The next post on this is site will be long and somewhat ambitious. I should know; I’ve had to write the damn thing twice, and there’s at least one more draft to fish out before I dare hit the publish button. So I can be excused for the brevity of today’s words. Or applauded, if that’s your thing. Which is the problem behind getting locked into a long-term blogging gig; life gets in the way, or the words grow cloudy. Then the guilt kicks in (if guilt is the apt description), the records pile up, and then Mogwai are at the front door, demanding to know why I’ve been ignoring their phonecalls.
Below the words: ‘Skylights’ by Parisian duo Future, from the new Abyss EP. And very good it is too – they name-check A Place To Bury Strangers in their bio, and that I get; but there’s also so much more. Echo And The Bunnymen in a hurry, I’d wager. More of this kind of thing.
There’s an old, fat, bald bloke on stage, perspiration soaking his shirt, spectacles all steamed up, and he’s bouncing about the stage as if he’s eighteen years old, enjoyment etched upon his features like he’d rather be doing little else. And maybe it’s the venue – modest, low-ceilinged, far smaller than his reputation would suggest – but something about this intrinsically works. Never mind that the average age of the crowd is somewhere north of fifty, that support act North Atlantic Oscillation have their set shanghaied by technical glitches not of their own making, and that the approach to the bar is an undignified scrum; Bob Mould and his band are in their element, tonight. The typical power pop trio; drums, bass, Mould’s trusty, petrol blue guitar – which I like to imagine he calls Old Faithful, except he probably doesn’t. There’s a great deal of Copper Blue in the air tonight; the first five tracks for example; towards the end of ‘Hoover Dam’ an amp fails or a cable falls loose, a roadie dispatched to scurry in the background to fix the leak, and for a while it’s just drums and bass and vox, yet Bob continues thrashing at his guitar regardless – and it still sounds bloody excellent. Band as tight, regimented unit, the pace loud and aggressive yet perfectly controlled, the main protagonist herding this night in a crypt like some vaudeville-era showman – as somebody quite rightly said on Twitter, ‘I’ve seen him tear apart a room with an acoustic, so electric is just “!”‘ (thanks Kate). And yes, that’s quite the apt description. Marvellous stuff.
Bob Mould / Helpless (Live in Glasgow)
Thanks to @MadeleineRooney for the photo and @RobertLeith for the video spot.
The musical pun is an insidious beast. Titular devices, appended through the dodgiest wit. Occasionally – and I mean very occasionally – it works; Kirsty MacColl and Electric Landlady. From Her To Eternity by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. The majority of the time, however, the punned title is at best awkward and clunky, at worst a stain upon the lexicon. Hairway To Steven by the Butthole Surfers. Public Enemy’s New Whirl Odor. Free Peace Sweet by Dodgy (even if I’ve always admired the honesty behind the band’s choice of name). Everything ever by Half Man Half Biscuit. Ministry’s Dark Side Of The Spoon is an absolutely god-awful name for an album. It’s a pretty weak LP to boot, but that’s almost incidental – collateral damage; the harm’s already been dictated by those five simple words.
Even Morrissey isn’t immune from an allegiance to the pun. Maladjusted is a record that’s adored round these parts, but very much in spite of the presence of ‘Roy’s Keen’. As a track it doesn’t bring anything to the party, but even worse than that is the manner in which its construction is specifically aligned to such “aware of soccerball” wordplay; were I a cynical sort, I’d think that the song was written around the title.
I mention Morrissey because of Catful Of Wallow, the new album from Shimmercore (aka Indianapolis-based multi-instrumentalist Mike Contreras). You’ll have guessed how much I rate the pun from the dismissive tone of this piece so far – but it does at least imply a musical Anglophilia, and an affiliation with the type of record that decorates a Lazer Guided Melody past. And once we’ve put aside what it’s actually called, this is a record that segues with conversation by virtue of its reference points. A mezze of musicality – never gratuitous (and certainly no Smiths rip-off). Elements sound like they were recorded in a Manchester summer sometime in 1988 – there’s a rough and ready indie texture present that’s particularly appealing. Elsewhere, there are twee pop aspects, ’60′s summer pop references, shoegaze tendencies – each track different in size and shape from its predecessor. It perhaps doesn’t universally work, but when it does (such on the lazy, hazy ‘Gorgeous’, or album opener ‘Graveyard Stars’, which sounds like The Brian Jonestown Massacre rummaging around in a branch of Our Price Records on a rainy day in 1987), both the scope and execution produce a smile.
Just don’t read the album’s title.
Bandcamp and buy here
Shimmercore / Graveyard Stars