Thursday, 14 January 2010

What are the chances

How many times have you bought an album by an unfamiliar artist only to find the only track worth listening to is the one heard on the radio? Then you wish you had just bought the track from iTunes and saved the cash. Hindsight and all that.

So what's the chances of buying three albums (my latest Amazon haul) and every single one is an absolute killer? It almost never happens.

First, Funeral by Arcade Fire. Released in 2005 I have no idea how this one slipped below my radar, I'm actually embarrassed to admit that it did but I guess better 'late adopter' then never.

Kind of like the secret that everyone knows but no one told you, I have no idea how to classify them, sort of indie alternative folk rock I suppose. Whatever it is, it's a work of stunning accomplishment, searing and utterly triumphantly beautiful. You can't pick anything out of it, or pigeon-hole it, Funeral shows just what can be done, it's exquisite.

While I know it's a different beast I immediately ordered Neon Bible their follow up (and only) other album.

The second was Sounds of the Universe by Depeche Mode. Of course they have been around utterly forever, one of the backgrounds to my late teens/twenties. To be honest they always left me rather cold, never having acquired the taste for (what seemed to me) their rather sterile electro synth-pop... Anyway I was a fan of the original - Gary Numan.

But having got into Editors, and they seem to be determined to turn into Depeche Mode anyway it's time to retry the born again originals.

Still stunningly slick but warmer, more human, and, well, older, this is a brilliant album. Try Wrong (with a terrific video) or Fragile Tension and you might find like me that after 30 years they finally get through.

The third, was a real scary gamble (OK I know no one is going to die if I buy an album I don't like, but I hate wasting music budget) Anyway this was A brief History of Love from The Big Pink.

They had won NME (or somebodies) best newcomer award and were supporting MUSE here in the UK.

And were (sorry guys) utterly hideous.

Just a dreadful noise, every song sounding the same and with staging ideas limited to a stage filled with CO2 and 'lit' by banks of white strobes, by the second song even I was feeling nauseous. Night one I went to the loo then decided the rest of their set was much better spent out on the concourse drinking beer, night two I didn't even bother to go in till they had finished, preferring a veggie burger, more beer and chatting to a couple of friendly MUSE girls.

But like many things they kind of stuck in your head, and surely someone must have seen some worth if they were supporting MUSE?

You listen to Brief history of love and suddenly all makes sense. It's good, VERY good. Way more melodic and 'hook-y' then such bands usually are they have this way of taking noise, feedback and distortion, feeding it all through a Phil Spektor wall of sound and twisting and binding it all together into this smooth rope flowing through their music.

And of course without it all going onto a backing track you can't do it live, you just end up with noise, feedback* and distortion (and there is NO excuse for the strobes!)

Try the video above, I hope you get what I mean.

Oh and today's MUSE Resistance tour video? They are having the day off playing cricket on the beach with Lilly Allen in New Zealand (these showbiz types!) But they are at Big Day out on the 15th.

*And I *like* feedback, Diamond Dogs is in my top 5 :-)

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