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  albums - tasty 21
 
  - Pow to the People
- Tahiti 80
- Serafin
- The Star Spangles
- Mower
- The Meeting Places
-
Slipslide
-
Various ArtistsYou're Still Young at Heart
-
The Grim Northern Social
 
 
Various - Pow! to the People (Track and Field)
Keeping the underground pop flag flying in the UK isn't exactly easy - a discussion with friends the other day showed that indie pop labels on these shores are hard to come by. Yet here we have a Track and Field double album, celebrating that labels very best tunes.
 
It's hard to find fault with a label that puts out such great stuff from deities such as Birdie, the mighty Comet Gain, Dressy Bessy, Kicker, The Loves and Fonda 500, and so I won't. Suffice to say, as an introduction to the ever growing beast that is Track and Field, this a great place to start. More Pow! to their elbow!
 
 
Tahiti 80 - Wallpaper For the Soul (Atmospheriques)
You know when summer is here because Tahiti 80 start putting out records again. 'Wallpaper for the Soul' is the French band's second album and is a definite move forward, both lyrically and musically.
 
Starting slowly with the title track - with Xavier's seductive crooning deep in the mix ladies - the album springs into life with '1,000 Times' - the tip top poppermost cuddly gem of a song. But, hey, let's not forget that Tahiti 80 can get a bit fed up too. 'The Other Side' is about as dark as this band can get, and even then I'm talking a song that reminds me of a little fluffy puppy - but this time dressed in a black tie. I think I'm rambling now. So, onwards...
 
'Fun Fair' is perhaps my favourite here. It's simple, but that's the way I like my pop music and is cute as cute can be. Someone described Tahiti 80 to me the other day as 'music for idiots to relax to'. He, my friends, is the idiot. Because this is ace.
 
 

Serafin - No Push Collide (Taste)
Serafin look like nasty buggers on the front cover of their debut album, if a little blurry. Perhaps they had a late night, or a pyjama party or something.

It'd be easy to dismiss this band as the scrag end of this here new rock revolution shite, and because I'm a lazy sod, I will, because that's exactly what they are. 12 tracks of chugging nonsense from neantherdals of the very worst kind.

 
 

The Star Spangles - Bazooka!!! (Capitol)
Oh Star Spangles, you look so cute in your New York threads, and all you lot out there, if you're waiting for the next, and undoubtedly shite, Strokes album, then this should fill the gap nicely. I'm trying to find differences between this record and the Serafin album, but by buggery I'm struggling. Maybe the Star Spangles don't take themselves and painfully seriously as other chances who make this sort of madly outdated sound. Maybe they look a bit cooler. Maybe it's because they're not from round these parts that everyone seems to jump on them and smother them with kisses. Maybe it's because I'm a northerner.

But to me, much of what The Star Spangles have included on this album is no better than some poodle rocker from the eighties, or at least a horrible new wave/pub rocker that died out when The Smiths arrived. Whichever it is, I'm not sure I care that much. Move on please...nothing to see here....

 
 
Mower - People Are Cruel (Transopic)
After the previous tosh, this is a most pleasant surprise. Imagine the Kinks turning up to number 11 and shaking their heads about a bit. I know, I know what you're going to say. It's a crazy thought! Ray Davies would never muck his hair up in the name of rock 'n roll. But that's as good a description as you're gonna get from me.
Again, Mower lose points for far too much guitar wankery, but when they go for the soaring harmony route, they make me smile. See opener 'After Dark' for some marvellous vocals. As Big Ron would say, ones to watch....

 

 

The Meeting Places - Find Yourself Along the Way (Words on Music)
Anyone lucky enough to have heard the US' excellent shoegazing...sorry, dreampop, band - Medicine, will know what to expect here. This 10 track bundle of joy features ex-members of Medicine, along with other US underground alumni, to create something so perfectly dreamlike it's hard to know where to start. Imagine a kind of weird indie circus, involving members of Slowdive, Ride and the Lucksmiths  - each one of whom perform swooping drops and falls, whilst whispering out little words of nothingness....

Okay, enough of the circus thing - we wouldn't want any elephants escaping, after all. Suffice to say that, if you are of a certain age when you swooned over Rachel Goswell, and can remember those very early Suede gigs when Bernard Butler used to do very exciting things with his guitar, then you'll love 'Find Yourself Along the Way'. For those unaware of these charms, The Meeting Places might just open up the sensitive of your heart. A pop dream.

 
 

Slipslide - The World Can Wait (Matinee)
I never really thought that Slipslide could make an album as wonderful as this. I had them down as a mid-table Matinee band (if such a thing exists), sticking out worthy, if slightly dull singles every now and then, aimed at those who think that the Rickenbacker is the most important thing in the world, and forever overshadowed by that other Elston's band - The Liberty Ship.

And so, then, 'The World Can Wait' is big fat triumph. From the initial pop rush of 'Sleeptalk' - which seeks to set new heights for the male backing vocal - to the centrepiece of the album - 'Palm House Crawling', which is quite one of the most majestic things I've heard this year. And Slipslide can do the folky thing quite nicely too, ta very much. 'Baked Alaska' is a cute little thing, and is followed, brilliantly, by 'Watching, Waiting' - a perky fella, that brings to mind The Housemartins somewhat,. and that's no bad thing.

On occasion it's very easy to see where the Elston brothers get their inspiration from, and some of the tracks here could easily be Liberty Ship ones. But who cares about that when Graeme can make such brilliantly lush pop music as this. Bravo to them.

 
 

Various Artists - You're Still Young at Heart (Shelflife)
With both Shelflife and Matinee celebrating their 50th releases, it's a great time to be a pop fan because both of them have released commemorable albums, made up of some of the finest of the international pop underground. And so, I'm not gonna go through this track by track, because you probably own some of these gems anyway, but on this fantastic album you'll find hits by the excellent Free Loan Investments, Souvenir, Brideshead, Majestic and California Snow Story. What else could you possibly want? Go seek out now. Now I say!

 
The Grim Northern Social - The Grim Northern Social (One Little Indian)
If only The Grim Northern Social Club were half as good as the long lost Whipping Boy, who in turn, wanted to be U2, then they'd be a lot better than they think they are. Unfortunately, they're not, and, as such, this debut album is many, many bad things. Firstly, it's vastly over produced. Secondly, it's a dull as fuck. Third, it's so fake it's embarassing. The vocalist thinks he's from the Deep South (and I don't mean Gravesend) one minute, the next he's a cockernee barrow boy. I can't really bring myself to go through the whole of the album with you, just to say that you should avoid this band like the plague. God knows how they've managed to hoodwink a respectable label like One Little Indian...