Archive for the ‘The Futureheads’ Category

pumphouseSOUNDTRACK: RA RA RIOT-The Rhumb Line (2008).

raraI have a hard time describing this album.  It has a lot of ingredients that don’t make sense individually, yet which work very well. I would almost resort to calling them pretentious rock, but that seems so derogatory.  Vampire Weekend falls into this category of highly literate pop too, and we know how much  I love that album!

Ra Ra Riot play catchy indie pop, but their main instruments are cello and violin. And yet they’re not anything like Rasputina’s string-laden goth music.  Rather, they write catchy poppy songs that are punctuated with strings.  I even wanted to say they don’t have a  guitarist, (they do) but I guess that just shows how well his licks meld with the rest of the music. And, indeed, on some tracks, the guitar is up front and wonderful.

They also get labelled pretentious because one of their songs (and one of their catchiest) has lyrics from e.e.cummings, or rather, they use his poem “dying is fine)but Death” as the lyrics for the song “Dying is Fine.”  They also cover Kate Bush.  Now the Futureheads covered Kate Bush a few years ago, so perhaps Kate is the next go-to artist for covers.

Ra Ra Riot wins extra points for covering a fairly unknown, and utterly bizarre song, “Suspeneded in Gaffa.”  This happens to be one of my favorite Kate songs, so I’m a bit critical.  However, they do a very good job of making it a pop song (There’s enough weird stuff in Kate’s version to never give it mainstream acceptance).  And the strings work very well for it.

Ra Ra Riot was also featured on that paragon of good taste: the show Chuck [And since I have mentioned the  music of Chuck on many occasions, I would be remiss if I didn’t send a shout-out to this site which lists all of the songs in Season One–gotta update Season Two fellas].  Chuck played “Can’t You Tell” in a romantic scene, and it worked quite well.

So, after all that, what can I say about the band.  They may be too commercial for some, but I think their combination of strings, intelligent lyrics and good vocals is pretty great.  Incidentally, in case you were wondering, a rhumb line  (or loxodrome) is a line crossing all meridians at the same angle, i.e. a path of constant bearing. Following a rhumb line requires turning the vehicle more and more sharply while approaching the poles (thanks Wikipedia).

[READ: May 26, 2009] South of the Pumphouse

So this book is by Les Claypool, lead singer and bassist of Primus.

Claypool’s lyrics are typically stories, full of weird characters in weird situations.  Oh, and fishing.  Lots of fishing.  And that sums up this book pretty well.

The book is set in El Sobrante, California, a redneck haven that has not progressed along with the rest of the state.  Earl is a fisherman and meth addict.  In that order.  Fishing is Earl’s life.  His father fished every weekend, and Earl and his brother Ed went with him.  Rain or shine. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FOALS-Antidotes (2008).

This CD had been getting a lot of buzz just before I ordered it. And then, the day after I ordered it I saw a review that really trashed the record. Uh oh, I thought.

But then I played it. Aside from the cover, which I can’t stand, there’s nothing I dislike about the disc. Immediately, I thought it sounded like a cross between King Crimson and Gang of Four. And then I heard more sax and had to add X-Ray Spex in for good measure.

The guitar lines as the disc opens sound so much like they could be King Crimson song…and this continues throughout the record…and then when the rhythm guitars come in you think, oh, Gang of Four (or the Futureheads if you must). And then you hear them together and it blows your mind a little bit.

For those of you who live in the twenty first century, the CD probably sounds closest to Modest Mouse: angular guitars, somewhat shouty vocals, but they don’t have the fluidity that Modest Mouse has. Not that that’s a complaint, just an observation. I’ve listened to this CD a bunch of times now, and I don’t dislike anything on it. Each listen brings out someone new that I hear. One of the reviews I read suggested that they used to a more prog rock band, but were giving up that aspect of their music. And yet, if you reference King Crimson, it’s impossible to think you’ve given up prog rock. I don’t know what The Foals describe their music as, and it is totally not for everybody, but I think it’s pretty wonderful.

[WRITTEN: Some time in the late 1990s] Complex Sentence.

In my previous post (Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog) I said that I had written a short story about diagramming sentences. I took some creative writing classes a decade or so ago, when I had a lot of free time. I churned out quite a few stories, and then hit the wall that is job, family and kids. Sadly, I don’t have exact dates for when I wrote these stories (what kind of writer doesn’t keep track of when the stories were written for pity’s sake). But maybe if I can ever hack into more poor old Macintosh and uncover the original files it will give me some idea of their origin.

And so, the critic exposes himself to the critics. (more…)

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i.jpgSOUNDTRACK: THE FUTUREHEADS-News and Tributes (2006).

news.jpgI enjoyed the first Futureheads album very much when it came out, but I balked at getting this sophomore release because they were part of that whole new angular-rock wave, and I didn’t want to stay caught up in the hype. Well, I relented because I’d continued to hear good things about this record, and I’m glad I did.

For me, The Futureheads sound like The Jam, mixed with a little Gang of Four edginess in their chords, and most intriguing of all, a bit of Queen in their vocals. This odd mix is totally up front in the second song, “Cope”. A choppy guitar, a voice that sounds like the Paul Weller and then at the end of the first line, all the guys sing the word Go! in a 4 part harmony that sounds partially machine-like; I almost thought it was a ship’s whistle when I first heard it. And, yet on subsequent listens it’s just four guys singing slightly off notes–note screaming at all, I can’t even really imagine how they do it– and it sounds great! I don’t know how they could duplicate that sound–which is so beautiful and unnerving at the same time–live, frankly.

And each song has little idiosyncrasies like that that really make this record fun to listen to. I think the reason I didn’t hear The Jam as an influence right away is because to me The Jam are smoooooth. (more…)

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