Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T surprises himself with some green shoots of enthusiasm for lots of new records...
Where to start?
Lovelikefire played their first UK gig here in sunny Cambridge the other night (17.9.09 - my pictures are here) and they didn't disappoint. The début album 'Tear Ourselves Away' had lured me in with its wistful melodies, its soaring crescendos and its taut lyrics 'William', the single, is a truly great track and live they more than match this, with a stage show mixing enthusiasm, jet lag and a genuinely shocked pleasure at the rousing reception they received. Lovelikefire have been compared to the likes of My Bloody Valentine, The Howling Bells, The Killers (of course, given their history) and even Ryan Adams, but to me their darkly yearning crunchy indie reminds me of nothing more than moody 90s noiseniks The Hearthrobs.
Sadly the crowd wasn't so enthusiastic at Charlotte Hatherley's gig at the ironically rather soulless Soul Tree (13.9.9). They were polite and appreciative and enjoyed what they were seeing; however, despite her efforts, Charlotte was unable to create any sort of atmosphere. All the songs were delivered faithfully and with aplomb it's just that their lush and spectral power was hard to recreate amongst 20 cynical looking souls, standing cross armed and a bit embarrassed miles from the stage. Not quite the same as playing to 60,000 at Reading, I would guess, but a nice sound all the same a nice sound in search of an audience.
The Raveonettes 'In And Out Of Control' is another one I can't get off my stereo - or out of my head. It's due a 'proper' review soon on this site from someone more able to do it justice than me, but here's what Sune Rose Wagner said about it: it's a strange mixture of modern and old, dark and happy. It s about rape, violence, lost love, suicide and not giving a shit! They also claim it's their poppiest album yet - which in their terms means that their acerbic blasts of noise are accompanied by swathes of sweet melody and heavenly harmony. Just like a normal Raveonettes album then. But to me, this one sounds stronger, more accomplished and more infectious than ever. Noisy summer? Sounds like a zombie soundtrack to a boisterous autumn.
The Cribs album 'Ignore the Ignorant' is obviously a very 'now' record in its concerns and production ironic then that it derives a lot of its power (and probably its sales) from the inimitable guitar mastery of Johnny Marr. Those expecting Smithsian riffs will be disappointed, but Marr's distinctive sound certainly colours the tracks, as is obvious from the ridiculously catchy riff married to the wide open spaces on single 'Cheat On Me'. This is a band not doing the expected as 'Stick To Yr Guns' ponts out, they are still not going to sell out and join the fake indie 'in' crowd and awkward, jolting rhymes such as mid-shelf masturbation" with "smear on half the nation" only serve to ram this point home. The world is a better place for bands like The Cribs defending 'real indie' from the scenesters whose selfish manifesto reads (according to The Cribs) take drugs, don't eat, have contempt for those you meet. Ignore the ignorant, indeed.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are another band more than willing to wear their 'more indie than thou' influences on their retro T shirted sleeves, and their self titled album rushes along like a cider fuelled spotty student at a C86 gig*. At times the sound of their boy-girl vocals and lo-fi jangles makes it almost as if you've discovered a lost early My Bloody Valentine demo or an unheard Rosehips track or something new from 14 Iced Bears, so authentic are they in their reproduction of the sounds of the mid 80s UK indie guitar scene. The real question is, does this lack of originality matter? After all, as someone* once said, originality is worthless. With songs as strong as 'Come Saturday', 'Contender', 'Young Adult Friction' and 'Stay Alive', does it matter that there's nothing new or ground breaking here can't it just be enjoyed for what it is a piece of well crafted, simple, unchallenging, carefree pop music? Apparently it took 15 years for punk to break in America, from this evidence it seems to have taken indie pop more like 20!
The Wildhearts are a band similarly unphased by the vagaries of fashion and their new album Chutzpah! shows that there can indeed be new life in the 40 something rock beast. This is a fantatsic and varied album, showcasing the host of styles the band are capable of and almost sounding like a sum of all their influences and constituent parts there's reminders of The Jellys, The Yo-Yos and Honeycrack, amongst others. This is achieved through the shared vocal and writing credits on the album, which (for the first time) show The Wildhearts to be a real, democratic band. So we have the metal funk of Scott's 'Plastic Jesus', the madly singable 'You Are Proof That Not All Women Are Insane' which is crying out to be a TV theme tune, the heavy as cadmium 'Tim Smith', 'You Took The Sunshine From New York' which in a fair world would be pouring out of every car radio from every pop station and floating across the sunny afternoon, and title track 'Chutzpah' with its mad fusion of heavy rock and 70s disco swirls and synth-ed up vocals, recalling the highs of 'Caffeine Bomb'.
I don't know how they do it, but the Wildhearts have managed to constantly surprise and delight me over nearly 20 years by combining slices of overdriven Marshall stacks with the melodies as sweet as apple juice in autumn.
(* - probably me!)