Tuesday, 1 February 2011

arab strap

it happens that i'm reading the celestial cafe by stuart murdoch (singer for belle and sebastian), sort of because i've never really got into belle and sebastian but also because it's a wee change on the collections of letters i've been reading of late (but in the same ball park). but while i'm writing this i find myself not wanting to listen to belle and sebastian (who i will, just later) but to falkirk's finest, arab strap, who, to me are a wee bit like belle and sebastian's bad cousin.

i hated arab strap the first i heard them and in particular i hated the song new birds which is the very one i'm listening to now (it's on the philophobia album). of course this was a time when i was into electronic music so i scorned everything that had voices and instruments on it and i had a loathing for al that indie music of the, to me then, twee belle and sebastian ilk. the things you think!

of course now it's all different. listening to arab strap now is to take me back to a certain time, a certain set of feelings that can only be falkirk. i wrote a story once in which i described falkirk as the bad penny of central scotland towns. there's nothing there except industry (and not so much of that now), unemployment and, for those of us unfortunate enough ot have to live there, a need to flee. now it may be that you live in falkirk and like it which is fair enough but, as i described it just recently, i was never unaware when i lived in falkirk that i didn't fit in and even if i doubted it there were plenty of people to remind, a fact that remains unchanged to this day.

so listening to arab strap i remember those visits, later now, where all there seemed to do was to drink in dreadful bars and shout mundane conversations over appalling music to people you weren't really interested in but might be forced into having sex with later. just for something to do. and arab strap capture that in spades - maybe why i disliked them so much at first!

all the more irony then that two of the bands i'd regard as touchstones these days, arab strap being one, are from the falkirk area, the cocteau twins being the other one (and they being from grangemouth, another unspiring town of mudflats and chemical refineries). and yet, unlovely as those images might be to have a wee listening session to either, or both, is to be transported. if i have a soft spot for falkirk, and i do (just), it's somewhere to that music.

of course now that i've got to thinking about music and place (and people) that's got me to thinking about the beta band. but seeing as i'm looking at rain clouds coming that'll need to wait for another time. i'm off out on the bike...

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