In the 1990s, Suede brought much glamour to the Britpop scene. The band eschewed the lad culture of some of their contemporaries and often times made sweeping grand gestures. After 2002’s A New Morning, the band went on hiatus before releasing Bloodsports 11 years later. Since then, Suede Mach II has released three further albums including the latest Autofiction which by singer Brett Anderson’s accounts, is the band’s punk rock album.
The album starts with single, “She Still Leads Me On” and a scratchy guitar riff courtesy of Richard Oakes. Anderson manages to make a song about his mother anthemic with the line, “But I loved her with my last breath…” “15 Again” blisters like a much younger band. A couple of songs adopt a talk/singing style such as “Personality Disorder” and “Shadow Self”. Bass and drums powers “Black Ice” that is a bit more ramshackle than the band typically sounds as Anderson sings, “we’re on the black ice with no headlights”.
In typical Suede fashion, the word “petrol” appears a few times in the lyrics, but Anderson often paints beautiful images such as the “brief pale light on the bedroom walls” on “Personality Disorder”. A couple of songs such as “It’s Always the Quiet Ones” gets darker and takes on a bit of a goth feel but still bangs out a skyward reaching chorus. Produced by longtime associate Ed Buller, Autofiction is another fine addition to the Suede catalogue on an album that rocks harder than most other 30-year-old bands can muster.
The third book in the A Song of Fire and Ice series, A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin won several awards after being published in 2000. This section of the story contains several weddings including Joffrey’s, Tyrion’s, and the dreaded red wedding. The latter is no less shocking having seen it on TV and now reading about it. In other chapters, the Night’s Watch are on the move back to the wall, Khaleesi marches onwards, and Arya travels with the Hound in one of the novel’s best plotlines. This epic book rivals the first for its staggering achievement and thrilling action.
Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning is one of the most popular books that gets recommended as a must read. It has sold over 20 million copies and translated into 24 different languages. The powerful first half of the book describing day to day life in a German concentration camp is a must read to discover the power of human resilience in devastating circumstances. The second half describes Frankl’s logotherapy philosophy. Frankl’s main message here is that people must find something to live for and that will help them survive anything, even the horrors of a concentration camp.
Steven Hyden’s book This Isn’t Happening goes into great detail on the band Radiohead surrounding the recording and release of their seminal Kid A album in 2000. Recognized as one of the top albums of the aughts, Kid A is a recording that was initially panned by critics and many fans alike. The book also takes in the history of the band leading up to Kid A as well as the aftermath of their recordings and career. Hyden is a knowledgeable music writer and here he has created a fascinating look at a polarizing album.
In the fall of 2021, Oasis released several recorded versions of their legendary Knebworth shows from the mid 90s. The gigs have been regarded as era defining for the Britpop generation. Around the same time last year, singer Liam Gallagher announced his own set of solo shows at the same venue, both of which quickly sold out. Just a week before the Knebworth concerts were to take place in early June of this year, Liam dropped his third solo album, C’mon You Know.
Again, working with writer/producer Andrew Wyatt, Gallagher has released a varied album with a string section showing up on nearly half the tracks. The album starts with a children choir singing a few lines from “More Power” that recalls The Rolling Stones classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. The volume gets turned up on several tracks including the bluesy guitar riffing of “Diamond in the Dark” and the drums/handclaps of the title track.
The Dave Grohl co-write “Everything Electric” sees Gallagher sneer through the lines, “I don’t hate you/But I despise that feeling/There’s nothing left for me here”. “Better Days” explodes with it’s Chemical Brothers electronic beats, an update on the sound that his brother did so well with 25 years before. Gallagher gets the sole writing credit on “World’s In Need” that has a jamboree, country feel complete with harmonica.
The production from Wyatt and others, is top notch as little flourishes add texture to the tracks such as the dub reggae breakdown of “I’m Fee”. One of the finest songs on the album was co-written with Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend. The Beatlesque “Moscow Rules” is a phrase from the cold war and in the song, the strings hit a crescendo in the chorus as Gallagher sings “I think you’re never alone, even at home”. It’s a fine vocal performance in a hidden gem of a song. Looking at recent setlists, Liam Gallagher spotlights the hits of Oasis, but he should be making more room for the excellent songs of C’mon You Know.