Despite Benjamin Shaw's best efforts to kill the series with kindness, someone else has stepped up to the plate...Simon Chatteron of London fuzz poppery people Amy Blue...these no goodniks have shared stages (sloping floors) with the likes of our Nosferatu D2 and Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences and they irritated fans of the rubbish version of The Smashing Pumpkins.
LOOK AT ME, I OWN RECORDS! With Simon Chatteron of Amy Blue commences...
Prince - Batman OST (tape)
Sam Brown - Mindworks 7"
Don't think many people are proud of their first record, the next three don't get any better:
Gloria Estefan - Anything For you
Guns n' Roses - Appetite For Destruction
Kylie Minogue - Enjoy Yourself
Has it left an everlasting impression? No! It took years to get over this and discover Prince's better works. I can't say my childhood was that musically interesting, I think we had an Abba album, the music of Star Wars and a stack of 7" records of marching band music my mum had written. I taped a Jean Michel Jarre concert off Radio 1 and played it until the tape broke. I taped Carcass over Kylie eventually.
One that changed everything:
Nirvana - Come As You Are
January 1992, everyone came back to school with THAT ALBUM, it stayed on repeat for months. Then we all taped someone's copy of Bleach and that lasted a month or so - what a revelation to hear something that wasn't over-produced and polished and, well, POP. One copy of Melody Maker later and that was it for mainstream music. I snuck into gigs by the likes of Cornershop, Kerbdog and Rosa Mota at the Hastings Crypt then went to the last day of Reading 92 and almost never bought a mainstream record again.
The Initial Indie-Try-Hard record
Huggy Bear "Kiss Curl e.p."
From one extreme to the other, this was bought from the first proper record shop I'd seen at the same time as a Melvins 7" (which wasn't that great), ridiculous cliched revolutionary sentiment welded to bratty punk noise. They were massively hyped up at the time and perhaps their impact has been carried forward even now. I saw Fever Fever the other night and one track had a faint air of Her Jazz, it was rather cool. Why did Huggy Bear fail to make it big a la the Manics? I'm a sad believer that integrity and poverty are inseperable bedfellows. And they failed to distill their magic into a full length album, but little chunks of genius like this were their strongpoint.
The Teenage Angst Record
SP - Siamese Dream
Are Amy Blue an unashamed Pumpkins rip-off band? Shut it! But don't underestimate the impact of this record on us. Just putting aside the texture, arrangements and balls-out playing on the record and for the sheer emotional weight of a person who has nothing left but record what could be their epitaph. Those songs are soaked in an unhealthy nostalgia for my own dark times. We've done a couple of sets at Dan Ormsby's grunge themed retrofests at the Windmill in the couple of years and it's been great to reclaim some of the songs from my
vortex of self-hatred . We even played one show in dresses, like Billy and James did.
The random wonderfulness record:
Anastasia Screamed - Yesterday
Being a huge fan of Scarce, 90's grunge also-rans who were derailed by their singer's aneurysm just as they got big, I never put two and two together to realise this was the same singer. Chick Graning's other claim to fame was being dumped by Tanya Donelly when Belly crossed to the mainstream though he has a voice to break hearts himself. I really need to put this record onto mp3...
The artwork record
Silversun Pickups - Carnavas
Are Silversun Pickups an unashamed Pumpkins rip-off band? Not sure but they've done well to avoid lawsuits from Built To Spill and Dandy Warhols in my opinion. I do like this band a lot, enough to get over their fast track rise to prominence Stateside due to having the right management, etc. Someone somewhere has decided they are going to be big so they've had Muse support slots and Twilight soundtrack spaces and Grammy nominations handed to them. Admittedly this sort of treatment is exactly why I can't buy into the Joy Formidable, but they don't have the tunes to back up their hype. The biggest mistake a band can make is not have the right support network around them, good songs only get you so far. What about the visual side, the look of the band, the videos, the website, the artwork? Silversun Pickups have retained Darren Waterstone as their sleeve artist for the last three records and it makes all the difference to have that continuity and quality of dreamlike expressionist art on your records to give it an identity apart from everything else. In fact I'm still after a copy of their Record Store Day release as much for the artwork as the music...!
We've had fallings out over artwork as much as music, I often have a strong impression of how the record should look but have trouble explaining the *WHY* to the rest of the band so other ideas get pushed instead. Though I told JP I wanted a dead pigeon on the front of this next record (A Hero For Our Time, out this Spring) and he didn't object, hopefully he doesn't think I am going to bludgeon one to death.
The 'perhaps I too could be in a band' records
Swirlies - Blondertongue Audiobaton
Windsor For The Derby - Melt Close/Donkey Ride 7"
The obligatory John Peel mention, I'm still trying to track down his shows from 91-95 in case I missed out on missed alt-rock classics. Swirlies got considerable airplay and a session on his show and it was a delight hearing such a ramshackle bunch of noise on the radio. They sounded like a band falling down the stairs or a teenage band on a sugar high trying to play early My Bloody Valentine songs. They sounded like they didn't know how to play their instruments, but when you sit down to learn a song of theirs it's actually impossible to play. Infuriating! I wanted to make music that sounded like that. I stole my sister's long abandoned guitar and spent hours trying to work out Swirlies songs, though she thought I spent months trying just to tune it...
Windsor For The Derby I got into when I heard Conrad from Trail of Dead had spent a brief tenure in the band and this 7" was a revelation, specifically the B-Side 'Donkey Ride' which is an understated instrumental, two guitars trading Japanese style ascending riffs, beautiful. I wanted to make music this delicate, understated. However at the time all my disposable income was going on distortion and fuzz pedals as Amy Blue turned into a sort of industrial-metal band, things just got louder and fuzzier. It's taken a long while to get over that, this new record will likely be our last straight ahead 'RAWK' record as when we all play in a room these days there's so much more abstract things going on, it's really interesting times.
Amy Blue's last e.p. 'On The Pleasure Of Hating' is free to download along with their previous efforts via their Bandcamp page WWW.AMYBLUE.CO.UK, they are currently mixing their new album 'A Hero For Our Time' for release in April, again free on their Bandcamp, ltd cd's with handmade artwork and special blue cassettes. Unless Audio Antihero feel otherwise and want to talk about releasing something obviously, we're open to persuasion...!