Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

If You’re Feeling Sinister – Belle & Sebastian #606

Belle_And_Sebastian_-_If_You're_Feeling_Sinister.jpgOften seen as the quintessential gay album of the nineties, I was gifted If You’re Feeling Sinister by old gay pal Gay Jamie who, himself, had obtained it during the Great Internet Download Free-For-All of the mid to late 1990s.

At the time, I saw Belle & Sebastian as a kind of hipster bollocks band. Loved by trendies and soul patch sporting arts students and with such prejudice, I  wasn’t all that bothered by them. Of course, this was in my late, uninformed, uncultured, blinkered, pre-internet, pre-university, unenlightened, pre-millennial twenties where most of my world still revolved around Liverpool, a shit office job and regularly going to the pub with similarly minded folk and talking shite.

Of course, hipster pals were already hinting that I would like the band long before I’d actually listened to the album. Indeed, when I met him, Hipster Nick was already much of a keen fan and Telly Expert Tim, who would often talk about how he was into Belle & Sebastian before anyone else had even conceived of the idea of a band called Belle & Sebastian and that, besides which, they weren’t as good now, anyway, since Stuart had left the band, would sneer at anyone who clearly had only recently become a fan. The thing was, this time they were right; I did like the band.

Fortunately, Stuart was still in the band at the point of releasing If You’re Feeling Sinister and Tim was quite right, the band’s early albums are, in my opinion, the better ones. Much in the same way that Syd Barratt’s influenced Pink Floyd albums are distinctly different to those that come later and indeed, after, Roger Waters. Well crafted, the songs on the album have a unique sound with a lyrical poetic genius that is lacking from the majority of modern bands some of them define adolescent exploratory gay sentiment while others reflect on angst, paranoia or obsession.

A genius of an album!


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If It Was You – Tegan & Sara #605



If It Was You – Tegan & Sara


Possibly one of the best films ever released in the last 40 odd years, in my opinion, is Brian De Palma’s extravagant semi-musical tour de force Phantom of the Paradise. What, you might ask, does this 1970’s “blockfluster” have to do with a Canadian duo of thirty-somethings? Well…quite frankly this….

The split screen sequence of de Palma’s film stuck with me for such a long time that it also influenced some of the films I made at university (check them out on my Vimeo page). I love how it’s choreographed and edited. I love how the use of two cameras to show two distinct stories adds interest and innovation as well as allowing the viewer to experience often unseen detail on each watch. Genius.

So when I saw Tegan & Sara’s video for their song I Hear Voices and how it has loads of subtle nods to Phantom of the Paradise, I fell in love with the song and simply had to get the album. Unfortunately, while I’m still very moved and enamoured with the track, the other songs on the album still don’t grab me, but I keep the album “just in case” and because I “should like them”.

If It Was You is the third album by the band, released in 2002. It does have sounds similar to other angry chicks with guitars from the same era, kind of like evolved from Belly or Throwing Muses with maybe a bit of Courtney Love chucked in.

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Hits – Pulp [#588]

Pulp_HitsJarvis Cocker and Sheffield’s finest with an hour and twenty minutes of lyrics illustrating gritty northern GenX premillennial social situations.  How times have changed. Yet Pulp is still powerfully relevant and reflective of youthful experiences.

This is the band’s final (at time of press) Greatest Hits compilation and features all the familiar Pulp tunes. I obtained the album having spent years avoiding Cocker’s band like the plague due to the band’s seemingly undue popularity amongst my peers. However, having reflected on how the band’s music seemed to pop up in film soundtracks that I liked I gave them a go by trying their Greatest Hits album. My opinion remains the same, but whenever I feel a little less northern, I give the album a listen and immediately feel all gritty post-industrial.

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Guitar Legends – Various Artists [#563]

Guitar Legends The guitar. Some would say it is a crucial instrument in modern music. “Without guitar” they might say, “All you have is some bloke singing with drums and a keyboard.” Which is true, but as we have already heard with the likes of Morphine and Matt Howden, the guitar is merely a tool in the production of great music. However, one cannot ignore the guitar completely, especially when presented with a compilation such as today’s album.

This two disc 41 song Capital Gold compilation features some interesting choices. It starts off quite promising with songs by Queen, Derek & the Dominos (guess which song), Rainbow and even Motorhead. But by the mid-way point it drifts into a sort of smokey late eighties blues nightclub (the proper sort where you go to listen to live music and smoke not to get pissed and/or laid) where Skynrd, Frampton, Santana and Lee Hooker have been placed on the bill with later guest appearances by John Lodge & Justin Hayward, Nick Drake and the Shadows.

If, for some reason, you’ve been living in a guitar free world and you’re interested in finding out what can be done with the instrument, I suppose this is a good way to find out.

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Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand [#497]

Franz-FerdinandEvery so often during this music project I come across albums by bands I have heard of but can’t remember for the life of me what their song was that I liked or why I even have them in the collection in the first place.

I could lie and say I had always thought Franz Ferdinand was the geezer what got shot and started World War I. When of course I knew that there is also a popular music troupe with the same name and this is their first album. But until I came to write this entry, I couldn’t remember the name of their popular song.

The album Franz Ferdinand is a mystery to me. It sounds like nearly every popular music  band’s album of the time, a sound I like to call Angry Indie. Similarly, I have no idea what the appeal is for these guys. Unremarkable, carbon copy of other “indie” bands.

Ok, analogy time. It’s like drinking real ale and thinking that you can detect the hard graft, dedication and attention to detail that the independent brewer puts into their craft when all the while you’re drinking  mass produced slops rebranded by a major brewer like Scottish Newcastle.

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Four Lads Who Shook the Wirral – Half Man Half Biscuit [#494]

Four_Lads_Who_Shook_the_Wirral_coverMore grumpy observations of the preposterousness pervading Britain from Nigel Blackwell and pals.

Four Lads Who Shook the Wirral is not an album with many memorable HMHB tracks on but it does come armed with the same bitterly amusing cynicism and acerbic observations of British middle class society as the other HMHB albums.

Surprisingly, despite the amount of HMHB I have, iTunes’ random play algorithm doesn’t seem to favour this album with it rarely appearing in any playlists. Which is a shame as I’d like to get to know it a little better.

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Forever Delayed: Greatest Hits – Manic Street Preachers [#489]

ForeverDelayedNME dubbed this “the album that should not exist”. Bloody hipsters.

I totally wished that the Manics hadn’t been so bloody mainstream or as a youth I’d have so gotten into them. Or so I thought in the nineties, as the “Indie” scene was rapidly pulling the wool over the listening public’s eyes as more and more “indie” bands appeared in mainstream charts, programmes and chat shows.

The Manics were one of those bands that I liked but didn’t want to fully embrace by getting any of their albums. I suppose fear of scorn from my contemporaries added to that, especially as my “indie” mates were all “No mate, the Manics went shit after their lead singer jumped into the Avon Gorge at Clifton”, my goth mates sniggered and said they were too happy and my shoe gazer friends shrugged and gazed depressively into the tips of their brogues whenever I mentioned the band.

Yet nearly every song on this album I like. Yes, I know that’s the purpose of a greatest hits album, but I suppose it is an excellent example of the “if one likes the “best of” then buy it and nothing else approach” as I still like this snap shot of the band’s golden age; Songs so full of hopelessness against a joyful melody. Exactly how Abba are. Artists take note, this works.

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