Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Album Review: Husker Du - Zen Arcade

1984's Zen Arcade was a substantial leap forward for Husker Du.  Although many of the tracks were still delivered at breakneck speed, staying true to their punk roots, it's a sprawling double album with 23 tracks and 70 minutes of music.  A sort of Exile On Hardcore Street. 

On initial listening it's hard to digest, but several listens in you'll be hooked. For there are some really great riffs here.  Bob Mould's Something I Learned Today, and Chartered Trips have speedy, complex riffs.  Beyond The Threshold was surely the inspiration for Pearl Jam's Spin the Black Circle.  Further into the album, the unpromisingly-titled hard-rocker Whatever, is surely a guitar god performance by Mould and a standout on the album, laying the groundwork for future classics.

It's not all about fast guitar riffs either.  As early as the third track, Grant Hart slows things down with the Elvis Costello inspired, acoustic Never Talking To You Again, and also delivers a riff that can only be described as wobbly on What's Going On.  Standing By The Sea is a wonderfully lurching track, while Pink Turns To Blue is glorious power-pop drenched in fuzzy guitars.

Less interesting are random nonsense like Dreams Reoccuring, which spawned a longer, thirteen minute version in final track Reoccuring Dreams, and Hare Krsna, while Pride and Masochism World are throwbacks to Husker Du's less melodic, hardcore past.  We even get brief piano interludes One Step At A Time and Monday Will Never Be The Same.  Later, penultimate track Turn On The News is something of an almost obvious rock anthem.

An album of this length with so many tracks is never going to be anyone's favourite Husker Du album, there's simply too much going on, too many different directions.  But it's full of guitar-driven gems, none of which could be described as immediate but stick with it and it pays off.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Album Review: Moutpiece

Oddly-titled Dublin band Moutpiece (Gaz Le Rock, Michael Connerty et al) released their self-titled debut album in 2008.  It's a set of frenetic, 90 miles an hour driving guitar music.  Many of the tracks speed along to their conclusion in less than two minutes (Out of Our Heads Again, Reason To Dance, Gary, the ACDC-on-speed of On The Boulevard).  24 Stella has a tidy little Stooges riff, Introduce Me To Ray has a sort of bubble-grunge thing going on.  Later, The Frog has echoes of, of all things, Led Zeppelin's Heartbreaker.  The album finishes with the guitar heroics of Blister On The Moon, the longest track.  Violent hommes??

What I'm reminded most of all throughout this short 25 minute album is Motörhead, albeit without Lemmy's growled vocals.  It's currently available free of charge if you pre-order forthcoming EP Black Banana from moutpiece.bandcamp.com

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tim Mooney

Tim Mooney was a member of American Music Club for what some consider their ‘classic’ line up.  As the drummer, he performed on the subtle gem that is 1993’s Mercury and the follow-up San Francisco.  When AMC regrouped in 2004 he played a central role on the heaving, dark beast of an album Love Songs For Patriots, aiding on production as well as drums.

He was also involved with Dakota Suite on 2003’s This River Only Brings Poison, a languid gem, then later that year he performed on the first Sun Kil Moon album, Ghosts of the Great Highway.  American Music Club, Dakota Suite and Sun Kil Moon is some CV.  At 54 years of age he died painfully young of a heart attack.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Album Review: Earth | Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II

Review for www.meg.ie http://www.meg.ie/earth-angels-of-darkness-demons-of-light-ii/

Album Review: Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here

In 2010 Gil Scott-Heron released his final album, I’m New Here.  Although it’s got 15 tracks on it, it’s quite a brief listen at 28 and a half minutes.  What the album is really all about is Scott-Heron’s voice.  It’s right in the foreground across the album, and it’s a voice that stops you in your tracks and demands that you listen to it.
Many of the tracks are mainly spoken word tracks, the album starts and finishes with On Coming From A Broken Home (featuring a Kanye West sample) which sets the scene.  Musically, the accompaniment is minimal in the extreme, with occasional touches of strings, keyboards and guitar, and some no-nonsense beats.
Some of the key tracks are cover versions.  Robert Johnson’s Me And The Devil is old as the hills but it somehow sounds updated with Gil Scott-Heron’s grizzled voice over the pulsing music.  The title track, written by Smog, is calmer with a plucked guitar as the only accompaniment as he delivers the key lines “I told her I was hard to get to know, and near impossible to forget”.  It’s like a modern form of the blues.  Later his jazzy take on I’ll Take Care of You also works well.
His originals fit in well with the material, Your Soul and Mine is all snapping beats and brooding strings, while New York Is Killing Me is even sparser, practically just voice, handclaps and percussion and The Crutch has arresting effects and percussion.  There are also brief spoken word interludes such as Parents and Being Blessed which offer short pearls of wisdom from Gil Scott-Heron.
The album is not a million miles away in spirit from Johnny Cash’s American Recordings albums.  There’s a fascinating darkness at the heart of it.