Firstly a tribute. This man passed away earlier in the month, and I wanted to say a few words about him.
Johnny Rhythm, indie legend, a man without whom so many wonderful things might never have happened. He was responsible for giving my first band 'Les Incompetents' our first ever gig, at the rhythm factory, a venue in Whitechapel that he basically ran for a few years during the peak of the post-Strokes 'new rock revolution' era.
He had a big hand in putting on a lot of the first shows I ever went to, including a good five of the fifteen or so times I saw the Libertines when I was about sixteen. He then continued to make appearances all over London, bringing a boundless energy and humour to venues all over, whether DJing, promoting, or just having a good time.
We sort of lost touch over the last few years, which made the news of his passing all the more sudden. But what it triggered in my memory was that during the years I referenced above - 2003, 2004, 2005, there was a real passion and excitement about music throughout the country. Fair enough, regional music 'scenes' (including London) were often more exciting than the actual bands and songs themselves, but I could swear I felt a slightly higher and more genuine sense of enthusiasm.
And now those days are gone...
Having said that, I guess it can't have been that much of a heyday, because all we were left with was, 'The Coral', 'Up The Bracket' and 'Whatever You Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' plus a couple of good British Sea Power records and potentially the Futureheards' debut. A pretty sorry output compared to 'Is This It', 'Room on Fire', 'Turn on the Bright Lights', 'Antics', 'White Blood Cells', 'Elephant', 'Fever to Tell'. 'Echoes', 'Pawn Shoppe Heart', 'Bows and Arrows' etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
To cut to the chase, I'm excited about British music again. And I think you should be too. I have faith that 2009 will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Last month, I heard the Horrors second album. Last week I heard the second Noah and the Whale album. Next week I hear the second Lightspeed Champion album. And it's not just about sophomore works, though I think those will be three killers. In fact, I know they will.
But there's also a tonne of new bands I love. Which is very rare.
Whether it's Loverman, my teenage next door neighbour turned primal lethario of stage and screen:
Or The XX with their grim home made bus depot pop -
Or S.C.U.M, the only slice of London monochrome indie invoking any feelings of real torment and darkness. It probably isn't real, but I don't think it's meant to be. It just makes for an even more stunning and over the top live experience:
Or even Alan Pownall...Richmond's answer to a young Sinatra, and a man who never ceases to provide insightful quips, "You like grunge?", he asks. "Listen to No Doubt".
And of course Video Nasties' debut album 'On All Fours' finally comes out next month, a monolithic teenage celebration, and labour of love, that I've been waiting for for about five years. Check out their series of free album launch shows this month, and I'll post more info on the release as it comes.
I have to sleep now, I'm going on a forsaken trip to Austria in five hours time, but I'll leave you with this track. It became my single of the year on first listen, and I haven't stopped pressing the play button since.
Romantic, sentimental, experimental: essential.
The Big Pink - Velvet.