Spin #58 : Methyl Ethel : Everything is Forgotten
SUNDAY DROP - SPIN #58
I remember being introduced to Methyl Ethel back in 2016 or 2017 by my good friend who I was working with at the time. We had a lot of travel trips into work together and almost made a van podcast with the amount of banter going back and forth. It was a work vehicle, so we always joked that they had our 'Van Chat' recorded. Anyways, back to the music. The first song that really stuck with me was 'UBU' because it had a special meaning between Night Kat Kiz and I (which I will explain later in this Spin). I haven't had the opportunity to see Methyl Ethel perform live but they are on my list to see when they tour in Sydney. I think that the cover artwork by Holly Fewson also makes this album so iconic. The texture of the LP jacket and the stylistic way the track listing is written all adds to the overall package. It is a shame that there aren't any lyrics included but I'm picky when it comes to that.
I've chosen the front room set up to spin second album, 'Everything is Forgotten' this week - Audio Technica turntable (AT-LP60XBT) and the impressive sounding Marshall Woburn II speaker. If you know Methyl Ethel then come along for our weekly spin. If you have never heard of this band, then grab a comfy chair and nice drink and thank me later for introducing you to another Essential Australian band.
Thom Stewart, Chris Wright and Jake Webb
I like the feeling of holding an album in your hands and letting your mind go off thinking about the songs. I like the excitement that builds and the smile that comes across your face as you anticipate the stylus touching down on the record. I didn't realise that would happen until I held 'Everything Is Forgotten' in my hands for our 58th Spin this week. Currently, I am going through a change because I've pushed myself to take chances that will better off myself and my family in the future. There is nothing more I want in life than to give my family everything they want and need. I've told myself lately to let go of things they weigh you down and allow time to vent and move on. It seems to be working and is the healthiest way to process things that trouble you.
I purchased this album in 2017 on the back of hearing a song on the radio and was so glad that I took that chance. Make sure you play this one with decent speakers or headphones if you are following along at home, as there is so much to unpack. Our children have first class seats to some of the best albums of our generation and one day they will be able to collect their own records. Thinking of that makes me smile a lot. I really didn't know a lot about Methyl Ethel before delving into their history and it seems that front man, Jake Webb started this project and elected to have his mates for the live shows. I find sometimes that my best writing happens early in the morning, so I have woken up pretty early for this one and placed my headphones over my ears to absorb what this album has to offer. Our children will listen to this one when they wake up and probably start bopping around the room as they always seem to do with huge smiles on their faces.
The stylus is going across the LP nicely and the sounds of first song 'DRINK WINE' start filling my headphones. I don't think that I have listened to this album before through headphones and I am expecting big things. Each song seems to be crafted with so much thought and love that it makes it so enjoyable as a listener. I really don't know all the instruments and sound coming through but there is a funky bass line overlaid with electronic sounds. Webb's vocals come in and instantly remind me of something plucked straight from the '70s or '80s. Lyrically, I have never looked up the exact words until now. I'm not sure if Stewart or Wright played on this album and helped record or if they were only included in the live performances. Lyrics I like from this song are, "Sun rises up, by the time. Keep it down, I'll be round tonight. I could tell you my part, but I will have to face it out of fate".
There are some nice organ style sounds coming through the headphones when second song 'UBU' starts. When going through early stages of dating with Night Kat Kiz, I would have to get my hair cut fairly short due to my career at the time. I'm talking a pretty short buzzcut. I found out when I grew my hair slightly longer that Night Kat preferred me with some stylish hair. When 'UBU' came out it had the catchy lyrics of "why'd you have to go and cut your hair?". Obviously, Night Kat would say this all the time if I decided to get my hair cut short again. This song is about someone looking out for a friends wellbeing and reading through the lyrics as this plays really made me understand it. Many years later I now have longer hair (compared to back then) and a beard. Night Kat never knew that she needed a bearded Rylo until I grew one and now she won't let me shave it off. I'll write these lyrics down because the beat is catchy as hell - "Now you cut yourself off from your friends, It's not just a personality thing. It's 'cause you're still so afraid of what is on a plane. You've been dreaming about it again, you're going to have to explain yourself, it's personal but once it's done, it's just as well. I know it hurts, see, I can tell but to face it is the main thing". I can picture our son swinging his arms and jigging around as he does. He has grown again and is becoming a little man so quickly. There was a cute moment this week where I walked into his room to get him up for school and he was sitting on his bed reading. He then said, "I missed you Dad". A lot nicer than what happens sometimes when he doesn't want to get out of his bed. The song fades out with the question of "Why?" being asked over and over again.
First single released from the album is the next song called 'NO. 28'. There is such a pleasant flow on this one and the drumming and guitarwork really give us as the listener a good feeling. Slightly reminds me of something that Aussie band, 'The Murlocs' would sing with Ambrose and his harmonica. At the 2:21 mark there is a very big change to the music and very piano and synthesizer driven, as Webb is singing some pretty sad lyrics. I found myself bopping along when the chorus started playing and I challenge you to not move a muscle when listening along (really tough). "Do what's only right. When I'm out of the brightness, well I haven't challenged how to survive, all night (all night). Well I called my Eliza, but you wouldn't like that, I cannot try that and I'm alone". I've listened to this song a few times and the mood can change depending on mindset. It can be a feelgood song or towards the end, it felt a very sombre song with a hint of melancholy.
'FEMME MAISON/ ONE MAN HOUSE' starts off with a very poppy sound backed with the organ. I didn't know the translation before researching but it means 'woman house' or 'house wife'/ one man house. It is also a very famous painting by Louise Bourgeois (1946-47) that depicts quite literally a woman and a house - Click Here to check it out. There is a slightly different effect on Webb's voice at the beginning of this one and I would like to hear it played live. Throughout the song there is spoken word mixed with very up beat music. It only starts getting slightly darker towards the end and before we know it the stylus has moved onto next song and last for Side A called, 'L'HEURE DES SORCIERES'.
A little bit spooky with this song as the translation roughly means, the witching hour. They say that it can occur within the timeframe of 0200 and 0400 and is when supernatural events happen. I think creepy stuff can happen all the time but the thought of there being a defined witching hour is interesting. I believe the real witching hour , as a parent, is after the kids get home from day care and they are exhausted before dinner. That is the time when the real fun starts. Definitely a more sinister sound coming through the headphones on this one and changes the mood instantly. It has a very catchy chorus and I felt myself humming along when Webb is singing, "I am an actor baby, full of stone, back one start again". As the stylus moves towards the dead wax and the music fades from the headphones, I am looking out the window watching the sunlight starting to creep in. I am definitely more of a morning person these days and that is mostly due to work and having little children. I find that if I can get enough sleep and wake up around 0600, I feel a lot better throughout the day. I used to stay up very late to make the most of the night but realised pretty quickly that doing this was unsustainable for me. Also, there seems to be more opportunity for my mind to play tricks on me late at night. Sometimes when bedtime is approaching I do think of the phrase "with tired eyes, tired minds and tired souls, we slept".
Time to flip the LP over for Side B and make myself a nice hot cup of coffee.
First song on Side B sounds more like a movie soundtrack song for a very sad country scene. That song is called, 'ACT OF CONTRITION' and the pacing is so so different compared to what we have just listened too. There is something going back and forth between my headphones and the guitarwork that seems to just abruptly end leads into next song, 'GROUNDSWELL'. There seems to be a more positive sound of the persona as they get their confidence back compared to the last couple of songs, which sounded as if the persona was defeated. I don't know if this is the case but I am feeling like these songs flow together, telling a story of someone. If you enjoy dream pop and a bit of experimentation then give this album a go through a really good set of headphones. I am hearing sounds that I have not really heard so clearly before whilst listening along. The song ends pretty abruptly again and delves straight into 'HYAKKI YAKKO'. I didn't realise that this translated into - Night parade of one hundred demons. I did notice that the lyrics are written similar to a Haiku or at least that was my feeling as this one played. Loving the thought that has gone behind this track listing from the band. If there was a song to dance along with on Side B so far, it would be this one with the catchy lyrics of , "hard to find (I looked everywhere)". I just feel that they have done well with the beat drops, pacing and backing vocals being included to perfection.
For a moment I thought a song from 'Nothing But Thieves' was starting to play and that is probably the closest band lyrically I can match Webb's vocals too. If you get a chance to see NBT tour Australia in May, make sure you do and let me know how good they are. I haven't seen them play live yet but it would be incredible to see them because of the energy that their songs have. The sounds of 'SUMMER MOON' are more of a link between song that showcases the bands ability to create dreamscape sounds. One of the best basslines and happier sounds start coming through the headphones on 'WEEDS THROUGH THE RIND'. Speaking of weeds, that reminds me that I need to get out in the garden and start fixing that up whilst I have some time. The hotter weather had attracted a lot more bees and wasps, which has made it difficult to work on the garden unless it's sunrise or sunset. I like the use of organ on this one being played with that heavy bassline rolling through. At one moment it sounds like a rising wave of sound going through the headphones. Our daughter has also grown a lot this week and I know that they are both looking forward to the Easter Bunny. Last year our son was old enough to understand so he will expect a lot this time around. I think our daughter just loves following along with her brother and laughing (she is almost two years old).
'SCHLAGER' brings this album to an end and I learnt that it means - "a style of European popular music focusing on love and feelings" or "a catchy instrumental accompaniment to vocal pieces of pop music". I think Methyl Ethel have picked it perfectly with this song. This song is another style of that melancholy feeling that it creates for the listener. You are listening along to the music and feeling upbeat but at the same time the vocals are haunting. "Swoop down with the force. God is in the roots, here in my bones but I'm not fastened to it now".
I really hope that everyone is having a nice Easter break (if celebrating) and finds the time to rest. Make sure you don't eat too much Easter chocolate too! If Jake Webb reads this then I want to say Thank You for creating Methyl Ethel. I hope that you enjoyed yourselves this week and hearing about the fun that we are having as a music loving family. Like I've said previously, I am writing all these moments down because I want to look back one day and laugh, cry or remember (in case my memory fades). Also, I love music and getting a chance to spin from our collection and write about it is pretty cathartic too. I'll see you next Sunday where we will spin something from the '70s! Just remember do the things you love! Here is a quote that gets me thinking a lot when I start to procrastinate.
"Lost time is never found again" - Benjamin Franklin
Until our next Spin, be Kind to people who like Dream Pop and be Kind to your Wax!
JAKE WEBB AND JAMES FORD
SPEED PLAYED AT
OH INHUMAN SPECTACLE (2016)
ARE YOU HAUNTED? (2022)
RATING OUT OF 5
WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECORD SLEEVE
1 X BLACK LP GATEFOLD
"I thought I saw you on the street on the corner at the bar. Thought I saw you in the car in the shadow at the park. Saw you waiting in the dark for someone to explain just how it ended this way. Why'd you have to go and cut your hair? Why'd you cut your hair?"~UBU - Side A
LP / SIDE
FEMME MAISON/ONE MAN HOUSE
L'HEURE DES SORCIERES
LP / SIDE
ACT OF CONTRITION
WEEDS THROUGH THE RIND
Methyl Ethel live on stage