Thursday, September 16, 2010

This Is The Sound Of The Sky Foaming At The Mouth

Wolf Parade played a new song in Belfast last week. I don't know the name of it, but what I do know is that its brilliant. Spencer Krug has an epic voice. Without sounding like a total looser I can admit that I have listened to this song about 60 times in the last 2 days......

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Waiting For This Madness To End

I decided to go for a jog tonight. At about 5 miles into a 6.5 mile loop I felt a pop in my calf that was actually audible. I no doubt have a minor tear. Its my own fault, I'm all jacked up from my bike crash and I was limping to start the run so I had no business actually going further than the top of Rome Ave. But with the new Interpol album on the shuffle and a lot of desire I thought I would truck on and 'loosen' up. Nice one Kel. So another few weeks off running and a dire need to get my bike to the shop for some new spokes and new tape and maybe a tune up. Boooooo.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Crashing The Party

Someone told me there are 2 types of bike racers, those who have crashed and those who haven't. I was very happy to fall into the latter of the two, until tonight. I had my first smash and while it hurts it really wasn't as bad as it could have been. It happened on an uphill sprint you see so there wasn't too much skin loss but I landed hard on my shoulder and thought I might have done in my collar bone. Alas it was just a hard landing and unlike my legs it seems my upper body has some resilience. We were sprinting pretty hard - out of the saddle stuff.

It was the biggest smackdown I've ever done and the biggest group I've ever ridden in. About 12 people altogether. We set out steady but I was not comfortable in the pack so I hit the front and pushed the pace. No one was in trouble which was a good sign. The smackdown was taking shape and that shape was one of suffering and torture. On Austin I hit the front again and pushed the pace on my pull up the hill. A group of 4 of us broke away. I'd never ridden with the other 3 guys although I have seen Donnie ride around Providence a lot. He is the spitting image of my friend Hamish Thorpe. I've no pics to show you so you'll have to take my word for it. Anyway, it was Donnie who made the first move and only Evan responded. I was dropped as was Evan's team-mate but not really dropped, rather we took our time bridging which we did comfortably before the first of 2 climbs up to the first sprint point. It was on the first climb that I made my effort, about 450 yards out. The three lads grabbed my wheel, something that I had not experienced recently or expected. I was pushing hard and slowly Evan and I gapped the other two. About 150 yards out from the line, just as the hill was about to level out Evan came around me. We both held our ground and then next thing my quick release got caught in his back wheel and I ripped out 5 of his spokes, causing me to flip off the bike and onto my shoulder. It all happened so quickly. I was on my back and my shoulder was very sore. Evan was pissed because he has been having bad luck with losing spokes lately and I was very nervous because he has a new frame. I didn't realize until an hour later that he actually didn't go down! So at the end of the day we both lost spokes, I need new handle bar tape, and we both missed out on what surly would have been an awesome training ride full of attacks. I was so excited all afternoon for this and its such a letdown to have it end. Its my last smackdown of the season given I'll be traveling for the next 2 Tuesdays.

My love/hate with biking continues. I LOVE the pain, the suffering, the tactics, and the constant attacks. I don't love the fact that the machines and everything else cost so much compared to running and I don't love that punctures or crashes happen so often. I mean, how have they not come up with ways to prevent punctures! I don't like all the nutrition and the need to constantly drink/eat. I struggle with drafting. I'm not comfortable on someones wheel so I tend to lead a lot which means I will never really win anything. But the pain is awesome. Its a killer sport and I find that it is easier to really punish myself because I'm not great and there is no pounding. In running my knees get sore before I get tired these days. So where's the fun in that? Onward and upward. Getting a new bike very soon and will put another winter in the legs so I can race a full season next year. Down but not out.........

Love kel

Monday, September 6, 2010

Interpol - "Interpol"

The new Interpol album comes out tomorrow. Its been up on their myspace page for some time now, streaming in all its glory. The album has been getting heavily criticized on various reputible blogs and music media outlets. Its not all hate but for the most part Interpol are going to continue to battle the ghosts of the seminal Turn On The Bright Lights. Since they announced a return to their original sound the expectations have been too great and while I think this album is maybe tied with or just ahead of Our Love To Admire (albeit very different) it still has much to celebrate. My least favorite Interpol album is still better than most of the drivel out there.

Some of the struggles stem out of the departure of Carlos D, the bassist responsible for the wonderful hooks on all the classic Interpol tunes. Not to mention his impeccable dress sense. He did play during the recording sessions but clearly didn't see the direction the album was going so rather than compromise he left. At least this is what I read, it could have been something completely different. However, its a minor blip because these songs still sound Interpol to me and thats enough. There are constant challenges for bands to maintain the sound that drew people to them in the first place. My favorite band struggled with it more than most after OK Computer but they kept the real fans and over time solidified their legacy. Our Love To Admire can be criticized as a departure from the Interpol sound but not this album. I think its classic Interpol. Elements of shoegaze, dreampop, ambient, all charged by the magic voice of Paul Banks. I have always believed a good vocalist can keep the fans coming back and this album is an example of why. It is missing the hooks, the big anthems, the dancefloor energy but it has Banks tinged with atmospherics, layers and the same edge we heard in the first album. Thats what pulls us back.

The songs have a lot of repetition and certainly build in the mix with more and more layers, horns, keys, atmospherics, and vocal samples . The leading 2 songs "Lights", and "Barricade" best exemplify this. And fittingly both songs sit in the first part of the record. I guess the fundamental sounding Interpol. The second part of the record sees a more operatic sound take hold and some deeper lyrical content including a bit of Spanish thrown in on "The Undoing", a closer that mixes between the two languages and samples some of Pauls own lyrics into the mix. Even with the two different styles the album flows perfectly and hits a peak right before the closing track. "All Of The Ways" is for me the emotional peak and the song would sound at home on any Interpol album, or even on Pauls solo effort Julian Plenti is Skyscraper. In fact I liken this album to that work more than Interpols last album.

Interpol fans should like this album, maybe even love it. Paul Banks continues to blow me away with his wonderful baritone voice and all of the atmosphere is still there, even if Carlos D's bass is turned down, a lot. Will new fans jump on board? I doubt it but that just means there is more for Interpol followers to keep for themselves including smaller venues and crowds that sing along. Loyalty is becoming more and more a rarity in music and if this is the direction Interpol want to go in (which is actually not really that different) then I'm along for the ride.

I haven't really listened deeply to the lyrics but does the line "I did not take to analysis so I had to make up my mind" refer to some of the recording sessions? Maybe his clash of ideas with Carlos D?

Love it.


Friday, September 3, 2010

You Have Not Been Paying Attention

I just got back from a trip to the homeland where I got to meet my new and wonderful niece Alicia. Not that there is much to see, she is only a couple of weeks and holding her is more nerve racking than anything. Well at least it is for me. I also got to hang with the rest of the family, my nephews Ryan and Cian. Awesome. There was the Saturday club with The Lads FC and while we age gracefully I find nothing so thoroughly enjoyable as discussion among the best bunch on the planet over a few creamy pints of Guinness, a throw back to anytime over the last 15 years. I am eternally grateful to have grown up with crew I did. Its humbling to have such friendships. Another reason for the trip home was the wedding of Ro McGettigan and Myles Dumas. It was a spectacular few days down in Wicklow. The Guinness was lovely, the sun was shining and everyone was in party mood. Ro and Myles looked great and I found myself dancing hard to the likes of Kate Perry and Lady GaGa which means that I was pretty much ga-ga myself. The next day saw a horrible bus journey and extreme hangover. I had Spencer Krug for company.

Last year, August 22nd, Radiohead played in Prague on the In Rainbows tour. A bunch of hardcore fans decided to meet up before the show with Flip cameras and agreed to spread out among the crowd so they could film the gig. The goal was to take all the footage and edit it to make a DVD of the live concert experience. There was nothing professional about the shoot, it was literally fans with the same Flip cameras. The editing was done over the last year. Ordinarily this is considered illegal and bands for the most part would not endorse such behavior however Radiohead are not some bands. They are on a completely different level and embrace the internet community which is why in the midst of illegal downloading the file sharing they are still successful. When they heard about what the fans were doing they completely embraced the concept and allowed them to use the soundboard recording from the show. So what started out as a fun project now has the bands stamp of approval and has soundboard 320kbps quality sound. Its a completely free download available in many formats, from fans to fans. So organic and beautiful. You can grab it in any of the many formats offered HERE

You can also read about the people that did the shooting and grab the setlist etc at the site. With so much amazing music out there I find myself often drifting into the sounds that are calling me at a given time. This summer the bands are Wolf Parade and Interpol. I saw 7 concerts between the two of them. However just viewing these videos reminds me how much I love Radiohead. Watching Idioteque literally gives me chills. I wish someone would do this with Wolf Parade because I think Spencer Krug is the closest vocalist to Thom on the scene right now (throw Jonsi in there too but his is a little bit of a different buzz). However such is the size of Radiohead that projects like this only get completed by the die hard community that surrounds them. The downside is of course that its almost impossible to see Radiohead in the venues that Wolf Parade and Interpol etc play. In fact, a band like Interpol are actually getting smaller which completely baffles me. Radiohead have the "cool" factor so therein lies the conundrum, if there is one? I'm waffling here. What I'm saying is that I think a band like Wolf Parade can be Radiohead in stature but won't be and a band like Interpol should be huge but they are now playing smaller venues and no longer selling out some shows. It must be very difficult to make it in the music world today and I respect those that devote their lives to the cause. I can't sing or play so I can only listen and support. Hats off to these kids in Prague. I would love to be part of a project like this. And by downloading and sharing we all kind of have a part. Awesome. Check out a couple of videos below and tell me it doesn't suck you right in. I love the comment one person made under Idioteque, "the best bit is between 0:01 and 4:26", I couldn't agree more.

Good to be back,

Love Kel