albums - october 2005
Shout Out Louds - Howl
Howl Gaff Gaff (EMI)
Sweden has produced many fine bands. No, not ABBA…I’m talking about The
Cardigans, The Soundtrack of our Lives, The Radio Dept (creators of one of
my favourite albums of 2004, “Lesser Matters”), and so on. To this list we
can now add Shout Out Louds.
band’s name was a statement of intent (and shouldn’t that always be the
case?), you’d be forgiven for expecting some form of punk-pop in the same
vein as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. As it stands, while the music on this promising
debut (a compendium of tracks from the Swedish release of the same name and
a few other random bits and pieces) has more than its share of energetic
moments, it more often than not occupies a similar plateau to Grandaddy and
The Flaming Lips. Honest to God, there are times lead vocalist Adam Olenius
sounds so much like Wayne Coyne it’s scary!
“The Comeback” isn’t quite the anthem the title suggests or the band want it
to be, and is pipped to the post by the following “Very Loud” as the better
of the two singles released thus far. The beautiful and melancholic “A Track
and a Train” has some affecting male/female harmonies, and “Please Please
Please” is just plain fucking quality, like The Strokes playing Badly Drawn
Boy’s “Once around the Block”, only better. The ragged, yearning “Oh
Sweetheart” also gets two thumbs up.
zips by with melody and invention in abundance before epic closer (yes, they
still make those) “Seagull” wraps up proceedings in just under 45
minutes…the perfect length for an LP. Looks like Scandinavia have triumphed
I’ve a feeling I’m going to end up liking this album very much. Stupid name,
Porn Sword Tobacco –
Explains Freedom is a funny little album featuring19 short tunes of piano
led, fuzzy ambience - the kind of music that seems to blend in with its
surroundings. Several times I paused the CD to check if the sound of a plane
flying over the flat or a car passing or voices in the street were a part of
the music. I felt that a lot of the music on Explains Freedom sounded like
mawkish incidental film music, such as ‘eudaimonia’ and ‘detta ar karleken
som dansar’. I can’t decide if I like it for that or not.
better tunes on the album, ‘carl zeiss driving to work’ is pretty good with
its throbbing bass and gently panning fuzz. This is what I like about good
ambient music; when you stop what it was you were doing, perhaps even forget
you were doing something and stand or sit transfixed. Sadly, although this
track is one of the longer ones on the album at two minutes fifty two
seconds, this is not actually a particularly long time in which to develop a
piece of music. On an album of tunes that are generally very short I found
that they often aren’t long enough to really work their magic and transport
you to that special listening place reserved for delicate, otherworldly
music. I don’t doubt that, in a lot of cases, if the tunes had been longer I
would have been more drawn in. This is a shame really, when tunes such as
‘naturens kraft och klang’ have such a beautiful melody that isn’t allowed
to develop and then disappears in the blink of an eye. Unsatisfying.
that the music changes from tune to tune so frequently left me feeling that
the album is more like a collection of interludes with no cohesion or flow.
Sometimes with this kind of music I find myself wondering if I could just
open my window in the dead of night and find equally interesting ‘ambience’.
won’t even mention how bad ‘futuristic rasta money’ is.
Stereolab – Kyberneticka Babicka E.P
( Too Pure )
Stereolab are a group that have always passed me by,
so I was interested to listen to this with a set of proverbially fresh ears,
but after a few sittings, they remain, disappointingly, in passing. This is
a c.d packed full to the brim with 8-bit, 80’s computer game synth noises
set against a meandering of mid-tempo beats, so much so it, it’ll probably
make you want to rummage around the attic for that dusty old Atari. The
light, breezy production values are pleasing enough to the ear but are
syncopated to the extent of being somewhat tiresome. Throughout the
entirety of the record there are liberal splatterings of ‘la la la’s’ and
‘baa baa baa’s’ on which Stereolab seem to rely, suffice to say, lyrically
this is rather weak. As to why they chose the bizarrely titled, loop happy
‘Kyberneticka Babicka’ as the lead track and spread it over two painstaking
and seemingly identical parts is beyond me; there are far better, more
interesting plod-alongs on this E.P that prove their ability to structure
and arrange a tune. This E.P offers no surprises whatsoever and if you like
Stereolab your hardly going to be dissatisfied. Overall, ‘Kyberneticka…’ is
an agreeable and pleasant enough experience, but as with other records of
this lo-fi electronica-lite ilk, it doesn’t seem to go anywhere - at all.
Like endlessly driving around a roundabout in the countryside on a hot
summer’s day….possibly eating ice cream.
King Creosote – ‘KC
Rules OK’ (Names/679)
King Creosote aka Kenny Anderson can hardly be called a lazy man. Not
content with having released over two dozen albums on his tod, forming and
being the centre of the Fence collective and Fence Records AND releasing a
new album on Domino already this year he felt maybe we needed another full
length release this time with a little help from his buddies The Earlies. To
top it all off the songs on ‘KC Rules OK’ are absolutely stunning. What a
you with the good sense to have bought some of King Creosote’s previous
material will be familiar with the general sound of the songs here. ‘KC
Rules OK’ does have much in common with this years earlier release ‘Rocket
DIY’. It is a similar blend of melancholy and humour via beautiful music and
intelligent lyrical musings. However with the addition of The Earlies as
backing there is a whole other layer to this album that ‘Rocket DIY’ perhaps
didn’t have. ‘KC Rules OK’ feels larger and fuller than ‘Rocket DIY’ which
had the sense of being a man on his own letting you share something personal
with him. With the Earlies on board we are graced with an album which is
perhaps more diverse and upbeat and maybe even given a little more variety
as well. From the moment the deep horn begins to gently croak on the opener
‘Not One Bit Ashamed’ you know this is going to be a pretty special record.
It is a song full of bitterness and regret without it feeling acidic or
crass. This is more than partly due to Mr. Anderson’s wonderfully sharp
lyrics. When you here his gentle Scottish voice coo ‘I gave up half of my
heart and you gave a half hearted shrug’ you can’t suppress the little smile
from creeping across your lips.
not to say that this is an album obsessed with melancholy and woe. For all
the moments of bitter tongue lashes there are perfectly crafted moments of
pop such as ‘Jump at the Cats’ a song whose hook is the line ‘jumping at the
cats with nothing on’ and which instrumentally starts off sounding like
‘Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts’ from Dylan’s ‘Blood On The Tracks’.
What more could you ask for?
OK’ is an expanse and wondrous record full of charm and poignancy and is a
worthy next step to King Creosote’s ever expanding catalogue of music.
Apparently Kenny Anderson wasn’t content to be in the running for having
just one record in everyone’s top 10 this year, he had to have two…thank
Stacs of Stamina – Tivoli
( bakedgoods )
Just when you thought that preposterous genre labeling was a thing of the
past, in charges ‘Eurocrunk’ and ‘Tivoli; the latest incarnation of a three
headed production team, ‘Stacs of Stamina’. This record is ‘Euro’ insofar as
they come from Sweden, and ‘crunk’ insofar as you’d probably be both crazy
and drunk whilst listening to it to. Gimmicks and ridiculous names
notwithstanding, this is a pretty original and very well produced album that
navigates through the apparently ‘unclaimed territory’ of electro, hip-hop
and garage . Expect the squelchy, pulsating bass lines likely to get those
gabba neurons working overtime and sparse, heavy duty beats synonymous with
many druggy break-beat acts such as Freq. Nasty and Plump Djs. However, the
speech impediment afflicted MC’s do start to grate and the overtly
aggressive, grimey posturing really does wear thin extremely quickly. But
when the MC’s are off comparing knives or stealing other peoples giro
cheques, there are some fantastic ‘Warp’ esq. tuneful instrumentals
contained, but unfortunately these are too few and too far between. But if
your taken by the current swathe of chavvy, ASBO ridden, MC based music such
as Kano, Mitchell Brothers and the like, then ‘Stacs of Stamina’ might be a
refreshing, upbeat change for your clapped out Escort’s stereo.
– War Againstt Error
War Againstt Error is the second album from Christof Steinmann recording
as Softland. Moody, melancholy and hard to pigeonhole as belonging to one
particular style of music, War Againstt Error displays flashes of interest
but ultimately failed to press the right buttons for me as an album – I
enjoyed bits of it but I won’t be rushing to listen to it as a whole album
again too soon. There are plenty of weird noises on this album; field
recordings combine with digital instrumentation and acoustic instruments
to create dense rhythms around which Softland weaves his creepy vocals.
electronica, electro and minimal influences rub shoulders throughout the
album but the tunes that work the best are the ones that seem to focus
more on one style rather than the ones that attempt to combine many
styles. With this in mind, ‘huch’ is a wonderfully odd minimal house (or
techno tune, depending on which side of that particular fence you sit on).
‘Huch’ is like something Ricardo Villalobos might conjure up if he was
feeling a bit weird. With its reversed vocals, reverberating double bass
and the slightest of 4/4 kick drums it’s one of the more restrained tracks
on the album. I like. ‘All the nows we’ve had’ also struck a chord with
me; this tune is down right wicked. The nagging staccato synth line, deep,
brooding strings and punchy, broken kick drum create a powerful, tense
atmosphere as the background noises and, eventually, that double bass
again, swell. I held my breath listening to this and wondering what was
going to happen (and kind of hoping for a fat 4/4 beat to drop). Cleverly,
or perhaps predictably, no 4/4 appears and the tune dies out leaving you
wanting more – good shit. From this point on I began to seriously lose
interest as tension and restraint make way for noodly introspection and
uncomfortable electronica. I do have to make space in this review for a
special mention of the recordings of sheep on ‘heute’; this made me smile
– an artist claiming to use field recordings who actually uses genuine
Againsst Error is definitely worth listening to for the good bits but
forgettable for the bad bits.
Silver Jews –
Tanglewood Numbers’ (Drag City)
Worried it would never come? Well stop your fretting because it’s here. Four
years of waiting is at an end because we have the new Silver Jews album.
David Berman returns with an album of classic Silver Jew-ery mixed up with a
few 'fuck you I wanna rock moments' and a splash of vinegar in the old eyes
to round it all off. It’s good, nay bloody good. Ponies do sometimes get
depressed people! It is hard to love people who won’t lie down! Berman
reminds us why we love him so dearly as his warm baritone proves him to be
among the musical masterminds of this pathetic existence I slowly paddle
through. Whatever I have to say should have little bearing on the fact that
everyone should own a Silver Jews record so if you don’t why not start here.
I love you the Berman and the Silver Jews!
Hundred Hands - ‘Her
Accent was Excellent’
This is a brilliant album to read to! I don’t mean that derogatorily; but
this has a real soundtrack quality to it, (maybe because the songs are a
little samey.) Slight instrumentation, vocals from down a well and
electronica burbling pleasantly in the background like the stream that used
to feed the well, all this adds up to a great mood album.
Hands features members of the Appleseed Cast who I’ve never heard of but am
reliable informed are excellent and I can believe it on this evidence. This
is an album that doesn’t give much away; you’re not grabbed by hooks or
captured by melody but it still has your attention throughout and leaves you
The Nightingales – ‘In The Good Old Country Way’ (Caroline True)
‘Lost’ albums seem to be very much the thing to eek out nowadays and lets be
honest it is often a vaguely painful experience. Thankfully someone has
ignored this and re-released the marvellous Nightingales album from 1986 ‘In
The Good Old Country Way’.
from their punk rock incarnation as the excellent Prefects to become The
Nightingales they became a band that were hard to pin down and a lot of fun
to listen to. A mix of Punk, Country and Rock and Roll, strings wail, drums
pound and guitars twang as Robert Lloyd supplies his own unique blend of
insight over the top. This could offer the overall result of an act that is
all entertainment and no substance but this couldn’t be further from the
truth. The sheer depth and variety present on this record means it sounds as
fresh, probably fresher, then most of the skinny tied haircut bands forced
upon us currently every day.
Nightingales, like their previous guise The Prefects, deserve to be known
and celebrated as the great British band they are. For everyone’s sake don’t
deprive yourself of owning a piece of vital music history.
Dr Dog - ‘Easybeat’
The press release for ‘Easybeat’ compares Dr Dog to the Thin White Duke,
Neil Young, Pavement and Tom Waits and though I’m sure they own some records
by the aforementioned artists, (let’s face it who doesn’t,) to my ear any
similarity is tenuous. Maybe they are trying for some bluesy credibility
because they really sound like ELO, Steely Dan and some Beatles albums with
fuzzy raw production values. On some songs this is a cracking combination
when you find yourself chomping along to the rhythm, turning the stereo up
and basking in the music’s sunny feeling. On other’s you’re occasionally
cringing at the risible lyrics and wilful stupidity or worse still; a little
peddle goodtime 60’s sounding nonsense with adorable melodies that even a
pig in a basket would find himself clicking’ his fingers (trotters) and
tapping his feet (trotters) to. That may sound ludicrous but it’s the type
of imagery Dr Dog reach for in their lyrics so I’ll use it.
perfect and neither is this but on some songs it gets pretty damn close;
‘Dutchman Falls’, ‘Ohno’ and ‘The World May Never Know’ were probably my
favourite tracks. I think you should buy this, it has a pure heart and
moments of liquid accomplishment just be prepared to skip a couple of
This Aint Vegas - The Night Don Benito Saved My Life (Jealous)
It would seem that while I was watching Rod, Jane and Freddy as a kid, This
Aint Vegas had already got themselves down to Our Price and bought
themselves a clutch of Fugazi records. While I was Row-Row-Rowing my boat,
T.A.V. were already 13 songs down and halfway through Repeater. When I got
my first Nirvana record, T.A.V. had already moved on through In on The Kill
Taker and had their Red Medicine. For it has to be said, there is a massive,
massive amount of Fugazi influence in this album.
But while Washington's finest
were forming the East coast hardcore scene over 15 years, it seems that This
Aint Vegas have formed their very own North-East hardcore scene in just a
fraction of the time. This album of 11 tracks is tautly crafted all the way
- there are no weak tracks or album fillers on his one. There's a fantastic
free spirit and excitement about the recording - the two part vocals
riotously colliding then gelling, the guitars slashing and picking their way
through the songs while the bass and drums are kept relatively simple,
providing a bit of stability in what could otherwise untangle in a mess.
I am a huge Fugazi
fan but the biggest compliment I can pay to This Aint Vegas is that this
record is better than at least a couple of Fugazi's albums. There. I've said
it. And maybe I'll even be able to see T.A.V. play live without the house
lights being on.
Space Holiday – ‘The Past Presents the Future’ (Wichita)
The chirping clicks and bleeps of Her Space Holiday return with ‘The Past
Presents the Future’ Marc Bianchi's latest for Wichita records. Those
familiar with the HSH sound will find much here to feed their hunger. The
complex building of computer trickery and beats over sampled guitar and
strings remains forefront of the project. However there seems to be a
definite progression to Bianchi's song writing. As an album it seems to
feature far more complete sounding tracks and there is a sense more of songs
then the electronic movements that often graced his previous work. On a
whole it sounds like a man focussed and directed. It does nevertheless have
the occasional moment of electronic pop by numbers that keeps the album from
becoming more than merely quite good.
best it is reminiscent of Eels meets Bright Eyes but it is ultimately let
down by a couple of weak moments. Still another step in the right direction
Pier Bucci - Familia
OK- I think tasty may be veering to the very edges of
its expertise in trying to review this one. Although the press releases
which usually accompany CDs are normally derided around tasty towers as we
are treated to yet another 'great new find', occasionally a little bit of
background comes in handy. On finding even the CrossTownRebels website has
no info on Pier Bucci, our hacks went scurrying for cover in dark corners
leaving me to fend for myself and try to provide a review. Here goes...
Well, actually, it's pretty
good in an ambient electro chill out way. Pretty minimalist really,
occasionally getting up a head of steam to veer over into the realms of
Orbital-esque intelligent techno (and there's a gap in the market since the
Hartnoll brothers called it a day) but generally just making rather pleasing
bleepy aural wall paper. I've got to be honest and admit that one track
tends to merge into the next very easily but that's because they're
all pretty good. Hell, I might even keep hold of this copy and play it again
a few times just to confound my indie-loving friends when they're drunk. Not
sure it's enough to make me delve into the Leeds clubbing scene but good
stuff all the same.
Delano - ‘Like a Smoking Gun In Front of Me’
I’m going to begin this review by confessing to losing the press release so
if what follows sounds stupid in light of facts I don’t know I’m sorry; I
didn’t know. Franklin Delano are an Italian Alt / New Country band but I
don’t believe they came together to play country music. I think they started
as a rock band that morphed into a country band.
reason is the vocals, Franklin Delano have a vocalist(s) (male and female)
who would sound fine in up tempo songs with a hail of sound behind them but
slowed down, plying their trade in the twists and turns of Alt Country with
some over wordy lyrics sound laboured, disaffected in a way
This is a
great shame because instrumentally this is a wonderful album and I do really
mean wonderful; so good that if it were re-released as an instrumental album
it would be a compulsory purchase. As it is… I don’t know. Try it, you might
be able to get past the deadpan vocal delivery but I couldn’t.
Freeze Puppy – ‘Joyous
Yelps’ (Clean Cut)
Tom Wilson, the man behind Freeze Puppy, has been garnering some pretty
impressive fans of his music of late not least a glowing recommendation from
Devendra Banhart and it’s not hard to see why. At its finest Freeze Puppy is
an off-kilter record of bizarre pop. It’s a mix of beautiful instrumentation
and simple musings perhaps with a hint of naivety and indeed drawing
comparisons to the likes of weird folksters like Banhart but with a more
electronic and peculiar side. When it comes together it is music to warm the
heart and make you crack a puzzled smile and hey on the occasions where it
lost this reviewer it’s still hard not to ultimately find the whole affair
rather endearing. A more fittingly titled album I have not heard of in a
Various - Leeds 2005 (Engine Room
A decent piece of work this, from the affable people
at The Engine Room, one of the promoters operating at Leeds’ very own
Brudenell Social Club, for me the best venue overall in Leeds. There are
plenty of movers and shakers of the Leeds’ scene included here and it’s a
blistering start with Vatican Jet’s “Ramona luvs VJ”. Promising. Production
varies a fair bit, some of these songs sound like they were recorded in an
outside shitter, some are outstanding. My overall favourite part of the CD
is the last 4 songs – this quartet is simply sublime. From Samsa’s
apologetic class “Throw My Weight” to David Thomas Broughton’s scratchy
acoustic closer “Ever Rotating Sky”, via the restrained (for them) post-rock
of iLiKETRAiNS “THELASTDAYOFWiNTER” and Downdime’s Rev-ish geek pop “Shine”,
it’s a top ending run. To be fair, there’s very little to gripe about on
this compilation and special mention must be made of Itch’s “Do You Know
What Fear Is?”, which seems to have invented a new genre. Shouty post prog
anyone? Yes please.
Scientists - With Love and Squalor (Virgin/EMI)
It's been a while since this little beauty landed on the tasty door mat and
the success of We Are Scientists has probably overtaken our little organ
already. But what is all the fuss about?
Well my friends, this New York
based threesome may look like they spent a little too much time in
Radioshack when they were growing up but the result has been a record
spilling over with ideas and energy. Dancey, poppy, singalong 4 minute gems
spill out of every corner and some of the arrangements are seriously clever.
While a W.A.S. live show is a bit of a different beast where the energy and
complexity of the music can sometimes cause it to unravel in a glorious
confusion, this studio based effort is bristling with attitude but maintains
its pin-point precision.
Raucously rowdy three-way
vocal harmonies, Michael's scattergun drums and Chris' meandering basslines
are kept in check by Keith's wholesome voice. I guarantee you'll be singing
along to at least three or four of the tracks after just a couple of
And a special word about
the website. You've got to check out the advice page and the reviews page
where such heady topics as how to skive off school and a review of vampires
If We Are Scientists had been my teachers at school I might not have got a D
Les Rhythms Digitales -
This is a severe case of history repeating. Originally
released in 1999, this album was, even then, a throwback to a previous time.
Clearly obsessed with the 1980's this album throws in electro synths, early
chicago house vocals and funky slap bass in an attempt to take us back to
the decade taste forgot. It even has a horrific retro cover and includes Nik
Kershaw on guest vocals for "Sometimes". Now it's being re-released in a
not-cynical-at-all effort to cash in on the popularity of the Citreon car
advert where the car turns into a transformer robot. In case you hadn't
heard the album before, as I had, you can tell this thanks to a sticker on
the cover. Very handy.
The track in question is "Jacques
Your Body" (terrible pun, brilliant tune), and had already featured in an ad
for Sunny D, and is the best track on the album. Other tunes that leap out
are "(Hey You) What's That Sound?" and "From: Disco To: Disco". On the
whole, however, the album is poor. I must confess to liking a bit of 80's
electro but this just feels like someone trying to do something fresh with
an old format and just coming off sounding like a poor imitation. There are
plenty of interesting elements but it just doesn't hang together.
There is a bonus remix CD included,
but they add nothing to the originals. Also included are 2 videos which are
the best things on the two discs. "Sometimes", directed by Mike Mills (whose
brilliant debut feature "Thumbsucker" is out soon) is a tragic tale of teddy
suicide, whilst the promo for "(Hey You) What's That Sound?" is fun in a
cheesy 80's way.
Overall I think Nik Kershaw sums up
the problem I have with this album in his contribution:
"I'm caught in the space between the
concept and the execution"
Neutral Milk Hotel - ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’ (Domino)
Ok I know what I am about to admit could have me permanently ostracised from
the world of music journalism for life but before I received a copy of
Neutral Milk Hotel’s album to review I had never listened to them before. I
know I know, what a piss poor human being I am. Well thanks to the likes of
Arcade Fire and some chap called Franz Ferdinand we uneducated fools are
being given a chance to redeem ourselves and bask in the glory of ‘In the
Aeroplane Over the Sea’.
Neutral Milk Hotel is Jeff Mangum and other musical visionaries from the
likes of Olivia Tremor Control and Apples in Stereo. Together what they
construct is a record full of simple folk and pop skewed and battered into
all manner of shapes and feelings. A continually changing orchestration
allows for each track to breathe a fresh scent into your hearing equipment
whilst Mangum continually spins poetic stories of strange happenings some
sinister some not making the songs somewhat akin to modern fables gone
Aeroplane..’ is an album lorded over by the music fanatics of the world but
perhaps one that has not necessarily seeped its way down through all the
rest of the listening public. Thankfully for myself and the many other
ill-educated out there Domino are giving us the second chance we probably
don’t deserve. This album however is more than deserving.
TEAM - The Line
From A-B (Captains of Industry)
The East Midlands premier punk rockers and
poker playing purveyors of guitarnoisepop return with their second album in
what seems like just a drum break and key change from the debut 'Penalyn'.
So then, the tricky second album? Can the gents deliver?
Well, the answer is
unsurprisingly (for anyone who has seen them play live) wholeheartedly yes,
and then some. 'The Line From A-B' is just over a half hour's rantathon
bringing a whole raft of new tricks to the tried and tested TEAM technique.
Whereas 'Penalyn' was more of a brooding beast of a record, overtly dark and
slick, 'The Line...' has much more of a 'knocked together in a recording
studio on a farm' feel about it. But then, it was knocked together on a
farm. This is definitely a more poppy and accessible record, even
culminating in what could pass as a hardcore version of Blur's 'Parklife'
with 'One Side of the Conversation' with Scott West giving a Leicester
version of Phil Daniels. That is, until the final guitar section knocks you
off your feet. Play loud my friends.
'Punk Rock Motors' again
manages to see TEAM fusing real poppy song writing and vocal harmonies with
hard as nails riffery and drum abuse. 'Dead Sharks' is probably the nearest
to Penalyn-era TEAM but still throws in some nifty harmonies. The trademark
time changes and ruthlessly sharp chord changes are in full effect with
'Trencherman' and 'Negative K' supplies a slick Fugazi inspired instrumental
So another killer from TEAM.
And lucky for you they are touring addicts so there's a pretty good chance
of catching them on the road in the next couple of months. If I was you I'd
get yourself down there and part with some hard-earned for this record.
– ‘S/T’ (Wichita)
Espers reside in a place just out of reach. It is a world of dark, gothic
folk that takes elements of old folk aficionados like Fairport Convention
and tips it on its head. Yes they inhabit a place of psychedelic folk
wanderings but there is a far more sinister root growing underneath. Whilst
songs like opening track ‘Flowery Moontide’ only hint at this, as the album
slowly meanders inwards it slowly unravels and envelopes you as more
discordant waters reach you.
debut album Espers is both softly easy going and racked with psych-paranoia
and I for one can’t wait to see how future releases will pan out.
Nara - Prelude au Hasard
With a title like “Prelude au Hasard”, I was expecting this album to perhaps
be a mite pretentious. Happily that’s not the case. First track ‘Incipit’
immediately struck me as akin to what Godspeed You Black Emperor might sound
like if they jammed with Vangelis, and when you consider that the band hail
from Montreal the similarities maybe aren’t that surprising. There are no
vocals; instead we get samples of astronauts communicating with
ground-control. Ok, so it’s a bit of an atmosphere-generating cliché but it
there on in, we’re in familiar post-rock territory, although ‘As hour and
year collapsed’ is far jauntier than the genre usually allows (the title
being somewhat misleading in that respect). Other tracks conform more,
although Nara, more often than not, fail to match their peers either in
terms of attack (Explosions in the Sky), scale or dynamics (Mogwai). Perhaps
it’s a bit unfair to draw comparisons at this early stage, and the news that
their next EP “will combine and visual exploration” at least shows that this
is one band unafraid to keep trying new things.
Gay for Johnny Depp - ‘Blood: the Natural Lubricant’ (Captains of Industry)
Ok, so when I first heard the name of the band it did
sound like some dodgy side project for the Scissor Sisters! And I was
pretty convinced when I heard the first song “Hey Sailor”, a piano driven
acapella which includes the line “hey sailor/who ya blowing”. But wait! The
ear cringing acapella blasts into “No Teeth Thumbs Up” a minute and a half
of 55 fucks!…yes 55? Now, my ears are still bleeding and I feel some what
worried for Johnny Depp!
becomes a bit too much to take after that, it’s just 15 minutes of speed
metal nonsense! It skips from track to track that are over in a heartbeat,
you don’t even know what your listening to half the time?.. oh Homo-core
apparently? Its full of obvious repetitive lyrics that you’d think you’d
hear from a minute made 14 year old goth band! For example, the E.P’s end
track “Fucking Isn’t Cheating” “this is the end of the world/Die, Die,
this band should put down the guitars and the Johnny Depp posters, then
maybe think of something more productive to do, because at the moment
they’re going down that never ending long road with all the other speed
freak metal rubbish bands that’s all been done before.
Jackie O - Between
Worlds of Whores and Gods (Skinny Dog)
Crash, bang and indeed wallop. A beautiful fuzzed up
beast of an LP which fans of Jon Spencer and other bluesy noiseniks will
certainly salivate over. No real standout tracks, such is the LP ness of
this collection. Turn your ears towards west of The Pennines my friends, and
let the wax be cleared.
Various - Knives
and Forks (Late Night Dreams)
Basically a label sampler for 6 bands - Mothership, Screaming Mimi, Michelle
Baxter, Balor Nights, Ebb Tone and The Scarlet Tuesday - Knives and Forks is
a showcase for the current Sheffield indie-pop scene (Knives and Forks - do
you see, do you? You know, Sheffield and all that...).
It's always a difficult thing
to review a compilation but the one thing that jumps out like a nudist in a
crateload of crabs is the difference in the sound of the whole Sheffield
'scene' from the current trendy Leeds 'scene'. This whole horrible idea of a
scene has led to 7 or 8 gigs being on every night of the week in Leeds,
everyone knowing what everyone else is doing and largely a lot of self
congratulatory back slapping. But the other main difference to me seems to
be how miserable we all are up the north end of the M1 compared with the
disco infused, creative (and risky) synth psychedelia of most of these
Sheffield bands. Sure there is a bit of an electro tradition in Sheffield
which Leeds can't really compare with, but it is the willingness to
experiment that is the main difference. Some times this doesn't work, but
the two Mothership tracks for instance, are fab, and just a bit more
glamorous than we're allowed to listen to in Leeds.
So I'm sorry if I haven't
really said much about the individual tracks but I think you get the idea of
the vibe of record. Leeds may have the in-scene at the moment, but it also
has a whole load of corporate promoters and venues trying to suck every last
dollar out of the current music fashionistas. Seems to me like a night out
in a few murky pubs with upstairs function rooms in Sheffield would be a
pretty good idea.
Baxter Dury - ‘Floor
Show’ (Rough Trade)
Trying to forge a career as a musician in the shadow of a successful parent
musician can be tough, just ask Sean Lennon. Financial security may be a
benefit but the opportunity for self expression without comparison is
virtually impossible, and when such a comparison is made favour tends to go
with the first generation, just ask Chesney Hawkes. This is where Baxter
Dury, (son of former ‘Blockhead’ Ian) seems to be something of an exception.
His first album, ‘Len Parrot’s Memorial Lift’ was a delight, a collection of
understated, reflective and often melancholic songs which received much
deserved critical acclaim. His follow up, ‘Floor Show’, offers more of the
same. It kicks off with the almost rocky ‘Francesca’s Party’, the vocals
delivered in a lethargic whooze, ’staring at a shopping list, happiness is
all I have, but you can’t spend it here’. Much of the lyrical content is
self reflective, the past is not forgotten. ‘Cocaine Man’ offers up the only
real comparison to his Father, this being in the form of a spoken/sung
intro, delivered in the famous Dury cockney accent. Things then slow down
for ‘Waiting for Surprises’, the backing organ lending an almost funereal
mood. Drug references play a large role in much of ‘floor Shows’ content,
this adding to the already dreamy and ethereal mood and atmosphere, and it
must be said that the album is given its best chance to shine when listened
to after dark. The mood darkens for the title track before the excellent
‘Cages’ adds a slightly seventies sound with an excellent Bowie sounding
guitar line before the album closes with ‘dirty Water’, an example of what
Dury does best, it’s dreamy, it’s sad, it’s wonderful. Who needs a famous