Embrace Glasgow: King Tut's, Sat 10 May.
’So far, both times we’ve tried to play in Scotland, it's been cancelled.’
What? Scotland's been cancelled? A whole nation asleep? Hopefully this time round, Scotland will be present and correct to lend its discerning ear to Embrace, the latest band to cause a serious critical kerfuffle of Best New Band In Britain proportions.
To hear Embrace drummer Mike Heaton talk, you'd think everything the Bradford quartet have done in the past three years has been the gradual fulfilment of a disciplined battle strategy (apart from the abortive Scottish dates, of course).
The official biography of Embrace glosses over the early fumbling-in- the-dark days to the moment of realisation a few years back when the band had to accept that they were resoundingly average. There followed a two-year fix-it hiatus marked by continual writing, rehearsal and repetition of the mantra ’we will be brilliant'.
’Before we started rewriting the stuff, we were like the sum of our influences,’ says Heaton, ’so we thought "scrap that". We were singing over random loops of music rather than the singing being integrated in the music and being songs. We decided no one would see us until we were absolutely happy. It wasn’t until Danny wrote a song called ’Retread’ and it sounded like it should be sung by Neil Young or Tammy Wynette that we realised we had the songs there. By the time we come to record the album it’s going to go through the roof.’
For now, though, there's only a single ‘All You Good Good People’ and an EP 'Fireworks’ to go on. The former was an epic Verve-like wash and the latter swings from Oasis soul screechers to resonant ballads.
’The general theme of all our records is uplifting,’ says
Embrace: waiting to be loved, bless ’em
Heaton. 'We're not the sort of band who does the dark, moody, listen-to-it-and-get-depressed type of songs. It’s a "made it through the rain" vibe. We’re just hoping we can connect with people because what I miss most in music these days is that there aren't any bands since Nirvana for me that you can really fall in love with. I don’t like the apathy that seems to be around in music, people just producing little pop songs that don’t seem to mean much, they don’t evoke any feelings in you. We want to be a band to fall in love with.’ (Fiona Shepherd)
Cake: scrumptious pop munchies
all these puns '
other connotations are admissible Our only consolation is that we predicted
have been many people’s, well, first taste of Cake. 'The funny thing about that song is that it's not very funny,’ says McCrae. 'lt’s about a very focused male of the species. It's not about racing.’
Perhaps not, but the automobile plays a significant part in his writing. ’In America,’ he explains, ’it’s a symbol of sexuality and power. l have a Chevy Sprint 1986. It's like driving around in a Pepsi can. i don't wash :t very often. I prefer the impressionistic canvas vrew Of the world through my dirty uriitdsliield.’
The band's next single Will likely be their delirious cover of ’I Will Sun/ive'. ‘It's a good folk song,’ McCrae states, ’an underdog song. That’s why we play it Not as some kitsch joke'
Is there, one ventures, an underlying Cake phiIOSOphy?
Glasgow: Barrowland, Thurs 8 May
Not to be confused With the fictional drug patented by Chris Morris nor the starchy foodstuff endorsed by Marie
; Antomette, Cake are a Sacramento ’ five-piece who have heard all the gags.
However, uh, half~baked 'We named our band With the verb in
3 mind,' imparts singer John McCrae
vvith commendable patience, ’but
43 THELIST 2—15 May i997
The perverse world of Cake, evident to anybody who has heard their superlative second LP Fashion Nugget, is one of tragi-comedy. It's a glorious mess of emotions and styles, ranging from c0untry thr0ugh mariachi to 605 pop, that has earned endorsements from the likes of Captain Beefheart and Jonathan Richman
Their iast single 'The Distance' will
'I make it up as I go along,’ he claims. ’People want pure commodities of emotion They want their soap opera WithOut hum0ur mixed in. l think the things that are funniest are also the saddest It's a good combination. Then again we're just a stupid band You
try and promote your record and we think ours is pretty good’ Inscrutably | modest (Rodger Evans) '
POP Picture House
Glasgow: Mayfest Club, Fri 9 May. Edinburgh: La Belle Angele, Sun 4 May. Falkirk: Martell, Mon 5 May.
Not quite the road to Damascus, perhaps, but the revelation experienced by Picture House one day in the spring of 1995 certainly represented a pivotal moment in a career that until then had barely made it out of the starting blocks. Nothing weird or complex either — simply the fact that they picked up a couple of acoustic guitars to strum through a new song, rather than the electric instruments they'd hitherto favoured, and suddenly. . .
’It was like, Jesus, this is how the songs were meant to sound all along,’ recalls the Dublin quintet’s lead singer and songwriter, Dave Browne. 'It was a real moment of truth — and just at that point when we were deciding to go acoustic, things began to happen; we got a new manager, got rid of the record label we’d been with, the good songs started kicking in: everything just started to work.’
For two years prior to this, the band, whose big-hearted melodic pop earned them a Best Band nomination in the current Heineken/Hot Press music awards in Ireland, had had a record deal, but the record company seemed at a loss to know what to do with them: The result: they did nothing. Picture House didn’t release a song or play a gig throughout the whole of their contract: small wonder that when they finally kicked free they hit the road with a vengeance, notching up a hundred shows in eight months, starting to build their now rapidly- growmg, but still primarily live-based showing. Self~released EPs, singles and abundant Irish radio play ensued, along wrth high-profile support slots with the likes of Bon Jovi, The Saw Doctors and Runrig, while their debut album,$hi'ne Box, went straight into the Irish charts on its release in October last year. Now they’re set on consolidating their UK base, with the current tour and the irresistibly bouncy Single, 'Heavenly Day', due for release shortly. 'I think our music just appeals to Joe Bloggs — because lam kind of Joe Bloggs' says Browne, pondering the band’s on-a-roll popularity. ’I’m a very mainstream type of bloke, I grew up listening to very mainstream music ~ none of us are pretending to be anything that we’re not; I think there's an honesty about our sound that people like.’ (Sue Wilson)
Picture House: making a Heavenly Day for Joe Bloggs