20 October 2010

Catching up with The Hotrats and 65daysofstatic

First off, our apologies for missing a Tuesday … things have just been hectic.

Not long ago SDM commented about the need to “catch up” on albums that were not written about. So I looked through my collection and found two albums I really liked. One is a first for the SlowdiveMusic Blog: a cover album. And to follow SDM’s lead, I will not belabor these, as many of you may have heard these already, but I/we wanted them represented here. Hope you enjoy!

The Hotrats: “Turn Ons” (above)
65daysofstatic: “We Were Exploding Anyway” (below)

The Hotrats “Turn Ons”

The Hotrats are a cover band started by Gaz Coombies and Danny Goffey, who were also members of Supergrass. Originally tagged as a side-project, with this year’s release of “Turn Ons” (23 December 2009 in Japan, 19 January 2010 US, 25 January 2010 UK), they have released a minimalist collection of covers of some of the most influential names in music: The Beastie Boys, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, The Cure, The Doors, Gang of Four, The Kinks, Lou Reed/The Velvet Underground, Roxy Music, Sex Pistols, and Squeeze. (The iTune bonus tracks are covers by The Beat and The Pet Shop Boys.)

Okay, I am going to admit it: I am a huge Cure fan – and I am not in my 30s, 40s, or 50s! I had to listen to “The Lovecats” right away – a song written before I was born! And though no cover of The Cure will ever replace the original to me, I have to say that their rendition of “Lovecats” was on the money. Though not a straight cover (no piano or horns), the band captured the essence of the song: fun but claustophobic. By the way, getting rid of the piano for a guitar, though not a new concept, really gave the song a new, vibrant feel and again proves how The Cure’s songwriting is timeless.

Soon as I heard Hotrats version of “Queen Bitch,” originally sang by the one and only David Bowie, for a split second, I had thought it was David Bowie I was listening to – an alternate track maybe? One with a grittier, but more poppy and inviting feel to the song. All I can say to Hotrats is “Bravo” for taking a great song and updating it without damaging its integrity.

As long as the majority of indie and electro bands are releasing music that imitates the past, why not just reproduce the originals with a twist? A great album, with familiar songs, that will get you to sing along with them. And now that Supergrass is no longer together, who knows, we may just hear from the Hotrats again soon.

Track Listing:
1. I Can’t Stand It
2. Big Sky
3. The Crystal Ship
4. (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)
5. Damaged Goods
6. Love Is the Drug
7. Bike
8. Pumped It Up
9. The Lovecats
10. Queen Bitch
11. E.M.I.
12. Up the Junction
13. Mirror in the Bathroom, iTunes bonus track
14. West End Girls, iTunes bonus track

Keep up with The Hotrats at their homepage, MySpace, and Facebook.

Here are their videos for “I Can’t Stand It” and “Damaged Good” from their YouTube Channel: TheHotRats.

65daysofstatic: “We Were Exploding Anyway”

Okay, I admitted I am a huge fan of The Cure, so in 2008 I went to Madison Square Garden to see them play – I had never seen them live before. Amazing… simply amazing… three hour long concert, whirling through new and old music, singles and non-singles, pop ditties and epics… everything about the set, the lights and projections, were perfect. And so was the choice of opening band. This was the first time I had heard of 65daysofstatic. (To my friend who wondered why The Cure would pick 65days as an opening band … get over it.)

I am not usually a fan of instrumental bands, but there was something a tad different about this band. Like The Cure, their songs are able to carry two distinct emotions and cause two different reactions in a listener – sometimes at the same time! You feel an urge to do something, whether stand up and pace or run and shout, but at the same time, you feel calm, in a cathartic way.

Sometimes I find it hard to find an instrumental band that can move you in any which way it will want to take you, probably because, like so many people, I really personalize lyrics. (This is where fans of post-rock and real house music have an edge over other fans of modern music; they can appreciate music without lyrics on a visceral level.) But, after “discovering” 65daysofstatic, I am really starting to find myself getting attached to music, not just lyrics. “Dance Dance Dance” is one of those tracks that are really moving me. Within the first minute or so, you get this sort of classic, very simple vibe with some soft electronic tones thrown in, then all of a sudden you are hit with this wall of music, that is almost oppressive but makes you want to get up and, well, dance. And while this wall of music is hitting you, you have a keyboard playing softer and notable, which was a nice added bonus, which lead into a sort of orgasmic collaboration of everything that was played within the track. Simply put, phenomenal!

When I was listening to “Come to Me,” I was completely absorbed into the track; the multilayered music just enwraps you in a way you can’t resist. And then a voice, which surprised me for two reasons: first, there was a singer? Second, it was Robert Smith! Imagine, I was sitting there, having listened to almost half of the album already, and there were no voices in the previous songs; but that voice is unmistakable. It was indeed Robert Smith.

And when you can attract the likes of Robert Smith to come into a studio and perform in one of your original songs, then you must be producing something of quality. And that is exactly what “We Were Exploding Anyway” is – high quality, amazing arrangements, ingenious songwriting, and 65daysofstatic at their best.

Track Listing:
1. Mountainhead
2. Crash Tactics
3. Dance Dance Dance
4. Piano Fights
5. Weak4
6. Come to Me
7. Go Complex
8. Debutante
9. Tiger Girl
10. Sawtooth Rising

Keep up with 65daysofstatic at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is “Crash Tactics” live from their Viemo Channel: 65daysofstatic.

Crash Tactics Live from 65daysofstatic on Vimeo.

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