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  albums - march 2004

  - Johnny Dowd
- Deckard
- Bearsuit
- The Silent Boys
- Homescience

Johnny Dowd- ' Cemetery Shoes'
'Cemetery Shoes' is Johnny Dowd's latest release of his own unique blend of rusty Americana. This is a collection of 11 twisted country tunes, stories of woe and failure which seldom have a happy ending. These are tales of life that hasn't followed the path of least resistance, from incarceration in the opener 'Brother Jim' to the unfortunate soul receiving the Dear John Letter in the track of the same name. That is not to say that this is by any means a grim affair, far from it. Dowd has a subverted, wry sense of humour that prevails throughout, seen in tracks like 'Wedding Dress', the story of a confused transvestite jealous of his brides dress (probably the highlight of the album). This lends each track a fantastic blend of the simultaneously comedic and tragic.

Although musically its quite a hard sound to place this is probably best described as alt. country, though this stands shoulders above the usual Americana / fare. Dowd spins his embittered tales whilst the backing band clanks and grinds along with almost mechanic drive. this is a sort of industrial country, like Johhny Cash recording in a scrapyard. From start to finish a truly fine release, one of the years best so far, and if the polka driven finale, 'Rip Off', doesn't break a smile across your face, you're a cold, cold hearted individual indeed.

Luke Drozd

Deckard - 'Dreams of Dynamite and Divinity'
'Dreams of Dynamite and Divinity' is Deckard's, hailing from Scotland and taking their name from Harrison Fords character in 'Blade Runner', latest full length release. This is an album of pop-rock on a grand scale. there are obvious aspirations towards those bands with that large, almost theatrical indie sound, the Muse's and 'Radiohead's of the world, and although I'm sure they'll hate to hear it, I could also hear 'Glorious' by Andreas Johnson in there.

Now this is an album that certainly has its faults, that ballady big rock sound becomes quite repetitive and for me interest was lost long before the final track. However they are a good solid tight band and on the whole the tracks well written. For me this is just a bit too central reservation with no real edge, but if you like your pop/rock big, polished and unashamed there's a worse out there.

Luke Drozd

Bearsuit – Cat Spectacular! (Fortuna Pop!)
Anyone who doesn’t like Bearsuit is a big lemon-sucking nancy boy. There, I’ve said it.  And not only does this album come with the best press release of all time (in full colour!), it also has the best title ever in the world ever. I shall name my next cat after it.

The music? Well it’s as cutesy as ever, and don’t be fooled by the almost shoegazer-esque intro track of ‘Welcome to Bearsuit Spacehotel’, because straight after it you’ve got classic Bearsuit in ‘Cookie Oh Jesus’ and the awesome ‘Rodent Disco’.

Bearsuit draw heavily on the effervescence of Huggy Bear and, at time, the sadly missed – by me anyway – Prolapse. But then those two bands are great ones to have as your influence. Meanwhile, ‘Prove Katie Wrongg’ is synth heavy and as beautiful as its follow up, ‘TSTM’ is scary. Talking of which, ‘Kiki Keep Me Company’ features some bonkers vocals from the delightful Lisa, and we reach home with ‘On Your Special Day’, which is perfection stretched over three minutes and twenty two seconds.

All of this only half an hour. Good things really do come in small packages.

Sam Metcalf

The Silent Boys – Beauty Tips (Walrus Records)
Arghh...these lot are annoying buggers. Let me firstly tell you that this is quite a good album indeed. The Silent Boys sound not unlike the Go-betweens or Felt, in the way that they write finely crafted guitar pop songs – there’s even a bit of Lloyd Cole in there too, which is nice. But they insist, on quite a few of these songs, on suddenly changing key! The pesky blighters. So, when I’m in the bath howling along at the top of my voice to ‘Shades of Blue’, for example, I feel a right fool when I take one path, whilst they career down another.

It’s not all so complicated though, because of the frankly beautiful ‘AM Radio’ they go straight for the POP! jugular, and win me over with ease. I can’t imagine The Silent Boys being much to watch live, because their polished sound is far better suited to the studio, and on ‘The Boy Who Wouldn’t Give In’, those Rickenbacker’s chime a bit too much – it’s almost…gulp…a bit prog rock.

No matter! For the rest is ace. See here for more details:

Sam Metcalf

Homescience – Jungling (Track and Field)
Whichever tasty hack said that Homescience were cack is a big spacker. Because they’re great. I just wanted to clear that up before we go any further. ‘Jungling’ is such a great little album on so many levels. Be it the wonderfully laid back shamble of ‘Take it Easy’, which is the least danceable track ever that you can dance to...ermm...if you know what I mean, or mangled pop of ‘At the Back of My Mind’.

Much of ‘Jungling’ (and what an awful title that is) brings to mind the frazzled genius of Elf Power and  many of the Elefant 6 collective. And that, my friends, is a mighty fine thing indeed.

Sam Metcalf