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  albums - tasty 22
  - Chris TT
- Hamell on Trial
- Camera Obscura
- David Dondero
- Fiel Garvie

- Mavis
- Various: Matinee 50
- In the City
- The Sound of Lemington Spa Vol 3
- Amber Smith
- Razorlight
- The Lucksmiths

- Brighter
Chris TT - London is Sinking (Snowstorm)
By rights, anyone professing a love of Bruce Springsteen and Queens of the Stone Age should be thrown out of tasty by our highly trained door monkey. However, who can resist the cheeky beard pop of Chris TT? He swoops past the primate with ease with this, his fourth, and best album.
'London is Sinking' is the tale of a trip down the Thames through the eyes of a young woman. On the way we learn just how many giraffes there are in Britain, how to blow up a bridge a violent uprising by the workers of the capital city. Not your normal album then?
Well, not unless you're Chris TT, who has shaped himself into one the UK's best story tellers. He reckons this is the first concept album he's done - I reckon he's fibbing, but let's not argue when, on this evidence, the TT sound has finally come of age.
First classic is 'Giraffes #1' - which tells of a takeover by our long-necked friends over a quite stunning pop background, which is gonna sound bloody great live in the forthcoming UK tour. Meanwhile, 'Cull' takes us into darker waters and Chris entreats the workers of London to occupy their workplaces and chuck the bosses out - a 'corporate revolution', in his words. This is followed immediately by another fluffy gem - '7 Hearts', and it's these poppier songs that really make the album. 'Cull' may be this record's monumental masterpiece, but without '7 Hearts' and 'Giraffes #1', then this record could easily become impenetrable.
Thankfully, it's far from that, and is TT's most mature work to date. One day soon he'll strike it lucky with a hit, of that there is no doubt - this album is just one that will is waiting to be rediscovered again and again in the future
Hamell on Trial - Tough Love (Righteous Babe)
Mmm...white blues - don'tcha just love it? This sort of thing leaves me cold. It's been done, and much better by the likes of Railroad Jerk and Jon Spencer for years and years. The sort of thing that'll be giving erections to men with real ale down the Running Horse, Alfreton Road for years to come. Sorry.

Camera Obscura- Underachievers Please Try Harder
Released on Sept. 15th. Camera Obscura's new album, 'Underachievers Please Try Harder' has a little bit for everyone. It possesses such beauty and melancholy that can take you from one extreme to another. You can be dancing with the swinging 'Let me go home' or daydreaming with the wonderful 'Lunar Sea' or 'Suspended from Class'. In 'Teenager', the band experiments with a different rhythm, as well as in 'Book written for girls'. Perhaps this can be the main difference from 'Biggest Bluest Hi-fi': a more confident, mature and experimental group features in 'Underachievers.', while in 'Biggest.' most songs have sort of the same characteristics. It is not  worth though, to consider the band or the new album in such terms; both have their uniqueness and charm. Rather, I'd like to think that Camera Obscura has not disappointed their fans who appreciate their delicate manner of describing frustrations, human frailty and simple things that make life special. In its poetry, the new album remains simple, safe and warm.

By Aline Lemos

David Dondero - The Transient (Future Farmer Recordings)
Whereas Hammell on Trial have the most cringeworthy of ways of expressing their obvious love of all things blues, David Dondero takes their chips, rubs them all over his arse and then gives them back.

Anyone lucky enough to own a copy of Billy Bragg and Wilco's two albums of Woody Guthrie songs is gonna love 'The Transiet'. And Dondero doesn't muck about - right from the off with the brilliantly electric bluegrass of 'Living and he Dead' and 'Ashes on the Highway' he's strumming away live a good 'un. Meanwhile, '20 Years' is a beautiful, meandering paean to someone or other, and 'Dance of Spring' sounds like Frank Black after about twenty pints of lager. Sounds good so far doesn't it?

Well, it gets better. Along comes 'See it Clear', which begins like a punk 'La Bamba' before turning, nicely, into a sort of an early James rompathon, with a great Farfisa organ thingy going on in the background.

Although Dondero can do the slowy with the best of 'em, it's when he gets a bit edgy that I find him at his beautiful best. 'The Stars Are My Chandelier' is the song Oasis have been looking for all these years without having to rhyme 'fly' with 'high'.

As the winter nights draw in, Dondero's humour may well not be as black as them, but his intensely personal touch is sure to warm even the icier of hearts. He's certainly made me feel cosy.


Fiel Garvie - Leave Me Out of This (Foundling)
Fiel Garvie have been peddling their ambient folk around these shores for quite a while now, and seem to have been enjoying more success overseas than with the lumpen rock meatheads that seem to dominate the record buying public over here.

Taking their cue from The Cocteau Twins and Slowdive, Fiel Garvie should be quite a wonderful thing, but they seem to leave me wanting more. It's all very well being mysterious and whispery, but those of a pop bent need hooks, and I just can't seem to find them in 'Leave Me Out of This'.

Sure, it's a beautifully produced album, and I'm sure it sounds as good as it was meant to, but I am yet to be convinced by an album that thinks reverb is a must and not an extravangance. Thus, tracks such as 'I Didn't Say', which should and could be cracking ambient pop songs, are drenched under just a little too much trickery.

That said, there are worse albums out there. If Fiel Garvie can put the effects pedal away for a song or two I could probably grow to like them. For now, I'm afraid I'll have to pass.


Mavis - Mavis vs The Mendonca (Toddler Records)
The vanguard of the underground return with an album, most graciously, dedicated to the best striker Grimsby Town have has since Kevin Drinkell, and that was before football was even invented in 1992.

I don't rightly recall the name of Mavis' debut album, and I can't really be arsed to look it up, but it stayed a sufficient time on the tasty stereo to take hold of my brain, which, admittedly, doesn't take much, but, yeah, it was good.

And the thing is, this album is far better than it's mummy. Mavis have, miraculously, grown up. Discard - if you want to - the bubblegum thrash of opener 'Ba Ba Ba (Don't Leave Me)', and you'll find 'Paint a Picture', a beautiful melodic little thing, that sees James McMahon show off his awkwardly great voice.

Mcmahon has one of those voices that sounds as though he's either utterly bored or that he's been through the wringer a few times. He is, it seems, a hopeless romantic - the excellent little story on the sleeve notes confirm this, and when he croons, half way through 'Paint a Picture' that 'it takes two to break to break a heart', it's pretty much established that he's a big soft jessie underneath it all. And more power to him.

But! Back to the music. I'm gonna skip forward a bit to the excellently titled 'Water into Beer', which reminds me slightly of the Housemartins. Mind you, quite a lot of stuff does nowadays, which is a bit odd.

I think it's the slow songs that do it for me with Mavis these days. McMahon sounds pissed and pissed off in 'This is Our Youth', and again he's banging on about girls and broken hearts and stuff and twisted limbs! The saucy devil!

Closing track, 'Brightest Stars in Yorkshire' is six and half minutes long. This, however, it not all you need to know. There's someone playing a violin - or is it a cello? - on this track, that makes it just...about...perfect. A Yorkie version of The Regulars' spine-tingling 'Lincolnshire Skies'. And that's some compliment.

Thanks heavens for Mavis and their shambling indie pop ways. This album just might save my bacon.


In the City - Fat Northerner Vol. 2 (Fat Northerner Records)
Put together by people disillusioned by the Manchester scene, or indeed, the lack of it, Fat Northerner Records raison d'etre is to give north west artists the help and recognition they deserve without having to travel to London.

Jolly good and all that, but are there any decent bands in Manchester any more?

On the evidence of this, well...maybe. Sorry I can't be any more thrusting and confident than that, but when a band's ambition - in the case of Pioneers - is to simply sound like a very bad Coldplay/Doves hybrid, then you have to wonder. Unfortunately, we go downhill from there with Slims, whose 'Eyeball Man' is the type of lumpen punk metal that saw off Therapy? all those years ago. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Earl save the day somewhat with their chunky electro pop, whilst Blue Avenger offer 'Do the Right Thing', which sounds a bit like Sly and Robbie's 'Boops', but that's the only good thing I can say about it I'm afraid. Finally there's Parma Violets, and we have, thankfully, saved the best til last with the delightfully twinkly 'I See Double'.

Not the best Manchester compilation I've heard by a long stretch, but certainly not the worst. From one fat northerner to another: good luck.


Various - The Sound of Leamington Spa Vol 3 (Firestation Tower Records)
For some, the late eighties were a magical time. For others, like the 20 bands featured on the latest volume of this indie pop series, they were spent struggling to find money to put a single out and playing in front of no-one in a nowhere town. Like Halifax or somewhere. Fun it may have been at the time, but utterly futile.

And there are some pretty dreadful tracks here, let's not mess about. The Thing Gypsy Thieves' (arggghh!) 'Perfection' sounds like a Mock Turtles b-side, and sometimes it's easy to see where the Manchester sound of the late 80s had it's origins.

But the crap tracks are in the minority. Because as long as you've got Pure's 'Aspidistra', Bounce the Mouse's 'Will You Ever Say', The Passenger's 'Sometimes' and Snowbirds' 'Motorcycle Baby' then you will never be alone. But maybe it's time to stop trawling through the murky depths of late 80s indie-pop and let it rest in peace. You can laugh about it now, but at the time some of it was terrible, I think someone once said.

Amber Smith - My Little Servant (Firestation Tower Records)
Forgive me, I can't remember the last Hungarian band I liked. So welcome Amber Smith! All the way from Budapest, no less, and peddling a sort of New Order inspired pop that has these feet a-tapping away in no time.
Indeed, 'Teddybear' is pure 'Technique' -era New Order and should really be saved for a summer's day razzing around in an open top bus or something. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, 'Geraldine' is a dainty little polka thing that brings to mind Tahiti 80. Which is all very off. Enjoyable, but very odd. Because I had the impression that, after opener 'Wake Up', this was to be one of those new fangled icy electronic albums. Imagine my surprise then, when, upon hearing the clap-tastic 'Rusty Willoughby' I put my shorts on and took the beach ball out. Of the cupboard I mean. I rambling. This is a good album. That is all.
Razorlight - Sampler (Vertigo)
Tipped is the word, is the word. And aren't they something to do with the Libertines? This may be 'lazy journalism' or whatever, but they don't half sound like The Strokes. Which, at times is no bad thing, but isn't that soooo 2002 or something? 'Rock 'n' Roll Lies' despite having an awful title, is quite good thankyouverymuch, and sounds a little like Lou Reed playing guitar with them there Strokes.
I may be being a little unfair, but I'm not just here for the nice things in life after all. See them on Top of the Pops by next Easter. There - a prediction!
The Lucksmiths - A Little Distraction (Fortuna Pop!/Matinee/Candle)
It's been a mighty 18 months for the Lucksmiths, and as they prepare to come and play in the UK, they've just gone and topped the lot by releasing this gorgeous mini-album. The six tracks here show perfectly why so many pop fans love The Lucksmiths, from the beautiful, laid back glow of 'Transportine', 'A Little Distraction' and 'Moving' to more familiar territory of 'Successlessness' and the staggering 'After the After Party', this is just about the most perfect pop there is at the moment.
Quite how I managed to ignore these lot when they were supporting Hefner a few years back is beyond me. Make sure you don't miss them...erm...pop-pickers.

Various - Matinee 50 (Matinee)
Such has been the outrageously high level of music coming out of the Matinee stable, many have compared this American label with mid-80s Creation. And I don't think that's much of an over-exaggeration. The last two years have seen The Lucksmiths, The Liberty Ship, Pipas, Slipslide, The Melodie Group, Harper Lee, Would-be-Goods, The Guild League and The Windmills all release fantastic pop records through Matinee, and all of these bands are featured here.

The wheeze on this, as always, immaculately packaged album, is for each band to cover another band's Matinee release. Nearly all work well, but special mention must go to The Windmills' cartwheeling version of Airport Girl's sumptuous 'Striking Out on Your Own'. Just to show how sweet and lovely Airport Girl are, they provide the album's centrepiece in the perfect version of The Windmill's 'Three Sixty Degrees'.

Special mentions also go to The Liberty Ship's serene reading of Kosmonaut's 'Desert Song' and Harper Lee's beautiful reworking of Monterey's 'Motorway'.

Jimmy Tassos is obviously a man of high taste. Matinee is my favourite label, and whilst it keeps throwing moments of pop light my way, it will continue to be so. A half century of pop gems has never sounded so good.


Brighter - Singles 1989-1992 (Matinee)
Of course it goes without saying that Brighter are far too legendary in indie pop circles for the likes of johnny come latelys like tasty to try and praise them to skies.'s so hard not to.

If these songs weren't the soundtrack to your early twenties - that time of life when you realise that all the pissing about you did when you were eighteen and thought you'd live forever was over - then, quite frankly you missed out. Unless you're into the Harper Lee and Pinkie that is.

For those not in the know, the Brighter sound was one of the most intimate indie pop you'll probably ever hear. Keris Howard, Alison Cousens and Alex Sharkey made only a very few bittersweet tunes that turned many a shy boy and girl from bedsit casualties onto something altogether more worthwhile.

Y'see in an era when it was considered fucking ace for the Senseless Things to crash into the charts at number 35, Brighter were busy releasing a clutch of records on Sarah that were a godsend for those not down with baggy or fannying around in a plaid shirt pretending that Nirvana weren't crap heavy metal arseholes.

Hymns of disaffection, such as 'Inside Out', 'Noah's Ark' and 'I Don't Think It Matters' said a lot more about our lives than a dribbly Manc, and....a smack head from Seattle.

And all, yes ALL of Brighter's recorded work is collected together here, in another awesome Matinee package. This is the sound of many years ago now, but don't let anyone tell you that it isn't relevant. After all, you should always keep in touch with your friends.