Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hell & Heaven

I do not read music magazines - at least not on regular basis. I kind of feel that they either do not take things seriously enough or too serious.
In the first category they just print big and colorful pictures together with half correct band quotes and 3 line record reviews sponsored by the responsible record companies.
In the second category .. they usually take the record company money as well, but put much more effort into publishing content like interviews, stories about bands, concert reviews and tons of record reviews, where highly motivated writers try to transfer music into words with often outrageous comparisons and metaphors.
The first category is useless and does not matter anyway. Magazines from the second category I buy from time to time usually when they have interviews or features about one of my favorite bands, but I cannot bring myself to read and buy one every month because my reaction is the same like it is when I try to book a package holiday from a catalogue: my brain goes on "white noise".

A couple of times in my life I tried to book a package holiday. You know .... when you just want to go somewhere to do nothing but relax? I tried to do what - it seems - all people do and got some catalogues from the travel agencies to pick a destination and a hotel, but I just could not make it happen. After 5 pages latest all these white buildings at white beaches with blue water look totally the same and the descriptions and lists with amenities start to swim in front of my eyes. I in the end never booked one of those holidays and stopped even trying years ago. I book flights and rental cars and air bnb rooms and go see my friends around the world. I travel to rock shows and ice hockey games and Croatia has the very best places to relax and swim anyway.
It is the same with all the record reviews. After a few of them they all start to get blurry and sound the same - just a flood of weird adjectives and cross references
So what I do when I want new music is that I check the bands my favorite artists work with, recommend or reference, I go early enough to shows to catch the support bands and I have an eye and ear on what's the buzz between my friends who share mostly the same taste in music. 
Lately two records were released which are now in the center of the attention all around and I had a listen - with totally different out come.

Hell


Elbow - The Take Off and Landing of Everything

My Twitter feed was full of praise for this record, but I was sceptical. I have the "Any Day Now EP" and the debut album "Asleep In The Back". In the goold ol' days I was working a lot with V2 and got free samples of most of their releases and Elbow was the next big thing. I did not like it very much ... too Radiohead (if you know me a bit you know this means "dead to me").
But hey ... that was in 2001. Times changed, probably the band changed as well? I checked a couple of songs and they were not exactly earworms but a lot of good people with a decent taste in music assured me the album is a "grower" and so I gave it a try. 

But ... good grief ... how SLOW can you play music??? The answer is very, very, very slow. One song is okay, two songs is starting to get awkward, three songs in I start to get fever fantasies about just pulling the speed up and half way through I am in such a state of denial that I start to develop a scientific interest in the philosophical question if you can play so slow that it basically stops but doesn't? The answer is: YES. 
The next question is: Do I even want to find this out? The answer is: NO
I tried, dear friends, but this record is not growing on me. It's not my cup of tea. It's even worse ... it drives me crazy and not in a good way. So thanks, but no thanks. Who ever likes it may become happy with it but it's not me.
PS: Dear review writers who love to compare this with the great Peter Gabriel - just DON'T! 


Heaven



Manchester Orchestra - COPE

COPE - the new album of Atlanta rockers Manchester Orchestra was at least in my part of the music world one of the most anticipated releases of the last few months and not only because Biffy's Simon Neil wrote his own rave review about it. To be honest: as much as I love Si from the bottom of my heart - his music recommendations can be a bit weird .. eh ... special. I meant to say special ;)

So Simon alone would have not created the excitement nor would the "That reminds of Pinkerton" references (equals gold star rating) that could be read a couple of times, but what the band put on their soundcloud ahead of the release was already pretty amazing and that's always the best advertisement.
I preordered the album and when it finally came out I was immediatly VERY happy with what hit my eardrums. As much as the Elbow album is not mine the Manchester Orchestra one is exactly what I love. The guitars are loud and it's thankfully not slow at all. The songs stick in my head - music and lyrics - and it is so much fun to listen to. It is the type of fearless records I really like because it lets the big songs be big, it gives them room to shine and it ROCKS.
For me this is the best new record in 2014 to date and I think it has a good chance to stay in this top spot of my personal charts until "Similarities" - Biffy's b-side record - will be released. 


Check out the awesomeness here: 


Electric: 



Acoustic and heartbreakingly wonderful:




And my personal favorite. 

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