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  albums -may 2004

  - Soho Dolls
- Chili
- Ben Weaver
- Call Me Loretta
- Mick Karn
- Yellowcard
- Rydell
- Hiding Place
- The Diskettes
- Ist
- Tramp Attack
- Graham Coxon
- Sunburned Hand of the Man
- The Catheters
- The Beta Band
- The Get Up Kids
- Sun Kil Moon

- Jen Gloekner

Soho Dolls - Ribbed Music for the Numb Generation ep
When a few hand written notes, a home made cd cover and a sticker covered homemade cd popped out of this jiffy bag little did tasty know what would be in store. A pair of model types, in furs, supping Guinness? In fact it turns out that one of the Soho Dolls is a bit of a model but that's another story. What of the music?

To cut to the chase this is seriously good. Dirty, breathy electro-pop full of witty lyrics and great tunes that Ladytron would flog their Korgs for.  Opener 'Prince Harry' kicks things off on a suitably cynical note only to be blown out of the water by the super whorey 'Strippa'. What a fantastic line, 'Hey Stripper, I wanna be your mister.' Combining Toni Halliday style airy vocals with dirty rap chant on this song would be worth buying the record alone.

The demo rounds off with the bassy tour de force that is 'Vampire', which has caused more complaints from my long suffering bass hating neighbours than any other track I can remember.

My only complaint would be that with such great lyrics I want to hear more of them which is difficult on some of the songs but hey, that's what sleeve notes are for. So watch this space, Soho Dolls  look great, sound great and write superb electro pop tunes.

Shane Blanchard

Chilli - Take Me To Graceland
This is the debut album from Chilli and it takes the shape of a collection of ten mediocre soft rock songs in the vain of, say, Fleetwood Mac. There’s precious little difference between each track to be brutally honest as the band meanders through a series of heartfelt numbers presumably aimed at middle-aged office workers with a taste for Texas (the band not the American state). These are perfectly proficient musicians doing a perfectly proficient rendition of an average pub rock band.

Luke Drozd

Ben Weaver - Stories Under Nails (Fargo)
The latest in a string of excellent Fargo releases, this record has been receiving a lot of positive press and it’s easy to see why.

Weaver is a storyteller like all the best country writers before him. These are vivid poetic ramblings and range from striped back bare compositions where it is left to Weaver’s gruff tones lead you along, to tracks where rich full accompaniment complements his vice wonderfully.

This is Johnny Dowd recording Bob Dylan, demonstrated on the rambling story of misfortune that is ‘John Martin’, and the result is a fin example of Americana. This is a work of depth and humour akin to the work of luminaries such as Howe Gelb, and is an extraordinarily strong album form start to finish.

Luke Drozd

Call Me Loretta - Crosswind (Dead Bees)
Despite working nearby a few years ago, my knowledge of Toulouse is limited to spicy sausages and a rather good rugby team. Had I known that there was such a good music scene there I may have spent more time searching it out rather than directing my latest batch of English tourists towards their next purchase of red wine.

Call me Loretta is a four piece edgy guitar outfit from the magnificent Dead Bees stable. They remind a little bit of early Pixies mixing gentle but haunting ballads which suddenly explode into guitar noise. All of the vocals are in English which is an impressive feat in itself and perhaps the slight lack of confidence in singing in a foreign tongue gives the lyrics an even more vulnerable tinge.

Highlights for me are 'High as a Holed Kite' (a song about getting drunk no less, complete with B-movie sampled outro) and the Pixie-esque splendour of Coralled Horses. Marvellous stuff.

Shane Blanchard

Mick Karn - More Better Different (Invisible Hands)
It seems that poor Invisible Hands have received a bit of a bashing in tasty in the past few months but bless 'em they've finally sent us something which won't get a complete slagging.

Ex-Japan bass player Mick Karn is apparently known as one of the 'best bass guitar players in the world' due to his 'highly distinctive fretless bass sound'. I didn't know that but it would explain the rather weird whale noises which seem to punctuate this album. There is an abundance of influences on the record ranging from eastern European sounding folky riffs to electro synth vibes but this firmly in the easy listening section at Woolies.

I've listened to this album many times, sometimes on shuffle play, sometimes straight through and I can honestly say I haven't got a clue which songs are which. The very last track 'Great Day in the Morning' seems to be tootling along quite nicely when suddenly it just stops dead - end of album. But then maybe that is its strength - perfect elevator music. Now I'm just off to have another listen...

Shane Blanchard

Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue (Parlophone)
I have to say I had geared myself up really hate this. I had given the album a brief listen and … no, I cant really fault it. Yes it is manufactured emo/punk/pop nonsense, Yes the song writer is not a member of the band… but, well they are a fuck sight better than Busted.

The violin is a nice touch that works well in this kind of music (to hear it done properly listen to ‘Waiting’ by Thursday), I’m pretty sure they will go down a storm on MTV2. They are less credible than Britney Spears, but if it encourages kids to pick up guitars and takes a few record sales from Robbie Williams, I’m a happy man.

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed how shit Robbie Williams is? I wouldn’t be far wrong if I said that ‘Rock DJ’ is the most irritating single of the past 20 years, who’s with me?

Drew Millward

Rydell - Hard on the Trail (Engineer Records)
I suppose I should start with an apology for the length of time it has taken me to write this, I’ve had this CD for some time, and I suppose it’s almost got to that point where I grown too familiar with the CD to review it with any great degree of objectivity. And that, I would guess is pretty high praise.

I find it pretty difficult to believe that I haven’t seen or heard Rydell before I got sent this, with the many weekends I have spent crammed into various punk events over the years, or perhaps I have, I used to drink a lot more back then….

I know this isn’t going to be everyone’s cuppa, but if you try to please everyone all the time, you end up sounding like Coldplay, and they are fucking shite.

Rydell aren’t reinventing the wheel with this, but they are playing a particularly melodic strain of hardcore very proficiently, and avoiding the pitfall of many English bands by not sounding American while doing it. I hate band equations but some just came to mind while listening to this Hot Water Music, Small Brown Bike, As Friends Rust, And None of Them Knew They Were Robots…. I shall stop at the risk of boring y’all rigid. But you get the picture. Get hold of a copy.

And any band that can pull off a cover of ‘Boys of Summer’ (seriously!)  to rid my mind of that euro house version, is alright by me.

Hooray for Rydell!

Drew Millward

Hiding Place - At One Time or Another EP
A tape? You really must admire any band that is willing to have so much faith in their music to believe they can overcome the adversity of such a format. If Hiding Place truly feel this is the case, then they are suffering from delusions so great I fear no one could save them.

The music is as tired and as frustrating as the format they have chosen to serve it up on. Walking a line somewhere between a slightly limper Lost Prophets (will wonders never cease?) and Linkin Park they seem to have an audience ready and waiting for them. I for one shall not be in it; who’s with me?

A tape? I ask you.

Drew Millward

The Diskettes - S/T (Humblebee Recordings)
Not often, but very occasionally this fanzine malarkey throws up a musical discovery that would otherwise have passed you by; this is very much one of those occasions. The Diskettes are from Canada, one is called David, the other Emily and they should be the soundtrack to everyone’s summer.

This is about as twee as anything can be without inducing vomiting instantly, but hey, it works for me. It is ultra-lo-fi, a majority of it sounds like it is recorded on a Dictaphone, but maybe that is all you need. They sound like a novelty 1950’s brother and sister double act, but in a good way.  Do-wop, bossa nova and pure pop, if this doesn’t get you tapping and possibly dancing you may well have a heart as black as coal.

The fact it is packaged as an old style floppy disk is a lovely touch to.

Buy it before the weather get too hot, and enjoy it with a nice Cornetto, or possibly a Fab.

Drew Millward

Ist - Freudian Corduroy (Pink Box Records)

Duller than Marillion.

Drew Millward

Tramp Attack – Attack, Attack, Attack! (Must Destroy)
Tramp Attack make music that makes Nick Cave sound like a Scouser. The whole of ‘Attack..’ is so flippin’ scary and weird that it makes me want to go downstairs and watch Neighbours for a bit in order to get back to something resembling normality.

Take ‘Row Your Boat’ for example – a tale about trying to keep your family afloat in a tiny little rowing boat. This, like many of Tramp Attack’s songs sounds like The Coral busking with Stump…at a Hallowe’en gig. And, of course, this is an altogether fresh and wonderful thing, with the band sounding like one of those mad sixties garage rock bands that it’s so terribly hard to find anything by these days. All in all then – completely mental. But in an enjoyable way. But, isn’t it always the way…?

Sam Metcalf

Graham Coxon – Happiness in Magazines (Transcopic)
I find it incredibly hard to understand how people get so passionate about Graham Coxon and, indeed, Blur. Maybe it’s an age thing…but then I doubt it, because when Blur released their first single I was in my bootylicious prime. Mind you, it was shit.

Here, Coxon comes across as Chris TT fronting some of Blur’s cringworthy Pavementesque moments…with a touch of Bob Dylan thrown in. The single, ‘Bittersweet Bundle of Misery’ is a pleasant enough cascade of strumming guitars and general pop goodness, and it’s follow-up, ‘All Over Me’ is John Lennon without such a cracking voice and is all nice and that…but the rest just leaves me a but cold. Maybe it’s the fact that I think Damon Albarn is such a big fucking cockface that puts me off this…but then that’s hardly your fault, Graham. Soz, like….

Sam Metcalf

Sunburned Hand of the Man – Rare Wood (Spirit of Orr Records)
What the hell is this if it is not the sound of your worst nightmare burned onto a cd. Samples of interference, bells, wind chimes….dogs howling, men groaning, babies crying, women screaming. No, it’s not the sound of me stepping out of my front door to collect the milk of a morning, it’s the sound of the dead weird Sunburned Hand of the Man. I cannot imagine who’s gonna like this…apart from those who inject LSD into their testicles 24 hours a day. And, my word, good luck to them…

Sam Metcalf

The Catheters - Howling…It Grows and Grows!!! (Sub Pop)
Howling…Please Stop!!! Garage Punk n’ Roll with a bit of a Mudhoney sound in there for good measure. The lead singer sounds a bit like Dave Yow at times as well.

I was pretty excited to get something from Sub Pop to review, it’s just a shame it’s not that good.

Heard it all before, although I imagine they are pretty good live.

Drew Millward

The Beta Band – Heroes to Zeros (Regal)
Do the Beta Band have beards? I fear I always get them mixed up with Arab Strap...and by that I mean the band. ‘Heroes to Zeros’ apparently marks something of a departure for the band. By this, they mean they’ve gone all loud on us.

Well, yeah, in parts, but tracks such as the single, ‘Assessment’ still contains all the noodly, almost prog meanderings I’d had this lot down for in the first place. And I struggle to get on with noodly, almost prog meanderings at the best of times, and, as it is, I’ve just been swimming for the first time in YEARS and my arms feel like they’re gonna fall off.

So, if you’re gonna be loud, Beta Band, be loud. Don’t piss about with ‘Space’, which, frankly, horribly, sounds like Space. And ‘Lion Thief’ starts off like a couple of goblins are gonna take to me to be interrogated by Ian Anderson.

But wait! It’s not until track seven – ‘Out-Side’ that we get something approaching a decent tune. ‘Out-Side’ reminds me a bit of Happy Mondays’ better moments, but obviously acres more tuneful…and, well…better. So this is the Beta Band turning it up a bit then? Why they don’t do it more often is a mystery, because most of the rest of the album slips by in some kind of weird haze, ridden with awful sub-hippy song titles such as ‘Liquid Bird’ and ‘Rhododendren’. In this day and age, the act of hugging trees should be punishable by death. Let it be.

Sam Metcalf

The Get Up Kids – Guilt Show (Vagrant)
My god, is it Busted!? Ooh, I am being nasty today. This album isn’t too bad in parts, in a very ‘Pretty In Pink’ way. That’s to say, that if I was a character in a mid-80s brat pack film, I’d probably like to listen to ‘Guilt Show.

The best bits? ‘The One You Want’ has perfectly hummable interludes, and goes ‘woo-hoo-hoo’ quite a few times, and that’s never a bad thing when your arms ache. And ‘Woudn’t Believe It’ is a quirky enough little tune, but mostly my wardrobe lets me down for I don’t own enough of those daft key chains, never mind a skateboard. Damn my advancing years and penchant for cardigans.

Sam Metcalf

Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway (Jetset Records)
Not even I was miserable enough for the Red House Painters. Mark Kozelek made Ian Curtis seem like Coco the Clown. However, these days I see misery as something to be welcomed, don’t you? And therefore I find Kozelek’s new band’s debut album a joy to behold. His voice is completely stunning, especially on the cuddly yet haunting ‘Carry Me Ohio’, with it’s gently plucked guitar shimmying behind Kozelek’s apologies.

Most of the tracks here clock in at over the five minute mark, with epic Duk Koo Kim last nearly a quarter of an hour, but they never outlast their welcome, much in the same way a Nick Drake or Neil Halstead song could carry on forever, if I had my way, most of these songs wouldn’t end.

A perfect Sunday barbeque album. There…I’ve created a new genre….burnt sausage-core.

Sam Metcalf

Jen Gloeckner – Miles Away
On first listen to ‘Miles Away’ I was in to minds as to how I felt about it, and to be honest I've still not completely decided. There are moments of this album that are really rather beautiful and stark and evoke elements of the work of Nina Nastasia or Jolie Holland (shown in tracks like ‘Seven Maids and the wonderful ‘Prodigal Son). However it would be wrong to elevate this album to the remarkable levels of these individuals work. it is let down on more than one occasion by straying into the territory of sounding like throw-away, wine bar alt.folk/Jazz ala Nora Jones. There are also a couple of ghastly moments with poorly thought through backing instrumentation, the saxophone straight out of Kenny G’s songbook on ‘Glimpse’ and the Panpipe Moods-esque flute on ‘Clear the Sand’ to give two examples.

Jen Gloeckner is an obviously talented individual whom I’m sure we will hear much more from in the future. However I think she really needs to think how and where she wishes her music to be heard. She has the potential to write music that people want to listen to and truly care about, however if she isn’t careful she could well end up creating music to play as backing in any generic trendy bar.

Luke Drozd