Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Dandy Warhols - Come Down (1997)

My first brush with this lot was Every Day Should be a Holiday  getting a ton of playage on the wireless, and I assumed it was almost certainly the first Ian Brown solo single seeing as he'd just left the Stone Roses and apparently had something coming out. It was the combination of burping Roland 303 suggesting baggy's rave ancestry with harmonic sixtiesisms redolent of a certain familiarity with mood-enhancing substances; until I actually caught Robert Dougall introducing the record as being by a band I'd never heard of with a terrible name.

I never had much time for Andy Warhol and always found both him and his work kind of dull, which I suppose was the point.

The Dandy Warhols, thanks in part to the popularity of an advert for a kind of telephone you can carry around in your pocket, seem to have come to represent the corporate idea of a quirky independent band, the musical equivalent of That Seventies Show if you will; but having had entire decades without mainstream media, I missed most of that and by the time I found out, I already liked this album so it was too late. They probably are Jefferson Starship, but fuck it - this is a great record nevertheless, which I state as someone who is not ordinarily well-disposed towards anything which sounds like it might represent an exercise in nostalgia.

Come Down amounts to the Beach Boys fused with the Velvet Underground, maybe with a faint trace of either the Pixies or Sonic Youth, but with the considerable advantage of neither Lou Reed nor Thurston Moore being involved in any capacity. It isn't the most shockingly original thing you've ever heard, but it does what it does exceptionally well. In fact it probably does it better than anything it may or may not have ripped off. People wearing head bands and saying far out may be pure arseache in most contexts outside that of the decade upon which this leans so heavily, but I'd say the Billy Childish defence applies here, at least providing you ignore the advert for a kind of telephone you can carry around in your pocket.

The Billy Childish defence, from what I can remember, runs something along the lines of how the Milkshakes were simply playing the music they wanted to hear, the music which sounded the most powerful to them regardless of what anyone else might think; as distinct from rock 'n' roll cabaret acts in crepes and drapes doing their best to keep your mum and dad happy by reminding them of the good times. Not that there's anything wrong with nostalgia in itself, not beyond that I've scratched at least one jangly Beatles obsessive and found a hankering for culture before all those blackies ruined it with their thumpa-thumpa music, but revived forms of expression aren't always inherently necrophiliac in intent; and if any of that makes any sense whatsoever, that's why Come Down sounds so great to me. After all, no-one listens to Beethoven because they miss the 1820s.

So this whole disc is really just raw tunes and euphoria, and the pattern of wallpaper doesn't really matter; and if it's bankrolled by the man, it still doesn't sound like it on this with the soft psychedelia of the harmonies, uncluttered production, and those organ riffs worming their way into your subconscious. If only the Stone Roses had been this good.

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