Do yow know how to have a good toime? There’s nothing loike a bit of fon is there?… Save us please, and save our sides from anything to do with [a]Bentley Rhythm Ace[/a], the Pontins of techno. Forced fun. Forced laugh. Sojourn in concrete death camp.
And yet… here is Bentley Rhythm keyboard player James Atkin who used to be in EMF, and Anna Haig, who used to be in the Bocca Juniors – which is very transparently something I have just found out from the record company – and they have made a very excellent record indeed.
It is yob rock. It is yob dance. It is pissed. Its main vocal refrain is, [I]”Gonna funk it up/Kick you down like a mother”[/I], and it sounds like Add N To (X) playing ‘Blockbuster’ by The Sweet. There is an equally unpleasant way of looking at this record and that is that it is Earl Brutus in collaboration with Daft Punk. They are of course, embroiled. They have done a mix in which they have simply added heavy breathing.
Difficult it is too to do this sort of thing well, to fall the right side of humour and not stray into novelty. This is a soundtrack to the weekend indiscretions and excesses of ordinary and intelligent people. This is a drunken salute to the car park. A minor disgrace in a public place.
[I]”We also have this spray that makes policemen take off their clothes in public”[/I], announces the very last sample. They were probably very, very drunk at the time…
Here We Come
Introducing, for your pleasure and safe enjoyment: MC Soft-ee Nice, Warm Towelz, Balanced Diet and the rest of the rather overrated Timbaland posse rapping about being nice, and buns.
And take me to the nearest Glock purveyor if it isn’t wack in the very utmost. Timbaland – the production major domo behind Missy Elliott and a shedload of other R&B and hip-hop crossovers – here softens his blow with an awful shuffling party anthem which fails miserably in its complete absence of reference to guns, drugs and lewd sexual acts, by which the white middle-class hip-hop consumer vicariously enlivens his utterly prosaic life. Yes here they come indeed – Timbaland and chums! Here to talk to the elderly! Here to escort the blind over busy roads!
What a massive Emily of a record this is. It’s about partyin’, and it is smooove. It has black sheets. And its only redeeming feature is a guest spot from a bloke called Magoo, who sounds like a duck eating a hot dog. If you’ll excuse me, here’s the new one by Richard Brierz and Felicit E Kendall.
I Am The Sun
Revealing indeed, that Dark Star should be on Harvest: not so much a record label as an earnest conversation about ‘Ummagumma’. The Dark Star boys are visitors from another galaxy (called ‘1990’), where all is frenetic psychedelic pounding and no doubt invigorating lashings of strafing scree. Obviously an occupational hazard for these ex-Levitation lads, but along with the horrid old indie whine of the lyrics (possibly about a ‘relationship’, whatever that may be) it leads to the peculiar sensation of being irritated by something cosmic. Like being narked by a constellation. Ridiculous.
Sound very much like the Venus Beads, if you remember them, and also very much like any number of bands you will describe having seen while ‘at college’.
Anthem For The Year 2000
The by-products of this century’s close (the millennium bug, planes crashing, hospitals closing, Guardian articles) are bad enough without getting the songs as well. Here are two – Finnish techno saucy boy Jimi Tenor and his gothic house ditty and Silverchair, three-million selling Australian teenagers grunging on about the demise of their ‘youth’, and it’s all a very silly swindle by which the bands reckon they will coin it in when the time comes.
Which shows a great failure of the imagination on the part of bands. It’s not all millennium, millennium, millennium, you know! Why not try a song called ‘Hello, euro!’ or, my own personal favourite, ‘What A Great Lady The Queen Mother Was, It’s A Pity She Has Died’? It’s a winner!
New Year’s Eve 1999? Heading to the uplands with tinned food and a 12-bore. Highlander. There can be only one.
To Lose La Trek
[I]”Buns and pies/No lies/Watch the skies/Encroaching/Stay sharp!”[/I] announces Pete Voss, itinerant syntax virus. Or if not that, then it’s something fairly similar from the urban Apocalypse Now that assaults the extraordinary Velocet each time they step up the road for ten Benson and a book on Native American art. Living on one’s wits is the theme of this edited funk bulletin, but though the Mondays groove and telescope eyes of the Voss vision are great in the extreme, the droning feedback of their earlier stuff could prove to be their greatest strength… How very NME.
How many NME writers does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to change the bulb. One to write a review saying they preferred the old one.
David D Chambers
The side-project of Cornershop, and metaphorically therefore a bit like moving house because your front room’s untidy. Whatever, Tjinder and Ben‘s first single as the avowedly more lo-fi and more dance-oriented Clinton is a little on the underwhelming side as no doubt they perversely intend, being quite simply a charming little scratch poem with a tiny bit of shouting in the vicinity. They’ve buttered your soul, now this is mute De La Soul, and it is being proclaimed life-changing by someone with a rucksack and a hairslide near you soon.
And so to the list of singer-songwriters from the early-1980s who elected to keep their looks in a strange Faustian pact which meant they could only ever write mellow, strumming countrified rock music thereafter, we can now add – alongside Nick Heyward, and Ian McCulloch – Roddy Frame. ‘Sister Shadow’ is indeed mellow. It is indeed mature. Roddy is indeed wearing moccasins rather like Richard Ashcroft‘s on the front. But where once there was the naive charm of ‘High Land, Hard Rain’, now there’s just country roads taking him home.
Sad but true. He was the young pretender. Now he’s Grey Dad.
Martine is photographed in moody black and white on the front of this. And if we are looking for something nice to say about it, then it is that. She certainly sings a lot better than a lot of people who have ever been photographed in black and white. Say, Rasputin. Probably. And definitely nicer than most dead barmaids.
Wants a perfect moment with us, Martine. Strings. Very Bethnal Green by moonlight. Very Morecambe & Wise guest. But as the record continues it’s hard not to see the outline of a career trajectory that begins ‘Soap death. Solo single’ but continues ‘Landlady of thriving Harvester Pub.’
Currently dating Pete Voss. Possibly.
Features a photograph of Debbie Harry on the sleeve, which should acclimatise you to the lofty intellectual pitch of this vaguely Prodders-like techno thunderer. Do you see? She’s in her knickers. Dirty. Harry. Dirty Harry!
And thank you very much because that’s about the high point as far as the whole exercise is concerned as the Sniper lads (from south London) lift some Lalo Schifrin soundtrack and have it away with the beats in a most unsubtle fashion. Trouble is, the movie they purport to soundtrack is rather less their desired sleaze and adventure, rather more Tron in black and white.
Norman Cook is a fan, and as we all are vaguely aware, Fatboy Slim is fucking in heaven. Sniper are just fucking inconspicuous.
Seven Day Smile
Tricky line to walk, between the dreamy comedown music of Laura Nyro and the stadium strut of the (still marvellous and very talented) likes of Sheryl Crow. Two English female singer-songwriters, though, are doing it with a considerable, if maybe a little discreet, aplomb: there’s Kathryn Williams from Newcastle and, from Manchester, Jane Weaver, backed here by Doves, who play live with Badly Drawn Boy. A fine thing it is too, as this EP moves through the lands respectively of Madder Rose, Mazzy Star and even the rural electronic dabblings of Beth Orton.
And the mood is happy, almost overjoyed… Oh sorry, no it’s not. It’s very, very sad.
Deliver The Juice
Further compelling evidence to support the idea that Britain’s musical boundaries with other Northern European countries should be maintained by a sophisticated system of fences, radar signals and air strikes.
Ooh crazy crazy ladyboy crossdress facepaint puppetshow lentil crjche workshop unicycle firework headdress hours of darkness illicit liquor henna tattoo pierced nipple unsupervised child trapeze psychedelic trance commune… that’s what these records are like. Only the Whale one is like that but trip-hop.
And fuck that for a laugh, frankly. If you want that sort of thing, go to Sussex University.
The Nectarine No 9
South Of An Imaginary Line EP
Saint Jack meets Father Jock in this untidy scrimmage by ex-Fire Engine and Edinburgh Man Davey Henderson. His caustic muse smooths its rough edges here into an agreeable droning stroll, not a million miles away from the sort of frazzled songwriting nous that permeates the new Blur album.
Except that, of course, the new Blur album does not feature a song called ‘Cold Meat Pie’ or the deranged murmurings of former Clash roadie and pint connoisseur Jock Scot. Difficult to eke out an existence though it may be on the periphery of experimental rock music when old and gnarly, ‘South Of An Imaginary Line’ both sorts the men from the boys and leads the platoons of the truly avant-hard.
Maid To Minx
Slightly ironic situation for the likes of Lung Leg, because despite being among the first affiliates of the riot grrrl thing of seven or so years ago, the passage of time has done immense harm to the question of their musical proficiency. It is with mild regret that we must report that they can now play about as well as… ooh, Kenickie, and therefore sound a bit like, well, Kenickie. This is what you might call a nice, tidy little indie pop record. But really, was that ever really the point?
Writing To Reach You
Superb stuff from Travis here, even if it is basically some superb stuff you might have heard a few times before, only then it was by Oasis and called ‘Wonderwall’. Nevertheless, this pulls off a remarkable feat of anthemic schmaltziness without ever curdling to cheese.[I] “Good to know that you are home for Christmas”[/I], melts Fran Healy magnificently and we are left in drizzling March to ponder how this could have quietly stormed the festive rocking robin with its naive charms. Such is life. Deep. Crisp. Uneven.
What’s So Different?
There is no escape. Timbaland rules the roost in the Singles page like he does no doubt in the singles bars, as Ginuwine emerges here covered in the cotton wool of production to get into some fairly navel-gazing Cartesian debate on whether or not he should go out with a girl knowing that she cheated on somebody else. Which just tells you about the changing times for producers and MCs, because if he was on Def Jam 12 years ago he’d have gone right ahead, written a song about the size of her bottom, and been SHOWN THE MONEY AND BIG CARS. Basically, Ginuwine is the new Wedding Present, and I am confused. You want to get in there my son, that’s what you want to do.