Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Album Review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - From Her To Eternity

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released their first album in 1984.  It opens with a demonic version of Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche.  Cave’s vocal delivery is absolutely threatening as he growls out the lyrics: “do not dreeiiisss in those raaagggs fo me, I know you are not poor” as Mick Harvey thunders away on slamming drum fills.

The rest of the album is largely made up of demented romps like Cabin Fever and Saint Huck, featuring feral grunts, guttural yelps and yowling Stooges-style by Nick Cave, while the instruments clank and growl away in the ether.  Better is Well of Misery, a vibraphone-clad call-and-response death march, to the sound of what sounds like the lashes of a whip.  The final track, A Box For Black Paul, is a lengthy doom-laden bluesy ballad featuring almost Bowie-esque piano.  It lasts over nine and a half minutes and is a very early version of a style he would patent on later albums.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Album Review - Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze

Queens of the Stone Age released their fourth album in 2005 and it’s a sprawling beast of an album at 14 tracks (16 on the deluxe version).  Mark Lanegan takes lead vocals on the curveball opener, the brief folk song This Lullaby before the hard-riffing Medication blasts this away, Josh Homme barking out the lyrics to set up a run of seven or so absolute nailed-on QOTSA classics.
There’s Everybody Knows That You’re Insane which explodes into riffing a minute or so in, the glitter-stomp of Burn The Witch, and pounding rockers In My Head and the cowbell-driven Little Sister.  Something for everyone!  These are among the finest songs in QOTSA’s entire back catalogue.  I Never Came is a little more of a slow-burner and a welcome breather after the high octane tracks which precede it.  After this however, the album sags alarmingly, with relatively weak tracks like Someone’s In The Wolf and The Blood Is Love. 
The album never quite recovers until the aptly-titled final track Long Slow Goodbye, where the pace slows for a fine electric strum.  The deluxe version is well worth getting for the slinky, moody Like A Drug, and a storming version of ZZ Top’s Precious and Grace with Lanegan again on lead vocals.
Because of its excessive length this album tends to be in the shadow of Rated R and Songs for the Deaf .  But for the first 8 tracks alone it deserves to be ranked up there with this bands finest work.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Album Review: The Durutti Column - LC

Vini Reilly’s second album as The Durutti Column came out in 1981.  It was very much a continuation of the almost supernatural aesthetic of previous album The Return Of with the addition of Reilly's ghostly, unobtrusive vocals on certain tracks (Sketch for Dawn I & II, Never Known, The Missing Boy).  Isolating individual tracks here is not easy, much of the album is composed of Reilly’s unhurried guitar noodling, accompanied by minimal, electronic percussion.
That’s not to say there aren’t strong melodies here – Messidor and Never Known both echo Sketch for Summer (from The Return of the Durutti Column).  Final track The Sweet Cheat Gone avoids guitar altogether, replaced by piano.  If you’re a fan of conventional verse/chorus songs, this album isn’t for you.  If however, you enjoy more abstract guitar compositions would recommend checking this or its predecessor out.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Album Review: Teenage Fanclub - A Catholic Education

Teenage Fanclub's debut album was released in 1990 before, it seems, the band heard Big Star.  It's rockier and less distinctive than subsequent albums.  There are not one but two tracks entitled Heavy Metal (both instrumental), the latter of which pre-empted the blues-metal of Metallica's Load.
Second track in is Everything Flows, a ragged yet in control rocker with shades of the Wedding Present about it, with what became their trademark: the harmonies of Norman Blake, Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley.  Elsewhere, Catholic Education and especially Critical Mass are again reminiscent of the Wedding Present.
Tracks like Too Involved and swaggering Stones-y rockers Don't Need A Drum and Eternal Light are enjoyable but somewhat anonymous.  The album comes off sounding like the leading lights of the indie music scene circa 1988-1990, ie Wedding Present or even Primal Scream (in their pre- Screamadelica phase).