Ash were a band that grew up with me. Their first full length album came out just as my taste for indie guitar pop was developing and it was the first album that I fell properly in love with. After that, every three years or so, they would announce a new album – one that I would become hideously anxious about hating, be unsettled and unsure of on first listen only to fall in love with it even harder than the last before the week was out.
Their development as a band is so tightly intertwined with mine as person – no other band could ever do a better job of writing the to soundtrack my teenage years.
Theirs was the first logo I drew in permanent marker on the desk in my bedroom. The Angel Interceptor poster was the first on my wall. They are the reason I write my capital A’s the way I do and they were the reason I spent most of the summer of 1996 wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Domination Teenage Bisexual” emblazoned across to the back – much to the confusion and embarrassment of my mother.
They were the first band that prompted me to buy all of their singles twice because first time round I thought it would be cool to put all the CDs into their own flip-book storage case – like stickers in a sticker album – and then use the CD artwork to cover my schoolbooks. Then I realised that it didn’t really look like much of a collection presented like that and I wanted all the boxes back.
They were the first band whose sheet music I bought and the first band to cause me to sit down and painstakingly learn each and every note on the piano.
They were the reason I bought a guitar and the reason I still know how to play a Bb diminished chord.
They were the band that forced me to buy a record player because they gave away an exclusive 7” single (on clear, glittered vinyl) to members of their fanclub. It was a cover of Dusty Springfield’s I Only Wanna Be With You and I had it for a year before I could play it.
They were the only reason I ever skived a class at school. They were playing an afternoon gig at our local Virgin Megastore in support of the Burn, Baby, Burn release when I was in sixth form and I was paralysed with the irrational fear that I was going to be expelled if I sneaked out of single physics to catch it. It was at that gig that I met the friend who I would start playing in a band with later that year. No-one noticed I was missing from class.
They were the band that got me through one of the two nights I have been forced to stay out on the streets in a strange city overnight due to poor planning. They had just released Clones – the lead single from Meltdown – and I decided to use the time I spent sat on a bench in Liverpool city centre at 4am to revisit their back catalogue in preparation of the new album.
Though I have it, I haven’t listened to their final album yet. They announced that it would be their last before it was released and hence ramped up the feeling of anxiety I had – and still have – about it. Even though they continue to release singles (just no albums) I can’t help but feel that this album might definitively mark the last chapter of my childhood and, as such, I’m not sure I want to touch it yet.
It’s coming up though, so I suppose I have no choice…
Also listened to:
Aneka – Japanese Boy A song that would never, ever get released if it was written today. Apparently it didn’t chart too well in Japan – the party line on it being that the melody sounded “too Chinese”.
Anita Ward – Ring My Bell The 7 minute, 12-inch version. This was the first song I heard in which I noticed the huge gulf between 12-inch versions and radio edits.
Anna Ternheim – You Mean Nothing To Me Anymore A single song I collected when I was on a Swedish singer-songwriter kick. A little bare for my liking, but sweet enough.
Apostle Of Hustle I know I don’t have the right Canadian indie credentials to be saying things like this, but I think “Apostles Of Hustle” is a better band name than “Apostle Of Hustle”.
The Apples In Stereo Four songs from New Magnetic Wonder.
Arab Strap – Flirt The only song which appears to have survived an inexplicable culling of the album “Monday At The Hug And Pint” – an album I remember really quite liking.
Architecture In Helsinki The third hipster band name in quick succession.
Arctic Monkeys The first album and a live cover of Diamonds Are Forever.
Arthur Lyman Caravan – from the “Ocean’s Eleven” soundtrack.