Thursday, July 29th, 2004

Just For A Day

I’ll warn you straight off – today’s post is dedicated to shoegazer giants Slowdive. If you’re not interested, scroll down. Waaaay down.

Why the love-in? Well, the Reading, England-based band will be the recipients of a double-disc anthology entitled Catch The Breeze on Sanctuary Records, out September 27 in the UK. I say “recipients of” because no one from the band had any hand in putting this together. Content-wise, it’s a decent enough collection of stuff from their three albums and some EPs (Full tracklisting here) and considering how hard the non-album material and Pygmalion are to find, it’s filling a real gap in record store shelves.

It’s nice to see Slowdive getting some belated appreciation. My Bloody Valentine rightfully gets cited as the be-all and end-all of the shoegazing movement, but in my mind Slowdive was just as important. Where MBV was about the all-out sonic assault and experimented with dance rhythms, Slowdive took the more ambient route and created walls of dreamy, beautiful sound.

Their influence is becoming evident in more and more contemporary ambient/shoegaze bands (Sigur Ros, I’m looking in your direction!) as well as electronic-type acts who’ve likely worn out a copy or two of Pygmalion. Case in point: Blue Skied An’ Clear, a tribute album put out by the electronic-centric German label Morr in 2002. It comprised one disc of covers and one disc of songs ‘inspired’ by the band – basically, a clever way of introducing the label’s bands to Slowdive fans who picked up the tribute album. I got a copy off Gary a while ago, and I think I just decided my next cover of the week is gonna be. Three guesses, first two don’t count.

I wasn’t completely honest when I said earlier that the EPs and such were really hard to find – if we’re talking about downloadable mp3s, they’re dead easy to find. You’d be hard-pressed to find any of this material in stores as it’s all way out of print, so I think you can download with a clear consience (assuming your conscience has an opinion on the topic of downloads). It is worth noting, however, that rights to all the Slowdive material will revert back to the band in the upcoming months and there are rough plans to reissue it all – presumably with bonus tracks and such. There’s also a couple of live shows and videos available online. The unofficially official Creation Records website conducted interviews with Rachel Goswell and Christian Savill in 2002 wherein they reflected on their band’s legacy and life in the Creation madhouse. And while I’m tossing out every related link I can find, here’s schematics of Neil and Christian’s guitar rigs.

So where are they now? Since disbanding in 1995, three of the principals in Slowdive – Rachel Goswell, Neil Halstead and Ian McCutcheon – traded in their Kevin Shields fan club membership cards for a milk crate of old Bob Dylan, Nick Drake and Gram Parsons records and a new band. Mojave 3 is a much folkier, strummier sort of outfit although vestiges of their former band’s dreamy sonic approach remain, especially in the live show which is surprisingly powerful – I’ve often described them as the loudest quiet band around. They’ve released four albums, 2003’s Spoon & Rafter being the most recent release. Christian Savill now plies his trade in Monster Movie.

They’ve been busy outside Mojave 3, as well. Neil Halstead released his first solo album Sleeping On Roads in 2002 and Rachell Goswell put out Waves Are Universal earlier this year. She was slated to support Tanya Donelly on a mini-American tour in August (how great would that have been?) but had to pull out due to illness. Alas. I’m hoping Rachel will make up the dates and include a Toronto show – when Neil was plugging his record, I think he came through town on three separate occasions. And finally, there should be a fifth Mojave 3 album out next year.

Update: Check out Ed’s comment below for some clarifications, namely that Rachel WILL still be opening for Tanya’s tour in August.

…And I think that about does it. For those of you with no interest in Slowdive who waded through all that, here’s your reward:

The Batman Begins trailer. You know what? I like it. I like the set-up, and that’s not just the fanboy in me talking. This will be good.

The nice folks at The Beguiling gave me an Alien Vs Predator t-shirt yesterday. And when I say ‘gave’, I mean they pretty much forced me to take it – seems they got a big box of these things for a promotion they had no interest in taking part in. So even without trying, my wardrobe gets a little bit geekier every day. Why fight it?

Jude Law as Ian Curtis in a film adaptation of Touching From A Distance? NME says it can happen, and Peter Hook says it’s a good choice.

American Music Club’s first tour in God knows how long has been announced, and it’s not coming here. And with Will Johnson opening. That’s it, this calls for a rock-n-roll road trip. I’m serious. November 6 in New York City or November 13 in Chicago. They’re both Saturdays. One of these, I’m going. I’m serious. Chi-town is on my calendar over the left and everything. Who’s coming?

np – Tanya Donelly / Whiskey Tango Ghosts

By : Frank Yang at 8:34 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Ed says:

    Great post, just a 2 corrections. I do believe that the band did have some input into the new slowdive oomp. – I’ll try and confirm this with Rachel. Might be interesting to get some insight into their choices? And Rachel’s USA dates with Tanya are still on – it was just a London support gig which was cancelled. So – USA is still on! :-)

  2. Frank says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Ed. I though Rachel had mentioned that it was done without their input, but maybe I misread. Sorta like how I misread the show cancellation bulletin.

  3. Jason says:

    I love everything Slowdive has done as well. I am starting to enjoy the solo stuff more than Mojave 3.

  4. Anne says:

    Hey, you can come see American Music Club with me in Philadelphia…on a Tuesday?

  5. Frank says:

    Alas, Tuesday is no good. I’m trying to use as few vacation days as possible. And that’s why I’m leaning towards Chicago – to go to the trouble of going to NYC and only stay for a day seems like such a waste.

  6. Anne says:

    Well, definitely go to one of these shows. I caught the show they played a couple of months ago in New York and it was awesome.