Thursday, April 24, 2008

Goldfrapp - "Seventh Tree"

Mute, 2008

That's a strange matter. At first, I liked this album, what I was surprised at. But the more I was listening to it, the more it was boring and tiring and, the more all the tracks began to be similar to each other.

It seems that the Goldfrapp's newest record blends together various elements of the previous albums. Therefore, we've got here a few brisker themes from "Supernature" and "Black Cherry", but as a whole, "Seventh Tree" is based on subdued tones similar to those, which we can find on the first album - "Felt Mountain". But I must differentiate something – if the trip hop debut was successful and thus interesting, "Seventh Tree" doesn't bring anything new and is just tiring, as I said at the beginning. Anyway, it's listenable and I've managed to listen to it for a few times. Moreover, sometimes I liked to come back to such pieces like: "Clown" (that's in Katie Melua's style, I think), "Happiness" (essentially, a very good song in terms of its "songness") and "A&E" (that's a similar case to the previous one, but it's gentler). To those three I could add "Caravan Girl" as well, but it's too imitative and resembles any song from the two previous records.

Despite my tiredness of Goldfrapp's "Seventh Tree" and despite their not special "Supernature" and "Black Cherry", I have quite good attitude to their gig at Open'er Festival in Gdynia, Poland this year. Well, they've made some interesting and likable songs even on theirs average albums and, what's the most important, they have really excellent first record, which, unfortunately, will probably be passed over during the promotion of "Seventh Tree". Anyway, I feel that this gig will be worth seeing. And I hope that my feeling won't be a mistake.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

British Sea Power - "Do You Like Rock Music?"

Rough Trade, 2008

If this album had been released five years ago, when British Sea Power made their debut, it could have been an obligatory thing, a classic, in it’s genre, piece of music, and a point of reference for everything what would happen after the release of "Do You Like Rock Music?". I’m afraid that now, in 2008, this thing may be a bit underrated or, at the worst, quickly forgotten.

When we compare the newest album of British Sea Power to their earlier releases, it seems more similar to the first record – "The Decline of British Sea Power" than to the second one – "Open Season". "Do You Like Rock Music?" is also full of energy, there are lots of catchy or even hit tunes. The equivalents of the great "Remember Me" and "Fear of Drowning" are here two singles: "No Lucifer" and, a little pompous (fortunately, without exaggeration) "Waving Flags". In addition to this we have "The Great Skua" which musically stands out from the other songs. Those three pieces are the strongest points of this album. And, finally, we have a great ending as well, which together with the beginning of the album makes the composition closed.

I like this album and I can say it with full responsibility. And I like it because it’s a good proof that indie rock formula isn’t worn out yet and, that it’s still possible to make something interesting in this kind of music.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Foals - "Antidotes"

Transgressive Records, 2008

For the last several months I was somewhere beyond the newest music. I was rather becoming absorbed in old things. Probably, I’ve passed over a few interesting albums but fortunately not all of them. I managed to listen to some contemporary music. Battles was such a thing, supposedly new and revolutionary. Now, several months after their debut, I found "Antidotes" by Foals – an album which possibly is a British response for guys from New York.

The album starts great. At the beginning we have "The French Open" which, due to its rhythm, introduces the listener to the climate and creates some expectations connected with the rest of the material. After this, the following piece, "Cassius", continues the theme from the first song with a similar rhythm and adds something else at the same time. After very good beginning, the music becomes quite boring. In advance, I’m very sorry for all the comparisons to Battles, but I think that in this case it will be unavoidable. If the record of the American band was interesting or even surprising for the whole time of its duration, Foals’ music is still invariable and starts to repeat itself. When after the first listening to some album I don’t remember very well any good moment, the next approaches bring some effects in the form of favourite songs from given record. I didn’t have something like that with "Antidotes". Every time I was listening to it, I liked and remembered only the beginning of the album described above. Well, maybe it’s worth to say about the single "Balloons" and following it "Heavy Water" as well. But the whole rest passes me by. It was completely different with Battles – this music was interesting and absorbing every time, even though it was well-known from the very beginning.

Although Foals’ debut isn’t very interesting, it sounds good. The tone isn’t original as well but it’s good and fresh – I can’t have any reservations about it. The large part of the newest, the most recent bands plays like that. The examples: aforementioned Battles or Klaxons. Dance-punk music seems going out of fashion in math-rock music favour. Supposedly, this particular genre is represented by Foals. The band claim that they don’t care about popularity because they are interested in creativity. That’s a good attitude. But they should work on their pieces and make them sound more dissimilar.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

California Stories Uncovered - "California Stories Uncovered EP"

Self-Released, 2007

Polish music will probably be always musically retarded and we will be always following Western examples with almost ten-years-long delay. New wave music, grunge, britpop and indie-rock are the best examples of such an effect. The same thing is with post-rock which, finally, after ten years (supposing that Mogwai’s first album is the beginning of this genre) comes to Poland. Probably guys from California Stories Uncovered realized that no one in this country had been playing like that before, they found some potential audience and filled the gap with their music. Clever – we could say. But I think that it’s not only a cold calculation or a way to come out from the shitty Polish so-called underground. I’ve seen California Stories Uncovered live many times because in their, and simultaneously my, hometown they play very often and I had a good impression every time. This music is created and later performed with a passion which many other Polish bands or artists lack. At the same time California Stories Uncovered sounds fresh but this freshness seems to be past its sell-by date. That’s why those recordings won’t succeed anywhere. We’ve already heard it, this is not a proper time for such music and our expectations are different. Post-rock music is, in fact, still the same and it doesn’t matter who performs it – Mogwai, Explosion in the Sky (that’s the biggest CSU’s inspiration) or someone else – listening to this music we know in advance what will happen and, anyway, we have to wait for it for a long time. To conclude, California Stories Uncovered is a new thing but only on a local scale. They introduce a new quality or attach some prestige here, but only for a moment. The four tracks from debut EP are good to listen to them twice or three times. So, if you want to try, here they are.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thurston Moore - "Trees Outside the Academy"

Ecstatic Peace!, 2007

Comparing it to Moore's "Psychic Hears" from 1995, this album is just mediocre. It couldn't attract my attention while I was listening to it. It's just a worse sort of Sonic Youth with accoustic guitar somwhere in the background. Much worse - I should add. The previous record was incomparable more interesting and absorbing. Containing songs such as "Queen Bee and Her Pals", "Pretty Bad", "Feathers" or "Blues from Beyond the Grave" it has made a really good impression on me. Refering to albums like "Goo" and "Dirty" it was much "sonic". Unfortunatelly, Thurston has done it only once. The only one Moore is not a whole Sonic Youth and that's why "Trees Outside the Academy" can't be compared even with the latest Sonics' album. I can't understand pointless and unnecesarry experiments like "American Coffin" with disorderly thumping piano or "Thurston@13", which reportedly is an authentic recording of Moore when he was thirteen. However, there are some songs on this album which are quite good. For me, first of all, "Wonderful Witches" and "Off Work" - these are songs in which accoustic guitar doesn't distract. To sum up, "Trees Outside the Academy" is a thing probably only for the uncritical fans of Sonic Youth stuff. To the others, I definitely recommend the first Thurston Moore's album.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Radiohead - "In Rainbows"

Self-Released, 2007

Almost everyone has been waiting for this album for over four years and almost everyone had big expectations, which finally can be compared with reality. Was it worth to wait? Was it worth to have such hopes?

The first two tracks on this new Radiohead album strenghten expactations and appetite. "15 Step" and "Bodysnatchers" are two solid songs what can be quite confusing. They are the best two tracks on this CD, but not as good as the earlier Radiohead's accomplishments. Let's go further, sometimes getting tired, but still forward, because there are a few good things. The next several tracks sound a bit derivative. But if this derivative feature came from general music, it would be ok. In this case, where it comes from eariler Radiohead's records, it's really strange. They are repeating themselves because we've already heard those melodies. Moreover - they don't come from the best Radiohead's albums (I'm thinking about "The Bends" and "OK Computer") but from averages such as "Amnesiac" and "Hail to the Thief". So, after good "Bodysnatchers" we have a few dozen minutes of boredom. During this boredom made, among other things, of irritating "Faust Arp" and "Reckoner" which are on the standard of some Jonny Greenwood's or Thom Yorke's solo albums, I can single out two songs: "Nude" and "House of Cards". But it's still a lower standard than the first two trakcs (in my opinion the whole album should sound as numbers one and two - more energetic). Another good song is number five - "All I Need". It was also some time earlier but anyway, it's absorbing.

On the other hand, "In Rainbows", for today's times, is a good and even a bit interesting CD. If it wasn't Radiohead's, the success of a band making it's debut with it would be unquestionable. But in this case we deal with the old stagers, who, some time ago, made us used to some really good standards of their records. With "In Rainbows" they are trying to come back to the former glory. Successfully, I think, because this album is much, much better than the two previous ones.

P.S. In next few days I'm going to place here some older reviews taken from my Polish blog and translated into English. After this you'll find here my opinions on some newer albums.

Cato Salsa Experience and The Thing with Joe McPhee - "Sounds Like a Sandwich"

Smalltown Superjazzz, 2005

I've read about this album in the cultural supplement of a Polish newspaper "Dziennik". It was an enhusiastic review with a note near to the maximum one so I decided to download it. When I started listening to it, it was quite strange because I've fallen in love with this album just at the beginning. Well, perhaps I didn't fall in love because for me it's impossible to love such a raw music, but I really came to like it. This record sounds very energetically, freshly and amazingly. As this album doesn't last even twenty minutes, it is not boring at all and makes me want to move or dance for all the time of its duration. One of the tracks on this CD is a cover of "Whole Lotta Love" (originally performed by Led Zeppelin, obviously), which also sounds fantastically and therefore is one of the best performances of this song that I've ever heard. This album is an interesting combination of several genres, instruments and views of music. I'm waiting for another thing recorded by the same team. I'm sure it will be amazing too.