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Archive for the ‘Coldplay’ Category

mothernightSOUNDTRACK: COLDPLAY-Viva la Vida(2008).
viva-la-vidaI have a very vivid memory of listening to Coldplay for the first time.  I was driving a very annoying person to her revolting house in upstate New York.  I was delighted to be getting her out of my life, and I was listening to Coldplay’s first album, Parachutes.  I knew “Yellow” from either the radio or from some Britpop fascination of mine.  AT the time, Coldplay were considered the next Travis, whose “Why Does It Always Rain on Me” had just soared up the charts. “Yellow” was described as Travis-like and something of a rip-off (a claim thrown at Coldplay to this day).

As an indie guy, Coldplay should be anathema to me. And yet since “Yellow” I’ve always liked them, despite their ridiculous name.  And I’ve always thought of them as a sort of underdog (that whole Travis thing), even though all the entertainment magazines say they are the biggest band in the world (even bigger than U2!)

And so, here is their latest disc.  Amusingly, we had played it in the house and then suddenly the disc was gone.  Couldn’t find it for a month.  (It eventually turned up in the REM Accelerate case (those cardboard sleeves with two openings tend to hide discs).

And now I’ve given it a listen, and man is it good.  Yes, I know, they’re huge stadium anthem rock, but even though I like lo-fi indie, I also like stadium rock when it’s done right.  It’s also funny about their backlash because they haven’t really changed their style over the course of their career.  It’s not like they’ve suddenly become commercial.  They’ve just been commercial-in-waiting.  And frankly, I’d rather them be on the radio than some other Top 40 bands.

So Viva la Vida is chock full of hits, and chock full of great songs. It opens with a short instrumental “Life in Technicolor,” a string-filled 2 minute intro that sets the tone quite well.  And each of the following 3 minute pop songs are great: swells of orchestra, great punchy choruses and then…done; leaving you wanting more to sing along to.

The amount of strings on this record is really notable.  And surely the breakout single “Viva La Vida” is the most string-heavy rock single since The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.”

The only compliant I have about the record is the three songs that last over 6 minutes.  Despite the bombast of their songs, most of Coldplay’s work fits comfortably under 4 minutes.  These three 6 minute songs are really 3 minute songs with a 3 minute coda tacked on at the end.  And, the problem is that those codas are usually just repeated instrumental moments that slow down the proceedings.  (And since I dig bands like Mogwai who make fantastic instrumental music, I know from instrumentals).  This doesn’t ruin the disc by any means, although it does tend to wreck the flow a little.  Nevertheless, the next song kicks in and you’re back to singing along.

[READ: March 19, 2009]: Mother Night

It was with some trepidation that I started this Vonnegut novel. The reasons being A) I had never even heard of this title. B) Cat’s Cradle, regarded as one of his masterpieces comes next in order, and C) it’s about Nazis…how much fun could that be?

Well, as it turns out, my fears were unfounded.

Mother Night has a few layers to it. So we’ll start with the basics. The book is written by Howard W. Campbell. The book has been edited by Kurt Vonnegut, and Vonnegut’s introduction makes clear that he tried to follow Campbell’s wishes as best he could. (All of this, of course, is pure fiction, but it’s a good one). (more…)

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ny2209SOUNDTRACK: ELBOW-Leaders of the Free World (2005).

elbowSo this is where Peter Gabriel has been!

The opening track of this album starts quietly with a vocal doppelganger of Peter Gabriel crooning in his low voice.  In fact, throughout the album Peter Gabriel’s voice pops up.  It’s certainly not a case of trying to be Gabriel, as their music isn’t at all the same, it’s just that the voice is eerily similar sometimes.

This is my first exposure to Elbow, so I guess everyone has long known about this Peter Gabriel thing.  But I’m new to the party.  I’d read that this was their best disc, so I got this one first.

I’ve now listened to this record a half a dozen times and I’m still not exactly sure how to classify it.  And even though I like it, I don’t think I love it.

They remind me a bit of early Radiohead, and yet that’s not quite right.  And they remind me sort of of Coldplay, but that’s not right either.  They have similarities to Doves, but they’re not quite as mopey.  I guess they’re just a good rocking British band.  This album contains many heavy moments, but there are also some thoughtful, mellow sections. And lyrically it’s quite interesting, especially the title track.

I’m intrigued enough by it to want to check out other records by them, and although I said I didn’t love the record, by the sixth listen I was singing along with most of the tracks.  Weird.  But good weird.

[READ: March 4, 3009] “Al Roosten”

I had mixed reactions to George Saunders’ In Persuasion Nation some time ago, but I started this story and it sounded promising.  And it was.

Al Roosten is a dumpy, middle aged man.  All of his life he has lived in the shadows of thinner, nicer, and, well, better boys and girls.  Now that he is an adult and an owner of an antiques shoppe called Bygone Daze, he has been invited as a Local Celebrity to take part in an anti drug “auction” (the winner has lunch with the “celebrity”).

Al goes on after Larry Donfrey (of Donfrey Realty).  Larry showed up to the auction in just a swimsuit.  His studly physique elicited quite the reaction.  Buy when Al struts on stage, the whoops and hollers are more start as mockery but soon morphs into pity.  And this sets off a story that takes place mostly in Al’s head.  He changes his mind about Larry several times in the story from admiring him to hating him to pitying him to being super pissed about him.

Al exacts a small bit of revenge backstage (and a very satisfying one, I admit).  But on the way home he questions himself and feels bad for what he has done.  After talking with his dead mother, he gathers his strength, and plans to do something about his failing business.  And yet once again, he questions his motives and behaviors.

This was a fun piece about the self-reflection that can lead to impotent behavior in one’s life.  It’s a great examination of blame, frustration and catharsis.  This tips the balance of Saunders’ work to the positive for me.

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