Tuesday, March 2, 2010

When You've Got It Too...

My longtime readers (all three (3) of you) will know that a couple or so times I have lauded Rhett Miller of the Old 97's as "the 2nd Greatest Songwriter of Our Generation." But have I ever mentioned the first? Yes? No? I can't remember, but here he is...Neil Halstead. Who? Yeah, I know. Unless you were falling all over shoegaze in the first half of the 90s you probably never caught note one of his absolutely unparalleled group within that self-celebrating scene, Slowdive. The music that band created was essentially a long and plaintive sigh, a splendid wave of melancholy that, to quote them, "just soothes my pain away." And if you never caught Slowdive, you likely never caught the band that followed straight on the heels of their demise, the folk-twang flavored Mojave 3, who have put out some of the finest laid back strum-along music found on either side of the pond. And if that weren't enough, he's even tried his hand solo, producing two widely diverse yet distinctly Halstead albums that both spun the laser dull on my CD player. In the Slowdive days Neil's lyrics, though descriptive, generally set a mood to fit the song and were as cryptic and open to interpretation as the music that swirled around and half buried them. Beginning with Mojave 3, a more straightforward affair, he truly began his "singer/songwriter" stage and the word-pictures he painted followed suit, stepping from the haze of a dream and projecting a roadside, field-wide, surf-ride image as clear and sharp as if the memory were your own. The best vibe to sum up Neil's work across all three of these outings is "mellow," because even at Slowdive's noisiest or Mojave 3's most upbeat (which really didn't come along until their fifth album), they are lead by the gentle spirit of a man who can carve a sweet barrel as smoothly as he can lull you into a state of absolute dreaminess. Please do not operate heavy machinery while listening.


Slowdive - Waves

Mojave 3 - Who Do You Love?

Neil Halstead - Sailing Man

Mojave 3

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