Tag Archives: Beggars

New xx video: I Dare You

Video: The xx – “I Dare You”

The xx – I Dare You (Official Music Video)

From I See You, out now on Young Turks.

Big budget, high concept music video starring Michael Jackson’s daughter and a kid from “Stranger Things.” Seems odd this band is as popular as they are, considering how mellow they sound, but maybe we all need to let it mellow when the rest of the world is as chaotic as it’s been this year. Who knows?

The xx: amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Mark Lanegan Band – Bubblegum

Mark Lanegan BandBubblegum (Beggars Banquet)

“Hey, fuck you, lady…I’m just trying to do my job here. Do I come down to the 7-11 and unplug the Slurpee machine when you’re working? Do I go to the Greyhound station and kick in the bathroom stall when you’re trying to make a buck? You know, Mom, I know we’ve had our differences, but do you really have to do this?” — Mark Lanegan in response to a heckler, December 12, 2003

Years ago, in the liner notes to the Hype! soundtrack, a documentary of the Seattle grunge scene, Lanegan was described as as a “sensitive redneck poet.” He also happens to be incredibly badass. It is even rumored that Lanegan was once admitted to a hospital with a collapsed lung, only to immediately sign himself out because he refused to miss a gig.

Lanegan may appear cadaverous, but he’s certainly alive as his solo efforts prove: 2003’s Here Comes That Weird Chill EP and now the full-length Bubblegum in 2004. The album title, of course, is misleading, because listeners won’t find a pop song anywhere. However, Bubblegum proves addictive and is a great accomplishment. One can’t help but sigh at the Mark Lanegan Band’s lineup which includes Duff and Izzy (of GNFNR), PJ Harvey, Greg Dulli (of Afghan Wigs and Twilight Singers), Dean Ween, and even the impeccable Brian Deck. Lanegan is careful, however, to avoid the perils of other superstar lineups. He does not let his friends’ talent overshadow his, and he does not hide Bubblegum‘s loose charm with irritatingly precise studio magic.

Bubblegum is the first of Mark Lanegan’s solo work to effectively combine his experiences in the grungy Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age with his affection for acoustic music. Here, Lanegan’s perfect baritone graces both spare acoustic and dense electric tunes.

Concerned fans of the Trees and the Queens need not worry that Lanegan has left his hard-living life, and Bubblegum contains enough drug and alcohol references to worry listeners that Lanegan won’t be around to continue breaking ground. Nonetheless, as long as he lives, he will likely remain one of the fiercest singer/songwriters in rock and roll.

MP3 of “Cripple Creek” from the More Oar Skip Spence tribute available via Epitonic.

Super Furry Animals – Phantom Power

Super Furry AnimalsPhantom Power (Beggars Group)

For anyone unfamiliar with Super Furry Animals, let me give you this tip before going into their latest album, Phantom Power. Don’t try to figure the band out; you’ll drive yourself crazy in the process. Anyone with a basic ear for music can pick out a few obvious reference points. The truth is that the beauty behind the Furries music is that unlike other bands that make the same claim, they truly don’t limit themselves to any one sound. The songs on last year’s Rings Around the World compromised sunny pop, trip-hop, 70’s soul, classic rock, prog, and more. Each had their own distinct universe where the most exciting part of every listen came with the passages that took you from one world to the next—when one song would break down unexpectedly and go off in an entirely different direction, leaving you sitting there wondering how a standard pop song turned into a maniacal robot repeatedly screaming the phrase, “receptacle for the respectable.”

What we have on Phantom Power is another attempt to conquer the music world by mastering all of its genres. The Super Furry Animals are back with yet another album of cheeky pop songs and brilliant cross genre-fication. Unfortunately, they have seemingly lost their knack for finding those special transition phrases that took the songs from one style to the next, leaving us instead with a mix of impressive albeit jumbled songs that seem like a compilation rather then a cohesive effort.

If you take each song by itself, you’re left with a very high success rate. But when you take this as one large piece of art with several pieces, you notice a small lack of continuity and quality alike. “The Piccolo Snare” drags a tired progression through two or three minutes before it starts to drag a tired drum loop for two or three more. “Out of Control” is another bad selection, an attempt at cheese-metal which is too funny to be considered serious and too poor to even be considered a joke. “Golden Retriever” isn’t entirely bad, although the song reeks of gimmick and unlike other SFA songs of the same ilk, doesn’t have the benefit of an inventive sound and/or super-catchy melody to make the 15-minute-of-fame-single sound seem intended. Without those three songs, we’d have an album hovering around 40-minutes with eleven killer tracks. The three aforementioned songs are spread out enough through the album so that they are less noticeable, but they still shouldn’t be included here.

If you still feel confident forging ahead with the rest of the album, you’ll be rewarded with your typical Super Furry affair—dramatic pop from all walks of life in a timbre that recalls the heyday of 60’s Britpop and psychadelia bands presented in an entirely modern fashion, with the use of all sorts of digital as well as analog instrumentation, not to mention Paul McCartney chewing on a vegetable. “Venus and Serena” hits you at first just as hard as Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” might have done, and for the same reason—”Venus and Serena” is the most intended and blatant out-of-left-field stab at college radio success the Super Furry Animals have ever recorded. But at the same time, like Pavement’s 1992 breakthrough single, you’ll find yourself rooting for it to succeed because it’s the type of song you can’t get enough of. “The Undefeated” cuts from soul and reggae to country to Chicago-era 70’s rock all within four minutes. “Liberty Belle” and “Hello Sunshine” are of the same feel of Rings Around the World‘s title-track. “Sex, War, and Robots” even takes a stab at Sea Change-style Beck, and for a second the heartache makes you forget you’re only listening to the Super Furry Animals. “Father Father #1” and “Father Father #2” sound remarkably similar to the instrumental pieces that opened and closed Nick Drake’s landmark Bryter Layter—folk with acoustic guitars and full-blown orchestras. The songs here don’t lack charm whatsoever, balancing the line between genius and animated insanity better than anyone has managed to do in a while.

What we have here is an album that, if given the time of day, can make you smile. Once you experience breakthrough on the fact that it isn’t Rings Around the World and can appreciate the songs for what they are, you’ll find an album carefully thought out and quite fun to listen to. The world needs more bands as brave as the Super Furry Animals to bring music into a brand new world. I know I’ve signed up for the ride.

Be sure to check out the Phantom Power mini-site.