things I liked about 2011

2011 was kind of a shit year, yes? From albums that just weren't as good as they should be - Elbow, I'm looking at you - to complete musical abominations from artists who you thought should know better until you really thought about it and realized you should know better for thinking that they should know better - right? right. And I don't think I have to say who I'm thinking of here, I've bitched enough - 2011 was just a big ol' suck fest.

But. BUT.

There were clearly high points. Here are twelve of them, in alphabetical order:

Active Child - You Are All I See
Active Child - You Are All I See
(Gorgeous, though a little more of a pulse would be nicer next time.)

Battles - Gloss Drop
Battles - Gloss Drop
(More even than 'Mirrored', though without the insane highs of "Atlas" or "Tonto". Fair enough trade off I'd say.)

Big Black Delta - BBDLP1
Big Black Delta - BBDLP1
(A glorious cacophony that knows not to overstay it's welcome. IFUCKINGLOVEIT.)

The Boxer Rebellion - The Cold Still
The Boxer Rebellion - The Cold Still
(A little more of a subdued affair from our Boxer boys but a worthy follow-up to the surprise brilliance of 'Union'.)

Duran Duran - All You Need Is Now
Duran Duran - All You Need Is Now
(Yes, it was #4 last year. However, those Duran boys sure know how to drag out a release and keep it exciting, so here we are again with additional tracks - or what would have been the b-sides in the old days. The 9-track version packs more of a punch but this is still a solid album that has no right being as good as it is.)

Florrie - Experiments
Florrie - Experiments EP
(Xenomania's in-house drummer spreads her pop-sensible wings.)

Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo
Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo
(A very welcome return from Gruff after 2009's heartbreakingly awful 'Dark Days/Light Years' mess of an album.)

Nicola Roberts - Cinderella's Eyes
Nicola Roberts - Cinderella's Eyes
(Who knew?)

Soft Metals - Soft Metals
Soft Metals - Soft Metals
(It pretty much sounds like the sleeve.)

The Whip - Wired Together
The Whip - Wired Together
(Sometimes you just want more of the same, and The Whip delivered in spades. Not as crunchy as I was hoping for based on the Jagz Kooner production but once you get past that, there's plenty to enjoy here.)

Ultrasound - Welfare State / Sovereign
Ultrasound - Welfare State / Sovereign
(A single that clobbered most full-lengths this year. The most welcome return in ages.)

Will Young - Echoes
Will Young - Echoes
(This year's Richard-X produced, adult pop surprise.)

Then there are these three, all of which could qualify as my favorite album of the year:

The Sound of Arrows - Voyage
The Sound of Arrows - Voyage
(Even after a 2 year wait, this one managed to exceed insanely high expectations.)

The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar
The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar
(If 'Chrome' and 'Spooky' had a baby - or if 'King' had been slightly more successful at what it set out to do - it might sound something like this.)

Mirrors - Lights and Offerings
Mirrors - Lights and Offerings
(Forced to pick, this is #1.)

Did somebody say reissues?

Duran Duran - NotoriousDuran Duran - Big Thing
Duran Duran - Notorious & Big Thing 2xCD/DVD
(They still sound like shit but the wealth of bonus material on each set make them worth it. And, really, who ever thought 'Big Thing' would get the deluxe treatment?)

Monkees - Instant Replay
The Monkees - Instant Replay 3xCD
(The most unnecessary box in a year of unnecessary boxes? Possibly, but there's fan demand and Rhino is listening AND delivering.)

Smashing Pumpkins - GishSmashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
Smashing Pumpkins - Gish & Siamese Dream 2xCD/DVD
(Billy Corgan gets something mostly right! [Almost] everything about these is completely gorgeous.)

Suede - SuedeSuede - Dog Man StarSuede - Coming UpSuede - Head MusicSuede - A New Morning
Suede - Catalogue 2xCD/DVD
(They could have easily done the first three and called it done, but Brett decided to go warts and all and give us the full bang. It was a blast re-exploring the first two LPs through these set and then also reaffirming my love for 'Head Music' through its set. Plus, "Music Like Sex". Thank you.)

This Mortal Coil - Box
This Mortal Coil - Box 4xCD
(The box alone is a work of art and the albums sound incredible. Whoever was in charge of this gets a gigantic gold star.)

Here's to a better 2012.


it's so salty, Jesus!

Sometimes, after a long day that seemingly would. not. end., all you need is Kim Deal screaming at you about giving Jesus head:


The thing about 'Pod' is that it's SUCH a - pardon the term - vagina album. It's so girly and all pink and purply and there are images of fucking clippings of the band member's hair on the inner sleeve. At the same time, there are songs about giving Jesus a blow job and walking abortions and enjoying incestual molestation and the best fucking Beatles cover ever - and that's just on the first side of the record - giving it bigger balls than most male-dominated indie albums of the time. It may be my least favorite Breeders album - solely due to the presence of "Oh!", which is jut not up to par - but it's still a swift kick in the gut and incredibly unique for it's relatively standard guitar/bass/drum structure.

Speaking of, isn't it about time for a new Breeders album/EP/single/tour/SOMETHING? Please?


let England suck


Those year-end lists have started to appear - is it me or is it early this year? - and, depressingly unexpectedly, PJ Harvey's 'Let England Shake' is appearing all over them. More often than not, it's hovering in or around the Top 5 if not occupying the top spot itself.

"It's brave!" "It's thought-provoking!" "It's topical!" "It's !"

You know what it's not, though? One thing that's KIND of important for a record to be, it being a primarily audio-based art form?


Opinions and all, blah blah blah, but fuck it. This is a terrible record and any "best of" list that has it anywhere nearby is automatically invalidated.



2:40, "Into The Clouds". Everything stops for a second as the final verse starts, then everything and then some kicks back in and the song literally takes off, matching the lyric.

3:13, "Wonders". The drum machine trips over itself, as if it can hardly wait to begin one final, glorious bridge.

1:25, "Magic". After some teasing, *that* chorus finally begins.

0:50, "Ruins of Rome". The pan-flute intro totally cuts out, silence, then gorgeousness.

4:25, "Ruins of Rome". Again. The word "home" is stretched over a few extra beats with a couple of ascending notes added on for good measure, sending the track into the heavens.

4:29-4:31, "Ruins of Rome". Yet again. The synths stutter underneath the chorus before unleashing a majestic rain of descending melody that has only been hinted at in the previous 4 minutes and 28 seconds. (These are 2011's greatest 3 seconds of music, by the way.)

And we keep going.

0:02, "Longest Ever Dream". The most Richard X of Richard X beats roll in.

3:15, "Nova". It's only a few "ahhs" but they ascend what could be a generic club banger into, well, something better.

All of these and more are what make the Sound of Arrows' 'Voyage' so fucking spectacular.

list making

I'm working on my list of my favorite albums of 2011.

There was a new Elbow album in 2011.

It's nowhere near the top 10.

This makes me sad.


coming out of the woodwork

Keeping with the "long overdue return" theme, Imperial Teen posted the first single from their forthcoming fifth long player yesterday.

It's called "Runaway" and the album - that's the FANTASTIC artwork over there - is out in January on Merge. (Vinyl release this time? Please? Did 'The Hair, The TV, The Baby & The Band' ever end up getting an LP release? I'll have to investigate.)

Anyways, good ol' Soundcloud says the song sounds like this:

Imperial Teen - Runaway by MergeRecords

Just as the last great album of 2011 shows it's head, the first great album of 2012 peeks out from behind the curtain. I *WILL* catch the tour for this one. (Will it really have been 10 years from the Imperial Teen Summer of 2002? Goodness!)


everybody shake

Apparently it is a week for things we weren't sure were ever going to happen.

First, the delicious Sound of Arrows album.

Now, the shock return of one Little Boots.

That's hew new logo. It's lovely.

This is her new song. It's called "Shake" and it is house-tastic:

Little Boots - SHAKE by LittleBoots

Worth the wait? Oh, yes.


counterpoint (or, IFUCKINGLOVEYOU pt. 2)

My thoughts, as they happen, as I give 'Voyage' my first listen.


November 8, 2011.

"'Into the Clouds' is a re-recording, which we knew. Somehow it's even more magical."

"So far - 5 songs in - every song is a could-be-a-closer mini-epic. That's a compliment."

"'Ruins of Rome' is ASTOUNDING."

"Holy shit. 4 & 1/2 minutes in 'Ruins of Rome' becomes a cut-up/fuck-up monster for a hot 30 seconds that completely makes the rest of the album barely matter."

"'Longest Ever Dream' doesn't appear to be related to 'Magic' - outside of the shared line - or 'Longer Ever Dream'. It does, however, sound like he's singing: 'Yesterday, I have the longest ever dream.' I'm going to pretend that's the actual lyric.

It's the most Richard X sounding song on the album so far with it's relentlessly driving synth undercurrent. It's the sixth time I've thought: 'This is my favorite track on the album'.

It's track six."

"Vocoders and marching band snares over an ambient background - 'Hurting All The Way' is a nice mid-album palette cleanser.

"'Conquest' is - ready for this one? - C+C Music Factory pulled through a Sound of Arrows filter. On first impression, anyways. It's blatantly early-90's dance pop in any case." (In retrospect, C+C Music Factory is completely off-base but early-90's dance pop is spot on.)

"'Nova' we know, and it fades into 'There Is Still Hope', a 7+ minute slow-burner of a track. The epic of the epics, if you will."

"We end the album proper with 'Lost Cities', all breathy 'ooh's and 'ahh's and astronaut speech samples. ('...Brothers who are truly brothers', etc., as also sampled in Geneva's 'A Place In The Sun'.) Perfect."

"'Disappear' is super upbeat - for them - and great to have but it would not have fit on the album. At all. I imagine it would KILL live."

"Worth the wait? And then some. We'll be discovering things about this one for years to come."

Multiple listens later and it's chasing 'Lights and Offerings' for album of the year. If you don't completely melt at this:

I have very little time for you at the moment.

Well done, boys.


into the clouds

Your order #202-0268508-xxxxxxx (received November 03, 2011)

Qty Item Price Delivery Subtotal


Amazon.co.uk items (Sold by Amazon EU S.a.r.L.):

1 Voyage £6.66 1 £6.66

Dispatched via Royal Mail (estimated arrival date: November 28, 2011).
Item Subtotal: £6.66
Delivery and handling: £1.68
Pre-order Guarantee: £0.00

Total: £8.34

Payment Total: USD 13.84**

I honestly thought the day would never come.

Also: 2 discs for under $14 shipped? Hello.


fucking gorgeous

I'm going to need some time alone with this one.


a Siamese Dream dream

This image - apparently the track list, or track list in progress, for the second discs of the forthcoming Smashing Pumpkins 'Gish' and 'Siamese Dream' reissues - leaked yesterday. In easier-to-read terms, it looks like this:

01 Starla (2011 Mix)
02 Siva (Peel Session)
03 Honeyspider (Reel Time Demo / 2011 Mix)
04 Hippy Trippy (Crush Music Box Demo)
05 Snail (Live Radio Performance)
06 Plume (2011 Mix)
07 Bury Me (Reel Time Demo / 2011 Mix)
08 Daydream (Old House Demo)
09 Tristessa (Sub Pop Single / 2011 Mix)
10 Girl Named Sandoz (Peel Session)
11 Jesus Is The Sun (Basement Demo)
12 Blue (Gish Sessions Demo)
13 Smiley (Gish Sessions Demo)
14 I Am One (Reel Time Demo / 2011 Mix)
15 (Something that looks like Suffer / Apartment Demo)
16 La Dolly Vita (2011 Mix)
17 Pulseczar (Gish Sessions Demo)
18 Drown (Alternate Guitar Solo)

Siamese Dream:
01 Pissant (Siamese Sessions Rough Mix)
02 Siamese Dream (Broadway Rehearsals Demo)
03 STP (Rehearsal Demo)
04 Frail and Bedazzled (Soundworks Demo)
05 Luna (Apartment Demo)
06 Quiet (BBC Session / BC Mix)
07 Moleasskiss (Soundworks Demo)
08 Hello Kitty Kat (Soundworks Demo)
09 Today (Broadway Rehearsal Demo)
10 Never Let Me Down Again (BBC Session)
11 Apathy's Last Kiss (Siamese Sessions Rough Mix)
12 Ache (Silverfuck / Rehearsal Demo)
13 U.S.A. (Soundworks Demo)
14 U.S.S.R. (Soundworks Demo)
15 Spaceboy (Acoustic Mix)
16 Rocket (Rehearsal Demo)
17 Disarm (Acoustic Mix)
18 Soma (Instrumental Mix)

If these are in fact real, this is officially Very Exciting. It would have been *SO* easy to just throw a bunch of b-sides and previously bootlegged demos out there and called it done, but a lot of this looks like it hasn't previously escaped out. By my count, there are only three tracks amongst the 36 that have been available in this form before - the two Peel Sessions on the 'Gish' disc and 'Never Let Me Down Again' on 'Siamese Dream' - but that leaves very little room to complain.

I wonder if the first disc will have bonus tracks as well. And we're apparently getting DVDs as well! Huzzah! November is shaping up very, very nicely.

(Sorry, Suede, but your re-issues MIGHT have just been outclassed.)


the cold world tours

Soft Metals are putting together a North American tour for December.

Toronto is one of those dates.

I want to go.

The end.


How about a video?

"The Cold World Melts":




Last week, Joe and Dingo introduced me to Big Black Delta - conveniently just in time to travel to LA to visit Dingo and happen to catch their show at the Satellite as part of an every-Monday-night-in-September residency. (The show was amazeballs, by the way, and I totally wish I was there tonight for the final, erm, night.) So now I pass the favor along and possibly introduce you to Big Black Delta.

This is the most recent single/video/whatever you call it in this day and age, "Capsize":

Said track is taken from the just released - as in, today - debut album proper, appropriately entitled 'BBDLP1'. You can order it from the site on any number of formats - including a lovely slab of vinyl in your choice of mauve or speckled blue - and, as should be standard these days, any physical format comes with an immediate digital download, again in any format you could possibly want. (I went FLAC to get the best of all worlds.)

If you act now - for this week only!, etc., etc. - you can download the album in mp3 for free from the site and give it a test drive. Or you could take my word for it and buy the ultimate fan package. Your choice.

Dingo and Joe, I am once again in your musical debt.


hate mail

My thoughts, as they happen, as I give 'Biophilia' a courtesy listen.


"6:24 PM: Approaching the leak of 'Biophilia' with an open a mind as possible - I told myself I'd give it one listen through when it leaked to see if, perhaps, there was something to salvage or it turned out to be not so bad after all. 1 minute in and I have a feeling this is an exercise in futility. (Wait, open mind. Dammit, this is going to be hard.)"

"6:30 PM: I can't do this. This is shit.


Now it's a test to see how long I can last."

"6:36 PM: All I want to do is scream at the top of my lungs for all the world to hear:


Good thing we're moving tomorrow. This house has now been tainted with the sounds of this album and no amount of exorcism will get it clean. Good luck to the young chap who bought it."

"6:44 PM: "Dark Matter" - halfway there, I can do this! - is like..."Ancestors" or something dreadful like that off of 'Medúlla' with a droning organ behind it. The organ, of course, is playing in a different key than the chorus of wailing Björks because, you know, it's art.



"6:49 PM: Now there's something like...circus breakbeat? Why am I doing this to myself again?"

"6:51 PM: "Like a mushroom on a tree trunk when the proteins starts to transmutate, I knock on your skin and I am in."

You couldn't make this up."

"7:00 PM: I honestly cannot believe what I'm hearing - or that I've lasted this long. This is a new level of terrible."

"7:04 PM: OK, here's something. The loud-y parts of "Mutual Core" aren't bad. Trite, absolutely, but somewhat enjoyable in the context of things.

Or, perhaps ,this is some sort of Stockholm Syndrome. Awww, you're trying, I'll give you some sort of credit. Like a teacher with a pupil who clearly doesn't get it but is at least making an effort."

"7:12 PM: That was one of the most painful album listening experience I have ever had. I feel like I need to get into a scalding shower and cleanse myself.

I can never unhear that, but hopefully I can save others from the same fate."

They say every experience makes you stronger. I have no idea what I've taken away from this, outside of: she's always been like this, hasn't she? That is the hardest part of all of this.

Björk, I will see you in hell. You've already provided the soundtrack.


a love letter

Dear 'Rings Around The World':

Hard to believe we've been together for ten years already, isn't it?

At the same time, it's even harder to believe it has only been ten years. As I sit here now and listen to you - you still sound good, don't worry - I'm not entirely sure I need to. Wait, come back. What I mean by that is I feel like you're already ingrained in my psyche - I don't need to have you on to know what you sound like, to remind me how great you are. That sounds a bit silly - obviously any record you've heard more than a few times is going to work its way into your brain - but this goes beyond that. I feel like I know each and every note, every pause, every transition so well that you're over before you've begun.

Does that make sense? It's meant to be a compliment so I hope you take it that way.

I have many fond memories of you. Before we even get to your songs, let's talk about the milestones in my life you represent. Your tour is the most I've ever seen a band on a single tour - four times between the two North American legs, including a three night in a row stretch between Cleveland, Toronto and then back to Buffalo - and it remains one of my favorite tours I've seen. Your (initially UK-only) DVD release caused me to go out and buy an all-region DVD player that could convert the PAL signal for my NTSC television set so that I could enjoy your videos, bonus tracks and remixes. (If I remember correctly, I bought your DVD before the player to make sure I had you to test it out.) On that note, you were the first album I listened to once I got a proper 5.1 set up - and I must say you set the bar incredibly high for albums that followed. Well done. You were the first SFA LP I bought on vinyl on release day - and a good thing I did because you prove to be tricky to track down these days and then a bit on the pricey side once you do - even though I had to wait a few weeks for you because of pressing difficulties with the bonus 7". I think. Something like that.

Anyways, that's a lot of musical memories for one album...and we haven't gotten to the music yet! You get picked on a lot. Some felt you weren't the massive step forward from 'Guerrilla' that it had been from 'Radiator' and 'Radiator' had been from 'Fuzzy Logic' - that you were a consolidation of strengths rather than exploration of new ground - and you have to admit that's fair. "No Sympathy" is basically "Mountain People" with more extremes on either side, for example. That doesn't make you any less of an album, not at all! So yes, while I see that argument, I don't see it as a negative.

Others say you aren't as focused as you could be, which is a load of garbage. Yes, you are the textbook example of a "kitchen sink" album, a let's throw everything at the wall and see what sticks type of record. But, you do it right! This is exactly where the consolidation of strengths turns into, well, a strength. We knew SFA had a techno side and a soft acoustic side and a punky Britpop side, so it didn't sound forced when they threw all their eggs into one basket and tried to do everything at once. It works, don't listen to them. Are you sprawling? Absolutely. Are you a bit on the messy side? Sure. Overlong and lacking focus, though? I don't think so. In fact, I've always thought the five bonus tracks from the DVD could be mixed into the album proper for one massive 18-track behemoth ready to crush the world.

Potential overstatement one: You are my era's 'Sign "O" The Times'. You are everything going on around you, your influences from the past and your vision of the future all thrown into a blender and poured out over a four-side feast. You are what's going on in your world without preaching about it. You are not your creator's best album - sorry - but you are the truest, most complete picture of them.

Potential overstatement two: You know how people say: "I remember exactly what I was doing the first time I heard 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' and it changed the way I listened to music"? Well, if they can say that, then I can say: "I remember exactly what I was doing the first time I heard 'Rings Around The World' and it changed the way I listened to music". Because, well, I do and you kind of did. (For the record, I was sitting at my computer in the apartment I shared with my best friend from high school early one morning as over the evening you had, erm, appeared on my hard drive a bit before release. The internet is magic.)

This is how I feel about you and I know many disagree. They can do that all they want. They can choke on my hyperbole because, let's be honest, I can't help but lay it on thick when I talk about you - it's part of what you do to me. But they can't change my mind or tell me I'm wrong. They can say that 'Phantom Power' is the best SFA album and we can hang out in the corner pointing and laughing at them. They can buy their fucking Grandaddy records and force your creators to open for them on a US tour and we can knock their fucking trucker hats to the floor. They can do all this and more, but they don't have the joy you give me when I put you on.

So fuck em.


PS: If I had to use a picture to describe how I feel about you, it would be this screen grab from your very own DVD:



just sayin'

Who's That Girl
Who's That Girl 2011

Not to mention a video that's partially Tori Amos' 'Boys for Pele' cover shoot brought to life with a backing track that's essentially a souped-up version of Dragonette's "Gone Too Far", I ask:

When to we stop celebrating such mediocrity?

(Not to add more words to the pile that is the dead digital forest of Gaga clippings, but enough is seriously enough. And did we really need to hear it TWICE in a 90 minute span at the same bar the other night?)


all you need is night

According to the band themselves, today is Duran Duran Appreciation Day. I have no idea what that means but I do know that I will be spending a chunk of the day with the New Fab Five blasting from the speakers.

In honor of this momentous occasion - or something - they have made a proper Night Version of album track 'All You Need Is Now' album track "Other People's Lives" available for download from their website, free of charge. My first thought upon hearing the album back in December was: "Girl Panic!" needs a full-on Night Version; while this isn't exactly it, it's pretty damn close.

Even better, the mp3 comes tagged with "All You Need Is Now - Night Versions" in the album tag. More to come?

(You are almost forgiven for the insanity of the formatting of this album. Almost. "Girl Panic!" and/or "Runway Runaway" might do it.)


then and now





Bitches are dead to me.


cool as Kim Deal

We were talking.

Kim Deal is a musical National Treasure - notice the caps? - and deserves to be treated as such. I'm only going to see the Pixies 'Doolittle' show - a reunion which probably shouldn't have happened seven years ago and certainly shouldn't still be going - because She will be there. (Secretly hoping - completely in vain - for a break out Breeders set. The worst Breeders record is better than the best Pixies record - FACT. Not. Open. For. Debate.)

Had I to pick my favorite Breeders record, it probably wouldn't be 'Pod' - solely for the fact that it contains the one Breeders song I could do without, "Oh!". It's just...not great. But. But. BUT! It contains eleven other AMAZEBALLS tracks the richest band would KILL for. "Limehouse". "Hellbound". "Glorious". "Metal Man"! (They did it in 2009 - with Josephine! - and it was ridiculous. Like, you never walk into a show thinking: "gee, I hope I hear "Metal Man" tonight", but you're still beyond glad you got to experience it, because, really, it's "Metal Man".) Motherfucking "Doe". When these make up your "weakest" - and I use the term loosely, and only in the sense that SOMETHING has to be your weakest - album, you're doing pretty damn good.

The "Safari" EP is brilliant even though it includes a Who cover. Yes, it survives that.

Had I to pick my favorite Breeders record, it might be 'Last Splash'. Here's the thing. "Cannonball" is overexposed, overdone and THAT song that they have to play at every show. But - a-ha! - it's still fucking. brilliant. If you're pulse doesn't get racing, your heart doesn't get beating, you don't start sweating with anticipation the second you hear that opening "AWOOO!!", you're dead. I don't care. I have never been to a Breeders show and, when it starts, think: well, I'd rather hear something else. Because I wouldn't. It's. That. Good. Are there Breeders songs I like better? Absolutely. Is it their finest moment? No way. But it has survived 18 years of overexposure and remains one of the most oddball songs to "make it big", if you will, one of the most endearing and consistently AMAZING tracks of the 90's.

And that's one song out of fifteen - ok, fourteen. Every single track here is dripping with genius. Every single one, you get it? Yes, even - and, perhaps, especially - "Mad Lucas". Genius. It's a fact. Don't argue. Gen.ius. "I am the new year." "I don't like dirt." "He's the invisible man." "I just wanna get along." "I like sticky everywhere." Anyone who says it's unfinished/unfocused/too many wasted instrumentals/too many half-songs/whatever-else-they-say-about-it is missing the point. It is genius incarnate. It's possibly the best album ever. (It's not, but it makes a good argument for it.)
I'm not usually like this, but if you don't like 'Last Splash' you don't enjoy life either, do you? You're no fun. If I ever get to experience "Roi" live and in the flesh, I might have lived out everything I ever needed to live out. Yes, it's that good, and if you don't think so you're probably wrong, so get over it.

The "Head To Toe" EP is also totally brilliant. The title track is, well, obviously amazeballs, and "Shocker In Gloomtown"! Christ. They did it as the second song on the first show of the 'Mountain Battles' tour and it KILLED. Seriously. Completely unexpected and totally floored the crowd. It's not their song but they made it their. song. "Freed Pig" is pretty good, too.

Had I to pick my favorite Breeders record, it might be 'Pacer'. "But!", you say, "It's not a Breeders record!" In name, perhaps, but in spirit it is totally the proper follow-up to 'Last Splash'. In fact, it's better than 'Last Splash'. (Yeah, I said it.) It's perfect in a way records aren't supposed to be perfect. Pop broken in half and stitched back together again. "Hoverin" makes its argument for the "Best Song In The World", exactly because it is clearly not the best song in the world. Every time I've seen the Breeders they've done at least two songs off this record and they are invariably the highlight of the evening. ("Hoverin" live in 2009 was quite possibly the most amazing thing I've ever witnessed. You probably weren't there so you don't know - if a concert you go to DOESN'T include Kim Deal doing "Hoverin", it's almost not worth going. Jesus. Christ.)

Had I to pick my favorite Breeders record, it probably would be 'Title TK'. Surprised after that crazed rant on 'Last Splash'? Don't be. Knowing full well this could put a price on my head, 'Title TK' is - without doubt - the finest record both Kim Deal AND Steve Albini have ever been involved in. Fact. Don't argue it because you'll lose. It. Is. It's life changing in a way records aren't supposed to be life changing. It's half-baked and the songs probably don't work in the way that Kim herself thinks they do, and that's why it works. Even moreso than 'Last Splash', it is genius incarnate. If this isn't your favorite record in the whole world you're doing it wrong. Listen to the way Kelley "ooohs" and "aahhhs" and basically grunts in the background of "Too Alive". Life. Changing. Genius. Don't argue, I'm right. This is the stuff dreams are made of. 'Title TK' is what we've been waiting for. It's the Rapture. Everything is downhill from here.

I'll repeat: 'Title TK' is the finest record either Kim Deal or Steve Albini have ever been involved in. Come and get me, motherfuckers.

Had I to pick my favorite Breeders record, it might be 'Mountain Battles'. After perfecting sound - which, let's be frank, 'Title TK' did - where do you go? You break it all over again. This bitch here makes 'Title TK' sound like the most-ready-for-Top-40-collection-of-pop-songs ever record. This is some seriously fucked up pop shit. Songs don't do what you think they should, "Bang On" is a TOTAL hot mess - and that's the second song! - there's a song in German and a song in Spanish - neither of which the girls know very well - etc., etc., etc. This is the true sound of pop revolution. There's more underground records - clearly, they have more major label backing - there's harder to wrap your head around records, there are obviously more immediately catchy records, there's records that are clearly better, but at the same time, almost nothing is better than this. It. Is. Sound. It's only fault - ONLY FAULT - is that it's not 'Title TK'.

"Fate To Fatal" - the song - is ridiculous. So good. 'Fate To Fatal' - the EP - is the only non-essential Breeders purchase. The other three tracks on the EP, quite frankly, just aren't that great. Also, I wasn't able to get a handscreened sleeve because Record Store Day is a crock of shit - and I literally got physically shoved out of the way of a rack of records (if it was even in there) so I'm a little bitter - but really, it's the weak link. It makes me a bit sad that it's the last Breeders release we have for now because it's not totally amazing.

Kim. Seriously. Fuck the Pixies. You don't need them. We need more Breeders material ASAP. (Judging from the track record we'll have to wait until 2015 for another LP, but I can be patient. I know it will be worth it.)

(I should write after margaritas more often, but I've been waiting YEARS to get that off my chest.)


a pleasant surprise: 'A New Morning', 9 years on

First of all, there's no saving that artwork, so sorry about that.

But let's get to the heart of the matter - 'A New Morning' isn't terrible. It's not great, don't get me wrong, and very good would even be stretching things a bit. The track selection is all sorts of wrong and sequencing it with the three worst songs they'd ever written kicking things of probably was not the best idea, but somewhere inside all of the mess is the core of what could be a completely solid "back-to-basics" - or, perhaps, attempt at the basics since they'd never really been there - no frills Suede album.

"Positivity" is complete garbage, "Obsessions" reeks of trying-too-hard and "Lonely Girls" is a weak "Young Men" re-hash - not exactly a song screaming out for a sequel to begin with. It's easy to see why, when faced with that opening trio, you might run screaming from the album. (And, truthfully, I did for years. I'm not entirely sure I'd ever given it a complete listen outside of the first time back in 2002.) I'm certainly not claiming that once you make it past those you've found some lost masterpiece. I wouldn't even say that there's any top-shelf material to be found anywhere in the sessions - at best, you get a solid effort or a somewhat lovely number every once in a while.

What I wanted was the last Suede album to not be a complete bust, and with lowered expectations and a little creative editing you can assemble a collection that's not a total embarrassment. Everyone is going to have a different opinion as to what that solution is - personally, I've found "Simon"/"One Love"/"Lost In TV"/"Untitled"/"...Morning"/"Streetlife"/"Astrogirl"/"Instant Sunshine"/"One Hit To The Body"/"Oceans" to be relatively effective.

Backhanded praise if ever there was, but 'A New Morning' doesn't totally suck. Whew.

Now, the real sob story - they got SO much better the following year. Whatever it was, when it came time to assemble some new songs for the 'Singles' collection, they really got their shit together and delivered a few 100% Suede classics. "Attitude" is an amazing single that can proudly sit with their best and the stomping "Love The Way You Love" is even better - it's a shame they had run out of steam by the time the collection had come out as it never got its chance to shine, I've always imagined it a great double a-side with "Music Like Sex". If you take the songs that started to appear at the end of the line, you'd have a really strong core for LP6.

But it was not to be. They had tested their fan base's patience a little too much and it was time to retreat into the shadows. I'm not entirely sure how The Tears and the solo albums got so effed up when the final Suede songs were so strong, but that's another discussion altogether.

I was totally on the fence about getting this collection, as I'm sure many are. Truthfully, the only reason I got it was for the "Golden Gun" and "Love The Way You Love" demos - well, that and the ever-present specter of "completion". In the end, it was probably the most eye-opening and worthwhile of the reissues for me as it totally changed my mind about the album. (Yes, I had revelations about the first two LPs as well but I always at least kind of liked them.) So well played, boys. Well played.

This was a blast. Who wants to go through their catalog next so we can do it all again. (Blur? Catherine Wheel? Please?)


I thought you stopped smoking crack, Brett

Surprise! The 'A New Morning'-era has a solid chunk of pretty decent material...it's just buried amongst a ton of garbage. This has been my favorite surprise of the Suede reissue campaign - I thought for sure I had been right all these years to completely dismiss it all as trash - not "Trash", of course - but it appears I was wrong.

It does, however, contain some truly "what the fuck?" lyrics. Take the opening two lines of "Cool Thing", for instance:

"You are the loaded gun sticking in your face
like a stupid child on her roller skates"

OK, sure.

I need some time to process this. I'll be back.