Tag Archive: lilac time (the)

vinyls1My first reaction to people nominating each other to post their top ten influential albums  lists was to run a mile. It is just my default setting. If something is popular I will run away, watch it from a distance, prod it, examine it, gradually testing the water until I decide if it is really for me or not. Generally the answer is not. It is a safety measure, probably an elitist one, but I can live with that. It is why I have plenty of Lilac Time records in my collection and no Foo Fighters, it is also why I can’t name you a single Kardashian…Kod, Klap….Klimt? It is also probably why I am single! Ahh well.

Then I thought, but if I were at the pub I would be leaning on the bar talking to someone in a band T-shirt about why The Smiths wouldn’t have existed without The Church or just how underrated Mazzy Star are…or some such precocious twaddle, so why not this, why not encourage virtual debate about our mutual record collections. If I crack open a beer and put some music which sounds like it was made by someone in a plaid shirt or, depending on who is working, a Finnish indie-electro-pop outfit,  I could almost be in The Tuppenny.

There is also the “Whatever gets you through the night” approach. I’m lucky, I’m a hermit most of the time, sitting at my keyboard writing, content in my own company and happy to be left alone, I have books, wine, cheese, music and sci-fi movies, why would I need people. But most are more social than me and it must be hard going from a 9 to 5 environment into weeks of lockdown, so if such interactions help take the edge off, who am I to judge?

So I did it, I posted, I debated, I engaged, I made puns, I had fun…I hung out with my mates.

Then I realised that I had totally switched camps…perhaps if more people’s opinions were less entrenched and fluid enough to move with their experiences in a fast changing world, it might be a less hostile place, but that is a bigger debate for another time. Yes, I switched camps…totally, now I get more annoyed by people who actively post to the detriment of such activities, belittling those who take part as being “self-important” or congratulating themselves for being humble enough to not to engage, in that way that only passive-aggressive, self-aggrandising, narcissists can. Look at me…don’t look at me!

It then made me consider the modern notion that we like to define ourselves  more by what we don’t like …Coldplay, sun-dried tomatoes, Dan Brown scribblings (guilty but….no, actually, just guilty) TV soaps, rather than the things we are truly passionate about…The Waterboys, Eggs Benedict, China Mieville novels, Black Books. Maybe it isn’t a modern concept, I’m picturing two Roman legionaries slagging off their commanding officers Galea for the amount of product he uses in the horse-hair plume.

So, what am I saying…nothing really. Perhaps, be more positive, let people get through this any way that they can, support your friends, support total strangers, give each other space, celebrate the good, don’t fret the small stuff…and to quote a wiser and more successful man than me…be more kind.

vinyls1There have been a few things happening lately that have caused me to reflect on old records and the songs of my formative days. I guess one of the advantages of getting to such a veritable age is that there is more to look back on, more memories to juggle and probably a bigger record collection to jog that memory. And as you get older the more sensory stimuli for joggin’ the noggin,’ the better.

A few weeks before the lockdown came into effect I had decided to weed through my vinyl collection and see if any of it was of any value and pop it onto Discogs and e-bay and perhaps make a bit of extra cash on the side. I’m glad I did as my main income is from writing promotional material for the music scene…so that sort of went south quickly…and picking up a few quid here and there whilst I scrabble around for alternative scribbling work has made all the difference between buying the sort of cheddar which could be used as pungent, industrial building material and the sort of comestible which at a push might be okay for temporary grouting.

And so sorting through these records, many of which I have carried with me from house to house for almost 40 years, has been a wonderful experience. There are some bands which I know I will never part with, The Waterboys, Blyth Power, Thin Lizzy, Sisters of Mercy, music which has been around me for so long it has sort of become part of my DNA. And some I forgot you even had, The Boys Next Door, who later coalesced into The Birthday Party who in turn became Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, and I even found a few long forgotten Lilac Time albums which I have been playing incessantly.

And since the lockdown, in an effort to keep each others spirits up, there has been a rash of music sharing, top 10s and influential artist type posts, and, under the orders of David Rose, serial gig go-er, blogger, unashamed dad dancer and all round good egg, I have dived into that too with my first two influential albums being Ghost of Cain by New Model Army and Alnwick and Tyne by (“the mighty”) Blyth Power.

And I guess all of this proves one important thing. Music isn’t really about what other people think about your tastes, it’s about what works for you. I can be the most elitist person going when it comes to judging others music tastes but then just because I favour listening to The Alarm’s anthemic, windswept wail and unnecessarily big hair (which you can sometimes hear on record due to it being so tall it was picking up Radio Wales) whilst you prefer Nicki Minaj singing about …well, god knows what…doesn’t mean I should judge you unfairly. I mean, I will because I am an imperfect being and totally set in my ways, but the point is I shouldn’t.

As L. P. Hartley famously said in The Go-Between …oh, another cool band reference…The past is a foreign country…but my own particular past is littered by some great music and no-one can take that music nor the memories of people, places, gigs and parties that goes along with it, away.

But I digress…Stay Lunar are one of those bands who seem to carry a bit of a torch for the decade, but everything is cyclical, the cultural wheel seems to turn on a 30 year or so cycle, so it is only to be expected that the lush synths waves and perky pop-ness of that era are doing the rounds again. But Stay Lunar are certainly a band of their own time too, weaving cool modernity and soulful indie grooves through the musical landscape that they create. There is a glossiness to their music, not only from proper production but through the way they wield their instruments. The guitar sticks to its melodic brief allowing keys to wash through creating a lush, shimmering sheen whilst the rhythm section make deft and understated choices and just serve the song.

They are also a wonderfully literate band, in a down to earth and slightly romantic sort of way, and the result is a bit like if The Lilac Time had been hot on dance remixes or perhaps St Etienne had favoured guitars a bit more. Dreaming That I’m Not In Love is just another great rung up the ladder for the band and shows their ability to mix underground cool with mainstream poise. And that, is the perfect place to be if you ask me. And as you have read this far, you kind of did.