record reviews


Guided By Vorces

Do the Collapse (Creation) mud: The legends of US Io-fi swoop in with a slickly produced set of straight up and down indie rock blinders. ’Teenage FBI' is a desperately catchy, guitar-heavy opener that brims with the same positive energy that made The Breeders so irresistable; on '200 Pie’ the Afghan Whigs’ noisy sex-funk thang is happily married to the sweeping choral majesty of Spiritualized. Big, loose melodies, Robert Pollard's tremendous rock voice, great lyrics and the kind of piledriving riffs that keep on ringing in your ears even after this very long album has ended. Less than subtle. More than fun. (HM)


Forty Days Of Summer (Tube Bar) at k A A

Beatglider are one of those bands Graham Coxon probably secretly fantasises about joining which means long, slippery, hypnotic guitar epics played by serious-looking boys with unkempt hair. This album drifts, like a plume of particularly herbal smoke, somewhere between Mercury Rev, Dinosaur Jr and the earnest art-rock excesses of the early 90s shoegazers. The result is a lazy, tidal wash of sound that glides and shimmers on 'Hold Out' and 'Fall into My Arms', before embracing hiccupy brass and noodly alien noises on 'Premonition Dragon'. A glorious post-rock jam. Which is like strawberry jam but with more angst. (HM)

Valerie Etienne For What it Is (Clean Up) 1H:

It's a shame that the former Galliano singer hasn’t seen fit to employ her super-smooth voice in the pursuit of something more interesting than mere chart soul by numbers. The bulk of these songs, with their unadventurous lurve-gone-wrong lyrics and anodyne, throb ’n' jangle backing tracks, could all too easily soundtrack the final snog in Notting Hill 2, or similar. There’s nothing strong enough on here to distinguish Etienne from the massed ranks of would-be divas; although when she gets all sultry on 'Misunderstanding’ and ’The Birds Sing', there’s a glimpse of the

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personality beyond the blueprint. (HM)

Kate Jacobs

Hydrangea (Small Pond) kid:

Kate Jacobs' frail country folk pop is very engaging in a tender, jangly sort - of way. She has a girlish voice that somehow recalls Dolly Parton, Juliana Hatfield and Emmylou Harris all at once; while her lyrics, based largely upon tales drawn from the history of her own family, have a dry candour and intimacy reminiscent of Michelle Shocked. There are elements of tooth- rotting tweeness the sentimental 'Honeybees', the massed children's choir that keeps cropping up - but ‘Shallow' and ’On The Way Home' are bright, skipping pop tunes, and overall this is a pleasantly unassuming and quirky take on the bloated country genre. (HM)


This Constant Chase For Thrills (Screaming Target) *~k~k*

Anything having to follow what was arguably one of the best dance albums ever made (1996’s Sinking) should undoubtedly be an anti-climax. But no, this now streamlined three-piece, create a more electronic sound, but the ever present dub bottom end is still the driving force over which, swathes of synth and the unique tones of Ricky Barrow are draped. They retain much of the brooding atmOSphere of previous work, but this is generally a stranger, more percussive affair, but damn fine regardless. (MF)


Global Underground

Sasha: Space In Ibiza (Boxed) ***‘k*

Let it be shouted from the rooftops across the land: Sasha is back on form. In this, the thirteenth Global Underground compilation, he successfully recreates the atmosphere of Space, the infamous open-for-ZZ-hours club in Ibiza.

Over two CDs (any one else see a pattern forming here?) Sasha delights in layering and sculpting progressive house, trance and the odd break beat number with the hand of an experienced master. Everyone from Bedrock to P08, Orbital to Sasha himself gets a look in; and eight of the tracks are as yet unreleased, making this a unique piece of plastic. Essential fodder. (SB)


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Collapsed fun: Guided By Voices

ROCK Supergrass Supergrass (Parlophone) ink-Av

Joint effort: Supergrass

Supergrass have always been misunderstood. initially pitched as kohled-up speed-freak teenage sex bombs, this gambit failed entirely when people with eyes noticed they were three profoundly unsexy, hemp-smoking blokes. Later at the height of Britpop madness, Steven Spielberg, of all people. reckoned they were the new Monkees. The band reckoned they were the new JJ Cale. indeed Supergrass - like most bands who get tarred with the 'wacky’ brush - have always been at pains to point out that they are in fact serious musicians who can play their own instruments and everything, a claim not aided by goof-pop singles like 'Pumping On Your Stereo' and its accompanying video featuring them as bopping day-glo muppets. Supergrass however is a dawdling psychedelic creature which, although consistent in its hazy, insidious mood, fails to coerce into anything substantial. Opener 'Moving', a vaguely unsettling MOR swooner. is so fascinatineg odd and original, it can’t help but highlight the rest of the album for the under-nourished trifle it is. Sure Gaz Coombes sings rather wonderfully in places and 'Shotover Hill', with its harpsichord trills and ‘Black Beauty' timpani rolls, is opaque Brit-psychedeiia in excelsis, but Supergrass remains the sonic equivalent of a conversation with a stoner: meandering, half-baked and unengaging. (Paul Whitelaw)

FOLK Kenna Campbell

Guth a Shniomhas (Macmeanmna) *irt‘k

Various Artists

Orain Nan Gaidheal (Greentrax) *‘k‘k‘k

Two important albums of Gaelic song. The former because, for all the respect earned by this Glasgow-based Skye singer over a long career, this her first real album. It’s a beautifully realised reflection of her high, clear singing style, with admirably restrained musical accompaniment and an informative sixteen-page sleeve. Kenna also appears with her family on the latter album, culled from live recordings of the 1997 Edinburgh Festival series of Gaelic concerts. The eighteen very varied tracks from the finest contemporary Gaelic singers include some of the great, less frequently heard male voices in the tradition, such as Murdo MacDonald's Lewis-exile song Slan le Leodhas nam Beann Fuar. (NC)

JAZZ Benny Green

These Are Soulful Days (Blue Note)

*~k** Pianist Benny Green celebrates a

decade of recording for Blue Note with his best album yet for the label. His

selection of eight tunes by seven musicians associated with Blue Note's 60-year history includes material by Horace Silver, Dexter Gordon, Lee Morgan, Joe Henderson, and Bobby Hutcherson, and provides plenty of variety. Green served a high-pressure apprenticeship with Art Blakey and Betty Carter, and has developed into an exciting and highly musical practitioner of classic jazz pianism. He is comfortable at any tempo, from langorous through to blistering, and receives superb support from guitarist Russell Malone and bassist Christian McBride in a spacious but highly energised trio. (KM)

Jeff 'Taln' Watts

Citizen Tain (Columbia) **~k

Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts based one of his compositions on this album on his experiences of a California earthquake, and the drummer unleashes a few seismic shocks of his own in the course of a polished and inventive debut as leader. Tain is one of the top jazz drummers of his generation, and proves to be an adept composer into the bargain, something only hinted at in his extensive work as a sideman. He is best known for his work with both Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and more recently Kenny Garrett, all of whom feature at various points here, alongside the late Kenny Kirkland on piano. (KM)