Have you ever met someone that you just knew right away was perfect for you? Me either. Have you ever met someone and realized they were hot enough for you to overlook the fact that you have nothing in common? Ahhh the timeless dance of love…
In 2000, when MTV showed two music videos a day instead of one, I recall watching a video featuring a squirrel-y looking fellow walking along a merky morning beach. I didn’t care much for the redundant slow motion effect or the dusk-to-dawn illusion, but as a teenager, was enthralled in what this hoodie-wearin’ bloke had to say. “Yellow” was my introduction to Coldplay. Since releasing 2000’s Parachutes, the London quartet have sold more than 32 million records worldwide, filled countless arenas and made legions of Dodge Caravan-driving soccer moms in the process. You know a band is doing something right when you make a phone call to your mother and SHE asks you, “Have you heard the new Coldplay record?” No small feat…
Much has changed in Camp Coldplay since then. While 2002’s A Rush of Blood to the Head proved this band was destined to “rock” stadiums, 2005’s snoozefest X&Y brought us back to Earth proving that re-hashing singles is not always the brightest of ideas. Exhibit A: X&Y’s “Speed of Sound” tried it’s darndest to match the success of “Clocks” by sounding just like “Clocks.” Exhibit B: “Fix You,” a song that I’m pretty sure GOD wrote was X&Y’s answer to “The Scientist.” The boys we’re in dire need of assistance because the formula was already walking on thin tightropes.
On their fourth installment, the Tex-Mex-titled “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends,” that help comes in the form of producer Brian Eno (U2, Talking Heads) to assist in ship-shaping their form. Gone are the power ballads Coldplay are known for and the over-production of their past records. Instead, listeners are treated to a multitude of sonic landscapes, sweeping strings, and a buttload of church organ. Luckily, this change works in Coldplay’s favor showcasing a band that’s capable of writing challenging music rather than worrying about living up to their position as the “Biggest Rock Band in the World.”
I promised myself I wouldn’t mention any other bands in this review, primarily the obvious one that has a letter and a number in it (sigh), but after hearing “Life in Technicolor,” the opening instrumental track off the record, it’s an arduous task not to mention Coldplay’s Dublin doppelgangers. It’s a shimmering two minute piece that opens the album nicely transitioning into “Cemetaries of London,” a drag-of-a-tune that sounds more like Big Country with it’s lagging chants and guitatist Jonny Buckland’s Edge-riffic licks. Now if only these cats can learn some quality jigs for their live show.
As the album progresses, the band explores darker territories. “Lost!” is a well-crafted song mixing powerful organ and drummer Will Champion’s Afro-beats, and “42” is a stunner with it’s unique and daring structure. However, it’s difficult to sympathize with future Sir Chris Martin when he sings “I just got lost…every river that I tried to cross.” Martin has never been known for his profound lyrics and it definitely doesn’t do him or his troupe any favors on Viva la Vida. It hurts the record if anything. “Yes” with it’s “Walk Like an Egyptian” style strings, monitone vocals, and “profound” lyrics could’ve been spared from this record. However, the second half of the song dubbed “Chinese Sleep Chant” is English trance at it’s best. If only I had my glowsticks…
“I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t put an end to all violence and suffering.” Obviously, Martin was joking when he said this about the record in a recent SPIN Magazine interview, but after hearing the mighty one-two punch of Apple iTune’s smash “Viva la Vida” & first single “Violet Hill,” I would not be surprised if this record in fact ended all violence and suffering. Okay, I’m blowing smoke up your ass, but both songs serve as an excellent juxtaposition when describing the album as a whole. Everything from Martin’s fixation between life & death to the album’s awful Revolutionay War cover art that was ripped out of the pages of a 7th grade Social Studies book are embodied nicely during the record’s climax. “Strawberry Swing” is fantastic blending Buckland’s Afro-pop guitar hook and bassist Guy Berryman’s stomping rhythm. However, it’s all brought to a screeching halt when the final track “Death and All His Friends” wraps up the album. Sadly, it’s a trite tune that sounds more X&Y than Viva la Vida. The second half of the song revisits the beginning of the record. “And in the end, we lie awake and we’ll dream of making our escape,” Martin delivers in Abbey Road fashion over Eno’s soundscapes. It’s a comfortable refrain that does not coincide well with the 1st half of the song. And in retrospect, that’s how Coldplay’s Viva la Vida plays out. An easy-flowing record that gets lost periodically in it’s own ambition.
You can hear the title track to the new album below:
Download: Coldplay – Viva La Vida [MP3]
The people at Stubb’s Austin were treated to an outstanding set by Seattle’s own Grand Archives on Saturday night. The band mostly stuck to songs from their self titled debut album Grand Archives, which came out earlier this year in February. The set list provided a good mix of upbeat songs along with some of the slower tracks from the album. One big highlight for me was the superb cover of Sam Cooke’s popular R&B song “Another Saturday Night”. Most members of the audience were cracking smiles and singing along to the huge ’60s hit from the late singer. Read more
The country music & bluegrass world needs more women like Sera Cahoone. Long before my time, women like Emmy Lou Harris & Loretta Lynn carried the torch as THE women of the genre. Not afraid to say what they think about their latest man or toss out the occasional dirty word along with the strum on the finest Gibson acoustic. Sure the world still has their Kathleen Edwards or even Allison Krause to some extent but I feel we need more from the women of the genre. I feel like Sera is one of these women of country music who can carry that torch in the new generation. On Saturday night at Stubbs, she provided an intimate set full of the grit and vulnerability that used to come with those elder stateswomen of country music. Read more
You can stream a couple more songs off Beck’s new album Modern Guilt on his iLike artist page. The new streaming songs are “Orphans” & “Gamma Ray”.
Yes you read that headline right. Our mates from across the pond, The Verve, have debuted some new material after an extremely long hiatus. The band played their first show in the US in over 10 years at Coachella recently and debuted some new material at the festival. Here’s the newest song by The Verve entitled “Love is Noise” off their upcoming album Four due on August 18th :[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/love_is_noise.mp3]
Download: The Verve – Love Is Noise [MP3]
About a year ago I stumbled into Jay Reatard, well, his record, Bloodvisions. Since that day I have eaten up every piece of news I can find on the man and his band. Out of nowhere news hit me that In The Red Records would be releasing a compilation of all his old singles from various 7″s. I don’t have the money to bid for such things on eBay, so I opted for the more economical solution, buying this here compilation.
The compilation is seventeen new–well, new to me–songs, but you need to examine the tracklist first. The listing includes four different versions of songs that made their way onto Bloodvisions. The songs that might sound familiar to you are “Bloodvisions,” “Oh Its Such a Shame,”Turning Blue,” and “It’s So Easy.” You will also find that the song “Haunting You” from this very compilation sounds really familiar. In fact, if you changed the name to “Nightmares,” you would already have this song. So, you have 12 new songs, but this is all accompanied by a DVD featuring 4 live shows, which are all worth the your viewing.
Do these singles compare to the greatness of the full length? I think that depends on what exactly you are looking at when you listen to this album. Is this your first Jay Reatard experience? If so, then you might find this unique blend of lo-fi garage rock with perfect melodies simply refreshing. It’s hard not to find something to like with this band.
However, if you have previous Jay Reatard experience, you might find this collection of songs kind of a miss. The production quality is the first thing that I noticed that was different. It just didn’t pack the same punch that Bloodvisions brought you. The vocals sometimes appear more muddled than usual. Then you come to the older versions of the songs on Bloodvisions and the only one that really surpasses or equals the newer version is “Haunting You,” which was changed to “Nightmares.”
There are some interesting new twists, such as the keyboard infused “Another Person,” which brings in the bouncy melodies that typically adorn a Jay Reatard song. Also, the bluesy “Hammer I Miss You” is also an interesting touch.
All in all, this is a worthy collection for either listener, Jay Reatard newcomer or diehard. As the newcomer, you get a proper introduction to the rock stylings of Jay Reatard, which we all know is necessary when few bands are making solid rock music nowadays. For the diehard, you get to look into the past of one of your favorites. This album is really a stepping stone for any and all listeners.
The New Year founding members The Kadane Brothers will be coming to Austin this Thursday at Emos on the indoor stage. The show is only $8 with doors opening up at 8pm. The brothers are touring in support of their bands new album, The New Year which should be dropping Sep. 9th. Below is the title track from The New Year’s last album The Ends Not Near which came out way back when in 2004. Check Emos website for tickets to the show or just hold out and get one at the door. More info can be found about The Kadane Brothers & The New Year from the bands website.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/01-ends-not-near.mp3]
Our Austin boys White Denim recently posted a youtube mix tape on the Drowned in Sound website. The compilation is pretty awesome, featuring the likes of R. Kelly, Pink Floyd & Stevie Wonder among others. The band is about to kick off a UK tour in support of their new album Workout Holiday which hits stores tomorrow. Read more about the band on their myspace page or have a go at the newest single “let’s talk about it”:[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/letsalkaboutit.mp3]
Download: White Denim – Lets Talk About It [MP3]
Former Ladytron bass player Pop Levi has a new single available for download off the album Never, Never Love which is set to be released September 2nd. Hear the title track “Never, Never Love” off the new album right now:[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/neverneverlove.mp3]