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Monday, 3 April 2017

Sugar For The Pill


Maybe we've reached a point where band re-unions have become worthwhile artistically. In the past, when the 60s groups and the punk bands reformed it was often a case of the fans get a nostalgic night out and the band members get a payday (see also The Stone Roses). Not much in the way of new material that meant anything was forthcoming. Let's face it, no one really wanted the reformed Sex Pistols to make an album of new songs. When Television reformed people got to see a group they'd never seen, only been able to hear on record. That was enough (and Television went on to make new records that many people thought were pretty good but I bet they don't play them much anymore). But I think there's something changing. The new songs from Slowdive are a case in point. Star Roving came out a few months ago and sounded great and now there's a new one. Listen to this, out last week ahead of an album in May...



That is fucking gorgeous. It sounds like the work of the group who made Souvlaki. But it also sounds new and like the work of people who have moved onwards. Maybe the experience they had first time around- success very quickly when young, the music press inventing new cliches to describe their sound and then turning on them very quickly too, goaded on by press savvy starlets like Richey Edwards (who said they were worse than Hitler), three albums and then dropped by a label (Creation of all people) that wanted hits- was so accelerated and so intense that they had to stop. The act of having a break for twenty years, getting back together older and wiser, with two decades worth of new sounds to make and new things to say, makes for good music if the creative intent is there. The pressure of the early 90s music press has gone. There's an audience of fans from first time around who have money and babysitters. There are new fans who have reclaimed the word shoegaze and turned it from sneer to celebration (Drew said that there were loads of young people lapping up Ride in Glasgow the other week). There are new groups who have grown up using parts of the sound and moving it on themselves. It used to be the case, especially with guitar groups, that youth was the thing, bands had to be hip young gunslingers. Maybe that doesn't matter anymore. Reform and do it again but better.

12 comments:

drew said...

I think that reforming if you produce something that adds something worthwhile to your back catalogue is the reason to do it, not just to re-hash the hits or non-hits in a lot of case. My only concern is that good new bands get lost in the mass of has-beens getting back together.

drew said...

One more thought, do you think that it is just our age group and older that gets excited about all this. The kids I know don't seem to have the same relationship to bands and music, for them it's just another bit of media?

TheRobster said...

That's a really good analysis Adam. You might be onto something. I was never much of a Slowdive fan, but I'm quite liking the new material. I loved Rachel's work with Minor Victories as well - one of my fave albums from last year.

Walter said...

I agree to Robster's words am I am also no big fan of reunions. But as you said, sometimes a band makes a great step forward when they get together after a Long time. And this is a perfect example of what could happen when each member made different musical experiences during the years. Looking also Forward to listen to their new material later in June.

Michael Doherty said...

When I went to see the Roses it felt somewhat like they were covering their own songs for their admittedly salivating audience. I enjoyed it in a totally nostalgic fashion. When I saw Ride a couple of weeks ago it was not the same at all, I was completely immersed in every note, known and unfamiliar (couldn't resist). They're playing as a band with fire in their hearts and with something to say, not simply reiterating what they've previously said. I feel this is the same with Slowdive.

Swiss Adam said...

I agree about the Roses Michael- the Heaton park shows were a rleeif and a celebration. Etihad gigs last summer were even more an exercise in nostalgia except that time around the crowd was half young people. The 2 new songs didn't do much to change that.

I agree with you too Drew. Me and the missus were watching a Top of the Pops re-run the other night and The Cure came on. We said that bands like the Cure (and the Smiths, JAMC, New Order etc), where you buy every record and follow them religiously, just don't seem to exist any more. Some young people get into older bands and get the music retrospectively but it does seem to be that music is just one of many media they have as a background to their lives. The device playing the music has become more important than the music because it connects them to everyone else and they can take pictures with it too. I'm not criticising them for it- its just different. But something has been lost I think.

drew said...

No tribal loyalties, the decline of identifiable youth movements which is a good thing in some ways but also pretty bad as I'm not sure you can get passionate about something if you have nothing to identify with.

charity chic said...

one of the many debates for the Old Gits weekend I feel

Echorich said...

We are a generation of music fans that have had a wealth of riches and seen the decline of popular music over the past 40 years. Most of us grew up on Punk, New Wave, Post Punk and then genres like Shoegaze, er - Britpop, Grunge, Madchester and the like. But we have also seen genre segmentation go awry and technology change the way we interact with music.
If you were born in the early to mid 60's you belong to what's been labeled Generation Jones - jonesing being being a cultural slang for craving, addiction, fixating. When compared with music fans from the previous generation or following generation, we are MUCH more serious and possessive of the music we love. Our corner of the blogosphere is a great example of just how much we CARE about our music and music choices.
Drew is right, there are few to no 'tribal loyalties" around cultural movements, let alone musical ones. The only one that comes to mind is EDM, which is just so broad that it implodes on itself regularly and recombines like a musical black hole.
Sure many of the bands we loved have reunited for many different reasons - a payday, recapturing their heyday and even finding that they still have something to contribute. Kitchens Of Distinction awakened their voice in 2013 with the magnificent Folly, The Monochrome Set have added to their strong catalogue with 4 albums of skewed pop since 2012 and now Slowdive have given possibly the best example of time strengthening a band's sound.
So we should celebrate new music from artists who still have something to say. We should still use our critical ear to decide if the efforts were worthwhile, but we should be pleased that we have the opportunity to judge these artist in the same way we did the first time around.

drew said...

Well said as ever Echorich

Brian said...

Some great thoughts on this page. You old fogeys haven't lost a step. Sometimes it's tough fighting the temptation to get caught up in the nostalgia. I like so many new bands, but I hate feeling like the grandpa in the room. Seeing a "mature" band is comfortable but not always as rewarding as the old days.

JC said...

Haven't been on t'internet this past week...annoyed that I missed out on this debate.

First of all Adam....an absolutely brilliant piece that is way better than much of the pish that people get paid to write. And the quality of contributions via the comments is top-notch with the usual suspects nailing it perfectly.

The shoegaze thing passed me by - an age thing as much as anything else - and so I never knew anything at all about the likes of Slowdive, Ride etc. until I started blogging and taking in some of the fandom from folk whose tastes I think are fairly impeccable. The two new Slowdive songs are tremendous to listen to - more so than some of the original material that I still can't switch onto.

The other thing that went through my head is that in many ways, and it was triggered somewhat by SA's observation about the device playing the music being more important these days, football, and perhaps sport in general, is suffering similarly.

The 'diddy' teams are losing fans at an alarming rate with young kids now obsessed by the world-renowned players rather than teams, and much of that being down to the x-box/playstation way of presenting the game. You take a kid along to a real match with its many periods of inaction and poor quality and they get bored quickly... to them real football is all about tricks, moves and large noisy crowds. They won't rush back to see a real game, prefering instead to play it on the device or watch their favourite players on TV.

Anyway....back to the music. I think we are of that generation where choice was really restricted in terms of leisure/hobbies. If you got into your music you tended to do so in a big way for there wasn't much else to distract you - this was true whether you liked punk, new wave, hard rock/metal, funk, disco, indie or any other genre. We obsessed over it because it almost literally was our world. Nowadays there is so much choice out there....

I've a young friend through work who has great taste in music but he consumes it almost entirely through downloads and doesn't spend a huge amount of money on physical products or even going to many gigs. But almost every weekend he jumps on a plane to visit some European city that he can reach in just a few hours via a budget airline, stays for a day or two and then comes home - its where all his disposable income goes. If that choice had been open to me in the 80s then I'd likely have done the same...wouldn't make me any less of a music fan but seeing the world and enjoying fresh experiences is surely preferable to being cooped up in a bedroom spinning 45s and LPs.

But in saying that, I love the fact that I did grow up in the 70s and 80s and was able to experience music in the way I have and to such an extent. It shaped ny life and my personality - and is still doing so today.

Can't wait till the old gits meet up next month....hopefully the first of what will be repeated get togethers.