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uninitiated: the aural equivalent of being invited to see a dangerous man’s puppies.
Thereafter, the Airdrie skater boys pretty much hammer the living daylights from their instruments, the studio and our minds with a not altogether unattractive set of semi- melodic air-splitting thump. ‘Screamo’ and ‘heaviosity’ are words deemed appropriate to appear on their press release. And with perfectly valid reason. (Brian Donaldson)
ROCK BIFFY CLYRO Only Revolution (14th Floor) ●●●●●
It’s all making sense now with Biffy Clyro, since Muse showed that you didn’t need to follow the entirely conventional path to attain rock band enormodome status. And it’s not like with the demise of Oasis there will be a flood of rock geeks filling up the stadiums, but Biffy Clyro have created the album that could have them cross over into the big leagues without losing any of their wayward spark. The grieving and
introspection that was channelled through 2007’s Puzzle has given way to moments of fuzzy optimism and sweat-drenched hedonism. They skilfully balance their swoonsome pop nous with breathtaking prog interludes. Dynamic, adrenalised, boisterous but still wholly accessible, Only Revolution is a deceptive title, as this is evolution, not revolution. (Mark Robertson)
METAL INVASION The Master Alchemist (This is Music) ●●●●●
Convinced (quite rightly) that the best metal is about ‘wizards and magic’, this London trio have both applied this
logic and set about tearing up the metal rulebook with super short songs, one-take recordings, no bass, no solos, no bullshit – and the result, this 21- minute adrenaline- fuelled, arsenic-laced debut, is a filthy joy. Equidistant from Black
Sabbath and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, they divine some soul from Chan Brown’s cosmic wail, but beyond that it’s all bombast and skeletal bluster. ‘Rainbows’ is without question one of the songs of the year and The Master Alchemist is a force to be reckoned with. (Mark Robertson)
ROCK LIGHTNING BOLT Earthly Delights (Load) ●●●●●
Bodacious noise lords Lightning Bolt pound elemental heaven and hell on Earthly Delights, their mind-melding fifth album. Whether summoning 50s rock’n’roll via the nightmarish turmoil of wah-wah (‘Guardians of Sound’), or thrashing out hypnotic psych- rock (‘SOS’), the Rhode Island duo – Brian Gibson (bass) and Brian Chippendale (drums) – are colossal.
All manner of aural surprises prevail: there’s a thrash-metal hillbilly hoe-down (‘Funny Farm’); a primordial percussive marvel (‘Transmissionary’); and some unlikely respite in the glimmering exoticism of ‘Rain on the Lake I’m Swimming In’. Don’t cower from the Bolt’s hot bedlam: there’s gold in these here slabs of clamour. (Nicola Meighan)
Untied States Instant Everything Constant Nothing (Distile Records) High tensile indie rock aesthetics from this Atlanta quintet, who crank up the tension with some unexpected twists on this excellent long player.
Hello=Fire (Schintzel Records) More in common with collaborator Brendan Benson than his other jobs in Queens of the Stone Age and The Dead Weather, Dean Fertita’s debut solo effort is a tightly packed power pop treat.
Police and Thieves (Island) A welcome two-disc, rarity- laden reissue of the helium-voiced reggae crooner’s landmark 1977 album, the title track of which was made even more famous when covered by The Clash on their debut album. Air Love 2 (Virgin) The first fruits from Air’s new Paris Atlas Studios is an enjoyably languid, symphonic pop collection. Playful and effervescent as ever, even if it is a bit predictable.
Various Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill (American Dust) The likes of Bill Callahan, Beth Orton, Ron Sexsmith and Marrisa Nadler celebrate the brief and evocative work of cult 70s songwriter Sill with this heartfelt tribute.
Daniel Johnston Is and Always Was (Feraltone) After three decades of mastering the mysteries of eccentric lo-fi pop, cult hero Johnston heads into the studio. The results are akin to Jonathan Richman via Brian Wilson but all Johnston.
22 Oct–5 Nov 2009 THE LIST 67
ROCK THE FLAMING LIPS Embryonic (Warners) ●●●●●
There’s always been something wistful and longing in the musical waywardness of Oklahoma’s finest ever export The Flaming Lips. Even at their most poptastic and goassamer there was an air of introspection. Nowhere is this more acutely illustrated than on ‘Do You Realize?’ from 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, a song pondering the precarious nature of our own mortality while making us smile like goons. But after two albums of comparative gentility they delve head first off the precipice into darkness and the result is pretty breathtaking.
Embryonic is a big ol’ double album, an expansive, sprawling trip that explores all the many facets of The Flaming Lips’ twilight hours. Dark, grinding motorik Can-like grooves such as ‘Sea the Leaves’ and ‘Watching the Planets’ nestle next to twinkling, astral tweaks like ‘If’ and ‘Gemini Syringes’, showing different shades and colours of a band not entirely familiar with the notion of artistic compromise.
Its not all navel gazing as Wayne Coyne still finds time to float out the gently silly ‘I Can Be a Frog’ (where Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs supplies a nice line in animal noises) and the bombastic fury of ‘Worm Mountain’ where kindred spirits MGMT bring a dose of overloaded guitar disfunction to bear on the tumult.
The Flaming Lips sound more like a live band here than they have in ten
years. Tracks smoulder and bubble for a few minutes before exploding into molten riffs driven by Kliph Scurlock’s dynamic stick work. A warning however, you have to be in it for the long haul with Embryonic,
it takes persistence and patience to uncover the full magic held within. This isn’t entirely surprising though is it? The Flaming Lips, over their chequered 26-year sonic adventure have never travelled the easy path. Why should they start now? (Mark Robertson)
soul, demonstrate that a unique musical imagination has arrived. As usual when that
happens, though, people will love it or hate it. True, there are a couple too many short and quirky interludes through this 18-track record, and some of the narking
speeded-up vocal samples are reminiscent of Rezerection circa 1991. Pair him with a singer, though (like Olivier Daysoul on ‘Joy Fantastic’ and ‘Just Decided’, or DaM-Funk on ‘Tell Me What You Want From Me’), and he’s got more soul than Prince has had in 20 years. (David Pollock)
ALTERNATIVE ROCK FLOOD OF RED Leaving Everything Behind (Dark City) ●●●●● If the opening track of Leaving Everything
Behind was used as the sole tool to market Flood of Red’s debut collection, there would surely be trade descriptions issues arising. ‘The Edge of the World’ (a longer version of which also closes proceedings) provides a delicate yet misleading entrance to entice the