Sunday, June 9, 2013

God save the Queen part 2

I was going to do a daily report of my listening across the long weekend and was going to re-listen to Daft Punk (why?!). However, my brain has decided it's a Pete Townshend day and as I've listened to White City six times in a row, I won't bore you with a part three. Thanks for all the reggae/dub recommendations. I was probably being over factitious about reggae so I'll do some more digging. Anyhow, this is what I did on my Sunday:

The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law: I really wanted to like this album but couldn't get into it. I rate their first record which veered between wide vision rockers and succinct, punky singles. It was the latter that made the album so good, Cradle and Magnifying Glass in particular. However, on Wolf's Law (surely the Cult have the copyright on this album title), they decided that the big vision thing was the way to go which seems like a mistake to me. Of course, I have a name for that, the U2 effect.

The U2 effect: where a band goes from making music with a level of intimacy and immediacy to making music that you can play in arenas (ie overblown and theatrical). It was most obvious for U2 between the Unforgettable Fire and the Joshua Tree (even though it technically happened between War and the Unforgettable Fire). Other examples are Coldplay between their first and second albums and the Kings of Leon on that album where they totally started to suck.

The Joy Formidable have gone for big tunes but the quality of the songs isn't up to it. If they'd stuck to that more intimate sound with the occassional branch out in the U2 effect, it may have worked out better for them but this album has very few hooks and just passed by without engaging. I almost turned it off but was glad that I persevered as it was only the final four songs (from Forest Serenade on) that showed any of the promise of their debut. Disappointing.

Laura Marling - Once I was an eagle: Let's get this out of the way, Laura Marling's voice is incredible and her songwriting has a depth which no one the age of 23 has any right of having. Like her previous album, this is a great folk record but my only criticism is that it seems to be one note, one speed, one sound. As such, it gets a bit samey. Maybe more immersion will differentiate and illuminate it better but I found it hard to differentiate between some of the songs.

Coliseum - House with a curse: Again I have to thank Max for not only sending me (a signed) copy of this album but also putting me onto them. Coliseum have been probably been the most exciting new find for me this year and everything I've listened to is killer - their isn't a dud amongst the lot. House with a curse seems a little more straight ahead than the Sister Faith (which I think is better but only just) but if you like your rock with no bullshit, this is the band for you. I know I'm enjoying an album when every other minute I get up and push the volume a little higher and by the time I was on the sixth song I noticed the windows were starting to shake. Can that be no better endorsement?

Clutch - Earth Rocker: I'm glad that I dismissed Clutch on Saturday because it's been brought to my attention that I don't know shit. I downloaded Earth Rocker yesterday and it is a thing of beauty. For some reason it reminds me of Motorhead - not in sound but in harnessing that sweet spot between punk, metal and rock n' roll. My experience of Clutch in the past was that they were a bit jammy, a bit fast and loose with their break downs but if there was any spaced out psychedelic jams in the past, there isn't an ounce of flab on this record - it is a straight up rock monster (except for the ballad Gone Cold which for no reason reminds me of Space Cadet by Kyuss). So, another album I missed which has rocketed into my top ten albums of the year.



  1. Glad I could help. in return, you've helped solidify something I wasn't quite sure about- I still think Wolf's Law is slightly better than A Big Roar, but, more so, the only thing they put out that's essential is A Balloon Called Moaning, because it's the only thing they did that's direct, and real, untouched by the U2 effect...

  2. I tried Wolf's Law again but I really can't get into it. Not sure what it is but it just doesn't deliver for me. I guess that's the fun of music, one man's ear candy is another man's broccoli.

  3. I went through a Laura Marling phase. Played that third record quite a bit, and the second some. Really liked them, then went and saw her play. There was nothing wrong with it, but she didn't seem to inhabit the songs, and I came away thinking she was a better stylist than songwriter. By comparison, and in a similar idiom, when I see Laura Jean or Will Oldham, they seem truly possessed by the songs and that is contagious. It hasn't occurred to me to listen to Marling's records since I was her live.