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  tasty 15 - album reviews

- Ikara Colt
- Carina Round
- Don Nino
- Journeys Without Maps
- Bed
- 30 Day Hex
- Fugu
- Echobrain
- Michael Shelley
- Herman Dune

Ikara Colt - Chat and Business (Fantastic Plastic)
When Steven Wells said in the NME recently that he thought Ikara Colt were a great mod band he, for once, might have had something. It just depends on how you define mod band of course. They sound nothing like the Small Faces or the Jam of course, but if he means that they steal graciously from the last 25 years of pop music, the he might be right.
‘Chat and Business’ is as good a debut album as you’ll hear this year I suppose, and yet within in it’s set of dense, atonal angular songs you can hear parts of the some of the great art-rock bands of the last two decades...including Joy Division, Sonic Youth, The Fall and maybe even a little Huggy Bear.
Of course Ikara do it all very well, bravely kicking off with explosive single ‘One Note’ and thrashing through stand out tracks such as ‘City of Glass’, ‘Sink Venice’ and the Brix-era Fall rip-off that is the excellent ‘At the Lodge’.
I can’t fault a band who love The Fall, Huggy Bear and Joy Division so much, that their influences show through so vividly on ‘Chat and Business’ is, I believe, a good thing...I mean it might just turn the corner for young guitar bands in this country. Meanwhile, this’ll do nicely.

Carina Round - The First Blood Mystery (Animal Noise)
Jazzzzz...niiiiiceee....and Carina Round is as good at is anyone else if this is anything to go by. Like Kate Bush with a saxophone shoved up her arse. Oooohh...painful...

Don Nino - Real Seasons Make Reasons (Prohibited)
More lo-fi mumblings from one of the genres true stars. This is lo-fi very much in the tradition of Smog - the sort of album that is just ‘there’, in the background, or in your face, the choice really is yours.
Stand out tracks include the haunting ‘To the East’ and the wonderfully clever ‘We All Look the Same’. Much more please.


Various - Journeys Without Maps - a Tribute to Lord of the Rings (Bearos)
And so Bearos head-honcho Alan Farmer shows himself to be a geek at last! Described in a letter from him as a ‘labour of love’ this 13 track album features songs from some of his favourite acts, including the legendary Telescopes and Kat Bjelland who, I think I’m right in saying, goes under the name of Lash Frenzy these days.
Not really my cup of tea this, as I vowed to hate anything to do with Lord of the Rings before it came out. However, I don’t suppose that’s got anything to do with the music on here, which is mostly post-rock-ish, and for bringing the Telescopes back to life then I suppose Alan deserves a big hug...not to mention sending me the cutest badge I’ve ever seen. Sir, long may you troll....or something.

Bed - The Newton Plum (ici d’ailleurs)
Much quietness in the hall of Bed, where even a mouse farting would probably have our heroes running for the hills. Bed is the work of one Benoit Burello and his many assorted chums, and he makes a lovely kind of folky psychedlia throughout The Newton Plum that makes me want to curl up and go to sleep, with a hot chocolate...although I suppose that could be dangerous. But then, this is rock ‘n roll...and I like it!

30 Day Hex - 30 Day Hex (Gizeh Records)
More of a mini album or, as they used to say in the old days, a ‘maxi single’ from 30 Day Hex, part of the highly impressive new Gizeh Records stable.
This lot make a wonderfully agreeable racket...all atmospheric in places, but always simple and uncomplicated. I don’t want to lump them in with the post-rock crowd because I’m not that genre’s greatest fan, in fact I’d go as far to say that post-rock is ‘shite’...apart from Mogwai of course...who I love like my own hands...anyway where was I?....Ah yes, 30 Day Hex....fine band, long tunes, but nice loud guitar playing...and that, my friends, is what really matters.

Fugu - Fugu 1 (ici d’ailleurs)
Fugu are so perky that I keep expecting pinky to pop up somewhere. Thankfully, he doesn’t, but Tim Gane of McCarthy and Stereolab does, and his influence is nicely obvious, especially on the ‘lab-ish ‘Vibrabox’. Also evident are Gorky’s, Boo Radleys and the odd touch of Beach Boys, which all goes in to make a nice little package. And, of course, this is French...and contains handclaps...need I say more...?

Echobrain - Echobrain (Chophouse/Surfdog)
I’m truly sorry. I know I should be aware of just who Dylan Donkin, Brian Sagrafena and Jason Newsted are, but I don’t.
My guess, after listening to this stunningly mediocre album, is that they were once in Soundgarden or Alice in Chains or something equally as vile. What we have here is ten tracks of over-produced American rock nonsense, that desperately wants to sound like a Foo Fighters for the 30 somethings. That’s if all Foo Fighters’ fans aren’t 30 somethings by now anyway. Avoid like the Widdecombe....

Michael Shelley - Too Many Movies (Shoeshine)
Shoeshine is someone out of Teenage Fanclub’s label, and therefore is guaranteed to be rather wonderful, and, luckily, ‘Too Many Movies’ doesn’t disappoint.
Kicking off with the languid, and often hilarious, ‘Baby’s in a Bad Mood’ Shelley has crafted and album of such vision, depth and humour that it’s hard not to become totally immersed in it’s world. Throughout Shelley tells the tale of lost love, fucked up relationships and human failings. Not in a syrupy way I hope you understand, just honestly, that’s all. Add to this some wonderful country-ish music, and what you get is an album that may sound hopelessly out of time, but is in fact as relevant as tomorrow. Fantastic.

Herman Dune - Switzerland Heritage (Prohibited)
Herman Dune are, in fact, two Scandinavian brothers who have rather a large penchant for American lo-fi folk-blues. Come to think of it, a larger penchant I have rarely seen, and this to me sounds like a good thing.
And indeed it is, because Herman Dune make some of the most gorgeous sound, especially on tracks like ‘Blinded’. But it seems they’re also in league with the devil too, for tracks like ‘Two Crows’ and ‘Black Cross’ hint at something a little darker.
Whatever...these two blue-eyed boys are something a little special.