I took an extended break for the holidays after completing the fall semester's Neil Young course and it wound up lasting a lot longer than originally planned. But the Shelf's back now and I hope to return to the old rate of three posts a week. My work schedule has changed, which might make this a little complicated, but that's the plan for now.
In other news, I've upgraded my Box account so that I can post direct links to the files rather than links to Box pages. This means the blog is now costing me money (in addition to the untold dollars I've spent the past twenty-odd years pissing away on records), so hopefully the added incentive will keep me on schedule. Here goes nothin'.
Boston's Swirlies were often categorised as part of the city's alleged "chimp rock" scene in the 90s, but I certainly couldn't tell you what that means. Swirlies themselves could be vaguely described as sounding like Pavement trying to cover My Bloody Valentine and not getting it quite right, but that doesn't quite nail them.
1993's BlonderTongueAudioBaton remains the band's best known album and was for many years the only one I owned. It's a pleasing little gem that holds up quite well to this day, a fine exemplar of the angular noise-pop that was a common indie rock sound at the time. Highly recommended.
Side one closes with the majestic "Pancake", which became the band's biggest "hit" (for lack of a better term). The song starts with a wall of amps suffering through pretty chord changes, topped by ethereal female vocals. After the second verse, the band drops the volume momentarily before tearing back in at a noticeably jacked-up tempo, propelled by a terrific beat (listen closely to and marvel at the kick-drum pattern).
The band obviously realised they had written their best song and proceeded to milk it. The following year's Brokedick Car EP contains five songs, two of which are versions of "Pancake". "Pancake Cleaner" is just the same recording with the distorted guitar tracks mixed lower; I'm pretty sure that's the one A— played. "House of Pancake", on the other hand, is a full-on remix anchored by a decent triphop beat. It predates the remix craze that would later sweep through indie rock by a couple of years, so it's got that going for it, but the original really can't be improved upon. Some songs are just too perfect. Besides, the drumming in the coda is clearly the song's best feature, and the remix doesn't incorporate it. Cute effort, though.
Buy it... on vinyl (CD and vinyl for both are all in the same link; check out those prices!).
From my deck to you: Swirlies –
"Pancake", "Pancake Cleaner" and "House of Pancake"