By Mary Chang on Thursday, 25th April 2013 at 12:00 pm
Words by Jordy Fujiwara
It’s been more than three years since the album ‘Contra’ was released, so it’s understandable that Vampire Weekend would look to build some considerable hype for the upcoming ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ album, due out the 13th of May on XL Recordings.
In addition to a partnership with VEVO, YouTube, American Express and, serendipitously enough, actor Steve Buscemi, the band has circulated two very interesting songs online. ‘Diane Young’ and ‘Step’ were uploaded to YouTube on the same day, enjoying almost exactly the same amount of views to date – about 1.4 million each. Both tracks are excellent in their own right, but what I find the most intriguing is how they are such polar opposites in many respects. So much so that I can’t help but assume the boys chose to preview these two for a reason. The videos are down below, but let’s talk about them first.
‘Diane Young’ is a very punchy, driving song that dives right in and doesn’t really slow down. It’s loud and unapologetic with interjecting ‘Miserlou’-style riffs and a thrashy-crashy reverb-laden percussion. ‘Step’ on the other hand has patient pace. The keys and a calm bass lead the melody. The song feels like it unfurls musically, as the octaves build soothingly through Ezra Koenig’s passionate delivery.
Lyrically, I feel like ‘Diane Young’ is much more straightforward (well, for Vampire Weekend at least). The verses are nice, structured AABBs. The bridge and hook are simple and catchy (“baby baby baby!”); you can get into this song without having to really grasp the depth of the story itself. That said, it is interesting to interpret Diane Young as “dying young” and explore the hints in the words that speak to death and living in or for the moment.
‘Step’ takes a different approach. It is a very rich, lyrical song, chalk full of references, little allegories and clever phrasings like, “I just ignored all the details of a past life / stale conversation deserves but a butter knife”. The verses are much less structured than ‘Diane Young’, flowing more like poetry and relying on Koenig’s timing and meter to complement the music. Each line reads like a profound revelation, and you find yourself really trying to figure out what it might mean – for yourself, for life, for love… in other words this song makes you think. (If you want to really tear apart the lyrical meanings for either song, I suggest you head over to rapgenius.com and search for these tracks there – folks have put a lot of time and energy going through them both almost line by line.)
Finally, the videos. If the little analysis above doesn’t cement the idea that these two pieces aren’t just different, but almost diametrically opposed, then the videos will. ‘Diane Young’ is shot in rich colour – ‘Step’ is black and white. ‘Diane…’ barely cuts at all; it just recycles the same few seconds of slow-mo video; ‘Step’ cuts at practically every measure and is shot at regular speed. The video for ‘Diane Young’ is blatantly tied to the first line (“you torched a Saab like a pile of leaves”)’ ‘Step’s use of everyday scenes from New York is clearly not as overt, though the city is mentioned in the song and, of course, the band is from NYC. And glaringly, ‘Diane Young’ is not a lyrics video, where Step seems like it was almost built with karaoke in mind, which speaks to which song was felt to have more lyrical presence.
With all that in mind, have a look for yourself at the video below if you haven’t already. Can you spot any more differences? Together, they’re billed as a double A- single, and I think they make a lovely, complementary pair. If they represent two ends of the range of songs we’re to expect with ‘Modern Vampires of the City’, it’ll be a triumph of an album for these young and burgeoning artists.
Liam Gallagher’s post-Oasis band Beady Eye are back in the ring in 2013 with a pugilistic new single, ‘Flick of the Finger’. In his typically blunt and defiant fashion, Gallagher comes out swinging with the opening line, “woke up this morning / I was laid out flat on the dark side”.
As might be expected, the forward-charging rhythm section and the guitar melody give the song a definite Oasis-type sound. Unlike Oasis (with older brother Noel at the songwriting helm), the vocal melody here is stubbornly repetitive, with no proper chorus or bridge to break up the monotony. This combined with Liam Gallagher’s overly nasal singing and the strident brass in the instrumental arrangement creates an effect very much like fingernails on a chalkboard.
The song ends somewhat weirdly, with a spoken section referring to some vaguely imagined proletariat rebellion. This section contains the title reference, about government scientists creating weapons that “can, with the flick of a finger, tear a million of you to pieces”.
Never one to pull a punch, Gallagher has written a song full of swagger and braggadocio, but without any particular sting or power. His approach is somewhat heavier-handed here than on their debut album ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’, which may be an indication of the musical direction Beady Eye intends to take in the future.
‘Flick of the Finger’ is the first preview of Beady Eye’s second studio album, currently operating under the working title of BE 06.2013. It is presumably due out in June.
Irish art rockers Bell X1 have just released a Soundcloud stream of ‘Careful What You Wish For’, which will feature on their upcoming album ‘Chop Chop’. The full album, recorded in Connecticut earlier this year, isn’t scheduled for release until June, but Bell X1 did perform a few of the new songs on their acoustic tour of Europe and America last autumn. ‘Careful What You Wish For’ was among those performed live, and Bell X1 haven’t strayed far from the acoustic version in their recording for the album.
The studio arrangement includes a string section and some electronic bits and bobs not present in the live version, but the distinctive piano melody, played deftly by David Geraghty, is wisely left unchanged. Paul Noonan stretches to the edges of his vocal range, and while his falsetto isn’t pitch perfect, the lower part of his voice is always easy enough on the ears to take the sting out of the words he sings. These lyrics, presumably also by Noonan, are as pointedly perceptive as ever, cutting to the quick with lines like, “these bulbs are the fluorescent kind / no-one looks good in this light”.
‘Careful What You Wish For’ is the second Soundcloud stream released by the band in advance of ‘Chop Chop’, which will be released on the 28th of June in Ireland. The band will premiere the LP live at the National Concert Hall in Dublin the following night, on Saturday the 29th of June, playing it in its entirety, before performing some songs from their back catalogue. The first song from the album available by stream, an ethereally beautiful track called ‘Starlings Over Brighton Pier’, subsequently included a breathtaking video, which we’ve embedded below as well for both your viewing and listening pleasure.
Since January 2010, ‘The Octopus’ has been dormant. After Amplifier’s attempts to create mass hysteria around the record had died down, ‘The Octopus’ lay sleeping… resting…latent.
For those unfamiliar with ‘The Octopus’, it was the name of Amplifier’s third studio album. An album lasting just over 2 hours and if you were lucky enough to have it (I was) accompanied by a 70-page ‘opus’. As far as prog rock sagas go, beating ‘The Octopus’ is going to be a challenge no Mars Volta or Fiery Furnaces will take lightly.
It seems timely, then, that at a time when prog rock seems to be going through the doldrums, that Amplifier return with their fourth record, ‘Echo Street’, scheduled to be released next Monday (11 March). First single ‘Matmos’ is probably the best way to get yourself stuck into Amplifier as a beginner to their sound. As make no mistake, the kind of rock operas that this band produce are absolute marmite rock at its best. If it’s your thing, you’ll hang on every chord, whilst if you abhor warbling solos and songs less than 5 minutes long then this kind of stuff will hit your eardrums like a baby crying.
‘Matmos’, available a free download from their record label’s Bandcamp here, as I mentioned is a fantastic marker for what the Manchester-based band are about. Sel Balamir’s provide the beginning to the wave of harmony and “nah nah nah nah nahs” that undercut the song, and his voice stays as haunting as it ever has been throughout ‘The Octopus’, 2006′s ‘Insider ‘and 2004 debut ‘Amplifier’.
Take note purveyors of prog; If you want to whet appetites, this is how…
‘Echo Street’, the fourth album from Manchester’s Amplifier, will be released on the 11th of March on Kscope and can be preordered here. The album is available on CD, double vinyl and as a limited edition, deluxe two-disc set. The deluxe edition is packaged in a 60 page-hardback book and also features the new ‘Sunriders’ EP an additional record of new tunes, exclusive to this release. Catch them on tour on the dates below the video for ‘Matmos’.
Saturday 16th March 2013 – Preston 53 Degrees
Sunday 17th March 2013 – Bristol Fleece
Monday 18th March 2013 – York Duchess
Tuesday 19th March 2013 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Wednesday 20th March 2013 – Nottingham Rock City
Thursday 21st March 2013 – London Garage
Tipped for greatness by the Radio 1’s new music head honcho Huw Stephens and producers of the ‘Music for Cars’ EP available next Monday, the 4th of March, The 1975 have released the official video for ‘Chocolate’.
Starting with some lovely undulating guitars in almost the style of Bombay Bicycle Club on ‘Shuffle’, the song moves on to the quick-fire lyrics of Matthew Healy telling us the rather clichéd chat-up line, that “her hair smells like chocolate”. The jerky-riffs continue throughout to create a brilliant little pop song that’s almost impossible to shake out of your head. And why would you want to? The song has such an uplifting quality.
The video almost fits perfectly to the song as Healy repeats how they’re “dressed in black / head to toe”, as the entire band clad in black leather cruise around in, yes, a video shot entirely in black and white.
In 2009, Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz and the other two Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy went on an indefinite hiatus. A (very literal) solo project by Stump, which looked and sounded awful, was short-lived, and Wentz’s solo efforts…well, never really materialised as anything, did they? Now this week of the 4th of February 2013, every ‘90s kid will be posting a Facebook status or Tweet (myself included) about how the teenage version of themselves, presumably wearing thick eyeliner, has been awakened by this new song.
‘My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)’, the band’s new release, features Def Jam rapper 2 Chainz and his posse doing away with all of Fall Out Boy’s back catalogue and an assortment of vinyl. Why, you ask? Well, their new album is called ‘Save Rock And Roll’, and I believe they are saying through their video that it’s time to do away with the old and bring in the new.
As for their new angle, it’s getting slated virally, but I’ll stick my neck out and say I like it. It’s edgy, and it’s not drenched in synth as some writers are purveying. But it most definitely shows the signposts of a Fall Out Boy re-branding. Less of the emo anthems, like ‘Take Me to Your Grave’, and a more ‘Folie a Deux’ kind of sound.
Emo fangirls, beware: you may not enjoy this.
Everyone else? Just enjoy the fact they’re back.
Fall Out Boy’s new album ‘Save Rock And Roll’ will be out on the 6th of May.