From Electrelane to Can

My partner gave me a Zune for Christmas. I’d asked for an MP3 player because my job is really dull and this would help get me through it. I’d only wanted a 4 gigabyte device, but I ended up with 30. It took me over a week to get all my CDs loaded onto the computer and still I had over 20 gb left. So I decided to get myself a Zune pass and listen to all the music I’d always wanted to hear but couldn’t afford and wasn’t played on the radio.

So I downloaded a bunch of Lou Reed and Sigur Ros, Television and the Residents, Wire, John Cale, Alien Ant Farm (they sucked), more Brian Eno and Patti Smith’s latest. I also discovered a great band called Ladyhawk that Carrie Brownstein mentioned in Monitor Mix. It’s great having access to all this music, and as long as I pay the monthy fee, I can keep it.

I really don’t buy many CDs these days but last summer I went to my local gay-owned CD store and one of the co-owners, Curtis, mentioned the name Electrelane to me. I’d never heard of them before. But I managed to get a few downloads off the internet, enough to know I liked them, and I went back just before Christmas and bought myself their Axes CD. Perhaps it’s not one of their best, but I do love the third track. Overall, I find the album to be a bit uneven. The jazz influence is a little too strong for my taste, although I do admire the piano player.

But now that I have the Zune pass, I can go in and check out their influences. So I started listening to a bunch of Stereolab. This is band that I’d heard of, but never heard. During the 90’s I was too busy raising children and dealing with a failing marriage to pay much attention to new music. I feel lucky that I was able to find Sleater-Kinney during those days.

But further research revealed a band called Can from the late-60s and 70s. Now where did this come from? I have never heard of Can and neither has my partner. But I already love one of their earliest albums, Soundtracks. I’ve also listened to Tago Mago a few times, and the first half is great but some of the latter pieces are a bit trying. O Peking reminds of the Resident’s song about Westinghouse which really is not very pleasant to listen to. I need to listen to more of their stuff, and it is so exciting to discover this band from so long ago. How could they have been so thoroughly buried? Why are most people content to listen to pop crap? I doubt that these questions can ever be satisfactorily answered.

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