There are two things I try and avoid when reviewing an album, firstly talking about myself and secondly reviewing the same record twice. Yet by typing this first paragraph I’ve broken both those conventions. But with a record as important as this my rulebook has been temporarily resigned to propping up the coffee table.
As quite an obsessive fan of end of year music lists, I can often be found trawling the web in December/January to find things that might have passed me by. With only 24 hours a day, I really struggle to hear as much as I’d like to. So it’s nice to get a steer from others as to what has been rocking their world, especially in the during the season of goodwill, when I have cash from aunties and uncles. So it was one evening that Gareth from Los Campesinos! published his albums of the year list on twitter. This contained many gems – some known – but several unknown and warranting further investigation. With a wave of my mighty credit card a few semi-blind purchases were made and an abundance of new records were heading my way via the postal service and my over-worked broadband cable.
Granted, there were many great records that arrived, but the one whose image sits atop this review made the largest impact. Nosferatu D2 had split up after the albums recording, but Audio Antihero Records saw the magic contained upon those tapes and, like Arthur pulling Excalibur from the stone, felt compelled to ensure it was released into the world. Commercial suicide? Quite possibly. Putting art above the dollar? Most certainly.
Comprising of two brothers (Ben & Adam) intent on making the most tremendous lo-fi concerto that fuses the sounds from some of the finest underground bands (Pavement, Rock Of Travolta, Mogwai, The Fall to name but a few) with witty lyrical content and intricate musicianship might sound like PR spin you’ve heard time and time again. But for once this is the real deal; this is a genuinely amazing band whose only record We’re Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise seems to have accidentally fallen off the classic albums shelf and into relative obscurity.
Whether the timing was wrong or the voices of a few bloggers and respected bands failed to drum up the backing necessary to propel this further into music fans collective consciousness is unclear. But something has clearly gone very wrong with musical appreciation and consumption when several copies of one of the (if not the) best albums released in the last fifteen years are languishing under the bed of the label’s boss. Cleary it’s not music destined for mainstream popularity, but anyone who regularly tuned into John Peel will find more to love here that practically every record released since his death in 2004.
There’s no filler whatsoever. It’s one of the very few albums in my record collection that contains three perfect songs in a row (‘Mojo Top 100′ / ‘Springsteen’ / ‘We’ll Play The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood A Thousand Times Tonight’). It’s a record that reminds you why you loved alternative music the first time around. It swings from discord to order – travelling across the gulf between beauty and abhorrence – weaving its thread deeper into your soul. Your record collection is incomplete without its inclusion.
Sure, this review is very much a re-telling of my own experiences with the record, combined with a little bit of history. But I can’t find any other way of informing you how important this album is and giving you the opportunity to allow it into your lives. You can choose to ignore my words and carry on with your record shopping without it. But at least I’ve done my part; when someone plays it to you on your death bed; I will feel no guilt when you are questioning why you squandered your life without it.
You have to tip your hat to Audio Antihero for choosing art over commercial sensibilities, but why not open your wallet too? This year the label is re-releasing the album (hence this review), and as more and more incredible music becomes marginalised by labels terrified of taking a risk, supporting those that do is more important now than it ever was.