Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Wooden Finger Five – May 2015

5.I Don’t Wanna Fight – Alabama Shakes

This is now going to be the song I think of when I think of Alabama Shakes. Or Alabama BBQ sauce. Or malted milkshakes.

4.Let It Happen – Tame Impala

I meant to include this one last month, but forgot. It opens with an ‘ooh-mow-mow-ma-ma’ sound that I couldn’t quite place at first, but finally pegged it as (most likely coincidentally) the opening lyric from one of the tracks from Spoon’s latest album (‘Outlier’). Following ‘Elephant’ and ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ purveyors of psychedelic music clips must be queuing up to make the video for this epic seven-minute track.

3.Minimal Affection – The Vaccines

The Vaccines are one of those bands who came roaring out of the blocks with an opening track – ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ – that they haven’t matched since. On ‘Minimal Affection’ though they seem to perfect the laid-back, deadpan, early ‘80s-like style that Julian Casablancas and the Strokes have been striving for over the past decade. It somehow, unexpectedly, seems to come a lot more naturally to the Vaccines. I am not sure that they could do it again, but if they could then, as much as I still long for the band that was seemingly going to pump out hit after hit like ‘Ra Ra Ra’, I’ll pay a bit more notice.

2.Thought I Was A Spaceman – Blur

While being more than merely a repeat of past glories Blur’s first album in a decade, ‘The Magic Whip’, does evoke several of the different periods of their career. Opener ‘Lonesome Street’ recalls the Britpop of ‘Parklife’, ‘Go Out’ and its heavy, scratchy guitar sound feels like it is from their self-titled album, while ‘There Are Too Many Of Us’ and its violins would fit in pretty well with Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz work. ‘Thought I Was A Spaceman’ is a bit like Gorillaz too, crossed with some of the spaced-out tracks from Blur’s most ponderous album ‘13’. Some of Blur’s best tracks for me are when Albarn’s voice is at its most emotive and beautiful (stuff like ‘Ambulance’ and ‘The Universal’), and this is one of those tracks for me, making it possibly my favourite from the new album.

1.Vertigo – Mini Mansions

I didn’t know who Mini Mansions were until about a month or two ago; they are a Queens of the Stone Age-associated ‘side project’, though only to the extent that QOTSA’s bassist is in the group. Their latest and second album, ‘The Great Pretenders’ is an enjoyable romp through ‘60s and ‘70s classic rock/pop styles – T-Rex, the Kinks, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and probably bunches of other bands from that era. ‘Vertigo’ is the ‘one with Alex Turner’, with the Arctic Monkeys frontman contributing a verse to this track. These sort of things can feel tokenistic (see 70 per cent of hip-hop tracks with ‘special guests’), but Turner actually adds something here with his trademark complicated wordplay. He still sounds too clever for his own good, but it works here, and the chorus is lovely. (Tip for heterosexual men: watch the videoclip, online, because you won’t see it on TV that often.)

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