terça-feira, 26 de junho de 2012

Twee and cute music, once again.

This time, I'll be talking about The Carousel, a band which I found out some weeks ago and I totally am in love with it.

The Carousel were a twee-pop/twee folk band that formed in 1988, when Elizabeth Price left Talulah Gosh to form this high tone/sweet and child-like singing, all-guitar and choirs band with Gregory Webster (ex-Razorcuts). The band released one studio album, one compilation album and several EP's.
Many listeners usually say that this band recalls to religious/cathedral-like atmosphere, which is true. Elizabeth Price's beautiful and angelical voice is the centre of the attention, while a choirs in the background repeat her lines in a more lyrical tone, almost as if little singing angels and the guitar keeps playing these really lovely and bittersweet chords. Yes, bittersweet because the song may appear quite cheering/pop-like, but deep down there, I feel this whole melancholy towards the melody and the singing itself. I can say that I'm a little bit disappointed because they didn't release much material, since I can honestly say their music is one of the most beautiful things I've ever discovered until now (I'm hoping that Elizabeth Price or Gregory Webster reads this and decides to reunite the band again).
Personally, bringing to surface the subject of the sound of music, I'd say religious atmosphere is only a small part of their music. Maybe I'd refer to their first and only studio album 'abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz' as a more religious/church-like sound, since icons of the Catholic religion as 'Jesus' and 'Mary' are referred in a few songs, and their back cover's the image of The Virgin Mary (even though I'm not catholic, I find the whole image of it very attractive and beautiful) with little chubby and blushed angels flying around this immaculate woman all covered up in white and brownish clothes. Also, the cover of the 1990 EP 'Sorrow Is The Way To Love' is the image of Jesus Christ being crucified, which is evocative to the idea of sorrow.
Back cover of  'A-Z' by The Carousel

In their song 'Sugarbowl', in their first studio album, Elizabeth refers to Jesus Christ as 'sweet Jesus'. She confesses that she needs his presence with her throughout her whole life because she believes that only by his side, she'll be able to overcome her problems and to live life in peace. This most likely evidences Elizabeth's belief in religion or, maybe, her sweetheart is named Jesus. I'm only trying to interpret songs, and I won't guarantee 100% accuracy.
The whole subject of their studio album is love ('Sugarbowl', mentioning her love for Jesus, 'Like A Honeybee', which talks about her love for a «golden-haired boy», 'Truelove' mentioning a love that will last forever, according to Elizabeth Price, 'Baby Sweetness', mentioning 'Baby Jesus'and the whole religious subject once again, and 'My Boy And His Motorbike', telling the story of her sweetheart who owns a motorbike), apart from 'Henry, Please Don't Chop Off My Head', which talks about Henry VIII, who was known for chopping heads off. I'm obviously kidding, but, she does sing this line 'I used to be the queen of England', which might connect to Henry's wife.
   As to the other compilation album, 'I Forgot To Remember To Forget', it usually takes me back to meadows and hills in a green and beautiful England under the summer skies, as it usually describes landscapes, nature, meadows and young love scenes, two sweethearts entwined in an innocent and spontaneous love story.
Even though there's a lot of beauty, loveliness and cuteness in their music, there also is a bittersweet side of it, as I mentioned before. In songs like 'Locks and Bolts' and 'Evergreen', the suffering of the singing voice is quite evident. I don't want to describe the whole songs, because my purpose to this is to make the readers listen to some new music, but I can assure that 'Locks and Bolts' have a certain sad tone to it. Talks about a lover, a past lover that left her behind and will never come back to her arms, and that something is holding her back, although she wants to move on. And 'Evergreen' describes this beautiful landscape of a surrealist nature, an apple tree that 'reaches to the sky', and the fact that she is alone there. She feels lonely and there's no one whom she could share this experience of pure beauty and direct contact with nature and its wonders. 
Anyway, The Carousel's music always give me a bittersweet feeling, no matter how stunning and overwhelming and cheering the song can be. I think it is due to Elizabeth's beautiful and divine singing and the weeping and nostalgic guitars. 
So, here you have a brief description of The Carousel's sound and beauty. Do please listen to this unfairly underrated band and give them so more recognition, because I want their records to be easier to find!! Here is a list of their discography:

Release Date: 1994

1 Henry Please Don't Chop Off My Head 
2 Sugarbowl 
3 Like a Honey Bee (Honey Bee) 
4 Truelove 
5 Sidesaddle 
6 Baby Sweetness 
7 G.U.N. 
8 My Boy and His Motorbike

Will You Wear Love?
Release Date: 1991

1 Will You Wear Love? 
2 Yesterday Boy 
3 Cerise

Sorrow is the Way to Love
Release Date: 1990

A1 Sorrow Is the Way to Love 
A2 Handmedown Green 
B1 Locks and Bolts 
B2 No Ticket for the Train

Strawberry Fayre
Release Date: 1989

A1 Strawberry Fayre 
A2 Evergreen 
B1 Halfpennies and Farthings 
B2 September Come Again 

'I Forgot To Remember To Forget'
Release Date: 1993

1     Strawberry Fayre 
2     Will You Wear Love?
3     Handmedown Green
4     Halfpennies and Farthings
5     Locks and Bolts
6     Evergreen
7     Sorrow Is The Way To Love
8     Yesterday Boy
9     Sundials and Weathervanes
10   Cerise
11   No Ticket For The Train
12   September Come Again

Back cover of the 1990 EP 'Sorrow Is The Way To Love'. Also, a picture of Gregory Webster and the beautiful Elizabeth Price.

All the best!

Here's a video clip for 'Strawberry Fayre', enjoy:

quarta-feira, 20 de junho de 2012

Pastelism, indie pop, twee pop and Glasgow

Lately (more or less, for three months) I've been really really keen on indie pop and specially glaswegian bands. One in particular (which was the one who made me get into the whole twee pop scene because of its gorgeous and baby faced lead singer) has had my attention and I've been really addicted on them. In about three months, I scrobbled near 700 times their songs in my last.fm account! And, according to Last.fm, in the last seven days, I've listened to them 117 times.
Yes, this is what the heart-warming, adorable and lovely music of The Pastels does to you, at least it did to me! As a young teenage girl, angry and hurt with the world, The Pastels have shown me a much simpler and (I don't want to say bright) more comfortable side of life and of the whole social situations. Of course, Stephen Pastels' soft and adorable voice helps the whole thing, but their melodies are simple yet so beautiful. I understand why Kurt Cobain (as I've been told) considered them his favourite band!
I usually listen to early 1980's bands, usually labelled as 'post-punk' or 'new wave', as you could already see,   because those type of bands usually speak out my mind, whether lyrically, whether instrumentally. But The Pastels speak out my longing for freedom as a teenager, like in 'Ride' (from 'Up For A Bit With The Pastels'), and also they have the loveliest love songs ever. They are not dramatic (which I usually love) or talk about heartache (which I usually love too) but about a love I kind of wish I had: spontaneous, simple, young and live. The typical teenage love.
Yet The Pastels are not all about happiness and simple and quotidian stuff, they can talk about heartache too, about being dumped and so. 'A Million Tears' is quite the perfect example to it: 'If I can't have you then I don't want nobody else, I'll tear myself apart and cry a million tears...'. 'Manarin', sang by Katrina Mitchell, is also a good example of a heartache song: 'You're my one the only dear to me/ A thousand miles across the sea/ You're not here, I'm not there/ We're apart and I'm lonely '
Probably, most of The Pastels' songs are about a mutual love (mainly on their earlier songs) because Aggi Wright (Stephen Pastel's former girlfriend) was in the band. So, the couple did songs to one another, singing out how lovely they are and how good they make each other feel. We can find evidence in songs like 'Thank You For Being You', 'Baby Honey', 'Automatically Yours' and 'Baby You're Just You'.
Anyway, I once talked with Stephen via twitter and asked him what was his favourite album by them (because that's one of the many questions I want to ask him) and he answered 'Up For A Bit With The Pastels'. These were his words exactly: «I think Up For A Bit With The Pastels. It was an adventure. 'Yes, fantastic adventure. Leamington Spa, John Rivers. We were all open to the moment of surprise. On SP less so...»
Personally, Sittin' Pretty is my favourite because, as Stephen once said, it's much heavier and somewhat 'darker' than their first and maybe that's why I like it better (since it fits my personality better). Anyway, I highly recommend any of the albums, and if you buy them, it's totally worth it! 
Go and search for The Pastels' music and then tell me on the comments bellow what you thought.

All the best,

Back cover of 'A Truckload of Trouble', a compilation of songs released in '93 by The Pastels. This young boy is Stephen Pastel,. What a babe, right??

sábado, 16 de junho de 2012

'Faith' by The Cure: a review

This review was written a month ago, I just didn't have any time lately to publish it, so, here you go.
Cover of the record 'Faith'

 21st of May, 2012:
"Faith" by The Cure is the next target of a review, and I wrote this because, well, I identify myself with it a lot. It's got such a melancholic, sad, grey touch to it.  The whole lyrics in general talk about death, religion specially catholic religion.
«The bass adds a real gloomy and intense touch to it; monotonous chords, so similar to a person's last breath, to a dying man's breath. Hypnotising, magical, though. There's something captivating in Simon Gallup's bass, and in this period of their music (1981) the bass stands out and marks its own presence among the bittersweet symphony.
As 'The Holy Hour' plays in my headphones, I recall that Robert Smith dedicated it to Ian Curtis (whom had died in the past year 1980), and I connect the bass chords and its sound to death very very easily.
 It's a whole religious, cathedral-like atmosphere, because they wanted to play with it, since Robert Smith is against any type of religion, but he did feel attracted to churches, graveyards, cathedrals. Even the synthesizers in this album remind you of the church's organ.
So I view this album as a gothic/sarcastic and sad critic on religion. But of course, we're talking about 'The Holy Hour', 'The Funeral Party' and 'Faith'. The rest are quite different and similar, at the same time to these three. They differ in the subject of the lyrics, but the melody is really attached to one another, the melody of the whole album holds hands.
 But this album is all about one main thing: Death/Peace.
 Still, it's quite hard to explain what I feel when I listen to it. There are feelings I can't describe and I don't know what to name them.
And then, 'Charlotte Sometimes' starts to play. I feel as if I were Charlotte herself. She's a lost, abandoned lonesome young girl who tries her best to hold on the society's flow.
 And I'm Charlotte, a 'scared princess' who dreams and loses track of what's real, she gets lost in another world, possibly her own. It's really strange that I identify with her.
 After this brief description of my identification to Charlotte, I still feel as if I am really far away to describe it accurately.

 "Night after night she lay alone in bed
Her eyes so open to the dark
The streets all looked so strange
They seemed so far away
But Charlotte did not cry " - But then she eventually cries, in the end of the song. "The tears were pouring down her face". Charlotte tried to be strong and to handle it, but she's not able to.
"She was crying and crying for a girl
who died so many years before..." That girl is herself, she's already dead, a lost soul. She is dead, but she is not aware of such thing. She is lost in her world, in a world she created herself. And it's likely that she doesn't want to be found.
"Charlotte sometimes,  crying for herself/ Charlotte sometimes dreams a wall around herself" - that wall is her dream world, her own surreal mind.  She doesn't belong to this world.

Cover of Charlotte Sometimes's single

Primary is the next one. A song that clearly talks about life, ageing, dying, The whole cycle of life. Childhood, youth, old age, death. There isn't much to talk about it, though.
Robert mentions children dreaming in the beginning and mentions them again, in the end, because when you get old you go back to being a fragile, dependant being as a child is.
"Oh remember/ Please don't change".´

Other Voices is a sensual song. Both lyrics and sound, instrumental have an erotic touch to it.
 The only thing in this song that is out of context is ""And all the other voices said/ Change your mind you're always wrong", when the whole song talks about an affair, about the sensuality of the sin, the slyness,  skin, scent. "I taste your scent." You can only taste another's scent if you're close enough, when you're making love to that person.
 Still, that verse might refer to Robert's voices, conscience telling him his lover doesn't love him/ is not that interested in him as he is when says "Come around in Christmas, I really have to see you." But then, this is only my interpretation.

All Cats Are Grey is the next one in line, definitely one of my favourite songs by them.
The drums make the rhythm as its sound gives the impression of near echoes of someone falling into a river violently every three seconds. The synth (again, very similar to a church's organ) evoke the calm wind, but it also gives me the sensation of being in the middle of a northern meadow covered in snow, whilst the snow is still falling.
Someone plays the synth and I feel as if the wind was teasing me, dancing with my hair, snowflakes melt down on me. I am alone in this meadow, white and grey landscape. But the sound gives me the sensations of an unknown safety, serenity. Yes, because this feeling of safety is strange in such occasion when you're "amongst the stones", " columns are all men, begging to crush me."
 When I think of these quotes, I feel as if it refers to humanity, who're all a bunch of stone, and they all want to crush you. Their hearts are made of stone and they all want to strike and kill you, almost as if in a jungle you whether join them, do or die.
 But then, the next line of context, since the previous ones talk about survival, about fighting against everyone else to survive, and the following ones talk about freedom, the sensations of being released of all this complexity and constant battle that the human society is.
"No shapes sail on the dark deep lakes, and no flags wave me home." In my perspective, it means being left alone, no negative feeling or event sailing in the lake of our lives, and no flags, nothing to tell you what to do. You are free, in the snow landscape, and you finally see not boat in your deep dark lake.
The song is over and it is followed by a much less calm sound, a song that talks about the ending of our lives, marked by a ceremony.
 You can easily be transported to a funeral scene, and in my opinion, it would in a Cornwall, in a cloudy, grey, cold and gloomy atmosphere, as the waves lick the brownish sand and the rocks bellow the water. You close your eyes and listen to 'The Funeral Party', instead of the waves, which would perfectly match the environment of those ceremonies, since it has a very melancholic and slow melody, as if a dying and sick man were walking, so it is very close and connected to death itself.
 I almost imagine the two pale figures, aching and moaning, but dancing to the music.

Doubt is a much more violent song, where fight, savage, red desperation, rage, wasted time, fury blood, tearing and ripping flesh and skin, smashing, breaking, vicious, finishing lives, murder, and drained of everything but pain are the main keys to this song.
The lyrics are wonderfully written and thought, but the lyrics seem (are) much more raw and naked and savage than the melody. I think of cannibalism, necrophilia, murders, serial killers, violence, twisted and sick behaviours and minds. I think of  Jeffrey Dahmer devouring his victims,  ripping their flesh and skin and the blood running out as a flood, satisfied with it. I think of Ted Bundy raping his victims before and after murdering them, taking pleasure out of something that would terrify and disgust a common person, but not them. They love it and they know they'll murder you tonight. »

Back of 'Faith' record