Annie Christian Edinburgh: La Belle Angele, Thu 20 Jul.

Edinburgh has often been said to have a village mentality. While this implies a close-knit community it also indicates toothless village idiots and harbingers of local gossip. Being local, Annie Christian have long been claimed as fair game and subjected to streams of misinformation. Now well on their way to a fresh start after splitting from Richard Branson's V2 label, it seems only fair that, in the spirit of détente, we cut the band some slack and set the record straight.

Back in 1996, four cheeky fellas came together to form a band that, in the words of vocalist and songwriter Larry Lean, sounded like a ‘cross between Levitation, Suede and the Velvets'. They only went and called the band Annie Christian though, and all kinds of ugly goth band connotations ensued. As Larry explains: ‘The funniest misconception at that time was that I wore eyeliner and that we were a goth band. The truth is that we got the name from an old Prince song, so no, it doesn’t have anything to do with the Anti-Christ.’

Only a year later the boys were signed to V2, a relationship that resulted in one album and a whole lot of bitter feeling. The misconception at this time was that by leaving Richard Branson's cosy fireside, they'd brought shame upon themselves, their families and the very name of Scottish music. Annie Christian were in fact overjoyed to be freed from their restrictive corporate shackles and as Lean says, 'you can leave something like that without feeling down and dejected. Bitter and twisted maybe, but not dejected.’

Securing the stalwart support of Scottish fiber-manager, Bruce Finlay (Simple Minds) before the split with V2, Annie Christian have now set up their own label and financed the release of their first independent EP. ’Softcore' has been well-received and its success is due to be consolidated with live appearances at La Belle and The Glasgow Green Festival. The band's departure from indie shoegazing to raucous electro- rock still leaves one or two crossed wires to be untangled however. 'Yeah, the Gary Numan thing has stuck a bit,’ says Lean, ‘we add a bit of keyboards and all of a sudden we're 80$ revivalists.’

(Catherine Bromley)

A product of persistance: the new, shiny, electronically-minded Annie Christian

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record reviews

ROCK/POP Coldplay

Parachutes (Parlophone) a: it t *

Coldplay are current NME darlings, but hey! The Kids! Don’t let that put you off, ’cos this time they might just have got it right. EscheWing all indie prinCiples by refusing steadfastly to be anything other than cheery, they’ve managed to pull off the substantial feat of being positive about life without making you want to punch their smiley faces in. This is possibly down to the fact that musically, Parachutes is a cracking display of thoughtful, intelligent gurtar music and honest emotion. ’We live in a beautiful world,’ croons singer Chris Martin in opener 'Don’t Panic’ and, irritatingly, you can’t help but agree.

(Doug Johnstone)

Helicopter Girl

How To Steal The World (Instant Karma) * t * *

Mysterious, dark and intrigurng debut albums all too often have all the depth of an adolescent diary, but Helicopter Girl’s seam of grim weirdness runs deep enough to grab your attention and keep it all album long. Helicopter Girl is Scottish-Ghanaian singer Jackie Joyce, a Shakespear's Sister/Macy Gray hybrid who grates ’Gimme the Gun/It’s in the Glove Compartment’ With frightening convrction in the aptly titled ’Glove Compartment’, before this Portisheady track unexpectedly opens into lush orchestration. Add to the oddball (love the line ’the world is y0ur lobster’) funky dance tracks and lazy mellow laid back grooves and you have a top-quality debut. (Gabe Stewart)

Daphne & Celeste

We Didn’t Say That (Universal) *****

This is a superb album. A corking collection of pop songs, from the already-familiar playground taunt singles to an utterly inspired scratch laden cover of Alice Cooper’s ’School’s Out’. Even the filler is of an unusually high quality, as the album is essentially a tribute to early Madonna vocals and, wait for it, Italian piano house. ObViously it’s a cynical exercise there’s even 'I Love Your Sushi’, a song in praise of the Japanese market. As opposed to Japan the country. In the end, though, it is the freeform poetry of the lyrical contortions that Will Win you over. Or, as D&C might put it, ’eeny meeny deccameanie oo wop, bop-a-leeny atchie katchie, Liberace I love you’. (Jack Mottram)

Wilt Bastinado (Mushroom Records) * ‘k *

The ’program’ button on your CD player was practically designed for this album. Skip tracks 5,8,9 and ii and it would easily merit another star. (Experimental gUitar fans should read program for skip.) Formed from the ashes of Kerbdog, the Dublin trio’s debut album is a mix of feelgood, unashamedly catchy pop-rock melodies complete With contrasting angst- ridden lyrics, tainted only by a few

heaVier, laboured rock tracks. Wilt excel With their more mellow tracks, ’Goodnight’ and ’lt’s All Over Now’ being prime examples, but their flirtation With hardcore Foo-Fighters meets Elastica nonsense leaves you reaching for the (imagined) quality control sWitch. New technology please Sony. (Maureen Ellis)

Saint Low

Saint Low (Cooking Vinyl) 4: it air Around the time Madder Rose's Tragic Magic was released long overdue in the wake of label wrangles -- vocalist Mary Lorson was putting together demos of songs that appear on Saint Low’s debut album. Lorson’s old creative partner, gUitarist Billy Cote, guests on half the tracks, but the difference between the two bands can be encapsulated thus: Saint Low are mellower. The Velvet Underground influence is still here, but it's more ’Candy Says’ than ’White Light/White Heat’. And if we’re talking aural similarities, the most obVious one is Mazzy Star, particularly on the long play-out track, ’After The Fall'. OK, but I’d go to the originals. (Miles Fielder)

Superstar Phat Dat (Camp Fabulous) it it ‘k air

Joe McAlindon’s Superstar have had more than their fair share of legal troubles With record companies in the past but despite it all, this, their third full-length album, is yet another superb example of wonderfully soulful gUitar pop. Although guitars soar and keyboards sWirl, it's McAIindon’s amazing v0ice Which is the key, a beautifully flawed and cracked portal into a senSitive soul. Songs like ’Every Second Hurts’ and ’Had Enough’ positively drip With emotion, and if there's any justice in this stupid old world, neW single 'I Love Love’ would be the anthem of the summer. But

record reviews MUSIC

The dark and intruiging Helicopter Girl

there isn’t, so it won't. Bugger. (Doug Johnstone)

DaVId Mead

The Luxury of Time (RCA) t t ‘k ‘k This versatile debut album is full of Surprises: the first three tracks are punchy, powerful pop, classically catchy and unnervmgly hummable. It’s no Surprise to discover the man on the miXing desk is ex-Nick KershaW producer Peter Collins.

Then Mead gets darker and more melancholic, before hitting With the Single, ’World of A King', like a pop Billy Bragg. The rest of the album continues With tOuches of country, Framptonesque rock, shot through With deliciously quirky charisma and the occasional bizarre, outlandish oddball. The last track, ’Painless’, is reminiscent of surround-sound master Singer-songwriters like Dean Freidman, Billy Joel or even, heaven forbid, Barry Manilow. Believe it or not, that’s a compliment. (Gabe Stewart)


The Blossom Filled Streets (Domino)

it *

Where are Kittie When you need them? This is coffee table lo-fi bullshit designer ennui cod ambient plastic jazz noodling that says nowt to nobody ab0ut nothing. It merely goes round and r0und in timer and timer concentric Circles ’til a party of angels Who had been minding their own celestial business dancmg on the head of a pin to something good (Sly and the Family Stone Will do) fall off in shock at the sheer mortal tedium of hearing but one second of this album. A non-triumph of thought over soul and conceit over concept, the very title makes me lose the Will to

(Rodger Evans)

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6 20 Jul 2000 THE “ST 47