albums - august 2005
Glyn Bailey – Toys From Balsa
Toys From Balsa is intriguing. Some of it I enjoyed, some of it will ‘grow’.
Its one of those albums that doesn’t instantly strike out but kind of ‘draws
you in’ if not in subconscious way but in an appreciative way. Its
experimental at times, has inspirational lyrics and sounds fresh for a male
singer-song writer. Glyn Bailey vocals are very alike David Bowie (post
Ziggy of course!). Toys From Balsa has some great tracks, some quite
pleasing, some very comical, but none that are down-right awful. Anyone who
names a track “Sorry (she went down on me but I thought about you)” gets my
vote! Just listen to the lyrics on “The Plastic Bag Song (Facts)” and
“Yellow Rage” and I defy you to be unimpressed. Comparisons? Well The Divine
Comedy (tracks 1, 4, 8 & others) David Bowie (track 10, 12) The Doors (track
3, 8) a kind of combination of the lot. Glyn Bailey is more than your
average singer-songwriter; he sounds accomplished and content in his musical
direction and taste. It’s for all of those reasons that this album (in my
opinion) is admirable, enjoyable and has that quality that makes you hear
something different each time it is played.
Starting out as a one-man studio project way back in 1992, and judging by
the info provided on their website a very prolific one at that, Additional
Moog were only fleshed out into their current five-piece incarnation during
2004. Make no mistake folks, this here is a real labour of love. But is the
music any good?
Offering up a
somewhat generous 7 tracks for review, the Moog describe themselves as lo-fi
alt country and take inspiration from such luminaries as Pavement, Wilco and
the Silver Jews. Now, there are those who might scoff at the authenticity of
a Midlands-based outfit trading in this brand of Americana (Gomez
encountered similar problems, I recall) and singing about motels and dollar
bills, but, frankly, I care not.
In fact, if I have any major gripe,
it's that there is a surplus of mid-tempo material on this cd - the kind of
stuff that makes you nod your head rather than jump up and down - but that's
nothing a quick rummage through the back catalogue couldn't remedy. There's
some lovely stuff here.
"Holy Jukebox" is a cracker of a pop
tune, with mainman James Williams a dead ringer for Michael Stipe. The
gorgeous "Harmonica Fuel", with its Paul Simon/Elliott Smith overtones, and
wistful "The Slow Fade" are also well worthy of mention. All in all, a solid
effort that hopefully should ensure some form of recognition won't take
another ten years.
The Cringe – Scratch The Surface
Unfortunately, this album only scratched my surface. It just didn’t ‘float
my boat’ (as they say). For me it lacked the extra little bit of spice, that
special ingredient that gives an album an edge. The accompanying ‘bumf’
states that The Cringe “…are the current decades answer to The Foo
Fighters”. Though I’m sure this album will please some others, The Foo
Fighters need not worry! Scratch The Surface is moodier, sounds
inexperienced and is certainly not as commercial (not a bad thing mind you).
The Cringe I imagine are a band to be best enjoyed live but for me it simply
‘drowned me out’ and made little impact to any frame of reference. “Burn”
(track 2) is this albums greatest achievement so if they continue along this
mid-tempo rock journey they may just improve musically. For now however,
Scratch the surface just reminds me of being a teenager listening to The
Smashing Pumpkins under the cover of darkness ….......
The Posies – ‘Every Kind of Light’
This is apparently the first studio album from The Posies in six years. Now
I’m going to have to come clean and admit that I don’t know any of The
Posies previous output, so I have absolutely no idea whether this measures
up to their previous releases or whether this album is a return to form or
otherwise. What I can say though is that if it is a return to form then they
must have been pretty dismal in the first place. Oh it starts off
promisingly enough, with the catchy orchestral pop of the opening track
‘It’s Great to Be Here Again!’. Very contagious and it sounds like a Bond
theme, but in a good way!
But then it all goes terribly
wrong. Adult orientated rock is the only applicable phrase. It should appeal
to people who buy compilations with titles along the lines of ‘Worlds Best
Driving Songs’ or ‘Air Guitaring for Dads’. To their credit they’ve covered
all the bases, a few ballads for the more sensitive souls, a number of
rockier tracks for when one feels like letting ones hair down. The rockier
tracks such as ‘Second Time Around’ and ‘All in a Days Works’ are especially
awful, full of leaden rock clichés. I would recommend this album to REM or
Stereophonic's fans. However for those interested in innovative, interesting
or challenging music, avoid like the fucking plague.
Name in Lights - Into the Light Again (Laughing Outlaw)
A completely different proposition to Laughing Outlaw's other offering from
Sam Shinazzi this month, Her Name in Lights is mainly a vehicle for
singer/songwriter Mary Wyer. She has the sugary kind of effortless voice not
too far reminiscent of St Etienne's Sarah Cracknell.
Many of the songs are about
failed relationships but while the lyrics and sentiment are poignant enough,
the song writing treatment is kept nice and light, akin to The Throwing
Muses at their happiest.
Production is crisp
and atmospheric and each song is carefully crafted. Where it falls slightly
short against the likes of The Throwing Muses is that Kristin Hersh could
alter the tempo and mood of the music with her amazing voice alone. Wyer has
a good voice but never gets out of first gear with it, result being the
longer the album goes on, the more samey it sounds. But if you're going to
sound samey, at least writing top songs is a good starting point and this
makes a great summer album.
The Openmouths - Enter...
These potty mouthed little oiks kick off things off with an ode to lingering
grand parents delaying due inheritance and quickly move on to starving their
dog to death by forgetting to feed it while they were out clubbing. Not the
stuff of Johnny Mathis this and probably just the thing that The Daily Mail
would try to ban (or better still deport back to their own country so they
can stop stealing our jobs etc). Which is what makes it all the better.
Nothing over 3 and a
half minutes long so the disaffected youth don't get too bored and simple
enough guitars so no-one gets bogged down in complicated melodies. Music
with a sense of humour is a bit thin on the ground while everyone tries to
out-cool themselves and get on the cover of the NME so this is a welcome
- The dunes phase ep
right. i've read the press release courtesy of gern blandstein, i've armed
myself with my "eye-spy book of whiteboy funk", and i'mchecking them off:
complimentary handclaps - CHECK
..and tambourine - CHECK
wonderfully exaggerated yelping - CHECK
HGV-like beats - CHECK
spluttering false-start riffs - CHECK
self-affected breathy vocal - CHECK
COWBELL! - CHECK
contagious melodies - ?
a big miss kids, and it really is a shame because this record is so fearless
in its intentions. watchers come close so often, and when the record begins
with some lovely can-esque grooves and bursts into the refrain "set fire to
the rooftops!" i am feeling particularly optimistic. unfortunately this is
followed by another promising opening to "mono mano", the second track here,
which again disappears off the radar at around the minute mark. by the time
the fugazi'n'xtc shake-up of "badge said no" ends i am wondering if they
just forgot to bring the second half of all the songs along with them - that
is the only explanation i can dredge up for such an unfulfilled sense of
party in my belly...
like the restrained second cousin of q and not u's "no kill no beep beep";
whereas the latter would jump out of a window holding a bottle of whisky and
three bridesmaids at your wedding, "the dunes phase ep" would probably just
drink a glass of champagne and fall asleep in a corner. it probably wouldn't
- Burgers (Hackpen Records)
3 people, 2 playing bass, 1 drums from the Deep South (that's Southampton).
A concept LP of 78 minutes duration. Called Burgers. The sleeve is a menu,
explaining all the different items. So far, so interesting, but are there
any songs on here, is it any cop? I'm delighted to say the answer is
positive. The first tune of note is the 7 minute antidote to all the "I
lurve you" shite that has blocked up the charts for way too long now - it's
called "Fuckin'", of course, and does exactly what it says on the tin. It's
classy, funny and crucially is/has a tune. Further highlights include "Pork
Rinds" and "Stinky", but more along the concept line is "Burgers", a spoken
word Elvis "tribute". It's not just the aforementioned instruments though,
we have guitar, violin, female backing vox and some comical use of the
kazoo. These people clearly have too much time on their hands. Good. Closer
"Chef's Special Twenty Minute Snack Track" is a collection of basically
stupid live studio bits - country, polka/waltz, Welsh folk and a piano
rendition of "Peepers" are put to the sword. In these days of blank copyists
and soulless music careerists, it's refreshing to listen to an LP that
doesn't grate and isn't afraid to take the piss out of itself and those
around. You could do a lot worse that chucking some of your ill-gotten wages
at this lot.
mek obaam - you and i
sheffield wednesday away kits. happy meals. mek obaam;
three things that belong firmly in the nineties. everything on this record
is as detached as pouring milk into diesel, and all the detail, such as the
few seconds of tame sprawling noise at the end of "goodnight, thank you" is
about as pointless*.
not a terrible record, its simply that the west coast references stalking
mek obaam here are vastly superior. i can understand the appeal to make
skeletal pop music, but i cannot understand the sterile and inert approach
some people take to such a delicate task. the great craftsmen of pop songs
over the decades - messrs wilson, black, malkmus et al - made difficult
arrangements and structures sounds easy. on the other hand, "you and i" is a
record that has managed to make simple concepts sound complicated. even when
"while you're sleepin" comes close to being the sugary canter it promises to
be, and "song for mothers" is only slightly off the mark in terms of being a
nice little violent femmes-inspired romp, "you and i" is cluttered even
though there is not all that much going on.
that mek obaam has reminds me of all those poor mimicks of all those great
bands (lightning bolt, anyone?) - he has neither the musical nor
environmental influence that lend themselves to this kind of thing, and so
in the end up it sounds painfully like an eastern european playing at being
and so to
all the rhymes that have been done hundreds of thousands of times, to the
overpowering bass and every guitar break that lies so distant above
everything else it sends me back to puberty, i can say this: if you are
truly great you can make the most difficult ideas sound simple, but if
you're anything less you can make the most simple ideas sound childish.
* i do not
own a cocktail shaker, or a strong stomach, so this may or may not be
- Octave Drops (white label)
This is a collection of 4-track work from about 3 years or so back. There's
a fairly standard theme running throughout - darkness, at least vocals wise.
The bass is big, brutal and occasionally fuzzed up. The guitars remind me of
Sisters of Mercy at times. There's much, much more involved though, I detect
NIN, Aphex Twin, The Prodigy and the darker side of Soft Cell. There's great
use of alternate panning and delayed backing vocals, giving an eery feeling,
and then we get some Beck-ed up scuzz pop via Leeds' sadly demised Baby
Food. Definitely interesting and worth checking out the website for more.
Rayne - Between Heaven and
What the hell is this? A cross between LeAnn Rimes and Shania Twain? Drivel.
Neto – ‘Le Fumeur De Ciel’ (Type)
On first listen to Julien Neto’s debut it could be easy to brush over it
with simple labels like ambient and dreamlike. Its not that these terms
don’t apply through further listens, it’s just that that’s like saying that
Byron was quite a nice writer, its not enough.
Fumeur de Ciel’ is, like its title, unmistakably French in tone. It evokes
twilight nights in Paris, of melancholic men in doorways gently working
their way through another pack of Galiases or noir lit bars with whispered
conversations over an aperitif. It is a record that, dependant on the
listeners’ mood, seems to shift in meaning. At times it may feel sinister or
even unsettling whilst a repeat listen can bring forth a more comforting air
as piano and strings merge and interlope with a more electronic side to the
Neto has created an album for dry summer evenings in partially lit rooms, a
delicate thoughtful piece of music that somehow makes me wish I still
- Not If This Was The Last Planet On Earth (Brainlove
A solo release from the eponymous John Brainlove, ex of The $hit. This CD
contains 10 pieces, with total time less than 18 minutes. So what do we
get? A varied, mish-mash of electro, punk and sample laden stutter "pop".
Lack of experimentation is not on the cards here. Vocals are disaffected
cockney, occasionally slipping into multi-layered choral. Suffice to say,
before you've really got your head around 1 song, it's stopped and we're
halfway through the next. Is it any good? Hard to judge. It's definitely
varied and shows someone not afraid to plough his own furrow, but whether
there's enough here to get a combine full of punters with him is not a
question I can answer.
Mostly Autumn -
Stories Over Still Water (Autumn)
Is this a joke? Like Buck Rogers, in suspended animation, music from another
time? Epically produced with a female vocal that is incomprehensible as it
spirals up the bands collective 7 arses. It takes 7 people to produce this
din? Always check the artwork - alarm bells should have been ringing before
this even disgraced my CD player.
– ‘Express Gifts’ (Moteer)
Express Gifts is an album that can if you let it sort of sneak away from
you. It seems like it begins at the edge of a very well trodden musical
path, one of reflective introverted ambience that sort of breezes by,
pleasant yet forgettable. This is a rash judgement however as what Clickits
have really created is a very simple sounding album that grows in complexity
as it slowly eases you along. By the time you hit the wooden rhythm track of
‘Lithophone’ its hard not to find something ultimately endearing lurking
within. This is music for those in no rush, music to drift to perhaps and is
somehow always vaguely reminiscent of a pack of well-trained crickets with
an ear for music.
Deep Elm Records –
‘The New Crazy’ (Deep Elm)
“Deep Elm that’s an Emo label right?” Is what you may be shouting at your
monitor. My response is simply you couldn’t be more wrong. Yes this is label
that carved its name from the punk, emo and hardcore scene but over the
years they have shown that it is basically a label built on a love of music
and, especially shown by the recent ‘Indie Rock’ compilations that isn’t
restricted by genre.
New Crazy’ is an album showcasing some of the gems that Deep Elm has coming
up. Featuring tracks, new and old, from the storming Clair De Lune, a
blistering piece of rock from Sounds Like Violence and a taste of what you
can be treated to if you got off your arse and bought the Settlefish album
like you should. We also get some more pared back beauties from the likes of
Benton Falls and Surrounded and then as if that isn’t enough they’ve thrown
in a couple of classics from the vaults courtesy of such luminaries as
Appleseed Cast and Planes Mistaken For Stars.
shan’t lie and say Deep Elm don’t put out music I don’t enjoy because they
do, and some of it is represented here. However I defy anyone not to find
one new band they love on this sampler. Hooray for Deep Elm!
David McCormack & The Polaroids - The Truth About Love (Laughing Outlaw)
Ahhh, that old chestnut. The thing that a
million songs has been written about before David McCormack et al. will
reveal all. And apparently 'Love Does not Come Down from Above, It comes
from a Can'. Aha! So there you go. But despite this emotional bombshell,
there is something incredibly endearing about the ELO type of sound on the
title track, full of strings and big choruses.
There's a few bum notes but with other
titles like 'I'm Going to Execute Your Ex-Boyfriend' sounding like it's come
straight from the set of a Tarantino film and the incredibly Frank Black-ish
'Who Could You Love', it soon becomes apparent that David McCormack & The
Polaroids have no better idea about love than the rest of us left
floundering around in life like a desperate cod in the Humber at low tide.
And so the album is all the better for it I say.
Gary Higgins – Red Hash (Drag
There’s nothing quite like a bit of music folk-lore and the ultimate example
being the ‘lost’ album, your Smile’s et al. Well one more has been yanked
from its musical grave if perhaps a slightly less well known one. Gary
Higgins, with the help of the folks of Drag City, can finally give the
worlds the release of his album ‘Red Hash’. It’s only been thirty-two years
Hash’ is a folk album very much of its time. It is steeped in psychedelic
paranoia and I imagine a smattering of drugs. It also starts in a somewhat
unassuming manner and really failures to register above quite good. That is
until you hit about half way in and the track ‘I Can’t Sleep At Night’. This
is the albums turning point and one that seems to signal a general downward
spiral toward life’s darker recesses, and quite frankly its all the better
for it. Higgins can start to evoke comparisons of those junkie psych-folk
brilliance of Love’s more laid back moments and at times just end up
sounding as discordant and contemporary as many of those alt-folk musicians
currently peddling their trade (especially on a track like the wonderfully
weird and dirty ‘Down on the Farm).
there are moments of drug referencing and some lyrics that are a little
dated and frankly a little cringe worthy but fans of the genre will
ultimately bask in the aged melancholy of a generally enjoyable folk album.
Shinazzi - Stories You Wouldn't Believe (Laughing Outlaw)
Hailing from the beautiful city of Sydney you might be forgiven for thinking
that Sam Shinazzi would be writing feelgood three minute ditties extolling
the virtues of stubbies and sunshine. But this record comes from a much
darker place as even a cursory inspection of the lyrics will demonstrate.
Playing an acoustic
pared down version of melancholia, Shinazzi possesses a world weary voice
that, for me, fails to animate the melodies enough to maintain any interest.
In fact, I would go far as to say his voice is not world weary but just
downright miserable and manages to sound miserable on even the more upbeat
tracks. Sounding world weary is one thing but being able to mix it up would
help keep things interesting. Still a good record for your introspective
Leonard Cohen types.
– ‘Crumble’ (Scientific Laboratories)
Pokett is essentially one man with a lot of helpful friends. That man is
Stephane Garry and with help from his buddies he has created a sweet and
gentle album that isn’t quite pop, nor folk nor Americana. It evokes
comparisons especially on a track like ‘Marmalade’ to being somewhere
between Clem Snide and Norfolk and Western. However Pokett for all its
points of tender beauty has a slight way to go before perhaps reaching the
level of song writing of these bands. ‘Crumble’ is certainly a slow burner
and an album that you have to invest your listening time with but there
still remains a scattering of moments that don’t quite ring true. That said
this is still a record that deserves the attention of all those searching
for an album that will lull and sooth them without ever feeling fey or
Pit Er Pat – ‘Shakey’
If ‘Shakey’, the latest offering from Chicago’s Pit Er Pat, is one thing
it’s immediate. From the moment you slip that disk in you are aware of its
presence in your life. Tellingly they started life as a backing band and
this idea of solid rhythm is what ties the band and its music together and
also allows it to loosen up and stray.
explain, at the core there is the drums this grooving, pulsing heart beat.
It is a sort of throbbing gel that holds it all in place. Then added to that
we have a bass which can seem timid and safe and then discordant and
strange. This is topped off with simple yet often unsettling keys and naive
and thin vocals. That together shouldn’t work. The results should be
disparate and annoying. The thing is they aren’t, it all seems to work
perfectly. This seems to be because no matter what oddity may be trailing
off on the surface within there is always a rooted rhythm at the centre to
rope it all back in.
track like ‘Cake Peg’ a bizarre fairy tale that should probably be trying is
compelling and chugging and seems to change pace continuously yet never
feels disjointed. However I have to say one of the album highlights for me
remains the only instrumental ‘Vultures Beware’ which feels like an evil
fairground accompaniment or a big band gone off the rails.
Pat are a band with a unique and strange blend of musical styles. Part prog,
part psych-folk, part god knows what, they are on a musical journey that
will stomp and rattle into your twisted little heart and make a warm
Yellow Bentines - demo
When the music on the cd doesn't inspire much in the
way of purple prose, one finds oneself turning more and more often to the
factsheet. Such is the case with Yellow Bentines who, despite packing out
venues in their native Glasgow, aren't really my cup of Earl Grey.
While there's nothing inherently wrong
with their brand of piano-led, brass-augmented pop, none of the three tracks
provided lodge themselves in the subconscious and adjectives such as
"perky", "likeable" and "inoffensive" spring to mind. Think of Ben Folds
Five lightly spanking Keane with a rubber plimsoll whilst The Divine Comedy
look on...not a particularly arousing image, is it?
Tis a shame not to have better
things to say when the band's website displays a depth of character that the
music itself lacks, along with much humour (a fondness for Brass Eye in
particular) and excellent artwork. My overall opinion is: competent.
‘Whatever You Bring We Sing’ (Homesleep)
Alt-country from Italy, it’s a phrase rarely uttered and lets face it not
one that really excites. But more fool us because Midwest are one of the
most interesting and entertaining bands of their genre for some time.
construct acoustic alt-country from a by-gone time full of honky-tonk piano,
gentle fiddles and horn accompaniment. This is all then topped off with
Matteo Gambacorta’s reedy yet compelling vocals, a bit like The Decemberists
covering Townes Van Zandt. They do on occasion pick up the pace like on
‘We’re with the Madcap’ but even then its still a rather metered pomp as
opposed to an all out blow out.
‘Whatever You Bring We Sing’ is the perfect record to accompany this sticky
summer nights that have descended upon us. Put it on, turn up the volume,
settle into the rocking chair and close your eyes and bask in its orchestral
and plush beauty. This record will help make your summer special.
Rebecca Zapen -
Japanese Bathhouse (Bashert)
Oooh, we like this. Title track 'We Didn't Bother'
exudes indifference in a soporific folky haze. And even better, it's about a
love affair gone wrong with a Lego pirate!
Zapen may sound a few bolts
short of a meccano set but from this individual outlook on life a string of
unique songs has arisen. 'Smile' sounds like some 1930's picture house
soundtrack and I swear it is the only example of a tap dancing break in the
middle of a song that I have ever heard. The whole album exudes a nod to the
past, deploying sea shanties, nursery ryhme xylophone and country fair
accordion. Then just when you think you have finally got inside Zapen's head
she throws out a sophisticated lounge bar number in the form of 'Dolores'.
Exquisite mandolin and
other finger-picked strings are the mainstay accompaniment to Zapen's dreamy
voice. Both beguiling and arresting at will, the vocals lubricate the more
challenging changes in key and left field style. A real find.
Fugo –‘Aie’ (Engineer Records)
Post-hardcore in the vein of Fugazi / Quicksand, with
elements of indie, is the order of the day on this release. Not really a
great deal more that can be said about it to be honest. Competent, but
uninspired. A few tracks in my interest levels were beginning to flag, and
by the end of the last track I was thoroughly sick of the whole affair. This
may have been due to the vocals, which at points sound like a terrifying
hybrid of Billy Corgan / that chap from Muse whose name escapes me. They are
particularly grating on tracks 5 and 6, ‘U’ and ‘O’. Which is a shame,
because although the music isn’t earth shattering there are occasional
interesting jazzy flourishes. But then it’s back to more of the same. Dull.
Large Mound – ‘Go Forth and Amplify’ (Scientific Laboratories)
One of the finest band monikers I’ve come across in quite some time, it
makes me inclined to like this release. Song titles such as ‘Metal’s Back’
and ‘Thairockin’ indicate Large Mound’s sound, ROCK! Not any of this modern
rock nonsense though, 80’s style stadium rock all the way. I can’t work out
whether they are experimenting with irony, or this is completely sincere.
Either way it’s all fairly entertaining and quite good for a giggle. The
songs are catchy and rock in a particularly naff fashion. One for Def
The Levellers - Truth and
Hooray for the Levellers! Long after you might have
thought their legendary tour bus would have been struck by a fatal breakdown
in the services just outside of Scunthorpe on the M180 they are still at it.
Although a large part of my youth was spent slagging them off (it's hard to
consider camping and dancing around with fiddles when you're shivering your
balls off in the freezing cold of Newcastle) I have to admit that a little
wave of nostalgia washed over me when this little packet dropped through the
letterbox. I also learned that all that touring and selling records has been
pretty profitable and that the band have set up a multimedia centre in
Brighton for young hopefuls to record in. So, buoyed by such socialist
leanings, to the music.
Well, I guess it's the same as
it always was: full of fiddling and catchy choruses. But stop me and delouse
my dreadlocks, maybe I've mellowed in my old age as I actually quite liked
it. So pretence, no big guitar solos, no posturing. Just the sort of good
time music you might expect to get in a nice little Irish country pub. But a
kazoo? Come on.
I'm off to listen to some
Black Flag - I need to toughen up.
Latterman – ‘no
matter where we go..!’ (Deep Elm)
Punk rock! Spitting! Spiky hair! Other confrontational things of that
nature! Does anyone find punk shocking or confrontational anymore?
Completely fucking redundant to my mind. But anyway I digress. This release
on Deep Elm, usually associated with emotional hardcore and the like, is
very much punk rock. Melodic punk hardcore to be more exact, kind of akin to
Hot Water Music or a heavier version of Alkaline Trio. Lots of shout along
choruses, which are alarmingly contagious. The tracks ‘an ode to jon contra’
and ‘my bedroom is like for artists’ are particularly catchy. This sort of
music isn’t really to my taste, and to be fair to Latterman this is a very
good example of the genre. The most interesting track in my opinion is the
instrumental ‘i wish branca was here’, presumably a reference to Glenn
Branca? This track retains Latterman’s punk sound, but sways into post-rock
territory. The rest of the tracks are simply shout along punk hardcore, fine
if you like that sort of thing. But I don’t.
Tom Fuller - Chasing an
Illusion (Red Cap)
Sounds lie Fuller was brought up on a diet of open roads, greasy diners and
a substantial stash of Chris Rea and ELO records. What starts of as a
tricksy finger picked folk number, 'Back Again' mutates into some kind of
operatic rock that Jeff Lynne would be proud of. So, and unusually
succinctly for me, i guess we have the crux of the matter. If you like that
kind of country infused 70's rock then you will be quids in. If not, then
you may find 'Chasing an Illusion' is barren ground. There's a bit of a nod
to Radiohead in the guitar riff to 'Dare to Love' but generally the album
reeks of big production and an oft repeated big build up to crashing final
chorus formula. I reckon my Dad would like it though and it's his birthday
Orange Juice –‘The
Glasgow School’. (Domino)
This collection from Glasgow’s Orange Juice is made up of their early 80’s
single releases on Postcard records and a number of songs from the 1992
compilation ‘Ostrich Churchyard’. Oh and an unreleased Peel session track is
thrown in for good measure. Orange Juice were pioneers of the fey indie /
pop sound in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Whether this is anything to be proud
of is debatable. Tracks 1 – 9 on this CD are the early Postcard singles, and
they have not dated particularly well. The quality of the recording on these
tracks is dismal, especially on ‘Moscow’ and ‘Moscow Olympics’, and the
tracks themselves are frankly dull. Interesting as a historical document,
not much fun to listen to.
The remainder of the CD is
taken up with tracks taken from the earlier collection ‘Ostrich Churchyard’.
These tracks are of a far higher quality, particularly the Smiths-esque
‘Satellite City’ and the wistful country tinged ‘Consolation Prize’. Well
worth checking out for fans of Belle and Sebastian or the Smiths. But if
you’ve already got ‘Ostrich Churchyard’, then the Postcard singles don’t
make this a worthwhile purchase.
Volunteers - Know Yourself
Being more a fan of post-hardcore rock than the genre
itself (although I do rate Black Flag if that counts for anything), I wasn't
expecting to like this, the efforts of an "old school hardcore supergroup"
no less. However, from the opening seconds of "Fighting" right through to
"epic" (almost three minutes long!) closer "What the Fuck?", it was
difficult not to get caught up in by the sheer energy being pumped out of
the speakers. Blink and you'll miss the gaps between songs - we're talking
fifteen tracks in just over twenty minutes.
Volunteers rail against globalisation
and corporate bullshit ("Language List"), bad self-image ("Know Yourself")
and the evils of smoking dope at gigs ("Wrong Smoke"), although, with the
lyrics coming at you like a hail of bullets, I had to refer to the inlay
card to be absolutely sure. If nothing else, this is skateboarding music
with a conscience which left me in the mood to fire up a quick game of Grand
Theft Auto and do some serious damage. Apparently the late, great John Peel
was a fan and recommendations don't come any higher than that. I bet they're