NEWS: Noel Gallagher attacks Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian and Bastille. Is there a problem with the music of our generation?

This man has had a lot to say today; he usually does, but today he attacked those who you wouldn’t think he’d go after. He claimed that bands such as Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian “are not inspiring more working class bands” and went on to say “can you name me the last great band that came out of this country? There’s not really been any great bands in the last 10 years.” He also goes on to explain the lack of pure musical talent and innovation in the charts including the success of the X Factor generation that we are, through the lack of inspiration produced by bands such as Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian and “Middle Class” music produced by them and artists such as Bastille. He also went on to say that “all those bands used to be in the Top Ten, like us, Manic, Pulp, The Verve, Suede and Blur” at the end of the 90’s have been “marginalised and side-lined”.

This certainly begs the question, Is there an obligation for these bands to inspire anyone or lead a generation. While this is always down to artistic choice, if you look at past British bands and artists you find the likes of The Clash, The Smiths, The Kinks, The Jam, Sex Pistols and of course the Britpop generation singing about life in Britain at that time and was to a lesser extent true for some of The Beatles catalogue albeit with a more globalised disenchantment replicated on the streets of the U.K at the time in calling for Peace and an end to the Vietnam war. British music has always thrived out of hardship and injustice, yet in a time of just that in the U.K no one seems to care. No one seems to be singing about it. Does this explain the lack of pure, refined and innovative music in the charts? Perhaps partly. It doesn’t automatically explain the lack of creativity and individuality in the mainstream of British music though. My problem is that the current situation these islands and the world finds itself in hasn’t produced any innovative or meaningful music in the U.K mainstream, whether they’re about these events or not, nor is past or current guitar music the answer nor even have to be the answer. For certain its James Dean Bradfield’s comments about “gap year musicians” that explains the situation better for me. The only certainty about Noel’s comments is that it will test the loyalties and biases of those in the NME office, but at least a high profile figure is asking questions; whether his reasons are correct or not, it’s about time a lot of mainstream British bands took a long hard look at themselves.

STAND UP AND BE COUNTED – PEACE, THE 1975, DRENGE, ROYAL BLOOD, SWIM DEEP, JAWS, THE ORWELLS, WAVVES, FIDLAR, BASTILLE, SPECTOR, TOM ODELL AND THE LIKE OF THEM.

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“They were desperate to say that “oh I went to this great café. It was really authentic. The cutlery was all dirty”” – Jarvis Cocker

“Psychedelia has become too much of an easy tagline. Really the term should be about exploration” – Tom Cowan

” I don’t see a story unfolding with bands because it is gap year music. It seems like somebody has said, ‘I think I’ll do an album then my dad will give me a job in the accountancy firm’.” – James Dean Bradfield

“As soon as it sounds fine, I’m on to the next thing” – Damon Albarn

“I know there’s bands that’ll write something like The Smiths and they’ll go ‘Oh it sounds like The Smiths’, but we’ve got to not make it sound like The Smiths” – Noel Gallagher

“I think a lot of people study the rules too much and don’t know how to be creative” – Julian Casablancas

“That’s really scary because it’s hard to see how music and art can continue to develop or challenge itself within these new, very commercial frames.” – Karin Dreijer Andersson

I feel that the floodgates have well and truly opened for the hipster and I now feel like I have a good enough grasp of it’s ‘culture’ to make an educated comment. In their short existence, the Hipster has made a mockery of Indie music and left it a laughing stock. The new breed of fans and bands seem to have largely split themselves into two new camps. Desert Rock and Psychedelic Rock. Yet for some bizarre reason they believe it’s ‘scene’ or whatever to talk like an L.A gangster… or gangsta as they would say. God I dread the day when social historians look back at 2014’s Twitter timeline to see tweet after tweet stating “These nu vibez got me trippin blud! The guitarist is so rad ‘n’ such a bae” For me it just shows how music is a backwater here. It is all about the image and the trends and that is true for the ‘artists’ and as a consequence the fans. After they cottoned on that The Black Keys were getting attention, but mainly after the sound of Arctic Monkeys last two LP’s; big, bulky, distorted guitars have been all the rage. Stand up Royal Blood, Drenge, Circa Waves, Wavves, The Orwells. You show me the difference. Psychedelia and Neo-psychedelia have been the other targets. Again, they cottoned on The Horrors or Tame Impala were getting attention and now you have The Horrors desperately trying to disassociate themselves from the new context of the term Psychedelic. Stand up Swim Deep, JAWS, Peace etc. Show me the difference. Amongst other things I’ve noted is that I listened to ‘Rattlesnake Highway’ by Palma Violets genuinely thinking it was The Vaccines. Show me the difference. That ‘totes indie’ jangling riff is a common trait of Peace and The 1975 as well as the way both vocalists sing with that lethargic slur and how stagnant and devoid of character their lyrics are. Can someone please draw a dividing line between Peace and The 1975? They are one in the same to me. What makes it more humorous is that fans of each think the other is killing music. I guess hypocrites never recognise their own reflections. Bastille and Tom Odell put on such a vocal style that makes them appear allergic to their vowels in a not too dissimilar fashion to Peace and The 1975. The almost endless amount of times a band will blatantly rip someone off is comical too! You can get all worked up about One Direction’s army of writers stealing classic tracks but listen to ‘World Pleasure’ by Peace. Would they still feel so strongly about it then? In fact they will take pride in the fact it sounds like Pet Shop Boys or The Stones Roses, Happy Mondays, Daft Punk etc. etc. Nirvana is a common victim along with QOTSA, The Clash, Pulp, Bowie, Suede, Manics, Oasis, Blur, T Rex, MBV, The Beatles, Stones etc. etc. all tainted by the dim minded artists of the hipster generation. It’s a quick fix when you’d rather be picking out your tie-dye, leopard print and fakes glasses then writing your own music. It is a crime in equal measure of hiring teams of writers for your songs. Music and it’s advancement loses out on both occasions. It’s easier to stay hip and just copy off the innovators rather than emulate them in being innovative yourself. It’s easy to say you are ‘influenced’ by someone if you are just ripping them off. But then again this time last year their fans were probably influenced by Ellie Goulding or Example and so will not know the difference.

Do not fear though… the innovators of 2014 are there if you slash your way through everyone trying to be different while being one in the same. The sheer inventiveness of St. Vincent, The bold and brave production of Beck, The pulsating rotations of Wild Beasts, The dark, electronic currents of The Knife, The echoed chambers of Warpaint, The sonically charged, expanded sounds of The Horrors and so many more. You don’t have to follow the hipster cycle of destruction. Just follow what sounds new or interesting. Don’t let another genre become as toxic as Indie has become.

 

“Psychedelia becomes too much of an easy tagline. Really, the term should be about exploration.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/news/the-horrors/76237#HHm4sxYz5rFzXSpP.99
“Psychedelia becomes too much of an easy tagline. Really, the term should be about exploration.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/news/the-horrors/76237#HHm4sxYz5rFzXSpP.99
“Psychedelia becomes too much of an easy tagline. Really, the term should be about exploration.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/news/the-horrors/76237#HHm4sxYz5rFzXSpP.99
“Psychedelia becomes too much of an easy tagline. Really, the term should be about exploration.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/news/the-horrors/76237#HHm4sxYz5rFzXSpP.99

Single Review – Bastille – Things We Lost In The Fire

Bastille’s new single ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’ was released earlier a week or so ago and is yet another single from the Album Bad Blood. Given the current trend, you either love them or loathe them apparently. I seem to fall into the abyss of the in-between or of the ‘I couldn’t care less. Not everything is so black and white.’ pile. They themselves find themselves in an awkward in-between. They’re getting the festival gigs and have all the ‘indie’ (or whatever they go by these days) fans talking but they also chart well too. This song is almost an explanation why. They have the very generic 21st century pop ballad going on with the instrumentals with all it’s cheap atmospheric quality that’s infused with some typical musical quirks like the plucked string section, the thumping tribal drums which Florence should have copyrighted back in 2009 and the handclaps. The vocal isn’t your typical generic chart vocal either and that itself has it’s own quirks with the stress he puts on his vowels when singing and so on. The lyrics, while nothing too profound have much more to them than most chart music yet it’s catchy enough to get there too. It results in a happy compromise for them. That is what this song and their album is pretty much. It at least has the bare minimum of musicality about it and they’re talented enough too. It’s a little quirky pop song pretty much. They might get better or they might get worse but that’s that awkward middle ground for you.

http://youtu.be/MGR4U7W1dZU

Image from www.thesun.co.uk

Friday at Glastonbury

Friday was a crazy day at Glastonbury with a truly awesome line-up at every stage. The headline act on the Pyramid stage was of course Arctic Monkeys. They may have question marks about their musical and technical originality and innovation  which have not gone away with their new single, but they are a class act live and the band played a seamless set of old and new in which their sound was immaculate and Alex Turner had the crowd in the palm of his hands, especially with the string version of Mardy Bum. The whole showman gag was a bit daft but if you were an Arctic Monkeys fan then this set will have had your eyes glazed over and had you foaming at the mouth. For everyone else, you could appreciate a well oiled machine efficiently churning out hit after hit. Miles Kanes appearance was a bonus for the closing tune: 505. Anyone else was enjoying the Disco legend that was Nile Rodgers who was headlining the West Holts stage who has certainly attracted a fresh generation to his music thanks to his work with Daft Punk. ‘Get Lucky’ was just another song to add to his long list of hits which he played out with Chic. Also on the West Holts stage was Seasick Steve who also put on an excellent performance with his make shift instruments and with contributions from John Paul Jones on the bass. Foals played a decent set before Portishead came and captivated their audience in a very different way to the Arctic Monkeys.Headlining the Park Stage were The Horrors who as always played a dual set filled with moments of energy and consideration. Many flocked there to catch the odd new track off their always massively anticipated new album later this year. One or two were played but they are unamed as of now. They closed as usual with the drawn out frenzy that is ‘Moving Further Away’ and were a success like their fellow headliners.

However Crystal Castles on the John Peel stage were not. Their set was just 40 minutes and started 20 minutes late. Everyone usually revels in Alice Glass’ insane actions but the crowd were left a little cold after she mimiced strangling herself with the mic wire, apparently fainted and didn’t come back for an encore. Bastille gathered a large crowd that went beyond the tent for their set on that very stage ealier on in the day. However the crowds were even bigger for the 21st century mod that is Miles Kane. Wearing a Union Jack harrington jacket, Miles is perhaps one of the only people at Glastonbury who can pull off wearing a flag or wallpaper. Everyone else can forget it. He played a set full of urgency and raw energy as he switched from old to new in effortless fashion. He was joined by Alex Turner for a Last Shadow Puppets number for which Miles returned the favour later on. Alt J attracted a much bigger audience then perhaps everyone was expecting, including themselves as they played out much of their debut album.

Jake Bugg was at ease on the Pyramid stage in the afternoon with two new tunes and a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey My My’ Even earlier than that were Haim in theif first appearance at the fesitval while Beady Eye were a little low key in opening the days proceedings. The Vaccines too, gathered a large crowd to showcase their two albums and their new track ‘Melody Calling’. Savages produced a faultless and high octane performance at the William’s Green stage and they smashed through a set that featured hits from their excellent album: Silence Yourself. That experience will be bigger and better today when they take on the John Peel stage. Tame Impala put on a great glam-psychedelic masterclass of which ‘Elephant’ was the centrepiece. Their deep sound would have better showcased in the John Peel tent but it was great nonetheless. Ghosts certainly turned a few heads with their mixture of sounds and face masks. After all that no one seemed to remember acts like Rita Ora who was certainly put in her place in being one of the only plastic pop acts presnet against a fantasic backdrop of a variety of skilled musicians from various genres. Expect the same today!

Images from http://www.nme.com/ / www.newswhip.com / http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/

Tom Odell – Long Way Down Review

Rightly or wrongly, Tom Odell has kicked up a massive fuss this year and this was enhanced by him winning the ‘Critics Choice Award’ at the BRIT Awards. However as far as i’m concerned those awards are one of the biggests insults to British music that you’ll find. Therefore I don’t care for it. However I don’t think he should be cast off in the harsh way he has been. For example the 0/10 from the NME is just them trying to be ‘hip’ and they just go with the crowds anyway. Remember when they championed Mumford & Sons? One Direction are a 0/10 and Odell is not as bad as that. But the review did make some valid points though even if they were wrapped up in metaphors and cliches as always. One thing is for sure is that he’s vocal style is very polarising. It will make you weak at the knees or make you want to jump out your window into the street below. Bastille is very similar. They sort of sing words with the wrong vowel in them and stress that fact to no end and at times it’s a little comical.

His first single from his debut album was ‘Can’t Pretend’ and it is evocative of the vocal style i just mentioned. My first thought was Jamie Cullum for some reason. That sort of gloomy piano ballad with the choir in the background which is pretty standard and sort of works out for him to it’s bare minimum. The song sounds a little better when you get in the other elements of the basic guitars, percussion and bass and i’m not one of those people crazed about having a guitar in every song but that style is way too familar and his voice might be more appealing if it wasn’t so isolated. ‘Hold Me’ does have more about it in terms of instrumentals but his vocals in this are him straining and shouting at times. They don’t have the same idea as the instrumentals either and they themselves sound like a basic version of Keane or FUN. Once more, the random wails and screams from him and the choir or not melodic or harmonic at all and they only suceed is scaring you half to death. ‘Another Love’ is his third single and the initial subtleness works well for him with the soft harmonies but that bloody choir start doing their ghost impressions again and it ruins the songs atmosphere and feel. The build up of the thumping percussion does redeem the song slightly and the balance of voice against instrumentals is much better. However those choirs killed it as they joined in again and at times it was trying to sound like a Coldplay tune from 2008 and even they didn’t put those wailing choirs in the middle of their songs.

‘Grow Old With Me’ has a decent meoldy to it which other songs struggle to conjure up. He’s also put a lid on those choirs who back him up in harmonies rather than wailing over him and drowning everything out. The songs does take a stompy Mumford apporach which is very belated and a little frustrating but it’s a decent tune i guess. ‘Sense’ very much has a sort of Christmas in New York thing about it like it’s been plucked from a romantic film but the choirs again decide to work with him rather than against him. The title track sounds a little like it’s trying to steal the piano from ‘Clocks’ by Coldplay and the vocal and backing vocals in their collective wail are in no way matching the feel of the piano instrumental. That really defines Tom Odell’s debut album. It’s like he’s got all the basic elements but plucked them out of a hat for each song, making the album sound a bit mis-matched and random. Just when you think he is about to put down a half decent song, something always comes up to ruin it. It’s pretty bold to produce your own debut album as a solo artist. Perhaps that is the problem. It’s like there has been no one there to be objective with him and tell him that some of his musical combinations are a little off. Unlike the NME I shall be constructive and say 1. He needs a producer to give a proper opinion on his songs. 2. He needs to find out what sounds and harmonies work with his voice and enhance it as not everything will. 3. Try not to have the whole album piano driven. Though he is good on the keys the style of song he has to chose from becomes very narrow given the way he plays it. 4. The same goes with the choir. If you are going to have one them at least ensure they are complimenting the songs rather than overpowering everything without harmony. If those basic things materialise them perhaps his second album will be a decent one because if he sticks with the way he’s going then he’ll be going nowhere fast and I think he is capable of a little better. He’s just got it all wrong with Long Way Down.

Tom Odell – Long Way Down = 3.5/10

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Images from blahblahblahscience.com / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Way_Down_(Tom_Odell_album)