Thursday, June 22, 2006

A-Z Beginners Guide to . . . "Indie" Bands/Artists: Part 1

In A to Z form , with your hosts - Miles and Richard! (If ever there was proof of one of us being more eloquent/verbiose than the other)

A is for Arctic Monkeys

Miles: Overhyped, under performing dull as dirt and twice as common

: It's grim up North, but these internet megastars have enough angular riffs to shake booties from Sheffield to Scunthorpe.

B is for Belle & Sebastan

Miles: Twee, yes. But more accuratey, pop for grown ups. Sex, drugs, insecurity and lovely Scottish people.

Richard: Updating the fey sensibilities of The Smiths to '90s Scotland, Stuart Murdoch and his merry men melt hearts with their folkish harmonies and toy-orchestra instrumentation

C is for Coldplay

Miles: Glumrock? Yes. Dull? Yes. Mainstream garbage? Yes. But secretley, I quite like them. Come lynch me, blogosphere (blergh)! And The Scientist is bloody brilliant. So nyer.

On tracks like 'The Scientist' and 'Fix You', Chris Martin's soaring vocals channel the angst of grunge into the pop of housewives to globe-levelling effects. Elsewhere, their inoffensively forgettable pretension confirms his public image as a whiny vegan pianist.

D is for Death Cab for Cutie

Miles: Ben Gibbard is the thinking man's Chris Martin. And Death Cab are wonderful. Be it rocking up a power pop burst on Sound of Settling or laying down a quietly angst ridden piano-lead tale of love and death on What Sarah Said, they get results. Live review next week after I see them on Tuesday.

A Morrissey for the MySpace generation, sensitive Amerindie monolith Ben Gibbard's heartbroken crew bring the pain with a densely melodic sound, and his keening vocals are the soundtrack to many an adolescence. As a new initiate to the Death cult, a longer post will follow.

E is for Eels

Miles: Mark Everret is a tortured genius. And I mean REALLY tortured. All his family have died(one being a suicide even) and as a child a plane crashed into his neighborhood. But by god if he isn't a genius. Blinking Lights and Other Revelations is one of few double albums with nothing that could be accused of filler and is generally an all round perfect record, bouncing between upbeat piano pop, quiet instrumentals and acoustic angst rock.

I must profess my ignorance on these reclusive press darlings, but TV soundtrack smash 'Novocaine For The Soul' bodes well for any further material to lovers of lush, intelligent pop

F is for Franz Ferdinand

Miles: Scotland again, but this time with a bit more RAWK. Well , mostly. For as they showed on their second album - they can do balladry too. But do-do-do-do you want them to? Frankly Alex and co are at their best when combining danceable beats with catchy guitar riffs and as chart topping pop goes, they've got pretty good lyrics too.

Richard: Dancing their jerky way straight of the art schools of Edinburgh into the mainstream NME consciousness, Alex Kapranos provides fans of tightly-wound guitars and bizarre references to Chairman Mao with sharp suits and sharper tunes that are catchier than a yeast infection. Bonus points for clearly worshipping at the altar of Gang Of Four.
(These 'one sentences' are getting progressively longer)
(Yes, they are)

G is for Guster

Just don't call them wuss rock to their faces. Because, well, they aren't any more. As a number of tracks from their new album shows, the boys with the bongos from Baltimore can rock harder than some. Crafters of perfect pop with the most ridiculously talented multi-precussionist this side of... um, God - Guster: It's what's for breakfast. Give 'em a chance. You'll like the end results. Expect a post soon.

G is also for Gang of Four

Richard: Gang Of Four are the reason your favourite band exists, and you probably don't even know it. Punk came to Leeds, and came out of it a funny new shape, all scathing guitar noise and scritchy-scratchy danceable rhythms that paved the way for the 00's post-punk revival. Reforming last year, in the current climate they ought to finally see the recognition they deserve.

That Band Name Dropped In Every Bloc Party Review EVER

H is for Harvey Danger

Miles: They may have gained fame for a) "Flagpole Sitta" - That Paranoia Paranoia Song and b) Releasing their third album for free online... but neither of these are the reasons I worship lead singer and writer Sean Nelson. No, I do that because their first two albums (Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? and King James Version) are packed with more brilliant lyrics than most bands entire catalogues. The new one is not quite as sharp but still worth getting. I will probably do a post on them at some point.

Richard (Only familar with the new album, just so you know): Not in fact a snappily-named solo artist, but in fact a lyrically-brilliant indie rock trio (?) with more hooks than an abbatoir, which should appeal to fans of Ben Folds, albeit with a heavier emphasis on the guitars.

And no, not a trio. Pretty sure.

I is for Idlewild

Miles: Ok, I admit. I am not very familiar with Idlewild. I only own one album of theirs so I'll talk about that. The Remote Part is fantastic. Sounding like some sort of bitter, outcast version of the Manic Street Preachers meets Bloc Party meets Scotland they rock the socks off the listener whilst singing heartfelt introspective lyrics that somehow come off feeling Just A Bit Epic.

Richard: Since their clattery post-hardcore inception in the Highland wastes, Roddy Woomble's out-of-time wordier-than-thou screaming has been transformed into radio-friendly soft-rock balladry, somehow keeping their intelligent poetry and, indeed, dignity, intact.

J is for John Vanderslice

Miles: A man with an entirely analogue studio and a somewhat scary mind. For who else would write songs called "Time Travel Is Lonely" or "Bill Gates Must Die"? Genre jumping between big fuzzy rock scariness and quiet acoustic tenderness, the Man from Barsuk creates truly haunting music. To put it another way, in trying to help a customer at his merchandise stall pick a record post-gig, his merchandise person asked "Do you want to die young or crazy?" And really, however you want to go, this man has probably got a song to suit your funeral.

J is also for Joy Division

Like many a musician before and after him, Ian Curtis sadly sealed his legacy by promptly dying after writing 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', one of the best songs of his generation. Today's wave of dark indie bands, from Editors to Interpol, owe a huge debt to his gloomy tunes and baritone croon.

Miles: I think we've all heard the Fall Out Boy cover of that masterpiece by now. Needless to say, it is utterly godawful. They raped it. Pure and simple. Don't do drugs kids, and steer clear of horrible emo covers of 8Os classics.

More of this tommorow, probably. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

sushiandrice said...

K's not for Keane is it? I don't want to have to slit my wrists.