MUSE Absolution (Taste/East West)
Muse return With another soaring slab of histrionic hyper metal. Prog rock in overdrive: pompous. ridiculous. overblown and all the better for it. Muse. and by this we mean power house and intellect Matt Bellamy, have grabbed the bull by the horns taking rock in directions most British acts fear to tread with their ‘oh so polite' Coldplay and Travis-isms.
We need to once again embrace the full blown majesty of rock, we need to be taken by the throat and throttled into joyous abandon. 'Stockholm Syndrome' and ‘Time is Running Out' are that extravagant and explosive remedy. Another masterpiece from the mighty Muse. (Henry Northmore)
BMX BANDITS Down at the Hop (Shoeshine) om
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After a seven-year hiatus. the original Glasgow indie guitar legends are back. They may have evolved over their 18-year career into firm cult favourites and inspiration to many. including Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian. but what can they offer to a music scene crammed full of garage rockers. mullet- loving punk funk and shadowy 80$ guitar sheen?
Well, s0ulful vocals. diverse instrumentation and quirky lyrics for a start. Down at the Hop is a ﬁne return to form. with the Bandits
surr0unding their charming pop Vignettes With squelchy electronics. tinkling pianos and razor-sharp gunars. Perhaps most importantly. however, it's the beautiful vocal melodies that make them as relevant and magnificent as ever. (Camilla Pia)
POP WILLIS Come Get Some (679) CO.
'If you're a girl you're either Kylie or Tracy Chapman and if you're not either. it makes people uncomfortable.’ says Willis. Actually. she's wrong there; she's certainly not a plastic pop princess. nor is she really a serious crusader in song. In fact. her debut album makes you feel very comfortable indeed. It's fun and funky: beat-driven 30ul with a refreshing lo—fi edge.
How heartening to see someone make a
serious stab at chart
success based on not much more than ample raw vocal talent and some songs she (gasp!)
wrote herself. What a
may idea. (Ewan Fergus)
ERASE ERRATA At Crystal Palace (Blast First) on
Here come Californian all-girl quartet Erase Errata with a timely re- release of their second album. and it's scientifically designed to make you forget you ever knew what a tune was in the first place. Which isn't a slagging. it's a compliment. Fiercely individual. Erase Errata combine
artful post-punk heroics wrth some couldn't-give riot grrl attitude to create a driven record stuffed With funky. itchy-feet bass and broken glass gUitars. And even a bit of trumpet. Just to keep folk interested.
The all-over-the-place opening ‘DriVing Test' is there to throw you. but the record soon finds its own unique rhythm. And that rhythm - as proved by the likes of 'Ca. VieWIng' and the frankly mental ‘Owls'— is a bit like a strung-out ESG after three days Without sleep. Strangely addictive. in other words. (David Pollock)
THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS Singles 93-03
Aye. back in the day it was all Big Beat round here. none of that poncy electroclash nonsense. Times change. though. and where the Chemical Brothers were once the electronic poison of a generation. their mighty influence now seems a
diminutive shadow of its
But if proof were needed that they were really as good as you remember. then this cracking fS-track compilation is your first and last stop. Some high-powered guest vocals — including Noel Gallagher on “Setting Sun' and ‘Let Forever
Be'. Bernard Sumner on ‘Out of Control“ and the
Flaming Lips‘ Wayne COyne on eccentrically ingenious neWie ‘The Golden Path' — combine With ultimate mashed anthem 'The Private
Psychedelic Reel' and
more to create a superior record. Proof
that some Chemicals are
more volitile than others. (David Pollock)
ROCK OCEANSIZE Eftloresce (Beggars Banquet) “.0
What do prog rockers think about? The
possibilities of making maybe a guitar solo that lasts 44 days and 4-1 nights? While it's easy to think of the Mars Volta seriously musing over such issues. Manc five- piece Oceansi/e d.splay definite prog tendencies but —- wait for it -- don’t take themselves or their ‘art' too seriously.
Eff/oresce is an inventive. punchy and emotional debut. filled With eerie atmospherics. graceful melodies and soaring fiery guitar attacks somewhere between Elbow and Cave-In. and its left to humorous Cosmo- inspired song titles and subject matter to provrde some much needed light relief. Oceansi/e's addictive guitar symphonies are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. (Camilla Pia)
COLIN STEELE QUINTET
The Journey Home (Caber Music) 00000
Colin Steele works across a range of genres With his different bands. but this acoustic Jazz qumtet serves up his most distinctive and personal music yet. Steele has always been an excellent trumpeter. but has grown immensely as a composer in his two albums with this band. The stream of Scottish musmal influence which Surfaced on parts of Twr/i'ght Dreams is developed more comprehensively here in a set of asswed and attractive originals. Saxophonist Julian ArgUelles is the only non-Scot in the band. but it would be hard to imagine a more Sympathetic
complement to Steele's lyricism. while the r'w'tf‘n‘ trio of Dam) Miil.ga't loam: . Aidan O'Donnell bass and John Rae itlra'nsi a'e eduth ideal inte'ttrete's of this material
VINEGAR BRAIN Love?
The thing about being cool is. you shouldn’t have to try at it. Vinegar Brain try far too hard to seem all quirky and lettfield. and the result is that the twosome Just come across as irritating and selfinvolved. Musically Love? follows that tradition of knoWIng. kitsch British guitar pop. from the Smiths and Pulp onwards. but sadly Vinegar Brain don't have a fraction of either of those bands' charisma. something badly needed to pull this kind of thing off. Songs like opener 'Emily Wants' and “George Best' are essentially empty gestures of songs. making for a thoroughly unengaging record. (Doug Johnstone)
ELECTRONICA MATMOS The Civil War (Matador) O...
San Francisco electronic duo. Matmos. take the concept of experimental music to extremes. Their last album featured $0unds of liposuction Surgery and the idea that this album is influenced by medieval English folk and 19th century Americana 80unds weird. It is. but in a good way.
Although it‘s at the avant-garde end of electro. y0u can genumely enjoy The Owl War (however wrong that $0unds). 'For the
Trees ls subth §}\\rg;t\\‘ti§:. \‘uhilt‘ .th‘ Stars and t‘es ‘e'exe" s t‘.i-" su'wal Tawng a .it‘t‘roac" to 'x‘x‘k. ‘\“'\ JYK} \‘\“\l"'tr\ and "‘cd ng o'ginal scands, Mifr‘ms .ire refreshir‘g‘v ar‘d hfillltt'TI'N ili“e'e"‘.
IGGY POP Skull Ring iVlltW‘. O
Is it Just me that thinks Iggy Pop is the spitting image of Martina Navratilova" Well the popster seems to be confused about his own identity on this new album. as he lurches from garage parody to rock'n'roll farce Willi a rake of terrible collaborations and truly woeful tunes. f ven the appearance of some original Stooges here can't make these third rate riffs and tired cliches presentable. and the lamentable appearances ()f Sum A l. (Ereen Day and a psychotic Peaches Just add to the slapdash and iriconsequential feel of it all. Some legends should Just call it a day. (Doug Johnstone)
H LCTHO POP ZOOT WOMAN Zoot Woman
(Wall of Sound) 0...
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He may have grown up in Reading With parents who wouldn't let him listen to pop till he was 14. but Stuart Price has still managed to give himself a stupid name (Jacques Lu Cont). produce a fiendishly fun electro album as Les Rhythmes Digitales. advise Madonna in an offiCial capacity and front his own band. who wear matching cream SUits on stage and mix house With soft rock and 80s pop.
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