Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Libertines

The Libertines : There are No Innocent Bystanders
The Troxy ; 27/04/11

The nature of The Libertines has always been a no holds barred ongoing rollercoaster of emotions, stories and half truths mixed with legends and their own brand of Albion history and Roger Sargent (author of Bound Together) is really the only person capable of getting a finished product that encapsulates all of the highs and lows (and the twos and the fro’s) without turning the whole thing into an ego tripped and perfectly lit professional set of one on ones with the group.

The film starts with a basic history lesson in Libertine folk law, how they met, early gigs, influences etc. Most if not all fans of the group will know all this stuff back to front by now although it helps involve you from the get go and helps you fall in love with the characters all over again so when the scenes turn to the breakup and the initial rehearsals in preparation for the London Forum and eventual Reading Festival comeback shows you’re willing them on not to blow it and end up cheering from your seat when they play “Horrorshow” for the first time in the practice room and it all falls together like a well worn pair of jeans.

Each member of the band gets a chance to tell their side of the story and watching everyone interact with each other behind closed doors you get to see the relationships between all of them and also surprisingly get to understand that there is still a lot of laughter behind the headlines and drug stories. John Hassall ; the bass player and purveyor of forgotten chords and riffs leading the charge in the rehearsal room comes out of his back stage persona shell and helps explain the relationship between each member as well as Carl and Peter’s own sometimes twisted friendship which while perfectly matched is also volatile and ready to explode at any one time (this is explained by Barat as an almost verbal jousting match between the two whenever they meet, from a few jokey comments with subtle undertones of spite they then battle back and forward, neither wanting to back down first and there within lies the core of the fire that burns within the group)

The Libertines are the last in a chain of bands that happened without an industry machine pushing them into success, it happened by them personally creating a scene and a group of fans that would follow them to the end of the earth and back and not since Oasis change the whole culture not just through music but also through fashion, drugs and literature (how many copies of The Picture of Dorian Gray flew off the shelves since The Libertines second album?)

Although well balanced and not judgemental about who’s fault it was to break up the band. Although at first it would seem the blame falls at Doherty’s door by reading the papers it seems more fitting that one would call Barat into the witness box and ask why he feels the entrapment of the band that defines him and why he feels the need to constantly push away from the “brand” and release his “own” music that can only (with the best intentions possible) fall very short of his previous work with the group.

Peter Doherty is a icon of his generation whether you like it or not, he has that on screen charisma and easy little lost boy way of speaking to the camera that draws you in while at the same time leading the waifs and strays of Whitechapel with him like a Byron pied piper while slowly dragging everyone into the arena of the un-well…but will he make it to the gig on time?

The film climaxes with the one-two hit of the London Forum warm up show and the defining set at Reading 2010 which in my opinion ranks up with the festivals best appearances ever and easily if not their own personal best. Is it a good bookend and finale for The Libertines or should they give it one more roll of the dice and make another album? The choice is seems sits at the feet of Carl, but as a new father and someone who is ready to put away childish things, is his heart really ready for another possible break if it doesn’t pan out the way it should or needs to? Are all memories now fond and warm of the good ol’ days or is the past better left in the past?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Norwegian Wood....

Just finished 'Norwegian Wood', the novel by Haruki Murakami. I'll be completely honest and open with this. I had never heard of the book or the author but the fact it had a slight Beatles reference was enough to get my few quid that I paid.

Recently I've been demolishing and absorbing books at a pretty steady speed (possibly making up for lost time where books other than music BIOS got a look in) The 'classics' have been picked up, read and put on the shelf and some counter culture indie ones carefully thumbed through although in some cases I can see why not everyone bothered with them.

'Norwegian Wood' has just recently been made into a film and while the majority of great films were before great books I worry that in this case they should have left this one alone as the majority of scenes and stories/plot lines involved happen simultaneously and in hindsight as the characters explain points and without some major razor blade style Tarantino time tricks is going to confuse the audience as the scenes jump back and forward. Or worse still implore the services of a voice over narration (sit back down Morgan Freeman for chrissstsaaake)

There are various sex scenes in the book that I'm sure will be focused on in the film version as they need to fill the hour and a half with something other than forlorn looking Japanese actors. I realise that without the film dramatization I wouldn't have even heard of the book and in fact the cover of the book is the film poster! But now that I've read it and have a Japanese novel in my pantheon of books I've read I fill the urge to mock from my ivory tower at the proles...

If the film is on TV I'll probably give it 10 Min's but I don't think it can compare to the intricate detail and imagery of the books, how can a book that took a week to read be summed up in less than 2 hours?

An easy "in" into highbrow reading and at least you can impress your friends with a bit of indie culture rather than pointing out that The DaVinci Code film isn't as good as the book, and that the book isn't even that good either, it's just a book to get stupid people to read something other than a benefit form or telephone number to the Jeremy Kyle show.

Currently listening to:

Positively 4Th Street - Bob Dylan (Mono collection)
Girl- The Beatles
Don't Sit Down 'cause I've Moved your chair - Arctic Monkeys

also, saw 'Submarine' and yes it's as good as everyone says. Acting, Story, Direction and amazing soundtrack from Alex Turner..

treat yourself to both..

and 'Norwegian Wood' is available for less than a fiver in HMV book section...

go in peace and don't forget your receipts in the bag...

Thursday, 7 April 2011



The Slytones are a bit of a mystery on first listen. The EP on show here The Psychedelic Sounds Of asks the question “Is this an audio mess of influences? Or simply a well orchestrated racket?” The songs show influences from bands such as The Sonics, The Stooges and even The Mothers of Invention. Although they probably won’t thank me I can also hear The Zutons buried in the mix. Vocals range from full on Sky Saxon howlin’ blues to more introspective Syd Barrett territories although this is an area that brings some of the more interesting results from the band and that separates them from the other similar “psych” bands out there.

The songs are the meat of the matter and the point of this review and I can say that although fun and listenable there seems to be a lack of sincerity in any of the final results, almost the equivalent of running your Jaguar on cherry cola. The track’s start with ‘Goldie Locks’ which is probably the strongest track here and one that will easily crossover into the mainstream play lists and for what it is (a cool fuzz-tone 60’s era acid rock and roll song) ticks all the boxes and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Other songs here mix various styles/genres although with awkward time signatures included would probably cause back sprains and twisted ankles from the dance floor if you tried to drop one of them in a set while dj’ing. ‘This Female for Retail’ with it’s Amy Winehouse name drop and refrain perks up the listeners ears but I would say it’s mainly just because of the novelty value of the song rather than any actual 5 star status of the music. Throughout the songs the music playing and execution is actually very high with intricate percussion and spidery guitar melodies with the Doors like keys and organs threading it all together and presenting it as a good catalyst for the crooning vocals. The Slytones will be no doubt touring this record in the up coming summer months and I for one will be checking them out in the live setting as the precise and restrained play here leads me to believe that like race horses stuck in the paddocks their inner freak flag is begging to be let out.

Label: The Slytones
Release date: 29/04/11

'originally posted on 405'

Friday, 1 April 2011

pinch punch 1st day of the month.....

April is here...April 1st to be completely accurate which means very soon (the 25th) I will be crossing the threshold to which there is no safe way back... I will be 30 years old! What the hell happened to my 20s? They seemed to pass through various failed domesticity, loads of bands, hangovers and new projects that would be "the one" but ultimately came to nothing more than a pile of flyers and half finished demos. The first sprouts of gray hair are appearing daily and I think by Xmas I will probably resemble Uncle Albert. Till then I will hopefully be pouring line after line of music based drivel and useless information here on your favourite music blog and easiest waste of time at work since Windows Solitaire was invented.

April has some more reviews as well as a still pending interview with the esoteric lyrical tune smith Van Dyke Parks, co-creator of one of the best albums of all time, the mighty SMiLE with head Beach Boy and musical genius Brian Wilson.

I will also be drowning my sorrows in the dark alleyways of New York come May and hopefully I will have some more 'interesting' life experiences to share with you all my social luminaries...