Monday, 15 February 2010

Adult Contemporary Essentials 14.02.10

The Soft Pack
The Soft Pack
If it’s true that all publicity is good publicity, then this San Diego band may well have decided that they could continue to call themselves The Muslims for this debut album. Fortunately, more sensible heads prevailed and this album is being allowed to stand on its own merits.
‘Fortunately’ because this album captures the spirit of The Strokes’ early work and mixes in some Fall to come out with something that isn’t new, isn’t big and certainly isn’t clever, but is the
same kind of infectious as the Von Bondies breakthrough, or the short-lived 22-20s. There is some early Beatles pop, some early REM driving Rickenbacker sounds and a whole lot of the kind of college/ underground rock that needs no explanation – full of songs, juvenile attitude and thrashed guitars. Hipsters may wish for more archness, more of the kind of image cultivated by The Drums, but leave them to their anxieties, and enjoy this album for what it is – it isn’t trying to change the world, just make 30 minutes of it pass more quickly.

ACE rating 8/10

The Smoking Popes
It’s Been A Long Day
Asian Man
For fans of The Smoking Popes, it was interesting that Morrissey suggested they were his favourite band, as they always had the sound of a Smiths that had taken REM’s punkier college rock to heart. In one respect, The Smoking Popes were one of America’s most important punk bands in the 90s, combining melody and catchy rock with their attitude preceding Green Day’s increasing popularity. This collection of unreleased material from 1991-1998 is raw and unpolished, but does give a great insight into the generation. Many songs come in under 2 minutes, and it is remarkable how much can be fitted into those 120 seconds. The overwhelming impression that remains now is of a band whose punk got subsumed under the pop surface. We can’t complain too much of that – I Need You Around from 1995’s Born To Quit remains on of THE great singles of the past 20 years. Consider this an album for completists - Born to Quit and 2008’s Stay Down should come ahead of this in your Shopping Cart.

ACE rating 7/10

Odd Blood
Yeasayer have gone from the territory they set up for Vampire Weekend to a more electronic 80s place. All Hour Cymbals was, by their own admission, Middle Eastern-Psych-Pop-Snap-Gospel, which either means that a lot of good ideas were thrown into a melting pot from which the best were chosen, or that an occasionally unseemly mess resulted. The adulation that accompanied songs like 2080 did seem to suggest that the band had got some things right, however. Odd Blood is definitely an album of two halves – the first a melted down Pet Shop Boys synthy disco mix, and the second described as ‘experimental.’ In this case, that does mean what you fear it might – there is barely a song to be found in the sub-Talking Heads mess. Best avoided unless you desperately want the badge of novelty pinned to your ironic T-shirt.

ACE rating 6/10

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