Those who've followed every move creative core members William and Jim Reid have been making since their last studio album are quick to recognize most of the songs on Damage and Joy from previously released material. Recent interviews with Jim make clear the brothers felt these solo and/or side project songs should have been under the JAMC banner all along, and with this record they now are. The new tracks were recorded with highly regarded producer Youth at his home studio in Spain. He also contributed bass guitar, as “Youth” is the stage name of Martin Glover, founding member bassist of UK industrial rock pioneers Killing Joke.
When the initial advance track “Amputation” was released earlier this year (back on Dec 9, 2016) most long-time fans immediately recognized the song as one of Jim’s previously released solo tracks. After his first (and only) post MaryChain band Freeheat went their separate ways in 2003, he released this track (then titled “Dead End Kids”) as a solo effort in July 2006 on the Transistor record label. The song also turned up again as a live recording on the 2006 Planting Seeds Records Freeheat compilation called “Back On The Water.” Although the song was a fan favorite for those of us starved for anything from either Reid brothers, the recording quality on both the Transistor release and Planting Seeds live track could certainly benefit from a fuller studio production. Hence the inclusion of this and other previously released or demoed tracks on this “new” album.
The new recording certainly benefits from the higher level of care and attention to detail a proper studio can provide. While the original and current version both begin with a ten second eruption of rising white noise, the difference in improved sound quality on the present track is instantly noticeable. The pace has been quickened on the newer version, while the introductory “Ooooooh’s” are still there as well as the shaker percussion. Lyrically this track always hit the mark as Jim’s writing revealed a maturity and honest appraisal on the world around him. “Try to win your interest back, but you ain’t havin’ none of that. We’re just like a ship in a bottle, kissed today but fucked tomorrow - I don’t know, I guess that we are through. Fucked up girls like drugged up guys, but that won’t keep them warm at night. It’s just like a grape in a bottle, it’s wine today but piss tomorrow – I don’t know, I guess that we’re all through." The instrumental breaks are clean and the chord progressions oh-so-MaryChain – the only nit-picky negative one might perceive is the use of a still somewhat thin sounding mechanical percussion track (rather than a real drummer playing real drums), but props for the addition of what sounds like live tambourine over it. When the chorus hook arrives with the repeated mantra “I’m a rock and roll amputation,” you have to wonder why that wasn’t the song title initially, as it makes more sense.
The 4:34 time length of “War On Peace” immediately suggests something more than a traditional three and a half minute pop song. It’s a slow and somber going for most of the way, with William’s signature downward progression strummed chords interspersed with overdubbed guitar licks, reverberated tambourine and ride cymbal percussion. The Jim penned lyrics begin “I was sharp, but now I’m old – give my secrets up like gold. There’s a fire beneath my feet – light’s the longest losing streak.” The next lines has two voices and it sounds like maybe that's William adding a “harmony” (of sorts) to the main vocal. “Love don’t live here anymore – don’t come knockin’ on my door . I just can’t get peace of mind – there’s a peace there I can’t find.”
On the chorus hook that goes “So why would I run? Where would I run to?” the sense of internal conflict is fully recognized.
At this point the drums begin fill in a bit more, provided by touring (and founding Fountains Of Wayne) member Brian Young. All but one track on the album has drumming credited to anyone else. Additionally, a rich twangy lead floats in over top of the two initially established guitar tracks. “Days like these you just can’t kill. Lives like mine you just can’t fill. Blow some money, kill some time. Soak myself in blood red wine. There’s no fever coming on. Love is leaving, dead and gone.” Another level of sonic squall emerges as the harmony vocal returns with the lyrics “Love don’t live here anymore. Don’t come knockin’ on my door.” Back to the hook with the audio field fully flooded. Another classic JAMC staple appears with the “Ah – ah” cadence. It’s at that 3:30 mark when the song suddenly quickens in pace. The percussion goes “motorik” and guitars start chugging full throttle rock. It explodes into a full on rocker as Jim’s “Ah – ah’s” make one more pass through.
The next updated song re-recorded for proper posterity and originally reported as “a sort of bridge building song” (revealed in this 2007 interview done with touring band member Mark Crozer) written by William, “All Things Pass.” At the time called “All Things Must Pass” it was first recorded for inclusion on the 2008 soundtrack to NBC’s popular at the time television show “Heroes.”
This now definitive album version leans heavily on William’s guitar, both with the intro feedback and rich deep-toned licks. Early fears that the percussion track might be relegated to thin drum machine pulses are quickly allayed when the full band charges in. Hearing the ironic and amusingly self-deprecating lyric "I have taken a vow - to prove myself -to find me - I'm regrettin' it now - 'cause I found me!" (highlighted back in 2012 in this feature here) perfectly illustrates the bands ever-present balancing act between hope and despair. The chorus is big and sing-along ready with amped up vocals on “Hey! Look out here it comes. All things must pass -but not too fast.” The quickened pace combined with Brian's relaxed but powerful drumming style gives this cut a particular boost.
The album’s fourth track (and second to be given an advance video release) “Always Sad” is introduced by one of those single note pound down’s the band is famous for (the track “Some Candy Talking” being a prime example). It quickly morphs into a chunky chord mid-tempo rocker closer to something The Rolling Stones would do. “You ain’t like those other girls,” Jim croons. “There’s nothing like you in this world.” The first of multiple duets with female vocalists emerges with the next lines “you ain’t like those other guys,” sung by William Reid’s actual girlfriend Bernadette Denning. Her voice is sweet and pleasing in a way that fits in well enough with the Reid’s already established pattern of using guest female vocalists. Blending well enough with Jim’s voice, the instrumental break following those lines establish this track’s hook and appeal – those dominant single note guitar riffs and rattle tambourine percussion. As choruses go, the Jim and Bernadette dual sung lines “think I’m always sad – think I’m always gonna be sad” is appealing enough, with the added punch line “cause you’re the best I’ve ever had” completing the musical progression. A later set of lyrics seem to foreshadow much of what Jim and William have been stating in interviews. “A million miles between us now – why can’t we just work things out."
There is no “secret” that 5th track "Song For A Secret" serves as a direct descendant to the Hope Sandoval guest vocal duet on “Sometimes Always” (off of 1994’s “Stoned and Dethroned”). Similar in both rhythm, presentation and overall mood, it’s “uniqueness” (or newness if you will) come from the song's details. Once again William’s guitar chords and the accompanying ride cymbal percussion drive the forward momentum, while an inverted guitar melody line adds dramatic punctuation. Jim opens the vocals with the lines “too old to crucify- but too young for suicide.” Getting right to the hook, a distant female vocal joins in for the joyful sentiment “Oh, I’m glad I found you. I’ll wrap myself around you.”
Fuller drumming kicks in for the second verse where guest vocalist (and former Belle and Sebastian member) Isobel Campbell goes solo. “After all the shit that you’ve been through. All I’ve got is time for you. Oh yeah I’m just glad you found me. Just wrap yourself around me.”
The instrumental section here is classic MaryChain, with Williams chords and those punctuating guitar lines further enhanced by their signature sawing-back-and-forth two-note melody. It all comes to a high point halt at the 2 minutes mark. Jim then sings “kiss the feet, of the reason my heart beats. If a kiss could kill maybe this one will – but a kiss can’t kill but maybe this one will.” Isobel returns for a lushly produced harmony vocal with Jim “Well it’s alllllright.” Then Isobel solo again “they don’t know, that the rock and roll’s too slow” before more joined “it’s allllright’s.” The outro is a beautiful cascading vocal overlay that brings to mind the pageantry of “Just Like Honey.”
A nice touch is added with the introductory feedback on Jim’s (at least) 17 old song “The Two Of Us.” Initially making the rounds a mere 2 years after the release of “Munki,” the song got additional attention when a live Freeheat (Jim’s first post-MaryChain band) version of it appeared on the Planting Seeds Records compilation “Back On The Water.” This new version has added keyboards to the mix, as well as stripped-down musical accompaniment on the opening verse. Additional emphasis is placed on Jim’s vocal with a doubling or echo effect that creates a richer texture to it. With the return of Isobel Campbell on the chorus, the initial spirit of lyrics “the two of us are getting high, we don’t need drugs ‘cause we know how to fly” remains intact. Having known this song for so many years in it’s rougher rock band state, the inclusion of single layer keyboards take a bit of getting used to.
Isobel takes her solo turn on that second verse that comes hardwired into this song. Her whispy voice delivers a gentler reading than the full throat belter on the 2003 live at Paradiso, Amsterdam version. Better production emerges on the more defined change section that starts with Jim singing “well I was born the day that I met you.” At which point Isobel counters sweetly “I couldn’t leave you if I tried.” That all culminates with the dual sung “you’re the reason I’m alive.” An unanticipated production quality emerges as Jim’s voice is altered for dramatic effect (as if in a deep echo hallway) “the two of us are getting hiiiiiigh – we don’t need drugs ‘cause we know how to fly.” A brief pause then full band lurches back in for the galloping ride to the finish line.
Having had the original MySpace download version of William Reid’s (then titled) “And Greens” in semi-frequent rotation since 2008 has always been a real “insider” dedicated-fan pleasure. Being one of the more emotionally satisfying post-JAMC songs gave hope that someday this would be recorded and released properly. Its inclusion now on this long-awaited official album sees that wish achieved.
This heretofore forever definitive version - now titled "Los Feliz (Blues and Greens)" maintains that magical descending chord progression, but dispenses with the static note counter pattern included on the original. As with most of the tracks on this latest album (and most MaryChain albums) reverberated tambourine jingles are prominent, especially when matched to acoustic guitars. The basic structure appears to be additionally supported by majestic piano chords. Jim’s voice now graces the lyrics (with what possibly sounds like William’s blended in) that goes “Girl you taste like coffee, and you feel like rain. I’m not coffee I’m not the hot rain, I’m like the dust on the window pane. Down on the sunset strip train. French fries and lying eyes.” The devil is in deciphering this next line which may be “We got the something stacked up to the canteen” - well at least that was what the original sounded like. It seems like Jim may have changed the lyric there to start with “somebody saw me get you knocked down” – yes – without the benefit of an official lyric sheet – we are left to our own ears to make sense if it. A consensus of opinion is that the concluding line “is that why they call you, lady vain,” is most-likely correct.
While the electronic keyboard that was dominant in the original is now gone, William adds some fuzzy guitar to the buildup and chorus. Most JAMC fans know William moved to California in the early 2000’s, so his sentimental ode to his adopted residential home has always had an appeal to those of US born. There is no negative in saying “God Bless America” – while were at it – God Bless Us All Everywhere. However, the “punch line” (if you will) that follows leaves open the ever-present MaryChain doubt with the line “Wishing they were dead, instead.”
Keyboards do figure again in the overall wall-of-sound, as synth pads fill in sonic space as well as William’s rough-buzz electric guitar. The original bass counter melody keyboard line does eventually reappears in the epic final chorus. Kudos once again to Brian for his easy going, relaxed drum style. It’s clear to see why they keep him in the band as he appears to possess the perfect balance of live drummer and studio recording artist - knowing just when to open up and when to lay back.
One of the two songs not produced by Youth but by “the band” (with help from a number of engineers and a “pre-production” credit given), “Mood Rider” (and the other “Simian Split”) appear to have been already recorded for a William Reid "pop" solo album (as opposed to his more bizarre and out-there Lazycame stuff) shortly before the reunion. With that knowledge, its slightly rougher sound is understandable. A driving full band chugger, we are treated to yet-another unique and unmistakably Reid guitar hook melody.
William vocal “I bet I’m gonna be fine. I got enough stored food and wine. I think I'm gonna be fine - happy all the time. I think I'll drift like a ship - I fink I'll do it on a trip [all William aficionados know he’ll frequently says “fink” instead of “think”] Kill everybody who's hip - shooting from the lip.”
Chugging into a slithering chorus that goes “Mooood Rider – hey mood driver – alone.” The guitars here are particularly lively sounding with that classic William semi-hollowbody electric distorting in on itself. Similar to the way it sounds on the track “degenerate” off of their previous studio album “Munki.” The drumming is a bit more heavy-handed here as well. The only track on the album credited to another drummer besides Brian, Chris Phillips is a founding member of swing-rock band Squirrel Nut Zippers. Like Brian he appears to be available for work on an as-needed basis, as he spent two years playing with the Dickies, as well as tracking these songs with William.
More lyrics: “I think I’m turning to dust. Love is turning to luuuust. I fink I’m turning to dust – only as I must” (concise commentary human mortality). Nice “ooooh, ooooh, ooh-ooh” end out, especially when it gets paired against a harmonizing guitar line.
A slow droney feedback intro deceptively obfuscates what quickly reveals a perky, almost Cure-like melody on the bizarrely titled “Presidici (Et Chapaquiditch).” “If anyone can a Kennedy can. If any clan can a Kennedy can. Nobody knows just what a Romany knows – no one knows just what a roman knows.” While songs historically have had a long established precedent of often featuring rhyming words that don’t necessarily connect into any real narrative, these lyrics here seem particularly silly. As it continues with “and a messed up head is always better than none – chicken fried rice is a bad dim sum” the impression left is that these seem like simple rhyming placeholders. Is it all just throwaway word play? Lumbering on with “and the son of the law he was a helluva guy, hippie God and a famous liberal guy” at least gives the sense this may actually be referencing something or someone.
More appealing is the bridge where William and Jim sing together: ”behind black eyes – my mind is fine” – as well as a chorus of sorts that Jim sings solo again – “If you can’t love – yourself – it’s baaaa-aaa-aad for your health.” Immediately lurching into the next verse (literally no break at all) “I was made in deep space and I was raised on the moon – fell to earth and I was born in June.” Being that William was born in October and Jim in December, this is clearly a reference to their mother’s first name. Further autobiographical references emerge with the line “and we grew up with the Spiders and the Beatles from Mars, tiger feet and the T-Rex cars.” However the stanza “and a gold-capped tooth is always misunderstood [what?] “Christopher Walken's in a terrible mood.” Can’t help but chuckle (in a cringe-worthy way) at the Walken reference. It’s sewn up nicely with the universally relatable line “and I broke some hearts I made along the way, but my hearts broken every brand new day.”
Once again a brief slow rising feedback introduces Jim’s previously released Freeheat track “Get On Home.” Earlier studio and live versions (both included on the Planting Seeds compilation) did not have that, leaving one to wonder if these are William’s or current producer Youth’s idea. Although the overall recording may sound better, the guitars actually sound more tame here, especially on the verses. Also kept were the thin rinky-tinky percussion that would have been better served with real drums. Youthful “rock star” male bravado is fully on display with the “pistol” verse, but the delivery is as “blues” as any blues song ever was.
When the expected guitar “squall” kicks in, it is once again somewhat disappointing as it appears modern studio techniques have cleaned it all up a bit too much. New listeners hearing this version only for the first time might not feel the same way, but those who’ve been living with this song for over a decade will surely notice. True, the vocals sound better with enhanced layering on the “blow up girl” verse, but pop culture references to aged mediums may confuse more than enlighten. Overall the track is salvaged by a bigger guitar blowout at the end, leading one to believe the live environment is where this one could surely flourish.
It would be sufficed to say that the new version of “Facing Up To The Facts” is actually a near total re-write. The entire groove and most of the lyrics are drastically different than the live version on Freeheat’s “Back On The Water.” Where that original was a static stomp, this new track shares a similar groove to much revered b-side “Sidewalking.” Gone are the lyrics “I can’t eat I can’t drink I can’t think I can’t talk I can’t laugh I can’t run I can’t hide I can’t fuck I can’t piss I can’t love I can’t move I can’t dream I can’t fuck.” In their place comes less desperate, but still negative (the power of negative thinking?) ruminations that call back previous JAMC references. “I hate my lover and she hates me, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be” pulling directly from another immortalized b-side “Kill Surf City.” It’s interesting to hear how the chorus remains completely intact however, with improved studio sound quality.
The back end returns to the original composition with that cry out “you know there’s no safety net, you know this is all we get, you know -- I can’t take no more.” Guitars are bigger here (thank goodness) and it seems like William and Brian’s drumming are particularly locked in with the rhythmic accents. The “Don’t worry be happy” coda also survives the updated blend, making for the kind of hybrid raunchy-pop track JAMC have produced their entire career.
One of the only two actually completely new songs, “Simian Split” opens with a peculiar collage of quick-paced pieced together audio clips that would make Beatles producer George Martin proud. Hyperactive drum rolls and skronky saxophone honks make up the bulk of it. The already controversial Kurt Cobain references may presently be brushed off as “silly, playful, fiction,” in interviews - but it is not out of the realm of possibilities that William did in fact get drugs from Courtney and that Frances Bean at one time allowed him entry somewhere (their home?) “with a big, wide, goofy grin.”
The chorus rocks pretty well, but the breaks are odd little asides emphasizing sparse synth waves. No drummers credit on this one? Is William banging out those snare shots and occasional tom thumps? Well, it’s as good as anything Gillespie or Moore could have done. Most amusing lyric: “Pet jail is life in a band.”
“Black And Blues” hearkens back to the smoother acoustic guitar and light drumming with tambourine hits enhancement that was so prominent on much of 1994’s “Stoned and Dethroned.” Jim’s opening vocal “I don’t have nuthin’ to give – but if I could I’d give my heart’s beat” recaptures the wide open western highway imagery of that aforementioned album.
Here is where the much publicized guest vocals of Sky Ferreira appears on the hook lines “but my mind and heart breaks – yeah it’s just a bitch” –emphatic downbeat stroke in-between – “yeah it’s just a bitch.” The media-hype savvy Sky takes her first solo turn on the lines “you know we’re livin’ in sick. Guess the love is where you find it.” Jim back in “but my mind and heaaaart breaks.” The two voices harmonize best together on the lyrics “we could leave this world behind and die and die in the morning.”
An unexpected change occurs at the 1:35 mark where low note guitars bend downward and distort against a double time beat. “We could leave this world forever” Jim sings. “We could live this world behind” Sky croons. It’s like Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra have returned from Jackson (after “messing around”) and have launched a new relationship. Of course a round of “yeah it’s just a bitch” with dueling “Ah, ah, ah’s” and “Bah, bah, bah’s” take you home in sing-along style.
Final track “Can’t Stop The Rock” is presented as a duet with Sister Vanilla (initially included on a 2005 Japanese CD and subsequent 2007 (UK/UK) release “Little Pop Rock”). Jim has also previously released it on a CD/7” single with “Song For A Secret” in 2005. Although pleasant enough, it’s understandable why this is the 14th and dead last track on the album. While William’s contributions to this appear to be simple plinky descending guitar lines, the added juice of Jim’s fully reverberated vocal end out more than satisfies. Including Jim’s notoriously frequent calls to “STOP” a song during live shows (when they’ve begun poorly or have veered too far off course for him to find a way back in) at the very end is clever indeed.
The new album, Damage And Joy, is out now.
Get it here:
Signed album bundles also available here:
Additional Jesus And Mary Chain features on this site can be found here:
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Many a moon has past since then, and Murray has a band now called The Sux Pastels (pun fully intended).
A warning siren and ominous distant explosion introduce lead track “Big Red Button” before slashing guitars and throttling rhythm section begin banging out an aggressive progression. With vocal declarations that state “I don’t care anymore, I’m gonna lock my door, I wanna push the big red button,” the spirit here is late 70’s punk with a nod to The Ramones “I Wanna Be Sedated.” The sound quality and overall production is quite good, as rip-shred guitar lines come properly balanced over locked-tight bass and drums punchy rhythm accents. Vocal delivery and tonal quality lean closer to the UK’s Clash, rather than the legends from Queens, New York. Additionally, the guitar work here is more riff driven and less dependent on fast strumming. What you might as well be listening to when you are ready to press that elusive “end of the world” button.
The emphatic punk style of anthem “Filthy Rich” seems molded from the vitriolic throw-down between two of the most influential John’s of their era – Lydon and Thunders. When Mr. Rotten unloaded his contempt for the NYC Max’s Kansas City rock scene (specifically targeting the NY Dolls) in 1977, Thunders responded the following year with his slap back “London Boys.” While this current track may not share a lyrical bond, the slashing guitar style seems right out of the Thunders/Steve Jones playbook. The tandem vocals and do-wop influenced “whoa-ahs” draw further comparison to that era’s vocal style, especially as far as the Dolls are concerned. The chorus section that goes “no not tomorrow – no never today – did we ever have it – did we ever lose it – you don’t even need it – ‘cause you’re filthy rich,” becomes the essential sing-along hook. In the end “it’s all dirty money.”
Feeling closer to traditional rock than the all-out punk of the previous tracks, “Tastes Like Sugar” echoes elements of the 80’s. The guitar tone and chugging downward progression with matching four-on-the-floor percussion thump reflects the cleaner sound elements of that musical period. There are enough rawer elements via snare drum bursts and roaming bass guitar notes, helping to avoid the sterility of over-produced slickness. The essential lyrical refrain of “what I like is not what I like – night is day and day is night – sold your soul – you’ve lost control – dark desires they won’t let go - the taste – it never fades – it tastes like sugar” implies addictions sweet lure, but ultimate downward spiral.
Additional information and more tracks from this band can be found at their Reverbnation page here:
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A recent addition to the Moon Sounds Records family is the ambient electronic duo Lunar Twin. Their currently released six track digital album "Night Tides" delivers an engaging mix of muted, up-close vocals, unconventional keyboard textures and world music beats. Recorded at Ohia Studios in Wailea, Hawaii and Desert Heat in Salt Lake City, the band consists of multi-instrumentalist Christopher Murphy and vocalist Bryce Boudreau.
The somber mood synth pads and forward motion marimba percussion of opening track “Waves” sets a stylistic tone that reoccurs throughout the records six tracks. With deep rough-edged vocals that showcase an intimate lyrical writing style, comparisons to veteran cult favorite Mark Lanegan would not be out of the question. “Blood Moon” blends elements of flamenco style guitar, slow groove trip-hop percussion, off-kilter synth bleeps and violins to a brooding vocal performance. A pulsating synth pulse and mid-tempo trap drums beat provides the foundation “Corel Sea” is built on. That underlying tension creates room for vocals delivered with more force than initial two tracks. Syncopated bass synths and looser live-in-the-studio drumming propel the sonic forces on “Prayers Of Smoke.” While final cut title track “Night Tides” float on waves of synths and deep vocals that ebb and flow like vast ocean itself.
Night Tides is available via digital download here, where a limited edition cassette can also be ordered.
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Carlos Mary Chain wrote:
great job, Dave! you are a rock encyclopedia, my friend!
one thing: im pretty sure jim sings mood rider here.
your job is amazing, dear Dave: i "heard" the songs reading your descriptions!
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Donna Reid wrote:
I love it Dave ! 30 odds yrs later and they are still kicking it out the park ! Not many stand the test of time . Well proud 👌👍
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Jenna Emens-Escalera wrote:
#CROMS <3 Great write up as usual. X
Have been listening to the new album, not my fav but def. good :)
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Mikko Kapanen wrote:
Great review Dave. I enjoy your personal, fanzine-like style or writing. I agree with most things you're saying about the album. The only thing I find particularly worthy of mentioning that you left out is Phil's amazing lead guitar on "Black And Blues", a definite highlight for me.
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It means a lot to me to hear you say that, Carlos.
Regarding who actually is singing on “Mood Rider” - aren't their voices actually blended at points throughout the album. I swear that's what I'm hearing. (and not the usual voices in my head).
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Kicking it out the park and standing the test of time indeed, Donna Reid! You’ve had the benefit of experiencing the new live show now too. We here in the USA wait with anticipation for their arrival in May.
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This review IS a lot of words, I know Jenna. But hey - that's what I do!
The opinions are wide and varied on this new record. Those of us long-time fans certainly have a right to critique whatever they feel isn't up to par. My review is not 100% lavish praise, but rather an analytical approached to each track. Obviously across a 14 track album, some songs will be better than others.
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Exactly the kind of feedback I'm looking for, Mikko. The reason I "left it out" was the simple fact I was not aware of it. I mean - I had seen the credit that Philip KIng played on that one song. But - I wasn't sure what he actually did on it. Now I know, and now that fact is here.
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Thomas King wrote:
Dave, great review! I've heard most of the tracks (still waiting on my pre-order) and I'm still on the fence about just where in the hierarchy of albums this one stands. As many others have noted, since at least 11 out of 14 of the tracks are just re-hashed Freeheat/Lazycame/Sister Vanilla tracks it leaves a kind of bittersweet taste because we all wanted something really *new* and this just feels world-weary and cynical (not to mention lazy) - sure, that might be intentional, but it's a real disservice to the fans and themselves. I understand that 99% of people out there wouldn't even be aware of the Freeheat/Lazycame/solo/Sister Vanilla years or that these are re-hashes. It feels like a cheap money grab (even if it isn't) to me, and I'd like to think that between the two of them they could have put some new material together in the past three years and kept the re-writes down to a couple of tracks. Hey, I've been a fan for over 30 years from the first "what the fuck is this, is my record player broken?" moments of Psychocandy to the uneven/schizophrenic moments of sheer brilliance of Munki and sure I'll support them, but I feel like I'm being used a bit here. I didn't need a 4th version of "The Two Of Us" (even though it's an amazing song) and I'm not even sure what to make of the complete re-write of "Facing Up To The Facts" - the beauty (?) of that song in the first place was the desperation and railing against the inevitable that gave it its original punch. It was simple, direct, and a slap in the face - now it's... not so much? Sure, the worst moments of the JAMC are better than anything in the pop music world at their best - but a lot of these songs sound like a studio band going through the motions of re-recording back catalog. What makes the JAMC a great band are the rough edges and conflict, a lot of this feels like all the corners have been sanded down and the mileage is really starting to show itself. Without a lot of the fire and madness that made them so iconic, a lot of this album is just making me feel older and more tired than it should. It's not all negative (though it sounds that way). It's a good album. It's solid. It's well-produced. I like most of the changes made ("Amputation" is a very good re-arrangement of "Dead End Kids" - it works really well at high volume!), and it's the JAMC. In the end however, it's just not what we wanted and expected and it feels like filler. It's not the greatness that our expectations wanted.
Wow. Your comment is a review in and of itself Thomas. I know you are also one of "us" (long time dedicated fans) - so what you say here carries a lot of weight. I ran through the gamut of all those feelings you spell out here. In the end I chose to accept the record as it is - and then detail it from that perspective. Life is not often clean and linear It's messy. That fact that these two brothers finally came together for two weeks in the Spanish desert with producer Youth - and finally focused their energies on making the best album they could under the circumstances - is something to celebrate. And I'll say it again - it *sounds* great.
Agreed - the fact we have *any* album is amazing in and of itself. I certainly didn't mean to paint the whole thing completely negatively, just venting some frustrations I guess. Again, I don't have a copy yet (I pre-ordered a package... waiting for it to arrive) so I'm working from YouTube uploads, but I agree the production values are great. It's also nice to have "official" versions of some of these songs. I'm sure I'll get more used to it as it goes through more rotations in the ol' jukebox here. :)
That's where you definitely need it Thomas - in frequent rotation at home. That's where the beauty of a *properly produced and mastered full album* shines through.
Excellent review. At last a review by someone who's actually heard the record. And listened to it and thought about it and knows their back catalog.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write that, Sam. That kind of feedback means the world to me. It makes putting in the time (enjoyable as much of it was, but it's still work to write coherently) on this over 4,000 word feature all worth it.
Carlos Mary Chain wrote:
all i can say, Thomas, is: let the magic of damage and joy enchant you. it doesn't matter if you've heard some songs in soundcloud or myspace before, i mean, it doesn't count. what really matters is the reids are working together again, and all these new versions of the songs are, at least to me, really better than before. what really amaze me is the fact that a bunch of already great songs, can sound better (a bit or a lot, it's up to you, but deffo better) than before when they work together. X
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Tom Lugo wrote:
Great job Dave. Didn't expect anything less from you. You rock.
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Ronnie Carnwath wrote:
As one of the diehards who bought Jim's solo stuff, Freeheat, Lazycame, etc., I am very happy with the album - it's absolutely brilliant, and I'm delighted to have them back. We're going to see them on Friday and it will be awesome!
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Tom May wrote:
Very thorough review. I can't admit to liking the album as much as the rest of you but I think your article captures the general consensus. My review: good but not up to the almost gold standard set by the previous work.
Regardless, I'm happy af that they're back and walking among us again. My devotion to the gospel of Jim and William is still strong.
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Carlos – your wise words inspire us all.
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Hey Tom Lugo – I still remember fondly the fun we had together at the MaryChain show in Philly.
Singing and dancing along with Honey and Lindz to “Halfway To Crazy” stands out in my mind!
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I know you are one of us “die-hards” Ronnie. And I see you've got it in heavy rotation on your radio shows!
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Feedback much appreciated Tom May. "Thorough" is my game. I thought I made adequate points about where thinks could have been improved (I'm not a big fan of rinky-tinky drum machine percussion or cheesy organs) - but overall I DO like the album.
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Murray Dalglish wrote:
Final Daze E.P. review, just after Damage & Joy review. Dave obviously likes good music and has nailed The Sux Pastels influences to a T. Has sussed out every last one of them. Dave, you being a drummer too really helps. Your writing passion about fledgling indie bands to super groups shows you really know your stuff. I'm chuffed to bits you’ve done a sterling job of reviewing our material (or maybe we were too obvious). Either way it's as honest an evaluation that we are ever going to get. If local journalists would write half as good a review I'd still be as proud of punch.
Like Jim & William you make the most of the 15 minutes Dave. I'm contented with all of the projects I've been involved in. Genuinely, I (still) love Rock'n'Roll and will milk it 'till my last second expires.
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Martin Mccann wrote:
Nice review !! Thanks for the kind words on the sux pastels ep as well Dave Cromwell
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Ronnie Carnwath Wrote:
Next week's Cobwebs & Strange will feature the album, as well as a track from The Sux Pastels and an abundance of Glasgow talent ;-)
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Kevin Young wrote:
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Reviewing your music was a lot of fun Murray! It brought back a lot of memories and sent me scurrying for dates and timelines - which led to a lot of interesting research along the way. It's pretty cool the way your band is writing new stuff reflecting that time period. Well done.
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You're quite welcome, Martin. Well done channeling that whole New York Dolls-Sex Pistols-Ramones-The Clash into your own sound!
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Very cool, Ronnie. Looks like we are all on the same wavelength at the moment - (D+J, The Sux Pastels) and the current sounds of our scene.
Love that Crackin’ expression, Kevin!
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Murray Dalglish wrote:
The similarities between that time period and now are so similar in the UK, making it too easy to reflect the late 70's early 80's.
Especially the “Dirty Money,” corruption is rife through the world. “Big Red Button” it's more about retaliation to the shit that's going on. And “Tastes Like Sugar” was written about the adverse reaction to Aspartame that Brad had. Then with a bit of research found it to be cancergenic. Also has another level whereby it's about a bad relationship. The vocalist at the time took it and messed with it and lost its direction. It's been re written to get back to the original idea.
That's interesting, Murray. Although I agree that the cyclical nature of history (repeating itself) and of popular music in general is a given - themes about "dirty money" and the "end of everything" seem more relevant today than ever.
All three well thought out songs, Murray. Appreciate the additional backstory info here.
Shauna McLarnon wrote:
Thanks Dave so much for reviewing Lunar Twin :)
Very cool that Dave Cromwell has reviewed Lunar Twin's new 'Night Tides' EP (out now via Moon Sounds Records) in DaveCromwellWrites
Thanks so much Dave :) that means a lot coming from you ;)
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Shameless Promotion @ShamelessPR_ Posted on Twitter:
Very cool that @DaveCromwell has reviewed @LunarTwinMusic new 'Night Tides' EP in #DaveCromwellWrites http://fb.me/8B2LUxjGZ
Affordable radio plugging & clever music PR.
Priceless international promotion for indie artists and labels,
gaining wider exposure with an international reach.
Canada, The UK, USA, Europe
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You are quite welcome Shauna.
Your dedication to our scene and the music it produces has not gone unnoticed.
Christopher Lunar Murphy wrote:
Thanks to NYC's Dave Cromwell DaveCromwellWrites for this Lunar Twin review. He also reviews the new The Jesus And Mary Chain! Great Review of JAMC! Thanks for including Lunar Twin, appreciate it Dave!
Also thanks to Jacques Urioste of Moon Sounds Records and Shauna Shameless Promotion PR In Toronto!!
Bryce Boudreau-Lunar Twin wrote:
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Moon Sounds Records wrote:
Our long-time friend Dave Cromwell from DaveCromwellWrites / The Deli Magazine gave a great write up for Lunar Twin’s ‘Night Tides EP’ that just came out on the 17th of March!
“’Night Tides’ delivers an engaging mix of muted, up-close vocals, unconventional keyboard textures and world music beats.”
Read the write up for the EP after the The Jesus And Mary Chain album review and grab the EP on limited edition cassette with immediate digital download from the Moon Sounds Records page here:
‘Like’ and follow DaveCromwellWrites for more stellar reviews!
You are most welcome Lunar Twin.
And Shauna wears her company name well 👍
As for Moon Sounds Records - we go way back. All the way to Texas days and nights in Springtime - both magical and onerous.
Nice detailed and comprehensive breakdown Dave. A cracking return from the Reid's I'm sure you'll agree
Aaron McCammon wrote:
Enjoyed your write up.. always good to read comments of someone that knows their history regarding a band.
Of out funs sake I make some points:
"There is no “secret” that 5th track "Song For A Secret" serves as a direct descendant to the Hope Sandoval guest vocal duet on “Sometimes Always” (off of 1994’s “Stoned and Dethroned”)."
The song is a direct and unapologetic reference (musically) to Buffalo Springfield's "For What it's Worth" (the chime/chord sound) and VU's "I'll be your mirror" (the melody's guitar riff is a take off). It's way more obvious in Jim's original version:
imo -The Stoned & Dethroned reference is accurate, but this is no bubblegum Somtimes Always type of song.. it's straight up homage to the VU and others (War and Peace goes into this territory too, but its way more uniquely JAMC/William.)
"the only nit-picky negative one might perceive is the use of a still somewhat thin sounding mechanical percussion track (rather than a real drummer playing real drums),"
-You mention something similar a couple times, but particularly with Amputation.. the drum machine is straight up JAMC going all "Suicide" ... they've done it a lot through out the years. I don't think it's fair to miss-underestimate their love of the drum machine & the influence of Suicide. I've always loved it when the drum machine pops up. Though I don't think the drum machine was handled super well by Youth, the song is too squashed/compressed and it takes a toll on the drum machine.
Anyways, thanks for a fun read!
Wow. Thanks so much for this feedback Aaron! I appreciate the fact you took the time to read every word (otherwise, you wouldn't have been able to pick out those lines you focus on). As much as I know many things about this band's music I've been living with for decades - I still don't know *everything* about them. So kudos to you for making me aware of those points of reference that you do. Both make perfect sense to me. FYI - I actually *loved* all the mechanized drumming on their 1990 American breakthrough record "Automatic." But - those "drums" sound great! Deep and bassy. I loved a lot of mechanized drum stuff over the years (Krafterwork, Tangerine Dream - other "ambient" stuff - plus the rock artists influenced by dub and hip hop - drums and bass stuff) - I just don't like "really thin" sounding 'tickey-tick-tick' percussion - that sounds like a demo - or done on the cheap. But - your Suicide references make perfect sense too. I concur that producer Youth (talented though he surely is) may have overdone a bit of the "squash/compress" at points on the record.
So - I think we are pretty much in agreement overall!
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