As you’ve probably noticed, I was quite fond of Rammstein before the release of Rosenrot and Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da. Surprisingly they decided to release an old song of them as a new single : Mein Herz Brennt from the album Mutter (2001).
The move is quite surprising and would tend to prove that the band is aware of its lack of creativity recently. Anyway the video is also a gem, toying with most of their Freudian thematics with a true Rammstein imagery, and proves that they have not become completely irrelevant.
The non-musical press is actually praising the new Gossip album released this week while, at the same time, music fans and the musical press, with which I agree, slam the record for its lack of originality and its departure from the original sound of its predecessors.
This case highlights the difficulty for traditional press to have a good a reviewing process for music : by nature they do not try and follow the underground scenes because that is not what their readers are interested in and so they almost always miss the breakthrough records and end up at best praising the artist’s tour in support of the album, or at worse the artist’s next album whatever its interest.
If you add to this that record companies boost their spending only on artists that have already had a hit, general press is always late and confuses past success with new highs.
I bet that the new Queens of the Stone Age record, for example, will be the good occasion for the general to jump on the bandwagon of a band that would have already deserved it 10 years ago.
No need for a context to review Blues Funeral, Mark Lanegan’s latest effort, no need to make a list of all his past collaborations to try and find influences, borrowed gimmicks etc.. Recorded and produced with Alain Johannes, this album is a standalone masterpiece which I think is way more personal than the (all awesome) albums Lanegan had made with Mike Johnson or Josh Homme’s desert crew.
Sonically the opening song (The Gravedigger’s Song) and its stabbing drumming make you wonder whether Mark Lanegan has decided to compete with Trent Reznor in indus-rock and/or has decided to surprise all of his blues-addicted fans. But whatever the reason, the result is both awesome and striking : the most touching vocalist of his generation has freed itself from his the cage he had spent years building around his voice. But as soon as you think that, Bleeding Muddy Water comes to remind you that he has left the door of the cage opened and that he can fly back in when he wants, bringing along some electronic new friends.
After two songs, the question is there : real departure or trompe-l’oeil? The rest of the album alternates between right electronic jabs – Gray Goes Black and Harborview Hospital – and more blues-rock left jabs – Riot In My House (feat Josh Homme) and Phantasmagoria Blues – never missing its target. And there are still some uppercuts left : the house music of Ode To Sad Disco is a perfect match for Lanegan’s voice who proves how versatile he is both as a singer and as a songwriter (even though he didn’t pen the electronic part, taken from a movie soundtrack).
Paradoxically, on a track like Deep Vanishing Train, with its acoustic guitar more reminiscent of his earlier work, Lanegan fails to convince. Maybe that is because the track ressemblance to the Bubblegum-era b-side Mirrored is too obvious, maybe that is because he does not want to stay in this comfort zone and puts less heart in such songs.
If the “Blues Funeral” title refers to the burial of Mark Lanegan’s previous stripped-down blues career, then it is a glorious send-off. This album is an instant classic, with new details you’ll uncover after every new listen.
Note : if you have missed it, download the bootleg of this tour posted earlier on the blog, to see that these new songs sound great live. And tomorrow a bootleg of Mark with Queens of the Stone Age for download. follow the blog to be sure not to miss any new bootleg.
18 years to the date, when the Offspring released their album Smash, the music world had just learnt that Kurt Cobain’s dead body had been found and so the 3rd album of the 4 middle class punk-rockers was far from the headlines.
Having released two years before Smash what is, in my opinion, the best punk-rock album of the nineties (Ignition, on which I’ll post a few things when its 20th birthday nears), the Offspring were not completely anonymous but were mostly known of the underground California scene and still had day jobs to pay their bills.
Smash changed their lives for ever : two months after Green Day’s Dookie, this mix of metal, ska and punk coupled with their trademark backing vocals helped shape what would be coined the pop-punk sound, even though this album can hardly be defined as pop (except for the hit single Self Esteem maybe).
As soon as MTV had Come Out And Play on heavy rotation, the album became a smash hit (easy joke, I know) and people got to discover all of its great songs : its ironic intro, the anthemic Nitro, the bass line and agressive vocals of Bad Habit, the huge drum pattern of Gotta Get Away, the funny ska of What Happened To You? (the Offspring will keep that idea of a light/ska song on their next records) etc… The Offspring were now a household name with a landmark album.
To relive what the Offspring was at that time and how good their gigs were, I’ll upload my favorite 1994 Offspring bootleg tomorrow. A preview of that bootleg here :
Texte en français en dessous
In 2005 Rammstein, due to technical difficulties, weren’t able to record their show in Paris Bercy. Unfortunately for us and for them, this show was a highlight of their carreer : the Nimes show recorded later that year in Nimes suffered from Till’s tired voice, their 2009 Paris Bercy shows were less dynamic and setlist was too heavy on the average Libe Ist Fur Alle Da tracks and finally their 2012 shows in the same venue were great but relied too heavily on playback (Mann Gegen Mann and Buck Dich).
Anyway here is the download link for Rammstein show in Bercy in 2005 : bootleg. (Note : Apocalyptica is featuring on Mein Herz Brennt and Ohne Dich).
En 2005, pour cause de difficulté techniques, Rammstein dut renoncer à enregistrer son concert à Paris Bercy, nous privant par la même d’un sommet de leur carrière : le show de Nimes enregistré plus tard cette année là souffre de la voix fatiguée de Till, les shows de 2009 à Bercy étaient moins énergiques et faisaient trop la part belle aux titres de leur moyen dernier album, Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da, et finalement les concerts de 2012 dans la même salle étaient très bons mais se reposaient trop sur le playback (Mann Gegen Mann et Buck Dich notamment).
Quoi qu’il en soit, le bootleg de Rammstein à Paris Bercy en 2005 c’est ici. (Note : Apocalyptica joue sur Mein Herz Brennt et Ohne Dich)
Version française en dessous
Founded 20 years ago in New York, the power pop trio Nada Surf has just released its seventh studio effort this year (only its sixth of original material as the palindrome-titled If I Had A Hi-Fi from 2010 consisted of covers).
Quickly rising to worldwide success with the single Popular off their first record, the band then had to struggle, a well documented process, to get rid of the major label grip on their music. But despite these harder times the band always managed to keep doing an optimistic music full of teenage love without ever giving up their independant take on their subject : nothing vulgar on display in their songs either in terms of sound or of lyrical content.
The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy marks a departure from this aeriality, Matt Caws seems more confident that his voice and poetry allow him to try (and succeed) at expressing more complex feelings. The songwriting follows the same path with increased harmonies and renewed structures.
Long are gone the three chord songs, and the first single When I Was Young with its delicate intro and melancholic lyrics proves it :
Nada Surf proves that they are still relevant today and have a bright future in front of them now that their array of songwriting has expanded. One of the best albums of 2012 so far.
Tomorrow I’ll offer a download of one of their 2012 european shows, showcasing the evolution between the old and the new songs.
Fondé il y a 20 ans à New York, le trio de power pop Nada Surf vient de sortir son septième album studio cette année (et seulement le sixième de ses propres compositions comme l’album à titre en palindrome If I Had A Hi-Fi sorti en 2010 était un album de reprises).
Propulsés stars mondiales par le single Popular issu de leur premier album, le goupe aura eu à lutter, une lutte bien documentée aujourd’hui, pour se sortir des griffes de leur major. Mais malgré ces moments difficiles, le groupe a réussi à continuer à produire une musique indépendante et optimiste rempli d’amour adolescent sans jamais céder à la vulgarité sonore ou verbale.
The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy marque un départ de cette légèreté, Matt Caws semble avoir enfin assez pris confiance en sa voix et sa poésie pour tenter (et réussir) à évoquer des sentiments plus complexes. L’écriture des chansons suit le même chemin avec plus d’harmonies et des structures renouvelées.
Les chansons à 3 accors des débuts sont loin comme le montre le premier single When I Was Young, son intro délicate et ses paroles mélancolique :
Nada Surf prouvent qu’ils sont encore pertinents aujourd’hui et qu’ils ont un bel avenir devant eux avec ces nouveaux territoires qu’ils explorent. L’un des meilleurs albums de ce début d’année.
J’offrirai demain en téléchargement un concert de leur tournée européenne 2012 montrant bien la différence d’écriture entre anciens et nouveaux morceaux.
Cover photo : Kurt Cobain
Si l’iconographie de la scène grunge de Seattle vous intéresse, voilà un livre à ne pas manquer (sous le titre Seattle Grunge dans son édition française). Charles Peterson est LE photographe qui a travaillé avec Sub Pop à définir l’image visuelle du grunge. En bonus avec le livre : une excellente compil’ Sub Pop (même si la version française a perdu au passage une chanson de Nirvana) de groupes grunge moins connus.
Je vous posterai certaines des images du livre dans les prochains posts.
If you’re interested in the grunge/Seattle scene, here is a book you can’t miss by one of the photographers (if not THE photographer) that teamed with Sub Pop to define the iconography of the scene. Plus in bonus you have an enclosed CD : great Sub Pop comp’ curated by Charles Peterson. See tracklist here.
I’ll post pictures from the book in the next posts.