Souncheck: End of the Century
So Blur got back together this week and played some shows. A lot of Brits (and one American music journalist named T. Cole Rachel) got very,very excited by this. As one would expect, the Internet has been flooded with poorly-shot Youtube clips of the reunion shows (see below), all of which made my thirtysomething heart grow warm with nostalgia.
My favorite Blur album? The Great Escape
A lot of people thought this record was kind of a dud—rushed, overproduced, derivitive—but I’ve always loved it. It’s also packed with a bunch of hits: “Country House,” “Charmless Man,” even “The Universal.” This album was released at the height of the great Blur vs. Oasis feuds of the early 90’s (remember those heady, heavy times?) and back then it seemed like “Wonderwall”-era Oasis kind of won. Ultimately, history has proved Blur the better and more interesting band. I remember driving to Dallas, Texas, in 1994 to see Blur on the American leg of the Great Escape tour. Even though they were huge megastars in the rest of the world, they still played a tiny club in Dallas… which seemed to perplex them. Still, the show was great and I remember fighting my way to the front of the stage so I could grope Damon Albarn’s leg. Also, the opening act was The Rentals, featuring none other than Maya Rudolph! Years later I had a chance to interview Blur (poolside in Palm Springs, no less) and they remembered the Dallas show as being one of the weirdest they’d ever played. I was able to apologize to Albarn for grabbing his leg.
And don’t forget about… Suede, Dog Man Star
Remember when Suede were the coolest band in all the universe? Again, it was the 90’s and nothing was more chic (at least to my mind) than a foppish Brit with a floppy haircut. Dog Man Star was the troubled sophomore album and most people found it something of a letdown after the band’s self-titled debut (which is arguably one of the best albums of all-time). But in the spirity of contrarianism… The record holds up and it contains two of my favorite Suede songs: the totally homo-riffice “Daddy’s Speeding” and the epic “Wild Ones” (which has a beautiful and swooningly romantic video that I still watch all the time on Youtube). Suede’s subsequent albums yielded diminishing returns, but they remain one of the few bands who could convincingly rock out and camp at the same time (other than, say, T. Rex and David Bowie). If everyone else in the universe can get back together for a reunion show, why can’t Suede? Coachella 2010! Come on!
GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS.
Actually, this has nothing to do with Blur or Britpop or the Deep 90s. I just can’t stop listening to San Francisco’s Girls. After writing about them for this very magazine, I’ve followed the band’s slow upward trajectory, which is punctuated this week with the release of the band’s new video for “Hellhole Ratrace.” Not only is the the video beautiful, but it’s a nice reminder of everything that’s really important in life—drinking, making out with your friends, and staying out all nice to watch the sun come up. Perfect.