Scarce | Ocean Colour Scene | (London) Suede | Crash Course for the Ravers | Barry Adamson | The Cardigans | Frente | The Connells | Gorky's Zygotic Mynci | Penpal Letterbomb
It seems somethings are just never meant to be. Chick Granning, puts together an amazing twisty pop trio - Scarce. They write an album of craftily brilliantly catchy tunes, he falls ill, goes into a coma, has to relearn to play the guitar, album is finally released, critics love it. Band split. This means that this will be the only Scarce album produced and as such you should buy it, love it and treasure it. Hey, buy two copies just in case. Deadsexy, indeed.
OCEAN COLOUR SCENE
Being dubbed Noel (Oasis) Gallagher's favourite band has done wonders for the shaky career of this rocking Brit Pop band. It has also inspired them to write some decent tunes, something that's evaded them for the last few years. If Oasis steal from the Beatles, OCS borrow heavily from 60's era Who, and arm waving anthems ensue. Nothing flash or glam, just a hard working album of guitar pop, familar enough to be comforting, reworked enough to keep you interested.
After pretty much inventing Brit Pop back in 1992 Suede were left standing by the northern upstarts. Releasing the peculiar Dog Man Star did nothing to dispel the theory they had lost the plot, but a new guitarist and keyboard player later Suede have shown they are not to be written off that easily. A grand gesture of an album Coming Up is awash with glam guitar riffs and Bowiesque manourves, but with a twist of Suede. "Trash," "Beautiful Ones" and "The Chemistry Between Us" have radio friendly hit single stamped all over them, mixing frenzied guitar with nifty string arrangements. Brett even seems to be talking sense at times; "Class A, class B - is that the only chemistry between us?" Want teenagey angst? Throw on "By The Sea' and wallow in piano induced melancholia 'til your hearts content.
Crash Course For The Ravers/Undercover
One could argue that there is no need to ever cover a Bowie tune, whether meant as a tribute or not. Dame David does the definite versions of all his own songs, but this a spirited attempt to do him justice. Avoiding the cloying, sickly tone we have come to expect from "tribute albums," this is a spunky, indie affair. The Tree People do a spiked version of "Andy Warhol" and The Dambuilders, girl vocal of "Boys Keep Swinging" lends an irony that even bludgeons that of the original. Golden Delicious do a shuffley-skiffley "Suffragette City," whereas Quasi do a druggy trip on "Sound and Vision." But no matter who you are how can you add to the sheer perfection of such songs as "Queen Bitch" and "Jean Genie." Not exactly a necessary LP, but interesting one at times.
If you only buy this album for one reason, you need nothing more than the opening track written by ex Bad Seed Adamson and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker. Ridiculously entitled "Set the Controls to the Heart of the Pelvis," Jarv struts and pouts to a humping, gospelly backbeat. It's really more fun than ought to be legal in one song. The rest of the abum holds its end up with aplomb too. It's a wonderous melting pot of styles and ideas that seamlessly run into one another; we find Nick Cave on the "Sweetest Embrace," a suitably Cave-like dirge, with Billy McKenzie, the Associates, swoops and soars his voice all over the place on "Achieved in the Valley of the Dolls." A record that everyone deserves to have in their collection.
Best Band In the World/Mercury
Damn, they are impossibly cute, those Swedes. Coming across like the candy cotton children of Abba and Burt Baccarach, the Cardigans mix breathless vocals with solid down-mixed guitar backing. The result is perfect easy listening sounds for the popkiddie hipsters of ninieties. Who would have known? Swoon to the delights of "LoveFool," feel your heart flutter to "Step On Me" and chug to the bossanova beats of "Never Recover." Be simply full of joy. This is what the Mike Flowers Pops would sound like if they were fronted by quite possibly the most beautiful woman since Helen of Troy.
If you were expecting a totally useless album of girly tunes from the the Australians that brought us the daffy acoustic cover of "Bizarre Love Triangle" you will be very disappointed. However, if on the other hand you are looking for an album of edgy catchy pop, beautifully delivered with a clarity of voice that's heart wrenching at times, you are looking in the right place. The opener "Sit on My Hands" is a heavy guitar number that immediately sets the tone. "What's Come over Me," is another electric romp, which achieves a jagged depth, and makes for a startling counterpoint to Angie Hart's angel like voice. However proficient the musicianship is, and it is, it is still her voice that dominates this album. Which is just as it should be. So OK there isn't a cover that's going to hurl this album on to MTV, which a real shame as it deserves a place in your collection.
Weird Food and Devastation/TVT
This is the Connells squillionth album, or something like that, and they deserve an award for the title alone. They have not deviated much from their radio friendly white boy guitar pop, but that's OK with me. They come across like a poor man's REM at times, see exhibit A)"The Adjective Song," or with Cracker minus the quirkiness, see exhibit B) Just about any track, but there are worst people to take inspiration from. Poppy harmonies and melodies produce an album full of 3 minute radio friendly slabs that will never set the world alight, but make it just a little happier place to be.
GORKY'S ZYGOTIC MYNCI
Introducing Gorky's Zygotic Mynci/Mercury
You think you have acheived something just by been able to pronounce the name, then you realise half the songs are in Welsh, quite possibly the most unintelligble language in the word and it occurs to you that there is an alternative world after all. And what a brilliantly twisted world it is. Imagine Supergrass on really strange drugs (if such a thing's possible) and you have a rough idea of Gorky's. Ranging from the plain bizarreness of "Game of Eyes" to the quirky time changes in "Merched Yn Mued Gwallt Eu Gilydd" (which they translate as "Girls Doing Each Other's Hair") it is a none stop truly odd pop weirdness. Each time you listen you find somehting else. Strangely enough one song made me think of nothing more than dribbling my fingers in the ocean, turns out "Pentref Wrth Ymor" is "Village by the Sea" in plain old English. Music, it truly is a universal language, innit kids?
Proof that the Brits don't have the copyright on twisted, glammed-up up, trashed vintage era Bowiesqueness, this SF independent release is a veritable Pandora's Box of delights. Penpal LetterBomb cover many bases musically, cramming Flow with the kind of spooked-out pop that gets in your head and just won't budge. There's seemingly alien lyrical obssession worthy of the X Files, appropiately enough as the guitar sounds like it dropped from another planet half the time. "Universe City" has a piano riff that is enough to drive a lad in sane, but my favorite has to be the stripped down acoustic "Baby Queen." There's something about that tortured boy tone that does it for me. Remember to play this right to the end, that way you don't miss the totally bizarre INXS goes trip-hop closer.