Sunday, 25 January 2009

Invisible bands

I imagine most people have records they love, by bands they know nothing about. I guess the internet should end this phenomena, but there are a few records I know and love where everything I know about the band is deduced by looking at the cover. So basically it's all made up, I'll look at the band photo (if there is one) and think "oh those two look like they hate each other" or "I bet they're a couple".

So what records fall into this category for me? Well these days it International Airport and The Bristols. Both bands are fairly recent, but seemed to have petered out by the time I got into them. They are also remarkable for having amazing sounding records. International Airport's Nothing We Can Control just sounds so perfectly balanced. Chief band dude Tom Crossley seemed/seems to be loosely linked to The Pastels and there's clearly a similar sound to Pastels circa Mobile Safari. Only I think they manage the sound better than The Pastels do, each layer delicately stacked on another until you're left with no so much a wall of sound as a forest of sound. I wish I'd bought up more of their stuff when I was in Monorail last year, but I just didn't expect to become so obsessed when I rediscovered the record.

The garage rock revival of c2001 didn't really interest me too much at the time. Although now I think if the bands had sounded more like The Bristols and less like The Von Bondies it would have been very different. Their record In Tune With The Bristols is an absolute blast. I remember I bought it a couple years ago, but never really gave it much of chance. But since arriving back in New Zealand it hasn't left my 'currently listening' shelf. It's suitably recorded at the famous Toe Rag studios in London and is probably the best example I've heard of what that studio represents. It's analogue and vintage equipment used not out of nostalgia, but out of a recognition of quality. Liam Watson who ran the studio also seemed to run The Bristols, so it's hardly a surprise I guess. To me The Bristols interpretation 60s garage rock doesn't feel 'retro', rather just the natural way the songs and the band sound.


Dennis said...

I was listening to The Von Bondies today, for the first time since, well, probably around the time you're talking about. It surprised me that 'Lack of communication' sounded so great, because that "I really dislike The Von Bondies" feeling had also hit me.

But The Bristols (and also Fabienne Delsol's solo work) is indeed completely different, and utterly fantastic. I wish fabiiene would play live a little bit more often.

Chris said...

Yeah I should really check out Fabienne records, although I don't even have any other Bristols stuff.

Are you saying you didn't like The Von Bondies then, but now you do - or the other way around. Because come to think of it my initial dislike of them probably didn't have a lot to do with their music.

Dennis said...

I did like most of the first Von Bondies album. Then I saw them live at a festival around the time C'mon C'mon was a 'hit', when they suddenly became part of the big garage hype, and I didn't like their attitude at all. Plus that second album was relatively polished overall. Mind you, that was probably just me being a snob. But the excitement had gone and I didn't look back. Until now, and I see I might have been a bit harsh.

Both Fabienne's albums are wonderful, and so is Introducing The Bristols. You should still be able to get them at the Damaged Goods shop.

alex said...

The Fabienne Delsol records are excellent, Chris - as a consequence of hearing those, I need to go back and listen to The Bristols. Next thing you know you'll be buying yourself a headcoat and joining the Billy Childish army...