July 29, 2009

Album Review - 1990s

BAND NAME: 1990s


LABEL: Rough Trade


RATING: 7/10

In today’s society, the record industry depends on the sales of singles and compilations. This is why albums that play well from start to finish, are very rare.

Thank God that Glasgow’s 3-piece Indie rock outfit: 1990s, still know what it takes to produce a record that is not dependent on commercial radio overplaying one track.

After listening to 1990s’ second album, Kicks, I had a very satisfied feeling in my stomach: comparable to that of a delicious meal, or a job well done. A pleasing notion, knowing that the last 40 minutes of my life were spent engulfed in musical progression rather than the increasingly more common feeling of having wasted time enduring mindless pop-ballads.      

With that said, 1990s sure aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before. But then again, why reinvent the wheel? The band plays like it’s 1970 and sound like it too. 1990s’ front man Jackie McKeown has a voice that is uncannily familiar. However, the context has been changed so drastically that this recognition is often looked over. Jackie sounds like none-other than punk’s favourite son, Johnny Rotten.

In fact, 1990s draw much of their sound from 70s punk bands, including: Mr. Rotten’s Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned and Buzzcocks.                                               

Yet 1990s take their predecessors’ niche sound, throw in a few well-placed harmonies, some heavy production work, impressive guitar riffs, and thereby make their punk influenced sound, seem, a lot less . . . punk. This is a strength 1990s have, and also a weakness. The band have found mainstream success, but have been accused by many a die-hard punk fan of selling out.                        

Another weakness could be the album’s content, which is offensive to some, and rather hilarious to the rest of us. 1990s sing about getting wasted in Glasgow, chasing women, and then back to getting wasted in Glasgow. Many self-declared critics would say that Kicks is a very simple record. Sure, you could over-analyse Kicks and pull on its many loose threads until it resembles a bare and fairly useless document of our times. But where would that get you? In an age where most bands seem to try and outwit the act before them, it’s kind of nice to be able to listen to a song and not have to pull out the dictionary or ponder the cryptic meaning of every other word.

1990s provided a glimmer of hope for the post-punk revival of the early noughties, after their debut album Cookies was met with extremely critical acclaim. However, after a 2-year hiatus, the band faded from public attention, given that the modern-day consumer’s attention span barely outlasts the life of a common housefly. Though as it turns out, their return is perfectly timed to remind us that our era may not be completely devoid of music that exhibits both versatility and originality.      

1990s manage to cram 70s punk, blues, rock n’ roll and power-pop into one well-formulated package. With impressive vocal work, driving rhythm and infectious melodies, 1990s can be added to the long list of Glasweigan success stories.

July 24, 2009

3 Masked Menaces: The Kong Interview

Kong has taken the music world by storm. Credited as one of the best live acts in the UK, Kong has certainly raised the bar for rock bands everywhere. With the release of their debut album under their belt, I felt the band was ready to answer a few questions regarding Snake Magnet, and their perpetual usage of masks to hide their identities. This is what guitarist and lead vocalist Jon-Lee had to say:

How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?

Me and Lulu grew up in the same town, but didn't speak till we were in our 20's. He was a punk and I was a greaser! Krem and I met on tour. We were always the last 2 awake, taking drugs and listening to Can. 

Many (myself included) have tried to put a label on your music, but your sound seems to defy conventional labeling. How would you describe your sound?

A recent description was a kennel on fire! I like that description, but if you need a tag for your iPod, we are a punk band.

Tell us about your new album Snake Magnet?

Well it was made in 2 days, recorded live in a huge stone house. Snoop Dogg had just been there to record. I guess that influenced the break track on the album, Good Graphics. We huffed a ton of balloons too!


Do you have a favourite song from the album?

I can't listen to the LP, but my favorite to play live is A Hint of Rennit Innit.


Who are your musical influences?

Right now I’m into mariachi rhythms. The Bronx have been teaching me how to play the basic patterns and they are great, but really hard to play…  


Who is your favourite artist (living or dead)?

Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee Ramone


Most overrated band at the moment?

I just saw Lady Gaga at The Academy. It was her first headline show with a band, but I couldn't hear them at all! So I’ll say her band. 


Best band that nobodies ever heard of?

Ox Scapula!!!!!!!


If you could share the stage with anyone, who would it be?

GG Allin


Do you find it hard to find like-minded bands to play with? What bands do you currently like and respect on the UK scene?

I don't think it matters who we play with; we’re always gonna be the square egg. I like a lot of the Leeds’ bands, the Brudenell lot. Bands like that fucking tank and the rest of the squat bands up there. 


What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, 1995, Manchester. He had R/L Burnside and Doo Rag in support. Or, The Bronx in New York City; the first time I saw ‘em I lost my mind, and a shoe in the pit!


Best gig you have ever played?

Our last show at Academy 3 in Manchester was pretty special. But these days it’s any gig that I’m not beat up or bleeding after! 


If you could play anywhere in the world, venue wise, where would you play?

Playboy Mansion, Halloween party! 


What’s your idea of a good time on a Saturday night?

Red wine, Wes Anderson films, females, a hot tub, and a quarter.  


Musical goals as a band? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

I’ll be shocked if we’re all alive at this rate. Lulu just broke his right hand in 3 places, and Krem just got home from Australia only to lose his mind on Meow!   


Why do you wear masks?

Look what happened to Diana!


Finally, what do you love most about music?

Making it from scratch… Improvising. 


Cheers for answering these questions, any last words?

Boys goin' loco!

Thanks to Tom at Brew Records for making this interview happen!

July 1, 2009

Album Review - Kong


LP TITLE: Snake Magnet

LABEL: Brew Records


RATING: 8/10

What's the aural version of a punch delivered straight to the face? The auditory equivalent of a shock to the system? The answer is simple; one word, one syllable.


Before we start, a word of caution. This album is certainly not for the faint hearted.

Manchester based prog-rockers, Kong, don’t give a fuck about making their listeners feel good. In fact, their abrasive, raucous, atonal beats tend to leave you devoid of any feeling at all; you’re simply numbed by the sonic blow.

Their deep and dirty underground sound penetrates the skull with a suffocating blend of psychedelic, grunge and experimental metal.

Between guttural moans and grinding guitar solos, Kong creates completely avant-garde and unorthodox instrumentations; unprecedented in the universe we occupy.

Kong’s alien-inspired music, will break your sanity, blow your mind and shatter your world; but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy every minute of it.

But please, if you suffer from heart problems, epilepsy or are currently pregnant return this record to the shelf.