The semi-new 100b, plus The Blueskins

A while ago, I talked about some changes I wanted to make here. To paraphrase myself: I talked about how I pretty much suck at writing about new bands and how I’d ultimately decided not to do that anymore. But I’ve been doing this little blog, for whatever reasons, for longer than I’d care to admit. I do wonder from time to time if, honestly, the sensible thing to do is to just pull the plug, but I just love geeking out about music too much – I can’t bring myself to do it. This is really my only outlet for what is, perhaps, my very favorite thing in the world. Even if I’m just babbling to myself, it gives my scattered affection a little focus.

But not really – we’ve always wanted to write about anything we liked, but that makes it impossible to pin anything down. When I finally said to myself, it’s do or die time, I knew that deciding to ‘do’ had to include narrowing myself to something I would properly enjoy writing about.

You’ll notice, perhaps, that I’ve updated the 100b header just a touch, to reflect my new focus. I eventually realized that what I love doing most is researching music stuff that has come as a surprise to me. Yes, I know that’s oddly specific – for example, my post about Mike Nesmith was fascinating to research. I started out just wanting to know what songs he’d written and discovered a whole list of achievements I’d never have guessed. My Shel Silverstein post followed the same basic path. Which made me realize that what I really love doing most is discovering those little bits that history let fall by the wayside. Sure, there are some people out there who know about them, but most of us have no idea.

I once read an article where Jack White said that, generally, the stuff that’s popular is the best stuff, that there’s usually a reason that bands end up in the bargain bin. I used to agree, and I still do think he had a basic point – popular stuff is very often popular for a reason (even Katy Perry is catchy as hell while we’re loathing her very existence). But what he (and I) weren’t thinking about was all those treasures that haven’t just been forgotten but were never noticed in the first place? Mike Nesmith made amazing albums that a few people loved, but were mostly ignored just because he was a Monkee. Those albums really don’t belong in the bargain bin, but most people don’t even know to look for them. I love looking for them.

That doesn’t mean 100b will only write about old music – sometimes I’ll want to point out an album from the more recent past that was unfairly ignored. But it does mean I will not write about anything new – for music to be considered ‘ignored’, it’d have to be at least, say, five-ish years old. Anything newer and there’s still a chance it’ll break out on its own. But even without profiling brand new bands, I hope people will stop by and find some music they didn’t know about before, that I’m able to give a little new life to something that has remained in the shadows for too long.

On that note, I’d like to briefly mention a band called The Blueskins to kick things off. You probably remember their debut album Word Of Mouth from way back in 2004 – or at least the lead single, “Change Your Mind”, which was featured in a Lynx ad in the UK. That was a pretty great album, a frantic indie-blues-rock affair, and “Change Your Mind” was a fantastic single. It felt like it was tripping over itself to be heard. But then The Blueskins kind of just stalled – they always seemed to be working on a follow-up, but instead formally broke up in 2008. Bummer.

For whatever reason, Word Of Mouth kind of went nowhere, but it deserved better. The Blueskins were definitely a band with promise – Tamboosh and I even went to see them play back then and they rocked out, even if the crowd was pretty small. It’s a shame they weren’t appreciated then, but I do see that Ryan Spendlove (Blueskins lead vocalist) released a solo album, Fables, earlier this year. I haven’t been able to hear the whole thing yet, but it sounds like it’s got good potential. A little more laid back than his previous band’s efforts, but there’s still some Blueskins wildness in there.

Get Word of Mouth at Amazon and Fables at emusic. And I do hope you’ll stick around to rediscover some forgotten music with me.