The release of the long awaited My Bloody Valentine remasters was bound to dominate the listening of many people participating in music diary 2012 and it’s a testament to how much of a touchstone they continue to be for so many that this week has basically been one big Valentine’s love fest. I had the remasters on pre-order since they were given a genuine release date a few months ago but decided to cancel my order at the last minute on account of Kevin Shields remarks in a recent Pitchfork interview that he expected vinyl issues to be out within a “couple of months” (though by now I should know better that to trust Shields’ time frames on anything). I listened to ‘Loveless’ in its entirety on Sunday night along with the first few tracks on ‘Isn’t Anything’ and a few off the EP’s. This morning on the journey to work I decided to go back to ‘Isn’t Anything’ and give it a full listen. I must admit that throughout the years I’ve been guilty of neglecting it. Whenever I’ve had the urge to listen to MBV it’s usually been ‘Loveless’ and if not that then the ‘Tremolo’, ‘Glider’ or ‘You Made Me Realise’ EP’s. Listening to ’Isn’t Anything’ this morning I was reminded of just how gobsmacked I was on discovering the band so many years ago. It’s a shame that its destined to forever live in the shadow of ‘Loveless’ because it’s a great album in its own right and it was a joy to rediscover it. So this morning as I made my way through the pouring rain I was reminded of how wonderfully menacing that guitar squall that opens ‘Cupid Comes’ is, that the beginning of ‘No More Sorry’ is one of the most beautiful things ever and that MBV in general used to play things that resembled actual songs, with discernible lyrics an all.
My Bloody Valentine – Isn’t Anything (Spotify) – Headphones
Lost In Translation Soundtrack (lossless) – Hi-Fi
After writing a little about My Bloody Valentine I settled down at home in front of the stereo and flicked through the ‘Lost in Translation’ soundtrack. I was mainly interested in hearing the Kevin Shields tracks after reading today’s illuminating interview with him in The Quietus where he directly addressed his post-Loveless inertia quite frankly. ‘City Girl’ is the most song-like of his contributions and is nice enough and suggests what a modern day MBV might sound like, even if the song itself lacks substance. ‘Goodbye’ is a beautiful slice of brief guitar ambiance that brings to mind early Eluvium. Shields other two tracks are nice enough but merely short mood-setting pieces that function well in the film but feel a bit flat and lifeless when removed from Sofia Coppola’s lush imagery. I didn’t really listen to much of the rest of the soundtrack and skipped the majority though the Death In Vegas track is still pretty great and it was a welcome surprise to hear Jesus and the Mary Chain’s ‘Just Like Honey’ as I haven’t heard it in ages.
Belong – Common Era (Vinyl) – Hi-Fi
Random selection here. I picked this up last year and was entranced by its sound which reminds me of a mixture of My Bloody Valentine fuzz and Faith-era The Cure greyness. Another interesting, and out of the norm, release on the flawless Cranky records.
Four Tet – Pyramid / Locked (Vinyl) – Hi-Fi
Two semi-recent tracks from Four Tet. I really can’t wait for him to drop a new album. Simply one of my favourite modern day musicians. His last full length ‘There is Love In You’ was his most dance oriented release so far and ‘Pyramid / Locked’ picks up nicely where it left off with a similarly organic electro sound.
Monster Magnet – Superjudge (CD) – Hi-Fi
Picked this one out after being drawn to its CD spine. I was a big Monster Magnet fan as a teenager when most of my music taste was dominated by Metal and Hard Rock. There’s not much from that era that I still listen to but Monster Magnet’s early LP’s still get a spin every now and then and whenever I listen to them I find myself impressed by just how well they’ve held up where a lot of their contemporaries now sound dated. Their debut album ‘Spine of God’ is my favourite thing they put out and is easily one of the most deranged and genuinely psychedelic albums I’ve heard. It’s follow up ‘Superjudge’ is a bit more restrained and not as drug addled (though it’s still druggier than 99% of all other music) and a change in lead guitarist which took place between the two LP’s had a subtle but distinct impact on the band’s sound finding them sounding a bit less Stooges and a bit more Heavy Metal. ‘Cage Around the Sun’ is a stoner classic and features typically deranged lyrics from front man Dave Wyndorf. ‘Twin Earth’ is a flanged out fuzz stomper that recalls Spacemen 3 in style if not direct sound. Cult stuff, worth checking out if your unfamiliar.
The Verve – Gravity Grave (lossless) – Hi-Fi
Just the one track here and probably my favourite Verve song, although the EP live from Glastonbury version is the definitive take on it. I was one of those unaware of the Verve until the release of their mega selling ‘Urban Hymns’ album in 1997 and though I picked that album up on CD I never really got into it. A couple of years later I started hanging out with a new bunch of friends and found myself at a party where someone put on ‘A Storm in Heaven’ and I sat there in a chemical induced stupor totally mesmerised by its brilliance. Follow up ‘A Northern Soul’ is great as well and I’d rather just forget everything that came after that thank you.
Beach House – Bloom (lossless) – Hi Fi
Still loving this new Beach House LP. It’s truly great. So good I’m not sure what to say about it.
Jens Lekman – Oh You’re So Silent Jens (lossless) – Hi-Fi
I listened to the first three tracks on the Jens Lekman album as I hadn’t heard him in ages. I wasn’t really feeling it though so turned it off and went back to listening to some My Bloody Valentine.
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (Analogue Remaster) – Hi Fi
I listened to Disc 1 of the ‘Loveless’ remaster in light of discovering that it’s actually the long awaited half inch analogue tape version rather than, as advertised, Disc 2. I definitely heard a difference in the mix with the keyboard parts in particular being given a new lease of life and audibility. I agree with Shield’s interview statements that in the analogue version it sounds more like the album is being played by a band rather than assembled from countless different overdubs. The analogue version also sounds more like what My Bloody Valentine were like live when I saw them a few years ago. The roaring airplane guitar (as I call it) which is present on most tracks had an increased sense of physicality about it on the analogue version and I think it also demonstrates the sheer volume of the band in a way that the previous issue of ‘Loveless’ had obscured. I’m not sure if I necessarily prefer it to the remastered digital version however. While it’s great to hear the album with this level of clarity and (relatively clear) instrument separation the digital version, with its blurred sound where everything kind of meshes together into one big heap of sound seems closer to the albums original aesthetic. Either way it’s been a pleasure to have reason to listen to the band again in such detail.