Pendulum Man

I can't tell you anything at all / And that's the biggest joke of all.

Posts tagged Raven In The Grave

Jan 12

Top 10 Albums of 2011 - 0, and some that didn’t make it

Here’s a self-indulgant recap of my top 10 for 2011.

10 - Talvihorros - Descent Into Delta
9 - Ringo Deathstarr - Colour Trip
8 - Conquering Animal Sound - Kammerspiel
7 - The Raveonettes - Raven In The Grave
6 - Epic45 - Weathering
5 - I Break Horses - Hearts
4 - Chris Tenz - Frozen Arms
3 - The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Bag of Meat
2 - Rob St. John - Weald
1 - Esben And The Witch - Violet Cries

But, dear readers, there’s a twist in the tale…

0 - Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow

I was halfway through the lazy process of writing up my top 10 when I heard 50 Words For Snow. I knew at that point I was fucked, really.

Maybe it was for the best. I don’t want to compare this album to anything else; it’s right and proper that it sits by itself, all alone. It’s the work of a total, total fucking genius - that most tired of tired epithets. It’s so haunting, so beautiful, that I don’t even know if I prefer it to Esben’s Violet Cries, or to Rob’s Weald, or to whatever. It just exists on it’s own terms, and that’s that.

No words can describe what this record sounds like. I think that is a large part of the point of the ethereal; it is imagined, and experienced, not described.

Some That Didn’t Make It

The Horrors - Skying

Thoroughly decent third album from a band who thrive on changing their aesthetic like rain; this Nuggets-esque swirl of Krautrock and psych is compelling, but not as downright fun as Strange House and not as overpowering as their Geoff Barrow-supervised shoegazeing opus Primary Colours. It’s still fucking great, mind.

Friendly Fires - Pala

Dancing shoes = on. A worthy follow up to a brilliant first record, Pala is more concerned with layers and smooth groove rather than raggedy, Liquid Liquid funk. It’s done so well that I really don’t care.

Jeniferever - Silesia

Jeni are getting better with every record, and Silesia has the most staying power of anything they’ve cranked out yet. It doesn’t contain anything to rival From Across The Sea, but then what does? Hearths is gorgeous, the opening title track striking, with all sorts of shades of violence and chilling atmosphere in between. This album was a brave move, and a brave assimilation of influences - the only way post-rock can even hope to remain interesting. Explosions In The Sky and all the rest of you tedious old wankers, take note.

Mirrors - Lights And Offerings


Impeccable pilfered 80s electro from some of the ex-Mumm-Ra crew. The standard influences (Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk) are so obvious that it’s almost not worth pointing them out, but when there are formidably well-written pop tunes like Ways To An End, Hide And Seek and Searching In The Wilderness, who cares? Joy is precious these days. Grasp it.

Alex Turner - Submarine

Suck it And See was mainly a festering piece of turd, so it was a relief to see Al Turner’s proper songwriting surface in some form, even if his band are now above and beyond the pale. This mini-EP drafted in Bill Ryder-Jones and Owen Pallett, but primarily existed to provide a soundtrack of quiet, maudlin heartbreak for one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s remarkably affecting and despite it’s brevity, it was teetering on the edge of the top 10.

The Kills - Blood Pressures

Every time The Kills release anything, I want to love it dearly, with all of my heart. Luckily, their last attempt at weirdo grime-hop, Midnight Boom, was my favourite record of 2008 and my favourite thing ever done by one of my favourite bands. Less luckily, Blood Pressures has incredible, signature tracks, but lacks the insane invention of its predecessor, and to my impatient ears, it’s just OK. As I did with the Dead Weather’s second release last year; criticise your idols more than anyone else. Be harsh, demand more. The Kills are capable of so much better than this. It’s clearly still a great album. It’s just a step downwards, and this saddens me beyond measure.

S.C.U.M. - Again Into Eyes

S.C.U.M.’s live performances are exhibitions of wondrous, withdrawn violence and enviably brilliant shoegaze tones; I dubbed them as potentially the new Bark Psychosis earlier in the year, and I can award no higher praise. Inevitably, the resultant album never stood a chance of recreating this aloof, sullen chaos, but it is still something to be savoured nonetheless. Whitechapel remains as brilliant as ever.

x


Dec 19

Top 10 Albums of 2011 - 7

7 - The Raveonettes - Raven In The Grave

The Raveonettes are becoming a treasure. It’s all appropriated shoegaze, sure. We’ve known that for years. What Sharin and Sune have mastered is exploring the different aesthetics that could be applied to a very limited sound; take a simple beat and simple chords, and amass a litany of approaches, a catalogue of method. Like Peel said of The Fall; always different, always the same.

This is the third in a sequence of very different records indeed. Lust Lust Lust was an evil, harrowing wash of vile feedback and ghostly vocals. In And Out Of Control, still possibly my favourite of their records, was pure bubblegum pop with a horrifying thematic twist (“Those fuckers stay in your head”). And Raven In the Grave; well, Raven shines.

Ever present is the use of straightforward beats and signature melodies; opening track Recharge & Revolt is colossal, but surprising only in length and the absence of Sharin on lead vocal. Ignite is an embarrassingly good impersonation of late 80s MBV, and for all the recycled Phil Spector chord structures that statutorily complete any Raves work, there’s plenty here that I didn’t think they would have gambled with. I think it all works.

Best of all might just be My Time’s Up - the Raves archetype to end all archetypes, but somehow more graceful, less brash, letting the gorgeous sustain speak for itself. They’ve grown, in their own way, sitting and watching the setting West Coast sun.

The closest thing here to the poisonous malignancy of the lyrical themes of In And Out Of Control is Sharin’s acerbic aside, Forget That You’re Young; an unsettling, ghostly refrain that invites the listener to analyse it as negatively as their own twisted psyche allows, thereby creating the haunting effect that it’s not her that’s firmly out of line; it’s you. Sune Rose Wagner declared the record to be “bleak, depressing and beautiful - it’s one of those albums that makes you wanna blow your brains out”. Notwithstanding Sharin’s lingering interlude, his tongue must have been firmly protruding into his cheek. This stuff makes me happy to be alive - no more, no less, darkly.

PM x


Apr 7

Raven In The Grave

Happy to say that this has arrived -

The Raveonettes don’t make bad records. At all. But this first listen is jolly impressive, even for them. It’s as different in feel and texture to In And Out Of Control (their finest hour, for me) as said bubblegum pop-gone-really-nasty record was to Lust Lust Lust, the densest and darkest the Raves ever managed.

This one is far more sweeping, far more anthemic than before. And yet it still manages the sadistic, brooding mid-LP lull. Recharge and Revolt's cocky Holden Caulfield strut risks being as dislikable as said character (and as boring as that fucking horrible book), but in context it isn't anything else than euphoric. War In Heaven ends in a blissful squall of deafening noise. Then there’s tender, Bark Psychosis-like guitar work in the remnants of Summer Moon. Ignite, gloriously, wonderfully, sounds much like Isn’t Anything-era MBV. And for all the recycled Phil Spector chord structures that statutorily complete any Raves work, there’s plenty here that I didn’t think they would have gambled with. I think it all works.

Best of all might just be My Time’s Up - the Raves archetype to end all archetypes, but somehow more graceful, less brash. Letting the gorgeous sustain speak for itself. You know how Van Morrison abruptly grew up, ditched the hyperactive rockabilly blues and made Astral Weeks? Well, these kids are not like Van The Man. In any form, way or shape. But I have a suspicion they’ve grown, in their own way, sitting and watching the setting West Coast sun.

The closest thing here to the poisonous malignancy of the lyrical themes of In And Out Of Control is Sharin’s acerbic aside Forget That You’re Young, an unsettling, ghostly refrain that invites the listener to analyse it as negatively as their own twisted psyche allows, thereby creating the haunting effect that it’s not her that’s firmly out of line; it’s you. Sune Rose Wagner billed the record as “bleak, depressing and beautiful - it’s one of those albums that makes you wanna blow your brains out”. Notwithstanding Sharin’s lingering interlude, his tongue must have been firmly protruding into his cheek. This stuff makes me happy to be alive - no more, no less.

PM, Igniting x


Mar 7

So, first thoughts on the new Raves video?

I like the instrumental segments a lot more than the vocal-led sections. I like them better when Sharin’s vocals play off Sune. As there is none of this, the song is automatically lacking their trademark tension. I like them better when there is light and dark and you have no idea which one will win. I like them better when there’s encompassing, unsettling, palpable noise underpinning everything. I like them better when they’re experimenting with strumming rhythms that are not the standard pattern you hear here.

But do I like it?

Fuck yeah. It’s tremendous. Not many bands can overcome so many ‘in spite ofs’. The Raves are one. It took me three fucking years to really fall in love (and I mean LOVE - NOT lust) with Lust x3.

They make the tangible ghostly, always.

West Coast PM x


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