So far I’ve blogged quite a lot about TV and movies, so it’s about time that I wrote something about music. Probably no better place to start than a piece about my favourite band.
Art Brut are Eddie Argos, Ian Catskilkin, Jasper Future, Freddy Feedback and Mikey B. They’ve had three albums and are quite frankly amazing. They’re one of those bands that is somehow more famous in the rest of the world than they are here when they should be number one every week. Frankly, the BBC should bring back Top of the Pops just so Art Brut can be on.
The music is fantastic post-punk indie pop art-rock… umm… okay, I’m not great at describing it, so let’s just call it “very good”. The opening riff in Bad Weekend is as good as anything else from the last decade. It’s impossible not to want to jump up and down to Modern Art. Eddie’s vocal style is to talk more than sing, somehow complimenting the music perfectly.
Art Brut’s lyrics are full of wit and candour. Eddie Argos is the drinking man’s Jarvis Cocker, his songs recalling personal experiences from a difficult night between the sheets to sending apologetic texts while suffering a hangover. Perhaps I enjoy the band so much because I can often really deeply connect with the themes of the songs – feeling like a juvenile at the age of 28, still holding a torch for a long-lost ex, eating dessert when feeling depressed, feeling awkward around the opposite sex. Sometimes it feels as if the songs are about me, which probably isn’t always a good thing.
The lyrics are imbued with a deep love of music. Some tracks share names with older songs (I Will Survive, The Passenger) and subjects include forming a band, sharing a mix tape, and the love of under-produced records where you can hear noises in the background. One song is about discovering The Replacements, though it could be about any band you discover years after you should.
But it’s the humour in the lyrics that are the real highlights, whether it’s a song about moving to LA (“Everything’s gonna be just fine, I hear the murder rate is in decline”) or a bank robbery to steal 18,000 Lira (“Sounds like a lot of money!”). And there’s no more glorious moment in music history than the point in Good Weekend, a song about having a new girlfriend, when Eddie shouts “I’ve seen her naked… TWICE!”
Another favourite lyric of mine comes from break-up song Post Soothing Out:
River deep and mountain high
There’s some lyrics that’ll never apply
‘Cause I don’t lie awake at night
With thoughts of river depth or mountain height
Demons Out! was written just after the band was dropped by their record label, and is a wonderfully bitter swipe at the music industry:
On your visa, it says ‘entertainer’
You’d better step it up or they’re gonna detain you
It’s all smoke and mirrors, don’t go and see ’em
I wanted rock ‘n roll, I got a science museum
So we stayed up, and we argued all night
If we can’t change the world
Let’s at least get the charts right
But the real reason I love Art Brut is for their live shows. They are, without a doubt, the most fun band to go and see. I was first introduced to them during the V 06 festival. I wandered into one of the tents, found the enthusiastic fans all chanting “Art Brut Top of The Pops!” and then saw the band walk on and launch into the intro to AC/DC’s Back in Black before starting Formed a Band. From that moment on, I was hooked.
I’ve seen them quite a few times now, every time they’ve put on a hell of a performance. Every element of the records is amplified on stage, the music rocks that much harder, the humour is even more present as Argos talks to the audience between (and during) songs. Lyrics are added to songs from artists as diverse as The Yummy Fur, The Chi-lites and The Modern Lovers. Eddie uses the microphone lead as a skipping rope, jumps into the crowd, even jumps on the bar (or in one case, orders a drink half way through a song). Sometimes Eddie urges us to form a band, because it’s a fun thing to do, and when you look at the stage you realise it’s true – if we in the crowd are having a good time, the band are having an even better one. Everyone leaves each gig exhausted, breathless and with a huge smile on their face.
I’ve not been great at describing them, so instead just have a look at some clips: