The cultured teenager

the best of literature, film and music, shown through my rather short-sighted eyes

Category Archives: new music

April’s music reviewed

These are the artists and albums that I have given a listen to in the last month, bands I know and love, bands I’d never heard of before and stuff, because i just always feel like listening to something; Please enjoy,

Jack White: Blunderbuss Probably the album I have been most anticipating of any of this years releases, partly because I love everything jack White seems to produce, but also because of the knowledge that this was going to be different. And Jack White has done me proud. The tone is set by the woozy yet simplistic ‘Missing Pieces’, showing straight from the offing the emotive integrity of the album, allowing obvious references to Jack White III’s relationships, and divorce prior to the albums release. It is therefore clear why, although the album sounds like that of a band, it is a solo piece, laying himself bare, being personal and more candid than anything by his three previous bands. Where other artists pick a style and stick to it, this possibly explains the vast variety of ‘projects’ he undertakes, due to his undeniable talent for making genre crossing music which is fascinating and charming; this is prevalent in Blunderbuss, moving from woozy and soothing to abrasive and raw in a number of chords. Contrasting to a lot of the album, my personal favourite track is Sixteen Saltines, with a riff reminiscent of Blue Orchid or Dead Leaves On The Dirty Ground, from the squeal at the beginning I can’t help but be consumed by the harsh bluesy hues. I think this is an album however which I need to listen to a lot more, as upon first hearing it was sometimes almost trying hard to be different to his other stuff but nonetheless is a brilliant album. 9/10

Brendan Benson: What Kind Of World An artist who I will always closely link to the man whose album I have reviewed above, but is now starting to come out of his shell. Not that he hasn’t already produced solo material, and bloody good independent work at that, but just as his classic album Lapalco worked perfect stylistically, What Kind Of World has done the same. Maybe, it is somewhat less accessible in some manners, being slightly more hazed and brooding, but nevertheless stays true to Benson’s formula, without trying too hard, making music that sounds simple and good simultaneously. It is gloomy without beingsombre and could easily be thrown into the ‘background music’ catalogue, but in no way deserves this; the piano-backed radio rock track ‘Bad for me’ is the perfect example of this and can only really be understood through a quick listen. Definitely worth a listen, whatever sort of music you usually listen to. 8/10

Pond: Beard Wives Denim My first introduction to this band was via their brother band, the much hyped (suitably so) Tame Impala, whose last two albums have both been brilliant to listen to. Containing some members of Tame Impala I was hoping that this musically gifted gene pool would spout some more glorious, guitar induced enjoyment. Boy heck was I proven correct. Merely watching the video for ‘Fantastic Explosion Of time’ is enough to leave me aghast at the creativity which would obviously feel more at home in 1968, taking psychedelia to a new level, making me presume that the band were taking some really interesting substances in the albums production. This isn’t just, however, lots of spinning colours and lyrics about sunshine, birds and free love, but hardened and edgy; it is the sort of music I want to think I would make in order to be adored. And this is the thing, a band playing this sort of music, unsurprisingly has an obsessive collective of fans. The album progresses onwards with gems such as ‘Eye Pattern Baldness’ which I originally thought could have come off an average Lou Reed album, suddenly turns into soothing lyricism and then plunges into a pool of darkness and twisting riffs. Just bliss to the ears 9/10

Please at least contemplate listening to anything here that sounds decent because I seriously doubt you’ll regret it considering how brilliant some of April’s music has been. Regards 🙂

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2011’s Best Songs

The end is nigh for a year which has been interesting in every aspect musically. A year of brilliant festivals, the sad passing of Amy Whinehouse and the emergence of brilliant young prospects with brilliant unique music, not that we haven’t heard some great stuff from established artists. These are my 10 favourite tunes of the year, and I’m hoping I haven’t missed out any amazing tracks, such was the vast array of talent on show. Please enjoy…

10.)Battles – Ice Cream. Battles seem to go the hard way around making brilliant music. Separately, every part of ‘Ice Cream’ and also on the album (gloss drop) makes utterly no sense, with bumping sounds and an intro which consists of someone hyperventilating. However, and don’t ask me how, they create wonderful tunes, although it seems to originate from the Steve Jobs school of music.

9.) Miles Kane – Inhaler. He will always be known as ‘Alex Turner’s Mate’, but he has some obvious musical talent of his own. ‘Inhaler’ has roots from classic sixties music where all you need is great riff and wonders can be built upon it. This riff however packs a huge punch and Kane’s howling cries are truly his own creation and intoxicating. 

8.) Dry The River – No Rest. Here is a band I have already mentioned on a couple of different occasions, such is the influence of this brilliant, sharp folk. They are the folk equivalent of The Ramones, the dark, tattooed underbelly of the genre. 2011 has seen big folk artists maintaining their success, Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, as well as young talent arriving, Ben Howard, Benjamin Francis Leftwitch, and this band. This song builds intensity like a Hitchcock film, and by the end you are left in awe by the cooing of lead singer Peter Liddle.   

7.) Yuck – Get Away. They weren’t exactly the biggest band of year, but they brought about a brilliant, beautiful ugliness with their fuzzed-up grunge. The bad-haired, denim-wearing weirdos came up trumps with their debut album and particularly with this track. This is the sort of track I wish grunge icons, such as the Smashing Pumpkins, had been able to create with snarling guitars and baffling intensity.

6.) Arctic Monkeys – Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair. Anyone with a back-catalogue with as many great tracks as the Arctics would have trouble living up to previous material, but no such problem occurs with Alex Turner at the helm. Turner has reprised his role as the orator of such lyrical masterpieces as “Run with scissors through a chip pan firefight… Wear your shellsuit on bonfire night… Go into business with a grizzly bear… but just don’t sit down ’cause I’ve moved your chair”. Clever, clever music.

5.) Howler – I Told You Once. This is reminiscent of a happy incarnation of The Strokes, brought by Rough Trades most recent signings who have brought great, simple indie music out of Minneapolis. ‘I Told You Once’ proves that music does have to be clever or particularly refined in order to be good, and remaining with the ethos of the band, it is buoyant but also nonchalant.

4.) The Strokes – Under Cover of Darkness. I wouldn’t call them the best band of year, with ‘Angles’ being a pretty disappointing album, but nonetheless they are still The Strokes and therefore still have the ability to produce great songs (if slightly more sparsely). From the moment it begins it opens with a spine-tingling riff and then Casablancas’ moody groans, complementing each other perfectly in a way only The Strokes know how.

3.) The Black Keys – Gold on the Ceiling. Another example of old-fashioned rock based on a punchy riff that convinces me I accidentally put on a Cream record. Moreover, this isn’t just the earthy blues-rock we’re used to being heralded by The Black Keys, but a sound culminating in replacing The White Stripes as one of the world’s best garage rock bands. 

2.) The Vaccines – Norgaard. The Vaccines gave easily one of the best live performances I saw this year, the highlight of which being ‘Norgaard’ and its inconceivable energy. The song resonates the sanguine vivacity when they are playing live through its bouncy hyperactive riff and sheer pace. Too often good music is a bit dull, and The Vaccines make great music through just having a bit of fun. 

1.) The Horrors – Still Life. I could listen to this over and over and over again, as I say this from past experience, explaining the imprint of a replay button buried into my thumb. Never has such brilliance emerged from the one-handed use of synths and the psychedelia of gnarling guitars, synth and Faris Badwan’s gloomy groans creates a euphoric, smooth sound. At first I thought it was a bit like Echo and the Bunnymen, but it is now clear that this is a completely unique sound to The Horrors, which has been refined and perfected. 

Well done for those who have reached the end of this post and I hope you have enjoyed the years musical offerings as much as I. Hopefully next year will provide with as much great music to talk about, regards 🙂

5 great new songs

Its time for one of these again. Hope you actually find something you like. I’m slightly reducing my number of posts for the meantime as I am far too busy with school work and university application. Hopefully you’re not quite as stressed out as me, maybe this music will relax you, but probably not. Cheers 🙂

Tribes- When My Day Comes A rather riveting, dramatic tune from an up-and-coming Camden band, whose other stuff is slightly wannabe-Nirvana, yet this has a similar sort of tune without the harshness. Easy to listen to and easy to enjoy.

The Horrors- I Can See Through You This my favourite song of The Horrors amazing third album, if not quite up to the heights of Primary Colours, but this track is certainly brilliant. Fast drums, euphoric synth and slurring vocals mixed to perfection.

DZ Deathrays- Gebbie St Every bone in my body tells me I shouldn’t like this, but, its great, because it so unrefined, with edgy guitars and semi-shouting, it leaves me in a state of puzzled amazement.

The Black Keys- Lonely Boy This is the first track of their eagerly awaited El Camino album and it doesn’t disappoint. The riff growls and the man in the video looks a bit like Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which must be good thing.

Cage The Elephant- Aberdeen Fun intellectual rock which is sublimely weird but with a mess of noise and melody.

All these songs are brilliant. I hope you agree slightly with this statement. Regards 🙂

The Folk Revolution

Folk music has always confused me, most of the bad stuff is overrated, whilst the good stuff is underrated. In my eyes there isn’t usually much in the way of good stuff, yet recently I have been bombarded with folk songs that are outstanding. Popularity for the genre has monumentally increased over recent years by a youthful wave of stylish, attractive and clever songwriters writing music for young people with sensitive ears and for middle-class thirty-something’s. Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver and Laura Marling are three of the most successful folk artists to gain folk stardom, and now are being preceded by the next wave of this revolution.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich: A York singer-songwriter with dreamy tunes that make your heart skip a beat (Oh god, I sound so pathetic). He wistfully coos some of the best folk songs I’ve ever heard; lyrics of twisted love combated by soft, whispering vocals and flutters of guitar. Sehr gut. 

Dry The River: Definitely my favourite of the folk renegade, is an atypical folk band, not elder country folk in the attire of gypsies, but folk with a harsh, almost punk mentality. Folk with tattoos. As you will hear, from this utterly brilliant song, their lead singer, Peter Liddle has a harrowingly gorgeous voice, contrasting with the bands rock-influenced guitars. This song is a slow-burner, but amazing never-the-less. 

Ben Howard: Ben conforms more to the stereotypical folk singer, Devonian heritage etc, but why should it matter when he has such good songs. It may be stereotypical, but is there is nothing fey about his folk, it has backing harmonies and guitar pluckage (a very technical term), but is pacey and bounces along with beef.

Boy and Bear: Quite a lot of Mumfordness about their style but it’s good, so here you go.

I hope some of this was of interests, if not tell me what genres you want me to scrutinize next. Regards 🙂