Ooberman The Magic Treehouse (Independiente) ***
Ooberman come ~racing out the blocks with a long playing debut that showers the listener with singalong choruses and spunky, young person’s guitars, like all bands should, frankly. Just when it starts getting a bit one-dimensional though, they go off on a tangent and throw in some punky or psychedelic weirdness to keep you listening. Throughout The Magic Treehouse, Ooberman tread a dangerous line of quirky humour, mostly getting away with it, the exception being the overly irritating ’Sugar Bum'. Elsewhere — as on ’Blossoms Falling' and ’Bees' — they get the mix of pop chorus, daft lyrics and rock ’n’ roll just right.
Towards the end of the album they mellow, showing singer Danny Popplewell to be more than just a good punky shouter. The rest of the band pitch in too, with songs like ’Roll Me In Cotton’ and ’Amazing In Bed’ proving genuinely touching. All in all, a promising debut. (DJ)
Bernard Butler Friends And Lovers (Creation) *
This album is crap. That’s the first thing you should know. It’s boring, traditional, boring, grown-up, boring, self-important, boring tosh. And it’s boring as well. Throughout its cripplingly sensible 50 minutes, you get the impression that old Bernie is desperate to join the hideously insipid Weller Pipe 'n’ Slipper Club, earnestly paying homage at the alter of bore- rock. ’Look at me! I can play the guitar like an old pub rocker!’ he screams. Alas, that’s not true, but it would be great if he did. Instead, he packs every mid-paced tune here with ten tons of lyrical platitudes and serious guitar ’licks', and not a memorable moment in sight. Occasionally Mr Butler’s nasal whine or guitar buffoonery actually makes you burst out laughing, like when ’Lets Go Away' ends up sounding like Mike Oldfield, but mostly
this is just depressing. Did I mention it was boring too? (DJ)
Eu hmics Peac'ey(RCA) ink
It’s hard to believe the same blistering Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, who produced sunshine and thunder on Touch 16 years ago, could create a comeback album whose well-executed tracks so uninspiringly merge into one big dreich dollop of droning drivel. The Phil Collins-effect is most apparent in one of the few uptempo tracks, ’I Want It Now’; the merest hint of respite arrives in an all- too-brief reproachful ’Sweet Dreams’ refrain on ’Seventeen Again'. On its fourth play I'm still hoping it will rear up and bite me on the bum. But the inescapable truth is that it ain’t gonna happen, not now, not after a dozen (heaven forbid) playings. (GS)
Le Ti re Le Tigre Wiiija) *‘k‘k
This is a record by Kathleen Hanna, ex of Bikini Kill, together with a video artist and someone who writes a fanzine called, for God’s sake, My Need To Speak On The Subject Of Jackson Pollock. That is, like, so cool. Or not, as the case may be. Le Tigre is exactly what you would expect, comprising squeak~yelp vocals and scritch-scratch guitars plonked atop that all-purpose 60$ girls-in-the-garage sound so beloved by art-rockers. Admittedly, things are livened up a touch with fractured breaks complete with matching old-school scratch patterns, and any long player with a track called ’What’s Yr Take On Cassavettes?’ deserves at least a cursory listen. The fact remains, however, that this sort of thing can never be more than a temporary diversion and it is hard not to laugh at, rather than with, the cack- handed ’wit’. (JM)
Roberto Manes Phoenician Dream (ASC Records) *‘k‘k
Violinist Roberto Manes explores the interface between Indian music, jazz and technology on this album. Manes’s electric violin is very much the lead
48 THEUST 4-18 Nov 1999
Spaced out: Doberman
ROCK Foo Fighters
There Is Nothing Left To Lose (RCA) *Hv
Bland on bland: Foo Fighters
With such an overly serious sounding title, one could have been misled into thinking this could be the Foo Fighters' brooding, introspective album - all furro'wed brows and grinding teeth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than melancholy Nick Drakeisms, we see Dave Grohl and co deliver happy-go-lucky fuzz power pop by the wheelbarrowload.
This is not however, 50 minutes of sub-Offspring, large trousered dirge. Grohl’s choruses soar as effortlessly as any 705 pop rock balladeer, and his power chords fizz and spit like The Ramones never went away. This is. unfortunately, where the problem lies. After two instalments of material which (while perhaps not as accomplished as Grohl previous band's output) were endowed with vital energy and rock weight, this collection seems
flimsy by comparison.
This looks like a deliberate assault on the pop charts and is so decidedly easy on the ear that it's positively bland. There are occasional glimmers of hope. but these breaks from the rock-by-numbers formula are sadly brief.
Maybe life is just a little too peachy in Foo Fighter land because, as we all know, a bit of angst never hurt anyone. (Mark Robertson) r
voice, floating through and across an energised ambient soundscape generated by Jonathan Gee’s synthesizer and Rhodes piano (Ingrid Laubrock contributes synth on one cut), Peter Lockett's percussion, and, on three tracks, Davide Mantovani on bass. Rock fans should note this album also contains the final studio recordings made by the late Rory Gallagher, in the shape of two tunes cut in 1994. The guitarist is heard on an acoustic instrument in both cases, and in gentler mode than his characteristic driving blues style. (KM)
River IS) ****
This Swedish label follows its recent releases of the music of James MacMillan with a disc by another fine contemporary composer based in Scotland. Sally Beamish stepped out of the orchestral ranks to concentrate on composition, and this disc opens with a piece written for her own instrument, the moving Viola Concerto (1995), with Philip Dukes as soloist. The more colourful and animated Cello Concerto ’River' (1997), features Robert Cohen, while 'Tam Lin' (1993) has Gordon Hunt as the oboe soloist. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is conducted by Ola Rudner in all three, and the disc is an ideal introduction to
her original musical voice and increasing authority.
HIP HOP U-God
Golden Arms Redemtion (Wu Tang Records) * Jr
The delay of this album — apparently due to U-God’s incarceration for guns and narcotics offences — makes him the last Wu Tang Clan member to release a solo album. It wasn't really worth the wait. Wu Tang head honcho RZA lays down a progressive selection of his trademark sliced up beats, all screwed up snatches of Motown and skewiff string swathes over broken bottle snare drums; but the real stumbling block is in U-God’s lack of vocal dexterity. His deep growling monotone splutters over some fine backing but ultimately sounds like some numpty hailing a cab rather than a lyrical maniac showing his rap skills. He seems too afraid to sing the choruses in case anyone calls him a big jessie, so grunts them instead. There are occasional bright points, but mostly this is duller and murkier than the East River. (MR)
Major Force West
Major Force West 93—97 (Mo' Wax) * it i *
This rather unimaginatively titled
compilation hides a whole host of interesting noises from some of Japan's