Friday, July 21, 2017

Live: The Jesus And Mary Chain @ Ejekt Festival (Athens, July 14th, 2017)

The Jesus And Mary Chain, live @ Ejekt Festival 2017
The second day of the 2017 edition of Ejekt Festival was headlined by Kasabian, but the reason we paid a second visit this summer to Plateia Nerou was to witness the return of The Jesus And Mary Chain to Athens after nearly two decades.

The last time I saw them in Athens was actually exactly 21 years ago, on July 13th, 1996 when they appeared at the Rock Of Gods festival, near the port of Piraeus. A couple of years later they played one final show here, at Rodon Club, which was probably their last one before announcing their split. William Reid did not come to play at that gig and I didn't see the point of going either.

The years passed, the Reid brothers made peace and started touring again in 2007, but what was missing until recently was a new album, a statement that would prove that The Jesus And Mary Chain still had a part to play in today's music and they were not back as merely a nostalgia act, constantly rehashing past glories. 

Thankfully "Damage And Joy" was exactly the comeback album we were hoping for, masterfully picking up exactly where The Jesus And Mary Chain had left off in 1998 with the underrated "Munki", offering another stunning set of songs about their favorite subjects, like their love - hate relationship with the world of rock 'n' roll, and mixing sweet pop melodies with aggressive, noisy guitars, the sound blueprint they perfected in the '80s which is still influencing countless new acts.

The older, wiser Mary Chain is admittedly not causing riots any more, but still knows exactly what pedals to push to cause rock explosions. The pace of the show effortlessly switched gears and went back and forth between the new record and the old favorites, showing that songs like "Amputation", "Always Sad" or "All Things Pass" are worthy additions to the band's rich history.

Of course, most of the highlights of the 75-minute set were written before many of the festival-goers were born, making those of us who actually remember the '80s to feel a little bit old, but certainly happy to listen live once again some of the songs that shaped our musical minds: "Just Like Candy", "You Trip Me", "The Living End", "April Skies", "Blues From a Gun", "I Hate Rock 'n' Roll" and of course a magnificent "Reverence" that closed triumphantly their come-back performance.

Here's the complete set list and videos for two of the highlights of the night: Amputation, April Skies, Head On, Far Gone and Out, Between Planets, Blues From a Gun, Always Sad, Mood Rider, All Things Pass, Some Candy Talking, Halfway to Crazy, Nine Million Rainy Days, Just Like Honey, You Trip Me Up, The Living End, War on Peace, I Hate Rock 'n' Roll, Reverence.

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Blues From a Gun (live @ Ejekt Festival 2017, Athens)

The Jesus and Mary Chain - All Things Pass (live @ Ejekt Festival 2017, Athens)

Kasabian, live @ Ejekt Festival 2017
After such a set by The Jesus And Mary Chain, you will forgive me for not paying too much attention to the actual headliners of the festival. Kasabian are certainly a good festival band, they do have some memorable hits ("Shoot the Runner", "Club Foot") and know how to get the party started, but there isn't much else there for when the party is over.

Peter Hook And The Light, live @ Ejekt Festival 2017
Earlier in the day we saw Peter Hook And The Light, exactly the sort of nostalgia act I try to avoid at festivals. Hook remains a formidable bass player but a great singer he is not and I really can't see any good reason (except a financial one) for keep playing substandard renditions of everybody's favorite Joy Division songs.

Of Montreal, live @ Ejekt Festival 2017

There was however early in the afternoon a performance that added value to the second day of the festival and made it worthwhile to go to Plateia Nerou early and endure the heat. Kevin Barnes' Of Montreal have been going on for twenty years now but as their fine 45-minute set proved, they manage to retain their pure pop sparkle intact. The band skillfully and flamboyantly combined its electropop influences with its more adventurous psychedelic pop side and, to our delight, next to newer songs they also played several older favorites, among them a couple of tracks from one of their finest records, 2007's "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?", namely "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse" (which you can watch below) and the epic "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal", the song that closed their set with a bang.

Of Montreal - Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse (live @ Ejekt Festival 2017, Athens)

Check out our coverage of the first day of Ejekt Festival 2017 featuring The Killers and The Kills here.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Live: Foo Fighters @ Herodes Atticus Odeon (Athens, July 10th, 2017)

This week has been exceptionally busy for live rock music in Athens and the start was certainly one for the history books! It is very rare that the historic Herodes Atticus Odeon theater, right below The Acropolis, is used for rock concerts, but on this occasion it hosted the first ever show in Greece of one of the biggest rock names of the last couple of decades, the Foo Fighters.

The cost for bringing for a concert a band of this magnitude is rather daunting for local promoters in the current economy, but thanks to the popular US music show "Landmarks Live in Concert", a PBS series hosted by Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the fact that the band would play without a fee, with all profits going to charity, it became possible for this gig to happen at this unique site.

Dave Grohl, after acknowledging how crazy and unique was for his band to be playing under The Acropolis, made the promise to give a show that would make up for the fact that the Foo Fighters had never played here before and, indeed, in their marathon two hours and 15 minutes set, the band played tracks from almost all their albums, from their 1995 breakthrough self-titled debut ("This Is a Call") up to the forthcoming "Concrete and Gold" ("La Dee Da", "Dirty Water", the live debut of "Arrows", "Sunday Rain" and "Run"). Only previous record, "Sonic Highways" remained unrepresented.

For a band with so many hits under its belt, I'm sure that the audience would have liked to listen even more songs from the past, but my first impressions from the new material are positive and it's possible that after we hear the new album we'll be able to appreciate more this opportunity we had for a live preview.

It's certainly been too long, but the Foo Fighters, at least live, remain a great band, and having the opportunity to see them perform in these unique surroundings was, without a doubt, an out of the ordinary, unforgettable musical experience. As Dave promised at the end of the show, right before finishing with the great "Everlong", let's hope it will not take another twenty years until the next time.

Hers is what the Foo Fighters played at their Herodeon show:

Times Like TheseAll My Life, Learn to Fly, The Pretender, Wanted Dead or Alive / Another One Bites the Dust / Blietzkrieg Bop (Bon Jovi/Queen/The Ramones snippets played during band introductions), Cold Day in the Sun, La Dee Da, Walk, These Days, My Hero, We Will Rock You, (Queen cover) (Harper Grohl on the drums), Dirty Water, This Is a Call, Arlandria, Rope, Arrows, Monkey Wrench, Sunday Rain, Best of You, Run, Everlong.

Check out below "Monkey Wrench" and new track "La Dee Da" and stay tuned for our Ejekt Festival coverage, coming up soon!

Foo Fighters - Monkey Wrench (live in Athens, July 10, 2017)

Foo Fighters - La Dee Da (live in Athens, July 10, 2017)

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Top 30 Albums of the first half of 2017

We've just passed the halfway mark of 2017 and, as usual, we'll take a moment to look back on the last six months and come up with a list that includes most of our favorite albums of the year so far.

This year our half-way list is ten albums shorter than last year's, which is an indication that 2017 did not have the best of starts. Actually, after a slow couple of months at the beginning of the year with just a few great releases worth writing home about (Run The Jewels, Ty Segal, Mark Eitzel, The Feelies among them), the roster of new albums certainly grew much stronger during the spring, with a number of strong come-backs, some of them really long overdue, by some of our all-time favorite artists and bands, including The Jesus And Mary Chain, Thurston Moore, Mark Lanegan, The Afghan Whigs and Spoon, to name but a few. And on the very last week of June came perhaps the strongest candidate for Album of the Year based on what we have listened to so far, "The Underside of Power" by Algiers, a record that perfectly captures the turmoil of 2017 (more on this subject coming soon).

Here is the list of the 30 albums that sum up the first half of 2017 for Cool Music Central, without a ranking order (and yet not totally random!), and a playlist with some of our favorite tracks off them:

Top 30 Albums of 2017 so far

  • The underside of power - ALGIERS
  •  Run The Jewels 3 - RUN THE JEWELS
  •  Hot thoughts - SPOON
  •  Rock n roll consciousness - THURSTON MOORE
  •  Damage and joy - THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
  •  Gargoyle - MARK LANEGAN
  •  In spades - THE AFGHAN WHIGS
  •  Whiteout conditions - THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS
  •  Death song - THE BLACK ANGELS 
  • Hey Mr Ferryman - MARK EITZEL
  •  Slowdive - SLOWDIVE
  •  Brood X - BOSS HOG
  •  Flying microtonal banana - KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD
  •  Ty Segall - TY SEGALL
  •  Semper femina - LAURA MARLING
  •  Apocalipstick - CHERRY GLAZERR
  •  Nothing feels natural - PRIESTS
  •  Near to the wild heart of life - JAPANDROIDS
  •  In between - THE FEELIES
  •  Last place - GRANDADDY
  •  Occult architecture Vol. 1 - MOON DUO
  •  Silver / Lead - WIRE
  •  Life without sound - CLOUD NOTHINGS
  •  In mind - REAL ESTATE
  •  Heartworms - THE SHINS
  •  Powerplant - GIRLPOOL
  •  English tapas - SLEAFORD MODS
  • Volcano - TEMPLES


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

New Releases: June 2017

Round-up of the most interesting albums, singles and EPs released in June 2017:


The Underside of Power
ALGIERS - The Underside Of Power
RIDE - Weather Diaries
KEVIN MORBY - City Music
PALEHOUND - A Place I’ll Always Go
CHASTITY BELT - I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone
BEACH FOSSILS - Somersault
THE DRUMS - Abysmal Thoughts
AMBER COFFMAN - City Of No Reply
PEAKING LIGHTS - The Fifth State Of Consciousness
H HAWKLINE - I Romanticize
ULRIKA SPACEK - Modern English Decoration
CIGARETTES AFTER SEX - Cigarettes After Sex 
TEMPLE OV BBV - Temple ov BBV 
JAD FAIR AND KRAMER - The History Of Crying
ROYAL TRUX - Platinum Tips and Ice Cream
ROYAL BLOOD - How Did We Get So Dark?
DAN AUERBACH - Waiting On A Song
MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS - Existential Beast
BETH DITTO - Fake Sugar
VINCE STAPLES - Big Fish Theory
JAY Z - 4:44
BIG BOI - Boomiverse
MARK WYNN - More Singles
TOPS - Sugar At The Gate
SONGHOY BLUES - Resistance
LOVE THEME - Love Theme 
THE POPGUNS - Sugar Kisses
THE RUBY SUNS - Sprite Fountain
CELEBRATION - Wounded Healer
CHAIN AND THE GANG - Best Of Crime Rock

Singles & EPs

Everything Now
ARCADE FIRE - Everything Now
ARCADE FIRE - Creature Comfort
H HAWKLINE - Last Thing On Your Mind
FLASHER - Winnie / Burn Blue
SYNTHETIC ID - Escapement
WHITNEY - You’ve Got A Woman / Gonna Hurry (As Slow As I Can)
THE NO ONES - Sun Station EP
THE ORIELLES - Sugar Tastes Like Salt
TROUBLE - Snake Eyes
LICE - The Human Parasite
MARY EPWORTH - Me Swimming
LAPS - Who Me?
- Know No Better EP

Algiers - The Underside of Power