I hope your Valentines was as special as mine. Chocolate flowers aside, each Valentines is an opportunity to get closer to what you love – music! Specifically, music by My Bloody Valentine. Not already acquainted with the shoegaze group? No problem. Grab a pair of headphones and set the volume to ‘dangerously loud’, then press play:
I can’t remember when I first heard the shoegaze classic album Loveless. I didn’t buy many CDs after I moved to where I live now, so I guess it was around 2005. As to how I was tipped off of this gem, I don’t know. Like the album’s cover, my memory is hazy. Despite that, this album really tugs my nostalgia strings. Not in a way that someone holds a particular song to describe an event or phase in their life, no. It’s just the sound. The droning guitars, the low and sleepy vocals, the whistling melodies. How the group put them together, though, is what gives the music a feeling of anxiousness as well as boldness that I think anyone can associate themselves with it at any time. That’s my little theory of why Loveless gets so much love.
Something that fans, new and veterans alike, will be interested in hearing is the tribute album, Yellow Loveless. Have a listen:
Why ‘yellow’? I couldn’t tell you. It’s a tribute album by various artists from Japan. Hm… Well, anyway!
The groups cover the album track-by-track. It starts things off with Tokyo Shoegazer doing a faithful rendition of “Only Shallow.” Things start to take a departure from here as Goatbed tries their take on “Loomer” as an electricpop track. It’s not a bad idea, but it’s too quiet and sparse to be anywhere near anything relating to the sound of MBV. It’s more tongue-in-cheek than anything. The Sodom Project spice things up by merging “Touched” with dubstep. I have to give them credit for taking this short sample and turning it into something of their own. If there was ever a MBV song where you could hear the bass drop, it may as well be this song.
Lemon’s Chair is a little more closer to the spirit of MBV with their cover of “To Here Knows When.” The song starts off with a soothing distorting sound. As with Sodom Project, Lemon’s Chair put their own stamp on this cover but they have a better idea of what MBV is about. That makes sense seeing as the group is labeled as dream pop, a genre with close ties (some may use even interchangeably) with shoegaze. It’s different, but in the same park of where you’ll hear MBV. I like it, and I should probably dive more into the group the next time I’m a gazing mood.
Probably the highlight for many people will undoubtedly be Shonen Knife’s “When I Look at You.” It’s playful and joyous, exactly what makes Shonen Knife a fun favorite for many fans. Not exactly what people associate with MBV, but it makes complete sense. For one, while it can seen as a novelty, the most memorable cover songs are the ones that are a complete opposites of the original. It doesn’t always turn out sounding great, but when it does you’d be glad someone took the leap to crash headfirst into your expectations. Also, Shonen Knife are known to been around alternative groups. They haven’t toured with MBV, but many fans remember seeing them nearby Nirvana back in the day. I also recall seeing a photograph of the girls with The Misfits. How moments like these are created is beyond my grasp, but I don’t question it. Here’s the track isolated by itself for your bubbly convince:
Tokyo Shoegazer comes back again with another tracks closely resembling MBV’s, this time with “I Only Said.” A new appearance to the album is Age of Punk with my personal favorite track off Loveless, “Come in Alone.” After seeing this dude also perform this song, I’m convinced this song is going to be awesome no matter how you play it.
Boris chimes in with their charming cover of “Sometimes.” I’ve been getting into this group a lot lately. I wasn’t aware they had a sizable fanbase in the States, and elsewhere outside Japan. They’re performing (not likely with this song) later this year at a nearby city from where I am. I hope I get to see them. I’m still learning about the group, so if not, I have plenty of study materials from their Spotify page to get amped up for the next time they make a U.S. appearance.
Shinobu Narita enters with “Blown a Wish.” Narita is someone that was around during the electronic scene in Japan during the 80s. He was part of Urban Dance (check out those swinging dance movies and hair!) and his most recent project is with 4-D Mode1, another trio group, this time with members formerly part of P-Model. There are small touches of the sound from Narita’s heyday, but “Blown a Wish” sounds the most modern to me. I can easily see this as being part of a soundtrack to a moody romantic film. I’m not sure who was on vocals, but instead of Bilinda Butcher’s airy vocals, there’s a more solid, yet, just as dreamy, voice that blends and melts with the guitar effects. I remember someone describing this song as sexy. I think it took Narita’s touch to help me realize why.
Lemon’s Chair makes one last appearance, and it’s a beaut. Their acoustic guitars make “What You Want” a more straightforward ballad. The drums are upbeat, but the droning and drowsy electric guitars pull listeners to that shoegaze goodness. The end of the track also sets imagery of a young girl humming the melody at a train station. If the song wasn’t pretty enough, it just had to remind me of my yearning to travel back to Japan. Bravo, Lemon’s Chair!
The album closes with Sadesper Record’s “Soon.”It’s a straightforward cover of the original, which is a bit disappointing. Sadesper Record is known to be experimental (just have a listen to their music featured in the Boogiepop Phantom series) and could have done something really creative with a MBV track. Hell, I’m sure they could cover the entire album with that twisted imagination of theirs, but not here. If you’re curious about what they do on their own, give them a listen, then wonder what could have been.
At the very least, a listen of this tribute album a nice look at 1. how Loveless is an amazing album (all over again) and 2. there are some pretty cool bands that could do MBV justice in their own way. I think it’s better to do it this way; have bands that can carry a similar spirit MBV had with their own style of music instead of getting more established shoegaze groups that try to come close to the original album, but fall short in doing so. Not because they’re not talented artists, but because they’re not MBV performing Loveless.
If you listened to the album and thinking of buying a digital copy (or used CD), you can grab it at Amazon.
Also, for you Boris fans, they’re starting their North American tour as early as April 30, so grab your tickets now from this link – and hope to see me there!