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Thursday, December 23rd, 2004

Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space

It’s always interesting to spin albums that you haven’t heard in ages and listen to them with essentially fresh ears. Case in point – Spiritualized’s Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space. Space-rock being just an awkward shuffle away from the shoegaze which has so possessed my musical urges lately, I’ve been pulling out the J Spaceman discs and enjoying them – but for whatever reason, listening to Ladies And Gentlemen at work yesterday really hit me upside the head. Maybe it was cause I had the volume up louder than I normally do, but even though I’ve listened to this record dozens of times if not more over the years, it all sounded new to me.

The cracked “Only fools rush in” refrain underneath the verses of the title track, the aching orchestral swells of “Broken Heart”, the gospel choir behind “Cool Waves” (which brings to mind the time I was walking to class and was stopped dead in my tracks when I heard it coming out of the PA outside the Mongolian restaurant beside campus), the slow, hypnotic pulse of closer “Cop Shoot Cop” punctuated by discordant horn breakdowns… And on top of it all, the voice. Somehow Jason Pierce manages to make his vocals sound typically narcoleptic and drugged out, and yet raw with emotion at the same time. How does he do it? I don’t know, though a nasty nasty break-up usually helps things along (long-time girlfriend and bandmate Kate Radley had recently left him for Verve front-corpse Richard Ashcroft).

At this moment, I am firmly convinced that this is one of the greatest albums of the ’90s. Hands down. Tomorrow, I may change my mind, but that’s tomorrow. It’s frustrating that since Ladies And Gentlemen, Pierce has been essentially treading water. The follow-up Let It Come Down was lovely, but over-thought and lacked the emotional heft of its predecessor, and last year’s Amazing Grace was a raw, garage record that no one asked for. Still, one remains mildly hopeful that he can find that spirit again, ideally without getting back on the smack or having his heart smashed to pieces again. He’s supposedly taking his current band into the studio this year, so we may have an answer before 2005 is out. In the meantime, the two Complete Works compilations have found their way onto my Boxing Day shopping list. And on a tangential note, check out the website where you can order Spiritualized merch online in North America – more specifically, check out the other bands who have swag available… One of these things is not like the other…

Man, you’d think that with the sort of music I listen to, I’d do a lot of drugs, eh?

And to play six degrees of items in a post, J Spaceman’s old bandmate in Spacemen 3, who now performs as Sonic Boom, collaborated with Luna’s Dean & Britta on this cover of Roger Miller’s (the “King Of The Road” dude, not the Mission Of Burma dude) Christmas ditty, “Old Toy Trains”. Featuring guitar by Kevin Bacon (no, not really).

And as a final segue, if I wanted to get ONE Spacemen 3 record, which one should I get?

Fans of John Vanderslice should circle the month of August on their 2005 calendars – that’s right, THE WHOLE MONTH – for Unfinished reports that is when you can expect to see his next album in stores. The Slice has been keeping a recording diary of the proceedings.

Whether you hate them or love them, you know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for Pitchfork’s 50 Best Albums of 2004, so that you can either feel outraged or validated. It overlaps my own list by exactly one entry, their album of the year (and no surprise to anyone, really), Arcade Fire’s Funeral. One of the other heavy hitter sites, Tiny Mix Tapes, has also weighed in on the year that was and also puts Arcade Fire at the top (no surprise since they’ve been championing the band for over a year now). Make sure you check out the sidebar there for scads more year-in-review articles. And yeah, I know the PF and TMT lists are so yesterday… if you’re not leading the way, you’re in the way! I stay in the box, and I feel shame.

They’d rather dance with you! The Kings Of Convenience are at Lee’s Palace February 17th, tickets $13 on sale now. The cardigan-wearing set rejoices. Myself, I’m not sure how I feel about music so fey that it makes me feel like a brawny lumberjack by comparison. I’d be more interested if they brought along the girls who appear on their album artwork. And Japanese melodic-noise ensemble Mono are at the Drake Hotel Underground April 3, ducats $10.

NOW offers up a series of Toronto-centric year-end lists and Information Leafblower offers up an Information Leafblower-centric look at the past year.

eye thinks I’m a winner! Take that, Mom!

np – Pernice Brothers / Nobody’s Listening

By : Frank Yang at 9:24 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Hugh says:

    Frank, if you buy one Spacemen 3 album make it PLAYING WITH FIRE. Such a great record.

  2. travis says:

    Alright, Kings of Convenience! I’m going to get my tickets today . . . well probably not today, the less time i spend outside the better

  3. John says:

    Frank, hard to believe that it was release in 1997. So I’m guessing you enjoyed "Ladies and Gentlemen…" more the Urban Hymns.

    My favorite is "I think I’m In Love", especailly the call and answer section. Did you happen to check out the live at "Royal Albert Hall October 1997".

    AS well did anyone see what Arcade Fire first release is going for on Ebay. I’ll have to say is Holy Christmas!!!!

  4. Rachel says:

    I’m hurt Frank. I thought you loved me? Girls on the cover art are always photoshopped. Didn’t you know? And I think you’d look smashing in a cardigan. A BLUE cardigan. Arcade Fire still doesn’t seem to be catching on here so well. Maybe Texans are just not in the "know" although I’ve been trying to spread the word.

  5. Ieinz says:

    For Spacemen 3, most people will say Playing With Fire, but I think Perfect Precription (or the 2-disc special edition; Forged Prescriptions) is a great start. These two albums (Playing with Fire and Perfect Perscription) are the essential two. But for my money, Perfect Prescription is a little more space-y.

  6. snowcoast says:

    Spacemen 3 – I don’t know what the commercial availability of either the ‘Perfect Precription’, or the 2cd demos set ‘Forged Prescriptions’ are, but I’d suggest grabbing them both, provided you pick up the original record first.

    Also – first time poster here hoping he isn’t breaking codes unknown to him – Frank, if the words ‘New M Ward Record’ sound good to you, drop me a line – I know you’re a big fan of his – don’t know if you’ve got it yet. You do an awesome job here – thanks.

  7. Frank says:

    I was actually listening to the Live At The Royal Albert Hall today – gorgeous recording, but it doesn’t have the emotional impact of Ladies & Gentlemen, but that’s to be expected. Also, I’ve been re-listening to my Verve albums again and it’s surprising how badly they’ve aged, IMO. I don’t know why, but they just don’t do much for me anymore.

    Thanks for all the Spacemen 3 recommendations, I’m going to see what I can turn up.

  8. Patrick says:

    Spacemen 3 – Recurring

    Good luck finding it, I have it on 12" vinyl.

    Two sides, Side A Sonic Boom, Side B Jason Spaceman, and a few of the Jason tracks end up on Spiritualized EPs.

  9. Frank says:

    Folks, Patrick up there is the guy who largely introduced me to most/all of the wonder British shoegazey stuff back in… the Summer of 97 at one of our co-op jobs, and he also provided me with many many old finals and labs from third and fourth year university which ensured I didn’t have to think barely at all to get my degree. So he’s largely responsible for the current quagmire that is my life.

    Thanks a lot, man.

  10. Patrick says:

    Thinking is overrated. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish when you don’t put your mind to it.

    And to think that I am being paid at work to read your musings. Irony is amusing.

    Reminds me, what ring size are you, I was going to mail you my old engineering ring (I vaguely remember you losing yours), my current ring is cutting off the circulation now that I am post 30 fat.

    Perhaps in the new year I will revive my blog, though my work ethic is so poor I rarely update it.