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popexplosionreview



i should have been in bed a long time ago. i can't believe i am actually doing
this at half past four in the morning... anyway, here is the melody maker review
on the pop explosion. it was published november 12 and jonathan selzer wrote it.

                                              goodnight. 
                                                         Per


HALIFAX POP EXPLOSION '94
New Brunswick Hall, Halifax

Neil Young's relocation to the Amerivan heartlands exemplifies the way  
Canadian rock is overlooked, because it would seem less poignant in a 
climate of relative health. The music scene here is caught between 
striving for independence of character and wanting to compete with the
US on the very terms it shares - feeling stranded, basically. Canada's
answer to MTV, "Much Music," shows endless singer/songwriters who convey
all the romanticism and sincerity of the terminally parochial. Indie 
bands, meanwhile, find a common purpose and hold annual events in tiny 
but hip university towns like this one - complete with indie symposium 
- to pursue it.
CHANGE OF HEART hail from Toronto and are the musical equivalent of the
Gatorade Energy Drink available in the US, the one that declares "No 
natural fruit juices" on the label. They hit all the right buttons
without enriching you whatsoever. This is a compliment. COH have a job
to do, shocking you upright, left and, well, who needs a centre anyway?
They leaving you with nothing to fall back on. "This song's about a 
squirrel that came into our yard. We fed it peanut butter, but then it
got run over by a truck. It's called 'Massacre'." I live for moments 
like these.
MARY LOU LORD is a singer/songwriter. She sighs as if, well, there you
go, the songs happened yesterday, and sings with just the right amount
of helplessness to gratify the male protective impulse. I'll say this
for her, she's very, very cute. I'll even suggest it for an epitaph, 
no extra charge.
ZUMPANO live in this country, but they're as far away from home as I am.
I think we have an understanding here, a bit of mutual, if displaced,
ground. The current vague for Britpop sucks, it's like a necrophiliac
expecting the corpses to respect him in the morning. When Zumpano 
showcase their love of swirlin' Sixties theme music (with a bit of 
Jimmy Webb thrown in for good measure), it comes out bewildered and
pure.
STEREOLAB aren't so different, in theory at least. They are too 
immaculate and apocryphal, a remnant from some speculative past. When
the organ perpetuates its peak, it's like the final burst of radiation
from a long-forgotten generator, an emission so glorious that it 
transcends its own design. If Stereolab are methodical, it's because
methodology will ultimately prove itself naive, and naivety is 
indeterminate potential. Tonight, they're positively resurgent. 
If I gave up writing tomorrow, I'd consider myself blessed by
circumstances on perhaps four counts: Cranes, Shudder To Think, Total's
"Beyond The Rim"LP and BLONDE RED HEAD, a band so unforseeably beautiful,
so absorbed in their own integrity we should be looking for unnamed
constellations to enshrine them now. Two identical Italian twins, two
Japanese female guitarists and two voices that sound like the last
angels left in heaven. Theirs is a glacial, devastated grace, guitars
sliding into a wake and then slowly piecing themselves together, a
crippled recollection of a former, defining moment. BRH are beyond
themselves, an invocation that can only summon up a fundamental lack.
And yet at its heart is the most intimate, most hallowed absence of all.
They're already past the point of greatness.
THRUSH HERMIT like to spread their pain around. All three guitarists get
to sing, occasionally combining forces into swelling harmonies pumped
full of just-corrupted innocence. It looks good, a united yet vulnerable
front, but at least three times tonight they remind me of Ride. This 
counts against them. Let's hope time becomes a great wounder.
There once was a time when menace became an absurdity. SIX FINGER SATELLITE
bring it all back. This is the sound of New Wave-the real stuff, none
of the New-won-wer shit-after it's been spiked. It's all pathogenetically
clogged riffs laced with sci-fi synth pulses, and fronted by a fever-pitch
snarl from a deadpan showman with a habit for crawling on top of his
audience. Awesome.
Indie's answer to the New Man is the New Dork, and HARDSHIP POST are the 
latest, most pitifully complacent incarnation. "What do I know?" they 
whimper. Well, now they know I hate their f***ing guts.
SCARCE have Chick Graning, ex-Anastasia Screamed and subject of Neil
Kulkarni's quasi-sexual fantasies, the world's coolest bassist and a 
wonderfully perplexed EP called "Red". Tonight they play good-time grunge
instead, and I'm too drunk and too undiscrening to care.
The final Sunday is the all-ages show only. I've been conscientiously
avoiding these up til now, largely because young people are crap. They 
like any old shit. TRIKE and SUPERFRIENDZ f'instance.
ERIC'S TRIP, though, are becoming legendary. They are not just a band
anymore
, more of an entity, in that they've come to symbolise a form of 
independence that no one can co-opt. They are small-town autobiographical
, but unconventionally epic (like The Cure, say), mixing experimentalism
with rabid-fire guitar'n'drums onslaughts, and filtering that through two
wholly androgynous vocalists. Ther's a massive fan support network around
them now and this is the one case where a Canadian band has left a 
definitive mark, simply because they've never had to need to try.
You'll instictively understand. It's a personal experience.