Friday, February 18, 2011

A dissenting clique, a subway sect

Vic Godard made a record last year, did you notice? His first set of new songs since 2002’s Sansend, and his best since The End of the Surrey People. The artwork is so bad, it’s a puzzle: if this is what it looks like, how much care can possibly have gone into its creation? The songs are so good, though, they make the cover look like sabotage. Which might be a recurring theme: the back cover of What’s the Matter, Boy? is light years ahead of the front, for instance. This week I ordered Vic’s Blackpool EP: the cover is lovely, and a couple of well-designed postcards accompanied it. It’s not like Subway Sect have got no style, but maybe they think it’s worth more when no-one’s looking. Because no-one’s looking? Look up ‘sect’, I guess. Faction: a dissenting clique. We come as aliens. The new album is a rough ’n’ tumble state of the nation address (‘Back in the Community’, ‘Rhododendron Town’) interspersed with joyously offbeat interjections from other planets (‘That Train’, ‘Et Meme’), winding up with the Sansend recap ‘Music of a Werewolf’, which sounds more like vindication than apology. Not that Sansend is anything to apologise for (e.g. ‘Americana → Fire’ is one of Vic’s best songs), but I’m guessing its clunky beats didn’t go down well with all those old punks. A typographically obtuse note on the back of the Sexual Objects’ Cucumber reads:
"6 "WIPE YOUR TAPES WITH LIGHTNIN'%, ...Paul Reekie said that..,.
Maybe that is a tribute (Reekie died last year), or perhaps it takes in the Sect too, because another note quotes ‘Stool Pigeon’:
we can still picnic
It also turns out that Reekie’s is the Scottish voice running through Sansend, conjuring up in a few brief clips some kind of radical hard as nails poetry discussion in the pub group. A dissenting clique, a subway sect. The kind of thing Hugh MacDiarmid probably went in for.

What I am getting at is this: Vic Godard and Subway Sect play Dundee at Dexter’s, Castle Street on 13th March. Doors 7:30PM, tickets from Groucho’s. Spectorbullets are supporting, and a couple of plays of their album suggests they are very much worth turning up for too.


Update: I’ve added the gig poster above (thanks Andy), and should point out that tickets are also available from We Got Tickets.


Anonymous said...

I noticed but really didn't engage with it properly. My mistake, it's completely brilliant. We Come As Aliens is the Subway Sect I love; melodies, ideas, mad singing, casual genius. I love in Ne'er when he starts singing to his mum: 'all I ever wanted was my own little niche out there'. That song's dedicated to Paul Reekie.

I love how Subway Sect nailed a certain sound, a certain look about one and a half years into their career and can keep coming back to it and making it great. There was always so much to learn from them, there still is. At this moment in time my favourite group in the world.


Chris said...

Well said! I was surprised to hear Brogues say neither you nor he had listened to it when it came out, but at least it gave me the chance to recommend something brilliant to him, rather than it always being the other way around. What a way to follow '1978 Now'...

brogues said...

You really did me a favour in recommending it. Thanks so much! On the first play, I was totally taken aback by the vitality and the sheer clattery joyousness of it. At his book launch the other day Stuart Murdoch said that "music is a young a man's game". I'm guessing he hasn't heard "We Come As Aliens"!

Chris said...

You're very welcome! That does sound an odd thing to say, given the context. Maybe it was a coded apology for having Norah Jones on his album.

Andy said...

Thanks for the 'plug'. I wonder if Stuart Murdoch confused music with fame in his quote. Certainly there are plenty of artists and bands of a perhaps less than youthful bent making some of the best music around without having to worry about 'careers' and so forth. Long may Vic Godard & Subway Sect continue to soundtrack my life.

Chris said...

Of course it is your highly desirable / rare copies of 'T.R.O.U.B.L.E.' and 'Songs for Sale' which got me interested in the first place, as I remember it. Your old flat struck me as the height of sophistication, what with those, a whole wall of other vinyl and a newspaper rack. And a wooden door thoughtfully labelled 'Wood'. Fond memories...

Good point about careers, too. They are for cissies.

Andy said...

I'm not quite sure about the height of sophistication but thanks. The newspaper rack still exists, as does the monstrous record shelving thing that I found all forlorn in some Homebase type place. I paid a token amount for it as it had been more or less discarded and the shop delivered it. Intact. Two cursing, sweating guys carried up both flights of stairs. I later realised that it could be dismantled. Sadly, it resides upstairs now and it's massed ranks are less often replenished but still cherished.

Blog Archive