Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm a drifter

Why does good music get ignored? While there are many relatively feasible answers to this question, none of them really satisfy me. In this particular situation, I'm going to blame America's love for what has been termed "grunge" and "alt rock".

The year is 1993. Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Liz Phair, Pearl Jam, and a number of other artists are making quite a name for themselves on commercial radio. Grunge music (not really a term i like to attach to anything) is the new fuss in the USA. The music is the new sound of generation X and there's a very distinct clothing style to go along with it. While all this is going on-- there's a musical movement going on in the U.K. that is very different from what is happening in America. It's more or less the brit-pop explosion of the 1990's. I won't go into great detail about the late 80's early 90's 'madchester' movement, as other writers have covered the subject in great detail. Click here if you'd like to read a detailed account of the subject. I do want to point something out about the role that grunge music had in suppressing the madchester movement from hitting the USA hard.

American grunge music was hard and angry. Brit pop around the same time was offering a very contrasting feel. Bands like Blur, Pulp, and Intastella were offering a much happier pop oriented sound. Aside from a few artists not much of this Madchester music made it onto American Radio. So in short, an amazing song like "Drifter" by Intastella is a super-unkown piece of music who's magical ways will never really see the light of day. Perhaps I'm being overly dramatic though. I'm sure there are more than a handful of people who care about the song. This is especially true in the U.K. where Intastella got plenty of attention.

What the hell is so great about this song? On the surface, "Drifter" seems to be a very basic poppy love song about a drifter. The feel of the song however, has the power to evoke a very warm nostalgic feeling to the listener. This song has taken the sound of summer vacation, love, the beach, warm weather, teenagers, relationships, campfires, magic, and drugs and put them all together into one beautiful composition.

I'm not going to get into great detail about the specifics of this song. The drawbar organ sounds great. The acoustic guitars make me feel like I'm at a beach. Further more, I'm impressed that they pulled off the use of so many acoustic guitars on a relatively poppy sounding dance song. The electric wah-wah guitar sounds great. If you listen carefully, you'll be able to hear a cool right to left speaker panning effect in the beginning. They remind me of 311's "transistor" album. They keyboards are transparent and sound great. The percussion is perfect for the song.
Intastella also has balls for making a 1 minute long intro for a pop song. Stella Grundy's voice sounds warm, endearing, and really--- like some sort of nostalgic audio liquid.

One might consider that I'm in love with the idea of actually being a drifter. This could absolutely add to my bias towards the song's greatness. I continually dream of leaving all my belongings behind and going out on the road with virtually nothing. Ah yes-- the pressures of everyday living would be entirely left behind.......right? I wouldn't have to worry about user names, pin numbers, passwords, and other seemingly meaningless things. I haven't done it yet and probably never will. When I listen to this song however, I feel like I have. Or like I have been a drifter before and am reminiscing.

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