Why I think The Libs should lay their legacy to bed once and for all.

Carl Barat has given his biggest indication yet that a full Libertines reunion may not be on the cards after all this week. “It’s the end of a chapter for sure for me, tonight a curtain is falling on something,” the Libertines front man said after the first showing of ‘There Are No Innocent Bystanders’ at the East End Film Festival.

Despite this, he hasn’t completely written off any possibility of a future reunion. “Anything is possible again but for me it’s [the film] almost cathartic and I can now move on. If Pete wants to open a dialogue about things creative then so be it but right now I feel quite liberated.”

This will be of great disappointment to Libertines fans after a year of relentless speculation around a full reunion and even talk of a new album. However, as a Libertines fan myself I think Carl might be making the right decision by laying the band and their legacy to bed. Don’t get me wrong, I’d definitely try and get my hands on a ticket if they did reform for a tour but something tells me they should leave it once and for all.

Some of you may have read my reaction to the bands long anticipated return at Reading Festival last August. Despite the predictable 10/10 reviews from NME (to be honest the band could have walked onstage, simultaneously farted into cups, lobbed them into the crowd, wandered off and NME would have still called it ‘the defining of a generation’) and the overwhelming hysteria throughout the music press I was a little disappointed. After falling in love with the Libertines just after their split in 2004, I had eulogised and romanticised about them to such an extent there was almost no way my expectations would be fully met when they were right there in front of my eyes. After spending half of my teenage years watching videos of the band playing backs up against the wall to 100 people at the Rhythm Factory, there was something a little ‘unLibertine’ about churning out stadium versions of Horrorshow and Time For Heroes for me. Maybe it would have been different if they had done an extensive Academy tour but I couldn’t help but be underwhelmed by the whole thing.

The Libertines embodied everything that is brilliant about British rock ‘n’ roll. Their music was chaotic, intelligent and truly magical and the guerrilla gigs, break ins, break ups, make ups made for the best rock ‘n’ roll story of a generation. Part of me thinks that one last extensive tour of mid-sized venues could be the perfect send off however I am inclined to think they should lay it to bed once and for all and let their legacy inspire the next generation of teenagers in the same way they inspired mine.

What do you lot think?

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Glastonbury, one week to go…

With only a week to go, anticipation amongst the Glastonbury faithful is reaching fever pitch. Flashbacks of stone circle sun rises, life-affirming live shows and hours lost wandering from field to field in an elated daze are becoming increasingly vivid as the festival approaches. As anyone who has set foot on Worthy Farm will tell you, Glastonbury is the king of festivals. I am well aware of how irritating it must be for Glasto virgins when having to listen to those like myself bang on about the “magic aura” of the place but those same people have been repeating those sentiments as soon as stepping onto that famous Glastonbury mud.  This will be my forth year at the festival and although it is perhaps not the most exciting line up I have ever seen, it is sure to be as special a weekend as ever on Worthy Farm.

Firstly, as anyone who has been to Glastonbury will tell you, it is so much more than a music festival. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have overheard people saying, “I could not watch one band all weekend and it wouldn’t matter” and I get what they mean. Many of my favourite Glastonbury memories are of lying down in the sun in the Green Fields with a pint of cider, eating some ridiculously overpriced falafel wrap and discussing “how life could be like this if we all pulled together man”, conveniently overlooking the probable outcome of us all ending up in psychiatric units within a week. However,  it is pure escapism and although you will always find the crusty old-timers whinging about ‘the good old days’, for those five days I genuinely do not think there is a better, more beautiful place on the planet. Even if Eavis did decide it’d be a good idea to lob Coldplay and U2 on the same bill.

Secondly, I reckon it is actually a deceptively strong line up. With a few obvious exceptions, the Pyramid Stage could genuinely not be any blander if it tried. However, the other stages have thrown up some really exciting bills and I am going to be spending most of the festival as far from the Pyramid as possible.

Here are a few sets I am getting excited about…

    • Warpaint – (Friday on Park Stage, Saturday on John Peel) – I have been in love with this band for a while now. Their 2010 album The Fool is one of my favourite albums of recent years and the likes of Undertow and Baby are sure to make for the most hypnotically beautiful sets of the weekend.   
    • Robyn – (Sunday on John Peel) – Some of you might think this is an odd one but I don’t think there are many people on the planet that do pop as well as this lady. She is immensely likable and there is a real sincerity and intelligence about everything she does.  I was hoping she was going to be on the bill and Hang With Me and Dancing On My Own are sure to sound amazing bellowed out by thousands on the last night.
    • TV On The Radio – (Sunday on the Other Stage) – Although their recent album isn’t quite the masterpiece I was hoping for still think they are one of the most exciting, forward thinking bands on the planet. Anyone not there to witness the likes of Staring At The SunWolf Like Me and Halfway Home must be missing a screw or two.
    • Beyonce – (Sunday on the Pyramid Stage) – Anyone who isn’t excited about the prospect of Crazy in Love on the Pyramid stage in front of 70,000 people needs to lighten up. I have never seen a pop ‘superstar’ live before and they don’t get much bigger than Beyonce. All the glamour, the light-shows and energy will be the perfect antidote to the two previous headliners. You can put your money on there being some pretty special guests too.
    • Special Guests – (Friday and Saturday on Park Stage)- Emily Eavis has dropped some pretty exciting hints about the special guests on the Park Stage. An act of ‘headliner potential’ has been promised for the Saturday, sparking rumours ranging from Pulp to Arctic Monkeys. I was praying for a Pulp headline slot, so to see them on the Park stage would be beyond belief. Still, Glastonbury rumours rarely materialize. Bon Iver’s second album is released this week and his Park Stage slot in 2009 was widely seen as a highlight of the festival, could a return as Friday’s special guest could be on the cards?

Either way, Shayne Ward and The Darkness could play three hour special guest slots in the torential rain and it still wouldn’t get in the way of the best weekend of the year.

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The Future’s bright, the Future’s Odd.

Unless you have been living in a cave in Papua New Guinea since the turn of the year, you will undoubtedly be aware of Odd Future. They’ve been blogged about to death but for any of you that don’t know much about them, you will soon. Led by Tyler the Creator; an intriguing, intelligent and immensely talented 20 year-old, the LA collective of rappers, producers and skateboarders are causing a mammoth buzz across the hip-hop world. Compared by some to early Wu-Tang and Eminem, they are the best thing to happen to hip-hop in a long time and I can’t remember being this excited by a band in years. There is a big DIY element to the group too as up until very recently they uploaded all their music online for free and their live shows are as chaotic and unpredictable as the music. They have been surrounded by a lot of controversy, with their lyrics baring references to murder, kidnap and rape while the youngest member of the group has been jetted off to a rehabilitation clinic in Samoa by his mother, disgusted by her son’s music. However, anyone letting this get in the way of recognising the genius of Odd Future is missing out big time.

I won’t lie, despite websites like Pitchfork building hype around the group throughout 2010, I only became aware of Odd Future through a friend sending me a link to Tyler’s single ‘Yonkers’ around two months ago. The video is a black and white, single shot of Tyler consuming a cockroach, throwing up and then hanging himself. Shocking for the sake of it you say? Well, just one view of the video illustrates Tyler’s genius as not only a lyricist but as a performer. He is truly captivating and the video is a genuine work of art. The sound is sinister and Tyler’s aggressive delivery fits the grinding instrumental to a tee.  Soon my intrigue turned into devotion.

Odd Future are by no means a one man band however. Perhaps the most talked about and arguably the most talented wordsmith in the group is Earl Sweatshirt, a 17-year old who has been jetted off to the Coral Reef Academy in Samoa by his mother, who was apparently left incensed after hearing his music. With a flow reminiscent of Illmatic era Nas; lyrics full of witty, complex metaphors and an almost hypnotic rhyming ability, we can only imagine what he could achieve if he returns to hip-hop.

The group have faced their fair share of criticism for their references to rape and murder in their music. Although anyone with a brain will recognise that the references are hardly literal accounts of Odd Future’s favourite pastimes sometimes it does leave me feeling a little uneasy. Some of it does seem to be a case of ‘how far can we push this’? Some journalists have argued it is an example of teenage immaturity, which I reckon is too simple an explanation. In an interview last year Tyler said, “I’m not just talking about raping some bitch, it’s a storyline. I’m writing this from the mind of a serial killer thirty years ago who was a white male… why when a black male says it it’s such a big deal?”  Despite this, I can’t help wish they would just tone it down a tad sometimes, I mean is ‘I’m opening a church to sell coke and Led Zeppelin / And fuck Mary in her ass’ shocking for the sake of shocking? Possibly.

However, anyone getting bogged down by any of this too much is missing the point. Every great rapper has faced criticism for lyrical references to violence, sex and drugs in their music and Odd Future have too much talent and self-belief to give a shit. And why should they? They have single-handedly reignited my love for hip-hop and are the coolest, most exciting thing on the planet right now.

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Arctic Monkeys return sounds like the Turner/Homme lovechild I’d hoped for.

Arctic Monkeys have announced the first single off their new album ‘Suck It and See’ this week and it has well and truly reignited my passion for the band. ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair’ indicates a new dark, heavy sound full of swagger and a riff that has been stuck in my head from the second I heard it this morning.

I had lost interest in Arctic Monkeys around the release of their third album, ‘Humbug.’ It is by no means a bad album but they seemed to have lost a lot of the energy of the first two albums when stepping into new territory with a new gloomy, psychedelic sound. I liked the idea of stepping into the realms of the dark and unknown but they just forgot to bring the tunes with them. I was especially disappointed as Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age produced the album, a man responsible for some of the most exciting rock music of the past decade.

However, Homme has revealed he is to feature on the new album and if the first single is anything to go by ‘Suck It and See’ is going to be the Turner/Homme lovechild I imagined when I first heard their names mentioned in the same sentence. Bring it on.

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What’s wrong with a bit of celeb ego massaging if it’s for a good cause?

This week indie socialite/DJ Ronnie Joice put on a Help Japan show along with the backing of the British Red Cross at the Hoxton Pony in east London. The night pulled in a host of well known faces from the music world including DJ sets from Mark Ronson and Calvin Harris and reportedly has raised thousands of pounds. Good night, lots of money raised. Good thing, right?

Well apparently not. Over the week I have heard a fair few people criticising Joice and his inner circle of the indie elite for putting on the show, claiming it serves no purpose other than as an opportunity for a bit of celebrity ego massaging. There have been other unfounded claims that the money will not actually make it to the people of Japan and that it is just a waste of time.

Now, call me naive but I think these claims are frankly ridiculous. Firstly, the gig was put on along with the help of the British Red Cross and therefore I imagine there are procedures already in place to make sure the money goes in the right direction. I have no reason to think otherwise. Secondly, who are these people to judge somebody for actually going out out of their way to try and do something worthwhile? Maybe a little part of it is so people can get to be seen sipping champagne with some well known faces and to get the ego massaged a little bit but in my book, it’s a lot more worthwhile than sitting on your arse being endlessly cynical about things like this all day long.

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The Strokes return only highlights the need for a band to do what they did ten years ago.

So, after five years of busts ups, near break ups, drug problems and solo projects, The Strokes let ‘Angles’ out into the big wide world this week. The prognosis was hardly great. Guitarist, Nick Valensi recently said making the album “was just awful” with large parts of it recorded separately as members of the band were gallivanting off on their solo ventures. However, we all waited with baited breath as news of a release date was announced in January, this is The Strokes we are talking about after all – a band whose debut ‘Is This It’ essentially defined a generation and led to a decade of copy-cat cast off’s while second and third albums ‘Room On Fire’ and ‘First Impressions of Earth’ both received resounding plaudits.

Then came along ‘Angles’ first single ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’. A drab, monotonous, rather frustrating track with a video so naff I had to watch the ‘Someday’ video to remind me I wasn’t just mistaken and they were once the epitome of cool. It’s a track that wouldn’t have made it as a B-Side to ’12:51’ let alone ‘Last Nite’ or ‘New York City Cops’. It’s like they’d taken the sound of the first two records, sapped all the excitement and fun out of it, thought “sod it, that’ll do” and lobbed it to their record company. To be honest, it set a pretty accurate tone for the album in general. The first track ‘Machu Picchu’ takes off where Julian’s 80’s-influenced synth solo album ended, this time with a slight tinge of ska thrown in. Julian’s vocals are not what they were either on tracks like this either; his crooning just grates where his growls used to excite. Where he used to sound effortless he now sounds like he can’t be arsed. There are parts of the album that work, ‘Taken For a Fool’ and the intro of ‘Two Kings of Happiness’ are a bit better than bearable but it is generally incoherent, sterile and about as exciting as a daytrip to B&Q.

The whole time I was listening to ‘Angles’ I had to stop myself just banging on ‘Is This It’. After so much hype around the return of The Strokes and the subsequent disappointment, I think this proves that more than ever, we are desperate need of a band to come along and do exactly what they did ten years ago. This, along with the demise of The White Stripes and Kings of Leon deciding to lob their integrity out the window for a bit of extra dollar has left a massive hole for someone to come in and shake things up just as they did in 2001.

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You can’t have U2 and Coldplay on the same bill. You just can’t.

So, it has finally been confirmed this week, U2 will headline Glastonbury 2011 alongside Coldplay and Beyonce. Personally, I am a little underwhelmed to say the least. Beyonce is excluded from the next couple of paragraphs; I’ll get to her in a minute. But Coldplay and U2? We have heard of rumours of Prince, The Stones, Pulp, The Strokes amongst many others all year and what do we end up with? A Q magazine reader’s wet dream.

I don’t have a problem with U2 or Coldplay. In fact, secretly I quite like both of them, especially their early work. I can’t think of many albums with an opening four tracks as epic and beautiful as U2’s 1984 masterpiece ‘The Joshua Tree’. I fail to see how anyone with ears cannot appreciate the likes of ‘With Or Without You’, ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ and ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For’. Even thinking about those tracks is now making me second guess where I am going with this blog post, they are undeniable classics. However, since the early 90’s U2 have descended into the realms of naff, Dad-rock God’s. Where Bono was once enigmatic and exciting, he is now dull and irritating – their recent work more recognisable to my generation as a preamble to Des Lynam in those very dark years when ITV bought the right’s to Premiership highlights.

As for Coldplay, they’re good at what they do. They headlined the first festival I ever went to in 2006 at the Isle of Wight and put on a good show. Their music is inoffensive (although many would dispute that) and there is the odd moment of brilliance. They’re better than Snow Patrol but nowhere near the level of someone like Radiohead. The better end of middle of the road – natural descendents of U2.

That is why I felt letdown by Michael Eavis’s decision to have these two bands headlining. It’s soft-rock overload. I would have been up for a bit of U2, but Coldplay headlining for the third time in less than a decade is just too much. After Jay-Z’s triumphant headlining slot three years ago I thought Eavis was going to start taking a few risks, this couldn’t be safer if it tried.

Beyonce on the other hand will be a real spectacle. Anyone who isn’t excited about the prospect of ‘Crazy in Love’ on the Pyramid stage in front of 70,000 people needs to lighten up. I have never seen a pop ‘superstar’ live before and they don’t get much bigger than Beyonce. All the glamour, the light-shows and energy will be the perfect antidote to the two previous nights. You can put your money on there being some pretty special guests too.

Anyway, anyone who has been to Glastonbury knows it is about so much more than the headliners. With the likes of Janelle Monae and Warpaint amongst the twenty or so initial confirmations this week, there will be no shortage of top music over the weekend. Just less dad-rock next year please Mr Eavis.

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