All posts authored by: Danny Booth
The reason for the delay between the release of these CDs, and this review being published are twofold. Firstly, I rarely trust my initial perceptions of a new album and like to give them a good run, and secondly, I’m lazy.
Actually, there’s a third reason, you can probably buy them quite cheap by now.
Two artists who are very different. One are a four piece band from Wales releasing their four hundredth studio album, and the other a New York socialite debutant. One has sold thousands of records worldwide and regularly sells out national tours, the other is a much hyped youngster with a husky, quirky, yet strangely commercial image.
Let’s face it, they’re never going to duet.
Despite being a fan of Feeder (they were my first proper gig- if you don’t count 5ive, which I don’t, anymore) I didn’t even know they had new material out until I saw it classed as the Sunday Times’ ‘Dud of the week’. It’s very hard to buy and review an album in an unbias way with that grim endorsement on your mind. What annoyed me about the review was the implication that because they haven’t completely reinvented themselves for it, that it is by definition a waste of time. They’ve suffered from being a bit safe, which is just lazy short-sighted reporting, and I quite frankly expect better from a Murdoch newspaper. Maybe Leveson’s got it on his iPod?
There is a preoccupation within the industry of finding the next big thing. Expectations for new hyped bands are launched beyond the point of achievability. Or more accurately, sustainability. I’m tempted to blame the people on silly chairs or with the big buzzers, but they’re just an annoying front (there were at least a dozen people who ‘we haven’t heard the last of’ lest we forget). Feeders title track unsubtly references just that.
There are four or five great tracks on the Feeder album which is mellower, but with the sharp instantly catchy hooks which they’ve made a career out of. This album is a continuation of their perfecting that, and if you actually look at their back catalogue they consistently achieve a distinctly different sound in each album. The rest of the tracks aren’t ‘filler’, they allow the album to flow and build smoothly in the polished way which you’d expect. That mastery of producing an album which must be listened to in its entirety, as a single expression is becoming rarer, and is underrated. Too many are radio friendly single driven.
Which brings me onto Lana- though that’s a bit harsh. It’s a good album, don’t get me wrong. The make of a good album being my inability to find the disk as it’s always in the wrong stereo (since my iPod broke recently, I’ve been forced to go back to the CD dark ages – I really miss a good shuffle). The obvious singles have, and will be all released and because of the hype it will do well. It has the distinct smoky, fifties gangster theme which Elizabeth Woolridge Grant had aimed for with her new persona- more than one song being a tailor made Bond soundtrack.
The problem is that it is so forced into that persona, some of the tracks suffer for it, and as a result it acts more as a showcase rather than a narrative. Her voice is fresh and style really unique- as a debut it displays that and her creativity wonderfully. Once her management team finish milking this album, and she gets the right people to guide her she’s got a great album in her, trying to escape.
They’re two artists at different points of their career- Feeder know that they’re never again going to get the hype they deserve, and Lana hasn’t yet done enough to earn the hype she’s generated. If that balance was redressed, all would be good and fair in the world.
But potential is sexy and predictably is dirty (but not in a sexy way).
This is showbiz land folks.
Three Word Review: Next Big Thing
Stand out Track: This is What Makes Us Girls.
Three Word Review: Timelessly, reliably catchy
Stand out Track: Children of the Sun
Because You’re Worth It…
Have you seen the current Pantene advert with the actress from Lord Of the Rings in? Of course you have, she’s making her hair based plea for help on every ad break. She is sharing the crisis of having to wash her hair. It shouldn’t be allowed before the watershed. Small children should not be subjected to the visceral pain and emotion that is so clearly still too raw for Arwen to discuss (My girlfriend reliably informs me her actual name is Liv Tyler, if that helps).
This advert infuriates me.
It purports that it’s the biggest crisis that she has to wash her hair every few weeks. That’s it. Because she leads such a tough life elfing around in New Zealand, she has to wash her hair. It’s the ultimate First World crisis.
I was having this rant to my girlfriend, probably not for the first time, when I asked her if this was really the defining crisis of our generation? She said;
“It is every time you go to get your hair cut.”
Of course my initial reaction was. “that’s completely different” but after a while, I can see her case. Getting my hair cut is an ordeal. But that’s because hair care still isn’t something most men understand.
I could include a PowerPoint presentation of my history of bad hair cuts. It would be both long and impressive, both the experience and the hair itself. It can be traced back to my early days of turning up with my mum and asking for ‘a Michael Owen cut’. It was a simpler time.
And that’s because getting your hair cut is a minefield. It’s like a first date every time. Awkward conversation and the intense scrutiny of your appearance. In hairdresser terms, I’m a player. I’m rarely with the same woman twice. But the fact that I’m paying makes this analogy seem weird. Anyway;
The purpose of going to the hairdressers is to get my hair cut. It looks rough. That’s the only reason I go. It’s not for the experience, it’s because frankly, if I do it myself it would almost certainly look worse.
A chatty woman with a razor blade to my neck isn’t my idea of fun. Especially paying £15 for the privilege.
One solution would be to just go to a barber. Go back to the Michael Owen days. The reason why I don’t, is that unless you have the head shape for a ‘Dermot O’Leary look, it’ll end in disaster. For the record, Dermot doesn’t really have the head for a Dermot look either, but he makes a good go of it.
So I pay my money and undergo the cliché first date Holiday, Jobs and Weather related conversations (which I rarely bore my own family with my views on).
But that’s all fine, I can forgive that. It would be worse if we had to sit in forced silence, but I’m so rubbish at the ‘chat’ I end up making things up to avoid discussing things I’d rather not get into with about 8ish people listening. I create a whole back-story of elaborate lies which I’ll forget for next time, and so change hairdressers frequently. In hindsight, this may be part of the problem.
But the real problem is that almost universally, hairdressers seem to think that they have free licence to just slag off my hair, no matter how justified they are.
“Oh, it’s very straight isn’t it.”
“Er, yeah, it is a bit.”
I still have no idea what this means.
“Sorry.” I mumble.
“Oh, and a double crown too? Your parents must have loved you!”
“Some parents beat their children, others give them stupid names, mine just gave me a genetically flawed barnet.”
“What?” The hairdryer conveniently drowning out my previous answer.
“Yeah, they hated me.”
“But at least it’s nice and thick.” She concedes.
What does all this mean?!
But you can’t ask can you. I’ve been having my hair cut for over 20 years, you can’t not understand your own head by this point can you? And you can’t not agree, she’s the expert. She has the razor. So I meekly agree and apologise for my awkward hair. I sometimes get the additional “Who do you think you are?” type inquisition on my family hair tree, treatment.
“Yeah a brother”
“What’s his hair like?”
Why?! He doesn’t need a haircut, I do! That’s why I’m sat here like an idiot in a cape.
But every four to six weeks I go through this ordeal. I pay the price for having extremely awkward hair, where’s my infomercial?
So yeah, elf lady, you don’t know how good you’ve got it. Now let’s shake our heads in slow-mo over an uplifting soundtrack.
We’re probably worth it.
Steve Jobs Killed the Radio Snob
When I’m wearing my iPod, I could be listening to anything. Bit of Reggae, Soul, or even, believe it or not, cheesy pop. As long as I keep my face serious, you’re none the wiser.
I can buy my music from the safety of my flat without being intimidated by the judgemental glares of the shop assistants- I don’t look like the type that likes Snoop Dog (and for the record, I don’t especially). As long as I don’t big fish, little fish or cardboard box to S Club on the commute- alls well in my private digital world.
For me, all is especially well in the world when a new Coldplay album comes out. Though this poses a social dilemma.
There’s no anger like the anger aimed by music snobs at Chris Martin and his multiplatinum selling friends. It’s like admitting you voted for Cameron or Clegg- we know a fair few million did, but people never really admit it in public.
Sure it’s got the obligatory ‘track featuring Rihanna’ but its pretty good. Actually, It’s more than that.
It has an identity in its own right. A sound that’s distinct from everything else out there, including their own growing back catalogue- yet instantly recognisable. That’s quite rare these days. It’s not too cool to blast out a brilliant catchy pop song, but edgy enough to include Paradise, a track which waits til 2.21 to kick in. Unheard of in current mainstream pop . The 3 Singles are the stand outs, the next I suspect being Charlie Brown, which has the most hum-able hook this year.
Combining respectability and commercialism is a difficult balance, and one which I suspect they are long past caring about. Gig tickets costing £45+, selling out stadiums across the country, why should they really care what a few of my mates down the pub say about them?
But because I’m awkward, a few months ago I got quite annoyed when an artist I’d been a fan of for a while made it big. In my eyes, I discovered Ed Sheeran. I gave him his big break. I was listening to him long before Radio 1- probably- and it annoys me that everyone now has quite clearly just copied me in agreeing that he is brilliant.
I can’t have it both ways, but I want to.
Therefore I’ll talk to my friends about the great new trendy people I’m listening to, but on my iPod, I’m still listening to Scouting for Girls.Coldplay fall somewhere in between, but they really shouldn’t. Popularity often distorts the perception of genius – I suspect that if it was released as an unknown debut, it would be album of the year.
But if marrying a Hollywood A-lister, giving a toss about the environment and naming your kid Apple makes you a loser, then I’ll join that club please.
In honour of the late great Steve if nothing else: whose white earphone wearing masses could be listing to Bach or Britney. He might just have let the uncool stay popular.
Even if young Coldplay fans are about as rare as Tinie Tempah listening pensioners.
Frankly, I wish there was more of both.
One Day, you’ll admit it too
I should start by admitting that I’m not one of the real women, but bear with me.Last week I went to see the Hollywood adaptation of the bestselling David Nicholls book, One Day. A worldwide bestselling sensation of a book, with its iconic orange cover a sight as common amongst UK commuters as stress and discarded copies of the Metro.
When a friend told me that the book I love had been turned into a film starring the VERY American Anne Hathaway, I was still excited. After all, she was good in Devil wears Prada wasn’t she? Do you see where I’m going here…
I’m a straight guy who loves a good romantic comedy. Or to use a worse term- Chick flick. The latter term makes me shiver.
I own all the Friends DVDs, the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, and I’ve actually read Water for Elephants. Now, I know that I’m not the only person who can get nearly as excited about the FA cup final as Love Actually being re-run on ITV for the thousandth time, but most guys keep it to themselves. Invariably, I suspect, they’re precisely the ones who take the piss.
It was my girlfriend who very generously took me out to see One Day on my birthday, and we had a lovely Italian dinner before. However, when the slightly smug waiter handed me the chip and pin machine to pay, I shook my head and explained the above, do you know what he did?
He laughed in my face. Quite loudly. “Lucky lady” he muttered.
I said, equally loudly, to my girlfriend, “Make sure you don’t give a tip”. He stopped smiling. Or he would have if I’d actually said it. Instead I just looked embarrassed and sipped my Diet Coke. He laughed when I ordered that too.
On the short walk from the restaurant to the cinema, I had a text from my Dad. He’s very techno. It simply read; “Make sure you don’t cry at the end” (incidentally, I didn’t. Welling up doesn’t count).
Finally, I then spent a few hours with my old friends Em and Dex. Otherwise known as Dex and Em. Emma’s accent was slightly different than I remembered, and the time seemed to flick through faster than Back to the Future on rewind (think about it), but I had fun. If you haven’t read the book, do that first- when you watch it after you’ll love it. It’s quite easy to write a review that starts and finishes at the accent, but it doesn’t stop it being a solid summary of a poignant story.
However, I have very few friends to discuss this with- they all went to see the inbetweeners movie. More modern men need to exit the man bag filled closet. Match of the Day and Desperate Housewives are not mutually exclusive.
I still don’t know what women want, but I know what men want- to not ‘look like a woman’. Coincidentally, What Women Want– another brilliant film.
So have some sympathy for the male Diet Coke drinkers and Galaxy eaters. They’re hidden, marginalised and they cry exclusively on the inside. We’ll get our day, one day.
Good film that too- but a better book.