Posts from 29th March 2000

29
Mar 00

HEAVENLY = “Atta Girl”

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HEAVENLY = “Atta Girl” (from the Various Artists album There And Back Again Lane, SARAH 100)
Predictably, since I started using blogger I’ve found myself reading a lot of blogs. When I’ve worked out which ones I like best I’ll use some of the blank space on the right to link to them. Anyway, one reason I enjoy the form is the simple, direct and personal style a lot of the writers adopt – in general it’s less adorned and self-conscious than webjournals, which as with most diaries feel like an attempt to storify the messy business of living. It reminds me a bit of indie fanzines of the 80s, whose concept of pop was as a life-state, and whose concept of pop writing was as likely to include a trip to Safeway’s as a Pooh Sticks gig. Except instead of the occasional mention of a great new plastic-bag 7″, you now get the odd link.

Maybe it was the blog-led exposure to other people’s lives that made me grab a Sarah Records compilation to take into work today. Sarah, of course, itself grew out of a fanzine, Are You Scared To Get Happy?, and then just released the kind of pop those writers wanted to hear, generating a sensitivity feedback-loop which pretty much defined mid-late 80s indie music in this country. The best thing about it was the sense that the everyday mattered. The second best thing about it was the idea that trying to capture love in ordinary words was something worth doing. The more cynical reader may well realise that both these best things could very quickly become worst things, and so it was, but on grey Spring days a little Sarah can still come in useful.

Heavenly were, after the Field Mice, Sarah’s biggest gun: “Atta Girl” got a lot of play and press when it came out for representing the moment when the label dropped twee and went feisty. It’s kind of true – a bit of garage fuzz and some uncharacteristic basswork make the song one of the toughest things on There And Back Again Lane, but what I really noticed listening to it after seven years is how much it sounds like Atomic Kitten or the Thunderbugs, how chart-ready it is. (Give or take the “Fuck you no way!” bit, OK, but just you wait until the ‘bugs or whoever go ‘adult’ on us). That’s not meant as any kind of critical slur on Heavenly or the current girl-band crop – maybe my cold remedies are fugging up my mind, but I think it’s an excellent thing that sensible sentiments like “Wannabe” or “Because We Want To” or “See Ya” are in the charts, regardless of corporate provenance, and it would be nice if some kindly advertiser put “Atta Girl” up there with them.

PIXIES – “Motorway to Roswell”

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PIXIES – “Motorway to Roswell” (from the album Trompe Le Monde)
Well, I’ve finally come into agreement with the estimable Tom
Ewing: Trompe Le Monde is the Pixies’ finest album,
period.

While none of their albums disappoint, TLM remains
a fascinating listen from beginning to end. Their albums
are strong affairs through-and-through: They didn’t record
many weak tracks, but nothing in their catalog bedazzles
me and ensnares me as much as Trompe.

Perhaps the one song that is most representative of the
wide-eyed wonderment of the album is the penultimate
track, “Motorway to Roswell.” In a perfect world, this would
be the final song on the album, and would’ve been
the ideal way to close their career (but it’s not; “The Navajo
Know” ends things).

The song, as far as I can tell, is about a little alien and his journey.
The best moment comes in at 2:48 when what seems like a
countless number of backing vocals pop in. The song just
seems to float from there on in, the proceedings ending
with a tinkly piano that gently fades out. It’s not too difficult to
envision the Pixies making that journey down the motorway,
off into the sunset, never gracing us with their majesty again,
but leaving behind some of the best music ever recorded.

According to

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According to Bathysphere, there’s a new Smog album coming out. I’m excited, in a suitably morose, paranoid and lonely fashion.

A fine piece on

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A fine piece on Serge Gainsbourg which I wish I’d read before writing my own essay.