Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Sparkle That Shines

Remember how I've been doing that dorky musical alphabet thing? Well, it has been brought to my attention that I have lingered on the letter R for over a month... What can I say? There has been so much going on! Lots of shows and travel and stuff, you know.

Without further ado... S.

From New Zealand: the Straightjacket Fits.

The thing with rock from New Zealand is that it sounds like it's from New Zealand. It sounds kind of cold and harsh, with an undercurrent of warmth, surrounded by watery rip tides and fog with rays of sunshine forcing their way through. I'm serious, it really does sound like that.

The Straightjacket Fits started up in 1986, but they didn't make it to the northern hemisphere till about 1989. Rough Trade was kind enough to release their first album, Hail, in the UK & US in 1988. The band started with jangly anglo pop, but wrapped it up in noisy swirling guitars and some sneery almost goth elements to create a beautifully haunting thing that mesmerized the shoegazers before they realized that's what they were. Think the Hollies meet Tones On Tail. They were the precursors to Ride, Adorable, the Catherine Wheel and their ilk. Mean, incredible guitar work from Shayne Carter which can't be imitated, and gorgeous melodies concocted by Shayne and co-vocalist Andrew Brough to go along with them created some amazing music.

Their next release, 1991's Melt, was equally beautiful, although their third, Blow, which was released on Arista in 1993 was nice and their last. This is a band that was sadly overlooked and not given their due, in my opinion... If you like anything even remotely shoegazer, this band should be in your collection. They are responsible for one of the most beautiful songs ever written, "She Speeds." Find them, it's worth it.