Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Album Review - Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning

Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning - Something For All Of Us...
[Arts & Crafts; 21/07/2008]


With their indie guitar-pop heroics, the Broken Social Scene – in the modern day - are one of the most innovative bands. Drafting in various musicians from album to album is one of the many pioneering facets the band has embarked upon during their existence, but when frontman Kevin Drew released the first album in the Broken Social Scene Presents series last year, the boundary of innovation expanded just that inch more.

Now it's take two; Something For All Of Us... is the second album in this current series and concept the Broken Social Scene have served up for its listeners, with co-founder of the band, Brendan Canning, taking the baton from his Canadian cohort, Drew.

Canning's vocals are a fresh outlook to the BBS arsenal. Although not as prominent as Drew's, the daze-laden vibe sprays off a flow of good pop music. The opening title track eases the listener into their lounge chair with nice melodic ease. 'Hit the Wall' gushes with neat chord progressions and noodling riffs that serge on the back of Canning's woozy vocal. 'Churches Under the Stairs' provides nice space where Canning can unleash his vocal foray, while the looping bass line pulls the song along nicely.

'Possible Grenade' is the strength at the foot of the album, with gliding undertones of guitar effect steaming above Canning's sleepy vocal. The final two tracks, 'Been at It So Long' and Take Care, Look Up' slow the pace down to an almost balladeering end, adding another string to the bow of Canning.

The BSS member that sports the finest growing beard out of the bunch plays to his strengths on SFAOU.... Even in the brief encounters when Brendan Canning's not at the forefront of the vocal duties, you soon come to realise the input he has in the writing process of a BSS record. Naturally, the song structures have the swirling aura a Broken Social Scene record possesses, but it's the voice of Canning that presents a slightly different landscape. Things are less bombastic and a little tighter, leaving this concept wide open for the next BSS artist to wield their Axe openly.

By Simon K

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lullaby Magazine on Last.FM

Yes, we are moving with the times. We're now registered with last.fm. The link is below, so register and join the love!!!

http://www.last.fm/group/Lullaby+Magazine

Simon K

Monday, July 21, 2008

Album Review - Melvins

Melvins – Nude With Boots
[Ipecac; 07/07/2008]


Where do you start with the Melvins? Bullhead or perhaps Stoner Witch. They say look to the future, so maybe that's all we've got time for today. That's right, the Melvins have another record out; the second with Big Business' Coady Willis (drums) and Jared Warren (bass); the latest duo to accompany avant-garde stoner warriors, Buzz Osbounre and Dale Crover. The double marriage seems to have payed off, as Nude With Boots measures up to the peak the Melvins' current crop of work.

'The Kicking Machine' and 'Billy Fish' could be mistaken for a backstage scuffle between Zeppelin and Sabbath, with Buzz Osbourne reveling in the peacemaking process. 'Dog Island' posses a murky sludge cloud, with spacey chord progressions featured low down in the mix, while Osbourne's transcending growl rises from the bellows.

'The Smiling Cobra' is the Melvins at the top of their game, with riffage that perpetually explodes and reaps assault to your ears. The title track shifts in abundance, with a platform that could be described as Dinosaur Jr jamming around after a hard session on the drink, realising their potential to be a stoner rock collective.

Nude With Boots takes some time to hit you with its full force. Crover's disjointed skin smashing is ever prominent while Willis fuses energy to the rhythm section along with his BB bandmate, Warren, refreshing the elements of the Melvins canon. Osbourne is the trump card, mixing his stoner riffola with that trademark haze of vocal gloom that make the Melvins what they truly are. We can coin them with various terms, but make no bones about it; at the end of the day rock 'n' roll prevails. It's just that the Melvins present it in its more fucked up entirety.

By Simon K

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Album Review - Coldplay

Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
[Parlophone; 12/06/08]

Coldplay arrive at album number four, and for those who aren't already aware, these guys are kind of a big deal. Already being appointed the "biggest" band this decade has to offer, a statement or an opinion I'm not that unhappy about, as we'd have to go find some other band to pin it on and that would no doubt be a controversial hot topic. Record shows that it takes Coldplay three years to produce something so within that time, you're always expecting some kind of brilliance. Firstly the thing that drew me to the album was the first time collaboration between them and Brian Eno and surprisingly the somewhat uncharacteristic album artwork and title (For those interested, the title was taken from a Frida Kahlo piece, a 20th century Mexican painter).

Curious as I was in lead up to the album release, I checked out both singles "Violet Hill" and "Viva La Vida" which gave a small taste of what the record would offer, while both these tracks leave alot to be desired they show the direction in which the band take this time around. In context of the album, "Cemeteries of London" takes Viva off in it's first stride with an eclectic array of goings on, from the eerie opening and the subtle piano to the thrashing of acoustic guitar to Buckland's Edge like predictable but sufficient guitar work, the song gets the album off to a decent start. Following is "Lost!" which is quite possibly my favourite, begins again in an eerie organ like fashion as the song hits the chorus in an anthemic like way, with Chris Martin wailing about fishes and ponds, it's quite good. "42" isn't far behind the previous track as it takes quite an interesting turn about midway through the song, as beginning as a ballad exploding into a raucous rock and roll experience until about three quarters way through, hits the pop side of things then finishes the way it starts.

"Lovers in Japan-Reign of Love", "Yes" and "Death and All His Friends" have something in common, apart from being the longest songs in the Coldplay canon they are all two songs within the one, which is kind of an interesting way to present your music. While Yes has an addictive chorus, Death and All His Friends displays Coldplay at their most rocking. As the band progresses it's good to see they are experimenting a little even if it's a little overwhelming when the most notable magazines throw statements on the front like "Coldplay go weird" or whatnot. While their first two records remain untouchable within context of their back catalogue I think it's safe to say this is more of a consistent effort than X & Y an effort that had some good songs but got a bit dry too soon after. The good thing about Viva, is that it's hard to guess which single they will release next (probably Lost!). Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends is a solid record if not being entirely brilliant, Eno adds a nice touch even if the album doesn't stray from itself too much.

Sean

Lullaby Reviews the Dark Knight

The Dark Knight - Directed by Christopher Nolan (Released 16/7/08)


Like many people, this film has been my most anticipated film in quite some time. Christopher Nolan is at the helm again and off the back of the outstanding first installment Batman Begins, the film sets itself not to only break box office records but to become the most superior superhero/comic book film to date. As I take A deep breath as I firmly planted myself in the cinema chair I couldn't really begin to fathom that in just less than 3 hours the 3 years of anticipation would be over, and the beginning of the next 3 would arrive with new questions of the next installment. The greatest thing Nolan has got going on with this franchise is it's free of superhero cliche boundaries, we've had a taste with BB but that was more so an origin story. I immediately think back to Sam Raimi's Spiderman franchise and how exciting the 2nd installment was to the first as Peter Parker had already obtained his responsibilities which takes the film to completely new level.

I had huge expectations with how The Dark Knight would begin, and after witnessing it I can safely say I was quite impressed as it was completely unconventional and not what I would of expected. Without the superfluous ins and outs of the slightly complex script developed by the Nolan brothers and David S Goyer. The Joker, Batman's most notable villain has arrived on the Gotham City scene and has set his sights on terrorizing the city as the Dark Knight, White Knight district attorney Harvey Dent and Lt James Gordon put a firm hold on the justice of Gotham City.

From here on in, we have a fast paced action film, cutting from scene to scene in less than a blink of the eye. Beginning with performances, the cast is dazzling. Christian Bale upholds his duty as both Batman and Bruce Wayne, Gary Oldman is satisfying as the newly appointed Commissioner. Aaron Eckhart glistens in his role as Two Face/Harvey Dent. From the start I was extremely interested to see how Nolan would transform his White Knight into the villainous Two Face, within the realms of a realistic world and script it works, even if half the internet disagree on that one.

This paragraph is dedicated to the late Heath Ledger, for starters I kind of feel sorry for anyone just wanting to see this film because of it being his last, without really having any kind of clue about what was involved in the development of this character. In my redundant opinion, Ledgers role as the Joker has to be one of the most impressive on screen character portrayals I've ever, ever witnessed. It's nothing short of (and I hate using this word) amazing. The scene in which he sits in the holding cell as Gordon is promoted, he totally taps into that Alex De Large mentality, body language wise he owned it. From a voice you can't even imagine Ledger being able to acquire, his mannerisms, the executions of his actions and lines it's simply magic. For fan boys like myself it's a good feeling that it can be realised that it doesn't matter that he is no longer among us, 3 years ago when he was cast (and when we learnt he was cast) for this role we could only dream of what he would bring to the character and he fucking delivered.

So, the Dark Knight a comic book film masterpiece? Probably not, but damn impressive. It met every expectation I had, without exceeding it. At the centre of the film something was absent. The film in my opinion could have been probably titled "The Joker". Maybe Nolan thought he had developed Bruce Wayne/Batman enough in BB, but I really thought there was an aspect of the character dynamic missing, Bruce Wayne pops up here and there but I didn't really ever care for him or his love for character Rachel Dawes (Maggie really wasnt that bad guys, what do you expect from such a character), as far as villains go, Ledger's Joker and Eckhart's Two Face have been the best any Batman franchise has yet seen. With trying to accomplish a well rounded complex script (engrossed in reality), with probably too many characters I think the task is a bit overwhelming for anyone at the end of the day while Nolan has saved Batman from both Schumacher failures I still have my issues with the current franchise, mainly the vehicles, costume, voice etc but at the end of the day all we really want is Batman defending Gotham City.

Film - 4/5
The Joker - 5/5

Sean

Book Review - Simon Reynolds: Rip It Up & Start Again...

Simon Reynolds - Rip It Up & Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984
[Faber and Faber Ltd; 2005]


The term post-punk seems to be severely overlooked around the world. Particularly where its origins lay; England. Believe it or not, some people have to name check John Lydon's Public image Limited; those who bang their heads to the jukebox blaring the sounds of 'God Save the Queen', anyway. Memo to these types; post punk isn't just Joy Division and if you care to take a couple of months out of your heavy schedule and read Simon Reynolds' Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 you may just learn a thing or two.

A critic for a wide array of musical publications, Reynolds' works are about the “post” in punk and not always about the sound people associate with the term. A very heft catalogue of artists, people, and scenes zigzag through this book, that forms as the most insightful tale of music that stemmed in the late'70s/ early '80s.

From Sheffield, England where The Human League re-emerged to reach number throughout their career (1981's 'Don't You Want Me'), to Boston, America, where the likes of Mission of Burma were making listeners' ears bleed; the scope of coverage Reynolds gages with Rip it Up... is one of great feats. Maybe a little too insightful for one, who maybe prone to skipping a couple of chapters due to the heavy diversity this book contains.

Whatever you do, though, don't miss out on the chapter of The Fall. Reynolds encapsulates music journalism at its finest right here, integrating political notions with the music (as he does through large quantities of the book). A facet that clearly segregates the boys from the men, so to speak.

By Simon K

Friday, July 18, 2008

Album Review - The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
[Vagrant Records; 14/07/2008]


The Hold Steady's music evolves in a genre that a lot of people would generally pass off. However, their music is so strong that it draws listeners from a wide array of communities. This is what all good music does and The Hold Steady are one of the few artists in the modern day to achieve this.

The band's fourth album, Stay Positive, is once again an affair of catchy rhythms and Craig Finn's straight-to-the-point lyrical topics. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries who have managed to cut the same amount of records, The Hold Steady continue to refine and not decline in the art of creating.

In terms of sound, The Hold Steady have pilfered strands of Husker Dü circa Candy Apple Gray, with Finn transforming something a little more direct and less vague lyrically, as apposed to Bob Mould and Grant Hart. 'Sequestered In Memphis' kick starts the sing-a-longs with glib fanfare and melodic chord progressions setting the tone. 'One for the Cutters' is Finn's baby, embarking on a narrative rant about the judicial system his country employs.

The pinnacle of 'Positive definitely lies within with the double-whammy of the fist-pumping aura that is the title track, outlining Ginn's position with his personal battles. 'Magazines' comes across with lyrics that would be deemed lame if any other band had rendered them, but somehow with The Hold Steady they get away with it just as good as O.J. Simpson did!

For every lad that slobbers over Oasis and various other bands that appeal to the herd-mentality, there's an aloof kid that sits in the corner of a pub with his head-phones and Ipod that dares to get up and shake his ass to the sounds of The Hold Steady. Finn's lyrics are once again the talking point, sharing nostalgic laments, which on the back of get-up-groove instrumentation, conform as athemic. Did we ever think that such confronting and literal lyricism could throw off such a liberating energy? It's always been the case when listening to The Hold Steady's music, but now the message is loud and clear; staying positive!

Lullaby Recommended

By Simon K

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Album Review - Ladyhawk

Ladyhawk – Shots
[Jagjaguwar;06/05/2008]


If you take away the over zealousness of Okkervil River and the grandeur from Wolf Parade then the sounds of Ladyhawk aren't too far away from the sound metres. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Ladyhawk are yet another Canadian collective that go about their everyday business, yet still receive the necessary plaudits from the small community that engages with their music. With the release of their second album, Shots, Ladyhawk continue to naturally progression within their landscape.

That progression consists of a mixed bag of tricks this time around. 'I Always Don't Know What You're Saying' – like all good openers - flows with an organic democratic steel, while the short clasps during 'S.T.H.D' are raucous rock at it's best, embellished with a murky aesthetic. Opening single 'You Ran' is without a doubt the catchiest thing to come off Jagjaguar in quite some time, almost ending before it even gets started. Closing affair, 'Ghost Blues', expands the band's sound, musically, rippling with highs and lows of your typical epic closer, naturally ending the album on a high.

Although Shots is admittedly an experience of peaks and troughs, the peaks witness a band at the top of their game. Ladyhawk's attitude impresses out of all of this. It's no-frills rock 'n' roll that impresses when at the top of its game. Add a raw country tinge to the mix and you have a band releasing music that's placed towards the top end of the spectrum.

By Simon K

Monday, July 14, 2008

Album Review - Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk – Life...The Best Game in Town
[Hydra Head Records; 03/06/2008]


With so much music at our disposal there's bound to be times when you get knocked on your arse when in the pursuit of finding some new and ground breaking. This is one of those times. With their name deriving from the first San Franciscan gay politician, Harvey Milk (Creston Spiers; vocals, Stephen Turner; bass, Paul Tredeau; drums) are a wrecking ball that you dare to stand in front of. Forming in the early nineties, the band disbanded only to get back together in 2005. Life... The Best Game in Town is the band's second album after their re-form and their fifth overall to date.

The riff-o-rama gets your head spinning that much that it seems vertigo is on the way to cause some distress. 'Decades' is a vintage rock number that tumbles with a sludge aesthetic, with Spiers seemingly regurgitating fury and spitting it out like balls of fire. 'Motown' is a sheer stoner combat that would make Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins a proud man, while the sounds of the Jesus Lizard are only just a couple of streets away, too.

Although Harvey Milk seem to present their influences with a sense of boldness, the nature in which they expose extra facets of sound and ideas make this release all the more thrilling. 'Goodbye Blues' is a musical monolith, with top end snare smashing, sledge-hammer riffs and an overall wall of doom.

Yet another band that has fallen into the right hands. They've joined the ranks of fine modern alternative artists who dabble on the fringes of metal. Isis, Earth, Boris, Pelican and even Pissed Jeans. Harvey Milk can be added to this conclave of innovative music with Life...The Best Game in Town. One of the avant-garde metal releases of the year.

Lullaby Recommended

By Simon K

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Album Review - Beck

Beck – Modern Guilt
[Interscope; 08/07/2008]

You never swim in the same river twice. In Beck Hansen's case you don't, anyway. Working with more genres than you could poke a stick at, the American born artist has come a long way since the ironic statement of 'Loser'. This time the waves of diversity continue, this time with Beck drafting in producer Danger Mouse to form his latest offering, Modern Guilt.

Danger Mouse is the trump card during Modern Guilt despite Beck once again correlating a sound where boundaries simply don't apply. Although there's tinges of Mutations and Midnight Vultures simmering under Beck's latest creation ('Gamma Ray'), directly this album is miles apart from his previous works. Standout track, 'Chemtrails', is sparked with retro undertones as Beck's slow hippie-esque drawls transcend in a provocative manner.

Due to Beck's carefully chosen lyrical topics, his music continues to hold a currency. Normally, music with currency fails to present longevity, but with Beck this doesn't apply. A political undertone unravels during this 33 minute jaunt (Look no further than 'Youthless' and 'Walls'). Even the album's title speaks volume.

Apart from Sea Change (which is a personal all time favourite), Beck's music has failed to strike a chord with me. As is the case with most collage artists, sometimes you attempt to indulge but just don't 'feel it', so to speak. Modern Guilt is one of the nice surprises of 2008. The co-production with Danger Mouse has proved more than fruitful for Beck, whose ability to engage with an array of musical genres has always been undoubted. Now, though, it's not only a matter of respecting Beck as an artist but there's an added bonus of actually enjoying what he has created.

By Simon K

Friday, July 11, 2008

Live Review - Interpol


Interpol
Sheffield Academy
09/07/2008
Sheffield, United Kingdom


Although success can be measured in many different shapes and forms, I guess it's fair to say that Interpol can be deemed as a successful act. Plying their trade for Matador Records in the early days with two landmark albums, New York's finest dressed band took the leap and signed for Capitol records for their third album, Our Love to Admire. It has to be said that their if-it's-not-broken-don't-fix-it ethos came off a treat with their first two outings. Turn on the Bright Lights is without doubt one of the highest points of this era when talking about 'good' music, while their second outing, Antics, followed in a similar vein with a little more vigour.

Live, the band have beefed up their sound (not surprising, since they now have Capitol in their corner) with the ethereal drones substituted for a gear-shifting and almost sweaty rock assault.

Sheffield were in the long line to witness this 'new sound' and along with it were treated with a slew of Interpol singles, not to mention a couple of old favourites thrown in for good measure. The new material – like on record – was presented in similar fashion, with 'Pioneer to the Falls' kicking off the night, followed by the larger sounding 'Slow Hands', which comprises of ricocheting guitars generating sound that bounces off the walls. An experience that is a first whilst in the hands of Interpol.

'PDA' and 'Obstacle 1' are also speedy renditions, while wall of sound that is 'Not Even Jail' is the night's evident stand out with its longevity unleashing a special aura, live. The drawn out rendition of 'Roland' sees Sam Fogarino's prominence on the drums, while the ethereal goodness of 'Obstacle 2' presents the vintage sounds we are accustom to hear from this band; a fitting way to close the night.

The older material has undergone an overhaul, with Interpol stepping up the pace and intensity, resulting in the band seemingly giving out an energy to its audience rather than draining it in from them, which is a compliment to their virtuosity. It was good to see the band throwing bits and bobs of material off OLTA into their set-list, rather than rendering large portions of it, despite album stand outs like 'No I in Threesome' and 'Pace is the Trick' left out in the cold. Still, it can't be argued that 'The Heinrich Maneuver' is a solid single and live the song remains to live up to quality.

It's no secret that Interpol's new album ranks as the weakest in their catalogue of work and with the abundance of old material the band perform live, maybe they're aware of this, despite their new demographic of fans thinking on the contrary to these beliefs.

By Simon K

Album Review - The Music

The Music – Strength In Numbers
[EMI; 16/06/2008]


From seeing the video for this album's lead single (the title track), you could see what The Music were trying to do. 'Going big' could be said for most of Strength In Numbers that ends the debate in regards to deciphering whether The Music are contenders or indeed, pretenders.

The band's debut album held so much promise. From the opening freak-out that was 'The Dance' many felt an invigorated swagger from four kids from Leeds and their ability to pen a good tune.

2005's Welcome to the North held signs of solidarity, but failed to render the edge that its predecessor so willfully displayed, which leads us to now; the big down fall that is Strength in Numbers.

Numbers like 'Spike' and 'Drugs' are nothing more than in-your-face lyrical statements that cater for the wider audience, failing to hold any mystery or soul, instead substituted for glossy sounds and face value thoughts. Frontman, Robert Harvey was never the best lyricist going about in the early days, but his swagger and ability to swathe through the bold instrumentation his band delivered held enough mystery to keep one intrigued. That all seems to be at a loss now.

You never say never with art, but in many ways what the Music have created with Strength In Numbers can't be defined as artistic. It feels more like a 'product' that's been compromised by certain types; even the album's title brims with irony. The Music aren't the first to fall into this trap. Many other bands who formed around the same time have also been misguided down the familiar path and have equally suffered a similar fate.

By Simon K

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Album Review - Kayo Dot

Kayo Dot – Blue Lambency Downward
[06/05/2008; Hydra Head Records]


Kayo Dot are an interesting breed. Frontman, Toby Driver, spent the '90s in outfit, maudlin of the Well, who were essentially a metal band. After their disbandment, Driver went on to form Kay Dot, a project that saunters in the territory of the left field and in his former band's case, a parallel universe. Blue Lambency Downward is Kayo Dot's third album and their first for Hyrdra Head. Although the songs are in a slightly shorter form, things still remain ensconced in the avant-garde template Driver has drilled to the floor in previous releases.

The title track begins with Driver almost narrating, squeezing out the vocals before the primary elements of this album take shape. Driver's vocals still remain, but are buried deep within the mix of instrumental elements that breed from a classical nature. The dark undertones still flourish through the record, perceiving Driver's close relationship with metal, but these are sparsely filtered through the jazzy fuck wittery that takes place over the 36 minutes of this release. 'Symmetrical Arizona' stars off like a creepy jazz number, with brass meandering around the edges like something out of a Jim Jarmusch film. The guitars add to weight of this 10 minute aloofness of sound that closes the album in apt fashion.

For those who suffer from ups and down, violent mood swings and an addiction to some form of chemical substance, Blue Lambency Downward has your name written all over it. It's a little too mental and abstract to indulge in multiple listens, however it would be an essential for one of those 'off days' we all tend to have. Definitely an adequate addition to the record collection.

By Simon K

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lullaby's Song Scrobble


Song Selection #2

Once again, Mr. Beardmore has come up large in the stakes of being innovative. To be honest, I'm more about the “album” or “record” as such, but here's some tracks that taken my fancy of the records I've been addicted to recently:

Guided By Voices – Tractor Rape Chain [Bee Thousand; Scat, 1994]

I've always preferred Guided By Voices in their slightly longer form (maybe that's missing their point?), but I've become more accustom to their lo-fi shorter vein of tunes and Bee Thousand leads from the front. There's so many great tracks off this album but the above stands out at this point of time. Frontman, Robert Pollard, at his lyrical best singing “parallel lines on a slow decline - tractor rape chain.”

My Morning Jacket – Gideon [Z; ATO, 2005]

Definitely my favourite MMJ song along with being the focal point in the shift of the band's musical direction with Z. Seeing the band live a couple of weeks ago, not to mention the blistering rendition of this song, really hit home in the realisation that not only is it an amazing song within the band's catalogue, but for me it's definitely one of the finest songs penned in this era. The riffola is a perfect example of action speaking louder than words!

The National – Abel [Alligator; Beggars Banquet 2005]

Simple but effective. 'Abel' is at the height of what The National really are all about. A love song in some form, but it's abrasive delivery and simple guitar lines give it an easiness to engage with. Frontman, Matt Berninger oozes with a simplistic touch, delivering word after word with such finesse.

The Stooges – Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell [Raw Power; Columbia, 1973]

Listening to this song almost blows a gaping hold through your ear drums. The production of this track alone is so different to any of the other off Raw Power. Literally, an ear-splitting five minute jaunt of James Williamson's guitar binge and Iggy's venomous vocal. They say punk rock started in England? Yeah, right...



My Bloody Valentine – To Here Knows When [Loveless; Creation 1991]

This has always been at the top of my favourites list from one of my favourite all time bands. Seeing this particular song performed live literally made me a bit dewy eyed. The soundscapes glide with elegance, while Bilinda Butcher's vocal harmonies stew deep in the mix but still hold that evocative aura. Everything about the song defines beauty.

Constantines – Soon Enough [Tournament of Hearts; Sub Pop, 2005]

Probably the band's most out-on-a-limb track. In a nutshell, it probably doesn't define what the Constantines are about, however its alt-country tinge is rendered brilliantly and definitely acts as another string to the band's bow. It's a simple song, based around the pure honest lyrical topic from frontman, Bryan Webb, which presents a transcending effect.

Seefeel – Plainsong [Quieque; Too Pure/Astral Works, 1993]

The ambient loops of luscious sound; the haunting drums; the alluring melody. There's not much you can't like with this song. Seefeel's landmark album fails to have any downsides to it, but at the moment, this is the track that stands out. It's guaranteed that things will change next week.

By Simon K

Interview - Constantines


Constantines are the most underrated band in the world. Is there a debate to this? Indeed so, but not in my eyes. Hailing from the Canadian town of Guelph (otherwise known as "The Royal City"), quintet (Bryan Webb; vocals/guitar, Steven Lambke; guitar/vocals; Doug MacGregor; drums, Dallas Wehrle; bass, Will Kidman; keyboards) have been apart of this jerky art-form since 1999, unleashing a democratic rock sensibility, which has resulted in four brilliant albums.

Their self-titled debut was the foundation of edgy no-holds-barred rock music, which saw many pin the band's influences to the likes of The Clash, Fugazi and Bruce Springsteen. 2003's Shine A Light was even more harder-nosed than its predecessor, despite album highlight 'Young Lions' portraying elegant melodies and clever writing techniques from Webb.

2005's Tournament of Hearts witnessed the band shift once again, creating more melodic and ear catching sounds, with Webb once again shining as the key figure, while the guitar harmonics seethed underneath with ferocity. 'Draw Us Lines' still extrudes that seamless abrasive sound that the band made inroads with from the beginning, but the roots were well and truly augmented with this affair (alt-country number 'Soon Enough' the reference point), which leads up to now; the band's pinnacle opus, Kensington Heights.

A splendid mixture of the swirling song-craft from Webb and his right-hand man Lambke (the latter during the brilliant 'Shower of Stones'), while the cinder blocks otherwise known as instrumentation well and truly gouge out of your stereo speakers with conviction. The slower moments are beautiful, too; 'Our Age' defines this to a tee. There's moments where the mixture of spacious beauty and neck-break rhythms coalesce, with the swooping din of 'Trans Canada' quite possibly measuring up to the best work the band has done to date.

Constantines are one hell of a force in the live arena, too. Cracking break downs make you sweat, while the energy this band renders while unleashing their brooding form of art makes your heart skip a beat. This is no biography; just words that an honest-to-goodness rock 'n' roll band truly deserve. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Webb some questions about the existence of the Constantines. This is what was said:

Lullaby Magazine: Hey Bryan, how's things today?

Bryan Webb: Pretty good, thanks.

LM: You're just about to go on tour throughout America, do you enjoy touring and playing your songs live?

BW: I prefer playing live to recording. We're better live than recorded. We're out on my favorite route now, West in Canada, down the West Coast of the US, and up through the midwest. We're traveling with Ladyhawk, who are one of the best bands on Earth. It helps us to travel with friends like this. It'll be a recreational tour.

LM: I had the pleasure of seeing you guys at the All Tomorrow's Parties weekend curated by Explosions In The Sky. Did you guys have fun?'

BW: It was a very strange trip. We had a decent time playing, though, and enjoyed the landscape out there in Minehead. That resort could be the setting for a zombie movie. It was incredible to see Silver Jews and Animal Collective in such a strange place. Those were the highlights for me.

LM: It's like the ultimate summer camp. I lost count of how many times I saw various artists just walking around checking out bands. It's a festival that just has no egos. Very working class. Would you agree?

BW: I don't know if I could think of any rock festival as working class, though I really appreciate the structure of the ATP festivals. The town of Minehead is very pretty. It was nice to walk out on the beach at low tide. I saw a beached tugboat with the word 'Defiant' painted on its side.

LM: Speaking of working class, I've read many of your reviews and you've been described as a “working class band”. That's quite a compliment particularly with some of the music getting around these days. Do you see it this way?

BW: Not really. We have some songs about work, which came from an obsession with Studs Terkel's book Working. And we get compared to Springsteen and The Clash a fair bit, who are described as working class. But I think those people had more of an active political connection to the working class than we do. We're not political as a band. Our individual ideas vary a little too much to pursue a political band identity.

LM: Back to your performance at ATP. I have to ask, you were cutting clumps of your hair in the early stages of that performance. Do you do that during all your shows?

BW: I just needed a haircut, and in my jet-lagged state it seemed like a funny idea to give myself a haircut on stage. Seemed like a strange opening ceremony for the festival, though I'm sure it didn't translate very well. It would have been more satisfying to watch if I had done a worse job. There wasn't really a punchline to it.

LM: Onto your new album “Kensington Heights”. In my opinion it's the best you've done thus far. How have you been pleased with the reception it's received so far?

BW: Yeah, it's been pretty well received as far as I can tell. I like that the record sounds like a group of people who have been playing music together for a long time. We couldn't have made this album eight years ago. That's the most successful thing about it, I think. It has a good amount of personality.

LM: The album was dedicated to the late Gar Gillies. You used his amplifiers on the album, right?

BW: Not exclusively, but the Garnet amps we used were pretty key to the sound of the record. Gar Gillies passed away while we were making the record, and looking at his life, he was a pretty inspiring man. He had complete control over the products of his labour right up until he died. He was entirely dedicated to his craft. These things are important to me.

LM: There's a good mixture of slower and quicker tempo songs on this effort. Do you think this is the result of the band's maturity that has formed since the early days?

BW: Yeah, one thing that has come from playing together for a while is the willingness to leave open space in some of the songs. Everyone is willing to lay back a bit, and listen to the natural dynamics that come out of a song in the writing process.

LM: There's also various references to hospitals, like on 'Million Star Hotel', 'Brother Run Them Down' and 'Life or Death'. Are these references to experiences you endured prior to the making of the album?

BW: Most of the songs were written as tributes to friends and family. People who are surviving or navigating life in an interesting way. There were a few more hospitals in my life over the last few years than I would have liked. Nobody likes hospitals. But they're very resonant buildings in a person's daily impressions of their city.

LM: On “Tournament of Hearts” many people were surprised of the direction you'd taken, mainly with 'Soon Enough' and its alternative country sensibility. Would you ever consider doing an album that pushed towards an alt-country vibe seeming as though you do it very well?

BW: We just take it one song at a time. Tournament Of Hearts ended up being an album of simpler song structures, maybe because we were touring so much at the time, simpler was more practical. I don't see us consciously making an alt-country album, though.

LM: One thing that's changed since “Tournament of Hearts” is that you're now on Arts & Crafts, how exactly did that come about?

BW: We were essentially free agents after that record, with no management, and no record contract. Though we enjoyed being on Sub Pop, we wanted to bring the business back to Canada. It took us over a year to figure this out, 'cause Sub Pop was very good to us, and we had a lot of good friends there. Arts & Crafts expressed an interest, and they just had good answers to all of our questions. Plus they've obviously been very successful over the last six years, and their offices are about five minutes from our rehearsal space. And it's worked out very well so far.

LM: Constantines have made four albums now and I must say, they're four albums that have great qualities in their own way. These days not many bands can boast of making four solid albums. What have you guys learnt from being in a band for all this time?

BW: Music, at its best, is an expression of pure joy, and the interconnectedness of all people.

LM: Canada is a country that's spawned so many great bands during this era. Many of them are on Arts & Crafts. Surrounded by all this, has it inspired you guys in any way?

BW: Canada is full of great, unique creative communities, partly because there's so much space between populated areas. Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are great music centers, but so is Guelph, Ontario and Sackville, New Brunswick, and Dawson City, in the Yukon. We're lucky to be able to connect with people in all of these places, and learn from them.

LM: Anything else you'd like to add before we finish?

BW: Ladyhawk rules.

For more information about the Constantines visit the following.

www.constantines.ca
www.myspace.com/constantines

The new album Kensington Heights is out now on Arts & Crafts.

Interview by Simon K

Friday, July 4, 2008

EP Review - Crystal Antlers

Crystal Antlers – Crystal Antlers EP
[04/06/2008; Self Released]


Just like “Deer” last year and the year before that “Wolf” the new craze is to put “Crystal” in your band's name! Hailing from Long Beach, California, Crystal Antlers are sonic mess that like to fiddle around with effects pedals and various other tools that converge to form ear-splitting noise through an amplifier.

Their self-titled EP doesn't let up from start to finish, with walls of fuzz and untrained screams taking up most of the disc's space. 'Until the Sun Dies (Part 2) starts of with mental fuck wittery then takes a back seat with chilling keyboards and undulating bass lines kept at arms length only for the waves to come crashing once again that ends the track in stomping fashion. 'Vexation' and 'A Thousand Eyes' crash like successive concrete blocks, with psychedelic rawness. Closing track 'Parting Song For the Store Sky' is the EP's highlight, with towering crescendos and vocal wails any hippy from San Francisco would be proud of holding a pair of ears to.

It's good to see a band play with raw energy and Crystal Antlers obtain this and put it into practice well enough to warrant multiple listens. However, it's nothing we haven't already heard before, which begs the question; does the world really need another Comets On Fire? Well, there's near enough two of everything else, so why the fuck not?

By Simon K

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Album Review - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy – Lie Down in the Light
[Drag City; 20/05/2008]


Going under the above-mentioned moniker, Will Oldham has always been one of the most under-appreciated independent artists. For a start, I See a Darkness will go down as one of the finest singer-songwriter albums in '90s. Oldham has always been an artist who's provided quality to those who care to listen and its truly evident with the material he's released since the 1999 pinnacle.

Lie Down in the Light is Oldham in a different vein. With more of a folk trance, this album focus more on the singer-songwriter and not much else. Just toppling the 45 minute mark, the 12 tracks Oldham delivers undulate with folk swagger ('You Remind Me Of Something (the Glory Goes)' and 'For Every Field There's A Mole'). While Oldham's lyrical ambiguity still shines the songs he plays do sound very samey and hard to break down at times. With the exception of the two above-mentioned tracks, there's little else that make the ears prick with any eagerness.

An album more suited in the company of a beer and a leather couch as apposed to a candlelight dinner, Lie Down in the Light is one of the more opaque albums from Oldham's catalogue of work (in last 10 years, anyway). Its nostalgic shift in sound could fall under the “change is as good as holiday” banner, but on the other side of the coin the grass isn't always greener either.

By Simon K

Album Review - Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós – Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
[EMI/XL Recordings; 24/06/2008]


The term unique and the band Sigur Rós fit like a glove. Maybe – just maybe - singing in your own language (Hopelandic) has a bit to do with it. When you wade through all the bullshit, though, Iceland's finest band are just that; a band. In fact, a “rock” band wouldn't even look out of place when weighing up a definition.

Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust is Sigur Rós fifth album, which once again meanders through new stomping grounds. This time there's a swerve from their previous left-field sensibility to more of a left-of-centre chime. It's hardly surprising considering the number of people who listen to Sigur Rós' music has increased, particularly since the landmark ( ).

'Gobbledigook' is the perfect opener. With an organic strum of acoustic and the pitta-patter of the snare drum, an easy-listening quality looms, despite its raw edge. 'Inn Í Mér Syngur Vitleysingur' is laced with more familiar elements that we've come to appreciate from Sigur Rós, but this time glazed with more of an accessible taste. The epic 'Festival' builds up with octave shifts from Jónsi Birgisson's ranging falsetto right up until the melodic bind of bass and brass culminates the song in emphatic fashion. 'Ára Bátur' searches for its quarry, with its slowing pace capturing a form of beatification without the trademark melody; definitely a growing quality.

Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust is Sigur Rós at their accessibly charged best. Although starting off as strong as any other recording from their fine back catalogue of work, Með' does fade into the shadows late on, giving you the impression that the hard work of transforming their sound may have taken its toll during the course of making this album. Ironically, rather than throwing a couple of the later tracks into the fray earlier on during the record, it seems a segregation from strong to weak has inadvertently taken place. In saying this, 'Gobbledigook' didn't grab a lot of people – including myself- on first listen, so maybe with a bit more time opinions could sway the other way. The door remains slightly ajar.

By Simon K

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lullaby's Song Scrobble


At random either Lullaby contributers will post random songs that are currently being enjoyed and listened to way too much.


Song Selection #1


Jay Z - 99 Problems (The Black Album, 2003)

It hasnt even been a week since Jay Z's "controversial" headlining spot at Glastonbury festival but with the music world unwilling too forget the events, not only myself but I'm sure there's been a ton of people listening to his records in the past week, in the lead up and the aftermath of the festival. Everytime I throw on the Black Album I just can't skip 99 Problems, it's so rock and roll. The lyrical delivery is fire and each time the song closes I'm always tempted to skip right back to it. Be sure to check out the Glastonbury footage via youtube as Jay Z rocks straight into the track after his infamous parody intro. Golden.

Beck - Think I'm in Love (The Information, 2006)

Every time I hear the Music Max adverts wherever I am, there's always a snippet of the chorus of this song. Every time i hear it i just want to leave from wherever I am just to throw the track on. Apart from a sickly catchy chorus line. The bass lines forever keep the song chugging along with some enticing piano work strewn across the chorus. By the way I thought the album was really cool much to the dismay of a lot of Beck fans.

Spoon - The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine (Gimme Fiction, 2005)

This is a song I really hoped Spoon would play in January this year. As my friends and I were driving to one of their gigs I asked one of them to throw this track on. One of them replied, what do you see in this track? To which I really couldn't answer, apart from being just a solid pop song. Short and Sweet, terrific chorus and verses that never let you down.

!!! - Yadnus (Myth Takes, 2007)

With a massive drumbeat coming in somewhere between Battles "Atlas" and Garry Glitters Rock and Roll parts 1 or 2, I'm not sure which it is. This is the kind of song you want to hear out at a club after your third drink. The track thumps along in all it's jiving and jaunting spirit.

Fleet Foxes - He Doesn't Know Why (Fleet Foxes, 2008)

There seems to be two sides of thought towards this band. People who think they sound like the latest bunch of southern styled rock bands without giving them much credit that they can pull off incredible melodies from nowhere, or you have the fans who lap up those sweet engrossing melodies (me), so i guess this is where this song comes in. This song stuck out like a sore thumb on my first listen, just incredible use of melody whichever way you look at it. Robin Pecknold's voice may be very similar to some modern rock singers out there but this is too good to really give a shit about that.

Grizzly Bear - While You Wait For the Others (Live, 2008)

Being heralded as one of the best tracks of the year, and I'm in agreeance, there's just something about the rawness and slight contrast to that of their work on Yellow House. This track seems a little more straight forward but in the best way possible. The song keeps at a steady pace throughout the duration with sincere organ bursts and a slightly more upbeat chorus backed by terrific and effective backing vocals. Hopefully this will appear on their forthcoming album, I'll just be curious to hear what the recorded version comes out like.


She & Him - Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? (Volume 1, 2008)

This was the first song I heard with Ms Deschanel in all her singing glory. Upon first listen I was mightily impressed as I still am today. I caught their performance on Conan O'Brien the other night with Yo La Tengo backing her and M Ward, which was something I was pretty excited about. The song came out just as well live as it does on record. I love its laid back but slightly southern country rocking acoustic feel.


Sufjan Stevens - The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us! (Illinoise, 2005)

With the music community still hugely anticipating his next effort I was lucky enough to catch one of his shows earlier this year, which was and is the best show I've been to in quite some time. At one stage in the night if I remember correctly Sufjan quietly approached his microphone and began this song. It was at that moment I kind of fell in love, I was only slightly familiar with this track but at that moment I and everyone else fell in love me for the first time yes everyone else probably not. The intro is simply majestic, you could probably listen to it over and over for the rest of your life just knowing how sweet his voice is and the subject of the song. I'll probably forever remember standing in that crowd and falling in love as he performed his heart away.

Sean

Live Review - My Bloody Valentine


By now, many of you will be sick to death of reading about the comeback of My Bloody Valentine. The noise; just how loud just was it? Or perhaps the epic rendition of 'You Made Me Realise'? Over a week into the comeback tour it seems that all is smooth sailing, apart from a couple of intro takes from Colm O'ciosoig!

The mystery My Bloody Valentine possess has also brimmed prior to this comeback tour (again, what the hell do we call this tour?). This isn't your typical return to the fold that shadows the main objective of covering a couple of overdue re-mortgage payments. This is the real deal. The perfectionist attitude of Kevin Shields wouldn't have it any other way.

The MBV catalogue even shrouds itself in mystery. The eclectic aura of the material Loveless extrudes is a perfect example. It's trajectory is free as a bird, despite the emotion it evokes. Then there's Isn't Anything; an affair that feels like a heart wanting to explode from someones ribcage. The former poses as the baby of Shields and Bilinda Butcher that swathes with tremolo and beauty. The latter perceives Debbie Googe and O'ciosoig to hail one jaw breaking rhythm section, showing their hand with direct prominence. A band that is a tale of two halves; if people needed their arm twisting, then after witnessing this live equivalent to a mangled car wreck, the twisting had well and truly been performed. The two halves, you ask? Well, there's loud, and there's louder. Simple.

'(When You Wake) You're Still in a Dream' and 'Feed Me With Your Kiss' are both like a rootless sea of brutality. Shields's endless number of amplifiers cluttering the stage are put to perfect use during this assault, alongside the pounding snare work from O'ciosoig. 'To Here Knows When' is bliss redefined. Jangling nerves and tugging the heart strings of many, Butcher's cosmic whisper makes you feel like heaven actually beckons sooner rather than later. 'Soon' just may be 'it' and if he had the choice of only one, the song that Shields could well and truly take to his grave. The gliding force, the gut-wrenching moodscapes, the perpetuating shower of tremolo. If ever a track epitomises MBV then this is it.

Then there's 'You Made Me Realise'. Reading about it slightly reduces the expectation level, but reading about it and literally holding an ear to something as chaotic as this presents two totally different scenarios. The longevity of guitars act as lava walls against the World's most catastrophic natural disasters. Bystanders were left in awe. Some were using their paws to cove ears, others were shrouded with fear as eyes were wide as dinner plates. Trousers were shaking, teeth vibrating, with Shields once again conceiving a metal-on-bone feedback assault in terrorising fashion, clocking on 32 minutes. O'ciosoig doesn't let up on the drums, with hissing high-hats and kick drum hammering, while Googe's bass-line adds to the foundation shaking proportions. Then there's Butcher, whose cacophony on guitar could probably have been heard by housewives putting their kids to sleep down in Hazel Grove.

The brooding moments of 'You Made Me Realise' was far from a self-indulging pledge. A statement of sheer intent; a certainty. They're back and this was their message; don't fuck with us. The recent wave of bands knocking out re-hashed versions of the template Shields, Butcher, Googe and O'ciosoig essentially created with Isn't Anything and Loveless were put on notice and swept aside like a minnow. This message was to them. We do it louder; we do it better; we enthrall, you don't! It's as simple as that. My Bloody Valentine conquer on every level. They may not have only successfully pulled off one of the best series of comeback gigs in musical history, but they may have just created one of the biggest musical statements of our time, too.

Setlist:

I Only Said
When You Sleep
(When You Wake) You're Still In A Dream
You Never Should
Cigarette In Your Bed
Come In Alone
Only Shallow
Thorn
Nothing Much To Lose
To Here Knows When
Blown A Wish
Slow
Soon
Feed Me With Your Kiss
Sueisfine
You Made Me Realise

Video:

(When You Wake) You're Still In A Dream


video

Nothing Much to Lose

video

You Made Me Realise

video

Review & Video by Simon K