Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The past is just a Blur

I was a bit late starter in the pop music stakes. Popular entertainment was frowned on in my strict religious parental home, so as a young 13-year old I was holed up in my room with my radio, catching the charts and early evening shows on local commercial radio. I didn’t really know what I liked, but it was certainly chart fodder. I didn’t know any better.

Yesterday I took my friends’ 13-year old son to see Graham Coxon at the Oxford Street Virgin Megastore. He was playing a short set to launch his new album, Love Travels at Illegal Speeds, out this week in the UK. To be honest, I’ve never been much of a Coxon fan, due mainly to neglect than dislike, but happily took the chance the check him out.

Coxon is now on his 6th solo album – he did three while he was still in Blur, and has recorded further three more since leaving his former band. I was vaguely aware of his earlier stuff, which seemed to me a bit scratchy and lo-fi. However his last long-player Happiness in Magazines, with Stephen Street giving it a more polished sound, launched him further into the public eye, gave him minor hits, and endeared him to a new generation of guitar-rock loving kids.

On the evidence of this gig, His sound is now a snappy Buzzcock-y punk pop, that chug along at a fair old pace, so he was able to cram a lot of these short punk-pop numbers into his set. It's all pretty enjoyable stuff, but agreeable though the tunes are, after a few of them, the lack of change in tempo (he doesn’t really do ballads) means the songs begin to blend together. Just when I was in danger of losing interest, he launched into the ragged glory of ‘Freakin’ Out’, his breakthrough hit from a couple of years back. At last! One I knew!

In the end Coxon’s set probably wasn't enough to entice me to buy his album, but his songs are certainly enjoyable in short bursts, and I’m open to further listening and persuading. There’s one below for starters. And looking back to my 13-year old bedroom/radio days, I would have loved to have been able to go to something like this. Great to see someone starting early on the right path. I’m retrospectively jealous…

Download: You Always Let Me Down

Buy Love Travels...

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