The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'lush'
Late last year, the indie-music world was surprised by the announcement that Lush, one of the better-known lost bands of the 1990s shoegaze/ethereal/dreampop zeitgeist, were reuniting, and were not only planning to play gigs but were working on an EP of new material. On one hand, it made sense; with My Bloody Valentine having played sold-out gigs and finally released the Shoegaze Chinese Democracy, The Jesus and Mary Chain having played successful reunion gigs for a few years and talking about recording again, and Slowdive's expectation-bustingly successful comeback (and, again, an album in the works), if ever the time was right, it is now; though on the other hand, the fact that the end of Lush came after the suicide of their original drummer, Chris Acland, always seemed to rule out a reunion. Yet, after almost two decades, it was officially on the cards. A gig was announced at the Roundhouse in Camden for May; it sold out rapidly, and another was arranged for the following night.
I managed to pick up tickets to one of the May gigs, and have been looking forward to finally seeing Lush play live, even if doing so was from a distance in a large venue. So imagine my surprise when, flicking through upcoming gigs on Songkick just over a week ago, I found a new Lush gig on Monday week at Oslo Hackney, a much smaller venue, and that, even more mysteriously, it was not sold out.
I, of course, grabbed a ticket to this gig. Tonight, I went to it, and I must say it was great. The band went on a little after 20:30 (“No red hair, get over it”, said the now-brunette Miki, before they launched into their first song), and were in fine form, playing tightly and with energy for an hour and a half, doing mostly songs from between Gala and Split, with a cursory nod to their final Britpop-tinged album Lovelife. Above the driving bass lines, propulsive drums and the swirl and crunch of interlocking guitars (each through its own array of pedals), Miki and Emma's voices floated, as melodic and forceful as a quarter-century earlier. Anyway, the audience loved it, applauding rapturously; the band came on not just for the standard scheduled encore (3 songs, including Desire Lines), but for another subsequent unscheduled one.
There was, of course, a merch table, and alongside the usual T-shirts and a zine (Thoughtforms, glossier than the indie fanzines of old but the same concept) containing interviews, there was the new Lush EP, Blind Spot; a flat, oversized card package designed by V23 designer Chris Bigg, containing a semitransparent CD. I bought a copy and listened to it upon getting home, and it is very good indeed. Some are calling it a more mature version of Lush (which it is), though to me, it sounds most like a timeslip; an anomalous artefact from a parallel timeline, which somehow mysteriously appeared in this one. In its home timeline, Lovelife and the foray onto the Britpop bandwagon never happened; instead, Lush kept honing and refining their ethereal/dreampop sound, with Blind Spot, or something very much like it, coming out a few years down the track. That timeline is, of course, a very different world to the one we know.
In any case, I'm looking forward to seeing them again in a month or so, and hoping that this is the start of the second chapter of the Lush story.
The top 100 indiepop albums, according to an Italian website. The descriptions are in Italian, though the choices look mostly quite sound. The top 3 are C86, one of the Sarah Records compilations and Belle & Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister, which sets the tone and gives an idea of the aesthetic involved. The rest doesn't disappoint: The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy is #11, #13 and #14 are Orange Juice and The Pastels, Japanese pop band 800 Cherries have #21, The Hummingbirds' loveBuzz takes #55 (and I didn't think anyone outside of Australia had heard of them; perhaps the next one of these that comes out will name-check Clag or Mid-State Orange), meanwhile Lush's Split has #67, Slowdive get #89 (along with what looks like an arch comment about the decline and fall of Creation), and The Radio Dept.'s Lesser Matters comes in at #83.
Pitchfork's list of the 50 most common CDs in secondhand shops, each bagged with Tanya Headon-esque exactitude. The words "shoegaze", "grunge" and references to Dawson's Creek/90210 and aging yuppies disposing of their Lollapalooza merchandise upon moving to the suburbs come up repeatedly. (via VM)
Though I think they were entirely unfair to Lush's Lovelife (a good record, even if it is somewhat more mainstream than Split; tell me that Runaway or Olympia aren't good songs, and 500 (Shake Baby Shake) doesn't have a classic pop appeal).
The time is nigh upon us for the obligatory "top 10 albums of the year" lists (Graham already has his, for example). I'm not going to post my best CDs of 2002 just yet (for one, I'm still not through with all of this year's releases, and am still awaiting a particular consignment from Twee Kitten); however, I am going to do something related, that is, look at the lists for 2001 I wrote up a year ago, here and here, and see how they hold up a year later; which of my picks of the year have stood the test of time, which have fallen by the wayside, and which discs have emerged subsequently as favourites of that particular year. So please allow me this exercise in self-indulgent omphaloskepsis.
Firstly, the RAN list:
- New Buffalo, About Last Night. I'm still rather fond of this quirky little EP, though haven't listened to it much lately. (Apparently, Sally's off in LA recording an album with EMI/Capitol money. Hopefully they won't turn her into Danielle Spencer or Geri Halliwell or some generic pretty girl singer, though history doesn't give one many reasons to be optimistic.)
- Lush, Ciao! Best Of. Haven't listened to it, but have since then picked up the entire Lush back catalogue, plus some unreleased MP3s. Split and Lovelife still get played every so and so (in fact, I'm listening ti Split right now, and it was one of the discs I burned to CD-R and took to London with me.) As such, Ciao! has done its work admirably.
- Radiohead, Amnesiac. Still gets played every now and then; though of the Radiohead back-catalogue, OK Computer gets the most play around here.
- Spearmint, A Different Lifetime. Since last year, I've picked up their previous 3 discs as well. A Different Lifetime and its more baggy-oriented predecessor A Week Away would be my favourites.
- Black Box Recorder, Worst Of. Gleefully sardonic, and some of their best work (funny how B-sides sometimes tend to be that way).
- Prop, Small Craft Rough Sea. This CD still rocks. Groovy, cooler than cool and yet with powerful momentum.
- Radiohead, I Might Be Wrong Live Recordings. Haven't listened to this much over the past six months or so, though I prefer the version of Like Spinning Plates to the Amnesiac one.
(Of the honourable mentions, I've listened to the Angels of the Universe soundtrack and the Sealifepark album since. The Zero 7 album sort of got shelved, as I really only liked one track of it. Jan Jelinek's Loop Finding Jazz Records suffered a similar fate, having failed to hold my interest with its ultimately less than satisfying combination of deep-house-like rhythms and chords and Max/MSP laptop glitchery; and TISM's De Rigeurmortis lasted about one and a half listens. Oh, and as for the Field Mice best-of, that's still one of my favourites and is usually not far from the CD player.)
And now for the unsung favourites; the CDs that didn't make the list, but ended up redeeming themselves after further listening:
- A Silver Mt. Zion, He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms. Bleak, desolate, existentially despondent, and beautiful.
- Models, Melbourne: Their early tracks. The whole thing didn't grab me, but Party Girls and Atlantic Romantic are pretty cool.
- Mogwai, My Father My King: a 20-or-so minute wall of intense, immersive noise. Put it on, turn it up, and feel it engulf you. It's all good.
- Vivian Girls, The, The Vivian Girls: like a slice of dimly-lit early-80s post-punk claustrophobia; it's great, especially Black Chair In A Black Room. (To be fair, it probably slipped the list because it was released in 2000, but I think it still rates a mention.)
So there it is. Watch this space for the best of 2002.
It's the little things... I was in the RMIT Bookshop today, looking for some work-related titles, and noticed that Lush's Split was playing. That made me smile.
This afternoon, I got a message from Cos, saying that he picked up the new Neil Halstead album at Second Spin in Balaclava. So I caught a tram and a train down there, and picked up a copy, as well as second-hand copies of:
- Ivy, Apartment Life (which I had had my eye on for a while)
- Lush, Gala (the early EP compilation; now I've got everything Lush ever released, save for some obscure remixes*).
Being on a tight budget, I didn't pick up everything I found there; I didn't get The Sundays' Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (which didn't sound too bad, in a slightly Cocteau Twins-ish sort of way), the last Mojave 3 album, an album by Bandulu (who did a good remix of Slowdive's In Mind, though their own work sounded like fairly standard dub/electronica), or Ryuichi Sakamoto's 1996 compilation.
* such as the DJ Spooky mix of Undertow, which I'd love to get my hands on.