Thursday, 14 April 2011

The World's Most Cultured Lobotomy; and a Los Angeles hire car

I'm always amazed at people who have this seemingly endless appetite for new music. Once upon a time I'd have probably doubted it possible to really appreciate music that way, but we can put that one down to the “oh, no-one can possibly appreciate music differently to the way I do” youthfulness. Arrogance, basically. Nonetheless, as I get older I listen to less music, and I listen to music less. Gone are the days of 400 last.fm scrobbles a week, now if I tip 100 I'm doing well. And that's without an mp3 player, too (I have an mp3 player, I just have no headphones and keep forgetting to buy them, being a lazy bugger in the evenings when I could be looking).

In any case, I generally struggle to synthesise too much new music. It's like modern art, in a way. Wandering around the Tate Modern's a pretty powerful experience, as the sheer variety and vivacity of the art combines with the fact you're generally looking when the place is really busy. The whole thing's awe-inspiring on one level, but it's more than a little asphyxiative, too. You wander out thinking “that was cool, but thank FUCK I'm out of there”, and go amble along the South Bank in the hope of getting your synaptic functions back. It's like the world's most cultured lobotomy.

And too much new music can have the same effect – I don't necessarily mean stuff that's recently released, trawling through a whole heap of 70s stuff would probably have the same effect. Especially if I took leave of my senses and stuck Tales from the Topographic Ocean on. But I guess everyone has a tolerance level for music, and I'm quite happy listening to a couple of albums a day. It does mean I'm listening to less stuff for the first time, and that might not be a good thing, but I'm not ready to crank out the Ellie Goulding and live on a coffee table forever more yet.

Anyway, to take a post tangentially in a different direction, I'm going to say a bit about a couple of discoveries I have made while tentatively dipping my toe in the ocean of Spotify. Spotify's an interesting matter, but with rumours today suggesting that free use of it could be capped in the not-too-distant future, I'm making hay while the sun shines and catching up on stuff I've been meaning to listen to for roughly 4 years.

First up is Clem Snide's “The Ghost of Fashion”. God knows how I first heard their 2005 album “End of Love”, but it's one of my all-time favourites, the world-weariness and general resigned feeling play out alternately with despair and the grudging acceptance that hey, the future might not be what you wanted but it's alright. It's wonderful, and I'd not heard any Clem Snide that matched it. But I'd never heard The Ghost of Fashion, which keeps up the themes to a similar standard. As a recent discovery I've not listened to it much, but it's one of those oh-so-they-did-do-something-else-good moments of relief.



The main one I wanted to enthuse about is Shack's “Waterpistol”. It's one of the all-time great 'lost' albums, mainly because it was. Originally, post-completion, all but one of the master DAT tapes were lost when the studio they'd recorded the album in burnt down. Then, the album's producer lost the last remaining master tape in a Los Angeles hire car. It turned up, but then the label folder. This was all in 1991. The album wasn't released until a tiny German independent label stepped in, in 1995. The story's regurgitated often and every sod seems to have heard it, but it's absolutely unfortunate.


And a terrible shame, because bugger-all people have heard Waterpistol (even compared to later albums HMS Fable and Here's Tom With The Weather) yet it's fantastic. It's jangly guitar music in the Liverpudlian tradition – Shack were pretty closely subsequent to The La's, for instance, and lead songwriter Mick Head's got a hell of a knack for melody, if slightly less so on how to construct a song. I'd recommend Sgt. Major, Neighbours and Walter's Song as tracks to listen to, but go stick the entire of Waterpistol on your Spotify while it's free. It's a wonderful, major-key, upbeat but not remotely saccharine. I can't recommend it enough.

Here endeth the ramble.

1 comment:

  1. you listened to clem snide because of me... god knows where I first heard them...

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