Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rachel Goswell - "Waves Are Universal" (LP Review)

I love the shoegazing of Slowdive, and I also love the dream-pop, alt-country of Mojave 3 (formed from the remains of Slowdive).  Rachel Goswell is one of the two vocalists of both bands, and she achieves angelic perfection on songs like Slowdive's dreamy "Shine" and Mojave 3's smoky "Love Songs on the Radio".  Nothing against Neil Halstead, the other (and primary) vocalist for both bands, but listening to "Shine" makes you think "why doesn't Rachel sing on more songs?"

Well, 2004's "Waves Are Universal" is Goswell's first (and only) solo LP.  Just what I wanted: twelve songs with just Rachel -- alright!

Turns out, it's kind of boring.  I don't know if it is the song writing (Halstead was the primary song writer for Slowdive and Mojave 3), the production, or what.  None of the songs are bad, but none really stand out either.  I think some of the reviews (e.g., Pitchfork, AllMusic) give her a pass out of respect for her prior work, but if you read between the lines they see many of the same faults that I see.  Her vocals are guarded, and she's backed up by what sounds like a second-rate Crazy Horse

Stand out songs: none.

Skip 'em songs: none.

Songs that appear: "Coastline", "Save Yourself", "Warm Summer Sun", "Hope", "No Substitute"

Final score: 5/10.  Again, not bad, but far below what I hoped a Rachel Goswell solo LP would be.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Brains - "Money Changes Everything" (the song remains the same)

Last night Danette and I went to see Cyndi Lauper at the excellent Portsmouth Pavilion.  Neither of us were huge fans of hers but being children of the 80s, when our neighbor Steve offered us free tickets we couldn't say no.  Cyndi Lauper put on a good show and with "Kinky Boots" she's enjoying a second wind.  But last night's show was about revisiting track-by-track "She's So Unusual", her 1983 breakthrough LP.

The LP (and thus the concert) opened with "Money Changes Everything", which if I had a favorite Cyndi Lauper song, it would probably be this.  But last night I discovered this was actually a cover, and the song was originally done by a little-known Atlanta-based new wave group called The Brains.  "Money Changes Everything" was their initial 7" single released in 1978, and then appearing again on their 1980 debut eponymous LP.   Releasing two LPs and an EP, The Brains never enjoyed much success as a band, and aside from Cyndi Lauper covering their song, their next biggest footnote was upon breaking up one of their members joined The Georgia Satellites

Random thoughts:
  1. While I love the late 70s garage sound on original version, Cyndi's version might actually be better.
  2. I'm certain that I'll have immediate recall of the fact that "The Brains are the original artist for `Money Changes Everything'".  This piece of trivia has surely overwritten something important in my memory, like my work phone number, the names of long-term colleagues, places I've lived, etc.  But surely I'll hold on to this fact like my life depended on it...
  3. Does that opening keyboard riff sound familiar?  It reminds me of the guitar riff in "Pretty in Pink" by The Psychedelic Furs; the original 1981 version, not the more polished 1986 soundtrack version.  Our friend Joy asked for more "Pretty in Pink" references, so there you go.
The Brains: "Money Changes Everything"

Cyndi Lauper: "Money Changes Everything"

Psychedelic Furs: "Pretty in Pink" (1981), "Pretty in Pink" (1986)