record reviews

Luscious Jackson

Fever In, Fever Out (Grand Royal) ** In the dress-down world of the Beastie Boys, Luscious Jackson are the tom- boys it’s cool to hang out with. So cool, in fact, the Beasties signed this allofor-one girls band to their label, which released 1994's groovy beats ’n' raps album, Natural Ingredients. Now they've served up another, which is more trip hop than hip hop. Musically it’s slower and less syncopated than its predecessor, though possibly darker. Slow grinders like ’Mood Swing’ take the gals perilously close to Tricky territory. The strength and weakness of Luscious Jackson are Jill Cunniff’s deliberately flat vocals which worked well against the Latin jazz—tinged songs of the previous album but begin to grate over the course of this more downbeat record. (E6)

The Brand New HeaVIes Shelter (London Records) * 1r ‘k

For those of us who thought 70s-style acid jazzers The Brand New Heavies had lost the funk, the band's first single in ages 'Sometimes’ came as a pleasant surprise. Blisteringly soulful and blessed with surprisingly meaty vocals by Brand New singer Siedah Garrett (of Michael Jackson ’I Just Can’t Stop Loving You’ duet fame), its fresh vibe showed all signs of a return to form.

Shelter too is oh-so-smooth, a sunny album to be played with sleeves rolied up and windows down. Somewhere along the line though, this Brand New soul-soaked sound strays into the middle-of—the-road and becomes bland. Crank it up and you’ll hear moments of essential new funk. But don’t expect to slide into an albumful of tracks as brilliant as ’Sometimes’. (EC)

16 Horsepower

Sackcloth And Ashes (A&M) * * t at Despite hailing from Denver, this trio sound like they’ve just stepped out of some of the nastier backwoods scenes in Deliverance. Banjos twang and twitch, drums skitter like a startled horse and it's all drenched in an

Horny Toad: not as pretty as No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani. But then who is?

so me usr 2—is May i997


The Brand New Heavies: smoother than a baby's bottom

unnerving atmosphere of downward spiralling doom. Chief vocalist David Eugene Edwards is the son of a son of a preacher and judging by his howling lyrics redemption is one bottle of moonshine beyond reach. From ’Red Neck Reel’ to ’Neck On The New Blade’, this is what Nick Cave would sound like if he’d been brought up in a shack in hillbilly land rather than reared on the blues. (JT)

Horny Toad

Thirteen (Domo) * it: 1r

Following on from No Doubt's incredible success, first in the States and now in Britain,,Horny Toad have sprung from the same mould. But while No Doubt have moved on from the neo-ska scene which spawned them, and sanitised their sound in the process, Horny Toad are still skanking. As you might expect from a band featuring two former members of Suicidal Tendencies, there are plenty of grinding punkish guitars in with the Rasta grooves and there is also a leaning towards the rock workouts beloved of plaid-clad frat boys. Should prove popular With skatekids everywhere but without the equwalent photogenic bonus of No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani, we're less likely to see them around in three years’ time. They’re Number Six in lceland, you know. (JT)

Arnold The Barn Tapes (Creation) t it at 1?

Remember Michelle Shocked's Texas Campfire Tapes? The embodiment of lo-fi recording al fresco using a Walkman. Now retroheads Arnold give us The Barn Tapes, an accomplished demo recorded in a laVish all-mod-cons studio with more tracks than a model railway convention. Only joking. Recorded in a barn, of c0urse. Shaking hands with the new technology probably wouldn't enhance the sound of these 605 throwbacks. While we’ve heard this appropriation of all things wistfully melodic, mixed with the odd dirty rock interlude before (often on Creation), Arnold are a charming find, possibly with greatness tucked up their sleeves somewhere. (FS)


Same Dust As Stars (Art Threat) * it 9: There’s something slightly unfashionable and out-of—time about this debut EP/album-cum-thingy from Glasgow’s Saint. When all those around them are being raw, lo-fi, arch,

frivolous, angular or all of these things, Saint make grand gestures, employing those big 80s guitars, ethereal atmospherics and a heart-on-sleeve honesty. Saint are looking backwards to Dead Can Dance and The Blue Nile, but standing alongside current musical dramatists like Mansun and Geneva, which is not a bad place to be, all things considered. Available from Avalanche, Missmg, Echo, Music Mania and Tower Records; RRP £4.99. (FS)

The Secret Goldfish Jet Streams,(Marina) *‘kir

It's an album of two halves really. On one hand the minimally-arranged ditties trying a bit too hard to be quirky and ballads not trying hard enough to be affecting and on the other hand ye olde noise pop which has always branded The Secret Goldfish’s best moments. There’s still such an element of homage to what the Glaswegian four-piece do, and this time round they’ve all but credited their sources with a succession of cover versions (Shangri-Las, Orange Jtiice, Velvets), the best of which is a plangent reading of Nirvana’s 'Come As You Are’. (FS)

The Pearlfishers

The Strange Underworld Of The Tall Poppies (Marina) fr it sir *

Hamburg label Marina are coming for our daughters well, they've practically got all our bands already. Apart from the occasional Beach Boys- inspired collaboration With The BMX Bandits, it’s been a while since we’ve heard from Davie Scott and Brian McAlpine but they’ve chosen just the right time to usher summer in With this collection of songs you could call timeless were that not such a loaded term. Like World Party and The High Llamas, The Pearlfishers have succeeded in distilling the essence of The Beach Boys and other California dreamers Without s0unding slaVish, like Teenage Fanclub With an indie bypass Here comes the sun, do do do do (FS)

I The Pear/fishers play The Big Fringe on The Ren frew Ferry, Clyde Place, Fri 76 May.


City Delirious (Deconstruction) it ilr t Given the prevalence of remixing and the number of dance acts that have crossed over into chart territory, it is refreshing to find an act With dancefloor sensibilities which can cut

- uptempo tracks all boasting her

the funk using human-engineered melodies and beats. This is moody stuff with cinematic overtones: film noir when MC Buzz 8 drags out his laconic rap on tracks like ’Wet Roads Glisten’; and John Barry on more up-tempo numbers such as 'Supacop’. While no great development on last year's Instinct For Detection and despite a couple of dead-end tracks (stand up 'The Liquidator’), this is worthy listening to, for anyone who likes to groove. (TD)

Future Funk 2

The Sounds Of Things To Come (Solidstate) * **

There are 26 tracks on this compilation, most of which are good, some of which are excellent and a few of which are mediocre, It captures the cutting edge of the big beat/breakbeat dance-meets-indie scene as ! popularised by the likes of The Orb, Orbital and 808 State all of Whom feature here. Tracks by Blueboy, Slacker and the Propellerheads, all of Whom have been Top 40 recently, demonstrate just how much commercial potential this crossover has. Thankfully, newer names, like Glasgow’s DJ Q, are also given attention, as is the work of key remixers like Armand Van Helden and the Bassbin TWins. Not a bad package overall. (J8)

Mary J Blige Share My World (MCA) it it it it

This is Mary J Blige's third album and it’s pretty good, as you'd expect from the ’Queen of Hip Hop Soul’ It starts off With three absolutely duality

phenomenal vocal talents The recent single, ’Love Is All We. Need’ is sandWiched between 'I Can Love You’ and 'Round And Round' both of which c0u|d be Singles. ln the middle, it dips into ballad territory, which is cool if you like that sort of thing but boring if you don't. Whatever your opinion however, the quality of the production (assisted by Babyface and R Kelly among others) is tops and her VOICC remains beautiful as ever The latter half slinks back into midtempo mode With the excellent 'Everything' and the sexy ’Searching’ The bottOm line? That heart—stopping sexy-but-soulful voice. (JB)

Various Artists Booming On Pluto (Virgin) t i art Juan Atkins, Cat Stevens and Africa

Bambaataa on the same album anyone7 Before you shi'ivel up in horror

3 at the ur‘iadulterated eclecjt:CiSrri of it

all, give this useful guide to the sound known as electro the once-over Yes, it

5 is the third of David Toop's weird

ambient series, Oceans of Sound. Yes, the second CD (Ontains much that is beyond the call of sonic duty. But yes, the first CD does lead you through electro from the early 80s up to the present day And no, before yOu ask, there’s not a Kraftwerk tune in hearing distance. (TD)

Bob Woodruff

Desire Road (Curb/Hit) * sir i:

A solid, highly listenable major label debut from this fine singer and songwriter, who was one of the two American headliners at the first Big Big