Brian John Mitchell (Remora, Vlor, Small Life Form) on…
Six by Seven – The Way I Feel Today (2002 Mantra/Beggars Banquet)
I first got into Six by Seven because I was on Beggar Banquet’s promo mailing list because of my zine QRD. In general everything I got was pleasant enough, but nothing grabbed me. Then I got the Six by Seven album The Closer You Get (2000) & immediately set up an interview. Then I bought the back catalog. Then I had to just sit & wait a couple years for the follow-up.
The Closer You Get has a back-story of the band being dropped, but still under contract, so they had a small budget to work with & so the album is all live in the studio with no overdubbing and recorded over three days. The result is the music feels fresh & alive & raw, which is probably a sound even more rare & special now than in 2002. No wonder I still find myself listening to it every couple of months & occasionally find it played a few times in a row on a road trip. I think everyone I’ve been on tour with since 2002 has probably heard this album.
“So Close” starts the album off & kicks in with piano & the tension building & it starts to rock when the band comes in, with the tension still building & this is a love song. When I made my biological son (a composition major in university, go figure) listen to this record he said that the secret to Six by Seven is they play a couple of chords for a long time & never resolve them.
The second track “I.O.U. Love” is a pretty blatant lift of “Under the Milky Way Tonight” by The Church (I actually asked Chris Olley about this & his response was something like, “That was always a great song & I felt like not enough people had heard it.”) & to me it’s a little better. “All My New Best Friends” continues with the mellow feel of shoegaze pop setting up “Flypaper for Freaks” to remind you they are hard clamoring rockers. The album goes on alternating these styles (a few years ago a girlfriend told me she couldn’t stand the mood swings this guy seemed to have from song to song & I kinda knew then it was a countdown until she was an ex-girlfriend).
Which is part of the magic of this album. It’s part straight rock that could be on a Queens of the Stone Age record & part British shoegaze pop magic & part post-rock. But I think the thing that really makes this album special to me is the feeling of building tension & angst that for me builds a feeling of hope for a revolution. Which is clearly me projecting. I’ve never understood how Radiohead & Coldplay rose to monumental fame while Chris Olley & Six by Seven stayed in the underground. Wrong label? Wrong time? I don’t know.
For the curious, here’s the review I gave it back in 2002…
The boys took it up a notch. I’m really confused why they aren’t huge enough that I need to pretend not to like them to keep my air of coolness. This is a beautiful record. I wouldn’t say you can call it much of anything besides rock & roll or possibly even (& I don’t mean this slanderously) pop music. I mean they still have some hard rockers on here like “Flypaper for Freaks” & “Bad Man,” but the “love song” singles on here are just incredible. “So Close” & “I.O.U. Love” & “American Beer” are so flawless that I don’t even know if I’d want to hear them attempted to be played live. When I did the interview with Chris Olley about their last record he said that this one might be their last because they might have perfected the band’s sound on it. Maybe they have.
Notes on the artist:
Brian John Mitchell has been performing post-apocalyptic pop & drone as Remora since 1996, minimalist shoegazer in Vlor since 1992, & aggressive ambient as Small Life Form since 1998. He’s run the in-depth interview-oriented zine/webzine QRD since 1994. He started Silber Records in 1996. Mitchell’s been fairly involved in the mini-comics scene since 2004. He also occasionally does abstract paintings & video experiments. The next three musical releases from Mitchell are a song-oriented Remora album, a 4.5 hour drone piece, & a collaboration with his biological son Andrew Weathers.