LTW Newsletter 14
The sun was batting its lashes briefly at us before disappearing again and normal British summer conditions have resumed just in time for outdoor festivals! All been busy here at Louder Than War keeping up with the flow of these strange gatherings called ‘gigs’ which we find rather exciting. Also popped over to Liverpool to conduct an in conversation with The Orielles about their new film which is a wonderful artful piece and perfectly matches their improvised space rock take on classic indie - they are an amazing band and so youthful and so full of ideas and no fear!
Hope all is good Warriors! and we are all hanging in there in the endless ‘Escape From Covid’ movie we are living in. It’s a movie we have not seen before and the car chase scene between the virus and the human race seems to go on forever but! … fear not as gigs and festivals are still on and there is a thin veneer of normality hanging in the air despite loads of people we know succumbing to the dreaded pandemic. At least we can now drown out our blues with music and there’s been lots going on this week.
We got the first review of the upcoming Stranglers ‘Dark Matters’ album that is released in September. The band’s 18th album is a classic late period work. It bears all the hallmarks of what made their music great back in the punk wars when they arrived uninvited and surly and took the centre stage without the permission of the self styled trendy yet bearded music press of the time. The band celebrated their outsider status and released a series of group reading and highly influential albums which were all huge hits. Age may have withered them down to only one Strangler - but then that is JJ Burnel - a force of nature and the greatest bass player of them all and there is plenty of life in the old dogs or rats yet. The new album is a diverse affair ranging from gnarly bass driven classic old school Stranglers to lush and sensitive ballads to some quirky oddball tracks with added choirs and strings! It sits easily in quality terms with the first classic five albums and so far advance orders see it heading towards the top 5 which would be a hell of an achievement at this stage of an already bizarre career.
The major gig event of the week was Gorillaz who played two iconic free shows for the NHS workers at Londons twenty thousand capacity O2 hanger. The sheer scale of ambition and on stage guest list was a regular who’s who of pop culture and a celebration of the nurses and workers who have got us through this dark time. Damon Albarn’s work rate is out of this world - it’s only two weeks since we reviewed his solo show in Manchester and that was a pretty big production as well. The Gorillaz gigs were amazing futuristic affairs that really played with the possibility of pop and our reviewer was overcome with their sheer scale of their brilliance…
Billie Eilish is perhaps the best mainstream pop star on the planet in 2021. Her new album continues to push the envelope with its sparse and twisted songs and her entwining of deeply personal subject matter with a pop nous. It’s a tough gig to pull off but Billie and her co-writing brother have made craft out of extending just what pop can be in 2021. We recommend her new album as well worth a listen even if you are not a straight pop fan. Sometimes the really interesting stuff can be lurking at the top of the charts in plain view and is not always in the underground - a place where the good shit can be happening but can sometimes be drowned out by the play safe pretend alternative that exists within its well honed and trusted parameters. Our reviewer states the case the new Billie Eilish album here…
Tansy Mcnally plays with the post punk vets Blue Orchids - the ad hoc collection of musicians built around Fall founder Martin Bramah. Whilst the Blue Orchids themselves are on a bit of career comeback with a well received new album and clutch of dates Tansy has her own thing on as we discerned here. When post-punk psychedelic veterans the Blue Orchids released their superb new album Speed The Day they quietly announced they had a new band-member: Tansy McNally on electric ukulele. Onstage at recent gigs she cuts a noticeable but shy figure, because she is probably less than half the age of some of the other band members and it’s a pretty unusual instrument she plays.
Martin Bramah himself gave John Robb an in depth interview on the the YouTube Chanel (join now! Loads of interviews on there) where he covered his ins and outs with the Fall and his own carrier and also his mid seventies musical youth - fascinating stuff!
British Sea Power have a new album soon and have brilliantly trolled the world of GB News and the kind of people who read the Daily Mail and rant about snowflakes whilst being even more snowflake themselves by dropping the word British from their name as a protest against what they perceive as to what British means now. A statement, situations prank and brilliant publicity all rolled into one - after we broke the story it ended up on Channel 4, the Guardian and and the right wing press - oh and the new single is great and a brilliant harbinger for the band’s new album from one of our more creative bands.
We grabbed a big interview with Shaun Ryder about his new solo album which is actually an older album that he found ‘down the back of his sofa’ during lockdown. The album of lost tracks from a lost period is actually a great collection of tunes and some of his strangest work and a 24 carrot collection of great wonk pop with the usual witty lyrics and infernally catchy off kilter tunes as Shaun explains here.
In what seems like a million years ago in a simpler time, Mudhoney were the hottest band coming out of America. They were seen as the band most likely to until Nirvana came and stole their thunder. Instead of sulking they just continued on their own great trajectory - refining their take on grunge and make trips into, er, psychedelic trips. Mark Arm gave us an in depth interview on his band’s adventures and current plans.
In conversation with Mark Arm ( Mudhoney ) https://louderthanwar.com/in-conversation-with-mark-arm-mudhoney/
The Covid crisis and the effects of Brexit have not made a musician’s life any easier and the side effect of the rebirth of vinyl has been the lack of it ! Pressing plants that were running flat out for months keeping up with vinyl revival have now been drowned out with by orders and vinyl’s success has become a new crisis with many bands reporting up to six months wait plus for pressings fucking up release schedules and plans as we report here…
A Perfect Storm: The Impact Of The Vinyl Crisis On Independent Labels https://louderthanwar.com/the-impact-of-the-vinyl-crisis-on-independent-labels/ via @louderthanwar
Rebellion punk festival retuned to Blackpool last weekend with a mixture of new generation punk bands and the sturdy punk classic. The event - held in Blackpool’s wonderful Winter Gardens - was an instant sell out a big success and curtain raiser for next year’s event…
LISTEN! TUNE OF THE WEEK!
Sonic Youth & The Pastels / Play the New York Dolls https://louderthanwar.com/sonic-youth-the-pastels-play-the-new-york-dolls/