Reviews

Buckle Up

Car Seat Headrest took to the Olympia stage last Wednesday supported by Naked Giants. As fans will know, he (Will Toledo), has released 11 records to date and he’s still only 25! Among these records are the outstanding ‘Teens of Style’, ‘Teens of Denial’, ‘Twin Fantasy’ and ‘How To Leave Town‘. These records are usually well over an hour long with 2/3 tracks needing your undivided attention for upwards of 12 minutes. So, I was looking forward to some serious solos and oh boy did they deliver!

Venue

The Olympia. Do I really need to say how perfect it is all over again?

Support

Naked Giants. These guys came out of nowhere and I really enjoyed them. Songs such as ‘TV’, ‘Everybody Thinks They Know’ and ‘Slow Dance II’ were all brilliant. They tore through every song and the audience responded really well. By the time they wrapped up, everyone was well and truly riled up for Car Seat Headrest. Check out their debut ‘SLUFF’ too!

Main Act

Banging gig. Toledo’s backing band were Naked Giants plus two more (I can’t find their names, sorry) and they played pretty much every song I could have wanted except for ‘Vincent’. They even did a cover of a Frank Ocean track but I’ve yet to find any love for him, so I don’t know what it was. They interacted with the crowd, especially the Naked Giant drummer who even dragged a fan up to play some good ole cowbell!

Sound/Visual

The visuals were at a minimum this time around, but that’s cool. The sound was perfect and both bands were more than happy to tear into solos. There was no real distortion and the vocals came across as they would on the record, so all good. Granted, I was stone deaf after it!

Overall

Great gig. Crowd was rowdy as hell and so were the bands. I’d definitely go see them again and for €27, it was a bargain! Much better than the Ed Sheeran gig too by all accounts!

G.M

Angel Olsen-My Woman

I find a lot of my new music through bands I already follow. I also find this new music in places I would have turned against in the past such as Spotify and Instagram. Before, I would have really only bought new music if I had heard a song I liked or if a band had been recommended through a friend. I just thought that it was more organic, it just happened. Nowadays, all you’ve to do is selected ‘Browse’ on Spotify and your next favourite band slides in from across your screen.

That mini reflection/rant brings me to Angel Olsen. Her music came my way from a Big Thief post on Instagram about how they were supporting at one of her upcoming shows. I figured if they were supporting her she must be good! She is. She’s exceptional. Angel Olsen is an incredibly talented musician with three brilliant albums to her name. Firstly, ‘Half Way Home’ which was followed by ‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness’ and then the subject of today’s post, ‘My Woman‘. Olsen herself said that the themes of ‘My Woman‘ try to describe the “complicated mess of being a woman”. Her talent isn’t just confined to the music she makes either, its evident in every word on this record.

A lot of her work revolves around love and relationships and the first track of ‘My Woman’, ‘Intern’ wastes no time in falling back into that subject again. On first listen you hear a synth driven pop song that’s all about the daily tasks we all go through. However, by digging a little deeper you’ll find how she uses this idea as a front for love. Everyone experiences ups and downs but we all have to carry on. Paired with the synth(not her usual sound), you get a wondrous track that has many levels. From here on for the most part the record has a vintage sound inspired by 60’s country pop and 70’s glam. ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’, ‘Heart Shaped Face’ and ‘Never Be Mine’ all sound inspired by those influential decades. Stand out tracks for me are ‘Sister’ and ‘Woman’, two tracks where she goes heavy on the guitar. She sings “I dare you to understand, what makes me a woman” with purpose on ‘Woman’ before ripping into a solo.

 

‘Those Were The Days’ is yet another beautiful track, that that swoons its way to your heart with its love story. The record says its goodbyes with ‘Pops’, a piano lead track that’s a little on the downbeat side.

If you haven’t heard any of Angel Olsen’s stuff I suggest you go give her a listen asap. I’m in too deep now to tun back, but here music is certainly a healthy obsession!

G.M

Smashing Pumpkins-Eye

Much more than just a Track Of The Week, ‘Eye’ by Smashing Pumpkins is an eternal song recorded for David Lynch’s Lost Highway. This was way back in 1997 and interestingly enough the soundtrack was produced by Trent Reznor of NIN. It hasn’t aged a bit and shows the versatility of Smashing Pumpkins and the sound they were chasing back then. Go on, have a listen!

Preoccupations-New Material

I have a tendency, a healthy one I feel, to drown myself in a new album when I get hold of it. I like to listen to it over and over, to find something new in each song and it let it do its thing. That also explains why you may find me skipping down the road to meet you (Teen Men-Teen Men), skimming stones on the water (Bruce Springsteen-Nebraska) or in this case showing somewhat of a brooding demeanor. I value that affect though. I think flying through album after album and quickly making a call on it is bullshit, there’s no way you’ve really heard it and taken in its meaning. With Preoccupations, a band that only came my way about 5 months ago, you can’t help but hear it.

Preoccupations are three records in and I think ‘New Material’ is their most complete piece of work yet. Their first two, ‘Viet Cong’ (released as Viet Cong) and ‘Preoccupations’ are great records but they seem to have found a sound with ‘New Material’ that I don’t think they’ll let go of too soon. Their progression is evident in pretty much all songs, Espionage and Disarray being two that have an 80’s post-punk sound that hasn’t sounded so perfect since then! I don’t think having your music compared to a sound from the 80’s is a bad thing either, especially when it was so brilliant and raw back then. A lot of this record also feels borderline dance, like everyone could be slowly moving on a dance floor like zombies. Decompose, a complete synth track, is brilliantly put together with a racy, pulsing beat carrying the otherwise downtrodden lyrics. Manipulation and Antidote are two more brilliant tracks. Within the post-punk, synth heavy sound ‘New Material’ delivers, they still manage to vary the whole record. There’s so many instruments and mixes going on that it’s actually hard to tell sometimes what you’re listening to!

Solace is a fast paced track that works well after Antidote. It’s about the inevitability of death and finding someone you can enjoy it with. It’s got purpose, despite being a little twisted at the same time. Doubt has been described as a “goth jammer” by the band and it only takes you 5 seconds to hear why. The lyrics are repetitive and the sound never really goes anywhere but we’re not listening to The Monkeys here are we? This for me comes at a time where the two previous albums faltered. There’s no let up in the idea and purpose of the record, which is refreshing! The closer, Compliance, is completely instrumental. It’s a slow, grinding track almost sounds industrial. There’s a bit of a haunting sound to it too which adds to the overall record. It’s like the guys made this without vocals to further increase their already dark image. Fantastic track.

With ‘New Material‘ I think Preoccupations have created a record that will stand to them in years to come. Each of their records have been brilliant but this is a step up, one that will also set the bar for the next one.

G.M

Photo Credit: Pitchfork

Joy Division-Closer

I recently listened to Peter Hook’s ‘Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division’ and it made me fall in love with Joy Division again. They were one of the first bands I loved and they pretty much influenced every sound I went after. I’ve always thought Ian Curtis was a genius and the question of “what could have been” goes on. Hook, Sumner and Morris are all pioneers in their own right too and deserve just as much credit for the music Joy Division left behind. Although Hook says quite a number of times that they wanted a quicker, more punky sound, their producer Martin Hannett insisted that his way of production would define them; it did. Hook and Bernard Sumner weren’t fans of his techniques (Hook eventually grew to love ‘Unknown Pleasures’).

‘Closer’ is an absolute masterpiece in my opinion. It was only after the death of Ian Curtis that fans and critics really pulled his lyrics apart, discovering a man who was in trouble, on the edge, in the process. The problem was that no one saw it at the time. He had his visible troubles such as his seizures but he continued to play and record, telling the band he was fine. The sound of the album was also a progression from ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and something I’m sure has been pointed out before is how New Order kept that progression going. Their debut ‘Movement’ feels like the next record Joy Division would have made and likewise with ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ after. Once again, what if?

The record opens with ‘Atrocity Exhibition’. “This is the way, step inside” sings Curtis against the throbbing bass and cutting guitar. These lyrics, like the rest of the song, detail the struggles Curtis was experiencing at the time, seeing himself as a tool for others entertainment. This track has a certain menace about it and was more developed than anything you hear on ‘Unknown Pleasures’. ‘Isolation’  follows and with it you can almost hear the beginning of New Order. A fast paced track,  the sound could almost make for a disco track if the lyrics weren’t so dark. Something you might notice in the next track, ‘Passover’ is that it has no chorus. Its place is taken by the music cementing the disturbing nature of the song,

“Safety is sat by the fire,

Sanctuary from these feverish smiles”

 

‘Colony’ does likewise, beginning with another ripping guitar riff which is quickly joined by bass and drums. It’s another song that when closely inspected we see the turmoil Curtis was going though, his outlook at the time and his impression of his own health. ‘A Means to an End’ has an evident melody where Curtis’s lyrics are much easier to hear compared to a lot of the record. The aggressive guitar and bass riff on this one are what make it stand out for me, Peter Hook controls it throughout. Speaking of Peter Hook, when you move onto ‘Heart and Soul’ you better be sitting. The bass riff here is sublime, no wonder the guy’s a legend! It’s a simple track in ways, it’s slowly pieced together and Curtis’s quiet vocals are eerily captivating, “Beyond this good is a terror” . Keep an ear out too for the playful bass right before the guitar takes centre stage around 2:15 minutes in. One of Joy Divisions best know tracks comes next, ‘Twenty Four Hours’. It’s opening threatens to explode and after a short wait it does. Just like a cheering crowd before the main act, that intro begs for Curtis to join and its a familiar story when he does. The daily struggle and uncertainty that affected him everyday.

Closing out the record are two more masterpieces. ‘The Eternal’ is a favourite of mine and it’s possibly the darkest track Joy Division have. That’s not why I love it but it’s a contributing factor. It’s the piano, gets me every time. It’s much more than just a song. You’ve to give it all of your attention to take meaning from it. ‘Decades’ features terribly dark lyrics such as mentions of “Hell’s door”. A beautiful sound, it’s one of the more dramatic tracks on the record.

I don’t need to say anything about Joy Division or how you should listen to them, but you should! Given their history and the fact that they have two highly acclaimed studio records, it should be obvious that the music they made is special. It is, it’s an experience. They’re a band whose music you never “just listen to”. They’re music is something you feel.

G.M

Photo Credit: flyingout.co.nz