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Rainbow Arabia: Boys and Diamonds

15 Jun

Such is the exotic, multi-cultural appeal derived from Boys And Diamonds that it would be very tempting to begin this review with an indulgent, slightly over the top narrative of  descriptive imagery, so lets not go there (although naively the first 1 or 2 drafts say otherwise).  But at the very least Rainbow Arabia will induce an urge to be in the open air amongst like minded people and preferably a cold drink at arm’s length, certainly on the first listen anyway.

This, the third release from the wed locked Los Angeles duo, (Matthew and Tiffany Preston) is a master class in sound technician with an almost obsessive attention to detail that manages to curb the slippery slopes of over production.  There are similarities to the Arabian/Oriental flirtations expressed by Siouxsie and the Banshees and even the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s most recent output, but in particular The Knife, emitting strong comparisons both musically and vocally, albeit on a lighter, worldlier note.

There’s plenty of reverb injected into her more than capable voice, but the concession should be made that in terms of pure brass, vocal attitude, Mrs Preston is perhaps better suited along side Shakira than say, Karen O.  But don’t let that put you off.  In fact, what might put you off is that from the opening title track you may think for a split second that you’ve been transported to an all singing all dancing stage performance of the Lion King, or a tribal welcome party in the heart of Africa.  The feeling of being subjected to an exotic travel commercial never entirely filters, but more over and perhaps more disappointingly, an issue of motive develops asking which is more important for this couple, making music or being cool?  This may appear a little too harsh for what is essentially an enjoyable album, but from this, perhaps overly cynical critic, it’s pop in denial.



7 Jun


Bandlands, as the album title implies, doesn’t disappoint in portraying a somewhat David Lynch-esque inspired landscape of nihilistic dystopia, with the blurred faces of Martin Sheen and Cissy Spacek never too for in the background, or indeed Denis Hopper inhaling his…well, you get the picture.

But to simply relate the music made by Alex Zhung Hai, AKA Dirty Beaches to a few snapshot recollections of various cinematic flicks would be wholly unjust, because it’s not merely the images stirred which draws the attention but the feelings that are awoken alongside them, and it is this which (although musically it’s nothing new but indeed quite familiar) attracts us again and again to this particular mode of escapism entertainment. 

Badlands would certainly not sit out-of-place as the solitary remaining vinyl of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, perpetually repeating itself in this vast backdrop where the only other remainder is the howling wind of eternal lament.   The tracks ‘True Blue’, ‘Lord knows best’, or even ‘Black nylon’ perhaps convey this most accurately.  The rather short album holds a slightly antique sound quality, giving an impression that it’s just been dug up from beneath the earth with Zhung Hai’s Orbison sounding voice gently nursing the music.

As with a lot of his earlier work, the issue with Dirty Beaches is the uncanny resemblance to Suicide which at times may be difficult to distinguish by the not too familiar listener.  His cover of ‘Horses’ could easily pass, or be mistaken for an Alan Vega et al endeavour, and also ‘Sweet 17, except we discover more of a Rock ‘a’ Billy surf approach tinged by ‘The Cramps.  On the whole it’s a thoroughly commendable record endorsing a largely under-appreciated genre which Zhung Hai taps with obvious sincerety and affection, but it’s unfortunately nothing new to wail about.

Twin Shadow

3 Jun


Twin Shadow, AKA George Lewis’ debut LP Forget, is an interesting and thoroughly engrossing array of accomplishments.  Co-produced by Grizzly Bears’ Chris Taylor and released on 4AD, it manages to reveal an influential past by paying tribute and giving homage to it, yet it sustains sufficiently in offering an entirely new and refreshing tonic which dusts off any of those cobwebs, and is thus able to hold its own in the unsympathetic courts of originality.

There is a definite 80s footprint left by The Cure and Bowie and even The Smiths for instance, alongside various similarities to the ever confusing genre that is ‘Post punk’ (you be the judge) and, if it may be said, a likeness to Edwin Collins.  The album was apparently written entirely from Lewis’ apartment in Brooklyn and it certainly has that bedroom feel to it.  Although it may not disclose any dark or unnerving closet secrets, Forget does portray a list of songs that were written in relative solitude, displaying a creative flow that perhaps benefits an artist further when expressed in privacy.

Tracks such as ‘Slow’ and ‘Castles In The Snow’ stand out in particular but not by much, which is a credit to the consistent quality within the whole piece.  If pressed to submit a down side, it would have to be the seemingly luck lustre attempts at vocal harmonising in certain areas, which may be deliberate of course, but only serve in presenting a finished article that is slightly undercooked and which merely required a little attentive patients.  This is a minor criticism which for some listeners may go relatively unnoticed because on the whole Forget is triumph and deserves nothing but praise.  Enjoy

The Redneck Manifesto

12 Jan

“Begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end; then stop” – Lewis Carroll

And so it begins.

Welcome avid music enthusiasts et al. Everything is going to be OK, we’re here now. The Quilted Generation is here. Deep sigh of relief…..ahhhhhhhhhhh….and relax.

Firstly, get the kettle on, put your feet up and give yourself a big pat on the back for surviving 2010. Unanimously now classed as a complete bastard of a year. If you happened to enjoy yourself last year, and if you ended it with more than you started then fair do’s. Us? We were just happy to get to ‘Go’ again and collect 200 quid. We know, many did not enjoy it, and if it wasn’t for the hotels on Park Lane and Mayfair may have actually survived the round. Musically however we found it to be a most intreaguing year. For the month of January then we will be focusing on both what the fuck happened musically in 2010 and what can possibly go wrong in 2011. We are ever optimistic here and would put our electricity company AND waterworks on 2011 being a belter.

So, like the first crackle of that vinyl record you once loved, or the opening MGM drum roll of a great movie, this is the first post in a new and exciting site. Hells yeah. A site dedicated to bringing you all the latest news, reviews and musings from the ever expansive world of music. We want this to be a fun, energetic, whilst insightful website that’s both easy to follow every day and just as easy to jump in and explore. We’ll do our best to not turn into those pretentious museo’s that seem to litter every orifice of the critical world. No siree Bob. No over complicated ‘Dancedubindiefolk’ labels here. No comparing every album to Merriweather Post Pavillion and no bullshit. Just good honest reviews from less good and dishonest humanoids. Lovely.

Over time I’m sure you’ll get to know all of us individually but as we begin just treat the site as one. One big, living, sexy organism of musical fun and adventure. No genre left unturned and no Gaga left unhurt.

Love and Oberst,

The demented minds of The Quilted Generation 🙂