Sugar For The Pill

Maybe we’ve reached a point where band re-unions have become worthwhile artistically. In the past, when the 60s groups and the punk bands reformed it was often a case of the fans get a nostalgic night out and the band members get a payday (see also The Stone Roses). Not much in the way of new material that meant anything was forthcoming. Let’s face it, no one really wanted the reformed Sex Pistols to make an album of new songs. When Television reformed people got to see a group they’d never seen, only been able to hear on record. That was enough (and Television went on to make new records that many people thought were pretty good but I bet they don’t play them much anymore). But I think there’s something changing. The new songs from Slowdive are a case in point. Star Roving came out a few months ago and sounded great and now there’s a new one. Listen to this, out last week ahead of an album in May…

That is fucking gorgeous. It sounds like the work of the group who made Souvlaki. But it also sounds new and like the work of people who have moved onwards. Maybe the experience they had first time around- success very quickly when young, the music press inventing new cliches to describe their sound and then turning on them very quickly too, goaded on by press savvy starlets like Richey Edwards (who said they were worse than Hitler), three albums and then dropped by a label (Creation of all people) that wanted hits- was so accelerated and so intense that they had to stop. The act of having a break for twenty years, getting back together older and wiser, with two decades worth of new sounds to make and new things to say, makes for good music if the creative intent is there. The pressure of the early 90s music press has gone. There’s an audience of fans from first time around who have money and babysitters. There are new fans who have reclaimed the word shoegaze and turned it from sneer to celebration (Drew said that there were loads of young people lapping up Ride in Glasgow the other week). There are new groups who have grown up using parts of the sound and moving it on themselves. It used to be the case, especially with guitar groups, that youth was the thing, bands had to be hip young gunslingers. Maybe that doesn’t matter anymore. Reform and do it again but better.

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Star Roving

A new song from Slowdive. Shoegaze for 2017 (which sounds like 1991 but somehow even moreso). Pedals for everyone. Head down, fringe flopping forward, strobe lights, scuzzy Converse, sonic cathedrals. This is a magnificent racket.

Listen Close And Don’t Be Stoned

I sat down last night sometime after nine and flicked the telly on. We have a handful of music channels with our freeview package. Most of them play the current top twenty selling downloads, one plays a non-stop diet of The 100 Greatest Power Ballads! or 50 Great Love Songs From Films With Hugh Grant In. The last one plays a random mixture of stuff from the past with the occasional themed hour. Last night’s theme hour was called Cassette Culture or something similar. When I turned it Pearl Jam were grunting their way through something horrible and two songs later Chicane were doing rave-pop with surfing in the video. In between- you’d have to ask the programmer why, I can’t fathom it- was Alison by Slowdive.

Slowdive

I’m really enjoying the new My Bloody Valentine album- it soundtracked my commute to and from work for most of this week. The indie-dance drums of Only Tomorrow, the minimal organ and voice songs, the futuristic noise of Wonder 2, the riff attack of Nothing Is, superb all. One of the things that’s struck me most is the mix, the way that some of the instruments sound so far away and some so close, that it’s not got everything turned up loud for the radio sound. Loving it, it works in the car, and it empties my head on the way home from work.

After Loveless we got shoegaze, a whole slew of bands with FX pedals who were supposed to sound like MBV. None of them did really; none of them had Kevin Shields in their line up. There was some chaff among the shoegazers but there was some wheat too. Slowdive recorded some good songs and at least one very good album. Here’s their namesake song.

Slowdive

I’m also loving these Mike Disfarmer photographs.