Heroes! 3 gigs in a row from LCD Soundsystem, The National and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Autumn is traditionally a very busy period in terms of records’ releases but also in terms of concerts…especially in London. In all honesty, there are enough good concerts to go out every night so I guess one has to choose extraordinary events which are compatible with one’s schedule…and budget. There were many uncertainties as far as this blog is concerned so I took my tickets quite late but I eventually succeeded in seeing these three musical giants, all part of my beloved Top 100 of all times. I was pretty far from the stage though, hence the no-so-good pictures…If you want nice photos, please go back to my End of the Road Festival review!

  • LCD Soundsystem, Alexandra Palace, 23rd September 2017

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Although Alexandra Palace (nickname Ally Pally) is quite far to central London, it remains an extraordinary place and I had good memories about my latest gig there. …from extraordinary place to extraordinary event, there is not a long way to go and having LCD Soundsystem make their London comeback concerts here made perfect sense. Recurrent readers from this blog know how much we love this band and how much heartbroken we had all been a few years ago when James Murphy decided to end his band…for different reasons. Their 2011 farewell show at the Madison Square Garden in New York is probably one of the most moving and exuberant concerts ever.

Good news is that…for different reasons James Murphy went back playing with the band in the last months before finally taking the decision to give it a go again. Their new record (“American Dream”) had just been released and is excellent…which is a relief as bands reforming may have a tendency to disappoint fans sometimes. This is fortunately not so this year as I can think about excellent comeback LP’s from Ride or Slowdive for instance.

So we were super excited to catch them live again…and that was pretty good indeed. James Murphy was on top form, the band are as good in terms of playing together as they were before the break-up (specific mentions to Nancy Whang on keyboards and Pat Mahoney on drums) and the place was perfect to dance and move on… but something was missing. Not sure if I gave too much expectation and excitement to see them live again, if it was due to the setlist (whaaaaaaatttt? no “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” and no “Losing My Edge“!) or if I found the audience not focused enough on the gig …but I came back home slightly disappointed. Still a very good gig…but no more.

  • The National, Eventim Apollo, 28th September 2017

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Here is a band on the top of their game and to me one of the Top 5 best artists since the start of the century. No less… The National’s personal story is an interesting one as well as a bit like Spoon for instance, they did not make a huge fuss with the release of their first records but went on improving with each release and building a bigger and bigger community of fans all over the world.

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My last experience with these guys was in the beautiful context of the Greek Theatre in L.A. and I must say I was quite pleased to take my bike to see them, a bit like meeting old friends whom you see once in a while. The other good news was that the opening act was no less than Kate Stable and her band This Is The Kit (our July record of the month). No real surprise as her musical world is quite close to The National’s and as Aaron Dessner produced their 2015 album “Bashed Out“. This was a beautiful way to open such a great night and Kate and her chorus singer went back singing one song with the National during their show. It made Matt Berninger do one of his stupid but funny jokes (“…This is half of This Is The Kit…”).

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The National played four shows in a row in this great and historical theatre and the 28th of September was actually their last European night before going back to the US. Their latest album “Sleep Well Beast” is a beauty and I really felt I was lucky to see a band at the top of their game. I had this feeling a few times in the past when you feel that the band you see is amazing but probably also making history and at the peak of their career. I also found Matt Berninger is a very moving man, showing strength, doubts, fun and weaknesses at the same time. Everything a man is his late forties should be… As with every night of the UK tour, they did a cover version and tonight was… Queen‘s “I Want to Break Free” (which was very good actually). Last but not least, this was the only night when they finished with “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”, the best song of all times, sung a capella as traditionally done during their concerts. Love you guys….

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  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, O2 Arena, 30th September 2017

And what better way to end the beautiful but depressing month of September than catching live Nick Cave and his gang of musicians. My personal relationship with Nick Cave’s music and art is not new and since discovering his music in 1986 with his covers album “Kicking Against The Pricks” I guess I never lost track of his work. My first face to face meeting with the great man was actually in 1990 in London at a store when he was signing his book “And The Ass Saw The Angel” so this is a long story. The man has always been transparent about his life, his good times (Sao Paulo, Brighton, family life,…) and the bad ones (heroin addiction, loss of his son Arthur). His work is quite weird actually as his music is at the same time so out of time (gothic blues and old-fashioned storytelling) but also very much influenced by his own life.

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Anyway, this was the tour that everyone was a bit afraid to attend after the family tragedy he had to live but as expected Nick Cave and his band were as sharp and sensitive as one could have expect. I must admit that it was probably my best gig of Nick Cave…despite being in a bloody too big arena. The setlist was perfect, mixing up very old songs like “Tupelo“, recent songs from his latest album “Skeleton Tree” or classics such as “The Mercy Seat” or “The Weeping Song“.

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The only thing I found a bit inauthentic was the stage invasion during “Stagger Lee” as it is done at every show of the tour. However, another good surprise was to find Nick Cave in the middle of the audience finding Bobbie Gillespie from Primal Scream and make him sing a portion of the beautiful “Push The Sky Away“. 

Let’s not forget to mention the Bad Seeds as well as these guys are tremendous and in particularly Warren Ellis. “…He is a cutie…” as said Nick Cave after hugging him ; yes, Nick, you all are actually.

  • Conclusion: The National juste above Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and LCD Soundsystem behind. Should one meets their heroes? Definitely so!

 

September 2017 Album of the month: The National “Sleep Well Beast”

September in music is also a kind of back-to-school period and the quantity and quality of records released this month hasve been amazing. I have listened to no less than seventy (!) new records released this month and I must say that apart from the atrocious new Miley Cyrus LP, I enjoyed to hear all of them. The fact that a few personal favourites such as Foo Fighters, Mogwai, Hue and Cry, The Dream Syndicate or Four Tet are not part of the below selection shows how good the chosen few are.

Album of the month: The National“Sleep Well Beast” – Pop Rock – I know this statement may not be shared by all but to me The National are the best band of the current decade. All their records are inventive whilst keeping their own style and their music has been evolving little by little, each record adding up audacity and creation. Their strength lies in the team spirit of the band and with Matt Berninger they have a beautiful singer and leader. This new record is no exception and this time they put more electronic sounds in their beautiful songs, making it familiar and fresh at the same time.

  • Runner-up: Moses Sumney“Aromanticism” – Pop Rock – I was eagerly looking forward to listening to this new record as I had felt under the charm of this young singer at the recent End of the Road festival. This record comes from outer space and I am pretty sure once again that Moses Sumney will be an important artist and name to follow in the next… thirty years? Difficult to describe as he plays all styles of music with such grace and beauty so the best is for you to discover it.
  • Also recommended:
    • LCD Soundsystem “American Dream” – New York Grooooovy thang – What? They are not in the month’s Top 2, despite the fact that this is their excellent come back album? No… but they should!
    • The Horrors– “V” – Pop Rock – Album #5 for Faris Badwan and his band; great as usual.
    • Torres“Three Futures” – Pop Rock – Interesting woman makes very emotional record – part I
    • Zola Jesus “Okovi” – Pop Rock – Interesting woman makes very emotional record – part II
    • Chelsea Wolfe “Hiss Spun” – Pop Rock – Interesting woman makes very emotional record – part III
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – The War On Drugs – “A Deeper Understanding

 

My review of End of the Road Festival 2017

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Another year goes by with personal issues, great moments, not so good moments, scary things happening all over the world,…well we/you all face this and I guess this blog is no different. However, as all good things in life, there are still a few times when one feels secured, happy or comforted. It can be done through art, books, friends, family, going to see a game, fishing,…you name it. For me, despite it being only my third edition, End of the Road brings that comforting feeling.

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There was no major news this year in terms of why and how much I love this festival. It comes for the audience, the music lovers (hello Big Jeff!), the site, the peacocks, the comedy stages, etc… Please refer to my reviews of previous years (cf. tag “End of the Road” on the right of the page) and I hope being able to share all the good karma that comes out of it. I will guide you through a more summarised review this year so let’s start with Thursday evening.

  • Thursday, 31st August 2017

As with last year, the organisers decided in keeping this good idea: let’s start the festival on Thursday night with a few gigs.

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My first music note out of 24 gigs I were to attend during these four days came from a nice and friendly UK band called The Surfing Magazines. I then attended the concert of Brix Smith & The Extricated. Originally from the US, Brix used to be Mark E. Smith’s spouse and they both were members of The Fall in the 80’s. After a few years out of the music business, she is back with former The Fall members, playing a mix of old The Fall songs and new ones they created. Quite a lively and nice set I must say.

Thursday’s headliners were Slowdive. They were contemporary of bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Ride or The Boo Radleys in the late 80’s/early 90’s and part of the so-called “shoegaze” movement. After disbanded in the 90’s and focusing on their other project Mojave Three, their leaders Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell reformed the band a few years ago and released a new self-titled LP this year (cf. our May 2017 Albums of the month). As quite often with this band, they do not have so many memorable songs but their beauty lies in the way they work on sounds and musical structures. I was quite impressed by their strength and focus on stage and this was an excellent way to start the festival.

  • Friday, 1st September 2017

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Very sunny day to start the month of September with lots of great gigs as well! The difficulty at End of the Road is often to make decisions as there are almost always two gigs at the same time out of the four stages. I personally generally favour to attend concerts in their entirety when I can and chose either bands/musicians who are personal favourites or others I have never seen playing live before.

I decided therefore to miss Mac DeMarco who was headlining that day as I attended his concert recently at the Route du Rock festival in Saint-Malo.

I experienced a few nice discoveries such as the nice but slightly boring folk songs of Julie Byrne, the punchy Velvet Underground-influenced music of Ultimate Painting, the great country-rock of female legend Lucinda Williams, the surprising, demanding and beautiful music of New-Zealander Aldous Harding or the beautiful indie-rock songs of US band Real Estate.

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The two concerts I enjoyed the most though were Michael Chapman and H. Hawkline. Michael Chapman could be considered as a finger-picking legend. Now reaching 76 years, he sounds and looks like a youngster both on stage and on record (cf. our January 2017 albums of the month). On a very sunny Garden Stage, he played a great set, alone with his acoustic guitar, telling us plenty of funny stories between songs. The older I get, the more I get bored with conventional music, like boring folk musicians, bland indie bands or repetitive electro shit (hello Justice…) so watching someone being so long in the business while being so fresh is something to recognize.

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My other favourite concert was H. Hawkline, an artist I had already seen live two years ago. His attitude and music remain as fresh as I remember and this is a pity that this artist from Wales is not more famous. Catch him live if you can.

  • Saturday, 2nd September 2017 

Saturday is generally the most tiring day of a festival so I decided to enjoy the last sunny day, take my time rather than running from one place to another and appreciate the six gigs I went to.

No regret at all concerning those I missed as so great were the ones I attended. Quite funny and charming as with The Burning Hell from Canada, really good as always with Band Of Horses or amazingly dynamic and full of energy like The Lemon Twigs, lead by the D’Addario brothers (respectively 17 and 19-years old!). Nadine Shah‘s concert was impressive as well ; she has a real strong personality, her music is really beautiful, her words are clever and political…and she has a nice Geordie accent from Newcastle. Listen to her album as soon as you can (cf. August 2017 Albums of the month).

My two best moments of the day (and also of the festival) came from that day. I caught first quite early in the afternoon an artist I had never heard of whose name is Moses Sumney. In a world where we are 24/7 connected and where all sounds/records/news are supposed to be known, I was intrigued by it but also quite excited. I must say the reward was immense and very emotional. This beautiful big black guy is from the USA but with Guinean origins and has lots of interaction everywhere basically. He was assisted on stage by a young guitarist while he was singing, playing guitar, synths… or machines. His music can go from one minute to another from a heavenly melody to industrial sounds. He has the voice of an angel but does not insist too much on it as one can see his interest is more in sounds and emotion. I thought that this is a feeling that people must have had the first time they discovered Bjork on stage…and the next track he played was a Bjork cover. Discover him before he gets too massive ; his debut album will be out soon on the 22nd of September.

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The day ended beautifully with the Festival headliner, i.e. Father John Misty. The alter ego of Joshua Tillman, Father John Misty has been one of our favourite artists in the latest years and the current success he has cannot be more deserved. His latest album “Pure Comedy” was amongst our April 2017 best albums of the month…but really this alum is more than this. It has been personally a very emotional companion since its release and I could talk for ages about the perfect balance between beautiful 70’s Elton John’s music and Joshua’s funny, sad, complex, political and overwhelming words. The current live tour is as beautiful as the record and for his first festival headline Father John Misty was really impressive. His band is fantastic and there are around 15 musicians on stage, including strings and horns. One of my best concerts ever for a performer on top of his form.

  • Sunday, 3rd September 2017

What would be a UK festival without rain? After three days in a row without one drop of rain and two beautiful sunny days actually, Sunday was completely different and to make it short it did not stop raining all day! This did not stop your reviewer to do his job either by choosing “dry” gigs in tents or fighting the rain with the usual material (cape and waterproof clothes).

That was my busiest day with eight gigs attended, knowing that I went and see 45 minutes of each headliner rather than choosing one entire gig.

So quite a busy day indeed and a female-oriented one, either with the great C-86 UK scene influenced band Girl Ray or with the Crutchfield twin sisters. Born and raised in Alabama, their indie rock is really good and exciting: Allison Crutchfield has her own band with… Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz while Katie Crutchfield is a bit more famous than her sister with her band Waxahatchee (in which Allison also plays…shall I do it again or did you get it?). Anyway, both bands are super recommended and can be enjoyed in dry or wet weather conditions (as personally experienced!).

Other female artists I enjoyed that day were Nadia Reid from NZ and her beautiful acoustic and poetic songs and Satomi Matsuzaki who is the lead singer of the always weird but always enjoyable band Deerhoof. I could almost say that Foxygen is a female-oriented band as their two leaders Jonathan Rado and Sam France have a real non-male sensitivity in their melodies and song structures. Theirs was probably my rainier concert ever but the mood amongst the crowd was so strong that everyone almost forgot they were all heavily soaked!

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The Jesus and Mary Chain or Bill Callahan? Bill Callahan or The Jesus and Mary Chain. Both artists are part of my Top 100 and have been personal favourites for a long time. I caught Bill recently in London… and the Reid Brothers even more recently at the Route du Rock festival. So I decided to watch the first 45 minutes of Bill Callahan and the remaining 45 ones of The JAMC. I think it was the right choice as Bill Callahan‘s set (this time with a full band and not only his usual side-guitarist as early in the year) is more balanced in terms of songs’ choice whereas The Jesus and Mary Chain generally plays their most iconic tracks during the second part of their set. Despite both gigs being obviously very different, both were excellent and represent to me a certain idea of what rock’n’roll should be, i.e. mainly self-belief in one’s ideas…

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See you next year End of the Road ; I already bought my “early bird” ticket!

 

 

August 2017 Album of the month: The War On Drugs “A Deeper Understanding”

I was really expecting to struggle to find seven good albums in August but things did not work out as planned… August was actually probably the best month of the year so far in terms of quality of albums and the ones selected below are all reaching levels of excellence.

Album of the month: The War On Drugs “A Deeper Understanding” – Pop Rock – The War on Drugs is the brainchild of Adam Granduciel. After many years in being a very good band (one of his former member being the excellent Kurt Vile), their leader defined a different formula with their 2014 LP “Lost in the Dream“. It took me a bit of time to love that album which basically topped all 2014 best of lists but I must say seeing them live at End of the Road 2015 festival convinced me entirely. Their new record goes even further in this formula with hypnotic long songs. A bit as if Bruce Springsteen were playing “Dancing in the Dark” with a proper drums sound for over an hour ; who could ask for more?

  • Runner-up: Grizzly Bear“Painted Ruins” – Pop Rock – It had been quite a long time since we did not get any news from this great band but it was worth the wait. Despite having a sort of hit in 2009 with “Two Weeks“, Grizzly Bear are more a band known for their work on sounds and moody atmospheres. The first track of their new LP is called “Wasted Acres” and I guess after 20 seconds you will know if you are a fan of the band or if you feel bored. On my side, the choice has been made a long time ago so I am delighted to get a new record from such a beautiful band.
  • Also recommended:
    • The Districts “Popular Manipulations” – Pop Rock – in the same genre as TV On The Radio
    • Ghostpoet – “Dark Days + Canapés” – Urban Groove- Latest opus from soul/hip hop/indie rock master of sounds Obaro Ejimiwe
    • Nadine Shah “Holiday Destination” – Pop Rock – Hypnotic pop with political words
    • Iron & Wine “Beast Epic” – Pop Folk – First proper solo album since 2013 from our beloved Sam Beam
    • Queens of the Stone Age “Villains” – Pop Rock – This record would have been album of the month any other month. Josh Homme is the best person in the music industry with Jack White and Dave Grohl!
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – This Is The Kit – “Moonshine Freeze

 

PJ Harvey at la Route du Rock festival (St Malo, 18th August 2017)

Back to the future! Ten years after my last attendance at the Route du Rock festival, here I was again, still young and full of hope in life! Funny also to go back to this indie festival which struggles every year to make both ends meet but succeeds year on year in having a very good line-up. So, how was the festival overall?

  • Pros: very good line-up, smaller crowds as in other festival, having a second stage brings a lot of dynamism, no rain at all this year, eating a saucisse-galette, attending a festival while on holidays and last but not least meeting again prestigious VIP’s from Rennes.
  • Cons: only seven (!) food places, lots of queue for the drinks with the new Cashless system, people smoke a lot, gigs start too late (I could not see Future Islands from 2 to 3 am), plenty of pushing and rushing from the audience… and the pile of manure brought by the local farmer (who name is supposed to be M. Lecoulant!)

 

So lots of enjoyment from gigs such as the ones from The Jesus and Mary Chain, Angel Olsen, The Arab Strap or Interpol revisiting their “Turn On The Bright Lights” album in all its glory but the real treat for me was the PJ Harvey concert.

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It was only my second PJ Harvey concert ever and I must say I had been quite disappointed the first time I saw her at the Eurockéennes festival in 2004. That was probably at an intermediary time for PJ Harvey as she was between her first straight-to-your-face guitar period and the current one, which is brainy, political and multi-instrumental.

PJ Harvey is to me more and more like jazz artists in the sense that one could quite like an album (as I was with her latest opus “The Hope Six Demolition Project“) but feel a totally different experience while attending one of her concert. The show she presented at the Route du Rock is not new as she had been doing it for around a year now…but is really beautiful. The musicianship is amazing and players such as John Parish, Mick Harvey or the legendary Terry Edwards are amongst the best in their respective fields.

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I really liked also the beauty and simplicity of the concept: one woman and seven men, all dressed in black, no talk between songs, no “thanks”,…just the purity and strength of the songs. The setlist was quite impacted by the latest two LP’s but there were a few old songs too like the amazing “Down By The Water” for instance.

Overall great show and nice festival which I hope I will attend more regularly now.

 

July 2017 Album of the month: This Is The Kit “Moonshine Freeze”

Summer holidays for a few of us… but the blog is never on leaves! I was expecting a lazy month in terms of new releases but this not was so so let’s go for our July review.

Album of the month: This Is The Kit “Moonshine Freeze” – Pop Rock – One of the most expected releases as far as this blog is concerned following the great gig I attended at End of The Road festival in 2015. Not a disappointment to say the least as you will not find a more moving and beautiful record this year. This Is The Kit is the brainchild of Kate Stable, an English woman expatriated in Paris. As with all great records, the best thing is to listen to it and you will understand from the first track onwards.

  • Runner-up: Nine Inch Nails – “Add Violence” – Ok, I must admit I am slightly cheating here as this is a (long) 5-track EP and not an album… but what a record. Everything this blog adores about Trent Reznor and his band: power, melodies and amazing sound ideas. By the way, the band recently appeared in the new Twin Peaks series 3 in the episode 8, probably the most surreal episode of all series ever.
  • Also recommended:
    • Broken Social Scene  “Hug of Thunder” – Canadian collective pop rock
    • Toro Y Moi – “Boo Boo” – One man dance machine
    • Lana Del Rey “Lust for Life” – Lynchian girlie songs; her best album so far
    • Arcade Fire “Everything Now” – Euphoric dance pop. Not their best album but a few really great tracks
    • Benjamin Gibbard “Bandwagonesque” – Pop Rock – Death Cab For Cutie’s singer covers Teenage Fanclub best album: a fan’s dream come true
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – Ride “Weather Diaries”

 

June 2017 Album of the month: Ride “Weather Diaries”

A very busy month with a few okish records from favourites (Phoenix, Sufjan Stevens) a few real disappointments (Royal Blood, Fleet Foxes, London Grammar), an awful record (DJ Khaled)..and the worst record ever made (Katy Perry). However, good news is that the selection below is pretty awesome so enjoy!

 

Album of the month: Ride “Weather Diaries” – Shoegaze Rock – Amazing really to be in a position to write that Ride’s new album is our favourite of the month but this is for real! A great balance between what they used to be and what music is now, it sounds equally retro and modern. These guys give their best when they are together. Welcome back!

  • Runner-up: Lorde“Melodrama” – Pop – 2nd album from New Zealander Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor. After shaking the world with her debut released when she was 16 (!), she is back at the ripe age of 20 with an even better second LP. Great catchy melodies, weird arrangements, very original voice, moving lyrics,… everything pop should be (and Katy Perry will never be…)
  • Also recommended:
    • TOPS “Sugar At The Gate” – Canadian Power Pop
    • Cigarettes After Sex – “s/t” – Ethereal Pop (..and nice band name!)
    • Kevin Morby“City Music” – Cool folk rock
    • Flotation Toy Warning“The Machine That Made Us” – Complex Radiohead-influenced rock
    • Vince Staples “Big Fish Theory” – Hip Hop
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – The Afghan Whigs – “In Spades”

 

Ride with me once, Ride with me twice… Village Underground (12th June 2017) and Rough Trade East (19th June 2017)

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You think one of your favourite bands is lost forever and the only vague memory you have is an April 1990 gig in Paris when they opened for The House of Love and then suddenly you see them three times in a relatively short period of time. I guess this is the recent and nice story many other Ride fans recently enjoyed.

Their 2015 Field Day Festival was a great memory and I remember the emotion when hearing the first keyboard notes of “Leave Them All Behind“. However, the band did not really want to keep things as such and were eager to record a new record first to find back the excitement of creativity but also to be able to bring a bit of fresh air in their setlist.

So here I was, attending two Ride gigs in a row, the first one being held in the friendly and tiny atmosphere of the Village Underground in the London Shoreditch area. It started well with an excellent opening band called Novella made out of young women (and a male drummer!) singing nice melodies with a strong shoegaze influence.

Ride arrived then on stage and one could really feel the pleasure and excitement these guys have to be back doing music together. Their new record “Weather Diaries” was to be released a few days after this gig so there were new songs to digest for the audience…and I can tell you these new songs sounded excellent. I will not be doing any teasing for our June record of the month future review but I would be surprised not to find this record as part of it.

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As often the case with classic bands, their strength lies in the connection between the two leaders/singers/songwriters, i.e. Andy Bell and Mark Gardener. One of the reasons the band split in 1996 was that these two school friends were going into different musical directions. Although they both had interesting musical careers out of Ride, Andy being for instance a member of Oasis for many years, one has to admit that their best material comes from their common chemistry. The show tonight was beautiful and excellently balanced between new songs and old classics from their peak 1990-1996 period. I must say this is such a pleasure to have them back, like meeting old friends after a long period of time.

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A week later, the band were promoting their new LP at Rough Trade East with a short set and the traditional record signing. I was lucky to be there as well to see this great short set mainly focused on songs from the new LP. I queued to have my vinyl cover signed and had a nice chat with Andy Bell (about Iggy Pop’s Royal Albert Hall gig) and Mark Gardener (speaking in French!) regarding his involvement in the Nick Drake tribute band The Color Bars Experience. Thanks Rough Trade for these in-store events which are always great to attend.

 

 

 

More than grunge – Two great American bands: The Afghan Whigs (Koko, London, 30th May 2017) and Buffalo Tom (Islington Assembly Hall, London, 9th June 2017)

These two bands have many things in common: they were considered part of the grunge movement whereas in reality their roots are more to be found in traditional American music, they have great leaders/singers, they stopped for many years after the 90’s, they recently came back though…and your host had the pleasure in catching them live in a 10-day period. No excuse then not to do a review of these concerts.

  • The Afghan Whigs – London, Koko – 30th May 2017

No need to tell my whole story as not fascinating but I decided to go and try my luck literally one hour before the start of the show after a long and tiring road trip from France. I was rewarded thanks to a nice lady who sold me the ticket of her sick husband…for £10! And this for a band for which I came especially to London when I was not living in London in 2012 (I’ll be your mirror Festival)… On the other side, I lost all my pictures of the concert due to a computer issue so I guess bad and good news were balanced.

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Although I had seen a great solo concert of their leader Greg Dulli last year, this concert from The Afghan Whigs was at the same place as last time in 2015. Koko (formerly known as the Camden Palace) is one of the most extraordinary theatre I know and seeing this great band again in this same place was really great.

Not sure what I can add on this band which to me is one of the best ever. Their new record “In Spades” has recently been this blog’s album of the month. The way the setlist was built was particularly remarkable as the new songs from the two latest LP’s were totally integrated with older classics, such as “Gentlemen” for instance. Despite Greg’s fight against one or two members of the audience who were taking picture with flash on, the show was particularly moving, knowing that their guitarist Dave Rosser was absent because of his current fight against cancer. If I could add one thing on top of my previous posts on this great band, it would that Greg Dulli is a hell of a singer. I was also very pleasantly surprised to see the great Ed Harcourt as an opening act and playing many songs with the band as well as a second guitarist.

  • Buffalo Tom – London, Islington Assembly Hall – 9th June 2017

Lead by the excellent Bill Janovitz on guitar and voice, Buffalo Tom is an American power pop rock trio who have made eight brilliant records between 1989 and 2011. I never had the opportunity to see them live and this year was a fantastic one as they were celebrating the 25 years of their best album “Let Me Come Over” released in 1992.

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On top of being a brilliant musician, Bill Janovitz has more than one string to his bow and he is in particular an excellent writer. I recently wrote his 33 1/3 series book on The Rolling Stones‘ “Exile on Main Street” and I must say this is one of the best.

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Their set was brilliant and the least one can say is that the band are as dynamic and punchy in their current early 50’s incarnation than they were twenty-five years ago. The songs were played with a real density but also with a great pop sensitivity. The way the set was structured was really good: the band were their own opening act, playing first eleven songs covering all Buffalo Tom periods. After a short break, they came back to play the gorgeous “Let Me Come Over” in its entirety, before playing two encores…for a total of twenty-six songs!

As usual in this kind of celebration, the audience was looking like the former French Parliament (mainly men in the fifties) and it would be good to see more female and youngsters as in the current French political trend. However, if this is the price to pay to see such a great band, so be it!

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May 2017 Album of the month: The Afghan Whigs “In Spades”

Once again, another great month in terms of releases. Despite new excellent records, bands or artists such as At The Drive-In, The Charlatans or Todd Rundgren were not selected so enjoy the following great records!

 

Album of the month: The Afghan Whigs “In Spades” – Soul Grunge Rock – The Afghan Whigs are one of my favourite bands ever and their come back record in 2014 (“Do To The Beast”) after a 18-year hiatus was sensational news. However, despite being very good, one was expecting an even better record for their future ventures… and “In Spades” is such a record. Greg Dulli’s voice has never sounded so good and all the songs are memorable, beautifully mixing a soul sensitivity with a grunge sound. This has always been their forte but the least one can say is that they are back to stay this time. Nice cover as well from a Brazilian artist.

  • Runner-up: Mac DeMarco – “This Old Dog” – Cool Rock – The more it goes, the less Mac DeMarco should be considered as a nice and funny guy in the music industry but as a real fantastic songwriter. You will not find a cooler record to listen to during summertime but behind the easiness of the music lies fantastic songs.
  • Also recommended:
    • Paul Weller  “A Kind Revolution” – Mod Psychedelic Rock
    • Jane Weaver – “Modern Kosmology” – Space Pop
    • Benjamin Biolay “Volver” – Bittersweet French Pop
    • Slowdive“s/t” – Shoegaze Rock
    • The Mountain Goats “Goths” – Literate Rock
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month  Kendrick Lamar – “DAMN.”