Saturday, December 9, 2023
A record I've been anticipating greatly from an artist who stands pretty much in his own space. Lonnie Holley, a black American man, born at the turn of the Fifties and working out of Atlanta Georgia. Someone not defined by one medium. An artist, an educator and a musician.
Holley's past is well documented. An exceptionally harrowing and brutal childhood in Birmingham, Alabama, that has shaped his life and art. He's only come to general attention as an absolutely remarkable artist in recent years and is seizing full advantage of the attention it's giving him.
New album Oh Me, Oh My is as good a place to start as any. Ladies and Gentleman, he is floating in space. Because this is a record about space and wonder more than anything else. Holley appreciates the power of both.
Almost a Jazz record in terms of the way it allows the listener to appreciate the moment. The realisation of existing within a universe that can be at once astonishingly terrifying and astonishing beautiful. And in his own words, ' how precious life is.'
Do yourself a favour. Take an hour out of your life. Sit down and listen to this. It's a record that richly repays that small sacrifice.
Teenage Fanclub fans are busy posting their lists of favourite albums for the year on social media as we speak. What that generally means is lots of records that sound like Teenage Fanclub and artists who they themselves hold dear. The Byrds, The Beatles, Tom Petty and other Rickenbacker faves. Music that won't frighten your grandma.
Kevin Robertson is an experienced trobadour in these matters from Aberdeen. He enjoys his own jingle jangle morning on latest album Magic Spells Abound, which displays nine of these carefully assembled ventures into yesteryear.
The songs here are versed in traditional values and go down mightily easily. Tailored for types with 5D and Shake Some Action near to the front of their record collections. At times you wonder whether these songs are Travelling Wilburies outakes. But please don't let that put you off A skillfully assembled and presented collection.
Friday, December 8, 2023
I go back some way with Protomartyr. That fierce, defiant and special Detroit band. They've always been good to me, and others, and it's immediately apparent, listening to the opening moments of Formal Growth in the Desert, (remarkably their sixth), they remain last knights standing, or else sitting, (at their Round Table probably), still resolute, devoted to the cause.
They were such a find for me, when I first came across them, just before they released Relatives in Descent , (still possibly their masterpiece, although I'll come back to that), in 2017. That was a difficult time for me. An older brother died in awful circumstances it felt like I was living through an actual nightmare.
Protomartyr at once seemed like a band to hang on to, because although their themes, mapped out with incredible personal honesty and courage by singer and guiding visionary Joe Casey, seemed relentlessly bleak, they stared them down with grim courage and belief that they would prevail and bring us with them. It was wonderful to realise that bands like this still existed. Could still exist. Like the ones in my youth. The Bunnymen, R.E.M. and The Smiths. Noble quests, crusades that you could sign up for. Something worth fighting for.
I saw them shortly after Relatives came out and they didn't disappoint for a moment. Casey was formidable that evening. A method actor of the old school. Brando, Di Niro, Pacino. An intense, scarred two hundred yard stare war veteran. Bottles in his jacket pocket. Like grenades waiting for their pins to be pulled and for they themselves to be chucked into the fray, into the heart of the enemy bunker nests to explode, and take everyone inside with them. Casey was furious in the true sense of the word, and his band were valiant.
They've been back at three year intervals since and it doesn't take long in the company of Formal Growth to know that they're battle hardened as ever. A crack troop. Theirs is a sound that needs to evolve if they're to endure. Relatives was a record that , remarkable as it was), was still build on unmistakably recognisable tropes of classic Joy Division and Pere Ubu. The band realised this and now their sound is much more malleable and fluid, difficult to pin down.
Greg Aheen their guitarist has in the intervening years emerged as a particularly notable player, a Starbuck to Casey's Ahab. Formal Growth is immediately a ravenous beast that needs to be caged if it's going to be contained in civilised company. It's not one to be played at dinner parties unless you wish to find yourself feasting at one another's throats before the main course is served. It's fantastic and seems destined to become better and better with every play. It might by the end of the year be set to stand shoulder to shoulder with Relatives. Something I thought I'd never say. Protomartyr meanwhile are one for the ages. True forces of nature.
The Guardian are saying that the new Peter Gabriel album i/o is a late career masterpiece. I've listened to the record and it's good / great in my opinion, but it's still difficult to know how to respond. When it comes to a legacy artist like Gabriel, these days things could generally go one of two ways but will probably land somewhere in the middle. An artist like him is either going to produce a work of absolute genius like Bowie's last few. Incredibly strong like Eno and Cale's recent stuff. Or negligible piffle like artists I won't name to spare them embarrassment.
Gabriel has always struck me as a reasonably sensible fellow. Even when he was running round dressed as a fox or a daffodil during his Genesis days. He's been a pretty consistent artist too over more than 50 years of putting out records.
i/o, his first for five tears is no exception. It's a pretty good record. Good tunes, fine lyrics, some sobbing in the stalls from lifetime fans.
I've liked a lot of stuff Gabriel has come out with down the years with Genesis and under his own steam. I bought and liked a couple of albums without ever nailing them to my record player.
I've given the record a few plays now and suspect that a number of long term fans will be throwing their hands up and claiming this as a classic. I'll leave that to others, not particularly having a strong personal investment in the man myself.. It's certainly a more than respectable effort which gets better to my ears every time I play it.
Thursday, December 7, 2023
Early in the year I caught two old favourites The Rain Parade and The Dream Syndicate at a small, intimate gig at Cluny 2 in the Ouseburn Valley..
Or to tell the truth, I caught the tail end of Rain Parade's supporting set, turning into the venue as they were winding up their final song and heading backstage. I hate it when that happens. Seeing the support act is a key feature of the time honoured gig going ritual. Still, The Dream Syndicate set was magical and the Puicci Brothers returned for the Syndicate's encore, and the two bands came together for a wonderful version of Television's Glory in an almost 'ten guitar salute' for the recently departed Tom Verlaine. As I said to Steve Wynn as I shook his hand and made my way to the exit, 'It was moving'. He replied that that was a very good thing to be.
The new Rain Parade album Last Rays of a Dying Sun, released a couple of months back, is also a moving and excellent thing. David Roback, a cornerstone of the original incarnation of the band is gone now of course, but Matt Piucci and Roback's brother Steve still man the Parade's fort and tend the band's signature sound and guiding spirit here with some style.
Of course where RP go, there are certain bands and a set of influences that will instantly come up. The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Beatles, Dylan, Neil Young, Television and so forth come immediately to mind. There isn't a song, barely a moment on here where these reminders won't be drawn to mind. Not a problem, but certainly a factor.
I didn't quite make it to the end of the record, though it's a fine one which Rain Parade fans will enjoy. I was tempted to take it off and put Younger Than Yesterday on at a cerain point mind. We were all much younger then though after all. Still. Certainly a noble sally back into the fray.
Coming on like an underground vagrant gang in the manner of Fat White Family, or Brian Jonestown Massacre, Or perhaps Baader Meinhof or Red Brigades on the run from the law. Index for Working Musik stumble into the daylight blinking for the first time since Lockdown was declared, all those months ago, on debut album Dragging The Needlework for the Kids at Uphole.
I'm a sucker for bands with shades, leather jackets, curled upper lips and manifestos of insurrection and mysticism. Even though we're hearing this for the hundredth time round by now and these boys aren't really veering from the trodden path swaggered down moodily by The Velvets, Syd's Floyd,13th Floor Elevatrs, Fall, Felt, and Auteurs decades back.
These were comparison points of suspects I immediately drew up while listening to the first tracks here. I can't say I was complaining. I like this conspiracy theory bend sinister approach, and admired the fact that Index for Working Musik seemed more than content to stick to given scripts rather than struggling to reinvent new wheels that didn't need reinvention. As I said, song titles come on as manifestos. Lyrics are insurgent slogans that remind you of the thumbed Ballard, Greene and Conrad paperbacks on your bookshelves. That's if your book collection is any good..
This is dark, twisting insolent guitar music from members of Proper Ornaments and Toy who have excellent form in this respect in recent years. Plotting their route across deserted city streets in the early hours of the morning, this is a fabulous record for those who discovered the Doors, The Velvets. Pere Ubu or T.Rex at 15 or 16 and have never been quite the same since.
I love it when I chance upon brilliantly plotted narratives like these by chance. A few years ago it was New Yorkers Mystery Lights. Then, another time Finns Black Twig. Now it seems Index for Working Musik have come up with the minor cult occult classic for 2023. It's blistering stuff frankly. Fans of the early Bunnymen, Magazine, Monochrome Set, Gorky's and Super Furries should form an orderly queue. This will more than keep you going for the coming weeks..
A while ago I was having one of those 'I need to buy a new record' moments that I'm prone to.It's too late in life to do anything about it now. Even though the one thing I really don't need is any more records. You should see my flat. Anyhow, I turned out of The Eldon Shopping Mall in Newcastle City Centre and made my way around the corner to Reflex Records one of my habitual browsing stations. And browsed.
So I had a look at the cut price racks that record shops use to shift product that they've given up on shifting. I found something I was immediately interested in but couldn't immediately find the second option I needed.
I chanced on a Candidate record that drew me in. . I didn't know the band but it seemed to fit the bill. Good cover. Layers of mystery. Interesting. When I got it home and played it, I liked it a lot. Wikipedia describe the band as Folk Rock 'full of gentle, dark landscapes.''They have a good track record, going back 25 years or so. That will do.
Candidate have released a new album, called Pont Clear in recent weeks and it fits that description and is a great listen. Somewhere between XTC, Teenage Fanclub and The Clientele and that's a fine place to be. Stewart Lee likes it and so do I.Stew, (and Stew always chooses his words carefully), describes it as a 'finely crafted Faberge egg of Pop miniaturism'. That will do too. Thanks Wikipedia. Thanks Stew.
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Oh 2023. What a musical start. Barely into February and already at least 15 albums that have turned my head good and proper. So many I haven't got round to writing about. The new Robert Forster. As splendid and moving as you might expect. The Murder Capital. Billy Nomates. And John Cale, probably my favourite thus far. And now this.
The Waeve is a collaboration between Graham Coxon, of Blur of course and Rose Elinor Dougall. Their eponymous debut, released on Friday is certainly a concept. A weird and thrilling one. Futuristic, weird and fantastical. Like some fabulous dystopian novel by Ursula Le Guin. Or one of those truly out there Sci-Fi Seventies or Eighties films. Logan's Run, Rollerball, Tron.
Musically Coxon has upped his game. Even for him. The whole record has an electro-pulse reminiscent of Jane Weaver and there are squalls of early Roxy Music, Bowie and Fripp. The two harmonise in almost ecstatic bliss. It's really some record.
Born, like so many great records of the last couple of years out of Lockdown. Necessity inspiring incredible imaginative invention. I listened through to this in increasing astonishment, at a single sitting yesterday. I'm doing so again, now as I complete this review. It's a quite wonderful record. Astonishing, playful and very, very more-ish.
Australians The Necks rank highly, in terms of Rock Muso / Jazz bores, The Wire and Pitchfork readers, and general oneupmanship circles. A great time can be had, listening to their stuff, stroking your chin nodding your head slowly and telling your unimpressed mates how you've been so completely into them since, well forever.
Latest album Travel doesn't even bother to reinvent The Necks wheel in any way whatsoever. Well, none of their fans would really want them to.. Quite the opposite frankly. This meanders along like a bog standard Jazz record from out of the Miles / Coltrane stables in the Mid Sixties.
Nothing much happens here but it happens incredibly slowly and tastefully and won't upset your missus, though she might interject, 'has anything happened yet?.' after twenty minutes or so. Well you're used to that. Most quiet nights in with you two end this way these days.
The answer to that question is 'Well no not really. But we're just coming up to a good bit.' In truth the good bit doesn't actually arrive but lets face it, a lot of enduring and perfectly happy relationships are a bit like this too. The Necks may not float everybody's boat but they're quality and at least they don't force any nasty unexpected surprises on the listener.
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
I don't think I've ever heard a Robert Forster record that I didn't like. I can't think of another long running musical obsession of mine, band or solo artist that I can say that of. Even R.E.M. let me down in the end. But Forster never has. And every record he's been on since the Go-Betweens first hatched in Brisbane in the late Seventies still has had a great deal to say for itself.
But even given Forster's hallowed status as a serious and genuine hero of mine, I approached The Candle & The Flame with particular excitement and anticipation because it was made under particularly trying circumstances, indicating that it might be a listen of an entirely different sort from what we're generally used to.
In 2021 Forster's wife Karen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the prognosis was not good. Rather than being momentarily crushed by this turn of events as many would have been, Forster and his family circle chose to turn this into a creative act of solidarity and support, and eighteen months later we have The Candle & The Flame and it's a truly remarkable object. Not the doom and gloom ordeals we have got accustomed to in recent years from the likes of Nice Cave & the Bad Seeds and Mount Eerie, for someone who has past. but something much more celebratory and even upbeat in tone. With all of the wisdom of a loving husband and father.
This is in keeping with everything I've got to know about Forster down the years, listening to his records, reading the interviews he gives, and Robert is the most generous and eloquent interviewee I know. The whole slightly sad and thwarted story of the Go-Betweens, one of the most important bands of my adult lifetime, and the way he has tirelessly documented and anthologised it since the premature, untimely and frankly tragic death of his writing partner Grant McLennan in May 2006.
Forster's band for this project is composed of his closest intimates. Adele Pickvance, who played in the late incarnations of The Go-Betweens. His son Louis, also of the late Goon Sax. His daughter Loretta. Even Karen herself on xylophone and 'ba ba ba' backing vocals. It's a family circle and probably needed to be, given the circumstances.
Every song has the resonance, the intimacy and levity and love of family meals. In a way it's the most private of private rituals put on display. Forster sings of himself at 19. His early heroes, Bowie, Ferry, Byrne and Verlaine who taught him to be the only artist he could. He sings of the passage of meeting and falling in love with Karen in Germany. He sings of their current relationship with tablets and pills and her tenacious fight with cancer.
It's a beautiful, minimal and brave record by an artist who has always valued the minimal as an instrument for profound artistic expression. It's an album that doesn't say too much but just enough. One to come back to over the coming weeks and months as I surely will. Power to the Forster elbow.
Hey kids. Here's Acopia. With more of their Umtra Emotive Dream Pop. This means that they sound a bit like Warpaint if you need further pointers.
Acopia seem to hail from Australia though Internet information is rather scant. Their eponymous debut album has scant focus but is generally soft and unthreatening.
This kind of thing is slightly lacking in clarity and err, well generic. The adjective 'pleasant' comes readily to mind
Monday, December 4, 2023
I guess we're all looking for spiritual homes all our lives. Places where we we feel safe. Perhaps an actual home. With partner, kids, pet and well kept lawn, the option most of us hope and plump for. It might be a group, a gym, a church, a dungeons and dragons group.
Or in my case a pub where everyone knows my name, a club which looks like the club we dreamed of chancing upon all our lives and making a date with to return to at the end of the working week. A place where we can be ourselves. The low door in the wall, behind which adventures beckon. I think I've found another one.
Then after a soak in the sauna at the Royal Station Hotel swimming facilities where I'm a member. On to The Telegraph and a cider and a chat with Chloe and Courtney and some songs on the jukebox. This time I play a Beyonce tune, she's playing down the road at the stadium for a couple of nights. Beyonce in Sunderland. Fancy. It seems a bit incongruous. I imagine she probably won't be checking out the town. Going for a pint with her people. Back to The Sunderland Hilton I suppose for a foot massage..
Then down to the Quayside. I'm going to a gig. I've been doing this quite a bit this year. It's given me a new lease of life. Newcastle looks sensational in late Spring sunshine. Actual summer is not far off and the city I love so much is responding with a spell of bonny sunshine. The football team have qualified for the champions league and everyone seems happy. I see lots of smiles tonight.
I'm going to a new venue. Xerox next to William Armstrong's Swing Bridge. An engineering wonder and a reminder of when Newcastle was a pioneering hub, ahead of the pack, a forging and prosperous city. The envy frankly of the world. I never cease to marvel at this marvelous place. I'm so glad to be here and have no plans to go anywhere else.
I've heard mixed things about Zerox. Full of posy young people apparently, and an ex working behind the bar, who someone doesn't want to cross paths with any time soon. This begs a question for me. Why on earth should young people not be posy. Isn't that exactly what youth is for? Bowie was posy in his youth. So was Eno. We should all be posy in our youth and try to remain so. Growing up is overrated. And besides, there's an enormous amount in adult life that needs to be resisted. My own list grows every day.
I wile a way the time I have before the support comes on, chatting to the impossibly friendly barmaid. I keep trying to work out who the Ex to be dreaded is. They mostly all seem impossibly friendly and impossibly lovely though there's one who seems slightly more daunting and intimidating. I bet it's her. She's not someone I'd mess with. I'll have to ask the person I assume she dumped.
The support band
Anyway, the barmaid I'm with is just great and she really makes every effort to chat. She's not posy. Just young. A big smile, great mop of curly dark brown locks, a colourful array of tattoos which we chat about. Her name's Zen, impossibly. I feel like I'm in some scene in a Tarantino, set in Newcastle instead of Los Angeles. Next to The Suspension Bridge instead of in the shadow of The Hollywood Sign.
I have time to admire the decor and do so. Take some snaps. Cool long tables, spattered like Jackson Pollock paintings with what appears to be candle wax. Collages of black and white photos of the Rock and Roll cool set. Bowie, Basquiat, Patti, Clash, Johnny, Miles. There's so much thought and love behind it. It's a shrine. To wonderful things which deserve a shrine.
The gig room. Space for a couple of hundred I imagine. A bar at one end, a low stage at the other. A sound booth, a merch stand. Great wall deco of artistic squiggles on black. Simple. Artistic. But not pretentiously so. Anyway, the first band are on.
To my shame I can't tell you who they are. I try to get into in my brain over the course of the evening so I can record it here. But I'm 57 and fully aware that memory issues are mounting. They're Mek or Tek or something like that. They're from Manchester and dabble in Industrial Noise. They've got a set of buttons on a desk that they adjust and twiddle plus a guitar. I feel I might be at The Factory in the early days. Cabaret Voltaire or one of the bands on the Factory Label. Great film of warehouses and urban landscapes played on the screen behind them. They're great and I tell them so.
Half an hour to kill before the headliners. I go down to the bar. They're playing Neu! over the system. One of the impossibly long tracks that you hope will never end. I'm falling in love with this place. I sip my pink cider, crunch on the ice. Check the app on my phone to confirm virtually every song that's playing. Even Primal Scream who generally annoy me, sound great in here. Then it's time to go and watch Ulrika Spacek.
The room is more than busy enough but it's not packed. You can wander in and out of the spaced out and relaxed crowd. There are a few people at the front who are losing it a bit but inside themselves. Inner space.
The band are loud. Impossibly loud. But I choose to place myself right next to one of the enormous speakers at the lip of the stage. I'm a glutton for punishment but I love this sound. Ulrika Spacek have a sound that I can only describe as a ringing sound. It doesn't chime. This has nothing to do with The Byrds,. It bears far more resemblance to Radiohead who are from the same neck of the woods. Ulrika are from Reading, Radiohead from Oxford, a short drive away.
They sound like they're from where they are from. Not the most interesting part of the world, though the countryside is nice. Lots of time spend in cars going somewhere. Not much happens except 9 to 5 and paying off your mortgage. The occasional spate of murders to liven things up, if you believe Morse, which frankly I don't for a moment.
Yes, they're like Radiohead without actually sounding like them. There are five of them. A lead singer who actually looks like he might be a third Greenwood brother. A drummer who seems a bit younger. Dave Grohl type with similar long flowing hair and flailing limbs. He's the dynamo that drives them on. A bald bassist wearing the kind of arty round specs that Howard Devoto favoured when his hair gave up the ghost and he shaved his head in the early Eighties. A second guitarist who looks not unlike a Greenwood brother too. Surely there can't be four of them. A guy in beard and baseball cap who manages a third guitar and also does the keyboard work.
They make one hell of a sound. Their songs are like clockwork, if you broke them down they would resemble the inner mechanics of a clock. The band don't say much. They focus on their work. They are grateful that we're here and the singer says so between songs. They don't take it for granted that we have made the effort to come out and see them. Bands say something like this increasingly I find. Times have been tough during these Lockdown years. It's tough trying to create and keep going these days. To make ends meet.
Anyhow, they're astonishing frankly. I feel I'm witnessing the UK's most underappreciated band. They've been doing this for a few years now, put out a few albums. They're on hipsters radars for sure but few are saying how consistently superb they are.They tour Europe quite a bit. I imagine they're more appreciated there. Britain frankly doesn't deserve Art much these days.
I'm enjoying it thoroughly but I'm also struggling. Feeling my age. My legs are aching and I feel like I'm developing tinnitus. I fear for my ears tomorrow morning. I'm not going to make it to the end of the gig. Much as I'm enjoying it. Astonishing though it is.
I take one last look at the audience. They tell you as much about the band as their actual records do. Everybody has withdrawn within. Some are swaying, even dancing slightly, but everyone has withdrawn into themselves. They're a cerebral band that chart inner space. It's a wonder to behold and experience.
I head downstairs. Thank the lovely Zen and tell her how much I've enjoyed myself. Thank Christian too and tell him he's got the place just right in every respect and I'll be back. Frankly one of the best gigs I've experienced for years. Ulrika Spacek aren't really getting the credit and acclaim they deserve. But hey, who is. These are the times. Anyway. At least I've found another place to hang. Made some new friends. We soldier on. Terrific evening,
Ulrika Spacek are an Alternative English rock band that have been operating under the radar for a number of years. If you want to label them, and labelling and comparisons are generally necessary with music, you might describe what they do as art with discordant guitars. Sonic Youth, Deerhunter, My Bloody Valentine. That kind of thing.
New album Compact Trauma, (surprisingly only their third in all since debuting in 2016), will immediately appeal to anyone remotely prone to this stuff. It starts off as it means to go on with atonal, oddly tuned guitars and abstracted vocals and continues from there in a similar vein. You might find yourself drifting into a trance at some points. I did on first listen but found that I liked the sensation.
They hail from Reading, Berkshire. The jury is out on Reading. Let's face it, the jury is always out on all of us, forever. But Reading more than most places or people that I can think of. Whenever I've been in Reading it's felt most of all like an expression of inexpressible dullness. Sorry Reading residents and fans but it has.
Now I've lost my chance forever of being granted the keys to Reading I must say it has at least given us Ulrika Spacek They are not dull and I can't think of another band operating in the UK currently that do quite what they do. They offer a hint of the strange. The kind of thing that Bowie offered in the early Seventies and Wire did again at the end of that decade. Then Pavement and Radiohead throughout the Nineties.
Most of all this record reminds me of Radiohead. Both bands hail from a similar part of the world and they share a certain ennui. Compact Trauma reminds me how extraordinary The Bends sounded when you first heard it. So alienated and out of time. Waiting for time to catch up with it.
I can offer no higher compliments. Compact Trauma is another quite excellent record on Ulrika Spacek's own personal conveyor belt of gifts to the universe. Feel free to lift it off the belt and sample it for yourselves.
Great to find such a vivid and vibrant record with snow and ice closing around from all sides outside my flat. December seizes hold and boots scrape across sludgy pavements towards Christmas blinking at a distance..
The record concerned here is Streams & Waterways, the combo behind it a London trio, Witching Waves, They've been round the block a few times, that's for sure, but happily all the laps of the track haven't rubbed all of the rough edges and character off them.
What you get here is nine songs of ragged Indie charm that fans of The Bug Club and Mermaidens would appreciate and cherish. Lush at their most ragged Girls at Our Best, forty years on.,
Everything rattles and bristles with cgaracter, melody and attitude. It's a fine way to invest half an hour of your listening time. Witching Waves clearly pride themselves in giving value for money and that's what you get here.
Sunday, December 3, 2023
A fascinating artistic adventure. A set of records that delve into the past and its attempts to anticipate the future. The Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan is a series of electronic instrumental records that unfold like an Original Soundtrack to a slightly creepy film set in the Seventies. In Warrington and Runcorn possibly.
They're absorbing, mesmeric albums. Somewhere between The Exorcist soundtrack, and a bunch of Northern geeks and their attempt to make a Kraftwerk record.
Gordon Chapman-Cox, the mastermind behind the project, is now four records into it and its shaping up to be a true labour of love. Anyone who grew up in the Seventies will recognise the vistas, contours and lineation he's mapping. The Nations' Most Central Location is just the latest installment.
Get yourself a set of headphones, sit back in a comfortable chair and close your eyes, to be carried backwards in time and into the future at one and the same time. This is blissful experience
The South Hill Experiment are a project out of Los Angeles. On their bandcamp page they state that the most interesting time to make music is right now. Err yes. I agree with that entirely.
On their current album Sunstrikes, they definitely make music that's about Right Now. It's Pop Music really. Stuff that would be in the charts in a more enlightened galaxy.
The Experiment are a pair of brothers; Baird and Abe. They were born and raised in Baltimore but have upped sticks and found their way to LA. Here they make their spacey and poppy music. They sound not unlike hippies, Perhaps this is another dawning of the Age of Aquarius. I wouldn't mind frankly.
Saturday, December 2, 2023
Shane Macgowan. What to say. A public school boy who became a Punk. And then a Pogue. 'Kiss my arse' in Gaelic. A very Punk assertion. But he was a poet first and foremost. In a noble line of Irish drinking and brawling poets.
I never saw The Pogues. I'm not sure why that is. I came of age at the time when they were constantly touring. So it wasn't for the lack of opportumity. I loved the band though they were not known for their guitar sounds. It was a time in my life when guitars were the common denominator of the bands I loved the most.
The Pogues records were consistently excellent and Macgowan's lyrics consistently a cut above those of his contemporaries. Here he used his education. He knew his Beckett, his Joyce, his Behan. Seamus Heaney.. The band he fronted provided a noble, sensitive and robust undertow to carry and magnify his words until you were obliged to notice them. If you had a brain. Or a heart. His singing voice was not perhaps the best. But it fitted. Completely,
He did well to last as long as he did. Given his taste for a jar or a shot. Or several. We have the songs. And the lines. And the memories. Drink a toast to him. Spin the records. He's worth remembering. But shouldn't be mourned. In a line from one of my favourite Pogues songs Navigator written for the faceless, nameless Irish labourers that built the monuments and byways and railway tracks and bridges and stations of a great empire;
'Navigator, navigator rise up and be strong. The morning is here and there's work to be done.'