record reviews


The Make Up

Save Yourself (K) *~k** *

The Make-Up are first and foremost a live group, thanks to their appropriaton of the call-and-response structure of gospel In theory, without the audience participation, their recorded output should be a disappointment. Fortunately, the not-as-naive-as-it-Iooks cultural theorising engenders raw and affecting recorded music that almost matches the hysteria of the live experience. In fact, this album is a gem, from the lurching scuzz-garage of ’Call Me Mommy' to the ode to geometrical love that is 'I Am Pentagon'. There's even a cover of ’Hey Joe’, which neatly critiques the romance of the addled pop star surely a gambit designed to kill off workers once they threaten their own commercial viability, comrades! (JM)

Folk lmplosron One Part Lullaby (Domino) *~k** The world of indie boys and their battered guitars and souls isn’t known for instilling a work ethic in its inhabitants, but Lou Barlow is, as ever, the exception. With Sebadoh, he's crafted album after album of guilt- ridden and wondroust scratchy rock, but as Folk Implosion he’s not nearly so abstruse; in place of squalls of feedback and howls of angst there are shuffling no-fi breaks and gorgeous, intangible melodies (’Mechanical Man’), mock-Morricone Western soundtracks (’Serge') and an infectious, solipsistic calm.

Listen to this in silence while watching the sun set over the Gobi desert. (LM)

Point Blank SO/SO (oneinchpunch) ***

Point Blank’s thing is fusing the dumb, sneery Gallagher rock dynamics we all know and love so well with frenetic beats and scratching (’12.3’), all-out noodly wah-wah psychosis (’SO/SO', ’Drink Up And Be Somebody) and blaxploitation funk (’Don’t Let Them (Turn You Around)’). Clear as a bell and confident without undue swagger, 50/50 takes a stylish tour around 905 boyrock’s favourite beauty spots; and even if it’s breaking few of the rules, it's a singularly impressive outing from probably the most promising Blantyre export since . . . well, ever. (HM)

Russell Mills/Undark Pearl And Umbra (Bella) *ht

Sonic mirrors reflecting the realms of possibility for your mind and soul have never exactly been the height of musical fashion. And the fact that it may be impossible to garner any joy from this collection without some mind-squeezing/elongating narcotics doesn't help.

Still, Glasgow School of Art lecturer Russell Mills has assembled some pretty impressive mates for this multi-textured ride - Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Bill Laswell, Harold Budd, Michael Brook and others have lined many a stoner's

48 THE U81 21 Oct—4 Nov 1999

lopsided shelves for years.

All the colours of every rainbow are represented here as fuzzy guitars meet angular alchemies which are then distilled into whirly soundscapes. Fun if you're brave enough. (80)

Billy Bragg

Reaching To the Converted (Cooking wwh****t

When the first track on your b-sides and rarities compilation is as painfully lovely as 'Shirley’ (aka ’Greetings To The New Brunette’), you can’t go that far wrong. Everyone is so hung up on slating Bill for being a frumpy old lefty that they tend to forget the simple loveliness of his songs and his effortless way with a heart-twisting hook, displayed on the bilious 'Accident Waiting To Happen’ and the wrny tender love songs ’Sulk’ and ’Wishing The Days Away’. As for the flagrant sloganeering of 'Days Like These' and ’| Don’t Need This Pressure Ron’ well, frankly, why not? Sod post-modern irony and non-committal cool, it’s about time someone flew the flag for giving a shit. (HM)

Atari Teenage Riot

Too Dead For Me (Digital Hardcore) ***

Another slice of sonic ultraviolence from Alec Empire and chums, Too Dead for Me sticks to the Riot formula of shouting, guitar abuse and furious beats. It’s all meant to add up to serious political art but, unless you think yelping the words ’revolution’ and ’anarchy’ a lot constitutes a valid critique of current mores, the Riot are really a top class dance act, thanks largely to their adherence to the manic thump of hardcore. There are distorted guitars and imploding fax-machine noises cluttering up the foreground, but the live tracks still demand frenetic dancing thanks to their proto-jungle monotone basslines and warp speed breaks. The perfect antidote to the paint-by-numbers ecstasy mechanics of Gatecrasher Euro-trance. (JM)

Lakuna Castle Of Crime (4AD) *tir‘k

With the world and his dachshund going ga-ga over post-rock, it seems only fair that David Narcizo - ex-

The Charlatans Us And Us Only (Universal) irkirlrir

Accentuate the positive: The Charlatans

There are bands who can bypass fashion. intellect, whatever cynical theories those in the know might hurl at them, and go straight for the heart. The sheer positive energy of The Charlatans, the childlike quality inherent in their lilting melodies and gentle lyrics and Tim Burgess's cheeky- little-fella voice, could melt ice at a hundred paces. Tellin' Stories was a bag full of puppies, sentimental, rough-and-tumble, irrepressible. As Us And Us Only marks not only the band's defiant comeback from tragedy. but also Tim Burgess's discovery of True Love. it’s no surprise that it's even more

heartfelt and uplifting.

it hardly breaks new ground; the second track, ’lmpossible’, is pedigree Blonde On Blonde before the harmonica solo even starts, while ‘A House is Not A Home' quotes Blood On The Tracks both lyrically and in spirit. Elsewhere n 'T he Blonde Waltz', 'My Beautiful Friend’ - haunting folky refrains trickling over vast, raw swathes of guitar recall their contemporaries The Stone Roses; and on 'l Don't Care Where You Live' and 'Watching You’, they’re a brand-new Byrds, all chimes and jangles and ravishing harmonies. Still, this is too expansive and too guilelessly emotional to be dismissed as a lazy rehash of the indie canon. It’s white boy rock, sure; but it’s the most gorgeous there is. (Hannah McGill)

axesmith with college-pop angst-idols Throwing Muses be allowed a crack at the increasingly frayed whip. And what a fine job he makes of it too, skirting the ponderous navel-gazery of Mogwai in favour of involving arrangements and gasp proper tunes. Thus ’Lemongrass’ sees children's voices leap delicately through a Looper—esque backdrop, while ’On The Floor’ is a how-lo-can-you-go-fi

Flying the flag: Billy Bragg

delight an understated, slowly evolving groove that quietly echoes the firebrand essence of the Velvet Underground. Life may move slowly round Lakuna's way, but, like a post- rock Royle Family, their infinite charm and calm ingenuity sees them through. (50}

Dot Allison

Afterglow (Heavenly) 1t 1t

Six years after One Dove’s one and only album, Dot's still singing, but something's missing. Her voice is as gorgeous as ever, a frail but beautiful instrument, and she's roped in Mani to play bass (on the subterranean dub of Colour Me) and Hal David to co-write lyrics on ’Did I Imagine You?', which sweeps along the floor like a crimson ballgown. Remove these moments of seductive melancholy, however, and there’s little of real substance; other than the swooning Mo’ Pop, the tunes have been buried with studio trickery and excess production. A comedown, for sure, but probably not in the intended way. (LM)


On Fading Out (Common Culture) ***

If one of those oh-so-kooky NY art rock collectives King Missile or Bongwater came from deepest Merseyside, they might be Rooney. Not surprisingly, John Peel is a fan of this