Over the weekend, I had to endure the Rockies beating up on the Cubs and my beloved Manchester United falling to Manchester City 1 - 0. "Why," you may wonder am I going on about sports when I should be talking about music? Well, I like the Cubs, so eat me. I also spent quite a bit of time in the U.K., having gone to a boarding school there. While I was there, I learned a lot of things. For example, I learned how to cheat at soccer. I also learned that I'm dangerous with a nine iron, having clocked my pal, Dodge in the head twice . . .in the same round of golf. Depending on how you look at that one, I'm either deadly good or horrifically bad. I'm going with the first option as a means of soothing any doubts I may have about my golf game.
Something else I learned in Britain is the power of a song, the power of a single song to really make a crowd stop and listen for a moment, then raise their glasses together and belt out every single syllable of a song. My experience with this began in old school English pubs with cool names, like "The Antelope" and "The White Lion." Even before we were legal to drink there, we still got in. I never had a problem walking into a pub and getting a pint. It could be my smooth charm or the fact that I've been 6'3" since I was fourteen. Basically, I was just bigger than everyone else. Not that I was fat or anything, I was just tall and usually seemed a little older than I really was. So, my young liver was about to get a serious introduction to alcohol. I exercised it like it was a muscle and, pint after pint, it got stronger and stronger. To this day if I go out with friends they tell me that I can't have eaten anything because if I have, there would be no buzzed Chris, just the one that smiles a little more.
So, as I'm training my liver for the Alcohol Olympics, I also get exposed to this sort of pub tradition that involves everyone singing together. I'm not talking campfire songs or anything like that, but the patrons would hear a random song and all the sudden, break out into a beer hazed sing-a-long. THIS, boys and girls, is how I became an Oasis fan.
We always popped into the pub for a beer or twenty because we could. Like the rest of the Brits, it was less of a party atmosphere and more of an excuse for us sit back and down a few pints in a fairly calm setting. There we were, having a pint of Guiness or, for me, it was usually Carlsberg. This place is, by no means, packed, but there are enough people there that it seemed festive enough to not worry about laughing too loud. It was then that I heard it. Noel's opening chords just sort of whispered through the air and the pub got completely silent and as soon as Liam's raspy voice belts out the first lyrics, "today is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you . . ." the entire pub raises their glasses and sings along. THE ENTIRE PUB RAISES THEIR GLASSES AND SINGS ALONG. Bartender, patrons . . .I think people passing by the door poked their heads into sing, as well. I sat there, looking around in amazement. Everything stopped and for the duration of the song, about four minutes, not a single person in that pub was different. They were all the same, singing the same song, laughing and smiling for no other reason than the simple fact that a song was playing. "Wondewall" by Oasis made them happy, totally happy for a few minutes out of what could have been a totally horrible day. For those few minutes, a song made people happy and THAT, made me happy as well.
Great bands have come out of the U.K. throughout history. You automatically think of The Beatles and the Stones. Clapton is British, so he counts. The Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Queen and The Clash based their music on their working class roots and inspired an entire generation to raise their arms and salute the world with one finger. The 80's came along and saw tons of great bands leave the grey British weather behind and "invade" the U.S. Bands like U2, The Police, Tears for Fears, Genesis, The Smiths, The Cure . . .the list is too long to keep going, but you get my drift. Perhaps the kings of British music, Radiohead have been and will continue to be one of my all time favorite bands, so I think it's pretty safe to say that there's a wealth of talent in Britain.
Flashguns is no exception. They are inherently British, and if you've spent any amount of time there, you can spot a Brit from a mile away. Even their names sound British, but this three-piece of Sam Johnston (vocals,guitar), Olly Scanlon (bass) and Giles Robinson (drums) somehow manage to incorporate the sounds of all the bands I mentioned above while putting their own jangly sound to the lyrics that are very heartfelt and sometimes bordering on Joy Division dark. Take, for example, the song, "Bells at Midnight." The intro could easily be confused with an early song by the Cure. It's upbeat, but buried in the pop tinged sound are lyrics like, "a figure of fun for you, i never put a foot out of line for you, seems like a hell of a thing to do." There's this quiet foreboding side to the songs that draws you in and the vast difference in the music and the lyrics give you the sense that something bigger is building. . . and it is.
By far, the one song that truly hooked me to these guys is a seven minute, dusty floor romp called, "Racing Race." This song just simmers and simmers on the seemingly slow motion pace to the guitar and the drums. Sam's wail just sits on top of the song giving it a desperate feel and, as the song progresses, so, too does this unidentified feeling of uncertainty. The song seems to end about four minutes in, but just seems to drag on giving off this tension that's beyond description. Sam's voice fades to the background, as if he's screaming at you from the distance and the song just meanders into this quicksand pace, just slowly fading into your speakers. After I heard it, I just leaned back in my seat, stared at the ceiling for a minute, then played it again. Because I care, I've provided you with the song.
Flashguns - Racing Race by Flashguns
I'll stop rambling now. I have a tendency to do that when I'm trying to figure something out. Check the guys out at all the regular social media spots:
Until next week . . .