Wednesday, 30 September 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #05 - Help! (1965)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

EDIT: Well, the above just got a bit ruined by a weekend of not blogging; the lack of posting stemmed from the fact we had a big party in our house to celebrate a new housemate moving in (and one moving out, sob!) - in short everything was a bit hectic and my blog posts got a bit behind. With that in mind I've decided to opt out of posting a new Wednesday compilation this week, instead I'm going to focus on getting some more Beatle-A-Day posts - we're getting into the really great stuff now, so hopefully it shouldn't be too much of a hardship ;-p

Apologies for any disappointment this may cause, but I promise I'll make it up next week... I have a bit of a special idea for it!

1. Help
2. The Night Before
3. You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
4. I Need You
5. Another Girl
6. You're Going To Lose That Girl
7. Ticket To Ride
8. Act Naturally
9. It's Only Love
10. You Like Me Too Much
11. Tell Me What You See
12. I've Just Seen A Face
13. Yesterday
14. Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Oh my lord... Help! is a damn fine album, and certainly my favorite at this point in Beatle-A-Day's life - it shows the band pulling the folk and country influences present in Beatles For Sale and reforming them into a much more palatable work (in my opinion anyway, don't hate me!) Just see Lenon's more exciting Dylan-esque writing on You've Got To Hide Your Love Away.

Help! also shows the four stretching their musical vision even further through more apparent studio manipulation - the effects on the guitar in I Need You are really quite progressive, even by today's pop music. Similarly the also Harrison penned You Like Me Too Much sounds very modern today; you know, in retrospect I think Belle and Sebastian might like the song a little bit...

The iconic title track dominates the album, but it belies the songwriting complexity present on the rest of the album. Ticket To Ride's experiments with rhythm (on the guitar picking sections) belay the album's modus operandi of intertwining pop sensibilities with exploration of personal musical interests and lyrical introspection.

It's Only Love hints more strongly at drug use than anything else the band had produced to date, but not just lyrically - the musical responses to the vocal line have a distinct semi-improvised and lackadaisical quality which I don't find hard to attribute to marijuana use.

Even though it sounds a bit silly to equate such a thing to a substance I think the very fact one could think that hints at something much more tangible; The Beatles' music begins reflecting the band themselves much more on Help! than on previous efforts. Instead of aping Bob Dylan, as on Beatles For Sale, and speaking their lyrics in his language, The Beatles look to themselves and craft their own way of expressing the sort of feelings hinted at in the aforementioned album's Lenon Trilogy.

The culmination of this is the album's beautiful penultimate track, Yesterday. On Yesterday I can't help but imagine John, Paul, Ringo and George celebrating their musical childhood, but knowing that it has its place - the past. The song feels heartbroken at leaving the first phase of The Beatles' career, but also knowing that they had to grow up and face a more complex world.

Musically the string arrangements and melody certainly display this, but the real kicker is the song's lyrics. Here are a few snippets so you can see for yourself:

All my troubles seemed so far away,
Now it looks as though they're here to stay,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

I'm not half the man I used to be,
There's a shadow hanging over me,
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.


Love was such an easy game to play,
Now I need a place to hide away,
Oh, I believe in yesterday."

There's no escaping the fact that The Beatles' childhood was over, and their more experimental teenage years had begun - next, enter Rubber Soul and the sitar...

sam sam

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Wednesday Compilation - 23rd September 2009

Download link will follow at the bottom of the post.

Track 01 -Do by Do Make Say Think (from The Other Truths)

This is the first track off Do Make Say Think's new album; as you might have guessed from the title of this song the four tracks are titled Do, Make, Say and Think. The band claim that release is return to writing long songs, but musically it doesn't really feel like a step back at all.

It occurred to me the other day that I actually appreciate Do Make Say Think as much, if not more than their legendary label-mates, Godspeed You Black Emperor; and this song exemplifies why. Although the band vary their musical output considerably across albums their work always makes me have the strangest feelings - in this song it's the bass line section (eventually taken over by the horn section).

When we saw them live at ATP a few years ago I spontaneously burst out in tears, and if this new material is anything to go by I can see the same happening when I see them again soon!

Track 02 - Helter Skelter by The Beatles (from The Beatles (aka The White Album))

I know dog show hello has played host to a little slice of Beatle-mania over the past week (and doesn't show any sign of leaving soon!), but I couldn't help myself with this one - go on, indulge me a little further!

Helter Skelter is one of my all time favourite Beatles songs; it feels vital and fresh even today. I'm finding myself becoming more than a little obsessed with the song's drone-like guitar backing, and don't see any question that it was a song born out of a lot of frustration. You can hear savagery in every aspect of the song, particularly the fake out ending - is there any other moment as FUCK YOU in The Beatles catalog? At the time of writing I honestly think not (although Beatle-A-Day!!! might change that!)

Oh, and if by some miracle you haven't heard the song before prepare to be blown away.

Track 03 - Hard To Reach by Jesu (from Jesu / Envy split)

I've been a huge Jesu fan ever since the Heartache EP, and I've really enjoyed hearing the project grow into something much more than a Godflesh side project. I know that this choice is a polarizing one, but I think of Hard To Reach as a pivotal song in Broderick's musical life, as well as a damn fine one!

I know this is the second pretty long song on the compilation (apologies!), but when considering which Jesu track to include I couldn't not choose this one. Whilst I'm not sure if it is the best one I see it as the point when the project embraced the poppy My Bloody Valentine allusions it first set forth on the Silver EP.

Hard To Reach is a screaming wash of guitars (a-la My Bloody Valentine), coupled with Jesu's processed bass loops and Justin's spaced out vocals; in short it's fantastic. Listen LOUD!

Track 04 - Ef by Lite (from Phantasia)

I've followed Lite since my (now-ex! sob!) housemate lent me their first EP, and it's been a pleasure to see them from a great band into an impeccable one. Lite do math-rock with a punk-like aggression; you get the impression from the songwriting that the band are hungry for even more complex writing and rhythms to gnaw on. Seeing them live played out this theory (no loop pedals, just distortion), but Ef is the true proof.

Although not subscribing to punk's history of sloppiness Lite display a refreshing tenacity, always pushing themselves to craft more and more baroque compositions, whilst still remaining razor sharp.

Think Yes in a knife fight and you have Lite. (Hello Vice-isms!)

Track 05 - An Envoy To The Open Fields by Mew (from And The Glass Handled Kites)

I love all of ...And The Glass Handled Kites, and it seems a shame to pick apart something which stands as a really strong whole, but I've done it dammit!

I eventually chose An Envoy To The Open Fields because I though it typified the ridiculously epic scope of this album, whist still working as a song in its own right. For me the drum and bass guitar production rule this album, and this song works as a really great showcase of how Mew distort poppy melodies into something much more exciting.

If you like this song I can't recommend getting the whole album enough; as I stated before it really does work best as one experience.

Track 06 - All Things To All Men by Cinematic Orchestra (feat. Roots Manuva) (from Every Day)

The Cinematic Orchestra became known to me as a band which had sound tracked the film Man With A Movie Camera, but they really are much more than that, as this collaboration with Roots Manuva shows. I love Roots Manuva's lyrics, but the jazzy instrumentation is what really makes the song for me.

The drums have a really crisp tone, which speaks to the song's seeming preoccupation with precision; the bass tones and horns all feel as if their inclusion has really been considered.

Most of all though I love the way the song let's the instruments have space so we hear notes decay; it makes the song feel very open and expansive. Beautiful stuff.

Track 07 - Turtle Island by Beach House (from Devotion)

Devotion is the only thing I've heard from Beach House, but if it's all like this album then I think I'm going to really enjoy getting stuck into it (after all of this Beatles stuff of course!)

I don't actually know much about this band, apart from than I really like their music, so this probably won't be a very long entry!

I chose Turtle Island to appear on this compilation because it really sums up what I like about the album; it has a really mournful tone, but still feels playful. In particular I love the muffled drum sound, droning bass and ethereal vocals - let me know what you think!

Track 08 - Fatefully by Hot Cross (from Risk Revival)

Hot Cross are a pleasure to listen to, their guitars drip with a well oiled emo-core sass, but they still retain a sense of aggression and righteousness. Some may claim that Risk Revival is too melodic, but I think it suits the band to be in full pop-swagger; to my ears the earlier stuff seem slightly misguided in their attempts to be aggressive anyway.

I chose Fatefully because I used to run on the treadmill in time to it, bouncing up and down in the chorus breakdown and mouthing the lyrics:

"fuck off,
fuck off,
because I DON'T NEED YOU!!!"

Guess I looked like a bit of a peanut, but I loved it every time; so I guess I win!

Track 09 - Powerbook Fiend by Kid 606 (from Who Kills Sound)

I heard this album when I was in secondary school, and it fit the tradition of the time that the heaviest/fastest/most aggressive song on the album always became my favorite - in fact between myself and Robbie Judkins the mid-song sample of "1-2-3-4-5-6 BASS!"became a little bit of a custom in itself.

As for the song itself it doesn't sound half as heavy as I once thought it to be, but it's still great fun and my favorite thing Kid 606 has done - such an awesome ending too!

Track 10 - Satori Pt. 1 by Flower Travellin' Band (from Satori)

My friend Chris told me that Flower Travellin' Band were the first band to cover a Black Sabbath song - the titular Black Sabbath, off the album of the same name - and did so only a few months after the original's release.

With that in mind Flower Travellin' Band's sound shouldn't come as too much of a shock - sabbath with more wails...

...and, surprise surprise, it's fucking awesome!

Track 11 - Emerge by Fischerspooner (from #1)

Fisherspooner really made an impact on me with the amazing video of this song when I was in secondary school, it was easily the most amazingly camp and energetic things I had experienced to that point - what more would you expect from a band which lists their Wardrobe, Design, Photographer,
Dramaturgist and Hair Stylist personnel with their musical line up?!

Musically they make some of the coolest electro-clash stuff, and before it became impotent a few years ago; the melody is catchy and fun too. In fact I think I'm going to track down the rest of their stuff and give it a listen as this album is all I've ever heard from them!

(seriously though, if you haven't seen the video check it out here! When his clothes fly off and leave him in his underpants... damn that's good music video making!)

Track 12 - Pick Me Up by Dinosaur Jr. (from Beyond)

Dinosaur Jr. are a great band, and on this album they haven't lost any of their vitality, despite having been at it for numerous years. I chose this song over one of the more classic ones off You're Living All Over Me because I just adore the slow bridge section (around 2:50); every time I hear it I have tingling all over my back and shoulders and feel really emotional...

...and then the lead guitar section...hoo-boy!

Track 13 - The Mob Goes Wild by Clutch (from Blast Tyrant)

Best intro to a song ever.

And loads of great riffs.

End of story.

and that ends the sixth dog show hello compilation!!!!

you can download it HERE

Peace out and speak soon!

Sam Sam

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #04 - Beatles For Sale (1964)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. No Reply
2. I'm A Loser
3. Baby's In Black
4. Rock 'n' Roll Music
5. I'll Follow The Sun
6. Mr Moonlight
7. Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey
8. Eight Days A Week
9. Words Of Love
10. Honey Don't
11. Every Little Thing
12. I Don't Want To Spoil The Party
13. What You're Doing
14. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby

Recording on Beatles For Sale started only six days after the Fab Four finished recording the previous A Hard Day's Night; with this in mind it's quite surprising at just how fresh it feels in comparison to A Hard Day's Night.

I actually found the majority of the album a pretty hard listen; this can be attributed to the album's generally downbeat mood. Of course, there are moments of levity, namely Rock and Roll Music, Kansas City / Hey Hey Hey (one of my favourites) and Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby; the rest of the album presents a pretty dejected state of mind.

This can be attributed to several factors (don't forget that this was The Beatles' fourth studio album in just 21 months!), but John's increasing reverence for Bob Dylan and folk music is an inescapable factor. Continuing in the vein of the B-side of A Hard Day's Night (see yesterday's Beatle-A-Day), Beatles For Sale sees the band expand their horizons even further from 4/4 rock 'n' roll and explore folksy passages, introspective lyrics and creative instrumentation - in places the band even produce country-style numbers.

With the absurd lack of down time, in which Lennon and McCartney wrote songs, it is perhaps inescapable that Beatles For Sale contains six cover songs - although this dosn't hurt the album's flow at all it does feel like the band could have done much more interesting things given more time.

Perhaps due to these factors, and my embarassing lack of enthusiasm for most things folk and country, Beatles For Sale is an album I can't see myeslf returning to with the zeal I approach other albums in The Beatles' oeuvre. That said the album is most certainly worthwhile from a historical viewpoint, as it sees the band, and in particular John Lennon, grow up a considerable amount.

Of course, if you do like country and folk I'm sure the album is a great work which stands up to repeated listens; if this is you please let me know what you think of it, I would greatly appreciate having the opportunity to hear it through someone else's ears!

Having said that there are several songs on the album I do really like; in particular, Eight Days A Week and Every Little Thing. Perhaps because of the half-dozon cover songs the album does fall into the trap of feeling like a stop-gap until Help!

sam sam

Monday, 21 September 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #03 - A Hard Day's Night (1964)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. A Hard Day's Night
2. I Should Have Known Better
3. If I Fell
4. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You
5. And I Love Her
6. Tell Me Why
7. Can't Buy Me Love
8. Any Time At All
9. I'll Cry Instead
10. Things We Said Today
11. When I Get Home
12. You Can't Do That
13. I'll Be Back

Being the first album of entirely original material by The Beatles points to the fact that A Hard Day's Night may well mark a substantial period of growth for the four - unsurprisingly it is.

From the album's titular opener the album just feels much more organic than anything else The Beatles had done to date - although the songs are all tightly constructed pop numbers they aren't afraid to experiment with structures and tempos.

Likewise the instrumentation grows by leaps and bounds over the foursome's previous two efforts; in particular George Harrison's guitar parts have some really interesting flourishes. If you listen to the guitar on I'm Just Happy To Dance With You it's dramatically apparent that George was very interested in fitting complex rhythms into Ringo's standard 4/4 beats.

Likewise his lead guitar parts really take advantage of the new-four tracked recording process; the clear twelve-string lead guitar on And I Love Her would have previously risked being lost in John's rhythm passages. However, it instead soars over the rest of the instrumentation and, for perhaps the first time, really leads the song and doesn't act as an additional (albeit instrumental) harmony.

I believe this signifies an important shift in The Beatles' mindset - they were considering the studio as a songwriting tool, and not just a way to record live songs; obviously something that would be taken to extremes later in their career.

It is worth nothing that at the time of this album's release the world was well and truly in the thrall of Beatle-mania; not only does the album contain their two transatlantic number ones (A Hard Day's Night and Can't Buy My Love), but the first side of the LP also acted as the soundtrack to their first film, the also titled A Hard Day's Night.

Perhaps because of the film the first side is filled of rocking numbers, whereas the B side instead features some more introspective and experimental folksy numbers - in particular Any Time At All, Things We Said Today and I'll Be Back; all of which stand out, to me at least, as some of the most mature songwriting the band had produced to date.

Far from being a purely intellectual exercise though the B-side also features the bombastic You Can't Do That. The percussion in this song also takes advantage of the aforementioned four track recording process by bringing up some relatively quite conga drumming to the same volume as Paul's sharp cowbell. The result lends the song an underlying air of restlessness and tension, something which complements the insecurities and possessiveness of John's lyrics, in particular:

"Well, it's the second time, i've caught you talking to him,
Do i have to tell you one more time, i think it's a sin,
I think i'll let you down.
Let you down and leave you flat,
Gonna let you down and leave you flat,
Because i've told you before, oh,
You can't do that."

A Hard Day's Night is certainly a great album, and the most progressive album The Beatles had recorded to date - as a result the album stands up to the passage of time a lot better than its two forerunners, Please Please Me and With The Beatles. It sounds more like the band which has become iconic today and is regarded as pretty influential on other contemporary artists, particularly because of George's guitar playing. I can see myself putting songs from this album on even today, and not just for historical value - if you don't want to buy everything The Beatles have done then consider A Hard Day's Night a good jumping on point.

sam sam

Friday, 18 September 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #02 - With The Beatles (1963)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day!

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. It Won't Be Long
2. All I've Got To Do
3. All My Loving
4. Don't Bother Me
5. Little Child
6. Till There Was You
7. Please Mr Postman
8. Roll Over Beethoven
9. Hold Me Tight
10. You've Really Got A Hold On Me
11. I Wanna Be Your Man
12. Devil In Her Heart
13. Not A Second Time
14. Money (That's What I Want)

With The Beatles was recorded only four month's after it's predecessor, Please Please Me, and it continues in much the same vein. The Liverpudlian four do however make a few steps forward, with more complex harmonies and instrumentation - more pointedly though is the songwriting.

On With The Beatles I feel that the songs are given more space to breath, with less forced four four beat led forward momentum and more tempo changes. Key to the album is the way pauses are used more; it seems a point is being made in the way we hear notes ring out, rather than being cut short to fit the song's rhythm.

Standout tracks were the album's opener, It Won't Be Long, which has some great call and response vocal patterns in the chorus, Roll Over Beethoven, with its great guitar licks - the song's start is simply awesome, as is the lead guitar section midway through.

The next two songs, Hold Me Tight and You Really Got A Hold On Me, are also really good, the former even moreso though. this is because Hold Me Tight not only features a catchy chorus, but a snare drum led bridge section which feels much more modern than the rest of the album - Ringo is definitely really hitting the drum as opposed to tickling it. The latter is s cover, but also emphasizes punchy instrumentation - its in these little details that With The Beatles differs from Please Please Me.

Finally the album's closer, Money (That's What I Want), is without any doubt the most mature song on the album, and certainly my favorite. The vocals have more of a screamed quality to them, and the song feels more free and rampant than anything else so far in The Beatles career; it even bases all of the song's verses on the aforementioned snare led section from Hold Me Tight. As a side note I think it's worth noting that the backing vocals are almost the same as the ones in the much later Helter Skelter - signs of things to come perhaps?

Again, as with Please Please Me, the album does feel pretty thin compared to their later material, but is fascinating from a retrospective point of view - of course one could read too much into songwriting quirks, but on the whole With The Beatles feels a more confident album than the last, with John and Paul's songwriting staring to creep away from what existed before them.

sam sam

Thursday, 17 September 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #01 - Please Please Me (1963)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day!

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. I Saw Her Standing There
2. Misery
3. Anna (Go To Him)
4. Chains
5. Boys
6. Ask Me Why
7. Please Please Me
8. Love Me Do
9. PS I Love You
10. Baby It's You
11. Do You Want To Know A Secret
12. A Taste Of Honey
13. There's A Place
14. Twist And Shout

The first Beatles album, Please Please Me, was one I hadn't heard all the way through before; sure I'd heard tracks like Love Me Do, Twist and Shout and I Saw Her Standing There, but most of the material here was new to me.

I also found out that some of the songs on the album are covers, and I guess that makes sense since there were a few tracks which I did think differed in style quite a bit, but overall the album carries the same sound throughout.

On this album The Beatles sound owes a lot to acts like Elvis Presley, but certainly has its own tinges of originality, with the titular Please Please Me containing much more intricate passages and vocal patterns than almost anything else on the album.

The Harrison sung Do You Want To Know A Secret also rates highly in my mind, with the chorus guitar riff sounding like it could come from later material.

There's A Place is another highlight, which hints at much more complex structures with its stop/start sections and choppy rhythms; interestingly the song also contains some lyrics which could almost come from Abby Road-era material, here's a taste;

"There is a place,
Where I can go,
When I feel low,
When I feel blue.
And it's my mind,
And there's no time when I'm alone.

In my mind there's no sorrow,
Don't you know that it's so.
There'll be no sad tomorrow,
Don't you know that it's so."

Pretty enlightened considering that the rest of the album is preoccupied about how much the band love girls, and the way the album's title is a plea for sexual activity!

All in all the album is much what I expected from this period in The Beatles' evolution, but was actually much more charming than I thought it would be; the aforementioned lyrics aside were actually pretty cheeky, and I can see why girls fell for the Fab Four.

The album is cool to listen to in a historical context, as it not only has the cache of being the first Beatles full length, but also hooks very directly into some sections of modern music; in particular modern rock bass lines aren't that different from what Paul was plucking in 1963.

Overall though I think this material would have been much more affecting in its contemporary climate; its influence is so wide ranging that it sounds derivative in places - in actuality though it was probably the origin for a lot of music I'm comparing it to! The album definitely feels "old" now (whatever that exactly means!), but this isn't a necessarily a bad thing, instead of being cutting edge and hip it instead feels old and quaint in a curious way - it's more than just kitsch for sure, but does have an air of false (for me, I wasn't born!) nostalgia around it.

Great fun though! Onwards to With The Beatles tomorrow!

sam sam

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Wednesday Compilation - 16th September 2009

Download link will follow at the bottom of the post.

Track 01 - No Pussy Blues by Grinderman (from Grinderman)

Nick Cave is great, and by that same train of thought it's unsuprising to discover that Grinderman is also top notch stuff. Grinderman is certainly quite distinct to the work Mr. Cave does with The Bad Seeds, perhaps due to the more ferocious edge the album, and this track displays.

At times Grinderman almost recalls Cave's early Birthday Party years; in my mind this is certainly a good thing. What the album, and No Pussy Blues in particular, brings to the table is an air of absurdity; the lyrics are intentionally hilarious and draw an image of a very frustrated man. It's this air of frivolity which makes the moments when the song goes off even more startling.

Win intro too!

Track 02 - Coming To Get You by Six Organs Of Admittance (from Shelter From The Ash)

Six Organs Of Admittance is a project which is constantly evolving, and I think this song illustrates this really well.

Coming off the tenth album, in which Ben Chansley really went towards more of a rock sound, this song is almost a concentrated history of the band's evolution; it starts ambient and new folksy, turns rocky, then distorted and noisy. If you like this song I strongly recommend investigating the rest of their material, as I really like everything I've heard (although the newest album is taking a while to suck me in...)

Also, I just can't help loving this song's apocalyptic vibe - I think HE'S COMING TO GET YOU! ARGGHHHHH!!! (hahaha, it's late...)

Track 03 - Creature by Black Dice (from Creature Comforts)

Having seen Black Dice earlier this year their studio work just isn't doing what it used to - live they were really, really noisy and bass heavy; something their studio work suggests but doesn't always deliver.

Having just been relistening to them the other day I remembered just how much I like this band and just enjoyed the listening experience for what it was... and, fuck me, Black Dice are damn good. I've included a more atmospheric number because this stuff holds up regardless of the gig, and is damn funky.

On a side note anyone else notice how everyone is trying to sound like Black Dice these days? Growing, Fuck Buttons... it just doesn't work either!

Track 04 - Washington School by Atlas Sound (from Logos)

Even after Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel I wasn't expecting this new album; Logos is awesome.

I've chosen one of the more chilled songs (well, they're all chilled I guess...), but I think the album really works best as a whole - just get a copy asap!

I don't think I've listened to the album enough to say if it's better than the previous Atlas Sound, or the Microcastles by Deerhunter, but at the moment it's close.

Track 05 - Cosmonaut by At The Drive-In (from Relationship Of Command)

At the Drive-In have a special place in my heart, and this album especially, as it is them which made me really realize that loud music could also be awesome - I've listened to this album so much that I know it stupidly well, even after not listening to it properly for years I was recently able to sing along to the entire thing at full blast, whilst hungover, in the car with my girlfriend.

Cosmonaut is one of the least played songs off this album, but it always stuck out as one of their best in my mind - of course, Vaya may be a better release musically, but Relationship Of Command will always make me think of being in the third year of secondary school, starting seeing girls for the first time, getting drunk and taking drugs thinking it was really big - generally just awesome teenage fun.

And hell yes it rocks!

Track 06 - Farewell by Boris (feat. Merzbow) (from Rock Action)

Boris and Merzbow are two artists I love, but their collaborations have been both good (Megatone, Sun Baked Snow Cave) and bad (the one with the Yes cover homage), but I actually think that Rock Dream's live set is the best of the bunch.

This version of Farewell, off Pink, really shows how the rest of the album works - Boris songs raw and heavy, with Merzbow just garnishing them with his patented screeching noise. Farewell was always a really strong song in my mind, but this version just makes my spine tingle up and down for almost its entire duration.

Track 07 - The Bloated Pope by The Melvins & Lustmord (from Pigs Of The Roman Emperor)

Following on from Boris & Merzbow we have the American equivalent, The Melvins & Lustmord. Aside from being studio based, Pigs Of The Roman Empire is a very different beast to Rock Dream; mainly it feels more like a collaberation, even though the bands sometimes have entire sections on their own.

I think the main reason for this is the way the album holds together as an album - not just a collection of songs. They all have an air of malevolence and sludgy grind, and stands as one of the heaviest releases, if not by Lustmord, but in The Melvin's back catalog.

As always great art too :-D

Track 08 - Vengeance Drools by Clark (from Body Riddle)

I love this song because it starts in one place and ends somewhere quite different; rather than taking the usual "start quiet, get loud" approach I think Clark goes the opposite way, with the opening almost sounding like a more aggressive Massive Attack, and the end having a much more acoustic feeling.

Of course, that's not to say the middle isn't heavy - Clark certainly drops in some major bass frequencies, but they serve to effect a collapse, not a crescendo. I like a lot!

Track 09 - Things I Did When I Was Dead by No Age (from Nouns)

This song is one of the odder on Nouns, with the rest having much more of a relationship to rock music, but I've included Things I Did When I Was Dead because I think it's a delicate piece which complements the previous Atlas Sound track beautifully.

All I would say is that I wish the song was longer - I could listen to progressions around these ideas for at least ten minutes!

Track 10 - Kallist - Song For Eris by Floor (from Floor)

Considering we had Torche on last week's compilation I thought it was only fitting to put in a Floor song on this one. I chose this song mainly because it makes me think "WOW" everytime I hear it - yes, they do go HEAVY.

Not much else to say about this one, except RIFF RIFF RIFF.

Track 11 - Ray Breakout by Christ. (from Metamorphic Reproduction Miracle)

Apologies for the low quality of this album's art - I just couldn't find a good version online...

Anyway, Christ. , as most of you no doubt know, does ambient stuff and used to be in the same musical collective as Boards of Canada - it shows, but his work has a more glitchy feel to it. Really like this song as it works some really odd sounds into a relaxing piece, good stuff!

Track 12 - Cave-In by Codeine (from Frigid Stars)

Codeing are one of those legendary "sadcore" bands, and I think this song shows why. I think the piece works because it feels so pathetic and simple; in paricular I really like the way the vocals often overstep their beat, just by a fraction, giving the impression that the almost whined vocals
are so scincere that it doesn't even matter if they fit exactly into the song.

The guitar tone is heavy, but slightly cold, making me feel a little uneasy when listening to Cave-In. The effect is such that it has the sleepy quality of painkillers, but has a strain of rabid despertion running throughout - almost as if they know that more painkillers won't alliviate their emotional pain. Man. (haha!)

Track 13 - Revolver a.k.a. Schall Und Rauch by Louise Cyphere (from The La Quiete / Louise Cyphere split 10" )

Nothing to say here apart form the fact that Louise Cypere are one of teh best screamo bands around and this is, arguably, their best release (even though the Shikari split is up there!).

What I will say though is that you should try and get my housemate, Julian Ross, to recite the sample at the start when drunk - it's hilarious to see him stumble over words in an attempt to cram 'em all in so fast!

(joking aside though the song is savage and great!)

and that ends the fifth dog show hello compilation!!!!

you can download it HERE

Peace out and speak soon!

Sam Sam

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Videogame EXPLOSION!!! The Beatles: Rock Band (Xbox360, Harmonix, 2009)

The Beatles: Rock Band is not just a track pack for the Rock Band; it's something much more than that.

In fact, The Beatles: Rock Band is one of the most moving experiences I have had in a videogame recently, and is something I can't recomend enough - in fact I propose that if you only play one rhythm action game ever that you make it this one, even if you don't think you like The Beatles.

From This:

To This:

To This:

The reasoning for this is simple, and, in my opinion, impossible to replicate - the game features one of the most profound and moving narrative arcs that affected me on a level I honestly didn't anticipate. I thought that, as with all the Rock Band and Guitar Hero games, the "story" or "campaign" mode would simply be an excecise in unlocking songs so my friends have free reign to play whichever songs they fancy - with The Beatles: Rock Band I couldn't have been more wrong.

Much of this is owing to the way in which The Beatles' career is presented in its entirety - we travel with The Beatles from Liverpool's dark Cavern Club to their final performance on top of Abby Road studios, and we not only do so through their music, but through the band's aesthetics, the audience's changes in clothing, and their appearance.

In short The Beatles: Rock Band lets us see The Beatles grow up in a way we never could before; we're both inside their band, and without, watching their performances and public personas grow and change. We see the way The Beatles were moulded by pop culture (the early years), then became pop culture (Sgt. Pepper era) and finaly matured and became something different (The White Album, Let It Be, Abby Road) - in short we see the cultural shifts of the 1960s because we experience The Beatles' catalogue in some historic context.

However, I think this may be even too mundane a thought - I see Harmonix's presentation of The Beatles' brief, but prolific, career as a simple and poignant metaphor for life. We are young, happy, idealistic and conforming in our childhood (the early 60s era); free-willed, experimental and naive in our teens (the mid 60s Sgt Pepper); more insightful, but with a tinge of cynicism and darkness, in our mid life (The White Album, Helter Skelter in particular); and finally accepting of our inevitable demise, and having one last look over our lives, before deciding what it is we want to be remembered for (Let It Be as reflection, Abby Road as the definitive statement, and the final rooftop show as an acceptance of the collapse to come).

In choosing The End to, well, end The Beatles: Rock Band is a inspired move on Harmonix's behalf - we are left with a final statement from the Fab Four, which rings true and is a truely affecting when seen as a eulogy of The Beatles:

"And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make."

However, Harmonix has one final trick, which caught me unawares, and almost made me cry - the games credits. For those who have the game put the credits on and just listen; nothing has ever made The Beatles seem more like human beings to me, and the way the sequence acts as an overview of a friendship and a life is heartbreaking.

For those who don't have the game I won't spoil it, instead I'll make you run out to the shops tomorrow by adding in the game's opening cinematic which beautifully illustrates the band's entire life - if you don't at least smile then you have no soul!



As alluded to in the previous post I have a pretty big idea for dog show hello, and, in the light of The Beatles: Rock Band and the re-releasing of the band's newly remastered catalog, I'm happy to introduce you a new feature:


In this feature I'm going to go through the new remasters in chronological order (by recording date fact-fans!) and listen to an album a day, posting my thoughts every evening!


The idea came around after my realization that there were whole sections of The Beatles' history to which I was completely ignorant, something I thought that I should rectify. Tomorrow's Wednesday Compilation will be as normal, but join me this Thursday for the start of Beatle-a-Day!!!

sam sam

Monday, 14 September 2009

an update on posts and all that...

Hello all!

Just thought I'd explain about the lack of posts this weekend - I was away at a wedding for the majority of it, and, as such, didn't make it to a computer.

Rest assured though I have a few ideas for a really good dog show hello week, with one idea stretching quite a bit further... (I'm sure a lot of you will find it pretty interesting! Just trust me for now!)

Also, I just wanted to thank those of you who are following the blog; even if no one read any posts I'd still be happy just to write, but having some feedback (mostly from people I know, and in person) really makes it all very exciting! If anyone reading the blog doesn't know me off the Internet please get in touch, I'd be interested to find out what you like about the blog, and if there was anything I could change to make it better - thanks in advance!

That's all for now as I'm going to have to get to bed (stinky work tomorrow...), but I promise some really, really good stuff is in the pipeline!


sam sam

Friday, 11 September 2009

Cinema Trip: District 9 (Dir. Neill Blomkamp, 2009)

District 9 was a film I had heard quite a lot about before it's release, mainly due to the fact that it was released in the US several weeks before in the UK. I also knew it had ties to the abortive Halo film project (not that the prospect of that really excited me, mind you!) In addition to this I had heard that the film had made back its meager (but only by Hollywood blockbuster standards) budget of approximately $30 million on the first day of US screening. Much like J.J. Abrahams' Cloverfield this was attributed to heavy viral marketing and hype.

Unlike Cloverfield though the film seems to be getting almost unanimously positive media press, with the film even rising to number 44 on the imdb's best rated film of all time. This has been attributed to its "original vision" and the fact that it "follows in the footsteps of numerous allegorical science fiction works." Yep, totally made up those quotes, but they catch the mood of what people are saying!

With all of this expectation heaped on top of it the film had a lot to live up to; something it unfortunately failed to do, in the most spectacular fashion.

To explain why District 9 fails so spectacularly necessitates a brief synopsis, so forgive me whilst I go into announcer mode for a few sentences...

*spoilers follow, but I wouldn't worry about them to be honest...*

The world of District 9 is one which experienced extraterrestrial contact in the early 1990s, when a huge ship appeared over Johannesburg. Human greeting parties were sent, but instead of finding a glorious civilization they found hundreds of malnourished refugees; these were granted sanctuary in the titular District 9.

Rather than being a paradise District 9 is gradually shunned by humans to the point that it effectively becomes a prison ghetto. To relieve these inter-species tensions the government contract a private company to relocate the "prawns" (as humans refer to the aliens) to the isolation of District 10.

The film follows the leader of this operation attempt to fulfill this goal, but he is accidentally infected by some BLACK ALIEN LIQUID (hello x-files...sigh...). As he is gradually turning into an alien his employers, the aforementioned private corporation, want to carry out scientific tests on him, so he goes all Rambo, steals back the liquid (which it turns out was actually alien diesel), makes a 'prawn' friend called Christopher (who leaves earth at the film's conclusion) and ends the film fully alien crafting flowers from tin cans for his insipid love interest.


Right. Hopefully you can see in the synopsis that I found the world concept of the film relatively interesting; it provides me with something we haven't seen in a huge Hollywood blockbuster, and carries with it a pretty depressing air - if humanity is the "best" the universe has to offer then it must really be a bit of a shithole.

So far so ok. The film unfolds as if it was edited from a combination of news footage and a documentary following the film's protagonist, and actually does a pretty good job of creating a believable world without the usual Hollywood bombast - aliens are framed matter-of-factly and lit in neutral sunlight.

My first problem is the film's absurd lack of subtlety; the film honestly should have been called:

District 9:
Shhhhhh...don't tell anyone, but its really about APARTHEID!

The film makes this so obviously and repeatedly that it feels not just irritating, but insulting; not just towards audiences' intelligence, but by effectively trivializing events in South Africa. In case you still don't get it though the film even goes as far as to create its very own racist term in the already discussed term "prawn", which is spewed with such frequency and relish that you get the distinct impression that Bloomkamp thought it was really,
really, clever.

As unsubtle as this is though it would still just be a bad film if it continued in this pseudo-documentary mode throughout; alas District 9 is not merely
bad, but enters the realm of awful from the film's second act onwards. Although Cloverfield was not the greatest film ever at least it was consistent in its verisimilitude of Panasonic and Sony camera-shake; the same cannot be said for District 9 however, which abandons its own conventions with no textual reasoning.

We suddenly start seeing private "off camera" conversations and incongruous scenes which don't feature the protagonist, let alone from any textual camera's point of view. I completely fail to see why a film would set up the conventions of a viewing mode and then abandon them with such lackluster reasoning. My only thought is that the film shedding any connection to reality happens when the film too turns into a SUPER ACTION BLOCKBUSTER. Our thin, nonthreatening protagonist is suddenly transformed into an action superstar, and the film further devolves into putrid, black tar.

The film even goes as far as to ape Iron Man and give the film's lead a gigantic robot suit to beat up the men who were hurting him before. Even the UI looks similar to Robert Downey Jr.'s far superior suit...

Hopefully at this point it has become obvious that District 9 starts out as a stupid film with ideas far above its station, and then devolves from there into sub par 80s style hard action sci-fi. I wouldn't recommend paying to see it, or even watching it for free as it is likely to make you question why the majority of people who see this film think it to be a cinematic masterpiece - seriously, even The Terminator has more interesting subtextual musings.

I'm not even going to go deep into the way the film's subtext is clouded by vilifying Africa's *actual* native black population into shaman worshiping, alien eating, immoral gangbangers. After all would a film which apparently takes a hard look into South-Africa's history of muddled race relations feature a scene in which a black chief demands the (white) protagonists hand be chopped off so he can eat it...

in order to consume his essence...

so he can use alien technology...

on the advice of a gyrating, half nude, mud splattered, teenage female shaman who has her eyes rolled back into her head...


My oh my. Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp should be very ashamed of themselves.

Fuckin' prawns.

sam sam