Monday, October 17, 2005

Heads We Win

Didn't make it out to a gig on John Peel Day (last Thursday) although I reckon with two-dozen concerts already to my name this year (plus attendant reviews) I've done my bit to fuel the local musical economy. I did, however, get a hold of a copy of the latest Fall album, Fall Heads Roll, a decision which I'm sure would have met with the veteran disc-slinger's approval. It took two or three listens for your correspondent to get his head around it, but now I'm coming to the view that it's the most consistently impressive Mark E Smith product since the Parlophone years of the early 90s.

Although the record flirts with waltz (opener 'Ride Away') and lo-fi country ('Midnight In Aspen') there's not much in the way of musical innovation on here, the band opting instead for a scuzzy and stripped-down garage rock sound. Enormous bass riffs abound on stunning centrepiece 'Blindness' and tracks like 'Assume' and 'Youwanner' while the cover of 'I Can Hear The Grass Grow' shows that the old boy really can hold a tune (just about, anyway) when he puts his mind to it. Elsewhere, the louche rumble of 'Pacifying Joint' and the insanely catchy Harold Shipman-referencing 'What About Us?' are further additions to the great man's classic canon of songs.

It's certainly a dark and disturbing record, the musical equivalent of a night where you fall in with dubious company and head for a club, pretty sure someone's going to end up having their face pummelled with a fire extinuisher and praying to God it's not going to be you. Pitchfork reckon it's all about drugs, a proposition they put to Mark E Smith in a classic exchange -

Pitchfork: Here's something I want to throw at you. This is this reading I've been doing of the album as I listen to it. I'm seeing a thematic link-- maybe this speaks to the thread you were talking about-- between "Pacifying Joint," "What About Us?," and "I Can Hear the Grass Grow." They've all got these drug references in them, and you can even sort of trace a high from looking for pot in "Pacifying Joint" to copping in "What About Us," to euphoria and paranoia in "I Can Hear the Grass Grow," and you can take it further to spaced-out tranquility in "Midnight in Aspen"...

MES: Yeah.

You can read the full interview here.

Postcript: I'm working on a woefully overdue full album review compendium of my July/August purchases which should be ready by the end of the week. In the meantime, you might want to check out a collaborative music site between Ben (who's got his fingers in so many website pies he'll pretty soon not have enough digits left to perform the Trout Task Replica) and Jonathan called The Art Of Noise. Meanwhile, Sweeping The Nation has a pretty comprehensive review of this week's singles and albums releases.

In other blogging news, congratulations are due to Graybo and the no-doubt-long-suffering Hels on their first wedding anniversary.

And, finally, Robyn announces that her life is a dartboard. On the doubles again, dear?



Blogger Ben said...

Cheers for the plug Ken. Will be in touch about Tom Vek / Amusement Parks On Fire next week. Alison's emailed me to suggest Tom Vek - she saw him at V - so that might swing it for me.

12:54 AM  

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