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Viewing Posts in July 2009

You can't get a decent floury potato these days

 0 Comments- Add comment Written on 31-Jul-2009 by neil_p

Now we are old, I’ve been thinking a lot about the virtues of re-discovery over discovery. It was very easy, years ago, to be exhilarated by a constant supply of new talent and new music, and to have a powerful motivation to go out and discover it. The sensations are almost addictive, the compulsion more biological than intellectual. The younger me loved a lot of stuff, and loved how I loved it. But with each passing year, newness in itself is less and less appealing, while older things improve with age, as the relationship I have with music I listened to 20 years ago becomes more layered and nuanced, amplifying and re-casting the music itself. I still buy crate-loads of new CDs, but I’m often taken by surprise when I realise how much more interested I am in, say, a box set of Nina Simone’s 1960s recordings for Philips, or in upgrading some of my cassettes (cassettes!) from the 1980s and 90s, than I am in buying whatever 6music tells me to like. I wonder if music really was so much better in the early 90s Hearsay era than it is now, or if I have just heard enough. I’m reminded of how Victor Lewis-Smith once remarked that old people like to grumble that you can’t get a decent floury potato these days, oblivious of the fact that this was the result of their atrophying tastebuds rather than a decline in farming standards. So perhaps it's me: the raw nerve endings which were so fired up by the talent I used to review have become clogged and furred, the limbic system all calcified, unable to respond with the vehemence it once produced.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that there are still a few things I have really loved in the nine years since we ceased publication, and I want to itemise them here. It tends to be certain albums which really compel me these days, rather than favourite artists, so the following is more a recommendation of specific listens which have excited me in the way the older stuff used to. I’m not attempting to review anything here. If you’re interested, you can just listen to them on Spotify.

Artists I didn’t know during the Hearsay era, who have made magnificent albums I have loved in its wake (if the mag were still going, we would be heavily evangelising them):
Sarah Harmer – You Were Here
Oh Susannah – Sleepy Little Sailor
Death Cab for Cutie – Plans
Hem – Rabbit Songs
Trespassers William – Different Stars
Maximilian Hecker - Rose
Keren Ann - Keren Ann

[shamefully] Hearsay artists I didn’t fully enjoy or appreciate during the Hearsay era, but who subsequently made albums I completely love:
Britta Phillips and Dean Wareham – L’Avventura
Paula Frazer – Leave the Sad Things Behind
Cat Power – The Covers Record
Duncan Sheik – Daylight
Josh Rouse - 1972

Big names, brilliant records:
Anne Sofie von Otter and Elvis Costello – For the Stars
Laurie Anderson – Life on a String
Kate Bush – Aerial 

Hearsay artists redux
It's startlingly difficult just to compile a  list of recommended artists by classic Hearsay artists as so many of them, heartbreakingly, just don't make proper albums any more. Some seem to have stopped releasing altogether, others have been distracted by self-released side-lines. Of those we interviewed, I can vouch that I've continued to enjoy recent work of many of them. If I had to compile, cautiously, a list of especially rewarding releases of old friends, it would contain:

Cracker - Greenland
the innocence mission - We Walked in Song
Chuck Prophet - Age of Miracles
Michael Penn - Mr Hollywood Jr 1947
Mila Drumke - Radiate
Jules Shear - More

There are probably many more. Perhaps we'll discuss in due course. 

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