this is quite difficult, look you see. i am writing this whilst the sounds of my wedding day roll across the background. well, the wedding day of myself and my (considerably) better half, i suppose, for i did not marry myself. many people suggest that i should go and do to myself what normally only married people do, as it happens, but that's another story.
today, then, is the 19th. yesterday was the 18th, and it was a day marked by releases of new albums off of two bands that i like. alas no, dear reader, one of them was not off of The Stone Roses, although rumours and stories persist that a release will come.
nonetheless there was two releases off of two major, well liked bands, so you would imagine that HMV were celebrating this in the windows of their stores.
no. sadly i have not doctored or "photoshopped" this image; what you see is what they had. instead of promoting music, ostensibly the reason HMV exists, they had elected to promote the optical disc release of all that Game Of Dragons business.
aaah, you say. HMV are dead posh and fancy, and so have two windows. surely it was the case, then, that they used the second, slightly larger window to promote the major music releases of the day of release?
nope, more promotion of Throne Games, along with headphones, Disney films, etc. HMV are, sadly, making the sad prediction of the interview of one of the artists what released a record yesterday come true.
do i have an issue with DVDs and such things being sold in HMV? not at all, and that Dragonslayer Throne King tv show is boss so it is, to be sure. it's just really, really depressing that HMV had not one single reference to new vibes being available on display.
did they at least have the new vibes on display in the store, and displayed in a way that a chap could select from them and purchase them? yes, thankfully they did. the new releases are sort of bottom middle in the picture here as they were on display.
i am going to go right ahead and assume that the labels who released the new albums on the day that was yesterday simply did not pay HMV enough money, or give them enough of a discount, to make it worth their while promoting them. someone looking at this display would, you would think, just end up getting distracted by the Bowie, Coldplay and Adele recordings. the A, B and C of poor promotion if you like.
oh, what were the recordings that i was all so excited about? Chaosmosis by Primal Scream and Girl At The End Of The World by James.
if you have made it this far into reading and yet you still want just a quickfire review so you can get on with your life, both are excellent and as things stand at this stage the James album is a strong contender for album of the year. which is saying something, considering the fact that, despite only being in March, there have been some outstanding records so far this year.
right, for those of you who have decided to read on, let's start off with the Primal Scream, then. why? not so much reverse alphabetical as it is the case that this was the one record i was all excited about, both for yesterday and for most of the year so far.
is it any good? yes it is. whereas i really rather liked the last two, Beautiful Future and More Light, i acknowledge that they were not records which made a huge impact. the Scream seem to, as it happens, be acknowledging as much with this record, as it's a return to what established them as a band which were, are, really, really quite important to a good many people.
where does this record fit in within the grand scheme of the sounds of the Primal Scream? it echoes, or if you like channels, Screamadelica and Vanishing Point at stages, with a brief but sinister and hard hitting foray into the world of XTRMNTR. i have chosen these words very carefully indeed as i am aware that those three records, by some distance, are the best three the band have made.
the record starts off with a number called Trippin' On Your Love, and to that end starts with a sound, a feel and a vibe that they are longing for a return to the hedonistic era which delivered Screamadelica. here, through the magic of Camcorder mode, is a snippet of the opening.
so is it all hippy trippy lovvey dovey one generation under the same groove sort of stuff? mostly, but a dark undertone prevails through the record. distinctly a passive-aggressive one compared to, say, XTRMNTR or Evil Heat. the record clocks in at just under 40 minutes, which is to say it's a carefully considered work - all killer no filler, so to speak.
on the eve of the release of this record an interview with Bobby Gillespie was released. it made for depressing reading. he said that the band expects to lose money by releasing this record, and stated that "no one but Adele" makes any sort of profit from recorded music any more. the kids these days seem to all like streaming and illegal downloading music according to Bobby Gillespie, and he may well be correct. for all i know, i'm the only person that actually went to the local HMV and bought the actual CD yesterday.
why then, if they were likely to lose money on this record, did the Primal Scream go ahead and release it? because, as Bobby says in the interview, it is the only medium which he knows how to express himself as an artist. for what it's worth, i am very glad that he did.
sorry, the above writing feels poor even by my usual standards, i am being distracted by the sounds of me signing my life away a dozen or so years ago.
is Chasmosis an album likely to either win any new fans for Primal Scream, or win over a generation on whom the beauty of actually owning music in a physical form appears lost? maybe on a few new converts, unlikely on the buying front. it's just the way this generation is, which is fair enough, but the price of free and cheap music is, i fear, going to be people who make music worth anything simply stopping.
something tapped away at me, however. for some reason, a reason beyond being a shopaholic, i felt compelled to get this new James album, despite barely remembering the name of it and having not bought the last 3 or 4 they have released. as per the above, i am really rather glad that i did.
it is, quite frankly, an astonishing, breathtaking, beautiful and wonderful record. i went into it going "OK, i really like the singing voice of Tim Booth, so if nothing else i will like that". musically it is mindblowing, lyrically it really makes a significant impact, evoking all sorts of images, emotions and giving tugs on heartstrings here and there.
how best to describe it? quite a defiant, feel good thing. as in it's a band saying "hey, we like ourselves, we are going to feel good about life, love and everything, and f*** you if you don't".
a quick snippet, in Camcorder Glory Mode, of the opening. it's as good as this, if not better, across the whole album.
this is, i think, James' 14th album, and probably the 9th or 10th i've bought. i had forgotten how good they are; i will be off to fill in the gaps in my collection. i suspect it was maybe Whiplash, the last one off of them that i got. the one with the saucy cover.
the artwork for the record is gorgeous too. a thing of beauty to hold in your hands and admire, something one simply does not get with a download.
to my surprise i've played this new James album more times than the Primal Scream one. it just engages me, connects me somehow in a way that i can't quite figure out how to put into words but am just so very happy that it does.
as i mentioned earlier, i consider this album to be my current bench,mark for the best album of the year. emotionally, of course, the Bowie farewell one is kind of that, but i think i will cheat and say that Blackstar is the greatest artistic statement of the year. before this, the Suede album was ahead in the album of the year race, for what it is worth. and we have nine or so months to go still.
so, the year is not yet three months old and i've had the honour and pleasure of hearing new (and in one case) final recordings from Bowie, Suede, The Cult, Primal Scream and James. how extraordinary.
i'm not aware of any other releases due for this year that have set alarm bells off for me to look forward to them. just the rumours. if The Stone Roses do release something on the top of the above, well then, wow, that will make this quite a year of note.
i have no idea at all if any of this has been of any interest or use to anyone. if you're grooving on the same vibe as i am and you have these records too, nice one. otherwise, dig what you dig.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!