Shoegaze is back! So let’s talk about a legendary shoegaze act’s least stereotypically shoegazey album, an oddity amongst the band’s catalog, and one that led to them being dropped by their record label.
Covers are fun. There is something almost magical about listening to someone reinterpret another artist’s blood, sweat, and tears. What did that person get from the song that I didn’t? How will that person tweak and change things to make it his or her own? Will they be reverential of the source material, or breakdown and reassemble the work to make something entirely new? Will I like the covered version better than the original? Or will I feel that some songs are sacred and not to be trifled with? It doesn’t really matter. A good cover can be a fascinating artifact of pop culture, either as a reflection of the times or as something deeply personal to the cover artist. It’s also a wonderful signifier of how transcendent music can be, and how it touches our lives. In a way, it’s just passing down art, and stories, and dreams to the coming generations, a way to live forever. All music and art eventually become part of the cultural zeitgeist, part of the collective ether. It’s a way to communicate with our long lost elders, a bridge to the past, a tie to everything that came before.
Think of all the kids you grew up with. The ones taking music lessons after school. The kids tinkering away on the piano, practicing their recitals. The kids spending their afternoons learning the cello, or the violin, or the trumpet. The band dorks. The punk brats making a ruckus in their parents’ garages, banging and strumming away on their beginner’s drum kits and electric guitars. The younger brothers and sisters rifling through their older siblings’ record collections and singing along in their bedrooms. Think of those kids gathering together to create music, a circus folk rock troupe with flashes of Americana, post-punk, classic rock, new wave, and the Avant Garde all playing harmoniously like a choir of art school misfits. A saxophone here. A viola there. A grand aural collage of different sounds, textures, instruments, and influences. How glorious it must be. And so we have the self-titled debut album from Philadelphia’s i am Love, a collection of pop songs created by a vast array of instrumentation and open, bleeding hearts.
Fact: I have never actually sat down to watch the roller skating musical fiasco that is 1980’s Xanadu. I have seen bits and pieces and scenes from it, often with my older sister, years and years ago, but I have no real recollection of anything other than light and colors flowing behind roller skating muses. I understand that the film is supposed to be an abysmal mess, but I like to remember it as a soft-focussed, neon-tinted piece of 80’s kitsch.
Full disclosure: I am super stoked that I ended up with the Halloween edition of Joup’s Friday Album. That being said, it was actually kind of difficult to narrow my options down to one solid choice. I skidded around from Goth metal to dark and creepy drone, from horror scores to silly, Halloween themed surf rock, finally settling on The Evil One, Roky Erickson and The Aliens’ punk and 80’s rock riff on all things monster movie. This 1981 opus has everything: monsters, demons, zombies, vampires, and the devil himself. It plays out like a love letter to a midnight B-movie marathon.
Leonino is the latest project from legendary Chilean artist Jorge Gonzalez, original member of and songwriter for the highly influential 80’s band Los Prisioneros. Coming up in Pinochet’s Chile, Gonzalez’s music was a resistance to the dictatorship, a rising cry for the alienated and disaffected youth of the nation. The group’s particular brand of new wave flavored, rock-a-billy punk made them arguably the biggest band in their native Chile, saw them achieve immense popularity throughout the rest of Latin America, and culminated with tours with artists like Peter Gabriel and Bruce Springsteen. And then they disbanded in the early 1990’s.
Over the last year, I have written a number of articles about the music I’ve spent my life listening to, poking and prodding and digging around to see how it all affected me, how it made me grow as a person, how it helped me, defined me, or influenced my life and personality. There was a lot to sift through, but it was a joy to revisit and re-experience it all again. And now that musical nostalgia highway has got me thinking about other aspects of me that the pop culture I grew up with molded like so much clay. Like my sense of humor. Where did that come from?