Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Must-have objects for a survival kit # 6

Madonna - The Confessions Tour (DVD)

The title of this post actually says it all. Ok, I have to confess that i'm getting a little bit tired of this very-long Confessions-disco-diva-on-a-dancefloor era (don't blame me, it's been a lot of very intensive months with great music, nice videos, amazing shows and, well, also kids books, kids movies, leotards, bad hairdo's and babies adoptions), but to see this show again, this time on screen and so beautifully filmed and edited, equals pure ecstasy. She really is one of the best performers ever, no discussion there. As for the part seen above, it's one of my favourites of this tour, even if also being one of the most simple. To understand why, let's do a little rock-concert check-list of its contents:
- Rock chick with an attitude? Check.
- Glamorous clothes? Check.
- F-word shouted loud on the microphone? Check.
- Politicallly and sexually charged imagery? Check
- Blasting guitars in the end? Check
And, yes kids, she does say "If you go to Texas, you can suck George Bush's dick" and we do love her for that. Now on to my Madonna abstinence period (Björk, where are you?).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Music Videos # 29

DJ Shadow - This Time (I'm Gonna Try It My Way)

Now that the dust has settled around last year's "The Outsider" by DJ Shadow, we can all agree that it was, well, a bit irregular, to say the least. Right? Right. With that in mind, that album still had some pretty decent tracks and a brilliant pearl, now shown here. If anyone can find a single bad thing to say about this very-Curtis-Mayfield-Marvin Gaye-ish lovely song, please tell me, 'cos I can't. Thank you.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future

Klaxons: "Next big thing", "flavor of the month", "flag bearers of a subcultural revolution"...a lot of hype has been created around this young band in the past few months, citing them as pioneers of a new movement which has been designated as "new-rave". Knowing how things work (what goes up must come down), this means that a Klaxons backlash will probably start very soon, with cynicals and detractors already calling them sell-outs and shouting "don't believe the hype". If the "new-rave" thing associated to Klaxons started as a joke and became something out of control, that's not their fault. Fact: using instruments commonly associated with rock bands (drums, bass and guitars, lots of guitars) their music is not totally what we could link to a rave, even if the sirens are also here, along with the glowsticks in their concerts audience. Think of it as pop music in a very broad (and slightly punk) sense and with an urgent need to party, full of falsetto voices and addictive melodies. What really counts is that there's a visceral and cathartic energy from a band that clearly loves what they are doing and put all this energy in their songs and perfomances and even in their videos, photo shoots, record covers, interviews and everything associated with them, creating a very complex and complete pop universe (where we even have an enigmatic drummer that doesn't appear in pictures, interviews or videos). Citing a JG Ballard novel in their album's title is just another proof of their intelligence, also seen in their lyrics, full of surreal moments and erudite references. Now that their album has finally arrived, we'll see where they go from here. But right now, with songs so full of urgency, electrified energy and vicious hooks as these, there's not a sound and a band that better translates the present. Klaxons: the most exciting thing happening to music right now. Album of the year? Already? Maybe, but who cares? To hear at full volume until you blast your speakers. (9/10)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Good, The Bad & The Queen - The Good, The Bad & The Queen

Since I've heard about this project some months ago, my expectations have been pretty high, specially after knowing about its dreamy line-up consisting of Simon Tong (former Verve guitarist), Paul Simonon (ex-Clash bassist), the legendary drummer Tony Allen (who used to be part of Fela Kuti's band, inventor of afro-beat), producer Danger Mouse (Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley, Dangerdoom) and finally, the brain behind all this, Mr. Damon Albarn himself (Blur, Gorillaz) on vocals. Damon has been saying that this is the natural successor to "Parklife" by Blur and in a way it makes sense. After that perfect pop moment, Blur's follow-up albums have been experiments with different styles, all of them quite interesting but lacking a sense of plenitude, as if each album was just a step in its leader's quest to reach something else. With "The Good, The Bad & The Queen", it seems that we finally get to understand what he was looking for. A multitude of layered textures and sound details are used in these pessimistic tales about London and its inhabitants, while the personality of each member is strongly audible, but more in a subliminar way. The resulting sound is one of gigantic coherence and cohesion, thanks largely to Damon's input as a brilliantly skilled songwriter and singer. So even though I still think that his masterpiece is "Demon Days" from his side-project Gorillaz (from which this new project borrows its apocalyptic atmosphere) "The Good, The Bad & The Queen" manages to get very close to perfection, creating a new language of extreme terrorizing beauty, while showing us the current ultimate goal of one of the most prolific and creative musicians of our age. (8/10)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Stefy - The Orange Album

From the most english band that actually comes from the U.S., here's the debut album from Stefy, 3 boys and a lead girl with an attitude, giving us some more shameless 1980's-inspired pop music. Think Gwen Stefani and Rachel Stevens with more guitars or, if you want to go back to the original source, think early Madonna & Jellybean, Blondie, an industrial atmosphere, vintage synthesizers, tunes that don't get out of your head and epic choruses, with the inevitable semi-ironic post-modern posture, so typical of our times. One small detail: all this is so brilliantly put together that it's virtually impossible to resist it. Although this album was already originally released last year, with proper promotion Stefy are destined to be big in 2007, and they so deserve it. Who said that music couldn't be all about fun? (7/10)

Official site
Myspace page

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Legends - Facts And Figures

It seems that the Scandinavians have been taking a lot of creativity pills, at least musicwise, with so many projects providing us with immense sounds during the past months, like The Knife, Lindstrøm + Prins Thomas, Jens Lekman, El Perro Del Mar, Koop or Peter Bjorn And John... So, adding to a long list, I've just recently discovered this Swedish band and have been playing them in heavy rotation ever since. Facts And Figures is pure electro-pop heavily influenced by the 1980's, but done in a way that only someone sitting in a living room with a fireplace while the snow is falling outside could make. So the typical electro synthesizers and keyboards are here, along with the nods to Pet Shop Boys, New Order and Kraftwerk (even including some robotic voices). But there is also a candid, nostalgic and melancholic feeling that warms only-apparently-cold songs. Add to this a huge talent to write pop tunes and you end up with pop-music at its (scandinavian) best. (8/10)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Music Videos # 28

Hadouken! - That Boy That Girl

Coming from London and taking their name from the universe of video-games, this is another band that promises to be big in 2007, partially jumping on the "nu-rave" bandwagon but truly with a never-heard-before sound and the added interest of hilarious lyrics. NME has described it as "An epileptic art-attack of neon grimecore". Myspace page here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Alice Coltrane 1937-2007

The author of some of the most groundbreaking jazz albums of all time, like "Ptah the El Daoud" and "Journey in Satchidananda", has died last Friday...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cansei De Ser Sexy - Cansei De Ser Sexy

Coming from Brasil, Cansei De Ser Sexy got famous firstly in the U.S. where they were signed with Sub Pop after being the subject of a strong hype built around them. Consisting of five girls and one man, this is one of the most hedonistic projects to be heard in recent times. Even their name is part of this philosophy, as it translates to "Tired Of Being Sexy" and is a quote taken from a Beyoncé interview. With nothing really new in their sound (mainly influenced by electro-rock and disco-punk) it's their post-modern attitude that makes them special, combining a good sense of style and coolness with a strong dose of humorous and ironic lyrics, making the whole package sound fresh and infectious. Warning: exposure can cause strong addiction. (7/10)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Music Videos # 24 to # 27

Klaxons - Magick

Klaxons - Gravity's Rainbow

Klaxons - Golden Skans

Klaxons - Atlantis To Interzone

One of the biggest promises for 2007, here are the first singles/videos by Klaxons in all their infectious-electric-energy glory. Their debut album "Myths Of The Near Future" is out by the end of this month. Some descriptions: "acid-rave sci-fi punk-funk", "Screamo / Happy Hardcore / Pop" or, most simply, "London new-rave" and "indiedisco". Official site here and Myspace page here.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Chameleon's 60th Birthday

The gentleman pictured above turns 60 years old today. Happy birthday Mr. David Bowie!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Polaroids # 10

Fell in love with Berlin (again)...

Second time in Berlin, this time for 9 days that included New Year's eve, and it has actually hitted me even harder than the first time, strongly enough to make me think about how good would be to live there somewhere in the near future. Besides the nice sites to look at (and there are quite a few), what's so special about it? Mainly the combination of german efficiency (for example, the best public transports network in the world) with an explosive creative and relaxed atmosphere that is visible and felt everwhere, from its shops to clubs, bars, exhibitions, architecture, restaurants, museums and also in its amazingly looking population, making it one of the most dynamic cities i've been in. The city never seems to stop and there's always something to do at all times and even during the evening, with so many parties happening every night in amazing locations with great music and crowds full of good taste. It's so wonderful to have so many choices almost at your door. Can't wait to be there again!

(Pictures taken in Berlin between 29th December 2006 - 6th January 2007. Special thanks to Berti and Daniel for sheltering us and being such good guiders :) And the experience of watching the New Year's eve fireworks on top of a roof terrace overlooking the entire city will be hard to forget. Thank you guys!)