Monday, September 14, 2009

oil up those sticky keys

Like most people, I was initially confused by EMI’s decision to release remastered versions of all 13 albums by the Liverpool pop group Beatles, a 1960s band so obscure that their music is not even available on iTunes. The entire proposition seems like a boondoggle. I mean, who is interested in old music? And who would want to listen to anything so inconveniently delivered on massive four-inch metal discs with sharp, dangerous edges? The answer: no one. When the box arrived in the mail, I briefly considered smashing the entire unopened collection with a ball-peen hammer and throwing it into the mouth of a lion. But then, against my better judgment, I arbitrarily decided to give this hippie shit an informal listen. And I gotta admit—I’m impressed. This band was mad prolific.

-Chuck Klosterman

Maybe Chuck is on to something? Maybe we should not look back into the rearview but into the future for a band that can re-ignite the fire in our hearts and minds?

Forget about the Beatles on Rock Band. Let's get the British band Arctic Monkeys for Guitar Hero!

OK. Maybe this isn't likely. But I will tell you, the new album, Humbug, makes me think of The Beatles' music! Are Alex Turner (lead vocals, guitar), Jamie Cook (guitar), Nick O'Malley (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Matt Helders (drums, backing vocals) the next Paul, John, George, and Ringo?. OK. Maybe even more unlikely. Only the future will prove if this band can reach that kind of status.

Their first two albums, although good, just lacked any true soul or strength. Judging by the radio play they got, I am sure plenty of people disagree with this statement, but Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not and Favourite Worst Nightmare are completely overrated. Let's look back though: The Beatles lacked the same oomph with the early efforts on Please Please Me and With The Beatles, and I think their following records may have enjoyed some measure of success.

I think The Arctic Monkeys' "My Propeller" and "Cornerstone" (provided at the end of this post) are both reminiscent of the Fab 4. I think these two songs even sound like they could have been written by McCartney.

"Dance Little Liar" has such strikingly sharp drum work. I say Ringo could definitely have been behind something like that.

[Download Arctic Monkeys - Dance Little Liar]

Monkeys' frontman Alex Turner revealed that the band had listened to Jimi Hendrix and Cream while writing the new album. That explains a lot. Maybe they should pick up the Remastered Works of The Beatles to prepare for album 4?

Whatever influences and likeness is or isn't there doesn't dull the point that this latest release is more mature and darker than their previous work.
They seem less hokey and silly, and this transaltes into a serious effort on the part of the band.

Let's get to brass tacks. There was nothing wrong with the first album per se, but after hearing Humbug there is just such a vast difference in content and quality. The lead singer seems to have something interesting to say now, and he sings it with a more developed voice. Literally and figuratively. This new "voice" can be picked up in the rest of the band as well. The rhythm section and much of the guitar playing seems vastly more complex and interesting than their previous efforts. There are interesting effects and instruments being used, likely from heavy touring and closer bonds between the band members bringing more confidence to experiment. Making choices regarding who to work with on this album contributes to this new sound.

Such as...Josh Homme.

Josh Homme was brought on to produce this album and has been involved in projects with some great bands. Homme put his signature on albums for Them Crooked Vultures, Foo Fighters, A Perfect Circle and Queens of the Stone Age. Good band plus a good producer equals magic.

It might just be all the moons aligning and making all the right turns in the GPS of life and art, but lets hope that the boys can catch that lightning another 10 times.

Then our kids can buy their Remastered Works one day.

[Download Arctic Monkeys - Cornerstone]

Check out the Arctic Monkeys on Zane Lowe’s BBC show!

We want to throw our support to a good cause. Extra Life is a gamer charity effort to help raise money for pediatric cancer. Seriously, who here doesn't want to punch pediatric cancer right in the face?

Visit the site and donate to a team we are backing this year! You can send a couple bucks by clicking the DONATE NOW button here. Good luck guys and girls! Raise lots of money and be sure to stay hydrated!

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