Posts tagged: Britpop

Suede Reunion for Charity Gig Confirmed

By , January 17, 2010

The marble clock has stopped. The curtained sun
Burns on: the room grows hot. There, it appears,
A vase of flowers has spilt, and soaked away.
The only sound heard is the sound of tears.

So, I’m going to London in March. I don’t know precisely, when, and I won’t know until Suede announces the date of their one-off reunion concert. That’s right, my favorite band is reuniting for one show at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Suede

Sadly, Bernard Butler won’t be a part of this. The other three original members will be on stage, as well as Neil Codling and Richard Oakes, who joined the band after Butler’s departure.

I am excited beyond description, even more so than when I planned a trip to Paris around Jarvis Cocker’s first solo gig. That wasn’t Pulp, my other favorite band, it was just Cocker; this is the actual Suede, a band I have never had the chance to see live. Attending a Suede reunion show has long been my dream, and it seems about to become a reality.

I’d be remiss if I did not note that the proceeds from the show are being donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

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Trash

By , December 29, 2005

Maybe, maybe it’s the clothes we wear,
The tasteless bracelets and the dye in our hair,
Maybe it’s our kookiness,
Or maybe, maybe it’s our nowhere towns,
Our nothing places and our cellophane sounds
Maybe it’s our looseness

But we’re trash, you and me,
We’re the litter on the breeze,
We’re the lovers on the street,
Just trash, me and you,
It’s in everything we do

A friend recently chastised me for, as she put it, “associating with trash.” Apparently, many of my friends aren’t ambitious or “going places” and I’d be better suited to hang out with young lawyers and other motivated and soon-to-be-wealthy professionals. My initial reaction was shock at hearing one friend describe the rest our friends as trash. I happen to think they’re great people, or else I wouldn’t be friends with them. After a moment something else occurred to me: what the hell makes me any different? If they’re trash, aren’t I trash, too? My friend explained that yes, I am trash as well but I have a decent-paying job and have saved some money, so I’m above them. She described me as “trash with money.”

This did not sit well with me. I tried to see the side of the friend who said these things to me, but her attitude is diametrically opposed to everything I believe in. The more I’ve mulled it over, however, the more I see that she is right, to an extent. Just like Brett Anderson wrote in this post’s epigraph, we ARE trash. I’ve been trash all my life. Proudly so. I grew up poor, in one of the “bad parts” of Los Angeles. My father would routinely come home from work after having been robbed, once whilst tied up and at gunpoint. I remember my mother sometimes buying two fast food cheeseburgers and cutting them into pieces to feed three of us. For most of my childhood, my clothes were ordered from the Sears-Roebuck catalog. Going out to eat meant Taco Bell or McDonald’s– Sizzler if it was a special occasion.

My job often entails me interacting with moneyed folks, and by and large I find I have nothing whatsoever in common with them. I don’t dislike those in the stratospheric socials classes. I harbor no ill will for them, and congratulate them for the hard work or good fortune that got them where they are. It’s more that I have an entirely different value system and lifestyle than they do. And yes, the sense of privilege and entitlement that sometimes seems to run rampant through the upperclass can at times be sickening, but for the most part they are people like anyone else. They just aren’t the sort of people I feel comfortable being around. Sure, a few lucky breaks and wise choices on my part have landed me in a career that provides me with a decent level of income, but I don’t consider myself a part of their world. For that I am glad, as I think I’d be miserable if such people were my friends. I was born and raised trash, and trash I’ll always be.

And the road that I have walked upon
Well it filled my pockets
And emptied out my soul

Truth be told, money is almost meaningless to me. Earning it has never been my goal. I realize I need some to survive, and while I’m glad that I no longer have the money worries I used to have, I know that I was a much happier person when I was still poor. I once gave the girl I loved the last dollar I had so she could make good on her bills, and I gladly ate leftovers and scraps for a week until more money came in. I was happier eating those meals than I am now that I can eat (nearly) anywhere I choose. And now that I have a little money, I do my best to share it. I treat my trashy friends whenever they aren’t fixed for cash, I over-tip trashy waitresses working dead-end jobs in nowhere towns, and I give to charities that help trashy people in other cities and nations. I even gave a twenty to a trashy homeless man the other night. So yeah, trash with money is fine by me.

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Suede – New Generation

By , May 3, 2005

I wake up every day to find her back again
Screaming my name through the astral plane

Were I to list my favorite bands, nearly all of them would be bands that no longer exist, or if they do, have stopped releasing albums. Joy Division, The Smiths, Pulp, Suede– all no more. Even my favorite local band, The Aislers Set, seems to have stopped recording and touring. Were I pressed to list favorite bands still in existence I’d say Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand, and Bright Eyes but none of those bands hold sway over me quite like those in the first list. While I cannot necessarily say they are hands down my favorite band of all time, no band better represents my coming-of-age years than Suede.

Suede New Generation 12

Oh, but when she is calling, here in my head
Can you hear her calling, and what she has said?
Oh, but when she is calling, here in my head
It’s like a new generation calling
Can you hear it call?

Suede really did usher in a new generation of music, and were arguably the original Brit Pop band. Their success heralded a radical stylistic shift in the sound of British rock, one that had last shifted with the advent of The Stone Roses, and paved the way for bands such as Blur, Oasis, Pulp, and Elastica. Suede was Britain’s answer to American grunge rock– a throwback to the glam days of David Bowie and Roxy Music tempered by the ‘it’s okay to be an outsider’ mentality of The Smiths– and made an ideal rallying point for misfits and dreamers the world over.

Suede’s best songs, taken together, form an unending narrative of of detached lovers, sexual experimentation, drug use, and life outside the lines of traditional British society, and “New Generation” is no exception.

And like all the boys in all the cities
I take the poison, take the pity
But she and I, we soon discovered
We’d take the pills to find each other

“New Generation” is from the Dog Man Star album, a massive, larger-than-life masterpiece of epic rock and roll, and quite possibly the single greatest rock album ever recorded, at least by my reckoning. It is definitely in my top five all time, and is probably my favorite of all. It soars to heights I’ve never heard another album attain.

Though this entry is really about one song, I would be remiss if I did not say a bit about the significance of the album. Dog Man Star is a record already heavily laced with melancholy themes and sounds, and the story surrounding its release only serves to amplify that despair. After a Mercury Prize winning debut album, and a brilliant EP, Suede had fans and critics alike eager for their second full-length album. Almost at the same time as the record was reported to have been completed, Bernard Butler, the guitarist and half of the song-writing team, left the band. Dog Man Star would seemingly be the last we would ever hear from Suede.

Things grew worse– it became unclear if the album would even be released– legal matters were likely to keep it shelved indefinitely. There was never a lower point in the life of a Suede fan. (Meanwhile, bands like Blur and Oasis, formally relegated to the back burner, took the implosion of Suede as an opportunity to rise to the forefront of the Brit Pop movement, and cash in on the next wave of British musical invaders to conquer the American airwaves.) Eventually, the album was released, and it was a huge success, albeit possibly the last effort by so promising a band.

I wake up every day, to find her back again
Breeding disease on her hands and knees
While the styles turn and the books still burn
It’s there in the platinum spires
It’s there in the telephone wires
And we spread it around to the techno sound
And like a new generation rise

To complete the story of Suede, much like in the song, we fans woke up one morning to find them back again. They didn’t break up. Instead they launched a crazy guitarist search and wound up with some teenaged Bernard Butler look-alike. I will not lie– skepticism ran rampant in the circles of Suede fandom, and when it was announced that Suede was to have a new single in stores, it was big news. The song was to be called “Trash.” Would it be just that? I remember standing at the cash register of the local record shop with the single in my hand, and my heart full of anticipation. I came home and fearfully popped “Trash” into my CD player. While totally different than Butler-era Suede, it was utterly fantastic in its own right, and it instantly became my anthem for that summer.

Sadly, post-Butler Suede is remembered best today not for their brief resurgence but for their subsequent failure, and even though I know in hindsight how it’s going to end (watch out for that iceberg, Suede!), it’s still nice to reminisce about the moment in time when, to a new generation of youth, Suede had in seemingly miraculous fashion survived what seemed at the time to have been a cataclysmic loss. Perhaps there really was hope for the rest of us.

It’s like a new generation calling
Can you hear it call?
And I’m losing myself, losing myself to you

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Suede – The Drowners

By , April 2, 2004

I have covered but two of my three favorite songs in previous blogs, even though I’ve been writing for more than a year. As I promised long ago to introduce you to all three of them, I think it is high time I finished the job.

So slow down, slow down,
You’re taking me over

And so we drown, sir we drown,
Stop taking me over

Currently Playing: Suede – The Drowners

The opening drum hits are hypnotic. It’s rare for a drummer to do anything terribly melodic, or memorable, or even at all original, but Simon Gilbert managed to accomplish all three of those feats in the initial four bars of this, the band’s first single. And then comes Bernard Butler’s guitar. He is hands down my favorite of all the Brit pop/ indie rock era guitar heroes, ranking above even Jack White, and his solo in “The Drowners”, which you can hear beginning at about 2:25 if you click the above link, is my favorite thing he ever recorded.

Suede - The Drowners

I can’t listen to Suede without feeling at least a little bit melancholy. In many ways, my “grown-up” musical life began with my discovery of Suede. I was utterly bored with modern music. Rap had begun to suck, and American rock was all about grunge. Nirvana achieved something amazing, and I was definitely into that sound for awhile, but a year or so had passed, and the music industry had begun to find ways to again co-opt something brilliant, and in the process ruin it. Then I heard “The Drowners” and my life changed. Everyone has that one band, or song, or moment, where music altered their perception of the world, and Suede was it for me. Theirs was the perfect combination: in lead singer Brett Anderson, Suede had the perfect mixture of the sexual mystery of Bowie and the literate swagger of Morrissey (though perhaps more importantly, a singer who realized that a truly great pop star is often a provocatively ridiculous character; but the band had the ability to kick ass, thanks to aforementioned guitar hero Bernard Butler.

Suede was my band. They soared to great heights almost immediately– they were named Britain’s band of the year before they even released a single– their debut album won the Mercury Prize (Britain’s top musical honor), released hit song after hit song, and then, they imploded. Butler left the band, and the release of their second full-length album, Dog Man Star, was in doubt. Its release was among the most bittersweet moments of my life; it was better, much better, than their already-amazing debut– perhaps the best record I’d ever heard. But that was it. No more Suede. Or was there? I’m getting off-topic. I’ll continue this narrative someday in a future blog.

Enjoy “The Drowners,” and try to see if you can figure out what the lyrics mean. Hint– they are hella gay.

Won’t someone give me a gun?

Oh well it’s for my brother

Well he writes the line wrote down my spine

It says “Oh, do you believe in love there?”

If you write a line down someone’s spine, where do you end up? Exactly.

Today’s Question: Do YOU believe in love, there?

My favorite part is towards the end, when Anderson is repeating the line “you’re taking me over,” and then shifts to “stop taking me over” as the music opens up one last time. Good stuff.

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Pulp – Disco 2000

By , October 28, 2003

My recent song blogs have digressed into personal anecdotes, musings on love, or commentaries on the gap between the always fantastic life one hopes to lead and the often mundane life one actually does lead. In short, I’ve strayed away from the original concept behind the posts, namely dissecting a song I find to be especially well-written. In what I hope will be harbinger of song-related song posts to come, today I will share with you the second of my triumvirate of favorite songs; I already wrote about one in a previous post.

Currently Playing: Pulp – Disco 2000

Well we were born within an hour of each other
Our mothers said we could be sister and brother
Your name is Deborah, Deborah,
It never suited ya.
Oh they said that when we grew up,
we’d get married, and never split up.
We never did it, although often I thought of it.

“Disco 2000″ is another example of an uptempo, danceable song that sounds happy from a musical standpoint, but is lyrically a fairly somber and serious song.

I said let’s all meet up in the year 2000

Won’t it be strange when we’re all fully grown?

Be there 2 o’clock by the fountain down the road.

I never knew that you’d get married

I would be living down here on my own

On that damp and lonely
Thursday years ago.

Really, what more need I say? Jarvis Cocker, Pulp’s lead singer and songwriter, pretty much said it all right there. He continues the tale, recalling his unspoken crush on Deborah throughout their school years together:

You were the first girl at school to get breasts.

Martin said that you were the best.

The boys all loved you but I was a mess
I had to watch them try to get you undressed

We were friends that was as far as it went

I used to walk you home sometimes but it meant,

Oh it meant nothing to you.

’Cause you were so popular.

Pulp - Disco 2000 part 1

Deborah do you recall?
Your house was very small,
with wood chip on the wall.
When I came around to call,
you didn’t notice me at all.

For whatever reason, while this song is a positive dance floor anthem in most parts of the world, it never climbed the American pop charts. Unless you found yourself at some niche Britpop club back in the ’90s, á la San Francisco’s Pop Scene, you have probably never heard this song, which is a pity, for it is, at least in my opinion, one of the greatest pop songs of all time. I hope you’ve clicked the above link and heard it. Even if you don’t share my opinion, you can’t deny that it is danceable to the extreme.

It’s also enigmatic in its finale:

What are you doing Sunday baby?

Would you like to come and meet me maybe?

You can even bring your baby.

Will Deborah meet the protagonist on Sunday? Is her baby her husband, or is it her child? Has she divorced, and is she at last ready to embark on romance with the boy who has adored her since childhood?

Pulp - Disco 2000 part 2

A final note, and a personal one (I can’t escape it, can I?), this is the song that made Fizzy and I, well, Fizzy and I. We met in an elevator five years ago, almost to the day, and in the time it took the elevator to rise eight floors, we ascertained that this was both of our favorite songs. And then we fell in love. Okay, more stuff happened in between, but seriously– thank you Jarvis Cocker! I knew Pulp could do nearly anything, but I never knew Pulp could do anything like that…

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Ash – Girl From Mars

By , May 2, 2003

I rather enjoyed compiling the list of albums for my last post. As I alluded to in that post, music is a driving force in my life. As I don’t think I am unusual in this regard, from time to time I will devote a blog to a particular album, single, or song that I find especially interesting. I think my taste is eclectic enough that over time I should cover something of interest to most of my readers, either by introducing you to new music that you like, or discussing something you already enjoy. And along the way I’ll probably write about more than a few things you’ve neither heard before nor care to hear again.

Currently Playing: Ash – Girl From Mars

The text above is a clickable link, and will open up a new window in which you can hear the song.

Ash - Girl From Mars

This is a 3-track single, released in 1995. The two backing tracks, “Astral Conversations with Toulouse Lautrec,” and “Cantina Band” are interesting, the latter being a cover of the song played in the cantina scene of the original Star Wars film. As an aside, the band are obviously huge Star Wars fans– the album on which “Girl From Mars” appears is titled 1977 because that was the year Star Wars was released, and the album opens with the sound of a TIE-Fighter roaring past.

This post is devoted to the title track; I think it’s a pretty phenomenal song:

Do you remember the time I knew a girl from Mars?
I don’t know if you knew that.
Oh, we’d stay up late playing cards,
Henri Winterman cigars.
Though she never told me her name,
I still love you, Girl from Mars.

What a great conceit for a song. The girl who came into his life, with whom he spent late nights smoking and playing cards, and whom he knew only as the girl from Mars. It probably isn’t a true story, in fact I read somewhere the song was initially “Girl From Ards,” because the lead singer once dated a girl from the city of Ards, but who cares? Girl from Mars works better! She came into his life, never gave a name other than “I’m the girl from Mars,” and one day, as you learn later in the song, vanished. Wow.

I’m going to have to let you know (as if you couldn’t tell by now) that I am a huge fan of song lyrics. At their core, song lyrics are poetry, plain and simple. The addition of music elevates them to operatic levels of emotional significance. I’m especially big on subtle nuances, which for me can take a great song and bump it up to epic status.

Sitting in our dreamy days by the water’s edge,
On a cool summer’s night.
Fireflies and the stars in the sky,
Gentle glowing light
From your cigarette.
The breeze blowing softly on my face,
Reminds me of something else.
Something that in my memory has been replaced,
Suddenly it all comes back.
And as I look to the stars.

I remember the time I knew a girl from Mars
I don’t know if you knew that…

I probably heard this song 100 times before I caught the little rhyme “look to the stars” that leads into “girl from mars.” I love that.

I also love the story the song tells. I am not completely sure about this, but I *think* what’s happening is that the singer is with a girl he is currently seeing, and something has reminded him of the nameless Girl from Mars whom he now misses. It may be that the entire song is about the nameless girl, but the shift in tenses later in the song:

Surging through the darkness over the moonlight strand,
Electricity in the air.
Twisting all through the night on the terrace,
Now that summer’s here.
I know you are almost in love with me,
I can see it in your eyes.
Strange light shimmering over the sea tonight,
And it almost blows my mind
And as I look to the stars

makes it seem even more likely that there are two girls, one past, one present, involved.

Regardless of the specifics, I think this song just about has it all. It’s upbeat, with a catchy tune, but lyrically poignant and clever, with strong melancholy overtones. It also does something else I love in songs, which is to add a subtle change to the chorus at the end of the song. Ash does this from time to time to great effect, in this case the addition of “I still dream of you,” replacing “though she never told me her name” in the final chorus.

Do you remember the time I knew a girl from Mars?
I don’t know if you knew that.
Oh, we’d stay up late playing cards,
Henri Winterman cigars.
And I still dream of you.
I still love you, Girl from Mars.

I’ve never had a girl from Mars to miss, but I sometimes wish I did, for how romantically tragic would that be? Thanks to Ash, for three and a half minutes, whenever I want, I can pretend to miss a girl from Mars.

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Meet the Pea

By , February 1, 2003

Peasprout isn’t a very descriptive moniker, so I’m going to say a bit about myself. This introduction seems long overdue already, as I’ve put up a few blogs without saying a proper hello.

I’m Peasprout; everyone asks me, “why Peasprout?” I don’t have a very good answer. It isn’t a childhood nickname, nor is it my favorite food, although I do enjoy eating peasprouts. It’s my nickname here, and nearly everywhere online, for a few reasons. First, it’s kind of cute, and I like cute and silly things. Second, I happened to be eating peasprouts when I had to choose a nickname somewhere, and it seemed like a good choice. And finally, the nickname is always available. No one else ever seems to choose peasprout, so I can be Peasprout nearly everywhere.

Now then, what else is worth knowing about me? I live in Berkeley, CA with my girlfriend Fizzy. Her name is actually Sue, but we all call her Fizzy. I’ll likely use the names interchangeably here, so get used to both. We’re best friends as well as bf/gf, so I imagine she’ll figure prominently into most blogs I write. I’m trying to convince her to start a blog of her own, but so far no interest. Details concerning future Fizzy blogs as events warrant.

I earn my board and keep as an event planner. I sometimes work as a DJ, but less often these days as the event planning business grows.

In my spare time I read a lot, play Scrabble, and enjoy playing cards. I like movies and old theaters, play basketball, and am hugely inspired by music. My favorite band is Pulp. Suede, The Smiths, Joy Division and David Bowie are also favorites of mine. Lately I have been listening to the White Stripes, Death Cab for Cutie, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Flaming Lips. I am going to force myself to stop now, for once I get started on music, it can be difficult to get me to shut up.

If that last paragraph made me sound at all trendy or hip or plugged in, don’t be fooled. I am usually the last to know about anything. But once I find something I like, I am likely to immerse myself into it.

That’s about all I can think to share right now. Glad to meetya.

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I Tell About My Life Using Suede’s Lyrics

By , January 28, 2003

Weee! One of the commenters on a previous entry, PsychoHippy, had this neat thing on her page…you pick song lyrics to answer questions about yourself. Here’s my own version:

To start, pick a band or singer you know really well. Got one? Good. Who is it?

Who else? Suede! Well, I guess the who else could be Pulp. Or Joy Division? Bowie! George Michael? LOL! For kicks, I actually TRIED to do one with his lyrics, but it didn’t come out right. But then again, how could it? So I went with Suede.

Now the fun (and challenging) part. Answer the following questions using only that band/singer’s lyrics. Ready? Go for it!

Are you male or female?

Modern boys, modern boys
Hand in hand
Sick of the fear
Chasing away all the hungry years
We’re the modern boys

Describe yourself.

So steal me a savage, subservient son
Get him shacked-up, bloodied-up and sucking on a gun
I want the style of a woman, the kiss of a man

How do some people feel about you?

Filmstar, propping up the bar, driving in a car, it looks so easy,
Filmstar, propping up the bar, driving in a car tonight,
Filmstar, giving it class, living it fast, it looks so easy,
Filmstar, giving it class, living it fast tonight.

How do you feel about yourself?

Maybe, maybe it’s the clothes we wear,
The tasteless bracelets and the dye in our hair,
Maybe it’s our kookiness,
Or maybe, maybe it’s our nowhere towns,
Our nothing places and our cellophane sounds,
Maybe it’s our looseness,

But we’re trash, you and me

Describe your girlfriend/boyfriend/love interest.

She walks in beauty like the night
Discarding her clothes in the plastic flowers
Pornographic and tragic in black and white

Say something to him/her.

Oh it’s bigger than the universe
It’s bigger than the universe
It’s bigger than the two of us
Oh it’s bigger than you and me

We got a love between us and it’s like electricity

Where would you rather be?

Oh and I’m never alone now
Now I’m with her

Describe where you live.

Chic thug stuttered through a stereo dream
A fifty knuckle shuffle heavy metal machine
The tears of suburbia drowned the land

Describe how you live.

Here they come gone 7am
Getting satellite and Sky getting cable,
Bills and Bens and their mums and their friends
Who just really, really want to be loved,
Uncle Teds and their legendary vests
Helping out around the disabled,
From the flats and the maisonettes
They’re reminding us there’s things to be done.

But you and me, all we want to be is lazy

Describe how you love.

Won’t someone give me some fun
(And as the skin flies all around us)
We kiss in his room to a popular tune
Oh, real drowners
Slow down, slow down, you’re taking me over
And so we drown, sir we drown
Stop takin’ me over

Share a few words of wisdom.

I don’t care if you’re black or blue
Me and the stars stay up for you
I don’t care who’s wrong or right

_____________

All done. Don’t read all kinds of stuff into that. It’s just me choosing lyrics, not writing them.

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