Edinburgh: Attic, Tue 9 Nov; Glasgow: King Tut's, Wed 10 Nov.
Sidling into the spotlight on a triple-headed tour with Icelandic cuties Bellatrix and hard pop hopefuls Mercedes, Coldplay have a rash of rapturous reviews to live up to. They are also callow striplings fresh out of university. Isn't it a scary thing when people barely done with Clearasil and algebra start releasing music that's not just good in a cute, excitable, jump-up-and- down Ash kind of a way, but genuinely serious and intelligent? ‘We’re not that young,’ protests Coldplay frontboy Chris Martin. ‘We're not like Hanson, or the Moffatts.’ What are they like? ‘lt's kind of Brazilian punk meets Serge Gainsbourg.’ He's lying. That would be youthful high spirits, then. In fact, Coldplay's new 'Blue Room’ EP showcases five tender, downbeat guitar tracks
that veer from the Verve-esque tearstained epic 'Bigger,.
Stronger’ to the standout 'See You Soon', a folky lament that sets Coldplay apart from the hapless herds of low- rent Radioheads. Not that Chris is the type to get all precious about his songs, sweet as they are, and
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Blue boys: Coldplay
endowed as he is with one of the most heart-fumblineg delicate, hushed singing voices since the glory days of Drake and Buckley. The man who played his first gig at the age of eleven armed only with a Yamaha keyboard knows what he’s dealing with. 'A lot of the lyrics are about getting quite worried about something and then realising it's not all that much to worry about,’ he confides, summing up the whole life thing rather neatly. Having finished his classics degree ('Don't write that. it‘s hardly rock'n'roll. Can you imagine me and Liam having a big night in the Iibrary?'), signed a deal ('We signed it on a boat on the Serpentine. That gives us a loophole; it doesn't count as England, you see. It's uncharted territory’) and created quite a buzz, his worries are lessening. His glee in his burgeoning success is most endearing. 'I phoned Radio One when they played the single.’ he claims, ‘and said "Who was that band?" and they said “That was you!“ But are these sadcore troubadours cursed with faces for radio too? Those arty distorted photos suggests there might be something to hide . . . 'Not any more. Since we got signed we've been able to afford surgery.’ Young, gifted and surgically enhanced, nothing can stand in their way.
Corny devils: Tony £llis And The Musicians 0f Braeburn
beginning for some months until I realised that the Scruggs sound I was getting so excited about hearing on the radio wasn’t been done on a four- string plectrum. So I got a five string and that was it.’
Ellis has recorded in a plethora of styles from his days with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys to contributions on a 1997 Gaelic Roots album, but he's very happy with his current band. 'The group is quite an odd assortment of sympathetic instruments. And what we play isn’t really bluegrass. It’s a whole lot of things, but with the sound of the banjo at the centre - that's why I got
FOLK PREVIEW Tony Ellis And The
Musicians of Braeburn
Edinburgh: Canon's Gait, Sat 13 Nov; Glasgow: Riverside Club, Sun 14 Nov.
Braeburn sounds as if it’s in the Campsies or the Pentlands. In fact, it's Ohio that the Musicians of Braeburn will be leaving behind when they arrive here to accompany (on clarsach, pedal
organ and guitar) one of the world's great folk instrumentalists, Tony Ellis. Talking down the line from his Ohio farm, Ellis - the recipient of numerous US national awards, the inaster of the five-string banjo, the Backwoods Bach - admits to a life-long love affair. 'My grandmother played, flailing style, primarily old Appalachian tunes and parlour music. She wasn't great, but she loved the banjo. I guess I caught it from her. I actually played tenor at the
this band together, because I feel the banjo has such a beautiful voice, and I want people to hear it. The music I admire is really from the 405 and 505. By the time it gets to the 605 it fades out, gets too slick.‘ And he adds, with a laugh, ’I like what we call “corn” — tunes with melody, content and feeling. I got no time for all. that stuff that’s a hundred miles per hour, three chords and a cloud of dust.‘
preview MUSIC Exposure
Try it. You might like it. This issue: giggly German experimentalists Mouse On Mars.
Mouse on what? Cologne-based duo Jan Werner and Andi Toma met up in the midst of that city's electronic renaissance and have been producing off-kilter musical microcosms ever since. You may have heard them on The Pastels’ remix record, or behind the desk with Stereolab.
German 4- experimental = unlistenable avant-gardening? Far from it, the groups latest long player, Niun Niggung, is seriously good fun, with hyperactive two-step meeting daft helium reggae in an advert for a hypothetical cable show called Hilarious Diseases. For Jan, the music isn't meant to be humorous, as such: 'It is more about expanding boundaries and making things escalate — I think escalation potential is at its highest reach when you lose control, and one of the best ways of losing control is by laughing. You know, when your nose is running and you are making an ugly face? In situations like this, everything seems different afterwards.’
I bet they owe a debt to German electronicists of yesteryear . . . Not according to Jan, who rates his mates as more important than sonic predecessors. ’Our close environment is the biggest influence — family, friends, people who give us new ideas. I don't think music always produces music; everything we can perceive is an influence, and if you are open to perceiving things, anything can go whoosh into your head, and you don't know what your brain will find interesting.’
Not part of the over-serious electronic cabal, then? 'It would be too easy to feel comfortable in a scene,’ says Jan, 'but we are really afraid of becoming bored of things and us and everything. As soon as you see yourself as part of a scene, you immediately have all the restrictions, cliches and rules that make a scene what it is. We are more about escaping these things. (Jack Mottram)
l Mouse On Mars play Edinburgh:
La Belle Ange/e, Fri 12 Nov. Niun Niggung is out now on Domino.
Laughing boys: Mouse On Mars
4-18 Nov 1999 THEUST“