Yesterday, the match-ups; today, the results. Tomorrow, who knows what?! (Well, on this web site, at least, just more of the same.)
I Should Coco (Supergrass) beats Word Gets Around (Stereophonics)
“You’ll always be 23, yet the train runs on and on.” Mr Stereophonic, Kelly Jones, sings that line with such guttural conviction, you almost believe him. Alas, though, it turns out to be false. No matter. Here are two debut albums that can transport you back to younger days with whip-lash efficiency. Better yet – for me – to watching other, unknown bands make a bloody racket in tiny, dank, and hot underground venues. (Secretly, I always wanted to sit down. Old before my time? Possibly – but at least I showed up, right? And even Odysseus himself might have grumbled some about the journey home from Camden, after midnight via terrifying night bus.) Anyhow: I Should Coco, every time.
On (Echobelly) beats The Man Who (Travis)
If I’ve ever cause to look back on this in years to come (can’t think what that would be, but still…), Echobelly going through to the final eight will surely seem like some kind of gross clerical error. In the meantime, I’ll just have to mumble something about them being catchy and how catchiness is an undervalued commodity. You’ll look at me sort of funny – but not muster a reaction any stronger on account of who here they beat. Travis: such an easy band to like, such a hard one to love. (Discord welcome at comment section below.)
Sun Is Often Out (Longpigs) beats Moseley Shoals (Ocean Colour Scene)
As much as I liked Sun Is Often Out the first time I heard it, it seems to get even better every time you listen. Maybe it’s the liberal use of a hammond organ (fact: only ever a good thing), or maybe it’s ‘just’ a great set of songs. Or else, perhaps, the way singer Crispin Hunt manages somehow to groan and wail without ever provoking the urge to slap him in the face. Not sure – and yet the wanting to find out feels decisively instructive; the sense that sticking around longer equals more pleasure to be had. Is the same also true of Ocean Colour Scene? Best to leave that hanging, I think.
Different Class (Pulp) beats Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (Spiritualized)
It is, I suggest, greatly to Spiritualized’s credit that their songs often teeter on the very brink of outstaying their welcome without ever actually doing so. Here, for example, you might question the urgent need for Cop Shoot Cop to last 17 minutes and 13 seconds, but then you… Okay, no, that could well be the exception to prove the rule, I admit. Either way, I’ll gladly maintain that Ladies & Gentlemen… is more than fit to tie Pulp’s heavyweight boot laces. Different Class is sexier, though, and funnier. (“…imagining a blue plaque above the place I first ever touched a girl’s chest,” etc.)
Parklife (Blur) beats OK Computer (Radiohead)
You can definitely like them both – a lot, even – but I seriously doubt you can enjoy Blur and Radiohead equally. Somewhere along the line you have to figure, Graham Coxon or Johnny Greenwood? The Alex James nonchalant cigarette technique or the Thom Yorke schizophrenic dance? Far Out or Fitter Happier? Alright, you obviously don’t. But a world in which you do would be manifestly better, so let’s go with it anyway. Look, see, there I am already – singing End of a Century in my head, lest I butcher it out loud. Altogether now: “She says there’s ants in the carpet/Dirty little monsters/Eating all the morsels/Picking up the rubbish…”
Coming Up (Suede) beats Screamadelica (Primal Scream)
Right then, points off for Primal Scream for Bobby Gillespie’s overt Scottishness, and extra points to Suede for (I read in Wikipedia) supporting Coming Up in America with “a three city tour.” (can’t believe that didn’t do it…). Suede had no earthly right to be this good after parting ways with ace guitarist Bernard Butler. But they managed it anyway. With a 17 year-old replacement guitarist called Richard. Freak of nature, or conclusive proof we were all shit 17 year-olds? It’s both, isn’t it? Ho hum, at least we can always listen to the music other people make.
Holy Bible (Manic Street Preachers) beats K (Kula Shaker)
I could argue that Kula Shaker attract feint praise as pollen does a bee. That, though, would be falsely to assert they attract any praise at all… No matter that K was first released to the sound of rapturous applause (meaning, of course, the NME liked it), these days you’re liable to find more affection for a vagabond pissing on your shoes. Well I’ll be damned if that simply isn’t fair. Round about the occasion of Matt Sharp’s 16th birthday, a few of us went to see them at (if memory serves) the Hammersmith Apollo. It was a good night. Holy Bible still miles better, of course…
Definitely Maybe (Oasis) beats Showbiz (Muse)
Er, Muse got better later; Oasis didn’t. That said, is there any chance Oasis can go back in time, listen to I Should Coco, and learn from Supergrass how to end a song before it starts blandly repeating itself? If there’s a single person in the known universe who couldn’t happily live without the last two minutes of, for example, Shakermaker, then the world truly is a stranger place than it’s possible to realize. Either that or, it’s true, Liam really can’t see past the end of his own nose.
And so, once again, I’ve walked you to the misty hinterland of your reading stamina. The good news? There’s another eight albums down, and only eight more to go…
See you again tomorrow? Certainly hope so! (But now, if you don’t mind, last night’s recording of Top Gear isn’t going to watch itself and it’s getting kind of late…)