FEATURE: Signposts in Modern Music

DS Featured ImageSIGNPOSTSWe look at six songs that stand out as important moments in modern music, changing the playing field and inspiring legions of other musicians…

JEFF BUCKLEY – GRACE (1994)

With alternative music (as it was known at the time) in the grip of grunge and hard rock it took a sensitive young man with an angelic voice, good looks and a mesmerizing guitar style to usher in a new era of appreciation for the tortured heart and lost lovers. Buckley spent a long time crafting and refining the batch of songs that would make up his debut album and the epic title track and first single Grace ignited a whole swathe of music listeners who were sick of the posturing and angry angst on the radio. Buckley’s sweet falsetto and powerful voice seduced and influenced everyone from Thom Yorke to Chris Martin and Rufus Wainwright and marked his as one of those special artists even before his tragic death.

THE CURE – A FOREST (1980)

This was the first single that charted for the band in the UK and it marked the real arrival of their sound from which they would base all their future work. It was dark, melancholic and mysterious enough to keep the tortured teens of the time guessing as to what it meant. Sonically there are similarities to early New Order with primitive beats and a prominent bass line that binds and propels the song. By not punctuating the song with big choruses it feels linear and unconventional marking it as something different to the standard chart fodder like Blondie and ABBA. A Forest was an exercise in reductionist pop composition that took them from post punk mopes to leaders of the indie scene at the dawn of the 80s.

PUBLIC ENEMY – BRING THE NOISE (1987)

Public Enemy were the first truly militant hip hop act to garner widespread success in a genre that too often was viewed as cartoonish and not ‘real’ music by the mainstream. PE changed all that by politicising their lyrics and delivering them rapid fire over brutal and drilling beats courtesy of DJ Terminator X. From the opening Malcolm X sample of “Too black, too strong” this was serious music with Chuck D and Flavor Flav playing the roles of orator and jester between the searing scratching and a wide spectrum of beats. Importantly it wasn’t all bluster and noise, Chuck D’s vocal work superbly navigates different meters and phrasing like a poet re-enacting a Miles Davis trumpet solo. Hip Hop would never sound as visceral as this again.

DAVID BOWIE – ZIGGY STARDUST (1972)

Perhaps the best known of Bowie’s many incarnations, Ziggy Stardust was a song that told the tale of the character, created the myth and liberated a generation of music fans and other musicians. In the early 1970s art rock was a underground scene that only reached the masses with the arrival of Marc Bolan on Top of the Pops in 1971. Fellow maverick Bowie was on the same path and with the creation of Ziggy Stardust the two of them led the way for a plethora of like minded extroverts such as Gary Glitter, Slade, Queen, Roxy Music and the New York Dolls. It is easy to underestimate the conceptual influence of Bowie’s theatrical side which has permeated most forms of music ever since. The song Ziggy Stardust (surprisingly not released as a single) was the vehicle for a call to arms for creative freedom and expression and Mick Ronson’s opening chords still sounds magnificent nearly 40 years on.

THE STONE ROSES – FOOLS GOLD (1989)

The final track on the band’s defining album provided the band with their first top ten hit in the UK and their appearance on Top of the Pops is seen by many as the defining moment when the band gained national and subsequently international fame. Fools Gold is the definitive Stone Roses song with Reni’s trademark funk-fueled breakbeat drumming, Mani’s rolling bass, John Squire’s rip and tear wah guitar and Ian Brown‘s lackadaisical vocal delivery. It felt intoxicating, loose limbed and completely of its time on the eve of Britpop and in the twilight of the so called Summer Of Love  – two British music movements that The Stone Roses straddled. Few bands have married guitars and dance beats so successfully since.

THE BEACH BOYS – GOOD VIBRATIONS (1966)

Brian Wilson’s masterpiece of composition and production was reaction of sorts to what he was hearing from The Beatles on the other side of the Atlantic in the mid 1960s. Described by the band’s publicist Derek Taylor as a ‘pocket symphony’ he wasn’t far off the mark. Incorporating instruments like the electro-theremin and cello it sounds like a disorientating wave of melodies, harmonies and musical treats all wrapped up in 3.5 minutes of pop perfection. Psychedelic music was already around but this song elevated it into the mainstream, reaching the top of the US single charts and widening the minds of millions.

INSIDE SLEEVE: The Cure | Standing On A Beach – The Singles

This is the first instalment of an ongoing feature that will look at the inside of vinyl album sleeves. So many album covers have become iconic, instantly recognisable images and they are often the first thing that comes to mind when a record is mentioned. They create the mood, aesthetic and feel of the music presented within. In this day and age of digital immediacy the joy of discovering liner notes, credits, gatefold photos and artwork is increasingly becoming an adventure of the past. These days they are either non-existent or limited by the small format CD booklet so aside from the sound quality of the music itself the medium of vinyl still serves an important role as a canvas for the musician’s visual representation of their music.

First up is The Cure’s first collection of songs, Standing On A Beach – The Singles, released in 1986 on Fiction Records. The front cover is instantly recognisable with the weary-eyed and aged face of a man on beach while the flipside has the tracklisting suspended above a stark, almost alien looking coastal landscape. Open the gatefold and you find the artwork that featured on the covers of the 7″ releases of the album’s thirteen songs, spread over black-streaked sand with a psychedelic filter effect.

 

 

SONIC KICKS: Charlie Horse

Charlie Horse released one of our favourite albums of the year with I Hope I’m Not A Monster and in a full interview that we’ll be publishing in the coming weeks they tell us they’re already halfway through the next record which should be out in the second half of 2013. With a widescreen rock n roll sound that draws influence from Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Chrissie Hynde and Lucinda Williams, Charlie Horse (centred around guitarist/songwriter Paul McDonald and singer Crystal Rose) are a band we highly recommend you check out. We put the duo through the punishing exercise that is Sonic Kicks.

The first album I bought…

PaulFrankie Goes To Hollywood | Welcome to the Pleasuredome. Maybe this is the beginning of my love for OTT bombastic music. I couldn’t believe how good this was when I was a wee kid, little did I know it was all a bit racey and somewhat sexually oo lah lah… and a Bruce cover too.
CrystalThe VerveUrban Hymns. It’s amazing what an aloof, sexy guy does for your musical growth, shame he turned into such a boring git.

The album that soundtracked a relationship…

PaulRyan Adams |Easy Tiger
CrystalRyan Adams |Easy Tiger – Cough cough, nothing to see here.

The album that inspired me to form a band…

PaulU2 | Under A Blood Red Sky. The mullets, the boots, the flags, the songs. What’s not to like. I can probably still play every note from Edge and sing every part from Saint Bono note perfect. Sleeves on your shirt, no thanks.
CrystalAretha Franklin | I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You. Dad used to buy these old albums for me because he liked gutsy chick vocals plus they were dirt cheap, two dollar bin style but I do still love the blues.

The album that reminds me of my high school years

PaulThe Cure | Staring At The Sea (on cassette so you got the brilliant b-sides). We used to hitch rides with the older guys from school who had cars and “pull laps” up and down the main street of Tumut and blast this on tape. I remember playing this on the way to the snow fields because we could do skiing for sport, and we spun out and went off a cliff, A Forest soundtracked the terror.
CrystalMatchbox 20 | Yourself Or Someone Like You

The album I’d love to hear played live and in full…

PaulThe Verve | A Storm In Heaven. I left Australia for the UK to, amongst other things, see the Verve. They broke up for the first time the week I got there.
CrystalThe Rolling Stones | Exile On Main Street. Beyond amazing…. made me fall in love with rock filled blues.

My favourite album cover art…

PaulHusker Du | Zen Arcade
CrystalThe Rolling Stones | Goats Head Soup

My guilty pleasure album…

PaulFields of the Nephilim | Earth Inferno. By Christ these guys were vastly stupid and vastly good. Tied with Crystal’s choice actually and sounding much like it too.
CrystalMeat Loaf  | Bat Out of Hell. Jim Steinman crazy and sounding much like Bruce Springsteen actually.

An album I loved but now have no idea why I bought it…

PaulUnderworld – any of them, what were we thinking, well we weren’t thinking we was raven’ maaan… but that is beside the point.
CrystalMatchbox 20 – oh and Cat Stevens what was that?

The last album I bought…

Paul – Well I buy roughly an album a week, so I will put down the last GREAT album I bought. Jack Ladder  | Hurtsville. What a brilliant brilliant piece of brilliance. Perfect songs, perfect production and from the thinking mans Tim Rogers not that there is anything wrong with the drinking mans Tim Rogers.
CrystalThe National  | High Violet. A brilliant album but I wanted to punch him in the face live, what a ponce, ruined it for me. He makes red wine drinkers look bad.

I Hope I’m Not A Monster is out now via Laughing Outlaw Records.

FEATURE: Why So Glum?

by Chris Familton

In both popular and fringe culture the dark has been rising steadily over the last decade and it is showing no signs of retreating into the shadows. Fascination with death, ghosts, the dark arts and melancholy have always been important signifiers of all art forms yet this current trend in Hollywood movies and in many musical genres is tantamount to a gothic renaissance.

At the mass consumption end of the scale much credit must go to films like the Harry Potter and Twilight series for kicking off the current trend. They set the scene for the current popularity of TV shows like True Blood, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story with networks embracing death, blood, evil spirits and serial killers. If the theory of art reflecting society is anything to go by then the financial turbulence of recent years is surely a factor in the current popularity of these shows.

Musically the heyday, if not the origins of goth can be traced to the early 80s and bands like The Cure, Bauhaus, The Sisters of Mercy and Joy Division. Many of the groups dismissed the goth tag, much preferring to be called post punk as most emerged from the late 70s UK punk scene yet their music shared tendencies of claustrophobia, rumination on the dark and morbid side of the human psyche and with visual images that embraced very little colour there was generally a look to go with it. The sound those bands created has filtered through to acts of today, some thirty years later, whether it be the darkwave electronica of Light Asylum, Zola Jesus and Austra or guitar bands like Ceremony, The Horrors and Interpol. Most interestingly the cross pollination with synth pop, shoegaze and and dream pop has allowed new versions of the goth/post punk to emerge.

Every music scene is based on action and reaction so in this age of pop music where everything is increasingly saturated in synthetic gloss it is only natural that those with a disdain for manufactured happiness and more inclined to embrace melancholy will find music like this to suit their tastes.  Of course how we label any type of music and how we group its fans is just a symptom of how we like to categorise things but the fascinating thing about the current taste for the dark side is the extent to which it has permeated the mainstream and doesn’t look like giving up the ghost anytime soon.

this piece was first published in Drum Media

WATCH: The Cure unveil new guitarist Reeves Gabrels

The Cure played PinkPop Festival on the weekend and as well as playing a stellar set of hits and and few surprises (Bananafishbones from The Top) they also debuted their new guitarist Reeves Gabrels who is best known for his work with David Bowie in Tin Machine and on his Outside, Earthling and Hours albums. At this stage it is unclear how long Gabrels will stay with the band but it is expected he will tour with them throughout the northern summer.

Watch 50 mins of webcast footage of The Cure playing Friday I’m in Love, Doing the Unstuck, Trust, Want, Wrong Number, One Hundred Years, Disintegration, Lovecats and some of Close To Me at Pinkpop.

Setlist & video from The Cure’s 4 hour Opera House show…

Setlist: The Cure, ‘Reflections,’ Vivid Live Festival, Sydney Opera House, 5/31/11

1st Set: Three Imaginary Boys
1. “10:15 Saturday Night”
2. “Accuracy”
3. “Grinding Halt”
4. “Another Day”
5. “Object”
6. “Subway Song”
7. “Foxy Lady”
8. “Meathook”
9. “So What”
10. “Fire In Cairo”
11. “It’s Not You”
12. “Three Imaginary Boys”

2nd Set: Seventeen Seconds (w/ Roger O’Donnell)
13. “A Reflection”
14. “Play for Today”
15. “Secrets”
16. “In Your House”
17. “Forever”
18. “The Final Sound”
19. “A Forest”
20. “M”
21. “At Night”
22. “Seventeen Seconds”

3rd Set: Faith (w/ Lol Tolhurst and Roger O’Donnell)
23. “The Holy Hour”
24. “Primary”
25. “Other Voices”
26. “All Cats Are Grey”
27. “The Funeral Party”
28. “Doubt”
29. “The Drowning Man”
30. “Faith”

1st Encore:
31. “World War”
32. “I’m Cold”
33. “Plastic Passion”
34. “Boy’s Don’t Cry”
35. “Killing An Arab”
36. “Jumping Someone Else’s Train”
37. “Another Journey By Train”

2nd Encore:
38. “Descent”
39. “Splintered in Her Head”
40. “Charlotte Sometimes”
41. “The Hanging Garden”

3rd Encore:
42. “Let’s Go to Bed”
43. “The Walk”
44. “The Lovecats”

NEWS: THE CURE release Deluxe Edition of Disintegration…

Under the watchful eye of Robert Smith, Polydor/Universal are about to release the remastered Deluxe Edition of The Cure’s (in our opinion) classic album Disintegration. Due out on May 24th it will be a 3 disc affair complete with unreleased extras and the entire album live, taken from three nights at Wembly in 1989.

In the press release Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite says:

Disintegration by The Cure is one of the greatest records of all time. It has the feel that only a tiny amount of albums have, that it exists completely in its own universe, immune to context or fashion. I literally cannot imagine the band members in a room playing these songs for the first time, its as if they’ve always been there. From stunning opener “Plainsong” through to “Untitled”, it is unrelentingly beautiful and achingly sad. Disintegration is a simply wonderful record.

DISINTEGRATION: DELUXE EDITION

Disc One: Remastered Album

01: Plainsong

02: Pictures Of You

03: Closedown

04: Lovesong

05: Last Dance

06: Lullaby

07: Fascination Street

08: Prayers For Rain

09: The Same Deep Water As You

10: Disintegration

11: Homesick

12: Untitled

Disc Two: Rarities (1988 – 1989)

01: Prayers For Rain – RS Home Demo (Instrumental)

02: Pictures Of You – RS Home Demo (Instrumental)

03: Fascination Street – RS Home Demo (Instrumental)

04: Homesick – Band Rehearsal (Instrumental)

05: Fear Of Ghosts – Band Rehearsal (Instrumental)

06: Noheart – Band Rehearsal (Instrumental)*

07: Esten – Band Demo (Instrumental)*

08: Closedown – Band Demo (Instrumental)

09: Lovesong – Band Demo (Instrumental)

10: 2 Late (alternate version) – Band Demo (Instrumental)

11: The Same Deep Water As You – Band Demo (Instrumental)

12: Disintegration – Band Demo (Instrumental)

13: Untitled (alternate version) – Studio Rough (Instrumental)

14: Babble (alternate version) – Studio Rough (Instrumental)

15: Plainsong – Studio Rough (Guide Vocal)

16: Last Dance – Studio Rough (Guide Vocal)

17: Lullaby – Studio Rough (Guide Vocal)

18: Out Of Mind – Studio Rough (Guide Vocal)

19: Delirious Night – Rough Mix (Vocal)*

20: Pirate Ships – RS Solo, Rough Mix (Vocal)*

* Previously Unreleased Song

Disc Three: Entreat Plus

01: Plainsong*

02: Pictures Of You

03: Closedown

04: Lovesong*

05: Last Dance

06: Lullaby*

07: Fascination Street

08: Prayers For Rain

09: The Same Deep Water As You*

10: Disintegration

11: Homesick

12: Untitled

* Previously Unreleased Live Performance