A Few Short Music Reviews

July 17, 2009 § 2 Comments

So in the past few days some stuff arrived in the mail and I bought a couple of things. When there’s this much, I feel a little like someone who has been starving let loose on a banquet. There’s really no cohesion to the selection, so just skim through and pick what you’re interested in.

The Vaselines Enter The Vaselines– I was lucky I managed to get my copy for 10 bucks off because I had used up all my little stamps on a card at the record store, so that was a bonus, but even so for the $24.99 it was originally priced at, it’s a great deal from the bastards at Sub Pop. First off, this is a collection of their entire discography: 2 EPs, 1 album and live shows, on three 12″ vinyls. Second of all, just try finding any of these elsewhere. Like many indie acts, The Vaselines were only really appreciated after they disbanded. Kurt Cobain famously covered a couple of their songs, exposing the band to a wider album. The lyrics are full of double-entendres and the singing is very pleasant to the ears, contrasting France’s soft voice with Eugene’s, which reminds me a little of The Jesus and Mary Chain. The music itself is this amazing bridge between 80s twee and dirtier bands like Sonic Youth, borrowing from both movements to create a hybrid. Inside is a booklet with some photos and a couple of interviews, plus a free mp3 download. Granted, they definitely weren’t a fantastic live band, but there’s some charm. I love it. You will too.

The Mighty Lemon Drops Out of Hand EP– I found this fun dual gatefold 7″ EP with two previously unreleased tracks on it from 1987 for 5 bucks. How could I refuse? You know, I don’t even like their more well-known “Happy Head” track from the famous C86 compilation, but the lead song, “Out of Hand” is full of jangly 12 string guitar joy. If you find it cheap, get it.

So four things I ordered from Shelflife arrived.

From the 1000 series, limited to 300 copies (why don’t they call it the 300 series? It’d be less confusing) which features an EP length CD with a 7″ and fancy packaging. First off, I have to say, while I love the aesthetics of these releases, the packaging is a total pain! The slim piece of dark grey paper with the band name and label name on it that slips over the gatefold, is quite difficult to get back on. I find it really annoying, despite the looks. I have a Blonde Redhead album that uses a similar piece of paper that slips over and I’m always afraid of ripping it. I actually seemed to have lost the slip that goes with my Days Downhill from this series that I bought a few months ago, which pisses me off! Also, the vinyl doesn’t ever seem to want to come out of the case. All of this makes for pretty, but finicky packaging, that deters me from wanting to play any of the releases often, simply because opening it up and closing it is too annoying.

Anyway that aside,

Champagne Riot Paris and I– Frankly, a super awesome collection of pop songs, ranging from subtle to more in-your-face, modern, yet owing so much to the 80s. There isn’t one bad track on it at all, such seems to be the trend of most Scandinavian bands lately; they’re having a real pop rennaisance over there. There’s also a fun blog written by one of the band members.

 

The band may benefit from some actual promo photos! Jesus. Thats some nice architecture?

The band may benefit from some actual promo photos! Jesus. That's some nice architecture?

 

The Socialist Leisure Party Tactical POP!  For Coffee Cadets– I’ll be honest, I’m a little disappointed with this. After listening to the fun track “Head in the Hay” on the Shelflife site, I was expecting a bunch of songs on par. Unfortunately, a lot of them are actually kind of forgetably indiepop, reminiscent of 80s Orange Juice, but lacking the same charm of Edwyn Collins. I actually prefer the two instrumental tracks to the ones with singing. It’s not bad, but it isn’t inspired either. I’m beginning to think bands with these kinds of names are usually a little overwrought.

CDs! I have to say Shelflife offers very reasonably priced albums on CD, for only $10. Most places opt for about $15ish.

Language of Flowers Songs About You– Obviously inspired by The Smiths and The Shop Assistants, and the singer Tara Simpson does a convincing rendition of Alex of The Shop Assistants. The songs are definitely pop and definitely twee. Some are hit and miss, because there lacks variety in the actual songcrafting. “Leaving” is a stick-out track for me. Maybe this is a grower, because at the moment I can’t really differentiate between a lot of the tunes. Also, I’m definitely slow on the uptake here, because the album is from 2004. I think the band split up too because their website and Myspace are defunct–too bad.

Burning Hearts Aboa Sleeping– This is a great album, but I can’t decide if it’s for good reason or illegitimate reason. A couple weeks ago I wrote a post on songs that sound like other songs, and I have to say that several songs on this walk the thin line between brilliant originality and plagiarism. “I Lost My Colour Vision” grabs the classic monophonic opening to the Soft Cell song, “Tainted Love”, but that’s forgivable and the rest of the song is pop heaven. “We Walked Among the Trees” basically copies the riff from David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes”; it’s rather shameless. I mean, yes, it’s a great riff and everyone loves it, but it’s also instantly recognizable. “Sea Birds” seems to borrow the rhythm, bass and bits of the guitar from The Cure’s “A Forest”, although it’s more subtle and the song is certainly their own. “Close to Her” sounds like Fleetwood Mac on synthesizers. I would classify this as being more akin to great songwriting than copying, although I can hear bits from “Dreams” and “Sara”, but that’s really a heavy-handed influence that’s all; I could make the same comparison between a couple Cut Copy songs like “Strangers in the Wind”. I honestly was waiting for Stevie Nicks to come in after the intro for “Close to Her”, and yet, I wasn’t disappointed when singer, Jessika Rapo sang instead. Rapo has a very nice voice, very melodic and gentle without being mushy or annoying. Despite the similarities to the aforementioned songs, the similarities was only ever in the actual instrumentation–Rapo’s singing was never like any of those songs; her singing was completely original. Anyway, I’m torn between loving and being annoyed by this album because of some of the ripoffs. Let’s just say that I certainly like Burning Hearts’ influences!

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