Blatherings from a hairy mouth

Excerpts from 'Santa' Chris Marlings reviews in issue 23 of R*E*P*E*A*T; buy the full thing here, if you dare...


Ian Brown - The Greatest (Fiction)
The Stone Roses were a great band, and Ian Brown was part of that, but as is so often the case the band was more than the sum of its parts. A few tracks on this stand out for me - Corpses in their Mouths has a nice chilled out vibe, Dolphins Were Monkeys is a good pop song, but pretty much everything else is second rate and his vocals can't save the day. Sad really but I guess he has to make a living.

The Black Velvets - The Black Velvets (Vertigo)
From Liverpool, apparently, but boy do they wish they were from LA, hanging with their hair metal friends. They've supported Mottley Crue and The Who, which is probably where they fall between - stadium pomp with a bit of a Zep edge and some big riffs and "smash smash smash" drums. Probably mighty fine if you like that sort of thing.

Envelopes - Demon (Brille Music)
I was starting to think I wasn't going to get any albums worth keeping, but this saves the day and then some. I hear good bits of lots of very cool bands in here - all the quirkiest bits Herman Dune, Pavement and Pixies. What more do you want? The two crazy Herman Dune frontmen singing for Pavement with Kim Deal on bass. Now we're talking.

Various artists - Escalator: The Right Direction
Arts East and The Junction spend our hard earned taxes on a compilation album, instead of on the buses or the nurses etc. As a showcase of good regional bands its ok at best. Noisy long-time under achievers Miss Black America and Right Turn Clyde prove its sheer bad luck that's stopped them making a living out it, but few of the newer names stride forward to take a serious swipe at their mantles. The Urban Myth Club do a quality Morcheeba rip off, The Shivers do the Rolling Stones thing they do so well, but what stands out most from these 12 tracks is a startling lack of originality and star quality.

Chris T-T - Nine Red Songs (Snowstorm)
The eleventy-millionth brilliant album by Mr T-T and he shows no sign of tiring. Political song mastery every bit as good as Billy Bragg but with a slightly more assessable voice, it just needs Blair to become what he has always craved (the new Thatcher) and once public opinion really starts to turn, maybe T-T will get the recognition he deserves. A Huntsman Came a-Marchin' and Preaching to the Converted are up their with his best, while a good half-dozen others are also keepers. If there's any criticism, it's the few shabby ones - but I can forgive the occasional Court of You when the rest is this good. Buy this CD, if only for the lines "you loved the fucking poll tax, you propped up Maggie Thatcher, and you didn't give a fuck about Tony Blair 'til he threw your hobby back at ya" (about the Countryside Alliance) and "well poverty's bad, war is bad, racism's bad, well done have a biscuit" (about himself). But there are so many others too.

The Singing Adams - Problems (Track & Field)
Steven Adams, of Broken Family Band and Hofman (near) fame, has done a solo album with money scrounged off the council, and its money well spent. But it ain't country. Or indie really. Problems is a disparate bunch of tunes hung together by the loose thread of his emotions, and it would seem the album's title is an apt one. Where BFB are a joyous romp through his imagination via some stonking songwriting from the band, the one man show is the little fella laid bare for all to see. The songs are a little tentative but suit the mood, while the lyrics are every bit as good as you'd expect - "you and your star sign can fuck off" is one of the best lines I've heard this side of anywhere. A must for any fan of his wit, and frankly for anyone with a pulse. And I'm not going to him the disservice of comparing him to other people - you should go and find out what he sounds like if you don't know. You'll thank me later.


The Lodger - Watching/Not So Fast (Double Dragon)
Quality double-A side of indie pop from this three-piece from Leeds, with the emphasis on the pop. Lightning Seeds would be a slightly unfair comparison, as they're better than that, but you get the idea - a bit jangly, catchy as hell and the sort of songs you expect to hear in the background when they do those photo montages on the tele. And believe it or not that's a compliment.

Oblique - Going Going Gone EP (Maximum Vibe)
There's a bit of Fergal Sharkey about this lot, which is no bad thing. Two jangly and poppy tunes sandwich a nice mellow one which has a nice lyric and generally it's a competent debut, although there's no sign of anything that makes Oblique slant away from the pack. Geddit?

Ipanema - Me Me Me (Boss Tuneage)
When we have all died, and rooted to dust, and the world has cleansed itself of mankind, there will be a hill, with a hut, it will be three quid to get in, and Wiz from Mega City 4 will be inside wondering why no one has turned up. This is the best thing I've heard from him for a long time, going back to the noisiness that made him a household name on the toilet venue circuit in the first place. No one does it better than Wiz.

Bloodhound Gang - Foxtrot, Uniform, Charlie, Kilo (Geffen)
It would seem they haven't got bored of knob gags yet, and who am I to judge? The music's so mediocre you have to listen to the lyrics, and if you want more Porkies/American Pie humour you're in the right place. "Put the you know what, in the you know where" etc etc. Tepid, Immature, Rueful, Easy, Dull.

Multi Purpose Chemical - Cult EP (Honey Records)
Fuck me, this is fun. MPC are hardcore/metally in a System of a Down/Soulfly way but there's something playful mixed in with big fat head-banging riffs. Apparently cracking live, I'd be surprised if they didn't make some serious waves. Nice to hear some political lyrics too, with religion and the arms trade getting a good telling off.


Well here's a thing. A very nice man with dreads and his friends make compilations of original music, a lot of it very food indeed, ranging from spacey rave to noisy punk to poetry, and distribute it for free. All you have to do is email him and you'll probably be able to sort something out. I highly recommend everyone does this, as the free distribution of music can only be a good and positive thing. Tell him I sent you.

The Branches - Demos (demo)
Lovely twee acousticness from Kent. This nice little CD is worth the admission fee for I'm not Afraid of Country alone, which would be a highlight on an album by Ballboy or Milky Wimpshake - two bands I hold in high esteem. All the usual influences are there too - Smog, Will Oldham, Grandaddy etc - but there's enough extra to make The Branches stand out on their own (ahem). An EP is in the offing, and I for one can't wait.

Decline (demo)
New-ish Cambridge punky band and one of the better ones by the sounds of this demo. Nothing blisteringly original here, think Blink etc and a lot like local boys Right Turn Clyde, but everything's in the right places. Certainly worth checking out if they're playing a pub near you, and young enough to start to plough their own furrow given a bit of time.

Spooky Hifi - Magic Ears (demo)
I was convinced this was going to be a cover of Pretty in Pink at the start, but it wasn't. A lot like it musically though, which is no bad thing, and his voice isn't quite as nauseatingly theatrical as Mr Furs' either. I'm sure this is one of those bands I've often seen live but been too drunk to remember who they were. I shall look out for them in future. Last track is actually quite spooky too.

Xmas Lights - Enron Ate My Baby (demo)
Well I presume it's a demo, although it might be an album. Anyway, its got another funny press release claim, as they were apparently "formed… with a desire to ignore established dogmas on what music should or should not be". I can only presume they hadn't heard Mogwai or death metal then, unless they think combining the two is in some way original. Well let me tell ya boys, it ain't.

Driving Holden (demo)
Now that's more like it. Fugazi are an obvious reference point, with the under produced sound particularly reminiscent of the good old days of early Dischord. A nice quirk is the harmony bits come from a shouty girl instead of a shouty boy, and when she's involved its reminiscent of Th' Faith Healers too, and they're a band I miss heaps. Great stuff.

Chris Marling

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