Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Foals - Antidotes


What are the two greatest things that have happened to modern rock music during the last 60 years. Two simple events our inventions that have done more then anything else in the world to push the boundaries. Whilst shaping the musical landscape that we all are a part of? Could it be the much fetishised birth of punk in 1977. The year when Sex Pistols bust into the public consciousness whilst oozing the primitive energy of early rock and roll. That had been lost under the multilayered song structures of 1970´s prog rock behemoths and cosmic exploration of the LSD influenced psychonauts from San Francisco during the second half of the 1960´s. Our could the revolutionary object be not a musical movement but and instrument. Like the Ronald 808 and 909 drum machines that helped to lay the foundation for modern hip hop and electronic music. By bending beats to the will of the producer and helping noise achieve it’s purest form. Our the Gibson Les Paul model the choice axe for any up and coming guitar hero. Who has ever dreamt about playing huge stadiums in front of tens of thousands of people. Whilst a cigarette tangles from the corner of the mouth for that essential to cool to give a fuck attitude. As good as these candidates are none of theme can be considered as the ultimate best thing that has happened to music during the last 60 years.

No the best things that have happened to music during last decades are heroin and intra band feuding which usually leads to uttermost hatred towards one another. Before dismissing these claims as some nonsensical ramblings of a music critic dreamed up in the during the bright summer night. Somewhere between 3 and 4 in the morning. Let’s look at the facts that support this claim. Whilst cocaine and weed can help a rock star unwind after a hard days work they are hardly the most inspirational of drugs. One makes you a hyper active brat unable to finish a single idea. Whilst the other makes even the crappiest piece of melody sound like the opening chords to the best single ever. Whilst albums and song made about our under the influence of heroin are almost always brilliant. Ministry recorded their landmark albums Psalm 69 and Filth Pig whilst Al Jourgensen was becoming/had become a full blown addict. Just One Fix wouldn´t be nearly as good description of a junkie life hadn’t uncle Al conducted his experiments with the needle. And let’s face it William Burroughs dosen´t befriend with no straight edge bands. Neil Young was inspired by the heroin overdose of Danny Whitten to record Tonight's The Night one of his best albums. Without the magical powers of diacetylmorphine the would have been no Dirt arguably the greatest grunge record ever made and no Nevermind doesn't count. When it comes to intra band fighting nothing is a better motivator for a musicians then being in a studio with people you don’t like. When band members like each other they tend to spend long hours in a studio without achieving anything worthwhile. But when hate is introduced everything changes. Parts are played with passion and effective speed just to get out of there as soon as possible. Members of Faith No More never liked each other but left behind a body of work essential for the developing of alternative metal. Who’s fistfights and shouting matches were legendary and thanks to them we now have Quadrophenia, Who’s Next and Live in Leeds. But can these two revolutionaries of music help a critic write a better reviews? An interesting question to say the least.

If a critic is forced to review a new album by a band he truly despises with every cell in his body whilst being high as a kite. He should be able to produce the ultimate review capable of exposing a band for what it is. There have been such writers capable of unmasking the talentless hacks for what they really are. Nod to the legendary Lester Bangs and Nick Kent one takes a bow. The music press might hype a band but these new revolutionary reviews show what they are really like. Exposing the so called visionaries as nothing more then run of the mil indie bands who have just found a way to use an effects pedal in a fascinating way. Which brings as nicely to this moment and ''Antidotes'' the debut album by Foals. One might expect a barrage of vitriolic hate aimed at the Foals to start any minute. Describing them as a another no good over hyped indie band. That the music press has been cramming thrown our throats for who knows how many years. Followed by a few choice words about Antidotes and the people who buy and listen to records like it.. But I’m not high nor to I feel any hatred our vitriolic anger towards them. Yes they do look like a bunch of art school drop outs. Who have read every existential French novel that has been published and were forever changed by the knowledge contained there. Yes all the guitar players have broken the rule of rock nr 34:'' You shall not use a extra small guitar strap so that the instrument rest just below you chin´. Unless you play funk and it’s the 1970´s.'' This is of course connected with Rule of rock nr 8:'' Don’t play funk. Don’t even joke about playing funk.'' Weird and artsy videos are the norm for indie bands so there is no point in getting pissed about that and accuse the band of being pretentious. No compared to Vampire Weekend every other indie band at the moment isn't pretentious. This would be great place to go completely off topic and vent ones anger about Vampire Weekend maybe hurl an insult our two but this review isn’t about them. Maybe later when the mood is right.

Despite the mentioned problems Antidotes is a good afternoon early evening relaxation record. That one puts on before sitting down with a good book to read whilst quietly nodding ones head to the rhythm of the music. Anybody who describes Foals as math rock and to difficult to relax to. Has either a really short attention span our has never heard of math rock. Antidotes is a lot of thing but one thing it isn't is math rock. First single ''Balloons'' which is built around a droneing synth riff has more in common with countless indie pop records then with say the collective works of Don Caballero. In fact the saxophones and trumpets heard in the chorus make one wonder if this isn't in fact a b-side to some 90´s third wave ska-punk bands single. So vivid are the illusions of sunny beaches with rolling waves brought on by the sound of the horns. The split personality inspired ''Cassius'' takes the ska fantasies to its logical conclusion, attacking the listeners horns form every angels possible. Olympic Airways re-introduces the straight forward indie sound back to music abandoning horns, weird guitar effects and looping synth sounds. ''Olympic Airwaves'' is probably the most straight forward pop song on the album. That given the right short a push even the most mainstream music fan can fall in with. The one that maybe buys 2 - 3 albums a year and goes to gigs not because he’s a hardcore fan but because the press release made it out to be a event no one should miss. ''Two Steps. Twice'' once again introduces weirder sound scapes, choirs and intensive percussion. Creating a soft sensory overload in the listener. Faced with this kind of cascading wall of sound it’s easy to see why the producer Dave Steiks carried a gun during the recording of the album. Not so much to protect himself form possible robbers he might encounter on the streets. But it was probably the only way to stop band members adding new elements to the songs. Album closer ''Tron'' dose what many indie band have done during the last couple of years by embracing techno. Thus doing proud do the futuristic imagery of the Disney sci - fi movie it shares it's name with. Before returning to the horns, weird synth loops and guitar effects that can be found anywhere else on album. One might criticize the repetitive almost moronic lyrics that have more in common with the easiest of nursery rhymes then with deep insightful poetry. But considering that lyrics are the weak point of many of the modern indie bands. Hey Bloc Party hasn’t written a good lyric since the first album. But that hasn't stopped them form making some of the most enjoyable music of the last 5 years,. So in all fairness we should let Foals slide on this issue. All in all Antidotes is a fairly decent indie dance record with pones to art influenced experimentation. Nothing revolutionary our particular new. But also nothing that makes you want to introduce an axe to your stereo system when you might hear it. Perhaps only time will tell watch places Antidotes will be held in the history of modern music.

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