When people discover that I’m into music in a big way they will ask the inevitable question, “What music do you like then?” My standard glib and non-commital reply has always been, “Oh you know, anything released before 1986,” which, on the one hand tells you nothing, but on the other hand tells you everything you need to know. Why get into the present when there’s so much from the past just waiting to be discovered? Of course, just to be contrary, I’m very much into the present. Two albums currently on heavy rotation (do iPods rotate?) are Skying by The Horrors and Ersartz G.B. by The Fall. Both current, both new, yet crucially both steeped in a wide variety of pre-86 reference points. The Horrors album seems to have taken early Psychedelic Furs and the pre-pomp Simple Minds as its year zero. But that description doesn’t do it justice at all. Full-on, relentless and played by musicians at the top of their game, The Horrors would be my band of choice if I was 17 and had the waist size for skinny black jeans and the gall to wear pointy boots in public. Spotify it then buy it. And that’s an order.
The current version of The Fall are brilliant – tight, taut and tense with seemingly their leader’s approval to, like, get down. The album is all Sabbath riffs and rockabilly rhythms, wonky keyboards and slabs of cement basslines. On some tracks, Mark Smith sounds like an angry dog attacking an old slipper (eg the lyric that healines this piece). On the rest he sounds like a demented Dalek on downers. This may just be the best Fall LP since Extricate. It’s that good. In fact, if this album and The Horrors one aren’t in the Top 5 of any of those Best Albums of the Year lists that should be appearing any day now, I’ll turn my copy of Telephone Thing into a trendy ashtray and smoke myself silly.
Photo ‘borrowed’ from Flybutter via Flickr. Ta!
Another current obsession is Elliott Smith. I’ve written much about him in the past (use the ‘search‘ box on the side there). I love Elliott and return to him time and time again. This week I have been mostly obsessing over Alameda, from his Either/Or LP. It’s not just the way he practically whispers the lyric. Or the ghostly harmonising backing vocals. And it’s not just the way he sounds like he plays guitar with 10 fingers. On each hand. Nope. It’s the way (muso alert! muso alert!) the song goes from monochrome misery into a burst of technicolour joy over a pair of E flat and G minor chords. “For your own protection over their affection, nobody broke your heart. You broke your own…” Majestic is the word I’m looking for. My Christmas holiday task is to master this song on the guitar. Easy chords but a difficult picking arrangement. Pop round at New Year to hear me murder it if you fancy.
Alameda (Alt. Lyrics)
Alameda (Live WMUC circa June/July 1997)
Oh aye. Is it snowing on your desktop too? Nothing to do with me….
UPDATED AUGUST 2012….UPDATED AUGUST 2012….UPDATED AUGUST 2012