Posts Tagged ‘magic Theatre’

features, music

The Stones at Glasto. The Roses on tour. Is rock and roll now an old man’s game?

By Stefano on March 28th, 2013


Well it wasn’t me who said it. The words actually came from the lips of one Robyn Hitchcock. But then again he has a new album to promote – which is very, very good – and it is his 60th birthday.

But it does strike me that there might be a grain of truth in his words, what with those hip young gunslingers The Rolling Stones headlining Glastonbury and the summer full of reunions of 80s and 90s bands hoping for one last big pay day.

And this week I had a bit of an epiphany in comparing the latest releases from NME’s flavour of the month Peace and the new album from 80s indie rock legends The House Of Love.

The Peace album has its moments, but it clearly isn’t anywhere near as good as the hyped review from the NME and others makes it out to be. It sounds like B list Brit Pop – and not in a good way.

As for The House of Love’s She Paints Words In Red, it boasts lots of crafted tunes, inspired guitar and intelligent lyrics. It lacks a little of the oomph of the band in its heyday – especially on their epic pair of first two albums, but it is way better than the Peace album.

It also strikes me that the latest crop of hyped bands – like Peace, the Palma Violets etc aren’t that great. Last year’s mob – Jake Bugg, Toy, Temples etc were a lot more interesting.

However before you write me off as an ageing curmudgeon with a Suede fetish, I actually listen to more new music than at any point in my life courtesy of the wonder that is Spotify.

What is wrong with British music fans?

My theory is that rock music has become an old man’s game – but only in the UK and that is because of the weird legacy of the old music press and the way it shaped how we saw new bands.

In the UK we are still suckers for the concept of the package – the band with the personalities, clothes, images and haircuts – as much as the music. Trouble is they don’t come along very often. The last band to perfectly fit the bill were The Strokes (who took off in the UK long before they mean anything in the US) and they made, well one great album and one good one, and the new one is horrendous. Maybe The Arctic Monkeys too, though before Alexa rocked up they looked like a few northern plumbers on a Thursday night pub crawl. It is why we are still obsessed with The Libertines too, who were a great soap opera, but musically nowhere near as good as their heroes.

So the great stars of yesterday – who had the image and the music and something to say too – the Stones, Roses, Bowie etc still fit the bill of what we except from our rock stars.

It feels like the rest of the world doesn’t share our obsession with the package. Tame Impala are a huge global band now and they are clearly way more passionate about their music than they are about their trousers. As are countless of other American, Australian and European bands.

So maybe it is time us Brits stopped fretting about outdated notions of what rock stars should and shouldn’t be. It really is all about the music now. And until we embrace that hundreds of really great British bands and artists like The Horrors, Ulysses, The Clientele, Magic Theatre, The Real Tuesday Weld, Darren Hayman and The Soundcarriers to name but a few, aren’t going to get the attention their superb music truly deserves.


A Christmas Gift For You – Elefant Records ace new festive album

By Stefano on December 10th, 2012

The number one Christmas single! Once the preserve of Noddy, Roy and Shane and now a toss up between some TV karaoke dork and a Facebook inspired campaign to revive the career of an old metal band.

This is a terrible shame as the playlist below highlights quite how many great Christmas records there have been.

Adding to that list are some of the tracks from the new A Christmas Gift For You – Elefant Records’ compilation of yuletide goodies. What is great about this album is that it the label’s artists are all delivering brand new Christmas tunes. There’s no ironic covers of Mistletoe and Wine here!

In case the Spanish record label has passed you by, they combine both English and Spanish speaking band all of whom probably share a passion for Saint Etienne, Phil Spector’s Christmas album and Andy Williams’s TV festive specials.

The highlight here is provided by the recently reformed 80s power pop classicists The Primitives whose You Trashed My Christmas starts off like a indie thrash before the sleigh bells and harmonies kick in and its goes all Wizard! Magical stuff. The recent Primitives album has some very wonderful tunes on it too.

The album also sees the return of the Magic Theatre, a band whose London Town album of a few years ago was a time travelling affair in which a guy from the 60s ends up romancing a girl from the 1880s, all set to gorgeous strings and poppy melodies. Christmas Lights sounds like a refugee from that album with its gentle vocals, subtle strings and hummable chorus.

Other highlights include the Phil Spector-ish I Just Wanna Hold Your Hand On Christmas Day by The Yearning which sounds not unlike this magical mob and X-mas song by Edine Avec Mitnik Et Son Orchestre – which is a lovely duet sung in English.

Time for the Egg Nog Latte now…


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