Don’t know about you, but I tend to watch “Later…With Jools Holland” with my finger hovering over the fast-forward button. For every performance by a good band, there’s always some hideously hyped new act, some tedious jazz-soul band, and an excruciating performance by an old muso chum of Jools who really ought to have packed it in years back.
It was the first of those options which nearly led me to zoom straight through Grimes. I hadn’t actually heard any of her music, but what I’d picked up was that she was going to be some tedious electro-pop act, like Florence and the Whatsit, but thankfully I gave her a go. Thankfully because I had one of those increasingly rare moments of hearing something new on Jools Holland that I rather liked.
Yes, “Genesis” does sound alarmingly like a very good Orbital record from 1993, all melancholy euphoria and a couple of synth sounds that should have been abandoned in the factory, but her beautiful, yearning voice overlain onto those interlocking melodies and whatnot made me go all funny. Which is a good thing, clearly.
Once I get over this bout of tinnitus1 and start listening to music on my daily commute again, her album “Visions” will be top of my list. Honest it will.
1 Seriously. This explains, to a large extent, the total absence of any updates around here. Difficult to write about music when you’re not listening to any. I am off to see Russian Circles on Monday though, which is a kill-or-cure thing, I guess.
Well, wouldn’t you know. After a couple of days having Grandaddy songs playing in my head, kitchen, and in front of my six year old son (who tried dancing to “Now It’s On”, bless his little cotton socks), I saunter onto the Drowned In Sound board and find that Grandaddy are reuniting for some gigs. Grandaddy! Gigs! They are a band I only managed to see live once, in a club in Basel, of all places, playing to about 20 vaguely interested Swiss folk and a smattering of ex-pats who were far more interested. And they were great; despite there being some obvious tensions in the band, they sounded good, looked like a bunch of skaters, truck drivers and odd-job men who’d decided to form a band singing about robots, and generally made it more than worth the train ride from Zurich.
For they are one of the Great Lost Bands of the 90’s/00’s. I’ll never understand why they didn’t make it big (or at least bigger); they made music quite unlike any of their peers, mixing weird old analogue synths with fuzzed guitars, with the sweetest tunes you can imagine, sung by a man with the resigned air of a fellow who’s just seen his girlfriend run off with a snowboard instructor, singing tales of broken robots, miners on a distant planet viewing their loved ones but unable to talk to them, the perils of doing science, paeans to the outdoor life and how cities slowly kill you, and that’s just off one album. The songs were wistful, funny, achingly sad, thoughtful, whimsical, wry and pointed. They felt utterly human, even when singing about how their robot had died.
Unlike 99.999% of their contemporaries, they were about modern life, about suburbia, about dull jobs, about sci-fi, about skating, about cats, about anything that Jason Lytle was curious about. I’ve missed them, and seeing him play solo back in 2010 was a highlight of my gigging career.