Monday, June 04, 2007

More Songs To Learn And Sing #4

We've tried whenever we've done this sort of thing to get some special guest involvement, and the next to forward their own pop motion is just the sort of person we've had in mind, in our own narrow frame of reference. About to release his band's third album Backlash Cop (in stores 18th June) on his own label, Smalltown America records and Jetplane Landing's Andrew Ferris:

The Lapse - Buffet

I was taught how to play guitar by John O'Neill from The Undertones when I was thirteen. Those days seem so romantic to me now; each week John would loan me an amazing vinyl to decipher: 13th Floor Elevators; REM; Joy Division; Bowie; Velvet Underground; Nuggets. I still have my notebook from then and those roots have sustained me ever since. In fact, I annoying launch into 'Dirty Water' by The Standells every time I pick up a guitar.

When I decided to move to London in 2000 to form Jetplane Landing with bassist and writing partner Jamie Burchell we were deeply into the Drake, Smith (Elliot) and Costello catalogues - immersed in that now immensely popular acoustica. One night I heard Buffet by The Lapse on John Peel and everything changed. Taken from their final album Heaven Ain't Happening (Southern Records) it still gives me shivers.

"We make meals out of condiments!" Chris Leo exclaims after two solid minutes of an incredible funk-punk groove. It was the coolest (for once that word seems right to use) and bravest thing I'd ever heard on the radio. It ripped up my rule book.

The live cut; the insane lyrics about 'party dips and after-dinner mints'; Toko Yasuda's sensual backing vocals - and that drumming! The album is a must buy for anyone wanting to dip their toe into experimental indie. It's such a good bridging record for your collection and opened up a new world for me in a single blow.

In terms of a song to learn and sing, bands would do well take this one into the practice room - it's a study of meter, mode and vocal polyrhythm that once dissected is never forgotten. My favourite songs are those that sound incredibly simple and catchy to the listener but are exactly the opposite once you figure out how to play them. Hotel California this is not, and people won't understand why you'd want to play Buffet on acoustic guitar - but if you can pull it off, let me know and I'll be at the gig.

We were lucky to play with The Lapse on our first UK tour and they performed a completely different version of this track. Punk at its best takes risks and doesn't compromise, check this track out for a tick in both those boxes.


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