Drugstore: Songs For the Jet Set & Collector Number One

Adrien Begrand


Songs for the Jet Set & Collector Number One

Label: First Time
US Release Date: 2003-05-20
UK Release Date: Available as import

When it came out over two years ago, Drugstore's third album, Songs For the Jet Set, was a welcome return from a band whose darkly elegant albums just don't come out often enough. They're one of those bands where you hear a track by them, fall in love with it for a bit, and wind up forgetting about them for a year or two, and when a new album does surface, it takes you by surprise. Like back in 1998, when Drugstore's White Magic For Lovers garnered a heavy helping of attention with its stunning, protest song-meets-spaghetti Western theme "El Presidente", thanks to singer Isabel Monteiro's duet with Radiohead's Thom Yorke. After a while, the hype died down, and casual listeners forgot about Drugstore, until their fine 2001 album was released. Well, unless you're a devoted fan of the band, chances are you haven't been thinking about the band too much these days, and thanks to The First Time Records, we've been given yet another wake-up call from this great little band. No, it's not quite the official follow-up; instead, Songs For the Jet Set has been repackaged, this time around coming with a companion CD called Collector Number One, a compilation consisting of various b-sides, studio outtakes, demo recordings, and a couple of live tracks.

Not that you should need any other excuse to listen to Songs For the Jet Set. Drugstore's sound, which greatly resembles that of such bands as Mazzy Star and Bettie Serveert, revolves around the entrancing vocal skills of Monteiro. Coming across as a Brazilian version of Cerys Matthews, Monteiro's smoky voice is perfectly suited to the band's sleepy, nocturnal sound. A more stripped-down record than White Magic For Lovers, Songs For the Jet Set has a more intimate, immediate feel, perfectly epitomized on "Baby Don't Hurt Yourself", as Monteiro, along with Lambchop's Paul J. Niehaus playing some mournful pedal steel accents, croons like a lady whispering in her lover's ear. The compassionate "Song For the Lonely" ("Keep them in your minds") has that Euro-country sound (think alt-country with a woman singing in accented English) that bands like A CAMP and Chitlin' Fooks have done in recent years, while "I Wanna Love You Like a Man" utilizes tango rhythms as Monteiro sings about her desire to lead once in a while. "The Party is Over" is gorgeous, as guitarist Daron Robinson sings verses that sound like stripped down recreations of The Velvet Underground's "Stephanie Says", with Monteiro singing lead on the spine-tingling, crescendoing choruses. "Hate" boasts a Pulp-like melody, while the pair of songs "Little Girl" and "Wayward Daughter" sing of both childlike innocence and heart-wrenching experience, a recurring theme on the album.

Collector Number One, a compilation that was originally sold to fans at the band's shows, is more of a mixed bag. The demo version of White Magic's "Say Hello" is a loose, acoustic version of Monteiro's ode to the down-and-out, with the singer showing a dry sense of humor in the lyrics ("To all the foreign strangers who are always in a fight/To all my clumsy lovers who can never get it right"), and "Tourniquet" is a restrained cover of UK band Headswim's minor 1997 hit that completely destroys the maudlin original version, plaintive piano and strings replacing the loud guitars. Meanwhile, "Starcrossed", though a bit rough-sounding, wouldn't sound out of place on Songs For the Jet Set, and "What Every Girl Should Know" is a decent ballad. Two songs from Drugstore's eponymous debut, "Gravity" and "Devil" are included, but the quality of the recording keeps the tracks from matching the feel on the album versions. "When the Bottle is Dry" is a fine little drinking ballad ("Yeah I can fall on the ground and lose track of my senses/But I'll only lose my head when the bottle is dry"), while the raw version of "Acceleration" (from the first album) seems to suit the song perfectly. Most notable among all the tracks on this CD is the original demo of "El Presidente", and while it sounds good (Monteiro's voice always sounds great), it's missing the mini epic quality that the lavish production on the album version provided.

It's great to see Songs For the Jet Set get the re-release treatment; it's too good an album to go unnoticed, and the added bonus of Collector Number One is a nice treat for longtime fans, as well as an interesting listen for newcomers. Newbies might not revisit the compilation as often, but if it helps turn them on to this criminally underrated band, then why not? Let's just hope it's not a long wait until the next Drugstore album.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.