HOOD – atmospheric pastoral punk

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THE DECADE OF THE NINETIES BROUGHT ABOUT MANY BANDS AND MUSICAL APPROACHES THAT CAME AND WENT QUIETLY, BUT NONE WERE QUITE LIKE HOOD.  FORMED IN LEEDS, UK IN 1991 HOOD COULD NEVER BE LUMPED INTO ONE MUSICAL CATEGORY BECAUSE THEIR OUTPUT WAS NEVER OF ONE SINGULAR APPROACH, NEVER REDUNDANT AND NEVER STATIC.  TRUE SONIC PIONEERS AND OMNIDIRECTIONAL MUSICIANS, THEIR ALBUMS CONTAIN SONGS THAT SPAN THE REALMS OF NOISY LO-FI, TEXTURED ATMOSPHERICS, STUDIO CUT-UPS, POP DITTIES, POSTROCK MEANDERINGS, TORTURED BALLADS AND SHOUTED REFRAINS.  SOME PIECES MIGHT BE :52 SECONDS, OTHERS 6 MINUTES.  THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT THERE IS NOT A SONIC COHERENCE TO THE WORK.  PERHAPS THE TRUE ART THROUGH ALL THEIR STYLISTIC CHOICES IS THAT IT ALL BEARS THE MAKERS MARK.  IT ALL SOUNDS LIKE….WELL, HOOD.  THEY PERSONIFY THE TRUE ESSENCE OF BEING “EXPERIMENTAL” WITHOUT THE ART-SCHOOL-POSTURING AND LOFTY WANKERY THAT USUALLY ACCOMPANIES THAT DESCRIPTION.  THIS WAS WORKING CLASS ARTMUSIK, PASTORAL PUNK, THE ESSENCE OF DIY THAT IS BORNE OUT OF NECESSITY AND DRIVE WITHOUT THE MODERN-DAY PRECIOUSNESS OF “OH, THIS IS HANDCRAFTED” OR “LOOK WHAT WE DID ALL BY OURSELVES!”.  THEY WERE EARNEST AND SINCERE WHEN IT WAS UNFASHIONABLE, HOMESPUN AND MODEST WHEN IT WAS COOL TO BE SLICK AND ALOOF.  SAD AND PISSED OFF WHEN MOST OTHERS WERE TRYING TO BE DISAFFECTED OR IRONIC.  THEY SEEM UNTOUCHED BY THE OCCASIONAL SELF-INDULGENCE OF SHOEGAZE OR THE STUDIO STERILITY OF MID-NINETIES ELECTRO.

HOOD WERE ALWAYS THE ADAMS BROTHERS, CHRIS AND RICHARD, AND WHATEVER HANDFUL OF FRIENDS THEY WERE WORKING WITH AT THE TIME (INCLUDING, AMONGST OTHERS, MATT ELLIOTT OF THIRD EYE FOUNDATION, THE LADS FROM THE REMOTE VIEWER AND NICOLA HODGKINSON OF EMPRESS).  ALTHOUGH THEY NEVER OFFICIALLY DISBANDED, THEIR LAST ALBUM WAS RELEASED IN 2005 TO CRITICAL ACCLAIM, BUT NEVER GREAT COMMERCIAL SUCCESS.  WE WOULD BE HARD-PRESSED TO PICK OUT A SINGLE ALBUM TO STAND AS OUR FAVORITE (PERHAPS SILENT ’88?) AMIDST THEIR LARGE AND LABEL-SCATTERED DISCOGRAPHY OF ‘STUDIO’ ALBUMS (6), SINGLES/EPs (20), AND COMPILATIONS (4).  WE CAN ONLY HOPE TO GIVE YOU THE IMPETUS TO INVESTIGATE FOR YOURSELVES ONE OF THE MOST PROLIFIC, ENGAGING AND, SADLY, UNDER-RATED BANDS OF ALL THE TRAGICALLY OVERLOOKED BANDS FROM, WHAT HAS BECOME FOR US,  A GOLDEN ERA OF BRITISH INDEPENDENT MUSIC.

ALAS, THERE MAY NOT BE NEW HOOD RECORDS BUT THE ADAMS BROTHERS ARE STILL MAKING MUSIC IN VARIOUS PROJECTS; RICHARD IN THE DECLINING WINTER [http://thedecliningwinter.bandcamp.com/] AND CHRIS IN MEMORY DRAWINGS.

MAIN – Hz , a beautiful noise

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WE’VE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH MANY ‘DIFFICULT’ LISTENS OVER THE YEARS, ONE OF WHICH IS THE COLLECTION Hz FROM MAIN.  COMPRISED OF SIX EP’S RELEASED IN 1995, THIS THREE-LP COMPILATION (ALSO ON TWO CD’S) MIGHT BE ONE OF THE STRANGER RECORDS TO BE UNLEASHED UPON THE MID-NINTIES LISTENER BY A MAJOR RECORD LABEL.

Hz IS A GRAND WORK OF SOUND MANIPULATION.  WHEREAS SOME MORE CONSERVATIVE LISTENERS MIGHT NOT CALL IT “MUSIC” AT ALL, IT IS IN NO WAY “NOISE” MUSIC EITHER….. LARGELY BASED ON THE IDEAS OF SOUND-DE/RECONSTRUCTION, MAIN HERE PRESENTS MANY MUSICAL ELEMENTS EASILY RECOGNIZABLE TO THE LISTENER ( DRONES, RHYTHMS, PATTERNS, WORDS ) BUT IN A WAY THAT RESEMBLES NO RECOGNIZABLE GENRE OF POPULAR MUSIC.

 PERHAPS HERE WE SHOULD MOMENTARILY PAUSE AND FILL IN THE BACK STORY,  WHICH MIGHT PUT THIS ALBUM INTO A DIFFERENT CONTEXT.  MAIN WAS COMPRISED OF MEMBERS ROBERT HAMPSON & SCOTT DOWSON,  BOTH MEMBERS OF  THE SEMINAL LATE-80’S PSYCHROCK BAND LOOP.  UPON DISBANDING IN 1991, LOOP BROKE OFF INTO TWO NEW BANDS; HAMPSON & DOWSON (GUITARS) FORMED MAIN WHILE JOHN WILLS (DRUMS) & NEIL MACKAY (BASS) FORMED THE HAIR AND SKIN TRADING CO. 

THE MUSICAL DIRECTION, OR APPROACH, OF THE NEWLY FORMED MAIN COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MORE DIFFERENT THAN THAT OF LOOP AND IS CLOSER IN THEORY (THOUGH QUITE DIFFERENT IN EXECUTION) TO THEIR CONTEMPORARIES SEEFEEL.  TO QUOTE OUR FRIENDS AT DISCOGS “The initial imperative was to deconstruct the “iconic” form of guitars and place them in a different context and change their language. Surrounded by other sounds from field and close / contact mic recordings of found objects, these were then manipulated until the identifiable became unidentifiable.”  

THE INITIAL AND RECOGNIZABLE MUSICAL ELEMENTS CARRIED OVER FROM LOOP THAT CAN BE HEARD IN MAIN’S FIRST TWO EP’S HYDRA (1991) AND CALM (1992) GRADUALLY DIMINISHED OVER SUCCESSIVE RELEASES UNTIL THERE IS NO RECOGNIZABLE TRACE BY THE TIME THE HERTZ SERIES IS RELEASED IN 1995.

CALMING IN MOMENTS, DISTURBING IN OTHERS, Hz IS A GEM OF AMBIENT MUSIC AND FAIRLY SINGULAR IN SOUND AND APPROACH BOTH FOR ITS’ DAY AND NOW.  IN 1995 WHILE MOST OF THE ELECTRONIC WORLD WAS DISTRACTED BY HOUSE, GLITCH, DRUM & BASS OR TRIPHOP, BRITPOP WAS RULING THE UK MUSIC PRESS AND POSTROCK WAS BEING QUIETLY EXECUTED IN VARIOUS DARK CORNERS AND BEDROOMS, MAIN WAS LEADING AN UNHERALDED MARCH INTO A NEW SONIC TERRITORY.  IT IS A TERRITORY THAT, 18 YEARS LATER, SOUNDS AS INNOVATIVE AND INTERESTING AS IT WAS AT THE TIME. 

NOTE: DUE TO THE TIMBRE AND FREQUENCY RANGE OF THESE SOUNDS, TO GET THE MOST OF THIS MUSIC WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND APPROACHING THIS WORK WITH A GOOD SET OF SPEAKERS OR HEADPHONES!  YOUR EARBUDS OR LAPTOP SPEAKERS PROBABLY AREN’T GOING TO CUT IT HERE.

remembering the future – Sigue Sigue Sputnik

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THE HISTORY OF POP MUSIC IS LITTERED WITH THE REMAINS OF SINGULAR BANDS THAT SHONE BRIGHTLY FOR BRIEF MOMENTS BEFORE IMPLODING INTO LITTLE MORE THAN VINYL-ENCASED MEMORIES OF THAT FLEETING LIGHT….ONE SUCH BAND IS SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK.

FORMED IN THE EARLY 80’S, SPUTNIK WAS THE BRAIN CHILD OF TONY JAMES (FORMER BASSIST FOR BILLY IDOL LED POP-PUNK BAND GENERATION X) WHO REALIZED THE FASTEST WAY TO SUCCESS WITH A NEW BAND WAS TO EMBODY & EXPLOIT THE VERY AGE OF GREED THEY WERE LIVING IN.  MUCH LIKE A PUNK ROCK VERSION OF A BOY-BAND, SPUTNIKS’ MEMBERS WERE RECRUITED DUE TO THEIR LOOKS AS MUCH AS THEIR PLAYING ABILITIES.  ARMED WITH A SAVVY ACUMEN, IN-HOUSE FASHION DESIGNERS TO REALIZE THEIR ‘FUTUREPUNK’ ASTHETIC AND THE GROWING CAPABILITIES OF MIDI SYNTHESIZERS, SPUTNIK HAD BUT A FEW SHOWS & MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS BEFORE BEING SIGNED TO EMI.

THEIR 1986 DEBUT ALBUM FLAUNT IT MIGHT HAVE SEEMED LIKE A BIT OF A JOKE TO SOME, AND WAS ALMOST UNIVERSALLY PANNED BY CRITICS, YET IT STILL MANAGED TO REACH # 10 ON THE UK CHARTS, LARGELY DUE TO AN EXTREMELY WELL ORGANIZED MEDIA CAMPAIGN.  THEY WERE CERTAINLY CHAMPIONS OF HYPE, BUT WAS IT ALL A JOKE?  IN RETROSPECT FLAUNT IT SEEMS A PERFECTLY SELF-AWARE CELEBRATION OF EXCESS AND CAPITOLISM IN ART (COMPLETE WITH ADVERTS BETWEEN TRACKS).  PERHAPS NOT MUSICALLY GENIUS, IT IS A CATCHY COLLECTION OF ROCK-A-BILLY TINGED ELECTRO-PUNK  TUNES AND NOT TOO DISSIMILAR FROM THEIR FORERUNNERS SUICIDE AT TIMES.  HELPING OUT GREATLY IS LEGENDARY PRODUCER GIORGIO MORODER, WHO SHAPED A RECORD THAT SOUNDS BETTER TODAY THAN SOME OF THEIR MORE ‘SERIOUS’ CONTEMPORARIES’ ALBUMS. 

THE DANGER IN BEING A ONE-TRICK PONY IS THAT IT ONLY WORKS….ERR…..ONCE.  FAILING TO GROW OR CHANGE AT ALL, THEIR SUBSEQUENT ALBUMS DID LITTLE TO EMBELLISH THE INITIAL CONCEPT AND SUFFER MUSICALLY WITHOUT MORODER AT THE HELM AS PRODUCER.  SPUTNIK WAS NO LONGER CUTE OR FUNNY, BUT INSTEAD BECAME AN ALMOST EMBARRASSING PARODY OF THEMSELVES.  DESPITE THOSE LATER DISAPPOINTING ALBUMS,  WE MUST SAY THAT FLAUNT IT IS JUST AS BOMBASTIC, VISIONARY, FUNNY (“Eddie Cochran with an UZI”)  AND ENTERTAINING 26 YEARS LATER AS IT WAS THEN.

 

by way of Krautrock

HISTORY IS OFTEN DEFINED BY THE HISTORIANS.  TAKE FOR INSTANCE KRAUTROCK (OR ITS’ SISTER KOSMISCHE),  A GENERIC TERM THAT HAS BEEN APPLIED TO GERMAN BANDS MAKING ADVANCES IN ROCK & ELECTRONIC MUSIC DURING THE 1970’S.  STYLISTICALLY, KRAUTROCK DOESN’T REALLY EXIST BUT CAN BE APPLIED AS A POINT OF REFERENCE TO INCLUDE A NUMBER OF ARTISTS INCLUDING (BUT NOT LIMITED TO) NEU!, KRAFTWERK, CAN, AMON DUUL, CLUSTER/HARMONIA, FAUST, POPOL VUH, TANGERINE DREAM/KLAUS SHULTZ/ASH RA TEMPLE AND LA DUSSELDORF.  MUCH LIKE POST-ROCK IN THE 1990’S, KRAUTROCK EXISTS LARGELY DUE TO THE IMAGINATION OF CRITICS AND FANS.

DESPITE OUR LOVE OF THE ‘GENRE’, WE HAVEN’T REALLY FOCUSED MUCH ATTENTION ON IT HERE.  WHY IS THAT?  MOSTLY BECAUSE IT HAS ITS OWN DEVOTED FOLLOWING AND HAS RECEIVED A LOT OF ATTENTION ELSEWHERE…… WHAT WOULD WE BE ADDING TO AN ALREADY GROWING PANTHEON OF WRITTEN MYTHOLOGIES AND PRAISES ON THE SUBJECT?

WHAT WE FIND AS INTRIGUING AS THE RECORDS THEMSELVES IS THE LASTING INFLUENCE AND INSPIRATION THEY’VE HAD ON DECADES OF MUSICIANS.  ALTHOUGH TECHNICALLY THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MODERN KRAUTROCK, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF ARTISTS AND ALBUMS THAT SHOW ITS DIRECT INFLUENCE WHILE CREATING THEIR OWN DEFINING STYLE.  A FEW OF OUR FAVORITES IN RECENT YEARS INCLUDE THE LIKES OF CAMERA (Berlin), BEAK (UK), ARP, CLOUDLAND CANYON AND JONAS REINHARDT (USA).  WE MENTION THESE IN PARTICULAR AS DEMONSTRATIONS OF THE SUBTLE ART OF INFLUENCE, WHICH IS NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH APPROPRIATION.  ANYONE CAN STEAL SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEAS (and many do these days).  THE ART LIES IN CREATING SOMETHING OF YOUR OWN WHILE ADOPTING SOUNDS OR STYLES THAT HAVE COME BEFORE YOU.  ALL OF THE AFOREMENTIONED ACTS SEEM TO BE DOING JUST THAT.  EACH IS TAKING PARTICULAR INFLUENCES FROM KRAUTROCK/KOSMISCHE AND BUILDING UPON THEM, OFTEN UPDATING CLASSIC SOUNDS OR APPROACHES IN MODERN WAYS.

GIVEN THE VARIOUS ‘RETRO’ WAVES THAT HIT POPULAR MUSIC EVERY DECADE,  WHAT IS OLD WILL ALWAYS BECOME “NEW” AGAIN (AT LEAST FOR 5 MINUTES).  THERE WILL BE A NEW GENERATION THAT DISCOVERS THE 60’S, 70’S, 80’S OR 90’S AND, ONCE AGAIN, TURN OUT RECYCLED IDEAS FOR THE BILLIONTH TIME…….BUT NOT ALL ESTABLISHED GENRES ARE DEAD END STREETS.  KRAUTROCK MIGHT BE A GREAT EXAMPLE OF THAT; WHERE NO SINGULAR BAND DEFINES THE TERM AND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT THE NATURE OF EXPERIMENTATION IS THE COHESIVE ELEMENT OF THE GENRE.  THE SOCIAL CLIMATE AND FASHIONS OF THE 70’S THAT ALLOWED THE AVANT GARDE TO FLOWER IN GERMAN MUSIC MAY HAVE CHANGED AND FALLEN OUT OF FAVOR BY THE 80’S, BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE SPIRIT, OR THE SOUND, OF THAT INNOVATION ARE NECESSARILY DEAD.

REMEMBER THAT ALTHOUGH THESE-THINGS-PAST BECOME HIP AGAIN, LIKE VINTAGE ANALOG SYNTHS, ONCE YOU WADE THROUGH THE MIRE YOU CAN FIND FOLKS OUT THERE DOING NEW AND GOOD THINGS WITH THEM.   

GOOD LUCK.

Q & A – BIG BUSINESS

Band?   BIG BUSINESS

Albums?     THREE FULL LENGTHS AND AN EP – OUR FAVORITES ARE MIND THE DRIFT (2009) AND HERE COME THE WATERWORKS (2007).

Who are they?      JARED WARREN (BASS & VOCALS – FORMERLY OF KARP) & COADY WILLIS (DRUMS – FORMERLY OF MURDER CITY DEVILS) ARE THE CORE OF THE BAND.  CURRENTLY PLAYING WITH SCOTT MARTIN (GUITAR – formerly of 400 blows) .  ORIGINALLY FROM SEATTLE, WA. AND NOW BASED OUT OF L.A..

Why should I listen?     THEY ARE AN EXTRAORDINARILY TALENTED, KICK-ASS HEAVY- ROCK BAND AND ONE OF THE BEST WE’VE HEARD IN MANY, MANY YEARS.  IN A WORLD OF INCREASINGLY BANAL POP MUSIC AND COUNTLESS PLAGIARISTS, BIG BUSINESS CAN RENEW YOUR FAITH IN THE PURITY OF BIG,  LOUD ROCK’N’ROLL.  IT MUST BE STATED THAT JARED AND COADY HAVE BEEN HALF OF THE MELVINS SINCE THE 2006 ALBUM (A) SENILE ANIMAL,  WHICH EFFECTIVELY PUSHED MELVINS INTO ONE OF THE FINEST INCARNATIONS OF THEIR CAREERS.

 

CURRENTLY ON TOUR!!!  CHECK ‘EM OUT IF YOU CAN, REALLY…..
                                                  http://bigbigbusiness.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

a rare treasure – Harmonia ‘Live 1974′

WE HERE AT THE AURAL DUSTBIN ARE PRETTY MUCH CATEGORICALLY AGAINST ‘LIVE’ ROCK RECORDS.  THEY RARELY ADD ANYTHING TO THE DISCOGRAPHY OF AN ARTIST, USUALLY SOUND LIKE SHITE AND CERTAINLY DON’T ACCURATELY REPRESENT THE “EXPERIENCE” OF SEEING A BAND LIVE.  SO WHY ARE THEY SO UBIQUITOUS?  PERHAPS BECAUSE IT IS A WAY FOR A BAND (OR ITS’ RECORD LABEL) TO MAKE MONEY OFF AN EXISTING CATALOG OF WORK WITHOUT THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH MAKING A STUDIO ALBUM?  OR IS IT JUST BECAUSE THERE ARE ENOUGH RABID FANS TO BUY THEM?  EITHER WAY, WE USUALLY HAVE LITTLE TO NO INTEREST IN ALMOST ANY LIVE ROCK/POP ALBUM.  USUALLY.

TWO NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS SPRING TO MIND: KICK OUT THE JAMS BY THE MC5 AND LIVE 1974 BY HARMONIA.

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF REASONS WHY THIS HARMONIA ALBUM SHOULD  BE CONSIDERED ON PAR WITH THEIR STUDIO ALBUMS MUSIK VON HARMONIA, DELUXE AND THE POSTHUMOUSLY RELEASED TRACKS & TRACES (with Brian Eno):

  1.  THERE IS LITTLE TO NO AUDIENCE NOISE (AND IF THE STORY IS TRUE, THERE WERE ONLY 50  PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE AT THIS SHOW TO BEGIN WITH). 
  2. THE SOUND QUALITY IS GOOD AND SURPRISING CLEAN FOR A LIVE RECORDING FROM 1974.  THE LEVELS OCCASIONALLY DIP OR RISE WITHIN A GIVEN TRACK, BUT THE TONES ARE REMARKABLY CONSISTENT WITH THEIR STUDIO ALBUMS.
  3. UNLIKE THEIR OTHER ALBUMS WHICH FEATURE SHORTER SONGS WITH TIGHT ARRANGEMENTS, THE PIECES ON THIS DISC ARE LOOSE AND SOMETIMES EPIC.  OF THE FIVE TRACKS ONLY ONE IS 5:20, THE OTHERS LOGGING IN BETWEEN 10 AND 17 MINUTES!  THE FEEL IS SOMETIMES DARKER AND EVEN MENACING, SHOWING AN EXPANDED CAPABILITY IN THE SONIC ARSENAL OF HARMONIA.
  4. THE SONGS ON LIVE 1974 DO NOT APPEAR ON ANY OTHER HARMONIA ALBUM.    

ADMITTEDLY, WE ARE KRAUTROCK FREAKS AND WE PUT HARMONIA HIGH ON OUR LIST OF FAVORITES FROM THE GENRE.  PERHAPS THIS MAKES OUR OPINIONS BIASED ON THE SUBJECT, BUT SO BE IT.  LIVE 1974 STANDS AS A RARE EXCEPTION TO OUR “NO LIVE ALBUMS” RULE AND ONE YOU SHOULD INVESTIGATE FOR YOURSELVES.

Grails….your new favorite psychrock band?

SO, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ONE OF YOUR BAND MEMBERS SIMPLY DISAPPEARS ONE DAY AFTER YOU’VE RECORDED YOUR FIRST TWO ALBUMS?  EVOLVE OR PARISH?

EVOLVE WAS THE SOLUTION FOR PORTLAND OREGON’S INSTRUMENTAL BAND GRAILS, WHO AFTER RELEASING THEIR FIRST TWO RECORDS LITERALLY  LOST THEIR VIOLINIST ONE DAY (or so the rumor goes).  WHICH TURNS OUT TO BE FOR THE BETTER.  THE BURDEN OF HOPE AND RED LIGHT (2003 & 2004) ARE PLEASANT-ENOUGH BEGINNINGS FOR GRAILS, BUT ONLY AFTER THE VIOLIN IS GONE DO THEY BEGIN TO BLOSSOM FROM MELLOW POST-ROCK-GENTLENESS INTO THE EPIC ETHNO-ROCKERS THEY’VE BECOME.

THE BLACK TAR PROPHECIES FROM 2006 IS A FINE SERIES OF EP’S SHOWING THE BAND BEGINNING TO GROW INTO THEMSELVES, ADOPTING A BROADER SCOPE OF INSTRUMENTATION AND HEAVIER, PSYCHEDELIC ARRANGEMENTS (SOMETIMES QUIET-LOUD-QUIET, BUT NOT ALWAYS).   BY THE 2007 ALBUM BURNING OFF IMPURITIES, GRAILS HAVE FULLY DEVELOPED THEIR BLEND OF ROCK MEETS RAGA INTO A HYPNOTIC, INFECTIOUS, RIFF-HEAVY MASTERWORK.  THE TREND CONTINUES AND PICKS UP STEAM THROUGH THE NEXT TWO RELEASES TAKE REFUGE IN CLEAN LIVING AND DOOMSDAYER’S HOLIDAY [BOTH 2008].

MOST INSTRUMENTAL BANDS RUN AN INHERENT RISK BY NOT GIVING MORE PASSIVE LISTENERS WORDS TO LATCH ONTO.  GRAILS CERTAINLY MIGHT BE A ‘BIGGER’ BAND IF FRONTED BY A VOCALIST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT A BETTER ONE.  THERE ARE ENOUGH TEXTURES, MELODIES AND RHYTHMS HERE TO APPEAL TO FANS OF ANY NUMBER OF GENRES, WHETHER YOU’RE INTO RAVI SHANKAR, HAWKWIND OR KINSKI. 

IN OUR HUMBLE OPINION, GRAILS HAVE MADE SOME OF THE FINEST INSTRUMENTAL ROCK ALBUMS OF THE AUGHTS.  HOPEFULLY MORE PEOPLE CATCH ON AS WELL…….

the artful stylings of……Ween?!

WEEN- A BAND THAT FILLS SOME LISTENERS WITH GLEE AND OTHERS WITH A STRONG CASE OF THE FANTODS.  WE UNDERSTAND BOTH POSITIONS.  THE BAND HAS SPENT THE PAST FEW DECADES MAKING GENRE-HOPPING, POLITICALLY INCORRECT MUSIC THAT ISN’T FOR EVERYONE.  WHAT  WE ARE SURPRISED TO FIND IS THAT AMONGST THE WEEN FANS WE KNOW AND HAVE TALKED TO, FEW HAVE MENTIONED THE 2003 ALBUM, QUEBEC, IN THEIR LIST OF WEEN FAVORITES.  WE’RE NOT SURE WE UNDERSTAND WHY.

QUEBEC, LIKE OTHER WEEN ALBUMS, TACKLES A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT MUSICAL STYLES, OFTEN WITH A TONGUE-IN-CHEEK APPROACH THAT KEEPS THE LISTENER UNAWARE IF THEY ARE HONORING THE FORM OR TAKING THE PISS.  BUT WHAT SEPARATES WEEN FROM SAY, WEIRD AL, IS THAT THEY ARE OFTEN GOING BEYOND SIMPLE PARODY AND WORKING VERY VERY WELL AT WRITING GOOD SONGS WITHIN THE STYLE THEY’RE TAKING ON.  THE OPENER ‘IT’S GONNA BE A LONG NIGHT’ IS A FANTASTIC ROCKER THAT IS ALMOST MORE MOTORHEAD THAN THE GREAT LEMMY HIMSELF.  ‘TRANSDERMAL CELEBRATION’ TAKES A DELIBERATELY PLAYFUL STAB AT THE FOO FIGHTERS AND ‘CHOCOLATE TOWN’ LAMPOONS RECOGNIZABLE ELEMENTS OF MODERN ALT-COUNTRY.  BEYOND THE HUMOR THOUGH IS A BAND THAT IS MORE THAN CAPABLE OF WRITING VERY CATCHY POP TUNES AND EXECUTING THE PERFORMANCES WELL.  ‘CAPTAIN’ IS STRAIGHT UP SPACE-ROCK, ‘I DON’T WANT IT’ IS A RIDICULOUSLY SAPPY POWER-BALLAD AND ‘THE ARGUS’ TAKES ON THE BLOATED INCONGRUITIES OF THE ‘EPIC’ SONG.

AS WE SAID BEFORE, THIS TYPE OF MUSIC IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.  THOUGH PERHAPS THE MORE IMPORTANT ISSUE IS THE UNSTATED POINT OF A BAND LIKE WEEN; THAT APPROACHING ALL OF THIS WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR IS A HEALTHY POSITION, ALMOST AS IF THE BAND IS FORCING YOU NOT TO TAKE ALL OF THESE ‘DEAR’ FORMS OF POP MUSIC TOO SERIOUSLY.  YOU CAN GENERALLY TELL WHEN WEEN ARE ‘DOING’ THEIR OWN THING AND WHEN THEY’RE PLAYING WITH AN ESTABLISHED BAND/FORM, BUT EITHER WAY WEEN DO IT WELL ON QUEBEC, WHILE REMINDING US OF THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY.

 

 

Q&A= the Chameleons (grandfathers of shoegaze?)

BAND?  THE CHAMELEONS

ALBUM?  SCRIPT OF THE BRIDGE

YEAR?  1983

DRUGS?  PINTS OF BITTER & PLENTY OF CIGARETTES.

WHO WERE THEY?  A FANTASTIC QUARTET FROM THE MANCHESTER-AREA CONSISTING OF MARK BURGESS (BASS & VOX), DAVE FIELDING & REG SMITHIES (GUITARS) & JOHN LEVER (DRUMS).  TYPICALLY LABELED ‘POST-PUNK’ (BUT WE’RE PUTTING IT OUT THERE THAT THEY MIGHT BE THE TEMPLATE FROM WHICH SHOEGAZE WAS BORN, MINUS THE ANGER).  CHAMELEONS RELEASED THREE STUDIO ALBUMS IN THE 80’S, THE FIRST POTENTIALLY BEING THEIR BEST.  

WHY SHOULD I CARE/LISTEN?  GREAT SONGS AND FANTASTIC GUITAR SOUNDS TO BEGIN WITH.  SCRIPT OF THE BRIDGE MIGHT JUST HAVE THE STRONGEST A-SIDE* OF ANY DEBUT ALBUM WE CAN THINK OF START TO FINISH. IT MIGHT ALSO HAVE ONE OF THE WORST ALBUM COVERS OF A DEBUT ALBUM (sorry Reg), BUT THAT JUST GOES TO SHOW “YOU SHOULDN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER”.  THIS RECORD HAS BEEN AN UNDERGROUND CLASSIC FOR DECADES, HAS AGED QUITE GRACEFULLY FOR BEING ALMOST 30 AND IS JUST AS POWERFUL AS EVER.  IF YOU DON’T OWN THIS ALBUM YOU PROBABLY SHOULD.  

  *[WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE RUNNING ORDER OF THE ORIGINAL RELEASE.  MCA DROPPED SONGS & CHANGED THE ORDER FOR THE U.S. VERSION.]