20 The Chronicle, Thursday, 19th November, 2009. www.chronicleseries.co.uk
What’s on... What’s gone...Entertainment
ALBUMS The Leisure Society
Following a nomination for an Ivor Novello Award for songwriting, this is a reissue-with-a-
onus-disc of their debut album, fi rst released way back in, er 2009 (!).
Buying this just last week on the strength of hearing the gorgeous single “The last of the melting snow” on the radio, I’m more than happy with my expanded October re-release, but I think you could be forgiven for feeling a bit miffed if you’d rushed out and bought the original version (at full price) when it fi rst came out only a few months ago.
Record company marketingshenanigans aside, this is a fi ne and distinctive set — sort of indie/folky/almost orchestral. The Leisure Society are in effect a duo, plus almost a footballteam’s-worth of additional musicians (how they’ll all fi t onto just one stage if they tour this, goodness knows).
There are hints of Beatles, Kinks and XTC, if you’re an oldie like me. If you’re a young ‘un, I have seen TLS described as Brighton’s answer to Fleet Foxes, if that helps to pin things down.
These boys here, though, are as reassuringly-English as conker-trees, toasted crumpets and Bonfi re Night.
The bonus disc is the usual collection of B-sides and demos,
ut well worthwhile for all that — the nicest surprise being a characteristically winsome reworking of Gary Numan’s “Cars”.
If you yearn for a glorious last of three-chord rock ‘n’ roll din, you’ll need to look elsewhere; this, by contrast, is lovely, understated, quietly-pulsing stuff.
X Ray Spex ‘Live at the Roundhouse 2008’
Ah, X Ray Spex, the merry troop of dayglo punk cavaliers who, under the leadership of
race-wearing Poly Styrene, urned bright and briefl y before imploding in a shower of sparks and razor guitar riffs.
They had one genius album, a meld of leftish lyrics which railed against the social straitjacket of the day yet was quirky and irresistible. The band seemed to
e held together with string and
Sellotape and really it came as no surprise that they lasted but fi ve minutes, yet their work has gone on to become some kind of punk benchmark and Poly more of an icon since she gave up extremes and retreated into a monastery, gaining spiritual enlightenment along the way.
This DVD release is exactly what it says on the cover with two original Spex and new chums running through the “Germ free adolescents” material and adding in an encore of that wonderful anthem “Oh bondage up yours!” and a crazy but insightful 70s diary from Poly.
Good fun no matter what the year, it’s amazing how well they’ve stood the test of time.
Out on Future Noise.
Horslips ‘The book of invasions’
You can split Irish rock music into two distinct periods, pre U2 and après U2.
Pre U2, the Irish had a fascinating endemic rock scene that was a real melting pot of music, what was missing was a band who made rock music with an emerald element.
It wasn’t for want of trying, there were all kinds of bands giving it a go but most of them ended up sounding like Fairport Convention knock-offs.
That was until Horslips came up with this gem in 1976 and single-handedly invented Celtic rock.
Listening to this reissue that’s been put together to celebrate the fact that the band are playing together again after nearly 30 years apart, in an amazingly pristine mastering job done at no less than Abbey Road by one Paul Whittaker, the soft rock and ethnic elements come together distinctly.
Based on ambitious concept, no less than a 13th century account of the pre-Christian history of Ireland, the album takes legend and lore, rock theatrics and a healthy dose of craft, making one of the best statements of Irishness you’ll ever come across.
It’s one of those albums that if you don’t like it, you’ve got cabbages, not ears. With a healthy half hour’s extra tracks appended, it’s a highly attractive package that’s put their names back in the racks.
Sensibly picked up on our side of the Irish Sea by Talking Elephant there are two more albums repackaged and more to come. Hugely recommended then and the friendly types at A&A will no doubt readily fi nd you a copy.
Stereophonics ‘Keep calm and carry on’ We never rated the Stereophonics much in the review corner: their albums are generally a couple of good tracks and then fi ller (on a good day) and why
a group with such average pub band qualities got so big is a mystery that keeps us awake in the dark recesses of the night.
This new album is better (though so far we only got a sampler): it’s still very laddish and average rock but they seem to have paid attention to some of the indie music that’s passed by and the sound is cleaner and simpler, making the fi ller less like padding and more like proper tunes.
There’s also more use of synths and less effort spent sounding like anodyne stadium fi llers.
On this sampler, “She’s alright” is repetitive and dumb but likeable; “Innocent” is not too bad and has a nice soul feel and “I got your number” lumbers along but is ok. The ballad “Could you be the one” is clichéd but quite nice and “Beerbottle” uses the new synth they just bought to the max.
Possibly the fi ller has got better and the standouts weaker, making a stronger average. Not too bad at all.
Sgt Wolfbanger ‘Think inside the box’
They’re from Crewe and we’ve plugged their live gigs a lot so we weren’t sure what to expect with this album: a rough and ready mix of dodgy rock or a home-made indie-ish album; the last thing was a slick American rock album reminiscent of the likes of Hoobastank or, in cooler moments, Incubus. At times there are echoes of late Kings of Leon, when they got slick. “Ah, this is a band from Crewe,” is not a thought you’re going to have.
On the positive side, it’s polished, tight rock and more packed with melody than a convention for girls whose parents called them Melody. The singer has an excellent voice and holds the slick music together.
On the downside — and in the review corner we love our generic rock — some might say it’s unoriginal and a little predictable. Still a damn fi ne debut album, though.
Saw Doctors ‘To win just once’ Only the Saw Doctors could start a greatest hits collection with a cover of a Sugababes song and a sleeve note that “this is one you wish you’d written yourself”.
Apart from that, it’s Saw Docs all the way, with live favourite “N17” thundering in as track two. There are most of the classics
from the debut album “If this is rock n roll” and then the pick of the best of the rest, such as “Clare Island” and “Green and red of Mayo”.
If you’ve not heard much by the Docs it’s an excellent introduction; in fact, the only other album you need is the debut. Out now.
SINGLES Silverclub ‘Answers’ EP
edits and acoustic versions.
Scattergood comes over as a rather whimsical girl singing pleasant tunes but listen to the lyrics and you’re in for a treat and a shock: she writes about disturbing and startling topics in a poetic way, which she then bundles up to sound pretty.
This came out on Monday and is well worth investigating.
The Phenomenal Handclap Band
‘15 to 20’
Playing this, we nodded sagely and wrote “Joy Division” down on our special review corner review pads, which would have been unnecessary had we read the Press release fi rst. This would have told us that the limited edition EP is out on the Factory Foundation Recordings label and the label number is FFR001 (the review corner does own — and this is true — FAC2, the fi rst ever piece of vinyl put out by Factory Records, FAC1 being a poster, of course).
Silverclub are pretty good. We played this after the Stereophonics’ new album and they’ve got a bit of the Welsh band about them, in that the tunes are at best OK. But throw into the mix a bit of Joy Division darkness and synth dance rhythms and it gets much better.
The title track is OK; track two “Short sharp shock” is nicely repetitious and compares a woman to various musical instruments; track three starts off with atmospheric bass before going into grungy pop and ending in a tasty guitar solo. Not brilliant but interesting, and Jim Noir (“Eanie meanie”) plays keyboards.
Half the profi ts go to charity work with kids and musicians (is there a difference?) across Manchester. This limited edition numbered 7” EP is out on Monday.
Shmoo ‘Amnesia’ We forget what this was like. Only joking. This has got more beef than their last single, mixing MGMT’s stoner vocals with some over the top Muse instrumentation. Ambitious is the word. Interesting; another excellent Manchester band. Out now.
Polly Scattergood ‘Bunny Club’ EP Not quite sure of the point of this, as it’s versions of tracks from her debut album, though it did make us go back to the debut and re-appreciate it. So maybe there is a point.
There are remixes by Nerina Pallot and Andy Chatterley (aka We Are The Chatterle s lus
The joy of downloadable music is that it makes incompetence acceptable: this came out last month but we were so amazed at how annoying it was that we never reviewed it.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, we can still tell you not to buy it, because it’s still available.
The tune sounds like a mad Japanese pop song that Tarantino would hijack for a soundtrack, but not as good. The band is from Manhattan so maybe it’s just so über cool it passed us by.
There are three equally annoying remixes but then track four “Pretty mask” is fantastic: a slow sambo-style Brazilian tune that meets 70s Nick Drake fl ute-playing folk head on. Death Cab for Cutie ‘Meet me
on the equinox’
If you’re young or a girlie (or both) you’ll have heard this on the “Twilight / New moon” soundtrack and if you like it, you should get into Death Cab.
They’re an excellent band, if a little one-trick — the last album “Narrow stairs” is very good, as is “Transatlanticism”, whose title track is a good love song. They’re great live, too, though very very loud. This single is slightly poppier than standard Death Cab fare (ho ho) but has all the elements: fractured drums, swirly guitar and poignant lyrics. Out now.
The Light Streams
‘The lost EP’ Tempting fate this lot, because we lost the CD down the back of the desk for a week and only
found it when we lost something else down the same crevasse.
The Light Streams play jolly, uptempo pop with a sunny surfe sound (though rockier than The Thrills or Loose Salute).
Jaunty and jangly would be the words we’re looking for. Music that’s just played for enjoyment. Out about now.
Chase and Status
‘End credits’ C&S mix genres, having done hip hop, dubstep and D&B and for this the latter dominates, though the vocals under the beat are gentle and poppy.
Interesting, though tending towards chart fodder.
Plan B features and Michael Caine is on the cover — this choon appears on his new (and highly praised) fi lm “Harry Brown”.
Noah and the Whale ‘Love on an orchestra’
One of the highlights of the album, “First days of spring”, this is all about what it says in the title.
It opens with a spirited piece of choral singing — it almost classes it as a Christmas single — before heading of into a bursting at the scenes pop tune: there are strings, woodwind, a chorus and timpani all popping their orchestral heads into the mix. Out now.
David Guetta ‘One love’ Big dancefl oor tune: it’s like someone wheeled in a dance fl oor, strobe lights and a mirror ball into your front room. And probably a load of tightly muscled men with moustaches as well. Estelle does the guest vocals. Out on Monday.
Beverly Knight ‘In your shoes’ After all the experimental and/o leftfi eld mix of tracks above, this simple and catchy RnB pop tune sounded very fresh and clean. Steals the guts from “Rip it up” by Orange Juice to get there, though. It features a bonus track with rapper Chipmunk (who sadly doesn’t sound anything like Pinky or Perky). Out now.
Animal Kingdom ‘Signs and wonders’ This was down the back of the des with The Light Streams (see above) so we’re not sure when it came out but it’s worth a listen.
Animal Kingdom got panned fo their album but this is pretty good: slightly falsetto vocals over a catchy melody.
It reminds us of Phoenix in “Alphabetical” days. Derivative but nice.
Mclean ‘Broken’ One of those hits that’s done great on YouTube but now he’s got to deliver in the real world.
It’s good, though: a very nice, slow soulful hip hop tune that sounds like something that would play in “Armageddon 2” as Bruce Willis walks off into the dark to save the world armed with only a set o spanners and the Haynes guide to a Ford Cortina.
Tinchy Strider is already on the remix. Mclean’s dad was John who sang: “If I give my heart to you”. Out now, album due soon.