Album Review – The Silent Years


The Silent Years -‘The Globe’ (Gift Music)

This is a sneaky little bugger of a record. It creeps up on you, and like a small child or younger sibbling, you find it okay in small doses but you don’t want to have to do more than tolerate it. Then somehow, you find that, despite yourself, you start accepting it and liking it for what it is, not for what it isn’t.

The Silent Years have been picking up a fair bit of blog love, and it’s probably deserved. With all the input of so many members, it’s possible to draw comparisons with the likes of The Arcade Fire or Polyphonic Spree (but not the one trick pony that the latter ultimately proved to be). And yeah, there’s bits of The Shins and Fleet Foxes here too. It’s pastoral rather than psychedelic.

It’s certainly not a faultless record – at sixteen tracks it feels a bit long and I’ll be willing to bet that on anyone’s iTunes the telltale signs of picking and choosing which tracks to play will be revealed. Yet songs like ‘Taking Drugs At the Amusement Park’ and ‘On Our Way Home’ and ‘Know Your Place’ are undoubtedly strong tracks that you will want to play again and again. It’s more than a mixed back, if a little bit dipping in quality in places.

So…you may wish to hear before you buy, but I think you’ll find something here to tempt you…

The Globe is out now on Gift Music.

The Silent Years -‘Know Your Place.’ mp3

See the video for ‘Taking Drugs At the Amusement Park’ here

The Silent Years website/The Silent Years’ myspace

Album Review -The Raincoats (re-issue)


The Raincoats – The Raincoats (We ThRee) (sic!) (re-issue)

Apparently, this absolute classic of an album has been out of print for ten years. Which is quite worrying, considering what a landmark record it is. It’s also a matter of concern that it’s thirty years since it came out, which is worrying for reasons of a different aesthetic sort (more to do with Narcissus than Aphrodite, shall we say).

The Raincoats were an all-girl band who worte their own songs -as well as doing some phenomenal covers, in the late seventies and early eighties. They were politicised, feminist and inspirational. Not just to a young man in America called Kurt Cobain (who once said that reacquiring theis album meant more to him than making his first million); but also to the likes of Kim Gordon, the ‘Riot Grrrl’ movement and anyone who feel in love with the DIY aesthetic of the post-punk era.

While the review copy doesn’t have any of the special features…that’s actually irrelevant. Because the reason you need to own this record (and don’t just download a copy or get a mate to burn it for you), is that it’s phenomenal. Groundbreaking. In the same way as The Velvet Underground & Nico. And no, that’s not hyperbole. Yes, they were showing that girls could do it too (no shit), at the same time as the likes of Delta 5, The Slits (whom drummer Palmolive started out with), the Au Pairs et al, the songs here are phenomenal.

‘Adventures Close To Home’ (no, not the Slits’ song), ‘Fairytale In The Supermarket’ ‘Black and White’ – the latter complete with Sax from Laura Logic of X-Ray Spex/Essential Logic fame you need these songs in your life. Scratchy, demented, and still sounding fresh today. There’s the rather scary ‘Off Duty Trip’ -about a soldier whose conviction for rape was considered that it might affect his career in the military (don’t get me started), and their deconstruction of The Kinks’ ‘Lola’, which is even better than the Slits’ take on ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine.’

In an age of an obsession with a shiny sound, grasp this: it doesn’t sound shiny and sounds all the better for it.