Chris wrote an interesting piece on his blog, partly in response to the ‘twee as fuck’ article that cropped up on Pitchfork a couple of years ago. Chris makes a lot of good points that make me nod and mutter ‘yes indeed’ as much as the Pitchfork article makes me frown and grumble ‘hell, no’. But then, come on, it was Pitchfork, what the hell do you expect?
Thing is of course that if you figure on the difference between the number of people who might read Pitchfork as opposed to Heaven Is Above Your Head (no offence to Chris and his readership) then you can see which kind of ‘truth’ becomes the more accepted. Used to be that I had a problem with that. Used to be that I would get cross about the feeling that ‘my’ culture, that the history of ‘my’ youth was being rewritten by people who had no clue. These days though I don’t really give a damn. We all of us write our own histories anyway, and if yours is different to mine, then that’s just fine, is indeed as it should be. Just don’t expect me to care too much if I don’t see much of worth in yours.
Do we get more isolationist as we get older? Or does a certain age just re-invigorate certain feelings of our youth? This is something that’s been flickering around in my head this week. I’m just wondering if we maybe enter periods in our lives where we lose track of ourselves and that it takes sometimes-monumental events to remind us of where our cores are at. I’m coming back to that idea of lives being elliptical, of always coming back to our cores before arcing off a new tangent. The need to recharge ones soul with the raw energy of… well, quite what I don’t know, but an energy nonetheless.
Anyway, it seems to me that the real truth in what Chris says is the point about Pop and culture being essentially post-modern and therefore able to be ‘about’ everything and nothing all at once. Indeed, how it cannot be otherwise. It’s impossible to make something that does not connect to something else, that does not reference another aspect of cultural existence. And that through those reference and connections we transfigure the original points of contact into something new and unique. Just so happens that some of those transfigurations are inspired and unusual and others are obvious and dull. Which you prefer of course is a matter of taste.
Just remember that yours is wrong and mine is right.
How sad am I? I made two Autumn mixes for myself today. They sound kinda great, though I do say so myself. If you fancy a copy of either or both, let me know.
Autumn Testament #20 - The Chills Autumn Stone - The Small Faces November Nights - Gram Parsons October Sky - Manual The Leaves Grow Old And Fall And Die - Hood Autumn Song - Pictureville No Bonfires - Max Steiner Autumn Leaves - Michel Legrand Autumn In New York - Modern Jazz Quartet Autumn Boy - Working Week Autumn Love - Electra Leave Me In Autumn - Scars Halloween - The Dream Syndicate Leaves - Oneida Now That The Autumn Is Here - Kicker theautumnkaleidoscpehaships - Satanstompingcaterpillars Autumn Wolf The Great Park November Starlings - Trembling Blue Stars After The Fireworks - The Go-Betweens
October's Model Home - Deloris The Stars In Autumn - Epic45 Autumn Fires - July Skies Autumn - Felt Autumn Lullaby - Bridget St. John Rose Hip November - Vashti Bunyan Snowfalls In November - Julie Doiron Scattered Leaves - The Be Good Tanyas An Earlier Autumn - The Field Mice Fireworks - Siouxsie And The Banshees Halloween - Sonic Youth Bonfire - Beat Happening Lost In Autumn - The Sea And Cake 100 Leaves - The Clientele Black Autumn - East Village Drug Autumn - The Windmills I Can't Find Myself In You (The Autumn Of...) - This Unique Museum Autumnal - Arab Strap Two Octobers - Trembling Blue Stars
I am not sure why I started thinking about The Verlaines again recently. Perhaps it was that burst of re-discovering those old Chills records and the attendant delve back into the antipodean sounds of the ‘80s. Well, whatever, it has been a terrific rediscovery of course. And such is the way of the world, that coincidentally some others have been doing a similar thing. As I write, I’m listening to a web-streaming radio show from the US where Robin is playing the very marvelous ‘Lying In State’, whilst there was a short post on the always-entertaining Fire Escape Talking about the group. A much lengthier and more in depth piece came courtesy of Dan and his Backed With blog. It’s only taken Dan twenty years to get around to writing about The Verlaines, but it’s worth it. He’s promised us that he’ll be writing about the other tracks on the Dunedin Double EP and that’s got to be worth watching out for.
So what have you been listening to recently? Me, well, I’m more excited about listening to sounds than I have been in a long time. Maybe it’s the pleasure to be had from actually spending money on records, on embarking on my own explorations sparked by interest and association instead of just what happens to drop through the letter box with a press release attached to it.
Having said that of course I really do miss a lot of that stuff. The Cherry Red releases especially, or more specifically the Rev-Ola and El releases. So it took The Brogues to point out to me that a new White Whale Story collection had slipped out, and also that a compilation of The Cake material was available. The Cake sound delicious; a rocking confection of Spectoral Pop that aches through strings designed to soothe broken hearts. Think The Shangri-La’s flying through a cracked soft psychedelic world populated by freaky fans of the Millennium. Ace.
It led me in some strange way also to the Fairytales Can Come True compilation on the Psychic Circle label. Some great tunes on there that will be playing at the next Exeter Goes (Psych) Pop night.
Also playing on that night (15th November is the date for your diaries, kids) for sure will be a cut or two from the Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers album. For some strange reason I had never picked this up before, though I remember very well that it was one ot the albums I had marked for investigation in that old Demon catalogue I had picked up some twenty years ago. One of the sets I did pick up at that time though was the Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clark. Such is the way of things, that I picked up a CD reissue of the same album the other week, and realised that the time lapses between original release and the two reissues I have bought are pretty much the same… scary stuff. Anyway, the Sundazed release of the Gosdin Brothers album has been a treat. I’ve been particularly excited to hear the tracks that involved Curt Boettcher and other assorted Millennium crew. So, you know, expect the exquisite baroque stylings of ‘The French Girl’ or ‘Only Columbe’ to be spinning through the air of the Exeter Phoenix. I’ll be the one lost and dancing alone behind the mixer.
And hey, hey, why had I never picked up on that John Phillips John The Wolfking of L.A. set? Man, what a great record. I did not know that Dylan ripped off the cover for Desire. That’s a great story. And Elvis was going to record ‘Mississippi’? How cool is that?
Also ineffably cool is the collection of torch songs that Kevin sent this week. I cannot explain just how thrilling it was to see the envelope on the floor when I came home. That distinctive hand. The spot-on choices. Magical. I had several of the songs already of course, but that’s often what is most special about mixes: hearing familiar songs in a new context. Being reminded of the genius you had all but forgotten about. These things are important.
There was a time when I was swapping mixes with several people on a regular basis. I miss that. For receiving mail is one of the most exciting things. Or maybe my life really is that sad. Well, whatever, so be it. I’ll just settle down and listen again to Nancy Wilson’s ‘Guess Who I Saw Today’ and tip a glass of wine at the stars.
Not that it’s all been old material. Just mostly old material. Like Joy Division.
Yes, yes, I know, I know. But Control is a lovely movie. I always liked Corbijn’s art / photography. Of course he always veered more into the Rock world than I should really admit to, but whatever. I always was a sucker for high contrast and hard light. Blame it on the Noir movie obsessions of my misspent imaginary youth. And didn’t he do that hand illustration for the Propaganda ‘Mabuse’ single? Few things scratched me as much as that.
I was too young for Joy Division really though. When Curtis died I was fourteen. It didn’t seem to matter very much compared to the thrall of Veronica’s hair in chemistry class, or the spectral walk of Audrey on the way to Games. Or, indeed, next to the threat of the skinhead’s boots. But that’s another story.
There was something I remember though. From years later. It was Pete Williams, writing either in a fanzine or a letter, about how daft it was to be writing about so many of the groups of the time (this was the end of the ‘80s) because, when you put on a Joy Division record, they all seemed to be so lame and empty. He was right too. About most of them, at least. But it is difficult to distance onself from the myths. It’s what Pop is all about, after all. But those Joy Division records. They do sound so special still. The live sets especially seem so intense. Hannett made Joy Division sound otherworldly, beamed in from space, Curtis like some doomed Silver Surfer. The live sets place them more firmly in the Rock firmament, and that’s not a criticism for once. For they sound as powerful and enraged as Purple Hearts.