Friday, March 24, 2006

Paradise Found: A Public Service Announcement

Earlier this month, in “Monkeys Over America,” I noted the emergence of a Sheffield, England band called the Arctic Monkeys, and described how their music—urgent, fast and funny—took over our household in a matter of hours.

I saw the Monkeys last night at the Paradise Lounge, on Comm Ave in the heart of Boston University, and I will say right now they are better than the hype.

Without giving too much away here (that’s for a later post) I’ll just say it was the best show I’ve seen since—okay, I’m dating myself here—Bob Marley at the Orpheum Theatre, also in Boston, in 1978.

Since they caught fire in England last year, The Monkeys do not play many clubs like the Paradise. Early in the set the lead singer/songwriter, Alex Turner, touched some hands reaching out to him and said “It’s nice bein’ so close. We haven’t played like this for a while.”

And for good reason: they blew the grime-encrusted roof off the Paradise. Halfway through the second song I said to my 17 year old, “pay attention: you’ll never see them this close again.”

She smiled sadly and shouted back, “I know.”

The Monkeys play Webster Hall in New York City tomorrow night and the Crocodile Café in Seattle next Wednesday.

If you live near either city, and if you like music and if you want to see this generation’s version of The Beatles playing the Cavern Club, go get yourself tickets from whatever scalper you have to. Lift the offer—just get the tickets.

You’ll thank me.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up

© 2005 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations.


floorsmall said...

Please, i listened to a few of there songs based on your recommendation... they are ok. There is a reason they're playing at the paradise.

Traderneal said...


Over at Amazon, I listened to all 30 second clips of all the songs. Honestly, I am not impressed. I do not see what makes them different from any of the other of hundreds of bands that sound like this.

To say I am not a fan of today's music is an understatement. However, the Killers seem, to my ears anyway, the better band.

But give me a good Springsteen album or bootleg and you can keep the rest.

sjgmoney said...

Or would it be like catching the Beatles at the Kaiserkeller during one of their 8 hour marathon shows!!

flambeee said...

i got the disc jeff and im a skeptical bastard to begin with and especially snobbish about music.

but i gotta tell you, indeed, it is brilliant!

a lot of kinks in there but completely fresh. and the kids write wonderfully clever lyrics. and even the "poppy" song on the disc is endlessly catchy. and the ballad's juxtaposition between major seventhy jazz chords and tales of getting chased by the cops recalls three penny opera. and the rhythem section rocks casbah. i could go on but i'll spare the ossified springsteen fans, he he...

you hipped me to gem no doubt..

tyrone slothrop

Bedemere said...

I listened to all the clips available on iTunes. I hate to sound like an old fogey, but, while I've heard much much worse, there's nothing new here. I hear Television meets Bowie meets a half dozen other bands from the 80s. That's good company, but I just don't see greatness coming from this sort of over-compressed, derivative, fuzz-box rock. I still remember the first time I heard lots of bands that went on to greatness. I could tell right away they had something special. I wish I heard that with the Arctic Monkeys, but I don't.

Fred B. said...

"... this generation's version of the Beatles ..." ... you've got to be kidding me! They're VERY far from it, in my view.

I actually went out and bought this CD based on various raves I had seen online (including yours), and although I've only listened to it once, I have to say that I was quite disappointed and very unimpressed. Both musically and lyrically it struck me as unsophisticated and superficial. I've found that a lot of my favorite music didn't really wow me on the first listen, and I'm definitely going to give it a fair shake, but ... my first impression was that that Cd is fair to middling, at best.

I'm dying to know what it is that makes them worthy of the "this generation's Beatles" label, other than the fact that they're a young four piece band from an industrial town in northern England. Please do tell!

I'm a fan of your blog, but this whole thing is starting to make me wonder ...

Johnny Debacle said...

Pretty much average brit rock pop. I don't even think they are better than Jet or the Hot Hot Heat, who are most similar to them imo. A full notch below the Killers.

Music today is pretty excellent because of the sheer quantity there is excellence to be had under the surface of the mainstream. Tools to find and get to the good stuff are lagging behind (e.g. free Radio, MTV and Rolling Stone aren't great at putting what's great on a relative basis in your ears).

Sigur Ros
The Black Keys
The Go Team!
Ray Lomontagne

Fresh varied greatness abounds. The Arctic Monkeys are fine, but nothing more.

Jeff D said...

I had heard about the show but had too much going on with school to attend. Sounds like it was worth it.

The Arctic Monkey as single-handedly responsible for making one of my class mates hip again. He's been sporting a Members Only coat all winter that his grandmother gave him.

One of the Monkeys also sports one. Instant chic.

The Paradise is a great place to see a show. I've seen some very good bands there (Everclear is probably at the top of the list.)

heelsmith said...

If you like the Arctic Monkeys you should also check out The Hold Steady.

SiamTwin said...

Musical tastes, it seems, are even more varied and emotional than investment opinions.

Perhaps this blog is best left to the latter?

KPKeller said...

Jeff --

I think the Arctic Monkeys are a very very good band, but I wouldn't anoint them as the next Kinks until they have an extensive oeuvre that shows depth and maturity. Greil Marcus said that rock n'roll as a genre "exhausts talent at terrific speeds" so will see what kind of staying power they have. Still, the songs are a kick -- "Fake tales of San Francisco" being my favorite, though you and your daughter do hear the line. . . "this band is f---g wank and I am not having a good time," yes? MY 17 year old certainly hears it.

Finally, the commenter who noted above the sheer volume of quality music today really hit the proverbial nail. There is an astonishing amount of quality NEW music out there, as well as a huge archive of old stuff from great defunct bands.

Jeff, you mentioned a while back that when you listen to Sirius, regular radio sounds ancient. Well, for really cutting edge music that conveys the same feeling, all you have to do is listen on the interent to SOMA FM, WOXY.COM, or for harder edged stuff, Radio Wazee.

Or better still, become your own radio programmer and sign on to, which uses a form of AI to serve up songs that are like the ones you prefer.

DaleW said...

Perhaps this blog is best left to the latter?

You know, if we were paying Jeff, maybe this comment would be relevant, but check out the title of the blog. The unpaid creator of the blog should have some lattitude -- perhaps it's better when not interested in the subject area not to read that day.

I have played the AM about five times now. I have to say I'm not quite feeling it the way Jeff is. I like The Darkness's (not Charlie Murphy) debut effort five times as much, but maybe that's just generational -- as a child of the 70s, perhaps that speaks to me more than Jeff, who I suspect is 10-12 years older than my 37 years.

On a different note, and this artist appeals to multiple generations, I have heard fantastic things about Jonathan Demme's Neil Young concert film/documentary. I haven't seen it, though I've seen him live numerous times, but it comes highly recommended by a few friends.

Jeff D said...

If you don't like it, don't read it.

It's pretty simple, really.

Jeff Matthews said...

30-second clips on iTunes don't really do it, for any band.

Try "When the Sun Goes Down" three or four times. Or "Red Light Indicates Doors are Secure" five or six times.

Then, if you still think I've misled you, complain.

floorsmall said...

OK. I've listed to "When the sun goes down" twice now... and I can officially say "Jeff Matthews IS making this up".

sjgmoney said...

Their album grows on you more and more each time you listen. To me the true test of a great band/album has always been the way you have a new favorite song every time you listen.

My current one is "Fake Tales of San Francisco"

Tomorrow who knows!!

When's the "later post" coming?

(kicking myself for not going to the Paradise show)

Jeff Matthews said...

"floorsmall": I said 'three or four' times--not twice. Give it a couple more, and then try "Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor" a few times.

SJG: I'm glad to hear from you--that has been my experience exactly.

As for the full review, all in good time...

Sam S. Park said...

Ahhhh... I remember passing by the Paradise Lounge everytime I went off to class.

I'm not too impressed with the Arctic Monkeys. They sound like every other garage bands in high school. However, the drummer is okay (punk band drummers usually are). I'm thinking that the energy from seeing their live show may have influenced your judgement somewhat.

Like many things, music styles tend to move in cycles. I'm guessing this is just that phase where few-bar-chords-played-fast style is new to the younger generation. Mix that with lyrics the teens can relate to... you have a hit band that'll last a few years, at best.

My best guess is that these guys will be forgotten. Why? Because they're just recycling old stuff. Who knows, maybe they'll mature into great musicians who'll completely invent something new, but I'm thinking that's a far stretch.

john lichtenstein said...

Jeff you must have lived right that you and your daughter both like the same stuff. You should never be more than a week and a couple of hours away from a Eat Nine Bright Hot Yahu Brave Arctic Franz Killer Card concert. Go to all of them!

john lichtenstein said...

Four songs from the DC concert were selected by the AMs for NPR's All Songs Considered podcast, free on iTunes. They hold up well on the stage, and work the crowd well.

Lord Dudley said...

Who cares how good the Arctic Monkeys and their ilk are. Their albums are so massively over-compressed that they're unlistenable. This makes them all sound the same.

Until the loudness wars stop (the Arctic Monkeys albums are an example) there will not be another 'U2' or 'The Beatles' because no-one's albums have any longevity, no matter how talented the band are.

I can't listen to Arctic Monkeys albums. Everything is as loud as the loudest drum hit. A muddy wall of sound. Unlistenable crap, no matter how well written or performed the songs are.