Sunday, June 14, 2009

walking back to you is the hardest thing that i can do.

After hearing snippets of The Jesus and Mary Chain for years, but not knowing who was behind the music, they came to my attention when I bought a Filter Mag in the summer of 2005. I was drawn to the article by the unique band name and I proceeded to read a fantastic interview with singer and guitarist Jim Reid. Since then, I have only become increasingly enamored with the Scottish shoegaze/post-punk band. From their formation in 1983 until their near-decade long disbandment in 1998, the JMC spanned a wide range of sounds and genres. The often volatile partnership between brothers Jim and William Reid was able to produce musical genius.

The JAMC's first two studio albums are vastly different from one another. Psychocandy (1985) begins on a semi-quiet note with the veiled "Just Like Honey," made especially brilliant by Bobby Gillespie's percussion. But, it is quicky noticeable that this album is all about feedback as it continues to build up. What makes it unique is that melody is never far from the forefront. No matter how much noise they made, the reverberating vocals and underlying gentleness still manage to show through. With Darklands (1987) came a shift to softer guitars and electronic drums. It has a much more mellow sound, but they executed the change with ease, losing nothing musically. In my opinion, it is often times more listenable than Psychocandy, but neither is inherently "better" than the other.

The following album, Automatic (1989), is a sort of mixture of the other two. It includes "Head On," which became a classic cover by The Pixies. Although it has not received as much attention, perhaps for its less abrasive and more synth-heavy approach, I still greatly appreciate the songs and sounds.

Notorious for short gigs and antagonistic shoegaze tactics, like performing with their backs to the audience, a Jesus and Mary Chain show was often enough to incite a riot. They were simply always a band who did what they wanted. That is, up until the drama became too much and William Reid walked off stage in 1998, angry that Jim was in no state to perform. Luckily, the brothers seem to have reconciled and they continue to exude their trademark effortless cool as they currently work on new music.

Never Understand (1985)
Just Like Honey live (1985)
April Skies live (from Darklands)
Take it (1989)

For extended listening, I highly recommend the compilation The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities (2008).

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