Best tunes of 1993: #10 Chapterhouse “She’s a vision”

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It’s amazing to think of it now with so many bands waving the shoegaze and dream pop banners, ever since those genres saw a huge revival in the early 2000s, because the original scene only lasted for a brief, but shining period in the early 1990s. All the original shoegaze bands attempted to distance themselves and to move on from their original sound in order to find a place in big music and I can’t think of a single one that truly survived at the time.

Chapterhouse’s debut album, 1991’s “Whirpool”, is seen by many to be one of the great examples of the genre, featuring that outstanding single, “Pearl” which appeared on my favourite tunes list of that year. They returned a couple of years later with a very different, electronic-infused sound on their sophomore album, “Blood music”, which confounded their previous fans and perhaps, many of that time’s record buying public alike. Still, that album’s two singles managed to chart on the UK singles lists, one of which was “She’s a vision”, the focus of today’s post.

“She’s a vision
There’s no one who can tell her what to do
She’s a vixen
And she’s the only one that can break it down”

Like the woman, the object of the affection in the song’s lyrics, the four and half minutes of this track are a reflection of pure pop bliss. The wiry and screaming guitars flay and flail, a rattling and ricocheting drum beat endures without end, inducing a need to jump and scramble. The song is massive and explosive. It’s confettii and lazer beams and frantic and frenetic motion.

I remember catching the band on tour for this album, just on chance because they were opening for The Wonder Stuff on that band’s final North American tour. I was standing right in front. Because, of course, I was. This song hit me like a hammer that night and it never fails to get me going these days, all these years later.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1993 list, click here.


Best tunes of 1993: #11 The Breeders “Cannonball”

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The Breeders were formed in 1989 as a side project for Kim Deal (Pixies) and Tanya Donnelly (Throwing Muses). In the spaces between working with their primary groups, they released an album and an EP before Donnelly decided to part ways with both Throwing Muses and The Breeders to focus on a third project called Belly. Deal brought her twin sister Kelley into the fold in 1992 and when the Pixies disbanded the following year, The Breeders became her main creative outlet.

I still have never really explored The Breeders’ early work, nor am I super familiar with the work that came after their reunion* in 1996. However, I am very familiar with their huge second album, “The last splash”. You would have had to live under a rock to have avoided it back in ‘93. It was a huge commercial and critical success, making Deal a bigger name perhaps than her ex-Pixies band mate Frank Black. And a huge part of the album’s success was due to the ubiquity of this track here: “Cannonball”

“Spitting in a wishing well
Blown to hell, crash
I’m the last splash”

Just like how the album takes its name from “Cannnonball”’s lyrics, the tune really sets the tone and represents the havoc that Deal and company create with the album. Its nonsensical lyrics are merely fun to sing/scream along with and Deal does both, taking turns cooing into and trying to exceed the sound limits of the microphone, also employing the use of a harmonica mike at points to create that distorted effect during the intro and throughout the piece. Jim McPherson’s drumming starts off the song with a tickety-tack drum line before devolving into an Animal-like crash and bash course. The gurgling bass line is accompanied by a guitar lick that slithers and slides up and down your spine. The 3 minutes and 36 seconds of the tune’s duration is a seemingly random tennis match between groove and noisy chaos and when you throw in that false ending two-thirds of the way through, that crashing return has you more pumped than ever to jump into that packed crowd on the dance floor or mosh pit and freak right out.

“Cannonball” was all over the radio and its video graced television screens care of MTV and MuchMusic all the time after its release as a single but it was just one of those songs of which you could not get sick. I remember seeing them perform the album live at Osheaga 10 years ago in celebration of the album’s 20th anniversary and everyone onstage and in the crowd just lit up with the song’s energy. And you just watch the Deal sisters having a blast in the video below and you can’t help but join them in being more than a little crazy.

*The group took a hiatus shortly after the release of “The last splash” due to Kelley Deal’s drug and legal problems.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1993 list, click here.

Live music galleries

Live music galleries: The Breeders [2013]

(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. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

The Breeders at Osheaga 2013

Artist: The Breeders
When: August 3rd, 2013
Where: Green stage, Osheaga, Jean Drapeau Park, Montreal
Context: Ten years ago this summer, I attended Montreal’s Osheaga arts and music festival with my good friends Tim and Mark. It was an unforgettable weekend and we saw countless amazing performances over the festival’s three days. I’ve already posted photos* from some of the weekend’s sets and plan to share a few more of these in the months leading up to this year’s edition, which I will sadly not be attending. Some of these posts will have fewer photos than my normal galleries, including today’s, but this should not be taken to be indicative of the quality of the performances, but of the difficulty of obtaining quality pics while being so completely in the moment.

The Breeders were touring in support of the 20th anniversary of their huge sophomore album, “The last splash”, and were performing it from beginning to end on each stop on the tour. They had recently reformed the lineup that had recorded said album, and had even brought violin player Carrie Bradley along for the ride, so theirs was a set we definitely wanted to catch. My friends and I arrived at the stage just in time to hear them play “Cannonball”, the second track on the album. So, yes, we dutifully danced around. It was refreshing to hear the Deal sisters joking around and truly appearing to enjoy themselves but even though I was familiar with their singles, I was still a year to removed from finally digging into the album in earnest. Admittedly, this was also the point in the evening when the drinking started to get serious and we became friends with the shooter waitress. At the end of their set, Tim made us all laugh by quipping, “This band? They’ve got a big future ahead of them.”
Point of reference song: Cannonball

Kim Deal and Jim Macpherson of The Breeders
Kelley Deal of The Breeders
Carrie Bradley on the violin
Kim Deal rocking out!

*Past galleries from this festival weekend have included the following: