Vinyl love: Lush “Lovelife”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Lush
Album Title: Lovelife
Year released: 1996
Year reissued: 2016
Details: pink vinyl, disc four in limited Origami box set, Record Store Day 2016 release, limited to 2000

The skinny: As I mentioned last week, Lush’s third studio album, “Lovelife”, was their Britpop album. Don’t look down your nose at them though. Everyone was doing it at the time. I didn’t mind the change in sound at all because I had gotten caught up in the hype of the scene, just as much as did many of my friends. Still, had you not followed their progression as closely as I did, you might not have recognized this as at all the same band that had us dreaming colours on “Gala” and “Spooky“. Sure, there was some ethereal sounds on “Lovelife” but the guitar driven pop had been amped up and Mike Berenyi’s vocals were without a doubt more obvious here than on any of their previous work. And yeah, she definitely does hold her own in a duet with Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker on the tune below. 4AD’s choice of pink for this fourth disc in the ‘Origami’ box set does not just match the colour palette of the album artwork but also feels in line the with the decidedly bubblegum tone of its sound.

Standout track: “Ciao!”

Best tunes of 2012: #21 The Maccabees “Ayla”

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As you might have guessed by now, I’m of that rare breed of music maniac that can and does listen to music while doing pretty much any other activity, whether it be reading, cooking, doing chores around the house, or whatever. It used to be that I couldn’t even fall asleep without music playing, though my wife broke me of that habit. And my office day job (back when I did actually go in to an office) was one at which I was often able to put on my headphones and listen to music, as long as it didn’t bother those in the next cubicle. Back then and even now, when I am really busy and I need to hunker down and concentrate, I’ll plug my earphones into my iPod and throw on some tunes to drown out other distractions. I’m certain it improves my productivity.

It was during one of these work/rocking out sessions that I fell hard for The Maccabees. I had written about their third and as we now know, penultimate album, “Given to the wild”, on my old blog as part of this series I did that highlighted my three favourite albums released each month. They were a new-to-me band and got me excited at the time but then, as often happened in those days with all the new music I consumed, I moved on to the next dozen things and promptly forgot about them. Still, the album remained on my iPod for months and on that day at work, this very song, “Ayla”, came on and I lost my place in the briefing note I was working on.

The Maccabees were a five-piece from London, England that existed for a grand total of thirteen years and four albums. They toured with the likes of Bloc Party and Florence and the Machine, other acts from around the same time and place that also mined the post-punk sounds of the seventies and eighties to create fresh tunes to great effect. “Given to the wild” did very well for the group. It was panned by Pitchfork but was praised by the NME and garnered them a Mercury Prize nomination.

Listening to “Ayla”, you might make comparisons to those recent bands I mentioned above but you can really trace The Maccabees back to iconic acts like Talking Heads or David Bowie’s Berlin-era. It is a-thrum with wandering piano arpeggios and cranky guitar riffs filtered through refracted light. Like many of the songs on “Given to the wild”, it is so big sounding that it begs to be performed at Royal Albert Hall with a full orchestra and choir, à la Spiritualized. The video below follows a man on a bicycle racing towards some unknown goal while the sky does some funky things. Not the most brilliant piece of storytelling but the music is quite delicious.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.

100 best covers: #65 Asobi Seksu “Then he kissed me”

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Asobi Seksu. The name may not ring any bells for you, which is a big shame. In a perfect world, it would have done. However, it was not to be.

Asobi Seksu was a New York-based band that had a rather fluid membership over the years, the only constants being the glue that held everything together: vocalist Yuki Chikudate and guitarist James Hanna. For me, this band was among the best and brightest that started the new shoegaze revival in the early 2000s, a revival that feels like it has gone on much longer than the original scene. I got into these guys back in 2006 with their wonderful sophomore release “Citrus”, falling in love with their Lush and MBV vibes, and voraciously consumed everything they produced thereafter. Unfortunately, they announced an indefinite hiatus back in 2013, a word they’ve kept, except for a one-off appearance opening for Slowdive in Boston in 2014 at that iconic band’s request. But who could say no to Slowdive, really?

Asobi Seksu released this apt cover of The Crystals’ 1963 hit song as a B-side for their non-album single “Stay awake” in 2007. Given my relatively limited exposure to the original, I think the cover is at least faithful to the spirit of Phil Spector’s production, albeit with perhaps thicker and fuzzier walls of sound and of course, Chikudate’s chiming vocals replacing the original R&B harmonies.

At a mere two minutes, though, this cover is like that oft-elusive and all-too-brief first kiss. Strange, timid, and awkward, but fully imbued with passion and sexual energy, and yes, questions of love. You’ve all been there. You know what I mean. The taste is more-ish, fleeting, just whetting the appetite for a bigger feast.

I’m not even going to ask the question because I don’t care about the answer. I’m going with the cover here. Repeat after me: Asobi Seksu. You’re welcome.

Cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.