Best tunes of 2002: #25 Interpol “Obstacle 1”

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In a post on the number five song on my Best tunes of 2001 list, The Strokes’ “Last nite”, I wrote about how that band was at the vanguard of an indie rock revival. Then, two songs later with The White Stripes’ “Fell in love with a girl”, I spoke about how this revival was led by two very distinct scenes: one in Detroit and the other in New York City. Many of the bands that came out of the latter scene cut their teeth playing in a now defunct club called The Luna Lounge, much like many a post-punk outfit in the same city did in another long-since-closed club called CBGB. Indeed, Manhattan and the burroughs saw lots of musical action in the years following the turn of the millennium, giving rise to bands like the aforementioned Strokes, Ambulance LTD, Longwave, Stellastarr, Bishop Allen, and of course, Interpol.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when I first heard the post-punk revivalist quartet but I certainly remember when I first decided I liked them. It was definitely not too long after the release of their debut, “Turn on the bright lights”, because we were living in the ‘hood* and we had the use of my mother-in-law’s car. The green cavalier would eventually became ours in an unofficial sense but for a couple years there, we took turns with my brother-in-law in possessing it. During my commutes to work around the end of 2002 and beginning of 2003, I had discovered the local university and college radio stations and on one of these afternoon drives home, I realized that one of the aspiring DJs had decided to forego a real playlist and had just set Interpol’s debut to play from beginning to end. And yeah, while driving the heavy traffic up the Vanier parkway, it just clicked.

“Obstacle 1” follows “Untitled” as track two on the album and if the first song serves as an intro, our song today is the exclamation point. It’s all staccato guitars and bass, frontman Paul Banks’ deep and foreboding vocals, clearing up whether those Joy Division comparisons are fair or overwrought. You don’t get much more angular and austere than here, but we’re not just rehashing and reviving a too long dormant genre but breathing in new life and energy. Great tune on an incredible debut.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.

* For those unfamiliar with Ottawa, Vanier is a part of the city just on the other side of the Rideau river from downtown. It was at the time a lower income neighbourhood that was constantly under threat of regentrificafion due to its location and wasn’t our first choice of areas to live but the rent was affordable. Truth be told, only sections of it were bad and the one in which we lived wasn’t really one of those so the term ‘hood is one of endearment.

Playlist: Time to get your Goth on

Happy World Goth Day everyone!

Er… To be honest, it’s not a holiday I observe but it did give me occasion to start in on an idea that I’ve kicked around in the past. And that is making and sharing genre-themed playlists on these pages. So, yeah, starting things off with Goth.

Goth is easily the music genre, lifestyle, and subculture that is most misunderstood by mass media and the public in general. I remember the going joke amongst a few of my coworkers, some years ago, which centred around the term ‘practicing Goth’ (as in, ‘Look at all that black, it looks like Jennifer is practicing Goth today’). It’s a term we culled from an article, one of many that had wrongfully attributed the perpetrators of the Columbine massacre as members of the ‘Goth community’.

I’m not sure I even fully understand the idea of being and ‘practicing’ Goth and all of the different offshoots that now exist but I do enjoy some facets of the fashion (the adoption of Victorian dress, for instance). I am also quite a big fan of a lot of the music that inspired the original scene, though I completely missed out on it, being too young at the time.

Some people sneer at the term Goth as a genre of music, calling it gimmicky, and the truth of the matter is that many of the original artists attached to the genre disliked the tag and tried to loosen its hold. I can remember going to a Sisters of Mercy show in Toronto in 1998, seeing all the youngsters in the audience wearing black, leather, S&M gear, etc., and wondering what they thought of lead singer Andrew Eldritch coming out on stage with his hair bleached blonde and cut short, and wearing a loud red Hawaiian shirt.

The idea in creating this playlist was not to define what is and what is not goth but to celebrate those artists that inspired generations to wear black. It is somewhat chronological, starting with those post-punk artists that toiled in darkness (Joy Division, Bauhaus), continuing with those that took up the mantle (The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy), squeezing in some acts that are not technically goth but definitely don’t sound out of place (Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen), and finally, gently transitioning to those that felt honoured to play in the originators’ shadows (She Wants Revenge, The Horrors), many years later.

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist:

1. Joy Division “She’s lost control”
2. Bauhaus “Bela Lugosi’s dead”
3. Tones On Tail “Christian says”
4. Love and Rockets “Haunted when the minutes drag”
5. The Cure “The hanging garden”
6. Killing Joke “Love like blood”
7. Siouxsie & The Banshees “Cities in dust”
8. Sisters of Mercy “Alice”
9. The Mission “Tower of strength”
10. The Cult “She sells sanctuary”
11. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Red right hand”
12. Concrete Blonde “Bloodletting (The vampire song)”
13. Leonard Cohen “Waiting for the miracle”
14. Dead Can Dance “Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove”
15. Cranes “Shining road”
16. Interpol “Obstacle 1”
17. She Wants Revenge “Tear you apart”
18. The Horrors “Do you remember”
19. Esben and the Witch “Marching song”
20. I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness “According to plan”

Enjoy.

For those of you who are on Spotify, feel free to look me up. My user name is “jprobichaud911”.

Vinyl love: The Sisters Of Mercy “Some girls wander by mistake”

(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: The Sisters Of Mercy
Album Title: Some girls wander by mistake
Year released: 1992
Year reissued: 2017
Details: standard black, 4 x LP box set (includes 2 x 12″ singles at 45 rpm)

The skinny: I thought I had already bought the only Sisters of Mercy vinyl box set in “Vision thing” and had no intention of getting this reissue of the early singles compilation, “Some girls wander by mistake”, when I first caught wind of it. Then, my friend Tim, whom I’ve already credited a few times in these pages with turning me on to this band, pointed out that the 12″ singles being reissued with the box were the final two singles ever released by the band. The fact that these two, “Temple of love (1992)” and “Under the gun”, are two of my favourites really sold this one. And now, I really don’t know what I was thinking when I first considered taking a pass. Every time this hits my turntable, I remember how essential this box is to my collection.

Standout track: “1969”