English Atrakt-ed Newsletter #5 (Albums reviews of Adam Green, Matt Sweeny & Bonnie ‘Superwolf’, El Muniria & Live reviews of Killers, Radio 4, Six By Seven)
Here we are dear friends...
Adam Green ‘Gemstones’ (Rough Trade, 2005) by Kostas Papaspyropoulos
Adam Green is a British singer-songwriter who has already released 4 albums, a fact that contradicts the allegations that the response of the music industry to copyright piracy will be to limit down the releases to big names only.
There is a sense of Greek-ness about Green (‘Some of the fellas like to think I’m Greek.’ Emily). His Greek artist equivalent would more likely be Katsimihas or Delivorias. Similar to them, he’s influenced by the music tradition of his country, and, moreover, his songs contain a mocking sarcastic language, as in Before the bedtime and Choke on the coke. His albums for Rough Trade Records have always been experimentations on different styles.
Gemstones feels like listening to a joke: it’s a short (32 mins) and very amusing album. Although not a work of exquisite quality, returning to it from time to time will probably be quite pleasant.
Matt Sweeny & Bonnie ‘Superwolf’ (Palace Recs/Drag City, 2005) by Kostas Papaspyropoulos
Superwolf is the product of the collaboration between 2 genuine members of the independent American music scene, Matt Sweeny (Zwan, Chavez, Guided by Voices) and Will Oldham (4th album in the last 4 years under the name Bonnie Prince Billy), in which the former wrote the music and the latter the words. The sound is typical Oldham, lo-fi and slow-tempo, however, the presence of Sweeny is equally felt, especially evident in the raw guitar sound and the outburst interludes in songs like My Home Is the Sea and Goat and Ram.
Sweeny adapts himself to the particularities of this partnership, proving his song-writing qualities. The result is an album that impresses with its intensity and consistency of difficult, depressive, and abstract sounds. In him, Oldham finds an exceptional collaborator, who helps him to remain in the limelight without repeating himself in any way. The chemistry between them led to 2 of the most astonishing songs of the year, Blood Embrace and I Gave You.
The friends of Americana will not find a better album these days.
El Muniria ‘Stanza 218’ (Homesleep/Penguin 2005) by Kyriakos Skordas
Although Stanza 218 is El Muniria’s debut, there is a definite sense of maturity in their music, gained during Emilio Clementi’s previous work with Massimo Volume. There is evidence here of a concept album: The recording took place in the Shalimar hotel’s room 218 in Tangier, Morocco, where William Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch, 40 years ago. Back in Bologna, it took 2-3 years of additional work before the album was ready.
In a melancholic atmosphere, El Muniria mix electronic sounds and beats, while the words (in Italian) are recited in poetic metre, and the background is rich in nocturnal natural and urban ambience. Finally, the tone never cedes to be dark, reminiscent of Tuxedomoon (Narrating a photograph). Particularly interesting are the following tracks: Santo, the self-titled Stanza 218, and Fermata Qui.
The Killers @ Tivoli, Utrecht, Holland -20 Feb 05- by Despina Xanthopoulou
A Killers’ gig is more likely to be fun, and, considering the 3 NME awards the band won recently, plus the success of their UK tour, the expectations of their gig in Utrecht, their sole stop in Holland, were naturally high. Therefore, the gig sold out a month in advance.
The support came from Ambers, Belgium: a brand are a 5-piece rock n’ roll band, whom the audience gave a warm round of applause for their surprising 5 front-men set up and ingenious lyrics.
Intro to The Killers’s set was the music theme from Love Story, with the sparkling keys of Brandon Flowers’s synth being not just the only lights on the dark stage, but also a reminder of his Las Vegas origins. The band walked on stage looking handsome and well-dressed. It was to be expected that they’d start with Mr Brightside, and that the track-list would include almost every song from their sole album Hot Fuss. With the addition of a new song, their set was just about an hour long. In general, it was fun but… there was something missing. The band didn’t make any contact with the audience and looked rather clinical. Their performance wasn’t particularly powerful. Somehow, they didn’t match the expectations that derive from their really good and really hyped debut album.
Radio 4 @ Vilka Live & Six by Seven @ Mylos, Thessalonica, Greece -19 Feb 05- by Vasilis Sintos
For a city like Thessalonica, an occasion when 2 gigs of independent rock happen on the same night is far from common and, therefore, pleasantly surprising. Those who could afford a ticket for both gigs, benefited by the timing of the performances and the proximity of the venues, as when Radio 4 were doing their minute encore, Six by Seven, less than a mile away, went on stage.
At Vilka Live, Hangover didn’t manage to make an impact with their 90’s American rock influenced set. Things got better when the NYers Radio 4 kicked off with New Disco, however, the atmosphere remained pretty tame throughout the concert, since the audience of nearly 150 was nowhere near enough to fill the room, and, overwhelmed by this inadequacy, seemed, with few exceptions, uninspired. Nevertheless, the performance itself was quite passionate, consisting of uplifting songs, although the last album sounds a bit flat with its repetitive beat.
The Xylourgio, part of the Mylos cultural complex, is a relatively smaller venue, and almost reached its full capacity with the approximately 300 tickets sold. Six by Seven are now 3, choosing to play without a bass, sounding storming and noisy all the same, at times straight in your face, or, alternatively, shoe-gazing and post-rock-ish. The set was complete with tracks from their latest 04, early stuff, like Candlelight, and rarities, like Cafeteria Rats.
The gig was followed by a dj-set, courtesy of Tim Holmes.