Thursday, 26 September 2013

A reminder of how good Reuben were (and a bit of Biffy)

For proof of how brilliant Reuben could be in their genre, I've dug up the cover they did of Vex Red's 'Karin'. Vex Red were a fairly small band on the same sort of scene as Reuben in the early 00s, but they disappeared even sooner. 'Karin' is a decent piece of songwriting, but only ever made it to demo stage, so it's a bit sketchy and not particularly well padded-out. Reuben heard this:

And turned it into this:

Karin by Reuben on Grooveshark

I may be biased, but the energy and innovation in that cover, even with simpler rock instrumentation and the same riffs, is exceptional.

While we're on covers, I feel I should re-post the wackiest hard rock cover in existence. Ever heard Weezer's melodic gem 'Buddy Holly'? If not, or if it's just a faint memory, here's a reminder:

Buddy Holly by Weezer on Grooveshark

Now take everything you'd just heard, tear it up and listen to this:

Buddy Holly (Weezer cover) by Biffy Clyro on Grooveshark

"Suck on that!" as Simon Neil almost certainly said after recording that guitar part.

Monday, 23 September 2013

1/3 of Reuben return

This evening, I got an unanticipated, excitable call from my boyfriend. "JAMIE LENMAN'S RELEASING A NEW ALBUM". We like Reuben, the band Lenman fronted a few years ago, and any signs of life in the band members have excited us ever since. Reuben were amongst the hardcore bands to rise in the early 00s with Biffy Clyro, Hundred Reasons and Hell is for Heroes, and they were also one of those rare bands who break up but then don't stop gathering fans. My boyfriend and I nearly booked tickets to 2000 Trees festival this year because there were rumours Reuben would perform. It was unlikely, and as expected, it didn't happen. But now, news - on 4th November, their lead singer and main ego is releasing new music.

When I interviewed Jamie Lenman 4 years ago, he told readers to "Watch this space!" if they wanted to hear some solo material. Well, it's been a lot of watching, but today we've got what we were waiting for. The promotional bumf is extremely polished: Jamie's gone for the waxed-moustache look (I don't think that's a viable look, but he pulls it off - or rather, I wish he would); an album release on CD and vinyl is planned; a new website has already been rolled out, and the new video is seamlessly and stylishly directed. In other words, this hasn't come about sketchily. Fans have spent the last 5 years examining and debating every bale of tumbleweed passing through the desert Reuben left behind, watching that space with hawks' eyes, so this onslaught of information was a shock to the senses. Within half a day, the new video has been shared by over half of the people who've liked it on Facebook - there may not be millions of them, but these people are seriously dedicated.

So can the new tracks impress fans who've waited 5 years for Jamie to put down his sketching pencils (he was an illustrator for the Guardian for a while) and pick up a guitar? Well, primarily, the surprise is the genre Lenman's chosen - or should that be genres? His new album appears to be half hardcore, half "jazz-folk", and the new video (below) showcases both styles to great effect. The wit on the second track, 'Pretty Please', is characteristic Lenman - with simple lyrics, a light-hearted edge and unabashed catchiness, it's more 'pop' than anything Lenman's released before, but anyone who listened to 'Deadly Lethal Ninja Assassin' on the last album could have sensed something shifting. It's very different though. If we're to believe Jamie actually played as many instruments on the track as the video suggests, then he's branched out dramatically - from drummer, guitarist and vocalist to double-bass aficionado and trumpet player? Bravo.

The cry of the track is "validate me! Oh pretty please. Validate me, yeah." It's probably no coincidence that Xtra Mile & Jamie have chosen to release that particular song as a single. So far, the Youtube comments and wider response seem to validate him very nicely.

The track opening the video is a lot more like Jamie as manifested on Reuben tracks. The atmospheres of the two halves neatly represent the singer's seeming dual personality - he's brooding, dark and able to inject real anger into recordings, but (previously outside of the studio) also has an immense sense of humour and playfulness. See what you think, anyway. For me, Maggsy321 summarised the feelings of today perfectly: "The only thing that could ruin one of the happiest days of my life is the stupid fucking moustache."