The Lonely Minotaur

Music & Concert Reviews

Coldplay’s “Everyday Life” Track-By-Track Preview — November 16, 2019

Coldplay’s “Everyday Life” Track-By-Track Preview

Coldplay’s latest album, Everyday Life, stuck up on pretty much everyone. Sure it has been four years since the overtly pop centric and saccharine filled A Head Full of Dreams was released but Chris Martin and the gang kept things relatively low key this time around. The ball got rolling with some vague twitter rumors followed by strange appearances of album ads in smaller newspapers around the globe and finally the band actually dropping snail mail to random fans announcing a double album due on November 22nd, one half called “Sunrise”, the other “Sunset”.  The band have said it’s an album of ruminations on how “we feel about things” going on right now in…….everyday life.

Sunrise 

Sunrise – The album opens with an unlikely violin filled instrumental piece that would not feel out of place in a World War I era film. The track was first teased in an instagram post by the band back in October.

Church – A fine mix of the production style found on Viva La Vida and Mylo Exloto. This wouldn’t be Coldplay if Chris Martin isn’t trying to chase down love by any means necessary somewhere on the album. A potential single for sure.

Trouble In Town – Dare I say this is the first time Coldplay have been openly political during a song? Lyrics critique racial profiling in America and the impact it has on so many lives of innocent people just trying to get by in 2019. To add on top of that is the audio of an infamous police exchange that went viral on YouTube several years prior. Coldplay holding nothing back on their message here. Dynamic second half musically with a killer guitar solo by Jonny Buckland. 

BrokEn – Move over Kanye, you aren’t the only one doing gospel in 2019. Coldplay’s very own version of “This Little Light of Mine”. Fitting it follows the racially charged “Trouble In Town”. 

Daddy – This album’s “O”. It has the atmosphere of a lullaby in reverse. Not for a child but for a missed parent. Tender and beautiful. It is hard to tell but is some of that piano melody borrowed from the unreleased “Famous Lost Painters”?

WOTW/POTP – A short acoustic sketch of a song which passes by in barely a minute. Has a very White Album feel to it. Loose and raw. The most under cooked studio track by Coldplay in decades. Maybe since the song “Parachutes”. 

Arabesque – Sonically this is the crown jewel of Everyday Life. Coldplay have not sounded this bold and brave since the Viva La Vida days. Led by chugging percussion, heavy bass lines and loads of saxophones! Sax crimes all over the place on this tune and it all works to great satisfaction. Great freak out towards the end as everything comes crashing down. Reminds me of “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac or the ending of “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” by Paul McCartney.

When I Need A Friend – It seems like Coldplay have been spending a lot of time hanging out in old churches between the songs “Church”, “BrokEn” and now “When I Need A Friend”. This track in particular sounds like an old fashioned Christmas carol you’ve been singing at the holidays each passing year. Coldplay’s “O Holy Night”.  Another album curveball. 

Sunset 

Guns – Shades of both “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face” and “Major Minus” running throughout this acoustic based stomper. Again Coldplay are tackling real world issues this time with gun violence in America. Satirical in nature, Chris holds nothing back as he torches government policy and big business for allowing weapons of mass killings to be so easily obtained. 

Orphans – Every Coldplay album needs its stadium banger and “Orphans” does that job fantastically well on Everyday Life. Chris Martin might have unlocked the cheat code of life by just wanting to “get drunk with my friends”.  Don’t we all Chris? Don’t we all….

Eko – The acoustic guitar finger picking evokes imagery of figure skaters dancing effortlessly on ice. I am also reminded of the song “Graceland” by Paul Simon whenever I listen to this song. Warms the heart. 

Cry Cry Cry – One of the most unique sounding songs not only on Everyday Life but also in the Coldplay discography. Feels like a song from alternative history 1950s America.  Total doo-wop action. Enchantment Under The Sea dance.

Old Friends – Very similar in vibe to “Eko” but this time the subject matter drifts to a long lost friend and the bond of that friendship over time. 

Bani Adam – Another instrumental but with two distinctive halves. The first begins on piano with shades of “Postcards From Far Away” running through it. About two minutes in an unexpected transition occurs as Coldplay drift into U2 territory. Think Zooropa meets Passenger.

Champion of The World – A true album highlight. A soaring anthem of personal perseverance supported with wonder Echo and The Bunnymen guitar effects.  Nice to see Coldplay embrace their previous musical influences even for just one song. Will be a killer track when performed live. 

Everyday Life – First debuted on SNL two weeks ago. It’s a simple yet direct piano ballad that cuts straight to the point. You can see why the band selected it to be played on national television along with “Orphans”. My favorite part of the song are the beautiful sonic textures behind the piano and the accompanying violins. 

Coldplay have said they will not tour this album proper and will be donating all proceeds to reforestation which is an extraordinary act of kindness for a band to do. There have been many rumors of a quick follow up album to Everyday Life due in 2020 at some point with a huge supporting world tour. We shall see if that comes to pass or not. Until then we can enjoy this unique entry into the Coldplay canon. 

Can we talk about how awesome a year 2002 was for indie music? — February 16, 2019

Can we talk about how awesome a year 2002 was for indie music?

By the time of my senior year of high school, class of 2000, I was desperately pinning away for a back to basics rock revival. By 1999 grunge and Brit Pop, my two biggest genre obsessions, were basically extinct. Hip Hop, Boy bands and a rap/metal hybrid were dominating the charts, the airwaves and the television. Basically my worst musical nightmare. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I finally began to see a beacon of hope. That hope was The Strokes. Seems cliche to write but they really were transcendent without really being overly revolutionary in September 2001. They helped kick the door down and were at the front of the march towards the rock revival over the next handful of years. Sure other bands might have been technically more advanced and ambitious but nobody looked cooler as they played good old fashioned rock n roll with killer melodies and lyrics. Finally, after many years waiting, the tides were beginning to turn. My prayers were about to be answered. 

When the calendar flipped to 2002 a whole new era of bands were emerging, getting tons of press, played across radio and television and most importantly inspiring people to pickup the guitar again as an instrument of art. Being a rocker was cool again it seemed. I knew a vast purple patch of great music was starting to take hold across the globe, I just didn’t realize fully at the time how tremendous the overall year of 2002 was. It really was an incredible time of new bands bubbling up (The Walkmen, Interpol, The Coral) and more established bands (Wilco, Flaming Lips, Bright Eyes) hitting their artistic apex all at the same moment. If anyone really wants to get a feel for the excitement of these times I highly suggest buying Lizzy Goodman’s book “Meet Me In The Bathroom” which focuses on the rock revival in New York City between 2001 and 2011. 

So in honor of the year 2002, I’ve decided to rank my Top 20 albums of that year and provide a killer playlist of outstanding tunes. Enjoy. 

Top 20 Albums of 2002

  1. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 
  2. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood To The Head
  3. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
  4. Sigur Ros – ( )
  5. Doves – The Last Broadcast
  6. Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
  7. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi battles the pink robots part 1
  8. The Soundtrack of Our Lives – Behind The Music 
  9. The Walkmen – Everyone Who Pretended To Like Us Is Gone
  10. Bright Eyes – Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
  11. Beck – Sea Changes
  12. The Coral – The Coral
  13. Spoon – Kill The Moonlight
  14. Death In Vegas – Scorpio Rising
  15. The Notwist – Neon Golden
  16. Sonic Youth – Murray Street
  17. Iron & Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle
  18. Blackalicious – Blazing Arrow
  19. Trail of Dead – …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
  20. DJ Shadow – The Private Press

 

The Playlist

The Walkmen – “Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone”

Wilco – “Heavy Metal Drummer”

Doves – “There Goes The Fear”

Coldplay – “The Scientist”

Pearl Jam – “Down”

Oasis – “Songbird”

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – “Nevermore”

Iron & Wine – “Faded From Winter”

DJ Shadow – “You Can’t Go Home Again”

The Coral – “Dreaming of You”

Interpol – “PDA”

The Flaming Lips – “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1”

Broken Social Scene – “Cause = Time”

Bright Eyes – “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”

The Hives – “Hate To Say I Told You So”

Beck – “Lost Cause”

The Notwist – “Consequence”

British Sea Power – “Childhood Memories”

Moby – “We Are All Made of Stars”

Spoon – “The Way We Get By”

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – “Relative Ways”

U2 – “Electrical Storm” (William Orbit Mix)

Death In Vegas – “Scorpio Rising”

Damon Albarn – “Sunset Coming On”

Sigur Ros – “Untitled 4”

Ekkehard Ehlers – “Plays John Cassavetes 2”

Boards of Canada – “Dawn Chorus”

Blackalicious – “Blazing Arrow”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Bang”

Sonic Youth – “The Empty Page”

Badly Drawn Boy – “Silent Sigh”

LCD Soundsystem – “Losing My Edge”

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Can’t Stop”

Bruce Springsteen – “The Fuse”

A Film Full of Dreams — November 21, 2018

A Film Full of Dreams

Hot on the heels of 2016’s excellent Supersonic documentary which covered the early years of Britpop legends Oasis, Mat Whitecross delivers A Head Full of Dreams on his former college friends Coldplay. The film is framed around their last album of the same name and how it has become the culmination of everything Coldplay were striving towards since 1999……or at least that is what Chris Martin believes. The film leans heavy on the early years pre 2005’s X&Y with some fantastic and very intimate footage of Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berrymore, Will Champion and the behind the scenes fifth band member Phil Harvey who comes out of the rock doc as the understated hero of the group who keeps it all together. Seeing the band in their late teenage years, in their dorms messing about on guitars and making bold proclamations is worth the price of admission alone. You just really never get to see material this innocent, candid and raw on most bands. When do you get to see rockstar baby faces full of braces, pimples and bad hair? Now it certainly helps that they had a film junkie classmate in Mat Whitecross who always was carrying a camera around campus recording what he sees. It also helps immensely that he went on to become a successful documentarian and Coldplay to global super star success. A perfect marriage for a project like this. 

As a fan of their earlier material, Parachutes to the end of the A Rush of Blood To The Head campaign, I found everything I saw fascinating and nostalgic for the first hour or so. The highlight of this film for me was seeing Chris in studio hitting the opening bars for “The Scientist”. It was obviously one of the earliest moments of him playing that song. Long before it would be adored by millions. A moment like that literally made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Another moving piece of the doc was seeing Chris in 1998 boasting into the camera about where the band is heading and will accomplish in the next 3-4 years and then seeing that juxtaposed with their headlining slot at Glastonbury in 2002. An epic moment. I truly loved the band’s initial image and musical direction of Bends era Radiohead meets Jeff Buckley. It was sad to see them leave that path following the blowback of X&Y despite the sonic pop flourishes of Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends in 2008. The biggest turning point in the band’s career thus far was Phil Harvey leaving the band temporarily during X&Y (he would later return in 2007) and the negative vibes surrounding that album/tour despite robust sales. Chris Martin and company basically decided they wanted to be liked and be liked by a vast majority of potential listeners across the world which translated to more pop infused songs (“Viva La Vida”, “Paradise”, “A Sky Full of Stars”) and mega star collaborations (Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Rihanna). There is no shame in that and whatever fans they lost in that transition they picked up legions more as they elevated themselves to U2 global status. Coldplay is no longer a band, they’ve become a brand. 

The film oddly enough sprints through the albums Viva La Vida, Mylo Xyloto and Ghost Stories during its second hour. The pace was too fast for albums that connected to wide audiences, generated massive hit singles and really could have benefitted from using more time to explore those phases of the band’s career. However, nobody wants a 3 to 4 hour film so tough choices needed to be made. This reminded me how for Oasis’ Supersonic documentary, Mat Whitecross wisely focused only on their debut Definitely Maybe and mega hit follow up (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory and now legendary gigs at Knebworth in August 1996. The framing of that film worked brilliantly for Oasis as it really got to the essence of what that band was all about. It was a roller coaster ride over a three year period. Coldplay on the other hand are a band still in progress which begs the question of why is this film being released now with what seems like a lot of meat still left on the Coldplay bone? I think a documentary of this subject matter would be better served years down the line when Coldplay is no more. The footage will always be there. The stories can only get more rich with the passage of time. Coldplay’s dream is still being lived.