So there’s been another lengthy gap between now and my last entry. Unfortunately, I’ve ended up having one of those months. Nothing depressing or anything like that, but quite hectic; it all started off with a nice holiday in Sussex seeing family for the first time in nearly a year, then I returned home and had to slog through some admin and technical issues trying to sort out a course I’m starting in September. I’ve also had to say bye for now to my best mate as he has moved to Sheffield, and my Dad had an operation to remove a cancerous mole on his leg (He’s doing a lot better now). As well as that, I’ve been stuck in that everlong battle between me and procrastination. Oh, and I went to Leeds for a day out with someone I met online.
You know, the usual kind of June.
So yeah, that’s kind of why we have suffered a bit of a schedule slip on A-Side Glance. However, in order to make sure that I get at least one entry done this month, allow me to bring you another round of music that I have been listening to as of late.
Paul Weller – Heavy Soul
A weekend or two ago I went to work with the intention of stopping at a nearby Asda to get some stuff for dinner. Then plans changed and I ended up spending half an hour in the staff room waiting to start my shift. To pass the time I booted up my Spotify and went to choose an album to listen to, settling on Paul Weller’s fourth solo effort, Heavy Soul.
Definitely a more hard hitting sequel to the comparatively relaxing soft rock of Stanley Road, Heavy Soul is more primarily focused on guitar work with dabblings of blues here and there. Peacock Suit, the lead single, is a particular highlight as we hear Weller turning back to his time in The Jam, not just with the subject matter stemming from his Mod roots, but with the guitars that give the sense of being a wee bit pissed off. More traditional bluesy tunes like Up in Suzes’ Room are very welcome aswell.
However, being so heavily focused on guitars causes Heavy Soul to run the risk of sounding samey and one-dimensional, not helped by the fact that Paul seems a little less inspired at this point as his songs aren’t really up to much. While the aforementioned Peacock Suit and Driving Nowhere were both welcome additions to the playlist, there wasn’t really much in the way of standout Paul Weller classics. I feel like Heavy Soul would probably be better appreciated when translated to the stage; I can imagine songs like Brushed sounding fab live.
Not the greatest entry in the Modfather’s catalogue, but good for what I wanted it to be at that particular point in time as I waited to start work – Something to pass the time.
Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity
During my holiday in Sussex, I was going through one particular warm and stuffy evening when I decided to give some acid jazz a go. I’d been interested in this genre since revisiting the soundtrack to Ridge Racer Type 4, in particular the wonderfully serene track Pearl Blue Soul. When I hopped on Google to see where would be a good place to start, I ended up being recommended Jamiroquai (Whom I later discovered was a favourite of my uncle’s back in the day. We have good taste in the family).
And Virtual Insanity is a very groovy track, innit? Wonderfully catchy and good for a dicky-dance in the living room or a headbop in the car. But if you take the time to look closer you hear a song that ages like a fine wine. As the title may indicate, Virtual Insanity talks about the growing dissociation between humans and the Earth. While the tune and Jay Kay’s style of singing may indicate otherwise, it’s very much a dour and cynical song as the narrator laments in the chorus that the “Future’s made of virtual insanity now/Always seem to be governed by this love we have/For useless, twisting, our new technology”.
And he’s right. This song was made in 1996. How deeply integrated into the virtual world are we now in 2021, with smartphones and computers, algorithms trying to dictate what we read on the Internet, on the eve of cars that can drive themselves for crying out loud? So far ahead of its time, but trapped in a more niche genre, Virtual Insanity is a song that very much can and very much should be listened to more often.
Muse – Supermassive Black Hole
Whilst Euro 2020 has been happening I have been running a feature on my radio show on Spark Sunderland, where I play songs from old FIFA soundtracks to get listeners into the footballing mood. Doing so has allowed me to play tracks from bands such as Blur, Oasis, Gorillaz, The Jam, Apollo 440, New Order, the Vaccines (Because God knows you need to hear from them during the pandemic), the Enemy, Foals, and most recently Muse.
Muse is a band that I have had on my ‘need-to-hear’ list for quite a while now but haven’t gotten round to yet. Doing the FIFA theme helped me finally give them a shot as what appears to be their signature song was used as part of the soundtrack to FIFA 06.
And I have to say, it’s not half bad. Upon hearing the opening gritty guitar line you know you’re in for a good few minutes of music. The lyrics are not entirely my cup of tea though; very poppy as Matt Bellamy muses (Sorry, couldn’t resist) about a lady in his life, and harping on constantly about melting glaciers does start to grate on me towards the end. It takes me back to listening to Head Music honestly; if you told me that this was originally a song Suede made in the late 90s then I would easily have believed you. As I say, there’s the filthy guitar line, as well as the ear worm of a dance-electronica beat, and the two match to create a tune that will stick in your head for a good few hours at least. It’s very reminiscent of songs like Electricity and Can’t Get Enough.
As a guy who is incredibly cynical to the modern-day popscene and its overabundance of love songs, I can appreciate it when pop is done differently, and getting an alt-rock spin on things here is a nice change of pace. It doesn’t make me want to immediately listen to more Muse but it is enough to retain my curiosity for now.
Ok there you go, that’s a bit of what I’ve been listening to lately. Going to get back into the swing of things in July starting with a double bill from The La’s. A band who only released the one album. Stick around, you’ll find out what I mean soon enough.