Finally caught up with this blog by Felicity Dowker, in which she outlines some basic rules for good behaviour in cinemas. Now that I’ve wiped the tears of mirth from my eyes, I direct you hence.
Archive for April, 2009
While I’m in a musical mood, a few quick bites:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz
Really enjoying bashing this album from the New York trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs and not missing the indie guitar sound at all. Of course, with a lead singer such as Karen O, they could probably make a polka album and I’d love it… hm, maybe not. Here’s a taste, the insanely catchy single Zero.
White Lies, To Lose My Life
Balancing out the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, English outfit White Lies’ have a superb, shiny retro sound (Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen) that catches the ear. Such as on the song, To Lose My Life. Not sure how much shelf life this album will have — I’m betting more than the Killers, with whom they share some slinky rhythms — but it certainly has some strong tunes that deserve a listen.
Howling Bells, Howling Bells
On advice from Cam of Company Sin, I’ve eschewed the new Howling Bells album, Radio Wars, in favour of their self-titled debut, and am enjoying the early listens. Low Happening is a good example of their sound, stripped and a bit more miserable than their most recent effort, I’m told. Vis:
Kristeen Young, Music for Strippers, Hookers and the Odd-Onlooker
KRISTEENYOUNG, a New York-based duo, dedicate their latest album to Morrissey, with whom they’ve toured and sensationally been fired from.
They’ve certainly got the complementary dark edge, the sarcasm, the cynicism. I Won’t Be Home for Chrismas, He’s Sickened by my Crude Emotions, If You Marry Him, Comfort Is Never a Goal … there’s not a lot of sweetness and light here.
The emotions explode on this album, featuring Kristeen Young on keys and Baby Jef White on drums and percussion. The combination might bring Dresden Dolls to mind, but this is no slinky cabaret; there is little glimmer of Amanda Palmer’s trademark tease.
Young comes across like Kate Bush on speed, Tori Amos stripped of subtlety and armed with a carving knife. The album, her sixth, is produced by Tony Visconti, who’s worked with Morrissey and Bowie, on whose album Heathen Young performed.
The opening three songs are frenetic, and even the slower, more introspective Everybody Wants Me to Cry has an ominous tone to its piano.
Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Vaughn Stump guests on the catchy, sombre That’s What It Takes, Dear.
Music … is not a background album. The cut and thump of the drums; Young’s distinctive, high voice; the crash of the keys — Comfort Is Never a Goal is a good example, with its pop chorus and fractured verses _ demand attention.
Keyboard like a Gun introduces synths to offer a whimsical experimental/pop interlude, essentially bridging the 14-song album to its encore including Protestant, which comes across as a shot at her fundamentalist Christian upbringing.
Thanks to the performance, and the sparse production, there’s a live feel to this overlong album that helps make it rewarding, if not always comfortable, listening.
The new album, Sounds of the Universe (Universal/Mute), hits its lowest point with Jezebel, with Martin Gore on vocals. A dreary tune, it features some amazing ’70s organ effects that should have relegated this song to the discard pile.
Plenty of attention has been paid to studio production, not enough to grabbing the listener’s attention as the album cruises along on a bed of synthetic beats.
Fortunately, Dave Gahan is in superb voice, managing to infuse some emotion into relatively emotionless, but cleverly layered, arrangements. Check out In Chains, which opens the account on this, the group’s twelfth studio album.
Single Wrong (check out the funky, Saw-like reverse driving clip below!) is not a fair indicator of the frequently pedestrian fare on offer, although the superb closing song, Corrupt, ensures the album finishes on a high with trademark DM synth groove and heavier bass.
Gahan showed solid writing chops with Suffer Well, on the band’s previous album, 2005′s Playing the Angel, and contributes three co-written tunes here: Hole to Feed, Come Back and Miles Away/The Truth Is. Hole to Feed is the pick, one of the more distinctive tunes on the album thanks to its swaggering percussion, although Miles Away offers a catchy chorus.
Each song rewards independent listening with its individual touches _ fuzz guitar on Fragile Tension, for instance _ but few stand out from the crowd.
And surely it’s past time to be dangling a few twee bars of musical noodling minutes after the last song has ended, just to stretch out the album’s duration.
One of the Sunday-Mail’s funkiest reporters, Sally Browne, chatted with Dave Gahan and reports a visit to Australia as part of their Tour of the Universe (which wouldn’t be much of a ‘universe’ without an Aussie leg, would it?). Fingers crossed!
Wrong by Depeche Mode
The indominitable Chuck McKenzie, his glee barely contained by the electrons, points out this piece in Time magazine proclaiming that the zombies’ day has come. If it means less twee Twilight and more actual, you know, horror with something to say, bring it on. Though Chuck, the vampire will never die, my friend
I’m excited to say that I’ll be joining some excellent writers at Bundaberg Library’s Booked program in May. Stephanie Laurens, Kirsty Brooks and Kim Michelle Toft will be sharing the love and angst at panels, chats and, I believe, over lunch. I grew up in the Wide Bay region and still have good friends in Bundy, so it’s a bit of a return to my old stomping grounds, bringing some Gothic vampire love with me
Booked is on Sunday, May 17, conveniently dovetailing with Writefest the day before, run by Bundaberg Writers Club. So I’ll be popping in there for a look-see, too. Sue Abbey is among the professionals running workshops at Writefest: I can’t speak highly enough of her skills and friendly advice.
Two other events worth noting: the mob organising the national science fiction convention, Conjecture, in Adelaide in June have extracted their digit and posted more information on the website, allaying mounting fears that the long period of silence heralded a fizzler. Mind you, with that many wineries within cork-popping distance, that was never really going to be an issue, was it?
Another cool event that has got cooler is Continuum, in Melbourne in August, where Melbourne writer Narelle M Harris has been added as a guest of honour. Harris has had a vampire novel published by Brisbane’s Pulp Fiction Press; they make a commendable team
The other key convention for spec fic writers and readers this year is Conflux, in Canberra in October, but unfortunately I won’t be making that. Rather I’ll be at my Edge writers group’s annual retreat, hoping to make something beautiful come of it.