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.
eye thinks I’m a winner! Take that, Mom!
np – Pernice Brothers / Nobody’s Listening