LOUNG BROKEBACK Looks at the Bird (Thrill Jockey) O.
When a band with a reputation for innovation announce their intention to strip back their instrumentation and plump for a more ‘traditional' arrangement. I immediately consider removing my details from their mailing list. There's a near-invisible line between simple-but- effective and plain dull. which Brokeback dance around through0ut this recording. too often taking their bows and curtseys on the wrong side.
Despite the layers of digital and acoustic sounds. the main problem here is that a lack of variety of pace and the conventional ‘verse-chorus-verse' Structure of the songs turn this album into the kind of easily- disregarded background muzak that gets piped into shopping centres. (Allan Radcliffe)
LONG TALL SHORTY
A Bird in the Hand (Countdown) mo
If you believe the Current batch of slick garage punk acts. Long Tall Shorty are the greatest band you've never heard of. Formed back in the
days when punk‘s raw energy still seemed exotic. this long—overdue recording makes clear that these enduring rockers are a formidable match for young pretenders the Hives and the Strokes.
Throughout. Tim Perfect's group reigns Supreme over an eclectic bunch of styles. Opening tirade ‘And That ain‘t All' and the fierce ‘Don't Try to Stop Me' finds them in gloriously angry mode. while the band sounds equally at home funking out on ‘Justice' and ‘I Saw the Light‘ or tearing up such unexpected classics as Sam Cooke's 'Shake'. (Allan Radcliffe)
84 THE LIST 2—16 Jan 2003
TERMINAL BLUE Lost Luggage Check- In (Demo) 0
Variety is the spice of life. or so they say. But 37 different flavours of turd still amounts to shit on a plate. doesn't it? Edinburgh fivesome Terminal Blue flit from funk-rock to reggae to Hispanic folk to jazz and all the way back again. but everything they turn their hand to is painfully derivative. outrageously dated and often just brutally bad. Occasionally the songwriting almost struggles out the mire. like in the engaging mania of ‘Casa Mia'. but mostly Lost Luggage Check-In is a triumph of mediocrity over invention. Still. their surnames are Bentaberry. Grillo. Unger and Van Bossum. so it‘s not all bad. (Doug Johnstonel
POP ANDY PARTRIDGE
Fuzzy Warbles vol 1 and 2 (Weatlierbox) D...
By rights any collection of outtakes. demos and rejects should be seriously substandard — especially when spread out over a planned series of several CDs — but when the standard is set as high as it is by XTC. even the substandard sounds good.
I won't pretend anyone but the hardcore fan Will be bothered by these compilations by the band's chief songwriter. wit and creative force. but for the aficionado. they're a real treat. There are rarities such as 1979's Complicated Game' played on crap acoustic guitar: novelties such as a local radio jingle and a muSical EillSWOTpllOltC message: and genuine lost masterpieces such as 'I Don't Want to be Here' and ‘Ship Trapped in the Ice'. A completist's heaven. (Mark Fisher)
BLANK SPACE My Days with the Astronauts
(Open Season) 00
The bedrooms of introspective. sensitive
indie singer songwriters across the land reverberate to the likes of this stuff every day. Not bad exactly. just not particularly original. My Days . . . (essentially the work of lonely London troubadour Alex Dew) is a dreamy wash of psychedelic indie stylings and a somewhat dated- sounding affair to boot. There is a tendency towards cinematic sweeps of blandness that extract all the character out of songs like ‘Wild Man of Rock' and ‘RTN'. The odd pleasing exception pops up. though. like the unhinged punk jazz ramble of ‘Folk Hero Demise'. but mostly this is forgettable indie by numbers. (Doug Johnstone)
iiVL- Hussut TODD
RUNDGREN UTOPIA (Sanctuary) 0...
Part of the Todd Rundgren Bootleg series. this is Volume 2. It deals With an excellent concert the Hunt recorded for San Francisco radio station KSAN DSFM in 1979. The event was intended to promote his forthcoming album Adventures In Utopia. but due to the man's ridiculous work agenda and a mess up in the release schr—zdules. that album didn't see the light of day until 1980. making this recording fairly redundant. Twenty-three years on this is superior to much of Rundgren's over-produced studio work. Old stalwart tunes like 'Trapped'. 'Shot in the Dark'. ‘Can we Still be Friends' and 'The Death of Rock'n'Roll' shimmer With grand contrivance. This is one for the completist or a person with a reoccurring need to drive their dinner guests into the cold windy night. (Paul Dale)
TONY HAWK’S PRO SKATER 4 (Activision $39.99) .0.
Yeti know the feeling. The wardrobe contains enough clothes to fill an Oxfam shop but depressingly. there is nothing to wear. You are bored with everything. Your favourite shirt looks jaded. those expensive trousers no longer excite. As good as all that gear once was. it is now time for a change.
Well. welcome to Tony Hawk '5 4. Like that once-cool hooded top. it still feels great but the edges seem tattered and too well worn. Like those ageing comfy jeans. there is a whole lot of freedom. with masSive levels and a looser structure making it much more of a stoner's game. but there is no getting away from its age. And like that funky. nightclub outfit. there is a lot of fun to be had. tricks to learn and pleaswes to explore. but that deliCious spark of newness has gone. It's time to smarten up. Tony!
PC 007 NIGHTFIRE (Electronic Arts £29.99) 0.
Just when you thought y0u COuldn't stand one more second of Bond paraphernalia (enough With the Die Another Day bombardment please) here comes 007 Nig/itfire. Depicted in first person. like Go/denEye. yOu must guide Bond thr0ugh some baddie-filled levels. like in GoldenEye. to flick some switches. use some gadgets and save the girl and the world . . . like in GoldenEye.
But that is where all comparisons end. Nightfire is slow. dull and packed to the rafters with unimaginative gaming staples. Though it looks OK. it plays like a
dog and is an even poorer experience on the PC than on any of its console cousins. When an old N64 and a copy of GoldenEye costs little more than $30. you would be cra2y to waste y0ur money on Nighttire.
GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY (Rockstar £39.99) 0...
And this year's Christmas no 1 and best selling game of the year is . . . OK. this may not be entirely true but it w0uld Surprise no one if GTA: Vice City Surpassed its predecessor's sales figures. Yet. like a
Riotously good drivers
chancellor of the exchequer. what it gives with one hand it takes away with the other.
In the profit column are loads of vehicles including motOrbikes. which are riotously good fun to drive. more weapons. great tunes. a better lead character helped by some great voice acting and a brand new city to lord over. Vice City feels bigger and more open. making simple exploration a game in itself. But the deficit column spons some ridiculously bad Al. dodgy collision detection and. well. the feeling that this was a rushed job. But the bottom line is that Vice City is well worth spending Granny's gift vouchers on.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
(Vivendi €29.99) 0
Question. Is Lord of the Rings not one of the finest adventure stories the world has ever seen? Because a couple of hours trudging thr0ugh LOTR' FOTR will make you doubt that. Spanning the first novel. this is Frodo's journey from Bag End to Lothlorien. Great. A long journey through a variety of weird and dangerous environments. enc0untering friends and foe along the way. Except you will never get that far.
So bad are the animations. the controls. the laughably bad cut- scenes. the game engine. the characterisation. the magic and the combat that the quit button quickly gets punched.