I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s an American music PR company called La Famos that pesters me from time time about the artists they would like me to listen to. (I dare say they don’t just want me to listen to their artists – my guess is that they’d like everyone to listen to the musicians they promote.)
With my listening tastes in pop music leaning towards the power pop end of the spectrum, La Famos tend to send me music they think I might go for. In the past they sent me some of their techno stuff, dance stuff, punk stuff, and so on – but they don’t any more.
The most recent band La Famos told me about (thanks to Adrian – Hi, Adrian!) is Charlie Played Cello. They’ve released an EP called Red. I was taken slightly aback by the title, because it instantly reminded me of some heavy-duty prog rock that I love. Regardless, I tried not to think of King Crimson as I played Charlie Played Cello’s EP.
As I’ve done with other music that comes my way, I’ll talk about each song.
I’ll present you with the songs, but I’ll discreetly not present you with links to download ’em. (Putting downloadable links here would sort of defeat the purpose of the band wanting you to buy the tracks.)
1. “Memories Collide”
For me, this song is a case of good news / bad news. I’ll get the bad news out of the way first.
There are two things about this song that I’m not particularly keen on:
1. I’m not keen on the singer’s voice – it has a pinched quality that I don’t find very attractive. (I can’t really describe it accurately, but the closest I can get is to say that to me his voice sounds like a cross between Axl Rose and Ozzy Osbourne. They both sing as if the back of their throats are a little constricted.)
2. The verse has a chord progression that is currently overused (See: “Four Chords“).
I like the chorus (despite nicking the Big Country guitar sound). It’s where the song really takes off.
2. “Tired Of Playing Games”
This one grew on me, once I realised it was a compendium of 70’s rock clichés. (Or maybe that was unintentional. In that case, sorry about insulting your song, guys.) I enjoyed it.
3. “Run Away With Me”
I’ve never been a fan of galloping hi-hats, or 80’s-inspired songs, but I didn’t mind this too much. This was probably my least favourtie song on the EP. I must admit that I didn’t enjoy the half-speed middle eight. For me, whenever the drummer goes into half-tempo drumming in a song it’s usually a sign that the band are going for “epic”. Unfortunately for me, it just sounded half-speed. However, I loved the piano fills in the right channel at 3:39-3:40. Very ABBA. (Any song that reminds me of ABBA is a song that I’m thankful for.)
4. “Drifting Apart”
I thought this song was OK. But I’m still not keen on those vocals. (Note to self: Don’t get too critical, Peter. He can sing – you can’t.)
5. “Light Me On Fire It’s Midnight”
The title of this song reminded me of Canadian band Stars and their album Set Yourself On Fire. (Stars even used the phrase in the album’s opening song, “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead“. They got one of the band members’ dads to intone, Richard Burton-style, at the very beginning of the song: “When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.”)
The title also reminded me of 801’s magnificent “Baby’s On Fire“. Oh yeah.
But as for the Charlie Played Cello song, “Light Me On Fire It’s Midnight” (the song I’m actually supposed to be writing about)…
This is a guitar-playing-chk-chk-chk-chk-at-the-start power pop song, the kind that’s very popular in The World Of Power Pop. (There are hundreds of chk-chk-chk-chk songs out there in Power Pop Land, and it’s one of my favourite aspects of power pop. I’m a sucker for guitars playing muted chords.)
Incidentally, the main tune in the chorus (e.g., 0:54-0:57) reminded me of the main tune in the chorus of Marshall Crenshaw’s “One More Reason”.
I liked “Light Me On Fire It’s Midnight”, apart from the “Hey, let’s swear and take drugs!” lyrics. It’s a solid power pop song, and I thought it was a good song to finish the EP with. But…
I was disappointed with how the song – and, ultimately, the EP – finished. The band plays an unresolved chord at the end of the chorus, and it just fades out. It sounded incomplete to me. I would have preferred a “Bang!” kind of finish, like at the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. (Now that’s how you finish a song.)
Overall, after all my carping (sorry, chaps) I will say that when I listened to the EP without making comments – in other words, just listening to it from start to finish – taken as a whole I found the EP enjoyable.
Believe it or not, I am looking forward to the upcoming full-length album from Charlie Played Cello. Bring it on, chaps!