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Souvlaki

The 1992 album by Slowdive

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Tired of shoegazing? Look to the sky...

  • Jul 2, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+5

I love everything about this album. Everything, that is, but the name.

 

“Souvlaki” conjures images of restaurants with menus high above the counter and backlit with harsh fluorescent light, where greasy men slave over greasier frying ranges and the food’s all served in plastic baskets. It’s an earthy name, whereas this is an airy album.

 

There’s a collective word for this subgenre of music—shoegazer. Reportedly, the name came about because many of the bands had such little stage presence that they didn’t do much beyond playing their instruments and staring at their feet. Like “Souvlaki,” that name feels wrong, at least for this listener; this is very atmospheric music, not fast enough to evoke flight, but a perfect soundtrack for lying on your back and staring up at the sky.

 

The instrumentation’s ethereal and nebulous—even by shoegazer standards—but there’s a charging tension that holds it all together and gives it shape and substance. It’s like a sky made more interesting by clouds—or better yet, a sky whose clouds are capable of anything from silence to storms. (People tend to describe shoegazer music as druggy. I think much of it is sleepy—but in a beautiful way, like an afternoon nap outside in the summer.)  “Sing” is pleasant and sedate, while “Dagger” evokes that early morning space between sleep and dawn, where the hushed whispers from your lover mingle with the echoes of your dreams. But there are also darker clouds, and the occasional rain squall. “Here She Comes” starts out with a pleasant name and peaceful tone, but the lyrics soon turn the calm interior into an icy lonely landscape. The opener, “Alison,” is charging and engaging, and “40 Days” builds like a summer thunderstorm until it brings forth bright beautiful flashes of guitar noise.

 

All in all, this is a damn near perfect album, a wonderful mood piece that sounds great on the first listen and stays with you thereafter. It is beautiful, emotional, inspired—in a word, heavenly.

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July 21, 2009
Awesome review!  I absolutely love Slowdive!  This is my lay-back-at-home-and-do-nothing-but-relax-and-reflect kind of music.  That, or it's nice music for a late night drive, too.  Another dream pop/shoegazer band that I really like is Cocteau Twins, and when I want to move one step up to rock and electronic, I listen to My Bloody Valentine and Massive attack, respectively.

By the way, the name of this album reminds me of the food item, too, but I later found out that the inspiration for the it is actually a little more x-rated than that :x
July 22, 2009
Yeah, My Bloody Valentine and Massive Attack are pretty great. I like the Cocteau Twins, but I don't listen to them as much--I only have "Treasure." As for the title, I tried a brief google search, but didn't want to type "x-rated" into my search bar and have them start to wonder about me! So, do tell--what's the real inspiration?
July 22, 2009
You should check out Heaven of Las Vegas, my fave Cocteau Twins album if I had to choose!
 
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Ranked #250
Alfonso Mangione has a Clark Kent job that involves managing data for a small telecommunications company.At night, he's been spottedswooping through the blogosphere at www.alfonsomangione.blogspot.com. … more
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Wiki

Souvlaki is an album released in 1993 (see 1993 in music) by the British dream pop/shoegazing band Slowdive. Widely regarded as their best album, it benefits from synthesizer contributions from co-producer Brian Eno on "Sing" (which he co-wrote) and "Here She Comes." The album's U.S. release came in February 1994, with the previously unreleased cover of "Some Velvet Morning" (written by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra in 1967) and three tracks from the band's 1993 5 EP, comprising the four U.S. release bonus tracks.
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