May 27, 2024

Blue Aeroplanes – ‘Culture Gun’ – “poetic, laconic, surreal, narky and points in-between”

LAST NIGHT FROM GLASGOW                     28th April 2023

“When Goering heard the word culture, he reached for his gun”. Discussing art, politics, and the local scene, ‘Hips Like Cigarettes’ is a summation and introduction to The Blue Aeroplanes – “If I carried a flag, what would be on it?”. Talking / half-sung, tunes are solidly indie but strongly built and guitar solos with crashing riffs display a love of rock.

The band have been around since the Eighties and, unlike some, this isn’t a reforming; they never really stopped, just slowed the releases to every five years or so. This isn’t a revisiting of past glories, either. I have fond memories of discovering ‘Swagger’ in 1990 (yeah, I hadn’t been paying attention) but this would be as happy a discovery as that, their only hit album. If it weren’t for the fact that plenty of bands (REM, Radiohead, etc) claim inspiration from The Blue Aeroplanes, I’d be talking about where they link to other bands more recent than them. They do have elements of Tom Verlaine’s Television though, in the poised space in the music, the sense of being a detached observer, slightly bemused, yet surrounded by music that contradicts the disengagement.

Last Night From Glasgow specialise in the undeservedly lost, buried under the waves of new releases. Often putting out older Scottish bands alongside contemporary singer-songwriters, they arranged to reissue The Blue Aeroplanes’ ‘Swagger’ and since the band had an album in the can, grabbed that too. This band are almost as far from Scotland as you might get, living in the art capital, Bristol. Based around the two core brothers and a dancer (see, they even influenced Bez…) the band are a seven-piece currently, making for a full sound at times and a consistent one, given how many people (40+) have passed through the band since its inception.

‘Building An Arc For The Anthropocene’ is serious about the potential end of the human era. Instead of shouting, the music tells us about the passion, while Gerard Langley offers Gang Of Four-ish one-line observations and comment. The whole album is angrier than older releases, showing they are failing to mellow with age – and quite right too. St John, the apostle, is brought up and visionaries are discussed, while ‘20-20’ laments that we can nearly see perfectly, looking backwards. ‘A Snake-Oil Shot’ is an angry tirade about fads of every flavour, fake people, fake news, even bulletproof coffee, punctuated with a shouted chorus, horns and screaming blues guitar. The band are thoughtful enough to give us a quiet exit on the last track, encouraging us to choose what we need from the post-modern menu while quietly telling us how powerless most of us are to change the destructive and selfish behaviour of the few.

The sounds are frequently punchy and will bring a smile to post-punkers as well as plenty of fellow travellers. The lyrics are poetic, laconic, surreal, narky and points in-between, counterpointing the music and leaving plenty of places to hang the listener’s admiration. Start here or start somewhere else, this is a band that found what they wanted to be early on and stuck with it, becoming only more what they are, which is a remarkable thing to be able to do.


Ross McGibbon

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