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Muse have been in hiding since the end of ‘The Resistance’ tour, but they have broken their radio silence to reveal a trailer for their new album which will most likely be called ‘The 2nd Law.’ Now while many including myself were disappointed by ‘The Resistance’, it did live up to the expectation that with Muse, you don’t get same ol’, same ol’. You get experiment. Bassist Chris Wolstenholme said that their new album would be “something radically different” and well, from the trailer, it looks it.
The trailer starts slowly with an orchestral backing, reminiscent of ‘Exogenesis: Symphony’ from ‘The Resistance’, or the end of ‘Absolution’-era ‘Butterflies and Hurricanes’. This plays over scenes of what can only be described as great distress… And then…
A robot…a big scary dubstep-y robot appears around the 1:30 mark and all hell breaks loose, in a mash-up of what sounds like the traditional live Muse guitar wrangling and well, a big pile of dubstep. Make of it what you will, but whether you like the trailer or not, this album sounds like it’s going to be as out there as out there goes. Whether “something radically different” is a good thing? That’s the question on any Muse fan’s lips.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 18th April 2012 at 12:00 pm
Big changes are afoot in the Mystery Jets camp. Just 2 weeks ago, we learned bassist Kai Fish left the band; maybe we should have taken the warning signs more seriously when he released ‘Cobalt Cheeks’ and went on tour as a solo artist last year? To be honest, I thought it was more of a “I’ve got to get this creativity out of my body” kind of move for Kai and not permanent. I laughed, loved and got my heart broken to ‘Serotonin’ – to say that it was an important album for me would be putting it lightly – so learning that Kai was leaving the Jets permanently, that was akin to a sucker punch to the stomach.
And then they went off to America, specifically Austin, Texas – imagine that, huh? – to record their fourth album ‘Radlands’. The words frontman Blaine Harrison had to say about the new material softened the blow of their bassist’s leaving, simply by painting a wonderful image of how lovingly their new album ‘Radlands’ was recorded:
“We’ve always wanted to make a record in America and after touring ‘Serotonin’ the time felt perfect to go and do it. Our first three albums were entirely conceived and recorded in London so going out to Austin felt like the furthest place from everything we knew. We arrived with a handful of songs, but one in particular felt like it captured the spirit of why we had come there. It was called ‘Radlands’ (a fusion of the 1970s [American director] Terrence Malick film ‘Badlands’ and Redlands, Keith Richard’s Sussex estate), which is also what we named our studio; a big old wooden house on the banks of the Colorado river.
All we brought on the plane were the guitars on our backs, so we ended up borrowing all this amazing valve gear from an old guy called Jack who ran a little studio up in the hills-which is why the songs sound the way they do. In the daytime we wrote lyrics on the porch and in the evenings a family of deer would gather in the back yard to hear us play. Some nights we drove into town to drink and bring people back to play on the songs.
When we arrived home, it was hard to believe any of it even happened. It somehow all felt like a strange dream. But when Dan Carey heard it and invited us down to his studio we listened back to everything and it was all there, it was real. All we were missing were some gospel singers, which he found in the Streatham community ladies choir…
Twelve months on, and we are gearing up to take Radlands on the road. Its [sic] been a long time and we cannot wait to see you all again.”
The song the band decided to release in video form, just 2 days after Kai Fish’s official announcement that he would be leaving Mystery Jets, is ‘Someone Purer’. Despite the idyllic deer scene you’ve just read as described by Blaine Harrison, there is something sinister in the first 2 minutes or so of the song. The jangly guitar seems angry, or at least restless; Harrison’s vocals are tinged with sadness. Take a look at the first verse:
I was gripped with a bitter fear,
worried the one thing that I loved,
back when I was just a kid,
might now never be enough,
That the body I was in,
might belong to someone else,
someone kinder, someone surer,
young and beautiful,
Perhaps by accident but as sure as the day is long, Harrison has managed to distill the loss of innocence in ONE VERSE. In the next verse, he toys with existentalism. This is followed by a blindingly perfect pop chorus ending with the immortal line “nothing really means nothing / and it’s the saddest thing I know / so deliver me from sin / give me rock ‘n’ roll”. Without falling deep into dirge territory, the song is ‘saved’ (no pun intended) from this seemingly freeing, light refrain.
There’s later mention of the devil and washing away of sins, which oddly stirred strong feelings in this agnostic/atheist. Is he singing about how the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle requires you to give everything up for what you think is salvation? And is it really salvation, or something else sinister in disguise? Or is he speaking of the mortality of mankind in general? What is it that he’s alluding to? I’ve no idea of course, but I always think the best songwriters are at their pinnacle when they’ve written songs that allow for open interpretation. And when they’ve given us to think about. Whether or not you believe in God, divine being or beings, or none at all, this song is definitely food for thought.
In this one song, Mystery Jets have managed to show great maturity in their songwriting, no longer ‘Half in Love with Elizabeth’. They might be down one member from where they came from, but I can tell just from ‘Someone Purer’ they have a good idea where they’re going. And I’m following them. You in?
‘Radlands’, the fourth and next album by Mystery Jets, will be released on the 30th of April on Rough Trade Records. The band are currently on tour in the UK (details here) and will make appearances at the Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City in May. Below are the video for ‘Someone Purer’ and a trailer for ‘Radlands’.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 10th April 2012 at 12:00 pm
In the last 3 years since 2009′s ‘Quicken the Heart’, Maximo Park had been relatively quiet. While they were on this self-imposed hiatus, lead singer Paul Smith (pictured above) put out a solo album, ‘Margins’, as well as a photography book. In 2012, Maximo returns with a bright pink coloured album entitled ‘The National Health’, and the title track is our first taster of the new material.
With a relentless speed, banging guitars and piano pair with Smith’s mouth getting a workout in an insistence that “many things will change tomorrow”. At first, I thought they were referring to the NHS, but it appears to be more of a commentary on (and possible indictment?) of the way our very existence is changing and crumbling. The energy of the track cannot be ignored; for sure, this song will be a great showcase for the band in live performance, including their headline performance at Brighton Dome for the Great Escape this year on Thursday the 10th of May.
Below is a stream of the song ‘The National Health’ and a video the band has provided as an behind the scenes look at the recording of their long-awaited return album, to be released on the 11th of June.
Owner of a distinctive vocal style, at once sultry jazz chanteuse, vast-lunged stage bellow, and helium-voiced pop starlet, Paloma Faith has become known for her distinctive brand of radio-friendly show tunes. Forthcoming album ‘Fall To Grace’ is introduced by single ‘Picking Up the Pieces’, where business is very much as usual after 2009’s ‘Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?’ Epic in ambition and arrangement, Faith is unenviably tasked with repairing the heart of a lover broken by another. “Do you wish I was a bit more like her / am I too loud? I play the clown / to cover up all these doubts,” emotes Paloma, backed by huge synthesised strings, a dense chorus of backing vocals, and large helpings of auto-tune. In these times of resurgent musical theatre, what this lacks in edge is sure to be rewarded by mass appeal; there’s no claim to zeitgeist-defining originality.
In addition to the lead-off single, there are two other taster tracks on offer: ‘Thirty Minute Love Affair’ is as MOR they come, and a demo version of ‘Just Be’ sees Faith doing a fine impression of Lana Del Rey. The arguments of who invented the breathy vocal style first could go on long into the early hours, but for those who want a cockney version of Ms. Del Rey, then your luck’s in here.
The single ends up less than the sum of its overblown parts – for all its bombast it lacks proper emotional punch – but Paloma herself certainly is a charismatic performer and can overcome her lack of a properly special voice by sheer force of personality and a lively stage show. Her style works better live than as a pseud’s plaything on record, and should keep the Radio2 crowd bopping away nicely.
Paloma Faith’s new album, ‘Fall to Grace’, will be released the 28th of May on Sony. ‘Picking Up the Pieces’ as a single precedes it on the 20th of May.
Outkast’s Andre 3000, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Blur’s Damon Albarn are all in one room. Genius ensues yes? Need I write more? Yes. It would be rude not too.
‘Do Ya Thing’ is upbeat and full of quirkiness. No, it’s not a ‘Clint Eastwood’ or a ‘Dare’, it’s more of a ‘Stylo’ (review here) in my eyes. No, it hasn’t got Bobby Womack in his immense coolness, but it has got a rhythm that will have your toes tapping at an alarming rate. “You wanna do it / but you don’t know what you doin’ baby / A-a-a-a-aha / you wanna feel it / but you don’t know what you’re feeling tonight!” What an epitomization of the wild party that Gorillaz seem to be post-‘Plastic Beach’, with Andre 3000 giving an extremely Outkast touch to the proceeding with his ridiculously quick lyrics.
The synths are classic Gorillaz: they manage to be exciting without being exciting in the slightest. However, the level of effort seems to be low at best. It’s as if the three of them just sat in a room, got a repeated beat and did their thing (excuse the pun.)
Not anything special by any stretch of the imagination, but something to be cherished seeing as it is Gorillaz and a pair of other A-listers.
This song is available free for download from this Converse link. Oddly, this song appears to be directly linked to a campaign for a Gorillaz-themed, limited edition series of Converse Chuck Taylor trainers (see more here).
The three noisy sons of Wakefield who comprise the Cribs are back with a new album entitled ‘In the Belly of the Brazen Bull’ in May. By way of appetiser, Zane Lowe favourite ‘Chi-Town’ is available to stream in advance and as a free download. Despite being Yorkshire lads, the Jarmans seem to know their way around the Windy City, with a particular fondness for the suburb of Logan Square. In actual fact, this shouty slice of neo-punk has “Suburban USA” written right through it like a watermark.
Rough as sandpaper, all clanging drums and wrung-out guitars, it carries the ultimate rock signature in the engineering credit of ATP favourite Steve Albini, the man who, amongst many prolific collaborations, finally managed to do justice to Kurt Cobain’s sub-surface angst with his primal recording techniques on Nirvana‘s ‘In Utero’. Albini undertakes a similar public duty here; it’s difficult to imagine a rawer recording of this straight-forward song, and in its simplicity lies its power. Shorn of Johnny Marr, the band are free to ply a simpler, more direct sound: the perfect anti-Morrissey. If the rest of the album sounds like this, fans of loud guitars and modern punk rock are in for a real treat.
The Cribs’ next album, ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’, will be released on the 7th of May on Wichita Recordings. They have also announced a UK tour for May (tickets on sale now) with dates as follows:
Monday 7th May 2012 – Nottingham Rock City
Tuesday 8th May 2012 – London Troxy
Wednesday 9th May 2012 – Bristol O2 Academy
Friday 11th May 2012 – Glasgow Barrowlands
Saturday 12th May 2012 – Manchester Academy
Sunday 13th May 2012 – Eastbourne Winter Gardens
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