Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Album: Stereo Musicale
Cherry Red, 1992
I haven't been doing enough shoegaze in the "Dust It Off" feature and Salvador thought I should write up Blind Mr. Jones this week. I agree.
The way people talk about things now, it sounds as if there were only ever about a half dozen influential shoegaze bands. But the style is more than just My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive and among the oft-forgotten is Blind Mr. Jones. This band, like most classic shoegazers, formed in England in the early 90's, put out a couple of albums and dissolved into obscurity.
Stereo Musicale, their first album, stands out from the shoegaze pack through its use of flute, but it also distinguishes itself by hinting at Celtic and Nordic roots, folk music and an overall sense of wintry isolation. It sounds like it could have been written in a snowbound cabin at the edge of the sea. That said, it's still uptempo noise-pop - moody, perhaps, but not depressive.
The album opens with a beautifully dense instrumental before the vocals enter in "Spooky Vibes." The male vocal harmonies and subdued melodies distinctly follow British tradition, but the prevalence of minor keys adds an unusual urgency. The songs get a little "samey" as the album wears on, but the stormy soundscapes are fantastic throughout.
From the remote "Small Caravan" to the sweeping sounds of "Unforgettable Waltz," Stereo Musicale is must-have for shoegaze enthusiasts and, at the very least, a great listen for everyone else.