tasty 17 - album reviews
- The Pattern
- All Tomorrow's Parties
- Alpine Stars
- AM 60
- The Velvet
The Jesus and Mary
- Sonic Youth
- Fonda 500
- Elf Power
- More or Less the Truth (Sugarshack Records)
When, over the last decade or so, you’ve heard every
possible attempt to mix rock and dance, then Clean’s often clumsy attempts
at being the next Pop Will Eat Itself can be a little tiresome. Especially
on the really lip tracks here, such as ‘Right Now’ where they even end up
sounding like a Jesus Jones b-side from 1991.
It’s on the straighter, rockier tracks such as opener
‘Stronger Man’ that Clean manage to sound as though they know what they’re
doing. I try hard to like this album, but one has to wonder just what
exactly they’re trying to achieve by limiting themselves to sounding like
something that sounded a little bit crap ten years ago. Never mind.
The Pattern - Real Feelness (Wichita)
One step forward, two steps back, as Paula Abdul
once sang, that is what tasty thinks of the current fad for real rock
music. Led by the neck kicking and screaming by a music press that can’t
be bothered any more to find anything a little more cerebral, and lapped
up by a record-buying youth who know no better, we may well find
ourselves, very soon, in a worse state than we were before this lot of
scruffy oiks popped up. And so The Pattern are absolutely no different to
any of them, in fact they remind me of some kind of
garage metal band of the mid-80s. The new Hanoi Rocks
- All Tomorrow’s Parties 2.0
Of course, ATP is the only festival worth going to
these days. An event where you can relax with your own, without having to
wade through fields of hippies offering you tea made from cow shit, or
people with rainbow dreadlocks playing hardcore gabba for the entire
weekend. You even get your own little chalet to kip in. Most civilised.
And the line-up is usually rather good too. This little
souvenir features the best of this year’s event, which saw Shellac, The
Fall and The Breeders all at the same gig, a feat very rarely achieved.
Other bands featured here include a most bizarre Bonnie Prince Billy playing
the reggae-fied ‘Early Morning Melody’ and it’s good to see that US indie
stalwarts Arcwelder haven‘t sold their soul to the devil and are still
making fine music. Inevitably, for me at least, The Fall steal the show with
the driving magnificence of ‘Two Librans’, a track that reassures me that
the band are back to their snarling, tight, best. Special festival, pretty
The Alpinestars - White Noise (Riverman Records)
Not quite electroclash, not quite indie, ‘White Noise’
sees The Alpinestars whip out 11 tracks of futuristic (by futuristic, I mean
you should go back to 1981 and consider the word again) disco ditties.
Quite beautiful at times -see ‘Hotel Parallel’ for
evidence, it has to be said that these lot are very easy on the ear. I could
like them, if only I’d let myself, and, of course, I can’t consider such a
Tender Trap - Film Molecules (Fortuna Pop!)
There’s always something of a frisson of excitement
that accompanies a new Amelia Fletcher band, and Tender Trap are no
Through Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research and now
Tender Trap, Fletcher and her cohorts have been the vanguard of indie-pop/twee/C86
- call it what you will, but they’ve always made wonderful music.
And ‘Film Molecules’ is a wonderful thing too, a quite
astonishing debut. Perhaps it’s the fact that is quite simply some of the
most mainstream pop music Fletcher has made, perhaps it’s because it sounds
wilfully out of time, perhaps it’s because huge chunks of it remind me of
the first Kenickie album - I can’t quite put my finger on it.
The album veers wildly through the girl-pop of ‘Oh Katrina’
to the wonderfully lush ‘Son of Dorian Gray’ - my favourite here, and onto
early 80s synth pop such as ‘Face of 73’ - a song that Kylie and Sophie
would just love to be able to sing...and the epic, eerie closer - ‘Your Are
Gone’ which at over six minutes seems slightly out of sync with it’s fellow
tunes, but never outstays it’s welcome.
There’s already been some wonderful records released this
year, from people such as Milky Wimpshake, The Lucksmiths and Comet Gain.
Add this beauty to your collection.
There seems to be a real lack of albums such as this.
When I were a nipper you couldn’t move for compilation albums featuring
tracks from unsigned bands. The
City series springs to mind, for some reason, and so applause to Andy from
indiecent exposure for putting together this 19 tracker.
To be honest, this album typically has its fair share of
rubbish - I don’t understand Ciccone at all, and Slater are particular poor.
But let’s not think about bad things, let’s look instead at the wonderful
Lollies their space-pop offering ‘Call the Girls’, The Fairy Traders and The
Fighting Cocks who may well be the most delightful and most scary human
beings at the same time.
At £4.99 you can’t really go wrong
with this album. As an introduction to those bands bubbling under, then Andy
should be congratulated.
Always Music 60 (Shifty Disco)
Always ones for something a little different, Shifty
Disco release this little gem of an album from AM60, a band I really don’t
think should be mentioned in the same breath as the crappy Fun Lovin
Criminals, but the press release mentions them for some reason.
It’s good to hear a soppy old album sometimes, and this is
one of them. Check out the titles, ‘Summertime Girlfriend’ - ‘Summer Nights’
for the next generation, ‘You and Me’ - a song so beautiful it fair brings a
shudder to the spine, and ‘Girl for Me’ - easily the best track here with
it’s fake crowd noise, comedy scratching, and the most gorgeously innocent
vocal this side of Orville the Duck.
It’s hard to dislike AM60, after all, they’ve just written
the perfect summer album. Get ‘em while their hot.....
The Velvet Underground - The Velvet
Underground & Nico (Universal)
A marvellous 2-cd package of one of the most
influential albums ever, featuring the mono and stereo versions of the album
and then a selection of tracks from ‘Chelsea Girl’ on the stereo version and
the single versions of ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’, ‘I’ll be Your Mirror’,
‘Sunday Morning’ and Femme Fatale’ on the mono disc.
Highlights? Everything, basically. Nico wailing through
‘Femme Fatale’ sounds even better in stereo and ‘Venus in Furs takes on a
new dimension too.
‘Heroin’ remains the centrepiece of this stunning set of
songs, and at over seven minutes long resonates long after the others have
The Jesus and Mary Chain - 21 Singles
It may only be now, in these dark desolate days of
‘mainstream indie’ that we can put a price on the JAMC’s head. Can you
imagine NME getting quite as excited about ‘Upside Down’ in 2002 as they did
in 1984? No. Me neither.
And so as ‘Upside Down’ blasts from the speakers in a whole
mess of fucked-up feedback, maybe it’s time to start being adventurous
again. JAMC certainly did, because next is ‘Never Understand’ a canter
through more primal hinterland that cuddles up nicely to ‘You Trip Me Up’.
For some, ‘Some Candy Talking‘ was, at the time, a new
national anthem, whilst ‘April Skies’ with it’s cod-Elvis opening was one of
the first singles I bought and remains one of the finest I own.
From hereon in we head into the ‘Darklands’ era , when the
band were at their peak, both in terms of popularity and creativity. After
all, two blokes from
can only rely on feedback and a drum machine for so long. ‘Sidewalking’ is
a brutal, warped
of a song, whilst ‘Blues from a Gun’ remains one of their more commercial
offerings of the period.
By the time of ‘Honey‘s Dead in 1992, baggy was at its peak
and the JAMC didn’t have a home to go to. Pity us then, that at the time we
thought the savage ‘Reverence’ was the last word in indie-dance and the way
we used to fill the dance floors of every indie-club, kicking off the
Northsiders in their flares whenever it came on. ‘Far Gone and Out’ follows
the vogue of the time with its ‘funky drummer’ beat, but here ends prime
But, here’s not where the story ends. In 1994, JAMC had
been around for a decade and were depicted as a band who, whilst fondly
loved by a rapidly decreasing fan base and a handful of NME jounalists, were
tolerated on the form of past glories, rather than hailed for new ones.
However, tracks such as ‘Sometimes Always’ - a beautiful ditty with Hope
Sandaval of Mazzy Star, and the crushing ‘Cracking Up’ sound excellent to
these ears. If only JAMC hadn’t been written off see easily, we may not have
seen them chucking in the towel so easily.
Bands such as Six by Seven and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
owe them much. The Pixies covered one of their songs - a honour in itself.
And ‘April Skies’ will forever be etched on the mind of a 13 year old school
boy. Cherish them.
Sonic Youth -
Murray Street (Geffen)
The second in the Youth’s proposed cultural history of
Lower Manhattan, ‘Murray
Street’ was at the centre of the September 11th disaster last year. It’s the
road where Sonic Youth’s studios are, and where one of the engines from the
hijacked planes hit the ground. To say this has influenced the album would
be an understatement.
Musically, it’s hardly a return to anything resembling
Sonic Youth at their most accessible, and as someone who’s never quite
understood the allure of the band, much of it leaves me a little non-plussed.
However, it beats much of what’s deemed as US alternative rock these days
into a bloody pulp, and in places is a genuinely maudlin, emotional record.
500 - No 1 Hi-Fi Hair (Truck Records)
Odd fuckers, these lot. One minute they’re charming
the pants off you with ‘Computer Freaks of the Galaxy’, the next they’re
trying to be the Super Furry Animals.
For the best part of this album, my pants are round my
ankles, as Fonda 500, when they want to, can crank up a mean pop song, such
as ‘The Magic Sunshine Butterfly’ - song so hippy-dippy it could have been
written by Catweazle’s late 60s psyche outfit.
In quieter moments, such as ermm, ‘Bumble a Bumble b Bumble
c Bumble d’ they sound to me like very early Mercury Rev.
The problem I have with this album is that it’s very
disjointed and just doesn’t flow. That’s probably as it was meant to be, and
it’s definitely my problem, however, there must be other simple souls out
there who don’t want to sit through three minutes of run out groove sound
Pants fully pulled up. I make my way home safe in the
knowledge that Fonda 500 are far too clever for me.
Idlewild - The Remote Part (Parlophone)
The recent backlash against Idlewild highlights their
predicament perfectly. A move towards a more mature sound, and a measured
style of songwriting has got the doyennes of the ‘pit into something of a
tizz, as they find that the new set of songs are harder to kick someone in
the head to. The poor lambs.
Personally, I welcome the move towards sounding exactly
like ‘Document’-era REM, especially on ‘American English’ and its ilk.
And really, for you lot who like to be squashed up in front
of a sweaty large man at gigs, there’s enough here for you to chuck
yourselves around to - ‘A Modern Way of Letting Go’ is frantic enough to
keep me awake - even at this hour. Growing old gracefully, then....Idlewild,
not me, you understand....
- Headzcleaner (Mushroom)
Quite simply, fucking mental. When Gerling are good,
they are very good - unfortunately on ‘Headcleanerz’ they dally about too
much for my liking.
The wildly varying music is still there, but the band have
taken to messing about with electronics too much, in this reviewers opinion.
So, whereas ‘The Manual’ and ‘Fight Revolution Team’ come across like Barry
Mooncult fronting The Clash. It’s on frankly dull tracks like the meandering
‘Serpentheadz’ that this record moves back to the average.
Which is all a very big shame because, without doubt,
Gerling are one of the most exhilarating live bands. Just wish they’d play
to their strengths, Brian.
Not that I’m under any illusion at all that Muse are
sat fretting about their review in tasty, but crikey, this is possibly some
of the most overblown, pompous, downright rhubarb music I’ve ever had the
displeasure to come across.
tasty has managed strictly to avoid Muse before now, and
how we wished that we’d carried on this mission.
This is a collection of b-sides and a live recording all
mashed together - quite why they think we need to hear all their b-sides
again after a two year career is beyond me, but let me tell you this,
they’re crap. That is all.
UHF - If
It Was Easy (Sound Story Records)
Thank crikey then, that we have the languid
psychedelia of UHF to round off a troublesome series of naughty albums.
This US four-piece based around the Leff brothers of Jeremy
and Jordan (ouch!) don’t exactly make storming pop songs, there’s only 3
tracks under four minutes long here, but ‘If It Was Easy’ is such a relief
after the M*se album that I want to eat it.
Personal favourites include the Byrdsian ‘Mr Grey’ which
has some beautifully poppy guitar playing and makes me want to clap my hands
for some reason.
In fact, what was I saying about this album not containing
any pop songs. I am an idiot. ‘She’s Going Up’ is pure pop, with a cute
buzzing guitar in the background and then - gadzooks - a trumpet that slips
in half way through.
‘If It Was Easy’ is that kind of album - full of little
surprises. I suggest you buy it.
Power - Creatures (Shifty Disco)
And I would leave it there, but I feel it my duty to
tell you about this very special album which reached me literally seconds
before tasty went to be photocopied.
Elf Power have done away with all the tricksy pissing about
that has sometimes blighted their previous stuff and written and
straight-ahead pop album. Hurray! And so, they’ve been listening to ‘Brimful
of Asha’ for opener ‘Let the Serpents Sleep’, they’ve put the power back
into pop with the thrusting (steady!) ‘Everlasting Scream’, they’ve spooked
us out with ‘The Creature’ - in which the drummer sounds like he‘s playing
the door panel of an Austin Maxi, they’ve written the most perfect guitar
pop in ‘Palace of the Flames’, and they’ve written a modern shanty in
‘Visions of the Sea’. This is quite a stunning album - the sort you can play
all day and annoy your neighbours with. The sort that really gets made by a
band such as Elf Power, who usually rely on their ability to add a little
bit of oddity to everything. This time, they’ve let themselves go - and the
results are wonderful.