Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Glasvegas Back With New Single and EP

Cover of the "If" EP by Glasvegas
One of my favorite bands from recent years, Glasvegas, is back in the music-release business with a new single and EP called "If " to proceed the anticipated release of their third album in September titled "Later...When the TV Turns to Static."

You can sample the four songs on the "If" EP on the band's Web site and clicking on the "Legacy" link at the top. And you can see the video version of the song featuring a cameo by William Shatner - yes, Captain Kirk - by clicking on the "GVTV" link at the top of the band's page.

Here are my thoughts on the songs just released:

1. If. "If our love was ever to part ways, the world as I know it would never ever spin again." Musically and lyrically, this is full on Glasvegas. The binary premise of the song is that without one extreme, how would we even know the opposite extreme existed. If not for this, we wouldn't have that. It takes one side of things to truly know the other - making both real. For example, in one line James Allan sings, "If not for dark, how could I recognize the spark. If not for evil, the kind man would walk by invisible."

Much of the rest of the song uses the same juxtaposition of things (sun/rain, Mary/the devil, etc.) to make the point, culminating several times with the crescendo chorus that if "our love would ever part ways" the world would essentially end - simultaneously implying that the love shared and active keeps the world turning. For anyone who is or ever has been in love - either short term lust and longing or lifelong love - this is the ultimate and personal payoff on the "if" theme of the song and for that it packs a powerful emotion punch.

Mid-way through, the song re-trenches with what I'd call a tip o' the hat to the Talking Heads using a wordplay on that group's song Road to Nowhere - flipping it on its head to be on the more positive "road to somewhere." It then seamlessly picks back up into the main riff and finishes.

Musically, I'd call this a mid-paced rock song featuring Rab Allan's shimmery guitar and "oooh, ahhh" backing vocals, a galloping drum beat from Joanna Lofgren to move things along and solid bass work from Paul Donoghue. I'd compare it to earlier Glasvegas songs such as "Geraldine" or "The World Is Yours" - both excellent tunes.

To summarize, this song delivers what Glasvegas is great at - heartfelt lyrics cleverly delivered along with compelling, moving music. Check it out.

2013 Promo Shot of Glasvegas
2. Press Play. "If we'd met in another story, things could have worked out differently." This song is, as far as I can tell, a lament over what the singer would have done differently in a relationship if another chance was available. Starting quiet and slow with voice and piano only, the pace slowly builds over the course of the tune. This is a similar technique used by Glasvegas in their song "Lots Sometimes" from their last album. However, in this case it's a slower build with not quite as frantic an ending as that earlier song, but with some clever use of xylophone tones. After singing about  how things could have worked out and what he would have done, Allan then summarizes toward the end (now faster and now more musically dense background that adds synths and a touch of bass) that if he could go back in time, he'd "press play" - implying he would be more active, engaged and present.

3. The Words That Maketh Murder. "I have seen and done things I want to forget." This one is a cover of the PJ Harvey song by the same name. I read somewhere recently that Glasvegas main man James Allan said while they had done covers in the past, they were usually of older songs and they wanted to do one that was more recent. He didn't say why they chose this - what I think is a - anti-war song, however. With a more aggressive sound and lyrical delivery that the previous two songs on the EP, this urgent song talks about someone who has seen the horrors of war and equates the words that start or fuel wars with words that "maketh" murder.

4. Finished Sympathy (Demo). "Sick to death of the means to an end." I think this one is about the final, crushing realization that something - a relationship or perhaps innocence - is over. Done and dusted. There is no longer even sympathy from those involved, just...the finished finality of things. Over. And it hurts at least one party as expressed by the singing voice of James Allan with backing voice provided by Rab Allan. Being a demo, this one might sound different on the upcoming album, but if it does not, this version very capably delivers the emotion.

OK, so what do we have here? We have an "up" tune expressing the wonder and reality of how it takes opposites to confirm each other's existence...up to and including love and the end of love, a couple lament songs beautifully delivered and a more aggressive and dark cover version of an anti-war song. Good stuff to me and a nice taster of what is coming in the album. I am looking forward to seeing what the team from Glasgow has cooked up in full.

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