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  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. 

If this 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!  

Opener “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. 

Each song 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 once again. 

I’ve a feeling I’m going to end up liking this album very much. Stupid name, though.
(
www.shoutoutlouds.com)

Will Columbine


Porn Sword Tobacco – Explains Freedom
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. 

Of the 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.

The fact 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’.

And I won’t even mention how bad ‘futuristic rasta money’ is.

Frazer Shelton


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.

Harold Thornville


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 bastard huh?

Those of 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.

That is 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?

‘KC Rules 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 god.

LD


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.

Harold Thornville


Softland – 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.  

Pop, 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 field recordings. 

War Againsst Error is definitely worth listening to for the good bits but forgettable for the bad bits. 

Frazer Shelton


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!

LD


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. 

Hundred 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 content afterwards.    

MJL


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’.

Moving on 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.

The 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.

LD


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 bored.    

Dr Dog 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.  

Nothing’s 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 tracks.

MJL


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.
(www.thisaintvegas.co.uk)

SB


Her 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.

At its 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 though.

LD


Pier Bucci - Familia (Crosstown Rebels)
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.

SB


 

Franklin 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.  

The 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 that’s…well…disaffecting. 

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. 

MJL


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 long time.

LD


Various - Leeds 2005 (Engine Room Records)
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.
(www.theengineroom.org.uk)

Dave Procter


We Are 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 listens.

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 are covered. If We Are Scientists had been my teachers at school I might not have got a D in physics.
(www.wearescientists.com)

SB


Les Rhythms Digitales - Darkdancer
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"

Matt Latham


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’.

In short 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 astray.

‘In the 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.

LD


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 track.

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.
(www.teamtm.co.uk)

SB


Espers – ‘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.

As a 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.

LD


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 works.

 

From 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.

Will Columbine


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! 

It 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, Die,” 

Me thinks 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. 

Simon Hambrook


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.
(www.skinnydogrecords.com)

Dave Procter


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.

SB


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 Father? 

Ron Beasley