Friday, September 19, 2008

The Pastels, Orange Juice, The Wipers, Galaxie 500, and: Will I Ever Write Again

It has been rather a long time. I would love to do the podcast again, but I have moved away and have no microphone. I have been listening to music but not at all writing about it.

Perhaps no one will ever read this.

I have been listening to many things, but I don’t want to print what I wrote about The Wedding Present.

I have been very heavily into The Pastels, The Wipers, Galaxie 500 and Orange Juice. I have also recently discovered Sonic Youth’s Rather Ripped, which I think is basically winning and fun, and totally undifficult. I may write more about that album in the future, if I ever write about music again.

I will take them in order. The Pastels. I remember getting hold of a few Pastels records many years ago and liking them quite a lot. I fear that I am regressing in some strange way, retreating into nostalgia; and it is not much of a stretch when you consider the simplicity and the immediacy of a group like the Pastels. There is an obvious childishness that peeks out, but they are also a bit like how you envisioned the Ramones or the Lurkers—neanderthal, poppy, and fuzzed out, but the Pastels seem to pull that aesthetic off while the Ramones in some strange way disappoint. Too punk I imagine, they buzz and punch like a fist, but the Pastels shake in a way that is much more uncontrolled. I have been listening to Sittin’ Pretty and Truckload of Trouble (a collection of singles). My favorites: “Holy Moly,” and “Million Tears.”

The Wipers came from almost nowhere for me. I have read about them and when I first listened to them they seemed overwrought—if you can believe it, I like my punk subtle. But in the end, I found most of Over the Edge and Is This Real to be infectious. It wasn’t anything like anger or rage that came over the speaker, nothing as childish as that, but there was a kind of hyper-fury and intensity that when streamlined into a really angular style pop music the hair was made to stand on end.

I have recently moved into a kind of monastic cell. It is quite small and I don’t have a lot of things. I don’t have my records, but I have been listening to music. I find that I don’t listen to music close anymore. I am, like many people, a prisoner to melody and the speed by which a group can burrow its sound into your brain. Galaxie 500 though, weighed down by Dean Wareham’s lugubrious and small voice still manages, by the magic of simplistic guitar wizardry, a pop music heaven. They of course take the third Velvets album as a template, further drown it in reverb and sorrow, and record everything with a sense of overly romanticized distance. Along with My Bloody Valentine, they are perhaps the consistently best-produced band of their era. For one who has tried recording music, the simplicity of their strategy makes you weep. “Parking Lot” from the album Today is brilliant, and so is a song called “Walking Song.”

And on to Orange Juice, an admittedly foolish name. I took a long time in warming up to this group. A few songs helped to turn me. One was “Rip It Up,” a completely silly disco-esque track that is a kind of bastard that shares the blood of the Buzzcocks and Blondie. The song though that totally sold me was “Blue Boy,” an early single of theirs on Postcard. It is a brilliant pitch, somewhere between twee and post-punk, but taking neither seriously. They are not for the serious-minded. Orange Juice is fun when rhythmic and simple, beyond that I can not vouch for them.

I would love to come back with some great story.

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