New albums: a hit and a maybe

Welcome to September. There are plenty of new albums out around this time of year, so as part of my civic duty I will now force my entirely subjective prose into your consciousness by giving you one pretty stellar new release…as well as warning you of one to avoid, thus leaving you with more pennies in your pocket and more time to sort out your pencil case, pack your bags for uni etc. Embrace this rare act of generosity, and feel free to fight your corner by commenting/emailing me via hannah [at] hannahjdavies.com.

Hit

American Goldwing – Blitzen Trapper (Sub Pop) – out Sept 12th

As much as I hate to paraphrase a press release, Blitzen Trapper’s Eric Earley proved that sometimes an artist’s own perception of their work needs little further analysis. Earley recently mused that “the earthiness of these songs will make you want to get loaded and get in a fight, or find a girl and fall in love forever, simultaneously” and it seems that Blitzen have achieved this feat, creating a multi-faceted rock album with appeal for both the lovers and the fighters. The sixth studio release from the Portland, Oregon-based quintet is a diverse collection which brings together classic country (complete with harmonicas and Dylan-style vocals) and twangy pop with more than a nod to Tom Petty. Squeezing decades of rock into a pulp of nostalgic americana, it’s compulsory listening in full for those who need an entry level country rock album. To everyone else: a few key downloads to mix and match – plus an obligatory Jack Daniels – is enough to get the idea without turning into a SXSW groupie. The idea being that this is the faux-vintage ‘record’ that works in the same way as your pre-grunged Abercrombie jeans – perfectly engineered with high production values to help you party like it’s 1971. Without any dust or broken LPs in sight.

4/5

Go and download: “Street Fighting Sun” – a forgotten White Stripes B-Side produced by Motorhead?! “Might Find It Cheap” – gutsy Western grooves permeated by a compulsive, stirring, ‘Gimme Shelter’-esque bassline. (Stream the album in it’s entirety here).

Maybe

I’m With You – Red Hot Chili Peppers (Warner)

Red Hot Chili Peppers have survived a fair few changes throughout the years, but has John Frusciante’s latest departure irrevocably damaged the band? This writer would be inclined to think so. Oddly enough, the queasy didn’t-get-a-bike-for-Christmas brand of disappointment I felt on the first play of “I’m With You”was the same feeling I had when Stadium Arcadium landed five long years ago. That album did, admittedly, become a grower, but I’m not sure I’m With You will sustain my attention long enough so I can find out whether, like a fine wine, it will get better with age. Unfortunately – please do ignore my mixed metaphors and alcoholic analogies – fine wine is not supposed to be mixed with new blood. Josh Klinghoffer (he who sounds like a Smashing Pumpkin in Dot Hacker/Frusciante’s Ataxia contemporary) is a worthy musician, but his inclusion in the Chili roster is incongrous. He was just five when the band released their first album, and I fear that rather than continuing the band’s legacy alongside his ageing confreres he will be forced to imitate pal Frusciante for as long as possible in order to survive the murky waters of cult band land, where fans congregate on forums and ignite faceless vendettas at the mere mention of a lousy chord progression. I doubt that anyone will be chasing Josh with a torch in hand, however. Whereas Stadium Arcadium was a mix of concepts and styles (Frusciante seemingly paid homage to every guitarist he’d ever admired) tightly packed together in multiple tempos, and arranged over two planetary-named CDs with copious B-sides on a third, I’m With You is 14 safe and familiar failsafes with little deviation from by-numbers funk and Kiedis’ trademark weird lyricism. Rather than being an organisational mess like it’s predecessor, it’s a stylistic bore of idly peddled beats with little dimension. “Monarchy Of Roses” demonstrates this most pointedly – repetitive and nonsensical, but not in the genius way that characterised classics like The Zephyr Song. What was it I said earlier about surviving changes…one of the reasons why Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro was able to replace John Frusciante in the mid 90s was his ability to reprise and reinterpret the groove as John himself had had to do at the beginning of his first dynasty (he was drafted in following the death of original RHCP guitarist Hillel Slovak).

New Kid On The Block: he might be lunching with the cool kids, but Josh Klinghoffer needs to bring more than a half-eaten ham sandwich if he wants to survive in a huge band like RHCP

Klinghoffer’s attempt is far from complacent, but whether he can stamp his mark on such an established outfit is indeterminable from this forgettable debut. “Annie Wants A Baby” is the nearest that the band gets to their “By The Way” glory, but overall it’s overproduced and predictable fare. In short, diehards will love “I’m With You” for those simple bedroom jam moments where Anthony and Flea reprise their usual roles, and those too young to remember Californication (e.g.: the profitable tween market) will treat it as a stepping stone into rock/a counterpoint to Bieber et al. Invariably, it will be a hit – I’ll just have to let you know whether I’m With You on that in due course.

3/5

Go and download: “Brendan’s Death Song” – Kiedis stands out on a touching tribute to a late friend. The only song with staying power on the album in my opinion. “The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” – it’s not big and it’s not clever, but it is fun and the trippy title sounds like it’s been lifted from a Dr Seuss book.

Coming up this month: Bestival coverage (!!!) and more (gosh that sounds ominous)…

HJ x

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The Paper Edition

This is where my famous green typing ends for a while, and you get to sample The ‘Zine. It is a magical thing when you can use paper and a pen in a cross-promotional marketing strategy inspired by THE APOCOLYPSE OF PRINT. Here we go:

The Mona Cheryl by Hannah J 'Leonardo' Davies

*Have you got any thoughts on this month’s paper-licious issue, written on pretty ancient paper my mother used whilst at university I might add? Email me: hannah@hannahjdavies.com with your thoughts. A letters page might happen, y’know.

PS: Click here to watch something which touched my heart this Valentines. Vice Magazine’s VBS bring you, yes you, a Rule Britannia special six-part ‘Swansea Love Story’, focusing on addicts such as Lee Dennis, who graphically recounts his drug abuse and how he contracted Hep C in prison, as he rifles through his possessions in an Iceland bag casually. Desperate fights to get clean in a city which, according to its older inhabitants hasn’t changed…its the people who have. All in all, such deprivation, tales of sexual abuse and familial collapse are handled with class by director Leo Leigh sooo go watch. Plus, CNN thought it was noteworthy.

Listening to: JAM. I hope Liorah Tchiprout, the author of this pretty amazing playlist for use with Spotify, won’t mind me sharing it with you x x

End of my girl crush.

x x x x

Catching Up

If you’ve just discovered the magical ramblings and professional articles then hello, I’ m Hannah and I’m a wordaholic. Welcome back if you’re one of those who has commented, critiqued (or just laughed at me) over the past 12 months.

So, its been almost a year since I kicked things off; using this site in part as a way to share my truly random findings, my best music, fashion and lifestyle pearls and also to link to my work elsewhere. It has been met with complimets and confusion, so much so that I think it might be time to reorganize things a bit, and redefine… something I’m not going to start now, because I have two months worth of material to just offload here…

So here we are, catching up with the calamity.

I’ve been told to write in black from now on by a load of very valued readers, but my green font and pink background are part of what makes me the ‘Schindler’s List girl’ of music websites. Yes, I know that film was about the Nazis. Maybe I should’ve just stuck with a comment about my Daria-like cynicism.


Anyways, I haven’t enirely been slacking off from writing in recent months. Firstly, I did another truly fantastic work placement at NME  which meant listening to lots of new music and helping out in the most beautiful building in London* where anything can happen! (*my view entirely).

Inevitably, there are mundane, everyday goings on (stalkerish post, terrible demos, arguments over deadlines), but not many work experience girls can say that they’ve got to swoon over The Drums in person, who popped by to record a session for NME Radio. The Kink(s)y pair were a Stroke(s) away from me (those were much better in my head)..I digress: I was three metres away from the sparkly Speakeasy-city charm of the polished-and-deconstrcted duo. They are a dream of 1950s/60s surf soul and self-conscious noughties prose and repition. Choirs and restless brass accompaniment courtesy of these beach boys put me at a night spent in passionate conversation on a Brooklyn fire escape in swirls of iced (latte) rain. I hate on the bougeousie far too much for my own good, but The Drums are romantic and possess – for fear of tarring them with the same brush as CSS, The Shins, Fleet Foxes – a future-forward cult cool on tracks such as Instruct Me which is usurped by mixtape grainy licks of grunge rhyme”Submarine”, which seems to cite The Polyphonic Spree and Placebo.

Oh yes, and they look like they should be working at A&F.

Proper highlight material there, as well as the fact that I got to present an opening for a Roland Eye Session (a new performance venture from the guys at Roland Amps/Keyboards) and attend an unforgettable session with hardcore sweethearts Failsafe.

© Kerrang/Bauer Group

Here are some pics from the Eye session:

The boys performed their Kerrang anthem ‘Only If We Learn’ as we glided over London in our spacious pod. Not only did they give a stunning, intimate rendition, they were also some of the nicest guys I’ve yet to meet. It was easy to cast aside the Metalhammer image of a 2000s metal band being a masked gang of animal-sacrificing Viking warriors, greasy-haired axe-wielders or a pre-pubescent suicide forum with fringes…and feel what I call ‘soulcore. Metal music, courtsesy of the soul. Fellow worky Anna and I couldn’t believe our luck, and typically we spent most of the journey snapping panoramic shots on our BlackBerrys and getting soundbites about the band’s next gig which was the following evening in Newport.

And our express tickets meant absolutely no queuing. Haa.

Check Failsafe out here, and keep your eyes peeled for the video of the session which will hopefully be up here very soon!

I haven’t been totally slacking from the writing side of things, however, and I reviewed the BBC Emerging proms for my friends over at Converse Music last month – you can find that review here !

By sheer coincidence, the gig I was reviewing (which, I unfortunately didn’t enjoy at all, see above!) was at the Roundhouse on the same night Failsafe supported Bowling For Soup. Would’ve rather been with the latter bands.

I also wrote a little piece on my favourite fanzine, The Pix, run by the incredible journalist, DJ, fashion goddess of i-D Hanna Hanra. Yes, I would love to meet her, and not just because we have the same name bar one letter.

This picture pretty much confirms her status as like, SUPERCOOL…like. Anyhow, here is what I wrote – flippantly and sans title – for her fabulous website.

Here’s a review of a single I did whilst at NME. Be warned…its not too pretty:

The Duke and the King

Summer Morning Rain (Loose Music/Universal)

What exactly does ergonomic mean in relation to keyboard design? That is a question I pondered as I struggled to capture a sense of creation behind the faceless and self-indulgent mundanity that is ‘Summer Morning Rain’. Optimistically billing themselves as glam, folk and soul, these Later alumni deliver no more than unremarkable join-the-dots guitar which borrows more than slightly from Tom Petty’s ‘Free Falling’. Cliché seeps from every apparently cultish Brooklynite pore via sweet but ultimately dry observations. If there is one noble thing about The Duke and the King, it is their ability to endow the masses with genuinely comforting, uncontroversial blues. However, they seem to be swaying in the middle of the same dead-end dirt track inhabited by tributes, buskars and other imitators…and for this they will never be the raconteurs an original fairytale of New York.

Don’t think I’ve ever written a positive single review.

I went on a journalism course this month, run by the brilliant Debate Chamber, which confirmed for me that I definitely want to keep slagging people off writing and commenting and thinking, and ultimately that I WANT TO BE A JOURNALIST! Very useful course either way, would really recommend it to anyone thinking of joining the media.

Anyways, I’m going to have to get some sleep, feeling pretty vile and in need of these

those:


(yeah, they’re limited edition Snoopy tissues I went crazy for aged 12, ok?!)

and this

(the beautiful Converse/heel combo I’ve seen about London town, possibly an asian copy of a catwalk style but they are buff…even if they smell of pvc and polystyrene, and the heels might break at an awkward moment resuling in severe injury/loss of feeling in your toes).

Merry Christmas .. I’ll be back to give a cynical overview of the world very soon.

Yours,

x x x x

Currently watching: The Thick Of It, Sat, 10:40, BBC 2. Hilarious, sharp, culture-rich, punchy even after the commercial success of cinematic spin-off In The Loop…if it were a person, I would marry it, if only for the witty banter and eventual inheritance.

Currently reading: Hippo Eats Dwarf by Alex Bosse…a detailed look at Urban Legends through the ages. Well-written, if not slightly alarmist with its gruesome tales of the link between human hair and soy sauce. Pass the bento bucket!

I’ll leave you with a image from my favvvvvvvvvourite website of the year, thisiswhyyourefat.com. Hot Apple Bacon Turnover With Icing is wrong, dirty and makes me so very hungry.

Grands bisous.