Posts Tagged ‘Matt Crane’
The Stone Roses Live at Heaton Park, Manchester, Saturday 30th June 2012.
Reggae and heavy rain – not the most inspiring start to such a landmark event. Throw in a woefully convoluted bar system, a queue that goes via the Bog of Eternal Stench and a self-inflicted waterproof that appears to have none of the qualities that its name would suggest, and the erstwhile reporting is already off to an irritable start. However, teased though we are with spots of real sunshine (coincidentally when the Wailers have finished. Nice) and the idea that buying as many beers as you can carry, things begin to look up.
Seemingly sited in the swimming pool from Poltergeist (and with a similar amount of reanimated (baggy) corpses), Heaton Park is a termite mound of bucket hats and battered Spike Island t-shirts congealed together with the miasma of beer, sweat and piss that it usually takes Reading four days to achieve. No surprise either, as everyone seems devilishly intent on spending all pre-Roses set-time drinking; considering the likes of Hollie Cook, Professor Green (missed, thankfully) and even Beady Eye just a background irritation. Not even hastily chucked in renditions of Morning Glory and Rock ‘n’Roll Star can save the latter from being the utterly moribund cod-60’s dross that it is. For all the swagger and occasional spitting invective, Liam Gallagher cuts a depressingly toothless figure; and made all the more flaccid by the swelling anticipation of the headline act.
Firstly a basic and not wholly unfair tenet – Ian Brown = low expectations. As any audience that has seen his solo act live, watched the ‘Roses Blackpool DVD, or simply anyone who has heard him sing live ever knows that the track record is feeble at best. It is with varying degrees of trepidation and overwhelming anticipation that the Supremes intro music gives way the opening bassline of I Wanna Be Adored. Palpable excitement reaches a ridiculous crescendo as Ian Brown begins to sing. And sing he does. All concerns to one side for a second – the crowd are singing louder than he is, Reni is singing backing vocals, but when the lead vocal cuts through it is several miles away from the pitiful caterwauling that was expected.
Where Angels Play is nothing short of blissful; delicate guitar melody resilient against the sporadic wind crossing the site, Sally Cinnamon belies its almost thirty year old age, sounding for all the world far fresher than anything Beady Eye issued earlier. In fact, as we hit Waterfall and Don’t Stop, the realisation dawns that it is almost impossible to review the gig without descending into brown-nosing hyperbole.
Fools Gold goes the full 9:53 distance, just about managing to maintain interest for the full whack; Something’s Burning cements its place as a live joy, and the aforementioned (and previously and personally much maligned) Don’t Stop is nothing short of amazing – a Chinese finger trap rhythm section liberally sprayed with some truly intricate riffing from John Squire. Mani spends the entire gig looking for the world like a mortified Tony Hart model and Reni is conclusive proof that there has been a Reni-sized void in the music scene for the past seventeen years.
Given that the home stretch contains Love Spreads, Made of Stone, This is the One and a colossal I Am the Resurrection, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a little churlish to refuse an encore (or even save the latter for it) . However, the setlist and atmosphere have been such that the set has seemed like a two-hour encore. Cast whatever aspersions you want about the financial motivations for this tour or the hypocrisy of John Squire post-Roses sculpture – if it was a phoned-in performance, these criticisms would still bear some sort of relevance. As it stands, Heaton Park may not quite reach the status that maybe Spike Island did, but it will come pretty damn close.
Tricky – Sundance Festival, The Indigo Bar, London – 27/4/12
Utterly dire support notwithstanding, the evening’s inception should have been interpreted as a morbid portent of the evening to come. The opening track wobbled its way through for approaching ten minutes, vocals sporadically taking place when he remembered to put the microphone in front of the guitarists’ face; the pace and dynamics varying wildly as our eponymous frontman attempts some bizarre interpretation of conducting; resulting more in what appeared to be a shit impression of John Travolta. And maintaining that you “know we’re waiting for Maxinquaye stuff” then moaning that “it’s all really old” claims the dubious crown of most ill-advised stage banter ever.
With the appearance of Martina, things almost approach decent. Ponderosa and Abbaon Fat Tracks writhe wonderfully in a sense of their own filth, Aftermath remains as satisfyingly bleak as ever, and Black Steel manages to ignite what enthusiasm can still be drawn from an increasingly irritable crowd. Then it pretty much degenerates into a farce.
Overcome gets successfully aired, then for reasons unbeknownst to anyone gets started again two songs later. Brand New You’re Retro descends into Britain’s Got Talent meets Goldie Lookin’ Chain; Tricky’s brother freestyling what appears to be absolute bollocks for ten minutes. Hell is Round the Corner is genuinely appalling; the Isaac Hayes sample being vomited out by what sounds like a Casio keyboard demo; and Pumpkin’s Alison Goldfrapp spot seems to have been filled by Tulisa from N-Dubz (although thankfully without a penis in her mouth). The realisation sinks in that not only has Mr Thawes spent more time off stage than on, but that he clearly couldn’t care less either way.
Sympathy must go out to the band; what with the mock conducting, the bollocking of the drummer for starting a song (what a bastard), and the borderline domestics that frequently erupt between Tricky and Martina – all of which consolidate to create one of the most unprofessional gigs seen since the ‘Roses at Reading in 1996.
Four songs from Maxinquaye don’t even get played, and the reputation of said album is being shat on from a great height through the complete lack of respect for the music and the fans that have paid £40 to witness such a monstrosity. A twenty minute (twenty) rendition of Vent from Pre-Millennium Tension is the crowning turd in the waterpipe, failing to endear the crowd (despite seemingly half of them being on stage throughout) and leading to a mass exodus the likes of which have not witnessed before with a headline act.
A continually absent frontman and a completely humiliated band leave the lingering and increasingly bitter taste of an utterly shambolic fucking display of gargantuan proportions. Still, it must be the easiest money he has ever made. Hopefully he feels suitably ashamed, however unlikely that is.
Blunderbuss – Jack White
Solo efforts – the disconcerting last bastion where musical and comedic ideas gasp their last before being relegated to yellowing notebooks hidden beneath the guest bed. Cohort-based restraints are removed and anything goes – ranging from the plain weird (Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy), to the plain shite (Scott Weiland, Dave Navarro, Jerry Cantrell).
Jack White has always appeared to maintain an almost totalitarian control over everything he has been involved in, so the chances of anything decent going to waste are unlikely. This does beg the question as to what his solo debut is actually going to consist of, if not half-baked pap and ideas that the drummer thought was rubbish.
Missing Pieces is a bizarre opening gambit – a twisted combination of mellotron, Consolers of the Lonely era Raconteurs and a warped, multi-layered White hitting mild surrealism within two minutes; and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it solo and fantastic piano wig-out breeding the comforting familiarity that comes with any of his most entertaining work. Sixteen Saltines (for all its pubescent charm) is an unashamed rocker heavy on the keyboards, lacking in anything approaching subtext; and Freedom at 21 skims from a Mellow Gold meets Elephant intro into an insidious riff underpinned by a single channel sinister whisper into your right ear. With air-punching shouts and everything.
Love Interruption (for all its charms) measurably destroys the flow of the first half of the album – it’s delicate clarinet assiduously deconstructing the pacy opening; especially followed by the title track’s Nashville-infused shuffle. However, such gear-changes seem inherently symptomatic of an artist who has forged a career from idiosyncrasies, and can be taken without too much baulking. Even the almost gratuitous rinky-dink of Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy doesn’t sit too heavily, falling just the right side of music hall – a blessing for an album heavily based around piano riffs (see also the shit-kicking piano solo on Trash Tongue Talker).
It’s an album, despite the huge confluence of styles, actually functions brilliantly as a coherent work. The stammering solo of Weep Themselves to Sleep sits comfortably next to the borderline glam parody of I’m Shakin, even with the latter’s somewhat dubious backing vocals and the utterly beguiling “I’m noi-vus” refrain. Regardless, it’s a satisfying effort, and made all the more intriguing by its lack of side project status. A solo album without a sniff of noticeable self-indulgence is a rare thing. Enjoy it.
Matt Crane says…
For more info on Jack White click HERE.
Painted – Narrows
About as underground as you can be without actually being a corpse or a mole, supergroup Narrows has been issuing utterly vile hardcore for the past five years, and to irritatingly little fanfare. Comprising of luminary members of These Arms are Snakes, Bullet Union and Unbroken (to name but some of them), second album Painted seems destined to push them to the forefront of a scene that has been precious more than stagnant for a long while.
Under the Guillotine is about as raw an opener as you could possibly ask for; a clean sludgy groove laying waste before a chorus which drips with vitriol and swagger; and an end-groove that could cure constipation in the most irregular of folks. Absolute Betrayer punches, tears and rips away, containing more genuine aggression than 90% of the metal out there at the moment, and in no small part to Botch’s Dave Verellen who sounds like shitting down people’s necks is an innocuous past-time.
The album’s centrepiece Greenland harks back to Newly Restored from debut New Distances – considered, and content to wend its conspicuously understated way into a squall of feedback and gangling grooves over the course of an intense eight minutes. As the only track clocking over three and a half minutes, it’s a punishing halfway mark and carves a gaping path for the frenetic final four tracks, including album-highlight and more-Deftones-than-Deftones Final Mass.
Aside from being recorded partially over the internet (due to Jodie Cox’s visa issues), Painted is a consummate triumph; albeit one that may well be shot in the foot for it’s lack of availability on CD. For pure authentic aggression and the sound of five people thoroughly enjoying themselves, it’s unlikely this can be topped anytime soon. Everyone should seriously be all over this.
Matt Crane says….
To find out more about Narrows, click HERE.
Red Forest – If These Trees Could Talk
Apart from on this solitary occasion, sweeping generalisations swing heavily to the cardinal sin side of music journalism; and therefore, forgiveness is politely requested. Post-rock is a bugger to review. Arguably based around emotive tendencies more than most other genres, trying to describe it is akin to picking up a painting and attempting to provide a critique over the phone in broken English. (“This brush stroke make happy?”).
Generic sweeping statements and casual xenophobia aside then, Ohio-based If These Trees Could Talk’s second full-length effort is one that seems to be almost quantifiable in terms of size. Red Forest is huge. Obvious parallels with Explosions in the Sky notwithstanding, the new album flits rapidly from heavy to ethereal in a manner that implies a grasp of dynamics and far greater scene presence than they actually have.
Barren Lands of the Modern Dinosaur, (as well as being the most aptly titled track ever) uses the (strangely not excessive) triple guitar to interlock and eddy round a ridiculously solid drum performance from Zack Kelly; the breakdown providing a nothing short of utterly satisfying crescendo; and Aleutian Clouds is Stellastarr* via This Will Destroy You, but with a intensely punishing chorus and none of the former’s art-student pretention.
Album highlight They Speak With Knives takes full advantage of a delicately teased intro before giving way to a hitherto unexpected pummelling double kick riff and a mid-track breakbeat of pant-wetting precision; and the title track provides a delay-drenched quagmire, bursting with pockets of mucky contemplation amid some truly cavernous guitaring.
Emotive albums beget pretentious reviews, and consequently it’s almost impossible to cover this album without sounding like a complete arse, and therefore the only fair way to review it is to refer to its emotional impact and risk the inherently arse-sounding patter.
Immense, dark, and with a glimmer of hope that shines when you least expect it – it’s a huge, hulking, and deeply arrid, yet satisfying soundscape that deserves far more than to be buried solely in with post-rock as a whole. Genuinely atmospheric and worryingly affecting; it’s a suite of music that nags and lingers, and it’s difficult to see a better instrumental rock album being released this year.
Matt Crane says….
To find out more about If These Trees Could Talk click HERE.
With lead singer Gary Harkin’s origins in the fantastically named Bisonhammer, it appears he missed his calling as the inventor of the ‘beast/tool-random-band-name-generator’ (patent pending). However, nom de plume animal bastardisation aside, Wolfcrusher’s debut album is one of slight frustration and intrigue in equal measures.
Moving Mountains begins convincingly enough, allowing a fairly generic sludgy intro to give way to a slightly more than adequate midsection. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it guitar solo is a little frustrating, and the whole thing harks back to patchy days of Raging Speedhorn.
All Shall Pass, however, is a different beast completely. A mediocre intro collapses into a colon pummelling double kick riff, snaffling round a pleasingly tight thrash verse, and showing enough structure, solos and variance to maintain interest further. However, the shoehorned mid-section breakdown is little short of hackneyed; the clean vocals sounding like Eddie Vedder’s bored cousin; although providing a nice contrast to the bridge which is conducted with something approaching military discipline.
Lost at Sea practically stinks of Bourbon and seems to be possessed by the spirit of Corrosion of Conformity, No Chance is a rippling Fear Factory homage and Insuperablis nods vigorously towards Crowbar – and all performed with enough enthusiasm that you can almost let it slide. Even the Van Halen-esque intro to Skeletonizer doesn’t grate.
Alas, Reborn is a genuinely God-awful, cod- Faith No More piano-led pile of twaddle, and whoever produced the keyboards should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Consequently, the middle third of the album sags under the weight of its own influences, which fails to let the talent of everyone involved shine through.
Wolfcrusher are a band with clearly enough musical chops to write some truly hefty tunes, but need a bit more time spent on identity rather than this (more than likely unintentionally) cut-and-paste tribute. Please, please come back to prove this wrong. The potential is clearly there.
Matt Crane says….
Find out more about Wolfcrusher by visiting their official website HERE.
A gig of firsts on several counts; not least the first witnessed in a civic hall, there was something of a synaptic failure in making the connection between the type of venue and the distinct possibility of no booze. Not doing anything to deny the chaste reputation of folk gigs, the fact that the strongest thing on offer was coffee should not really come as a surprise. And moaning about the size of the queue for the water fountain doesn’t really carry much weight.
Enforced sobriety aside, it did supply the whole event with a gravitas generally bereft on most tours. Admittedly, the rest of the cathedral dates may have seemed slightly more intense; but the ornate nature of the venue does not even begin to hint at the mind-blowing acoustics of the evening, more than compensating for the lack of shant on offer. And the whole evening isn’t spent needing a leak. Which is nice.
Cutting a pleasantly unassuming figure, Marling’s almost demure stage persona is utterly endearing and lends an intriguing juxtaposition to the sheer breadth of music on display (including the use of an e-bow on a banjo. Another (although woefully obscure) gig cherry popped, nerdy fact fans).
Opener I Was Just a Card ripples gently before veering into an intensely dense chorus, vocals fluctuating from innocent to an almost bitter vehemence in the space of two lines. The set relies heavily on third album A Creature I Don’t Know, which whilst not to its detriment, does deny the chance of earlier, if more worn material. The new material impresses with little to no effort though – The Muse retains the almost whimsical bluegrass nature of the recorded version, and the double header of Don’t Ask Me Why and the Steinbeck-influenced Salinas is utterly phenomenal: the former seeming far darker than its previous incarnation, and the latter mutating into a dense whirlpool crescendo of subtle cello and intense backing vocals.
The same can be said for album highlight The Beast, the likes of which one suspects civic halls and cathedrals have never witnessed, and probably won’t again; a symbiosis between menacing country and an almost Spector-esque wall of sound, which gives savage contrast to the solo acoustic set that follows.
Second album single Goodbye England seems especially poignant if taken on a superficial level, and Night Terror has a worryingly stupefying effect. Stripped of all but a bare carcass, it shows how lazily terms like ‘captivating’ get bandied about without any true understanding. Even with a whistling solo (which are generally reserved for pissy pseudo-indie weasels like Maroon 5), it’s a stark rendition, but all the more beautiful for it.
Having managed to avoid the inherent acoustic pitfall of maintaining the attention (and sound above general hubbub) to the point whereby you could hear a creaking floorboard, the return of the full band to run to the close feels almost unnecessary. My Friends, second album title track I Speak Because I Can, and recent single Sophia soon shake this, and anti-encore stance notwithstanding, All My Rage proves a remarkably uplifting closer. It occurs shortly afterwards that maybe the choice of alcohol-free venues was nothing less than shrewd, as the effect of such passionate music would provoke such enjoyable sobriety as to negate getting drunk in the first place. Beyond compare. It’s genuinely that simple.
Having received nowhere near the praise that it probably deserved, Surfer Blood’s 2009 debut Astro Coast was notable for two things. i) Lead single Swim; a virulently infectious Californian sun-kissed indie gem that received a ridiculously low amount of airplay, and ii) displaying a phenomenal amount of promise. Shirking off the bedroom four track roots that all but the drums stemmed from, there was a sincere pop sensibility buried beneath its bubble-and-squeak composition of twangy guitars and mild calypso.
Thankfully, then, follow-up EP lives up to the early promise,for the most part. Opener I’m Not Ready has been knocking about the live circuit for the last year or so – sparse guitars lacking the immediacy of some the first album highlights, but leading to a chorus that nags insistently after only a couple of deeper listens.
Voyager Reprise continues in the vein of Neighbour Riffs, with far more self-assured songwriting combining pleasantly with the almost childish exuberance that has pervaded their material to date. Worryingly twee in places, it gives way to a keyboard and harmonica solo that would be bloody awful if it wasn’t quite so addictive. Drinking Problem evokes Golden Haze-era Wild Nothing – an entertaining, if slightly bite-sized romp with a cool feedback-soaked outro.
However, it’s the Summer of Love remix of Voyager Reprise that one suspects will grab the most attention. Sounding almost custom-made to be played back to back with M83’s Midnight City, it’s a superbly tongue-in-cheek electro ball of Edam that should decimate indie clubs in the months to come. Which alas make the remix Drinking Problem seem slightly redundant, and whilst Miranda is Weezer without the self-deprecation, it’s also slightly paint-by-numbers.
A great taster for the second album, Tarot Classics is too insubstantial to fully endorse, but if picked up cheaply enough, it’s a satisfying introduction to a band who haven’t even begun to show what they’re properly capable of.
Matt Crane says….
To find out more, visit the official Surfer Blood website HERE.
Whilst only an eight year hiatus this time round, it’s still been a sizeable period since the (initially well-received, but now illogically disliked) Strays. Whilst it did have a couple of genuinely contemptible tracks on it, it was still an admirable addition to the Jane’s canon; and above all, it actually rocked, unlike long-time associates the Chili’s truly dire contemporary offerings.
Jane’s fourth studio effort is seemingly bereft of said rock (with the exception of album closer Words Right Out of my Mouth) in the most part. However, this is not entirely a bad thing. Instead, Jane’s circa 2011 is a devious serpentine affair, lacking immediacy and sounding deceptively simple in the first instance, before revealing a whole subterranea of winding riffs and joyfully melodic basslines.
Opener Underground is as good a statement of intent as any – the Duff McKagan-bemoaned electronic influence being worn proudly within the opening seconds. Thematically the distant cousin of live album highlight Whores, it wends strongly whilst never really revealing too much on first listen. End to the Lies has been reworked to bubble up into a phenomenally satisfying cataclysm of live drum loops and guitar based savagery, and single Irresistible Force is underpinned by a deliciously load-bearing bassline from TV On The Radio stalwart Dave Sitek.
Standout Curiosity Kills is a minimalist epic, seemingly dragged from the freshly exhumed corpse of Pornography-era Cure. The colossal bassline stitches the spine of an hauntingly ethereal guitar line; vocal harmonies flitting around a guitar solo almost so understated as to be almost completely missed.
It is in no way without its flaws, however. Whilst the subtlety of the music lends itself to repeat listens, Perry Farrell doesn’t seem to have extended the same courtesy to the lyrics. The almost impetuous I’ll Hit You Back genuinely suffers for its cheap playground sentiment; and Twisted Tales’ Hollyoaks regaling of a broken home sob story just comes across as plain shit. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for lyrical transparency, but for someone as purposefully grandiose as their frontman it just seems incongruous to the point of being laughable.
There’s an air of satisfaction to be gleaned from trying something so different to previous efforts, and on the most part The Great Escape Artist succeeds. How receptive everyone else will be to the new direction remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s an album that genuinely gratifies the listener with every spin, and with the prospect of another two albums worth of material knocking about, there’s the distinct possibility of this being a precursor to something truly special.
Matt Crane says…
From more info on Jane’s Addiction visit their website HERE.