Eyes Wide Terrified
Dead Young Club four-way single
Ah, single clubs: four bands; one song each; one review in which to summarise them all. Ready? Off we go, then...
The Cubical have a rather good psychedelic/blusey/surfy guitars and keyboards line-up, but the self-consciously grating growl of a voice over the top kinda annoys, as it just doesn't quite gel with the rest of the tune. The more I listen to it and get used to it, the more able I am to get used to the whole thing - but there's still a jarring feeling every time an instrumental bit ends and the vocal comes back in and changes the whole mood of the thing. I would, however, rather like to hear more by this lot and see whether prolonged exposure made it all come together in my mind.
A Love Supreme I can't be having with at all... Their drum sound is very cool, a clipped-yet-reverberating feeling which is most impressive, and there're some good soaring explosions of noise from the guitars, but all this is squandered by the pious, over-emotional vocals over the top howling on about how rock'n'rollers will never die in a frankly somewhat cringeworthy way... It's a shame, as the music has its merits, but the mood and emotional worthiness of it just make the whole thing embarrassing.
The Lucid Dream are much more fun, a JAMC/Ravonettes-type, taking the former's high-speed feedbackfuzz guitar but pairing it with an early-Ravonettes lightness and sense of fun which shines through the whole thing. Add basic handclappish drumbeats, spaced-out vocals with that sense of being stretched out and singing from across an epic soundscape, a descending effects-pedal bridge section and some attack-keyboards at the end, and you generally have a fantastic space-pop-fuzz number which mixes attitude with a pleasing lightness of touch. Definitely one I'll be investigating further.
And then Yucatan, who play epic, abstract-type music with violins, brass and wind over the fuzzy guitar washes. The abstract feeling is almost certainly exaggerated to my ears because they sing in Welsh, which I don't speak; but even Welsh fluency would still produce allow a certain soaring soundscape feeling. It's all complex-yet-impactful, stirring and consciously emotionally manipulative stuff, and technically very well done; however, it's hard to judge the full impact on here as one song doesn't really display this sorta music to its best effect. It's not really set up for single format, is it now?
Monday Morning Sun - demos
On first pressing play, a load of sweeping, droney atmospherics with a feeling of sunlit melancholy made me feel quite optimistic about this one. However the promising beginning was squandered, as the sense of drifting uplift dissolved into an emotionally empty drone with very little texture and without the sustained beauty or feeling necessary to maintain the listener's interest. Second track Bad Bones has an industrial sort of beat and some ominous effects warblings; but again, the dark threatening vibe which it seems Monday Morning Sun are aiming for lost under the flattened effect of the music. While droning, repetition and understatement can be very powerful emotional tools if targeted correctly to create a sense of ill-defined unease in the listener, here they're rather squandered and the overall effect is a boring, long-drawn-out mass of nothing much at all.
Kronikel - 3-track demo
Kronikel inform us that they're after experienced opinions to let them know whether their demo is any good or not. I suppose I am quite experienced at being opinionated, but I'm not entirely sure that's what they mean... And either way, surely if you're so uncertain about the worth of your band that you need someone else to tell you whether to pursue it, the answer is always going to be "No, don't" because if you can't convince yourself, how the hell are you ever gonna convince anyone else? And Kronikel won't be assisted in overcoming their natural diffidence by the fact that their sound is a kinda rambling free-form trippy post-jazz-rock nonentity with the vague and whining howl of new-acoustic-esque vocals topping it all off. Admittedly being histrionic and bland both at once is quite a good trick, but only in terms of technical achievement - it's really not a good idea aesthetically, and especially not when repeated at this interminable length.
The Afternoons - High Summer Lovers
B-side Sweet Action, The Afternoons' sexual satisfaction number, may be the best accidental advert for celibacy outside of hair metal. Possibly the True Love Waits people could utilise it in their campaigns in the nation's secondary schools? It just kinda slurs and stumbles along and has very little emotion besides a certain amount of casually smug self-assurance, and generally isn't much cop. The A-side's slightly better, but is still nothing more than a slice of everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink desperately feel-good pop. It has apparent pretensions towards being ramshackle and energetic, but these are thwarted by the overpolished production which merges all the disparate elements together just enough to erase any interest or quirkiness while retaining exactly the right amount of internal texture to make it annoying and unignorable. In short, I'm not over-impressed with this...
The Tamborines - 31st Floor/Come Together
Oooh, some droney psychedelic-type rock! And not a bad example of the genre, either; distorted guitar underlies keyboards of almost bubblegum clarity, but with a piercing quality that stops them being corny and allows them to stab their way through the background noise. Fuzzy feedback periodically rears up over and through the other layers of sound, and the BRMC-esque vocals have that laid-back-yet-desperate feeling to them which allow them to merge with the whole wall of sound while still adding and pulling out emotion. Then a howl of feedback, and it all fades out to make way for second song Come Together, which does much the same thing but with a more spiralling riff and a more self-conscious hook. It's all rather fine stuff - it does roam well-trodden territory, but does so with no small amount of finesse.
It's them outta System of a Down's new skate-punk-metal band. It has the same slow breakdown bits crashing into the middle of the overall loudness that SoaD did, except the vocals aren't as funny so they're without even the redeeming feature of hilarity within the crapness.
And if you're still of the opinion that this album might possibly be any good at all, or even possess a single redeeming feature, then it's clear that nothing I could ever say would help you at this point and I'm therefore fully justified in abandoning my attempts to convince you and banishing this CD from my life. Thank fuck for that.
Ah: yet another band who claim in their PR to be a "unique and genre-bending" proposition and who promise to "transcend today's music fan's expectations of what music can be about"... and then proceed to make exceedingly bog-standard Bloc Party-esque indie which is so far from being in any way unique that you wonder whether the person who wrote the press release has ever heard any other music at all. This particular predictable slab of indie rock has a political slant (with an appropriately spitting enunciation of the vocals to underline exactly how serious the issues are), and puts dark rhythms underneath melancholy reverbing guitars, which is doubtless intended to juxtapose the intelligent political seriousness of the lyrics with the emotional impact of the issues at a human level... Oh, God, I've become such a cynic. Shall we just call this mediocre and move on? I think that might be best.
Hilariously bad. It's even worse than the terrible, terrible band photos which adorn the album sleeve - and believe me, that's saying something.
Johnny Foreigner - Eyes Wide Terrified
Johnny Foreigner make shambolic and restrainedly distorted indie pop, with jerky shouted call-and-response vocals, loud-quiet dynamics, clicking fingers which are at least different to handclaps and some pleasing howls of not-quite-feeding-back guitar. It has that juxtaposition of hints of melancholy with a technically loud and jubilant sound which is all but trademarked by the genre, and it generally rattles along very pleasantly. I still maintain that this sorta music works far, far better live; but having listened to this I'm rather keen to go and see Johnny Foreigner next time they visit my hometown, so clearly enough comes across on record to make clear that we're dealing with a band who've thoroughly mastered their chosen genre.
This sorta brassy, handclappy, klaxony, groovy, fuzzy, utterly anodyne while still possessed of a distressingly enormous list of really really annoying elements which make ones back muscles knot themselves so tightly in disgusted tension that I worry I'll never fully recover full flexibility in my spine...
Where was I?
Oh, yes: this sorta thing gives happy music a bad name. It also contains four remixes. Avoid.