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  tasty 18 - album reviews
  - The Lollies
Graham Coxon
Of Montreal
The Young Knives
- Mavis
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
Alabama 3
The Arrogants

The Lollies - Taste (Fortune and Glory)
The Lollies have a problem. They don’t want to be called twee. They want to unleash the rock beast that they thing lurks inside them. Apart from the drummer, Matthew, who likes The Lucksmiths...but he gets no say in things anyway. Possibly.

But I have a problem with The Lollies having a problem, for, on the evidence of ‘Taste’, this trio of North Americans are a great big effervescent POP! band.

Not that they’d like to admit to this of course, and whilst they’re penning little slabs of vitriol such as opener, ‘Flavah of the Week’ - a stab at those who’ll sell their arse for a couple of quid - they’ll keep these rock pretensions. But even ‘Flavah of the Week’ is where Slayer meets the Shangri-Las, so I win on that one.

And by putting two such wonderfully melancholic pieces such as ‘Imaginary Boyfriend’ and still my favourite, ‘Channel Heaven’ they’ll have this ringing in their ears, I’ll make sure of that.

Because you see this is a POP album. It deals with popular music set to popular themes. Y’know the usual stuff like shagging your boss, boys in make-up, and going out. Stuff that we’re all used to, all take for granted, but never really think that deeply about. Well, I don’t think about shagging boss at all, he’s just not my type, but you know what I mean.

This is what all the best pop bands have done. Fuck Radiohead. Fuck Muse. Fuck The White Stripes. And fuck the Strokes. They write about shite. No two ways about it. All the best bands have written about things that ordinary people like, hate, but above all experience. From The Kinks through the Smiths, and hell, yeah to the Lollies! All three bands share a common heritage in that they have/had the ability and downright cheek to write about things other people won’t. There’s nothing abstract about the Lollies, thank god. And therefore ‘Big Massive Fuck Off Attitude’ ain’t that difficult to work out, but that’s because it’s such a great song.

Why Radiohead whine on about...well, whatever they whine on about, is beyond me. The Lollies have shown with ‘Taste’ that all you need for class pop music is a head full of life and a few instruments. It really is that simple.

Lovejoy - Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Matinee)
See elsewhere in this issue for the frankly commendable Lovejoy ethos, and then buy this perfect little album to hear the sound behind it all.

Basically a concept album, ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ deals with the frustrations of modern life and the gradual take over of human emotions by THE SYSTEM! And therefore we do not simply get a crude Chumbawamba style rant for 40 minutes. No here Lovejoy deal with how this frustration and alienation can affect other parts of our lives. Least I think that’s what it’s all about...

And so we get ‘You Fell From Grace’, a song about the break up of a relationship from outside pressures. And which, is to be honest, a real weepy. I mean a proper one.

And on towards ‘Nothing Happens Here’, a huge big guitar romp, full of peaks and troughs, which reminds this listener of ‘Technique’ era New Order, and a paean about small seaside town living, and the longing for escape. It could be about Brighton, it could be about anywhere. The things is, that it’s here. And it’s wonderful.

Lovejoy throw in a reworking of their tribute to Biff Bang Pow!, with a cover of ‘The Beat Motel’, which is just so tender and heartfelt, that it could melt a steel heart.

And that’s possible the beauty of this album. The issues it covers are of intense frustration. Yet it’s soundtrack is made up of the lushest, most precious pop music. Not many people can do this. The Smiths again come to mind as a band who mixed that sense of frustration with some sparklingly handsome music, but with your average band, you can only have it one way. Lovejoy make sure they give you the whole package. An absolute joy.


Baptiste - Nothing Shines Like a Dying Heart (Linear Records)
From the murky world of the London they come, fully suited in black, like some kind of pale, smog ridden versions of Johnny Cash. Only better. This is Baptiste’s debut release. Self-financed because no-one seemingly has half a brain at record companies, and self promoted.

And it rocks the big one. Sometimes in a VU way, sometimes in a Tindersticks way. But mostly in a very, very special way.

Opener, ‘You Know Everything’ takes up the frazzled blueprint and stretches it over four intense minutes.

And that’s one of the shorter tracks. Until you get to the brilliantly unrelenting ‘Give a Man Four Walls Long Enough and it is Possible For Him to Own the World’, which is basically an instrumental, with only hazy, intermittent vocals, but is all the better for it, and then the spooky ‘The Half-Light’, where vocalist Wayne whispers above a creeping guitar line. And so the album finds its balancing point in the middle with its two best tracks.

After hearing the first two Baptiste singles, ‘Nothing Shines Like a Dying Heart’ comes as something of a shock. It’s a much harder sounding record, and a lot darker. Hints of Joy Division are here and there, and it’s a tribute to whoever did it, that the production is neither tinny, nor overblown. Baptiste shine on.

Graham Coxon - The Kiss of Morning (Transcopic)
What does one do when one is an 30-something multi-millionaire who has just left his stunningly successful band after the singer of said band has turned into a bigger wanker than he already was anyway?

Well, tasty will tell thee. One goes away and piles out big heaps of shit like this. ‘The Kiss of Morning’ is Coxon’s attempt as being the Syd Barrett. He fails spectacularly throughout. You’d have thought his time in Blur would’ve taught him a thing or two about plagiarism. Oddly not.


Econoline - Music is Stupid (Seriously Groovy)
In a time when any old band can get signed on the strength of being able to make a respectable racket with their guitars, tis genuinely surprising to actually hear a band who know how to use the guitar so well. Econoline are such a band. And this, their debut album, is a proper guitar album. Alright, it might not be the most original thing you’ll hear right now, but when originality doesn’t matter any more, you may as well have something that you once remembered as good. Tracks like ‘The C and G’ are big meaty bastards, whilst ‘Empty Sign Street’ retains just enough sensitivity to, when the time is right, let the guitars rip through. New single ‘Full Tar’ is the aural equivalent of a Marlboro Red, and if this is what they’re calling ‘emo’ these days, then give me a side parting, sensible jumper, geeky glasses and count me in.


Of Montreal - Aldhils Arboretum (Track & Field Organisation)
Of Montreal are without doubt one of those bands whose record collections contain nothing past 1977. And they’ll all wear brown cords as well, I bet you.

This album has retro stamped through it. From the whimsical vocals to the Byrdsian guitars and onto the odd Monkeys hook here and there. It’s not particularly my cup of tea, because the incessant chirpiness of it all really begins to grate on me after about four tracks. However, ‘Old People in the Cemetery’ is pretty hilarious and just about worth buying this for. Apart from that, not for the depressed. Or pessimistic.

The Young Knives - ...Are Dead (Shifty Disco)
Fortunately the little tinkers are simply fibbing, because they sound very much alive on this wonderfully rowdy mini-lp.

Starting with the tense and crushing ‘Walking on the Autobahn, The Young Knives rarely give up, coming across as some kind of hyperactive rock beast, intent on pummelling you into the ground, whether it be with the downright petrifying ‘The Night of the Trees’ or the power play at work on ‘Working Hands’

Comparisons? You want them. Imagine Frank Black at his most mental fronting the Cardiacs playing Stump songs. Yes, I know that requires a bit of a leap of the imagination, but believe me, if The Young Knives tell you to do something, you go ahead and bloody well do it. An immensely enjoyable PROPER guitar album.


Mavis - The Mavis Crisis (On the Door)
Legendary, or so it seems, in their native north-east of England, Mavis, on this album , make the sort of proper old fashioned indie music that’ll have those over in 25 in tears of joy.

‘The Mavis Crisis’ sounds, as probably was, recorded in one take, and utilises that best of things - the fucking loud guitar. Ramshackle in only the best of ways, Mavis manage to drag some kind of beauty from the carnage going on around them, and I can’t fault a band that has songs called ‘Sleeping With the Marxists’ and ‘Class War on the Dance Floor’ - the latter of which is a particularly nice piece of work, and contains some of the best ‘wooo-hoo-hooo’s seen this century at least.

And so Mavis shamble on, and for that we should be grateful. They may never be quite able to master that perfect pop song whilst the world, and the studio, falls down around them, but the result of these setbacks is this hugely enjoyable, and not to say cute, little album.

The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Horse of the Dog (Island)
Frankly, a scary as fuck. This is the band that can call its songs ‘Whack of Shit’, ‘Psychosis Safari’ and ‘Team Meat’ and still get into tasty. And that’s because of the sheer thrill of the heavy rockabilly of ‘Celebrate Your Mother’ - the topic of which I wouldn’t like to think about - ‘Chicken’ and...ermm pretty much the whole album.

Admittedly, they do sound a little seventies metal at times, but even then they’re so bloody heavy, I can’t blanche at their quality.

Bands like this don’t come around too often. Gallon Drunk  were probably the last one. Don’t let these shady characters go the same way.

V-Twin - The Blues is a Minefield (Domino)
I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure V-Twin hadn’t turned into the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion last time I heard them...

‘The Blues is a Minefield’ is ten tracks of often hectic white boy blues rock, with the odd pseudo jazz juncture. Sounds terrible? Well, it’s actually not.

V-Twin manage to carry this off because of their sheer energy levels, which never really abate. And therefore this is very little time to pause . Apart from the excellent ‘Swissair’ which is a neat little ditty in itself. Interesting, if not vital.

Suede - A New Morning (Epic)
I think were the very last band that NME told me were brilliant, and that I actually believed them. Back in 1992 you either chose the plaid shirt and the long hair of Nirvana and Pearl Jam, or, like me, you weren’t quite up to loud guitars and you went for the altogether more stylish Suede, who back then seemed incredibly sexy indeed.

Whether the band lost their way is a matter of opinion. Always slightly too risque for a mainstream that was gradually being taken over by the lumpen intellect of Oasis and Blur, Suede skirted the edges of success until they’ve reached this, their new album.

However, ‘A New Morning’ is anything but a rebirth. That same old sound is there, so much so that ‘Obsessions’ is nearly identical to ‘Trash’. And we have the same lyrics about chemicals and sex. Anderson’s Ziggy vocals are still exactly the same. And Suede remain stuck in a world where they think they can change the world through writing neat, if spectacularly throwaway songs about urban life. Those who live within the circle of Suede will love this. The rest of us will have to put up with Anderson’s patronising view of ‘ordinary’ people, which is a shame for a band that once truly excited me.

Alabama 3 - Power in the Blood (One Little Indian)
A mixture of Acid House and C&W wouldn’t usually make for much of a record. But then we hadn’t reckoned with the sheer brilliance of Alabama 3, who make the sort of darkly threatening music Death in Vegas have been making for the past few years. Inherently political, and featuring contributions from Irvine Welsh, BJ Cole, Rolo Mcginty and Eileen Rose, Alabama 3 have made an album that one would think Bobby Gillespie has been striving for for years.

The Arrogants - Nobody’s Cool (Shelflife)
And so to bed. And there’s no better thing to snuggle down to than The Arrogants’ latest album. ‘Nobody’s Cool’ features a whole range of twee-ish styles from the Darling Buds romp of ‘The Distance Between Us’ to the gliding, ethereal ‘The Moment’s Gone’. Big on their apostrophes are The Arrogants.

Much here is heartbreakingly sad, even the humourous demo tracks near the end. Hunker down and wallow in their sweet sound.