Æ: Aglet Eaters

Under Heaven

Posted in Album, Rediscover by R on May 17, 2013

lost it for a while

 

Whispers assured us we were as lost and stoned as anyone else. People come and go, live and die, cities rise and fall, and change. But you – you promised you’d still be there in the morning.

And you were – you are the sound the sun rises to.

And you remain – you’re what the earth spins to.

But you don’t care about your sway over the sun or the earth or the tides.

You only care about us.

That’s why we love you.

Happy 20th Birthday, Souvlaki.

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No Joy – Maggie Says I Love You

Posted in Rediscover, Track by R on May 10, 2013

There are songs for seasons and songs for moods. Something like this tastes of summer. Something like this is for the cold. This is fury. This is solitude.

No Joy‘s ‘Maggie Says I Love You’ is everything.

It’s bare toes and outstretched arms in summer, it’s a glimpse of the sun in winter, it’s the rationale that overcomes fury, it is the quiet company you seek in solitude.

 

SULK – Graceless

Posted in Album, Discover, Review by R on May 5, 2013

dat hair

Things I love about SULK:

  1. Their name, my constant state of being
  2. Their hair – moptop (who needs a field of vision, anyway), sideswept (left), sideswept (right), long (enough), rufflable (c’mere, you)
  3. Their sound – brazen and unafraid.

Every review of Graceless out so far can be summarised thus: SULK sound like the Stone Roses.

It’s possibly an oversimplification, but not a lie. In addition to the smoky monkey man vox, Graceless is a firm devotee of the Britpop sound, flaunting crisp guitars, hair-flippable drums, and such flowery song titles as ‘Diamonds and Ashes’, ‘Back in Bloom’ and, well, ‘Flowers’.

The question – in sounding like our Madchester/Britpop/Acid House/C86 heroes – are SULK any good?

The answer – surprisingly – yes.

For eras as revered as these, it’s a wonder their derivatives have never come anywhere close to the original sound. Books and movies and journal articles have all striven to capture the essence of what made Madchester/baggy, acid house, and Britpop the sensations they were. Still, the Britpop offspring, never really captured the sound and were, despite the technicalities of their success, unbearably insipid.

Britpop itself – a style, a scene that based its success on sounding like everything that had come before it – was unselfconscious enough not to suffer from banality. Half of Elastica (the album) may not even have been composed by Elastica (the band), but we still listen to ‘Waking Up’ every morning (‘make a cup of tea/put a record on’). We still sing along to ‘Champagne Supernova’ with the same conviction that Liam instills into Noel’s ‘slowly walking down the hall/faster than a cannonball‘.

That’s the ‘swagger’ everyone talks about – the obnoxious self-confidence with which the blatantly inane and/or unethical are not only forgiven, but celebrated.

GracelessSULK are the first group I’ve come across to have it. While I can’t quite catch any plagiarism on Graceless (apart from the passing similarity between the opening of ‘Marian Shrine’ and German group Selig‘s ‘Ist Es Wichtig’, which I can’t imagine is intentional), and the lyrics seem innocuous enough,  SULK radiate poise and self-assurance. They wind 1989-1994 around their fingertips as if the years were their own creation (no pun intended).

It’s not plagiarism, it’s inspiration – or so I react to ‘Marian Shrine’ (aka ‘Manchild’, for those of you not keeping your eyes on the tracklist) the most Roses-y of the lot. A track that prances around a sticky chorus you’re sure you’ve heard before (“maaaaaan-chiiiiiild!”), completely oblivious to the decade it’s in.

Wait, no, it’s clearly ‘Sleeping Beauty’ that’s the most Roses-y. It’s funny how all of us review types are throwing around the word ‘Madchester’ as if there’s some sort of revival going on, when really SULK only sound (exactly) like one of the three bands that defined the sound. Not a sign of the shameless grooves that made the Mondays or the broody mantras of the Carpets. Again, we’ve got a song that sounds so familiar it hurts – but just try to place it… it can’t be done.

Have mercy – from this whirling opener we’re thrown into the breathless ‘Flowers’ whose endless chorus overflows with all the jingle-jangle and ba-ba-ba’s in the world, ensuring you’ll spin around and around till your head flies off. A little later, a song made up of the ocean – ‘Back in Bloom’ (if your eye’s not on tracklist, you’re hearing this as ‘Black and Blue’). Waves of reverb, waves of ricocheting space-vox, and waves of a chorus that spirals in and out of focus (‘she’ll be back in bloom’).

I didn’t ever expect an album like Graceless to come my way, or even to exist. Nostalgia aside, it’s worth admiring the album for the quality of its production (Ed Buller worked on albums by Suede, Pulp and White Lies – SURPRISE!). It’s also worth noting that, despite their FANTASTIC hair, I am praising SULK on the worth of their music. Graceless must be good.

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