Drowned In Sound <3 Bloc Party Best music website in the world™, Drowned In Sound, turns 6 this year, and to celebrate it has named its favourite 66 albums of the last 6 years. Bloc Party's 'Silent Alarm' is at number 3 in the list, behind At The Drive-In's 'Relationship of Command' and Björk's 'Vespertine'.
Here's what DiS has to say about SA:
"It begins with every instrument given a few seconds of sole recognition, with every member of the collective force teasing you and opening door after door ‘til some snake-like tunnel of blinding lights comes alive with the final instrument: the echoey flames of Kele’s voice playing with the various shades of the human condition and the half-thoughts of a generation. From then on in it is all surreal snapshots of crosses on eyes, manifesto slogans, cut ’n’ pasted sound bites from newspapers and the detritus of modern society blending into one resilient mêlée of contradictions of hope and fear.
'Silent Alarm'is notably both the highest placed debut and British album in Our 66. Its success was no accident. It’s an album full of anthems that remind you of falling out of clubs covered in body sweat - some of which is your own. There are those guitars on ‘Positive Tension’ which claw the plastering from historical monuments as-heard-on-The OC, before the strings bend until they're as celestial as mercury. Aside from the radio-friendly dancefloor bass 'n' drums, this album has such added depth in the slower moments with graceful sweeping snowstorm soundscapes as-heard-on-Shipwrecked (‘So Here We Are’). It’s within the quieter moments where the all-over goose bumps raise themselves every single time you return to this album.
Not only is this album the finest debut album of the past six years, it’s also one of the most poignant, with as much glitter as war dust in the corners of its eyes. We can't go any further in talking about this without mentioning Paul Epworth's forward-leaning production: you don't need a degree in sound engineering to feel the textures and emotions this album conjures and pours upon its audience impeccably before begging for repeated inspection. The production suss adds a futuristic feeling to the album and raises the songwriting and the band’s inventiveness to another level. Their success is not measured only in terms of sales but also in the waves of inspiration which this album sent through the intelligentsia, from art scenes to fashion worlds and beyond. This album not only made people post blogs, send ridiculous demanding mail-outs and pick up pens to write amazing things about it but has, we’d imagine, played an integral part in last year being the biggest year for guitar sales ever. And it probably encouraged some haircuts, too.
Where this record truly began was a small band posting on our messageboard, the poster looking for band members; the new four-piece, then called Union, subsequently played at a few DiS nights. The rest is history. Not that this is about bigging ourselves up, and the band’s roots don’t serve to lend bias to this decision at all: this is an amazing debut album which can claim a level of restraint and clarity and still contains a brave vision beyond almost everything else in the list. For every style-over-substance record which the world’s self-imposed bastions of taste may claim is better, and for every indie elitist snob who’d prefer the songs were full of bird noises which never really started who'll somehow claim this is too derivative and for every music fan, there's a melody, a poignant line, a historical monument of a riff, a sweat-dripped drum solo, a head-thrusting bass-line and a graceful ice-cap of a soundscape. There’s even a moment either on TV, at a festival or that thing called Real Life that this record binds itself to like a pearl to its oyster.
If you don’t own and cherish this record already, you know what to do. DiS Bless Bloc Party."
Ever the gentleman, Kele emailed DiS from Japan to say thank you:
"Thank you very much DiS. It's slightly odd receiving plaudits now for 'Silent Alarm', as mentally I am completely over what that record meant to me. It is still flattering though, and I am pleased that it seemed to mean something to you guys as well.
We have just finished our new record and I have been thinking about it obsessively for the last two years. I can not tell you how great it feels to be out of my head on a disc that i can listen to. Silent Alarm was a starting point for Bloc Party, but there is far more that we can do as a band, which I guess you are about to find out."
'Marshals' UK tour pre-sale I've had quite a few of emails about this...the link isn't up yet, but if you sign in to 'Marshals' and scroll down the news, there's a link posted in February 2006 (for the small club tour earlier this year) which still works! I'm not going to post the link here, as there's probably some touts lurking...but it's pretty easy to find.
If anyone fancies a meet-up with other Bloc fans, there's a sign-up sheet on AlwaysNewDepths.com so you can let people know which date(s) you're going to. I think 4 gigs is the record number so far...is anyone hardcore enough to beat that?
edit: the links are up now...good luck getting tickets!
"Our second album will frighten people" So says Mr. Okereke about 'A Weekend In The City', and I'm pretty sure he doesn't mean in the Norwegian black metal sense of the phrase. The new upgraded Bloc are faster, harder and more streamlined, merging influences from all over the musical map to create a collection of songs which, according to the press release, is 'stunning, intense and brilliant'. Here's a few choice cuts from this week's NME interview with Kele about 'AWITC'.
"We wanted to make something that references some of the great contemporary electronic music that's being made without also losing the industrial energy of rock music."
"With 'The Prayer' the idea was to do something interesting with the rhythm. It's got a real, almost crunk feel to it. I know that's probably gonna frighten people, but it's still us."
About 'Song For Clay': "I wanted to try and make something that was a really melodramatic-sounding rock song, almost like a Bond theme. Something that sounded really kind of lush. When it kicks in I think it's going to knock some heads off!"
About 'On': "It's about the lure of drugs, getting drunk and dancing all night. Whenever I hear it, I completely lose myself."
And finally, here's the rather poetic press blurb:
"'A Weekend in The City' is inspired by lead singer Kele Okereke's interest in what he calls 'the living noise of a metropolis'. On 'Weekend...', the band captures every detail, from the ebullient to the mundane, of daily life in a modern city, and the quiet desolation that suffuses everything from commuting to casual sex, from going out on a Friday night to the long ride home in the early hours of the morning. These are songs desperate to understand the meaning that pulses under the moments of our everyday: they are bursting with tension, paranoia, sadness, love and an intense need for reason as to how city life has become so displacing."
So what's the general consensus? Très exciting stuff, non? Or do you not like the sound of this new direction...?
Tickets for the 20-date UK tour go on sale from 'Marshals' at 9am tomorrow morning, and on general sale a day later. Brrrrap! (Sorry, just getting into the crunk mood!)
The Comeback Kids... ...coming to a town near you early next year!
Bloc Party have announced a huge UK tour to mark their return to the spotlight, including a three night residency at London Astoria:
27.01.07 Southampton Guildhall 28.01.07 Norwich UEA 31.01.07 London Astoria 01.02.07 London Astoria 02.02.07 London Astoria 03.02.07 Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall 05.02.07 Reading Hexagon 06.02.07 Cardiff University 07.02.07 Bristol Carling Academy 09.02.07 Exeter University Great Hall 10.02.07 Birmingham Carling Academy 11.02.07 Nottingham Rock City 13.02.07 Cambridge Corn Exchange 14.02.07 Manchester Academy 16.02.07 Dublin Ambassador 17.02.07 Glasgow Barrowlands 18.02.07 Aberdeen Music Hall 20.02.07 Edinburgh Corn Exchange 21.02.07 Newcastle Carling Academy 22.02.07 Sheffield Octagon
Tickets will be go on sale from the usual outlets at 9am this Friday (27.10.06), so get up bright and early to beat the eBay touts. Anyone who can guess the support bands wins a hearty slap on the back and title of 'Best Support Band Guesser'.
edit: members of 'Marshals' can get hold of their tickets a day earlier, from 9am on Thursday October 26th.
A date for your diaries... Details of the new album are starting to trickle in! According to the HMV website, the new Bloc LP will be released on Monday February 5th 2007 (or probably February 6th if you live across the pond). No official announcements yet, but I expect there'll be some sort of press release soon...
Climate change...the Price of Gasoline First off, apologies for the lack of Bloc Party in this post. I try to keep posts on non-Bloc subjects to a minimum, but this is something which I think warrants a mention!
Remember, remember the 4th of November...a huge event called 'I Count' is happening in London on Saturday 4th November which hopes to make a bigger bang than Bonfire Night the following evening. There'll be street bands, entertainment, films and speakers from 1pm - 3pm in Trafalgar Square, and various marches throughout the day. The event will bring together thousands of people who care about the precarious state of our planet, with the aim of applying some serious political pressure.
This will all take place on the eve of critical international climate talks in Nairobi, Kenya. And just over a week later, it is hoped that the Queen will announce the introduction of a climate change bill. This could make year-on-year cuts in carbon dioxide - which is the main cause of climate change.
You don't have to be a global warming expert to turn up, or a tree-hugging hippie...just come as you are and bring your family and friends along for a day out in London. Hopefully see you there! The I Count website has much more information.
In related news, Bloc Party have recently earned some green points by being one of the first bands to make use of Europe's first solar powered recording studio, The Premises. "The idea of a solar powered studio has certainly raised a few eyebrows," says studio director Nathan Hale, "but it works brilliantly. We've been doing dry runs with bands like Bloc Party and the audio quality is phenomenal."
Finally (congratulations for reading this far), 'Wait A Minute' is currently being streamed on the YCNI:M MySpace page. You can also watch the video here (created by Type2error, the genius production team behind Bloc Party's original 'Helicopter' video).
One for the hardcore collector... Kele Okereke has lent his weight to this year’s Pitney Bowes Pushing the Envelope campaign in aid of literacy charities across the globe.
This campaign invites celebrities to design an envelope - all of which are one-off original works of art. These envelopes are currently being auctioned on eBay, with the amount raised in each country going towards the chosen local literacy charity. In the UK, this charity is the National Literacy Trust.
You can bid for Kele's envelope (shown below) here.
BlocParty.net comes top 10...you all rule BlocParty.net has come a very respectable 7th in the 'Best Unofficial Site' category at this year's BT Digital Music Awards, placing it at number 19 in the 'Top 200 Music Sites' overall (which includes both official and unofficial sites). I'm really chuffed with this, especially considering the relatively small fanbase of Bloc Party compared to some of the other bands up there (Radiohead, Madonna, Muse, etc...) and also the lack of Bloc activity at the moment. Many thanks to everyone who voted (and voted, and voted)! The full top 200 list is here.
Next month, Bloc Party visit Japan for the first time this year, travelling to the bright lights of Tokyo to play a special gig at UNIT. Tickets for this one-off show on Thursday 2nd November go on sale this coming Saturday. There's some more information here.
A warning to any readers in Japan...Bloc Party are known to have a bit of a thing for Japanese karaoke, so be prepared to hear Gordy's rendition of Eminem's 'The Real Slim Shady'. You may even find Russell taking up the microphone if he's quaffed enough Sapporo!
Photo below taken by Russell in Japan last year. (Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson just out of shot!)
'Wait A Minute' vinyl and download single out today! A new epidemic has recently broken out amongst indie music fans across the world. Hastily named 'Bloc-Party-go-AWOL-itis', the disease is brought on by a lack of new Bloc Party music and uncertainty in the release date of the band's second album. Symptoms include Bloc Party related nightmares, usually involving the band splitting up, and the love of poor quality gig bootlegs.
One cure for this ailment is the aural intake of a 'Silent Alarm' tablet, to be taken at least once daily at loud volume and preferably whilst dancing. However, a new fast, effective pain relief has also emerged...music created by a Bloc Party individual, such as the new 'Wait A Minute' track by The League Of International Super Best Friends.
This single, taken from Yourcodenameis:Milo's forthcoming sessions album, is out today on limited edition 7" vinyl and download only. Mr. Gordon Moakes supplies the (rather funky) bassline and YCNI:M contribute the remaining instrumentation. The track could almost be a lost Bloc Party song, containing shades of 'Price of Gasoline' and driven by a Tong-esque military drumbeat.
The vinyl is limited to just 1000 copies, so your best bet of getting hold of the song is either from eBay, or a download service such as 7 Digital. You can listen to a sample here.