Thursday, January 04, 2007

Fairytale in the Supermarket

Song: Fairytale in the Supermarket
Artist: The Raincoats
Album: The Raincoats

Back in college one of my good friends gave me as either a birthday present or Christmas gift the “SPIN Alternative Record Guide.” It was a pretty sizable book that listed all the notable “Alternative” bands of the past and present, listed their albums with a 1 – 10 rating, and also a write up about their career and cultural significance. Over the next three years or so this book became my bible, I devoured every page, and bought many of the albums they listed as significant and in some cases without hearing a note of music from these artists. Looking back at this, I find it a little silly… yet I must say with a few exceptions, I was rarely disappointed with the albums that they fell head over heels for.

The Raincoats were one of my favorite discoveries from this time. Formed in London in 1978, the Raincoats were an all female post punk act with a sound like no other. Their vocals were shrill and their use of a screaming violin even more so. Their self titled debut is one of my favorite records of all time and almost universally loathed by just about anyone I played it for. I can’t really call them an acquired taste… you either dig their out-of-left-field sound, or run for the hills claiming it’s not really music. I love them, and they were the perfect soundtrack to my college years studying feminist theory.

It is very important to note that we can all thank Kurt Cobain for the re-release of their three major albums. It has been noted that Kurt’s discomfort with fame was what lead to his suicide, which angers many, but The Raincoats career was completely resurrected simply because he mentioned them in the liner notes to “Incesticide.” Their albums were re-issued by his label Geffen, they toured with Nirvana, and soon were able to record and release another album, 1994’s “Looking in the Shadows.” I don’t know how comfortable I would be with that kind of power, Kurt obviously wasn’t.

“Fairytale in the Supermarket” opens their self titled debut and is a good indication of their sound. Odd, loud, screechy… it is like nothing that came before it. The entire record is very female centric, and Sleater Kinney, The Breeders, and countless female-fronted post punk bands no doubt hold a debt to their sound and pioneering all-female lineup. They certainly are not for everyone, but if you like the sound and attitude, I highly recommend their debut album. And it contains a monotone ironic cover of the Kinks “Lola!” How can you argue with that?


Here is some footage of the band from a BBC documentary. This proves you can literally find ANYTHING on YouTube:

1 comment:

Kyle said...

I remember that one! It was on the first mixtape you ever made me. It's nice to have it back!