Liverpool musican Pete Wylie allegedly coined the term optimisery. Definition: The feeling of wanting to fall in love, but knowing the heartbreak that arrives with it. It's an apt sniglet to describe those individuals stumbling through the fragile hedgerows and into the gracefully darkened, blue-smoky garden of English folk artist Nick Drake.
What makes the Joy Division mythos similarly captivating and difficult to penetrate is it's dominated by three genius spirits, each one threatening to consume the other.
Vivisecting Tricky's body of work means calling on gender theorists, postmodern feminists, and even Sigmund Freud (if he could overcome the alleged tone-deafness). The Bristol, England artist fills the void created by his mother's death (she committed suicide when he was four) through lyrical and stylistic transvestitism, tinkering with gender-specific language, and drawing from creativity reliant on male/female symbiosis.
Air's Moon Safari would knock Marcel Proust's dick in the dirt. The distinguished French author would fete the equally distinguished French pop-men for the group's association with one of his pet concepts: involuntary memory. Rather, both Proust and Air explore the idea that everyday life can evoke pure recollections of one's past without conscious effort.
Bristol, England, has been bestowed with nicknames like "Slackersville, UK." It's a graveyard for ambition, we're told, a place where residents take awhile to climb out of bed in the morning. Some say the locals operate on "spliff time."
This month Cleopatra Records offers some important aid in resuscitating the girl-group genre. The new compilation Leader of the Pack highlights the career of the inimitable Shangri-Las.
The debut EP by Los Campesinos!, Sticking Fingers into Sockets, noodled its way onto an infinity of 2007 best-of ballots. Colorful aural confetti like "We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives" addressed the schism between artist and audience, and tickled various pop fancies.
Mahjongg's webspace prose reads like passages from a rave manifesto ("make love energy," "spawn a soundtrack for a new community," etc.). But Kontpab's multilayer tapestries of detuned synthesizers, piercing drum ripostes, and abrasive, effects-laden vocals are hardly elevating or unifying.
Robert Plant once ad-libbed, "Does anybody remember laughter?" during a live go-'round of Led Zeppelin's radio-worn, double-headed guitar epic "Stairway to Heaven." The quip laid into general rock-deity ennui: Plant in painted-on denim atop his own Mount Doom, surveying what's been conquered and then vocalizing his surprise at finding it all so ... prosaic.
"Come all ye rolling minstrels," invited Sandy Denny in the 1969 Fairport Convention ditty "Come All Ye." "And together we will try/To rouse the spirit of the earth/And move the rolling sky."
From one stylistic perch or another, Northern Ireland's pop stalwarts have examined the violence between the region's Nationalist and Unionist communities: the Divine Comedy with "Sunrise," the Undertones ("It's Going to Happen"), Stiff Little Fingers (Inflammable Material), Phil Coulter ("The Town I Loved So Well").
The title of the latest effort by Spiritualized is a play on accident and emergency ward, a place where the group's songwriter and main man, Jason Pierce, spent nearly a month in 2005. That he was shriveled and bed-ridden from bilateral pneumonia, not from shooting junk into an eyeball, is rather telling.
Pete Doherty can skim a police blotter and place tiny red check marks next to all possible offenses. What crime hasn't our gack-obsessed, Coleridge-invoking roue committed?
Raver graybeards are dusting off beanie hats and swallowing the first two tablets — the Happy Mondays' Bummed: Collector's Edition (Rhino) and Paul Oakenfold's Greatest Hits & Remixes (New State) — of what's sure to be an intoxicating yearlong revival.