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  albums - october 2007

 

 

Robert Wyatt - Comicopera

Whilst the great Frank Zappa might have been a bit crackers, he wasn’t stupid. His definitive musical criticism maxim, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” will never be irrelevant-- simply for the fact that someone as infantile and naïve in their musical knowledge as me, writing about Robert Wyatt is like trying to ride a three pedal-ed bicycle. The cultural understanding needed in which to properly chew and swallow the inevitably influential works of Wyatt, are like that of required limb.

The irreverent verb “Wyatting” has recently made it onto the publicly-edited Wikipedia after it had appeared in some blogs and other music-related publications; it is used to describe the practice of playing odd tracks on a pub jukebox to annoy other patrons. Although the term has been linked is one of Wyatt’s past work Dondestan, it is equally suitably attached to this autumn’s Comicopera, which, despite its three-act Greek-influenced model, sounds very loosely candid and at ease with cheeky cleverness. Even to a Wyatt novice like me, the effortless craftsmanship seems to slip seamlessly out from Wyatt’s fingertips, as each charming tune softens with introspective modesty and subtle musical statements. From the amorously-accessibility of ‘Just as You Are,’ to the instrumental rowdiness of ‘A Beautiful War,” to the soupy and hypnotic fogginess of ‘Cancion de Julieta,’ and to the fluorescent playfulness of ‘Pastafari,’ Comicopera is nothing less of a masterful achievement. If you are anything like me and haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing anything Wyatt, here is a good place to start.
http://www.dominorecordco.com/robertwyatt

Rhyannon Rodriguez

 
 

Emigrate - Pilgrim

Pilgrim is full of contagious energy, anthemic guitars and foot stomping, head banging drum beats. Some space age, futuristic sample sounds in the background giving the album a sound of its own, vocals seductive, feeling like they are drawing you in, mixing a strong mid range sound varying from the vocalist

This debut album consists of 11 tracks, with the first track "Emigrate", is immediately recognisable with Rammstein-esque influences powering through, plunging you into an industrial, thrashy cachophony combining a mix of sounds similar to that of NIN and Ramstein.

Wake Up greatly shows off the vocalist’s immense range. This track is full of strong lyrics and power, is a great song to get you revved up and ready for action, however it has a "mainstream" rock sound (if that’s what you can call it), which would make it great for radio play.

New world is full of surprises. The start powers in with power chords and those mind melting vocals, finger ripping solos kick in the middle of this track giving it a great intensity that you just have to nod your head with - then, it stops, takes it back to basics of backing guitar, drum beat and vocals, giving this a raw edge. When you think this is good, the voices of a child choir accompanies the vocalist giving the part a haunting quality and then it kicks straight back into the burning rip chords from the start.... wow, great stuff.

Let Me Break has a melodic intro with lead and bass guitars starting this "love song" with clean and crisp vocals giving a pure edge to the song, full of emotion flowing through, with the guitars hammering through to which adds to the torment of the songs emotion.

In My Tears, Babe are all melodic tracks, which have an ethereal, haunting quality about them, powering the emotion, frustration and despair with sounds that impact you, through their rawness of the vocals, while New York city, Temptation, This Is What, You Cant Get Enough are more indie/rock than thrash, with New York City having a deeper vocal pitch running through along with up-beat sounds, giving you the feel that New York City is one hell of a party place.

Temptation seems to be another frustrated love song, again with a mainstream feel but backed up with heavy guitars which give this song a great metal edge.

This Is What is a clever combination of electro - thrash, which is reminiscant of Ministry (Psalm 69) mixed with Ramstein, the echoey vocals really give this track a great feel.

Resolution is unique track with an excellent backing sample. This track is back to thrashy guitars, with higher lead vocals, with Ramsteinesque backing vocals. Resolution is a great mix of all styles showing the bands diversity and flexibility. Bringing this mix together normally could sound rubbish if any other band attempted this, but Emigrate pull this off with excellence.


This is not an album for granny’s xmas gift list, but a must for all you metal heads out there...

Sonia Waterfield

 
 

Teenager - ‘Thirteen’ (Godlike) 

Nick Littlemore, appears to be whoring himself out all over the place these days. But instead of spreading crotch rotting disease, charging dangerously low rates and standing on street corners with nothing but a piss-stained boob tube and a filthy habit to keep him company, he’s opted to look for business elsewhere.  

While fans of Littlemore’s Australian Grammy grabbing duo Pnau sit and frantically wank off to the thought of a third electronically based album, Nick evidently has his hands tied around something that observably is quite special. This comes in the form of Sydney based band ‘Teenager’. However, this is not to be confused with The Teenager’s, who recently released ‘Homecoming’, a song about slutting off with American cunts. Teenager, although in miniscule drabs are similar, prove to have added versatility, be considerably less annoying and possess a far greater intelligence. 

Joined on stage by Pip Brown (formerly of NZ band Two Land Blacktop) and friends, Nick fronts a band that absorbs their influences like no tomorrow and who aren’t afraid to ask for a lending hand or two or three or four or loads. Shortly after forming, the band spent three years exploring earth and its (rather talented) inhabitants. First stop was Paris where they worked with Thierry Muller a.k.a Illitch, then off to N.Y.C to work with Ronaldo and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) as well as Electric Six and Nicky Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs). Next stop L.A to meet up with Mario C (Beasty Boys collaborator), then nipping down to London to work along side with Howie B, Darren Emmerson, Placebo…the list goes on. This has allowed them, in their own words to, “Shed all genres to create the most bizarre collection of ideas and emotions”. Well I wouldn’t say the most bizarre, but they have given it a hell of a good crack by producing music in the form of flying smut that aims to fist you right up the arse while at the same time offering up a tender pat on the knee. 

The album commences in a sleazy manor by which the band take you on a funk fuelled ride of throbbing bass lines and sly handclaps. ‘Mr Booze’ isn’t the strongest track on the album but it is dam right entertaining and does indeed place you in the right frame of mind in which to fully appreciate tracks yet to come. Less angular yet more impressive is the Sonic Youth presence of ‘Liquid Cement’. The vocals here are more relaxed and the overall song is bordering on mature, but this maturity is shat on as soon as track three steps up to the plate. ‘Bound N’ Gagged’, with its frantic vocal build up accompanied by haunting female aaaahring could easily be mistaken for the soundtrack to the latest horror film and when performed live could have the potential to destroy. Follow up tracks ‘West’ and ‘Alone Again’ take a more mellow approach, yet the robotic rhythm of the drums along side the buzz and the fuzz keep the dance element intact. Picking the pace right up is ‘Pony’ with its two minutes and forty six seconds worth of weird filth. Sexually stained lyrics, along the lines of ‘Pony, pony ass bitch what ya, what ya, want. When you drop your knickers to the floor and you rub and you rub and you rub’, merged with precise percussion and Zinner influenced guitar licks produces the most light hearted but massively addictive track on the album. ‘Good Together’ sees Teenager carrying on the same lines as ‘Pony’, while the remaining tracks on the album turn their back on the scenester indie/dance element and concentrates on a more experimental vibe (barring ‘Sexual Revolution’), which in turn simply prove Teenagers creativity and musical diversity. 

This is a dense and pulsating debut that intends to make you moist up until track 8 when it offers to wipe up afterwards while you lie there feeling slightly used yet satisfied while devilishly wanting more. Teenager by name, teenager by (sexual) nature.  

Amie Kimpton

 
 

InMe - Daydream Anonymous

In some ways, I really liked this album, with songs such as Myths and Photographs having a great introduction, with the lead guitar really showing off his skills covering all scales and having a clear sound. The vocals are clear and varied with a great range, covering such topics as love and frustration with a fresh energy.

Far Reaching has a heavier rock sound with grinding guitar riffs, the vocals being emotional covering a great range, which puts this song into the foreground of the album for me.

All through this album, generally, the vocalist is good, has a great range and shows emotion through his voice which puts the songs content through to the listener. The guitar solos are excellent, manic and exciting, keeping the listener on their feet.

Daydream anon has a harrowingly haunting quality with the pure and clear vocals. Cracking The Whip has a great heavy beat to it and it really shows the band’s tightness, while Turbulence is a great song with the vocalist showing his excellent range. You get the feeling you are drifting away with the music, giving the listener a floating feeling and becoming one with the song.

At first, truthfully, I wasn’t sure about this album, but the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me, and I believe there will be people out there who will listen to this band’s unique style and automatically love it.

Sonia Waterfield

 
 

Islaja – ulual yyy 

A rewarding blend of folksy Nordic cool, mechanical toy noises, synths and horns (the horns are absolutely blinding on the second track), this is a deeply atmospheric record that deserves to be listened to in full, without jumping around the tracks.  Merja Kokkonen’s wraps a wonderfully creepy breathy and husky delivery around a startlingly pure tone.  The album is a showcase for her vocal talents; skilfully pitched somewhere between a howl and a moan – the result is really quite gorgeous.

Philippa Thomas

 
 

George Thomas and the Owls – Concert for Two Bicycles 

Thomas’ fanciful personality cult aside, your enjoyment of this album will depend on where you stand on the popular indie-male vocal style of frightened-little-rabbit-perpetually-staring-into-the-headlights-and-suffering-with-a-cold.  George Thomas is evidently a fan and I am not.  Weak and almost inexcusably dull musical content is not saved by the unimaginatively “edgy” lyrics, which reference a fondness for nitrates (and pastries).  Very forgettable fare.

Philippa Thomas

 
 

Need more Sources – Shed 

Quietly contemplative albeit for occasional moments that nudge themselves into your consciousness, this album is the musical equivalent of a warm bath – very nice at the time, but ultimately forgettable.  There is a pleasing patchwork of sounds in the nu-folk vein; sparse sustained peddle-piano, un-showy guitars etc.  Over-use of synth-strings make the whole appear a little tacky (think “relaxation tape”) when foregrounded, which is a shame.

Philippa Thomas

 
 

Battlefield Band - Dookin

Lets face it, whatever I type here, theres very little chance that it'll persuade any of you kids, with your fancy iphones and artic monkeys and asbos,  to go out and buy a folk album.  Which is a shame as 'Dookin's' bloody brilliant. The Battlefield band are proper folk, not your wafty, indie acoustic noodling, proper folk with beards and everything. Everything about this album seems unpretentious and down to earth, right down to the chatty song explanations in the CD booklet. You'd imagine they're whole lot of fun live. Musically its a pretty eclectic selection of songs, from regret-tinged acoustic ballads ('I'm going to set you free') to more Celtic-y, Irish-tourist board-advert-soundtracking stuff, interspersed with a jig (jigs being to folk albums what skits are to hip-hop) every three songs or so. They seem to have a real gift for playing with your mood over the album, bringing you up one minute, down the next. 'Gathering storm' in particular is really quite intense and brooding. If you fancy and change from your indie troubadours, you could do a whole lot worse than to give these guys a shot.

Andy Glynn

 
 

Manchester Orchestra - I'm like a virgin losing a child 

I've got to admit, I was expecting this to sound like the Inspiral Carpets. Instead Manchester Orchestra's (from Atlanta, Georgia incidentally) debut to be one of the best hidden gems of the year. From the spooky organ drone that kickstarts 'wolves at night' , Manchester Orchestra come bursting out of the traps like men possessed. 'Lets see if this bad boy can fly' yells admirably intense signer, Andy Hull, on 'Now that you're home' and believe me, it soars.  Its hard to pinpoint the bands sound, somewhere between US alt rock and homegrown bands like seafood, jangly one minute, frantic and noisy the next. So the 'quiet-quiet-LOUD' thing was perfected a long time since, but songs like 'Alice and Interiors', (with bonus shouty 'whoah-oh-oh' backing vocals) still have that something that makes you sit up and take notice. Note should also be made of the sometimes quite barmy lyrics, (did he really just sing 'I'll be digesting your legs'?) all religious imagery & goats. Allegedly they're touring in December. You'd be wise to check them out.

Andy Glynn

 
 

Ambershift - No More Fuss

'Photo of band looking moody in an underground carpark - check'.  'Overblown guitar noodling shoe-horned in at every opportunity  - check'... I'm getting a really strong sense of deja vu here. Hailing from the infamous Sunderland scene (no, me neither), 'No more fuss' is a perfectly decent rock album. Aside from the title track      which starts a bit like razorlight, I'd be petty to slag any of it off . The whole things  just extremely ...ok and thus its a very hard album to love. By the end you're begging for them to shock you. Every song's a pretty accurate distillation of 00s ladrock but each one does the bare minimum you'd expect and nothing more. 'No more fuss' indeed. A little fuss wouldn't hurt.

Andy Glynn

 
 

The Banshee – Public Talks (Fading Ways)

The rubbish that came with this album proclaims that “The Banshee have formed the sound of NOW”. A bold statement at any point and in this case an entirely false one. For starters who could say what the sound of ‘NOW’ is? The inconsistency and inadequacy of the press release aside the band’s album is average, their sound is pretty straight and narrow, the levels and variation are not there, the music lacks an edge and the music is fairly narrow in its approach, with vocals which are inconsequential to the music, make no impact and I really didn’t pay that much attention to the music through the record. This band show the signs of yet another distinctly average band who think they have something, new, progressive and interesting. You’ve heard the Banshees before and the chances are you weren’t impressed. According to the press release they play “back to the basics garage-punk, indie style” whatever the hell that means and to be perfectly honest I’m not too bothered about finding out either.

Gareth Ludkin

 
 

Pox – On Your House (Jezus Factory)

This is the debut release from the Belgian experimental band Pox. Coming together from lots of bands I’ve never heard of before Pox have created a rather slow record which does drag out. None of the songs are particularly inspiring and once a song starts you know what you’ve got for the remainder. The album also has a lot of melancholic moodiness. Track 5 is a definite highlight but the lead singer's voice makes no impression on me and the whole album drags far too much for my liking.

Gareth Ludkin

 
 

OW – Moon Tan (Jezus Factory)

Psychedelic horse tripe. White noise and total garbage are but a few of the words I could use to describe this album. Albums like this do not make music reviewing fun. The music makes no sense it leaves a horrible after taste and I was left crying out for music with substance, sense and an interesting beat. I like experimental music but only when it works and this clearly doesn’t.

Gareth Ludkin

 
 

Mewgatz - ‘Underfelt’ (OIB Records) 

Did anyone watch that TV programme a few months back about sad and pathetic oddballs who couldn’t help themselves but hoard copious amounts of random shit in their houses? I did, it was utterly ridiculous. They lived in squalor, completely surrounded by the junk that they’d collected over the years which they refused to let go of. It was because of this that loved ones and family members ended up disowning them either to embarrassment or sheer shock of it all. Anxious and depressed each one of these loners became an absolute recluse with no social life or prospects what so ever. Anyway I’m ranting, but the point I’m trying to make is that Ed McGregor, creator and brains behind Mewgatz could of easily of gone the same way, thankfully he didn’t. Instead of being a complete dick about it and hoarding useless newspapers or empty fag packets McGregor used his creative flair to his advantage and it appears to have paid off. 

Cooped up quietly in his Oxford “floral carpeted” attic, Ed spent the best part of his early years surrounding himself with an extraordinarily large amount of knackered and abandoned keyboards. While many of us normal folk would have sold them on Ebay or simply chucked them McGregor decided to take it upon himself to learn the art of circuit-bending, creating warped and wonderful sounds that had never before been considered possible. Realising the potential of creating, and I quote, “genre-defining pop masterpieces” by altering his many keyboards original uses and reaches, he turned to children’s toys to achieve much of the same, Furbies being a firm favourite. Inspired by this his collection of weird and tampered “Instruments” began to spiral. With a little help from fellow Mewgat Freda, ‘Underfelt’ was born. 

As a mini album ‘Underfelt’ has a lot to offer in terms of its originality and complex nature. Its intricate yet noisy form can at times almost feel overwhelming, but the delicate, untrained manor to which the vocals and lyrics are constructed around it work nicely as an equilibrium, binding the tracks together.  

To begin ‘a-part’ acts as a mesmerising enticement that gently feels as though you’re being eased into a whirlpool of bleeps and creeks that soon infiltrate the rest of the album. Sure enough next track, ‘Arm Control’ suddenly slaps you in the face and goes into mechanical overdrive, but this moment of mentalism is soon slowed down in favour of a more comprehensive sound. With its minor blend of electronic and indie influences fed through a system of what sounds like a mass of rusty cogs, it instantaneously forces you to believe in its unique sound. ‘Speak and Spell’ on the other hand is what you would have come to expect from true electronic track. It is by far the most bazaar and highly charged tune on the album, one that would slot nicely into a night out, twisting peoples brains out of shape.  

Bringing the tempo down to a more sensitive level are tracks ‘Aquarium’ and ‘Difference’.  The bleeps, drills and shuffles remain however it’s the hypnotic presence of the spoken word that stands out here. Lastly ‘Serca’, one of the strongest tracks on the album takes a similar stance with its softly, softly approach, however vocals are scrapped, but this is equally as satisfying if not more.   

‘Underfelt’ is a densely complicated mash up of multi-layered electronic chaos. With its pretty loops and walls of noise it’s a sound comparative to the cool and sharp mental distortion of Aphex Twin as well as the tender vocal technique of The Postal Service and for that reason alone I loved it. However my main concern is that there is so much emphasis on the technology that the meaning and soul behind each track is at risk of being lost in between all that circuitry. In order for Mewgatz to fully succeed their sound needs to be developed even further and this I feel will be difficult. If they don’t they face their music becoming slightly repetitive, something I’m sure Ed McGregor wants to stay well clear of. If not he could always look forward to a life of solitary confinement, surrounded by an overwhelming amount of fiddled instruments and masses upon masses of fusible alloy. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. 

Amie Kimpton

 
 

Buen Chico - Right to Rearrange (Faith & Hope) 

Note to bands: free stickers will get you everywhere. Of course killer tunes do help too and here Buen Chico don't disappoint either. With a sound thats not a million miles away from fellow bright young things Los Campesinos, this band seem to exude summery frivolity. Thats not to say that these bunnies don't have teeth. Opener 'Choosing my religion' (punning aside) seems to be a pithy snarl against the ways of the cloth and its one of several pieces of wry Yorkshire spite dotted through this album. 'Right to...'  doesn't sound out of place next to a lot of modern indie (say, The Cribs, The Lodger of even some of P*** D*******'s stuff ) , but without any of the hipster pretentions; more music for lying in field than lying passed out in a crack den. Guitars squirm with nervous energy and lead singer, Morgan's vocals seem to flip between derision and elation at a second's notice.  

Its an album that barely lets up from start to finish. You'll have to go a long way to hear a better pure pop song than 'Lurch' for example. Theres a brief chance to catch your breath during 'Don't lose your face in goodwill' (Think Weezer's 'Only in dreams' transmogrified through more cynical eyes) and then it all starts up again, as manic-ly harmonious as before.  Top stuff.

Andy Glynn

 
 

Actress hands - Boys Need Jazz 

This album, the first by the Brighton-based five piece,  seems to tick all the right boxes, bringing a nice mix of early nineties dreamy shoegaze and power pop, to the table. Fans of Ride, Guided by Voices or Sebadoh should all find something appealing here. The songs are all washed in layers of chiming, lo-fi guitars, which give off a sort of pleasant, summery feel, but occasionally leave you wishing they had a bit more 'oomph' to them. 'Snack horse', despite being least representative of the band, is probably the most interesting song here, all Stereolab-y, French cafe sounds. Its an album that'll suit anyone who harks for the heady days of 1992, but it drags a bit towards the end making it an album full of potential rather than a fully-formed masterpiece.

Andy Glynn

 
 

Underworld - Oblivion with Bells (Underworldlive)

As Brian Clough is supposed to have said, 'if you are good enough you are old enough.' This was when asked if certain players were too young to be playing in his sides. But conversely you could ask the same thing in reverse. Underworld are a band nearing their half century, have been together 27 years and 'Oblivion with Bells' is their 5th studio album - isn't it time they hung up their head phones and swapped their beany hats for a nice warm flat cap? Absolutely not as this records proves they are still light years ahead of many of their younger contemporaries.

First single 'Crocodile' opens the album and announces a statement of intent as many of Underworld's well used and well loved musical motifs are given another outing on record. The throbbing yet languid bass track so reminiscent of much of first album 'dubnobasswithmyheadman', the chorused and reverbed vocals and the fiddly little keyboard fills which you only pick up on after 5 or 6 listens. Together with 'Beautiful Burnout' these two tracks work in unison to provide the best opening to an Underworld album since 'Juanita/Kiteless/To Dream of Love' on 'Second Toughest in the Infants'. Not so much distinct tracks as a 15 minute passage of sound where melodic ticks from each of the two tracks end up re-surfacing in a slightly rehashed way in the other. And those big bin lid rounds of percussion midway through 'Beautiful Burnout' are vintage techno genius - guaranteed to get the dancefloors flooded with strobes and dry ice.

Connoisseurs of Karl Hyde's idiosyncratic rambling vocal style will be reassured to know that he is still spouting as much complete gibberish as ever, including 'holding the moth' and 'with a glass eye on you' but there are also plenty of lucid observations of urban life, most notably in 'Ring Road' which if you listened to just a section would sound like a disjointed rant, but taken as a whole makes a glorious chaotic sense.

There are glimpses of Hyde and Smith's more orchestral and cinematic side in tracks like 'To Heal' and 'Glam Bucket' which doesn't just step into the void left by the split of Orbital, it moves into their flat, redecorates and has it back on the market all within the 6 minutes of joyous tinkling intelligent techno. This is counterpointed brilliantly by the icy, dark sounds of 'Boy, Boy, Boy' which again harks back to Underworld's first studio album. In fact that is perhaps the defining feature of 'Oblivion With Bells' - Underworld seem to have managed to combine all the best aspects of the previous differing albums and distilled them into one glorious long player. They don't need to keep finding new sounds, buying new synths and samplers because they have the much under-estimated gift of knowing how to write a good tune. Yes, it's as simple as that but Hyde and Smith are masters of writing records that lift the spirits, set your teeth on edge and then soothing the pain away. The flat caps will have to stay on hold for a few years come.
www.underworldlive.com

SB

 
 

Fabienne Delsol – Between You and Me (Damaged Goods)

I have to say that The Bristols passed me by, but I’m glad their frontwoman’s new solo album hasn’t. ‘Between You and Me’ is a triumph of garage pop proportions, that mixes cute, innocent songs sung in French, a fantastic cover of ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’, and the sweetest thing I’ve heard all year in ‘Bluebirds Over the Mountain. Delsol even finds time to go all Dusty on us with ‘Catch Me a Rat’, which is frankly terrifying.

It helps that Delsol is absolutely gorgeous, of course. But don’t let put you off the fact that this is a wonderful pop record, and the fact that Damaged Goods is one of the UK’s best and most-cherished pop labels. If only they’d put out more records like this the world would be a much happier place indeed.

Sam Metcalf

 
 

A Smile and a Ribbon – The Boy Wish I Never Met (Shelflife)

Like Fabienne Delsol, ASAAR look like butter wouldn’t melt. But that’s not the case on this storming debut album for Shelflife. ASAAR sing wonderfully buzzy indiepop songs about vibrators and one night stands and, well SEX, basically.

And it’s all very wonderful. ‘The Boy I Wish I Never Met’ is a remarkable feat for a band who have only been together for around six months, and what’s really impressive about this record is that it shies away from being a completely straight forward indie pop album. You’ll find subtle bits of psychedelia in here, that sit nicely against the girly vocals and fuzzy guitar.

A very exciting release for Shelflife. Oh! And the packaging is beautiful!

Sam Metcalf

 
 

My Device - Jumbo Fiasco (Shifty Disco)

This album was a bit of a disappointment. I absolutely loved their previous album 'Nervous System' but this album for me did not deliver what I was expecting, they seem to have lost a bit of accessibility, I don't quite no how but this album seems a little dirtier and darker.  Eat Lead is a great tune and the one that reminds me most of their last. I guess we must really be looking forward and this album is different and for me less enjoyable but it does have some good bits. I feel that they've tried too hard and tried to pump out another album too quickly. Known as NME's Breaking Band of the year 2006 may have been a curse in disguise. I've struggled with this album and this review but I am going to give this time to grow on me just because I enjoyed Nervous System so much. The music on Jumbo Fiasco is still pleasingly frenetic and jerky, it's just a shame the album has not followed up on the promise of the first album. 

Gareth Ludkin

 
 

Anton Barbeau with Su Jordan – The Automatic Door – Shifty Disco 

Opening with the kitsch lyrics ‘trying to find my inner hippie’ and ‘silly billy goat you’ll never get that deal now’, Anton Barbeau is obviously not a person who cares ‘a jot’ about the pretensions and foibles of the modern day music scene. Everything about the opening 12 tracks, oops, that’s the whole lot, sounds like it was recorded in the summer of 1968.  I should hate it, but I don’t.  Of course, yes, it’s fatally flawed, but shamelessly and innocently so.  More than that, in the age of the cloned modern day singer song writer, the fact that it’s all so passé is endearing. After all, who else calls a song ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolphins’ these days?  Suck it and see is my advice, it probably makes more sense than any of us realise. 

That said, the sheer happiness of the whole record starts to feel slightly disingenuous after a while. Perhaps being stuck in an episode of Heartbeat would grate on all of us eventually. I’d miss being able to screen my calls if I had to use one of those old school bakelite jobbies for a phone for one, and sweet potatoes, cashpoints, 24 hour garages.

Ian Anderson

 
 

Groove Armada – Greatest Hits – Sony 

A rarity of sorts, a dance act releasing a genuine bona fide collection of hit singles spanning exactly ten years. Everything is here, from the classic, hugely overplayed, At the River, to latest schmaltz-along Song 4 Mutya.  Sorry, there’s two things that really grate on me and they’re both present.  Firstly, ‘txt spk’ (what’s wrong with ‘for’?) and secondly, people talking about themselves in the third person. Darren Gough does it, and he’s an idiot, so, Mutya, stop it! Now! 

Groove Armada are quite crudely exposed on this collection as being horribly dated, I See You Baby sounds nothing like as fresh as it once did, flexing a bit of a flabby ass these days.  Superstylin’ still has its old skank, but it’s become a bit of a geriatric shuffle alongside, say, Digitalism, or Justice.  The same couldn’t be said of contemporaries of Groove Armada, like Daft Punk, or the Chemical Brothers, so why does it sound so limp now? I think it comes down to that old indefinable notion of ‘quality’.  Simply put, there’s the sound of 14 bandwagons being jumped on throughout the album and you realise that Air were doing a better version of At The River back in 1998, and Fatboy Slim was turning out superior big beat in 1997.  Fast forward to the here and now and the aforementioned Song 4 Mutya sounds a bit amateur next to Simian Mobile Disco and Get Down like a lightweight replication of MIA. 

So, short on quality but heavy on hits, Groove Armada may have unwittingly provided ammunition to all those critics of the modern phenomenon of dance music.

Ian Anderson

 
 

Ungdomskulen - Cry Baby

"Ordinary Son" wails a bit, moves quickly like Good Shoes - should Rhys have heard of the Acid Mothers Temple  collective and thought it ace but never actually listened to any records. The best bit about "Glory Hole" is the title. It sounds like Muse might sound if you heated them up to a high temperature so that all the "stadium rock" stuff boiled away. And it goes on forever.

I think the lyrics are focused on sex. Mostly. Probably. The guy's voice belies his Norwegian origins. If he sang in Norwegian he could pretend it was Swedish and that he was related to Peter Bjorn and John and reign triumphant in the superior glow his probable ADD probably gives him to onlookers. Probably, probably. It really does sound like the Young Knives have decided to aim for "cool" rather than "geek cool" and thus attempted a cover of a "prog" Muse song.

After hearing the rest of the album and finding it the same and myself with a mish-mash of a review, I heared to the Ungdomskulen myspace to find out what I'm, uh, supposed to think of it. They don't have any "Influences" but are "Post Punk" and "Progressive" and "New Wave". So, basically, Ungdomskulen are like a Sonic Youth who couldn't have existed without the internet. They sound quite nice.

Phil Coales

 
 

Moonshot - Uncertain Weather

I couldn't find the "club anthems"; I think they were lost somewhere in the mix. If they were there, they were certainly well hidden, beneath the badly edited, horribly echoed, bland vocals about "ships from Russia" with "dead men at the helm", or something. Moonshot are, this year, the British answer to Chromeo, except not preoccupied with cool things like girlfriends but with nerdy things like the electronic sounding vocals of Kraftwerk.

Moonshot apparently think they can transcend ready-made genres like "trip hop", "electro" and "dance". The problem is that although Moonshot deserve praise for mixing diverse influences, and not being defined by any particular genres, they don't do any "defining" of their own. People won't look back on Moonshot and think, wow, electro, hip hop, 2007! I'm not really sure they'll think anything.

Phil Coales

 
 

Dashboard Confessional - The Shade of Poison Trees

I was worried about my sister.

She used to share my joy in watching "Mean Girls", "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke". She used to like Rihanna and Kelly Clarkson, but snarl at Avril Lavigne and Neyo and Usher and, shudder, Akon, as well as any other smooth talking, slow dancing, "r'n'b" clones.

But now she's going to see Ray Quinn, babyfaced X Factor champion / contender or whatnot. She hates Kate Nash and I even caught her singing along to Natasha Bedingfield or some such trite.

Not worried anymore, though. I know what's happening, and I think it's something to do with (32 year old!!!) Chris Carrabba, his acoustic laments, his soft voice, his school-notebook lyrics, his swipes at "falseness" ("Gold Digger", "Matters of Blood...") , and his handsomeness. Songs like "Keep Watch For The Mines" and "Fever Dreams" are ultra-personal, and even, dammit, sweet.

That said, as much as it all feels heartfelt and passionate, it's really short, feels kinda light, and slightly dreary. For someone who's tired of acoustic lovesongs and all that. At least I'm not worried about my sister.
www.dashboardconfessional.com

SB