Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My bloody St. Patty's Day

From the Irish folk-punk fusion of The Pogues' “Rum Sodomy and the Lash” to the political protest of U2's “War,” Ireland has produced a variety of great records.

While many St. Patrick's Day celebrators may be caught in the local pubs butchering “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” others may rejoice with the band from the other side of Dublin, My Bloody Valentine.

“Loveless,” released in 1991, is the best example of the shoegaze movement, where bands stood motionless during performances, staring at their feet, similar to what the many St. Patrick's Day celebrators will be doing on the latter part of their fun night.

The luscious and textured arrangements meshed with airy melodies and sonic experimentation manifested a soundscape that almost feels tangible. The boy-girl vocals of Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher only add to the sensual experience that oozes provocativeness, something that may be hard to find in a local bar.

“Only Shallow” kicks off the record with whipping guitars contrasting with Butcher's sleepy vocals. It’s a good rocker to play while pre-gaming back at the dormitory or pounding those Irish Car Bombs at a party with your buddies.

The lush “To Here Knows When” serves as a St. Patrick's Day celebrator's motto for the night, and shows off the talents of the band, meshing Butcher's vocals with layers of feedback and guitar distortion that still feels ventilated and beautiful.

At the end of the night or the morning after, self-reflect with the distorted and piercing ballad of “Sometimes.”

Shields sings, “I don't know, when I lay down on the ground, you will find the way it hurts to love,” with imagery of post-party activities and exploration of reasons that might have impacted a crazy St. Patrick's Day night.

The hangover of “Loveless” proved to be difficult for Shields, and his collaborations with other acts like Yo La Tengo were good, but never lived up to the grand expectations left by My Bloody Valentine's last work. Then again, there are few records that do.

“Loveless” is a hazy masterpiece that plays like a forgotten dream or a St. Patrick's Day celebration that was good enough to not be remembered.

- James Vu

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