CLASSIC WEST coast sounds direct from Vancouver.
THE GUIDING light behind Vancouver’s Ashley Park is Terry Miles, a pure pop visionary chipped from the Bacharach block of caramelised melodies and timeless songwriting. Latest offering The American Scene flickers by in a midsummer night’s waltz of the last 35 years of classic West Coast pop – Neil Young, The Byrds, CS&N, The Beach Boys, Gram Parsons, Jellyfish, Guided By Voices et al. Quite different from previous LP Town & Country, which had an Anglicised Sixties slant.
“Yeah, this is a different-sounding collection”, confirms Miles. “The pop side totally falls within those parameters, and the more acoustic numbers sound even more like patchwork Americana. That was the idea behind the name – that and the fact The High Llamas have a song called ‘The American Scene’ on their criminally overlooked masterwork, Snowbug .”
After serving time in the rock-oriented Saturnhead, Cinnamon and side-project Kelly Affair (named after the all-girl group in Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls), Miles changed direction: “Ashley Park was a way to soften things up a little bit, explore the space in between for a spell.”
Inspired by visiting London and Paris last year (“riding on trains and planes, finding a feeling of permanence that doesn’t exist for us here in Vancouver. We have new buildings up and down within four years”), The American Scene is full of glittering prizes, such as ‘Arkansas, Until The Sun’. The latter was written during my Todd Rundgren marathon. I went with nothing but Something/Anything? for at least three weeks straight.”
Town & Country’s intended follow-up – The Secretariat Motor Hotel, also a working title for Miles’ novel-in-progress – was an ambitious album/documentary charting the simplistic beauty of America through literature, dream and pastimes. “We’re still planning to film something on or around our next tour, but the content of the new songs that will make up The Secretariat Motor Hotel are more in line with that type of ‘Old West’ American Road Movie set to music.”
For now, though. The American Scene is plenty to gorge upon. So, is this Cosmic Canadian Music? “Yup. Our place on the porch swing, overlooking the weeping willow as it dips into the still pond. A candle lit with a match taken from the matchbook that reads ‘The Secretariat Motor Hotel’ bathes us with gentle light. That’s where she’s staying. A place we plan to explore (sonically) on our upcoming European tour. We plan on recording a lot of the next record during the trip. Abbey Road was a little bit dear, so if anyone has any 24-track analogue recording information…please drop a line.”
© Rob Hughes, Uncut, December 2001