Monthly Archives: January 2012

LIVE Craig Finn, Rough Tade Store East, London

Rough Trade Record Store East, Wednesday 25 January 2012

At the very back of a record store in East London, behind the aisles of CDs and vinyl, a bespectacled and ordinary looking man gets on stage with a light-looking acoustic guitar. This rouses the ageing, slightly hipster crowd. The man on stage is Craig Finn, leading man for The Hold Steady. Tonight though, he’s playing a little more quietly. Just he on acoustic guitar and his friend ‘Ricky’ on pedal steel guitar playing songs from his first solo record, Clear Heart Full Eyes.

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First Aid Kit ‘The Lion’s Roar’ Album Review

For a Swedish duo, First Aid Kit do folky Americana very well, and don’t let the name of the band put you off. The Lion’s Roar is one of the early contenders for album of the year.

The Söderberg sisters tap into a rich harmonic understanding of both the genre and one another. ‘Emmylou’ has a hooky chorus, name-dropping prominent country rock star pairings Emmylou Harris & Gram parsons and Johnny Cash & June Carter.

The album is upbeat throughout but not annoyingly so. Both the sisters take turns to sing, backing one another with a southern twang, which isn’t quite genuine but you wouldn’t know it if you weren’t told they’re Swedish.

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Craig Finn – Clear Heart Full Eyes – Album Review

Released: Monday 23 January 2012

For most Hold Steady fans, the appeal of the band lies in front man Craig Finn’s almost spoken words tales of middle America. What happens then, if you strip away the rock and get just Craig Finn? Clear Heart, Full Eyes, his first solo album, is the answer to that question. A songbook of basically the same kind of stories as told by Hold Steady but with less riffs and solos. It’s a chance for Finn to experiment and be a little calmer.

There are, of course, still guitars and drums but they play a backseat roll for the most part. Only opener ‘Apollo Bay’ has any kind of noisy solo. The pacing and variety is little lacking which might disappoint those who love the bar room rock sound which usually accompanies Finn. In comparison, this album is painted with beige neutrality.

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Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory – Album Review

Getting three albums in as many years out of a band these days is something of a miracle. With Attack On Memory Cloud Nothings are even managing to make artistic progression at the same time.

On first listen it seems as though Dylan Baldi has gone off the boil. Opener ‘No Future/No Past’ begins slowly, spiralling into yelling of the phrase “Give up, come to, no hope, we’re through”. It’s ominous and dark, not like him at all.

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Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy – Album Review

Released 23 January 2012

It must be difficult standing by your principles, getting dropped by your label, fighting back and marching on only to be sorely underrated. Such is the fate of Nada Surf. Sure you’ve heard of them, even if you think you haven’t, ‘Popular’ was their “one-hit-wonder” moment. Or perhaps you were drawn to their cover of ‘If You Leave’ by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark which featured on the hit American TV series The OC.

Now, more than 10 years later and still going strong, they release their seventh studio album The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy. The riffs are still just as tight and melodious as the choruses, especially when it comes to tracks like ‘Teenage Dreams’ (where Matthew Caws claims “Sometimes I ask the wrong questions but I get the right answers”) and the more mellow ‘Let the Fight Do the Fighting’ which asks for things to take their natural course in life. Both are hooky and original and if you aren’t singing along to these gems you might as well give up on this band right now.

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The Shins – Simple Song Review

For some it has been a long wait, for others, agonising. Finally The Shins are back with a new line-up and a slightly new direction.

The first single from their new album Port of Morrow is ‘Simple Song’. According to James Mercer it is a much more personal effort than their previous work. It still contains Mercers unique voice, like sunshine through black clouds.

Trademark wordsmith lyrics such as “My life in an upturned boat, marooned on a cliff, you brought me a great big flood, and gave me a lift” and “this is a simple song, to say what you’ve done” bring joy to the ears as Mercer sings the praises of his wife. Continue reading

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