Best tunes of 1992: #12 Lush “For love”

<< #13    |    #11 >>

Having reached my teen years growing up in a small town, wheels became an absolute necessity. I didn’t get my driver’s license until 1992, much later than my other friends, and only because I wanted to beat the implementation of graduated licensing in Ontario, Canada (those from the province of a certain age will know of what I speak). But even after getting my license, there was always the hurdle of convincing my parents to loan me their vehicle for the evening.

Luckily, we had a few friends in our group that had their own car or had no similar difficulties in borrowing one from their parents, and one of these was our friend Tim. Even when he went off to university, he had no problem getting his father’s keys whenever he was back in town for a visit. And though we appreciated being able to get anywhere within driving distance on most nights, it didn’t stop us poking fun at the malfunctioning climate controls or the fact that the fuel gauge was perennially on empty. We never did run out of gas, to everyone’s surprise, and Tim always ended the night by putting $2-3 in the tank to keep the needle just above the red mark.

Of course, there was always great tunes pumping out of the factory-installed speakers on those evenings out on the town. Tim seemed to have a new mix in the cassette deck every single time and though we always jokingly slagged him for his tastes, I was always discovering new bands this way. Which brings us to our song at the number twelve spot on my best tunes of 1992 list.

It was either late November or early December in 1992. It was most definitely a cold evening because I remember Tim having to rub away a small window in the frost that had accumulated on the inside of the windshield. He was back for the weekend from Waterloo university and we were getting into his car after taking in the late showing of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” at the Whitby cineplex theatre. The heater didn’t seem to be doing anything to warm our bones but thankfully, the stereo was working and as he pulled out of his parking spot, Lush’s “For love” came bursting forth.

I would later learn that this was the second single to be released off “Spooky”, the London-based quartet’s first proper LP of new material. For this one, the band had enlisted Cocteau Twin’s Robin Guthrie to produce, much as he had on two of their previous EPs. Fans of his band might recognize his influence on the work here, lots of light bounces and sun reflections and haze rather than the noisy guitars of Lush’s shoegazing contemporaries. There was plenty of time for that later.

“For love” is still one of my favourite Lush tracks and not just because it was my first. Just listen to that bass line bopping back and forth like a slinky and those ringing and jangling guitars, sounding like chimes and bells dancing in the wind. And yeah, the dual harmonizing female vocals by Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson, all breathy and breathless, voices sounding almost like they are singing through flutes. It could be the memory creeping in every time I listen to it but I always get the tingling feeling of a light frost and the twinkling and tinkling of icicles shaking off of fir trees. Beautiful.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.

Best albums of 1989: The honourable mentions (aka #10 through #6)

Happy Monday all!

(I know what you’re thinking: is it really Monday?! Well, the answer to that is: “YES!!!” )

And if that wasn’t enough of a good reason to kick off a new series this morning, it’s also June 1st. That’s right. We’re five months into this train wreck of a year called 2020 and I haven’t done one of these throwback Best Albums series for a while so I thought I’d throw down for you one of the greatest years for alternative rock. That’s right: 1989.

If you’ve been around these pages before, you might remember that I typically do these Best Album throwbacks on Thursdays (for the #tbt thing, of course) and though I’ve changed up the day this time around, I’ll be keeping the rest of my usual format intact. Today’s post is just the tease, introducing the five albums that round out the latter part of my top ten, and then, over the course of the next five Mondays, I’ll lay out my five favourite albums of the year, one by one. And as I said above, it’s a great one. Many of the albums are classics, catching the bands who released them at their peaks, whether at the beginning or the end of their careers, and are considered some of the most influential albums to the alternative rock artists that followed, through the 90s and beyond.

I’ve already done my top ten favourites for both 1987 and 1988 and though I talked up both of those years at the time, 1989 was the real deal. And I’m not just saying that because I say that about all the years. I was by then firmly into high school and my teen years when the final year of the eighties came around and I was finally forming some musical tastes beyond the normal AM radio fare. And though I didn’t catch on to all of these albums at the time, I can at least say I was aware of most of them, if not right away, then at least within a year or two of their release date. Indeed, I have been listening to these ten albums for so long, they are like close friends.

Are you excited? I am. So let’s do this. And of course, as we do, I’d love to hear your thoughts, both on my picks and what your own would be for 1989…


#10 The Jesus And Mary Chain “Automatic”

With “Automatic”, the Reid brothers, Jim and William, picked up right where they left off with 1987’s “Darklands”, which, incidentally, appeared at #8 on my list for that year. The Jesus And Mary Chain were effectively just the two of them at this point, though you wouldn’t know it by listening to the tunes. They filled every ounce of soundscape using electronics, employing a drum machine and synthesizers to imitate bass guitars and to wash out the rest. And though they were criticized for this at the time, attitudes have changed over time, and the album is nowadays considered amongst The JAMC’s best work. The music is dark, raging, and roaring stuff, like a loud motorcycle racing through high and violent winds, the hair of its leather-jacketed rider, whipping about wildly, but being kept on course by the ever-present cool sunglasses. Yeah.

Gateway tune: Head on


#9 Galaxie 500 “On fire”

I didn’t listen to this album until well over a decade after its release. I finally decided to investigate Galaxie 500 a few years after frontman Dean Wareham’s second band, Luna, broke up and I had exhausted their catalogue. I started with “On fire” because it was the only one of their three of which I had previously heard, which makes sense because it is widely considered the trio’s high watermark. Together with Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang, Wareham found his voice out of a love for lo-fi soundscapes, understated guitar brilliance, and The Velvet Underground. “On fire” is definitely rougher hewn than anything in the Luna catalogue but that doesn’t make it any less the underrated dream pop classic that it is.

Gateway tune: Tell me


#8 The Beautiful South “Welcome to The Beautiful South”

After The Housemartins called it quits in 1988, frontman Paul Heaton and drummer Dave Hemingway immediately formed The Beautiful South, the moniker a tongue-in-cheek jab at the fact that they were from Northern England. The five-piece’s debut “Welcome to The Beautiful South” expanded on the jangle pop sound of The Housemartins but happily, the biting and outspoken lyrics continued, as it did throughout their career. The controversial cover (the Canadian version of the cover pictured above omits the image of a woman with a gun in her mouth) didn’t seem to hurt album sales any and really, this album was just the beginning for a band that would go on to sell millions of units. So many great tracks on this one, including the one below.

Gateway tune: Song for whoever


#7 The Grapes of Wrath “Now and again”

The Grapes of Wrath’s fourth album, “Now and again”, was also their most commercially successful. Partially because of Canadian content (CanCon) rules imposed on Canadian radio and television stations but also because this album’s folk rock sound with impeccable harmonies had mass appeal. I definitely remember having the album’s singles recorded to cassette tape from AM radio at the time, but it was years before I would hear this album in full, long after the band had broken up and re-formed again. And though sometimes when I come to an album late, I find I can’t get into the time and place headspace of when it was released, this album is not an example of this. Timeless would be the right word here.

Gateway tune: All the things I wasn’t


#6 New Model Army “Thunder and consolation”

New Model Army’s fourth record is still their most successful to date and is likely one of my own personal faves. Justin Sullivan’s excellent, politically and socially-conscious lyrics and the group’s punk and post-punk informed sound received a bit of facelift when they were joined by violinist, Ed Alleyne-Johnson for this album. The infusion of folk and traditional music started the band to trend towards constantly tweaking their sound over the years and has likely aided in their longevity. And amazingly, they still haven’t lost any amount of edge or sense of urgency, especially here. This album is full of stomping great tracks, like the haunting one below.

Gateway tune: Green and grey


Check back next Monday for album #5 on this list. In the meantime, you can check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.

Live music galleries: Slowdive [2017]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Like my ‘Vinyl love’ series, these posts will be more photos than words but that doesn’t mean I won’t welcome your thoughts and comments. And of course, until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts of page.)

Slowdive live at L’Olympia in Montreal, 2017

Artist: Slowdive
When: May 6th, 2017
Where: L’Olympia, Montreal
Context: Many of you will know by now that I had a thing for early ’90s shoegaze but to be honest, Slowdive wasn’t one of those bands that grabbed me back in the day. It took the discovery of Neil Halstead’s and Rachel Goswell’s second band, Mojave 3, to make me want to take a second look. I love Slowdive now, of course, so I was right there with the rest of them when they announced reunion shows in 2014, subsequent tours over the next few years, and then, a brand new album back in 2017. That self-titled record was so incredible (it was my second favourite album that year), I decided to drag Victoria with me to Montreal, right around this time three years ago, for Slowdive’s stop there. Of course, ever since that time we went to saw James there in 2008 and struggled to stay awake on the drive home afterward, we’ve made weekends out of these concert voyages and took time on each trip to explore the city. Even through all the amazing meals, the trip to the museum, and old Montreal, the highlight for me that weekend was still the concert, just oh so beautiful, “alien and angelic”, and I think even Victoria really enjoyed it.
Point of reference song: Star roving

Rachel Goswell of Slowdive
The Slowdive experience
Nick Chaplin and Neil Halstead of Slowdive
Christian Savill of Slowdive
Neil Halstead of Slowdive