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On why the general press is always late on music trends!
The non-musical press is actually praising the new Gossip album released this week while, at the same time, music fans and the musical press, with which I agree, slam the record for its lack of originality and its departure from the original sound of its predecessors.
This case highlights the difficulty for traditional press to have a good a reviewing process for music : by nature they do not try and follow the underground scenes because that is not what their readers are interested in and so they almost always miss the breakthrough records and end up at best praising the artist’s tour in support of the album, or at worse the artist’s next album whatever its interest.
If you add to this that record companies boost their spending only on artists that have already had a hit, general press is always late and confuses past success with new highs.
I bet that the new Queens of the Stone Age record, for example, will be the good occasion for the general to jump on the bandwagon of a band that would have already deserved it 10 years ago.
Nosfell is french artist who gives sense to the notion of “indie” by singing most of his songs in a language he made up, the Klokobetz, Creating a real universe with dance, iconography and music, his live shows earned him a well-deserved reputation of uncompromising artist.
For his third LP, the eponym Nosfell, he managed to go and record with Alain Johannes in his 11AD studio in Los Angeles. The result was a great record filled with heavy guitars and melodies.
Impressed by the talent of Nosfell, Johannes offered him to ask Brody Dalle from the Distillers, who was at the time recording her Spinnerette project with Johannes, to come and sing on a song. She agreed and eventually brought her husband Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, who was working on the, at the time, secret project, Them Crooked Vultures to come sing and play guitar leads. The song titled Bargain Healers gained Nosfell interest on the internet, even though it is definitely not the most original on the album. (check it on the next post)
If you liked it, you should definitely check his myspace and get this third LP.
No need for a context to review Blues Funeral, Mark Lanegan’s latest effort, no need to make a list of all his past collaborations to try and find influences, borrowed gimmicks etc.. Recorded and produced with Alain Johannes, this album is a standalone masterpiece which I think is way more personal than the (all awesome) albums Lanegan had made with Mike Johnson or Josh Homme’s desert crew.
Sonically the opening song (The Gravedigger’s Song) and its stabbing drumming make you wonder whether Mark Lanegan has decided to compete with Trent Reznor in indus-rock and/or has decided to surprise all of his blues-addicted fans. But whatever the reason,  the result is both awesome and striking : the most touching vocalist of his generation has freed itself from his the cage he had spent years building around his voice. But as soon as you think that, Bleeding Muddy Water comes to remind you that he has left the door of the cage opened and that he can fly back in when he wants, bringing along some electronic new friends.
After two songs, the question is there : real departure or trompe-l’oeil? The rest of the album alternates between right electronic jabs - Gray Goes Black and Harborview Hospital - and more blues-rock left jabs - Riot In My House (feat Josh Homme) and Phantasmagoria Blues - never missing its target. And there are still some uppercuts left : the house music of  Ode To Sad Disco is a perfect match for Lanegan’s voice who proves how versatile he is both as a singer and as a songwriter (even though he didn’t pen the electronic part, taken from a movie soundtrack).
Paradoxically, on a track like Deep Vanishing Train, with its acoustic guitar more reminiscent of his earlier work, Lanegan fails to convince. Maybe that is because the track ressemblance to the Bubblegum-era b-side Mirrored is too obvious, maybe that is because he does not want to stay in this comfort zone and puts less heart in such songs.
If the “Blues Funeral” title refers to the burial of Mark Lanegan’s previous stripped-down blues career, then it is a glorious send-off. This album is an instant classic, with new details you’ll uncover after every new listen.
Note : if you have missed it, download the bootleg of this tour posted earlier on the blog, to see that these new songs sound great live. And tomorrow a bootleg of Mark with Queens of the Stone Age for download. follow the blog to be sure not to miss any new bootleg.
18 years to the date, when the Offspring released their album Smash, the music world had just learnt that Kurt Cobain’s dead body had been found and so the 3rd album of the 4 middle class punk-rockers was far from the headlines.
Having released two years before Smash what is, in my opinion, the best punk-rock album of the nineties (Ignition, on which I’ll post a few things when its 20th birthday nears), the Offspring were not completely anonymous but were mostly known of the underground California scene and still had day jobs to pay their bills.
Smash changed their lives for ever :  two months after Green Day’s Dookie, this mix of metal, ska and punk coupled with their trademark backing vocals helped shape what would be coined the pop-punk sound, even though this album can hardly be defined as pop (except for the hit single Self Esteem maybe).
As soon as MTV had Come Out And Play on heavy rotation, the album became a smash hit (easy joke, I know) and people got to discover all of its great songs : its ironic intro, the anthemic Nitro, the bass line and agressive vocals of Bad Habit, the huge drum pattern of Gotta Get Away, the funny ska of What Happened To You? (the Offspring will keep that idea of a light/ska song on their next records) etc… The Offspring were now a household name with a landmark album.
To relive what the Offspring was at that time and how good their gigs were, I’ll upload my favorite 1994 Offspring bootleg tomorrow. (see previous post for a sample)
Charles Peterson - Screaming Life

Cover photo : Kurt Cobain

Si l’iconographie de la scène grunge de Seattle vous intéresse, voilà un livre à ne pas manquer (sous le titre Seattle Grunge dans son édition française). Charles Peterson est LE photographe qui a travaillé avec Sub Pop à définir l’image visuelle du grunge. En bonus avec le livre : une excellente compil’ Sub Pop (même si la version française a perdu au passage une chanson de Nirvana) de groupes grunge moins connus.

Je vous posterai certaines des images du livre dans les prochains posts.

If you’re interested in the grunge/Seattle scene, here is a book you can’t miss by one of the photographers (if not THE photographer) that teamed with Sub Pop to define the iconography of the scene. Plus in bonus you have an enclosed CD :  great Sub Pop comp’ curated by Charles Peterson. See tracklist here.

I’ll post pictures from the book in the next posts.

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Buddha Sentenza - mode0909

English version below

Voilà un groupe de stoner instrumental dont vous n’avez malheureusement sûrement jamais entendu parler, alors que leur croisement entre Karma To Burn (pour la fougue) et Yawning Man (pour le côté planant) leur mériterait une reconnaissance internationale. Généreux,ils offrent leur unique album à ce jour en téléchargement gratuit sur leur site (ou en CD payant) ainsi qu’un bootleg. Vous regrettez de ne pas avoir été là quand Kyuss a commencé, alors ne laissez pas passer Buddha Sentenza sans les écouter.

Vivement le second album.

A ne pas manquer : les samples de “Le bon, la Brute et le Truand” en intro de la jouissive version studio de Ride With The Devil

Here is a stoner instrumental band that you, unfortunately, probably have never heard of until now, even though their crossover between Karma To Burn (for their energy) and Yawning Man (for their psychedelism) should earn them international recognition. Fortunately they are offering their only studio effort to date for free on their  site , as well as a bootleg. You always felt sad about missing the early days of Kyuss? Then don’t miss Buddha Sentenza.

The second album can’t come soon enough.

Don’t miss : the samples of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on the seminal studio version of Ride With The Devil (see next post)

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Rammstein - Rosenrot / Liebe ist für alle da

English version below

Après 4 très bons efforts espacés dans le temps, Rammstein revient très vite avec Rosenrot constitué des chutes de Reise, Reise et de nouvelles chansons. Fait à la va-vite et sans unité, l’album est plutôt une compilation allant du très mauvais (Stirb nicht vor mir) au rigolo (Te quiero puta) voire au bon (Feuer und Wasser) en apssant par l’anecdotique (Ein Lied). Bref une erreur de parcours pas si grave, si ce n’est qu’on sent que le groupe a commencé à perdre le contrôle de son image (photos avec un look travaillé par des publicitaires grand public comme ci-dessus, clips mal tournés comme Benzin).

Et l’impression se confirme sur Liebe ist fûr alle da, publié en 2009, qui voit le groupe tourner en rond entre auto-célébration crétine (Rammlied), provoc’ à deux balles (le clip de Pussy) et recopie de thèmes utilisés (Wiener Blut en miroir de Mein Teil). Un petit Haifisch très Depeche Mode et un jeu de batterie très varié sauvent l’album du naufrage. Mais de peu.

Le best-of qui suivra et son single ridicule font cependant craindre le pire pour un groupe qui assure toujours en live (avec tout de même un peu de play back). Le départ d’Emmanuel Fialik, 7ème homme ne charge du marketing et de l’image, à l’influence discutable ces dernières années revigorera peut-être la franchise Rammstein qui cherche à tout prix à s’imposer aux USA…

After 4 very good records in 10 years, Rammstein comes back quickly, probably too quickly with Rosenrot, an album consisting of leftovers from the Reise, Reise sessions and new songs. Lacking unity, the record is more a compilation going from worse (Stirb nicht vor mir) to funny (Te quiero puta), sometimes even reaching good (Feuer und wasser) but witht too many forgettable songs (Ein Lied). A mistake a little bit worrying as tha band also seems to lose control of its image with horrible hipster photoshoots (picture at the top of the post) and bad videos such as Benzin.

And we were right to worry as Liebe ist für alle da, published in 2009 lacks originality between qstupid self-celebration (Rammlied), stupidly shocking videos (Pussy) and rehash of old themes (Wiener Blut vs Mein Teil). Haifisch, very “Depeche Mode”, and a good drumming barely save the album.

the best-of that ensues and its ridiculous single are nothing to rekindle our faith for a band that still rocks it live (with a little play back…). the departure of Emmanuel Fialik, 7th man of the band in charge of marketing and image control, whose influence may have been damaging lately will maybe help Rammstein regain its focus, as the band has done everything to charm America…

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Rammstein - Reise, Reise

English version below

Inutile de dire qu’après Herzeleid, Sehnsucht, et Mutter le 4ème album des 6 Allemands était très attendu, et que hormis le nombre de pistes (11 toujours) et le nom du producteur (Jacob Hellner toujours) tout était possible.

Reise, Reise (traduction : Voyage, voyage) sort donc en 2004 avec une nouvelle fois une inflexion légère des thèmes et motifs du groupe : des paroles plus en prise avec l’actualité (le fait divers cannibale de Mein Teil, l’ironie politique d’Amerika), des paroles en anglais ou en russe (Moskau) et un titre acoustique qui montre la force de composition du groupe quand il accepte de baisser le volume (Los). La continuité est cependant là, les guitares vrombissent toujours et les choeurs inquiétants aussi (même si ce sont maintenant de vrais choristes qui les enregistrent), et le titre Ohne Dich sort tout droit des sessions de Mutter.

Encore une fois un coup de maître donc, un album varié et novateur qui servira de prétexte à la tournée la plus démesurée du groupe. C’est également à ce jour le dernier grand album du groupe comme je l’évoquerai dans un prochain post.

Note : une piste cachée se trouve avant la première chanson de l’album

Needless to say that after Herzeleid, Sehnsucht, and Mutter, the 4th album of the german sextet was eagerly awaited and that apart from the number of tracks (11 as always) and the producer name (Jacob Hellner as always), anything was possible.

Reise, Reise (trad. : Travel, travel) is released in 2004 with once more a little tweak compared to the previous records : lyrics related to news (a german cannibal in Mein Teil, the political irony of Amerika), english and russian lyrics (Moskau) and an acoustic track showcasing the strength of the band as composers whent they decide to lower the volume (Los). Still not everything is renewed : the guitars are stil heavy, choirs are intriguing (and are now recorded by real chorists) and the track Ohne Dich was a left over from Mutter.

Once more a masterpiece, fresh and versatile which will enable the band to tour extensively with a thrilling show. It’s also until today their last great album as I’ll tell you later.

Fun fact : there is a hidden track before the first song. 

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Rammstein - Sehnsucht

English version below

Sorti en 1997, Sehnsucht (traduction : nostalgie) marque le tournant tant redouté du second album pour nos amis allemands. Après un premier effort qui les a fait remarquer comme peu de groupes chantant en allemand en avaient eu la chance, le public et la critique les attendent.

Dès les vocalises de muezzin qui ouvrent  l’album qui ouvrent l’album, le ton est donné : Rammstein va frapper fort avec un son plus propre que sur Herzeleid, avec une palette de samples et d’influences plus larges, mais avec une hargne intacte et une poésie sombre toujours envoutante (Sehnsucht et ses paroles freudiennes, Bestrafe Mich et son masochisme…). Rien à jeter ou presque sur ce disque, qui sait ménager des pauses pour des chansons au tempo plus lent comme Klavier et Spiel Mit Mir.

Ce sont surtout les Etats-Unis qui vont adhérer à ce son sans compromis (Du Hast sera incluse dans la B.O. de Matrix aux côtés de Ministry, Marilyn Manson etc…) et par effet boomerang faire devenir le groupe encore plus incontournable en Europe.

Par ailleurs, bien soutenus par leur maison de disque, Rammstein crée un univers visuel fort dans ses clips et ses photos promo, à voir notamment Engel et sa reprise d’une scène culte du film Une Nuit En Enfer.

Note : pour les traductions de chansons allez sur http://www.rammsteinworld.com/paroles/traductions

Released in 1997, Sehnsucht (translation : nostalgia) is the always critical second album of our german friends. After a first effort which had put them on the rock map like very few german singing band before them, both critics and fans are eagerly waiting.

The  muezzin vocals opening the first track and the following guitar riff tell it all : Rammstein has chosen to strike hard with a cleaner sound as compared to Herzeleid, a wider spectrum of influences and samples, but still with ferocity and a dark twisted poetry (Sehnsucht and its Freudian lyrics, Bestrafe Mich and ist masochism…). No filler track here, even on the slow songs such as Klavier or Spiel Mit Mir.

More importantly, the US will love that uncompromising new sound (Du Hast will feature on the Matrix O.S.T. with Ministry, Marilyn Manson etc…) and that will boost their popularity in Europe even more.

And finally their label will fund them to create a strong universe with videos and photos, do not miss the Engel video posted later on this blog with its remake of a scene of the cult From Dusk Till Dawn.

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Rammstein - Herzeleid

Standard cover

Comme promis, petite rétrospective de la discographie de Rammstein avant leurs concerts best-of à Paris Bercy cette semaine.

As promised, the first part of a series of reviews about Rammstein.

Quand Herzeleid (traduction : peine de coeur) sort en 1995, Rammstein n’est connu que d’un cercle d’initiés pour avoir gagné un concours de groupes amateurs à Berlin en 1994 mais aussi pour le passé des membres dans des formations underground de l’ex Allemagne de l’Est (Feeling B notamment).

Comme souvent, ce premier album sera porteur des thèmes du groupe tout au long de sa carrière (même si le groupe s’est sûrement perdu depuis Rosenrot, comme j’aurai l’occasion d’y revenir) : musicalement un déluge de guitares, une voix parlée martiale et des samples bruitistes, le format à 11 chansons dont une ballade (Seemann sur cet album), les thèmes abordés vont de la peine de coeur à la prostitution masculine (Weisses Fleisch) en passant par une auto-célébration parodique (Rammstein et le nom du groupe scandé, sur des paroles rappelant la tragédie aérienne dont le groupe tire son nom).

La langue allemande retient l’attention tout comme la rythmique martiale et simple, le tout évoquant une version militaire de Nine Inch Nails.

La publication de deux titres sur la B.O. de Lost Highway de David Lynch (grand fan de rock indus, comme en attestent ses liens avec Trent Reznor de nine Inch Nails) assurera au groupe un début de notoriété internationale et ses premières polémiques (sur la pochette de l’album notamment, qui sera revue aux Etats-Unis et sur la vidéo de Du Riechst So Gut qui sera retournée).

En résumé, un album qui pose les fondements de ce que Rammstein deviendra sans pour autant laisser deviner tout le potentiel du groupe.

Dans les posts à suivre, quelques images et sons de l’époque pour se faire une idée.(dont les 2 vidéos différentes de Du Riechst So Gut)

US cover

When Herzeleid (meaning heartache) is released in 1995, Rammstein is unknown : they have only won a contest in 1994 in Berlin and some people from the underground scene of east germany knew them from their previous bans such as Feeling B.

As oftent, this first album already contains the thematics and gimmicks the band will use during its carreer (even though, the band has surely lost its edge since Rosenrot, but more on that later) : musically a wall of guitars, a spoken military voice and noisy samples, 11 songs in an album including a ballad (Seemann for this first effort), the lyrical themes go from heartache to male prostitution (Weisses Fleisch) not forgetting self-celebration (Rammstein, and the name of the band repeated ad nauseam).

Striking facts : everything is sung in german and the rythm section is very simple and the overall sound evokes a military Nine Inch Nails.

The release of 2 tracks on the Lost Highway O.S.T. (thanks to David Lynch and his inclination towards indus like Trent Reznor’s nine Inch Nails) will gain the band a small international following and ist first controversies in the US (the cover of the album will be changed and a new video shot for Du Riechst So Gut).

To sum it all up : a good record which in retrospect has everything that will make the band successful, but without hinting that such success is possible.

In the following posts, a few pictures and music from that time (including the 2 different Du Riechst So Gut videos).

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