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Archive for February, 2005

LOW – The Great Destroyer (Rough Trade)

Posted: February 10th, 2005, by Alex McChesney

“Tonight the monkey dies.” We’ve only just been introduced to this album and already it has announced its intention to murder a simian. Despite the mildly comedic image (sorry, ape-lovers), “Monkey” is a dark, brooding, and fairly noisy opener, which sets the tone for the rest of the album and suggests that it’s the monkey on their collective backs – the one telling people that they are a one-trick band who can only write sad, glacial-slow dirges that you have to strain to hear – that Low are gunning for. This is their rawk album.

The minimalist songwriting, and ear for melody are all present and correct, of course. The Great Destroyer isn’t a radical departure, just the inevitable arrival at a destination that attentive fans may have spotted on the horizon since 2001’s Things We Lost In The Fire, where the latent desire to turn up and rock out started to make itself felt in their music. However, where on …Fire, and follow-up Trust, the more energetic songs served to punctuate and add to the record’s emotional range, The Great Destroyer seems like a homogenous mush, and even more contemplative moments like “Silver Rider” and “Broadway, So Many People” get smothered in inappropriate overdrive.

It’s not a total loss, however. “Cue The Strings” allows both our ears and Alan Sparhawk’s distortion pedal a half-time break via some minimal electronics and one of the best applications of the patented Low vocal harmonies in recent memory, and “When I Go Deaf” is as sweet a folk-song as any they’ve written, at least until the ironic rock-out ending. But where, in another context, a handful of songs on this album could stand out as proud highlights in the Low canon, they are smothered by turgid bedfellows that are content to turn up, fuzz away for three minutes, and wander off again. Where Low used to move, here they just numb.

I don’t want to give away the ending or anything, but the “Great Destroyer” of the title is Time. At least, according to closing track “Walk Into The Sea”. It’s almost as if the band feel the need to justify the death of “old” Low, which, of course, they don’t. That they’ve embraced change should be commended in a world where so many make a living from rehashing past glories. One can only hope that The Great Destroyer is just a slightly uninspiring lay-by on the road to somewhere more interesting.

Low

www.gigposters.com

Posted: February 9th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

Hey

http://www.gigposters.com/designers.php?designer=41189

is my page at gig posters. 36 of them. Sadly not in date order so the quality fluctuates. The Comets On Fire one is on the last page and rules if I say so myself. The Yanks don’t get my style. Thats cool, I don’t get America.

So link it from your site!

xxx

MEGADETH – Nottingham Rock City, February 5 2005

Posted: February 9th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

MEGADETHNottingham Rock City, February 5 2005

And so it is that on a Saturday night I find myself squeezed into the cosy shed-esque surroundings of Rocko staring at a huge piece of black cloth.
What’s more it’s 8.15 in the evening. I don’t know if there was a support tonight but if there was they probably played at about ten past three in the afternoon.
When I was about 16 I went to a house party in the middle of nowhere at a guy’s house. Said guy would later impregnate and eventually marry a lady who would wander the streets of our hometown asking people if they wanted to see her rat. She was called “Rat Woman”. She did actually have a live rat in her pocket that you could look at if you wanted. When I got to the party in a slightly crumbling mansion-style house, all the lights were out save for a strobe and around 5 or so guys were stomping around the front room with long hair and leather jackets listening to Corrosion Of Conformity really loud. Later all of us would lock ourselves in the bathroom while the host rampaged through the house with a hedge strimmer.
Next to me are about 10 young men who look exactly like rat-woman-marrying strimmer-violence boy. They are all shouting “ME-GA-DETH! ME-GA-DETH!”.
Roadies are running around on the stage making crazy hand gestures like bookies at the racetrack. It is very tense. One goes to pull off the black sheet on the stage and is severely reprimanded by what appears to be the supreme roadie. Supreme roadie stares intently at his watch with his other hand raised to the assembled crew clutching the black sheet, holding them back from revealing the secrets of what it is covering. It is agony. Then finally he drops his hand and the sheet is whipped off to reveal the Megadeth back line and a drum riser so high that the drummer will spend the next 2 hours basting like a pork joint 6 inches under the Rock City lighting rig.
Everyone is excited. My compadres Phillip and Neil are excited.
“They best play Holy War” says Phil.
I don’t really know much about Megadeth’s music. I have an open mind, I like metal.
The lights drop and they walk out, Dave Mustaine last. I think they dropped the lights to lessen the impact because as soon as they start playing and the lights come on the visual shock of Megadeth 2005 is quite arresting. Last week Steven J Kirk of the non-rock band The Chemistry Experiment was wearing a heavy metal wig at a party. The guitarist from Megadeth looks exactly like that. The bassist has emerged from the 1990s unscathed and sports a tight perm that’d stand him in good stead for selling knock off videos at Colwick car boot on a Sunday. I can’t see the drummer as his head is somewhere in the rafters, filled with nut stuffing and about half done at Gas Mark 6. Mustaine though, Mustaine looks sort of well, motherly in a kind of council estate mum-of-5 way. Time has not dealt Dave a good hand as anyone who’s seen Some Kind Of Monster can vouch for. I mention this to Neil who looks to the stage with a surprising tenderness.
“Come on man, he’s been on the piss for 20 years. Give him a break”.
The sound is so insane I can’t work out what the hell is going on for the first 3 minutes. Megadeth sound like Wolves Of Greece.
To their credit it’s stupidly loud but all I can hear from the drummer is the bass drum and he hits the drums like such a pussy that it’s all mush. Like all great metal bands from the 1980s the bass is inaudible and the guitars sound fucking hideous.
Like I said I’m not a Megadeth aficionado but their songs seem to be split into 3 categories: one is a sort of mid paced, multi sectioned affair that basically sounds like Black Album era Metallica. The second is a more direct simple sort of tune that’s a loose copy of a decent classic rock band. I reckon these are the new ones. My friend Metal Ben reckons the new Deth album is a killer return to form and he described it to me as a loose concept album about how shit nu-metal is and how it’s time for the real deal. So I figure these celebrations of rock history in song form are the new ones. The third is fast, tricky 80s thrash with high-pitched divebomb solos. It is also way, way better.
So, yeah, they go on a bit. They play for a while. Phil gets a round of 3 CANS of Red Stripe (the only choice of beer available) that comes to TEN POUNDS FIFTY. That’s THREE FIFTY A CAN. That’s over 200% profit on shop price let alone trade price. I guess no one forced us to buy them though.
There are good bits – tasty Lizzy harmony leads. There are bad bits – mercifully brief bass solo. Occasionally Mustaine affects a crazy childish whine style of vocal that I presume represents the demons in his head. Or his inner child. He delivers a speech about Dimebag Darrell where he tells us he lost a friend (“though we never exchanged spit or Christmas cards”) and what he has learned from the experience, which is to “play every show like it’s your last”. I appreciate the sentiment but I have to be truthful and say I am not sure I believe him.
90 minutes in and no Holy War. Phil is restless. A stunningly beautiful black haired girl times her crowd surf perfectly and lands at the feet of Mustaine and gives him a wave. Dave turns to his guitarist and mouths something that I hope was “Still got it”. I am momentarily jealous of Dave.
The young man in front of us is busting out an air guitar solo. Seems like Megadeth are too as I can’t see a single microphone on their speaker cabs and more to the point I can’t see the speakers moving in them. I conclude the cabs are for show and they are plugged into crazy amp simulators. Either that or they are plugged into 5 watt Gorilla practice amps hidden at the back which would explain the sound.
They play a medley of older songs that simply serves to make you wish they’d played the whole songs, as they’re far superior, in comparison at any rate. Neil muses that
“We’re losing some solid gold in this medley” and shakes his head.
He informs me that the song we’re listening to has the same music as a Metallica tune that Mustaine reckons he wrote in his spell with the band before being kicked out for being a human pint glass. Neil and Phil explain in detail why the Megadeth song is superior. The Metallica version is about “horses and dungeons and dragons and knights and bullshit like that” whereas the Megadeth version examines how Mustaine is a mechanic and through his profession meets a lady mechanic who is better than him. A proto feminist anthem apparently, albeit one that uses piston crankshaft penis metaphors.
Some old dudes come on stage and sing backing vocals and even Mustaine looks a little puzzled and sheepish and it’s all over. No Holy War.
Phil looks sad.
But wait. An encore surely.
Mustaine thanks us even though he believes they played badly. Choice of band and material Dave, don’t worry. He informs us that he has only ever written one song in the UK and what’s more he wrote it in Rock City the day after “I shot my mouth off about Northern Ireland”. They play Holy War and it’s the best of the night by a mile.
I guess metal fans are easily pleased though. It was a fun night, I love big rock shows more for the spectacle and the hilarity of the way the performers and audience abide to set laws in an environment supposedly notorious for giving the finger to convention (the solos for each member, the thanking of the crowd for the band; the monotonous circle from back to front via crowdsurfing then back around again etc etc) but as a newcomer to Megadeth all I can think is what a gulf there is between their good and bad songs and how that gulf is either not noticed or very well ignored by the fans. More simply, how the fuck can you throw a devil horn pinky salute up for a BALLAD? And not even a good one. If the kids with the peach fuzz moustaches saw High On Fire they’d spontaneously combust. I get to thinking about how if Mustaine wants to give the finger to false metal he could do better than a band of ponces playing mid tempo rubbish. I reckon he has it in him to do it. He needs to see past the rock show world though.
I am snapped out of this by a sudden 360 degree stereo backing vocal onslaught. I turn around to see where the extra speakers are and think of how amazing it sounds and find Phil wailing the backing vocals in my ear.
The song ends and they take bows at the front of the stage before we’re ushered out so the club night can start.
Phil and Neil have got their coats on already. “Fuck this, let’s go”.
So we did.

Muse cover Lightning Bolt

Posted: February 8th, 2005, by Ollie

INTERVIEWER: And finally what can people expect musically from the performance that they are about to hear very shortly?

DOM: It’s gonna be a big rocking set, with one or two new songs thrown in.

MATT: Check out the lightning bolt cover song. It’s a new style of music coming out of weird abandoned art galleries in Boston, called Skronk music which is like insane punk, simplistic sort of gamma metal. Dom and Chris are gonna do a cover at the beginning of the gig tonight, of one of the bands that does that.

Jesus.

Muse cover Lightning Bolt

ZINE ROUNDUP

Posted: February 6th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

Oh dear, these have been sitting by my chair for ages. Sorry, zinesters.

ROBOTS AND ELECTRONIC BRAINS #14
Jimmy Possession is still my favourite reviewer. No-one else manages to play around with sounds and thoughts getting right into the heart of a song with seeming effortless ease. I’ll even forgive him for not saying anything particularly nice about my band since he described Denim and Diamonds so perfectly. As well as the pages and pages of record and demo reviews there’s also interviews with local community radio and lots of bands you’ve never heard of, an excellent guide to promoting gigs and a free CD to add to my pile of CDs that I never get around to listening to but should.
£4 for 3 issues – come.to/robots

BEARD #2
“Music, arts and facial hair” – what more could you want? This is a great Glasgow zine by some rather good writers and photographers who also do stuff for Plan B, Is This Music? and even diskant. There’s interviews (with Kinky Friedman, Weird War and Lucky Luke), reviews (of ATP, Le Weekend and T in the Park) and lots of random articles, cartoons, beard trivia and other bits and pieces to keep you well entertained. New issue out soon too.
£1.50 from Monorail etc. – beardmag.blogspot.com

CARTOGRAPHY FOR BEGINNERS #4 / FORGOTTEN ALBUMS BEST LEFT FORGOTTEN
Two zines for the price of one from husband and wife team April and David. April’s been zining forever and the fourth issue of her latest zine is as good as ever. Generally a bunch of writing about random stuff in her life but April’s life is always hella entertaining. Thus you get her tales of the the most annoying-est things people have done at the movies, her daily transportation fun, free pizza scammers etc. all written in April’s friendly open manner. If you don’t laugh then you don’t know what fun is. Husband David’s zine is self-explanatory – detailed reviews of some of the most unbelievably terrible and hilarious records he owns; records he bought to prove they exist. From French toddlers and cheesy christians to cartoon cats and hair metal, David painstakingly points out every ridiculous facet of these records from the song lyrics and sleeve notes to the terrible terrible sleeve art. Great stuff.
$2 from emotionlotion.org – check April’s cool badges as well.

The Seventh Victim

Posted: February 3rd, 2005, by Chris H

A film column I kept wanting to write but never finished (started) was about Val Lewton’s beautiful, disturbing black & white 40s horror films.

The Seventh Victim is the most intriguing. There’s layers of allusion in there, hints at darker secrets and untold backstory it’s the most morbid and haunting film to not be available on video.

And it’s on telly Friday night. After midnight, natch. Watch it! Guaranteed better than the soft-porn on C5.

There’s loads of films being shown outside of cinemas in Glasgow at the moment. Just for a start, all next week at the Art School (but open to plebs) is Brain Wash, a bunch of undeground-y documentar-y films that are well worth seeing. Surplus I remember being especially good.

HEX – demo

Posted: February 3rd, 2005, by Marceline Smith

I’ve been thinking a lot about The Male Nurse lately. With all the Franz Ferdinand stuff finally making people more aware of marvel that was the Yummy Fur, let’s hope some of that spotlight shines on their siblings, Lung Leg and The Male Nurse.

Anyway, to get to the point, I was delighted to hear more than a hint of The Male Nurse in the new demo by Glasgow duo Hex. It’s there in the jangly guitars and blasé sing-song vocals of Unready Unsteady and there’s even a bit of early Fall style shouting on Sorry For Nothing to make Hex probably Guided Missile’s favourite new band, if this was 1998.

Add the sort of drum machine that manages to make everything sound like classic eighties indie to drive the songs forward quick march, some dinky keyboard melodies and stacatto riffing and you’ve got quite the catchiest demo I’ve heard in a long time. Currently without a label so get on it, people!

Email: wearehex@hotmail.com

THE CATHODE RAY SYNDROME* – Use Forgotten Tools (self-released)

Posted: February 3rd, 2005, by Stuart Fowkes

Weighty stuff here from the Cathode Ray Syndrome, who have even called their website War Against Cliché. They’re one of those bands with important-sounding song titles like The Art of Poetry is Dying’, and whose band manifesto offers a partial solution to the problem that ‘passion has been mislaid under manufactured society’. Big Themes, then, and themes dealt with by what are essentially instrumental post-rock tunes varying from the striking to the strikingly unoriginal. First track Princess-X might have sounded extraordinary five or six years ago, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the Tupperware party going on round at Sweep and Godspeed!’s house. It strikes magnificent, self-important poses, but chops and changes between well-trodden paths without ever sound like it wants to forge its own path.

Laudable influences notwithstanding, there’s nothing in the first three tracks to make me holler “REVOLUTION!” from the rooftops, as they shoot admiring sidelong glances at Constellation and June of 44, but – hurrah! – when the CRS* veer off and follow their hearts, they’re terrific. Kneejerk Practice pulls together fuzzy keyboard basslines and distorted beats with a closely-woven pattern of arpeggios, like These Arms Are Snakes taking their hand to Mogwai’s Christmas Steps. Solutions for Solved Problems takes a while to get going, picking its way around some pretty harmonics, but the home run locks into a great, pulsing groove, while New Theory/Robots works itself into a handclap-led quasi-disco break. Moments of brilliance, then, and that’s no bad thing.

The Cathode Ray Syndrome*