Its almost summer festival time. This year we’re going to Poland for the Opener festival again. Gabriel, Kaz and I went in in 2009, met up with some Polish friends, enjoyed the weather, vodka, beer and music. Basement Jaxx, Prodigy, The Roots and Arctic Monkeys rocked it up. Coldplay headed one night but we skipped that and the Kings Of Leon put on a good show abeit showcasing a fairly shit album. And that’s what the summer is often about for bands. Showing the world their new albums, selling it over summer before they return in November to encourage the Christmas sales.
This year at Opener the acts are even better and far more tailored to my wishes (Thanks Opener!). Nick Cave, Queens of the Stone Age, The National, Tame Impala, Animal Collective, Devendra Banhart , Modest Mouse, Blur, Crystal Fighters and Castles etc etc. For the price 120 pounds for 4 days, its a bargain. Added to the cheap price of booze and life in Poland, we’ll be happy. I say we because right now 4/5 of us are going plus I’ll catch up with Ola for the first time since Jerusalem in 2010!
So to the albums. These are by no means all but some of what’s been occupying my ears, mind and feet over these last few, hot months.
Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork 7/10
Its good, catchy, less rocky, gentler and more heartfelt than before. Maybe Josh is getting older!
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 5.5/10
Slightly more morose than his more recent albums, more akin to his older albums in the mid-90s, Cave is still a great storyteller and his songs imbue into your bones.
Its good but I have heard all this before from British indie rock despite a great depth
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories 8.5/10
This is a long album and full of highlights, middle lights and some tunes you flick by. Its incredibly slick and feel-good and the last few tracks are a real rousing finale. Giorgio by Moroder is absolutely fantastic.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City 9/10
I really like this album. It’s instantly loveable, deeper than the previous efforts. The sound is still diverse, ecletic and booming while the band’s themes are more grown up. Ya Hey is an immense tune.
Kurt Vile – Walking on a Pretty Daze 8.5/10
Ahhh this album puts anyone in a confused or irritated mood take a step back and just relax. Vile’s lyrics contain pearls of wisdom. His languid guitar solos are destressers of the highest order. 9 minute songs fly by. Its perfect for city centre walks here. Vile really takes you into his world.
John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts 8/10
I am a late discoverer of John Grant. My mate Matty raved about him but only this year have I listened. Grant is a serious musician with real talent, direct amusing lyrics writing his sad story with pathos, arrogance and some great one liners.
Primal Scream – More Light 6.5/10
A new album and the first one I’ve wanted to listen to repeatedly since….ahh I dunno….15 years. The opener tells the story. Bobby is a rant over post-modernity. His targets are usually fellow artists who’ve failed to politicise their art, preferring to take the cash and mooch around Shoreditch. Alas while his aim is good, his solutions fal at the door of excess.
The National – Trouble Will Find Me 8/10
Matt’s voice got light and smokier (ironically as smokes less) but his alcoholism and melodic narrative of personal doom continues. Its a more restrained album musically, reminding me of Alligator which is no step back. The drums come to the fore again. The themes are often criticised by non-lovers as samey but in reality like Camera Obscura, this consistency is their strength. Its the nuance that’s important. Heavenfaced is beautiful (along with many others).
Disclosure – Settle 6/10
If anything is samey, its electronic music but while Disclosure maintain their sound in general, they add extra texture with guest vocals and a diverse range of themes. Its a long album. Too long. But while you can stand it, or as background to preparing to go out, its good accompaniment.
Johnny Marr – 5/10
I can’t remember the name of this album. I can’t remember any the songs or any of the riffs. But yet I don’t feel I wasted my time. After each of my three listenings, 20 minutes I couldn’t recall any of the songs but I still felt good about the album. I suppose its catchy, pleasant, then forgettable indie rock. I liked it even if I can’t remember.
Grownass Man – The Shouting Matches 7.5/10
Bon Iver sits in the studio with his two old friends and pulls out some funny, loose country bar rock. Damn its good even if it does feel like a session played in front of friends and family and some approving locals in the middle of Minnesota.
I’d write about more albums but I need another listen. More soon