Baboons, tigers and cake – Solstice ramblings
Thursday 21st June at 18:06 marks Summer Solstice and rather than take the opportunity to discuss Hawkwind, Wally Hope and Rick Wakeman, I’m going to use the excuse to take a half-time look back at 2007. In sum, I reckon this year has been one of the best for music in a long while. Indeed, the rest of the year is shaping up nicely as well.
Earlier on this year Grinderman came snarling, biting and kicking into our worlds. Mr Cave and colleagues tuned in a fucked-up blues and drone fest that left me staggering and reeling. Somehow the lyric radar managed to encompass gardener’s question time, baboons and white mice and I was a happy man.
Then (as predicted here) the Manics were totally and utterly back with Send away the tigers. One first listen the single Your love alone… seemed not to have the sheer attitude of Underdogs which had preceded it via web preview. In fact, the repetitive strain and structure of Your love even hinted at annoyance. And then I had a moment of epiphany as the strings and general melancholy swept me away. The album became stuck on repeat.
A lot has been said about the Manic’s ‘return-to-form’ and said a lot better than I could ever do. Yet one of the reasons that makes Send away so ‘effin great is that they’ve finally, after all these years, learnt quality control. There’s only 10 tracks (or 11 if you count the ‘hidden’ one) and it’s a normal length. Bloated beasts such as 2001’s Know your enemy just didn’t know when to stop and what to cut out (I recommend doing one or two tracks from the latter at a time and then it sound’s great).
My other 2007 highlight so far is Miles Hunt’s Not an Exit. Hardly discussed or reviewed anywhere, in fact possibly barely noticed by most of the discerning indie-public, it’s a blimin’ corker of a record/CD/collection of Mp3s. The fact that it was written and recorded in something of a rush and because Malc from the Stuffies is on paternity leave this year, makes it even better.
Opening with the suprisingly epic sounding Back on the charm offensive – with the line ‘when Bono sings about his beautiful day, there are those of us that just don’t feel that way’ which has become something of a mantra for me this year – through the neo-hoedown section of The Cake and These things remembered (not at all), it’s practically perfect. I would argue (and have done in other forums) that this is the album that TWS should have released, but that’s a technicality. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
There’s been others in 2007. I leave it to my esteemed colleague to cover Arcade Fire’s corking Neon Bible, if he fancies it. And with Polyhonic Spree releasing Fragile Army today (which will no doubt will be discussed here), Iliketrains finally set to release their first full length player and (coughs and splutter) NMA’s High set for release on August the 20th (yep, bet that’s in your diaries), this year just has to be one to remember.
If only the sun could stay out for more than five minutes all would be well in the world…
Mid-summer joy to all.
Depth Charge Ethel – Grinderman
Imperial Bodybags – Manic Street Preachers
Back on the charm offensive – Miles Hunt