July 16, 2024

As I listen through my iTunes on random

There’s a lot of stuff that I wish I could get around to reviewing, or spend more time musing on.

The guilt I feel about failing so many musicians in servicing them with a review that no-one will ever read, is exacerbated when I put my iTunes to random, and a whole range of tracks, many of which I downloaded for free for a purpose that was never realised, begin to appeal.

So, to make a pathetic amend, what am I listening today, and what am I thinking?

Well firstly, My Pleasure‘s ‘I’m So Happy’, sounds as if the lead singer has managed to recruit the musicians from Stereolab, not a bad coup. Its Stereolab x2 and the whole thing don’t sound half bad.

When Paula Abdul recorded ‘Straight Up’ I first saw it on the Chart Show one Saturday morning. I was playing football for the school team. I’d deemed it desirable or appropriate to prepare for the lunch time game to drink a litre bottle of cherryade, which I’d bought with my paper round money from the local newsagents. I didn’t play well and we lost 2-0. Still it was nice to have the occasion anchored in history by Abdul’s only real contribution to pop music.

Stereolab feature a great deal in my music collection. I think I stopped listening to them in about 2006. But I had faithfully bought everything that they had ever produced up to that point, mainly on the basis of the angry sardonic critical krautrock that they produced in a purple patch up to 1994. To be honest I ought to have stopped at 94, or at least these days I find it difficult to listen to anything beyond 94. From 94 they mellowed. I think Letaetia and Tim Gane became parents some time after, family does this. The music from this period, whilst experimental, was, though, emotionally numbing. Contronatura from Dots and Loops was a good example of that.

There’s alot of music in fact, that’s so seared into my soul, from repetitive listening, that even if I might have not listened to it for 20 years, when I play, I feel like I’m still satiated and I can take no more. I feel like I could delete all this stuff and not loose anything, and yet I still can’t bring myself to do that. It does get in the way of a more satisfying random listen though.

One album, relatively new, which we reviewed on Vanguard Online recently, is Adore//Repel’s Empty Orchestra. It’s not new music, its a bit Sigur Ros. Its been suggested to me informally, and I’ve heard it argued academically, that there has been no new music since the explosion of the internet. The internet connects everyone to everything and the past. Sub-cultures are impossible, isolation and ‘Galapagos’ incubation is impossible. I wouldn’t be well placed to say for sure. It might be that I’ve become pretty anal about my music as I’ve gotten older. But it feels like that. That Adore//Repel are the best that new music can offer me now, seems pretty sad, though I do like them (but not so so much).

Adorable’s Sunshine Smile came up after Adore//Repel. That’s one song that is seared into me, that I could listen over and over again. I head it first live, after a friend had persuaded me to see them at the Hallamshire Hotel in Sheffield. Towards the end of the gig the lead singer lamped the guitarist over the head with the mic stand. No-one in the audience saw that coming. The band didn’t last long after that incident. Are Adorable one hit wonders? I don’t remember another Adorable track.

This has to be the best track of the night so far. Fragile Things’ The Enemy is I. 1980s stadium rock stuff. Dramatic, passionate and heartfelt as always.

Jonny L next up. Intasound. What a fantastic musical hop skip and jump from Adorable, through Fragile Things and on to Jonny L. That’s the beauty of random on iTunes in the absence of John Peel. Intasound has the furious pace of Underworld. But Jonny L draws on the old drum n bass and jungle vibe, putting in little flourishes and garnishes, making it all kind of druggy and psychedelic. Underworld were never psychedelic.

Jeff Finlin is one that completely passed me by, though I notice, he creeped into my iTunes collection in 2016. He’s like a combination of Bob Dylan and Guns n Roses, which of course equals Soul Asylum. He’s one of those artists, who operates just beneath the surface, he’s proficient in making a pretty good fist of emulating some of the heroes, he’s got the different parts in there, and yet in his track Sugar Blue Too, it feels like the production values don’t quite tie it altogether, and that he misses the opportunities to inject a little enthusiasm, a little passion into the track. Still, a nice listen.

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