Friday, October 31, 2008

The Knees - Sexual Radio

Whilst I have been a member and a fan of the Aime Street site (just got a revamp) for a couple of years, I have to confess I had not bought anything for a while.

But, then, the other day when one of the weekly update emails hit my inbox I caught a glimpse of the names Weezer and Liz Phair. Hang on, I thought. I like Weezer, and I LOVE Liz Phair. The mentions were from a description of a new york band called The Knees

What the hell, I thought, let's give them a go -so I logged in and downloaded their album 'Sexual Radio'

What an enjoyable, fun, record. I'll go as far as to say that when it works - as it does on tracks such as 'The Kind of Girl' (a hit single in the making), 'Loser Girlfriend', Sick of being Stoned, and 'Can't Stop Now' it is Wonderful.

So, is the Weezer/Phair comparison fair? There are certainly elements. I can see why people might mention Wheatus, The Donnas, and a few others as well. Not that this should stop you from checking this band out, if you like good guitar based pop/rock music.

The best thing I can say, as I sit here in London (UK) is that, this is a more enjoyable record than a great deal of those records relased by 'named' artists this year, and I would already love to see the band live - so I really need some more people (esp in the UK) to buy the record so that they can afford to come over and play (you can all sleeep on my floor if can't afford the accomodation guys, really).

Criticisms? They may over do the whoa-oh's .

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Old Rockers

I felt a brief post was needed on the latest albums by AC/DC and Motorhead.

The New album from AC/DC - 'Black Ice', which is currently giving them their first number one album in the UK in 18 years, is currently being hailed as a return to form - with some even claiming it to be their best work since Brian Johnson's first album as singer, the classic 'Back in Black'.

The last AC/DC album I bought, was 'Flick of the Switch', when I was about 14. I loved it. I then started to loose interest in Angus and Co, and when I returned to listen to the album around 5 years ago, I discovered that it is pretty piss poor. I sampled a few of their outings since then, and was equally underwhelmed. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the new record does actually contain their best work in 25 years or more.

Indeed, I would venture to sat that it could have been even better if they had edited a bit better. There are 15 tracks on this new record, and if I has been doing a Rick Rubin, I would have axed about 8 of them, and told them to come up with another 3 that were as strong as the other 7. As it is, this is just a good solid rock record, and not the great record it really could have been.

That said songs such as: 'Rock 'n' Roll Train', 'Skies of Fire', 'Anything Goes', 'War Machine', and 'Stormy May Day', all work very well. I never thought i'd say this, but worth checking out.

Meanwhile, Lemmy and Motorhead are also still banging the albums out. Here too, the quality has been patchy over recent years, but again, they seem to had suddenly got it right again. The new album, 'Motorizer', is one of my favourites of the second half of this year so far.

Don't get me wrong, there is no re-invention of wheel going on here - this still sounds exactly like a Motorhead album; but with the like of 'Runaround Man', 'English Rose', 'Teach you how to sing the blues', 'Heroes', and 'Thousand names of God', this along with the Metallica album in one of the few essential hard rock album of the year. Buy.

Rock Out Promo Video (not one of album's best tracks)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Camille @ Camden Roundhouse 19/10/2008

Take one slightly mad French woman, add a 50/50 anglo/french crowd, sit back and enjoy. Whilst I own both Camille's solo albums, I must confess, I was unsure as to whether the experience of seeing her live would be a good one or not. I need not have feared. Live, Camille is - in all senses of the word - quite extraordinary.

Backed by just a piano, four backing singers, and two guys doing human beat-box accompaniment for drums/bass/guitar - this was an enhanced acappella experience to savour and enjoy.

It was one of those odd nights when, her actual set was only one hour long, but she then managed to eek out another hour on stage in the encore - which features some good and some bad improv, featuring Jamie Cullum.

Camille's humour came through well on songs such as, the very silly (but great crowd participation song) 'Cats & Dogs'; and 'Money Note' (where she takes a dig at Mariah and co). Also, she is happy to throw in a Dead Kennedy's cover she originally performed with Nouvelle Vague - 'Too Drunk to Fuck'.

Hard to really describe, but whatever she does, it works and works very well. A truly original artist.

Scorpions @ Hammersmith Appollo 18/10/2008

Just over a year ago I went to see the Scorpions for the first time in 17 years, and surprised myself by having a fantastic time - not least because ex guitarist Uli Roth joined the band on stage to play a handful of their old songs. A year on, and the same tour is winding down but now Uli was coming over as alternating support act with Michael Schenker - who this time last year was so smacked out of his head most of the time, that even the basic ability to stand up whilst playing live was proving difficult.

Knowing that, I was pleased to find out that London was going to be an Uli gig. He played 5 songs - three from his new album, top and tailed with Scorpions classics: 'The Sails of Charon' and 'We'll burn the sky' - both off the, now 30 year old, 'Taken by Force' album. It was a great way to kick off the night and Uli's guitar playing was as excellent as you would expect it to be.

And then the Scorps came on, and once again a great hard rock sing-a-long commenced: 'The Zoo'; 'Coast to Coast'; 'Bad Boys Running Wild'; 'Holiday'; 'Big City Nights'; 'No one Like You', 'Dynamite', 'Another Piece of Meat', 'Loving You Sunday Morning', 'Lovedrive', 'Still Loving You' , and more.

Michael made it onto stage for a handful of these tunes to mostly play brother Rudolf's lead guitar parts. Whilst you still wouldn't say he was looking great and healthy, the fact he was sober enough to stand, and was looking much better than last year was great news. The band seemed glad to have him onstage too.

Perhaps the biggest highlight for me, however, was probably Uli once again back on stage, and the band doing another Taken by Force track - and my favourite as a child - 'He's a Woman, She's a Man'. Just brilliant.

All in all, another great gig.

Aimee Mann @ Indigo02 - 24/10/08

Another year, another Aimee Mann gig. 15 months after her last visit to the 02 Indigo, Mann was back to plug her latest album - '@#%&*! Smilers'.

Opening with set with 'Stranger into starman' and 'Looking for nothing', tonight's set-list was certainly new album heavy, but the new songs - on the whole sounded as good , if not better in the live environment. Thankfully there was also room in the set for some older numbers such as 'Red Vines', 'Deathly', 'How am I Different', 'Wise Up'

For someone who always used to say she didn't really do inbetween songs chit-chat very well, Mann now excels in doing it, and does so with wit and charm - no more so than when she was having some early technical issues and also during her attempts to remember how to play 'Mr Harris' (an audience suggestion) - a track off her debit solo album - 'Whatever'.

For me however, it was another song off that album that was my gig highlight, the always sublime '4th of July', with along with her version of Supertramp's 'One', made up the encores.

All in all, and despite not playing enough older stuff, this was - for me - a better gig than her appearance at the same venue in 2007.

A quick mention about the support act - The Submarines. Delightful band (remind me of earlier Aimee) with a cracking album 'Declare a New State'. Worth keeping an eye out for .