Thursday, April 20, 2006

From the vault: Bryter Layter?

I don't know if Nick Drake was referencing some obscure piece of Welsh history, or if he just couldn't spell. But the parallels between him and his modern day equivalent (Jeff Buckley) are striking. Both recorded astonishingly mature debut records (Drake's Five Leaves Left) and both utilised a lush production method to create music of striking beauty and emotional forthrightness. Thankfully, Drake survived long enough to record 3 records, and it is his second, Bryter Later, that tends to slip under the radar.
Opening with a brief, finger picked guitar over sweeping strings (beautifully arranged by maestro Robert Kirby) introduction, the album kicks in with 'Hazy Jane II' (why this precedes 'Hazy Jane I', no one will ever know), which is in equal measures a bouncy early 70's pop gem and wistful tale of unrequited love.
Drakes tenor voice manages to hold sway over the dense produciton across the record, as he muses on life's unpredictability ('One of These Things First'), then produces a love song, which in lesser hands would have stunk of 5 day old gouda, but here is the achingly gorgeous 'Northern Sky'.
A true folk/rock/pop classic, and a perfect introduction to a truly gifted musician, whose legacy, while short, will live on for generations.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Album of the year (so far)??

Well, it's only April, but I've already picked up two records that could well be vying for best of 2006 by year's end (bearing in mind upcoming releases by Radiohead and Muse, among others).
The Arctic Monkeys debut is as good a freshman album as you'll hear, brimming with vigour, humour and observance. Oh yeah, and it rocks. Think Mike Skinner from the Streets picks up an axe and chucks on his back catalogue of AC/DC, along with the Pixies, the Stones and Blur.
Terrific Stuff.
At the other end of the spectrum, Melbourne (Go local boys!) band Augie March ahve produced yet another compelling addition to their already impressive discography. Backing up 2000's Sunset Studies, and 2002's Strange Bird (Both of which made their respective year's top ten in my book), the Augs have condensed and slightly abbreviated their sound, without going - for want of a better word - 'poppy'. Opener 'One Crowded Hour' could well be the best song every written by anyone, anywhere. Well, not quite, but it's a corker. It is followed by an hour of intense, melodic poetry, revisiting the intimate stylings of Sunset Studies, but with greater control and maturity.
2006 is looking pretty solid so far.

The times, they are a-changin'

Seeing as Easter is a time for reinvention, rebirth and renewal, I figure it's time to announce that a quantum shift has taken plance, a change in paradigm, if you will here at Machines Against the Rage. After finally succumbing to the inevitable truth, I've decided it's impossible to continue blogging in the manner I had attempted. Once I missed about a week, I would sit down to type, only to become swamped with a number of topics too great to really deal with.
So now, today, MATR is REBORN! Henceforth, this blog will concern itself solely with matters musical. I have embraced my musical nerdishness/snobbery, and will now critique and applaud (in equal measure) music from around the globe, and invite others to do the same.
be it gigs, CDs, discussions of the benefit of digital music or whether Peter Gabriel's work was better after he left Genesis or not, you'll find it here.
Stay tuned, fellow music nerds, stay tuned.