Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Random voyage of musical discovery pt.1: The Pastels

Our house is full of music, discs, tapes, old vinyl are stacked everywhere and sometimes in inappropriate places, I don't always know how to tap into our vast collection in meaningful or methodical ways, and itunes is filling up (I imported over 500 GBV/Bob Pollard songs over the weekend, and that's nowhere near all of it). Still, I sometimes feel ignorant, especially when it comes to older OR contemporary, more obscure or regional bands or artists that I might have heard about a few times but never actually consciously listened to. I guess that's one of the beautiful things of living in the days of the internet and the availability of music and information about music. There are so many ways to fill the gaps.

So to start somewhere I though of a little game that would more or less lead me from one band or artist to the next without me making too many conscious choices about the direction. I quite like abandoning the moment of a personal decision, or direction, it can strangely liberating and can lead you to places and situations that you wouldn't have found otherwise. Leave the building and walk right, then left, then right, ad infinitum and see where it takes you. Then do it the other way round, first left, then right. If in doubt about something, toss a coin. Start reading the whole library by reading one book and then reading the one next to it, ad infinitum (I seriously did this for a while in the libraries of the University of Constance and Sussex Uni, with mixed, but interesting results) Buy albums by artists who want to be your friends on myspace, if you find them cheap at Oxfam. Oh, wait...

Anyway, talking about..., the Oxfam Music shop in Ealing is a weird occasional treasure trove. Now the word seems to be out, but you can still get interesting things at reasonable prizes there. And contribute your money to charity. There must be some local music journalists... My main catch there has been finding the first Wrens album ' Silver' for £2.99, which is seriously sold out and allegedly would be a really hot item on ebay. (You can just about hear the band that made 'The Meadowlands' lurking in there somewhere, but it mainly sounds like a Pixies inspired noisy weird pop band with short, sharp songs) So shopping in there quite often throws random musical goodies my way, often from a few years back, but sometimes brand new or even promos.

I found The Pastels compilation 'Truckload of Trouble' in there the other day. So it got me thinking, that I don't know near enough about Scottish bands of the early 90s, and that there might be so much out there I could tap into if I would follow on by association. So I want to start a chain of records in my collection, starting with this one, mainly by looking on amazon's helpful links to other artists people that have bought this album have also bought, and lead on from there. And/or if amazon doesn't work I want to find inspiration in other weblinks that come from the previous band or artist. It should be bands or artist that I have not got any albums by, and there should be some good reviews, or something that recommends them. Just see where it will go and what I will discover. I want to research and write a bit about each record too. This should happen at least once a month, to keep it flowing. The Vaselines are next.

Anyway: The Pastels. 'Truckload of Trouble'. Great title. I like some of the
songs, but I'm thinking I might need to get some of their later albums to get a bigger picture. This one is a compilation of singles and unreleased tracks, and the quality is a bit varied. The overall feel of the songs is a bit impenetrable at first, woozy, lazy-sounding, occasionally pouting and introspective and, I guess, insular pop with very flat vocal delivery, with the occasional guitar pop gem, or a more urgent groove, to wake you up. It's all quite charming after a few listens though, and even the flat vocal delivery of Stephen Pastel, that's been criticised by various people, starts to make sense. They seem to live and mope about in a sonic space of their own, and I can (vaguely) see why they were so influential, even though there's a sleepiness here that doesn't always connect with the here and now. I'm not sure all of this needs to be remembered. But I'll go back to this one, I'm sure... Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

tux said...

Great early stuff on truckload. They sound very unpro which is great in my book.