The Raveonettes - Pretty In Black
The last time this Londonista was listening to The Raveonettes we turned off pretty sharpish, unimpressed by the monotonal drone that met our ears. But the word on da street is dat, sorry that, Pretty In Black is a very different kettle of pickled fish for this Danish duo. Guest appearances from Velvet Underground drummmer Moe Tucker, Martin Rev of Suicide and Ronnie Spector of Pippettes copycat group The Ronettes. More than three chords. More than one tuning. Ok, bring it on you black and blondes.
The appearances mentioned above give a pretty solid idea of where this album is coming from. Rooted deep in 50s and 60s Americana it draws it's influences from the surf pop of Phil Spector through to the psychadelic mire of the Velvets. It's all fluffy on the outside, dark on the inside and the dual harmonising of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo can't help but draw comparisons with Joy Zipper (circa American Whip). Which is no bad thing at all.
First track The Heavens opens with a needle crackling on vinyl, closes with a synthesised heartbeat and in between has Sune crooning over a country cow-poke fireside strum. It's quite beautiful and drops nicely into the Mazzy Star-esque melancholy surf guitar jingle bells waltz of the wonderfully named Seductress Of Bums. The album's worth buying on the strength of that title alone. Love In A Trashcan we can only guess is an ode to Sesame Street's Oscar The Grouch and not a dirty follow on to the aforementioned Bums (US definition). Either way it's an uptempo jangly guitar pop pleasure. Later the Velvet filter is more to the fore such as Uncertain Times with Sune sounding a touch Jonathan Donahue or Her Comes Mary, a trippy dreamy nod to The Everly Brothers.
Twilight is just missing Zone from the spooky guitar line that shuffles over a scuzzy surf canter. Somewhere In Texas sees Johnny Cash writng the soundtrack to a Rodriguez Mariachi movie. You Say You Lie runs on a tick tock guitar riff,Sune and Sharin echoing their vocals, with just a touch of The Stone Roses edging in on a kind of early REM at the Mexican border thing.
Ode To L.A. is a full on 50s pop doo wop ode to the collected works of Phil Spector, with his ex wife Ronnie on backing vocals, edgier and rougher but still class, Sharin providing the cotton wool harmonies Ronnie used to have. It's quite superb. It's odd then that the one Ronetts cover, My Boyfriend's Back (careful how you read the apostrophe) keeps that playful chant over electroclash keyboards. Break out the ra-ra skirts and the lip piercings and swing that ass. Closing number If I Was Young returns to the cold desert shuffle of The Heavens. It's maybe a little bit of a downer to end the album on but that's a small criticism for an album that's pure candyfloss for the ears, heart and soul.
Clor - Clor
Brixton 5 piece , are also getting the indie press in a bit of a tizzy. We think the best way to describe Clor is simply to steal their descriptive meta tag off their site:
Welcome music lovers, shepherds and goatherds beware, CLOR teeter once again on the brink of the abyss,clor - so raw it will give you worms,Once again the inimmitable CLOR facilitate a period of respite from the following: .......spleen, jinx,failure, inadequacy, misfortune, adversity, despair, distress, cowardice, tedium, fear, unhappiness, terror, disgust, pain, suffering, sorrow, fate, annihilation, doubt, sickness, insomnia, slavery, weariness, despondency, rancour, anguish, rage, dread, perdition, sterility and shame......,Lets Rock!, CLORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!! blistering rock 'n' roll music"
We want that on a t-shirt.
We're also not sure what else needs to be said after that. Clor take the spikey guitar-synth sounds of XTC and give them a good kicking up the 21st Century whilst jumping up and down on Tubeway Army for good measure, (current single Outline). That's not to say they don't love their 80's pop. Love And Pain somehow seems to cross Kids In America with the pomp silliness of Sparks whilst someone gets down to some serious Mr Roboto dancing. Then you get Gifted's gentle almost acoustic strum that twinkles away in a most un SE London manner.
There's never a dull moment. Just when you think Stuck In A Tight Spot is going to be brash guitar stomper it gives way to discordant squeaks and oddball keyboard twirls. More blips and staccato vocal lines - remember when singers had to, pause, between, each, word - for the dark and slightly menacing Dangerzone. Magic Touch darts between shadows of funk, big rock guitar breaks, and just about every keyboard sound invented. Clor's capacity for dropping in minute moments from one style before falling headlong into a kind of keyboard driven avant garde jam session whilst all the time maintaining a distinctly British pop mentality should see both nodding musos and bouncing pop kids fall for their oddball charms. Making You Mine's drum'n'bass intro swiftly segues into a dark Joy Division vibe that perks up with some Blur style inflections whilst not actually really sounding like any of the above. Goodbye rounds things off with a second gentle number that Billy Corgan's album might have sounded like had he replaced the plodding synths with a more melodic acoustic feel.
With sounds from the 80s, 90s and 00s blended together in their art school disco shake it's going to take a couple of listens to really get to grips with this album.
Adore Clor (oh God, did we really say that) here or go and see them at Kokos on September 20th.
Editors - The Back Room
Skipping through the press for the Editors finds many a mention of NY artschool post-punks, Interpol; who of course are being constantly referenced to Joy Division. So that's a British band doing an American band doing a British band. Can't we just skip the middlemen and go straight to the Editors are doing that Joy Division thing. Well not really, since what Interpol added to the mix was a certain keyboard layered fullness to Joy Division's dark, moody atmospherics, which is very much where we are with Editors. Cleared that one up? Good, thought so.
And if all the above is true then what do Editors bring to the table other than yet more moody photographs of young men in trench coats? Well to start with rather a fine album for starters. Londonist has remained somewhat unconvinced by both Interpol and Editors in the past. Maybe we're mellowing in our old age, maybe Editors just complement the rain that's falling right now but we do like this. It might not be a regular on the Londonist dungeon hand cranked cd player but it's not going out the window either.
Perhaps it's Editors way with a good pop melody that does it. Listen to All Sparks and you'll catch traces of the kind of spikey hooks from early Idlewild days; albeit with Tom Smith's finest Ian Curtis over the top. Elsewhere tracks like Camera really do draw those Joy Divisions comparisons by dropping into a very similar rhythmic pattern to Love Will Tear Us Apart.
One of The Back Room's strengths is it's eveness thgroughout, something that should keep them from the next big thing six month trip to the bargain bin. The opening salvo of Lights, Munich and Blood lay down the template with the latter especially using those jagged guitars to fine effect over a grandoise chorus line. Fingers In The Factories bounces along nicely, whilst Bullets opens in a burst of bombast and then soars upwards with a true sense of the epic and Open Your Arms embraces one of those slow burning building choruses that will cause any Heroes era Bowie fans to go week at the knees and create mass outbreaks of comunal hugging at gigs.
So. Dark, yes. Melodic, yes. Epic, yes. If Michael Winterbottom were ever to remake Christiane F in Birmingham, he'd probably stick Editors on the sountrack.
Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill (Acoustic)
Wedged somewhere between Agnostic Front and Alkaline Trio over on Londonist's wall of sound is Alanis Morissette and although she's probably not taken out for a spin quite as often as the boys
fingercuffing sandwiching her we do have a soft spot for the Canadian with the soul-swallowing mouth. We've had 'Jagged Little Pill, Acoustic' for a while now and we've tried to make it grow on us, but it's really not that interesting. Alanis herself got into a tug of war over it with retailers once she decided it was a good idea to sell it exclusively through Starbucks - the result was that HMV in Canada pulled all of her CDs from their shelves. That incident is sadly more news worthy than the new music. 'Jagged Little Pill' is one of those albums that became so successful so quickly that it entered the public's consciousness almost as quickly as it did every charity shop in the country. At best we'd recommend this new issue to the fans who are going to buy it anyway - if you never had any time for her then this album isn't going to change your mind.
Our main complaint is the lack of surprise. In fact the first track 'All I Really Want' is so similar to the original that we had to dust off the original just to remind ourselves that there were electric guitars the first time round... and there's still too much mouth organ. 'You Oughta Know' is still the best thing on offer here and it's nice to hear her slowly sound off in a way that makes the song if anything more bitter than the original. 'Ironic' is still unironic and what would have been nice is the kind of reinterpretation that Bon Jovi brought to their overly familiar table with 'This Left Feels Right', but all we get here is a single reference to gay marriage that is maybe supposed to make the listener splutter into their double decaf skinny latte. Overall it's very safe, very pedestrian and perfect background music if you have a weekend's worth of washing-up to get through. (MA)
So there we have it. Three fine records, and one background for pedestrian domestic chores. But only one can be album of the week. All bar one strong contenders in their own way but it's going to be The Raveonettes. So three cheers for the Raveonettes and we'll see you back here next week for all that inde-dom can throw at us.
Also Out This Week:
Bob Mould - Body Of Song
The Stands (who play the Virgin Megastore this evening at 6) - Horse Fabulous