Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n04)
Rick On The Records - by Rick Zeigler
posted: Feb. 23, 2007
LOW FREQUENCY IN STEREO-The Last Temptation of the Low Frequency in Stereo
Norwegian Grammy nominees in 2001, the Low Frequency In Stereo (LFIS) are only now gaining stateside notice with the domestic release of their third album, The Last Temptation Of the Low Frequency In Stereo. A simple, basic four-piece of guitar, organs, bass and drums, LFIS distinguish themselves on their latest album with their ability to craft songs that contain both multiple, catchy hooks as well as drawn-out 'semi-psychedelic" guitar-organ jams. In addition, their male-female vocals add yet more variety to their tunes, as do the occasional horn parts. Their opener, "Big City Lights," sets out the template. Opening with a nice drum beat that underlines both heavily reverbed as well as angular guitar patterns, the song also incorporates a beautiful horn fanfare in the chorus, while light organ sounds percolate throughout. As with most of their songs, layers of guitars provide the "psyche" element, but without overriding the poppier side of their vocal melodies and keyboard hooks. While LFIS specialize in 3-minute plus songs crammed full of hummable musical parts, the centerpiece here is the 10-minute title song. Starting off with a slow steady drum pattern that emphasizes the offbeats, several overlapping guitar figures come into play. Then strong organ chords crash in, the drumming revs up, a beautiful lead guitar solo comes to the fore, and the song turns into a rock juggernaut. Drawing heavily from the well of 60's garage rock and 80's English-influenced songwriting, LFIS have fashioned a modern psyche-rock sound that some might compare to a more hook-filled and less experimental Sonic Youth, but that really has few fellow travelers among today's groups.
CHUMBAWAMBA-A Singsong and a Scrap
Known to most only because of "Tubthumping," their one fluke hit about working-class solidarity in enjoying a good time, Chumbawamba have actually been around for over 25 years now, purveying their politically-branded music through the Reagan-Thatcher years up to the present day. Their latest album finds them focusing more intently on the folkier side of their musical abilities, the result being perhaps their finest album ever. Slimmed down to a 4-piece, central attention is now given to the vocalists, with 4 songs even being a cappella. Their voices now stunningly beautiful, Chumbawamba pull off the always neat feat of wedding deceptively political lyrics to beautiful melodies. Lines such as, "This is the land, the Land of Do What You're Told/With a little lip service to breaking the mold," are wedded to pure vocal beauty, as are ""We think that the power is in our hands/'Cos we're holding the remote control/Pile up the lot and what've you got/Bitter-sweet nothing at all." The folk tradition is recalled not just in the spare instrumentation (primarily acoustic guitars, accordion, bass, and subtle drumming) and vocal emphasis, but also in the fact that many of the songs center on historical happenings 70 years or more past ("When Alexander Met Emma," "You Can (Mass Trespass, 1932)"). As with much great folk, parallels of social injustice between such historical happenings and contemporary times are left for the listener to contemplate. Then again, the group also does an a cappella rendition of the Clash's "Bankrobber," which reverses the process by making us see that these modern lyrics can easily fit into the folk mode. The group themselves provide the best summary of their work here in the song "Laughter In A Time Of War," which they describe as a riposte to those who constantly chide them that all their songs tend to complain, moan and bitch. With cheery vocals and a light accordion accompaniment, this antiwar ditty contains lines such as "Late summer evening after the attack/Food from the aeroplanes wrapped up in a flag/He went for the money but he won't come back/Laughter in a time of war," and concludes with "Funny how it all sounds better in harmony". On this album, that final line contains the truth of what Chumbawamba has achieved.
Rick Zeigler, along with his wife, Jeanne, owns Indy CD and Vinyl at 806 Broad Ripple Avenue. Back in his musician days, his band opened for the likes of U2, XTC, Gang Of Four, The Pretenders, Los Lobos, and, um, Flock Of Seagulls, among others. You can read all of Rick's reviews at www.indycdandvinyl.com. Email your music questions and comments to rick@BroadRippleGazette.com