Sunday, September 26, 2010

Vintage Tracks 6: Killing Joke - Let's All Go (to the Fire Dances)

This week Killing Joke release their 13th studio album "Absolute Dissent", their first with the original line-up of Jaz Coleman, Geordie, Youth and Paul Ferguson in almost 30 years, and embark on a tour that will bring them for the first time in Greece (8/10 Gagarin 205, Athens, 9/10 Principle Club, Thessalonika). To celebrate the good news and prepare for the gigs, we dedicate the 6th edition of Vintage Tracks to my two favorite songs off Killing Joke's fourth album, the almighty "Fire Dances", released in July 1983.

The years from 1980 to 1983 were Killing Joke's most prolific period, releasing four stunningly powerful albums and eventually becoming one of the decade's most influential bands (listen, for example, Nirvana's "Come As You Are" next to Killing Joke's "Eighties" or LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge" next to "Change"). By 1983 the brutal, primitive post-punk of their first eponymous album had progressed towards a more dance-influenced sound, with heavy bass-lines (courtesy of the newly recruited Paul Raven) and tribal rhythms. To my ears, "Fire Dances" sounds like the band's most joyous work, perhaps the result of the realization that the Apocalypse wasn't coming just yet (fact: in 1982 Coleman, Geordie and Youth, convinced of the impending doom, moved to Iceland to weather the storm). The album, which sits at the top of my 1983 "Best Albums" list, was remastered and reissued in 2008 with extra tracks, and includes two of my all-time favorite Killing Joke tunes, the oppressive "Dominator" with its ominous, industrial beat and the celebratory "Let' All Go (to the Fire Dances)". Both tracks were on the 12" single the band released in June '83 (the latter was the A-side and the former the B-side along with a live version of "The Fall Of Because"), which became my first Killing Joke purchase that September. Listen to both of them below:

Let's All Go (to the Fire Dances)


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sleigh Bells - Infinity Guitars

Here's the official video for one of the highlights of "Treats", Sleigh Bells' deliciously noisy debut album. Watch the duo setting their "Infinity Guitars" on fire:

Sleigh Bells - Infinity Guitars

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vintage Tracks 5: The Three Johns - Demon Drink

The Three Johns comprised, as you might expect, by three guys named John and a drum machine called Hugo. Jon Langford from The Mekons played guitar, John Brennan was on bass and John Hyatt was the lyricist and lead singer. The band formed in Leeds in 1981 and began their recording career with a series of excellent singles, including "A.W.O.L." from 1983 and "Do The Square Thing" a year later (two of my favorite 12" EPs from that period, with the latter being my first introduction to the band). Their debut LP "Atom Drum Bop" came in August '84 and became one of my top albums of that year (as you can see here), alongside more well-known  releases by The Fall, The Smiths and Husker Du.

The track I’ve decided to include in the resurrected Vintage Tracks series (one of the many possible candidates, including the aforementioned singles, "Teenage Nightingales To Wax" and "Death Of The European", perhaps their most famous song, as it reached number 14 in John Peel's 1985 Festive Fifty)  comes from their second album "The World By Storm", which was released in May 1986. For more info on this album check out this post here, as well as the band’s unofficial site where you can listen to their Peel Sessions from the '80s plus a more recent BBC 6 Music Session from 2006.

The Three Johns - Demon Drink

The Three Johns MySpace page

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Interpol test drive

It's been eight years since our first introduction to the mysterious and intriguing world of Interpol with the majestic "Turn On The Bright Lights", undoubtedly one of the greatest debuts of the '00s (also our number 3 selection in the countdown of the top albums of the past decade). The band's eponymous fourth effort has officially seen the light of day this past week and although it's rather difficult to recapture the excitement of the first time, I'm happy to report that it has passed our test drive with flying colors.

And by test drive I literally mean using it as the soundtrack to a drive around town - in my opinion one of the best ways to appraise the value of a record. If you get annoyed when you have to stop at the red lights, it means that the album is not working. But when traffic delays stop bothering you because you'll get to spend more time with the music, then the band has done its job. And when you deliberately prolong the drive just to listen to the record once more, then you're certain that something special is going on. "Barricade" continues Interpol's streak of excellent singles, while "Success", "Summer well", "Lights", "Safe without" and "Try it on" shimmer with the same dark glow that we have encountered before in the band's best work. "Interpol" does not offer innovation - it's a place we have visited before, but its attraction remains strong and we'll gladly drive there one more time.

Here's Interpol performing "Lights" at KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic show, on the eve of the album's release:

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Listening Habits 07-08.10

In case you were wondering what Cool Music Central's summer soundtrack was, here's the long-delayed post with our favorite albums and tracks of the last couple of months:

At the top of the album list we have the third efforts from two of Canada's best rock acts of the last decade. Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" has given the band the widespread success it deserves, with sales matching its critical acclaim and number one positions on both the US and UK album charts (not to mention the dazzling number 3 it has reached in the Greek international chart, meaning it might have sold around a hundred (?) copies here).

Wolf Parade might not be as successful commercially, but "Expo 86" is an equally astounding record where the remarkable songwriting talents of Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner combine better than ever. The intense "Cloud Shadow on the Mountain" kick-starts the album with frenetic pace and urgency that rarely lets off until the very end of the record with the equally explosive "Cave-O-Sapien". A wild ride from start to finish, certain to satisfy your inner wolf!

We have already raved about Best Coast on a couple of occasions this year, declaring the single (and bonus track on the album) "When I'm With You" a Killer Track and praising their performance at Primavera Sound 10 Festival. Bethany Cosentino and her band that includes multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno and former Vivian Girls drummer Ali Koehler have provided us with further proof of their ability to write catchy, bittersweet guitar pop that channels the '60s girl-group sound with the release of their outstanding debut "Crazy For You". Best Coast's combination of lovelorn lyrics and summery sounds not only lands their album at the number 3 of our humble list, but it has also earned them the prestigious number one spot at NME's 50 Best New Bands Of 2010 list. This list also features two other of our recent favorites near the top, The Drums at number 2 and Sleigh Bells at 4, but it is strangely missing my personal number one new band, which, as you might have guessed, is none other than the mighty fine Dum Dum Girls!

Among our top choices we also have the sophomore, more dance-oriented, School Of Seven Bells effort (a record that brings back memories of bands like Cocteau Twins, Lush or Chapterhouse and reminds me that I should bring back Vintage Tracks posts), the also sophomore LP from Crystal Castles who continue exactly where they left off with their violently dreamy, noise-dance debut, and M.I.A. who confounded fans and critics alike with her turn towards an abrasive, dance-punk sound in tracks like "Born Free" on her third LP, "/\/\/\Y/\" (did I spell this right?), but the end result, despite its lack of the next "Paper Planes", is just what the doctor ordered for C.M.C.'s noise-hungry ears!

Top 20 Albums

1.  The Suburbs - ARCADE FIRE
2.  Expo 86 - WOLF PARADE
3.  Crazy For You - BEST COAST
4.  Disconnect From Desire - SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS
5.  Crystal Castles (II) - CRYSTAL CASTLES
6.  Maya - M.I.A.
7.  The Drums - THE DRUMS
8.  Avi Buffalo - AVI BUFFALO
9.  Brothers - THE BLACK KEYS
10. The Five Ghosts - STARS
11. Totaled - INDIAN JEWELRY
12. Possession Sound - GUN OUTFIT
13. This Is Happening - LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
14. Latin - HOLY FUCK
15. Swim - CARIBOU
18. Nothing Hurts - MALE BONDING
19. Where Did The Night Fall - UNKLE

Top 20 Tracks

1.  Ready to start - ARCADE FIRE
2.  Cloud shadow on the mountain - WOLF PARADE
3.  Next girl - THE BLACK KEYS
4.  Teqkilla - M.I.A.
6.  Excessive moonlight - INDIAN JEWELRY
8.  Boyfriend - BEST COAST
9.  Forever and ever amen - THE DRUMS
10. What's in it for - AVI BUFFALO
11. Bright lit blue skies - ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI
12. Wasted daylight - STARS
15. Red lights - HOLY FUCK
16. Sun - CARIBOU
17. Ablivion - UNKLE
18. Laura Palmer’s prom - YOU SAY PARTY! WE SAY DIE!
19. The flower beneath the foot - GUN OUTFIT

Wolf Parade -  Cloud Shadow on the Mountain (live)