Upon a whim – where have I heard of him before? – I line up this Detroit singer-songwriter’s latest album Que Aura. Track #1 smashes into the room, a thundering classic bassline, droning fuzzy melodic guitar, spruced up by distant cheesy drums. “See me knocking on wood, lookin’ for some kind of meaning,” launches an ancient processed vocal, and before I can recover from my delight, the muddy chorus of “I’m here for now,” rounded off with synthesiser “oohs,” takes me back decades. At once bang up to date but tapping into . . . into what? Into my head jumps Roy Wood’s (yes, the co-founder of Electric Light Orchestra) weirdly garage-DIY solo album Boulders.
At the end of the track, I switch it to repeat. Magic, just magic.
Multi-tasking, writing while thumpin’ out a fiery rhythm. “I Was Just a Kid,” from the marvellous Nothing But Thieves (their album Broken Machine), in case you need to know.
Hooray for regular listening, now I know something, okay? I’d lost touch with rock music’s emerging highlights, let alone music’s nooks and crannies, but I’m on my 97th recent release by now, and I’m no longer a klutz. For three days from January 19 (so long ago!), I listened to my 7th album for the year, the EP Snow Globe by ace Melbourne band Tiny Little Houses (check out my reviewlet). If not for this Big Year, I’d never have noticed them. Never.
Now I’m in the loop! Tiny Little Houses has a new single out, “Entitled Generation,” and it’s an oozing, spitting fireball, so accomplished and just what I need in my life. Check them out: @tinylittlehouses on Facebook. Their debut album hits the streets in January.
I’m approaching 100 albums sampled, absorbed and judged this year. Any effect? Good or bad? In truth I haven’t stopped long enough to make sense of this regular activity, but occasionally, just occasionally, I find myself swept up by the day’s listening, lost in a world of music.
At age 15, Led Zeppelin released Led Zeppelin III. I can still feel the passion that this maelstrom of sound released in me. I recall whistling the magnificent “Immigrants Song” on a train, heading home from school. A man approached me: “It’s wonderful to see someone so happy but please, please, no more whistling so tunelessly!” Ha!
Will this Big Year allow me to recapture that innocent wonderment? So far it hasn’t but I remain hopeful . . .
Hey you, burn your ABBA tee-shirt. Take a hammer to your Best Of Beatles CD. Twist the radio dial away from Smooth FM, never to return. A fan of brain plasticity? Well then, resist the brain-deadening stupor of yet again bopping to “Love Is In the Air.” Refresh your rock music language: The Stones aren’t “legends,” they’re pathetic oldsters. Sell the Eagles tickets gifted for your birthday . . . better still, bin them, so no one has to endure last century’s embarrassments. Trash Nirvana. Zap Led Zeppelin. Once a decade, let yourself fondly recall “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” but otherwise never, ever glance at articles about Elton. Use your Oasis LP as a frisbee.
You don’t reread The Hobbit every month. For pity’s sake, open your ears to fresh grooves!
Saturday’s Good Weekend magazine had a short interview with a Geelong chef and restauranteur, Aaron Turner, who says he is most proud of his record collection:
I have at least 400 LPs, everything from country to hardcore punk. . . . Now I buy between two and five records a week and spend about 24 hours a week listening to them. I don’t bring my vinyl in to work, though, they’d get covered in fat.
My album-a-day rigour means 7 hours a week, less than a third of Turner’s. Would I enjoy listening more if I listened way more often?
(Image from Age article)