Elliott Smith Glasgow: 92, Wed 2 Dec.
Although he probably wouldn't thank you for it, it is difficult to introduce Elliott Smith without making some reference to his involvement on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack and his subsequent Oscar nomination for the song ‘Miss Misery' — and incongruous performance at the ceremony itself.
Smith’s delicate, pastoral reveries bridge the gap between folk and pop and his contribution to the Gus Van Sant movie provided the same defining atmosphere as Cat Stevens' music for Harold And Maude or J. Mascis's compositions for Gas Food Lodging. It certainly accelerated the exposure he has deservedly gained.
'For me, I was doing fine anyway,’ says Smith. 'I was playing to a couple of hundred people a night on tour. To most people it seems like I was rescued from oblivion by that movie but that's not true. Personally, it was like a fun little sidetrack. It didn’t change anything about my life.’
Owing to a couple of reissued albums on Domino Records, newfound fans in Britain have had the opportunity to digest all four of
his albums in quick succession - a bit like Baby Bird, with more quality control. Roman Candle, Elliott Smith, this year’s Either/Or and the most recent release X0, which marks his major label debut, vary greatly in production budget but less so in songwriting style which remains direct, minimal and mainly acoustic. Smith does crank up the volume occasionally on X0 but it’s still a far cry from his original band Heatmiser.
’It was a loud post-punk type of thing,’ he says. ’We were really into Nation Of Ulysses and Fugazi but we didn’t sound nearly as good. The songs were always a big compromise between everyone in the band. I didn't
like it much.’
Glasgow: SECC, Sun 29 Nov.
You wouldn't know rt from tlze franth product, but Tiger forthcomrng second album Rosana - heralded by new EP 'Grrl From The Petrol Statron’ -- started lrfe rn an atrnosr.)here of Supernatural Isolation ‘I went to thrs
Elliott Smith: reviving the troubador tradition although seemingly not keen on
cottage rn Wales,’ frontrnan Dan Lardler says 'Cause when I'm ‘.‘/I'lll.'l(} I put headphones on and rnalze a lot of warlrng norses‘ and I get very self- consCrous if anyone can hear me So I went to this place \.'.’llll no TV, where the only musrc I could get was from Radro l or Radro Wales Then I read the guest book and everyone who'd
Wash 'n' Go
Now Smith can please himself and he does so by embracing the nomadic lifestyle. He lived in Dallas, Texas and Portland, Oregon when he was growing up and currently has an apartment in New York. Apparently a lot of his songs were penned in the city's bars, but he’s rarely there these days.
‘I usually go out and play if I'm not recording,’ he says. ‘Otherwise I just sit around getting bored. There's nowhere I really wanna live and I don't really have a band, so I don’t have to stay in the city with a band, so there's kinda no reason to stay anywhere.’
New York’s loss is everyone else’s gain.
been there mentioned seerng ghosts. It l
put me rn a strange frame of mrnd. I got more frantrc than normal.’
Frantrc or not, the embryonrc songs were good enough to attract uber- producer Stephen Street (Blur, Morrrssey) 'l'rn not gurte sure how he got hold of the demos,’ says Lardler 'But he wanted to do rt. It actually put the album back a whrle, because we were wartrng for Stephen to be avarlrble, but rt turned out to be worth rt, I think. He didn't change the songs too much, he just made us get ever‘ythrng rrght Everythrng had to be very well done '
Glasgow punters can hear the new material lrve when the band support Pulp at the SECC, but the front man rs unfazed at the thought of playrng to an arena-srzed audrence
'We're on frrst so there’ll be nobody
there anyway,‘ he says, envisagrng '
berng less of an attractron than beer rn plastrc glasses and top gualrty Jarv related merchandise But With songs of the (alrbre of ’I Was A Rolling Stone’ and Lardler"s own current fave 'Root Cage,’ early bird grg goers wrll frnd Trger a worm worth catchrng.
ROCK El Hombre Trajeado
Some facts about Glaswegian four- piece El Hombre Trajeado: John Peel has their album taped for use on his in- car stereo. The guitarist/occasional singer apparently 'wobbles a lot and does crazy eyes' on stage. There are further allusions to his ’one-Iegged thing’, whatever that might be. Their bass player has a habit of breaking his wrist skateboarding. They reject the description ’mathrock’. Actually they're not sure what it means. And to put you out of your misery, their name means 'the man rn the suit’.
These hombres started out in local punk groups but rn their three years together have transformed their musical outlook to embrace samples, keyboards and languid atmospherics over plangent rhythms, with the odd vocal interjection.
’When we started the band I decided there'd be no more fake American punk rock singing,’ says guitarist Hubby, ’and if there was going to be vocals then it would be spoken with my natural accent which, listening to our early recordings, wasn’t that great an idea because I sound a bit neddy. We were doing very fast jittery stuff but when Ben [Jones, keyboards] came along, suddenly we didn’t need to fill so much space cos he was domg a lot more of the textural stuff.’
Drummer Stef Srnclarr agrees. ’You go though a process where you rmmediately want to do as much as you can rn your songs, then over a perrod of time you lose your frantrc edge?
Four Srngles (including split 7-inches with Glaswegian muckers like Lungleg and The Karelra) and three Peel sessions down the Irne, El Hombre Trajeado have released a debut album Skipaione whrch has none of the punk tics of old, but boasts nrne evocativer titled tracks of mellrfluous mellow moods.
’It’s gor a really good blend,’ says Sinclair. 'There’s at least one really soulful, relaxing tune and there’s a couple where you can whack the volume rrght up and they burst out at you.’
For once, you can trust the men in surts. (Frona Shepherd)
e Skipafone is out on Guided Missile
El Hombre Trajeado: difficult to say, easy to listen to
I9 Nov—3 Dec I998 THE "ST 51