Everyone has a `first love’ story. More often than not, that first love broke your heart, left you in pain, and forever scarred your heart. Everything associated with that love: places, names, and music, bring the memories flooding back and reopen old wounds that were once thought completely healed. I’m no different.
It was my first year in college and I was introduced to a friend of a friend, a beautiful doe-eyed blonde named Vanessa. She was perfect; at least that’s my memory of her. Not only gorgeous, she was funny, smart, and had excellent taste in music. In the first few short weeks of our courtship we exchanged mix tapes that included Squeeze, Aztec Camera, Erasure, Robbie Robertson’s “Broken Arrow”, and a whole bunch of other music that will still trigger memories to this day. One of the songs I put on a tape for Vanessa was The Trash Can Sinatras’ “You Made Me Feel” from their first album, Cake. I loved that album, and in fact I still love it. Their sophomore album, I’ve Seen Everything is fantastic also.
Well, it’s been fifteen years since Cake was released and the Sinatras are back! Upon reading reports from this year’s South by Southwest festival, SXSW for those of you who love acronyms, I found that Trashcan Sinatras, as they are now named, had come back and had new material to play and a new album on the way. I was beside myself with joy. I didn’t even feel this way when I found out that the Alarm were getting back together on VH-1’s Bands Reunited. For some the new Cure album was a godsend, for others the solo efforts of Ian McCulloch and Dave Gahan were lights in a darkness, still for others the Pixies reunion was like the second coming, literally. All those were great, I agree, but for me, the Holy Grail was a new album by Trashcan Sinatras.
Weightlifting is the title of the new album and that’s exactly what it must feel like for the band members if that’s what it feels like for me, like a great weight has been lifted and I can see the horizon ahead. The aptly titled first song is “Welcome Back” and sounds like a composition from a Finn brother. And don’t worry, that’s a good thing. The second track is, for me, the one that truly heralds the return of a great band. Sounding something akin to a mixture of their old material and something new by Travis, the song is beautiful and simply soars. The song is sure to be on my end of the year list. Francis Reader’s divine voice, after fifteen years, has not changed an iota.
One of the things that caught my attention to the Sinatras in the first place was Francis’ way with wordplay on their first album, particularly the songs “Obscurity Knocks”, “Only Tongue Can Tell” and “You Made Me Feel”. While the lyrics on Weightlifting don’t match the cleverness found on that album, it doesn’t quite seem to matter. They’ve grown beyond a mere gimmick and are creating amazingly adult songs that tug at the heartstrings such as “What Women do to Men”. Amazingly enough, a new song by the Sinatras brought back that first love memory. I had woken up in her dorm to the sound of her voice on the telephone telling another `man’ that she loved him. I feigned sleep and was completely destroyed inside. I hung on, helplessly in love and hoping for a miracle, until she finally broke up with me less than a week later.
Someone else will meet her,
Stay awake and read to her;
Someone else will love her.
Damn. Fourteen years is a long time though and time wounds all heels. (My lame attempt to honor Reader’s excellent way with words). No matter how hurt I was, (after all, the `relationship’ only lasted three months, but for a first love three months is a lifetime) my love for the music of Trashcan Sinatras could not be marred. I seem to have some special fondness for Scottish bands, starting with the Sinatras and the Silencers in the 80’s and continuing on to now with Travis, Snow Patrol, Delgados, Franz Ferdinand, and it seems like another new one every week.
Trashcan Sinatras might not be for everybody. They don’t really have an `edge’ like a lot of bands are `supposed’ to have nowadays. They aren’t hard or gritty or glossy. What Trashcan Sinatras are is a great band writing extraordinary songs with solid lyrics and radiant music; playing those songs with stunning vocal beauty and emotional musicianship. Welcome back Sinatras, I missed you.
Travis- The Man Who
Neil Finn- Try Whistling This
Crowded House- Temple of Low Men