The man from THE BETA BAND with the terrible beard who is called STEVE MASON brings us his first solo record, with the EP Title Of The Year. It’s also a brilliant, berserk and 100 per cent unique four-songed selection of soundscapes dam-bustin’ over the edges of the labyrinthine Alice In Wonderland rabbit warrens of the mind of a man who is, evidently, built out of music and drugs.
‘Fatheriver’ is the sound of IAN BROWN on PCP in a monastery in a drum’n’bass stylee. ‘Niggling Discrepancy’ is a colossal Eastern epic of chant-pop instrumentation featuring weirdy flutes and elevates the very soul via mind-embalming trip-core deliverance. ‘Little White’ is delicate God-pop about something tragic and includes a speech about slippers. Gulp. And ‘Eye O’ The Dug’ is a tambourine-twizzlin’ JOHN LENNON-round-the-campfire-in -a-very-good-mood-birds-tweetin’ -in-his-beard-style number featuring helium voices hooting. Blimey. “I knew they’d like it, I knew they’d like it…” marvels the hillybilly voice at the close of this astonishing EP which heralds the zenith of the post-bleak mirth-pop revolution already.
Steve Mason is, then, the new SPIKE MILLIGAN.
Getting Away With It
Having a laugh is, in case you hadn’t noticed, the new new seriousness, which is to say it’s the old rock’n’roll which is to say the revolution is NIGH and ’98’s glumrock spectre is a cowed and simpering has-been booted out the back of the magic bus. No-one listens to weepsome fretmeld guitar blubs any more and bands like THE EGG ROOL OK? That’s because they make tunes like this, featuring their keyboard bloke, who’s called Ned, ‘singing’ through a vocoder, “Walkie-talkie cheese and chalkie” and, “fruit and veg, guvnor Reg” which is very much having a laugh and, indeed, getting away with it. It’s also a bleepsome, tranced-out funk flambi which sounds exactly like ambient NEW ORDER featuring JARVIS doing paranoid perv-speak wearing a TFI Friday-styled SHAUN RYDER ‘massive heed’ having its ‘tache trimmed by the men of AIR doing a PET SHOP BOYS number through a dancing comedy hose pipe.
We have seen the future and it’s wearing a turquoise’n’electric yellow Dyson on its head. Rejoice!
Cancer For The Cure
E from the EELS has learnt to laugh because everybody he ever loved is dead through cancer and suicide and life is hell and we’re each of us destined for the iron lung with a straw in the neck before the age of 35 so, you know… fuck death, let’s dance! Which is the only sensible option on hearing this towering post-bleak carousel with great big Hammond twirly bits like our very own CHARLATANS playing The Hop at the local asylum. “Grandpa’s happy watching video porn…” grins E, “and father knows best about suicide and smack… well, hee hee hee!” Furthermore, “Ol’ Blue Eyes is back again, but he was never here in the first place/A heart attack may be something to fear, but take a look out back/’Cos Courtney needs love, and so do I/Well, hee hee hee!” Brilliant.
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PS. There’s a LEMONHEADS-shaped previously unreleased song here which goes, “Baby Jesus… born to rock!” and is called [I]’Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas'[/I]. Aye. And some people think Americans know no irony. And some others think ‘depressed’ is being irked about Xfm.
[I]BECK[/I], of course, invented mirth-pop and here he is with his very own variation on pop’s eternal ‘Club Tropicana’/’Copacabana’ cavalcade in which he ‘does’ bossa nova lounge-louche with the deftness of a master magician wearing white gloves and a velveteen jacket made out of sleeves with things up them. ‘Tropicalia’ contains flutey meanderings and requisite hand claps and bleepy bits like they used to have on children’s television programmes in the 1970s called Mary, Mungo & Midge and elastic bands which boing themselves asunder. “You’re out of luck, singing funeral songs…” quips the wisest man in popular culture today, swoon, wobble, etc, ‘cos Beck, make no mistake, knows. Which is why only he can do Beck With MIKE FLOWERS‘ Wig On and still be the coolest man in the world. Mighty. Naturally.
THE FRIES. They like a laugh. They like the revolution. And drugs. And paranoid perv-speak mayhem appears throughout their work inspired by the existential death-dodgin’ mind-quaver ethos of HAPPY MONDAYS. “The doctor’s dying, scalpel please” sings, er, the one who sings on ‘Cyanide’ and the bedroom door turns into JUDITH CHALMERS in the half-light of 6am where our boys see “insects grow through computer screens, got the Whitehouse on the line”. Worryingly, EMF spring to mind. ‘Mars Hotel’, meanwhile, features thigh-detonating machine guns and is a beezer swamp-song causing cathedrals of ice to grow upon your back where the spirit of HUNTER S THOMPSON itself coos, knowingly, “No gravity, but there’s no gravity, no gravity, no gravity, no gravity… and you will be able to see… a perfect view… of the sphinx”. Brrrrr. Hee hee! They’re having a laugh all right. Which you’d expect in folks who, evidently, live life like they’re already dead. Mongin’, as they say in Airdrie.
There’s always one, isn’t there? Er, except even the international titans of torpor have made a swaggering pop tart of horn-blowin’ buoyancy in which MIKEY serenades, baldly, “Flim-flam, hey hey, hey hey, damn/Can-can walk like a big fat man” and the world flails its embroidered hankiette in tittersome glee. The nearest REM will ever get to a PULP song, sort of, and proof, once and for all, that the world has buggered off to the country on its holidays at the homestead called Jollity Farm (Proprietor: Squire NOEL of GALLAGHER. Possibly).
It’s All Yours
Veteran hip-hop ‘laydee’ in oddly captivating semi-acoustic geetar ruse contemplating her Brooklyn Boy Wonder. “It’s like a number one dream come true to have somebody you love, love you…” swills LYTE and days of pre-R&B innocence come scampering ‘cross the hillocks like gambolsome newborn lambs like the late-’90s inflatable chest never happened (And that’s just the blokes). Phew.
End Of The Line
Days of post-R&B cynicism come goose stepping across the field, punches the gambolsome lambs in the throat, pumps its inflatable chest to ’88’ and listens awhile to the pioneering fem-core from the kit-off trio and their acres of beautiful skin, after which they are lusciously named: (over a GARY BARLOW wimp-out with ’emotional’ strings) “Even though you’ve been doing me wrong/I still care/Do you think that by treating me cruel that somehow I’ll disappear?/If you want me to go then say it/Want me to stay then show it”. Pthrthrtrtrhrthrt!! Soon to be blaring out the nation’s ten-year-old girls’ trannies at Number Four like the entire century never happened. Fume.
‘Flagship’ single, then, from the [I]’Red, Hot & Rhapsody'[/I] AIDS benefit LP. It’s a cover of the immortal GEORGE GERSHWIN tune, and comin’ atcha from the world’s first and only trance-pop-trip- rock-hip-hop-indo-country-cajun- fiddle-soul-beat-dub-folk- blues-band-with- scratchin’-in.
And it’s glorious, underwater globule-pop with fragrant trumpets and a uniquely menacing undertow dimension ‘cos, you know, the livin’ is nothing like easy, pal, no siree, uh uuuh, which is why we must grin in the first place.
Only people with soul can do this. And MORCHEEBA are the sort of soul-people who equate human despair, brilliantly, with oxbow lakes. Beguiling.
Meanwhile, back on Satan’s doorstep with ‘Go Away’ written on the Welcome mat, hilariously, this lot have a singer who actually sings proper, like, up to and including bits of open-vowelled operatics which makes him sound like the Michael Ball of death metal and thus as scary as LORRAINE KELLY turning up at your door with a Tupperware box full of gingerbread snowmen. “Grrrr”, he implores, weedily, and attempts to incinerate our trouser-wear with gruel-rawk couplets such as the following: “I must remove my skin/To see relief in your eyes”. For 12 year olds on the ‘amyl’ mouthwash only.
SLADE VS FLUSH
Merry Xmas Everybody ’98 Remix
A tribute, we’re told, by SLADE‘s two biggest fans in Sweden who are DJs. Thus, this is three seconds of the original 25-year-old fest-fest being bludgeoned over the head by three minutes of ding-dong club-friendly Balearic beats allowing many terrifying Capital FM DJs in public arenas with their microphones down their trousers being paid ‘10,000 an hour to sing along at midnight on the December 24 “I tell my DJ… turn it up!” This is what Christmas office party vomiting sounds like from an intestinal point of view.
THE GREEN JESUS SAVIOUR
Steam Of My Dreams
A psychedelic, multinational version of THE SMITHS singing hugely, beautifully and rockly about God and souls while widescreen harmonies waft and shimmy in wig-whirling gorgeousness as befits persons with ambitions as big as their moustaches from 1973, most likely. THE SAVIOUR are not named after just-become-legal-in-Britain-again-after-80-years-absence, er, absinthe. But they sound like really should be, because absinthe is the-drink-that’s-really-a-drug (and coming to you soon through a business collective including “a former member of the indie-rock group THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN“). See? Even those who invented seriousness in the first place are twirling naked in the trees with a medley of children’s gum boots on their heads. Salute!
Santa Says… ‘Arse! That I’ve Seen Christmas For The Sleazy Capitalist Plot That It Is…’
Ho ho ho! It’s the last thing we’ll ever hear from the old revolution that knows no mirth and, guess what? There’s no tune here whatever only a gnarly opening-of-the-coffin-lid-in-‘Thriller’-type noise threatening to put sprouts in the works of the ‘hi’ ‘fi’ which means, does it not, that God has spoken and ‘He’ is in the tree awaiting your pleasure with the flagon of absinthe tonic as we speak. Cheers!