Tuesday, 23 July 2013

You're a long time dead............ Shed Seven


Many bands made Britpop what it was. Whether it was Menswe@r strutting around in sharp suits or Elastica snarling at the camera and singing about having a shag on car bonnets, certain bands made it what it was. So we come to the mighty Shed Seven, whom without, we wouldn't have had the Melody Maker try and pigeon hole the "new wave of the new wave" scene that turned into Britpop. To me not just a Britpop band but the band who to me, defined what "indie" sounded like. At the time the only album I had in my possession was "The Greatest Rock Album Ever......" And I though there must be something more!

And there was ........

The evening session sometime in 1994 played one of the greatest singles of my teenage years - "Mark". It played over the airwaves and kicked started my obsession with music for the next 19 years. With the release of their debut album "Change Giver" Britpop exploded and shoved Shed Seven into the limelight. The single Mark just broke into the top 70, which back then was a feat for an indie band, but the next three singles Dolphin, Speakeasy and Ocean Pie made the top 40 and started a string of top charting singles.  I don't think I can explain my love for their debut. It was an album that came along at the time when British music was at a turning point and when many kids took up the guitar trying to copy the arpeggios of their new heroes.  From the opening track Dirty Soul to the closer - On an Island With You; the album felt like a complete piece of work and not a handful of singles with a few extras. The album flows like a story from start to finish and I honestly can't listen to one single track without playing the whole album.  It just doesn't feel right.

In 1996 the single, Where Have You Been Tonight was in the charts and is still the song that takes me back to those days of hot summers, Glastonbury and Louise Wener. The new album that was going to be called "In Colour" would be soon called "A Maximum High" and was Sheds most successful album at the height of the Britpop era and become a classic. Spawning five top 40 singles and spending 26 weeks in the album charts, they also created the finest Britpop singles Going for Gold which will be placed on every Britpop compilation album for the rest of time.

With 1998's "Let it Ride" we find the Sheds shifting their sound for a beefier rugged soundscape and pulling no punches. Spending 7 weeks in the album chart and spanning four top 40 singles including the infectious "She Left Me on Friday" and my personal favourite "Chasing Rainbows". The album also featured the keyboard talents of The Inspiral Carpets' Clint Boon.  Maybe not as successful as their previous efforts but the album still remains one of my favourites and is still Shed Seven to the core.

The last studio album was 2001's "Truth be told" and would see the departure of guitarist Paul Banks but the return of the Sheds original guitarist Joe Johnson who left before the release of their debut album Change Giver. With only one single " A Cry for Help" the band split and went their separate ways with new bands and other projects. The band did release another album "One Hand Clapping" which comprised of material and demos of what would have been the 5th album and was limited to only a thousand copies.

I'm glad to say that the Sheds are still playing reunion shows every now and then with all original members. And as far I can see they are not stopping and neither are the ticket sales.

So STOP what you are doing right now and purchase the best back catalogue of one of the best British bands of the 90's.

Change Giver changed my life.......... And It might just change yours.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Back in bloom .............. Sulk

Lets start off as we mean to go on, I proclaim Sulk to be the best British British band to come out of Great Britian in the past 20 years.  There I've said it and I can't go back now, and why would I? I mean every word I say and have been preaching about this band for a while now and now with the release of their debut album "Graceless" my words have paid off. Graceless is flowing with soundscapes from the past 40 years, from the early 90s baggy and britpop movements to the bands that influenced them from the 60s and 70s. Yes I can hear tinges of the charlatans and the Roses through to bands like Northside, Ride and Slowdive but also britpop bands like The Space Monkeys, Sussed and Mantaray. But it doesn't stop there, you can reach back to the 60s within the likes of Sgt. Peppers era of the Beatles, to The Zombies, The Byrds and The Stones.  Even the likes of the psych bands like The Thirteen Floor Elevators, Love and Strawberry Alarm Clock.

Unlike many many other bands over that last few years who come off sounding like the bands they are influenced by, Sulk pull off sounding like a band who have lived through four very British music scenes and sound as fresh as if they had created them themselves. Weather Psych, Shoegaze, Baggy or Britpop these boys don't sound like one band but a whole four decades worth of music that have influenced every kid that sits in their bedroom with their 2nd hand squire electric dreaming of being in a band.

Their debut album "Graceless" is the album I would of dreamt of making back in the day when I was gigging. For me it represents everything that made me want to pick up a guitar and join a band. It's even made me dust off the old Gibson and crank up the chorus and reverb just like I did when I first bought it. The album is perfect from start to finish and gives me the same feeling I had when I first listened to The Stone Roses debut. Swirling chorus filled guitars, hazy vocals and double beats that any air drummer would be proud to swing their arms to. Every song could be a single and I can't just listens to one track without having listening to the whole album as I don't want to miss out on all the tracks, which to me is a sign of a classic album. Tracks like "Flowers" with its blissful chorus hook and energetic guitar riff swirling in the background inbetween its modest baggy beat, to the track "Wishes" with its soft vocal harmonies and a back beat that any Madchester band would kill for.

So there you have it, the wait is over.

The Roses may have sung about it but Sulk are the real resurrection.

The resurrection of the uk music scene.............

Monday, 1 July 2013

Every silver lining has a cloud ......... The supernaturals

Some of the best bands of the Britpop era were on the parlophone record label. I remember buying the latest DJ promo singles from the local record shop, all had the same sleeveless surrounds with the red "parlophone" label on the insert. One such band were the supernaturals who hit us with a string of upbeat summer pop songs starting with the infectious single "smile".  Hailing from Scotland they scored a record contract with parlophone in 1996 and released 3 top 40 singles and a re-release of their 1st single "smile" before they gave us their debut album "it doesn't matter anymore" in May 1997.  The album was a top 10 hit which complimented the summer like strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. Bursting with singalongs and humorous songwriting that tapped into the British psych at the time and with cheeky music videos that never seemed to be off the chart show. Another two albums followed with "A tune a day in" in 1998 and the strange synth pop influenced "What we did last summer" in 2002

To this day I stand by the fact that the single "Sheffield song" taken from the album "A tune a day" was the last ever britpop single!  I remember when I first heard it I knew the scene was over as it felt like a goodbye song, and not long after ............ It was.