EP Review – The Strokes – Future Present Past

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One of the few defining groups of the 21st Century in The Strokes have released their first material in over three years with their new EP Future Present Past which has been streamed all day and is expected for proper release on June 3rd. When discussing it, Julian Casablancas said the songs could be part of a full album if ‘the collective will can be found’. But for the moment, we have three new tracks and the primary single is  ‘Oblivious’. It has shades of their first two albums to it, particularly in Nick Valensi’s slightly distorted lead guitar licks and the rough edged recording of Julian’s vocals. As well as this, it has that crashing chorus and heavy melody to it. It is different in its greater sense of depth between verse and chorus and a general production direction that has the song pulling in one, bigger wave of sound. There’s also flashes of Julian’s work with the Voidz in the instrumental section with heavily modulated vocals and guitars.

‘Drag Queen’ is certainly more evocative of this more gritty, yet encompassing sound with the extended bass lines and rhythm sections. These break out into greater areas  of light with the open, thrashing guitars and ringing lead elements. The track has several sections as well as a melodic, anthemic interlude towards the songs conclusion and is demonstrative of the new avenues they may take. ‘Threat of Joy’ is a light, airy track with simple, jangling rhythms which, with added gradual reverb merge with Julian’s washed out vocal before swinging back to its more pepped up sound. Nothing new to learn here though. It’s an EP of different approaches and for the most part these work effectively with signs of familiarity mixed with recent and new approaches. It remains to be seen whether this balance will be altered but it should be an intriguing listen nonetheless.

 

Owen Riddle

 

Albert Hammond Jr. – Momentary Masters Review

Albert Hammond Jr. is a name that has already been written into music history through his work with The Strokes which in turn led to the indie explosion of the early 2000s. Now, fourteen years after that influential first album with the Strokes and seven years after his last solo LP (¿Cómo Te Llama, 2008) the music terrain has changed. That’s not to say he’s been doing nothing for the last seven years, The Strokes have been busy releasing “Angles”, “Comedown Machine” as well as touring. So what does the prolific Albert Hammond Jr. have to offer us? Is it going to be similar to Julian Casablankas solo album, in terms of experimenting? Let’s see.

The opener of Momentary Masters, “Born Slippy” is a decent start. Hammond Jr. is in his comfort zone for this track with trickling poppy guitar riff and a bass guitar that acts in a call and response style to the riff almost driving the song on. The production style is very clean but there just doesn’t seem to be much else to this track and far from unique in this era. The next track, “Power Hungry” doesn’t quite work either (it sounds like a more echoed version of an Ian Dury song). The song tries to sell a dark and mysterious tone that just doesn’t click. The guitars seem to be doing too much (it’s even got a kind of Johnny Marr funk to it) whilst his light-hearted vocals clash with the tone he’s trying to create. Having said that, his next attempt at getting into that kind of dark atmosphere is spot on. “Coming to Getcha” utilises synths and his vocals in a much more creepy and haunting fashion. It gives you a real sense of claustrophobia, that the net is closing in and to top it off Albert finishes the track with a fantastic guitar solo that makes the track even better.

Who does Hammond Jr. refers to as “Momentary Masters”? In tracks like “Caught By My Shadow” and “Razors Edge” he seems to mean bands that he inspired like The Arctic Monkeys and The Vaccines respectively. “Caught By My Shadow” (possibly the most Arctic Monkeys-esk title ever) sounds like something that would have fitted very well on their second LP, Favourite Worst Nightmare. He even drops in a little guitar solo that is straight out of AM as well as some Turner style witticisms. The lyrics may not be as imaginative as Turners but he holds his own in the song writing department. In “Razors Edge” he reminds us that bands like The Vaccines are in large part singing from the same hymn sheet the Strokes wrote years ago. That brand of super charged bubblegum indie-pop is what Hammond Jr has always done so well and does so again.

Albert also channels Tom Petty on “Losing Touch” particularly in the verses and instrumental sections before he unleashes a Strokes “Is This It” style chorus. But the LP finishes with some unsatisfying tracks. “Touche” for instance is just a bad track. It sounds as if each individual element of the song might have sounded great individually (particularly the space style guitar that opens the track) but together it doesn’t quite mesh the way it should. The last two songs suffer partly because he isn’t gifted with the greatest vocal chords on planet earth and the songs are probably more suited to Julian’s style. This is obviously apparent on “Drunched in Crumbs”. The track sounds far too much like a rejected Strokes song but the fact that Hammond Jr can’t hit those high notes like Julian can means the song would have been far better as a group project. “Side Boob” is very similar in this way.

There isn’t a whole lot of experimentation on this LP instead he wears his inspiration on his sleeve particularly in “Caught By My Shadow” and his cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice”. The LP doesn’t have any amazing tracks that have made you go WTF! Or anything but it’s a better than solid LP that is easily accessible and easily enjoyable.

Albert Hammond Jr. – Momentary Masters = 7.5/10

Callum Christie @ChristieCallum

MUSIC NEWS – Foo Fighters Photography Policy Tackled by French-Canadian Newspaper and Albert Hammond Jr. on Going Alone

Foo Fighter’s Photography Policy Under Fire

The Foo Fighters policy for taking ownership of any photographs taken by them at their concerts was recently labelled as “exploitative” by The Washington Post and Quebec newspaper Le Soleil made a stand by sending a cartoonist to the gig in Quebec City as photographers “had to give up all their rights” according to the paper. Here’s an example of the gig from the view of the cartoonist. http://www.lapresse.ca/le-soleil/arts-et-spectacles/dossiers-arts/festival-dete/201507/11/01-4884847-photos-des-foo-fighters-lart-de-contourner-des-exigences-trop-strictes.php

This controversy comes after Taylor Swift was branded a “Hypocrite” for practicing a similar policy, but her management later stated that images could be republished with their permission.

Albert Hammond Jr. on Being a Frontman

Yesterday The Strokes guitarist spoke of his confidence that he could be a frontman and that he “feels like I have good songs”. He also spoke at his frustration over the slow progress of The Strokes new material saying that “After a while you feel drained from because of how much you love and care for it.” His doubts were raised over a month since Julian Casablancas stated the band were working on new material so perhaps we’ll have to wait a little longer than we think for that. Albert’s upcoming album Momentary Masters is out on July 31st.

Sam Smith Favourite to Record New Bond Theme

Sam Smith remains favourite to be the performer of the new theme for the latest James Bond instalment Spectre. This is despite him recently suggesting that the song would be performed by Ellie Goulding. Smith is very similar in style to the last performer of a Bond theme which was Adele for Skyfall in 2012 so perhaps someone a little different is needed for the sake of not repeating themselves with a similar track. Duran Duran who recorded the Bond theme in 1985, suggested being more original in recruiting acts such as Daft Punk or Kanye West to record the theme. Lorde, Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey and Noel Gallagher are the other favourites to record the film’s theme song.

50,000 ‘Torontonians’ Sign Petition to stop Kanye West Performing at Pan-Am Games Closing Ceremony

Those creating the petition cite their opposition to Kanye being chosen as opposed to a local artist, but Deputy Leader of Ontario Green Party, Mark Daye claimed he was an “obnoxious no talent a**hole”. This comes after West was ridiculed by some of the British Press after his Glastonbury set in the face of a petition of 100,000+ to prevent him from headlining the festival. Despite this, those such as Noel Gallagher and Jack Black have came out in defence of Kanye but I think it’s likely that whether positive or not; Kanye West doesn’t really care what people have to say and will continue to go in his own direction.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – The View – Under the Rug

Dundee’s The View are returning with their fifth studio album on September 11th titled Ropewalk and with this is their new single from the album ‘Under the Rug’. This album has been co-produced by Albert Hammond Jr. and this fingerprint is evident on this track with crisp and isolated instrumentation, particular the lead guitar parts that tear through the song’s opening. From here the song takes on a Smiths-like state with the light ringing rhythm sections and a rumbling bass-line. This allows Kyle Falconer’s more earthy and captivating vocals to meander their way through the music with the crisp production allowing the lyrics to remain clear too. A pretty solid track to give fans a glimpse of their upcoming effort and their impending Autumn tour which commences in Aberdeen on September 16th before circling around the island and back to finish in Edinburgh on October 5th.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

This Weeks Music Video with U2, Disclosure, Best Coast, Modest Mouse, Albert Hammond Jr, Ben Browning and Julia Holter

Single Review – Albert Hammond Jr. – Losing Touch

The Strokes guitarist is set to release his third studio album at the end of July to follow on from his 2013 EP AHJ. That EP didn’t offer up much of a shift from the traditional Strokes sound, unlike the very different routes taken by lead singer Julian Casablancas with his 2010 and 2014 albums and in some ways this dictated the Stokes direction. His third album will be called Momentary Masters and one single from this is ‘Losing Touch’. It very much remains in that zone of a Strokes-like circa 2001-2003 and there’s little evidence of him moving from his comfort zone, but there is a more fluctuating production from the clear riffs and bass in the verses and a more spread out sound later in the chorus. It’s still a rhythmic, sing-a-long event so it’s still worth a listen especially if you’re harking for some Strokes nostalgia.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Sunday Suggestion – The Strokes – What Ever Happened

My next suggestion if from a decade ago. From a band that were on top of the world at that point. The band of the lips of everyone after their game changing Is This It? in 2001, which is already a cult classic. As much as I admire their debut and recognise there wasn’t a monumental shift up a gear that all the critics piled upon them with Room On Fire; I personally prefer the album. I think cleaning up the production slightly really worked for them and in general they had honed and refined the sound they produced at the very start of the millennium. There’s equally some great hits off Room On Fire. ‘Reptillia’ and ’12:51′ being the most popular perhaps. However, for me my favourite track was the first. ‘What Ever Happened’ opens with the spikey and reluctant riff and the cymbals before Julian leads the other elements into a sudden progression of the song with a more tuneful yet at times more gruff vocal from him while the churning chord progression of the rhythm guitars and bass create a simple and effective melody. It then shifts again with the lead guitar fizzling its way through to the next verse after the chorus before Julian effortlessly leads Albert’s rhythm section back to the second phase. The grouping of instruments and the vocals from Julian make the song immediate and leave you vulnerable to its simple hooks and melodies as do the shifts in the songs progression. Its certainly a song for someone wanting to reminisce about their original sound or even a bit of a history lesson. Many of the bands that emerged from the subsequent decade can trace their immediate influence to The Strokes and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

http://youtu.be/LolgWoRnzT4

Image from passionweiss.com 

This Weeks Music Video

This Weeks Music Video. -Featuring Cults with High Road, Janelle Monae feat. Miguel with Primetime, Albert Hammond Jr with St. Justice and Camera Obscura with Troublemaker

Single Review – Albert Hammond Jr – Rude Customer

Albert Hammond Junior is to release an EP entitled AHJ on October 8th. He is of course, who many of you should know as the rhythm guitarist from The Strokes and a vital part of their sound at that with all the industrial churning, yet tuneful riffs that are arguably the most striking part of The Strokes sound for the last twelve years. Earlier this year they released their fifth album Comedown Machine which was in many ways mysterious for its lack of promotion and fanfare if not for the suggestions of a more electronic and pop-like sound. However with ‘Rude Customer’ Albert has in many ways backtracked on what the Strokes have been building up since 2011. It features those churning riffs on the chorus and the led up to it in unison with the cascading bass lines and though he isn’t a hugely strong vocalist, he can hold his own and gives off a slightly on edge vocal and deliberately slack at times. It goes together well with the style of music being played in a similar way to Julian Casablancas and his vocal. Definite point of interest for any Strokes fans for sure or for anyone looking for some straight up rock from the 21st Century.

http://youtu.be/tYbR6dDgBSk

Image from www.rocknbeats.com.br