Monday, 24 June 2013

REVIEW: Beady Eye - BE (Columbia Records)

So here's the general opinion: Liam Gallagher spent years living off of his brother's talent, and all the Oasis songs that Noel didn't write were mostly very poor indeed. So when Noel left and the group reconvened as Beady Eye, of course they were SUPPOSED to be shit. But those who actually gave them a chance were surprised to find that Beady Eye's debut 'Different Gear Still Speeding' wasn't as bad as it should have been.

It seems that some critics are letting their dislike for LG affect the way they hear the band's recent second LP, and people like THIS writer from Drowned In Sound probably decided they didn't like it before they'd even heard a note. If someone hates Oasis then getting that person to review 'BE' is obviously going to be unfair on Beady Eye. So would it be giving the band an unfair advantage if a huge Oasis fan like myself was to review the album? No. If anything it's the opposite. Because I loved Oasis so much and the Beady Eye sound is similar, it means that even if I try not to, my ears will compare it to Oasis. And no BE record is ever going to stand a chance up against 'Definitely Maybe'However, Beady Eye doesn't include the man responsible for the songs that made Oasis great, and the only member remaining from the glory days is the singer. In terms of creative input, this band has more in common with Hurricane #1 and Heavy Stereo than it does with Oasis. The shadow of the latter looms over Beady Eye in a massive and slightly unfair way. They're stuck in a difficult situation that isn't really their fault.


One of the problems is that the band can't decide whether to distance themselves from Oasis or whether to embrace that history and use it as a template for their new music. Leaving the past behind would be a healthy thing for them and would help them develop musically, but at the same time their past is the only reason they have fans in the first place and is the only reason people are aware of the music, so inevitably they feel that they need to create something for those fans. The second Beady Eye album sees them stepping in and out of the shadow, but there's only so much they can do when basic rock n roll is their main strength. One thing that's noticeable is the fact that the group don't rely on big choruses, something which certainly sets them apart from Oasis. Sometimes they don't need choruses. Sometimes they do.



If the debut LP was a warm up in preparation for the real take-off, then 'BE''s opening 'Flick Of The Finger' is the rocket launching into orbit. Immediately there seems to be more confidence and the lyrics tend to reflect their determination to succeed, as drums pound and shuffle, and distorted brass blasts through a melody that doesn't necessary imitate Kasabian, but certainly comes from the same place. Admittedly it's not a million miles from Oasis, but could this be the record where they free themselves from the shackles and prove they can be just as good as Oasis but in a different way? The second track 'Soul Love' answers that question with a firm "no". Yes it's slightly different, there's a ghostly hypnotic feel to it as well as an interesting counter-melody going on, but the lyrics are nothing but unimaginative cliches and the chorus is whiney, dreary and utterly woeful. Worse still, it shares a title with a classic Bowie number that puts it to shame in every way possible.

They do better with the urgent and somewhat chaotic 'Face In The Crowd', where the old attitude is present along with one of the album's most exciting moments. The same sadly can't be said for the single 'Second Bite Of The Apple', where the limp tune and lame lyrics cancel out the best parts of the song, which in this case are its interesting rhythms and more of that distorted brass. 'Soon Come Tomorrow' is pretty humdrum, and delivers the album's most uninspired chorus, but thankfully the worst bits of 'BE' are over and a strong second half follows.

'Iz Rite' may not be particularly adventurous, but it serves up a wonderfully carefree breeze of a chorus that echoes 'Revolver' via The Stone Roses and would have fitted in well on an Oasis album. The same can also be said for the upbeat swagger of 'I'm Just Saying', which recalls both 'Hello' and 'Stay Young', two tracks written by a man who isn't involved in this record. But just because Noel didn't write it doesn't mean that it's no good,although the lyrics do leave a lot to be desired, as is often the case across the whole record. From this evidence, it seems like a natural sound, but it's somewhat ironic that the two most Oasis-like tracks are the strongest ones on an album that was supposed to be a step in a new direction. However in some ways it is.

Although it sounds suspiciously similar to a certain Liverpool group's 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away', 'Don't Brother Me' is perhaps the biggest indication of new ideas forming, a peaceful bassline drifting through the sparse instrumentation, demonstrating a subtlety that wasn't present in the music of Oasis. The arrangement and particularly the sitar-tinged coda suggest that it was perhaps producer Dave Sitek who moved them in this direction, where the songs are free to breathe and spread themselves more freely. The lyrics are either an honest insight into what Liam has on his mind or an attempt to create publicity by writing a song that seems to explicitly refer to the high profile feud between him and his older brother.

Complete with some excellent percussion, 'Shine A Light' is another highlight which proves that even without Noel they are still capable of creating no-nonsense brilliance from the simplest of ingredients, while the low key 'Ballroom Figured' is a stripped down low key acoustic number that will hardly win the band an Ivor Novello award, but has a downbeat charm that's hard to really dislike. The closing 'Start Anew' finds LG singing in his 'tender' voice and again in a reflective mood, this time a more positive one, ending the album on a bright note

If you think Liam Gallagher is an idiot, then don't let that get in the way of listening to 'BE' and giving it a chance. It's neither a triumph nor a disaster, but a handful of great moments make it worth a listen. It's not exactly as "out there" as Liam claimed it to be, and it appears that they're leaning in a new direction rather than moving into it, but slow development is better than none. I recommend a large portion of it if you like good old fashioned indie rock with a slightly psychedelic edge, but I also recommend keeping the "skip" button in mind to avoid the rough patches. 3/5








Friday, 21 June 2013

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #21

Again, this week's RW/FF contains very few words but lots of great music. Some of the best new tracks I've been loving over the past 7 days, plus choice selections from the best recent albums. Includes Goat, Bleech, Deaf Club, The Hosts, Eyes And No Eyes, Steve Cradock, The Bloody Beetroots feat Paul McCartney and Youth, and Arctic Monkeys. In the "rewind" part, more classic tracks from the glorious year that was 1995, including Sleeper, Shed Seven, Gene, Dubstar, Marion, Radiohead, The Verve, Echobelly, The Charlatans and Oasis...

So last week's column contained very few words and a selection of brilliant new music. This week I'm afraid will be the same. I'm not just being lazy, honest. As I said before, this is due to my new job (where I am working some rather unusual hours), my gradual work on an upcoming book I am writing, plus the fact that June has thrown up so many great new albums, I've been struggling to listen to them all and take them in properly. What I do know is that the Jagwar Ma album and the sophomore LP from Miles Kane are both fantastic records that deserve your attention....


BLEECH - NOT LIKE YOU


THE HOSTS - GIVE YOUR LOVE TO HER

DEAF CLUB - APRIL

EYES NO EYES - IF NO ONE ELSE SAW IT

GOAT - STONEGOAT


STEVE CRADOCK - ANY WAY THE WIND BLOWS

THE BLOODY BEETROOTS FEAT PAUL MCCARTNEY AND YOUTH - OUT OF SIGHT


ARCTIC MONKEYS - DO I WANNA KNOW?


1995
SLEEPER - INBETWEENER


GENE - LONDON CAN YOU WAIT?


DUBSTAR - STARS


CAST - SANDSTORM

SHED SEVEN - WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN TONIGHT?


MARION - SLEEP


RADIOHEAD - HIGH AND DRY


THE VERVE - HISTORY


ECHOBELLY - GREAT THINGS


THE CHARLATANS - HERE COMES A SOUL SAVER


OASIS - CHAMPAGNE SUPERNOVA


Thursday, 20 June 2013

PREVIEW: Steve Cradock - Travel Wild Travel Free

Ocean Colour Scene guitarist and Paul Weller collaborator Steve Cradock is to release his third solo album 'Travel Wild, Travel Free', due on September 16th. Listen to the new track 'Any Way The Wind Blows' below.

Cradock and his band will be on tour throughout October/November promoting the album. Cradock formed Ocean Colour Scene with fellow band members Simon Fowler, Oscar Harrison, and Damon Minchella 21 years ago. After releasing “Moseley Shoals” and “Marchin Already” they were set in stone in the British music scene, selling millions of records worldwide. Thirteen albums later, they are still going as strong as ever. OCS are about to embark on a huge 2013 Tour to coincide with the release of their 10th studio album.

Steve has a reputation of being one of the hardest working musicians in the industry. Obviously OCS was his first band, but he since joined Paul Weller's band in 1992. Steve has played and made written contributions on many of Paul’s albums, such as Wild Wood, Stanley Road, Heavy Soul, Helliocentric, Illumination, Studio 150, As Is Now, 22 Dreams, Wake up The Nation and his latest work Sonik Kicks, as well as extensively touring the world with Paul over the years.

Cradock’s side projects have included 2 solo albums 'The Kundalini Target' and 'Peace City West' which he has also taken on the road with the Steve Cradock Band since 2008, supporting the likes of Amy Mcdonald, Beady Eye and Miles Kane. Many great musicians have joined him on stage during these gigs including Mani from the Stone Roses, Andy Crofts from the Moons/Weller Band, and James Buckley from the Inbetweeners.



Steve Cradock will play:

Leeds The Wardrobe (October 26)
Liverpool Evac (28)
Newcastle The Cluny (29)
Glasgow Oran Mor (30)
Birmingham Temple (November 1)
Sheffield Leadmill (2)
London Scala (4)
Brighton Komedia (5)
Manchester Deaf Institute (6)
Nottingham Bodega (7)
Bristol The Thelka (8)

Tickets go on sale Friday 21 June at 9am
Click here to buy tickets and for more information

Friday, 14 June 2013

RW/FF With Ben P Scott #20

This week: no words, just music. Some of the best new tracks from the last few weeks, plus choice selections from the best recent albums. Includes Suede, Beck, Field Harmonics, The Last Sound, Nine Inch Nails, Laura Marling, Jagwar Ma, Beady Eye, Miles Kane, Queens Of The Stone Age, The Pastels, White Lies, Borads Of Canada, Hookworms, No Ceremony and Zed Penguin. In the "rewind" part, a collection of classic tracks from the glorious year that was 1995, including Pulp, McAlmont And Butler, Black Grape, Ash, Elastica, Edwyn Collins, The Boo Radleys, Supergrass, Paul Weller, the Longpigs, Blur and Menswear...

Firstly, let me apologise once again for the lack of a column last Friday. After trying for a while, I've finally found myself a new job. But the hours are difficult and getting myself into a new sleeping routine has thrown the last two weeks into chaos. It was also my birthday a couple of days ago (June 12th), so this week I'm afraid the column will sacrifice my usual writing to bring you the most important stuff: the music. I will say ONE thing though: the Jagwar Ma album 'Howlin'' is an incredible piece of work... Check it out forthwith...

SUEDE - FALLING PLANES (B-SIDE OF 'HIT ME' SINGLE)


BECK - DEFRIENDED (NEW SINGLE)


FIELD HARMONICS - EVERYONE



NINE INCH NAILS - CAME BACK HAUNTED



BEADY EYE - I'M JUST SAYING



QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE - FAIRWEATHER FRIENDS



JAGWAR MA - THE THROW



BOARDS OF CANADA - REACH FOR THE DEAD (FROM THE NEW ALBUM 'TOMORROW'S HARVEST)



MILES KANE - OUT OF CONTROL



THE PASTELS - SUMMER RAIN



HOOKWORMS - RADIO TOKYO



LAURA MARLING - WHERE CAN I GO?



NO CEREMONY/// - FEEL SO LOW



THE LAST SOUND - THREE ROCK



WHITE LIES - GETTING EVEN



ZED PENGUIN - HEATHENS


1995
Some classic tracks from the days of my youth... Read about my memories of 1995 in these recent RW/FF columns...


PULP - COMMON PEOPLE


MCALMONT AND BUTLER - YES


BLACK GRAPE - REVEREND BLACK GRAPE


ASH - GIRL FROM MARS


ELASTICA - WAKING UP


EDWYN COLLINS - A GIRL LIKE YOU


THE BOO RADLEYS - WAKE UP BOO


SUPERGRASS - MANSIZE ROOSTER


PAUL WELLER - THE CHANGINGMAN


LONGPIGS - SHE SAID


BLUR - THE UNIVERSAL


MENSWEAR - DAYDREAMER



Sunday, 2 June 2013

Track Of The Day: Boards of Canada - Reach for the Dead

'Tomorrow's Harvest' is the upcoming fourth studio album from Boards of Canada, due to be released on 10 June 2013 on Warp Records. It is the band's first original release since the 'Trans Canada Highway' EP (2006), marking seven years between releases, the duo's longest gap yet.

Tomorrow's Harvest's announcement was marked by a cryptic advertising campaign and scavenger hunt beginning on Record Store Day 2013. The campaign revealed information about the upcoming release through the discovery of six strings of six-digit numbers. Four of the six codes were released to BBC Radio 1, NPR, Adult Swim and the fansite Twoism, another was released through an extremely rare unannounced 12" record containing a brief snippet of music and the code, and a sixth code was featured in a YouTube video. The combined codes were used as a password to gain access to an exclusive video and link to pre-order the album.

On 23 May 2013 'Reach for the Dead' was released as Tomorrow's Harvest's lead single.