Archive for April, 2010

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James Murphy interview (October 2007)

April 5, 2010

The main reason this blog has been so quiet of late is that I’ve been pretty heavily consumed with work for AU. The new issue of the mag (the second this year) goes to print on Wednesday and it’s been hectic times with an office move and the fact that I didn’t start full-time until last Monday, leaving Jonny and Kim with a lot of slack to pick up on their own.

However, we’ve pretty much got there and it’ll feel great to get the mag out (hopefully at the weekend) and get cracking on the next one – the first I’ll be working on full-time. Yowza.

As a wee preview of the next issue, then (nudge nudge, wink wink), here’s an old interview with James Murphy that I did in the autumn of 2007. I’ve been a massive LCD fan since I heard Losing My Edge and Beat Connection back in about 2002, so it was pretty exciting to get the chance to speak to him, and he didn’t disappoint. Affable and chatty to a fault. Total man-crush material.

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Heads-up: Ganglians

April 4, 2010


Fucking hippies…

I know I’m hardly quick out of the block with this lot (Pfork were giving them love last summer), but they only blipped onto my radar a couple of weeks ago, so gimme a break OKAY?!

Anyway, Ganglians (nice name – Google it if you don’t know) are four blokes from Sacramento, California who make wonderfully woozy, slightly psychedelic indie-pop. Their debut full-length Monster Head Room comes out here in May and it’s an absolute winner – they are contemporaries of the likes of Crystal Stilts and Wavves, and there’s a certain stoned, lo-fi sensibility that they share with those acts, but their music is almost symphonic at times.

In actual fact, I’m wondering whether you can even call it lo-fi, such is the depth of sound they conjure. The record is languid and sonically rich and the harmonies are nothing short of wondrous. The Beach Boys are clearly an enormous influence (cleck out ‘Lost Words’ and especially ‘Try To Understand’) but they have too much about them to be dismissed as mere copyists, specifically a tendency to allow their songs to collapse in on themselves, so you rarely feel that they are totally under control.

The band are in Ireland at the end of May (Whelan’s in Dublin on the 21st, the Menagerie in Belfast on the 22nd), so it’ll be intriguing to see whether they can reproduce the hazy tunefulness in the live setting.

Spotify
MySpace
Free download on Pitchfork.

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AU62: Snow Patrol album review

April 4, 2010

Yeah, I don’t like them much these days…

SNOW PATROL
UP TO NOW
FICTION

Speaking to Gary Lightbody for this issue’s cover feature, it’s striking just how sure he is that Snow Patrol are getting better and better all the time. It just isn’t true. If anything, it’s been downhill ever since Final Straw, and this compilation is aural proof. Take the new single ‘Just Say Yes’, one of three brand new songs among the 27 other singles, album tracks and rarities jumbled up for your delectation. Put simply, the band sound like a lobotomised The Bravery. It’s limp, phoned-in rubbish and the attempt to whack a load of synths onto it in the apparent belief that it makes them sound relevant and edgy is outright laughable.

Then consider the band’s recent singles – ‘Crack The Shutters’, ‘The Planets Bend Between Us’, ‘Take Back The City’ (okay, kudos for managing to fit in two different choruses on that one). Can anyone honestly, with a straight face, claim that these songs, slick as they are, hold a candle to the classic ‘Starfighter Pilot’ (a sister song to Ash’s ‘Angel Interceptor’ and a close cousin of ‘Teenage Kicks’), ‘Ask Me How I Am’, or ‘On/Off’? And that’s just the early tracks that made it onto this compilation – whither ‘One Night Is Not Enough’, ‘Wow’ and the sumptuous ‘If I’d Found The Right Words To Say’?

And before you start moaning, this isn’t about snobbery or jealousy. The career-making Final Straw deserved its success, and it’s represented by three very good songs in ‘Spitting Games’, ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Run’ (two versions). But, as much as Lightbody denies it (and he does), you can’t shake the notion that the runaway success of ‘Run’ has mapped out the rest of the band’s career for them. Suddenly, Lightbody finds himself capable of writing glossy, radio-friendly anthems, and the crunchy rockers and scratchy indie-pop of old – full as they are of wit, charm, subtlety, heart and soul, can get stuffed. Hence, the execrable ‘Chasing Cars’.

Hearing all of this gloop mixed in among the best of their work makes for an entirely dispiriting experience, and that’s before you even consider all the great songs that have had to make way for the likes of ‘Hands Open’ (in which it sounds like they literally can’t wait to wheel out the chorus) and ‘Signal Fire’. Up To Now can only be recommended as an entry point for people that think the band formed in 2004. But it’s best avoided, really. Chris Jones

4/10

DOWNLOAD: ‘SET THE FIRE TO THE THIRD BAR’ (AS PROOF OF A GOOD LATTER-DAY SONG), WHEN IT’S ALL OVER WE STILL HAVE TO CLEAR UP.
FOR FANS OF: COLDPLAY, KEANE, MAROON FUCKING 5.

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AU62: Snow Patrol cover feature

April 4, 2010

Bit of a delay on this one…

The feature ran as the cover for the last AU of 2009. It was a great chance to speak to Gary Lightbody, especially as the quality of his music seems to be in inverse correlation with the success of his band. Not that I quite told him that. But the most striking thing I took away from the conversation was his resolute belief that the band is on a steadily upward curve. As I hopefully make clear in the piece, I don’t believe that for a second… Read the rest of this entry ?

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