After last week’s closely linked set, largely led by my current reading of Johnny Marr’s autobiography, Set the Boy Free, it’s a far more loosely-connected set this week. I started the week with the stereo on shuffle, and was served up a track by The Gaslight Anthem – the first in some time. Feeder are playing some dates next month and, earlier this week, I sorted myself a couple of tickets it’ll be my third time seeing them – the first two were my 4th and 6th shows, whereas this next one falls somewhere in the 50s. The Cribs also announced a tour, so I’m looking forward to seeing them for the 5th time, five years to the day since the 1st time. Marr spent a couple of years with The Cribs of course and, as I continue to pick through his book, I’ve been inspired to listen to some Electronic this week (an old favourite). Finally, one of (if not) my first albums, Expecting to Fly by The Bluetones (who have never shied away from their love of The Smiths), celebrates a birthday today and – from the old to the new – Lux Lisbon have shared a new single.
Drive – The Gaslight Anthem
One that came to me for the first time in a while, on shuffle, through the headphones whilst walking on Monday morning. I first heard The Gaslight Anthem when watching the BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury in 2009. Having released their second album nearly a year previous, the New Jersey band were playing the John Peel Stage on the Saturday and were joined – for the single with which the album shared it’s name, The ’59 Sound – by iconic Jersey Shore torch-bearer, Bruce Springsteen (who headlined the Pyramid Stage later that night). I’ve always enjoyed the storytelling featured in the band’s lyrics – there’s always a great sense of time and place, or a mood or desire being conjured up – and Drive, from their 2007 debut Sink or Swim, is an early example of this.
And we’re much too young of men
To carry such heavy heads
And tonight for the first time
It felt good to be alive (again, my friend)
Descend (live) – Feeder
I started to listen to Feeder back in 2000, with their single Buck Rogers being a big hit and getting a lot of plays on the channels, such as MTV2, Q, and VH1, that I used to enjoy flicking between after school. I picked up their third full album, Echo Park, during a family visit to Nottingham the following year. Over the next few years, I collected all their records from before and after that time and they became a firm favourite during my teens. I seemed to stop listening to Feeder about ten years ago – on reflection, that was probably part burn-out of their records and part subconscious-shedding of some formative interests and influences. Interested by their new material last year, I picked up their latest album – All Bright Electric – and revisited 2006’s Silent Cry. Pleasantly surprised, I’m now looking forward to seeing the band play in Liverpool in March – 12 years and a day since I last saw them (at Birmingham’s NEC). Descend featured on Feeder’s Swim EP and later their debut LP (1997’s Polythene) and – as demonstrated here at Reading in 1997 – sees them contrast between their most muted and their heaviest, alongside Grant Nicholas’ searingly honest lyric.
Forbidden City – Electronic
More Marr. Electronic represented an eleven year collaboration between Johnny Marr – formerly of The Smiths – and New Order’s Bernard Sumner. The pair, creative forces in Manchester’s headline bands throughout the 1980s, first met in 1984 and agreed an intention to play together in the future. Following the end of The Smiths (and a period during which Marr worked with Talking Heads, The Pretenders, and The The), and Sumner’s desire to explore ideas outside of New Order, the due got together in 1988. Marr (who in his book described his new creative partner as “part producer and part scientist”) spoke of the project: “I saw working with Bernard as an opportunity to experiment with electronic music and to learn as much about working with machines as I could”. As mentioned last week, I can’t think of an album I’ve been aware of for longer than Electronic’s second, Raise the Pressure, and the unmistakably-Marr guitar-led introduction o the album’s opener – Forbidden City – will always evoke memories of the home I grew up in.
I’ve Tried Everything (Acoustic B-side version) – The Cribs
The Cribs have probably been my ‘favourite band’ of the last ten years or so, if such a thing exists. I recall a close friend of mine at the time passing on to me a promotional copy of their self-titled debut album during a GCSE English class, and I’ve not really stopped listening since. The Wakefield band, comprising twins Gary and Ryan Jarman and their younger brother Ross, have released six studio albums and remained staunchly true to their independent, DIY ethics, whilst far outlasting the majority of their mid-2000s contemporaries. They were decorated with Q’s Sprit of Independence and NME’s Outstanding Contribution to Music awards in 2012 and ’13 respectively. An anniversary tour for their third record, Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever was announced earlier this week. Considering this album retrospectively, it feels like a real maturing of their sound and song-craft. Be Safe, featuring a monologue by Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and a blistering anthemic refrain from Gary and Ryan, was perhaps the strongest indicator of this progression, but it’s album track I’ve Tried Everything, a song of both escape and yearning, that I’m most often drawn too on this LP. I’d not heard this version – a B-side to Men’s Needs – before this week, but it’s a nice reminder of their lesser-heard, acoustic side.
There must be something more
Can’t figure it out
Still missing something
And I’ve tried everything, oh
Three months ago
I ran to Brighton
It didn’t solve anything, no
Carnt Be Trusted – The Bluetones
My first favourite band, at around the age of 8 or so. I don’t really recall how that came to be, but I recall having had debut album Expecting to Fly and the Marblehead Johnson (with a nod to Bill Hicks) single ever since the time that both were released. My first experience of live music coincided with the release of the Hounslow band’s second album, Return to the Last Chance Saloon, as my dad took my to see them at Preston Guild Hall in November 1998. It’s nice to be able to recount a ‘first favourite’ band or record with a sense of pride – my fondness of their music has endured, and taking my dad to see them in Manchester last year (nearly nineteen years on from our first visit) is, I sense, one of those special occasions that will stick with you. I was reminded just this morning that The Bluetones’ wonderful debut is 21 years old today – Carnt Be Trusted is just one of its many fine tracks.
When You Need Somebody – Lux Lisbon
It was the voracious power-pop of early track (and sadly futile Tory-takedown), Bullingdon Club, that first captured my attention and encouraged me to keenly keep up to date with further releases by London’s Lux Lisbon. Much like The Cribs, the band wear their DIY credentials proudly and – very much of their time – they are making the most of the Internet in order to maintain direct communication and distribution channels with their growing fanbase. No more so was the success of this approached evidenced than with the band’s sold out show at London’s Scala last April. Lux Lisbon compiled their first album in 2016, with tracks such as Get Some Scars, Devil Got Me Dancing, and Demons You Show sure to appeal to many newcomers. Their latest track, When You Need Somebody, came out on Monday and is yet another strong addition to the collection.