The Magic Whip Reviews

Discussion about the band and related projects.

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JackS
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by JackS » 13 Apr 2015, 12:18

He's So High wrote:And so the NME verdict is in...

http://www.nme.com/reviews/blur/16025" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It's another 8/10. It reads like a 9/10 though, as is the case with most of these reviews.
Agreed, the tweet from NME refers to it as a "triumph", etc - that should be more than an 8.

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SeverHense
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by SeverHense » 13 Apr 2015, 12:27

He's So High wrote:And so the NME verdict is in...

http://www.nme.com/reviews/blur/16025" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It's another 8/10. It reads like a 9/10 though, as is the case with most of these reviews.

Damn. I was really hoping for a 9/10. Though I think the NME reserves that score solely for whatever half-baked garage rock band from Sussex they decide to champion this month.

To be frank though, it's not like the NME's opinion has any weight anymore. This is a publication that gave Talk Talk's Laughing Stock a 5/10 and Arctic Monkey's AM a 10/10 for christ's sake.

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AdvertBreak
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by AdvertBreak » 13 Apr 2015, 12:46

SeverHense wrote:To be frank though, it's not like the NME's opinion has any weight anymore. This is a publication that gave Talk Talk's Laughing Stock a 5/10 and Arctic Monkey's AM a 10/10 for christ's sake.
Blasphemy! Interestingly they originally gave Spirit of Eden 7/10 and then a few years ago ranked it at number 95 on the 500 greatest albums of all time list, which is exactly how 'best ever albums' from magazines work. Much truer in the case of Rolling Stone though.

In my opinion NME went shit in the early 2000s, with their short lived nu metal campaign (they now hate nu metal) and then, of course, The Strokes and therefore the crapload of half-arsed bands just like them :P for the next...ur...well they haven't really finished, even though the post punk revival ended years ago.

Daysleeper
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by Daysleeper » 13 Apr 2015, 12:51

I just find it strange that apart from one review(Q?) not a single one mentions anything negative. So in theory if the album is not getting full marks there must be something wrong with it, yet no-one seems to be mentioning any flaws.

Strange.

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SeverHense
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by SeverHense » 13 Apr 2015, 12:55

I get the feeling most critics are going to have similar opinions on it, that it's very good (4 stars), but not quite great (5 stars), but better than being 'just good' (3 stars).

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SeverHense
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by SeverHense » 13 Apr 2015, 13:06

Also the NME is nothing but bottom of the barrel trash these days. Their news coverage seems to consist of non-stories about about no-name bands ("Keyboardist for Ring the Square opens up about his favorite video games of 2007"), Noel Gallagher's opinion on current events ("The Chief says, 'ISIS? Sounds like a fooking new wave band!' "), the occasional non-music related slagging off Bono and U2 ("Class A wanker Bono wears sunglasses while riding bike in Dublin"), and some bullshit click bait headline about some flavor of the month pop hitmaker ("You'll never guess what Iggy Izealia said at her gig last night!").

I'm not sure how the paper mag compares to the crap I see on their website, but I can't imagine it's much better.

Save the trees, quit pressing this crap.

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He's So High
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by He's So High » 13 Apr 2015, 13:12

And the verdict from Clash...

http://www.clashmusic.com/reviews/blur-the-magic-whip" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

You guessed it, another 8/10!

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Rubi
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by Rubi » 13 Apr 2015, 13:15

I suspect the lack of a true commercial hit a la Song 2 or Tender is what's really holding these reviewers back from giving it a 5 star rating. The album is going to be great, no doubt about it.

tender
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by tender » 13 Apr 2015, 13:19

8/10 from Clash

Blur - The Magic Whip
Re-united but only looking forwards, the story of a remarkable return…

"Blur have progressed. This is not a band revisiting past glories, indeed they’ve said recently that they felt there was no scope to do further gigs without new music to play. Shorn of expectation and match fit in the middle of a long tour, four friends found each other again"

http://www.clashmusic.com/reviews/blur- ... uo.twitter" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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SeverHense
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by SeverHense » 13 Apr 2015, 13:21

True. And I don't think this will be a truly perfect album, imo.

I do predict a few more 4.5 stars or 9/10s as well as a few 5 star or 10/10 reviews.

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dunkaroo02
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by dunkaroo02 » 13 Apr 2015, 13:25

SeverHense wrote:True. And I don't think this will be a truly perfect album, imo.

I do predict a few more 4.5 stars or 9/10s as well as a few 5 star or 10/10 reviews.
yep, and we all know there'll be a couple 6/10's as well (just the nature of the business), so let's all agree now not to freak out about it ;)

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rich
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by rich » 13 Apr 2015, 13:28

tender wrote:8/10 from Clash
Blur - The Magic Whip
Re-united but only looking forwards, the story of a remarkable return…
"Blur have progressed. This is not a band revisiting past glories, indeed they’ve said recently that they felt there was no scope to do further gigs without new music to play. Shorn of expectation and match fit in the middle of a long tour, four friends found each other again"
http://www.clashmusic.com/reviews/blur- ... uo.twitter" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"what is noticeable and so utterly, utterly joyous is the presence of Coxon".

great stuff :)

rich 8-)
I put me trousers on, have a cup of tea, and think about leaving the house...
my gig videos https://vimeo.com/user19376405

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101reykjavik
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by 101reykjavik » 13 Apr 2015, 16:17

Well, I can live with 8/10s all the way. I'd call it a 9/10 but then maybe I would. Music journalists and mags, whatever we may think of them, think they have a reputation to uphold. So if they feel even the slightest bit uncertain whether TMW is deserving of the full five stars or whatever, they're not going to stick their necks out. I'm just glad the content of the reviews barely has a word to say against it - that's got to be good. A number either way, as I say, I can live with.
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jayums
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Re: The Magic Whip Reviews

Post by jayums » 13 Apr 2015, 16:36

Early review copies are only sent out to friendlies who are going to give good reviews - most broadsheets will then release reviews later on.

The first bunch of early reviews at the start of the month were in all likelihood invited to listen to the album - they don't actually have physical copies. Sometimes you might get sent watermarked versions. But I bet none of these first reviewers did.

Later reviews are more likely to be a little more honest and critical, or some overly negative - pissed off journos with an axe to grind who weren't given a copy for early review!

Regardless, my first impression was that the album is great. It doesn't have a killer single that's going to get much airplay, so I just can't see this album being huge commercially. 50,000 units in the UK wouldn't be bad. We'll see. I'm sure Blur were under some pressure from their record company to put something out, EMI milked them to death with the 21 box set, and now Warner in all likelihood wanted their pound of flesh.

Blur have done something that's quite unusual and old fashioned - they've made an accessible, coherent album that stands up in quality from start to finish (I'm looking at you, Think Tank) - not one or two shiny singles on top of a stinking, fat mountain of filler, which is par for the course these days.

Sean
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Re: NEW ALBUM: The Magic Whip

Post by Sean » 13 Apr 2015, 16:47

Image


Image



Graham Coxon in this month’s Total Guitar Magazine issue - May 2015

“Kind of Magic” - As Blur return with their first album for 12 years, Graham Coxon tells TG about the ‘anger, insults and humour” of sessions in Hong Kong, his mad new Strat, why some Oasis fans are “ignorant gobshites” and how he and his bandmates are “like different breeds of dog”…
(words by Henry Yates)

There are two kinds of band reunion. The bad kind sees a gang of arthritic gargoyles mangling the hits on the stadium circuit, stuffing suitcases with bank notes, and avoiding the studio in tacit acknowledgement that they’re creatively shot. But the best kind sees past glories segue into new chapters. Take Blur. The Londoners’ live return in 2009 scratched an itch, but the greater thrill was February’s announcement that Graham Coxon, Damon Albarn, Alex James and Dave Rowntree had spent May 2013 holed up in a tiny Hong Kong studio - and were ready to drop an eighth album, The Magic Whip.

It’s good to have Blur back. When the Britpop pack-leaders bowed out after 2003’s Think Tank - an album which an alcoholic Coxon barely played a note– there was the maddening sense of unfinished business. 12 years later, and this most cherished of national treasures has rediscovered what made them so great in the 90s with an album that walks the perfect tightrope between Albarn’s populist melodies and Coxon’s off-kilter riffs. We met the guitarist to hear about indie’s most anticipated comeback of the year.

What was it like to be in the studio with Blur after all these years?

“Well, we’ve been touring each other for yonks, so it didn’t really feel that different.Y’know, everyone had a bit of a jam in the soundchecks or whatever, so it was a bit like one of them - but over 5 days. It’s still pretty good fun being n Blur. We’re weird people, really, I suppose. There’s a lot of laughter. There are flashes of anger and insults - and Damon is not shy in showing his response to [songs]. But it’s all in really good humour, that’s the thing. We’re very much like dogs, really. We’re like very different types of dogs”

What are your memories of those five days recording in Hong Kong?

“It was pretty hot and tiring. I remember us squashed up into a corner of the control room, with a big jug of green tea, and our heads down, listening out for direction. Just going round and round different chords, until we’d done everything we could with them then moving on. It was seven hours a day, solid. We were even eating our noodles while were still playing. So it was fairly intense.

“We were traveling on the tube every day. Hong Kong is quite an anxiety-inducing city. It’s got its own smells and weird sounds, and I suppose that’s going to come out in the music at some point.”

Do you think being crammed in like that inspired you more than being in some plush studio?

“Oh, definitely ─ and because it was just so casual, too. We were in a really strange place. And we were quite limited in the stuff we had there with us. I just had this Stratocaster what was built by my guitar tech Steve Prior. Damon had some unusual keyboards lying around the place, Alex was on this old Gibson bass, and we had a very rudimentary drum kit set up. I didn’t even have my pedalboard, just the bits that we keep in reserve. So I just had my B-team of pedals.”

Do you have any favorite guitar moments?

“Well, my trickiest moment was the solo on Ghost Ship. Y’know, that fuzzy sound? Because it’s such a happy song, but the solo is quite trilly, so it was a tricky one for me to get right. I really liked the great big chords in Thought I Was a Spaceman, and that almost My Bloody Valentine-esque moment towards the end where it feels like the track is really taking off, like a rocket, either going back to Earth or to another planet. You don’t quite know what planet you’re on in that one. But you do know that you take off at some point. I love that bit.”

Do you find yourself returning to a certain mindset when you play guitar with Blur?

“No, I don’t think so, actually. The only thing I can really put it down to is the telepathy. I like to interpret what I think Damon is trying to do, to get it through my hands, into the guitar and out to the amp. I’m quite good at that these days. I’ve been doing it a long time, I suppose. And it’s very intuitive, getting what I think he’s trying to say down with a guitar. It’s like on My Terracotta Heart, that sort of bending quality to the guitar part. Before he’d really got all the lyrics together, I kind of knew where that song was going”

How did the songs come about?

“Just through jam sessions. But what was interesting ─ and I’d never done this before ─ is that I would come up with ways of changing the environment to some of the emerging melody lines. What I’d do is try to change the chord sequence, but not so that it didn’t support the melody. So maybe I’d go to a relative minor or to another chord that would still hold that [melody] note - and it would have a dramatic change on how that music felt. That was a big learning curve for me, to do that, and have the chord sequence actually makes sense and sound good, not just, y’know, random chords. That was a really good exercise for me. I think I learnt a lot doing it. The thing is, Damon gave me the space to do that, so I owe him quite a lot in that respect.”

I’ve heard it was you who convinced the band to revisit the Hong Kong material?

“Well, the material had been sitting around for ages, and we hadn’t made much of a concerted effort to do anything with it. One day, I was bored and I had the idea that if I could take Stephen Street in with me and go through all this music we’d made, we could possibly make an album out of it. I talked to Damon and he said, “take it away and do what you want”. So we squirreled ourselves away for four weeks and sorted it out, added more guitar and bass, put down some synths and structured what we had.

“I got Stephen in because I absolutely trusted him, that he’d know what was good and what wasn't’ usable - and so we could cut out that overwhelming task of going through it ourselves. Because I don’t think any of us would have had the patience. But I left a lot of gaps, y’know? I didn’t want to smother it in my own flavour, my Graham Coxon-ness. I wanted to inspire Damon enough to get some lyrics together and sing on it. It was a lot less stressful than I thought it was going to be.”

Do you feel any pressure to prove to the world that you’ve still got it?

“Well there’s a bit of pressure, I guess, in the fact that we couldn’t release anything unless we thought it was good. If Damon hadn’t liked what me and Stephen had done, then it wouldn’t have gone any further - but he got really fired up over it. For us, that’s enough. Whether it’s relevant to anybody else [I don’t know]. But I’m actually quite sure that it is. The way it sounds, and the lyrical subject matter…it sort of had quite a big effect on me emotionally, as someone who is 45, in this pretty bewildering world. I’m very proud of this album. For a lot of reasons, I suppose.”

So, tell us about this Strat of yours?

“I kept seeing that Dave Gilmour Strat around, and I thought, ‘Ah I quite fancy something like that’. So I asked my tech and he built me a Strat out of bits and bobs. I was playing it on the tour and that was the one I was using in Hong Kong. It’s got a whammy arm, and it brought a slightly unfamiliar tone to some of the stuff. It’s got some pretty cool pickups: Steve selected them himself and dropped them into this black body.

“I don’t want to get him into trouble, but I think the neck is one that Jeff Beck didn’t want anymore. So I call it a “Beck-Mour”, because it’s half Dave Gilmour and half Jeff Beck. I think I might have had a Telecaster knocking about in the studio as well, but I was using the Strat a lot more.”

You’ve never been a Strat man before…

“No. They’re difficult. I find them extremely versatile, and I see why people use them, and I do like to have a tremolo arm knocking about, but I tend to reach for a Jazzmaster instead. I like Strats, but when it comes to live work, it’s a funny one: they do have a super-brittle, take-your-head-off treble on them. I had the pickup selector full in the up [neck] position, most of the time.”

How about your backline?

“I was just using my normal 100-wattMarshall Plexi, but when i was recording with Stephen we were using a bit of AC30 in his live room, or just whatever we had lying around. Pedals? Oh god, I had the Line 6 guitar synth thing - the purple one [FM4] - and then a couple of RAT’s, the Wattson Fuzz [FY-2], one of the yellow Boss distortions, the Boss [RV-5] reverb and delay. I sometimes use the echo on the [Akai] Head Rush looper too. They’re pretty much what I have on my pedalboard. All the usuals. A vibrato, a compressor, a wah-wah, a phaser. All that sort of malarkey.”

What are the most experimental guitar sounds on the album?

“I dunno about ‘experimental’; I wanted the sounds to be quite otherworldly. But that’s something I’ve been obsessed with for years. Y’know, using delay and vibrato and then the Line 6 synth to do that ‘yai-yai-yai’ kind of sound; I’ve come to use that a lot. But really, there’s nothing better than putting on a few pedals and seeing what the guitar does on its own, without enforcing your will on it so much. I’m a big fan of seeing what happens with a lot of distortion, and what you do to your guitar other than just strumming, y’know? Tapping strings or whatever, with a lot of distortion: I think that’s when you can make sounds that don’t sound like a guitar.

The verses of the new single, Go Out, are particularly striking…

“Oh, that’s just my delays and the Line 6 synth, with a bit of spring reverb and distortion. For the big distorted chords, that’s the RAT, plus the Wattson Fuzz. I always used to listen to Robert Fripp, and I try and make my guitar sound like a Moog, with a note that goes on forever. So I’d have a couple of RAT pedals on at the same time - with one of them on full distortion and full volume - and it makes this note go on forever. Mirrorball is a Boss [RV-5] reverb on the Plate setting with pretty much everything at 12 o’clock apart from the knob on the left which is about 3 o’clock.

You toured with Noel Gallagher a few years back. Did you enjoy it?

“I loved it. Especially when I was killing a few of my detractors in the audience with some flippin’ blazing guitar solos [laughs].”

Did you and Noel laugh about all that rivalry from back in the 90s?

“We never really had any. We were always perfectly nice to each other. Mostly it was to do with the Oasis and Blur fans. I was getting stick from Oasis fans ─ I never got stick from Oasis. And when I supported Noel, and I was playing my heart out, and I was getting called a wanker by some tosser in the audience…I didn’t want to stand and rant at people, but I just thought, “well, y’know, it was Noel who invited me here. It’s like, the man you’ve come here to see ─ he invited me to play”. It just seemed like ignorant gobshites, really - and I’m sure Noel would agree.”


The Magic Strat - Coxon’s go-to ‘bitsa’ guitar for ‘The Magic Whip’


Graham is a long time Tele addict, but for Blur’s latest album sessions in Hong Kong he whipped out a one-of-a-kind Strat that his tech, Steve Prior, had pieced together from “bits and bobs”.

Steve explains: “It has a 90s alder body in black, with a Callaham vintage bridge with rolled steel black, Fender N3 pickups by Michael Frank-Braun, and CTS pots. For the recording, it had a Todd Krause custom rosewood neck with [Fender] LSR roller nut and Sperzel [tuners], but now has a 1975 Fender large headstock, rosewood veneer neck with a serious provenance, original tuners and jumbo fretwire. Gilmour-ish…Beck-ish… Assembled and set up by me, for Graham”
Twitter: @shornKOOMINS

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