Posted by: outroversion | September 11, 2018

NYC 2019: Bodega

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Bodega

We’re getting married in New York next year. I thought it might be interesting to check out some up and coming bands from the city. This was the first band on a list I found, I might have just got lucky but they’re amazing. Intimidatingly cool and the song below is just, the kind of thing you wish bands would write but they’re too busy trying to sound like everyone else- thankfully these guys don’t nor do they look like everyone else. I mean I didn’t even know you could have lights on the bottom of your shoes. I’m even more excited about New York now!

Bodega are from Bushwick, a borough of Manhattan.

 

 

Posted by: outroversion | August 19, 2018

Review: Death Cab For Cutie- Thank you for today [2018]

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Death Cab For CutieThank You For Today

I’ve been taken aback on occasion the past week where people have wanted to know what I thought have Death Cab’s newest album but have said they were afraid to ask.

I’ll get this out of the way right away- I love this album and it’s better than half of their catalogue. I’ll drop in a few quotes from these conversations through the interview to capture my original thoughts on the album as I’m about 10 listens in now, I probably haven’t listened to an album that many times since People’s Key, not including the Hamilton Soundtrack lol.

With this in mind I looked back at my review of Kitsunagi and how disenchanted I had become by their output,

The number of people who will actively listen to this album is a fraction of those that will have it on their hard drives”

If it wasn’t completely accurate I’d take it back, as I would the things I said directly to Ben which led to him blocking me on social media. But it was all true, unfortunately.

“Stay. Stay the same.”

I hated Gold Rush when I first heard it and yet… well I put it well in a conversation when I was asked about it yesterday-

“I HATED it. I called it one of the worst death cab songs. Listened to the album, fell in love with the album and consequently every song on it. It fits much better in the grander scheme of the album rather than an example of death cab’s sound and in that sense it suddenly is representative of death cab’s history look at i will possess your heart, soul meets body, the sound of settling, i was a kaleidoscope all leading singles off their albums not necessarily typical death cab songs but so perfect on their respective albums.”

The reality is I don’t care about most bands. Most bands can release a shit album and I’ll just forget it exists but Death Cab have soundtracked a lot of my life and pretty soon it’s going to be the majority of my life and if Conor Oberst can pop up every few years and perfectly sum up my existential crises then why did Ben Gibbard stop?

Ok, that’s being dramatic. Fact of the matter Ben’s been writing his way out of his own tribulations and if you’re not aware of what those are- just listen to this album. His honesty within the 33 minutes of Thank You For Today is unashamed and there were times where I felt like I shouldn’t be listening it was so unrestrained.

Ben’s been astoundingly honest about Chris Walla‘s departure from the band, detailing their conflicts and a glass ceiling on where the band were able to go artistically. The political landscape in America has been ubiquitous in art released from across the Atlantic in the last year or so but it’s refreshingly absent here and you do feel that if Chris was in the room, it wouldn’t be.

“This album is SO good that during the first couple of listens I gradually gained back all the respect i’d lost over the years and feel like i need to rethink my attitude towards the 2011-2015 era.”

You may not have noticed but with the exception of “Stay Young, Go Dancing” the closing track on Death Cab albums have been slower, ponderous tracks and they’ve returned to that with the perfect 60 & Punk. This track ranks alongside some of their best. This will be on their setlists until they retire and at the time of the Narrow Stairs era, that’s all I wanted from a DCFC album. Just a couple of tracks to improve already perfect setlists, the truth of what happened to their sets after that lead me to nearly walking out of my last Death Cab concert, I only didn’t because I knew it was the last time I’d be at one.

Make no mistake, there are two or three tracks on this album that aren’t very good at all. However, look back at Narrow Stairs, at Plans, at any of their albums and if you’re honest there always has been; but the highs were so high it didn’t matter. It was just when the peaks really weren’t that far off that it became noticeable, here it is once more forgiveable and we can only be thankful they’ve reached that standard again.

I just think that for half a decade Ben was afraid of saying too much and let the music do the talking. I know other people feel very differently here but I don’t particularly care what the music sounds like as long as what’s being said is important. This is why I don’t care for pop music but of course, a lot of people do.

In a time where we’re all getting older and personally I find it harder to get excited about music, Death Cab have always engaged a passion within me, at times it wasn’t positive but it’s because I knew they were playing within themselves; they weren’t giving all they had and nothing frustrates me more than people not achieving their potential. Earlier in the year a recording of their first ever show was put online and I woke up at 5am excited to listen to it before work, ain’t nobody get me out of bed like that.

When this album was put online to stream by the band earlier in the week I went on a coastal walk just to have the perfect setting to listen to the album. Turns out the album doesn’t need the perfect setting, the scene is set by Ben’s lyricism and the band’s understated sound, the way it should be.

Stream

Posted by: outroversion | May 8, 2018

Arctic Monkeys: TMBH&C

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Arctic MonkeysTranquility Moonbase Hotel & Casino

I haven’t posted anything on this blog in nearly a year but I’ve not looked forward to an album this much in even longer.

Their sound has undoubtedly morphed from their adolescent debut and equally so, their florescent follow up but with the inception of the Last Shadow Puppets, a new direction in Alex Turner’s output lyrically and musically Humbug suddenly divided fans. The people who stuck with them agree it was their best album.

AM was a revelation. In 2011 Suck it and see had the lukewarmest reception to one of their albums so far and the follow up was as make or break as it can be for the most important British band of a generation.

So how do you go from that to an album that made people buy music again and do so both over here and the other side of the Atlantic? Change everything. Sure, it worked but how do you follow that unprecedented success? Change everything again? Throw the guitars out the window? Sure, let’s try that.

The result of this is Tranquility Moonbase Hotel & Casino, a concept album. The Arctics’ Sergeant Peppers?

The album opens with Star Treatment, the promo’d retro-futuristic lounge keys setting the tone for a laid-back crooning journey through whatever’s been on Alex Turner‘s mind the past 5 years since his personality transplant. In this case it’s fame and the pressures of producing through notoriety, The Strokes, Blade Runner and 1984 (the dystopian novel, not the electro-pop robots… or maybe not) being name dropped on and less obviously through references to Federico Fellini’s movie about writer’s block 8 1/2 and the 1971 Leonard Cohen song Dress Rehearsal Rag. You can’t help but feel such mid to late 21st century noveau will be ardent throughout our stay.

The guitars are actually back for One Point Perspective but it’s the same feel. The title’s pretty deep, concerning the point at which art is created, as well as the universe and the view few get to see of our own planet. In this and the opening song there are slight references to a previous Monkeys’ song, Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But… and that’s always an easy way to make fans happy because I expect there are plenty that aren’t happy about the direction they’ve chosen with this album. But hey, it’s better to be divisive than indecisive right?

“So when you gaze at planet earth from outer space”

With that line the concept behind this album is taking hold, as I literally just mentioned that in the previous paragraph and the monogrammed briefcase makes a comeback here too, now this is getting exciting. So yes, the moment you see earth as a point of light in the distance, I’m sure there’s a medical term for how you must feel afterwards but it’s something only a few hundred people have gotten to experience, so far.

The title track. Now, they chose not to release any singles from the album before its release which, especially when compared to AM which had THREE singles out before its release is a massively dramatic shift. However, if they were to release one I don’t know if this would be this wisest, it is very different. Not just different to their usual output but just different generally like, to songs and music!

Golden Trunks is a great song but it’s too short and too literal. If you know Klaatu, this is the kind of brief character driven song they would stick on an album but in this the character is Trump which I think no-one wanted to think about (a) when listening to this album and (b) in tight golden trunks.

In the early days of this album, Four out of Five seems to be the one song everyone can agree upon being a highlight. It fits both within the album and within the catalogue as a whole, it flows nicely and has the usual Monkeys underlining bass which here is reminiscent of some Favourite Worst Nightmare lines. The information:action ratio mentioned in the chorus is an important aspect of our modern culture in that we all have access to unlimited information and yet, what are we doing with it? Generally, not a lot.

Is the world ready for a song called The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip? The reason behind the naming of this song probably isn’t good enough. Look, last march this happened and for me it’s like, so what? Following that is Science Fiction, Turner had been experimenting playing B-Movie music with some artists he has been producing and that’s clearly had a massive impact on this album. She Looks Like Fun, I’m really not sure of. Batphone is a great, smooth ode to technological devices and the hold they have over everybody these days.

Perhaps The Ultracheese isn’t the best name for a song… but it’s actually great, definitely part of the perhaps 4 tracks that will survive the next album’s rotation. Which is certainly symptomatic of their career now, after Whatever you say I am… It’s about cementing a legacy, not making a great album, albums aren’t what they were, like AM was a perfect album but still it was just a vehicle for the four songs that were played over and over on the radio and it’s like the songs that weren’t singles have been forgotten about now.

This felt more like an MGMT album than an Arctic Monkeys’ at this point. For the former, it would be a masterpiece. For the latter, I like it and I’m sure plenty of other people will but I can’t help but feel the general populous not really getting it.

 

Posted by: outroversion | June 23, 2017

[New Music] Gaffa Tape Sandy

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Gaffa Tape Sandy

Garage Punk like Johnny Foreigner, they’re playing glastonbury this weekend you can find their set from Friday just after 4pm here.

 

Posted by: outroversion | June 23, 2017

Flashback: Eels- Mr E’s Beautiful Blues

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EelsMr. E’s Beautiful Blues

“Everett states that letting the song being used for Road Trip is one of the few real regrets he has ever had. He only agreed to it because the record company threatened to not release the album if he did not go along with the recording of the video… He hated shooting it and has never actually seen the movie.”

Posted by: outroversion | June 6, 2017

Outro’s Artist Updates: Pinback

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Pinback

Their wiki says they’re still together but last I heard they’d split up due to Rob Crow quitting music altogether. Turns out i’m about 2 years behind on this as he went back on this decision, formed a new band and reformed Pinback.

I never felt Rob Crow could ever stick to one thing and retirement would be something that definitely wouldn’t suit him. Look at the plethora of projects he’s left in his wake over the past 2 decades; that’s why when I heard Pinback were done I accepted it as we’d got a hell of a lot more output over time from them than anything else he’s done.

They’ve been touring and playing 10 year old Autumn of the Seraphs in its entirety and are doing a load of festivals this summer. I’ve no doubt there will be another album from them, it’s been 5 years since the last and I bet there’s a mountain of material waiting to be unleashed.

Most recently they released 2002 & 2003 EP’s Some Voices and Offcell together as one 9 track album in “Some Offcell Voices“, otherwise no new music around as far as I can tell however. I don’t see the point of these unboxing videos on youtube but some guy did one of that album and here it is…

Posted by: outroversion | June 1, 2017

Outro’s Artist Updates: fun.

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fun.

“are an American indie pop band…” are, ok that’s a good start! I had a feeling this might not be the case having been aware of but hating Jack Antonoff‘s side project bleachers as well as… other distractions in his life…

These are yet another band I have the Indie Rock Playlist to thank for. They had the unique At Least I’m Not as Sad as I Used to Be on their summer playlist back in 2009, their debut was one of my albums of the year that year and I eventually saw them live in 2010 before they justifiably starting topping the charts on both sides of the atlantic and racking up Grammy Awards.

So what have we been missing since those peaks? 2014 they were set to write a new album and played a new song (Harsh Lights) on Jimmy Fallon but a year later Nate Reuss went right ahead and released it on his own solo album.

2015 they announced they weren’t splitting up. As far as I can tell that was the last word on them. If you hadn’t noticed, it’s now 2017. Their facebook is a ghost town. Their twitter just posting wherever their various other projects are playing.

Pretend this is fun.

Posted by: outroversion | May 27, 2017

Outro’s Artist Updates: Fenix*TX

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Fenix*TX

Fenix*TX are playing Slam Dunk this weekend over here in England so- they’re still going. That’s good as in 2007 I had tickets to see them and they cancelled and it looked like they were done, then in 2010 I had tickets to see them in what was supposedly their last ever run of shows.

The reality is it’s somehow been 16 years since the release of their last album, their setlists are essentially a greatest hits mash up of Lechuza and their self-titled debut. So what’s happened musically in that decade and a half?

Not a whole lot despite promises of a follow up album over ten years ago but last year did see the release of a new EP! Cre.ep came out with minimal fuss towards the end of last year and it sounds exactly like you’d hope.

Spooky Action At A Distance “your song is stuck in my head” Will sings repeatedly sticking it very firmly in your head, the music is typically Fenix*TX and thankfully gives us something new for our itunes playlists dedicated to the band.

Church And State is a more mellow bluesy outing which every now and then they veered towards back in the day and were probably the more accessible tracks back then and that’s probably the case here too. It fits nicely with a lot of their catalogue but

Bending Over Backwards is classic Fenix*TX easily fileable alonside Everything’s My Fault, Flight 101, Minimum Wage. What a return to form this track is, they still got it.

One thing people probably gloss over on their earlier works is how polished they were, particularly under the circumstances and the genre which it was hitting. Here it’s a lot more all out in the vein of their modern protegees, Neck Deep, Modern Baseball and Wonder Years.

Get Loose is as heavy as this EP gets but nowhere near the Beating a Dead Horse category of heft. I Don’t Know What To Say finishes off this brief comeback but I’d say a quality 20 minute EP with 5 solid tracks on is preferable to a full album with some misses on. It’s so good to hear these guys again, knowing that they could fight responsibilities, disillusionment, parentage, age and rock up like they’d never been away. Welcome back guys.

Posted by: outroversion | April 28, 2017

[New Music] Sälen- Heartbreak Diet

Posted by: outroversion | March 29, 2017

[Review] Conor Oberst- Ruminations & Salutations

I wrote a review for Ruminations when it first came out but never published it. With the recent revamp and release as Salutations I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to Contrast and Compare the two…

The first review i’m just going to put up unedited and unformatted from when I first wrote it, in the vein of Ruminations. The second is a lot more polished, like Salutations.

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Conor Oberst Ruminations

Conor’s new album has been out about a month now. I haven’t listened to it yet. I mentioned this to someone who knows me well and they asked why and it’s the same reason I only listened to Upside Down Mountain once. I loved Outer South when I finally listened to it but it took me years before I gave it time.

I discovered Bright Eyes quite late, the details of which I go into more here. I mean, it was like 2004 and it’s 2016 now so I guess it could have been later. Bottom line is i’ve been dining on Bright Eyes for over a decade, it’s a constant in an ever changing world. Despite Conor’s different styles on each album you still know what you’re getting.

His music has always been full of emotion, as has the music. The thing is, full band it’s for any mood you can just enjoy the music if you want or the lyrics or the general masterpieces he so consistently delivered. I’ve listened to the catalogue at my worst and best but there’s something unnerving about the stripped back nature of his solo work like there might be a warning against listening while tormented by one personality flaw or another.

When you know without any doubt what he’s going to say is going to feel like it’s written for you, like everyone seems to feel about his music. How can you know when you’re ready to hear it?

“It’s a bad dream, I have it seven times a week”

When Conor goes acoustic it’s probably when he’s at his realest, even more so when it’s just him and a piano. Tachycardia is very much in the same vein as Ladder Song and within the first minute it already touches so many nerves like he’s racing over all possible life experiences to draw in as many lost souls as possible. Death, suicide, loneliness, hopelessness, criminality, insomnia, anxiety, alcoholism, depression and poverty, it really hits a lot of nerves.

“The modern world is a sight to see. It’s a stimulant, it’s pornography”

In the 90’s a lot of songs had brackets (in their titles), it’s rarer to see it these days so a bit of a throwback with Barbary Coast (Later) and it’s easy to forget he was already releasing solo albums back then and the style of this is definitely reminiscent of some of those earlier songs with the musicianship taking a back seat to the lyricism. Remember that Dylan album from around 2006, Modern Times, ten years later and Conor’s seeing things the way someone twice his age might which is pretty much how he’s lived his life.

“I don’t want to eat or get out of bed, I try to recall what the therapist said”

Being such a private person and given the events of the last couple of years it’s unlikely that this album is autobiographical, if it were Gossamer Thin wouldn’t be his style it would be far too transparent but as it is the protagonist is vague despite the clear references to life on the road, infidelity, abuse and obsession and again I highly doubt he’s talking about himself. Everything’s cold and atmospheric so far.

It’s all very Fevers & Mirrors up to and including Counting Sheep. All the songs were apparently written and recorded during the winter of last year in Omaha, while recovering from illness which might explain why it feels like a throwback to a more cabin fevered song writing style.

In fact, he recorded demoes over a period of 48 hours during that time and what you’re hearing here are those as the record company insisted he released them as they were.

As far as I know he’s never used back masking in a song before and the reason for it has been discussed at length without any conclusion. Personally, I feel it’s a creative decision. It’s a lot more emotive to have this effect suggesting these children’s names have been removed out of respect for their families than to use an actual name (as he has been live).

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“A fortune spent but that’s irrelevant to build something that’s sacred till the end”

As literal and biographal as you’ll ever get from Conor. Regarding Frank Lloyd-Wright’s feats of architecture, the song is so named as he built a house (above) for Mamah Borthwick after their marriage collapsed. Nice thing to do really. Unfortunately she was murdered in the home a few years later by a servant. It was where Lloyd-Wright designed a lot of his buildings, likely including the others referenced in the song.

“They say a party can kill you
Well sometimes I wish it would”

A Little Uncanny touches upon war, cancer, suicide, the wealth gap and celebrity. Named-checked are Jane Fonda and Robin Williams, the list goes on and includes Ronald Reagan which is not unusual for a man who, in some of his other presidential portraits called out George Bush, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and Kick Kennedy. The song is about influence. The influence of these notables on more people than they could ever know, for better or worse. There’s definitely a thread of his own awareness of his own legacy running through this album something that is becoming more apparent with each track.

“Just a name in a database who must be notified”

I’m not writing about this song.

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This is where I finished the original review. I remember listening to that song and I still feel how hard it hit home listening to it now.

“The thing is, full band it’s for any mood you can just enjoy the music if you want or the lyrics or the general masterpieces he so consistently delivered”

~ My review of Ruminations

Looks like I got my wish…

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Conor Oberst- Salutations

Well it’s here! A full band accompaniment to Ruminations! Full band? That means Bright Eyes right? Well, I haven’t listened or know anything about the album yet but I doubt it.

First thing I notice is the album is twice as long as the original with 7 extra tracks and also that the original track listing has been chopped, changed and intersected with these new additions. The first of which is the opening track, Too Late to Fixate.

To be honest this DOES song a little Cassadega-ry! It’s about LSD, the people referenced are all famous advocates of the drug but there’s a more potent meaning to be found in the opening phrases of the song that remains true throughout; the power of focus. In your relationships, in your work, your life, focusing on the things that empower you rather than the alternative.

The first reworking is Gossamer Thin, notably more upbeat, backing vocals, slightly higher in tempo and much better for it. His catalogue is wealthier for the inclusion of this version. I needn’t go into detail on the tracks that aren’t new but it’s great to hear him surrounded by people weaving a less desolate musical tapestry. They are as he originally intended and are, with only a couple of exceptions, an improvement though the demoes are perfect for certain days and particular moods.

OK so Next of Kin is the song that made me stop writing the last review. Makes you feel how your life would be if you lost someone to make you appreciate them more.

Napalm is a great track, he’d actually been playing it live as far back as the summer of 2015. Musically it fits right in the Cartoon Blues, When the President Talks to God, Roosevelt Room era, it’s so stylish and smooth this is when he’s at his best and certainly one of the premier moments of the album.

I can absolutely 100% guarantee that Anytime Soon was written during the Outer South sessions. My God, if a song is ever a snapshot of a musical era of Conor’s it is this. The music, the way he’s singing, the vocal experimentation and general positivity.

Counting Sheep is nearly as sparse as the original to be honest, even with some percussion and backing vocals. The back-masking is taken out and names are used this time, the general feel of it isn’t as withdrawn and I feel if there is a track that suffers from being fleshed out it is this as the strength was in its direct and unprocessed, honest infancy.

I did say I wasn’t going to bother writing about the songs that were on the other one but I can’t help it when it comes to anything Oberst related.

One of the stand out moments on the first release was A Little Uncanny, a commentary on the influence of various celebrities on the public consciousness. Again, I actually preferred the first version! Going into listening to this album I didn’t expect any of them to stand up against full band recordings and if it was anyone else they wouldn’t but Conor Oberst will always prove an exception.

“You could’ve left me in the water
But you made me live again”

It closes with the title track which again is a general buck to the trend of any album over the past however long.  It’s a nice way to leave it and for once there’s no feeling of wondering if there’s going to be another album. This bearing in mind the dual-album release of 2005, and the clearing out of Noise Floor, the 4 year gap after Cassedega and then the “permanent hiatus” after People’s Key. He’s already playing songs live off the next one and he’s left everyone with plenty to go on which to be fair, he always seems to. How to end this?… His consistency over the past 15 years is Ronaldoesque.  I give up.

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