record reviews


Good Looking Blues (Too Pure) it xbk fir

Not for nothing are Laika named after the stray Muscovite dog blasted into space by the Russians in the 50s. There's a slight sense of the unreal which permeates Good Looking B/ues; it’s a wondrous conglomeration of the earth bound and the interstellar, where tales of witchdoctors collide wrth chemically-charged beats and sinister, echo-laden melodies. ’Black Cat Bone’ bristles with edgy tension, a Simple feline melody stalked by an admirer whispering ’Here, kitty kitty . . . '; ’Uneasy' is an onomatopoeic dream, its lyrics lost in the space between its sparse breaks. it’s a dark trip Laika have taken themselves on, but a beautiful one nonetheless. (LM)

Will Oldham

Guarapero/Lost Blues Vol. 2 (Domino)

was: 'Lost’ Blues? That’ll be 'lost' in the

’stuck-in-the-backwoods-of-Tennessee- with-haught-but-a-bottle-of-rye-and-a- geetar' sense of the term, then. He's never been the happiest of men, has Mr. Oldham, but in this collection of out-takes and rarities there's enough heartbreak and enough mournful violin playing to melt even the reddest of necks. Folky melodies support Oldham’s often tearful voice, the odd choir adds a touch of gravitas, but it’s uneasy listening for the most part; songs so fragile that to listen closely feels like an imposition, as if you’re reading Oldham’s diary over his shoulder, as he weeps onto its pages. (LM)


Vol 1 (Mute) sir skint»

Echoboy is ex-Hybird front man Richard Warren and he’s just come up with one of the freshest debuts in recent memory. it’s a beguiling gem, drawing inspiration from such disparate sources as heavy duty dub and languid indie pop, to lo-fi electronica and queasy

psychedelia. From 'Kit & Holiy’s' fragile but engaging retread of Murmur-era REM, to the melodica driven, Augustus Pablo influenced 'Constantinople', this is an album that displays a breadth of imagination and sense of adventure that is often sorely lacking from many debuts. (NF)

Rachel Stamp

Hymns For Strange Children (Cruisin') ‘k *“k‘*

Squeeze into your latex trews, paint on the glitter and strike some serious air guitar poses. This album is packed full of high-camp, high-velocity rock gems and ladyboy frontman David Ryder- Pringley steers the band with cocksure finesse, flawlessly alternating a girly sweet vocal with a 40-a-day growl. Indebted to the music and dress sense of Kiss and the New York Dolls, the Stamps have also cribbed their playlist and lyrics from the glam annals, ’Ladies And Gents' opens with the rock chant: 'Everybody knows that girls are stupid' one of many pop rock ’hymns’ on this plainly daft but entertaining glam trip. (CB)

Gordon Grahame

Gordon Grahame (peoplesound)

sir air 31:

Gordon Grahame's got form. In the early 905 he was signed to Silvertone Records with Edinburgh‘s The Lost Soul Band. They put out two albums and supported the likes of Texas, Van Morrison and Jeff Buckley. But management and label problems conspired to sink the band and Grahame left for Europe. The singer/songwriter’s back with new material, available only on the internet. Album opener, 'Andalucia' is reminiscent of Lloyd Cole’s plaintive musings, while ’Love’ sounds like Chris Isaak all choked up in a trailerpark. Elsewhere, there are echoes of Roy Orbison and Lee Hazelwood. Solid songs, then, rather than original tunes. (Available at: wwwpeoplesoundcom) (MF)

Tracy Chapman

Telling Stories (Elektra) on viz *- The titles imply you’re in for a love-

lorn, gloom-fest: but despite

42 THE LIST i7 Feb—2 Mar 2000

Cereal soloist: Gordon Grahame

ROCK Smashing Pumpkins

MACHINA: The Machines Of God (Hut) 1k 1k ir

Rock folly: Smashing Pumpkins

After their epic masterpiece Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness and the veritable anti-climax that was 98's Adore, this sees Smashing Pumpkins sink further into a musical quagmire that many of their contemporaries

managed to drag themselves out of.

MACHINA starts off deceptively heavy, with the crunching riffology of ’T he Everlasting Gaze' which recalls ‘Siva' and other early Pumpkin delights. This is a definite rock red herring as Billy Corgan spends the next 70, very long, minutes exploring the possibilities of 'what if Depeche Mode became a proper rock band fronted by a whiney voiced slaphead.’ Drum machines and seething keyboard patches attempt to fill in the gaps that Corgan’s lacklustre songwriting and abysmal bottom heavy production. but tracks like ‘I Of The Mourning' and 'Try. Try. Try’ see a man a shadow of his former

musical self.

The titles are still spectacularly pretentious, 'T he Crying Tree Of Mercury' and 'Glass And The Ghost Children' would not be out of place on some sprawling 70$ prog rock effort. It would appear Smashing Pumpkins are the new decade's equivalent of those long gone rock behemoths. but now have none of their broadminded. genre defying intentions. The stripped down rock album we were promised has been cruelly stripped, but only of good

ideas. (Mark Robertson)

Chapman’s rich voice enhancing all the haunting melancholy, this isn’t quite music to slit wrists to. True, a soul- searching 'Unsung Psalm’ (shades of John Martyn’s Solid Air beefing up a pre-emptive obituary) shares the same stale confessional air as the idealistic 'Paper And lnk’. The final three tracks are a hypnotic triple whammy: sweet ’Devotion'; Emmylou Harris and slide guitars mournfully backing ‘The Only One'; and a mesmerisingly focused ’First Try'. Its simple plucked strings contrast with rich backing vocals, tender and vulnerable building up to a strong emotional powerhouse. (GS)

ELECTRONIC Scanner Vs DJ Spooky

The Quick And The Dead (Sulphur)

* it it at

DJ Spooky has long been lauded by NY art-boffins as the thinking man's 'way- in’ to techno and dub-inflected electro but his soundtracks never match his over-blown rhetoric. Scanner AKA Robin Rimbaud is another brainy baldy, but unlike Spooky his conceptions are regularly as sonically invigorating as all of that hot air he’s fond of spouting. Here, head-to-head, Spooky uses a lot of turntable manipulation and hip-hop beats while Scanner provides the urban atmosphere with thick layers of industrial static and liberal use of intercepted phone-calls. (DKe)

Various Artists Solevisions 2 (Solemusic) ivbk

Instead of being crammed full of fillers like so many dance compilations, 'Solevisions 2’ suffers from having one truly inspired track which overshadows the rest. The plaintive electro melancholy of Romanthony's ‘Wanderer’ stands out as a retroistic innovation and sits uneasily with the frothy disco inspired house and future funk on show elsewhere. Honourable mentions go to Angela Johnson, Stevie Sole Middleton and Matt Wood for some truly inspired moments but it would appear that man from Chicago who has been hyped to the gills of late has done it again. (MR)

Silicone Soul

A Soul Thin (Soma) * ir ir-

Silicone Sou take the warmth and authenticity of raw percussion and give it artificial enhancement with pumping disco house rhythms. The beats are pervasive and persistent, but it's a relief to hear things diversify slightly with 'Mong The Merciless' and further with an albeit tacky electro vocal on 'Nosferatu'. The deep disco house produced is slick and some funky Latino grooves, a 605 soundtrack sample and the occasional hip hop beat keeps things interesting. A good primer for a Friday night down at the Arches where Silicone Soul come across much better live. (CB)