“People see rock and roll as youth culture and when youth culture becomes monopolised by big business, what are the youth to do? Do you have any idea? I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture.” – Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.
“Heaven’s On Fire” opens with an audio sample of the above quote, before jumping into a blissful poppy jam that you can’t not want to dance to. The seemingly pessimistic nature of the opening quote juxtaposed with the actual song works surprisingly well.
It’s one of those special songs. You know those ones where you can tell from the first listen that it’s something great? It’s one of those.
The piano chords blended with the drumming give off a more reflective vibe, before throwing you into a solo to bring the song to a close. I can’t recommend this enough, it’s such a fun song.
Grab a free download here.
The noise pop duo involving Brian King on guitar and David Prowse on drums are known as Japandroids, and are another excellent example of how two musicians can buck misconceptions in the musical community about the size of bands and their potential. They create a raw, distorted, expansive sound, with both members sharing vocal duties for the band.
Their debut album, "Post-Nothing", is currently up on my "need-to-acquire-desperately-soon" list, and received some very good reviews on it’s release mid last year. The "Post-Nothing" wiki page classifies them as "Garage Rock" as well, but I’m going to be honest, linking this band to a genre that also includes Jet is just unacceptable.
"Young Hearts Spark Fire" is a brilliant energetic song, and hopefully an indication of the quality of the rest of their work. The repeated lines "Oh, we used to dream / Now we worry about dying / I don’t wanna worry about dying / I just wanna worry about those sunshine girls" indicates a youthful outlook on life, yet not one rife with arrogance or overconfidence. For all of it’s abrasiveness and movement, the song still contains a sense of insight and understanding about the nature of things. It’s not just loud and fun.
The song slows down at points for lyrical emphasis, and the loud guitars buzz on the in the background. Building up again, it quickly escalates to it’s former pace and enthusiasm.
I can’t claim to be a big fan of noise-based genres, but Japandroids have got me hooked with this one.
You can grab a free download from Spinner here.
"Sound Awake" retains the atmospheric environment that debut "Themata" created, and develops it to the next, more consistent level. With the songs ranging from a mere 1 minute and 49 seconds to the 12 minute long penultimate track, "Sound Awake" has often been described using the ever so clichéd word "epic". Despite the popular term now being used so loosely, "Sound Awake" is clearly deserving of it in a more serious sense.
Off-beat and syncopated rhythms display a clear level of technical integrity, both in the drumming and guitar lines, and Ian Kenny’s magnificent vocals interspersed between these two often varying patterns seems to somehow fit in perfectly. The seemingly experimental nature seen within a vast majority of the pieces (for example, opener "Simple Boy" makes use of a xylophone) separates the album from something another progressive rock band could or would do.
Kenny’s simply amazing voice and lyrics go hand in hand, as he manages to make simple lines like "It’s a new day" soar. Four simple words become four infectious words that sound so clear and free.
"Sound Awake" consistently impresses, throughout it’s entire 72 minutes. Long tracks like "New Day" don’t bore at all, as many bands who aspire to such song lengths often do, and in fact leave you wanting more. Many believe "Sound Awake" inferior to predecessor "Themata", claiming that the debut’s tracks are instantly addictive and awesome. Whilst to a certain extent they do have a point, the defining feature of "Sound Awake" is that it grows as an album. With each listen, it becomes more interesting and enjoyable, which is an attribute of music that should be cherished, encouraged, and most of all enjoyed! The ability to create music that people discover something new with in every listen is a great ability indeed. To be able to go back to an album and enjoy it even more than the last time you listened to it is brilliant. This is exactly what makes "Sound Awake" so good. Thundering guitars, off-beat drumming, technical riffs, beautiful vocal lines, and an experimental edge all merge together to create something very special.