On an album of guest stars, QOTSA’s ‘Fairweather Friends’ (from ‘ … Like Clockwork’) brings out all the big guns. Roll call: Dave Grohl – drums; Nick Oliveri, Mark Lanergan, Brody Dalle and Trent Reznor – vocals (joining QOTSA leader Josh Homme); Elton John (!) – piano and vocals. Not that you can really tell – like Kanye West’s absurdly overpopulated ‘All Of The Lights’ the track works perfectly as a piece in its own right; indeed, if one told you that Homme did the whole track himself you’d probably believe them. The whole album is a great return to form for the Californian desert’s biggest, roughest, hairiest rock band.
And this is from the new album from Brooklyn’s deepest and gloomiest (which currently leads the ‘consensus’ race for ‘Best Album of 2013’). No-one could ever accuse the National of being catchy, but this is the track that’s stayed in my head even after all the others have merged together into a baritonal drone. Matt Berninger’s proclamation that “When I walk into a room I do not light it up/Fuck” will probably find itself on a million drunken Twitter feeds.
As Art Brut sang, “I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered the Replacements” Well, I had actually discovered them before this month, but I’ve just recently got a hold of their Original Album Series release, which packages together their first five LPs. The three songs named above are my favourites, though ‘Bastards of Young’ also gets a lot of acclaim. ‘I Will Dare’ has had a few different interpretations, but the one I like is that it’s about an older guy meeting up with a girl who is underage (“How smart are you/How old am I?”). This interpretation also adds a bit of an edge to the song’s old time rock ‘n’ roll feel. ‘Unsatisfied’, also off the record ‘Let It Be’ is pretty much just as good. It has a beautiful opening 12-string acoustic guitar riff before Paul Westerberg lets out a shout/yelp, and then launches into one of the most frustrated vocal performances you will ever hear. Finally, ‘Alex Chilton’ is a tribute to Westerberg’s musical hero from cult band Big Star. ‘Children by the millions/Sing for Alex Chilton’ Westerburg claims – of course they didn’t, but the song creates a fun alternative universe where Chilton obtains the stardom many fans thought he deserved.
Quatro. Nothing Is Easy – Marnie Stern
This song goes full tilt right from the get-go - the guitars ring out, and then Marnie’s vocals come in and it seems like she’s singing every line as if she’s double-tracked her vocals half a dozen times (which I guess would be duodecuple-tracked). More proof that you don’t need a killer melody as long as you really, really ‘mean it’.
For years I had this idea that Ocean Colour Scene were a bit of a joke among indie-lovers, a kind of poor man’s Oasis (which to Oasis-haters would make them the nadir of the Britpop era). But then I heard ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ on NME Radio one afternoon, and it quickly transferred into being one of the 25 ‘Most Played’ on my iPod. The rest of the album ‘Moseley Shoals’ is fantastic as well – sure it rips off ‘60s bands left, right and centre, but it’d be perfect for some air guitar and a British pub singalong back in 1996. Best tracks: ‘The Day We Caught The Train’, ‘The Circle’, ‘Policemen and Pirates’ and ‘One For The Road’.