Archive for Slowdive

Songs from the Vault

It’s been about a couple of months since the last SFTV so it’s time for another. And none too soon, as I’ve got some great tunes for you…

First up is Slowdive with the first track off their 1993 album Souvlaki, Alison. It’s got that massive dreamy, shoe-gazing sound that I’ve a soft spot for. Souvlaki only made it to #17 in the album charts, receiving a mixed reception. It’s had a re-appraisal in recent years, which is good to know, especially as it passed me by in ’93.

In contrast to Souvlaki, 69 Love Songs (1999), by The Magnetic Fields, didn’t pass me by. Moreover, unlike Souvlaki, it received widespread critical acclaim. While, regrettably, I didn’t pay it an awful lot of attention at the time, I’m glad it’s since come to my attention. One of the album’s highlights is The Book of Love, a song as stripped back as the lyrics are poignant.

Sticking with the subject of love, I first heard the next tune via a cover version by Beck, totally unaware of its provenance. True Love will find you in the end, is a track off 1990, an album by the recently deceased Daniel Johnston. If it’s stripped back you want, it doesn’t come any more stripped back than this. Johnston recorded most of the album in his own home; ongoing mental health issues preventing him from recording in a studio. It’s a heartfelt tune that, like The Book of Love, is powerful in its simplicity.

This blog seems to be developing, albeit unintentionally, a theme or certain shape. Leaving the Table is one of my favourite tracks off of Leonard Cohen’s final album, You Want it Darker, which was released three weeks before his death on 7 November 2016. The song is supposedly about the death of a ladies’ man but it’s hard not to read more into it as Cohen’s affecting swan song.

I normally do five songs for SFTV but that seems like the perfect place to end things. I hope you’ve enjoyed these selections.

Songs from the Vault

It’s been a while since the last edition (January) of Songs from the Vault. It’s time to right that wrong, so this post is hot off the press. This edition is, like the last, going to be an assorted selection of tunes. No themes, just good tunes. I hope you’ll agree.

Up first is US band The Airborne Toxic Event with their tune Sometime Around Midnight from their eponymous 2008 album. I was reminded of the band when I came to a part of the book I’m currently reading, White Noise by Don DeLillo, titled The Airborne Toxic Event. A bit of Googling told me that the band took its name from DeLillo; it’s a great name for a band. The tune itself isn’t as great but it’s a good ‘un, and reminiscent of The National’s About Today.

Next up is a tune that I’ve recently become acquainted with by English singer-songwriter Virginia Astley. A Summer Long Since Passed featured on Astley’s 1986 album Hope_in_a_Darkened_Heart. Sticking with titles and names, the song sounds exactly as you’d expect it to; church bells, ethereal vocals, and cascading chords. [excuse the awful video]

Hope in a Darkened Heart was produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto and we turn to him next. Sakamoto released the album async in 2017, on which features the tune Solari. According to pitchfork, the album was a soundtrack for an imaginary Tarkovsky film. Tarkovsky directed the 1972 movie Solaris, so you can add this up. It’s a tune which sounds both futuristic and retro. Seeing as we appear to have our imaginary hats on, you can imagine a vehicle traversing some alien nebula where communications are disrupted by stellar radiation. I’m running away with myself but listen and I hope you’ll hear what I mean. It’s a soundscape that I savour and don’t hear often enough.

It’s time to return to planet Earth. A Bowie track would work well here (Space Oddity, anyone?) but I did say that this was unplanned, including the link between Astley and Sakamoto. We’re going to go with Slowdive, an English band that’s been going since 1989 (albeit in different incarnations). Their eponymous 2017 album is a particularly strong affair and the track No Longer Making Time is a favourite. Whether you call it dream-pop, shoegazing, etc., it ticks a lot of boxes for me including anthemic choruses and shimmering guitar chords that could fill the largest of cathedrals.

It’s time to draw this edition of SFTV to a close and we’re going to do it with Haunted Dancehall from the 1994 album of the same name by The Sabres of Paradise, co-founded by Andrew Weatherall. I first heard this version of the tune (which differs from the album version) on Cafe del Mar Volume Two (1995) – one of the series of albums put out by the classic Ibiza sunset bar. It’s dramatic, cinematic and a fitting end to this edition of SFTV. I hope you’ve enjoyed the selection.