Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
The It Girl
Review of Louise Wener’s Just For One Day: Adventures In Britpop
The IndependentOne thing that should have been well-established over the run of this blog is that I am an irredeemable Britpop kid, having come of musical age in the mid-’90s with my nose buried in issues of Select and spending too much money I really couldn’t spare on import CDs on their breathless recommendations. Many were pretty terribly, in retrospect, or even worse just wholly unremarkable, but one of my enduring favourites beyond the Oasis/Blur/Pulp triumvirate is Sleeper, whose three albums of scrappy pop have aged quite nicely, unlike some of their peers.
Since splitting just before the collapse of the scene, frontwoman Louise Wener has turned her pen from song lyrics to fiction and written some well-received novels – I’ve read a few, they’re pretty good – but her memoirs, released last year as Different For Girls: A Girl’s Own True-Life Adventures In Pop and re-released last month as the more descriptive Just For One Day: Adventures In Britpop is the tome that fans have been waiting for.
Rather than attempt to document the scene, it follows Wener from her seemingly well-adjusted suburban London adolescence of wanting more than anything to be a pop star to getting swept up in the Britpop wave and managing to actually become a pop star and then walking away when it became clear their time in the spotlight was done. Aside from the breaking up with the guitarist to go out with the drummer thing, it’s not particularly rife with scandal or gossip – Sleeper were never quite on the inside of the Britpop royal court and while there was plenty of drugs and alcohol, they didn’t become casualties of it. I do question the authenticity of all the quotes used in the text – either they’re liberally paraphrased or Wener has an astonishing memory – but nothing libelous is attributed to anyone and they work well with Wener’s writing style, which is brisk and fun with the right amount of self-deprecation. It’s almost too brisk and self-deprecating at points and all over too soon, but perhaps that’s befitting the whirlwind nature of their career – their three albums came out over the minuscule span of three years. But Wener’s perspective is clear-eyed and while she looks back on things fondly, it’s pretty obvious there won’t be a reunion any time soon or ever, and that’s just fine. We’ve got the records, we’ve got the videos and we’ve got the book.
And oh, I’ve got two copies of the book – accidentally bought it under both titles – so Different For Girls is an official lending copy since it’s pretty much impossible to find on this side of the pond. And if anyone has an MP3 of Elvis Costello covering “What Do I Do Now” from the All This Useless Beauty b-sides as a bit of quid pro quo or just a gift, I’d love to get a hold of it…
MP3: Sleeper – “Statuesque”
Video: Sleeper – “She’s A Good Girl”
Video: Sleeper – “Nice Guy Eddie”
Video: Sleeper – “Sale Of The Century”
Video: Sleeper – “What Do I Do Now”
Video: Sleeper – “Vegas”
Video: Sleeper – “Inbetweener”
Video: Sleeper – “Delicious”
Video: Sleeper – “Swallow”
One of my other favourite pieces of Britpop-related literature is the Phonogram comic series. They’re sticking to their guns of not doing any more than any more series beyond Rue Britannia and The Singles Club, but writer Kieron Gillen has released the complete script for the first issue of The Singles Club, the first issue of which is also available online in its entirety to compare and contrast. I don’t recall what the official Phonogram position on Sleeper was… hopefully kinder than to Echobelly.
They made their local debut back in May as support for Tame Impala and tacked an in-store set onto the visit, but Yuck have taken a surprisingly long time to bring their more ’90s than ’90s fuzz-pop to town for a headlining show. That will be rectified as of September 25, when they play The Horseshoe – tickets $13.50 in advance. eMusic has an interview with the London outfit.
Laura Marling will follow the September 13 release of her third album A Creature I Don’t Know with what she’s calling the “When The Bell Tolls” tour; it includes a stop at The Great Hall on September 23, tickets $20 in advance on sale Friday. For a two-time Mercury shortlister, she’s had a habit of playing drastically undersized venues here – her 2008 debut was at the tiny Rivoli and her last visit last February at Lee’s Palace, a month before I Speak Because I Can was released, was originally supposed to be at the Drake. All of which is to say that tickets for this show will go quickly. NME has a track-by-track breakdown of her new record, one song of which is available to stream via the YouTubes.
Welsh singer Anika – protege of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and Nico soundalike – will be at Wrongbar on October 8 in support of her 2010 self-titled debut, which is available to stream on her website. eMusic has an interview.
And given that Barrow will be in town the next two nights at The Sound Academy with Portishead – October 9 and 10 – it’s not unreasonable to assume that he’ll be at Anika’s show. Pitchfork talks Geoff Barrow about the band’s upcoming North American tour.
Noel Gallagher has finally unveiled his debut solo single and listening to it and what Beady Eye have done, it’s really no wonder that Oasis fell apart. Even if the brothers Gallagher didn’t hate each other, their creative directions were pretty clearly on opposite trajectories. Think Liam would have stood for those horns? No, I don’t think so. Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds will be out on November 8 stateside.
The first proper recording from The Kate Jackson Group – fronted by the former Long Blondes singer – is available to stream at God Is In The TV and it’s kind of fantastic. I had some concerns about Jackson’s solo output considering that Dorian Cox was the primary songwriter in that band, but if this is an indication of what Jackson can do on her own, those concerns are unfounded. Bring on the album.
I was happy enough to hear confirmed details on the new Loney Dear record Hall Music, out October 4, but to know that Emil Svanäaut;ngen and company will be back in town on November 5 for a show at the Drake Underground? That’s even better. Tickets are $13.50 in advance.
Lykke Li is coming back to town this Fall are part of a North American tour and she’ll be accompanied by fellow Swedes, sister act First Aid Kit. They’ll be at The Sound Academy on November 15, tickets $30 for general admission and $40 for VIP balcony. DIY talks to First Aid Kit about how work is coming on their second album.
The Quietus and Billboard have feature interviews with Bjork while Billboard also chats with Michel Gondry, who directed her just-released new video. A track from her new album Biophilia is available to download; it’s out on September 27.