Rock Music Big Year: Such variety!

Melbourne shoegaze, British folk-pop, a free jazz drummer, and an aged hippy. Listening to a whole album each and every day is not only a pleasure, it’s opening my eyes (no, my ears!) big time to the wondrous variety of new music out there. I can thoroughly recommend the challenge.

Halfway through the 2017 Big Years

Only one of the three Big Years is unfolding out as planned but all are alive and kicking:

  • Writing: I’m not fulfilling the precise daily requirements set on January 1, but boy, am I working well and hard each morning. I’m hoping soon to focus more on plans and weekly goals.
  • Fitness: all my 2017 kilometer goals are up in the air, partly due to injury, partly due to favoring writing ahead of exercise, but hey, I’m out there each and every day, and for that I should be thankful.
  • Rock music: 60 albums heard in entirety, 60 Pinterest reviewlets done. Wonderful!

Magical aural moment: Slowdive’s “Star Roving”

If you’re not listening to new music, your old faves might move you or groove you, but you won’t get that goosebumps effect when a song, a chord, a chorus, a solo . . . it could be anything at all . . . transfixes you. “Holy shit,” you mutter and you know you’ll play that track again and again and again.

Over halfway through “Star Roving,” apparently the single from Slowdive’s self-titled album, its first in 27 years, the chugging riff quietens to background chugging with a cooing vocal reprise, it slows, it calms, it slows . . . then wham, we’re back in the thick of the muddy, reverberating riff. It feels like the holding of breath, then a sighing release.

Magical aural moment: Laura Marling’s “Soothing”

A distinctive chinking rhythm . . . a loping bass sidles in . . . another bass harmonises. Into this enticing mix, Laura Marling’s sweet but tough voice commences: “Oh, my hopeless wanderer . . .” A yearning first verse . . . Then, underpinned by emerging soft keys and acoustic and strings, swelling to announce . . . completely unexpectedly, fully unbidden, her voice reaches up to seek the truth:

I need soothing

My lips aren’t moving

My god is brooding

What a revelation! The song unfolds in full splendour but it’s that incandescent opener, the first offering from Marling’s new album, Semper Femina, that latches on, that could well stay with me forever.

Thom Yorke and Roger Waters, frank but opposing!

How fascinating: Chris DeVille’s Stereogum article “Thom Yorke responds to controversy over Radiohead’s Israel concert.” It’s easy to dismiss this kind of kerfuffle as the Bono syndrome – rich rock stars making little difference – but the issues are delineated very sharply here. The many comments are also, for once, welcome. Can anyone remember the issue of Billy Joel, etc. going to the Soviet Union way back then? I recall similar considerations: which is better, boycott or engagement?