Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cataclysmic Music Review: Bastille, Capital Cities, Matt Nathanson

I am long overdue for a music feature, so I'd like to share a few albums with you: Haunt (EP) by Bastille, In A Tidal Wave of Mystery by Capital Cities, and Last of the Great Pretenders by Matt Nathanson. It's a long time since I first heard these bands and many months since I bought the albums, but I originally heard them around the same time and the three radio-play songs have a similar theme. It must be a sign. Let's start with one you probably all know by now from Bastille.

So . . . you know how some songs you have to listen to a few times (sometimes many times) before you realize how good they are and then you really like it? That didn't happen with this song. I LOVED it the first time I heard it and had to find out who it was. Once I found out, I checked out my local record store but nobody there had heard of them (or Capitol Cities for that matter.) I finally found the EP (four songs) at Amoeba in San Francisco as well as the other two albums. Yay Amoeba! Boo Rasputin.

Now, if you are in England or Europe, you're probably thinking, "Silly person in America. Bastille has been around for quite a while." Yes it has, but whenever I mention them to people I know they say, "Who?" Even my daughter recognized the name of the group but couldn't name any songs. So forgive me if I state the obvious here. Bastille are fantastic. Pompeii is one of those songs I catch myself singing all the time. While Dan Smith (lead singer, songwriter) has a distinctive sound and style of his own, the band most closely reminds me of Coldplay (in a good way) especially on the track Overjoyed.

The full double album, All This Bad Blood (25 tracks), is out now which I ordered but haven't received yet, so I may do another feature on it.

The second band, Capital Cities from Los Angeles, released their debut album in June of this year. So it surprised me greatly to find out that the song Safe and Sound actually debuted in 2011. Considering I listen to alternative radio stations in the Bay Area, I'm amazed I hadn't heard it before. What's up with that? Anyway, I've already used this video once way back in April, but I'll use it again gladly!

Their second single, Kangaroo Court, is much less impressive to me. The Casio VL Tone (yes, we had one) is slightly nostalgic but ultimately annoying and the song has little more substance than that. In fact, a lot of the patches are evocative of the seventies and early eighties and most of the tracks on the album sound neo-disco (plus heavy use of vocaloid, of which I'm not really a fan). The tracks are great for working out or dancing to, but I get tired of the relentless poppiness. That's not to say I don't like them, but . . . small doses. I prefer Tell Me How To Live, it sounds like a mixture of The Bee Gees and Barry White (which is funny because they did a cover of Stayin' Alive). And I really love Chasing You (except for the unnecessary addition of the F word.) Unfortunately there are no official videos for those songs. Here's a static video of Tell Me How To Live.

Last of the Great Pretenders is Matt Nathanson's tenth album and is full of great songs, though with most including profanity or very provocative lyrics, they are definitely on the adult side. The track I heard first and, like Pompeii, loved it the first time I heard it, is Mission Bells. It's a mix of melancholy lyrics, a smooth shuffly rhythm, and a killer hooky chorus. The video is brilliant too, playing on the lyric, "At the end of a Hitchcock movie, a little dark and a lot confusing." It's done like a black and white Alfred Hitchcock style movie, with great San Francisco locations and representations of some of Hitchcock's best known movies. I counted four I'm sure about, but I'm also sure there are more. I'll list the ones I found at the end of this post. If you found more I'd love to know. And no, I didn't cheat!

So there you have it: a volcanic eruption, a vague, unnamed apocalyptic event, and a mysterious death. It's a little creepy how happy these songs make me.

The Hitchcock movies I recognize in the Mission Bells video: Psycho, Vertigo, The Birds, Rear Window. There are a couple of others I'm not sure of. Do you see any others?

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister Journals info and excerpts at the book's website here:

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at

Note: All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2013 to China Blue Publishing.

No comments:

Post a Comment