

  5. I like the idea of varying the set list too, as long as they keep a core of good stuff. It isnt really fair on fans who may only see them once in their lives to get a self indulgent, say, covers set at the expense of the songs that lured the fans in originally. Particularly if the fan has just got out of bed specially. Unless its a Beatles rooftop set of course.

    However, for hardcore fans who will see a band multiple times, it's well worth them digging deep into rarely played stuff or the odd experiment.

    I'll have a listen to that Fontaine bloke, it sounds like the sort of music I would like.

  6. Van Halen were never really a spandex band - all those bands (Ratt, Motley Crue, Poison, Great White et al) came later.

    Craig: I agree - you don't want a band simply disappearing up their own arse with obscure tunes. They have a responsibility to the customer. If they are so arrogant as to think otherwise, then they better get used to playing smaller venues.

    Paul: I think Monsters of Folk was a bit of a grower.

  7. unless of course you are RedHotChilliPeppers then you can play all sorts of crap and a Prince cover and people still turn up next time.

    THat Prince cover was soooo bad I actually burst out laughing...right before you took that Blokes kidney out Andy

  8. Well I made it nearly to the end of the Pearl jam album and whilst it starts off ok its not enough to carry his grating voice for an album. I know the vocal sound is a personal thing but sometimes they just get irk. He's an Irka. Off to try that Fontaine chap next.

  9. Yes, he's got a grate voice. Boom boom!

    Half an album. Once. Not really giving the growers a chance are you?

    I didn't really want to say before, but Richmond Fontaine is just the name of the band. Dunno why.

    Shit, forgot to sign in and I've already written all this. I'm not bloody starting again.

  10. The Growers! isn't that code for 'lets try really hard to like this cos I've spent some cash'

    Growers never get to be favourites inmy experience


  11. I find exactly the opposite. I get quickly bored with immediate albums. It's those that take longer to sink their hooks into me that go on to be favourites.

    I'm not suggesting that poor, or even average, albums magically transform themselves. Just that some albums (the best!) need time to reveal themselves.

    I don't think the "let's try really hard to like this cos I've spent cash" argument really applies any more. Maybe when I was a kid, but not now that an album costs the same as a couple of pints.

  12. oh its never the cash it the ' I've invested in this'

    I should have never said cash sorry

  13. There are some bands/artists that you will give more time to though because of your history with them. You really want to like their latest work so it gets a few listens and a chance to grow on you.

    Conversely, new people get about 20 seconds to hook me in and thats it. So stick your best song at the start of your CD kids. And sing the catchiest bit of it within those first 20 seconds.