Friday, 13 June 2014
Born To Ride.
This girl is it! The Rey of light that's going to shine through all your 'Summertime Sadness' no matter how much rain falls on your window pane. Now this generations best female singer/songwriter, who draws experience from everyone from the boss Springsteen to Sinatra's daughter may be on an even more morose tip of late. From telling press she wishes she was "already dead" (let's hope this is not true) to bringing the bleak, black and white artwork of her new album that feels like a beautiful break-up record, albeit with a patental advisory sticker. Still, you know there's going to be explicit content from an album called 'Ultraviolence' and a women whose debut single from the album of the same name 'Born To Die' had it's negative tone changed for radio airplay to the tune of her singing "kiss me hard in the pouring rain". Still after Lizzy Grant's sophmore album went to number 1 in 11 countries thanks to stellar singles like 'Video Games', 'Off To The Races' and 'Blue Jeans', the classic collection has manged to move 7 million units and counting since its release just over two years ago thanks to standout songs like 'National Anthem', 'Dark Paradise' and the non-singles 'Without You' and 'Radio' play. Now this stars life is "sweeter than cinnamon" and she can say and do what the hell she wants. Even name a track on this new set, 'F***** My Way To The Top'. Whether she's screwing with us or not, that's an F-bomb, middle finger to the industry that made her change one of her most explicit but epic lyrics and all its meaning. Following 'Born To Die' a 'Paradise' E.P. and 'Tropico' musical movie came and showcased great, gorgeous gems for the girl like 'Ride', 'American', 'Bel-Air' and 'Gods & Monsters'. Things got even more cinematic for 'The Great Gastby' with her classic soundtrack soundbite 'Young & Beautiful' being among her best showcases. If you think this smoky starlett who was born for decades past was the right person to lead this soundtrack off, then just wait until you hear the dark, Disney magic this sleeping beauty has brought to the 'Once Upon A Dream' classic from the 'Maleficent' movie. Simply magnificent.
Now it's time for some violence for the headphones, as the fans have been eagerly awaiting another actual album from the hardest working woman in music. She doesn't disappoint either in another classic that sounds more like another soundtrack, in something that is as cohesive as it is compelling. This may be too dark for the mainstream, but thanks to production partner Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys follwing his own recent 'Turn Blue' success turn, the singer of arguably todays best band gives the industries best singer the backing and soundscape she's been richly looking for in all its brooding beauty and atmospheric angst. Even if the bigger hits and classic numbers belong on other records, for the vinyl Lana has never sounded better on wax in all her scratches. As the needle drops, this smouldering star is even chasing the diamond mining Norah Jones in being vocally the best woman out there in all of mainstream music, even if this straight shot and no chaser, bar-room blues on the rocks set is not diluted enough for the charts. Down on the 'West Coast' single and its "I can see my baby swingin'/His Parliament's on fire and his hands are up/On the balcony and I'm singing/Ooh, baby, ooh, baby, I'm in love" lyrics you can see where the real talent lies in America...under Miss Del Rey's address. Lana's 'Shades Of Cool' stream even further on the second single that hides some darkness behind the Ray Ban's with the light of day to the word of "My baby lives in shades of blue/Blue eyes and jazz and attitude/He lives in California too/He drives a chevy Malibu". These classic couplets add to the quotes of this star who has a legion of young fans treating her word like gospel. The praise and perfect chorus of vocals continues in perfect harmony on the other releases from this raw and real album. The title track shoots you down behind the bang, bangs of a Nancy Sinatra gun as Lana sings "I can hear sirens, sirens/He hit me and it felt like a kiss/I can hear violins, violins/Give me all of that ultraviolence". These lyrics where made for walking the line and with these boots our singer walks all over the wrong to the right signature step.
All the way to 'Brooklyn Baby' and the too true and soberingly sad story behind this song. Lana got no sleep to B.K., as she flew on a red eye to New York's borough to meet late, great legend Lou Reed to collaborate on what would have been another 'Perfect Day', but as she came landing to earth he died within minutes of that day and the song they could have completed together was never made this way. It obviously could have been so much more if the tandem got together, but riding across the beat on her own to the drum of kicking vocals like "They say I'm too young to love you/I don't know what I need/They think I don't understand/The freedom land of the seventies/I think I'm too cool to know ya/You say I'm like the ice I freeze/I'm churning out novels like/Beat poetry on Amphetamines" this song is still a classic for Lana in it's and her own right. The inspiration and influence of the late legend Lou is still present though in fitting tribute as Rey muses "Well, my boyfriend's in the band/He plays guitar while I sing Lou Reed" to the reason and rhyme verse of a new American classic with an undeniable hook that will be sung until the Autumn of Summer makes way for Winter and all that brings after. This stripped down cinematic collection is exactly what Lana promised in all it's potential and power. As the album delves deeper and darker this is the kind of music that brings that magic to the mid-night hour in all it's atmospheric, establishing evocation that her haunting harmonies engage, drowned in decadence. Bittersweet nostalgia and a haunting beauty is all laid out on the table from this queen of hearts. Pop music has never sounded so beautiful...or carried so much meaning even in the guilty pleasure of self-indulgence. From the Urban Outfitters exclusive vinyl cover, this torn 'Blue Jeans' queen of the new, female Springsteen, born in the U.S.A. generation gives her fans so much more than the commercial success of her single-laden, radio ready first album. This delightfully deluxe and dynamic package carries so much more weight and emotional gravity in a groundbreaking record for the former breakthrough star.
Even in a year of 'High Hopes' from the Boss, a Ben Harper collaboration with his mother and some Jack White and Black Keys this may be the best album of 2014 this Summer sorely needed. Even if the timbre, tone and texture of this album features more dark and heavy clouds for the season of sun we thought we'd see. It's been a cold year but from the 'Cruel World' beginnings to 'The Other Woman' ending we almost have a dozen tracks of tears and terrific trepidation. The bonus of the beautiful, 'Black Beauty', the haunting heavy metal keys of 'Guns and Roses' ivory and 'Florida Kilos' gives more weight to this album, as does the 'Flipside' of 'Is This Happiness' , depending on which special edition you go for. Still the original and outstanding album is perfect in its own way. 'Sad Girl' and 'Pretty When You Cry' haunt the darkness that lie behind this stars shine as Lana sings "His bonnie on the side, bonnie on the side/Makes me a sad, sad girl/His money on the side, money on the side/Makes me a sad, sad girl" for all the women that have been cruelly cheated. The million dollar girl explores more dark sides of the American dream on 'Old Money' and 'Money Power Glory' as Lana sings "Hallelujah" to "dope and diamonds" vowing to take us for all we've got. As she lyrically laments "The sun also rises/On those who fail to call/My life, it comprises,/f losses and wins and fails and falls" it's clear to hear and see what this industry has done in lasting effect to the life of this legacy making legend. Still no matter the trouble or pain, this influential icon goes through it all with honesty and heart and comes out swinging and singining like the stage was set for this siren in the times of the twenties. She's bringing all the Hepburn holding cigarette ash and smoke of those bygone decades to this day however boldly and beautifully like the words of the pages of a Fitzgerald Jazz Age. This woman who was born for the big screen, brings her movie-making music to the billboard bright lighs as nothing shines brighter in all it's glitz and glamour than her beautiful voice. This Bonnie brings beauty to this ride of 'Violence' and it seems she'll be shooting for the stars for a long time to come. From the Brooklyn boroughs to the Hollywood hills. This is the American dream deferred...and its never been so delightfully determined. It used to be a mans world. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
The White Keys.
Nashville, Tennessee. In the country of the United States Of America its the home of music. Still its not just Cash and Dolly down this country music hall of fame. Take a tour around music city and amongst all the vinyl exchanges you may just find Jack White's Third Man record store. Dig through the crates there and you'll find many a White Stripe 45. From classic records like 'Seven Nation Army' to 'Fell In Love With A Girl' and 'White Blood Cells' to 'elephant'. Flip further through and you'll find brilliant bands like The Raconteurs and heavey Dead Weather that are anything but just side projects. Then you'll hit a individual section of this independent giant and pull out something else entirely in 'Blunderbuss', Jack White's first shot at solo success, riding shotgun with nobody but his amp. Now its time to dust off the record player and add one more to the classic catalogue shelf as this Jack of hallmark, decades gone music drops the needle on 'Lazaretto'. Without a scratch-judging from the high octane title track that borrows the plug in from his 'Another Way To Die', 'Quantum Of Solace', James Bond theme with soul saviour Alicia Keys and strumming and scaling higher than his 'Love Is Blindness', 'Great Gatsby' standout-we have another classic L.P. on our hands.
"My veins are blue and connected / And every single bone in my brain is electric", sings White on what may just be the most colourful track of his career. Painted with harsh guitar lines and vocal shades this is a pallet of musical artistry and the big guitar classic number his individual solo career has been waiting for. Its truly the track that kicks off this album even if it comes after the fun opener, introduction to 'Three Women'. After all this we're on the 'Temporary Ground' of a classic, country collaboration that takes us straight to the roots of the folk of Nashville but also is a straight shot of Jack. You could find a track like this hidden somewhere on one of those old records with Meg. Then Mr. White asks 'Would You Fight For My Love?' on a track that feels all back to the future, halfway between being something of the saged aged soundtracks of decades past and something that somewhat sounds ironically both current and ahead of its time once the ivory kicks in. With lasting lyrics like, " But I'm afraid of being hurt that's true/But not afraid of any physical pain/Just as I am always scared of water/But not afraid of standing out in the rain", there arent too many similarities to love written as an ode in this day and age like this. With couplets that guys like Willie Nelson only bring together, you can see in all his duality that Jack has found his musical and spiritual home in the state of Tennessee.
The inspired instrumentation of 'High Ball Stepper' continues this influence. Its not just an epic showcase that shows why White is one of this generations guitar Gods. Its also as heroic turn on rocking out over a few minutes of eclectic electric. Then White tasked it to the real home of music in Nashville-the bars-with 'Just One Drink'. A hypnotic hook of a track that will leave you drunk off the classic chorus, "Just one drink gets me closer/just one drink, it rolls you over" that finds itself a barstool home on Music Row. If you don't think Jack is welcomed in Johnny's city then after you hear the line "You drink water, I drink gasoline/one of us is happy, one of us is mean", you know even without a rant and a letter of apology there's no competition for the man that could stand next to the man in black with his own stetson tipped fashion. The piano of 'Alone In My Home' plays this again Sam in another track that shows this man has been like the Phantom of the Opera, alone in his home studio, searching and striving for that perfect sound he's found in all its 'Entitlement', like that slow burner of smouldering success. 'That Black Bat Licorice' continues this crude oil, midnight hour darkness that is as captivating as it is atmospheric. Things feel even more like a breath of fresh air in the sound of 'I Think I Found A Culprit'. While the ballad of a closer in 'Want and Able' rounds things off perfectly with the right track. As Jack sings "Who is the who, telling who what to do", its clear no one is telling White what to do as he goes it alone for a second stripe of a solo set that adds more collateral to his classic catalogue. A few more albums down the road and his songbook will be your real tour guide through Music City. Time to hit your local record store, because real old fashioned music is still alive. You know Jack. TIM DAVID HARVEY.