This Week’s Albums
October 4th, 2015
IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…
that doesn’t rhyme”. I do a D.J. gig every week at The Stoke Pub and Pizzeria (https://www.facebook.com/TheStokeGuildford?fref=ts); I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts) – in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose). Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun. I get to talk to people about music; play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds- well, I try to! I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you have forgotten about.
The Old: Buzzcocks- Singles Going Steady (1979)
Intended as the band’s introduction to the U.S. market, Singles Going Steady sees the English Punk band present their most accomplished album- it was not released in the U.K. until 1981; after the band had split up. Featuring their most famous track (Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) it was the band’s most complete album. There is sly and wonderful humour to be found- especially on Orgasm Addict’s tales of a lascivious sex freak. I Don’t Mind sees the band ratchet the offensive and create one of their most urgent and frantic songs. Harmony in my Head’s barked lyrics look at social inequities and neon signs: our hero is caught in the clatter of shoppers; he is long in the tooth- rallying against the world. Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’- the album’s second-most famous track- sports simple and repeated lyrics (love as an illusion; our hero feeling tired of being sad). Maybe the album’s most memorable chorus, it is a mantra for the disaffected dreamer- that feeling of disillusionment is tangible. Across the L.P. the band are tight and peerless: mixing humour with asocial (although there is a great social element) commentary; Singles Going Steady stands the test of time- it has inspired the like of Nirvana no less. One of Punk-Rock’s finest statements.
DOWNLOAD: Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve); Everybody’s Happy Nowadays; Harmony in my Head
STAND-OUT TRACK: Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)
The New: John Grant- Grey Tickles, Black Pressure (Released October 9th, 2015)
A lot of people may be unfamiliar with John Grant: the former Czars front-man has released an album critics are buzzing about. The 47-year-old is synonymous with his candour and honesty: the way he uses humour to diffuse and sanitise potentially hard subjects- his latest release is no exception. Ensconced in Iceland, Grant recently received a diagnosis of H.I.V.: a crippling blow he addresses right from the offset- an impressive and brave move. Whilst there are dark hues and disturbing avenues- especially on Down Here’s we-all-die-in-the-end realisations- Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is a largely affirmative and fascinating study. The Tracey Thorn-duetting Disappointing sees him listing his favouite things; Guest How I Know exorcises a broken love; the title track is a grand and emotional (piano-led) gem. Most artists would wrap serious illness and heartache in morbidity and anger: Grant ensures his songs tease absurd and thoughtful; never bring the listener down- instead offer something redemptive and astonishing. One of 2015’s finest albums, John Grant is a name you should familiarize yourself with: fall in love with a remarkable album from a truly wonderful artist.
DOWNLOAD: Grey Tickles, Black Pressure; Guess How I Know; Disappointing
STAND-OUT TRACK: Disappointing
The Influencer: The Jesus and Mary Chain- Psycho Candy (1985)
Not a sweet shop I’d ever frequent; Psycho Candy is nevertheless one of music’s landmark albums. The combination of guitar feedback and Pop-based structures foretold and welcomed-in the Shoegaze genre- inspiring the likes of Primal Scream in the bargain. The Scottish innovators may not have intended to create a genre, but they did just that: it is hard to ignore the album’s grandeur and accomplishment. Just Like Honey is a haunting and beautiful number: both Pop in sensibility and somehow not; it is a beguiling and entranced track- where our lead (asks his heroine) to use him like a plastic toy. Never Understand is a rollicking and cascading number: it is a demented and feedback-heavy beast; finally succumbing to its own weight- the final moments are a miasma of distorted vocals and feedback. Whilst the percussion work (from Bobby Gillespie) is a little robotic- it perfectly matches the mood in fact- the songs do not stray far beyond sex, drugs and dissatisfaction- the surly and somnambulistic delivery makes everything sound essential and vital. N.M.E. described the album as “a great citadel of beauty whose wall of noise, once scaled, offers access to endless vistas of melody and emotion”- that just about covers it!
DOWNLOAD: Just Like Honey; Never Understand; You Trip Me Up
STAND-OUT TRACK: Just Like Honey
The ‘Other One’: Arrested Development: 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… (1992)
The band’s debut (and essentially their greatest hits album) 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… refers to how long it took the U.S. Hip-Hop group to secure a record deal. During the early ‘90s (the album was released in 1992) there was a feeling Hip-Hop was going into new territory: Arrested Development’s positive messages and religious oeuvres seemed like a tide turning. The revolution never happened, yet the album did impress critics upon its release. Fusing African rhythms, laid-back grooves and melodic R ‘n’ B, it is a fine album. Inspiring the likes of Outkast and Nappy Roots you cannot ignore the songs: Tennessee (which shows lead voice Speech to examine the issues of the south) is the band’s defining anthem. Mr. Wendal looks at the homeless life: the plight and struggles they face; give money regardless of your status. People Everyday– a twist on Sly & the Family Stone’s Everyday People– is the album’s highlight. Whilst not as cutting as their peers and contemporaries, Arrested Development crafted an album with pure optimism and unity pleas: not a bad thing given music’s tendency to introvert and campaign for the opposition. A hugely evocative and moment-defining release; 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… is an album to drift away to- in a time when music was simpler and much more compelling.
DOWNLOAD: People Everyday; Mr. Wendal; Tennessee
STAND-OUT TRACK: People Everyday