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David Bowie – The Last Day album review

Now then, where do I start with this one? I mean, it’s David fucking Bowie. The man’s not even from this planet.

Before breaking open the case, there was an ambivalent uncertainty oscillating in the back of my mind – what to expect? I was candidly hoping it wasn’t going to be a half-cooked record that’s been fashioned purely as an indecent money spinner.

Many vintage musician has walked this re-launch route before – some of the high rollers have included Paul McCartney with I Look Like An Old Woman, Sting with I’ve Grown This Amorous Beard As Justification For Obscure Folk and Mr Bowie’s mate Iggy Pop, with I Never Really Left, People Just Stopped Caring.

‘The Next Day’, however, is on course for a number one slot. If I’m right it will be Bowie’s first number one album in twenty years following ‘Black Tie White Noise’.

After ten years of hush (excluding Bowie’s role in Chris Nolan’s 2006 picture, The Prestige) we, as a fan base, were expecting a lot.
We were teased with the single release ‘Where Are We Now?’ (8 January) to celebrate Big Dave’s 66th birthday but to be honest, I wasn’t enamoured – it was hard work.

You want to adore it because it’s David Bowie, but I’m going to put it out there, it was a bit wet – a grower, not a show-er, Dave. What it really boils down to is the fact that the album itself is a collective, to be appreciated and consumed in one sitting.

If you were to show someone 1/14 of Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, he mightn’t be particularly taken with it either.

‘How Does The Grass Grow’ sticks out like a sore thumb – sounds a bit like the band’s been listening to either too much of The Talking Heads or The Flaming Lips – not 100% on what’s going on there.

Before I even got the chance to consume the full album, ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’ was brought to my attention with its accompanying video featuring La Roux’s birth mother (Tilda Swinton). It’s a dark, dramatic yet energetic piece that revolves around the struggle of coming to terms with his inevitable aging. It rings truth as to how iconic Bowie really was – a pioneer, insouciantly traversing time.

‘Dirty Boys’ is everything is says on the tin. It’s sloth like tempo laden with filthy, punchy bass and discordant overdriven guitar slinks lustrously around your ears – really down to earth, with tangible 70s authenticity branded across its arse.

The striking thing about Bowie and his music is that it’s so regal, but at the same time it’s incontestably evident he does not give one single fuck.

This is where ‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’ comes into play with the trademark, harrowingly high-end strings that burn passion through the choruses. It’s everything we have come to associate with the man. This one’s a high flyer, in my books.

The most pertinent question is; will it tour? So far, all we have is hearsay but when quizzed Bowie’s wife, Iman, said, “we have a 12-year-old in school, so we’re stuck – we can’t travel. Our schedule is around her, so I don’t know. We’ll have to go visit, but we won’t be on tour with him.”

Bowie’s guitarist however, has commented, “He’s fairly adamant he’s never going to perform live again. One of the guys would say, ‘Boy, how are we going do all this live?’ and David said, ‘We’re not’. He made a point of saying that all the time.”
Only time will tell with this one…

The album was never going to be ‘Aladdin Sane’ or ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars’ but it definitely holds its own as a decade’s silence killer. It hosts all the magnetism and British charm that we’ve grown to associate with David Bowie and it demonstrates his unmatched ability to command an audience.

I doubt I’m alone in saying this – I’ve got absolutely everything crossed that this will put David Bowie back on the road.

Find the published article at IAreYeti.com
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The Courteeners – ANNA album review

The last time I heard anything fresh-ish from The Courteeners, I was deplorably temping in Next*, the summer before I was due to embark on my second year at university.
There was this CD that would play over the tannoy we had to endure daily, most probably knocked up by somebody’s son (‘who’s really into his music’) from head office.

I can recall a great Zombies track – Time of the Season’s, that tired, god awful La Roux (aka Tilda Swinton – honestly, IMDb that shit now) slime, and then there was Overdid It Doll from The Courteeners previous album, Falcon.

Some fashion obsessed, airheaded blonde piece I worked alongside would tell me that the chorus line was “you sold the tank top” (try it, it almost fits) and she would chime in every time, without fail, with the wrong lyrics.

Anyway, having patiently waited the best part of two and half years for some more, I was quite looking forward to hearing what they’d been working on. Good news – ANNA’s not bad.

We’ve got a good balance. There’s a few you could listen to whilst you’re being betrayed by natural light on the unspeakable hangover days (‘Marquee’), and depending on the severity of said hangover, ‘You Want Something You Can’t Have’ could also slot into that playlist. They’re both melodious, tentative, bumph really – nothing to write home about.

The headliner is ‘Lose Control’. This is the kind of thing you should expect to see in the Premiership’s best goals montage. These cats could be the future footy fan’s new go-to guys.
Gallagher used to play upfront but he regrettably got too old and fell apart. Then there was the lank hair of Serge bobbing around in the box for a bit. Maybe now it’s time for the fresh legs of Mr Fray to appreciate the stadium lights with the first team. Just maybe.

In ‘Push Yourself’, which is also a stomper, I came to the sudden realisation, with the heavily accented line, “you stand back, fuck me!” that the editor seems to give me a lot of Mancunian bands to review – coincidence? I think not.
It’s a pretty driving track – the kick and the bass are locked together in a way that you would hope the backbone of any third album band would be, and Fray clangs along, as he does, with his trademark ooh’s and ahh’s. The lead guitar compliments the whole arrangement well, just bending into dissonance in the chorus’ like Bloc Party used to do.

All in all, ANNA’s not bad. She’s a definite keeper and a sterling example of what a band can achieve. But after five years I was hoping for an absolute stellar release I could put on the wall. That space remains reserved.

*Other highstreet fashion stockists are available

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Joss Stone – Soul Sessions Vol 2 album review

It’s been a long time coming, but nine years later we’re presented with the result of personal growth and a lifetime dedication to soul. Stone made her money with the 2003 release of the original Soul Sessions album, and now it looks as if the money pot is running low.

The 25 year old British singer has compiled a handsome collection of seventies and eighties covers, some more well know than others, to make up this stellar album. My only gripe being that her voice at times swings more towards her blues roots, growling up and the down the scales. Soul music was born out of deep south, and there it should remain – we Brits have had a good run with an eclectic scope of the genres, but the American’s do soul. They do soul well.

The collection features such greats as The Honey Comb’s ‘While You’re Out Looking For Sugar’, Turbinton’s ‘First Taste Of Hurt’ and Sylvia Robinson’s ‘Pillow Talk’ to name but a few. The headline however, has got to be the highly polished version Womack & Womack’s famous ‘Teardrops’.

Stone commented “I really had fun revisiting The Soul Sessions idea and I’m really pleased with the results” when interviewed about her new album.
“I’ve committed long term to my label Stone’d Records, but it felt right to team up with Steve Greenberg and S-Curve again for this release. I think there are some great songs on the album and I loved performing them with such brilliant musicians.”

Don’t be under any illusion that the neo-soul star has been painting her toenails since the original Soul Session release. Super group ‘SuperHeavy’ was formed in 2009 with Rolling Stones front man, Mick Jagger, producer Dave Stewart, AR Rahman and the offspring of Bob Marley and possibly the coolest man I’ve ever seen, Damien Marley.
Their reggae infused soul debut single ‘Miracle Worker‘ (click for Youtube video) was released in July 2011, unfortunately not doing as well as critics had forecast.

The hour long compilation is an admiral one, and comes with a strong recommendation from yours truly. There is one  question remaining though, collecting dust at the back of my brain: ‘can Joss Stone actually write her own material?’ I would like to think so… Watch this space.

Published at I Are Yeti

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