Archive for My Bloody Valentine

The First Great Album Of 2014 Is Here: Sleepy Sun’s “Maui Tears”

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by johnbuckley100

If T.S Elliott had been a fan of rock’n’roll he would have rethought this “April is the cruelest month” thing.  By April, the record releases are coming fast and furious.  January’s a different matter.

Which is why it is so fantastic that on January 28, Sleepy Sun released Maui Tears, which has gotten us through, oh, all sorts of things: snow days and cold, avalanches of work, that feeling when you are midway through writing your fourth novel where it seems you are still deep underwater, legs kicking, trying to get to the surface before your lungs explode, all the while worrying about the bends.  Oh, okay, back to Sleepy Sun’s great new album.

For those not hip to the band, just go check out “Galaxy Punk.”  It kicks with the force of White Denim’s “Drug,” a perfect pop song but also a showcase for the kind of virtuoso guitar playing that just saws its way through soft brain matter.

Maui Tears is constructed along the blueprint specs that Stephen McBean used in Black Mountain’s Wilderness Heart: there’s tuneful, exciting, straight-ahead rock’n’roll (“The Lane”) followed by acoustic balladry you might have found on early Led Zep, and then immersion into the headphone imperatives of metal-psyche.  “Outside” is, for our money, a better version of MBV than anything found on m b v.  “11:32” is a mere 4:10 worthy of punk-metal goodness, and on “Thielbar” you can catch a whiff of Black Rebel Motorcycle exhaust and it smells like… victory.

We really like this album not simply because there’s not a lot of other great new music to listen to — at least not until Temples’ rec comes out on Tuesday.  We really like this album because it is amazing.

On Having Spent Valentine’s Week With My Bloody Valentine

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 17, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Loveless by My Bloody Valentine was released so long ago, we barely could remember what it sounded like.  But when Kevin Shields broke his long — well, what was it? Deliberate silence? Writer’s block? Search for perfection? Diffidence? — with the release, two Saturdays ago, of m b v, of course we had to root around in our iTunes library to listen, over and over, to the Ur-albums, both Loveless and Isn’t Anything.  And yes, we remember now, there’s greatness there.   Michael Nelson’s smart piece in  Stereogum — that there didn’t need to be a follow-up to Loveless, because everyone from Sugar to the Smashing Pumpkins had already done it by 1992, made a lot of sense: in their early ’90s moment, MBV’s influence radiated everywhere.

Viewed from the other end of the telescope, more than two decades hence, we now also see influences on subsequent bands that we’d missed, because we’d gotten into them long after MBV was a distant memory of the pre-Clinton era.  When we became fans of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, of course we heard the Velvet Underground echo through Anton’s guitar lines.  In retrospect, there’s a reason — duh! — that one of BJM’s (weaker) albums was called My Bloody Underground.  And of course MBV was another important influence on the Morning After Girls and their spawn, the black ryder.

m b v shows the best and worst of Shields’ songwriting.  There’s the same ambient gauze wrapping the guitar lines, like a short flight entirely through thick clouds, with only the occasional glimpse of either blue sky melody or the ground.  There’s the same inability to choose which key we are actually playing in, like a driver who can’t decide between lanes.  Occasionally, there’s the wispy promise of Bilinda Butcher’s voice, and on songs like “Only Tomorrow” there is undeniable greatness.  But a lot of it is like listening to paint dry, nothing to sustain us but sustain itself.

James Joyce famously said that it took him 17 years to write Finnegan’s Wake, and it was just fine that it might take his audience 17 years to read it.  m b v will not take us the 22 years it took to make for us to understand it.  It has a few very good songs, and the rest is forgettable. The fact of its existence is more important than the quality of the work, and despite only wanting to listen to two or three songs on it, we’re encouraged, and so should be Shields.

We admire Kevin Shields returning to the world, we wish him well, and hope that the band, having gotten this long gestated album out into the world, can pick up some momentum.  There are a thousand reasons for an artist to be silent.  Now that Shields is back in the world, we hope he keeps going.

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