A DECADE OF FIERCE PANDA
Supergrass: look how they’ve
Small indie labels need their cash cows to stay aﬂoat. Creation had Oasis. Domino Records now have Franz Ferdinand. Fierce Panda have, erm, no one. That’s not to say that label supremo Simon Williams doesn’t have an impeccable eye for spotting future stars. He’s just not arsed about signing them. So a litany of amazing talent has passed through the Fierce Panda revolving door, releasing their first records thanks to Williams before moving on to bigger things.
And to prove the point there’s Decade: Ten Years of Fierce Panda, a 20-track compilation that is a who’s who of indie rock since the mid-90s. Ash. Supergrass. Placebo. ldlewild. Polyphonic Spree. Coldplay, for fuck’s sake. But you won’t hear Williams boasting about it.
‘lt’s the old monkeys with typewriters thing, isn’t it,’ he says jovially. ‘We’ve probably done records by over 300 bands. If you put out that many records some of those bands have got to go on and be successful on other labels, haven’t they?’
Hmmm. The label was started as a drunken joke by Williams and two colleagues at NME, where he was a staff writer. Describing the early days as ‘just a shambolic laugh’, there was no plan and no money, just eager bands and great tunes.
‘The original concept was just to release one record and then call it a day,’ says Williams. ‘We had no interest in long term ambitions like that so the fact that we’re still here is a miracle.’
Decade . . . makes for extraordinary listening. Early recordings from now established stars, like Supergrass’s ‘Caught By the Fuzz’ or ‘Brothers & Sisters’ by Coldplay, might be rough and ready but they have an exhilarating, youthful energy that is like a slap in the face with a wet fish. Elsewhere there are great blasts from the past (Embrace and 3 Colours Red), the weird and wonderful (Lo- Fidelity Allstars and Bright Eyes) and brilliant stuff from tomorrow’s stars (Hundred Reasons and Keane). This is one talented bunch of monkeys with typewriters, and Williams is king of the
jungle. (Doug Johnstone)
I Ten Years of Fierce Panda is on! Mon 1 Mar:
ambient album. however. The 15 tracks here are in the main bona-fide songs. With little books which catch the imagination before returning the listener to their personal chill out zone.
Handy reference points include Eno midway between Roxy Music and . . . Airports. and the Durutti Coluinn's fragile vocals set to stark piano. An enchanting album you'd do well to seek out.
CCN'H MPCHAHY ENSEMBLE MODERN PLAYS FRANK ZAPPA Greggery Peccary & Other Persuasions (RCA Victori O...
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the former Ms Cobain (a iiioniker she'll never lose and can't help but exploiti is back with her first true solo album. l-ler image and hell raising often overshadow her musical worth and many forget the poignant. polished power of Hole's final swan song Celebrity Skin. The problem is these songs could so easily have come from that era - grunge With those painfully confessional vocals. lliere has been no progression in the intermediate six years. Just a distillation of what love has become: tuck
up. mother. film star, icon.
One time Hole band mate and ex-Smashing Pumpkin bassist Melissa Auf der Maur has similarly hit the ground running. Her debut is a meeting point for both bands' strengths mixing the rawness of Hole with the psychedelia of the Pumpkins: sludgy riffs backed by soaring ideas. Sassy. sexy rock tracks like 'l'll be Anything You Want' and ‘Skin Heceiver' hint at a breadth of vision echoing the Breeders at lil(}lr l)(>5;t.
MON POP SPEEDWAY Save Yourself (innocent) O
EVIdently hoping to head iuli throttle for instant stardom propelled by a cover version. on the evidence of their debut Speedway are running on an empty tank of interchangeal)Ie mid— teinpo ephemera. Their \.'./oeful rehash of Christina Aguilera's Come in a Bottle" sounds positively
I 'm A Cuckoo
The new single, out
inspired next to everything else. with greeting card lyrics and MOR melodies aimed squarely at the wallet. They persist With a Journey theme thoughout with song titles like ‘.Juggernaut'. ‘Can't Turn Back' and 'Overdrive' and lyrical turns like ‘when you've walked down that road you know where it goes'. But from where I'm standing. it's looking more like Berlin at the moment than Texas. (Emma Newlandsl
Radio 3 Awards for World Music 2004 (Mantecai 0.0
It isn't as if the indigenous music of Africa and Latin America is particularly good at the moment ~- it's always
been this good. It is just that since the success of Buena Vista Social Club. World Music is no longer given self-conscious new age production jobs nor is it marketed exclusively to people who buy fair trade coffee. Labels like Wrasse and Manteca are releasing superb compilations. Shrine is the longest surviving club night at Cargo in London and the BBC is treating it as a self- confident musical genre which warrants the kind of academic contextualising that used to be the preserve of jaw and classical. However. this album takes in a ridiculously wide catchment area. leading to the terminal suspicion that World Music is at core a ludicrous term. Consecutive tracks by Cibelle. Zuco 103 and Ojos De Brujo are the highlights of a sexy. girating CD1. But CD2 really ought to have been marketed to a different. more folk— oriented audience.
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7 inch — i'i‘n .'\ (Tucxoo / ([ Rolioi.’o in) 'l‘ravolli‘n' l igihl; Enhanced CD 8 Maxi DVD — ("iii A (Tucson ," Stop, Look and i isi'oo ,’ l'i‘n .-\ Cuckoo (by tho :\v.il.iochcs) ,’ (i tie ieyo in) 'l‘i'avollin' l lg’itiﬁ / video tor l'm .'\ Cuckoo / plus DVD
only extra photo video gallon;
go to wwwimacuckoocom to win a trip to Barcelona
the album 'Doai' (‘iiidﬁii'UE‘l‘A‘ \Kaiiri‘ss' out now:
.2 Mar 900-2 THE LIST 107