Tag: Guitar

MUSIC REVIEW | Future of the Left – How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident (2013)

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When I stumbled across the video for Future of the Left’s Sheena is a T-shirt Salesman, I watched it two or three times a day for weeks.  Now, close to two years later, I still watch it pretty regularly.  It has a kind of anti mainstream, punk attitude I hadn’t heard or seen for a long time.  And it turns out, that song might be one of the poppiest, and most mainstream songs they’ve ever written.  With How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident, Future of the Left are much more interested in noise, weird time signatures and throwing you curve balls every time you think you’ve got them figured out.

Just when you get in the groove of disjointed rhythms, screamed vocals and machine gun guitar, you get The Male Gaze, all jangling guitars and sweet “ooh ooh” backing vocals.   Singing of the Bonesaws combines the spoken word of a proper, reserved English gent over a thundering bass line and sparse guitars, with typically cynical Future of the Left lyrics like, “A survey says paedophiles run the BBC, but look at the alternatives”.

French Lessons has a disarmingly quiet and sweet sound, but I won’t even try to interpret what the lyrics are saying when Andrew Falkous sings about, “I’m reading you like a pamphlet, that I picked from an idiot, on a unicycle in a town square”.  Some things are best left not understood.  His snarky sarcasm is a little more literal on How to Spot a Record Company when he declares, “Gotta obey, gotta obey, gotta obey the media”.

Rarely do Falkous’ lyrics fit nicely into rhyming couplets or a neat four bar structure.  Instead, it’s more like he’s written a series of essays about everything wrong with the world, then found a way to force them into music.  Future of the Left and How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident are sometimes aggressively messy, sometimes forceful and confronting, sometimes surprisingly musical, always impossible to ignore.

Future of the Left

MUSIC REVIEW | Spiderbait – Spiderbait (2013)

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It’s been almost a decade since Spiderbait released an album of all original material.  And the fact that they decided to self-title this comeback makes me think Spiderbait the band sees Spiderbait the album as a line in the sand, a clean start to a new era.

A key part of Spiderbait’s sound has always been Kram’s tendency to never settle for hitting the snare once if there’s any chance to belt it half a dozen times in any given bar.  And it’s that attitude that makes sure you know this is a Spiderbait album the instant the drums kick off opening track, Straight Through the Sun.

First single, It’s Beautiful is all about signature Janet English sugar sweet vocals, daring the guitars and drums to drown her out.  But these familiar Spiderbait sounds don’t mean this is a band relying on formulas that worked in the past.

Supersonic starts with acoustic guitars before moving into dreamy synths.  This certainly isn’t the Spiderbait of 1996.  And as much as a part of me would love nothing more than for them to release sound-alikes of Spanish Galleon and Ivy and the Big Apples for the rest of their lives and mine, it’s impressive to see them so willing to try different things more than 20 years into their career as band.

As much as I like the experimentation, I also appreciate the familiarity of a simple, stripped back, lo-fi tracks like Where’s the Baseline or What You Get, that could both have easily found a place on an early record like Sha-Shavaglava.

The leg stretching continues with I’m Not Your Slave, a dirty, sludgy guitar sound that I’ve never heard Whitt play before, with surprisingly effective falsetto vocals from Kram.  Then things get a little more comfortable again with The Sun Will Come Shining, almost like a sequel to Calypso in its optimistic, good time vibe.

I know a lot of my love for Spiderbait in 2013 is cemented in nostalgia for my teenage years in the 90s, but what I like most about Spiderbait the album are all the chances it takes, the experimentation, the deliberate steps away from what grabbed me when I as 15.

Plenty of bands from that era, many of them Spiderbait’s Australian contemporaries, have decided to get back together for cash grab tours in recent years years, I’ve been to more than few of those shows and really enjoyed myself.  But hearing Kram, Janet and Whitt refuse to cash in on old times and really strive for something new makes me realise how much I’ve wanted this, without ever actually knowing it.

Spiderbait

MUSIC REVIEW | Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals (2013)

Sleigh Bells
With a combination of bratty rap, sweet melodies and balls out, grrrrl aggression, the vocals of Alexis Krauss are disarmingly cute, with an almost siren quality.  You know you’re being lured in for the kill, but you also know it’s totally worth it.  Derek Edward Miller’s guitars still offer plenty of fuzzed out, speaker killing crunch, with a new edge of polished pop that really works.

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