"Now what do we do to find a way to really resist the stuff that is destroying the planet, that’s causing working people’s lives to be worse than their parents’ were? Poverty and hunger kill more people than anything else on the planet and they are human-made problems. Those are the things that we need to be digging into, rather than being sidetracked by this carnival barker bullshit" - Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello said in a Guardian interview. When asked about the events of 6 January he said "we came within a baby’s breath of a fascist coup in this country", adding "interestingly, one of my dreams has always been to storm the Capitol, but not with a bunch of all-white, rightwing terrorists, you know? The ugliest part about it is how they have co-opted the idea of standing against the Man, at least in the US".

"A dense, kaleidoscopic album that might take a lot of time to fully unpick" - Alexis Petridis reviews 'Call Me If You Get Lost' by the California rapper (gave if 5 of 5 stars). Vulture likes "gorgeous sonics, well-placed samples, and entertaining sparring with guests rappers and singers", whereas Stereogum says Tyler, Creator has "given the genre one of its most vital adoring tributes in recent memory". Consequence says simply 'Call Me...' "might be the best hip-hop album of 2021".

"Listening to 'Blue Weekend', you’re struck by an appealing sense of everything clicking into place" - Alexis Petridis writes reviewing the third album by the London indie-rock quartet Wolf Alice (gave if 5 of 5 stars). Brooklyn Vegan writer Erin Christie says "the trance I surrendered to is directly emblematic of the power of a band like Wolf Alice: they completely take your brain hostage as you enter their world". NME hears a "stone-cold masterpiece that further cements their place at the very peak of British music", whereas Sputnik Music calls it "one of those albums that qualifies as an event". 

A great article by Alexis Petridis about Pino Palladino, one of the world’s most celebrated bass players who has worked with Adele, Elton John, the Who, D’Angelo, Ed Sheeran, and many more, who is releasing his first solo album, a collaboration with Blake Mills. Welsh musician lives in California now - "Film and music studios are considered essential to the economy here – you’ve got to love that, right?. Mind you, that’s better than Britain telling you if you’re a musician or an artist you might have to look for a new job".

"The style Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo minted on their 1997 debut album Homework – house music heavy on the filter effect, which involved the bass or treble on the track gradually fading in and out, mimicking a DJ playing with the equalisation on a mixer; drums treated with sidechain compression, so that the beats appeared to punch through the sound, causing everything else on the track to momentarily recede – is now part of pop’s lingua franca" - Guardian's Alexis Petridis argues in his article.

November 12, 2020

Pa Salieu - "next big UK star"

Both the NME and Guardian's Alexis Petridis expect British-Gambian rapper Pa Salieu to be the next UK star. He combines afroswing, dancehall and UK road-rap, in "refreshingly original and inventive" way, very clubby, yet dark. Petridis calls Pa Salieu "Britain’s hottest new rapper", and his debut mixtape "smart, original, raw".

Guardian critics admit mistakes they made years ago reviewing music, that they now realize is waaay better than they originally thought. Alexis Petridis misjudged Daft Punk's 'Discovery' - "my review, on the other hand, has not aged so well", while Phil Harrison had a Slayer-revelation - "As a teen Smiths obsessive, I had been a bit of a snob about metal’s neck-breaking, big-shorted charms. That lasted until my late 30s, when I accidentally encountered Slayer at a festival. Within moments of their first howled, blasted, faster-than-hardcore notes, I was like: 'Holy mother of SATAN, this is incredible. Why did nobody tell me!?'".

"'Untitled (Rise)' hardly yields highlights because the quality never wavers... It manages to be as lyrically unflinching as the music is compelling... You’d call it the album of the year if its predecessor wasn’t just as good" - Guardian's Alexis Petridis writes in a review of Sault's new album, anonymous neo-soul-funk band's second double album in just over 12 weeks, and their fourth in 18 months. The new album is "more obviously dancefloor-focused – its influences shifting from house to disco, from the perspiration-soaked post-punk funk to smooth 80s boogie, from sorrow and soothing to empowerment and resistance".

"An artist who’s quite literally said nothing new for the last eight years, he suddenly turned very loquacious indeed, unleashing a series of dense, allusive tracks packed with thorny references to art, literature and pop culture" - Guardian's Alexis Petridis wrote in a review of folk great's new album. "'Rough and Rowdy Ways' might well be Bob Dylan’s most consistently brilliant set of songs in years: the die-hards can spend months unravelling the knottier lyrics, but you don’t need a PhD in Dylanology to appreciate its singular quality and power". NME's Mark Beaumont is equally impressed: "Arguably his grandest poetic statement yet, a sweeping panorama of culture, history and philosophy peering back through assassinations, world wars, the births of nations, crusades and Biblical myths in order to plot his place in the great eternal scheme". In a rare recent interview in the New York Times Dylan said his songs "seem to know themselves and they know that I can sing them, vocally and rhythmically. They kind of write themselves and count on me to sing them".

Sweet in 1973, Priest in the centre

Guardian's Alexis Petridis might not especially like Sweet, but he does see the influence British glam-rock band had: "British punk was staffed largely by people who had grown up in front of the glam-era TOTP, underlined when the Damned covered Ballroom Blitz. Moreover, they were a huge influence on 80s metal: Axl Rose claimed they were his favourite band, Def Leppard covered 'Hell Raiser' and 'Action', the nascent Mötley Crüe attempted to seek them out for career advice. You didn’t have to examine hair metal too hard to see the Sweet’s ghost, you just had to look at the photos: straight boys covered in makeup, possessed by a desire to shock, every one of them metaphorically Steve Priest’s offspring"

He said good morning
May 16, 2020

Pretty Things frontman Phil May dies aged 75

Phil May, the frontman of The Pretty Things, has died aged 75 after suffering complications from emergency hip surgery, following a bicycle accident. The Pretty Things' 1968 album 'SF Sorrow' is credited as one of the first real rock opera concept albums. They were cited as an influence by a wide range of artists from David Bowie (wrote May’s phone number in his address book under the name “God”) to Jimi Hendrix to Kasabian. "They were ahead of their time, descending into chaotic, free-form, feedback-laden improvisation onstage years before the Velvet Underground or the early Pink Floyd made it their trademark" - Alexis Petridis wrote.

"When you think of the Stranglers’ most famous songs – from 'Peaches' and 'No More Heroes' to 'Waltzinblack' and 'Golden Brown' – you think first of Greenfield’s keyboards" - Alexis Petridis writes about Dave Greenfield, who died Sunday from coronavirus-related complications at age 71. Petridis defines Strangelrs as "never fashionable to start off with, they weren’t subject to fashion’s vagaries, instead building a huge, devoted cult following born out of being outsiders".

"Bohannon tracks were huge in the Chicago clubs that gave birth to house music: Frankie Knuckles played a re-edit of Let’s Start the Dance at the Warehouse while Ron Hardy did the same with Caroline Crawford’s Bohannon-penned and produced Coming On Strong at the Music Box" - Alexis Petridis writes about Hamilton Bohannon, disco and Motown star, who died last week aged 78. "The list of house and techno artists who have sampled his work is huge: DJ Pierre, Cajmere, Underground Resistance, Danny Tenaglia, Dimitri From Paris. And house music gave Bohannon his biggest hit of all: Paul Johnson’s Get Get Down, a top 10 hit in 1999, was based on Bohannon’s 1978 track Me and the Gang". He was influential in hip-hop as well - Jay-Z, Mary J Blige, Public Enemy, the Ultramagnetic MCs and Pete Rock all sampled Bohannon's tracks.

"It’s not just that songs seem to have taken on new, apposite resonances given the current situation, but music that you unexpectedly find yourself leaning towards, because you find it chimes with your mood: it’s comforting, elevating or transporting" - Alexis Petridis says in an analysis of fans' music listening habits. His Guardian colleague Ben Beaumont-Thomas sees a change coming in rap lyrics - "like a bond market, the most shallow rap lyricism needs constant activity to keep it alive – without an engine of expenditure, or antipathy stoked by confected beef, their subject matter collapses".

Alexis Petridis reports from Berlin where developers are kicking out nightclubs to make place for offices and flats. The last one to be kicked out is Griessmuehle, which closed down with a continuous 56 hours party. It was a worthy farewell - "dressed-down kids in hoodies alongside guys in drag; girls in standard-issue techno black dancing with men in their underpants. At one point, a gay couple in their 70s sweep past. They’re conservatively dressed for dinner at the Savoy in the 1920s – one of them is walking with a silver-topped cane. The atmosphere is simultaneously friendly, excited and licentious: a friend who goes there regularly calls it 'benign freedom'". An estimate says that one-third of Berlin clubs have been lost in the last 10 years, and at least 40 more clubs are currently under threat. Ironically, Berlin housing crisis has something to do with Berlin’s club scene - job adverts for engineers and IT specialists basically say "Come to work in Berlin, because it’s the greatest cultural clubbing city in the world".

"'Suddenly' is drenched in wonderful melodies – behind the bedroom-bound sonic boffin image, Snaith is a really good songwriter – and packed with moments more obviously pop-facing than anything previously released" - Guardian's Alexis Petridis writes about Caribou's new album (gave it 5 of 5 stars). He especially likes the way Dan Snaith sings - "You don’t realise how accustomed your ears have become to Auto-Tuned perfection until you hear someone who actually sounds like a human being rather than a cyborg programmed to perform vocal calisthenics: it hits you emotionally in a way that melismatic feats of strength and endurance simply don’t". Listen to the album in full at Bandcamp.

"Pop music is having a potentially fatal existential crisis: when did pop cease to suggest a life more glamorous or exciting than your own? When did it cease to be aspirational, strange and intriguing?" - Alexis Petridis asks - "how did we go from Lady Gaga wearing the contents of a butcher’s counter to the […]

"You can hear a band pushing past their boundaries with striking results" - Guardian's Alexis Petridis says of his Album of the Week choice, Vampire Weekend's 'Father of the Bride'. "The lyrics occasionally suggest that the musical restlessness is meant to mirror the uncertainty of the world in 2019, but ultimately 'Father of the Bride' […]

Motown has released Marvin Gaye's 'You’re the Man', the scrapped follow-up to Gaye’s seminal 1971 album 'What’s Going On' - its explicitly political bent prompted Motown to pull promotion, pressure radio stations to remove the title song from playlists, and ultimately stash the whole planned LP. Guardian's critic Alexis Petridis doesn't really like it that […]

"You can’t easily eradicate Jackson from history: too many people have too much of their lives bound up with his music. And perhaps you shouldn’t. Perhaps it is all right that his music continues to be heard, so long as it comes with a caveat: that it reminds us great art can be made by […]