I am not a music reviewer. I am a fan who likes to blether shite about new releases and gigs I’ve heard and have something to say about. I am not a professional. I am media graduate and a student of the music industries.
So here’s the problem. It’s hard to slag. I’m an amateur (at best), with little audience and I don’t rely on being first to a story, nor do I rely on hits generating income through associated advertising revenue. That said; I do care.
Today what I care about (vehemently) is the treatment of ‘The Next Day’ the new album by David Bowie. You can read reviews by the likes of Alexis Petridis, Andy Gill and Neil McCormick right now. That’s right, full album reviews up of an album released hours before, with no promos released (to my knowledge) and no announcement. So these professional journalists have reviewed this album in what? One or two listens? Maybe they listened to the single three or four times. Y’know, just to be sure.
That’s not an album review. An album, any album, deserves more than that. I can understand fans doing it; it’s exciting when something new turns up that excites you and you want to share your thoughts. It is generally accepted that these thoughts are just that, thoughts for the moment – they’ll change as you and an album grow together or grow apart. We see these all over blogs and message boards and I read them all the time and I love them. It’s people engaging with music, sometimes in the actual moment of listening.
But a professional review, with stars and everything is different. The speed of these reviews isn’t about engagement with the music, excitement at a new release or even just a childish ‘FIRST!’ This is about fishing for hits. But fishing for hits by racing to be first is like fishing for fish with a grenade. It’s not part of the game – it’s survival. It’s no longer about the enjoyment, or even the consideration, of music. That’s why I don’t trust the reviews of hungry music critics. They’re so hungry they can’t see what’s on their plate.
That being said, here’s my review. I’ve not actually heard the album yet but I’ve heard ‘Where Are We Now?’ about six times, and I listened to ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’ once, half-distractedly, earlier today.
It’s not ‘Low’, is it?
I’ve gone all quite of late and for that I’m dearly sorry-ish.
But I’m back with excitement in my being. There is a new single by The Knife, it lasts a little over nine minutes and it is fucking stonkingly good! Now Heartbeats was, and still is, a fantastic song but Silent Shout is where the real gorgeousness of The Knife resides. Until now. Full of Fire, the new single, is quite frankly spectacular.
I’ve always looked on Silent Shout as oddball brilliance; it seems to home in on a certain aesthetic that demands art, while remaining great pop. This new stuff though… The closest musical sensibility I can attribute to it is that it reminds me of Captain Beefheart. Musically it’s way off. Aesthetically, corporeally, whatever, it’s howling at the moon in just as entertaining a manner.
Word is the album will be over an hour and a half long!
Give the single a go: Here!
Update: Here’s the video! Also, listening again when I haven’t just come in from a night out and I’m starting to think I was a little OTT in my praise. I’m looking forward to hearing how this fits in the shape of the album.
So, I’m supposed to be writing something academic and boring but I’ve lost my train of thought. That means it’s time to post up something new here.
On Monday I went to Stereo to see Bo Ningen. They’re a Japanese, four-piece founded in London and I first heard their Koroshitai Kimochi EP in 2010, and fell in love with the song of the same name. After that they released an self-titled album, which wasn’t bad and then I kind of forgot about them. Then last week I noticed they had a new album out, Line the Wall, so I gave it a spin and it was great. I knew they were playing Glasgow, so looked it up and on Monday there I was along with 20-or-so others.
That’s all very well, but why bother writing about it? Well, because I just don’t know how to describe them. The closest I could get at the time was to think of them like Melt Banana or another Japanoise-ish band trying to fill the gap between Hawkwind and Motorhead.
The problem is, this just isn’t enough to get close to accurate. Somewhere in the mix is a dollop of Can, Neu! and Faust which sort of leaves an avant-edge.
I think my favourite thing about them is they mix the classic rock of my teen years (Deep Purple, Sabbath etc) with the fan of post-punk and ‘Alternative’ that I’ve become. They are, in essence, an alternative Classic Rock band who really bring the NOISE. What staggered me was that my highlight was a ballad-type number; it was so sweet and melancholy.
Despite the mention of noise, it must be stated – these guys are TIGHT. Really tight. There is no mess with these guys.
I’d like to leave you with the image I’m left with, which is thus: the singer is gooning, one guitarist is widdling abstractly while the other conjures waves of feedback (think MBV), and the drummer is thumping and drilling a motorik beat but FAST and HEAVY.
See these guys if you get the chance.
Do watch them now: