Tag Archives: journalism

Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs (Matador)

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Yo La Tengo aren’t exactly new on the musical scene; they formed way back in 1984 and latest offering Popular Songs is their twelfth full length studio album to date. Yet they have received almost no mainstream success since their formation. So what’s kept this band going for the past 25 years? Well Yo La Tengo have a seriously immense cult following in the world of music.

A band with no mainstream success but a major cult following. Odd right? Well Yo La Tengo are not your regular band. You see it’s not in Yo La Tengo’s nature to be instantly likeable. This is a band you have to really work at understanding. And for your regular Joe music fan that just isn’t their cup of tea.

On first listen Popular Songs comes across as boring indie-pop. At this point most people will reject this album to the bin. A veteran Yo La Tengo fan like myself, however, knows that you need to put a little more effort than that into Popular Songs. You really need to listen to this album a good three or four times before you will truly start to ‘get’ this album.

And when you do you will discover songs like When It’s Dark, All Your Secrets and in particular If It’s True. All classic Yo La Tengo creations that you will listen to over and over.

Although, ultimately, this album is nowhere near as good as Yo La Tengo’s previous album, I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, this is still an album worthy of some good old effort. You might be surprised at just how much you end up liking it.

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Alberta Cross – Borken Side of Time (Ark Recordings)

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A lazy critic might write Alberta Cross off as a poor Kings of Leon clone. True, there are substantial similarities between the two bands; both have created bluesy rock albums, both have singers with highly distinctive voices and both make music laced with heavily harmonised guitars. But do not be fooled, Alberta Cross are so much more than some band that sound a bit like some other band. Alberta Cross are undoubtedly going to be superstars of the future.

‘Broken Side Of Time’ is the band’s first full length album but that’s not to say Alberta Cross are particularly new on the scene. They’ve already released the highly acclaimed EP ‘The Heartbreaker And The Thief’ and supported bands like Oasis, Bat For Lashes and The Shins to name a few.

Which all sounds pretty impressive, but doesn’t really give any substantial reason to why this band are going to be massive. That’s because the proof, my friends, is in the pudding. It only takes one listen of Broken Side Of Time to realise just how incredible this band really are. ‘Song Three Blues’, the opening track of the album, is both beautiful and haunting. Singer Petter Ericson Stakee has a voice that was created just to send shivers down your spine. This man really knows how to channel raw emotion through his voice but crucially without sounding like a screechy, over-zealous Corey Taylor. Anyone who doesn’t fall in love with Stakee from the second he howls “I just wanna live, is that a crime?” is either lying or just heartless.

Title track ‘Broken Side Of Time’ is equally as haunting but ever the more powerful. The drum beat and guitar screech battling each other the opening second before fading out to allow Stakee’s voice to wail out his woes; it’s a twisting journey led by the band. They channel their music right through your soul and it is utterly inspiring.

Latest single ‘ATX’ sounds almost Muse like in its ferocity but with the added hint of Kasabian while previous single ‘Leave Us And Forgive Us’ is more reminiscent of The Airborne Toxic Event. But none of these comparisons even come close to having the voice of Stakee which is what really makes this band stand out amongst the crowd. Stakee’s voice alone is nothing less than infectious. In fact, it is breath-taking.

Arguably, this album is one of 2009’s best offerings. A definite top five contender. You seriously need to experience this album for yourself and share it with everyone you know. In a few years’ time you’ll be able to take full credit for introducing them to one of the biggest bands around.