record reviews

POP Elevator Suite

Barefoot & Shitfaced (Infectious) ’k fir t'r

With a name like Elevator Suite and an album titled Barefoot & Shitfaced, yOu might expect something a bit out of the ordinary. And you w0u|d be right. The trio are grinding at those mu5ic genre b0undaries With a Crafty mix of funk, Jazz, trippy electro-pop and a layering of different s0unds and styles ’Man In A Towel’ and ’Backaround’ stand out With their up-tempo feelgood beats, but the overall effect is tarnished by processed electronic flamboyance and over-reliance on the power of a mixing desk. As background music, the mellow instrumentals and keyboard wizardry work well, but this detracts from the more organic, unfussy tracks on the album (Maureen Ellis‘i

Barenaked Ladies

Maroon (Warners Bros) *

Returning to the pop fray with an album named after everbody’s least favourite variant on the COIOur brown, it’s ’Canada's Finest' (how Bryan must be smartingll, the Barenaked Ladies And this time rOund they manage to be Surprisingly palatable, stripped of some of the nauseous wackiness that presumably cOunts as irony across the pond but amounts to an open inVitation for a kicking over here When they’re upbeat, they’re still as catchy as cholera, and ‘Too Little Too Late' and first single ’Pinch Ivle’ are fine toe-tapping numbers, but the soporific ’Conventioneers’ is jUSI as representative (James Smart)



Empress (Geographic) ~-'~ it a

Whale music was never a starter, was it? Filed alongside pan-pipes in the ’tone-deaf relaxation’ section of HMV Fortunately there are far more pleasant ways to musically unwind, one Surefire bet being this short but impressive collection of skeletal gunar, piano and vocal melodies. Empress are certainly downbeat and melancholy but in a calmly reasSUring way. This is

50 THE “ST ‘3—‘9 Oct 2006

highlighted on the childlike simplicity of 'Kobe' and the hypnotic. swelling of ’The Last Lane’, whtch glides along \.".’|Ill a shy recognition of Its own beauty And looped interference and record cracklings have never sounded so soothing as they do on ’Blackpool North’. File alongSide Low as music to lull you into the wee small hours

iJan F Zeschkyi

Teenage Fanclub

Howdy! (Columbia) a iv it Veterans, hav:ng heard the single ’I Need Direction’, are already anticipating greeting the new Teenage Fanclub album Eike an old friend. Except one that’s been away for a while listening to a lot of folk music, as it turns out, With creative influences from the likely suspects still in abundance, the Sixth album follows the form whereby solid gems like the Current single and the sun-kissed perfection of ’The Infinite Blues’ are Juxtaposed with weaker songs that don't quue get you where it hurts That said, even on the runts, Teenage Fanclub have the SODg-\.Vlli;li(.] skii! to wipe the floor with Travis's sorry asses i’Catherine Bromleyi

Alabama 3

La Peste (Elemental)

Remember Alabama 3's classic single 'Aiit't (30m to Goa'7 Remember hots. you "elished its ability to "take you feei, ‘Yes there is someone Out there speaking out against the same music that I hate' Well, nox‘. t'orget it, because Alabama 3 are bac k and unhere they once pi‘icked pretensions with humour they nou.’ gtiote French modernist poetry and boast comedy names This album’s ponclerous pace, and The Very Reverend Dr D Wayne Love's failure to appreciate that even Bono laid off that ironic southern drawl years ago, means that this is very dull listening and don't even mention the ’Hotel California' cover.

iTim Abrahamsl

Shawn Lee

Monkey Boy (We 0 You)

OK, so multi-instrumei‘.talist Shawn Lee 'nas done very well in making this all by himself, but he really should have kept someone around to prevent htni wandering off into IOunge-c ore territory with Beck's new ec lecticism.

Shawn Lee is a great ape


Kid A (ParlophoneH it i: it

Ever had too much of a good thing? Y'know when someone produces an initial body of work that excites but replicates it badly so many times afterwards that you wish they hadn't bothered trying? That is the most disappointing feeling. In trying to avoid this, Radiohead have sidestepped their back catalogue and tried, shit, yes, something different.

No it's not mental, though it is a bit weird in places to hear a rock band emulate a bloke with a computer in his bedroom. Yes, there is melody and guitars and yes, you

Radiohead re-write their rule book

can hear Thom Yorke's plaintive, scolded dog wail.

’Everything In Its Right Place' sets the other worldly tone which is threaded through the record. 'Treefingers', the Robert Fripp/ Brian Eno ambient soundscape, pushes the experiment to the edge while 'Idiotique' is the perfect fusing of man and machine beats as Kraftwerk intended. 'How To Disappear Completely’ redraws their more downbeat moments into one

graceful, string-laden swoop.

Anyone who has spent longer than 45 minutes listening to the output of Sheffield's Warp records will not be amazed at what they have done, as its pioneering sound manipulators have been knocking this caper out for donkeys years. What is brave however, is for a band of the scale of Radiohead to attempt to rewrite their own rule book and to have done so


So maybe it doesn't hang together as a collection as well as their previous two albums but ’Morning Bell', ’How To Disappear Completely' and 'Idiotique’ are as good as anything they've ever produced.

As U2 return back to their anthemic roots after their post-modern sojourn into electro land and Oasis and Blur lumber to a halt under the weight of their own self-importance, we can be confident that this only the beginning of something very beautiful. (Mark Robertson)

Fundamentally though, as Lee slides up and down his wide register With an excess of enthusiasm, he sOunds more like a Lenny KraVitz lost amidst a thick pile of Love and Isley Brothers references. Tracks like ’A&R Man Of Love’ and ’Kill Somebody’ impress with their rich range of textures but there are very few tunes here for Lee to hang his swanky coat of many influences on. «Tim Abrahams)


Disco Volante (Scopitones) r

There was always something slightly endearing about The Wedding Present’s thrashy attempts at music; yOu always got the impression that their heart was in the right place. Sadly, with DaVid Gedge’s latest proiect Cinerama, that’s abOut all that’s right about it. SOunding like a whimsical Pulp or a weedy Smiths, Disco Volante crawls along melodramatically with strings, horns and accordions popping up to little effect Gedge’s dull vome is now brutally exposed without The Wedding Present’s scritchy-scratchy racket to hide behind, and it’s only when boosted by the silky tones of co- singer Sally lvlurrell, like in the pOignant closer ’Your Time Starts Now’, that these songs rise from the risible. (Doug Johnstonel

AC Acoustics Understanding Music (Cooking Vinyl)

: iv at It’s been a bit of a rough ride for Glasgow’s experimental guitarniks AC Acoustics, this music making malarkey Havmg hung around the hinterland of

the British rock scene for high on ten years, they’ve consistently failed to convert their considerable critical acclaim into commercial success One suspects that this, their third proper album, although eclectic and adventurous, will do little to change things for them,

Musically there’s all sorts lurking here, and maybe that’s the problem With angsty rock, new wave grooves, orchestral arrangements, beats, acOustic ballads and old school shoegazing all getting a look in, the reSult is an ambitious but ultimately patchy album (Doug Jonnstonei


Bliss (Cylinder) t i': a

Another gem to be dug from the concrete valleys of Cardiff vtllage This lush and lovely album hums With a jellied calm Setting up its hi-tec'n camp somewhere between Sade, Carmel, Gorki’s and of c0urse those living mwnged legends The Super Furry Animals, Cardiff ’gc-étabout' Kris Jenkins (he has been involved with anyone who is anyone on the Welsh sc'enei has out together a fine album with Rachel Thomas Powerful yet heavenly, this is occasionally a little over produced Good stuff though and check out the new Small Fire Video ~ scary beans, man (Paul Dale)

Buffalo Tom

Asides From Buffalo Tom (Beggars Banqued a it a

Buffalo Tom have always been a Sl()\‘-. burner of a band, consistently underrated over the last twelve years