Sunday, March 22, 2015

Album Listening Club - I Wasn't Born To Lose You discussion

I first became aware of Swervedriver sometime around 1991 or '92 when their U.S. label A&M was heavily promoting them. I was working in college radio, and found out that Swervedriver were from the same town as one of my other musical loves of the time, Ride. Swervedriver had a huge wall-of-guitars way of crafting their songs back then, and sonically recalled - to me - a bit of Ride here, some My Bloody Valentine there. Their first album, Raise, was a fantastic blend of guitars bordering on noise, but stayed within pop convention. They were soon one of my favorite bands. The lyrics bordered on beat poetry ("Ex-cop 'round the block, rockin' chair, suckin' beer/He blasts flies with his gun, 'cause swatting's no fun" from "Rave Down"), which was another big draw for me.

The band released Mezcal Head in 1993 and I loved it as well. The noise factor was dialed down a bit, but they retained the machine-gun snare and swirl of guitars. Their 1995 album Ejector Seat Reservation wasn't released in the US, and I pretty much missed their last album before they went on hiatus, 1998's 99th Dream. I was in my "dark" phase where I wasn't listening to or finding much new music. I can't remember when I acquired the CD, but it felt like a big musical departure. I didn't dig 99th Dream at the time, but I've warmed to it. I still don't think that I've ever actually heard Ejector Seat Reservation.

The band re-formed in 2008 and played some reunion shows and tours, and this year released their first full album of new material in almost 20 years, I Wasn't Born To Lose You - the album you voted to discuss! So, let's get to it. I'll put my comments in the…comments.

As usual, purchasing from iTunes links helps support Your Older Brother. Thanks!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

ThURGHsday! #10 - XTC

One of the more electrifying performances of the film for me is XTC's "Respectable Street." The clip opens with a frenzied Andy Partridge pointing to the crowd and yelling: "YOU! Gimme some rhythm, I need some rhythm!" while stamping out the beat on the stage. The crowd starts to clap in time and he introduces the song.

If there is any song in this film that made me want to be a performer, it's this one. Andy's deft guitar, fiery vocals, goofy faces, and command of the audience are utterly intoxicating. Brilliant playing by the rest of the band as well - Colin's bass parts are more prominent than on the studio track and the harmonies are spot on. Terry's drums are as powerful as you'd expect. The unfortunate irony here is that XTC stopped performing live just two years after this performance. They remained a studio band for the rest of their time together, releasing 9 more fantastic albums (two of those as the psychedelic project The Dukes Of Stratosphear), eventually breaking up in/around 2006. (Incidentally, XTC wrote & performed one of my favorite Christmas songs, "Thanks For Christmas," in 1983 as The Three Wise Men.)

The spotlight tends to highlight Partridge's cyclonic stage presence in the clip, leading to the illusion that not much is seen of Colin Moulding, Dave Gregory, or Terry Chambers. We all know that XTC was a collaborative effort, however, and the music tells that story well.

Where URGH! They Now?

Andy is active on Twitter (@xtcfans) and is busy with XTC remasters along with other writing & recording projects. Check out his APE website for more info! (There was a forum on the site years ago and I tried contacting him for a brief interview but it was locked down due to spam, I think, and Twitter isn't a great medium for Q&A, but he did try to make it happen. Thanks, Andy!)

Colin retired from music for some years after 2006 but has recently been turning up in a few projects, most notably singing on the track "The Man Who Died Two Times" by L.A. duo Days Between Stations, and appearing in the video for that song last year:

Dave has been a member of a couple of bands since leaving XTC, Tin Spirits and Big Big Train.

Terry has also retired from music, and lives in Australia. The Chalkhills site has a lengthy interview with Terry from 2002.


Last ThURGHsday! - Jools Holland - "Foolish I Know"
Next ThURGHsday! - Klaus Nomi - "Total Eclipse"

As always, purchasing from the iTunes links in this post help support

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Album Listening Club - Meat Is Murder discussion

This Album Listening Club selection was chosen by the members of the Club (sign up here!) from the top 5 albums of 1985 as voted on by Slicing Up Eyeballs readers. The fine folks at Slicing Up Eyeballs were kind enough to go along with this crazy cross-blog crossover idea that I had. Thanks!

1985 was a watershed year for me. There was a lot going on for me emotionally and physically, and perhaps that's why the music from that year is so strongly embedded in my psyche. (I actually think 1985 might be the best year for music, ever.)

"Nowhere Fast" - Morrissey/Marr
I didn't discover Meat Is Murder until autumn of the year I started high school. There was a girl in one of my classes - I'm not sure how we met, other than sitting next to each other. She had teased-up dyed black hair and wore goth-style clothes & makeup, for which I'll admit to always having a weakness. In plain terms, I had a complete crush on her, and she seemed so confident and cool and all the things you think about other kids at that age. (There's a story of how I almost ended up dating her best friend's older sister, but…perhaps on another blog.) Some days she would take my spiral notebooks and write in them. Through some investigation, I eventually found that what she was writing were lyrics from Meat Is Murder.

I was already a Smiths fan, having discovered Hatful of Hollow while on a spring break trip with my friend earlier that year in Fallbrook, CA. Something in Morrissey's forlorn, pleading, aching lyrics connected directly to my adolescent brain. Meat Is Murder - with its clear anti-meat and anti-school/bullying/authority stance - both challenged and drew me in further.

The album was released on February 11th, 1985 without the song that many know as the centerpiece of the album, "How Soon Is Now?", which was added to the US & Canadian releases because of the song's popularity. The track was removed from the album on the subsequent Johnny Marr-remastered releases in 2009. (Angus Batey makes the case very solidly on The Quietus that the song doesn't really belong on the album.)

I'll put more of my personal thoughts about the album in the comments. But here's the short of it: I love it. 2nd favorite Smiths studio album. Now let's hear from you all!

"Rusholme Ruffians" - Morrissey/Marr