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Old 04-03-2014, 05:51 PM   #19 (permalink)
Trollheart
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Ah yes, dredging out all the old journals and shaking them in the air, giving them a good spring clean! Well, it is April after all. Gotta get those mothballs out. In the course of looking for a new album --- or any album --- to serve as my third venture into the world of (pretty much failed) musical prediction, I looked at a few. One ended up being an EP by an instrumental postrock band, so that wouldn't do at all. It's hard enough trying to guess what songs will be like without attempting to work out what kind of music a band will play! So that one ended up in “Bitesize”, or will, depending on when I post this.

Another interesting one, which I felt would really challenge me and push my limits, was one by a foreign artiste --- Spanish I think --- but I was up for it. Until I saw that every track was a month of the year! How you gonna work out what “May” will be about, or “September”? Even I'm not that mad. So I passed over that one, and then found myself drawn to this.



Himalayan --- Band of Skulls --- 2014


Now I have heard of this band before, and some of you here are probably very familiar with them, so will no doubt fall off your chairs laughing at my pathetic efforts to unscramble the mystery of what may lie within these tracks, surely getting it so wrong that, were this a game of “Cliffhanger” on the old ITV gameshow “Bruce's Price is Right” (yes, a ripoff of your American show: only older UK and Irish people will really understand what I'm talking about) the little guy would be yodelling his way off the edge and plunging to a sticky end. In other words, I don't feel confident about this at all.

But then, when have I? Who can really predict what a song or songs are going to sound like or be written about without having ever heard them? What kind of lunatic would even try to work out a song's nature based purely on its title? Title now: I don't look up lyrics. And surely only the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots would put such attempts out in the public domain, for everyone to roll their eyes and laugh at? Well yeah, but that's what this journal has been about from day one, as I explained in the original introduction. I have no hopes whatever that I'll be right even ten percent of the time here: maybe I'll strike lucky on the odd occasion but the odds are against it. But I don't care. It's all about kicking back and not taking things too seriously for once, and being able to laugh at yourself.

Sure if you can't laugh at yourself who can you laugh at? Yeah, true, that guy, but it's not a very nice thing to do is it?

Anyhoo, on with the show and what I know about Band of Skulls (and I've deliberately read very little, just enough to know I'm not about to leap headfirst over the edge into a pool of death metal or punk or hip-hop) is that they're described as “alternative rock” --- a very vague and catchall, and probably inaccurate more often than not, label --- and that they hail from good old Blighty (that's Britain to you) and are apparently very popular. This is their third album.

Tracks then: what we got? Well we have a dozen, some with very interesting titles that's going to make it even harder for me to guess at what they're about or what they're going to sound like, but hey we'll as ever give it a go: what have I, after all, to lose except the respect of my fellow music fans? Whaddya mean, yiz didn't respect me before I started doing this? Humph! Charming!

1. Asleep at the wheel:
God, could be anything couldn't it? Well it's the opener so let's plump for it not being a ballad, and say it opens with jingly acoustic guitar that then turns into or is joined by electric, getting into a driving beat with uptempo piano (is there a piano or keyboard player in Band of Skulls? I don't know) and sure let's throw in some violin and/or cello somewhere in the song too. And it slows down at the end, fading out on the aforementioned strings. Maybe. What's it about? Man trying to figure out his life, feeling he's asleep at the wheel and letting it all pass him by. Or could be a guy driving a rig who's about to have a serious accident. But let's go for the former.

2. “Himalayan”: Let's be blindingly obvious and say it's built on a sort of chanty, Tibetan style chorus with bongo drums or whatever, chimes and acoustic guitar, a sort of midpaced song about, um, freedom? Yeah, freedom. We'll take the Tibetan motif and plaster it all over the song. No piano on this. Or violins. Maybe cellos. No, no cellos. But some weird, er, ethnic instruments. And chants. Lots of chants.

3. “Hoochie coochie”: Ah I'm gonna take a stab in the dark and say it's a cover of the old fifties song. I bet it's not but that's what I'm going for. It's short, so that's a good start. Probably totally wrong but yeah, cover.

4. “Cold sweat”: Would it be very lazy of me to say this is also a cover, of the Thin Lizzy song? Yes. Yes it would. So that's what I'm going to do. Two covers, one following the other, seems unlikely but hey, why not?

5. “Nightmares”: I don't know why but I somehow get the feeling this may be a ballad. Piano, soft guitar, return of the violins and/or cellos (if they were in the first track) and maybe a female vocal guesting? Meh. Probably a headbanging rocker, but I'm going for the ballad. That's it: my foot is down. The deal is done.

6. “Brothers and sisters”: Hope you're all having a good laugh at me, thinking “Jesus! Band of Skulls would never do that kind of music!” I hear this as a gospel-y mid-paced song, handclaps, organ, gospel choir. A “can't we get along” song with plenty of lyric about peace and brotherhood. Or it could be about incest. Yeah, probably incest. But I'm sticking with peace and love (not that kind of love!) in a gospel vein.

7. “I guess I know you fairly well”: Man, I can hear the laughter from here! Shut up, willyaz? I'm trying to concentrate here! This is another ballad, but it's only on piano and acoustic guitar, a song about a breakup. Wow, how original! Yeah well it's what I hear. Also going to go for the possible guest female vocal duetting here.

8. “You are all that I am not”: No no this will not be a ballad (yes it will but I'm not saying it will)! Hard rockin' track with screaming electric guitar, mad keys (if there are keys) and a real headshaker. Do I have to say uptempo? Uptempo. Loud. Fast. Nasty. All of the above expected to be wrong. Oh yeah: lyric. Um. Saracastic I think, sort of you think you're so great but you're just as bad as me. Yeah. Right.

9. “I feel like ten men, nine dead and one dying”: Oh come on! That could be about anything! Er. Another love song but not a ballad. Hard acoustic this time, stabbing keyboards, maybe violins again? Heavy drumbeat. Angry but tired vocal. What's it about? Damned if I know. Um. Another breakup? Left alone to face the world?

10. “Toreador”: Too obvious of course but let's give it a Spanish feel, castanets, Spanish guitar, ole's, the whole bit. Song about a bullfighter. Fast, with a latin beat. Oh I don't know. Release the bull!

11. “Heaven's key”: Well it could be you are the key to Heaven but somehow I don't think there will be that many ballads here, so for no reason at all, except that the title reminds me of the movie “Heaven's Gate”, I'm going to say it will have a cowboy/western feel, acoustic guitar and, um, banjo. Sure why not? And fiddles. Or violins, which are pretty much the same. And a jews harp. And pedal steel, or something. Uptempo with a sort of dramatic feel, almost cinematic in a kind of “The Big Country” way. The film, not the band.

12. “Get yourself together”: Cover of the Supertramp song. Nah, I kid, I kid. Slowish, country-ish, with steel guitar, electric and maybe piano again. Lyric, maybe, sort yourself out before it's too late. Oh how did I possibly get that from the title? Well at least it wasn't ten men dead or whatever!

So there are my guesses, each one surely a turd in its own right. Tomorrow I'll actually listen to the album and see how many I got wrong, and how wrong I was. Stay tuned for another installment in “Trollheart gets taken down a peg. A whole peg!”

(Band of Skulls? I must be out of my skull!)
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