Archive for the ‘The Cult’ Category

[ATTENDED: November 19, 2022] Manic Street Preachers

When this tour was announced I practically screamed with delight.

I saw the Manic Street Preachers 23 years ago.  And while I haven’t kept up with their releases, I have listened from time to time.  But their albums from the 1990s are some of my favorites of the era.  And I have never seen Suede and their debut album is one of my favorite albums ever.  They haven’t toured the US in about 25 years.  I bought a pit ticket and was pretty psyched.

I was quite surprised to find out that it hadn’t sold very well.  But the people around me were super into the show and knew every word to every song (which is more than I knew).

My favorite two MSP albums are Everything Must Go (1996) and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (1998) and they started off with a song from Truth, the roaring “You Stole the Sun from My Heart.”  The followed it right up with “Everything Must Go.”  I was so excited to find out that James Dean Bradfield still sounded amazing.  He hit some great high notes and was full of power.   Their touring musician (whose name I didn’t catch) added some nice deep backing vocals to the songs.

I was more or less in front of bassist Nicky Wire who was pretty chill–although he did wear a boa for one song.  He used to wear dresses or skirts, but he was just wearing a MSP T-Shirt.  He said a few things (he is known to be controversial), but I didn’t really understand anything he said. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE TEA PARTY-The Edge of Twilight (1995).

In the way that Ian Astbury of The Cult reminded everyone of Jim Morrison, so does Jeff Martin, singer of The Tea Party.  He looks a bit like him and he sings in a baritone voice that, while all his own, sounds like perhaps a 1990s Jim Morrison.

This, their third album, is full of what I think of as their trademark sound: all manner of exotic instrumentation laid over heavy Zeppelinesque riffs.  Opener “Fire in the Head’ is not unlike “Kashmir” in its riff, and what’s funny is that the exotic instrumentation makes it sound even more like “Kashmir” than “Kashmir” does.  Zep didn’t use instruments like the sitar and sarod to make their sound more authentic.  Indeed, authenticity seems to be what the band is going for, as later albums describe them spending time in the middle east where they learned to play these instruments more proficiently.

“The Grand Bazaar” takes that concept further with some really Eastern sounding music within a very heavy rocking track.  And “Ianna,” although not my favorite track, really showcases the Middle Eastern instrumentation in this cool, twisty track.  There’s also a more traditional rock number, “Drawing Down the Moon” which features lengthy blues-guitar solos over a fairly conventional track.

It’s not all heaviness though, as “Correspondences” is a seven minute piano based ballad in which Martin’s voice is right in your ears.  It’s on this track that you decide whether you love his voice or think he’s preposterous.  If the latter, well, then there’s the beautiful instrumental “The Badger.”  And “Shadows on the Mountainside” is a quieter acoustic number in which Martin sings in his much more delicate range.

But perhaps the most over-the-top, and consequently, best track on the disc is “Sister Awake” which features 12-string guitar, sitar, sarod, harmonium and goblet drums.  It starts slowly and quietly and builds into multiple climaxes (complete with loudly whispered “Sister!”).

Whether or not this confers any kind of approval on The Tea Party or not, Roy Harper (as in “Hats Off to Roy”) does a spoken word bonus track at the end of the disc.  I don’t know much about Roy Harper or what he was up to in 1995 (perhaps he’d do anything for a buck?) but it give an air of legitimacy, no?

The Tea Party is a band that splits people into love it or hate it groups.  They have sold millions of copies and yet there are those who despise them.  Their next album Transmission found some success in the U.S. because it was a bit more industrial sounding (with samples and loops), but they never really broke through down here.

[READ: February 4, 2011] Stories from the Vinyl Cafe

I’m not sure how I found out about this book.  I know I bought it in a Chapters in Toronto.  I wonder if it was on a display and I was intrigued by the title.  Or, more likely, I had heard a bit about him in my preparations for my trip and decided to buy his book.   Whatever the case, I didn’t read it until now.

McLean is described in one of the (practically a dozen) pages of praise and advertisements for his other books as a Canadian Garrison Keillor.  And, as lazy as that seems, it’s fairly accurate.  Especially because although McLean is a humorist (he won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humor), like Keillor, who is mostly funny, McLean also deals a lot with serious matters.  Indeed, some of the stories in this collection are utterly unfunny: ending with a dead dog or a dead grandmother.

And here’s the thing.  These stories are slices of people’s lives.  They are incidents that impact them and are worth recollecting, but that don’t cause anyone to change.  They’re like perfect little anecdotes, and I imagine they are excellent to hear aloud. (more…)

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