the flashing lights – where the change is

you know when i said australians did some pretty strong 1960s influenced rock? well it sounds like canadians do 1960s pop really well. just look at the cover photo on the home page.

i remember walking into a record store in toronto in 2002 and asking the dude at the counter – in his 30s so likely to have a good answer for me – what local canadian bands he would recommend. i rolled off a few other bands i liked to give him a flavour of my taste. he suggested the flashing lights.

they sound an awful lot like a handful of australian bands in the mid to late 1990s, so quite contemporary. top of my mind is snout. there’s something vaguely teenage fanclub about this album as well. i don’t usually think in terms of “sounds like” because every musician and band is its own entity. but in this case it’s kind of uncanny.

i really don’t think there’s any connection to other parts of my collection – but wait! it just takes a little research. in the liner notes they thank one mike belitski. i recognised the name. he’s somewhere in amongst the pernice brothers releases – which also, in some ways, aren’t far off the flashing lights. but very different content. there’s also some common membership with broken social scene but i don’t know how they relate since i wouldn’t know a bss song if it somehow invaded my brain by osmosis.

of itself, there are some interesting features. rotary hotel is really catchy and takes a careful listen to pick up the very unique guitar melody in the quieter parts of the song. and while the title and some of the contents of talk to the hand are a little concerning, it has memorable lyrics and hooks. however, i’m not sure the self-referential shout-outs are quite as appropriate as when jon spencer does it, for example (cf. elevature on this album, vid below). it’s an unsettling self-consciousness for a band that only ended up releasing two albums and an ep.

they only existed for a little while, and in some ways i’d like to know what made this particular project end. i doubt that this variety of music would have much success these days, 15 years after the peak of the style globally, by the look of it. some of the unmistakeable and unrepeatable sounds of the 1990s.

still some enjoyment to be had:

and because it reminded me and there won’t be another reason to do so, enjoy some snout too!


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