Hopefully Spring is around the corner. The weather lightened up at times this week and I managed to get in some decent quality workouts for a change, including a good session of mile repeats on Wednesday and a really "on" 8 mile progression run in the metro park on Saturday. Looks like it will be about 20F and windy for my 12 mile long run tomorrow morning, but overall things seem to be going well this winter and I feel like I'm in better shape than I was last year at this time. My first race of the year will be the St. Malachi 5 miler on March 14 and that should be a really good rustbuster for the first race of the year that I'm really pointing for, the Meteor 10K in Dearborn, Michigan on April 4. That race always has a loaded masters field, which in the past has included the likes of 40-44 national 10K record holder Paul Aufdemberge and some of his teammates from the Frontline Racing Team.
I know it’s 2009 and that The Sleepover Disaster are from Fresno, California, but, man, if someone told me that this record came out on Creation Records in the early Nineties, I’d believe them. Hover is a stunning work that is everything shoegaze should be—loud ringing guitars, effects pedals galore, and impossibly powerful melodies. Anyone who has ever bought records by Ride, Swervedriver, and Catherine Wheel is going to love this. Frontman, Luke Giffen, is one hell of a singer, reminding me a lot of Catherine Wheel’s Rob Dickinson. Songs like “Tremble,” “Funnel Cloud,” and “Friend” hold their own with Catherine Wheel classics like “Flower To Hide” and “Tumbledown.” The Sleepover Disaster aren’t a one trick pony though. They know how to slow down the tempo at times to give the listener breathing room in between all those high-octane stunners. The ballad “Make You Sing” is quite reminiscent of vastly underrated early Nineties Brit shoegazers Revolver, while other material like “Codebreaker” has a similar hypnotic sweep to Slowdive. For the most part, however, Hover is a bulldozing in-your-face blast of noise and melody. It’s no mistake these guys titled one of their earlier albums Loud Is The New Quiet.
While I love The Libertines, I wasn’t expecting too much from Pete Doherty’s solo debut, thinking that at best, it probably wouldn’t be much better than his subpar current band Babyshambles. Boy was I wrong. The best songs on Grace/Wastelands, such as the orchestrated “A Little Death Around The Eyes,” the infectious “Last of the English Roses” and the aching “Broken Love Song,” prove that Doherty is far from done. While the overall vibe on Grace/Wastelands is a little loose at times, it’s far from being a sloppy record. The musicianship here, including contributions from Graham Coxon on most tracks, is first rate. If a cross between Tindersticks-like orchestrated pop and mellow London Calling Clash tunes like “Jimmy Jazz” strikes your fancy, Grace/Wastelands is a keeper.
I'm glad to get through this month. This was the worst January of running for me since I started back again in 2005. Near record amount of snow fall and too many sub-freezing days. Other than a cold that set me back last week, I have managed to have a really solid few months of training. It's been hard to get in as much quality as I would like, but over the last 9 weeks my Sunday long runs have all been 12 miles or more, 7 of the runs being 14 or more, so aerobically I feel stronger than ever, which should help for cross country. I'm already thinking about that! Yesterday's warm spell was great, so I'm hoping for more of that in February, but based on this week's forecast, it's wishful thinking.