Sunday, 7 September 2014

Ginger Wildhearts G•A•S•S• Membership (The First Triannual) (Review)

Rather than dissect each single as soon as it’s released, I decided to wait until an albums worth had been done and give it all a good listen as a whole and allow all the songs to sink in, I’m glad I did. For those not in the know, G·A·S·S· or (Ginger Associated Secret Society) is a new way of bringing music to the fans created by Ginger Wildheart and friends, working like a digital fanclub for £30 you get a 3 song single each month for a year to download and a whole host of extras. Benefits include bonus demo's and unreleased songs from his archive, a chance to ask anything you want each month, a daily diary, podcasts, reviews of classic albums and horror movies, competitions, exclusive merch and probably more that I’m forgetting about, to put I bluntly it’s a fucking bargain.

Now all this is very good, but the notion of releasing 36 songs in a year is no easy feat, and other bands have tried similar things before, remember the Ash A-Z series?, there were some great songs there, but some pretty shit stuff as well. So it’s easy to ponder that Ginger has promised more than he could manage here, over-committed himself, in short it’s never gonna work, however been a long-time fan and a compulsive collector, I signed up regardless.

So the first month rolls in, and month 1 single ‘Everything’ is quickly downloaded and consumed, It’s exactly what you’d expect from one of the UK’s strongest songwriters, a great melody wrapped around heartfelt lyrics, and it’s a bloody good song, but it’s not a belter. Luckily however any Wildhearts fan should know by now that often the best is saved for side B or in the digital age, song 2 and ‘That’s A Nasty Habit You’ve Got There’ is the belter of a song I was expecting, it’s what makes being a fan of Ginger’s work so worthwhile, all quirky melodies and bittersweet refrains like ‘that tongue put a little cyanide in everyone’s ears’ and it’s easily one of my favourite G·A·S·S· songs, after that I’d be happy with another good song, but this is where it gets even better, you’re hit with another top song. ‘Bloody Knees’ closes the first month single with a ton of technical jiggery and massive melodies with insane time changes, classic Ginger Wildheart in other words. Now we’ve reached the end of month 1, and I’m satisfied, surely next month’s offering will prove that it’s too much to expect regular songs of this quality.

June 1st and already the 1st of the month is starting to be referred to as G·A·S·S· day by the fans in the know, people are already complaining on facebook groups that it’s elitist and unfair and it costs too much £2.50 a month by the way for just the songs themselves is pretty fucking sweet in this writers opinion, but I digest, the music should do the talking and this month is bellowing. Kicking off the bouncy yet countrified ‘El Mundo (Slow Fatigue)’ it’s not a song that immediately grabbed me, it took it’s time, now it’s all I can do to get the opening line ‘Oh mon ami, have you fallen out with me?’ out of my head, it’s another to add to the belter list, maybe the b-sides will suck this time around ‘Hellbound’ a bit like ‘Everything’ it’s a great song  with a massive chorus that sticks, but living in the shadow of El Mundo perhaps is too much, still better than most bands a-sides. What we need now is something to end this perfectly ‘King Rat’ does just that, an emotional ode to Peppi Marchello of The Good Rats, it’s perhaps one of the most heartfelt eulogies ever committed to tape and a massive singalong as well, beautiful stuff. So month 2 comes to an end, what would come next?

July 1st rolls up, and it’s around 7am when the new single appears online, by this point I’m already waiting for the new single like a kid at Christmas, and while I’ve loving the songs so far, I’m aching for a bit of volume and rock, something a bit punkier, ‘Only Henry Rollins Can Save Us Now’ satisfies the urge with aplomb. Massive catchy chorus, check! Fast shouty bits, check! Hilarious lyrics, check! And while King Rat was a beautiful eulogy, I’m not thinking the same can be said for Mr. Rollins, funny as fuck though. ‘Do You?’ is what Ginger has already described as his most honest song ever written and although the fact this was released before the recent tragedy of Robin Williams suicide it couldn’t be more poignant in the wake and conveniently brings Henry Rollins recent comments on the subject into mind. Moving on to ‘Petite Mort’ which breaks things up by having vocals provided by Yolanda Quartley and when I say vocals I mean goddess bellowing, giving Tina Turner at her best a run for her money, bringing to live the most amazing lyrics put to paper and ending another month in style.

The last single in the first triannual, ‘Honour’ is a fierce duet with Courtney Love featuring one of the best uses of bass in a song I’ve heard in a while and showing what a great pairing the two must have been on recent tours, and another favourite song in the G·A·S·S· cannon, once again showcasing the diversity of the songs throughout this project. Sliding straight into what Ginger does best in the bouncy as hell ‘Down The Dip’ which is a great song that plants melodies in the brain that knaw away like a flesh eating bug. Finally ending the first 4 singles is a beautiful sort of ode to London, entitled ‘If You Find Yourself In London Town' an offshoot from the abandoned acoustic album idea, It's a perfect way to end the first would be disc of a triple album, a soft acousticy country ditty that shows what a classic songwriter Ginger is when it's all stripped back.

So overall how does this fair as a chunk, if this was released as an actual album, it's safe to say it would be a contender for album of the year. When it comes to the whole idea of the secret society, is it the future of music? I honestly don't think it would be in this incarnation for other artists, because in all honesty i don't believe there's another artist out there who could keep up with songs of this calibre on this kind of regular basis. There's certainly similar ways this would work for others, but i don't see any of them being value for money on this scale,  with such attention to detail, amazing artwork and such an amazing amount of extras, but i dare any other band/artist to try.


No comments: