THE BEAUTY SHOP
Yr Money Or Yr Life (Shoeshine) 000
Comically morose Americana is all over the place these days. and onto the crowded country porch already occupied by the excellent likes of The Handsome Family and Silver Jews come new miserablists The Beauty Shop. A relatively sparse sound suits these darkly comical and downbeat country tales. and highlights singer John Hoeffleur's superb gravel road of a voice.
While The Beauty Shop lack the wordsmithery and musical invention of some of their contemporaries. there are enough truly effecting moments scattered around this debut record's strums and stomps to indicate a healthy future.
Can You Do Me Good? (Mercury) 0.
So polite. so coffee table. so pleasant. so considered. so carefully Crafted. so expertly ananged.so immaculately produced. so certain to be all over the charts. so inoffensive. so background. so inessential. so unchallenging. so undemanding. so incapable of changing anything. so pretend. so ersatz soul, so Paul Young. so hard to dislike. so much harder to care. so well meaning. so not why they invented rock'n'roll.
So needy of human life that they have to stick segments of studio chatter in between the songs. So. so. so so-so. (Mark Fisher)
JAZZ KENNY GARRETT
Happy People (Warner) 0..
Saxophonist Kenny Garrett achieved early
fame in a stint with Miles Davis in the late 80s. and developed into a significant figure in contemporary jazz. Following several hard jazz albums. his most recent album projects have returned toward that fusion background. with music aimed at a kind of all-inclusive crossover style. built on flowing (but not too hard-edged) improvisations over groove-based rhythms. with a couple of vocal tracks thrown in.
It is very well done. and stays clear of the blandness of smooth jazz. but with one or two exceptions (notably the concluding ‘Brother B Harper'). I miss the creative spikiness of his earlier projects.
POP, CLASSICAL CRAIG
ARMSTRONG As If To Nothing (Melankolic) COO.
It appears easy to disregard Craig Armstrong. The classical world is sniffy about his fondness for hooking up with modern 'stars' such as Madonna. U2 and Bjork. while the poperati see him as a lightweight composer treading on their toes and knocking up throwaway scores for Baz Luhrmann cod- musicals.
Yet. his ability to get stirring vocal performances from the likes of Bono. David McAlmont and Evan Dando on this collection is difficult to dislike. And his knack of eliciting strong emotional responses (which used to be one of the reasons behind making music) is a lesson to both sides of the deride.
TRAD JAZZ THE DIRTY DOZEN BRASS BAND
Medicated Magic (Rykodisc. Ropeadope) COO.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is a New Orleans institutions that makes Our own brass bands look like a bunch of funkless Britflick cliches. They have been performing and churning out albums since 1977 and collaborated with the obvious (Dr John) and the Surprising (Elvis Costello. David Bowie and the Black Crowes). This is their ninth album and it's good to know they can still walk the walk and talk the talk Daddio. 'Ain't Nothing Like A Party‘. ‘Ruler Of My Heart' (featuring the angelic vocals of Norah Jones) and Big Chief (featuring Dr John) are w0rth the admission price to their special club alone. (Paul Dale)
Sex Mob Do Bond (Ropeadope) coo.
FOrget all those limp- wristed James Bond concept albums. here is an abject lesson in how to do it and get it right. New York jazz collective Sex Mob conjure up their own version of an 007 movie with their full frontal sax heavy jazz funk.
They mix up original compositions by bandleader Steven Bernstein like 'Dr Yes' with driving covers of ‘You Only Live Twice' and ‘Nobody Does It Better'. In the hands of Bernstein. drummer Briggan Krauss and bassist Tony Scherr this leaps into the air and kicks conSiderable villain backSide. Only Roy Budd and John Barry did actually do it better. (Paul Dale)
POP PET SHOP BOYS
Release (Parlophone) 0...?
Their return wasn't so much heralded as politely pointed out by the gentle waves of single ‘Home And Dry' and the image rethink means we must live withoot the pointy hats and dancing sailors but one thing that is missing on this record is the Pet Shop Boys' sense of humour.
This is a collection of frail. aching love songs. recalling the duo's most introspective moments (pun intended). only the throbbing house instrumental 'The Samurai In Autumn' breaking the spell. ‘E- mail' is absolutely perfect pop — and an optimistic loner here — and the good intentions of 'I Will Survive' are recast as the doubting melancholia of ‘I Get Along' while ‘Love Is A CatastrOphe‘ is melodramatic Dertrich- ian torch song rewritten as plaintive electro pop. Johnny Marr's guitar adds depth to Chris Lowe's electronic swathes. and without the Wry smile this is just very beautiful and effecting but tinged with sadness. (Mark Robertson)
Bone Box Working The Ri'ba/d Ratio (Ug/yman) Intense. ‘Calexico if the came from England' big band moodiness. Capercaillie Gruth ls Uachdar (Vertical) The folksy SOundtrack to the Gaelic BBC drama senes.
Kasey Chambers Barricades And Bri'ckbats (Warner) Quirky. country vibes from renowned female singer.
Coal Chamber Dark Days (Roadrunner) Doomy, goth metal from the US of A who are no relation to the above c0untry chanteuse. Though it w0uld be cool if they were.
Down By Law Punkrockdays (Epitaph) Veteran punk skunks celebrate with a trawl thr0ugh their mighty back catalogue.
The Sugarbabes rock
Having sold his soul for bland. million-selling, dance pap. Moby has reacted by pretending to be a robot in ‘We Are All Made Stars' (Mute 00 ) some bland. million-selling, indie- dance pap. Clever baldie. Clinic are probably real robots. at least “Come Into Our Room' (Domino 0000 ) sounds like it. all wonderful electronic-garage indie creepiness and oddly mesmerising, haunting vocals. Deﬁnitely not automatons are Idlewild. although they really are turning into REM. ‘You Held The World In Your Arms' (Parlophone 000 ) is strangely ﬂat. with a busy sound detracting from what should be a soaring, roaring bastard of a chorus. But hell's teeth, it's still better than what manky Leeds upstarts The Music are coming up with. ‘The People' (Hut 0 ) sounds like a school band imitating The Stone Roses. and we all know that’s not good. don't we kids? A better prospect are Glasgow's Kinetic. ‘Two Feet Tall' (demo 0. ) shows the band are still learning the indie pop game. but at least they've got a clue about melody. Not something that concerns P.O.D.. Nu-metal of the bargain basement variety. ‘Youth Of The Nation' (Atlantic ) is glib. crass. trite. derivative and insulting to the intelligence of every teenage nu-metaller the world over. It's also garbage. Unlike The Buff Medways' “Troubled Mind’ (T ranscopic O... ). The work of Billy Childish, it is awesomely dumb. fucked-up. garagey, punkrock. booze-soaked. preacher man riffola of the highest order. But it won't get you on the danceﬂoor unless you're nuts. Unlike Timo Mass with ‘Shifter' (Perfecto COO ). which features some eerie. sexy, slinky vocals from MC Chickaboo. nailed to a fine piece of funkily retro. electronic grooviness. But if it's real retro weirdness you're after. check out Dot Allison. ‘Substance' (Mantra O. ) squelches along in classic 803 electro style. but is ultimately unmoving as Allison does her minimalist icy chanteuse schtick over the top. If that was cool, Tweet is. erm, hot. The latest protege of Missy Elliot, Tweet is, to use an old word for it. randy as hell in ‘Oops (Oh My)’ (Goldmind COO ). and manages to come across like a liaison between Ms Elliott and Alicia Keys on heat. in the smart. sassy and strangely claustrophobic piece of R&B. However she could still learn a lesson or two in the sassiness stakes from Sugababes who. after a lengthy lay-off are back with a truly awesome record. 'Freak Like Me' (Island 0000.) kicks umpteen shades of shit out of the charts and like all great tunes. completely defies genres. Pure pop. driving dance. ﬁerce retro disco and scary rock all get sucked in. chewed up and spat out by the girls in what is easily Single Of The Fortnight. (Doug Johnstone)
25 Apr—9 May 2002 THE LIST 107