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”

 

Tea time at Rough Trade East with Teenage Fanclub and Bob Mould!

For those familiar with the blog, probably not a surprise to see once again these two bands and artists as they were for the both of them in my Top 100 best of list.

2016 has been quite a good year for them as they are currently on tour and both published excellent records. On my side, I have been happy to catch Bob Mould on stage in February and Teenage Fanclub more recently at the End of the Road Festival.

IMG_1774.JPG

The good news for those who have a bit more time than usual like me right now is that one can queue at around 6.30pm for the many private sets organised by the excellent Rough Trade East store. So not a long post but a few pictures of these artists recently seen on stage at that store for two excellent gigs, not that different from those one could see at a festival.

What is great with these shows is that it always ends with the artists signing records and books, having a friendly chat with the audience and who knows even having pictures taken like the ones below of Gerard Love and Bob Mould.

Good opportunity as well to inform my beloved readers that the “records stores” page has been updated. Happy to get your comments or tips for other great stores you have been to!

End of the Road Festival 2016 – 4th of September – Day Four

Bill Ryder-Jones - blurred

Final day of the 2016 edition and fourth post on this blog. Still so-so weather on Sunday but a fantastic line-up (again)!

Bill Ryder-Jones - End of the Road 2016

No better way to start a day than attending a good gig on the Garden Stage. Bill Ryder-Jones used to be a founding member of the excellent Liverpudlian band The Coral but left after a couple of records as he wanted to do his own music and was not really made for tour and band life. Despite his health issues, he has kept on doing beautiful orchestral music and his 2015 “West Kirby County Primary” LP was one of the best records of last year (which I discovered a bit too late to put in my best-of list). The show was in line with what he is, i.e. a good-looking young but not really well-dressed man, not at ease on stage but at the same time very communicative. He and his musicians well excellent though and that was a very good gig for a start.

Same stage 45 minutes later with Kevin Morby, the only artist who was already there last year, as part of the Heavenly label day. He told the audience that he would play here again and again so much he likes this festival. Kevin Morby is a key person right now in the musical scene as he can be found in many projects. His progression has been impressive though from one year to another as it went from a really nice to a great gig. Same thing as for the previous artist ; his 2016 LP “Singing Saw” is great and one of the best of the year so far.

Broken Social Scene - End of the Road 2016

The Canadian collective Broken Social Scene were on the main stage today. Although they played with their regular enthusiasm and energy, I am always a bit sceptical about bands who have many players or members on stage, unless your name is Prince… Not unpleasant but a bit annoying sometimes when one does not enter into their world.

Thurston Moore - End of the Road 2016

Talking about annoying…Seeing Thurston Moore and his band (including Deg Googe from My Bloody Valentine on bass or the great Steve Shelley from Sonic Youth on drums) should have been dreamy stuff for a Sonic Youth fan…but that was not the case. Difficult to explain why as the music was very good but maybe I am so used to his usual tricks (distortion, 1-minute 1-note solo, etc…) that I lost a bit the flame. I felt like watching a sub-par Sonic Youth influenced band but maybe I was too harsh.. or influenced by the book “Girl in a Band” wrote by Kim Gordon.

Chris Cohen - End of the Road 2016

I then went for the last time under the Tipi Tent to see Chris Cohen and his band. Quite a miracle by the way as the guys missed a ferry-boat from who knows where and arrived five minutes before the show. It did not prevent them to play one of the most refreshing gigs of the festival, mixing a detached American style with a beautiful sense of melodies.

Green Gartside - End of the Road 2016

I had to choose between Sunflower Bean, a great new band (a mix of Cocteau Twins and Nirvana to make it quick) and the legendary Scritti Politti lead by Green Gartside. I chose the latter, having in mind I may be able to see the former in a few months or years. Not that bad a choice as despite a funny look (hello the Loveboat), Green showed that he was still going forward, mixing his love of pop, reggae and hip-hop. He told us a few funny stories as well about the genesis of a few songs (apparently Kraftwerk and reggae do not mix that well…) and played a refreshing show. …and for once I was not one of the oldest people in the audience!

Joanna Newsom - End of the Road 2016

Joanna Newsom was probably considered as THE headliner of the festival, which reflects quite well what the festival is about as having a young woman in a beautiful dress playing the harp on stage is far from the usual rock clichés… That was a strength and a weakness for me. I really love her music and am the proud owner of all her records but unless being super snobbish and despite the quality of her music, voice and band, you tend to feel a bit bored and tired at one stage when standing up in a field. But once again, her music is beautiful and she is one of the most original artists of our times.

Teenage Fanclub is one of my favourite band ever, ranked #22 in our Top 100 of the best bands of all times. It had been a few months that I was following their website as there were news of a new record and a tour so I was delighted when I learnt that they would play their only festival of the year at End of the Road. If you want revolutionary music, they may not be the band for you. If you like great melodic and punchy bands, they will be your friends for life. That was only the 3rd time I was attending one of their shows and the last one was already 11-year old at the Point Ephémere in Paris… As usual, the three songwriters Norman Blake, Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley sang alternately but there is such a Teenage Fanclub sound that it does not look as if the songs were created by different writers. That was a delight as usual and the setlist was very well-balanced between old and new songs taken from their new LP. Probably the best way to finish late the festival and I was not the only one to experience such a feeling, surrounded by enthusiastic Scottish fans! Video I took of the opening song “Start Again” below.

Not sure where I will be in a year in terms of personal life but I already got my pass so I guess I will be spending a few days in a field in Dorset early September!

TOP 100 Artists/Bands of all Times : 21-25

I can’t believe we are now entering the Top 25 of our list but it seems to be true… Enjoy this new chunk of “five”.

25. Elliott Smith

 from : Omaha, Nebraska, USA / first great sounds : 90’s / style : “White Album” kind of songs / essential albums : Either/Or (1997) , XO (1998), Figure 8 (2000)

Eternal sadness… That is the feeling one gets when thinking about how talented and emotion-driven Elliott Smith was and how his death at too young an age of 34 was a real waste. Elliott Smith started on the music in post-grunge band Heatmiser before soon realizing he should express himself solo. His first LP’s were excellent but he really took a step higher with the three-above mentioned albums which you can listen to again and again. His style was a kind of beautiful post-grunge folk with lots of Beatles influences. I had been lucky enough to see him live but the most awkward and surreal moment of his career was probably when he went singing “Miss Misery” during the 1998 Oscar awards Ceremony as he had been nominated for best song for the Gus Van Sant movie “Good Will Hunting“.

24. Kanye West

 from : Atlanta, Georgia, USA / first great sounds : 00’s / style : further than hip-hop / essential albums : Graduation (2007), 808s & Heartbreak (2008), My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

One could easily describe Kanye West as a self-oriented egocentric man in a music business far out from this blog’s world. Well, this might be partly true but Kanye West is far more than this. First, he has been famous in the hip hop business for a long time through his production skills. Second, he his a genuine music fan and amazingly had-working man, having many projects under his banner. Third, his own music is amazing in sounds, energy, styles but moreover in sensitivity. Listen again if not done yet to our 2010 record of the year and show me a better piece of music made in the last ten years…

23. Nirvana

 from : Aberdeen, Washington, USA / first great sounds : 80’s / style : Cobainism / essential albums : Nevermind (1991), In Utero (1993), Unplugged in New York (1994)

I was in my early twenties when the Nirvana wave happened, was a real fan of the band…but never saw them live, making it one the great disappointment of my musical life. The story is quite known : young talented musician gets a totally unexpected success, hass constant stomach pains, falls heavily into drug addiction and does not manage to go over his pain of living such a life. But please go beyond the myth : at first, Kurt Cobain was one of us punk and pop rock fans (as can be read in his diaries where he used to do hundreds of lists about his love of such good bands as Young Marble Giants, The Marine Girls, The Meat Puppets, etc…). And Nirvana’s music ! What a never-ending pleasure (and let’s not forget the roles of Krist Novoselic on bass and the mighty future Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl on drums) and what songs !

22. Teenage Fanclub

 from : Glasgow, Scotland / first great sounds : 80’s / style : Pop rock with an edge / essential albums : Bandwagonesque (1991), Grand Prix (1995), Songs from Northern Britain (1997)

Probably the less famous band in our Top 25, Teenage Fanclub has been a constant pleasure for more than two decades now. This is a band of three songwriters and singers (Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Gerard Love – what great names!) and their music has been a mix of American power pop (hello Big Star) but with a strong Northern Britain sensitivity and a love for Neil Young-ish guitar solos. Does not it sound like heaven ? Well, it is indeed and you should really dig into their music production as their songs are really amazing.

21. R.E.M.

 from : Athens, Georgia, USA / first great sounds : 80’s  / style : the American Smiths / essential albums : Murmur (1983), Reckoning (1984), Fables of the Reconstruction (1985), Lifes Rich Pageant (1986), Document (1987), Automatic for the People (1992)

Buck, Berry, Mills, Stipe. Athens, Georgia. Yes, I spent hours when I was young reading these names in magazines and LP’s covers’ notes. R.E.M. and The Smiths were really our bands in the 80’s, meaning they were ones of the few to give guitars and poetry in a world where money, fame and inauthenticity were the rules to follow (can I hear anyone saying what’s the difference with now?). All members were keys of course in the band but one has to admit that what made the band different from the pack was on one side the words and great voice of Michael Stipe and on the other side the rock jiggling guitars sounds created by Peter Buck, a man to knows quite well the history of rock’n’roll ! I recently listened again to all their albums thanks to a specific issue of Uncut and (re)discovered the perfection of their first albums on the label I.R.S., making this first period their moment in time. They aged quite gracefully but lost a lot when drummer Bill Berry chose to stop at the end of the 90’s. Thanks guys anyway for such fantastic music and live shows!

2010 best records

Reminder of 2010 “Best of” list

Une liste élargie cette année tant la production musicale est de plus en plus riche, diverse et exceptionnelle.

Sur le podium, les USA trustent les médailles:

Cover (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy:Kanye West)

Gold medal: Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

Everything you will love in one LP: style, references, melodies, joy, sadness – Kanye West is definitely one of the greatest. La fable du lièvre et la tortue adaptée à cette année musicale puisque cet album n’est sorti qu’en décembre même si la plupart des morceaux ont été disponibles au compte goutte tout au long de l’année. On peut penser ce qu’on veut du personnage très médiatisé (trouvez un autre artiste nommé cette année passée à la fois par G. Bush et B. Obama) mais le musicien est irréprochable. Un album digne des plus grands artistes des décennies passées par sa créativité, son ouverture musicale (est-ce encore du hip-hop?), des samplings impeccables (King Crimson, Gil Scott-Heron) et ses invités (Bon Iver!). Et surtout des mélodies magiques avec un côté de self-depreciation rare dans une époque plus éprise d’anecdotique que d’authenticité. Album of the year by far. (http://www.allmusic.com/album/my-beautiful-dark-twisted-fantasy-r2055009/review)

Cover (Transference:Spoon)

Silver Medal: Spoon “Transference”

Great Austin, Tx band delivers the goods once gain – when simplicity equals greatness. Un de ces groupes américains qui se construit et murit avec les années. On était un peu passé à côté des débuts de ce groupe qui existe depuis 1994 mais on se demande pourquoi car cette musique a tout pour plaire aussi bien aux amateurs de mélodies qu’aux afficionados du rock indépendant. Que des tubes en puissance dans cet album dans un monde idéal. Go for it! (http://www.allmusic.com/album/transference-r1691709/review)

Cover (High Violet:The National)

Bronze Medal: The National “High Violet”

One of the current best live band succeds in keeping its indie attitude but with more catchy melodies. The National est également un groupe qui se fait sa place petit à petit dans le panthéon des grands avec son dernier album. Les vertus d’une détermination et d’un self belief portées par un chanteur fascinant et des musiciens excellents combinées au fait de se retrouver un jour au bon endroit au bon moment. Ecoutez cet album, craquez sur la voix chaleureuse et suave de Matt Berninger et sur la musique au couteau du groupe, remontez dans les temps les albums des années précédentes et surtout allez voir ce groupe sur scène. (http://www.allmusic.com/album/high-violet-r1805201/review)

15 autres albums (par ordre alphabétique):

Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”

Our favorite Canadians are back to form vs. previous album with emotional lyrics. A tous les déçus de l’album précédent des Canadiens, le groupe répond avec une musique toujours enflammée mais plus sobre et des paroles basées sur le passage à l’age adulte. Welcome back guys.

Beach House “Teen Dream”

Weird and warm songs from this Lynchian Californian girl-boy duo. Les mélodies entrainantes de Victoria Legrand (eh oui, la nièce de Michel) avec les trouvailles musicales d’Alex Scally. Du David Lynch qui se baladerait sur les plages de l’Océan Pacifique.

The Black Keys “Brothers”

Still excellent blues-rock formula from Akron with fantastic songs. La cité du pneu (Akron) nous encaoutchoute encore d’un formidable album de blues-rock au plus près de l’os pour ce duo américain. Leur projet de l’année 2009 (Blakroc) qui mélangeait blues, soul et hip-hop a ouvert des horizons nouveaux à ce groupe qui a de plus en plus de groove dans sa musique. A signaler des performances live d’exception.

Field Music “Measure”

Amazing third LP from this band from Sunderland, England who will warm up XTC fans. Le Royaume Uni n’est pas oublié de notre sélection avec le troisième album des frères Brewis. Très ambitieux album d’ailleurs avec pas moins de 20 titres travaillés dans leur studio personnel de Sunderland. Un groupe qui devrait être énorme tant la qualité de leurs chansons rappelle celles du meilleur XTC. A découvrir.

John Grant “Queen of Denmark”

First solo LP from the former leader of the Czars played with the Midlake musicians. John Grant est l’exemple du miraculé incompris et déprimé devant ses échecs musicaux précédents pour lequel le mot seconde chance a un sens. Un magnifique album dans la lignée de ce que fait Midlake, c’est à dire un rock très 70’s soft mélangé à du pur Indie avec des textes au scalpel. Meilleur titre de chanson de l’année pour “Jesus Hates Faggots”.

Grinderman “Grinderman 2”

Old men rock! Nick Cave’s trash band better than ever. Grinderman est le groupe sans piano de Nick Cave dans lequel sa verve plus blues et trash peut s’épanouir au mieux. Quelle musique et quelle jeunesse. A signaler la créativité instrumentale de Warren Ellis, l’alter ago du bon vieux Nick. Pour réveiller le loup ou la louve qui dort en nous.

LCD Soundsystem “This is happening”

James Murphy’s influences from punk rock, Talking Heads, Brian Eno and Can put him almost in the podium. Nouveau disque exceptionnel de James Murphy et son groupe qui sera d’ailleurs sans doute le dernier sous cette forme. Tout ce qu’on aime dans la musique se trouve chez cet homme-là. A signaler les London Sessions disponibles chez tous les bons vendeurs numériques et en solo l’excellente bande originale du film Greenberg avec Ben Stiller.

Local Natives “Gorilla Manor”

Geeks rule the earth with great indie melodies! Sans doute le groupe qui pourrait disputer à Hot Chip le titre de groupe le moins sexy du monde mais de magnifiques mélodies californiennes pour tout ceux qui veulent prolonger toute l’année le sable de la plage qui reste dans les oreilles.

Massive Attack “Heligoland”

Trip Hop Bristol veterans reinvent themselves with great invited musicians. On n’avait presque oublié cet album mais sa réécoute l’a finalement fait préférer à celui de Gorillaz pourtant également excellent. La marque de fabrique de Massive Attack est toujours présente mais pleine de fraîcheur de nouveau grâce aux invités et notamment Tunde Adebimpe de TV on the Radio et Damon Albarn qu’on ne présente plus.

Janelle Monae “The Archandroid”

Amazing record from this young lady. What Jimi Hendrix would do if he were 20 in 2010. Eh oui, pas moins, une jeune artiste noire américaine qui mélange tout: hip hop, soul, R’B, rock psychédélique, pop, etc… Toujours un immense plaisir de découvrir de tels nouveaux talents. A signaler également une participation croisée avec Kevin Barnes sur cet album et celui d’Of Montreal.

Sufjan Stevens “All Delighted People EP/The Age of Adz”

The great man back from months of illness with more electronics influences than before. Certes, il a été absent quelques mois du fait d’une maladie rare mais en échange on récupère en 2010 deux albums pour le prix d’un même si le premier n’est pas censé être un LP complet… Tout n’est pas du niveau de Illinois dans ces 19 chansons mais il y a quand même des perles. A ne pas manquer en concert pour ceux qui le peuvent.

Teenage Fanclub “Shadows”

Latest LP by the Scottish Band, one of the all-time greatest. Ils prennent leur temps pour faire des albums et c’est tant mieux. The Beatles, The Byrds, Love, The Go-Betweens, XTC, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, rien à rajouter.

Richard Thompson “Dream Attic”

New songs played live from the epic folk rock guitar player. La liste est diverse comme le montre la présence dans celle-ci de l’ancien leader de Fairport Convention, goupe anglais de folk rock des années 60 qui a pour ainsi dire inventé un genre à lui tout seul. Cet album plus qu’un autre car Richard Thompson met plus en avant ses talents exceptionnels de guitariste.

Warpaint “The Fool”

100% West Coast female group for one of the best debut albums of recent years. Certes, le fait qu’une des deux chanteuses soit l’ex-girlfriend de l’ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers John Frusciante (producteur de leur premier EP) augurait du meilleur mais pas autant que la profonde originalité de ce groupe 100% féminin. Un groove étonnant quand même très rock avec des voix magnifiques.

Neil Young “Le Noise”

Still young after all these years. Young and Lanois straight to the bone. Incroyable de pouvoir encore compter sur Neil Young en 2010! Un de nos 10 artistes préférés de tous les temps encore capable de sortir des disques importants. Un disque en pur solo avec un son de guitare incroyable trafiqué par le Canadien Daniel Lanois, producteur entres autres de U2 et Bob Dylan. D’où le jeu de mots du titre…

Egalement recommandés:

Owen Pallett, These New Puritans, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer, Hot Chip, Broken Bells, Liars, Midlake, Gorillaz, MGMT, Shearwater, Caribou, The Fall, Paul Weller, Band of Horses, Drake, Best Coast, Interpol, Philip Selway (le batteur de Radiohead en solo), Robert Plant, Deerhunter, Swans, The Walkmen, Cee Lo Gren (le chanteur de Gnarls Barkley), Kid Cudi, The Roots et N.E.R.D.