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Life Without Buildings

Any Other City

Tugboat

Released: 29th April 2021

LP£16.99 Buy Now In Stock. Dispatched on Monday.


‘Any Other City’ by Life Without Buildings, the only album recorded in their brief existence, will be repressed and available again from 23rd April 2021. Originally released on Tugboat Records (a Rough Trade affiliated label) in February 2001, ‘Any Other City’ has slowly become a widely admired cult album. Life Without Buildings formed in Glasgow in 1999, they existed for 3 years and then split in 2002, having released just one album and 3 double A –side singles, yet they’ve continued to build a strong underground following in the years since, which has culminated in copies of the original album on vinyl changing hands for exorbitant figures and numerous musicians citing it as a major influence and inspiration.

There was a brief moment in the early 2000s, when one band in one city was everything. At least to me anyway. That time was strange, but maybe every halcyon time when youth spurs you on to new discoveries and experiences feels strange to anyone looking back through the fog of time? Life Without Buildings were elusive though they played the same basement shows as everyone else in Glasgow. You could go see them with maybe 40 other people in the room, you could even see them in the pub or at other gigs, they were perfectly approachable people but their music held some sort of evasive, charged allure that you could never quite pin down.

I think it's that indefinable thing that really great bands have when they play together, an electricity and just sheer greatness that happens when a bunch of disparate people get in a room and do their thing. And what a thing. I often think that Life Without Buildings played the sort of deconstructed rock music that was de rigueur at the time but at double speed, but that would be doing them a big disservice. The guitar and basslines are constantly changing, snaking in and out of each other, each two note chord and bass clang touching new emotional spots in your mainframe you didn't even know you had. It's like, I don't know, indie pop filtered through Dada and DIY early 80s music but also, somehow, nowhere near as pretentious as that sounds. It's the music of now, then but also now too.

And of course, Sue Tompkins's vocal helming the band was simply one of the most distinctive, odd but vital, visceral voices to have recorded anything. It was punk, it was oblique but also really human, it somehow managed to dissect all of Rock n Roll history and its bullshit machismo, leaving its guts spilled out in front of you and still manage to make you feel completely in the moment with your feelings. She was pure electrictiy, a blur of ecstasy and anxiety together, just completely in the space with you. Maybe that's what all great bands have in common, they erase whatever is going on around you and bring you completely into the moment in your body.

Watching this group live and then listening to their only album Any Other City at the time, buying their weird-ass T shirts that they sewed things into, living in this city in that time, it felt like you were living through something good. 20 years on (TWENTY YEARS) I now realise it was actually something great. It was brief, but now I'm just glad that I got to be in this city rather than any other when Life Without Buildings were here.

It's been so, so heartwarming seeing this music being picked up by younger generations. After years being out of print, you can pre-order Life Without Buildings - Any Other City on vinyl here if you want but really I just wanted to convey how much I love this band and this record.

Michael / Monorail

Frontwoman Sue Tomkins’ unique vocal delivery which is somewhere between talking and singing, a kind of narrative, combined with the often spiky, course backing that the rest of the band provide, tends to prove magnetic after a few listens. Life Without Buildings managed to be utterly unique in the sound they made and ultimately that’s what has made this album’s reputation grow over time to be deemed absorbing, timeless and utterly essential listening.