Jukeboxparables

The Cribs @ Manning Bar, SYDNEY 19-02-2010 Review + Rant

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on February 20, 2010

I don’t want to start reviewing live shows on here really, but last nights show will be the exception because, well I need to get this rant about this band off my chest. So let me indulge;

I was actually pondering if me and my drunken posse of friends were going to be the only people turning up to this show. The general rule of thumb is if a band is Indie and British they usually carry a truckload of hype wherever they may travel, in most cases un-deserved. As far as The Cribs go, it’s quite astonishing to me they’re not filling 5,000 “seat” venues. There is no hype, It’s beyond me how they’ve managed to fly under the radar in Australia and many other places. The Manning Bar being a small-mid sized venue (capacity 900) and It wasn’t sold out last night.

Sure they’ve had a bit of exposure in the UK, but it took 2 full-length albums for the mainstream media to START to take notice. It’s probably a combination of various factors varying from indifference; people simply ‘not listening’ and painting them with the brush of ‘just another brit-pop band’ to the ignorant and mind-numbingly stupid; per PITCHFORK MEDIA and their review of second LP “The New Fellas” which stated the band were essentially a rip off of The Strokes. This is a fundamental and glaring mis-understanding of the history of music. The Strokes didn’t invent Garage Rock. It’s the equivalent of saying The Ramones are a rip off of The Sex Pistols (with UK v USA rivalry noted, hence the analogy) The Cribs have their own list of classic garage/punk/post-punk influences however varying from understated bands Orange Juice and Comet Gain to Johnny Thunders, The Ramones and Nirvana to name just a few.

Not many bands/people understand those latter artists for what they were, most see/hear/think ra-ra-ra + violence mixed in with leather jackets / tight jeans or flannel. A band like The Ramones were really about; 1-2-3-4 cover up our inner frailties and love of classic melody/pop/hooks with an assault of raw energy, Nirvana likewise.

The Cribs get this, it comes naturally.

The greatness of “The Strokes – Is This It”, noted (and voted album of the decade by NME) “The Cribs – The New Fellas” is just simply a better album. It does everything “Is This It” does (down to it’s raw, lo-fi and real ‘splashing in the sun’ innocence) and then just does so much more. The Strokes could never write a song like “The Wrong Way To Be” let alone anything like the songs off The Cribs third LP “Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever” which is testament to the growth of the band. Any similarities with other classic lo-fi garage/punk rock bands was left behind with the release of MNWNW. Hit Single “Men’s Needs” gave the band real exposure and is a staple on Indie dance-floors the world over, the problem being most DJ’s have NFI and don’t play anything else by the band and hence most Indie hipsters I talk to either say Who? or “Oh yeah that Men’s Needs song”. The Cribs are so much more.

Take track “Be Safe” off MNWNW for example, the track features a collaboration with Sonic Youth guitarist/vocalist Lee Ranaldo, who contributes a chilling and blunt spoken word lamentation about modern day living. It’s 6minutes long and has a building drumroll leading to a final chorus near the end that can only be described as ‘epic’. Hold on? Weren’t The Cribs a lo-fi innocent raw melody pop garage band. Where the hell did this come from?

It’s called progression and growth without loosing your core sound/values and without completely abandoning your original style. The amount of bands that have pulled this off in ALL of music history I can honestly count on one hand. Think about this… think about one of your favourite ‘big’ bands and compare their first album to their most recent/last. Either it’s the same or it’s unrecognisable. I’m not saying bands don’t grow, I’m saying they grow and essentially sound the same, or grow and completely shift away from their early sound.

When The Cribs latest LP came out late 2009 I thought my little theory as stated above had been shattered. Sure they managed to pull it off after 3 albums, maybe it was a fluke, maybe it was all ex- Smiths/ModestMouse guitar god Johnny Marr’s fault?

Their 4th LP “Ignore The Ignorant” is altogether more clean and neater sounding than MNWNW. So have they broken my little ‘growth rule’ and abandoned their raw low-fi history? Well yes and no. MNWNW was already a step-up from purposely going for a lo-fi sound but it still had that rawness and more growth than a pumpkin on steroids. Johnny Marr joined the band officially in 2008/09 this automatically broke the rule of the ‘classic’ 3 piece band formula. But how did that change effect the sound?

On the first few listens, it all sounded ‘too safe’ for me. The clarity and neatness of the songs seemed to me like they’d gone too far away from their previous album. Or so it seemed, perhaps it was just the production? Perhaps it’s just the next logical growth step-up. I wouldn’t know until I saw it all come together.

Well last night, along with my apprehension of me/friends being the only people there due to everyone seemingly not knowing much about the band. I was also wondering if the band would sound “too safe” if the new songs would stand out like sore thumbs. If Johnny Marr’s well known docile stage presence had rubbed off on the band?, had they forgotten how to be punk? Forgotten how to turn a standing crowd into a chorus chanting riot? Or was that riot chanting chorus?

They kicked off with Ignore The Ignorant opener We Were Aborted and pretty much all I can conclude after that was people yelling at their top of their lungs, dancing, shouting, people crowd surfing and falling happily to their deaths over the barrier arms in the air… still singing. It was an utter fucking blur. I then noticed near perforated ear drums, these guys were loud. I then noticed Johnny Marr swooning about the stage like a possessed mad-man guitar in awkward positions aimed at the sky, or some random point in the crowd. We’ve all seen him in Smiths footage, I’ve seen him live in Modest Mouse… it was nothing like this. The Jarman brothers have rubbed off on Marr rather than the other way around. He’s apparently 20years their senior, but last night he looked their age easily matching the energy levels. We’d later joke that he’s a superhero whose super-power is un-aging immortality.

Hey Scenesters!, the crowd goes into sing-along overdrive and its only their 2nd song. It’s a lament about one of the bands early-on fascinations; Interacting with the pretentious scenester-crowd.

Then it hit me, It was utter consistency. Somehow those previously thought ‘safe’ sounding songs were now ‘full’ sounding raw numbers that slotted in the set perfectly. Old raw-riot offkey distorted song Direction slots near reserved clean-tone newy We Share The Same Skies and it works? How does it work!? Gary and Ryan (who share vocal duties) shout at their mics as if the inanimate objects themselves are their own worst enemies.

Drummer Ross stands up on the seat of his drumkit to the close of various songs making sure he can hit the crap out of those cymbals as hard as physically possible. The timing of the songs is perfect, none too slow and with the energy of some of the numbers you’d think The Cribs would get carried away and speed through things. Not a chance, they play like they’ve been doing it for decades with the energy of a band whose just kicking things off. In a way they kind of are, Johnny Marr onboard is a kick up the butt to any stale thoughts of repetition the Jarman’s might have started to aquire after doing this for eight years or so.

Interestingly Last Years Snow is played early in the set, I pictured it more of a ‘hold lighters to the sky moment’ but it yields a strong singalong with kids still ready to mosh about. Continuing the theme from Hey Scenesters! is Mirror Kissers “You aren’t allowed to say that you’re better. You aren’t allowed to say that cos you’re the hipster type” This is a straight out dig at the hipsters of the world; pretentious self obsession is everything this band is against. I’m reminded of the popular film clip for the song which is pure parody. By the time this song started, I couldn’t hear the vocals. The crowds combined singing got so loud and the crush to get to front reminded me of attending crazed metal gigs as a kid. This was Intense.

I then wrongly thought that would be the highlight and couldn’t be topped. When MNWNW opener Our Bovine Public kicked in people really did lose their shit; people began jumping the barriers to get on stage, weave between the band and launch themselves superman style into the crowd for a surf. I’m reminded of some of the better/crazy punk shows I used to attend as well some footage of fans incessantly doing this at Nirvana shows.

A break in the songs and one of the Jarman’s get on the mic to talk about something I can’t make out because Im deaf. But I do catch something along the lines of; “this next song was written over 8years ago and thousands of miles away” the crowd reacts with cries of “Wakefield, Wakefield, Wakefield” (the bands rough and tumble blur-collar hometown in Yorkshire England where they grew up, where according to an interview people would start fights with them just because they’d be carrying a guitar to practice) This band has literally fought people to do things their own way. Debut self-titled album song Another Number then kicks in. It’s utter simplicity and pop perfection is one of my favourites.

By the time Be Safe rolls around, I’m stepping away from the second row towards the back to take in the sound from a different perspective. Lee Ranaldo’s giant head is projected onto a screen behind the band leaving them in silhouette for his spoken word. Pretty good value; The Cribs an ex-Smith and a member of Sonic Youth in one night. I then realise there is actually a half-forming circle-pit starting from row 4 or so back. What the? Kids are still crowd surfing. I actually didn’t mind one bit at the several kicks to the head I copped. So many venues have banned crowd surfing, despite people normally acting like dickheads or what you might think of it. It was great to see people just completely lose it.

I’m pretty sure they closed with Ignore The Ignorant or was it City Of Bugs? which screeched to an end with waling feedback and drum crashes. I could be wrong as I’ve said it was an utter blur, even when I stepped back to try and get some air the sound was full on and completely overwhelming. There’s no getting away from this band when they’re on, the energy radiates to all corners of the venue.

Then it was all over, my friend copped a drum stick square in the forehead as people scurried to pick it up. No souvenirs for us and no-bullshit-cliched-pretendwalkoff-encore. The Cribs are the real deal and I’m going to go home and listen to Ignore The Ignorant having settled it in my mind, it is yet another level of growth for the band with no compromises.

Setlist? (from drunk memory, I’m actually certain it’s way off in bits including omissions) So leave a comment if you remember better.

We Were Aborted
Hey Scenesters!
We Share The Same Skies
Direction
Hari Kari
Last Years Snow
Mirror Kissers
Our Bovine Public
Another Number
Be Safe
Men’s Needs
Cheat On Me
Ignore The Ignorant
City Of Bugs





Advertisements

1991: The Year Punk Broke.

Posted in Film & TV, Music by jukeboxparables on April 29, 2009

punk_dvd

I thought I’d link a documentary I’m a huge fan of; 1991: The Year Punk Broke. It’s a tour doco by Dave Markey filmed in 1991 which follows Sonic Youth on a leg of their European tour. Nirvana were also on tour with them at the time so it features performances by both bands as well as a few others on a Festival leg of the tour; Dinosaur Jr, Babes In Toyland and Gumball. Also mentioned / shown are The Ramones.

It’s a bit of reminiscence for me because as a kid growing up, this scene was my first exposure to Alternative music (Not that I saw it, but all the songs and sentimentality) And not so much Sonic Youth because I basically couldn’t handle their Music at age 11, but I was a huge Nirvana fan and lived and breathed that Alternative vibe they gave off as best I could understand. Of course everything they ever said in Interviews about Pop-culture and Corporate-rock kinda went straight over my head. Though getting into Sonic Youth much later probably saved my young-self’s brain from… “turning into a continuous gelatinous ball of pepper” As Thurston Moore puts it in one of the backstage excerpts. Though one of the biggest Influences on me this all gave off was a curiosity about what they were talking about; distrust of mass-media, corporations turning art into consumerism and a firm anti-image stance on Music. Punk as an attitude may have “began” in the Early 70’s (at least its exposure) but I think it was refined by the movement of Music that this documentary features. Sadly a few years later I totally forgot about all this and started listening to some awful bands. But I think I’ve come good in the end.

Everything about this doco lives and breaths the atmosphere of Music in the early 90’s. Besides the music the random excerpts and Interviews by foreign journalists usually yield post-modernist or satirical responses from Thurston and onlookers. I just love the cynicism of it all It’s must see viewing. One question I had after seeing it the first time awhile back was; How the hell is Thurston Moore still alive?

The Intro says it all really; Thurston Moore holding a tape-deck recorder and waxing lyrical into a microphone whilst he and Kurt Cobain and Kim Gordon frolic around some old railway tracks high on something good.

Besides it being on youtube, you can actually buy it on VHS I’ve been told. As for that crisp clean DVD version? It’s apparently been completed since 2006 and is in the hands of Universal to release. Oh the fricken Irony!!! Word from Dave Markey is that people should write in to get them to release it, its not in his hands!

Lastly, Check out the tour diary of the film maker Dave Markey right here. It’s great reading!

tytpb

Lee Ranaldo’s guitar -> homeward bound.

Posted in Oldschool/Classic Things, Random by jukeboxparables on April 28, 2009

ebaymustang

This is just about the best forum thread on the internet leaving aside all those ‘famous’ threads ridiculing various people of course. This is worth the read if you care about warm fuzzy stories and guitars.

First a small tidbit of information. NYC Alternative/Nowave/Noise-rock/Post-punk/Indie band Sonic Youth have; since their inception been original in many ways. One such way they get their unique sound is their alternate guitar tunings which is easy in the Studio but playing live there was only one solution, owning a large amount of guitars. This eventually spiraled out of control (from a practical perspective) and circa the early to mid 1990’s the band famously had a massive collection of rare, vintage, classic beautiful guitars of types fervently switching between them on-stage for various songs.

In fact if you check out their official ‘gearography’ you’ll note that theres over 100 guitars cataloged. All these guitars had various modifications, had been with the band 20years and had the battle scars to prove it. They’re literally covered in the blood and sweat of the band whilst they hammered out their art. Basically they’re priceless.

Now onto the thread. Forum member “Sauerkraut” was recently looking to buy a Fender Mustang on Ebay, from the USA (he being from The Netherlands) he eventually found a nice; what seemed to be an original example with a fair bit of wear and tear (pictured above) He got it fairly cheap and it was shipped off to him. Whilst he was waiting for it to arrive he stumbled on to Sonic Youth’s ‘gearography’ rather randomly. And something caught his eye.

It was this photo of Lee Ranaldo’s guitar;

lrmustang

Now take a quick look at both guitars. You’ll probably obviously notice they’re the same colour. In the photo of Lee’s (above) however the Neck pickup is the double coil variety called a ‘humbucker’ it being twice the width of a regular ‘single coil’ like the one below it. To install this modification you need to route out the wood on the guitar (so the humbucker fits) Forum member “Sauerkraut” studied the pictures of his purchase. It did indeed have the routing space and if you look at the various scratches, they are exactly the same. It’s the same guitar!

I should point out right now; In 1999 Sonic Youth’s guitars were STOLEN yes, they lost a whole heap of their prized possessions and famously had to re-stock all their gear again. One or two of the guitars have been recovered over the years nearly completely destroyed though.

All hail the Internet, 10 years later the guitar turns up. So what happened next? The forum ran hot with talk about what this guy from The Netherlands should do. Eventually somebody knew somebody who contacted the bands Guitar technician. But before anything else was organized a bit of a ‘man-hunt’ ensued. It was alleged that the guy who sold him the guitar could have been the Initial thief! So he was queried for more information.

His story was that, he bought it from someone in California and then went on to claim that he was a local Police chief who played in a band called “Most Wanted”. Does that sound like the most dubious story to cover your ass? That’s exactly what I thought except then someone checked it out and as it turns out; “Most Wanted” are a band

A POLICE BAND!

mostwantedband

Someone photochopped the band t-shirt in there. Everyone is assuming the Police chief is the guy on the left (since he’s playing a Mustang) and word from the chief himself;

I am a local Police Chief and certainly would like to nail the individual who took the guitar or provide info leading to the individual who took it. I actually played this guitar in our police band called “Most Wanted” were we go into schools and play for youth and use our music as a way to interact and tell youth about the negatives of violence, drugs and alcohol.

This is like Irony overload or something; A band called Sonic Youth plays together 20years leading a wave in experimental alernative indie rock fueled by illicit substances which probably influenced a bunch of kids to do the same. An instrument in this (pun intended) gets stolen and is then bought by a Police chief to play to Youth about the negatives of such things and now the Guitar is homeward bound and the Police are after the original thief!

The good-guy Cop in this story posted pics of the guitar as he bought it;

mustangpieces

And the information of the seller has been passed on the the band for further inquiries. It all doesn’t end there however. The guitar technician the guy from The Netherlands contacted gets back to him. Sonic Youth just happen to be playing a show on their European tour. Said guy was invited, given special guitar goodies, was paid what he bought the guitar for, got to meet the band and Lee backstage and was promised free entry to all future Sonic Youth shows for the rest of his life.

Someone should make this thread into a movie!