Big Country "Wonderland" (from the Wonderland EP, 1984)
On the strength of The Crossing and the Wonderland EP alone, Big Country are one of my favorite bands ever. No foolin. While rock history may paint them as a one-hit wonder pop act with pseudo-bagpipe guitars, dudes created some of the most incredible anthems of our time. Lumping them in with the transient, novelty- and image-driven groups that plagued the 80s is most unfair. Here's a bonus instrumental demo version, along with the video..
..and, yeah, sure, why not?
In other news, a fifth and a sixth human foot washed up along BC's coast.. oops sorry, forget that sixth one, Barack Obama enlisted a war criminal to advise on foreign policy, Blackwater requested to be tried under Sharia law, and there's a psychedelic berry that makes everything taste really wonderful (complete with accompanying industry conspiracy). What a week.
I can't believe it's Wednesday already. It seems a bit late to post about the past weekend's Music Waste, but I didn't want to let it pass without comment. Poor planning and some unrelated running around meant that I missed about 9/10th of the bands, but I enjoyed what I saw. Highlights and surprises include i/i, White Lung, and Ice Cream, but what really floored me was Sorcerers. I was curious after hearing their hardcore meets reggae meets skaterock blasts via myspace, but live, they went way beyond my expectations. Dudes came ferocious and tight, but the unexpected dub effects that the drummer and guitarist dropped on the fly put them into another realm. It was all too perfect and I'm still kind of in disbelief, anxious to see them again.
In general though, it was super cool to see 60 or so bands from the city's underground come together to play well-attended shows with good vibes all around. I'm already looking forward to next year.
Here's a small handful of pics..
Japandroids at The Astoria
i/i at The Astoria
Sorcerers at Pub 340
White Lung at Pub 340
Another interview with Baltimore Club/Unruly pioneers Shawn Caesar and Scottie B, aka Chavy Boys Of London. This one's up at Earplug. Peep it here.
On the same tip, check these while you're at it:
"Nuh, Apple Jacks.."
Hydra Head reissued the sole VSS album, Nervous Circuits, last week and a magazine I contribute photos to tapped me for some shots of them to coincide. My first reaction was a cynical 'people still care enough about this band to gamble with reissuing them?' since they broke up over a decade ago and realistically, probably only sold a fraction of what the average HH release does now (not a dis at all). My second reaction was 'wow, was that really over a decade ago?'
When they first appeared in the mid-90s, The VSS were notable for containing members of Angel Hair (though they may now be better known for becoming the Sub-Pop band Pleasure Forever), a band I was a bit too young and not quite cool enough to catch when they played at a local punk house a few years prior. Everyone I've ever talked to about it spoke of that show as a legendary event, and I never really got over missing it. Now, more than ten years later, I have great memories of that whole time, but Angel Hair, The VSS, and all the other Gravity Records-related or influenced bands of the 90s.. hell, 1990s 'post-hardcore' in general, are the furthest thing from my mind.
Digging up the negs and getting them printed led me to dig up my VSS EPs (I always thought the early EPs were far superior to the album) as well and re-evaluate them. Little things like the synth touches and the delay on the vocals (and if you saw them live, the DIY lightshow that Sonny controlled) made the VSS stand out against the sea of generic post-hardcore bands of the 90s. The passage of time has only made this much more apparent. What's surprising though is how the songs sound in the late 00s. Comparing post-hardcore bands to 80s post-punk bands like Joy Division, Bauhaus, or Wire was a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that was very popular back then, but you can definitely hear echoes of that time in the VSS, and despite this, it all stills sounds fresh to my ears today. I can't say that too much else of that era has aged very well. I expected to listen to the songs once and file them away for another few years or more but I've found myself spinning them repeatedly in the last week.
The show? If you can believe it, some friends and I trekked to Fargo, North Dakota for it. It was one of those where other than the promoter, his girlfriend, and the other bands, we were the only people there for the show. This (and many other things) made for a weird vibe, but the VSS and their light show threw down a killer set. They only played one or two EP tracks, the rest being new songs. This was late spring 1997, right around the release of Nervous Circuits. They broke up weeks later.
Anyway, here are a few tracks from the second EP, and an Echo & The Bunnymen cover from the posthumous split EP with Rye Coalition.
I Cut My Teeth (from Gravity 25 EP, 1996)
Cosmic Retribution (from Gravity 25 EP, 1996)
No Hands (from split 2X7" EP with Rye Coalition, 1998)