Glasgow Garage

We await [B]Dave Rowntree[/B]'s avant-jazz venture with interest.

The solo project. Hmmm. Like prog-rock, the concept album and rumours of a Northside reformation, it’s a term custom-built to instill a protracted sense of dread in the pop-abiding general public.

All of which leaves [a]Graham Coxon[/a] – [a]Blur[/a]’s beagle-eyed, wild-card guitarist and the first member of the aforementioned pop chameleons to mount the slippery solo steed – in a rather sticky position. As the [a]Blur[/a]bloke responsible for both ‘Blur’ and the hit-and-miss ‘grunge’ of ’13’, it seemed inevitable that Coxon would seek an alternate outlet for his more wayward underground-y leanings. Which is, of course, fair enough, but without Damon‘s pop nous to temper Coxon‘s penchant for cochlea-rupturing avant-metal, the results – as demonstrated on second album ‘The Golden D’ – are an acquired taste indeed.

“Tonight,” mumbles Coxon, resplendent in a stylishly crumpled camouflage T-shirt and posh skate-kid ‘pants’, “we’ve decided to call ourselves The Lungsmiths.” He’s not joking either. Flanked by the reliably lo-fi presence of Idlewild axe-grinder Rod Jones, Coxon‘s in a belligerent mood, attacking his guitar with furious gusto and shrieking like a teenage Fugazi fan possessed.

It’s a heavy, familiar bag that the ageing bespectacled guitarist is plundering; a scuzzed-up, riff-mungous mess signposted by exacting nods to everyone from Helmet and H|sker D| to Black Sabbath. But though the thrash-metal likes of ‘Jamie Thomas’ and ‘Fags + Failure’ bristle and bulge with a sinewy, regressive simplicity, one can’t help but worry that it’s all just a bit too cool, that behind all the gripes and the wrath is nothing more than an obsessively well-informed grasp of the US underground’s deities. And that it’s all, perhaps, an attempt to distance himself from the increasingly confused, pop-shy [a]Blur[/a] mothership. Whatever the reasons for Coxon‘s plunge into the solo unknown, it’s going to take more than this to convince us that he’s better doing anything other than sticking to the day job. We await Dave Rowntree‘s avant-jazz venture with interest.