Shining (NOR) – One One One

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Shining
One One One
Indie

When I finally stumbled upon Norway’s Shining a few years back, it was perhaps the most joyous discovery I’d come across in music for some time. ‘Blackjazz’ was a terrifying monster of an album, a perfect meld of black metal aesthetics with industrial precision, and extreme avant-garde and jazz tendencies. There was absolutely everything to love and yet fear from the savage psychosis of ‘Fisheye’, the huge anthem ‘Madness and the Damage Done’, the densely thunderous horror of ‘Blackjazz Deathtrance’ and the sublime cover of King Crimson’s ‘21 st Century Schizoid Man’.

Now that they’re a little better known, there’s now sufficient enough evidence to say that maybe I viewed their new album ‘One One One’ through the bleary glaze of hype. After all, delivering an album like ‘Blackjazz’ and with a sound near enough unique to their own, you wouldn’t bet against them. But ‘One One One’ is a different beast altogether, with the longest song coming in at just four and a half minutes, and with the whole thing sounding much more accessible indeed. Jørgen Munkeby is still prominent as ever with his menacing schizophrenic vocals and his flourishes on the saxophone, but in comparison to ‘Blackjazz‘, this is short short short. That’s not an entirely bad thing, as from the off this album broods with malicious intensity, from the lead single ‘I Won’t Forget’ and ‘My Dying Drive’, and all in all its still an excellent set of tracks. The album does suffer slightly though from its significant loss of progressiveness. Shining have always excelled previously because of their unpredictability, that one thing that really makes a band stand out. True, given their roots purely as a jazz band, it would be churlish to say they didn’t switch again to a more straightforward style unconsciously –but without question its this that holds ‘One One One’ from being a great album, rather than just a good album.

Still, I would still recommend people to check out this record, and Shining fans shouldn’t balk entirely – not many bands can go down this route and still sound fantastic at what they do, and if anything, Shining are now catchier than ever. I first heard ‘I Won’t Forget’ a couple of weeks back and its still in my head now. A true mark of a band people should remember. But I’m willing to bet more people will commiserate, rather than celebrate Shining escaping the proverbial lunatic asylum – albeit on a leash.

Peter Clegg

Shining – I Won’t Forget

Buy/download ‘One One One’ here (MP3/FLAC)

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Live Review: Dope Body @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 23/09/2012

w/ Blacklisters, Fawn Spots + Two Trick Horse

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It feels as though I’ve been the only one counting down the weeks and days to seeing Baltimore, Maryland’s Dope Body hit these shores, aside from the PR company who brought them to my attention. Their latest album ‘Natural History‘ is one of the standout albums of the year, but you’d be hard pressed to find it making waves in many other places apart from right here, and indeed the turnout for this gig is moderate at best. No one can blame the Brudenell Social Club, who are always bringing over scores of alternative acts and putting on some of the best shows in the city of Leeds. They haven’t won a bunch of awards for nothing. Still, I feel like Dope Body are a sleeper band of sorts, waiting for the day the wider press wakes them up. I suspect that they don’t care for popularity – tell me guys if I’m wrong – but in a weird way it feels like some sort of dark secret waiting to be revealed.

Me and my brother-in-law arrive around halfway through Two Trick Horse‘s set, swigging our beer as they crank out one crunching riff after another. The noise trio don’t manage to get many people off the comfy seats at the front of the venue, but it turns out to be a bit of a shame, as they juxtapose between riffs excellently, angling through songs as much as their flexible bassist, who could probably trump anyone in a limbo contest. Still, they become my new discovery of the day, and it’s to be hoped they can be a bigger part in this new wave of noise rock bands that seem to be emerging.

By contrast, York trio Fawn Spots seem a little more awkward, initially overcoming one or two technical glitches to ramble through a set that’s at times part upbeat indie rock and part post-hardcore without the rage. Not my cup of tea but there’s definitely room for these guys to develop their potential, depending on which side of the fence they fall upon.

I really, really want to like Blacklisters, I really do. Their unhinged racket makes for some of the best heavy music Leeds has to offer, but tonight they’re on home turf and that ends up with the singer basically dicking around between songs too much. He says they wouldn’t play ‘Trickfuck’ because ‘everything knows how it goes, everyone goes mental…‘ etc. I suspect really its cos they overran their set. When they do crank out songs like ‘Mouthpiece’ and new track ‘The Bully’ they are truly a force, their vocalist being suitably imposing and sneery, but the constant banter ruins any attempt at continuity, which is what you’d want if you want a band like this to cave your head in. Maybe next time, in a venue they can’t quite call home.

Still, all these events conspire so that by the time tonight’s headliners hit the floor, I’m already thinking about that last train home. There’s time to bear witness to two of ‘Natural History‘s finest cuts: a cracking opening salvo of ‘Weird Mirror’, starting with its bleeps and bloops before taking us on a kaliedoscopic rock journey; and ‘Road Dog’. Vocalist Andrew Laumann appearing like the bastard lovechild of Iggy Pop and Alex Zane, seemingly feeling every convulsion that rumbles through the floor, twisting like a python and going fucking mental when required, i.e. at all times. Zachary Utz is also a dab hand at guitar, firing off a seering, joyous solo during ‘Road Dog’. Alas, we can’t really continue the experience beyond the third song (a number I’m honest enough to say I couldn’t identify), and leave as the opening, brooding strains of ‘Out of my Mind’ enter the fray.

It was a decent turnout if disappointing nowhere near a sellout. Fair enough, the Brudenell isn’t the easiest place to get to on a Tuesday night, but I’m still scratching my head at why the wider UK rock press haven’t picked up on Dope Body yet. Are they too hipster, or something? Sure, they don’t all dress like the hardest rocking band, but why should that matter? Their appeal stretches wider than the confines of their current popularity. I’m sure if they can keep producing records like ‘Natural History‘ the penny will drop for us here in the UK. Irrespective of that, hopefully Dope Body’s return to these will be more well received next time. If they can party out like that all night, I’m pretty sure we owe it to them to do the same.

Peter Clegg

TWO TRICK HORSE

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FAWN SPOTS

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BLACKLISTERS

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DOPE BODY

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Various Artists – Dumb and Dumber OST

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I should note before going any further that normally, my underrated feature usually only includes specific songs or albums that I feel warrant further recognition – a full list follows at the bottom of this feature. So this is the first time I’ve actually selected a film’s soundtrack for inclusion in this series. Maybe its because this film was a part of my growing up that I hold it in high regard. The same is becoming of its soundtrack. I know soundtracks don’t get recognition unless they’re absolutely bombastic and nominated for an Oscar. A mishmash of alternative rock and mainstream pop, some of which is tinged with the dreaded ‘N’ word – novelty – ought to disappear into bargain bins and forgotten consciousnesses everywhere. Yet somehow, the soundtrack to the 1994 comedy movie ‘Dumb & Dumber’ is remarkably resilient. Or at least it is in my mind.

Just recently, the Pete Droge song ‘If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Kill Myself)’ entered my head for no apparent reason other than recall. It floated around for a few days until I finally decided to check it out on YouTube. I began to realise that the Dumb and Dumber OST (RCA, 1994) appeared to be aging remarkably well. Off the back of that, I checked out the Gigolo Aunts’ ‘Where I Find My Heaven’, whose video took various clips from the film, and in which their singer Dave Gibbs looks a lot like Jim Carrey’s character Lloyd Christmas. There’s also a joyous cover of the Smokey Robinson-penned ‘Get Ready’ by The Proclaimers, the bounce of Deadeye Dick’s flash-in-the-pan hit ‘New Age Girl’ and the summery pop-rock of The Primitive’s ‘Crash (’95 mix) – the remix signifying additional guitars that made this particular version of the song, originally recorded in 1988, the standout version.

Gigolo Aunts – Where I Find My Heaven

There are songs I struggle to remember actually hearing in the movie – its been a long time since I watched it – so the soundtrack also features stuff such as a cover of ‘The Hurdy Gurdy Man’ at the B Surfers, who’s messed-up take on the song produced an even more out-there video, and contributions from comedy metallers Green Jelly, one-time Britpop darlings Echobelly, and alt-rockers The Lupins and The Sons (feat. Bret Reilly), among others. There are one or two omissions from the official soundtrack I find slightly regrettable, most notably Nick Cave’s brilliant ‘Red Right Hand’, and the timeless/annoying (depending on your perspective) Crash Test Dummies hit ‘Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm’, which appeared to be dropped in favour of their cover of XTC’s ‘The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead’.

Its true to say as well that the vast number of cover versions and the numerous one-hit wonders it spawned might well make this soundtrack disposable, but it captures an essence about this part of the 90s and indeed the happy-go-lucky nature of the film. Indeed, I’m pleased and thankful enough for a childhood that allowed me absorb films and songs like this before I could fully appreciate their nuances and quirks. Summer might well be over – some may argue it didn’t even happen this year – but this collection is certainly sunshine throughout the year, whichever way you look at it.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘Dumb and Dumber: Official Motion Picture Soundtrack’ here

Also in this series:

The Cult – Nico
Trouble – Manic Frustration
Type O Negative – Red Water (Christmas Mourning)
Aerosmith – Shut Up and Dance
The Wildhearts – Rooting For The Bad Guy
AC/DC – Ain’t No Fun (Waitin’ Round to Be a Millionaire)