Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Article on Album Art and Other News

I've done a short article slash synopsis on the relevance of album art, on The 405. I was quite proud of it, although I appear to have constructive criticism already...onwards and upwards I suppose. I can only get better.

(Or worse. But shush.)

Now, onto music. The Cribs have a favourite band, namely Comet Gain, and as a devoted Cribs fan who usually respects their musical opinion, I searched them out. I realised Cribs are extremely like them - more similar than 'influenced'.

Listen to these two, even only for a little while, and play spot the difference. Well, they're not that alike, but there are very clear similarities. They both start with one of those repetitive rhythmic guitar intro riffs, and then the lyrics come in - simple and based around the naïve concept of innocent platonic love. They both totter along to about 3/4 of the way through with simple chorus/verse structure, pretty but loose vocal harmonies, and come to a mildly sketchy but contrasting section, which peters out to an ending with lots of echo and feedback, fading out.

See what I mean? Either way, it's irrelevant, I like them both. Though not specifically those songs: try I Close My Eyes To Think of God by Comet Gain (which is not Goddy) and compare with We Share the Same Skies by The Cribs. Not as similar, but both better tracks.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

'Ignore the Ignorant', The Cribs

I've been waiting on this review, because the general feeling about this album and my opinion were so entirely different when it first came out. The general feeling was disappointment. I was wondering if I was overrating the album, because I'd met The Cribs a few days before.

After a fortnight, I don't think I was. This album is a great one, sounding maturer than The Cribs' three previous albums, with Johnny's guitar adding a new, more practised layer to the music, which also gives Ignore the Ignorant longevity in the CD player.

After catchy opener, but possible weak point, 'Cheat On Me', Ignore the Ignorant only gets better. 'We Were Aborted' is a more political track, the lyrics a real step forward from albums before, and Johnny's guitar adding interest. How anyone can say that Johnny's guitar stifles proceedings, I don't understand, because Ryan Jarman's raw guitar style still shines despite the addition of a glossier, more precise guitar. In fact, I think the two sounds complement each other better than most bands' guitars do, sharing and harmonising rather than squabbling for space in the mix.

I heard the word 'filler' being thrown around with this album. I wouldn't class any of the album as filler - every track has its moments, and its place on the album. My favourites include 'Emasculate Me', a track in which the sudden chorus and powerful but unusual lyrics combine for something nearing perfection, 'Save Your Secrets', a very tender and harmony-based song which comes as a welcome burst of calm, and the very Sonic Youth influenced 'City of Bugs', packed with noise and intense sound, carried by Ryan's sing-song voice and abstract lyrics.

The third track is possibly my favourite: 'We Share the Same Skies' reminds a little of earlier EP B-side 'Kind Words From The Broken-Hearted', supported by a wonderful opening riff, the sound of synthesised organ (which goes so well in contrast with rock guitars) and a soaring chorus.

Maybe there are fans too indie for the indie - fans who don't like the idea of famous Marr's inclusion, and so search for bad points. He hasn't made them sound like The Smiths. Maybe that's me being cynical about their cynicism. Whatever it is, I think The Cribs grown up lyrically, musically and emotionally, and the transition has been great. Getting better with age.


Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Cribs @ Kerrang! Radio, 3/09/09

2 years. I've been waiting to see The Cribs, manic indie-punk Yorkshiremen, for 2 years. They've always evaded me, somehow; my first Cribs experience was definitely worth the wait.

At just past 1 o' clock, 50 people were gathered in Kerrang! Radio's Birmingham studio, having won a competition (we had to guess what song was played backwards, and it was, as it always is, Men's Needs.) 'Johnny Marrman and the Jarmans' took to the tiny tiny stage to a wave of cheers from a mixed crowd - some of us were Cribs fans, and others generic competition winners.

The setlist was short and sweet. The brothers Jarman and their esteemed colleague kicked off with excellent We Were Aborted, the first song they ever wrote together. The second song was We Share The Same Skies, a rather tender track (for the Jarmans) with added Marr twinkle. Hari Kari was next, another faster number, and then City Of Bugs, a track with lots of distortion that sounds a little like Be Safe from the third album Men's Needs, Women's Needs Whatever (2007), minus Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth, who guested on Be Safe). Finally, they ended with current single, and probably weakest track, Cheat On Me.

The playing was a Hell of a lot less shambolic than I expected; I think Johnny keeps the band together musically, and adds depth and shine that covers up the Jarmans' sometimes messy playing styles. The atmosphere was unusual with there being only 50 people, but not bad. The band spoke a few times, once to say they'd been out in Birmingham the night before, so it was 'too early' for them, and once to sardonically say we'd probably all illegally downloaded these 'unheard tracks' anyway.

Afterwards, they signed and chatted and took photographs with friendliness. Ross was talkative, Johnny Marr was highly sought after for signatures, and the twins differed considerably in the strength of their handshakes. I asked Johnny "Do you sign things you weren't on", producing The Cribs album, to which he replied "Yeah, if it's good I'll sign it. The Beatles, Nirvana...". Gary (looking tanned and a little exceptional) mentioned my Sonic Youth shirt, at which I remarked I loved Lee on Be Safe. Ryan signed The Cribs and told me it was 'well old school', and then I got the photo below. Very very nice day.