Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy

The Jesus and Mary Chain (or JAMC as they're more affectionately known) are a Glaswegian group formed in 1983, revolving around the songwriting partnership of brothers William and Jim Reid. 1985 saw the coming of their debut - Psychocandy, which is still regarded as a milestone in British music and has stood the test of time as a classic, for me. It was one of a kind, one of the earliest to combine pop songs with searing guitar tones and fuzz, that beaaauutifull fuzz.

The sound that The Jesus and Mary created was famously described as like hearing a chainsaw in a hurricane. It's a barbwired kiss. It's a nightmare of static and honey. Based around the core duo of brothers William and Jim Reid their debut LP still sounds as raw, electrifying and chaotic as it did in 1985. This is pop music eviscerated. Beautiful melodies debased by screaming feedback. Classic chord progression burnt and buried beneath sheets of shrill white noise. Pop toyed with and tarnished.Psychocandy is the perfect title for this collection of dazzling melodies haunted by the ghost of the Velvet Underground. The band exploded onto the indie scene in the UK in 1984-85. Their harsh black leather take on the outside stance offering stark relief to the fey strumming that dominated at the time. Bathed in a dissolute wasp nest of feedback these where howls of romantic nihilism. Simple, short, brutal exercises in the art of the classic pop single. This is Phil Spector's wall of sound bashed out by John Cale and Iggy Pop. From the opening scream of Just Like Honey the Reid brothers drop nothing but classic track after classic track. The basic reverb drenched drumming is provided by Bobby Gillespie.  His lack of technical ability amplifies the beautiful naivety of the songs. It's the battle between the sonic battering and the sweetness of the music that gives the material it's power. These are dark places, dank with desperation but brisling with aggression and strident song writing.  Anyone with a faint interest in the glory of guitar music should own this record already. If you don't have a copy and you love your music loud, difficult and loaded with attitude then buy this album. Revel in its beautiful chaos. (*)

taste the floor

Friday, April 8, 2011

UGK - Ridin' Dirty

My favourite southern hip hop artists, UGK. They formed in 1987, comprised of childhood friends Pimp C (Chad Butler) and Bun B(Bernard Freeman). They were active until Pimp C's untimely death in 2007. Here's their 1996 record, 'Ridin' Dirty'. 

Probably the best hip hop album of all time. Yeah, I said it, sorry Liquid Swords. Pimp C and Bun B are definitely my favourite southern duo, they pretty much complement each other like yin and yang and wow can they mc...I mean some verses just leave you gobsmacked (Bun B's verse in 'Murder' is probably my favourite verse of all time), and they're some of the greatest storytellers ever. Comes with free swagger. 

glitter and gleam ain't all what it look like

Monday, April 4, 2011

Alec R. Costadinos - Romeo & Juliet

Wut? Cheesy cover? yeah I know. I can't help it. For some reason disco records come with some of the kookiest covers ever. To add to the perplexity of this situation, this is a concept disco album. About Romeo and Juliet. Yeah. 

Couple of things though, objectively speaking - this was made in 1978. Disco gets a lot of unwarranted hate, for reasons that are quite confusing to me at this point - its popularity in the predominantly gay culture pissed off the homophobes (and still do), and its chart topping section of the genre which was at worst, inoffensive (K.C and the Sunshine Band, for example) and at best, decent, caused people to stereotype the whole genre as dismissive. Now, if you applied these standards to rock music, it would be the equivalent of someone hating rock music because of Nickelback and Creed. Disco artists like Moroder and Chic changed the game and were studio innovators - incorporating soul and funk influences to the then contemporary electronic styles. And then you have Costadinos, who released this in '78; this is probably my favourite of the genre in its original form. Stunning production, mind you.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Flying Nun Records - 25th Anniversary Boxset

Ever heard of Flying Nun Records? Probably one of the best record labels on the planet. Want proof? Here's their 25th Anniversary Boxset. 

The only reason I probably don't listen to this as often as I should is that every song is literally one highlight after another; there's way too much good music here to be absorbed in a single sitting. That of course is my problem and not the boxset's. Yes, the best and most consistent music scene of the 80's/90's was set in a small city called Christchurch, far away in New Zealand, and Flying Nun records was its breeding ground, nurturing and establishing (albeit locally) some of the most fiercely experimental and wacked out independent music of its time, which as of 2007 have been handpicked and compiled to perfection. Somehow, something like this should be too good to be true, but the fact that this exists and goes somewhat overlooked in regular independent music revisionism further acknowledges that this is one of the cruelest jokes in music history. Equal parts garage, equal parts jangle, all with the pop sensibility of Apollo - this is a slice of Olympus in itself (or 4 slices, if you're technical and all). To every artist involved here and to Flying Nun records themselves - may your cups runneth over mates. You guys are heroes. 

disc 1
disc 2
disc 3
disc 4