Tuesday, June 6th, 2006
You Said It Before
My contribution to the Mars Needs Guitars shoegaze group-blog post I mentioned yesterday was Slowdive’s “Dagger”, the final track on their second album Souvlaki. I’ll let you read the whole post for my thoughts on the song and why I picked it, but I’ve got a couple more versions of the song to put up as appendices of a sort.
The electric version is presumably a Souvlaki demo that sounds much more conventionally Slowdive than the one that made the final album. It’s got shoegaze-approved glistening, echo-laden guitar and a longer, slightly denser arrangement and there’s nothing wrong with it at all but it lacks the rawness that makes the album version so powerful. The moment over a decade ago where they decided to put this version on the shelf and try something different would certainly prove to be a momentous one.
Mojave 3 steadfastly refuse to play Slowdive material live, and justifiably so, but that wasn’t always the case. Witness this MP3 from a March 2001 gig in San Francisco where they performed a M3-ified version of “Dagger” – the audio quality is unfortunately quite sad, but you can still hear the new arrangement they’ve given it, introducing pedal steel and drums to really fill out the sound and building to a soaring crescendo. The skeletal arrangement of the original was really a crucial part of what made it so effective, but the Mojave 3 version introduces some real melancholy and sense of loss into the song that really changes the mood and meaning. It’s a real shame that they don’t play it live anymore.
The new Mojave 3 album, Puzzles Like You, was originally supposed to be released today but it has been pushed back a fortnight till June 20. The first single, “Breaking The Ice”, was released yesterday in the UK and comes with two b-sides. As promised, Puzzles is easily the band’s peppiest work since Out Of Tune and even eclipses that for sunshininess. Those who favour the bands quieter, gentler side can still take solace in numbers like “Most Days” and “You Said It Before”, though those are only temporary reprieves from the sumptuous pop that dominates the rest of the album. And it’s really amazing that for all the great songs that Neil Halstead writes for the band, the moment he lets one of his bandmates in with a writing credit they almost steal the show. As Rachel Goswell’s “Bringin’ Me Home” was a real standout on Excuses For Travelers, this time it’s drummer Ian McCutcheon who pens one of the album’s best tracks. Closing track “The Mutineer” is a gentle acoustic strummer with a gorgeous melody and ghostly vocals. The song also appears on the If Ifs And Ands Were Pots APans album from McCutcheon’s other band, The Loose Salute. You can hear their slightly more uptempo version on their MySpace page.
And speaking of personnel – the observent will notice that guitarist Simon Rowe is not listed in the credits for the new album. Sadly, Rowe has apparently decided that married life is more rewarding than playing in a criminally underappreciated band so he’s out for the time being. Add in Rachel Goswell’s health issues and it will be a very different M3 that tours in support of this album in North America this Fall.
Apparently no one told AOL about the pushed-back release date as they’re streaming the whole thing online right now. 4AD has also assembled a nice eCard for the album where you can sample songs not only from Puzzles, but the band’s entire discography including Neil and Rachel’s solo albums. It also has the new video for “Breaking The Ice” which is far and away the catchiest song in Mojave 3’s repetoire and the video is fittingly cute. It’s only the band’s third-ever video – you can see the other two below.
The New York Times business section is really the last place I’d expect to get Luna news, and yet there it is. In a piece about a new practice of releasing archival material with limited audiences in digital form only, they reveal that on June 20 – the same day The Best Of Luna CD and Tell Me Do You Miss Me? DVD hit the stores, a third collection will be made available only through download outlets. Lunafied will will compile a CD’s worth of the band’s covers, presumably ones not commonly available on album or EP, and was originally intended to be a companion disc to the best-of but that notion was squashed by bean counters. Obviously I’d have preferred to have been able to get the rare stuff in physical form, old-school as I am, but at least they’re seeing some form of release. However on the down side, I wonder if a) this spells an end to Rhino’s days of putting out cool, collector-friendly compilations for smaller bands and b) if this means that the chances of a full accounting of Luna’s b-sides and unreleased goodies are that much closer to nil? Lord knows there’s enough in the vaults to fill out a damn find box set. Someday, someday.
Australia’s X-Press Online and The Age talk to Alan Sparhawk of Low. He is releasing a solo album entitled Solo Guitar on August 2 that consist of 9 tracks of ambient looped guitarscapes, recorded live off the floor. Should be interesting, if completely un-Low.
The Scotsman finds out why Camera Obscura had to go to Sweden to find themselves (via Largehearted Boy) and The DIY Rockstar also has an interview. Let’s Get Out Of This Country is out today and I repeat – it’s fantastic.
Ladytron are at The Docks on October 2. I can’t believe they’re already Docks-sized. Where does the time go?
I’ve selected the winner for last week’s Mission Of Burma contest – all the submissions were excellent so I copped out and did the random draw thing. But if you want to read the responses to my “What is the horrible truth about Burma?” question, I’ve set up a special page with all the submissions. Thanks to everyone who entered. And go read this PopMatters interview with the band.
np – Luna / Bewitched