record reviews


Catatonia International Velvet (WEA) t * 1k 1? ‘k

‘Mulder And Scully' it's ace, isn’t it? Well brace yourselves because there is a whole album here stocked full of similarly choice pop gems. While we’ve all been getting in a lather over the ’Ladies And Gentlemen We Are All OK Urban Computer Hymns In Space‘ colossi of the past year, former third leaguers Catatonia have snuck out of the indie doldrums With an unassumingly diverse album that truly deserves the mantle of ’classic’. No, really. Songs like ’International Velvet’ and ‘Road Rage’ with their genius singalong hooks are Top Ten blitzes just waiting to happen, while 'Goldfish And Paracetamol’ and ’Strange Glue' are paranord, shivery late 90’s trip-pop par excellence. The pop year has officially begun. (PW)

Malcolm Ross Happy Boy (Marina) at it it

The Scottish Steve Cropper he may be, but the former six-string mainstay of Josef K, Orange Juice and Aztec Camera (and music consultant for the Beatles biopic Backbeat, is not a strong or charismatic singer. His songs, though, are engaging enough to carry him through jaunty country, sparse funk, discreet jazz, a slight Beck influence on ’Big Guitar' and a mournful piano ballad, 'Heartbroken All Over Again’. Barry Adamson turns up at the midway point to read a Walter de la Mare extract and then we’re off again, slinking away into the wee small hours. (AM)


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4‘8 THE [131' 6—19 Feb 1998

Dawn Of The


One Head, Two Arms, Two Legs (WEA) ***

Crawling from the south and scotching the myth that all decent Scottish bands are nurtured at Glasgow's concrete bosom, Galashiels gang Dawn Of The Replicants are bordering on something special. To call them the Scottish Super Furry Animals would belittle this inventive album, but they do share the Welsh band’s fried, folksy, off-kilter lyrical mayhem. It sounds like they would love to make straight pop but are just too darned weird to manage, which is just as well for brilliantly atmospheric nuggets ’Candlefire’, ’Lisa Box’ and ’Radars’. Elsewhere, however, self- indulgence and wilful surrealism detract from the fun and exuberance. (PR)

Libido Killing Some Dead Time (Fire) *

There’s been a number of Scandinavian bands over the past few years who’ve successfully brought their indie pop coals to Newcastle, and Norwegian trio Libido aren’t about to let the side down with their tangy debut. Timing-Wise they’re just about right to catch the Radiohead bandwagon, along with about 3000 other young guitar combos doing the rounds at the moment, which rather dilutes the potential impact they might have had on a less saturated market, but Ki'l/ing Some Dead Time should still satisfy some of those primal urges for driving guitar

pop. (FS) . “Fail? '



MASE: he‘s the money

Malcolm Ross: big music for the small hours

Umajets Demolotion (Clearspot) * it 1r *

There’s something to be said for a band who name themselves after Uma Thurman and, um, a jet and sound, occasionally, like Manic Street Preachers covering the works of Billy Joel. And that something is . _ . niiice! Umajets won’t break any land speed records but Rob Aldridge and Tim Smith keep good company, namely a couple of Black Crowes and a record collection which probably encompasses the best American songwriters from Neil Young to Stevie Wonder. Demolotion is not ClaSSIC itself, but it is a distant relation. (FS)


Harlem World (Puff Daddy Records) at t r

’If she makes my nuts itch, I’ll kill that slut bitch,’ raps Ma$e. ’I been around the world and I ain't never met a girl that’s so thorough that she could suck my dick until my toes Curl.’ The Booker Prize is in the post, mate. Tacky raps aside, some of the music here is actually pretty strong. In particular, check the recent single ’Feel So Good’, ’What You Want' (which features Total), 'I Need To Be’ (with Monifah) and ’Love You So’. What raises MaSe above the rest is his smooth, lazy delivery and his Puff- style ability to plunder 70s disco and 805 pop and marry it With hip hop attitude. (JB)

COUNTRY ROCK Various Artists Loose (Vinyl Junkie) sum

Sub-titled ’New Seunds Of The Old West’, Loose is a collection of twenty songs culled from the more left field representatives of the intersection where the altcountry tendency meets indie pop, somewhere a long way from Nashville. The roller-coaster guitar grind of The Bonnevilles’ ’Tilt A Whiri’ supplies an upbeat opening, but the prevailing mood thereafter is gritty, low-key and brooding. From the laid-

back melodic pop of the Scud Mountain Boys to the moody, morose introspection of Lanibcliop, Fuck and Lullaby For The Working Class, the album explores the weird, spooky, and often very loose sideroads and backwoods of the contemporary American roots-rock terrain, with a couple of UK contributions thrown in for good measure. (KM)

Michael Head

The Magical World Of The Strands (Megaphone) * at it is

In the airbrushed 19803, The Pale Fountains all but re-invented acoustic pop, namechecking Bacharach and Love as influences at a time when Belle And Sebastian was something you watched in the summer holidays Criminally overlooked, singer/writer Michael Head and brother John ploughed on with Shack, though this hard-to-find import appears to be the record Head’s been strivrng to make for a decade. By turns fragile and jaunty, shimmering guitars and a lone flute recall ’Da Capo’ era Love delivered in a Scouse accent. There’s a melancholy air to proceedings, as if Head knows he’s missed the boat but iS tOO long in the tooth to care. Truly a thing of beauty. (NCo)


Almanac Jazzers and Groovers (KRL) * it

A relaxed jazz fusion workout from a collection of Glasgow-based musicians, led by Paul Henderson, whose smoothly in-the-groove guitar and gmtar-synth are heavrly featured in melodic, somewhat Metheny-like settings (albeit Without his sharpness of focus). The band, which includes Gregor Clark’s trumpet work, Brian Byrne’s ear-catching piano and Hammond organ, and Hermie Longalong’s rather anonymous saxophone stylings, is pretty international in its origins, but the smooth, too often anodyne groove is firmly born in the USA An amiable and accomplished debut, but a little too lightweight to grab a third star. (KM)