Less than 18 months after the debut album Endless Sea from The Red-Sided Garter Snakes comes the follow-up Blue Lake. What began as John Lever’s project designed as a catharsis in the wake of his split from Chameleonsvox has become something special in its own right – something reigniting the magic found on those 4 studio albums from The Chameleons. Anger is an energy as Johnny Rotten once said – but what you do with that energy is what counts to me. The Red-Sided Garter Snakes use that energy wisely. Musically, we are drawn into post-punk, shoegaze, britpop, and psychedelic worlds. Lyrically, the songs are imbued with a sense of poetic mysticism. It’d be easy for me to say that it is a group worth exploring just because John Lever was the drummer for the legendary Manchester band The Chameleons – but the truth is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (to quote the original hipster, Aristotle).
Anyone who absorbs an ungodly amount of music will tell you – sometimes the bands and records become lifetime companions and sometimes….well, sometimes you struggle to remember what they sound like. Those initial impressions are important – don’t get me wrong – but those records that stay lodged in your brain forever, those are hard to come by. Manchester, England’s Soup have released a debut album that I am sure will stick with me forever. It’s one of my favorite records of 2014.
Compilation albums have always been a tough sell with me. Typically I hone in on a few acts that grab me – buy everything by those bands, and forget all about the compilation. There have been a few exceptions over the years – the Factory records box set, the Left of the Dial series, and anything associated with the Messthetics DIY series (to name just a few). When I got word that a tribute compilation album in memory of the Paris Angels Simon Worrall was in the works, I had a feeling it’d be a compilation that would sit comfortably on the (digital) shelf with my other favorites – and I was right. The compilation features musicians from Manchester, England from various levels of notoriety. To understand how or why these friends of Big Si (as he was affectionately known) came together to celebrate his life that was cut short far too soon in November of 2011, one must revisit the story of the Paris Angels.
23 albums touched by the hand of God in 2012 – a non-numbered list of albums that I’ve played over and over that were released in 2012. Some of them were reviewed here on Jason’s Jukebox, some of them weren’t. All of them are worth your time and attention. The last look back at an amazing year of music. I’ll see you later this week with my 1st review of 2013.
2012 has been an amazing year for music. Not only has it seen incredible albums by bands that have generated a steady buzz over the last few years (The XX, The Men, Chromatics), it has also seen masterful albums by established acts that have ties to the indie and post punk community (Dinosaur Jr., Public Image Limited, Corin Tucker Band). This doesn’t even consider albums by mainstream artists that I loved (Neil Young, Green Day) or those that are a bit under the radar (Honeychurch, Heyward Howkins). The latest record by Andy Whitaker, things that happened on earth, kind of falls into almost all the above categories (except for mainstream, I suppose). Not only is it one of my favorite records of the year, it recalls Andy’s earlier work in bands such as The Sun & the Moon and Weaveworld while also presenting a forward-looking vibe. I had a chance to catch up with Andy to discuss the new record, The Sun & the Moon, and other assorted oddities. I thought I’d start things off with a “soft” kind of question.
In my younger days whilst listening to music, I’d take the two large speakers attached to my parents old school 70’s Sony stereo system and lie them down across from each other in my bedroom. I’d leave just enough space between the speakers for me to wedge in so that I could play whatever cassette tapes (and later CD’s) I had purchased. It seems to have been an end of an era (though nobody realized it at the time). Today on the “world wide web” listeners are inundated with streaming music, Youtube videos, and MP3’s. Before all of that you just had whatever you had purchased, your stereo, and your sensory processing. I’d honestly spend hours listening to Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, and The Chameleons – soaking all the sounds in, reading and re-reading lyrics, realizing there was an alternate musical universe out there.