Friday, 28 July 2017

RANKED: ARCADE FIRE'S ALBUMS FROM BEST TO WORST




Contemporary journalism has been widely criticised for eschewing traditional investigative practices, nuanced politico-social commentary and specialist arts criticism in favour of desperate and nihilistic click-hungry ranking. Ranking members of the Kardashian family. Ranking singles by Ranking Roger. Ranking yourself into apathetic numbness as the world around us slowly burns.

Here at Spinal Bap we are not above such unashamed rankery and seeing as Arcade Fire have a new cassette tape out or something and they’ve appealed to complete rankers since day one, we thought we might as well rank all their albums.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the order we came up with!



Funeral
In first place we have the first Arcade Fire album, obviously. Released in 2004, Funeral offered everything from a semi-tragic back-story to a post-Godspeed propensity for additional viola players. The album earned an unprecedented nine-point-infinity rating from Pitchfork even though it contained nothing that Hope Of The States hadn’t already nailed. Still, there’s no denying this was their first album.



Neon Bible
Arcade Fire’s difficult second album was difficult for the band to make and even more difficult to be excited about unless you happened to work in the offices of Pitchfork. It had that song about cars on it and, y’know, that other one, the other one about the cars. It was better than what was to follow, however, and anyone who disagrees has clearly lost their bag of spherical rolling toys.



The Suburbs
Arcade Fire’s difficult third album is also third in the respect that it is their third best. Not to be confused with a competition from the pages of an upper-class Victorian periodical, Win Butler is the frontman of Arcade Fire. Win described The Suburbs as a cross between Depeche Mode and Neil Young even though neither of those artists peaked with their debut album. Pitchfork were euphoric once more, comparing the record to The Clash’s Sandinista!, Bruce Springsteen’s catch-all genius and The Earth by a supreme being known to some humans as “God”.



Reflektor
If their third-released and third-best album was a little on the long side, Arcade Fire’s difficult fourth album was a never-ending road trip down the dull freeway of Win Butler’s self-indulgence. Across two discs produced by the confidence man who pretended to split up LCD Soundsystem, Reflektor explored dance-rock, art-rock and dub reggae, but mainly dance-rock. New Order remained untroubled. Pitchfork remained in thrall, enjoying the results as much as oxygen, orgasms or cake.


Everything Now
Everything? No. Not with a title track that sounds exactly like Dan Gillespie-Sells from The Feeling covering ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ in an ABBA wig with a panpipe breakdown. Arcade Fire’s difficult follow-up to their difficult fourth album was marketed in an even more patronising fashion than Radiohead’s previous six promotional campaigns combined. The actual music, which they’d spent less time on, was so bad that even Pitchfork scored it lower than the third Kaiser Chiefs LP.


Monday, 10 July 2017

SIX UNRELEASED ALBUMS YOU'D SLAUGHTER YOUR OWN GRANNY TO HEAR


Nostalgic fans who are only interested in Neil Young’s boring old material will be thrilled to learn than the cantankerous Canadian will finally release one of his long-lost albums on July 14. Hitchhiker was originally recorded in 1976 but the material was binned when Young became distracted with other projects such as cocaine.

Young isn’t the only musician with an album or twelve tucked away at the back of his audio pantry. Here are six more records that have yet to see the light of day that it would literally be worth injecting your own grandmother with a lethal dose of diamorphine to hear.



Green Day - Cigarettes And Valentines And The Same Three Chords
The Californian trio abandoned this album when its master tapes were stolen by a benevolent Robin Hood figure hoping to spare the masses from yet more Green Day. Instead, Billy Bobby Thornton and co. dusted themselves off and wrote the bloated concept album American American. But what would that original album have sounded like? Pop-punk, obviously. Working titles included ‘Oi Oi’, ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’, ‘Boohoo Ballad’, ‘Spank Spank’ and ‘Mickey The Mohawk’s Tragic Tale Of Social Security Woe (Woe, Woe, Woah)’.



U2 - Trilogy
According to Bono’s water-polo partner George W. Bush, U2 have at least three albums worth of unreleased material which ranges from bombastic arena rock to acoustic arena rock. I’m not surprised because one of them once slipped down the back of Bono’s sofa only to find its way into my iTunes library and now I can’t delete it without the webcam taking my picture without permission and automatically adding my name to a secret government list of known atheists.



Donald J. Trump - The Art Of Making A Really Really Great Album Like A True Champ
Much like Jesus, little is known about Donald Trump’s teenage years other than he was almost certainly a precocious tool. One theory is that the young Donald spent much of that time working on an ambitious space-prog concept album inspired by Orson Welles, golden shiny things and several books he hasn’t read. It is thought that Trump abandoned his musical aspirations when it finally dawned on him that he could not operate any grown-up instruments with such tiny hands. He then decided to focus on his second dream of becoming America’s least qualified human.



Billy Joel - Everything Since 1993
In a reversal of the hideous portrait in Dorian Gray’s attic, the songs Billy Joel records in his secluded basement are as sprightly and vibrant as the work of his youth while, externally speaking, Joel slowly transforms into a pink fleshy egg. In concert, Joel’s piano has to be secured to the stage floor with extra reinforced bolts to prevent it from being sucked into the air by the force of an entire arena crowd gasping in unison at this upsetting reminder of mortal decline.



Gary Barlow - Eyebrow Of The Tiger
At the nadir of his portly wilderness years, Gary Barlow recorded an entire concept album dedicated to his own right eyebrow. Tracks included ‘Back For Eyebrow’, ‘Everything Eyebrows’, ‘A Million Eyebrows’, ‘How Deep Is Your Eyebrow’, ‘It Only Takes An Eyebrow’, ‘I Will Eviscerate Robbie Williams And Feed His Gunky Entrails To That Prickhole Max Beesley’ and ‘Relight My Eyebrow’. Gary Barlow’s right eyebrow was so touched by the gesture that it has remained raised in erotic stimulation ever since.



Noel Gallagher, John Zorn and Autechre - Vol. 1: Definitely Quabungzizz-X
A couple of years ago, word got out that the ex-Oasis songwriter had recorded a whole album in collaboration with the avant-garde composer John Zorn and groundbreaking electronic duo Autechre. Regrettably, Gallagher shelved the project when he suddenly remembered that it could jeopardise his long-cultivated reputation as Britain’s dullest musician.


Saturday, 8 April 2017

FIVE OF THE GREATEST MUSICAL EASTER EGGS HIDDEN IN ALBUMS


Most of the time the phrase “Easter egg” will make you think of stuffing your insatiably greedy face with Lindt rabbits while intravenously injecting the gunk from a Cadbury’s Creme Egg directly into your bloodstream. However, in the world of video games, films and software, “Easter egg” doesn’t have anything to do with the resurrection of Christ. It basically means hidden messages or secret quirks, like when pressing up-down-left-right-left-right-start-up-up-up-down-up-down-up-poweroff-start-pause-pause during Level Three of Desert Strike for the Sega Megadrive would reveal a bonus cut scene in which defenceless Iraqi hostages were murdered in cold blood by Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe.

There are plenty of them in music too, including secret songs, backwards voices and loads of other rubbish. Here are five of the best Easter eggs in music. Please don’t tell us your own favourites in the comments below.



The Beatles - Her Majesty
Not listed on the original sleeve, this track was never intended for inclusion on Abbey Road given that it is essentially Paul McCartney’s confession to having an unhealthy sexual obsession with Elizabeth II. In recent years, the ex-Beatle has taken stalking to new extremes by following the queen wherever she goes while encouraging strangers to continuously repeat the “na na na” bit from ‘Hey Jude’ in an unending, maddening loop until she finally agrees to wed him.


Nirvana - Endless Nameless Pointless Celebrities
When Nirvana’s Nevermind was released in 1991, listeners were shocked to discover that if they waited long enough for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ to end then they’d be bombarded by 12 more tracks of self-pitying grunge pop. Similarly, listeners who waited long enough for Nirvana to end were subsequently bombarded by Dave Grohl’s own horrifying Easter egg which he named The Foo Fighters.


Tool - 10,000 Days
If you play all the tracks on Tool’s 2006 album 10,000 Days at the same time while simultaneously holding separate sleeves of the LP up to windows on opposite sides of the room, then a hologram of lead singer Maynard James Keenan (pictured above) will appear and gleefully announce that there will be eight Pucifer records, another A Perfect Circle reformation and three more appearances of Halley’s Comet before the next Tool album arrives, you patient maggots.


Desert Sessions - Shepherd’s Pie
Absent from some copies of the album, this piss-around track was reputedly inspired by the delicious shepherd’s pie that PJ Harvey (pictured above) cooked for Josh Homme, Twiggy Ramirez, Chris Goss and other rockin’ rockers as they recorded together in the Californian desert. I wish PJ Harvey would cook some shepherd’s pie for me. Why does PJ Harvey never cook shephard’s pie for me? God I’m lonely.

Radiohead - 0 to 10
OK Computer and In Rainbows both have ten letters in their title. The latter was released a decade after OK Computer, on October 10th. The band made it available for download on ten servers. When touring the album, Radiohead’s support slots were given to Tenpole Tudor, The Three Tenors and Ten Inch Nails. What’s the significance of the number ten? Create a playlist that alternates the tracks of OK Computer with those of In Rainbows, and you end up with one massive seamless Radiohead album. Unfortunately though, it’s still a Radiohead album which is 10 million per cent less enjoyable than Jason Donovan’s seminal debut record Ten Good Reasons.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

NICK CAVE AND WARREN ELLIS TO SCORE NEXT SERIES OF MASTERCHEF




Following the success of their atmospheric movie soundtracks, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have been hired to provide the backing music to the forthcoming series of the BBC’s toughest cookery competition.

In what looks to be the biggest shake-up of the show’s ambience since it was rebranded MasterChef Goes Large and then quickly re-rebranded back to MasterChef again, its producers felt that Cave and Ellis’ gothic soundscapes could bring a sense of drama and class to the format which has recently suffered from an over-reliance on thumping house music to embellish the acts of dicing up carrots and deconstructing a fish pie.

A statement from their management said that both musicians are huge fans of the show, even though Cave’s own diet is limited strictly to snakeskin soup, washed down with the crimson blood of virgins.

MasterChef co-presenter Gregg Wallace was also deeply involved in the recording process, advising, guiding and critiquing the composers despite possessing zero musical ability of his own. Producers felt that by shouting “you’ve got three minutes” at Cave and Ellis as they approached the desired running time, Wallace made a valuable contribution in his own special way.