Saturday, July 22, 2006

i have been to a number of fine gigs recently, albeit tending towards the old-skool - we saw obituary again during the world cup, and they are a fantastic live band - like heavenly, you really don't appreciate why they're quite so popular until you see them in their element. we also went to see the wedding present a few nights before that: at the end of the day, they have got the songs, they really have got the songs. they were my favourite band nineteen summers ago and they weren't too far off again: "you should always keep in touch with your friends" and "everyone thinks he looks daft" were the necessary nods to 1986, sweetly ramshackle but somehow the more affecting for it, but plenty else went right - "dalliance" and "kennedy" as the usual blissful walls of guitars, while "mercury" is such a sweet, evergreen song, and a closing "octopussy" was, similarly, so tenderly weighted… and last week, we even went to see british sea power, albeit they were playing a wedding party on a boat on the thames - whether they are also available for bar mitzvahs, i know yet not, but I found myself tapping my feet to them surprisingly easy.

anyway, this friday night, after a very fortuitous piece of late night web-surfing had revealed not only that the legendary secret shine had reformed, but that they were about to step out on to the boards in our very own manor, we traipsed down to the water rats to see them, at what in fact transpired to be their "official" comeback gig. on arriving at said venue there was a fire engine parked outside, momentarily prompting fears that a stage-struck, supershy 'shine had managed to get themselves stuck up a tree or something. luckily, it turned out that they were in the venue all along, and so, as part of a slightly disappointing turn out of punters, we watched secret shine live for the first time in - well, it must have been a dozen years.

i have never wavered from my love for secret shine, not least because i always felt they were somewhat better than the bands they were seen as trying to imitate - i got the impression, back in the day, that they would have traded aged relatives to sign to creation, but the point for me was that the way they had travelled from the equally brilliant but timid likes of "unbearable", "after years" etc to the dizzying headiness of "loveblind" or "deep thinker", without ever losing their (high-pitched!) vulnerability, made them stand head and shoulders above the kind of self-absorbed fashionable guitar noise that mcgee was selling at the time. in a sense, secret shine ended up getting it in the neck both from dyed-in-the-wool sarah recs traditionalists (for not sounding like a sarah band), and from everyone else (basically, for being on sarah). some of my mates, tending towards that second camp, have said vastly disparaging things about secret shine in the past, which considering they liked bands like my jealous god or thousand yard stare, still makes me bristle to this day.

so while those secret shine t-shirts i proudly wore at college have long since expired, i very much enjoyed watching them play a set packed with new songs (but don't worry, "loveblind" was in there too: as were "into the ether" and (i think) "ignite the air")... the decade of inactivity doesn't seem to have done much to dampen the impact of their double vocal attack and spiralling guitars, and the mix of delicacy and fire in their songs remains, um, untouched. hurrah for that.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


bubblegum lemonade "unsafe at any speed" (mp3): strawberry whiplash "boy in the bubble car" (mp3)

after all that, the in love with these times, in spite of these times dream world cup squad is as follows. and yes, i know it's hard to explain the absence of ooh, gattuso, sancho, fabregas, barnetta and especially cupre, but that's the challenge, innit:

buffon (ita), ricardo (por), lahm (ger), sorin (arg), cannavaro (ita), sagnol (fra), zambrotta (ita), grosso (ita), heinze (arg), meira (por), vaschuk (ukr), maxi rodriguez (arg), zidane (fra) (capitaine), pirlo (ita), riquelme (arg), ronaldo (por) (young player of the tournament by kilometres), ze roberto (bra), maniche (por), mascherano (arg), robinho (bra), juan (gha), klose (ger), torres (esp).

but yes. this whole "myspace revolution" seems to me, like much of the interweb, 1stly to be for a generation more youthful than me, and 2ndly mainly to be a(nother) forum for the attention-seeking, rather than a genuine outlet for the disaffected or obscure. yet in terms of being the perfect road map to find all those bands that you'd forgotten about, would never otherwise have heard of, or who never got round to doing a website, you can't really knock it, and some of the parallels with the 80s' zine scene (not least the sycophantic networking and occasional over-preciousness of it all) are undisputable. (i have dutifully assembled the most perfunctory myspace possible for this "site", too, although i am not yet sure why - any hints for what to do with it are exceedingly welcome).

anyway, i hereby exempt from all this moaning both bubblegum lemonade and strawberry whiplash. it would be insane to suggest that bubblegum lemonade are quite as good as their name suggests (i.e. some frighteningly exciting melange of bubblegum splash! and baby lemonade, who between them produced two of the greatest 7" singles ever pressed, and that's even before we get on to flexis): similarly, it could only be folly to imagine that strawberry whiplash could match a sliver of the combined joys of strawberry story (or, mildly less convincingly, switchblade) and meat whiplash, but don't worry, neither band is that far off. their joint recognisably scotch buzzsaw pop sound is best displayed on the lemonade's "unsafe", which starts with a "hey hey hey" and some most familiar drum machine and fuzz and brings to mind within about 0.01 instants just three words namely jesus, mary "and" chain. as ever, the song would be only half as good without the generous helpings of feedback which are kind of spooned in in dollops every so often, like angel delight. mind you, strawberry w.'s pristine "boy in da bubble car" is similarly essential, again with that shoppies / baby lemonade / fizzbombs / early primitives feel. between them, the lemonade and the whiplash give new meaning to the phrase "glasgow kiss". yes, you could say this all sounds like 1986 (nowt wrong wit that), but then again people are saying that about the demiricous album, which is equally brilliant. i really can imagine, when i stayed up to listen to john peel 20 years ago, him playing these, as crackling, fizzing flexis - the way i was first introduced to bubblegum s., and so many others.

in other news, the new paul langley 12" (on 4x4) is excellent. i really think that john peel would have loved that, too.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

this is nothing to do with music but hey!

this world cup has been fantastic. the france-brazil match was high enough quality, but tonight the italy-germany encounter was really top-drawer. fabulous stuff, and in the end a deserved win for the italians with a superb performance and two extraordinary finishes. it takes much to enthuse me but tonight i was putty in the hands of two great sides. and again, again, again the gulf between england and our "rivals" is so many oceans wide.

already i am so looking forward to the final. and music (however much i am enjoying ooh... the new speech ferapy mp3s, for example) must wait.