POZ BandsOnBands: Less Than Jake On blur

by Zack Zarrillo - Aug 20, 2012

Mondays mean BandsOnBands, and we’re excited to be posting the PropertyOfZack feature today with JR Wasilewski of Less Than Jake. JR was one of PropertyOfZack’s first Contributor Bloggers, so we thought it would be a great idea to include him in our new BandsOnBands feature as well. In this week’s feature, JR dives into one of his largest influences, blur. JR’s detail on 90’s British pop while in college, his favorite records by the band’s, and their recent reunion all paint a great picture.  Make sure to listen to great songs by blur on Spotify here and check out what JR had to say about one of his biggest influences below!

From JR Wasilewski of Less Than Jake:

blur.
No. That’s how they always have spelled. Lower case ‘b’-l-u-r. The period isn’t needed, but when talking about blur, it actually IS needed.
In the early 90’s, there was a Brit-pop explosion in the UK. So strong was it, that it’s waves were clearly felt here in the US. The two biggest bands at the time were Oasis (who obviously had huge successes in this country, especially with the song “Champagne Supervova”) and the aforementioned, blur. Though also successful everywhere else in the world, blur never had a true “radio hit” in the U.S. until 1997’s “Song #2”. That’s the most that people know about blur: it’s the high pitched “Woo-Hoo!” song everyone sings when they hear it. But there is so much more to this band. So so so much more.
When I was in college, there was much debate on Oasis vs. blur amongst my group of friends. The overwhelming consensus was that as catchy as Oasis’s songs were, blur’s complex chord structures, experimentation with different instrumentation, influence of club music, clever lyrics, Grahm Coxon’s screeching lead guitar, Alex James’ pulsing bass lines, Dave Rowntree’s back-beat laden drumming and Damon Albarn’s overtly English vocals made blur not only more appealing but also seem far ahead of it’s time, which it was. With 7 full length records under their belt, it’s really hard for me to pick one record that is my favorite.
'Leisure', their first record, wasn't always my favorite. The 3 subsequent records, however ('Modern Life Is Rubbish', 'Parklife' and 'The Great Escape') were very much the soundtrack of what would be me formative years in music school. Everyone else at college was listening to jazz greats like John Coltrane and Miles Davis. While jazz is fantastic for other reasons, blur's thought provoking and often cynical approach to pop song writing was far more entertaining for me to listen to. Songs like “Parklife”, “End Of A Century” and “Charmless Man” are just a few songs I have ripped off a thousand ways. As a matter of fact, the horn line for one of the more recent LTJ's songs (Don't Fall Asleep On The Subway) was inspired by the blur song “Colin Zeal” off of 'Modern Life Is Rubbish'. Of course everyone remembers “WOO HOO!” but after that record, the band took a hiatus for a few years after Graham Coxon quit to pursue other ventures. Damon did Gorillaz and other projects but most blur fans kept waiting for the reunion. They did release one record without Graham, called 'ThinkTank' that has a more matured sound for the band, but still has songs like “Crazy Beat” that remind me why I love this band so much. Just recently, blur has decided to reunite and have released 2 new songs, one of which, “Under The Westway” the band will perform at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
It’s hard to really define in words something that means so much. Their music speaks directly to my soul and that is a truly special thing in life. When I hear blur it puts me in a special place in my life. It was an exciting time for me and their music still rekindles that excitment. That’s why any of us feel a connection to bands: Their music is a reminder of a place and time in our lives that we loved and want to remember. Part of having those memories is to share them with one another, like I’m doing now with you. So if there is one band that I think you should check out, I would suggest blur. They never let me down.
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