Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (Oxford Comma) (2007)

15 Sep

One of my friends favourite albums and an enjoyable , easy listen Vampire Weekend’s debut album is a fantastic musical success.

Vampire Weekend’s soft , indie rock is as punchy and edgy as many albums from supposedly harder genres and yet remains both an easy listen and manages to retain the oh so important balance of harmony and discord integral to most sounds.                                                                                       The first track, Mansard Roof, starts off with a nonchalant beat and a catchy first verse.                               The track has an interesting feel to it with the acoustics of the violins and percussion with a sort of whimsical techno feel.

Oxford Comma is the second track and has a slightly more edgy tone than Mansard but has that typical afro-beat and appealing stop , start nature which appears to be a big part of their music.                           Ezra Koenig proved himself to be a talented lyricist with this song with his witty and elegant prose a major highlight.

A-Punk is probably my favourite track on this album with the light guitar and earthy flute making it both a personal favourite and also doing enough to land itself at No.62 on NME’s Top 150 Songs Of The Last 15 Years.

Overall , Vampire Weekend is a great debut album and with their latest album Contra a strong success I look forward to plenty more to come from them.

If you enjoyed this album you may also enjoy:One For The Road by The Kinks , Rules by Whitest Boy Alive , Coals To Newcastle by Orange Juice.

Thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to post any feedback (complimentary or otherwise) or if you want me to review an album again just put it in the comments section.

The Clash – London Calling (1979)

9 Sep

ImageLondon Calling is one of the great albums and one of (if not the) my all time favourites.      

This was the Clash at their peak and possibly the peak popularity of any punk band at any time , although interestingly enough London Calling came just as their shift to incorporating other styles got under way.        

 Indeed you could not call the album exclusively punk with elements of ska , jazz and a whole flux of other styles.

However at the crux of the band was still the crucial elements with Joe Strummer still spitting out lyrics with the usual zest and furor and rock steady bassist Paul Simonon providing a reliable musical environment with the supercharged songwriting duo of Strummer and Mick Jones (this was a long time before the fissures in the relationship of the two grew into cracks big enough to break the band up) combining brilliantly.

The first track , London Calling , remains one of their biggest hits and an undeniable classic with the opening verse and it’s sauntering guitar piece and blaring insistence.                                                     Strummer’s bawled vocals and the overall mutinous tone of the track ensure both it’s timelessness and enduring “coolness”.

The second track provides a slightly more mainstream rock feel to the table with it’s plucking bass line and tone seemingly more reminiscent of an early 60’s band like The Who (well technically most reminiscent of Vince Taylor as it was originally written and performed by him).

Lost In The Supermarket appears to bring a lighter side to the album (song lyrics on other songs for example were about Nuclear meltdowns , rising unemployment and other heavy mediums) but it’s seemingly literal lyrics on closer inspection lead to interesting questions over the songs meaning.                  Theories include: Strummer’s imagining of Jones’ life growing up in a middle-class , sheltered existence , to an auto-biographical song about his own early life or is the song even perhaps about capitalist apathy?

The Clash’s legacy continues today and it’s music influenced a generation of people.                              I recommend further listening to get the full Clash experience.

If you enjoyed this album you may  enjoy: Anarchy In The UK by Sex Pistols , Wha’penn? by The Beat(English) , Spiral Scratch by Buzzcocks.

Thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to post any feedback (complimentary or otherwise) or if you want me to review an album again just put it in the comments section.

 

 

Top 10 Songs Of The Week

31 Aug

Just to make this very clear before I start , these songs were not released this week , they are just songs I am really enjoying at the moment which you may or may not have heard.

10. Rayes Le Bled – El General (2010/11)

I don’t claim to be an authority on Tunisian protest but this track has an irresistible edge to it and a cold fury to the lyrics born out of being tired of this oppression they are faced with.

Find It: I found it fairly difficult to track down this song , however here is the song with lyrics on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JupZw4SOwVQ

9. Konami – Apparat Organ Quartet (2010)

Found this song while surfing youtube and whilst the video was cool it was the accompanying music that was the real feature.                  The celestial mix of electronica and a choir for most of the song just knocks it out of the park for me.

Find It: This track should be reasonably easy to find on i-tunes and the like and is from their most recent album Polyfonia.

8. Psycho Killer – Talking Heads (1977)

David Byrne’s raving lyrics and distorted delivery match very well and are the stand out features of the song however the epic opening bass line and guitar accompaniment are also highlights.

Find It: Easy to find on youtube , i-tunes or wherever.

7. Last Of Me – The Musgraves (2012)

I saw them perform on the Graham Norton show a while back and as far as I was concerned it was the highlight of the show.             A  fast , soulful tune with a horribly catchy chorus Last Of Me is a fantastic song.

Find It: The single Last Of Me is fairly easy to find on i-tunes.

6. Won’t Back Down – Johnny Cash (2000)

The first of two Cash songs on this list , Won’t Back Down is a real ‘hair raiser’, and with his deep , gravelly voice Cash delivers it perfectly.

Find It: An all time classic so not difficult to find.

5. Young Americans – David Bowie (1975)

Bowie’s performance in Young Americans is undeniably good however it’s the saxophone on this track which is the real show stopper on this track.

Find It: Another very easy to find song , just put it in Google and it will come up in many different formats.

4. The KKK Took My Baby Away – The Ramones (1981)

Fairly formulaic from the Ramones but thats part of what I like about it.                                                                                                                      A simple beat and a strong vocal rendition from Joey Ramone come together nicely.

Find It: Again should be simple to find.

3. Throat I – Little Women (2010)

A little known Brooklyn based noise band , I discovered them recently on the music blog Ear Vomit and was immediately taken with their abrasive , harsh style and use of different components to create a vortex of sound and yet still (at least to me) sound sort of good.

Find It: May be quite difficult to find , however this is their myspace page :  http://www.myspace.com/littlewomensounds.

2. Hung My Head – Johnny Cash (2002)

One of my favourite things about the music of Johnny Cash is the way it tells stories and this is Cash at his story-telling best in this (fictional) account of an accidental killing and the ensuing guilt and shame that follows.                                                                       An incredible piece of music.

Find It: Easy to find on i-tunes or youtube.

1. Ulysses – Franz Ferdinand (2009)

An intriguing opening beat and dynamic first beat are followed by the fantastically crafted chorus where every word every syllable works.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The song is catchy and is a credit to Franz Ferdinand.

Find It: Easily found across a range of formats.

 

 

 

Neil Young – Harvest (1972)

31 Aug

ImageAs the first few bars of Out On The Weekend amble out you can pretty much gauge how much you will enjoy this album.

If you want something fast or loud you may not enjoy this fourth installment of Neil Young’s solo career.

However if you are born of a slightly longer attention span and don’t mind letting the album meander it’s way through certain areas then you should appreciate the album.

When the album was first released it received high record sales but mixed reviews with John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone naming it “a vast inferiority relative to his altogether spectacular Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere of the two albums he’s made since teaming up with Crosby, Etc”.

However ,  Harvest is my favourite of his solo albums and perhaps one of his greatest artistic creations.

On Out On The Weekend , Young opens up with an almost nonchalant drum beat which he then couples with the whimsical moaning of a harmonica to create an unusual combination of the ethereal harmonica and the earthy drums.

Young’s soulful , pleading insistence on Man Needs A Maid is filled with a sincere mournfulness , after all the song is reputedly about his ultimately failed relationship with budding actress Carrie Snodgress (whom he was then dating) and is a potent mixture of ballad and the reflectiveness of your typical cowboys melancholy blues.

Track four Heart Of Gold will always hold a certain place in my heart as it is one of the first songs I learnt to play on my guitar but it also holds an appealing simplicity with it’s unremarkable beat and repetitive , catchy lyrics.

The best way to describe this album and possibly Young’s whole career is the way in which he manages to convey emotion and provide emotional associations without explicitly talking about these feelings or even going into the implicit depths.

Young did not rest on this album (I would say laurels but many would disagree) and in fact 40 years later is awaiting the release of his latest album , Psychedelic Pill.

If you enjoyed this album here are some others you may enjoy: Blood Money by Tom Waits , Songs From A Room by Leonard Cohen , Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen.

Thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to post any feedback (complimentary or otherwise) or if you want me to review an album again just put it in the comments section.

The Libertines – The Libertines (Can’t Stand Me Now) (2004)

26 Aug

The Libertines are a personal favourite of mine ever since a friend showed me some of their work a couple of years ago.

The eponymously titled 14 track album contains some absolute gems: not least the first track Can’t Stand Me Now which peaked at Number 2 on the UK charts.

The two frontmen Pete Doherty and Carl Barat were instrumental in the writing and interestingly enough the album was produced by former Clash singer Mick Jones.

Jones’ influence shows with the zany lyrics and Barat has a similar throaty dialect as Jones’ former band mate Joe Strummer.

The album is fairly typical English rock but incorporates a whole plethora of styles with a swaggering reggae beat one moment , the histrionics of Andy Powell’s cymbals the next.

Unfortunately this was to be the final album of The Libertines as the warring factions of Doherty and Barat   and  Doherty’s drug problems kept him out of the band. Barat dissolved the band citing the reason of not wanting to play under the name without Doherty.

If you enjoyed The Libertines here are some other albums you may enjoy: Tonight : Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand , The Queen Is Dead by The Smiths , The Cure by The Cure.

Thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to post any feedback (complimentary or otherwise) or if you want me to review an album again just put it in the comments section.

Gang Of Four – Entertainment (1979)

24 Aug

Genre:Post-Punk

When a few days ago I found that we had Gang of Fours debut album Entertainment I was ecstatic.

There’s something about those punchy vocals that reminds me a touch of a youthful Joe Strummer and perhaps a whiff of Robert Smith.

Whatever it is Jon King does a fantastic job with both the vocals and the lyrics (him and Andy Gill were probably the strongest creative influences of the founding members).

Two tracks in particular stand out to me , Naturals Not In It and Damaged Goods.

Naturals opening guitar stanza coupled with Jon King’s dynamic vocals is really a pleasure to listen to.

Similarly the kicking bass on Damaged is fantastic especially with the slick drum beat being another highlight.

Whilst Gang Of Four struggled to regain the high which they reached with Entertainment they will still be remembered as one of the more successful post-punk bands.

If you enjoyed Entertainment here are some other albums you may enjoy: Echoes by The Rapture , London Calling by The Clash , Talking Heads by Talking Heads.

Thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to post any feedback (complimentary or otherwise) or if you want me to review an album again just put it in the comments section.