Tag Archives: Glasvegas

Glasvegas ‘EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\’ Review

15 Apr

I should have predicted that the new Glasvgeas album would be rubbish, afterall the early signs weren’t good.  First there’s the title – ‘EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK\\\’ – (I will not be saying that again believe me), then there’s the fact it’s been produced by Flood, a man who seems to destroy all that he touches (see my recent reviews of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart or The View for more in that vein). Then there are all the bizarre stories circulating about the band – the fights, the overdoses, the relocation to Los Angeles etc. And what is with lead singer James’s decision to wear white and only white? Has he lost all self-awareness?!

The band’s debut hasn’t dated well; in many ways Glasvegas were carried through 2008 on the strength of their first two singles, as exciting and revelatory as anything released that year or any other last decade. Those two songs (and a couple more moments of semi-genius) made you overlook the blandness, and occasional awfulness, of some of the other tracks. The album, whilst very well recieved at the time, was let down by a stadium sized production that didn’t cater to the band’s needs. As time rolled on I started to suspect that those early singles may have been flukes and unfortunately this new album has confirmed that. There isn’t one ‘Daddy’s Gone’ on here, nothing that even comes close.

There’s so much wrong with the record that it’s hard to know where to begin,  but the main thing, the most damning thing, is that its soooooooooo boring. There is no energy, no spikes of emotion or attitude, no shift in tempo – nothing to make your ears prick up. The band obviously have their eyes on U2 (hence Flood producing) but they just don’t have the tunes to back up their bravado. ‘Shine Like The Stars’, ‘You’ and ‘Euphoria Take My Hand’ achieve the same monotone vaugness that U2 strive for thanks to heavy handed, all-inclusive lyrics but fail to provide the hooks and massive choruses. First single ‘The World Is Yours’ comes closest but it’s still an epic fail. befitting of this extravagance, the songs feel like they’re never going to end – listening to ‘Shine Like Stars’ reminded me of watching Pirates of the Caribbean 3 – at one point I thought ‘thank god we’re near the end’  but it turned out it wasn’t even halfway through.

I’d like to know what happened to the socially aware, observational lyricist who penned ‘Flowers and Football Tops’. There is nothing to grip onto here, no emotional resonance, no stories worth listening to. On their debut when James sang about Geraldine, a caring nurse from his hometown, you believed in the character and the song meant something because of it, but here when James puts himself into other people’s shoes it sounds fake and insincere. He gets closer to conveying something on a couple of the slower songs (‘Lots Sometimes’ and ‘Whatever Gets You Through the Night’) but he rarely sounds comfortable.

You know what, I’m not even going to waste anymore of my time telling you why this is a bad album, I’m going to let the song titles do the talking. ‘Pain, Pain, Never Again’, ‘The World is Yours’, ‘Stronger than Dirt: Homosexuality part two’, ‘I Feel Wrong: Homosexuality part one’. Let me just repeat that one for you – ‘I Feel Wrong: Homosexuality part one’.  Enough said.

This album with that title verges on being a big budget, backfiring disaster, and the fact that it’s dropped out of the top 40 after only two weeks suggest that for all the stadium sized bombast, Glasvegas have failed to translate their sound to a wide audience. I’d love to say it’s a shame but honestly the public aren’t missing anything. Glasvegas worked best in tiny venues with the crowd chanting back ‘here we fucking go’, they worked best when they sang small town tales about real life issues, they worked best when they were aiming big but dealing with no budget, rubbish instruments and Scottish weather. Next time how about more Glasgow and less Vegas?


Christmas albums

14 Dec

It’s that time of year when we get out our favourite christmas records that fill our hearts with festive cheer, so I thought I would compile a list of the most essential Xmas records.

A Christmas Gif For You by Phil Spector and Artists

Perhaps the most essential of all Christmas albums, this transcends the time of year and is a classic in pop production. This Is also Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s favourite ever album, and the one that inspired Pet Sounds.

Elvis’s Christmas album / Elvis sings the Wonderful World of Christmas

However strange this might seem, Elvis’s first Christmas record is arguably his best studio album. It captures the rock and roll zest that made his early singles so great, the gospel songs that still ring as his most sincere and the ott ballads that would dominate his later career. He really rocks out on classic songs such as ‘Blue Christmas’ and ‘Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me.’ The 70’s follow up is nowhere near as good but there are still a few must listens that you won’t find anywhere else such as ‘Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees’.

Christmas with the Beach Boys

Perhaps The Beach Boys Christmas album is not the masterpiece it could have been, there is nothing to match Little Saint Nick or anything to rival Phil Spector’s work. Nonetheless this contains some real gems that ar given the BB treatment.

The Jackson Five Christmas Album

The obvious songs were given the bubblegum treatment by Michael and his brothers which produced mixed results. When it worked it worked well though as demonstrated by this fantastic version of Frosty The Snowman,

A Merry Christmas with Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters

Bing arguably sung the greatest christmas song (White Christmas) and his voice is complimented perfectly by that of the Andrew Sisters.  A traditional classic.

The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole had one of the all time best voices, and with The Christmas Song he had one of the best songs. The album of the same name features Nat doing all the standards in his silky sweet manner.

Songs for Christmas by Sufjan Stevens

This collection of five eps was a great present as it came with some brilliant gifts. As well as the brilliantly packaged cds it came with a booklet of lyrics, chords, a comic, a poster a music video and all packaged in a wonderful box. The songs were just as festive and fun, a mixture of his own humourous material and classic hymns.

A Christmas Album By Bright Eyes

Unlike Sufjan Bright Eyes kept entirely to the standards but he gave them his own unique spin and a modern upgrade. His voice brilliantly complimented the traditional material.

A Snowflake Fell and It Felt Like A Kiss by Glasvegas

an attempt to recreate past glories of Phil Spector, this was a noble album that aimed to create something atmospheric and fresh. Miserable, yes, but stirring at the same time.

Christmas In the Heart By Bob Dylan

Critics have been strangely cynical about Dylan’s most recent album, forgetting perhaps that this is a born against christian that presents an oldies radio show. They may have been expecting something more radical or mote traditional Bob, but what they got was even better. I can’t remember anyone treating the classics so lovingly in recent times.

A Muppets Christmas Carol Soundtrack

The best adaptation of A Christmas Carol had a brilliant soundtrack. It may be the muppets and Sir Michael Cane but the songs are so catchy and christmasy that anyone could be singing them and it would still be brilliant.

Santa Claus The Movie Soundtrack

One of my favourite ever albums, this is hard to track down as it was never issued on cd but the movie is available everywhere and the songs are youtube. So atmospheric, so christmasy and so joyous, this is a christmas album for the entire family that provides a unique listening experience.

Now Thats What I Call XMAS!

If like me you will never get bored of the many songs that are constantly played at this time of year, then this collection is the best place to start. It collects all the obvious christmas number ones, and it is great for parties. Slade, Wham, Shakin Stevens, Wizzard, The Darkness – They’re all here.