I had a bad feeling about this album
before I'd even fumbled it into the CD drawer… my PC was reluctant to play
the record at first and I can appreciate why.
Here is a band whose arrogance is
outweighed only by ignorance. They believe that all bands should contain the
essence of Bobby Dylan, The Beatles and The Kinks. Gimme a break.
Rock 'n' roll shouldn't be bound or
restricted to creative boundaries. It should be free to evolve and it should
be a product of what the hell it wishes to be. That is why we use it as a
soundtrack to our rebellion and anarchy.
Care in the Community is awful. Its
only redeeming feature is that it's hilariously awful. It's packed chock
full of phony attitude, it's as credible a rock album as is anything by Hot
Chocolate and the ideals are tiresomely sobering. (Care in the community?
The lyrics are often lazy in a
manner suggestive of reggae, 'cept it yields none of the fun or warmth. The
music is relatively interesting in an unassuming way, but in no stretch of
the imagination does it rescue the album.
Movies is a gruesome track in a
variety of dimensions, the lyrics I wanna make movies with you/ Bollywood
tomorrow is puerile, unintelligent and do you want to know what the worst
thing about it is? It's sung in the style of Eric Clapton's take on Knocking
on Heaven's Door.
My Friend used to be (A Mad Axeman)
is as excruciating as… hell. What do I care… whaddyou care? This is audio
I don’t think I've met anyone who
would enjoy this album, and I've spent five years at art school.
This album could have been
monumental. It claims to be a celebration of 1960's electric jazz and
indeed, it does conform to the free-form psychedelic ideals of the period,
but sonically, it isn't really comparable.
After Dark, My Sweet repeatedly
noses in the direction of the creative period of Hawkwind whilst Lemmy was
the driving force behind the band. There are moments on this album that
sound almost as though they've been lifted from Hall of the Mountain Grill,
or Space Ritual. However, unlike either of the former the music here never
quite reaches the unbridled power of those Hawkwind records.
After Dark, My Sweet is really only
an indication of what the band are capable of achieving. On hindsight, this
album is a rough sketch-- a first draft of a record. I should hope that
their music migrates well to the stage. A good live performance will save
this band's bacon, but if they adhere to the music as it is on the album
then I should dearly that hope they choose a rotten support act in which
case, it would be relativity that saves them from certain embarrassment.
Ingrid Thulin is the best track
here. It recycles some earlier ideas and passages from Liv Ullman and the
heavy reverb-soaked lead guitar is impressive and reminiscent of live
performances of Led Zeppelin's No Quarter. Hell, on the odd occasion that
Julie's Haircut actually apply themselves, they become a brooding animal,
ominous and marauding. C'mon guys, you've set the bar with this one, if only
the rest of the album was this good.
Julie's Haircut is an unspeakably
crap band name, but since I never was one for appreciating the importance of
staying quiet, I shall reflect on it anyway. If, for instance they have been
as literal as to name themselves in honour of girlfriend Julie's
brand-spanking new haircut, then I recommend that Julie reconsiders her
choice of hairdresser in the future. Well, if her hairstyle is as lame as
the music that she inspired…
What a delightful album. Fazzini has
no regard for current trends, rules or creative boundaries. This solo
musician (formerly one-third of A Small Good Thing.) has filled an album
full of sounds of the absurd.
Whether it be haunting stories of
ghost sightings in a Madrid hotel room, or the lysergic-soaked sounds of
water bubbling, swooshing and streaming out of the speakers, Fazzini has an
eye for the surreal and he delivers his psychedelic folk album, Sulphur,
Glue The Star with devastating aplomb.
This is a folk album, but Fazzini
certainly doesn't adopt the cider approach (if you don't know what I mean by
that, spend a bank-holiday weekend on a campsite in Devon at the height of
summer, then you will). No siree, Fazzini sings macabre lyrics to a tender
acoustic guitar that go along the lines of down in the dell, the smell of
rotting flesh lingers and I hit her hard and fell into the sand laughing,
her pencil neck to the sky.
There are three tracks on this album
that are simple dicta-phone recorded spoken word pieces. These all bring to
mind Lovecraft or Algernon Blackwood narratives. They are welcome surprises
that make the album a thoroughly memorable experience.
During the course of these two
tracks, it was necessary to verbally remind myself that I wasn't listening
to Incubus. Don't get me wrong, Incubus are incredible and to sound like
them is virtuous to an extent, but imitation is rarely credible.
Perhaps I was a little unjust a
second ago-- I don't believe Oceansize are simply imitating Incubus; they're
better than that. But they do sound remarkably similar.
New Pin, with its crystal clear
guitar tone layered over what I believe to be either frantic Morse code
guitar stutterings, or vinyl-scratching(!) is an immediately likeable intro.
The vocals are too low in the mix. A
lot of the time, the only vocals that can be heard with any kind of
definition is the theatrical deep breath that comes as standard before the
singer plunges into another deep lamentation about junkies and confidence
set-backs and other adolescent preoccupations.
The instrumental break at the
midpoint is lavishly multi-tracked, yet it sounds over-bearing and
consequently it's fairly two-dimensional.
Superfluous to Requirements is much
better from the get-go. The structure is similar to New Pin, but this time
it is an intermittent and unassuming piano that strolls over a hectic and
distorted guitar that is generic rock, but agreeable nonetheless.
The vocals are more distinct this
time, but it's still difficult to hold any lasting interest in the
The instrumental breaks are much
better here and they're are testimony to the fact that Oceansize can be
realistically compared to the band that I'm moments away from name-dropping
Like most bands, Oceansize will
benefit from the live stage-- they need it to justify the strange
combinations of playing both calm and vivacious music simultaneously.
I would go see Oceansize play live,
but I don’t think I'll be parting with any amount of money for Everyone Into
Position. I'm happy enough with my Incubus albums.
This album opens up right in your face with
title track (and probably best) Sky High. With lead singer shouting so close
to your eyes you can see that horrible little white head under his
moustache, on the tip of his upper lip.
Following the same generic layout as early
Fu Manchu, (not that late Fu Manchu is any different). Stoner rock you can
call it, although true stoner rock for me is more along the lines of
Electric Wizard’s “Dope throne”. All the staple rudiments of dirty rocking
are here: group chanting, rolling riffs, reverb soaked vocals and references
to getting high there is even the emotionally charged rock ballad, titled
Black Navigator which can also be used to describe my friendly morning bus
driver, Clyde. “ I am drinking again. I think I might need some friends” the
front man tells you, shit what a rough patch he’s been through. Still that
doesn’t justify this terribly poor effort.
Ballard aside, Its all done extremely well
however and all the bases are covered they know what there doing, its just
half way through the album your interest just wavers, then you realise
there’s nothing here really to make you come back or even beg for more. It
kind of just rolls out in front of you or better still just bumbles along
and then is gone, like a stoned hobo or nomad keeping a leisurely pace.
Maybe its because every song seems to be the same tempo, in fact yeah that’s
Final track “Pass it on” almost destroys
any merit this album has with its infernal repetitious sample whirling round
in a last ditch hazy psychedelic guitar twiddling exercise that burning
wizard force on you as if to drive home the fact that they are definitely in
the pigeon hole that they have chosen for themselves and no other. Despite
all this Burning Wizard do the rest properly “13 x around the World”, the
duel guitar riffage on “He’s a Rat” and “Slow Down” especially, show you
that they’ve got rock hard or stone (er) balls, earning themselves two of my
chubby (middle) fingers up in front or their pink eyeballs.
Man: “Is this an album or isn’t it?”
Womn: “No its not, it’s a collection of 6 limited
edition 7 inch singles.”
Man: “So its not an album then?”
Man: “Humph” (under his breath) “stupid slut can’t even
answer a simple question.”
Women: “Frankly darling I don’t know how to feel about
(The women gets her death ray out of her handbag and
aims at the mans fat clammy forehead)
Women: “how do YOU feel about this?! ”
Any way. Essentially Fab Four Suture is six A-sides and
six B-sides so hopefully every song has the possibility to be excellent
Stereolab pop. Beginning with “kybernetika Babicka Pt1” a choral sample,
polka driven track that slowly adds more dynamics as it goes along. It’s
interesting and good. After this its Stereolab seem to be going through the
routines for the first 6 tracks (largely A-sides, although not in order).
Luckily as Fab Four Suture doesn’t hold together as an album, each of the
first 6 tracks is different enough, and if you are a fan then you’ll
probably enjoy it.
Its From Seventh track “Vodiak” that stereo lab start
to deliver. Fast up-tempo and drums hammering away full of fills with lead
singers’ effortless whispering vocals reminiscent of Nico. From here it
stays good with track like “Excursions in to oh, a oh” containing a
brilliant breakdown that comes from nowhere, and the down tempo “Whisper
pitch” and “window weirdo”.
Fab Four Suture shows Stereolab are still a great band
although there are signs here that if they’re not careful they could easily
BYOP are record labels gay wet dream. You can tell by the size of the
You’ll be hard pressed to have not seen some other review or comment on
this album. I’ve seen a few and they’re all balls, most are a prime examples
of why you shouldn’t buy any magazine that even smells like NME or kerrang
anymore. Most of them start with the quote “I’m an independent
motherfucker…etc etc.” or something about these wild TEENAGERS being
TEENAGERS. Anyway forget it.
Be Your Own pet is a frantic debut and it is good. Jemina has got the
distinguished voice that’s capable of delivering what’s needed from screams
to croons like a sex cat! (Probably from all the school musicals she
was in), but it’s the rest of the band that hold it together and actual
manage to deliver a credible document of raw rock and roll, “Lets Get Sandy
(Big Problem)” all be it an occasionally popular angle of it. You can
actually tell that they do listen to Bad Brains, Stooges etc. and its not
just PR banter.
Riffs are constantly changing, simple and All over everything and the
drums are raw as a Serial masturbators foreskin, they even manage to through
12-bar blues at some point without sounding wank. When they approach there
version of anything down tempo “October, 1sst account” its
wickedly soulful, this is where jemina gets to show she can sing if she
wants, which is disappointing and there are enough genuinely good raw
rock’n’roll songs on this debut to allow it to live up to all the drivel
people have been…drivelling.
One thing though, and I think they know it, if the band just bumped
Jemina and made another straight up thrash band, they’d make a really good
one. Then I’d be there to help jemina figure it all out. She’d be like
“What Happened?” and I’d just tell here to shut up and get in the car.
Oh yeah the last song is about the dead rising.
Holy fuck!!! I think they must have
Phil Collins on drums, such is the over production on the drum intro to this
sorry excuse for an album. The sleeve notes tell a sorry tale of a band so
deluded and confused, it’s almost a tragedy that they are at large in the
“… The almost impossible process of
making a career in music that disregards commercial viability, marketing
trends or other things ruining music today.”
It’s quite fortunate for them then,
that when they have distilled down their uncompromised artistic vision they
are in fact a band that sound remarkable similar to Fall Out Boy, and as
such, incredibly commercially viable, and at the cutting edge of current
marketing trends. Thank fuck for fortunate timing!!!!
Piss poor on every level.
Each and every Friday and Saturday
night I have awful visions of women in provincial towns, up and down the
country, donning their boob tubes, slapping on some ‘CK one’ (cos it’s well
classy) to the strains of ‘I Will Survive’ and a plethora of other chart
flotsam and jetsam to head out to a low quality ‘night spot’ for a night of
Alco-pop fuelled debauchery, concluding most likely with a sordid sexual
encounter with a gent who works in the construction trade…
I don’t know where I was going with
that one really. But I think my point was that while these women have their
soundtrack of chart muck, and early disco, I imagine this album to be the
perfect warm up for a manly night out of beard growing, whisky drinking and
It’s fast, heavy and extremely good.
Since I am the proud owner of a beard, a fan of whisky and enjoy eating meat
(beef being a personal favourite) this album suites me fine.
What the bloody hell can I tell you about this band
that the NME haven’t blown their load over already? Eh? Well
surprise-fucking-surprise, they seem to have latched on to yet another
band that is pretty disposable….
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t impressed
with the album to begin with. It has a certain charm, and if you are a fan
of Bright Eyes more stripped down moments, with a touch more blues, it may
well float your boat (personally it made me want to go and listen to
Bright Eyes, but as they say ‘different strokes for different folks’). I
spent about a week with this album on my MP3 player, and although in no
way awful, I found myself getting pretty bored with about 85% of it, to
the point where I really couldn’t face listening to it any longer….. Hey,
maybe it is my short attention span.
What I can say is that there is some pretty strong
song writing on display throughout the album. There are some nice tunes
(some dicey lyrics), but ultimately it’s not an album that will have you
running back to it many years from now. But maybe that is the point…. But
I’m a musical snob, and think about these things too much.
If I said I wasn’t hesitant about reviewing this CD, I
would be lying to you, and myself. Having seen The Unit Ama, and a large
number of occasions, I was really at a loss as to what to expect. On
occasion I have seen them play shows that have left the audience speechless,
yet on others left me (I cannot speak for the rest of the crowd) somewhat
confused and a little disappointed, but what I will say is that on the
strength of this record, it was most likely my mood, and not the bands
performance that is to blame for such a conclusion.
What is on offer here is a pretty much stunning array
of music, and musicianship. The band is in no way afraid of breaking songs
down to its components, steering off from more obvious paths…. Yet never so
much as it comes across as self indulgent of pompous. It’s as if the songs
are allowed to just flow, ebb and mutate into one another, the whole albums
seems to play like one of the best improvised sets ever recorded.
Bass lines flow and pulsate while guitars come in fits
and starts with some awesome drumming holding everything in place. The album
goes in so many different directions and packs in so many ideas, it’s at
times difficult to keep up, but it really is worth the time and patience.
New Bella Union signings My Latest Novel have certainly
been setting tongues wagging in the music press. Being hailed as the next
Bell and Sebastian lazy journalists across the country have been scurrying
to their live shows in hope of being noted as the man/woman who first told
the nation that these guys were the bees knees. Well now we have the debut
record so it’s this lazy journalists time to give his two pennies worth.
‘Wolves’ begins in an subtle and unassuming manner as
if its just sidled into a room with you and your only half aware of it. As
opener ‘Ghost in the Gutter’ then slowly but surely lets its presence be
know by developing into a track full of drama and beauty. And this is very
much the flavour of the record as a whole. It is an album with folk music at
its heart but one that knows how to construct a perfect pop hook with it. At
times it is lilting and subtle as on ‘The Hope Edition’ and it shows where
those Bell and Sebastian references are coming from. However it can also be
powerful and brooding as in the awesome industrial folk slant that is the
albums finest moment ‘When We Were Wolves’, a song about simple repetition
that will have the hairs on your neck up and lodge itself in your
subconscious for a long time to come.
My Latest Novel are more than the Bell and Sebastian
comparisons suggest. Offering a similar warm Scottish folk leaning as the
likes of King Creosote they are purveyors of a dry wit and a quality of
songs that will deservedly win them a place in many a music lovers record
I first received a copy of Cerberus Shoal’s latest
album at the end of last year and it quickly became a record on near
permanent rotation on my stereo. Inhabiting a world somewhere between Tom
Waits and a Tim Burton soundtrack it is a bizarre and diverse clomping album
full of dark worlds and surreal musings yet it is tied together with a
complexity and beauty that make it truly compelling.
‘Wyrm’ is a bizarre stomp that wheezes and thuds along
in woozy and unsettling manner for what seems to be the shortest 10 or so
minutes ever and then is followed by the utterly weird ‘Pie for the
President’ a pop song of sorts that feels a bit like having your ears filled
with a wonderful audio funfair. However what stops this aural avalanche
descending into preposterous nonsense is the simple fact that it’s all bound
by some stunning vocal and musical performances and arrangements. The shared
male and females vocal duties are balanced perfectly and the varied and
complex instrumentation show a band who know exactly what they’re doing.
Cerberus Shoal won’t be to everyone’s taste much like
Marmite or Dr Pepper but believe me if you give it a go and let them slowly
probe your dirty little mind with their nimble audio fingers you may just
find yourself falling head over heels in love.
Mclusky are no more. Three albums, a plethora of gigs
and huge bucket of rock on this welsh three piece have hung up there guitars
and said goodnight. However to ensure there good name has a legacy they
leave us with ‘Mcluskyism’ a best of compilation of there a-sides. Mclusky
play balls out, piss in the wind for the hell of it rock music that makes
you want to punch people out of sheer joy. They are a band with a filthy
mind and sense of humour to match. How many bands can you think of with
songs called things like ‘Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues’ or that feature
lines like ‘My love is bigger than your love/we take more drugs than a
touring funk band’ or ‘hopeless hepatitis piss wreck Molotov cocktail
monobrow shithole’. Not bloody many I bet.
Mcluskyism is a final two fingers up to us all and a
bloody great thing it is too. I will miss you Mclusky you big bunch of daft
At last England’s finest booty-shaking Beefheartian sex
tourists Lords have their debut full length out to teach the world a new way
to love and be loved. A three piece who ooze raw musical sex, Lords show us
Blues don’t have to make you blue and if only you’d just put your hands on
the girls ass and start to groove then boy the world would be a much better
place. Tight and complex like a good woman Lords music is riffs, tight beats
and pure of soul, and it will make you a better human being and lover to
So ladies and gentleman turn it all the way up, that’s
right all the way. Now grind and grin your way to inner salvation with one
of the greatest bands you are likely to let into your life. Lords love you
and I demand you love them back.
13 years and Polaris are only on their second record,
now that’s a band that believes in taking their time. But hey who cares
its worth the wait after all.
Polaris play there own blend of harmonious and
compelling rock music that is brooding and complex as well as immediate
and full of joy. With members of Bilge Pump and Quack Quack in their midst
you know as well as I do you should buy this album, if not how the hell do
think your gonna be able to look your family in the eyes?
German is a beautiful language isn’t it? Now hang on I
know what you’re thinking and that’s exactly what I thought before I had the
pleasure of listening to Josephine Foster’s new record which is comprised of
19th century German folk songs sung in their native tongue. Now I
realise that that sounds like a dreadful concept but in the talented hands
of Foster we are treated to a series of utterly stunning folk songs where
dreamlike electric guitar dances around gently picked guitar and Foster’s
own distinctive and captivating vocals. This is a record that is other
worldly and not of our time and one which will not only show you that indeed
German can be as beautiful as any of the romance languages but that whatever
Foster decides to turn her hand to turns to gold. A true delight.
Minimal and like nothing else out there, Gamelan Son of
Lion are a New York based ensemble who play gongs and metallophones to
create repetitive folk drones. Actually played may be a better word for it
as 'Metal Notes' is a resurrection of records made some two decades ago
released only on cassette. This is a long lost gem of an album of trance
inducing compositions that may not be something you want to listen to very
often but is a totally beguiling and original work of music.
Side projects yield mixed results, and this, the second
effort by messes tweedy and O’Rourke, under the name Loose Fur, is indeed
just that, the overall result being inferior to their own, more serious
work, Tweedy’s with Wilco and O ‘Rourke as a solo artist, or more recently
as a member of Sonic Youth. It seems as though they just wanted to let their
hair down and make some classic rock before returning to more familiar
surrounds. The vocals are shared around, as are the writing duties, with
Glen Kotche playing the rest of the music. There are some great songs here,
which will appeal to both fans of Wilco and O’Rourke, but in an attempt to
kick back and ‘rock’ the long meandering instrumental sections become
overindulgent and tiresome, it’s a pity, because at its best this is
Another acoustic/folky release from Fatcat, with more
Scandinavian heartache. Mauri Heikkinen, aka, Drowsy, is a 23 year old Fin,
who’s second release, ‘Snow on Moss on Stone’ is another in an ever
increasing list of folk/pop acts from the northern reaches. Here the mood is
one of slight melancholy, with sound being warm and cosy, the overall sound
being unmistakably Scandinavian, in fact, one is reminded of label mates
Amandine, with their rustic fuzz and creak. Several listens later and I am
still undecided as to the qualities of this album, is this a warm, sweet
delight of an album, full of hope and reassurance, or a slightly lacklustre
effort, where second language lyrics and singing become tediously annoying
and fey, not sure, I probably hope the former but fear the latter.
Former Hefner drummer Anthony Harding went to Italy to
record this collection of acoustic ditties, and the overall result is quite
nice. It’s a small collection of heartfelt numbers that could happily appeal
to the new generation of radio 2 listeners, in the best possible way that
is, but lets hope for Ant’s sake that doesn’t happen, and he remains in the
heads of a smaller and altogether more appreciative audience.
New UK home for Mazarin in the form of the excellent
Bella Union label, but the sound will be as familiar as ever to existing
fans. I remember buying their first album, ‘watch in happen’ some years ago,
I came across it whilst sifting through a rack of miscellaneous sale items
in HMV, and have been a fan ever since, and the new album delivers more of
the same fuzzy pop. So if its catchy American pop that your after this is as
good a starting place as any, but for all of their catchy soft furnishings,
like with previous albums, a darkness and deeper content lies just beneath
the surface, content that will give the work the longevity and repeated
listening that it surly deserves.
Second release for Canadians Barzin, first on London
based label Monotreme, and what a delight it is. This is a masterpiece in
slow, melodic melancholy, occupying similar territories to the early work of
the ‘Red House Painters’ and original slow core luminaries ‘Low’. Assured
and confident song writing complement its languid mood and the only
disappointment arrives when it ends. Highly recommended.
Samara Lubelski is another in a seemingly endless
supply of talented Brooklyn based folk artists, and here she delivers a few
treats. Musically ‘Spectacular of Passages’ is wonderful, full of lush
sixties folk influenced arrangements of strings and horns that wash over you
in a wave of loveliness. The songs bounce along, all delivered with
confidence and self-assurance, the writing is strong and the playing is a
joy, so the only thing standing in your way is whether Lubelski’s slightly
whimsical childlike voice is your cup of tea.
Like everything I review this month it took me ages to
work out whether or not, or how much, I liked something. Like March couldn’t
decide if it was the beginning of spring or the end of winter so I couldn’t
tell if something was good or merely mediocre. Anyway, like March I’ve come
out on the sunny side and no more so than on Empty Houses are Lonely from
On listening to this it becomes immediately apparent
that Brosseau has a fantastic voice that sits between the earnestness of
Ryan Adams on Heartbreaker and the whimsy of Devandra Banhart. (Which to my
ears is a very good thing.) In fact where this album was in danger of
falling down is they didn’t know how to produce such a potent instrument,
(or so it seems to me.) It sounds sometimes like it was recorded in high
seas and he and his guitar slide keep sliding past the mic.
There is a demo-ish quality to these songs, like
Brosseau just rolled up and sang his part unaccompanied; it leaves you
grasping in frustration for the melody. Sometimes there is full
instrumentation, other times it is so sparse its like they recorded outside
the window when he playing at a wake. In a rambling near incomprehensible
statement in the press release Brosseau hints that this album has been
culled from 3 previous LPs and perhaps this explained the disjointed
feeling. He doesn’t say whether these other three are available.
Generally the fuller the sound the better the song and
‘Dark Garage’ is my favourite. A driving harmonica, a cogent melody and the
yearning swoop of his vocals bewitch you. You will carry the mood and melody
of this song around for weeks. Similarly the opener ‘Fragile Mind’ and ‘How
to Grow a Woman from the Ground,’ are stellar achievements, songs that
you’ll keep coming back to no matter how underwhelmed you were on first
Christ knows what to say about this. I don’t really
have the necessary vocabulary to describe it but here goes. Imagine the
arrhythmic horn playing on Miles Davis’ Bitch’s Brew, now instead of having
it against a wall of atonal multi-instrumentation have it crawling over an
ambient electronica palette. Add some inspired militant drumming and some
Imagine the sort of the music they play in a trendy bar
on a quite Tuesday night, (the type of bar where everyone is up their own
arse doing coke,) but make the music a lot darker so rather than the
soundtrack of someone having a good time this is the soundtrack of someone
twitching in apoplexy, their synapses misfiring.
If you accept that everyone should own at least one
multi-textured instrumental album, which I do, then this is it. If only
because the musicianship is in a different league to most of the records
that this will be bracketed with.
The inlay is set up to make this seem like a film
soundtrack and there is definitely that side to it but it doesn’t seem
consistent enough in mood for that; I don’t know if there was limited studio
but you get the impression listening to it that they wanted to try as many
different sounds in the time available so here you get a Mexicali sound,
here you get Big band, have some Ragtime.
Inevitably with this sort of approach it is a little
hit and miss but when it soars, it really soars. Particularly favourites for
me are ‘St Lyle Drive’ and ‘The Lurch.’
But, and it’s a big but, you can run but you can’t hide
from the production on this album. Wherever this was recorded had the
acoustics of a wind tunnel and the atmosphere of a clinic. It takes so much
away from this record; rips away its soul. Don’t get me wrong the songs are
good, written, performed, arranged well but it lacks an edge, you’d probably
rather see this lot play live.
It was recorded in 1988 and re-mastered for this
release. Maybe it should have been re-recorded, maybe live.
Howling Bells don't give much away.
Indeed, it was only after a few tentative questions that I ascertained
Howling Bells was the name of the group, as well as the album.
Also, with no press release (good
heavens to Murgatroyd, I hear you cry… that's right; no press release, no
lengthy and pointless lamentations about being raised by wolves and the
like.) they correctly leave their music to do the talking.
Jaunita Stein's haunting and often
melancholy vocals bring to mind select performances of P.J Harvey, Bjork and
Debbie Harry. Stein's efforts are heartfelt and undeniably passionate; you
can't help but be feel as though Stein believes every word she sings.
The band's contribution is elegant,
individual and not governed by the lyrics. There are electric guitars in
abundance and they seem quite capable of nearly every motion. The
single-note twangy guitar solo on Ballad For The Bleeding Hearts is dripping
with tremolo and makes the otherwise fairly innocuous ballad a stand-alone
song that's easily worth it's salt. And check out the seagull swoops on
Setting Sun… all of this goes to show that this is not merely a vocalist's
album; there should be plenty of guitarists who'll get a kick out of Howling
Howling Bells is a good album; there is something to
laugh to, cry to, groove to. I'd say the only drawback is that because
Stein's vocals are ever present, loud and commanding, it's difficult to
appreciate them with a monumental hangover. Sunday morning listening, it
ain't. Wait for nightfall, light the Nag Champa incense and slide into a hot
bath with a glass or two of red wine.
One of the more unwieldy band monikers I’ve come across
in recent times, I think in the interests of brevity
3Hostwomexicansandationofspanners (apologies to the band if I’ve spelt it
wrong) will for the purposes of this review be referred to as Band X.
Glancing at the track listing of ‘Pegasus Bridge’ I’m inclined to like Band
X. Song title’s include ‘Topless Dudley Street Fighting’ and ‘Coked Up
Supermodels Licking Shit Off a Blind Vicar’s Cock’. Unfortunately the
material on this record isn’t quite as strong as the track titles might
suggest. Some of the tracks are very good, heavy sleazy rock like the Jesus
Lizard used to excel at, with vocals that are a cross between Blood Brothers
style screaming and Mike Patton – esque warbling and barking. The track
‘Rock Song’ is particularly good. But for about 50% of this album Band X
seem to be going for a kind of hectic punk-funk, not dissimilar to the Black
Eyes. However they lack the energy to pull off this sound, so a number of
the songs come across as a rather tedious post-punk dirge. Which is
unfortunate as a number of the tracks are rather good. So although not quite
fulfilling the promise of the song titles, ‘Pegasus Bridge’ is not without
Apparently this is Psychic Ill’s first full-length
release, and as such it is an incredibly accomplished album. I suppose the
closest reference point would be the free form exploration of bands such as
Black Dice and Double Leopards. But that’s not to suggest that’s all that’s
going on here, in fact the eclectic nature of the material on ‘Dins’ is
remarkable. Psychic Ill’s go from a combination on tribal drums and free
folk on ‘East’, to Krautrock on ‘January Rain’, to Double Leopard style
freak out, drone on ‘Electric Life’. These different styles merge seamlessly
from track to track, and indeed within tracks themselves, meaning the album
works beautifully as a whole. An interesting and challenging album.
This band contains ex-members of Fu Manchu, and the
album is called ‘Apollo’. Taking these factors into consideration you’d
probably guess that Nebula are a stoner rock band, and rightfully so.
Unfortunately they’re not tremendously good at it. I find stoner / doom rock
most successful when it’s horribly slow/ heavy / repetitive see Sleep,
Melvins, Acid King etc. ‘Apollo’ simply sound like Queens of the Stone Age
b-sides, Very uninteresting. Except for the excellent psychedelic guitar at
the beginning of ‘Future Days’, which bafflingly also contains sample of a
goat or sheep bleating. My housemate informs me that Nebula’s earlier
releases are of a higher quality, which I couldn’t possibly comment on, but
this has left me cold.
This is excellent. Four tracks of warm electronica and
folksy guitar pickings, created live by two Russian gentlemen.
Jackie-O-Motherfucker would be the most obvious reference point. Also
included are remixes of the first four tracks, including one by Svarte
Greiner of Deaf Centre (who’s ‘Pale Ravine’ I recently purchased and I
strongly recommend). Although in general I’m sceptical of remixes, these are
of a very high calibre, reworking the themes of the original tracks with
subtlety and grace. The remix of ‘Silvet Kotlet’ is especially good,
eventually building into lush white noise and static. A wonderful album.
The duo who made the vocoder trendy again release this compilation of
audio and DVD videos more than 12 years after their first record. How many
tracks was it before I realised that the dodgy copied cassette tape wasn't
knackered with dropping out sound - these damned Frenchies were actually
using a really weird drop out on the mix. It's these two things that daft
Punk are probably most identifiable by and this compilation demonstrates
plenty of both techniques.
Similar to The Chemical Brothers in that they were one of a number of
bands in the early nineties who benefited from the new found cross over of
influences between mainstream indie and dance, this album is a pretty
impressive record of their back catalogue and features all the hits front he
original underground sounds of 'Around the World' and 'Da Funk' up to the
more commercial 'One More Time'.
Three remixes of Ian Pooley, Scott Groove and Gabrielle get the typical
Daft Punk treatment and complete an anthology of a tracks which both
heralded and secured Daft Punk as one of the most innovative and successful
electro acts of the past decade.
There is an awful lot of emphasis in the press release and from the
commentary provided by James Holden about this CD on how although many of
the artist might seem a little incongruous together on one compilation. The
reason for this, Mr Holden explains, is that the tracks just belong together
in terms of sentiment and atmosphere. And it would be hard to disagree as
Apparat flows into Plastikman into Massive Attack etc effortlessly.
So it is some incredibly disengaging and incongruous when every 15
minutes or so a disembodied DJ sounding voice intrudes on my trippy
listening experience by announcing that this CD is for promotional use only
and not for resale. How bloody annoying. I can understand the artists not
wanting to get ripped off before it is even released but if you are going to
heavily emphasise the seamless mix qualities of a mix CD (it is not a
straight forward compilation with gaps in between after all) then it's not
the best idea to keep throwing in some anti-piracy measure which really
disrupts the flow.
That said, this is a really good record and at least when you buy it dear
readers, the annoying announcements will have been removed from your copy.
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone is one Owen Ashworth
and as his moniker may suggest he deals in misery and melancholy all relayed
via his battery powered keyboard and sullen, detached vocals. He’s recorded
three albums in this vein from his bedroom, all character studies about
alienated hipsters, the starving artist and girls who won’t return his
calls. However on this fourth release he steps outside the artistic
limitations he’s set for himself and adds further instrumentation to his
traditional drum machines and crappy synths. Pianos, organs, flutes, drums
and some steel guitar all make an appearance. Despite reservations that the
essence of CFTPA may have been distilled by his musical progression and
seemingly having a bit of money thrown at him, this new album is tremendous.
Musically the album is downbeat synth pop with touches of country, techno,
bubblegum and even piano driven jazz on ‘Don’t they have payphones wherever
you were last night’, (this man has a tremendous way with a song title)
which sounds like something Tom Waits would be making if he’d been born
twenty five years later. The album has definite lyrical nods towards a more
stream of consciousness Stephin Merritt and Morrissey both of whom would
have been proud to write a lyric as good as “Send a letter to mom and
dad, say ‘Mom and dad the money’s running out’ pause ‘Got a letter
from mom and dad, they didn’t send me anything’. All this is delivered
in a style so deadpan and as close to speaking as it is to singing that it
smacks of a lovable wryness and bone dry humour. Honesty, clarity and the
mindset of the social misfit are what CFTPA gives us in bundles and who here
can say that doesn’t sound resoundingly appealing in a world where
humourless, ego ridden, dimwit walking haircuts like Razorlight are allowed
What starts off promisingly with some minimally bleak loops and building
melodies in opening tracks 'La Douleur Exquise' and 'Looking Like Lions'
never really manages to kick on and break out of the pleasant but nurdling
electro meets world music vibe. Loads of flute and tinkly electric piano
give it a summery, holiday chill out feel, a bit like Air. But on a Sunday
afternoon with a litre of coffee swilling round my guts, there is only so
much chilling out I can do and the rest of the album tootles along in much
the same vain. As a felllow writer wrote this month, much to like but little
The Leya single 'In Your Hands' got a a review last month and was given a
tentative thumbs up. Sadly this album does nothing to convince me of
anything more than a tentative thumbs up. The tracks on the single are
absolutely indicative of the content of the whole album and their seems very
little effort to veer away from the path well trodden by Coldplay and Snow
Patrol. Vocalist Ciaran Gribbin may have 'one of the most extraordinary
voices' but after 11 tracks I found the whole experience so unremittingly
dismal that I wanted to sit in a corner and cry.
That said, I'm not a big fan of Coldplay or Snow Patrol. But millions of
people are I guess, and they will not be disappointed. For the rest of us,
'Watch You Don't Take Off' should probably only be approached in small bite
After what must be about the third or fourth straight
listen I'm beginning to get this. At first, I'm not sure, it may have been
the often schizophrenic bleeps and crunches that didn't really seem to
amount to a song, then the song's over, then another one starts and
something interesting is happening, then that one stops. The lack of a
coherent flow may have disgruntled me, and giving three tracks together the
same name highlights the lack of being able to select a track you remember
for enjoying particularly, but now I understand. Each track is succinct
little nugget of experimentation and ephemeral electronica that play
together like a little robotic stream of conscious. Soon elements and
sections emerge that hint at more interesting sounds and rhythms that most
exhibit in a whole album, and then before you know, it's gone. What may
have first appeared as the albums possible downfall in good time, and a bit
of listening effort, becomes the albums curious beauty. Stefan Robinson is a
true inventor, and has created here a true listening pleasure.
Liner are somewhat of a curios offering. Typified by a
very clean, well produced and melodic guitar style, there are a number of
stand out tracks on this album. But these are equally punctuated by tracks
which are really a bit too poor to even make it onto the album.
The first couple of tracks occupy the latter ground, containing as they do,
some pretty middle of the road jangly indie that fails to grab the
imagination. Single 'Money' stands out a bit from the crowd but much of the
album just meanders on with harmonies and melodies that even Extreme would
have rejected in the early 90s.
Deep Elm, long time purveyors of fine, self-proclaimed
'emo' music, must have seen the market forecast, and incase you didn't know,
emo is out kids, indie rock roll ( whatever the hell that is) is in. But
rather than peddle out the same crap other labels would be content with,
like they did with 'The Emo Diaries', Deep Elm showcase some great bands
that unfairly get poked into the new trendy pigeonhole. Newcastle's Free
Diamonds were touted on the first 'This is Indie' compilation and were
quickly signed up to release their debut album, 'There Should Be More
Dancing'. And it's bloody ace. The album is pretty one track, but that track
is the best one I've heard in a long time. At times a bit pop punk in the
vein of Audio Karate, at others just great party indie dance fest whilst
vocalists Scott Anderson and Paul Cosgrove yelp and squark in the best
possible way. Despite the fun they are clearly having they exhibit a knowing
unpretentiousness, with a clear idea of the music they want to make and more
importantly to get people dancing. Dance Motherfucker, Dance.
(Disclaimer: That is a reproduction of the liner notes,
I do not intend to offend, unless that's the point.)
Tad seems like a thoroughly pleasant and well-balanced chap and as such
has produced another pleasing little album with 'Play To Remember'. This
isn't going to make you sit bolt upright and take immediate notice, but if
you are planning any road trips this summer there couldn't be any better
backing track than this. Winsome little tunes with delicate acoustic guitar
and a good slice of harmonica thrown into the mix mean there is little to
dislike. Whether I'll still be pulling 'Play to Remember' out of the CD rack
in a year's time I don't know but for now it will be the soundtrack to the
start of the summer.
Over the course of 20 intrusive
songs, Darren Hayman takes us on a bittersweet journey through the highs and
lows of adolescence. If Hollyoaks ever did a purely musical accompaniment to
their show, this indeed would be it.
With this album being around 98.5%
vocals, it makes for a demanding listen. The music is modest, yet satisfying
and it's a shame really that most interesting musical parts are largely
eclipsed by the overbearing vocals.
Have you ever been on a road trip
where some irksome kid won't shut the hell up and all you want to do is
listen to the thrum of the open road for a few moments? This album puts me
in mind of such an experience.
The lyrics are often lame and
irritating, but I can see why they may be appealing to a 17-year old
sociology student from Cardiff, or such.
Buy this album if your young and
your itching to be rebellious. Simply steal some words and ideals and you
may be set on your way to realising your anarchic ambitions.
If the former doesn't sound too
appealing, don't bother with this album. You'll probably not like it.
This mini-album contains many interesting elements and a number of good
tunes via the combination of live and electronic equipment. It has been
incredibly well detailed and crafted into a record via production, sampling,
looping etc, but to the detriment of having any a lot of soul or
originality. Opening track 'Origins' is a pleasant enough electronic
bubblebath of sound, but could just as easily have been written by Jean
Michelle Jarre. There are some some keyboard effects on 'Understand Me' that
could have come straight from Queen's Radio Ga Ga' and the vocals in general
actually degrade what might otherwise be a more interesting and minimal
Drum beats seldom break up, sticking steadfastly to the rather bland and
obvious giving much of the album a single pace, even when other parts and
over-dubs are leading in another direction.
All of which is not to say this is not a pretty good record. The general
overview would be of a pretty good ambient techno album which I would
definitely listen to for a chill-out vibe. But we have been spoiled with the
likes of Orbital, Daft Punk etc in the past and it is not easy to see where
ReCoup can force an oeuvre for themselves with this kind of derivative
First let me begin by telling you that not only to the Dresden Dolls have
a section of their website dedicated to hate mail, there is actually a fully
fledged internet forum despising them. So, unlike the scores of
faux-tortured indie and pop bands we listen to every month, the music of the
Dresden Dolls very definitely invokes a reaction.
The sound itself? Singer/pianist Amanda Palmer and drummer Brian Viglione
forge some kind of crazed baroque cabaret operatics infused with
Vaudevillian dancehall cabaret. Palmer has a strong if not pleasant voice
that manages (just) to counterbalance her heavily percussive style of piano
playing. Sing along tunes - don't bother looking here. A detached
Bizarrely the Dresden Dolls have opened on tour for Nine Inch Nails
(probably the source of much of the vitriol of the hate mails). Personally,
I wouldn't mind if I never heard anything of them again. But I'd much rather
listen to this sound of two people genuinely pursuing their artistic and
musical goals than any of the indie pop clones that pass across the tasty
turntables every month.
It may be a bit of a clue that nearly the whole of the press release for
this album was centred around the personal problems and subsequent recovery
of Vines singer Craig Nicholls. It is a pretty good idea to give people
something original to associate with this album as the music is unbelievably
Too many chugging three chord choruses all cemented with the same
Nicholls vocal glue drag Vision Valley into the dirt. Although there is
something unmistakably sunny in the whole disposition of the record, it's a
kind of hazy sunshine, seen through drawn curtains. The one exception is
'Going Gone' which is a great slowy (even though it does sound like a bit of
a rip-off of 'Moving' by Supergrass). It's lilting chorus and strings fully
compliment Nicholls vocal style and leave the rest of the rockier tracks
Singer songwriters are ten-a-penny
these days. Indeed, turn the dial on a radio and whatever station you land
on, you can rest assured that you won't be waiting long until Damien Rice,
Jason Powter, Jack Johnson and the like are pouring their mainstream and
cliched lamentations through the speakers.
Ben Harper is a singer songwriter,
but he bucks the trend of the former and occasionally droll musicians.
Better Way, with its tabla
percussion, sitar and eastern drones demonstrates Harper's cultural flair
and dedication to breaking free of the shackles of mainstream manipulation
It is also evidence enough that
Harper is a capable student of the George Harrison school of musicians. Like
Sgt. Pepper's Within You Without You, Better Way offers a western take on
Indian influences and with it being the first track on the record, it
certainly relieves the listener in a sense that he knows he is not about to
embark on an album full of glorified busking.
From the culturally flamboyant
opening song, Ben Harper journeys back into the western world and more
precisely, back to the burgeoning rock 'n' roll scenes in England during the
1960's. Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating is a glorious
Rolling Stonesesque rocker that should satiate the appetites of every Stones
enthusiast worth his salt.
The rest of the album swings between
anti-political and anti-war demonstrational folk, Stones-like rock and, of
course, the whimsical and non-threatening daydreams of George Harrison.
Both Sides Of The Gun is a sonic
pleasure. Hopefully it will become a revered model for the recording male
singer songwriters of tomorrow.
37 years may have passed since
George Harrison was at the zenith of his recording days. During that time,
we've flirted with the chaotic ideals of punk, we've marveled with wide-eyed
wonder at the explosion of rave and we've flirted with punk yet again.
In the nineties, Oasis nodded in the
general direction of the creative talent of the Beatles, but this is the
naughties and Ben Harper has arrived to bridge the 37-year gap and breed
rejuvenation into the music of George Harrison. And that's no bad thing;
well, he was the best Beatle, wasn't he?
This album is quite unique, in the sense that there’s a
new flavour (and even a different genre) in each tune… but each tune gets a
bit repetitive and borderline annoying. I like a lot of the musical elements
on this album though, such as the honky-tonk piano in ‘Velvet Underground’…
this song is actually cracking me up now – I can’t work out if they’re
taking the mick or paying tribute to people. Not sure I’ll be able to figure
it out - I don’t think I can tolerate listening to it for a minute longer.
My head is done in. Argh!
Listening to this album on a trip to the hellhole that
is Mansfield the other day reminded me why I’ve loved this man for most of
my life. Quite simply, nothing makes me feel the way Morrissey’s voice does.
Even now, as ‘Ringleader’ blasts out of the stereo, I’ve got goosebumps.
This album is his best yet. Better than the fantastic
comeback that was ‘You Are the Quarry’. Gone is the tiresome tirades against
judges and old, irrelevant foes, back are the lyrics that paint so many
vivid pictures in the listeners head.
‘Dear God Please Help Me’ is the first jaw-dropping
track, with talk of ‘explosive kegs between my legs’, and the lush backdrop
of strings and synths. ‘You Have Killed Me’ is his best single in years, and
is reminiscent of ‘Sheila Take a Bow’ or ‘Panic’ in places.
In other places, like ‘The Youngest Was the Most Loved’
or ‘In the Future When All’s Well’, Morrissey seems at his most confident
for years, certainly since the months post-‘Viva Hate’. But the two real
stand-out tracks on an album full of classics are the epic ‘Life is a
Pigsty’ and the chiming ‘On the Streets I Ran’, which reminds this listener
of ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’.
But to be pick out two of three tracks at random would
be to do down a quite fantastic album. Morrissey’s finest since ‘Viva Hate’,
and probably the best he’s managed for 20 years. Stand aside the rest of
you, the world won’t listen.
A pretty short title for what otherwise is an epic album, in many senses.
Clocking in at just a touch under an hour makes 1/f pretty long, especially
in these short-spanning attention days of MTV, not to mention time-pressed
reviewers. But also the ideas and styles which range through the record
cover areas as diverse as rock opera to the almost classical composition of
'***'. In fact a lot of the second half of the record plays much like a
single composition, effortlessly flowing from track to track with composite
lulls and crescendos of both musical activity and tempo.
It is easy to see why certain bands are referenced in the press release.
The organic pulsating beats and loops which crop up on a regular basis are
very Sneaker Pimps circa 'Splinter' in the way they are overlaid with a
heavy vocal mix. And there is more than just a sinister undertone and a
warped style to 'Selling Screen' and 'Monkey' to reminisce about Tool. But
there are some other unexpected sounds for a record like this. Step up
'Low'-era Bowie in the use of hypnotic horns and mutes in 'Sum' for
This is a deeply complex and atmospheric album. Like a soundtrack in it's
bare minimalism in places then bursting and fighting its into musical life.
Schizophrenic, disturbing, dark for sure. But more than anything a piece of
The mighty Tender Trap return after a lengthy gap with
their second album. And it’s a beauty. Less synth-heavy than their debut, ‘6
Billion People’ has hints of Kenickie-esque guitar pop, especially in the
single, ‘Talking Backwards’. Elsewhere, Amelia’s voice remains as unique as
ever, especially on tracks such as ‘Inuit Beauty Queen’ which toys with your
pop antennae without really ever exploding, but is all the better for the
tease. Similarly, ‘I Would Die For You’, on which Amelia’s voice is at its
innocent best, skirts around wonderfully without ever smacking you between
the eyes. And I like that.
If only the awkward buggers would play outside of
London sometime, then I’d be totally happy. As it is, I’ll have to make do
with ‘6 Billion People’, and make no mistake – it’s one of the best pop
albums you’ll hear this year.
This collection of 14 tracks from Domino's roster not only serves to
remind us how a label which hits corporate pay dirt can still manage to keep
its principals and release some seriously interesting stuff. In fact it
would be fair to say that Domino could probably release one of these
compilations every 6 months such is the strength of their current roster -
an impressive thought.
But for the time being, this hour long CD oscillates between old
favourites such as the camp splendour of 'L.Wells' by Franz Ferdinand, the
minimalist genius of both Psapp and Juana Molina (who start and end the
compilation respectively) and crams in some meaty filling in the form of the
magnificent 'It's Getting Light Outside' by Clearlake and 'Taste the Last
Girl' by Sons and Daughters. Aside from 'My Dark Places' by The Television
Personalities where I have to agree with Kitty Porteous's review above, this
is one compilation that is definitely worth buying and at only £2.99 you
could still get change from a fiver for a pint.
Someone’s been listening to U2. Matias, I think, is
from Germany, home to a lot of Hasselhoff lovers, and therefore he can be
excused for not having the balls to set himself aside from the macho rock
that pollutes most of ‘Home?’. Frankly, this sort of stuff belongs in 1990
alongside those ill-advised cowboy boots and Bryan Adams album you bought.
Francois? He’s French?! Well…yes, but don’t let that
put you off; ‘The People to Forget’ is a beautiful collection of handcrafted
songs, tied together with the lovely, handcrafted sleeve that completes the
warm DIY feel encompassed in the recording (plus he sings in French and
Recorded in Bristol in the Cube cinema in 2005, its one
of those albums where you feel like you’re sitting in the corner of the
studio, quietly watching the band. There are a few bits of squeaking and
clicking from various instruments in the background, but it never feels
contrived like so much ‘lo-fi’ often can. This is simple, honest music, set
off by Francois’ quiet vocals that, along with the lyrics, have an almost
child-like quality in the same vein as Olly Ralfe. There are more low-key
songs here, but ‘I’m So Glad I Met You’ and ‘The People To Forget’ break up
the intimacy nicely with some lovely drum-machine-led bounciness. ‘We’re An
Army’ is an amazingly understated and unpredictable song, which like a lot
of the material here makes you sneak up the volume on your hi-fi. This is a
recording full of beautiful sounds, which never gets too twee despite
Francois’ sweet melodies and innocent lyrics, and it will be well worth a
trip to The Packhorse to see them on 24th June.
Masters of the Puniverse, Shack have, as we’re
constantly being told, been around forever. I’d sort of written them off as
having something to do with Oasis, but this beautiful little album has
proved me wrong.
‘Corners’ is chock full of beautifully laid back pop
songs, with not an Oasis power chord in sight. In many ways this makes me
long for summer even more than I am anyway. It’s perfectly produced from
start to finish, and reminds me a little of Nick Drake or the Young
Tradition. Beautiful for a Sunday morning.
Dictaphone are Oliver Doerell and Roger Doring, and
they make intricate jazz-electronica with assorted clicks and beeps creating
a strange, multi-layered environment that requires multiple listens to get
into. Its all very understated and minimal, yet manages to produce a really
substantial sound which surrounds the listener. It’s a huge framework made
up of various noises, that you can’t hear all at once but know are there,
and every time you listen back to it its almost a totally different
experience. There are a few samples thrown in of snooker matches and radio
broadcasts etc, and saxophones and clarinets which lead the ‘pieces’ along
and provide the melodies for the majority of tracks. Vertigo II is a really
interesting recording, although if anything there is just too much going on
here to allow you to fully get into the music.
Our Don's surname is only one letter away from being a highly
intoxicating Mexican liquor. And drinking too much mescal would probably
have a similar effect as listening to this album in its entirety -
bewilderment probably followed by nausea.
Not to say that Irishman Don can't write a tune (or carry a tune for that
matter) because he clearly can. But the whole album is so samey and single
paced from start to finish that you have to keep re-checking that you
haven't got the CD player on repeat. When some slightly eastern sounding
guitar arrangements on the dubious sounding 'Father to a Son' are actually
the highlight of the first half hour then you've got to have real commitment
to see the full CD through.
'Innocent Run' may have been the heart-broken outpouring of mid-divorce
Don, but if the resulting MOR schmaltz is the product of this creative
catharsis then maybe he would be better writing songs for other artists
which would at least provide a more varied delivery.
The idea for this compilation series is that it highlights the 'other
side' of tourist destinations with a selection of music - presumably to get
into party mode - and a DVD with less well known places to visit and spend
your money. It's clearly aimed at a certain type of listener. The New York
disc represents paydirt for Fischerspooner who select a few tracks that
could be heard in any wannabe 'edgy' bar between New York and Berlin. It's
understandable a tourist doesn't want the soundtrack to being knifed outside
a crack den but even so the best tracks here are eurocentric and the better
US tracks are ancient. The mixing could have been done in iTunes which begs
the question why buy a compilation album these days when you could do
something more accomplished yourself. The DVD on the flipside is presumably
this compilation's USP yet is sub MTV infotainment filler, half an hour
spent online would be a better way of finding interesting places to visit.
With an album cover that would rival Spinal Tap's 'Smell the Glove' for
cheesey suggestiveness and very un-PC imagery, it's a bit of a surprise to
hear that Whirlwind Heat's sound is inspired by the crisp drum sounds of
wholesome crooners Cake's 'Fashion Nugget'.
Maybe I'm not down wiv da kids and I don't swoon at the mention of Jack
White but this CD sounds terrible to me. A musically pared back underground,
garage punk ethos underpinning philosophical contemporary ponderings? Or
juvenile ramblings and poor musicianship camouflaged beneath a sea of fuzzy
distorted bass which should never have escaped the bedroom where it was
originally spawned? It's a close call.
My first impressions of this CD were that someone had decided to find out
what a heavy blues version of the post-punk revival would sound like
(angular guitars and strained vocals are never far away, and this is
released on the same label as Franz Ferdinand) and the thought still
However the more one listens to this album the more the heavy blues
undertow comes to light and displaces the immediately apparent nods to the
past even if it never loses the air of mass strikes, petrol bombs and cold
war paranoia, although looking at the newspapers this could almost be
The songs are forcefully played and form a coherent set of lively,
claustrophobic tracks veering between looser tracks like the opening 'Cherry
Lips' and highly regimented ones like 'Kink' dispersed throughout the album.
It has to be said that the coherency does mean the second half of the
album blurs together until the final track. This is 'Harp For My Sweetheart'
a nursery rhyme like ballad, with soft vocals and strummed guitar for
company, which totally wipes away the air of darkness pervading the album
and suggests there is more to the group than following current (or past?)
Despite some rather unimaginative song titles ('American Dream', 'Take Me
Away', 'Tomorrow Never Comes' etc - I mean, come on!) the first couple of
tracks on this album definitely impress. At first listen you would expect
this slightly whining vocal and aggro-rock vibe to come from some spotty
oiks from the Home Counties of England. So a surprise then to learn that
Soular hail from Albuquerque, New Mexico. but perhaps the influence of all
those wide open spaces comes to the fore in 'Take Me Away' which has a
really strange but inviting distorted production sound.
Vocalist Marsh Shamburger (I swear to god that is his real name - it must
have been tough at school) makes up for his unfortunate moniker by
possessing an impressive range of styles ranging from Matt Bellamy style
yelps right through to spacy Lennon-esque crooning.
There's also a breadth of musical styles on display here - 'You Taste You
feel' definitely sounds like a digeridoo was employed in the midst of a
folky Zeppelin style stomp. All of the songs are well written though the
later half of the album does tend to drift towards a less inspiring college
rock sound. However, with each listen I have found something else I like
about the album, probably due to the quite complex layering of sounds
styles, so maybe this one has the potential to become a real grower.