Posts Tagged ‘Jesus and Mary Chain’

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Jesus and Mary Chain: Darklands (1987)

October 11, 2013

darklands

Roll: 3-9-16
Album: Jesus and Mary Chain, Darklands — 2011 2CD/1DVD reissue

Until Stoned and Dethroned (1994) came out, Darklands (1987) was always my least favourite Jesus and Mary Chain record. It didn’t deliver what I wanted from JAMC. Sure, “Happy When It Rains“, boasts the mechanical post-modern rock’n’roll sound I loved on Automatic (1989), but not to the same extent; like it was a demo for that later album’s whole sound. But more importantly, and more detrimentally, Darkands famously abandons the “savage noise-pop” of Psychocandy (1985). To me Darklands was always a sort of nebulous, half-formed, netherworld of an album. So, in a way, one of their most aptly titled collections.

Over the years I’ve remained eternally hopeful and every time I listen to Darklands I expect to hear something in it I’d previously missed. Some hint of the magic and brilliance that’s been ascribed to it by music journalists, fans and bloggers in the years since it’s release. And though I’ll admit it never sounds as bad as I remember, I’ve never been able to hear it as other than a lethargic, boring mid-tempo folk-rock record marred by some pretty glaringly cheesy ’80s production.

I’ve never been sure if it’s just the song arrangements that never worked for me, but the John Hughes-style drum machines really don’t help matters. And I normally love me some grandiose ’80s drum machines, yet somehow I’ve always felt they sound entirely out of place on Darklands. To my ears, the album begs for an organic Sam Phillips/Sun Studio-style production. The songs are essentially a post-punk take on The Everly Brothers and deserve a more human touch.

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The Raveonettes: A Touch of Black (2005)

April 22, 2013


Roll: 5-2-11
Album: The Raveonettes: A Touch of Black (Promo EP)

At some point I decided I should be more or less devoted to The Raveonettes. Something about their perpetual pop music underdog status and their unquenchable, almost irrational determination that they should be the biggest band on the planet. Or that they always have been but no one noticed. To me they’re the physical manifestation of a Springsteen song where they protagonists fight against overwhelming odds only have victory elude them at the last minute.

I’m not sure why I have this impression about the Danish noise-pop duo, or if it’s at all accurate,  but I like a band with a touch of myth and mystique about them. They remind me of the ’80s. Not because of the oft-noted Jesus and Mary Chain textures in their music, but because they hearken back to a time when rock stars felt like rock stars; like alien beings or demi-gods instead of just people doing a job like any other working schlub.

What happened? What happened to rock stars? We used to call Prince, Madonna and even a working schlub like Bruce Springsteen rock stars because stars are high above us, unreachable, untouchable. For all her glitz and bizarre costumes, I’ve never been able to see Lady Gaga as more than a rock person, not a “star” at all. Maybe it was all those “humanizing” interviews she did where she seemed be trying too hard to be aloof and quirky. Just an average kid playing a role.

Were the rock stars of my youth like that too? Duran Duran and Boy George always seemed so much larger than life. Heck, David Bowie was literally from Mars. But, of course, they’re always just ordinary people sitting on extraordinary pedestals.

Do we just realize this now because the Internet has brought musicians and their fans together on a more intimate level than ever before? Have too many tour blogs and back-stage videos going out of their way to say, “See, I’m just like you!” shown us that rock stars are human after all? Or do kids these days see Katy Perry and Chris Martin as ambassadors from a magical video wonderland?

Probably they do. I think probably I just grew up.

Haruki Murakami "Dance Dance Dance"

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Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy (2CD+DVD)

November 18, 2011

Jesus and Mary Chain PsychocandyRoll: 3-2-13
Album: Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy

My introduction to The Jesus and Mary Chain wasn’t the seminal noise-pop classic,  Psychocandy, but their third studio effort, Automatic (1989). It was the tape I bought after a girl named Thai showed me their singles and B-sides compilation, Barbed Wire Kisses (1988). It sounded pretty good to me, especially the catchy head-nodder “Sidewalking.” But what I immediately gravitated to wasn’t Mary Chain’s natural strengths—Phil Spector by way of a jet engine factory—but the deep, distorted guitars mixed with tight, mechanized, drum machine beats. It’s the sound producer Alan Moulder took to the extreme on Automatic. I didn’t know it at the time but I was really looking for Ministry‘s Land of Rape and Honey, and not Mary Chain at all. I’d figure it out a few months later.

I also don’t think I particularly cared for Mary Chain’s screeching-train-wheels aesthetic. I liked my noise beaten into submission and not allowed to roam dangerously free. It’d be a few years before I really began to appreciate and enjoy truly  “industrial” music. And I certainly didn’t like anything that sounded like a ’60s girl-group song my parents might have danced to at the hop. I’d already had my dalliance with golden era rock’n’roll a few years earlier with La Bamba and now it just sounded old and lame.

But industrial noise and golden era rock’n’roll are, of course, what Psychocandy is all about. Or, as Jim Reid says in the liner notes for this reissue, “wouldn’t it be great if Einsturzende Neubauten had Shangri-Las songs—why doesn’t somebody do that, let’s do that!”

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Daniel Ash: Coming Down

January 5, 2011

Daniel Ash Coming Down velvet flock bookToday’s roll: 2 – 6 – 10.
Result:
Coming Down by Daniel Ash.
 

I’m beginning to doubt the randomizing ability of my dice. If you’re an observant reader, you’ll notice today’s roll is only one digit off last week’s. You might also wonder—if you’re observant enough to surmise my CDs are catalogued in alphabetical order—why Daniel Ash is placed a mere four discs ahead of Magnetic Fields instead of in the A’s.
 
Well, dear observant reader, that would be because I sometimes file solo albums in with the artist’s main band. Especially if the album in question sounds almost exactly like their day job band. In this case that would be Love and Rockets and1991’s Coming Down does more or less does sound like the would-be follow-up to their eponymously titled 1989 album. Or, more accurately, the long awaited follow-up to Tones on Tail, his previous project with Bauhaus/Love and Rockets drummer, Kevin Haskins.
 
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Lazycame: Finbegin

November 10, 2010

Today’s roll: 2 – 4 – 9.
Result:
Finbegin by Lazycame.

After the Jesus and Mary Chain hot-rod sputtered to rickety halt in 1998, the brothers Reid popped up here and there in a few projects. In 2005 Sister Vanilla saw their sister Linda on board as a singer for probably their best record since Honey’s Dead.

Yet it wasn’t so good a record as to inspire anybody notice or care. Too bad because it’s a great slice of poppy rock’n’roll (aptly titled Little Pop Rock). Though a bit smoother and shinier than JAMC ever tried to be, the chrome finish is still a little rusted, dusty and scuffed. Of course, if Scarlett Johansson (who’d sang with them at their Coachella reunion show) had been the vocalist, then maybe things would have gone differently. Perhaps in the worst possible way.

As neat and tidy as Sister Vanilla were, William Reid‘s solo project, Lazycame, is an entirely different animal. It’s ramshackle, lo-fi, messy, unpleasant, unfocused and, at times, brilliant.

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Dum Dum Girls: I Will Be

July 21, 2010

This week’s roll: 2 1 19
Result:
I Will Be by Dum Dum Girls

This is probably the closest to an actual new release Bone Rolling Reviews has dished up for me.

Finally. Here’s proof I am hip and am down with current bands. Except I don’t really like this one that much and it’s probably not staying in my collection.

For a record that’s so far up my alley it’s landed in the next town, I Will Be leaves me strangely looking for an exit.

Ricochet sharp drums? Check. Transistor radio static guitars? Check. No more than three chords? Check. Copious reverb? Well, enough. Sure, call that a check too.

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