Little tired of some of the CDs Iíve been getting. Well except for that Tence one. So, as Iím enjoying my first proper week off work in two years - no thesis, no work, ahhhhh - I thought Iíd go and treat myself to some stuff I wanted. Or at least have a look for something interesting. So, I picked up a few old CD re-issues (yeah, I know, but these are to replace vinyl offerings that got lost many moons ago). At the same time I found some new things of interest. A new Tori Amos double CD, Billy Mahonie (who Iíd heard good things about), the Queen Adreena single, which has had good reviews even if it was a steep rip-off price, and some other stuff. So, might as well review Ďem properly. Well, as properly as I ever get anyway.
Weíll start with, uh, letís start with theQueen Adreena single shall we? Only two tracks, though this one came with the utterly fabulous and weíre not trying to rip you off at all honest, addition of the same thing on a 5" picture disc vinyl single. Ah, take you back to the days, while fleecing the pockets. Thatís what we like, costly reminisces. Anyway, whatís this like? Well apart from being short, itís difficult to tell, as the 2 songs on offer are nothing alike in my opinion. The first track Cold Fish is all rocking, fuzzy buzzsaw guitars.
The second track, Yesterdayís Hymn feels much more ethereal and swirly. At first I didnít know if I liked it or not, the vocals, theyíre kind of cutesy girly in a way. The sort of thing that when I like it I love it, but when I donít I can find it intensely nauseating and annoying. Which of course is unfair in itís own little way.
And now to Tori Amos. For those that think itís a bit toooo commercial, not metalpunkoindyhardcore enough, youíd be absolutely right. If you were writing this zine. But youíre not, I am, and if I want something to be in here, then in here it be. Sort of thing. Sorry, but Iíve definitely got issues with people when they believe that if you do a zine or call yourself into the underground then you canít have anything commercial or on a major label in your record collection. Load of cobblers. If music is about what moves you, which is often the claim, then if it moves you it moves you, irrespective of the label itís on or filed under. Hang on, Iíve got a few things to say on all this, some stuff thatís bugging me. Kind of linked to some stuff I said in that Queen Andreena review as well. Bear with me, I think Iím possibly about to go off on one again.
Had a few more e-mails and the like recently questioning my birthright due to some people not agreeing with my comparisons of bands or references, or just my ability to review music in general. Well look, lets clear this up ok. I thought it was already clear. I know nothing about music. I canít play, I donít understand it. I do enjoy it though. I made the decision to write some reviews about it. Whether you trust me or believe me is entirely up to you. Personally I read others reviews and if they are excited by them, then I may take the chance. Itís up to you if you do the same with what I write. But trust me? I donít trust me, and I donít trust you either.
So sometimes I think something sounds like one thing, or itís on the tip of my tongue and in trying to make the link a name enters the head that seems right at the time. So I write that. If Iím wrong or you disagree, so what. My sense of logic, the way I see things doesnít necessarily relate to yours. Deal with it. Sometimes I get stuff that is outside what I normally listen to. I have no references for it. I could bin it, but hey, someone has taken the time and money to send it to me, I know how costly this thing can be, so I feel the least I can do is make an effort. Some go with the notion that if itís shite, donít mention it, but then how are people supposed to know what you think is shite. So I take a best guess, often linking it to something Iíve only heard snippets of. Unfair maybe, but itís the chance you take. I hate reviews that go "this sucks." Ok, itís funny the first time, but itís taking the piss. Sorry, but I fucking detest that someone disagrees with one of your opinions and then subsequently calls everything else you say into question. I mean, Iíve bought stuff before based on a recommendation and not liked it. Or thought it sounds like something completely different to what they did. Does that mean that Iíll dismiss everything else that person ever recommends again? No. I mean, thatís making yourself a bit fucking precious isnít it. "Oh, Iím right, only I am right and you people can not be right to save your lives". We all get things wrong, make mistakes, dumb comparisons. None of us are perfect you know. Dunno, maybe the way I write sets things up for it, invites argument and disagreement. But itís how I write, so I guess Iíll have to live with it. And so will the rest of you.
I saw Neurosis recently again, and as I was watching, I couldnít believe that I (or anyone else for that matter), had compared the likes of Pulkas or Earthtone9 to them. Or pretty much any other band that has had that comparison bestowed upon them. Nothing alike really. If you disagree with my comparisons, well fair enough. Remember, itís my view, nothing else. Itís not important. Remove your head from your egotistical arsehole. Sometimes things go over the top of me. Sometimes Iím at gigs and just going through the motions, the music doesnít register. Things are on my mind, and the band goes over the top of my head. It doesnít make sense on that night. So, I could not bother writing about it, same as when Iím struggling for words on a release. Instead I choose to write what I think at the time. Because itís my reaction to music. If you want it to be technical writing, or you want to like it only when Iím fully in agreement with what you think, and anything else means my judgement is suspect, then you may as well fuck off now. Cos it ainít like that. The day I have to be technically correct and 100% accurate in my comparisons will be the day I stop. If you donít like what I write, either donít read the fucking stuff, or do it yourself.
Ok, back to that review. New Tori Amos album. I like her, cos well, itís music I enjoy listening to. Double Cd. First one is all new material, the second one a live recording from the last tour. Letís deal with the live stuff first. Never actually seen her live, so I canít say with itís representative of the performance. But it is a bit disappointing to me. Thereís a little bit of messing around with some of the material, that just feels uncomfortable, and some of the tracks are drawn out, the anticipation of the performance I guess. And the track tagged on at the end, Purple People, recorded during a soundcheck, is just too boring and self-indulgent. Maybe itís just indicative of my personal preference when it comes to her back catalogue, but personal faves on show here are Precious Things and Little Earthquakes, which still remains my favourite album.
The other disc is all new material, and in the same way that the Tales From The Choirgirl album disappointed me, so does this. Itís still kind of Tori Amos doing what she does, but the quality of the songs, the hooks just arenít as sharp as the earlier efforts. Iíve listened to it now, and I just canít really recall anything enough to relay titles and what it sounds like. So overall itís a bit disappointing, and maybe it is more of a stop gap album and for the more dedicated following. If youíve never listened to her before, then check out Little Earthquakes instead, Ďcos that one is a gorgeous album. Hope the next one is as well.
And finally, Billy Mahonie. Itís instrumental, and itís quite mellow and gentle in places, so that should piss no end of people off straight away. But thereís one moment, and sometimes it only takes one moment, that sells it for me. On the track We Accept American Dollars, about half way through this a part which is just uh, yes, yes, sort of thing. The first time I heard it my ears pricked up. Then I played it last night just before I went down the pub, and a 30 second part suddenly became a 20 minute loop, because it was in my head all the way as I walked down. Itís a simple melody, the bass and guitars melding perfectly. Itís also a sound which I know Iíve heard elsewhere, or at least similar, and I know I probably reacted the same then. Sometimes something just sounds so right, itís so simple, so obvious it mustíve been done before. And this is such a moment. I think the name on the tip of my lips is Sophia. Itís just a magic moment, and one for me that makes the whole album worthwhile, even if the rest were shite, which it isnít. As I walked down the hill, I was thinking it was good to be alive. Cos that little bit was battering around in my mind. And I like the fact that even when Iím being a sourfaced wanker, that music can do that and have that impact. Suddenly I want again to be able to play a guitar, just to be able to play something like that myself. I wish I had the talent to do something creative like that. I kind of enjoy that track.
But that's not to say the remainder of the CD pales, because it doesn't. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah in particular manages to mix the more muscular moments with the subtle melodies. Thereís a couple of little guitar riffs, chords, whatever that just sound so good. As soon as you hear it you know. Somethings are just instinctive.
The tone is set from the off by Watching People Speak When You Canít Hear What Theyíre Saying, the band electing to try and bridge the gap within the kind of post hardcore scene. This is post hardcore evolving from the more musical side of things such as Fugazi, rather than the bulldozing of "new skool". Itís kind of quiet even when itís loud, the drums bring to mind a jazz style sort of thing. Could be wrong, probably am. As such some people will hear it and probably call it indie bollocks, or pretentious noodling. To my mind it's nothing of the sort, but it does require approaching from a different angle, and the acceptance that music can exist without vocals. But if you manage to make that transition, for my money you'll be rewarded with one of the most soothing uplifting musical experiences of the year. Totally and utterly superb.
In many ways my reasoning for liking it is similar to the reason I love the Godspeed EP. Itís simply gorgeous music. You donít need crunch all the time. Here the beauty of the music, the notes, the melodies is allowed to take centre stage.
It also comes in a really nice package. Thereís a whole bunch of them lately, Billy Mahone, Godspeed, Meathook Seed, Molasses. Everyone complains that CDs just donít have that same feel and allure as vinyl in their packaging. Fair enough. But maybe itís just because everyones been too lazy and not really tried. Could be. Thereís some great ones out there, and yes, sometimes the music is about more than just the CD or the vinyl.
Fantastic whichever way you look at it.