Europe is a place of art and beauty. Everything there is edgy, fashionable and exceptionally inaccessible. The films are all rooted in symbolism and fantasy, American sitcoms are frowned upon for their mindless mulch and the 12 year olds are all wine connoisseurs. Of course this all excludes the UK which has always been considered the drunken and vulgar black sheep of the European family – 12 year olds here are happy being Buckfast groupies.
So when it comes to music Europe really know how to produce a conundrum of a band. You see Mew aren’t your regular rock band, nor would they ever want to be. They aren’t even rock. Indie perhaps, alternative definitely, progressive rock at a push, they even sound a bit electro-pop at times but who knows really? You see the trick to Mew’s latest album, No More Stories…, is not to try and analyse it or second guess it. Just listen to it.
You see if you’re looking for simple, accessible and nicely chorused music then No More Stories… is not the album for you. This album is a schizophrenic jumble of genres, emotions and tempos. It’s impossible to follow and you’ll never be able to sing along to it at a show. Yet given the chance this album is quite wonderful.
This is artsy without being pretentious, upbeat but not cheesy, beautiful yet not sappy – No More Stories… is everything you’ve been looking for in an album without ever realising it.
Mew are pure European art. If you don’t get it don’t worry, you’re probably just one of those ignorant art philistines. But that’s OK, I hear the Enemy are writing a new album. For everyone else just lie back, press play and let the culture embrace you.
NB: The full title for this release is No More Stories / Are Told Today / I’m Sorry / They Washed Away / No More Stories / The World Is Grey / I’m Tired / Let’s Wash Away, but it’s far too long to use as the title for this piece.
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.
The UK is over-indulged with various indie-rock bands, all creating the same by-numbers tracks day in day out. Thankfully, Mirrorkicks are not safe in any way. This South London band’s debut single, ‘Turning Up’, takes indie-rock to a new, darker place with its grungy guitar licks.
It’s very apparent from the single that Mirrorkicks’ are straddling that thin line between indie-rock and just plain rock. But it’s the vocals which pull this song back into the indie ranks. Soft and sweet, Anil Kamalagharan’s voice is distinctive and perfect for a frontman. This is a band that are really bringing excitement back into the world of indie-rock.
Put it this way. If this band were American they might be called Weezer. Yes, that’s how much of a hidden gem Mirrorkicks are. For a debut single ‘Turning Up’ mirrors the confidence of a band on their third or fourth album. Can you imagine just how good this band will sound live? Hopefully there will be a full UK tour before the year’s out.