Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The Coral, founded in 1996, has already created quite a back catalog. Butterfly House is the band's sixth album. I got acquainted with The Coral's music when the band's 2007 album Roots and Echoes, had just come out. I spent quite a lot of time listening to that album... Well, it is certainly one lovely album. Just thinking about songs like Jacqueline and Cobwebs makes me feel warm and happy.
About Butterfly House then... The album definitely is impressive! The members of the Coral are masters of their own melancholic, soft-psychedelic folky, jangly pop style. Musically the band hasn't changed its ways all that much from the previous album but the Coral concept has been taken a couple of steps further. James Skelly's songwriting pen has been sharp, again, and writing most of the songs together with another band member seems like a good choice.
When it comes to the song order, Butterfly House is built in an interesting way. The first four songs are more like the stuff on the previous album. Then begins an almost uninterrupted row of songs with superb, very Byrds-like harmony vocals. Like diving into another wonderful mood.. The music is so atmospheric that you can practically feel the leaves falling down from a tree. Wow... Now that I think about it, I see all kinds of pictures in my head while listening to this album. Music that stimulates your imagination like that can't be bad.
There are jangly sounds and excellent harmonies, sounding a lot like the Byrds.. The general feel also reminds me of Surf's Up by the Beach Boys. Another band that comes to mind is America. Anyway, some of the songs here practically sound like immediate classics! Just listen to songs like 1000 Years, Two Faces, and Green Is the Color.
Humane, warm, atmospheric, wonderful organic (and jangly!) sounds, made by people who obviously love what they are doing.. That is what I call Music.
Here is a music video for 1000 Years.
The film was really entertaining and well-made. The acting was good, and I enjoyed the unconventional way of describing Gainsbourg's inner self. The plot followed Gainsbourg's life story nicely, concentrating on the main character's personality, scandalous love life (obviously), and the way he developed his visionary music. In my opinion, the makers of this film could have highlighted the music part a lot more but I enjoyed it like this as well. I am endlessly curious about how musicians get their inspiration, how they work on their music, and so on. That is why I probably couldn't be satisfied with a film about a musician if it didn't include (preferably a lot of) stuff about making music.
I don't often see films about musicians. That is why there aren't many film reviews/commentaries in this blog. I would love to see films about musicians more often – and not just documentaries! The strange part is that I actually found out about Serge Gainsbourg while doing research on a power pop musician years ago. Good thing, and now I think I should finally start listening to the maestro's work!
Gainsbourg IMDb article
Trailer for English-speakers (YouTube)
Sunday, November 28, 2010
The waiting is over, it really is.. The first new the Sun Sawed in 1/2 track is here! The track appeared on Facebook about 30 minutes ago. I can't stop listening to it... It is the title track of the new album Elephants into Swans.
Listen to the song here.
Right now I can only think about two things:
1. I LOVE IT
2. I want more!!
Friday, November 26, 2010
Yes, I realize that I have recently been exposed to such ambitious music that it might affect my thinking and reactions quite a lot. However, this blog has never been much about objectivity..
Grandiose, epic, big sounds... Music created in the spirit of shoegaze/indie rock bands and something about it even reminds of such bands as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sigur Rós. Those are the ingredients of post rock – and nowadays also On Volcano's music. With classy Christmas lights illuminating the stage, the skillful musicians of On Volcano played an amazing set. This wasn't the first or even the second time I saw On Volcano but now they had really found their sound and perfected their music – I am already waiting for a full album. Almost every song of the live set was longer than five minutes and there were long instrumental periods, but the music was still perfectly balanced... It is the magic of post rock! Also, you just have to love a band that concludes the set with a ”country ballad”. Definitely the best post rock band of my hometown Tampere!
Ultramariini plays pop that could be described as indie but it also has qualities to make it appeal to wider audiences. Frontman Matti Johannes Koivu has been doing solo albums during the past years and performing as a solo artist. I have seen him live probably three times and loved every gig. Now his old band Ultramariini has returned and released a new album called Ydin. I will probably check out that album at some point – and most definitely On Volcano's new EP New Blood which the band is giving out for free!
Free download of On Volcano's New Blood EP
Ultramariini at MySpace
First of all, something I have been wanting to mention for quite some time. If you already haven't, do yourself a favor and check out the latest from the Swedish power pop front. The Genuine Fakes is a new band and based on everything I've heard from them they are definitely worth some serious attention.
A couple of videos for starters. The first one, I Don't Want It: classic 90s power pop sound á la the Posies, or Popsicle. Loud, sweet, catchy as hell! Also, extra points for great dancing in the video.. Nice video, all in all.
Then, When Reality Hits You: another really catchy tune, featuring the guys... shaving.
The Genuine Fakes have also made a cover version of Beyoncé's song Irreplaceable. What can I say... It's really good! It can be heard at MySpace, for instance. The release date for the Fakes debut album, which is called The Striped Album, is very soon, December the 1st.
The Genuine Fakes at MySpace
The Striped Album site
Thursday, November 25, 2010
It is such an amazing thing to get Teenage Fanclub to Finland only a few weeks after the Posies paid a visit to this distant land. It is a real privilege... Besides, it never ceases to amaze me to actually see other people – lots of people – coming to see bands that I like really much. It is not all that common for me, you know... I have seen near-deserted clubs so many times. Although it is very difficult to be certain of it, experiences like witnessing one's favorite band with hundreds of other people might have some unexpected, positive effects on one's subconscious. I like to think that it does.
After traveling to Helsinki by train, arriving at Nosturi, and listening to Finnish warm-up act Delay Trees play a nice set, it was inevitable that I was going to see one of my all-time biggest favorites alive in front of me – for the first time.
Soon the gig started. There they were... Norman Blake, the most talkative guy, rhythm guitarist, a sort of lead character who was smiling sunnily almost all the time. Raymond McGinley, the absolutely sympathetic guy on the left who delighted the audience with his riffs and guitar solos. Gerry Love, the more serious-looking bass player, but still the sweetest-sounding guy of the entire band. Drummer Francis Macdonald, the current provider of the loveable TFC beats. Keyboardist/guitarist, multi-instrumentalist David McGowan. Together these guys made the Teenage Fanclub experience come alive.
It was amazing to see these people and what they look like while playing these songs. I have always thought that TFC has its very own special style that I respect deeply... Seeing TFC live felt almost like a pilgrimage, with the difference that the band came to Finland, instead of me going abroad to see the band.
The first song was Start Again. I was very impressed: only Norman and Gerry were singing but the sound was incredibly rich... Bang! The huge vocal talent of TFC suddenly became so clear to me that it was quite overwhelming. What an unforgettable moment! The current TFC line-up includes five guys, all of whom sing harmony vocals. Luckily most of the gig was very well mixed and the harmonies could be heard quite nicely.
Some of the most wonderful songs of the set were Sweet Days Waiting and When I Still Have Thee – both were songs from the new album (Shadows) and really fresh and new to me, who hadn't listened to them very much yet... I was also very charmed by I Need Direction, I Don't Want Control of You, It's All in My Mind, Verisimilitude, Don't Look Back, Sparky's Dream, and all the other classics! The gig was concluded with a great version of Everything Flows, as usual.
The warm atmosphere during the gig was, after all, just the beginning... During the next days after the gig I listened to a lot of TFC, mostly Songs from Northern Britain, and also other albums... I felt things I hadn't felt before this much: new, wonderful, warm feelings, as well as understanding. When I started listening to TFC years ago, I was generally quite new to pop/rock music.. or any kind of music. Since then I have introduced myself to many different types of music and therefore it is now much easier to see TFC in the context of power pop, or pop, rock, or any other music in general. Now I understand why some people regard TFC as the best pop band in the world. The people who don't appreciate TFC much... They just haven't been enlightened yet!
By the way... How I have missed listening to sweet power pop! I looked at my mp3 player and noticed there were practically only about ten power pop bands there. That is not much for a person like me, you know... Moments like this remind me of the fact that even though I don't wish to consider any specific music genres/styles better than others, I do like to amuse myself by placing sweet power pop above everything else. In a way I really think about power pop as my favorite music attribute. There is something very special about the combination of those features that tend to be present in the music called “power pop” by many people. Power pop often is sweet... I like sweet vocalists, most definitely I like sweet-sounding guys, who play sweet music with sweet sounds. I want more sweet guys into my life!
What a speech... Also, this might not really be the end of the subject ”TFC and me”. So, beware!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Nononononononono. I'm NOT talking about the very unfortunate and sad demise of Not Lame. This record company will be dearly missed. Thanks for everything, Bruce! I look forward to the new Pop Geek Heaven site.
What I wish to say is that Teenage Fanclub, the heroes of jangly, cozy and warm, extremely charming (power) pop, are playing live in Helsinki, Finland, tomorrow. I will be there, of course. I haven't seen the Fannies before, so I am really excited!
These Scottish popsters were among the very first power pop bands I ever listened to. You could say they are an old favorite of mine, although there most definitely are loads of people who have followed the band much longer than me.
I have paid so little attention the latest Fannies album Shadows (2010) that I really feel embarrassed. I purchased the album when it came out but somehow it got lost when I was in the middle of some another 70s hard rock craze... Fortunately it's never too late to go back to being a big Teenage Fanclub fan again!
In any case, Shadows is a really beautiful album... Sweet songs, peaceful feel, and definitely a lovely atmosphere! Soundwise it is like Man-Made (2005) with everything made sound even better. Some people were not happy with the sounds on Man-Made but I am sure they don't have anything bad to say about Shadows. I LOVE Man-Made – the sounds, too.
Well... I am not going to start analysing this band and my experiences with it any further now. I might do that after the gig.
Some really good stuff from 1997:
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
According to some rumors, Gene Simmons has stated that there hasn't been much magic in making music with KISS. The band is a product and it sells well. Sounds familiar to me... A lot of music from the past decades was targeted to an audience that knew what it wanted – and the music was made by people who knew what the audience wanted. A good thing is that the product may still sound very good more than 30 years later.
Pictures of KISS still surprise me. That is because I haven't seen visual KISS material all that much.. I guess I have been kept in the dark (or something like that). The band looks goofy! And very goth-glam, I have to admit. KISS has also been known for spectacular live performances. The band's latest gig in Finland was last summer. I didn't go to see the show but the next time I just might do that...
So, I have been listening to KISS, Rock and Roll Over, Destroyer, and a bit of Love Gun. My favorite is Rock and Roll Over. This album also introduced me to the band's other lead singer, Paul Stanley... Well, he sounds really good. Nicer than Gene Simmons, at least. Paul Stanley is an important person also because he is the only other original member who is still in the band. He has also been credited to numerous big KISS hit songs.
To me, listening to KISS is a nice hard rock project. I often have use for groovy, hard-rocking, energetic music like KISS. That's why taking KISS to, say, the gym is simply awesome. You can never get enough of those hard rock riffs, catchy playing, and good songwriting!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Now that I have a new, extraordinary favorite I wish to share some of my thoughts concerning this experience. Here is a list of things I have learned to enjoy about Einstürzende Neubauten (EN) in a very short time. EN is an enjoyable band even thought it has little to do with traditional pop or rock music. It is a band for those moments when you want something completely different... Now, the things I love about Einstürzende Neubauten.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Yellowcard took a couple of year's break from music but they are now back and recording a new album that will come out next year. I remember thinking a couple of months ago that if Yellowcard came to Finland I would most definitely go see them and mosh all through the gig. How come, my intentions are actually going to become reality!
Really, I'm not going to mosh all through the gig... But a part of it at least! To celebrate the great news here is a song from Yellowcard's latest studio album Paper Walls (2007): Light up the Sky.
Watch the video for Light up the Sky
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
When it comes to my personal interests, Grateful Dead is still fabulous. However, I have been spending a lot more time playing Grateful Dead on the guitar than listening to the band's actual recordings... It was some time ago when I did listen to Terrapin Station quite a lot, and before that American Beauty was THE thing. I think I fell in love with the absolutely sincere and haunting country songs. So, now I enjoy playing the songs on the guitar, and singing, too. My favorites are Friend of the Devil and Ripple (that riff!).
Also, to pursue my hippie urges I bought myself a Grateful Dead t-shirt last spring. It must be one of the coolest pieces of clothing I have ever put on.
30 Days of Dead website
The official Grateful Dead Facebook site
The lasttime the Posies visited Finland was in autumn 2007, if I remember correctly, but Jon and Ken didn't bring their rhythm section with them that time. The first time I saw the entire nowadays version of the Posies was in November 2005. At that time I hadn't seen a lot of gigs (by any band) yet, and the Posies definitely gave me some real shock therapy! I still remember it as the craziest, wildest, loveliest, as well as loudest gig I have ever seen. Excellent work, guys! That is how I would summarize that show now.
This time Jon and Ken were a bit more calm... But they rocked and rolled nevertheless! Jon, Ken, Darius (Minwalla), and Matt (Harris) played a solid show presenting almost every possible Posies classic, including some excellent rarities, and most of the songs on the new album. As always, lots of incomplete cover versions were also played. This time the band seemed to get kicks out of The Who's material.. Gosh, they could play excellent the Who tribute gigs anytime!
I tend to enjoy Jon Auer's voice a bit more than Ken Stringfellow's but that composition always gets reversed in live situations. Ken's voice is better suited for hard-rocking live performances and his presence is more energetic. Jon Auer surely is charming as well and his angelic voice and intriguing stage personality could never go unnoticed. Together Jon and Ken are invincible.
Thank you so much guys and welcome back anytime!