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Little Man Tate, About What You Know

by Liam Ronan 

Sometimes the best things in life are the most simplest, and it is no different with Little Man Tate’s debut album. It is not over-produced, but equally, it is not ear piercingly raw. This perfectly sums up the objectives of the album: it’s written by normal people who have led an ordinary life in some same-old suburb of an English city. It’s quite simply, about what you know.

 

Akin to Definitely Maybe’s opener, Rock’n’Roll Star, LMT’s debut welcomes the listener into their world with a creed; a statement of beliefs. Man I Hate Your Band lists all the things they do not want to do, or be: “don’t tell me about your lyrics coz your songs are all the same,” it tells a story about how the band could have been if they surrendered their beliefs and integrity, a bit like what Ricky Gervais has done with Extras. And believe me, if its wit you’re looking for, this album has it in abundance.

 

European Lover is one of the album’s new songs, with a very catchy chorus. It is a quick and simple quirky pop song, reminiscing about a girl who has gone on a gap year, followed by current single Sexy In Latin and This Must Be Love. This is the first of two triplets of tracks on the album which are dedicated to the delights of the female of the species; a subject that seems to be very close to song writers’ Jon Windle and Maz’ hearts. But don’t worry, they are not whiney and pathetic sonnets, not with lyrics like, “we’ve even done it on the stairs (Sexy In Latin),” and, “You let me touch you’re chest, coz I saved you two’s on my last cigarette (This Must Be Love)” anyway.

 

Like all good albums, About What You Know seems to be a natural compilation: each song flows well into the next. House Party At Boothy’s is a brilliant composition, and will instantly bring forth mental images of past house parties, whether last week, or twenty years ago. The “naaaa-na-na-naaaaa” part is also a good excuse for an arms-around-your-mates singalong if it’s played at a club, or indeed a house party. Who Invented These Lists? is a cynical commentary on the current pigeon-holing of groups by the music press, and indeed the conforming nature of some bands who “follow the formula.” Court Report on the other hand is nothing but a story LMT lifted from that very respectable tabloid, The Daily Sport, on their way to a gig. The article was unsurprisingly about, “a cross dresser…from Leeds.” Genius.

 

About What You Know ends with the second triplet of tunes about ladies. Now the 3 Day Rule is something everybody understands. No matter how much you want to ring the lass or lad you met last night, you can’t seem too desperate: hence, the three day rule. Also, the lyric, “She drinks Southern Comfort in a northern style,” is a gem. The final two songs are LMT classics. This Girl Isn’t My Girlfriend and Down On Marie, have been fan favourites since they began playing gigs in the second half of 2005.

 

Little Man Tate’s debut will not unleash an epiphany upon you, but it will sure be hard to take out of your CD player once it’s in. About What You Know is a compendium of catchy indie-pop, and Jon and Maz’ witty lyrics raise a smile more than once. The best thing of all though is that you can make sense of it all, as if it’s been written by your mates. There’s no fake tales, emotional distress or pretentious ideals; it’s just, as the band would say, ‘reyt good.’  

 

 

Ceephax - Volume One (Rephlex) - release date 12-3-07

by Phil Thornton

Once upon a time Richard D. James’s Rephlex imprint operated at the outer reaches of the known electronic universe. The label’s output was often infuriatingly discordant and inconsistent yet always innovative and utterly uncompromising. These virtues were to be applauded in the early 90s when so-called ‘dance’ music had become Top Of The Pops friendly and just a tad too safe and complacent for its own good. British techno mavericks such as Aphex, Squarepusher, Autechre, Luke Vibert, Mike Paradinas et al were true pioneers, pushing musical and aesthetic boundaries as far as they’d stretch. Was it music or was it noise and did it matter anyway’

Andy ‘Ceephax’ Jenkinson shares more than a surname with Tom ‘Squarepusher’ Jenkinson, he shares the same mutant free-jazz genetic-electric code. Volume One has titles like Jam Jarre, Plenger, Here We Gowowowo and Summer Frosby and it makes a sound like this’.skididdleyarpbunffffdrangsquuuuuukkkkkkk’.and somewhere along the line it makes me think of someone doing a drill n’ bass piss-take of what people think a typical Aphex/Squarepusher record sounds like, complete with daft titles and ludicrously frantic, funkless push button freak outs.

Volume One has one settled, liquid moment where the instrumentation actually forms mellow pools of sound - Dreamer; a Four Tet-esque methadrone symphony and closing track, Summer Frosby sounds as if the sun is shining down on Ceephax’s techno-geek studio cave - but the overall impression this LP gives is of a 16 year label and a genre struggling to evolve from its mid-90s heyday. Maybe this is deliberate, Ceephax is of course itself a one-time revolutionary technological tool that has been surpassed by the internet and maybe Jenkinson sees himself as some retro-futurist archivist. If so, then Volume One could well be the best LP of 1996.

 

 

Motor - Unhuman (NovaMute) - release date 19-3-07

by Phil Thornton

Motor’s debut LP, the head splitting wall of sound that was ‘Klunk’ was released less than a year ago and criticised in certain quarters for being uncompromisingly hardcore and bleak, when infact these were its strengths. This was proper Lads Getting Their Tits Out For The Lads techno; a real cut and shut banger that rattled along the dark streets of Berlin and Detroit polluting the air with lead heavy exhaust fumes. No minimalist I think Motor’s joyriding duo, Mr. No and Bryan Black took this criticism to heart because they’ve tried to balance out the ram raiding tunes with safer urban cruises here. To labour the car analogy, they’ve swapped the Arkansas Clutterbuck for a Chrysler; all sleek lines and classy yet dark and intimidating at the same time. The title track for example could be Daft Punk’s tougher cousins; Unhuman after all whereas Nightdrive is tres Autobahn, Tete En Plastique a Chicago jacking classic and monster track, Flashback sounds like Stakker Humanoid fucking Josh Wink with a glow stick. Motor Mk II then aren’t too much different from the Mk I model; they’ve tarted up the body work with cheap filler and vacuumed the dog hairs from the back seat but this band’s MOT still has a few months on it yet.

 

 

KENNETH BAGER - Fragments From A Space Cadet (Music For Dreams).

by Phil Thornton

Things we need more of in modern music Pt 57; mouth organs, clarinets, whistling, school choirs, accordions, playfulness, inventiveness, joy. Kenneth Bager’s brilliant Fragments From A Space cadet has all of these and much, much more.

Each of the 14 tracks on here is described as a ‘fragment’ although they’re not in numerical order and have individual titles; hence track 1 is Fragment Six ‘Speak My Name’, track 3 is Fragment One ‘‘And I Kept Hearing,’ track 2 is Fragment Zero ‘‘.And I Kept Dubbing’ and tracks 10-14 are all Fragment 11, a five part epic called The Day After Yesterday parts I to IIIII (The Meeting, Travelling, The Story, Reflections, It Will Never Happen Again’

If this sounds all a little proggy and pretentious, the actual songs themselves are the opposite. OK, the Gisli ‘rap’ on And I Kept Hearing sounds worryingly like Oakenfold’s Starry Eyed Surpise but is saved by the sheer ingenuity of the rest of the track. Julee Cruise of Falling fame, makes a welcome return, adding her feather light vocals to The First Picture (think Cardigans meet early St Etienne), a marvellous jazz flute version of Minnie Riperton’s Les Fleurs (a spoken word monologue that pays homage to both The Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds and Mylo’s Sunworshipper) and The Day After Yesterday’s part III, The Story, (also spoken word).

Elsewhere, The Sound Of Swing is an Acker Bilk meets The Ethiopians trad-jazz skank complete with whistling and a kid’s choir going ‘na, na, na, na, na, na, na.’ and there are mutant banjos and accordions on Walther and Viola whereas Love Won’t Leave Me Alone is simply beautiful. With Kenneth crediting himself as the LP’s ‘Executive Producer, Concept, Idea and Sounddesign’ person, this could’ve come across as a high-faluting slice of Euro-art conceptualism, but instead offers rare humour and invention coupled with pop nous and intelligence. Go buy it!



 

 

The Good The Bad & The Queen-The Good The Bad & The Queen

by Peter Doherty 

Strange when Blur hit the big time for the second time with Parklife I found Damon Albarn to be on of the most iritating tits in music.  The phoney cockney Colchester boy in his too tight Fred Perry,BJ trackie tops & a lifelong affinity with Chelsea, that reeked of Zola & Gullit but never touched Charlie Cooke, was a bellend as far as I could work out.  The comparisons with Ray Davies got my Billy Goat gruff like little else.  The geezer was a bluffer of the highest order.  Strange then as he's moved further to what in muso land could be considered leftfield that he's beome a fucking diamond.  Blur's rebirth as an almost US power punk band was as good as it was surprising, dabbles in World Music showed a distain for chart success, the crackpot near-genius that was the Gorillaz concept was originality at its best & now a "supergroup" that has really delivered. The fact that I'd find it impossible to criticise anything that Paul Simonon was involved in is beside the point.  I first heard some of the songs from what became this album on the rather enjoyable "Electric Proms" shindig on the BBC,having read about the collaboration in Mojo etc.  As with most ideas like this you approach it with doubt.  Can it/will it come off’Is he overstretching his ideas’ Well the proms showed definitely not.  Albarn seems full of great ideas & make no mistake this is his record. Whilst Simonon on Bass,Tony Allen on drums & Simon Tong on guitar are able band members the over-riding instruments are Albarns voice & keyboards.  His off kilter voice gives a great edge to these songs. Although there are 12 tracks it feels as if you listen to one piece.  I've read numerous reviews that this is about life in modern day Britain,primarily London,& its definitely got a feeling of lacklustre,working days ending,another night in the same fucking boozer after pushing a pen for 8 hours but don't take that as a bad thing. It feels like a world that most of living in the arse-end of Blairism can only make the most of. Albarn might never be the spokesman of a genration that is past caring,living off the lean years of a long gone second summer of love but he's far more relevant than his one time nemesis's the Burnage Brothers who's last opus sounds like the turd it was next to this instant gratifier. Well in Damon lad,I take it all back.

 

 

Dexy's Midnight Runners-The Projected Passion Review

by Peter Doherty  

At last. Thank you beelzebub. The often rumoured,but hard to proove,magical 2nd edition Dexys have stuff released. Everyone should know about the genius that was the "Young Soul Rebels" era band & then the brilliant 3rd "Too Rye Ay" edition that was haunted by "Eileen" like a wedding party albatross.  Well in between the great Mr Rowland put together another outfit,one that he believed was the best edition of Dexys.  For 25 years nothing was available until now.  Cobbled together from studio takes for 3 singles,& a BBC "In Concert" & a Radio session we have even more proof that, even quarter of a century later, Kevin Rowland has a shout as Britains greatest soul man.  If anything comes out this year with so much passion & heart I'll dress up as Dr.  Fun's love child.  Even production on the live concert that ebbs & flows on the backing vocals can't hide the power of the Dexys horns or Rowland's vocal gift. Tunes from both earlier mentioned albums blend effortlessly into this masterpiece.  That "Geno" & "Come on Eileen" are missing show that the band never needed a hit & that Rowland was determined to showcase the geniuis of his work not do a hit review. Listen to "Burn It Down", "Lets Make This Precious" or my personal masterwork "There There my Dear".  Fuck me I remember getting it on 7 inch in 1980 as a 12 year old from the papershop at the top of our road & thinking does it get better than this.  Even now, as I'm kicking the door of 40 down, there must only be "Going Underground" that can come close to make me fly round a room with the grin of a demented badger. Even the off kilter sound here can't disguise the pins & needles. Who ever found this stuff & decided to get it out,I owe you a fucking very large one. Jesus might even make it a double. Kevin, you cross-dressing Otis,get the new stuff out soon. We love you & hurry back.

 

 

Gruff Rhys-Candylion

by Peter Doherty  

"Sunshine Superman" for the noughties.  Can't give more praise than that can ya’ Donovan's album was a work of genius taking folk,,jazz & the prevailing hippy vibes to provide a stoners paradise,well the great Gruff has given the modern update.  Using the mellowest of Super Furry feeling,chilled drum machines & his usual abstract lyrics he provides a great present whilst the band put together a new album. This certainly stands well alongside "Love Kraft".  "Court of King Arthur" is his "Berts Blues" whilst the 14 minute "Skylon" could be straight out of Marin County. The wonderful acoustic sounds give a hint of what's gonna be a cert for those fine summer eves spent navel gazing. As always with Gruff he's got a couple of Welsh language tunes "Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru" & "Ffrwydriad Yn Y Ffurfafen".  Got no idea what the bi-lingual bugger's on about,as usual,but the sound & the words make me jealous of the Glendower-ist coz its all brilliant. He's on tour in April promoting the album. I'm on the 3rd row at Liverpool Phil. Cagools on order & now to practice the yogic flying. Can't wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   
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