Archive for September, 2011

September 21, 2011

Nevermind Nirvana – it’s 20 years since the release of Screamadelica

With all the recent archive footage, interviews, film releases, CD reissues and over all blanket media coverage it would be easy to believe that there’s just one major 20th anniversary this year.  Sure Nevermind single handedly propelled grunge into the mainstream and indie music became excepted by the masses and was never the same again.  But not every one was listening to grunge music back in the early 90’s? After all it was just a nihilistic, riff heavy type of punk rock, history reinventing itself for a new generation of disillusioned teenagers.

The real music revolution was happening on the beaches of Ibiza, in the warehouses of London and the clubs of Chicago.  Acid House filtered out of the psychedelic parties of the music and drug experimentalists of the late 80s and exploded into the mainstream around the same time Nirvana were asking to be entertained!  Imagine if Kurt had discovered ecstasy and not heroin?   The dichotomy could hardly be more contrasting, two burgeoning youth movements, one based on alienation and anger, the other based on partying and self-expression.  The acid house counter-revolution offered new ideas, hope and a bloody good time to those that switched on.  A brand new movement that had no past and no precedent, its manifestation belonged to the youth and like all-powerful underground trends it scared the shit out of the establishment.

Many will say that the acid house explosion was purely down to the drugs.  Without ecstasy it was pretentious, elitist, narcissistic and musically stunted.  The sheer longevity of house music and its many derivative forms clearly dispels those theories, although the arrival of Primal Scream’s masterpiece, Screamdelica, was the catalyst for musical acceptance and the album that crashed through to the mainstream, dragging millions of rock and indie fans into house clubs and dance parties.

Produced by electronic trailblazer, Andrew Weatherall, Screamaldelica effortlessly bridged the gap between Memphis and Madchester, integrating the anthemic and bluesy strains of rock with the rush and euphoria of house.  Although many other musical styles were deconstructed into the mix, including, gospel, funk and the blissed out rhythms of dub.

It didn’t sell bucket loads on its initial release, 23 September – UK & 8 October – USA, even though the music critics loved it.  It finished at the top, or very near, on the best album awards, for the year and decade, and has been widely recognised as one of the most influential albums of the last 20 years.  It didn‘t sell nearly as much as Nevermind but had Bobby Gillespie killed himself in 1994 who knows?   

September 10, 2011

PJ Harvey and Adele lead the way for the year of the woman

Just to confirm what an inspirational year the female species is having within the realms of the music industry, PJ Harvey wins the prestigious Mercury Music prize, becoming the first person to win it twice, the same week that Adele has stormed past 10 million album sales for her sophomore album, 21, becoming the first artist to reach those stratospheric global album sales since Norah Jones, nearly 10 years ago.

Adele’s success has been staggering, number one in 19 countries and tipped to sell over 13 million albums of 21 by the end of the year.  Combined with her debut album, 19, she will probably smash the 20 million barrier by christmas.  Not bad, considering most of those sales will be in one calendar year and the age of buying music is supposedly dead.

PJ Harvey’s success is based less on breaking records and more on confounding expectations.  Her artistic drive to be in a constant flux of recreation is admirable, while her infinite ability to provoke and astound, in equal measure, is inspirational.  Even more so considering she’s now in the age of artistic inertia, supposedly? Admittedly older artists are more than capable of compelling and innovative work but very few reach or surpass the heights of their firebrand youth.  Harvey has, without doubt, created her best work, a masterpiece and a true artistic statement.

Just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to female supremacy.  While Lady Gaga has dominated the headlines there has been a myriad of other chanteuse arousing the music press and captivating festival crowds.  From surprise Brit winner, Laura Marling to the heavily blogged experimentalist, Zola Jesus, the ladies have been at the forefront of everything that matters in music in the year 2011.  Not forgetting Bjork, still the vanguard for sonic pioneering and technological integration, with her new album Biophilia boldly going where no album has gone before, into the realm of digital composition regarding the celestial body.

Without doubt, the most unforgettable female artist this year will be Amy Winehouse and the tragic death of a wonderfully gifted but mentally tortured and physiologically addicted soul, whose sudden end will leave us the most potent reminder of the fragility of human life.

It may only be September, but surely this has already become the year of the woman.

September 2, 2011

Tiny Ruins releases debut album

A perpetual supply of new albums by new artists competing against each other in a saturated market of endless blogs, reviews, music sites and apps, for little scraps of recognition!  Who do we trust?  Where do we go? 

Just to add to the ever-increasing info-net, here’s yet another anonymous artist that deserves more than she’ll probably get!  

Tiny Ruins has just released her debut album, ‘Some Were Meant For Sea’.   New Zealand born, Hollie Fullbrook, delivers an intricate collection of poetically poised songs that unravel and permeate the soul with every listen.  Timely enough to sail on Laura Marling’s slipstream.