Hey look, it’s a new feature which may or may not become a regular feature on I Rock Cleveland.

In Records Bought and Records Rocked, I’ll be taking an informal look at some of the vinyl which has made its way into I Rock Cleveland Headquarters and onto my sound system. Records Bought may be old releases I picked up used at local record stores, eBay finds, or they may be new(er) releases I haven’t given enough time to elsewhere on I Rock Cleveland.  Records Rocked, meanwhile, would be the records I’ve been spending the most time with in the past month.  Admittedly, the concept and the format was borrowed from Nick Hornby’s Believer column, Stuff I’ve Been Reading, but it’s a concept I believe transfers well into the world of rock crit.

Records Bought: Big Audio Dynamite – This is Big Audio Dynamite;  Cocteau Twins – Blue Bell Knoll;  Cocteau Twins – Love’s Easy Tears;  Cocteau Twins – Treasure;  Fuck Buttons – Street Horrsing;  Grinderman – Heathen Child (Single);  New Order – Brotherhood; New Order – Low-Life;  New Order – Technique;  Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine (Reissue);  The Pixies – Trompe Le Monde; The Pixies – Come On Pilgrim;  Reading Rainbow – Prism Eyes;  Ride – Play ; Ride – S/T; Ride – Nowhere (Reissue);  Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque (Reissue);  The Charlatans UK – Some Friendly;  The Cult – Love; The La’s – The La’s (Reissue);  The Lemonheads – It’s a Shame About Ray (Reissue);  The Lightning Seeds – Cloudcuckooland;  Jesu – Heartache/Dethroned;  Jesu – Lifeline;  Jeff Buckley – Grace (Reissue); Nirvana – Sliver; The Jesus and Mary Chain – Sound of Speed EP; V/A – Creation Records: International Guardians of Rock ‘N’ Roll 1983-1999.

Records Rocked: The La’s – The La’s; Cocteau Twins – Treasure; Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque

The months of December and January started with The Beachland Flea Market, where I snatched up loads of late ’80s/early ’90s UK rock and pop, and also included my birthday and some extra cash money to spend.  Sandwiched in between was the Christmas Holiday.  Add in some winter boredom and a need to get out of the apartment when the light’s still out, and my record collection grew at an enormous rate.  Now, not only do I find myself in need of more shelf space (I’m seeing a weekend run to Pittsburgh for Ikea and Yuengling in my near future), but I’ve also found myself becoming very British during my daily listening hours.

Making my record collection more British certainly wasn’t be design.  At least it wasn’t by conscious design.  I’ve always been drawn to simple melodies — One’s that are easy to remember and one’s I can sing along too with minimum practice.  That’s where The La’s fit in.  While primarily known for being a one-hit wonder here in the states, they should really be considered a one-album wonder.  Besides, “There She Goes,” a pop song as perfect as they come, their self-titled release includes garage rock rave-ups ripped from the back catalog of The Troggs (“I Can’t Sleep” and “Failure”) and plenty of examples of what would later be called Brit-Pop.  Songs like “Timeless Melody,” “Feelin,'” and “Way Out” all pull liberally from the earlier work of quintessential British rock acts of the Sixties like the Stones, The Kinks, and The Beatles.  “Looking Glass,” meanwhile, does a double by simultaneously hitting all of those key influences while foreshadowing where the Brothers Gallagher and Oasis would later take Brit Pop.   It’s epic, like would have been on MTV constantly if it was written by Oasis epic, like the big festival stage in front of hundreds of thousands epic, like the wait for another album by The La’s epic.  It’s been 19 years.

VIDEO: The La’s – There She Goes

Those Cocteau Twins records all came to my racks via opportunity.  They were there at the record fair at a reasonable price.  I found another one at My Mind’s Eye Records in Lakewood, again at a very good price. Immediately upon playing 1984’s Treasure for the first time, I was struck by how much this sound of the past is the sound of now.  A good echo effect will go a long ways these days (See acts like Zola Jesus and Esben and the Witch), and The Cocteau Twins put so much echo on Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals that even if she was singing discernible English words they would still be indiscernible.  The music engineered by Robin Guthrie, meanwhile, can be either sedate, ornate, or intricate, depending on the track.  Granted the drums, with that 80s abandoned cathedral effect, do occasionally date the work, though not necessarily in a bad way.  You realize you’re listening to an 80s record and you realize your listening to a very important 80s record.

VIDEO: The Cocteau Twins – Lorelei

Teenage Fanclub’s classic 1991 album, Bandwagonesque, arrived via a different type of opportunity.  For years I’ve been watching this one on eBay and for years I passed on bidding on it when the price inevitably climbed towards $100.  I’ll happily take the re-issue, thank you.

Now, much has been written about Bandwagonesque over the years — Remember, this is the record Spin most famously rated above Nirvana’s Nevermind in the year end list.  Consequently, I struggle to find something new to say about an album which both captured the sound of the times with its grungy guitars and recalled simpler times, with sharp melodies and timeless choruses (Think Big Star).  There is one point I’d like to make and it isn’t even my point.  It was during a recent boozer at The Happy Dog where I was chatting with Tom of the Afternoon Naps and Kevin from Music Saves where the topic of Teenage Fanclub came up again.  Their contention was that the opening line of “The Concept” (“She wears denim wherever she goes/Says she’s gonna get some records by the Status Quo”) may be the best opening line from a side one, track one of all time.  I’ll take it one step further — Those first two verses are impeccable:

She wears denim wherever she goes
Says she’s gonna get some records by the Status Quo
Oh yeah…Oh yeah…

Still she won’t be forced against her will
Says she don’t do drugs but she does the pill
Oh yeah…Oh yeah…

I didn’t want to hurt you oh yeah…
I didn’t want to hurt you oh yeah…

Says she likes my hair ’cause it’s down my back
Says she likes the group ’cause we pull in the slack
Oh yeah…Oh yeah…

When she’s at the gig she takes her car
And she drive us home if it is in a bar
Oh yeah…Oh yeah…

VIDEO: Teenage Fanclub – The Concept

VIDEO: Teenage Fanclub – Star Sign

There was a time Spin was mocked for their decision to rank Bandwagonesque so highly (It also bested albums by My Blood Valentine and REM that year), but I’ve always considered Bandwagonesque and Nevermind to be 1a and 1b of 1991, depending on which album I’m currently listening to.  Today, it’s Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque.