Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg’s “Shangri La” fails to do, well, anything

If you’re looking for Jake Bugg he’s probably in Copenhagen, the lights of London or in the sunny city of Malibu. Problem is: “Shangri La” is stuck in Clifton. The second attempt from the 19-year-old has suffered from the dreaded “sophomore curse” that has plagued musicians for decades. All that is to be expected from an album cranked out in minimal time.

“Shangri La” is terribly underwhelming. He has branded himself as the singer that will redeem listeners from the floods of disposable musicians from shows X-Factor and The Voice. It can be easy to hate the young singer. People probably prefer to hate things than to actually enjoy anything. But on his debut album, Bugg actually felt like a kid that was simultaneously naive but relatable.

When the news was announced that Bugg would be working with the ever-magical producer Rick Rubin, it sounded like it was a well-made match that would make a happy marriage. What could have been a Dylan-goes-electric moment instead gives fans more of the same, but it is difficult to believe that Bugg is still the same boy he was a year ago. With the first single “What Doesn’t Kill You” there is a slight-sense that it is a Arctic Monkeys’ rip-off, but there’s an understanding of a little boy trying to find himself in deep water.

Jake Bugg

The Shangri La studio (the album’s namesake) in Malibu is an awfully far distance from Nottingham. What’s given is a confusion of feelings. There are moments like “Slumville Sunrise” that gives a jolt of electricity to the tracks, but then the album meanders through 60’s folk ballads (“Me and You”). It’s both one thing and another with absolutely no coherency. Bugg is no longer hanging around the council estate of Clifton. Without honesty there’s the chance that he may become like the phonies he hates and there’s nothing appetizing about that.

“Shangri La” can enjoyable enough to sit through, but is he the musician the world has been waiting for? Probably not, but it might not hurt to sit tight and wait.

Parquet Courts live at Village Underground 28/10

If you love great Sonic Youth cover bands – Parquet  Courts are the best! I hate being one of “those” people, but really once it’s stuck in your head you won’t be able to escape it either: this band has all of the fun of Daydream Nation with a young Thurston Moore look-alike with no Kim Gordon.

God I can’t believe I’m saying this.

Parquet Courts are quite good, but something feels amateurish. I don’t know what it is. Maybe because I’ve  just seen Jake Bugg (who is only three-years-old) and his odd sort of maturity, something felt kind of…off about the performance last night. It could be the problem is that they’re Americans who think “AW FUCK YEAH” and keep repeating themselves like they’re a fucking skipping compact disk.

They have all the indulgence of Television, the strangeness of Pavement, and the viciousness of, well, Sonic Youth.

But all I can do is sit here and compare them to other bands.

I don’t know what wrong with me. Sometimes it’s difficult to sit there and appropriately understand how you feel about a band. I think Parquet Court are quite good live. Good energy and all that shit. They even have some great songs to listen to sometimes, but I wouldn’t bother. In about three years I won’t give a fuck what a Parquet Court is and we can all move along.

Now I feel like an asshole and I’m going to go sit in my sad cave of journalism gloom.

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Jake Bugg live at the Brixton Academy 25/10

Last night was Jake Bugg’s final night at the Brixton Academy. His three-night stint was entirely sold out. Completely worth it.

I had been waiting to see Bugg for almost six months when I received the tickets for my birthday. To be honest, the anticipation was completely anticlimactic.

We arrived only in time to see opener honeyhoney (some idiotic American country/folk band that sings shit like “I ain’t no Southern Belle” and “I like whiskey when I’m sick. A man when I’m well.”) Thankfully their set went by quickly enough.

Now Mr. Bugg. The boy is 19-years-old and has the charisma of a piece of bark, but there’s still something about him that drove a packed house wild.

Some of his critics have whined that he needs to have a stage presence. That’s not what he needs. What Jake Bugg has that most musicians do not is two things. One, he is completely honest and still void of idiotic fame. And two, his music is still relatable to his listeners. It’s a trait is that is nearly dead. Musicians are so caught up in their own worlds they forget about the one they share.

The sound from the band last night was the best quality I have heard from any live act. Seriously. Bugg’s voice had the ability to soar straight through the crowd. Let’s hope he takes care of it so it ages more like Robert Smith and less like Dylan’s.

The setlist included favorites like “Lightening Bolt” and new singles “Slumville Sunrise” and “What Doesn’t Kill You.” The nicest surprise of the night came one song before the finale:

A lovely cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My.” Most of the audience seemed oblivious to the American songwriter’s tune, but you could tell the crowd was enamored. Guess how many of those kids will go home and unearth Neil Young in the morning?

The night was amazing. The venue was okay. But in the end, I’d say that Jake Bugg has all it takes to become important – he just needs to grow into his boots. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next.