Drawn From Memory (Hut)
If future generations ever feel compelled to look back upon the moribund wasteland of late 90s pop, they’ll likely view it as the age in which Britpop came and went in the flicking of a fringe, leaving in its wake an interminable glut of MOR boy-bandery, novelty techno and safe-as-milk corporate indie. It's likely too, that of all the post-Gallagher, ‘real-rock’ champions, the bombastically orchestral Embrace will be recognised as one of the few to possess a truly individual, instantly recognisable sound.
According to the band themselves however, the Embrace ‘string-factor’ has proved more curse than blessing. Danny McNamara, the band‘s much pilloried vocalist, has recently grumbled about being ‘choked [by] ambition‘ on their number one debut LP The Good Will Out while Richard, Danny’s guitar-spanking brother claims the band have become less self-conscious with the recording of forthcoming album Drawn From Memory. ’We didn’t want to do big strings‘, he says. ‘We didn’t want to do ten tracks of guitar when one would do.’
According to the guitarist, the new, less operatic Embrace sound initially derived out of necessity. ‘It got to the end of the recording of The Good Will Out and we went to do a couple of songs with a producer called
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'What we want on this is that big classic Embrace sound‘, said the producer. We thought. 'Shit. what's that?"
Youth,‘ he reveals. ‘One was ‘Come Back to What You Know’. Our idea was to take this really beautiful song that Danny wrote and give it a really complex arrangement in a ‘Pet Sounds' sort of way. But Youth said, "What we want on this is that big classic Embrace sound". We thought, “Shit, what’s that?". We didn‘t know that we had a big sound. Subsequently, when it came to recording this album, where it looked like we were getting that big Embrace sound, we deliberately turned our back on it.’
Principally recorded in time-honoured ‘getting it together in the country‘ tradition at Batsford Manor in Gloucestershire, the new LP is, according to McNamara, a more representative offering than their ostentatious debut. ’This album is kind of the first time we’ve been a band on record really. All the other ones were very produced, this was all done in live takes in the classic way.’
Sonic simplification aside, Embrace‘s world-assailing ambition survives intact. As McNamara reveals: ‘We want to communicate with more people. We want it all really. We want kids in playgrounds to be dancing to it and people at home doing the housework to it. We want to cross over to as many people as we can. That’s what we‘re all about - communication.‘ Embrace, evidently, are back: no strings attached. The world could yet be theirs. (Paul Whitelaw)
' Drawn From Memory is out on Hut on Mon 27 Mar.
We are rock, there’s loads of guitars and screaming going on and shit.
Indie rock? Flogging a dead horse more like 'Totally, that's why it needs rejuvenation,’ says Goodwin. 'A lot of these indie bands now are taking their sound from the same sources. The difference with us is the diverse musical influences we have.’
Yes? ’We are rock, there's loads of guitars and screaming going on and shit. We are influenced by guitar bands like Nirvana but generally more by soul and funk music, people like Marvin Gaye, James Brown and Leonard Cohen.’
But does it work? Frankly yes.
Every fortnight, we spotlight musical innovators. This issue: Terris - the band hotly tipped by NME as ‘The Best New Band In Britain’.
Some hype indeed. Should we believe it? Singer Gavin Goodwin seems to think not. ’lt's just a big headline, a big show of faith by one
publication but I don't think it should be taken too seriously.’ So far the band from Newport, South Wales have released one EP — The Time Is Now — and they're managed by fellow Newport lad, Richard Parfitt, formerly of the 60ft Dolls. After playing a three night residency at London’s Monarch and appearing at one of the NME's Premier Shows, they’ve caused quite a sensation with their darkly menacing indie rock.
Goodwin has a very distinctive vocal talent a bit like Tom Waits via Ian Curtis and the band supports this with innovative and angry guitar-driven energy.
Why Terris? It basically comes from our roots,’ says Goodwin. ’We all grew up in terrace houses and we just messed around with the spelling a bit.’
. Terris play with C o/dp/a y Glasgow: King Tuts, Sat 25 Mar. The Time Is Now EP is out now on Rough Trade.
Orange Can Glasgow: Nice 'n' Sleazy's, Sat 18 Mar.
’There's a lot of freaky nonsense out there,’ reckons Jason Ablett, the elder of Orange Can’s songwriting siblings, referring to the contemporary music scene. You can’t help but wonder whether he is including his own band in the remark. This, after all, is a band who cite The Orb and Pink Floyd as influences; a band who have signed to Regal Recordings, home of the very good, but undeniably freaky, Beta Band; and a band who have just released one long, extended groove as a first album.
As it transpires, he isn't including Orange Can in the remark. For, as Ablett explains, not putting up with nonsense goes to the very heart of his attitude to making music. A year ago, frustrated by the collapse of their previous band, the Abletts changed tactics and opted for a 'build it and they will come’ philosophy. The brothers wrote and recorded the adventurous sprawl now known as Entrance High Rise on their own eight- track, touted it round and were picked up by Regal.
Although certain tracks on the album owe a debt to the ’Iet's get our shit together’ brand of urban soul played by the Stone Roses, introspection with a psychedelic accent is never far away. Indeed, it would appear that Orange Can's blend of the serious with the freaky is most evident in a live performance.
Let's not be too hasty to categorise Orange Can as noodling self-indulgent types, yes, they have a penchant for taking their time, songs are gently drawn out, twisted, generally abused, the music is given space to develop rather than shoe-horned into the cramped confines of the three-minute pop song format. Anyone seen jettisoning the standard song format are bound to get the weird/experimental albatross thrown around their neck. Orange Can pay it no mind, and are keen to monkey around with their sound.
Jason’s plans to confound are ambitious. ’We set our own rehearsal PA up at the back of the hall and we pan all sorts of effects out of the back speakers. It’s quite bewildering for some people when they first hear it.’ Sounds like serious, freaky nonsense. (Tim Abrahams)
The new exponents of serious, freaky nonsense
16—30 Mar 2000 THE LIST“