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  tasty 16 - album reviews

- Cornershop
Last Days of April
The Lucksmiths
Milky Wimpshake
Comet Gain
Craig Bennett

- Would Be Goods
Dressy Bessy
Radar Brothers
Jack Drag
Alician Blue
Mercury Tilt Switch

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?’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 Pop!)
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 sign up.

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.


Putois - 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 Cottage)
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 vocals.

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 Pop!/Matinee)
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 it.

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 pop.

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 something....

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 (Chemikal Underground)
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.

Ant - 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 needs Hefner?

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 Piranha/1970 Recordings)
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.