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   Friday, October 31, 2003  
"We've never done this before," announced (high and?) mighty indie music site Pitchfork on Tuesday, "But we're choosing to re-run this review. It's only recently that so many of us realized what an incredible record it is, and what a shame it would be if you missed out on it just because we dropped the ball." But you, loyal reader, can relax for you have not missed out, the 'incredible record' in question being Sufjan Stevens' Greetings from Michigan which this blog urged you acquire back on July 4. What's that? Still haven't got round to it? Step lively, people...

Sufjan and a ten-strong troop recently performed at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York where they apparently 'put on one of the strongest shows of the marathon..the entire ensemble performing clad in faux-Boy Scout uniforms'. Crazy name, crazy guy, as they say...

And if Pitchfork's in a revisionist mood it could do with nudging it's mark for Centro-matic's latest, Love you just the same, up a point or two. Holy handclaps, Batman, it's a bit of a belter! Anyone who's already familiar with the Denton dynamos won't, of course, be particularly surprised by this. Actually, they won't be surprised by anything on the whole record since it's really more of the same which, when sitting in judgement, is often an automatic demerit. But not in this case.
The crashing, sparking scrapyard guitars and drums, Will Johnson's instantly familiar vocalisms, the handclaps and tambos, they're all here present and correct much as before. So why cut them so much slack? Well, the totally unpredictable (and sometimes unfathomable) lyrics might have something to do with it. Here's the great opener, The mighty midshipman in it's entirety:

Reminding himself and fighting off the beasts
The easterly sun remains headstrong
Held within some castle fighting off the years
Conventional hassles they are all gone
He's constantly caught and constantly traumatised
He's the mighty midshipman
He's totally motorized and constantly caught
So he empties out his papers counting all the coins
Telling himself to strap upon his head

This fascinating, if opaque, use of language lends Centro-matic's songs a depth and longevity even while the music carrying them remain much the same. However, as previous album Distance and clime showed, it can't rescue it all the time (this listener's interest always flagging about halfway through). No such problems with LYJTS; no sooner are you dropped from the reverie of one cracking melody when in storms another.
It's certainly the band's most consistent set to date. Sonically, the (still wonderful) lo-fi thrills and spills of yore are very very gradually giving way to a more modulated experience. Musically, what's not here is the big beat beauty of Huge in every city and Members of the show them how from 2000's All the falsest hearts can try nor the galloping magnificence to be found on Static v. the strings (Repellent feed, Keep the phoenix, etc).
It's a number like the latter's Curb your turbulence which points the way. Great, mostly mid-tempo, tunes laced with upright piano, killer unvarnished harmonies, tambourines, and the fuzzy bombast of electric guitar crashing through with deeply satisfying regularity. Small but telling arrangement details abound: the call-and-response of rattling good rocker Breathe deep, not loud, the classic AM Radio false ending of Picking up too fast, the accapella peak of tumbling beauty Flashes and cables. With at least another 4 or 5 tracks also duking it out for 'Best in Show', it really is a case of Love you just the same, only better and more so...

Hurrah! Turns out reallyrather didn't miss Damien Jurado after all. Well, not 'Hurrah' exactly as it seems he was laid low by sickness and had to cry off. But it means we all get another chance to go along, the following dates having been re-scheduled for next year:
Mon 23 Feb London 12 Bar
Tue 24 Feb Dublin Whelans
Wed 25 Feb Belfast Aunties Annies
Thu 26 Feb Glasgow Nice and Sleazy
Fri 27 Feb Manchester Tmesis
Sat 28 Feb Leicester Leicester Arts Canter
Sun 29 Feb Brighton The Hanbury Ballroom
Mon 1 Mar London The Water Rats
reallyrather is aware of at least two disappointed fans who turned up for DJ's show in Glasgow unawares; he does right to go back there. One of this blog's biggest regrets of '03 is missing The Tyde's short summer tour, the highlight of which was apparently their night in Glasgow. "Eugene Kelly from The Vaselines was there and we met Frances [McKee] as well," band leader Darren Rademaker explained later to Soundsxp. He also said this:
"I want to avoid being called Americana. I don't want to be compared to Ryan Adams, who's totally lame, he sucks. I met him one time and he was a totally cool guy and gave me all this bullshit: "I wanna hear your music. Can you drop it off to me?" So I went to the trouble of dropping it off and I never heard from him again. In America he has a reputation as a 'guy slut'. It's when a guy chats up a girl and never talks to her again. It's like that but he does it to guys. So I got burned. He's not, like, horrible but I'd almost go see Sheryl Crow than listen to Ryan Adams."
Now Twice is already up there as an '03 contender but bonus points are accruing all the time...

Will Per second, per second, per second...Every second join the shortlist, reallyrather wonders, somewhat doubtfully. The third album from Massachussets trio Wheat, it finally emerges blinking into the harsh critical spotlight on Tuesday after four years of trials and, yes, tribulations. "I think Radiohead's had four records out since [our last one] Hope and Adams came out," drummer Brendan Harney tells the Boston Globe today. Having killed the time going back and forth to Dave Fridmann's place retooling and a-fiddlin', what emerges, according to the Globe, 'is a bold step away from the lo-fi languor and spangled haze that floated through the band's previous work...A honed collection of clever, thoughtful pop songs - ear candy gilded with luscious hooks but smarts as well, and primed for modern rock radio'. Another (faintly ominous) clue: they're on tour right now with Liz Phair. "For good or bad, we will never make the same record twice," Harney says. "You always risk alienating folks but the only way for the band to make it interesting is to make it a journey."
Please don't let it be crap, please don't let it be crap, please don't let it be crap...
   posted by SMc at 5:12 AM |