Writing? No, just more music ramblings

No, still no posts about writing. I haven’t DONE any writing for about six weeks. Instead I’ve been on holiday and then come back only to be pinned to the floor for over a month by a mountain of work. I have, however, been buying some records again, so I’m going to talk about that for a minute. Maybe it’ll get the writing gene activated again – who knows?


Ok, that’s Shiva Burlesque, a band I’ve been meaning to look into for nearly twenty years now. I remember when I was eighteen I was in a small town called Barry just outside of Toronto in Canada (don’t ask why, that’s a long story) and I went into every record store asking if they had Shiva Burlesque. I was a big Grant Lee Buffalo fan at the time (Fuzzy had just come out and I’d seen them live and loved them) and I’d read in a magazine they were all in a previous band. Anyway, nobody had their records. One guy even told me I was wasting my time – Barry was a redneck hole in the ground and unless I was after Bryan Adams I could forget it. He obviously didn’t enjoy living there very much…

Anyway, the reason I mention any of this is that a fortnight or so ago, for some unknown reason, I finally tracked down and bought the second Shiva Burlesque album Mercury Blues. And it is glorious. Much more edgy and experimental than Grant Lee Buffalo were. Maybe I wouldn’t have liked it so much twenty years ago. Maybe I was supposed to wait until I was nearing thirty eight before listening to this. In any case, I love it. I can’t stop playing it. And it’s set off a kind of chain reaction…

I have a pretty eclectic music taste, but obviously I have some preferences. I seem to be drawn to indie music, specifically American indie music I suppose. Anything a bit acoustic, a bit lo-fi, maybe with a drawling vocal and a few Beatlesque melodies. If it sounds anything like that I’ll probably be all over it. I’ve spent the last few years moaning a bit about how there isn’t as much decent music about now as there was in the 90s. Back then I seemed to discover a new band every month, every week even. Now, it’s about every five or six years. I guess that’s evidence of me getting old and picky. But listening to Mercury Blues I was reminded of a couple of other records I have. I plucked out some Mazzy Star, I listened to Evan Dando’s solo record again. And I started thinking, right, it can’t be that there is no decent music out there. It must be that I’m just not hearing it for some reason. So I rolled my sleeves up and dived into iTunes and Wikipedia. After a few false starts and blind alleys, I found this:


Isn’t that glorious? The Pernice Brothers – never heard of them. What have I been doing since 1998? At least they have a back catalogue I can now plunder. I’m a fan of Sonic Youth and I discovered Thurston Moore has a couple of solo acoustic albums out. I was checking out some of the bands I remember from the 90s that I thought were ok but not earth shattering, and in looking at The Afghan Wigs and The Screaming Trees I discovered their front men had been collaborating as The Gutter Twins. What a great couple of CDs they’ve put out. I’m telling myself the inordinate amount of money I’ve spent on iTunes is all in the name of research for this collection of shorts about music I’m (not) working on. Ah well, at least I’ve proved to myself I was wrong. There is some great music out there at the moment, it just seems harder to find now than it ever was before…


5 thoughts on “Writing? No, just more music ramblings

  1. Marion August 17, 2011 / 5:15 am

    I think the listening will get the writing going again. Sometimes, putting leaving the keyboard alone and just listening is all that necessary. There’s a Kafka quote on this: You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
    But I’m sure you knew that already.

  2. James Everington August 17, 2011 / 5:13 pm

    Wow great quote Marion! I probably can’t follow that comment…

    I was also going to say, Neil – if you like The Gutter Twins albums you’ll probably like Lanegan’s solo album called ‘Bubblegum’. There, I’ve spent even more of your money.

  3. Iain Rowan August 19, 2011 / 11:13 am

    That Pernice Brothers song is gorgeous.

    It’s one of the worst distractions for me…something will prompt me to think of a band, or to check out someone I’ve never heard of, and then what’s meant to be five minutes diversion becomes an hours-long plunge down the rabbit hole as I check out back catalogues and related-tos and ‘if you like X you’ll like Y’, leaping from band to band like some compulsive six degrees of separation quest.

    Probably a daft question, but just in case not, as it’s what the Pernice Brothers song reminds me of: do you know Big Star?

  4. Neil Schiller August 19, 2011 / 11:55 am

    Marion, that IS a great quote. The problem for me at the moment, I think, is my real job has exploded and I’m working 12 hour days or more with lots of travelling. The older I get the less capacity my brain seems to have to run with more than one thing at a time. It’ll calm down again soon enough, and I’m sure inspiration might find me again then.

    James, yeah, I was looking at that one on iTunes. Decided I’d spent enough for one month though so I’ll probably pick up the trail again once I’ve been paid…

    Iain, yeah, I agree totally. I have literally spent hours following ‘leads’ and sampling stuff. You can get easily lost in their database can’t you? It’s even worse than when I first discovered Borders and their listening posts – I could lose an entire afternoon in one of their stores at one point. As for Big Star, I’ve heard a lot about them but I haven’t actually ever heard any of their music. So thanks for that. That’s another one I’ll check out next month…

  5. Iain Rowan August 19, 2011 / 12:08 pm

    A few good starting points, for when you have the time…

    September Gurls


    I’m In Love With A Girl

    You Get What You Deserve

    Ballad of El Goodo

    Bit like the Velvets really, in that they inspired hundreds of other bands (REM, Wilco, Teenage Fanclub, for three), way out of proportion to the exposure and sales they had at the time. Hope you enjoy.

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