30 August 2009

The End Is Nigh

Noel Gallagher has quit Oasis! Hurrah! Okay, I know there'll be thousands of people across the country, and possibly the globe, who will mourn the loss of who is considered to be an icon of Britpop from the band who came to outlive the genre. But not me. Personally, this couldn't have come soon enough!
Enough gloating though, let's analyse Noel's statement of why he left the band and try and get through the enigma code:
"The details are not important and of too great a number to list": Doesn't this just scream "I just couldn't be bothered any more"? Surely the man would have the decency and respect to turn around to his fans and at least generally highlight some of the reasons why? You know, apart from the whole violence thing which isn't too hard to believe anyway.
"To get me cape and seek pastures new": Any statement like this should be somewhat heartfelt and surely not be comedic. If the reasons are that serious then surely a level of sincerity should be employed during this statement? No, Noel has decided to revert to the grammatically-incorrect vernacular and make a joke of the whole thing. Cape? Who does he think he is, Superman?
"I'd like to say sorry to the good people of V Festival.... it was nothing to do with me": deflecting the blame in this sort of situation is very childish and immature (okay they mean the same thing but I wanted to make the point twice). The suggestion is that it's something to do with Liam but if Noel is blameless, how did he end up in this situation and why is he personally apologizing, and not saying that the whole band at the time were regretful? As the old saying goes, there is no smoke without a fire. Or some cigarette ash.
"It's been a f***** pleasure": Oh dear, what an end. I'm far from being a prude but some things are just a no-no and swearing when you're ending this kind of supposedly serious statement is one of them. Dear me Noel - I do hope the family life and football team will enable you to get some manners or public speaking skills! Actually, don't count on that. Maybe the swearing is meant to be irony and he hated the whole Oasis experience? Somehow I doubt that's entirely true.
This essentially marks the day when Oasis fall apart and mercifully never make any more songs. No-one would ever truly accept an Oasis without Noel or a replacement for him either. But this is probably just as well. Even the songs of their heyday were drawn-out, screechy indulgences. Their best song "Wonderwall" is spoilt by Liam's gravelly, nasally voice. From then it only went downhill. I leave you with the disaster that is "Champagne Supernova". I suppose this was meant to be the point in their career where they went a bit psychedelic like their heroes The Beatles (they always wanted to be them) but instead of turning into a classic, it ended up as a self-indulgent splat on the face of their career. Awful lyrics, it lasts too long and it has one of the most implausible chord changes ever - what more could you not want?
Ah, please do your best not to hurt the screen. But if you're an Oasis fan and have found this entire post insulting and/or ignorant to the fact that Oasis are actually a really great band (tongue in cheek, tongue in cheek) then by all means enjoy:

The Bandwagon: The Easiest Way To Scrape Your Knees

Today the Observer Review has published an article by Hermione Hoby about the Arctic Monkeys live in Brixton. Now, I hope I am not the only one who thinks that Hermione is trying to jump on the bandwagon as I cannot imagine her ever listening intently to the music of the Monkeys day after day or singing along like the crowd did at the gig itself. The whole review felt like a point-scorer after her stint in the comments section about how (young) women still need feminism (of course we do, dear, we don't need to be told that).
First mistake: claiming that the whole of their third album was recorded and produced by Josh Homme in the American desert. Er, no, actually only about 2/3 of the album was - this is a simple mistake to make of course. Well actually it isn't. Listening to the Sheffield four-piece work their way through the majority of the album in their Reading set last night, it's obvious that while some songs have benefited from Homme's Americanised, yet more nuanced approach, some songs still contain the raw energy and thrashing style of the previous albums, suggesting even to somebody who didn't know about Homme's involvement that there was more than one engineer/producer on the project.
Which brings me nicely to mistake number two: Hoby suggests that every song contains the thrashing style that made the Monkeys famous in the first place. Poor Hoby has shot herself in the foot. Like last night, the Monkeys started their Brixton set with "My Propeller", a dark and heavy song bursting at the seams with double entendres, metaphors and sexual innuendo. The slow build up leads nicely into the first single from "Humbug", "Crying Lightning". Even that doesn't have the Monkeys' 'signature sound' or at least, it is shoved in the background to leave Turner to get on with his singing rather than having his lyrics drowned out by noise. Old songs were in rather short supply, and if the Monkeys showed the same semi-apathy for their old hits as they did at Reading last night then surely there is no reason to suggest to people that they haven't moved on.
Third mistake: the hair. Oh, who really gives a monkeys (no pun intended) about the fact that Alex Turner has grown his hair? Trying to say that his longer hair shows a progression into manhood out of adolescence is even worse! It's childish and pretentious at the same time like giggling at someone's locks in the schoolyard just because it's different to yours or looks "silly" or "rubbish". Get over it. If the hair must be talked about, attribute it to the fact that Turner has so obviously cast off the shackles of his working-class roots and (possibly) been bullied by his it-girl beau Alexa Chung into looking less like a chav and more like a proper rock star. Okay, it's probably more like that it was Alexa and not Alex denying where he comes from - he doesn't seem like the type.
Please please please Hermione! Stick to what you know; actually, what is that exactly?

14 August 2009


In 2006, Metric released "Live It Out", a fast, furious and stressed-out album that exposed their views on things like modern life and the war (on possibly their best song, "Monster Hospital") and frontwoman and keyboard-player Emily Haines adopted a more unconventional singing style, sometimes screaming, sometimes cooing and then warping her voice in the most strangest of manners to represent anguish and desperation. Three years down the line, and one solo project for Haines, Metric have released "Fantasies", a much more structured and adult effort.

Of course, that doesn't mean I prefer "Live It Out". Both albums can top each other in different ways, and here Metric are taking slight advantage of the rise of electro but subverting it slightly and moulding it to their own liking. "Twilight Galaxy" and "Front Row" provide the mellowest moments of the album and allow Haines to truly take the lead, making use of her synth-playing expertise and the experience she gained in making her low-key solo album.

Oh, and then we get stabbing, attention-grabbing guitars straight after, reminiscent of their last album. But unlike on "Live It Out" you're left with more room to breathe in each song - perhaps with the exception of album closer "Stadium Love" which continues their love of not ending albums on a dull note. Indeed, "Stadium Love" is the most hectic song and with its long fade-out, disruptive fuzz and an urgent beat, it's also one of the album's most uplifting songs (for some reason, this album is dark without trying deliberately to be like the night; it's all in the little things that you don't notice after just one play).

"Gimme Sympathy" plays on the old question of "would you rather be the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?" I was sort of surprised that this was chosen to be a single but maybe they're trying to reach a new audience with this strategy. "Sick Muse" is a twisted love song hidden behind lyrics about silly people, rejecting money, wanting to be the best and having a mental illness. Nice.

If there's one downside to this album it's that opener "Help I'm Alive" is one minute too long. It has one verse, one bridge and one chorus, each with a different key and a different tone. After four and a half minutes this gets a bit wearing and you get the feeling that the triumphant ending piece should have been taped on just after that bit with the crazy descending penny-whistle noise. Then it would have been better. But that's just personal opinion.

Still, this is a great effort - even my dad likes it so it must have something good going for it. Favourite song? "Satellite Mind". But since they didn't have that on YouTube, I'll let you go with "Sick Muse" instead: