Tuesday, February 12, 2008

February 2008

The Nevstar Music Guide Issue No. 5

Hi ho music lovers. Welcome back to the Nevstar Music Guide where I have ventured onto the interweb thingy for the first time. You can now access each months music guide on my dedicated web log page which will also have past issues plus more features as I get the hang of uploading. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. As always, please forward to any friends you think might enjoy this humble attempt to spread the cause of glorious music. If you would like to receive notifications of updates, please email me here.

Album of the Month

Feist : Reminder

Music is always of a time and place. One of the ingenious features of the Ipod is the ability to create distinct playlists perfectly suited to whatever you are doing. From doing the housework to reading the Sunday papers in isolation. From entertaining dinner guests to jumping around your living room after a few too many drinks on a Friday night (well so Ive heard). I find some of the most enjoyable music is often the quietest which we reserve for lazy summer afternoons or as a background to a good book and comforting red wine. Reminder by Feist is a great example of such music.

Leslie Feist is an independent singer-songwriter from Canada whose second album, Reminder, received many plaudits last year. It’s an introspective listen which is perhaps best listened to alone, or at least amidst general quiet as it is mood changing. Her quiet yet strong vocal tones help excise the accumulated stress of the day like a back massage from your partner. Songs are dominated by her amazing voice but there is incredible variety in the background music with piano or guitars sometimes accompanying, while other times there are choirs and glockenspiels. And Brandy Alexander is accompanied by nothing more than clicking fingers. The album tends towards chill-out electronica in its sparseness but its warmer than that and more conducive to smiles than tears.

The songs throughout the album do have quite a bit of variety. There is the slightly up-tempo I Feel It All and the more gospelish 1-2-3-4. Lyrically, the album is also very eclectic tending towards and then away from romanticism. My favourite track is My Moon My Man featuring the unforgettable opening line of “My moon, my man; so changeable and such a loveable lamb to me”.

Feist is a part time member of the indie favourites Broken Social Scene whose ten members produce a smorgasbord of musical delights which are well worth checking out. But if you are after late night music to burnish your soul, put on The Reminder and wallow in its beauty while you contemplate yours.

Hear samples or buy CD here

Best Track :

My Moon My Man

Listen To If You Like :


If You Like This Try :

Broken Social Scene........................You Forgot It In People
Beth Gibbons................................Out of Season

Essential Classic Album

Sex Pistols : Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols (1977)

This is the nothing less than the soundtrack of a revolution. A revolt by a forgotten underclass of distraught youth. The French Revolution gave us A Tale Of Two Cities; this very English revolution gave us Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols.

England in the 70’s was a horrible place to live for a young working class male. There was no work. There was no community. There was nothing to look forward to. The music scene had become removed from the plight of youth. It had become bloated and self-aggrandizing. Rock stars had become the aristocracy; kings and ‘queens’ parading on their lofty stages, distanced from the daily struggles of their fandom. Assisted by technical advances, the sound had become self-indulgent with 20 min guitar solos and monstrous stage shows. It was the time of Elton John; it was the moment of Emerson Lake and Palmer.

That is until a visionary named Malcolm McLaren put together a band called the Sex Pistols and launched them on an unsuspecting world. McLaren had recognised a new movement of music emanating out of New York where bands such as the New York Dolls, The Ramones and The Modern Lovers were playing simple three minute rock songs featuring nothing more than three chords. This was a sound that British youth could empathise with and it became known as ‘punk rock’; a cacophony of sound and energy played ever faster and harder. For some, it was the most god-awful noise they had ever heard. For others, it was the most exciting.

The Pistols brought energy, verve and most importantly sneer back into the music. It was music to bounce up and down to, a cathartic experience for a disenchanted generation. Seizing the moment, The Pistols rapidly became notorious for thumbing their noses at respected establishments and conventions. They abused television presenters, trashed hotel rooms, swore at the press. They hated everyone.

Their notoriety peaked with the release of God Save the Queen, an anti-monarchy song timed to coincide with the Queens Silver Jubilee. It soared to Number 1 but invited ridicule and rebuke from the Establishment particularly the tabloid press. It mirrored the incendiary reaction to the introduction to rock and roll in the 50’s and gangsta rap in the 90’s where hysterical protectors of ‘family values’ decried the music as the beginning of the end of civilization.

What is forgotten in the aftermath is how fantastic the music is. The album has passed the test of time remarkably well and remains thrilling to this day. The opening chords of Holiday In The Sun are amongst the most exciting in rock and roll history. There is the anthemic Anarchy in the UK which starts with the horrible rhyme of ‘anti-Christ’ and ‘anarchist’ but its unadulterated passion and vitriolic loathing is perhaps unmatched in recorded music before or since. There is the aforementioned God Save the Queen plus other gems such as Pretty Vacant and EMI.

The Sex Pistols ultimately descended into farce and oblivion. Glen Matlock was replaced with Sid Vicious who exemplified the bands nihilistic attitude but could barely play guitar. A US tour rapidly degenerated into anarchy itself and eventually the band disbanded bitter and broke. But during the summer of 1977, they seized the moment and developed the soundtrack of a youth uprising. As Rotten himself said “I don't understand it; all we're trying to do is destroy everything."

Hear samples or buy CD here

Best Track :

Anarchy In The UK

If You Like This Try :

New York Dolls.............................New York Dolls
The Modern Lovers.......................The Modern Lovers
The Damned...............................Damned, Damned, Damned

Nevstar Top Ten

This months top ten list delves into the world of movie soundtracks which are now an essential part of marketing any movie as well as an opportunity to re-introduce artists to a new generation. How many people have discovered Joni Mitchell only after watching Love Actually?

So, here is my thoughts on the :

Top Ten Movie Soundtracks of All Time

1. The Commitments
A terrific film was backed by a sensational soundtrack. Featuring this 12 piece band’s respectful covers of some of the greatest soul tracks of all time, The Commitments soundtrack is a rare example of a covers album working perfectly.
Best Track : Try A Little Tenderness

2. Saturday Night Fever
Discussions of movie soundtracks usually start here. This was the template for a new way of marketing music. The biggest selling movie soundtrack of all time with a reported 30 million copies sold, it is an essential snapshot of 70’s disco.
Best Track : Stayin Alive – Bee Gees

3. Pulp Fiction
Perhaps only Guy Ritchie of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels fame comes as close to Quentin Tarantino in populating his movies with such perfect music for each scene. A remarkably diverse selection of music from Dusty Springfield to Al Green, this is a terrific soundtrack which also includes pieces of the movie’s priceless dialogue.
Best Track : Lonesome Town – Ricky Nelson

4. Grease
Grease is the word. While there are a couple of dud tracks (Beauty School Drop Out should be digitally removed from re-releases), Grease is a double album of fantastic original songs which are sure-fire floor fillers at any wedding.
Best Track : Born To Hand Jive – Sha Na Na

5. American Graffiti
‘Where were you in ’62 ?’ asks the promo line for George Lucas’s first feature motion picture. He populated this mid 70’s movie great with more than 30 songs from the 50’s and 60’s reminding everyone of a time when the radio was always on as a background soundtrack to cruising up and down Main Street doing ‘nothing’.
Best Track : Rock Around The Clock – Bill Haley

6. Dirty Dancing
Well, some might say hang the writer, but there is no denying this was an extremely popular and well chosen selection of songs evoking memories of simpler times. Maybe not the best, but certainly one of the most popular ever.
Best Track : Be My Baby – The Ronettes

7. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The movie is a little over-rated in my humble opinion (what’s with that ending?), but the soundtrack is unforgettable. Packed with brilliant tracks, it’s an album from another time warp.
Best Track : Sweet Transvestite

8. A Hard Days Night
Arguably the first ever rock video of all time, A Hard Days Night was the movie of the album, or the album of the movie depending on your view. If you haven’t seen the movie, please make the effort. It perfectly captures the infectious energy of early Beatles by tapping the natural interplay between the four as well as the madness of Beatlemania. And the songs aren’t too bad either.
Best Track : I Should’ve Know Better

9. The Sound of Music
Ok, ok, I must be going soft. But hard to argue that this soundtrack is perhaps the most memorable of all. Who doesn’t know the words to ‘Do Re Mi’ ? Schoolyard chants, opera, musical singalongs, love songs, classical preludes, this soundtrack had it all. A classic film with an enduring soundtrack.
Best Track : My Favourite Things

10. Purple Rain
The biggest selling album in 1984 wasn’t Bruce Springsteen but an effeminate black artist with an unhealthy affection for the colour purple. Again the movie is mediocre at best, but the soundtrack doesn’t contain one dud song. A terrific collection of original penned tunes from a seriously talented individual formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince.
Best Track : When The Doves Cry

This proved to be one of the harder Top Ten lists to construct and am sure the results will be controversial as had to leave out a lot of great movie soundtracks. So please tell me what are your favourites ? Leave a comment below or email me at nevstar9@yahoo.com.

That’s all for another month. ‘So long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye’ music lovers.