Small stakes leave Spoon with the maximum blues.
Some years ago, the Brighton-based band British Sea Power asked, “Do you like rock music?” Responding on an album entitled by the same question, they seemed to suggest that they did, but only when that music was enlarged, grandiose, and Arcade Fire-aping. On Friday, performing at the Kentish Town Forum, the nominally Texan band Spoon presented their own answer, making the case for rock music in a manner enhanced by various tricks, but still definitively in touch with, to use their own phrase, “small stakes”. Continue reading RoarI’lllistentohearit
The collection of Alice Coltrane’s most devotional music in one landmark release opens up a mysterious period of her life, and some home truths contained within mine. Continue reading Sacred music for sceptics
I write this, appropriately, still basking in the afterglow of a very special meal at Brawn on Columbia Road—special because it was playing host to The Four Horsemen, the Brooklyn wine bar-cum-restaurant co-owned by James Murphy, a.k.a. LCD Soundsystem. The meal had twists and turns and surprises aplenty, the greatest of them all arguably being that the night before, Murphy’s band had made their debut on Saturday Night Live, playing two new songs. Continue reading Dancing in the light
Master of None, the Aziz Ansari vehicle which returns for a second season on May 12th, exquisitely describes the predicament faced by any creative, stereotype-defying millennial, surviving but not quite thriving in the West. Continue reading Jack, or master?
Among other things, I find the music of Factory Floor to be perfectly suited to exercising on a rowing machine. The relentless, mechanistic rhythms, alloyed to punctilious electronics and disembodied barking, put me in the right frame of mind for regimen, discipline, and the pursuit of excellence. If this makes my response to their work sound emotionless, you’re mistaken. Music that seeks to elevate the sounds of the assembly line from mere repetition to mantra is, in my book, praiseworthy. (See my thoughts on the essential albums of Kraftwerk.) Which goes some way towards explaining why I have hankered to see them in a live setting: music this ritual and kinetic deserves to be united with its creators. Continue reading Ergo sum fabrica
In the autumn I saw Parquet Courts in concert. The adulation they received from their young fans got me thinking about underappreciated American rock bands. Allow me to elucidate—with reference to the works of The Walkmen, Dirty Projectors and more. Continue reading Great Underappreciated Songbook
The recent debate between David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors and Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes, on the state of indie rock, brought to the public’s eye an issue I’ve been grappling with for a little while. In an age of such discontent, even a radical moderate such as myself can find some solace in the sometimes-disproportionate anger of politically-conscious hip hop. Continue reading Beats, rhymes, and the radical centre
The seminal German outfit had arguably been following their own advice for much of their career: “I programme my home computer, Beam myself into the future”. On two rather prescient albums, they considered what effect technology and innovation would have on society, with conclusions that are relevant today.
Continue reading Kraftwerk’s crystal balls
Anohni (f.k.a. Antony Hegarty) and Hayden Thorpe are owners of unforgettable voices. In the past, their respective œuvres were musically distinctive too. As Antony and the Johnsons, there were four albums of East Village baroque pop, ripe with violin, cello and hollow-bodied electric guitar. Thorpe, with his band Wild Beasts, released an imperial brace of manicured art rock, heavy on carnality, sensuality, and bongos. Continue reading There she goes, my ugly world
It’s no secret that I love Field Music, through their fits and starts and hiatuses and occasional missteps (2012’s Plumb being a bit morose, in this author’s opinion, though it won the Brewis brothers an overdue Mercury Prize nomination). The four-song stint stretching from “Effortlessly” through to “All You’d Ever Need To Say” on Field Music (Measure) is one of the great art rock suites of our age—though on vinyl it is inexplicably torn between two sides—and I told the band as much when I met them in Canonbury’s Myddleton Arms, over several G&Ts, back in March. Continue reading The Commontime gents