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Tag Archives: New Wave

Play Television’s masterpiece debut ‘Marquee Moon’ to your friends. “Who’s this?” they’ll ask before inquiring if it’s a new release. Enjoy the shock on their faces when you tell them, “Actually, it was recored in 1977.” Thirty-three years later, ‘Marquee Moon’ still sounds just as revolutionary and fresh as anything Radiohead has produced in the last decade. It’s a punk record with intricate extended jams. It’s a new wave record with garage rock power chords. Mostly it’s an astonishing virtuoso guitar rock album. Television never got much commercial recognition, but after a single listen, it’s easy to hear the profound influence they had on the American underground rock scene of the 80’s. From The Pixies to Pavement, anyone who picked up a guitar owed a little to Television.

Television in turn are indebted to the punk-meets-blues noise experiments of The Velvet Underground. Although Television stripped out the blues and white noise freakouts and went for arty guitar rock, the connection can be traced like DNA. Without the blues rhythms, it’s difficult to dance to anything on this album. Mostly, you’ll just want to sit back and listen to the interplay between the two guitarists, Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. They take center stage for every song, not so much trading licks as interlocking their rhythms and melodies into a fascinating and gorgeous sonic architecture.

The opening ‘See No Evil’ is a high energy first track that demonstrates that interplay perfectly, with Verlaine and Lloyd laying down grooves and veering off in jazz like flourishes as they explore around the melody. There’s even a blazing tight solo in the middle that has hooks enough for a whole album. Later on the album ‘Guiding Light’ slows things down with a gentle anthem and one of the prettiest outros this side of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’. The undisputed finest track is the eponymous ‘Marquee Moon’, a masterpiece of experiment, virtuosity and beauty. Rolling over ten minutes, it’s chock full of extended jamming concluding with one of the greatest guitar solos in history.

‘Marquee Moon’ has never lacked for accolades. Rolling Stone, Uncut, NME, Pitchfork, VH1 and Q Magazine have all placed the album high in various all-time lists. It only lacks a wide audience. It’s true the band never turned in a three chord pop song, but it’s a must listen for anyone who is a fan of heartfelt rock and roll.

New wave throwbacks Metric have recorded the heaviest, most propulsive, slickest 80’s record that was never recorded in the 80’s. ‘Fantasies’ moves from hook to hook, tossing off ultra catchy melodies and sing-alongs as if it were as effortless as just picking up a guitar. Metric have done their share of genre hopping in the past, previously emphasizing electronic dance beats, synth pop and alternative. Here, they’re in full stadium anthem mode. And it’s stadium rock like it should sound: majestically huge, slyly fun but not completely devoid of intelligence.

It’s hard to pick out single highlights in a set this consistently exciting. The opening ‘Help I’m Alive’ starts out with a nervous kick and paranoid lyrics. Under an upward spiraling build of crashing beats, it’s quick to deliver one of the most immediately catchy lines on the album: “Help I’m alive/My heart keeps beating like a hammer”. It’s the kind of epic, yet emotionally direct line that made The Smashing Pumpkins so accessible through their waves of distorted noise and the kind of line that shows up in nearly every song on this album. On ‘Satellite Mind’, singer Emily Haines quips “Coming home cause I want to/Hang out with a starlet/Stare up at the ceiling/Preview of a screening/Flashback of a feeling/Sixth sense of a calling/I heard you fuck through the wall/I heard you fuck”. She delivers each line with a sneer and a tone so biting, she could scare away Billy Corgan. But her voice is still always velvet lined, high pitched and doll like. Part of the fun is that you can never quite believe such a cute girl would be singing about such dark subjects.

There are a few pauses for breath, on the delicately pleading ‘Twilight Galaxy’ and the spacey melodies of ‘Collect Call’. But they’re each followed up by rousing rockers like the double timed ‘Gold Guns Girls’ which threatens to trip over itself as it hurdles along. One of the huge successes of the album is that even the anthems stay personal and have compelling stories. The defiant chant that culminates ‘Blindness’ is a perfect example. The song begins as a moody, low register piece that half way through suddenly unfolds into a full blown foot stomper with Haines repeating over and over “What it is and where it stops nobody knows/You gave me a life I never chose/I wanna leave but the world won’t let me go/I wanna leave but the world won’t let me go”. Stadium rock at its best.

Appropriate then that the final track on the album, ‘Stadium Love’ is a song as bombastic as anything Muse is putting out. All it’s missing is the orchestral flourishes. Metric keeps things rooted in a simple rock structure, all guitar heavy and soaring vocals with whip sharp drumming and driving bass lines layered and layered until they’re as big as their ambitions. It’s a brilliant achievement that reminds you that there’s still room for fun in the bleak world of alternative rock and roll.