tasty 16 - album reviews
- Last Days of
- The Lucksmiths
- Milky Wimpshake
- Comet Gain
- Craig Bennett
Would Be Goods
- Dressy Bessy
- Radar Brothers
- Jack Drag
- Alician Blue
- Mercury Tilt
Cornershop - Handcream for a Generation (Wiiija)
Trailed by the less than impressive ‘ Lessons
Learned....’, I can’t say tasty was ever really considering loving this
album as much as ‘When I Was Born...’. However, tasty was wrong...mucho,
mucho wrong. And if ever I feel the need to take my hips out of retirement
and shake them about a bit, this’ll be the soundtrack.
Like other Cornershop
albums, ‘Handcream...’ is bookended by the same track, in this case ‘Heavy
Soup’, which, if it wasn’t recorded in Detroit in 1973, certainly does a
ruddy good impression of having done so. It bounces all over the place,
even with stack heels and yellow satin flares on - and leads nicely into
the more standard Cornershop fayre of the wonderfully titled ‘Staging the
Plaguing of the Raised Platform’ which shows the bands more subtle side
and has the best use of a school choir since The Smiths ‘Panic’...and they
won’t like me for saying that I’m sure.
Elsewhere, ‘Wogs Will
Walk’ is lyrically brilliant and the 14 minute long ‘Spectral Mornings’
only suffers near the end when Noel Gallagher lets his wanking arm loose
for too long. It’s been a long trip since the ‘In the Days of Ford Cortina’
hit the very different streets nearly a decade ago. Credit Cornershop for
consistently changing and continually making such enjoyable, fun music.
There’s not many like them left.
Last Days of April - Ascend to the Stars
(Bad Taste Records)
The Scandinavian invasion continues. This is the
Swede’s fourth album, and ain’t half bad, mum. LDOA make a sort of laid
back garage drone, and I don’t mind the odd drone now and again. But it’s
a drone with cute keyboards and whirly gig sounds and much niceness going
on in the background. If I have to criticise this very polite little
album, then it’s that singer’s voice grates like cheap cheese, and is far
too affected for its own good. But for smashing little pop songs like
‘Piano’ and ‘Too Close’ I salute them.
The Lucksmiths - Where Were We? (Matinee)
There are those albums you listen to once and chuck in
the bin. There are those albums you listen to and think twice about keeping.
And there are those albums that you like and slip neatly between The Cure’s
‘Pornography’ and Stump’s ‘Quirk Out’, not to played until you feel so
flippin’ weird that you’ll search for it again.
Then there are the
precious things in your collection. The Smiths’ ‘Meat is Murder’ and ‘Queen
is Dead’, Hefner’s ‘Breaking God’s Heart’, The Fall’s ‘Hex Enduction Hour’
or maybe even that early Talullah Gosh single. That this scrumptious
collection belongs in this particular little clique is worth a street party
at least. And this isn’t even a proper album. It’s a singles and odd and
sods compilation, that makes me want to compare it to ‘Hatful of Hollow’ at
the very least. And it easily stands up against such immense expectations,
merely for its scope of wonderful pop songs. And the lyrics. And songs that
are called ‘The Cassingle Revival’ and the Morrisey-esque way The Lucksmiths
can twist a phrase and make it at the same time hilarious and desperate. You
want stand-out tracks? Phew..it’s tough, but, have a gander at ‘Can’t
Believe My Eyes, ‘I Prefer the 20th Century’, ‘T-shirt Weather’ - all three
lined up together to make me want to faint with joy, and then swoon to
‘Southernmost’ and ‘The Great Dividing Range’.
This is IT. This is the
real thing. This is the sort of album you can play at least 15 times
continuously without ever, EVER tiring of a single note. All hail the
Lucksmiths, for they do it for me.
Milky Wimpshake - Lovers Not Fighters (Fortuna
When I needed some shelter, they were there. The
‘shake have been with me through thick and thin for the last five years or
so, and I like to think I’ve been with them. And so it’s daft but you feel
proud when a band this special actually manages to get an album out, after
years of putting genius singles out on tiny labels, including they’re own.
‘Lovers Not Fighters’ is a collection of songs, nay favourites, recorded
over two years, and it’s wonderful.
Take, if you will m’lud,
‘Philosophical Boxing Gloves’ and it’s mention of Max Weber - a man who
talks rubbish in my opinion, and the way Pete Dale uses this slag someone
off. I wish I could do that. And on ‘Dialling Tone’ - a paean to a lost love
- hits me with the best couplet I’ve heard for a while, ‘But your boyfriend
seems so dull/ He was probably born in Hull’. I don’t think tasty has a huge
Hull following, so I’ll probably get away with that.
Along the way MW give
us attacks on Jack Straw, a wonderful version of Phil Ochs’ ‘Do What I Have
to Do’, which sounds remarkably like The Housemartins playing a Buzzcocks
song, and banjo punk with the title track.
Not many people like
Milky Wimpshake. But then not many people deserve them. Join the elite and
Comet Gain - Realistes (Milou Studios)
The last in this issue’s great triumverate of pop
albums comes from these cuddly mop top pop fops. Over the course of nearly a
decade Comet Gain have kept us warm through the darkest days, and for that
we thank them.
So it’s such a surprise
that Realistes sounds so fresh and alive. This sounds like the band’s first
album...and of course it isn’t. That’s the beauty of Comet Gain, they never
fail to inject some kind of energy into a tired scene.
And we’re off! Opener
‘Kids at the Club’ sounds like Dexy’s fucking with Huggy Bear and such an
instant toe-tapping soul classic that I’m gonna it on every compilation tape
I ever make...EVER!!
Kathleen Hanna makes a
welcome appearance as she squeals her way through the Binkin Kill-esque
‘Ripped-Up Suit!’, but it’s the more maudlin tracks that steal the show
here. Rachel’s vocals on ‘Why I Try to Look So Bad’ make the hairs on the
back of your neck stand up, ‘specially when she sings, ‘My pretty face is
going straight to hell’....wonderful.
She also comes into her
own on the perfectly titled, ‘Don’t Fall in Love if You Want to Die in
Peace’, which reminds me a little of Sleater Kinney’s more mellow moments.
But enough of
comparisons, because Comet Gain are their own men and women. If there was
any justice in the world then Anne Widdecombe, Thatcher and Blair would all
die in a bizarre sexual experiment, and Comet Gain would take up all 40
places of the ...ermm... Top 40. Pray for the day.
- The Thinking Fireplace (demo)
This is lo-fi. The work of one Bob Mason I believe,
all the way from the USA, and introspection of the highest order is his
oeuvre. Now, you’ve gotta be in the right frame of mind to listen to this
all the way through, either that or a teenager who just found out his/her
girlfriend/boyfriend didn’t like Radiohead all along. Putois deal in the
kind of fuzzy logic that makes Smog such an charming prospect - the band,
not the weather, and so you’ll need a candle, several bottles of cheap red
wine and a broken heart to fully appreciate this. Applications in before
next year’s Valentines Day. please.
Craig Bennett - Sweet and Twisted (Black
It’s the great thing about music that it can evoke
memories of places, times, and people - indeed that’s it’s greatest
strength. Take this great slab of modern day psychedelia fo example. It
screams downtown New York to me - not that I’ve been there, and not that I’m
likely to, but this brings to mind some of the best Scorcese film. Not
that’s it’s full of violent images - it’s incredibly sensitive - but imagine
Bowie slapping Billy Joel round the face, whilst Syd Barrett referees.
Indeed, ‘Sweet and
Twisted’ is just about a perfect title. The first piece of warped genius is
only two tracks in and is called ‘All Night Bookstore’ - a song with more
twists and turns than the A46 Grimsby to Lincoln road. Meanwhile, ‘Toy Box’
is perfectly Barrettian, from the tempo changes, to the weird, angular
Throughout ‘Sweet and
Twisted’ we’re treated to this...well, I wouldn’t call it meandering,
because that make it sound dull, but musical journey - and that just sounds
pretentious - but if you want to lose yourself in album for there quarters
of an hour, then you’ll be hard pushed to find a better one than this.
Bennett relies heavily
on story telling, although I wouldn’t want to be a character in one of his
tales, and like all the best records, there is a healthy dose of
self-loathing at work here. I was expecting to find this album dull, I now
think it’s one of the best albums of its kind I’ve ever heard. Buy it.
Would-Be-Goods - Brief Lives (Fortuna
More tales from tweesville. The Would-be Goods are an
odd lot, and I don’t think I quite clever enough to fully appreciate the
reasons behind this album - but then again, maybe I’m reading too much into
Y’see, take ‘Bad Lord
Byron’, which obviously has some historical context to it. Now, listening to
this, I really wish I'd listened to Mr Fowler in History lessons back at
school, cos Jessica Griffin knows something I don’t.
The there’s a song
called Richard III, ‘Diminuendo’...and some songs sung in French. What does
this mean? It means I need to get back to the books I think.
Musically, this is a
fine album, and incredibly well-produced. Favourites? Oh, ‘Elegant Rascal’
by a country mile. Just don’t ask me to explain why.....
Dressy Bessy - Sound Go Round (Track & Field)
Like the Icicles older brothers and sisters, Dressy
Bessy are the sound of an sugar cube being thrown down the stairs. And I
don’t mean Bjork. On this, their second album, the band build on their
reputation for making some of the scuzziest, sweetest , swoonsome garage
It’s all here through
13 tracks of handclaps, ramshackle drums and girly vocals. Imagine the
Aislers Set slapping Belle and Sebastian round the face with a wet daffodil,
and Dressy Bessy are born, alive into your bedrooms, for there can be no
other place better to listen to this wonderful album than your bedroom...on
a hot evening...with the windows open...getting ready to go out dancing...or
Whatever, the fact is
that you NEED ‘Sound Go Round’, like a cat needs its whiskers, like a dog
needs its tail, like a pop song needs its handclaps. Go buy.
Radar Brothers - And the Surrounding Mountains
C&W and psychedelia have never been the easiest of
bedfellows, but the Radar Brothers are doing their damnedest to make sure
they get round the table and start talking. This beautiful album, full of
heart-wrenching melodies, shards of maudlin guitar, and an expansive sound
not heart since the Flaming Lips buggered off again a couple of years back,
does much to affirm my love of this kind of American music. With its
determined passion and moments of quiet introspection, ‘And the Surrounding
Mountains’ brings back memories of some of Built to Spill’s finer moments.
Sadness has rarely sounded so triumphant.
Jack Drag - The Sun Inside (Shifty Disco)
Lazy buggers, these Americans. Or at least they sound
like they are. In fact this album sounds like it was inspired by endless
days of sitting around doing not much at all. Guitars lope, vocals drawl,
atmospherics swoon, and the whole thing is quite lovely.
Make what you want of
Jack Drag, after all, what do I know about anything, but these ears hear
snippets of the Beatles 66-67, Beulah and maybe even Beck. And it’s that
kind of loose-limbed psychedelia that draws me in. But there’s also a great
deal of subtlety at work here too - Jack Drag don’t overstate their
influences too much - something our US cousins have over their somewhat
dopey Brit counterparts, and for this I salute them. Even if they sound as
though they need a good spell in the army.
A Long Way to Blow a Kiss (Fortune and Glory)
As one quarter of the godlike Hefner, Antony Harding
hardly gets the recognition he deserves as tub-thumping powerhouse. But then
when he can put together a classic set of no-fi love songs like this, who
Consider, if you will,
other drummers with medium sized indie bands who could write something as
glorious ‘Any Girl Can Make Me Smile’, which is just so damn romantically
beautiful that I may well marry the song. If I wasn’t already taken that is.
By ‘I Always Hurt the One I Love’. Which is even more gorgeous.
I’m not gonna rattle on
here about how special this album is, because I’ll never do it justice. It’s
just about the perfect long lost rejection ex-girlf/boyf record you’ll ever
hear. Those sensitive enough to find the Wizard of Oz heartbreaking are
gonna love it, trust me...
Alician Blue - Slow Colorless Stare (Safranin Records)
It’s good to know that
some people still regard My Bloody Valentine so highly. One wonders what
people would make of MBV had they broken through nowadays - as it is, we
don’t have to wonder because American’s Alician Blue do a fine job of acting
as a tribute band. Not that that’s a bad thing. I like a nice bit of feedo
as much as the next person, and Alician Blue can certainly spew it out.
So, when this band
aren’t creating impenetrable sonic soundscapes such as ‘Response’, they’re
belting out frazzled pop tunes such as ‘Channel’.
It’s good to hear that
music like this is still being made, today’s clean cut strumeisters could
learn a thing or two from Alician Blue’s hazy genius.
Mercury Tilt Switch - Brundle Kid (Pet
Veterans of the Scottish underground make an album
that shoves two fingers up the likes of Manics and shows just how the
angst-rock thang should be done. A little bit emo, a little bit garage rock
- but always enjoyable.
And how can one fail to
love an album that has a track called ‘Half Time Shankly’?
Fierce Panda have
picked up on the band. Maybe they see a better and more durable Idlewild
waiting in the wings. tasty hopes so. Fine indeed.