Monday, June 25, 2007

Jesus and Mary Chain @ Meltdown

the video for the Mary Chains "You Trip Me Up", a gorgeous slice of guitar noise with the sweetest song buried underneath it. I bought it when it came out, in 1984 or so, and I did manage to see one of their early shows in Berlin's Loft club. It was packed, they were about an hour late, played for 22 minutes exactly, there was some problem with the mic stand after which Mr Jim Reid left the stage, the others played the rest of the song and then skulked off as well. No riot. Then I seriously fell in love with their Psychocandy album, just great songs. And I love the cover, and the look. This video, which I hadn't seen before, looks like the Psychocandy cover coming to life. And I used to look at it a lot, haha.

So last Friday I saw them play their first British show in 9 years, at Jarvis' marvellous Meltdown festival (also saw the "Forest of No Return" vintage Disney tribute gig, with among others !!!GAVIN FRIDAY!!!, Grace Jones, David Thomas, etc., and a mad, erm foggy, and very loud and full on sunn o))) show). Somehow it never felt like JAMC were really away, felt more like they had a long break. The good thing about reunions is that you can reassess the past, and play what people really want to hear. So this was as good a Mary Chain show I've ever seen, great setlist, starting with Never Understand, followed by many of their greatest snakeskinned elegant nihilistic noise pop hits, the brothers Reid in good form throughout, Sidewalking, Some Candy Talking, Snakedriver, Cracking Up etc. The (initially seated) audience was on their collective feet from the start and throughout and it just never sagged (even with some false starts, Just Like Honey needed to be started three times until Mr J Reid was apparently happy with it, but so what?) Encore started with "Syd Barrett where are you?" Vegetable Man, followed by a seriously great You Trip Me Up (I could spot a very happy mosh pit in the front) and the final song, Reverence. I was in ecstacy, hey!

Support came from another Scottish indie legend, the mighty Pastels with their woozy, curiously drifting pop mood pieces. They sounded tighter than I thought they would, though the moping eternal teenager vibe was still fairly pronounced, I guess, I'm not an expert but I like them (from a bit of a distance, only own one of their records, Truckload of Trouble). Such a good double bill, and, as Jarvis reminded everyone, the last time you could have seen this double bill would have been in 1985. (!)

Afterwards in the foyer the party continued with the 1990s, who were initially billed as the support act, and music til late, old punk, post punk, and other alternative party music, and in the last half an hour an absolutely brilliant plastic pillow fight to the tune of Teenage Kicks and These Boots Are Made For Walking and other brilliant tunes I can't remember anymore, probably cos I was drunk!

So welcome back Royal Festival Hall, and/or South Bank Centre. I love that place, I love the location by the river, the uncommercial *smoke free* atmosphere, the cool programming, the fact that this space can create these unique crossover events, nostalgia fests, contemporary utopian dreams etc. etc.

All together now: Sometimes I walk sideways...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

2 Goerrrrls & a Pryn-taeaaar xxx

a weekly comical occurence in our office, or what passes for comedy. Every Friday. Do you know what's goin' on? And for some reason the photos got distorted too but I kinda like it that way right now...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

someone tell me why...

"There is good reason I guess
Having it once gone to far
When you clean out the hive
Does it make you want to cry?
Are you still being followed
By the Teenage FBI?
Someone tell me why"

these lines read like an entry in a book that everyone's asked to sign at a school reunion or something. and still hits home whenever i hear it.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Plus Today

A blast from the past - "Plus Today" - one of our oldest songs - but one we still play, um, today, cos it still works, recorded last year at the Rhythm Factory. Did I mention we're looking for one, two, three gigs at the moment? More on that later, as I find the whole process quite interesting at the moment...

Friday, June 01, 2007

when i'm hairy

I'm happy to announce that the new album by my band Plus is finally finished and ready to drop into your hands, well, there are one hundred copies of it. We ended up taking seven of the eight songs that made up what we then called the "Hairy" album, and seven new ones recorded recently. "Hairy" had a somewhat hairy concept for the cover art, which would have been the hairy chest and back of some beary or similar type guy. Somehow it never got off the ground and was just circulated as a CDR. We never found a willing or convincing specimen to pose for us, surprise, surprise :-). Since they hold together well we decided to keep them in the original order and added three songs at the beginning und four at the end. You might not even notice it though, I don't know.

So here they are:

1 Flower: one of our more adventurous tracks, it features sprawling guitar/noise work courtesy of the maestro Chris B, sofa drumming (!) (it sounds nice'n'heavy!) and lyrics about flowers blooming out of control. While that could be seen as somewhat bucolic it seems instead to emphasize nature's endless greed to multiply. It's very driven...

2 Antique Doll: A more straightforward rocker, and one of my favourites. it's quite short but packs in some great moments. I don't really know what the lyrics mean but they work in the context of the song. Something about masks and perceptions...and golden voices. Hmmmm...

3 Antlers: this has been around the block a bit and came out quite stripped down and washed up sounding in this version. Almost country-ish. Lyrics about antlers, stone circles and other mossy nature mood images...

4 Shades of Green: the original opener for "Hairy", original working title "Yo La Tengo" because it's textured laid back vibe reminded us of them, and still does. It's a very warped and wierd drinking song, but also about alcoholism. Shades of Green is the Irish bar next to Irving Plaza where we spent time every night before and after GBVs last few shows in NYC in Dec 2004, drinking with lots of other fans. Somehow I felt it should be a song, and a song about drinking. altogether now... Dis Arm the Settlers!

5 Pink City: Old school - meaning very ferocious and punky sounding, with violent images galore. Frantic guitars...

6 Winter Commute: Part one of two songs, well, there is a song called Summer Commute that we didn't record, a poppy upbeat one. This one is moody, foggy, recalls wintery highways at night, going nowhere, snow storms. Great little hook courtesy of Mr Bryan

7 Seeing Time: An old song that I rescued that appears very naked and bruised here.

8 Ephedrine Daddy: a warped kinda hit. Lyrics are from a secret source and mine mixed together. one two three four "Parking tickets... eight miles high". Love it!

9 Tired Eyes: a live favourite. a classic old school autumnal goth song if you ask me...dark side up., etc...

10 Teenager: The Monster... Sometimes it works, sometimes it falls apart. This version is very lucid and articulate. Plays like a transcript of a nightmare. Recorded soon after Katrina happened and some of the angsty images came from there, if I remember correctly. It's very special to me!

11 Purple Love Train: um, the title came about like this: each one of us contributed one word. I've meant to change it but didn't get around to it. anyway, after the heavy stuff we felt it should calm down now. I didn't write lyrics for this but i'm whispering something about summer parties in the 70s. I have some hazy memories that I can now associate with this track.

12 A cut: More whispery, stripped down, morose stuff

13 Scabland: ditto, the lyrics invoke some sort of depleted environment, a wasteland full of scabs... I took the title from ...Pynchon's Vineland and then found out that it actually means something specific, there is a scabland in Washington Country, and it looks great too. it's a very downbeat version, but worked for me with repeated listens

14 when i'm pretty: the song that became the title track, and it was Chris' idea to take it as the title for the whole disc! it's another rocker, about someone with maybe multiple personalities or different aspects to themselves. pretty could be something weird in this context. i don't *really* know, it doesn't have a specific meaning. i guess it could be about going out or entering some forbidden zone. maybe it should have been earlier on the album...but it ends it on a more upbeat note after the three low key tracks before it.

So dear friends and random readers, thanks for your usual patience, pls check out our myspace while I still have your interest, be our friend, and watch this space for one or two or so live shows coming up. Anyone who wants a copy of this (for free!) pls get in touch or leave a comment. cheers!

p.s. great cover art by Avis Underwood, as usual...