ANDI NEATE Flutter By
(Blue Elf) ooo
Andi Neate's voice is striking. versatile and crystal clear. Even refreshing. But there's more to a good album than a sweet voice. Like Substance. for example. Accompanied by pleasant minimalist guitar with brief visits from the bass and fiddle. Neate's lyrics crave depth and lack impact.
Unfortunate lines such as 'birds and bees And birds and trees' are almost saved by some decent melodies. but not well enough for this album to sneak into the ‘worth buying' category. Beautiful folk music can stir your soul and carry you for days. but Flutter By will only carry you off to bed for a lazy afternoon kip. Somewhere between Ani DiFranco and Beth Orton. but nowhere near either.
CONTEMPORARY MICHAEL TORKE Rapture
American composer Michael Torke wrote the percussion concerto Rapture for the da77ling young Scottish percussionist Colin Currie and the RSNO. as part of his tenure as associate composer wrth the orchestra. This budget price premiere recording features Currie in scintillating form. while the orchestra is conducted by another American.
the RSNO's principal guest conductor. Marin Alsop.
Although coolly received by the classical critics when first performed in Glasgow. Torke's driving, minimalist- inspired rhythms are very exciting. while Currie's brilliant performance is worth the fiver asking price itself. The disc also includes the composer 's An American Abroad and Jasber.
BLAZIN’ SQUAD In the Beginning (eastwest) O.
0 TOWN 0 Town 2 lBMG) o
In the beginning. the ten schoolfriends who make up Blazin' Squad were told they could do proper garage. Then they got big bucks behind them. integrity slipped onto the back burner and they recorded a drippy cover of Bone. Thugs'n‘Harmony's ‘Crossroads'. Now you can see them on Saturday morning TV shows. hiding their embarrassment under big coats and beanie hats.
The rawer influences haven't been entirely sguee7ed out -— ‘All About the Music' is a decen‘ enough foray into street commentary. but most of In the Beginning is bland and manufactured.
It's not as bad, though as O Town's second album. titled O Town 9. just in case anyone
either forgets it's their second album or thinks for a moment that it might be about something other than the band themselves and their predictable travails in the land of puppy love. They build their better songs around other people's good bits (‘Rapper's Delight'. Careless Whisper') and all thank God Iulsornely in the ackrfowledgements. Faith is a frightening thing. (James Smart)
THE SEA AND CAKE
One Bedroom (Thrill Jockey) 0..
After eight years and five albums. the Sea and Cake are American underground heroes to some. But for all their obvious intellect. artistic stylrngs; and growing reputation. One Bedroom is a somewhat underwlrelming record. Opening brace ‘Four Corners' and ‘Left Side Clouded' are straight- laced. fey indie pop. all too familiar to Belle and Sebastian fans. Elsewhere there is dreamy funk pop in abundance. but much of it is pretty directionless stuff and it all seems to blend into an inoffensive. easy listening. vanilla- flavoured. beige mulch of nothingness. Oh. and someone really should have warned against the cover of Bowie's ‘Sound and Vision'. (Doug Johnstone)
Other People’s Songs (Mute) 0..
If the current epidemic of manufactured pop acts were half as honest as Er; sure. the charts would be stuffed with records bearing this pithy title. At least the electr'o-pop legends can be relied on to tinker with some unexpected classics.
Initially. like their ‘Abbaesgue' EP. this collection intrigues. delights and appals in equal measure. from the flamboyant prance up ‘Solsbury Hill' to a version of the Buggies‘ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star" that's as infuriatineg catchy as the original. But after 40 minutes of familiar tunes speeded up and interspersed with iangly synth effects beneath Andy Bell's wounded vocals. the formula starts to feel a bit decrepit.
VIRGINIA MACNAUGHTON Levers, Pulleys and Engines (Paraphernalia)
Monstrously generous comparisons to Thea Gilmore and Kathryn Williams have been made about MacNaughton. None of which. unfortunately. is true. Her thing is convoluted narratives dissolved in an innOCLlous rhythm of Ioobing drums. synths and acoustic guitar.
It is fitting that last she supported Glenn Tilbrook. James Yorkston. Julie Felix. Midge Ure and Bob Geldof: all very much artists in the dwindling twilight of their talents. An predilection for the rules of structure and timing that make the songs of Tim Buckley and Nick Drake great maybe one thing: rare. impulsive talent is another.
‘Worth the Wall’. however. does exude a certain mid-period Costello charm.
I w by low as you
can 9° es
Yeah — happy New Year. Your body is awash with Andrews Liver Salts and for some strange reason you think now may be a good timer to give up smoking. It's the pistol or the plastic patch for you, my friend.
Plastic of another kind comes in the form of The Paybacks and The Hentchmen's wonderful ‘Split Tour' disc (Rex 0000 ). which may give you some reason to live. Good old fashioned rock'n'roll was rather abused in 2002 by a bunch of pretty public school boys from New York. This is something else - raw and bubbling with urgency. this is Detroit Hammond driven rock at its best. The Hentchmen are more Grace Slick/early Jefferson Airplane with a layer of old paint sanded off them. All four songs are masterworks of expediency. Almost as much fun is Electric Six with ‘Danger! High Voltage' (XL 00” i. also from the dirty heartlands of Detroit. These boys obviously grew up on the silly side of town. This is basically a ‘Blue Monday’ sample cross-pollinated with a slightly hysterical funk/disco groove - it's so much fun you keep expecting John Otway to pop up.
Layo and Bushwackal's “Love Story Remixes' (XL 0 ). however, are the pits — bootleg club anthems that anyone in their right mind wouldn‘t cross the road to own. The latest installment of the Soma dubs 12in series (Soma COO ) is a much better choice. It contains at least one listenable side — the Two Lone Swordsman Dub of Slam's ‘Visions' featuring Dot Allison is a joy — but Gene Farris' take on 'Black Satin“ isn’t even worth bothering with. ‘(I Wish I Had) A Wooden Heart’ (Amp 00” ) is the best tune from the most disappointing album of last year: David Holmes Presents the Free Association. Erasure's version of Peter Gabriel's ‘Solsbury Hill' (Mute 0” ) is pure electro- cheese but more fun than a room full of camp hippies. Cockney timewasters Audio Bully sound like Sham 69 after a week spent in Paul Oakenfold's studio licking his 303 machine with their Kronenberg stained tongues. ‘We Don’t Care' (Source .00 ) comes in a clean and dirty version: lads. do really think that we care if you care?
Busted's ‘Year 3000' (Universal Island 0 ). Feeders ‘Just the Way I'm Feeling' (Echo O ) and Reef's “Give Me Your Love' (82 O ) are just about as low as you can go without injecting the genes of a parentally neglected Linkin' Park fan straight into the main vein. ‘Hysteria'. a tune from the Pennyhollow EP (demo 0000 ) is a lovely. potent little indie tune with some great vocals and lyrics with a nice sense of its own unimportance; it is. however. incredibly badly recorded. but it's a demo so I suppose that's all part of the fun. Single of the Fortnight: sorry to toe the party line on this one but Jesse Malin's ‘Queen of the Undenivorld (One Little Indian moo) is as exquisite a piece of songsmithery as I've heard in a long time: part Harry Nielson. part Warren Zevon. this packs a considerable cracked-hand punch. (Paul Dale)
12—10 Jan 2003 THE LIST 83