The Sea The Sea is a new band from Oxford. Clearly experienced by the nautical charm, they mix the pastoral grandness of bands like British Sea Power, I like trains or The Strange Death of Liberal England with a more accesible sound, think Editors, but more charm and less drama. The Strait, The Narrow offers a very 90’s opener, with guitars drenched in reverb and a cheerful rhythm. Waterfall delves into epic territories. Something happened might be the least of the four tracks, with a wink and a nudge to early 21st century bands like Hard-Fi or Feeder, or even Bloc Party. Stand out track is beyond any doubt The Winter Parade. Both productionwise as structurewise it is miles above the others. It is catchy yet thought provoking. This is what Interpol’s Turn on the bright lights might sound if they were an English seaside band, which is really good. The Sea The Sea’s first EP shows they are capable of writing good music, but now it’s up to them to truely find an identity of their own, and translate the grand gesture that dominates some of the songs into something really original and fresh.
Bent Van Looy is the flamboyant lead singer of Belgian band Das Pop. For those not familiar with his music, Van Looy’s songwriting always evolve around clever and catchy pop songs. With their last album, The Game, the band decided to go all the way and influenced by artists like ABBA, Paul McCartney and some of the biggest household pop names from 70’s and 80’s music scene, it saw them swapping the rock of their selftitled album for keyboard and violin-driven tunes, often balancing on guilty pleasure (in a good way). On his first single as a solo-artist he opts for a more intimate sound. The instruments, the beautiful piano and the melancholic violin, give this song a subtle softness and sadness, which is completed by Bent’s own characteristic voice. The lyrics have a certain ring of a nostalgia as well. Bent Van Looy’s debut album Round The Bend is produced by Jason Falkner (Air, Beck,…) and will be available from the 22th of March. Here’s the song and video for yours to hear and spread.
Pulp is back! Well sort of. They released a recording they did with James Murphy (LCD Sound Sytem) of an old song (We love life-era), but still, it’s the first song in ten years. Jarvis Cocker has released some material in the mean time, but Pulp do have that extra something. His ‘n Hers, Different Class, This is hardcore and We love life are wonderful albums, each in its own specific way. I don’t know if we can/should hope for a new album, but this song definitely shows that the band is still in shape. After you features everything that made Pulp the real kings of Britpop. Disco-influenced pop songs, witty lyrics and of course Jarvis Cocker’s brilliant delivery and vocals. If they can guarantuee an album of the same quality, then let us all hope this is just a teaser of what is yet to come, because there’s no such thing as too much Jarvis.
As much as I love Kyuss, I’m grateful for their demise in the nineties, for an even better band rose out of the ashes of the heralds and pioneers of stoner rock. Josh Homme (a.k.a. J-ho, baby duck, the ginger Elvis, etc.) founded Queens of the Stone Age (first under the guise of Gamma Ray) in ’97 and in ’98 came the first album, self-titled, as a two-man project. Homme and drummer Alfredo Hernandez collaborated on this dark and heavy journey through the Californian Desert. To me, every QotSA album has a distinctive sound and feel to it. Queens of the Stone Age recalled small villages in the desert and for one reason or the other, I always imagined these villages to be close to the Mexican border. Drugs, guns and outlaws were never far away. This is probably the closest QotSA came to reviving the heavy sound of Kyuss. Ever since then, they moved in another, funkier direction, but never threading too much in the dark waters of mainstream rock. This album featured repetitive, distorted songs like Mexicola or Walking on the sidewolks, but it’s pinnacle was You can’t quit me baby, 7 minutes of the purest joy. Nick Olivieri wasn’t a part of the actual recording (save I was a teenage hand model, where he can be heard on the telephone, being asked to join them on tour), but soon became the second pillar of the band.
Two years later, Rated R saw the band leaving the desert behind. This time I saw images of a city, where anonymous people lived their lives in decadence. Musically speaking, this was much more varied than its predecessor. Feel good hit of the summer, the lyrics provide a list of the drugs they took before playing the song for the first time, was a stomping punk song, as were Tension Head or Quick and to the pointless, Nick’s songs. Other songs, like In the fade or auto pilot had an emotional potency, the first pushed to a higher level through the powerful vocals of Mark Lanegan, who would contribute more on their next album. Last but not least, creativity exploded in the two highlights of the album Better living through chemistry and I think I lost my headache, the last song ending with four minutes of chaotic free jazz. The album made two things clear. One, the loose structure of the band was of the utmost important, there was an open door policy. Everybody was free to come or to leave as to their liking. Two, QotSA wasn’t interested in commercial success, but it was all about creativity, fun and constant evolving. This is part of the reason why they are not only widely loved by fans throughout the world, but by their peers as well.
If Rated R spawned massive critical acclaim, their next album Songs for the deaf, would give them commercial success as well. The line-up is still seen as the best yet, with Homme on vocals and guitar, Nick Olivieri on vocals and bass, Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar and lap steel, Dave Grohl on drums and Mark Lanegan on vocals. This mixture of styles and personalities turned SFTD into an even more eclectic piece of work than Rated R. This, however, was a big trip through the desert. No one knows was the song that brought in a lot of new fans, with its up tempo rhythm and it’s epic guitar and bass solo. The three vocalists each brought something of their own into the songs. Lanegan’s a song for the dead or god is in the radio were dangerous and dark, Olivieri’s Six shooter was a crazy punk song, Homme’s falsetto shone on Go with the flow or Do it again. The last track, a song for the deaf, was the pinnacle of the album, the three vocalists united in a psychedelic song with Homme ,more and more confident of his own voice, aided by the growling of Mark Lanegan and the screaming of Olivieri. Commercial success had been secured, but the band itself was experiencing problems. Grohl, only joining the band because Gene Trautman dropped out last minute, went back to the Foo Fighters. Mark Lanegan had to face his addiction. Nick Olivieri was kicked out of the band. This would start a new direction and epoch for Homme and his band.
The frustrations of the collapse of a very long friendship led Homme to the darkest album as of yet. Joey Castillo became a full-time member of the band, burdened with the legacy of Grohl and Alain Johannes and his wife Natascha Schneider joined as well. Homme took his inspiration from the Grimm tales and wrote songs that were often to grim for a fanbase that had fallen in love with the desert rock of Songs for the deaf. Increasingly dark and complex, Lullabies to paralyze offered a selection for dark winter nights. Burn the witch or Tangled up in plaid could be described as blues for the midnight hours and centerpiece Someone’s in the wolf was an epic yet very grizzly affair. Homme however showed that he was more in charge than ever. Other bands would try to ride the waves of success, but QotSA chose to depart from the desert sound and tread darker territories. This certainly was a gamble, and it was only partially pulled off.
Two years later, in 2007, two new members were welcomed in. Dean Fertita (The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather) was heralded as a polyvalent musician, playing keys and guitar, while Michael Shuman (Mikey Shoes, Wires on fire, Mini Mansions) was the new bass player, renewing the promise of an extra vocalist. Era Vulgaris, still QotSA’s latest, was robot rock with a funky edge. Songs like Sick sick sick or I’m designer had an almost industrial feel to it, Misfit Love was a distorted blues track, but made you feel like dancing as well. The new QotSA was all about dancing, moving and having fun, as proven by other songs like Make it wit chu, a desert sessions cover. This too suffered the comparison with Songs for the deaf, but as always, Homme didn’t care. He did what he liked and their live performances had never been better. This was a band that just wanted to enjoy the things they did.
So, it’s almost six years since the last album. It’s not that the band have been idling. Homme released an album with Them Crooked Vultures, Dean Fertita toured with The Dead Weather, Joey Castillo with Eagles of Death Metal, Troy Van Leeuwen with Sweethead and Mikey Shoes with Mini Mansions. The fact that they keep on heading towards new directions is promising to say the least. Rumours and trickles of information are leaking on the internet and something’s most certainly afoot. Dave Grohl will be behind the drums again, Trent Reznor, Mark Lanegan, Nick Olivieri and even Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters) are contributing. Expectations are really high, not only because of the names that circulate, but also because it has been such a long time.
The commercial success of songs for the deaf was never repeated, yet they still have a large fanbase and are welcome guests on every summer festival or venue. Because of their integrity, their creativity and their ability to change their sound every album, both fans and colleagues herald them as one of the best rock bands of the last decade. Staying far away from trends and the fashion of the day, they remain a contributor to the legacy of bands like Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. Homme, with his distinct guitar style and his cool as fuck attitude and charisma, is one of today’s guitar heroes. It may seem that the reunion of the QotSA family implies that this might be the last album or Homme just wanted to get everyone back to make sure that the audience would be blown away. In any case, it’s hard to think that the new album will truly disappoint, for they have managed on each album to make excellent tracks. What to expect from album six? No one knows, but I’m sure it will be well worth the wait.
One of the most unusual and unexpected classics in music industry (and especially in Italian music) is this gem by Adriano Celentano. It’s jazzy, it’s bluesy, it’s funky and it’s really, really strange. Musically speaking, this is one hell of a song and it’s really difficult not to start dancing like mad, especially with the incredibly catchy trumpets. It really is a clever tune. But it’s the lyrics that really make this song stand out. It’s an almost dadaistic approach to music,, a bunch of english words put together in a nonsensical order. The brain thinks it hears things, but nothing is there really. I’m sure it’s not to everyone’s liking, but this is definitely one of my personal favourites, so be sure to check it out! The video is probably equally as wicked.
We’ve featured Balthazar before on the blog. Their second album Rats was genuinely an incredible piece of work. We immediatly catapulted them to the stars as being the single most thrilling act coming from Belgium these days. Now they’re conquering the British Isles as well, touring with Local Natives. Therefore, they deserve all the attention they can get. We’d love to support these guys, so here’s their new single. As usual the bass plays an important part, but this time there is also plenty of room for the guitars (Sounds like something that would be perfect for a Tarantino movie) and the dreamy synths in the chorus. Check out the live version for local radio channel Studio Brussel