ROCK . Shawn Mullins Glasgow: The Garage, Tue 18 May.
50 many acts seem to hit Number One with their debut single these days (stand up and do a jig, Westlife) that it's nice to meet someone who has slogged their guts out for success. Of course, when Shawn Mullins topped the American charts with ’Lullaby' and went top ten here, anyone could be forgiven for thinking the 31- year-old singer-songwriter from Georgia had picked up a guitar for the first time that morning and was in heavy rotation on MTV by lunch. Not true. Like Britain’s Babybird, Mullins had already released a string of independent albums before one big single propelled him into the mainstream.
Mullins’ eighth album, Soul’s Core, is the product of the life of an American troubadour, crossing the States coffee house by coffee house, learning stories, learning songs and learning to live by his wits. Appropriately, Soul’s Core is crammed with narrative country rock which betrays the influence of Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Gil Scott- Heron. But there’s also something in his sound which will ring familiar with fans of Beck or Bran Van 3000, artists reared on Hank Williams and hip hop who give an MTV spin to the American tradition. Maybe that's why he has crossed over so successfully.
‘This kind of music will always
make it and I’ll explain why,’ responds Mullins. ’lt’s always about what has already happened and we’re all taking it from what we've already learned. You look at the boy bands of today in the US and UK: that's nothing different from the Monkees or the Everly Brothers. Old influences are always a part of the cycles of music and how it all organically changes.’
Mullins‘ success in Britain can probably be explained by our perennial willingness to buy into an American myth of wide open highways and talented poor boys
A wandering minstrel guy: Shawn Mullins
with six strings and one dream to their name. Columbia certainly believe in the money-spinning potential of their minstrel — they signed Mullins for a reported 514 million, a figure he denies. He sees his rags-to-riches tale as a beacon for America’s underground scene.
’My story is important because there are a lot of people out there who should be recognised the way I have been. Maybe this will help put a bit of focus on the indie world.’ (Peter Ross)
Pernice Brothers Glasgow: King Tut’s, Sun 16 May.
The Pernice Brothers really need to get some misery into their lives if they are to be numbered among the celebrated exponents of the hip alt.country genre. Their debut album is called Overcome 8y Happiness, a title involving little irony, and the music within is upbeat, countryfied pop of the sunniest variety. Compared to peers such as Will Oldham, Sparklehorse, Wilco or even their miserablist Rykodisc stable mate Damien Jurado, the Pernices are hyper- happy hyenas after a shot of giggly gas.
’I definitely like pop music - whatever "pop mum" is — more than the guys in my old band,’ says Joe Pernice of his days singing With the Scud Mountain Boys, early 90s pioneers of the alt.country sound. 'Bruce Tull was a great guitarist, but he wanted to play pedal steel on every song. Sometimes I wanted to write a piano ballad, but he had pretty well-set ideas of things, and I wanted to experiment more'
Now that he has come down from the SCUd Mountains, that experimentation has been pushed in the direction of crafting pretty polished pop tunes. Not that you’d know it
‘ from the titles, mind. 'Crestfallen',
’Sick Of You' and ’Dimmest Star' may not quite reek of Marilyn Manson's melancholy odour, but neither would
' you feel encouraged to put on your
party hat and dance a hoedown. Still, whatever the lyrical content, the tunes consistently accentuate the positive. 'It all comes out of melody,’ Pernice inSists. 'Strong melodies are
t commonplace in all the music I like, no
matter what it is.’ So what does it take to get this
disarming man narky? ’It would really
depress me to be insincere about playing musrc,’ he says. ’If I was doing something I didn't like, it w0u|d make it hard to tow And for what? The chance to make a lot of money? If I wanted to be unhappy, I could go
' work in a bank. So, if you think it
Every fortnight we turn the spotlight on an act who are either new or criminally ignored. This issue: Younger Younger 28’s.
Who? Younger Younger 28's are two boys and two g-ris spanning two diyides ~ age and geography The girls Andie Page (vor als) and Li? Thomas
(vocals) are from the south and are JUSI out of their teens; the blokes Joe Northern (vocals, guitars) and (El Jimmy D (keyboards, programming) are northern types nearer their 30s.
So, not that much younger then? The lads have been around for many a year, haVing met at a wedding.
How romantic Not really. Northern was in a cabaret band called Ronnie Canada And The Allstars performing at the reception for a former bandmate of Jimmy's.
And how did they meet the girls? ’After a while we realised we had no youth in this band, so we thought "How about getting two girls in?",' remembers Joe Northern. 'We said we wanted two girls of the next door variety. Liz and Andre were mates anyway and hung around dOing y0ung girl things. They were working in some dreadfully tacky Wine bar in Guildford and we went "Oh dear, we’re right in the middle of a Human League
Do the band actually sound like Sheffield‘s electro-pop supremos?
Yes, With a bit of B-SZs thrown in for good measure.
What's in a name? 'Jirn was watching some news report on Breakfast TV and heard the words "YOunger Younger 28‘s",' recalls Northern 'Atxsut a year later no put out one of his 'tardcore techno tracks and went under that name We stuck wrth it, but about three months ago we found out that they were a horrendously heavy Yardie gang in Brixton. We contacted the police who told us we had nothing to worry about — they're all either dead or in Jdll.‘
Any celebrity admirers? Ben Elton, Denise Van Outen and Hugo Speer are all big fans.
Hugo who? 'You know Hugo,’ insists Northern. 'He's my mate from Harrogate, who was the stripper in The Full Monty. The one With the big (or k ' (Brian Donaldson)
as Younger Younger 28's pray Tne Attic, Edinburgh, Sun 76 May, King Tut’s wan Walt Hut, Glasgow, Mon 7 7 “Jay, Til? the Park, Balado, Sun '7 Jt: Gator; Otll' is released on 7/2. Zion '7 it'd,
through, if yOu really think it through, it doesn't make sense to do things any other way.’
Brothers rust worked it out.
Sun kings: the Pernice Brothers
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