Monday, 30 April 2012
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
In a span of just fifteen years, Jack White has had the career to fill a lifetime. From festival headlining, Grammy Award winning, multi-platinum sellers The White Stripes, to successful super group The Raconteurs, to his recent endeavours on drums with The Dead Weather, White was inevitably due to record a solo album on his next career step. That debut solo album, Blunderbuss, sees him crossover all aspects of his career so far, while still maintaining something fresh at the table.
This ruthless neo noir takes a sinister ride through tales of deception, femme fatales, guilt and lust. The title track sounds like White Blood Cells-era White, while the song’s piano and violin melody add in a new dimension to his recognisable bluesy rock grooves and progressive riffs. “Weep Themselves to Sleep,” pays homage musically to previous efforts in The Raconteurs. “I’m Shakin’” is a doo wop, rockabilly cover of Little Willie John, whilst the vaudevillian “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy,” is a bit of a leftfield surprise, driven by jangly and happy piano melodies, which sounds like the final piece of the “My Doorbell“ and “The Denial Twist” trilogy. Lead off single, “Love Interruption”, is a duet with Ruby Amanfu about the violent things they both desire from love. Album closer, “Take Me With You When You Go”, who’s additive fuzz riffs will have air guitars at the ready, is probably the record’s standout track, as White ponders whether displaying his own inner desires may be harming someone else.
Certainly a trip down White’s career memory lane, but still an adventurous and unconventional release from the man who’s already done it all, so early in his career. The White Stripes may be sadly long gone, but with an impressive debut as this, that may well be a good thing.
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Friday marks the twentieth anniversary of Pavement’s debut album, Slanted & Enchanted. Considered one of the finest indie albums of all time, it’s not hard to see its influence in modern indie bands’ sound; everyone from Modest Mouse to Wavves, can claim an influence from the band’s lo-fi fuzz recordings. Their inspirational debut helped to shape 90s alternative America and the lo-fi slacker generation, paving the way for the likes of Beck, Weezer, Guided by Voices and Built to Spill later on in the decade. Even British bands such as Blur and Radiohead were indebted to Pavement in their early careers.
Recorded by a bunch of sarcastic stoners; security guard and vocalist/guitarist Stephen Malkmus (known under the pseudonym S.M) and guitarist Spiral Stairs (Scott Kannberg), with help from hippy drummer Gary Young, who owned the studio they recorded in. It was part recorded in Young’s studio in Stockton, California and part in Brooklyn, New York. It was a self-produced masterpiece. Fifteen noisy, yet melodic songs, which sounded sloppy and unfinished, yet still sounding genius and like a work of art. The catchy fuzz riffs and obtuse lyrics, which may sound abrasive at first, make for repeated listens and get suck in your head, even if you don’t have a clue what Malkmus is saying. Pavement give off that “Ramones” effect of wondering if a band couldn’t try any less or be anymore sloppy, yet still make kickass anthems.
Officially released on April 20, 1992 on Matador Records, it had been surfacing around the underground on cassette tapes a year previously. Though Pavement never received the mass attention that many of their 90s alt rock contemporaries did, they still received mass critical praise. Slanted & Enchanted received perfect tens, that Nadia Comaneci would be proud of, from the NME, Spin and Pitchfork. Rolling Stone listed it at 134th on their 500 Greatest Albums of all Time list. Blender called it the “greatest indie album of all time”. However, not everyone was a big fan. The Fall’s Mark E. Smith said Pavement were a “rip off” of his band, and they “didn’t have an original idea in their heads.” Ouch. The other members of The Fall were far more complimentary, however.
Pavement would later become a full band, hiring bassist Mark Ibold, percussionist Bob Nastanovich and replacing Young with Steve West on drums, and go onto record other masterpieces, such as Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Wowee Zowee. Unlike the vast majority of their colleagues, Pavement never signed to a major label and stayed independent throughout their career.
Considering Pavement were never more than a cult underground band, it’s amazing, how 20 years later, they now sound like the radio regulars they never were. It’s a testament to their sound and their influence. Slanted & Enchanted was one of the earliest bursts of creativity from within the American 90s underground, yet as a tribute to its standing, is still sounding as fresh and original 20 years later.