record reviews



The Night (Rykodisc) a: it t t it Posthumous albums are always slightly disconcerting; but thankfully, Mark Sandman's swansong lS no cut’n'paste of half-finished tracks and mawkish liner notes. Bereaved fans won't be disappointed by this final collection of weepy, creepy jazz/blues/rock torch songs; and newcomers will wish they'd made this discovery before Sandman’s untimely death. His cavernous vocals waltz sleepin with rolling drums, rumbling bass and late-night saxes imagine the Tindersticks, the Afghan Whigs and Chris lsaak, somewhat dejected and the worse for whisky, jamming in a jazz club at four in the morning. Even if that doesn’t sell you, any album with a first line as great as ’You’re the night, Li/ah' merits attention. (HM)

Boss Hog

Whiteout (City Slang) at it *

Initially a rather disappointing follow- up to their major-label release on Geffen in 1995, this new album from blues-punk lookers, Boss Hog, benefits from a few listens. Whereas it's forerunner was produced by blues wildman and Boss Hog guitarist, Jon Spencer and so had his delta grunge stamp all over it, Whiteout has been produced predominantly by Andy Gill with the mainstream in mind. Much softer and more pop orienated, comparisons with Garbage on 'Get It While You Wait' are not unwarranted. However, the band’s girl-group influences still come through strong on numbers like 'Fear For You'. Even more reassuringly, the band still have a blues rocket in their collective pocket so they can turn out X-rated sleaze rock. On the subject of which, front fox Christina Martinez is back to her old trick of appearing on the cover of her records in scanty attire. (CB)


Nixon (City Slang) * k *

With thirteen (count ’em) members it comes as no surprise that Lamchop emit a lushness and deep sound rarely heard elsewhere. Horns and strings

weave pleasantly in and out of these modern country tunes, as main Lambchopper Kurt Wagner whispers and falsettos away about the sadness and joy of daily life. The album isn't restricted to the sound of tumbleweed though. The gospel-tinged ’Up With People' and Motown ballad feel of 'What Else Could It Be?’ still sit easily amongst more straightforward country tunes like the subtly mournful 'Grumpus'. Ultimately, although Nixon is nice enough listening, Kurt and friends fail to touch the heart or mind of the listener to any great degree.(DJ)

Fonda 500

Eight-Track Sound System (The Village) * fir A A

When the lo-fi day of reckoning comes (as it surely must) and the bands have to fight to the death to see who is in possession of the lowest-ti, I’ll be heading down to William Hills to put a tenner on Hull’s Fonda 500. These people play hair dryers, rulers and toy elephants, for goodness sake. But thankfully, they also play real instruments and happen to have an ear for melody to match their inventiveness. Fonda 500 alternate between scuzzy guitar pop gems and thoughtful strummy sweetness, often in the same song. Combine this with vocal harmonies from the back of Brian Wilson's cupboard and the European bleepy noise mountain, and the overall result is a delightfully endearing wee record. (DJ)

My Life Story

Joined Up Talking (It) at

A punishing reminder of the days when indie music meant bad puns, lame snarling and tortured regional vowels. My Life Story used to be a worse cabaret version of The Divine Comedy; now they seem prepared to settle for being a worse cabaret version of The Wonder Stuff. They had a few lovable moments about three years ago, but this embarrassment of amateurish, stumbling tunes and ill- conceived lyrics pervaded by the grim whiff of schoolboy misogyny (chicks, huh? just what are they all about?) seems likely to nail their coffin firmly closed. No doubt Jake Shillingford will persisit in his pained yowling even from the grave, but the worms will get him before too long. (HM)

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ROCK/POP Various

Bent Boutique (Creeping Bent) a 1k )k a: air

Top stuff. no trout: The Secret Goldfish

God bless Scottish independents. Promising young bands might still leg It to London at the flutter of a cheque book, but our little labels still pound their doggedly experimental paths; and Creeping Bent’s psychotically varied roster and cheerfully lo-fi sensibilities have made it a breeding ground for


This fifth birthday compilation showcases an aesthetic described in the liner notes as 'non-genre specific, kinda sad and milky like Nico in Chelsea Girfs.’ Which, in case you were wondering, means gorgeous, go-go-booted pop songs from The Secret Goldfish, lush, hypnotic lullabies from Adventures In Stereo, churning bass and fractured beats from Quad 90, Mongoose and the brilliant Scientific Support Dept. and frighteningly bitter blether from Jock Scot. Other highlights include Frank (aka Norman) Blake's ever-endearing jangle, and the legendary Kim Fowley lending his growling prowess to the heroic Future Pilot AKA on 'Night Flight To Memphis'. As if that wasn’t ample. the second CD consists entirely of gloriously eccentric cover versions. No questions arise: why are Shack famous whilst The Nectarine No. 9 are not? And given that this whole mad marvellous scramble only costs £3.99, what earthly reason is there not to buy several

copies? (Hannah McGill)

Julie Doiron And The

Wooden Stars Julie Doiron And The Wooden Stars (Sappy) *

This Is a rare case of the record label’s name telling you all you need to know. Isn't it funny how people who think themselves infinitely more serious and clever than Britney Spears can still churn out lyrics every bit as mawkishly man-hungry as 'l was born to make you happy? Set them against plodding, featureless melodies, and you've got Phoebe from Friends with a humour deficiency, a Mogadon prescription and a voice made of mud. Only a couple of times does Dorron hit the mark when she asks someone to take away her gurtar on ’The Longest Winter', and when she pleads, on ’The Best Thing For Me’, ’Won’t someone write a song for me?’ (HM)

Eric Mingus

Um . . . Er . . . Uh . . . (Some Records) at i: *

Eric Mingus hasn’t followed in his legendary father Charles's footsteps by making a jazz album. But while there's little jazz as such, Eric has inherited his father’s penchant for mixing disparate musical styles. Thus, there’s Hendrix (via Lenny Kravitz) style guitar noodlings on 'Shake Up The World’,

dark trip hop sounds on ’Sparks , . You Said Sparks . . and didactic spoken word on 'Jaki Did'. The opening track, ’His Blood's In Me', is more obvrously an homage to Charles, both in the gospel-influenced vocals and the lyrics concerning Eric's mixed race parantage. Having toured as a session vocalist and bassist, the 34- year-old Eric has taking time out for a personal, if not particularly original, reflection on life With Um. . . Er. . . Uh . . ., itself a riff on his father’s albums, Ah Um and Oh Yeah. (MF)

Fiona Apple

When The Pawn (Epic) a it it

Look at it this way: Fiona Apple wrll never be as visceral as PJ Harvey, but she’s no stoopid Meredith Brooks either. This album addresses the internal and external doubts that festoon relationships. Especially touching are sleeve pics of Apple With an expression for each song. We have Winsome Apple, Sensitive Apple, Bitter Apple . . . For a commercially geared album though, the subject matter IS quite raw, surprisingly close to the unglossy truth. it's listenable because when it crosses the corporate divrde real emotion is evident. It has the placebo effect of a patented cure: you feel slightly better, but wonder if all of the ingredients are real. (BE)