Archive for June, 2012

My Bloody Valentine Reissues: A Closer Look

Posted in Music with tags on June 27, 2012 by roarvis

It’s easy to forget that there was a time in the early 90s when musicians competed with each other to blur the lines between melody and noise. Guitars got louder and weirder, while vocals became softer and more ambiguous. Grunge had yet to take over the cultural landscape, and the future stars of Britpop were still wearing short pants.

The music of this era became known as “shoegaze,” a term that just about everyone involved has tried to disown. There’s some dispute as to whether this was an actual genre or just a vaguely connected scene. Whatever it was, most will agree that My Bloody Valentine had the strongest impact.

They had unwittingly giving birth to the nascent sound by merging an English melodic sensibility to the guitar-fueled aggression of American bands like Husker Du, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr. Thus began a three-year period of experimentation leading to the release of their critical and commercial peak Loveless in 1991.

After touring behind their breakthrough album and attempting an aborted follow-up, My Bloody Valentine went on hiatus. Rumors of bankruptcy, drug abuse, and mad scientist-level obsession followed. Fickle audiences soon forgot the pedal-hopping craze in favor of the more direct approach of Nirvana and Oasis.

Luckily, the band left a string of brilliant records as their legacy. Their influence continued to grow, trickling down to younger generations and eventually seeping back into the mainstream.

In 2008 they reunited for a series of live dates. Once again, minds were blown as the group unleashed their strange, beautiful, and frequently loud music upon the world. There were talks of a reissue series to coincide with the reunion, but the project never materialized.

In May, after years of false starts, speculation, and allegations, Sony finally released new versions of Isn’t Anything (1988), Loveless (1991), and EPs 1988-1991, a two-disc set of (mostly) non-LP tracks. Each disc was carefully remastered by songwriter/guitarist/mastermind Kevin Shields.

No U.S. release date has been announced, and vinyl editions are promised “in a few months” (which in MBV-speak could mean a few years). Despite these significant drawbacks, the reissues look and sound fantastic. Hopefully U.S. audiences will soon be able to enjoy them without paying for overpriced imports.

continued

Medication

Posted in Film, Music with tags , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2012 by roarvis

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It’s been a great year for reissues so far. Captured Tracks did an amazing job on the first two Medicine albums, which I reviewed over at The Vinyl District. I also wrote about the recent My Bloody Valentine, Unrest, and Sentridoh reissues. Hopefully these reviews will each be bathed in the soft light of the Interwebs in coming weeks.

Show-wise, I experienced the mindblowing spectacle of Pulp and attended my fifth or sixth Spiritualized gig. Ol’ J. Spaceman’s still got it.

Pirate Planet is still tinkering away. Meanwhile, I launched a solo minimalist synth project called MATHESAR. Fans of John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, and the Doctor Who theme will want to take note. Also recorded for the first time since 1994(?) with my first band, The Plague Dogs. Imagine the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar as performed by Sonic Youth and The Cure – or by a bunch of whiny emo/goth kids from Ohio.

We’ve lost some great character actors recently: William Finley, Susan Tyrell, and Richard Lynch, to name a few. I attended a screening of Phantom of the Paradise at the Million Dollar Theater the week Finley passed away. It’s probably time to revisit Forbidden Zone and God Told Me To.

In current B-movie news, I interviewed Piranha 3-DD director John Gulager for Planet Fury. Apparently I am the only person over the age 13 who liked that movie…