because they cover ’New York Mining Disaster’ and the new single ’She’s Got All The Friends’ has a go at rich people. (CB)

Ten Benson

Hiss (Cottage) is: is

Ten Benson are a silly band. They can be quite entertaining to watch, with their gas station attendant chic and scratchy beards, but on Hiss, their debut album, you’re forced to concentrate on their music, which is equally as silly but somewhat less entertaining. Mixing sawtooth guitars with bluesy rock they sound like the fucked-up bastard sons of 22 Top. Chuck in some ridiculous sounds from a noddy Casio keyboard, and you’ve got a band that is mildly diverting but hardly essential. They're at their best when they crank their guitars up full, like in the daft stomp of opener ’Robot Tourist'. (DJ)

Mick MacNeil People Places Things (MIX) 1%

Having been in Simple Minds seems to have given Mick MacNeiI carte blanche to produce what could be the most boring collection of songs ever recorded. This album of instrumental trash is split Over two CDs 'day’ and 'night’. The ’day’ bit sounds like Bruce Hornsby only much, much worse. The ’night’ effort sounds like Mike and the Mechanics only much, much worse. If this description strikes fear deep into your heart, good. It should. This ’music’ is utterly pointless. The promo copy comes in a metal box though, which might be handy for keeping stuff in, like buttons or ecstasy. (DJ)


DJ Magic Mike

The Journey (Era Of Bass Part 1) (Mo WBX) is is 3%"

DJ Assault

Belle Isle Tech (M0 Wax) at: a:

Ever eager to tell us what's hot and what’s not, Mo Wax’s James Lavelle, before he unleashes the obscure indie bands he’s been nurturing, is drawing to our attention the joys of Miami and Detroit bass music. Both albums take their sampling reference points from early era Def Jam records, this is speeded up hip hop meets electro with huge basslines. Not hugely exciting out of the context of nudie bar or the back of a jeep, the production is so for the dancefloor that the bass quakes into inaudibility. Magic Mike has the occasion to flirt With some smart ideas but many seem amateurish and unfinished in comparison with much of today’s sophisticated hip hop. But I suppose that’s not the idea is it? We’re just suppose to paaaartaaaay. Nah. (MR)

Muriel Moreno

Required Elements (Xlll Bis Records) “3?? ‘39? '30

Former frontwoman of the chart- topping French combo Niagara (Who?), Muriel Moreno has invested the profits of her success in building her own home studio and producing this, her first purely instrumental album project. Firmly rooted in funky French disco, Moreno is not afraid to dip her big toe in other waters and explore the

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diverse potential of the various strands of the electronic spectrum. She ties these strands together well and alternates between sultry ambient excursions in breakbeat, dub and disco and more frisky pumped~up house numbers like ’You Can't Get Rid Of lt'. ’Army of Sundays’ creates a highly persuasive dirty house groove and the title track 'Required Elements’ sums up the sleazy listening vibe. (CB)

SpeedyJ A Shocking Hobby (Mute) A it it

To a stranger, the world of SpeedyJ is a scary place indeed. Imagine early Aphex Twin, remove the humour and the moments of soothing brilliance and then play what’s left in an abandoned chemical plant and you will have an idea of the almost overwhelming bleak atmosphere of A Shocking Hobby. Certain exceptions aside, this album does not have enough glimpses of warmth to act as a counter-balance to its obsession with the industrial sounds of alienation. However, moments such as the stoic synth on 'balk acid' and the midnight piano on ’Manhasset' are top drawer. It’s just that you will have to experience a high level of psychological trauma trying to find them. (TA)

COUNTRY Laura Cantrell

Not The Tremblin' Kind (Spit And Polish) * **

We’ve got new country, alt. country, all manner of country nowadays, but if you want something a little more traditional, try Laura Cantrell. You’re (probably) not going to see her on MTV a la Shania, as her melancholy ballads are more suited to bar-rooms where real men can happily shed a tear in their beer. With titles like ’Pile of Woe’ and ’The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter’, there aren’t a lot of surprises on this album (apart from some bizarre lyrics - ’I feel like a big wheel'). That said, if you're a purist you’ll enjoy the

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Santessa's similar sounding songs lull listeners into a soulful stupor

stripped back arrangements and sparse production, letting the Nashville girl’s distinctive voice take centre stage. (LP)

JAZZ Tina May Trio One Fine Day (33 Records) *k‘kfi

One of the primary pleasures of the last decade in British jazz was watching Tina May develop from a promising talent into a jazz singer of rare authority and invention. Perhaps because she has chosen to place the emphasis firmly on jazz, she has not received the kind of attention accorded singers who have gone in more commercial directions, but there is nobody doing it better right now. She is accompanied on this disc by saxophonist Alan Barnes and pianist Nikki lles, both of whom thoroughly merit their prominent credits on the sleeve. Each contributes fully to the music, while the combination of all three is plain irresistible. (KM)

JAZZ Stan Sulzmann Big Band

Birthdays, Birthdays (Village Life) it i A

Village Life is one of number of highly creative independent labels to have launched on the UK jazz scene in the past couple of years, and this celebration of the work of saxophonist and composer Stan Sulzmann is their most ambitious project to date. Recorded in two sessions last summer with slightly different big bands featuring a wonderful mix of seasoned masters like Kenny Wheeler and Frank Ricotti with younger talents, it provides a showcase of the saxophonist's imaginative arranging and writing skills. 'Birthdays, Birthdays' celebrates at least two birthdays, his own 50th and that of his son, Matthew, the subject of 'Seeing M'. Inventive music, gorgeously played. (KM)

STAR RATINGS animst Unmissable H: ‘k * Very 000' t. it it Wort a shot * * Below average it You’ve been warned


Tim Abrahams, Catherine Bromley, Roger Evans, Kenny Mathieson, Louisa Pearson, Allan Radcliffe, Mark Robertson

record reviews MUSIC Singles Round Up

Edinburgh's Bespoke have been tipped for greatness in these pages before, and ’Used To Be’ (B-Spoke *itt) confirms their class act status. Equipped with sultry soul vocals, shimmering beats, countrified twangs and an epic sense of scale, this is sophisticated, atmospheric and altogether thrilling. Staying local, Johnson promise great things with the lushed-up, brassy Latin jazz of ’Blonde On Blue' (Play ink), but those pained, throaty indie-boy vocals propel us all too swiftly from a late-night tequila bar to the tiresomely familiar backrooms of Britpop. Also spilling their potential upon barren ground are Remedy, whose miserable boy rock ballad ’Seven Long Years’ (demo **) reveals masses of talent but sadly adheres all too closely to the Ocean Colour Scene singalong blueprint.

The Storm Petrels are macho crewcuts ’n' trainers types too, but ‘Single Man Reefer’ (Frank ***) at least has a bit of colour in its cheeks. Energetic, abandoned, good honest down-to-earth rock ‘n' roll is the order of the day here, and they do it rather well, although they sound frighteningly like Robbie Williams. Better Big Rob, mind, than the uneasy marriage of knock-kneed Belle and Sebastian-esque lyrics with a vague imitation of early Manics faux-leopardskin glam punk attempted by Buddha Crush on 'The Glitter ls Everywhere E.P.’ (Sugio tit). Oddly, they end up sounding like Madness.

Edinburgh singer/songwriter Holly Tomas, meanwhile, has a wealth of truly beautiful songs, five of which turn up on ’Epiphany’ (RBL innit). She can do frail, Kristin Hersh lullabies, but she's also got a big old country holler to rival Maria McKee's. The former style suits her best, but it’s the latter that could make her famous.

Moving away from Scotland, let us join hands with Ray Wonder, Beck’s chosen tour support. ’We Got To Be Good To Each Other' (NONS ****) is irrepressiny jolly, unpredictable, infectious 605 pop whimsy. Does anyone else remember Jellyfish?

More pure pop from post-All Saints outfit Made In London. ’Dirty Water' (BMG ***) has a fabulous 70$ soul girl sensibility: dark whispers, guitar flourishes, gospelly yowling. Will the fickle wind of commercial success blow their way? Or will it favour Fiona Prince, whose ‘High On You Again’ (Disco Volante it) sounds like a poor Natalie Imbruglia outtake?

Desperately seeking an edge, we joyoust welcome Max Tundra, who repay us by scaring us silly with ’Cakes’ (Domino *tttt). A frenzy of back- to-front showtunes, migraine beats and general avant-garde lunacy, this also features one of the best song titles ever known: ’The Gradual Disappearance From Food Packaging Of The Lettres Ornees Typeface Since The Nineteen Sixties'. Bravo. And finally, a rapid slide down the credibility-hill to Chumbabwamba, who confirm their continued pointless existence with ’She’s Got All the Friends Money Can Buy’ (EMI t), another bloke-mutters- quirkily-woman-sings-badly irritant that will fail miserably to bring the system to its knees. (Hannah McGill)

30 Mar—I3 Apr 2000 THE usns