Where are all the Christmas songs? Next issue. thank the bloody-handed Christ on his cross. meaning we can concentrate on some decent music. And it's right on our doorstep in the form of Yolanda's 'Thecollegeofmusicalknowledge EP' (Tuesday cm ). The Glasgow outﬁt is an Avalanchy mix of scratchy 70s funk and mournful moothie. a groovy ride for sure. More kitsch but less compelling is Hoboken‘s ‘Vainglorious' (Royal Jelly 00. ). a daft blend of trip-hop vibes and big band crooning.
Edgy and wonky are yet more Weegies. Sluts of Trust. ‘Piece 0' You’ (Chemikal Underground mo ) sounds like Mark E Smith fronting Motley Crt'Je. Oof. Much more relaxing are Ordinaryson. yet more west coasters. whose ‘Back Slide EP' (Travelling on ) is a soothing stroll of ambient pop that warms the cockles. When will this classy Glaswegian music end? Not with The Wow Kate. cos their ‘Betty Short's Smile' (Play 0000 ) is a quietly wonderful piece of instrumental restraint. like Mogwai on cocoa.
Off to the City of Discovery for Dundonian Ross Nicoll. whose “Never Give Up' (demo on ) is pleasant acoustic pop. if a little too unassuming to pull the heart strings properly. And so to Edinburgh for Starsky's ‘Starsky EP' (demo .0 ) which lets the east coast down. being a rather dour trawl through bog-standard pub rock references.
Ignoring cover versions from Blue (terrible). No Doubt (actually OK. but still annoying) and a Texas tune that rips off so many songs it might as well be a cover. let '8 get to The Moonies' 'Rock'n'Roll EP‘ (Tn-tone 000 ). which manages to inject some life into the flagging garage rock corpse for now. as does the clattering surf rock of The Raveonettes’ 'Heartbreak Stroll' (Columbia cu ).
More gentle guitar stuff comes from Buffseeds. their ‘Sparkle Me‘ (Fantastic Plastic «0 ) being a lush slice of orchestral, anthemic indie rock with plenty of character and promise for the future. unlike The Dandy Warhols. whose ‘Plan A' (Capital 00 ) sounds exactly like that massive hit of theirs that was on that phone advert. only crap.
Equally predictable is 'Blind Pilots' (Morning 00 ) by The Cooper Temple Clause. which aims for anthemic rock but falls well short. Sadly. predictability is something that also applies to The Coral these days. “Bill McCai‘ (Deltasonic u ) being exactly the same scally. bouncy fluff as their last few singles. ever since they obviously got told to stop all the interesting weirdness. Shame.
After which indie patchiness. Michael Franti and Spearhead is very welcome. A honey- smooth piece of positivity rap. ‘Everyone Deserves Music' (Boo Boo Wax 00” ) is just the coolest. happiest. most uplifting thing released in ages. easily earning it Single of the Fortnight. (Doug Johnstone)
1 12 THE LIST 2/ Nov it [)(x: 2003
ROCK TWILIGHT SINGERS Blackberry Belle (One Little Indian) O...
The Afghan Whigs were the most underrated band ever. Now split. their focal point Greg Dulli has promoted his side project to his main interest and the reSuIt is an extraordinarily SumptuOus and sexy record. This is SOul mUSIC performed by an ex- grunger. and while that shouldn't work at all. it does here brilliantly. Tracks like Teenage Wristband' and 'The Killer' posmvely ooze a brand of sleazy charm scarcely heard these days. as brass and piano lace through rampaging. ass—guaking rhythms. while Dulli seduces the ears of every liVing Creature Within a 500 mile radius. An awesome and unique record. (Doug Johnstonei
POP SOUNDTRACK STEPHIN MERRITT
Pieces of April
(East West. Nonesuchl O.
STE-THIN MERRH‘T ! Pieces oprril i
'l'm boring and ugly.’ mutters Stephin Merritt at one pOint on this scundtrack to the forthcoming Pieces of April. In. in no pOSition to cast judgement on his looks. but on the other statement. I can only concur. Pieces has a lot of instruments deing that slightly Out of tune thing presumably to evoke unease; it just ends up sounding out of tune.
Even the half decent ‘The Luckiest Guy . . . ‘ is unashamedly culled from the Belle 8. Sebastian Stars in their Eyes speCial. Pieces of April is dubbed a comedy of errors. I Wish that listening to this could have been any fun at all. (Brian Donaldson)
BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL (UbiSoft) £39.99 O...
We all know genres are rather silly things. Every piece of entertainment or art is a combination of many elements. from action movies that always. but always feature a comedy sidekick character to Heavy Metal albums that always. but always feature an acetistic ballad. Yes. genres are meaningless. Except when they are not. Computer games in particular suffer from too many titles that jump genre mid-game. leaping from racing to RPG or shooting to puzzle. making for a jarring experience. We want the game to do what we bOught it to do. to stay within its genre. Then we get games like Beyond Good And EVi/ that merges rather than leaps about the genres. RaCing. adventuring. role—playing. puzzle. collecting. this has the lot and presents it in such a seamless. relaxed fashion that it is impossible not to like. It surprises. delights and always teases you with some unexplorer‘l goodies to come. BGAE proves genres are exactly important. or as silly. as you want them to be.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: CHAOS BLEEDS
(Electronic Arts) £39.99 0..
Buffy is a spectaCuIar television programme.
Students of television will write theses about it for decades to come. While making vampires cool. it also had an audience dreaming of being a geek. staking suckers as one of the ‘Slayerettes'. Combining Clueless with X—Fi/es it invented a language. won Emmy after Emmy and scared the crap out of child and adult alike. Not bad for a spin oft from a terrible 808 movie. Well now the spin off has spun off a second computer game and. shock horror. it's not bad either. With a plot penned by a couple of Buffy scriptwriters. Chaos B/eeds fits nicely into the world created so completely by the televiSion series. Voices from the original cast help here too. And to expand upon its predecessor. Chaos Bleeds allows more than Buffy the chance to dust nightcrawlers. Five other characters from the show bring their own type of anti-vampyric smack down to Sunnydale. even going so far as to include Sid the Dummy. How can yOu kill something that is already dead? Continually kicking it in the head seems to work. (lain Davidson)
FIFA 2004 (Electronic Arts) £39.99 0...
This is for the FIFA camp: Go buy this. No seriously. all that stuff about the off-the-ball control is well worth a purchase. Yes. yes that FIFA 2003 disc has never really been out of the PS2. Yes. yes it is the game that settles all friendly arguments. head to head over a best-of- three. Well please chuck that disk and get the new version. The fluid. realistic physics are better in FIFA 2004. The level of control is better in FIFA 2004. The detail.
the animation. those little special touches. all is better in F/FA 2004. The licenses make this the choice of the true football fan. allowing them to play the players they love to watch play. And that F/FA flair makes everything so eaSy to enjoy.
This is for the Pro Evo camp: This is the same old slick but setilless experience. Stick with your substance over style. (lain Davidson)
LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING (Electronic Arts) £39.99 0..
Ahhh. the dilemma. Do y0u wait for weeks. desperately trying to round up the majority of your mates to trek down to your not—so-local multiplex. aning away those who launch into ‘have you seen Lord of the . . avoiding reviews in print and broadcast. so that the third instalment of everyone's favourite fantasy epic is as fresh an experience as possible? Or do yOu say 'hang it!‘ and buy this game? For LolR: RotK completes the trilogy. assuming of course that yOu are a half decent games player. And that you don't mind swinging weapons through all manner of foe. live and undead. because there is little else to the proceedings. Sure the experience pOints stack up faster With careful play and those points will buy better attacks for the Fellowship. but it is hack and slash from start to finish. Still, it looks great and mastering the many combos while avoiding damage is rather addictive. while the FMV sections and extra movie info add a lot of class. But w0u|dn't you rather wait until you've Visited the cinema?