Music Record Reviews
INDIE POP TEENAGE FANCLUB Shadows (PeMa) ●●●●● The Fannies’ 20-year career has been a gradual progression from joyously stomping Doc boots to comfy, worn-in slippers, and this eighth studio album is a further refinement of their jangly, harmony- laden craft. The fire in their bellies is given an airing in the likes of opener ‘Sometimes I
Don’t Need to Believe in Anything’ and the old- school sway of ‘Shock and Awe’, but elsewhere there isn’t too much that stands out, and certainly no great surprises. Shadows is
LABELS OF LOVE
DISPLAY COPY Based in Glasgow
Roster Konx-Om-Pax, with more to follow.
Bosses Sound designer, director and animator Tom Scholefield, also known as Konx-Om-Pax, who has worked with labels like Warp, DFA, Planet Mu and Numbers. Sounds like ‘Inspired by Japanese noise and stoner records, people like Merzbow, Sunn O))) and Earth,’ says Scholefield of his debut release ‘Optimo Tracks’, the soundtrack to a digital installation he created for the titular club.
‘Quite noisy, aggressive music to soundtrack elegant, dreamlike digital animations. Lots of live instrumentation – I worked with Glasgow noise band Vars of Litchi on it – processed through a computer.’ What’s the intention for Display Copy?
‘At the moment just to release the backlog of my own audio projects that I’ve been working on over the years, it feels like the right time to do it. It’ll be a limited three-track CD, with each sleeve individually printed at Glasgow School of Art using traditional typography techniques, because I want them to have a real, handmade feel.’ What are your plans for the future?
‘I’ve got around an album’s worth of material almost ready. My friend Neil Clements and I are also collaborating on a piece for the upcoming Nurse With Wound event which Optimo are curating (Tramway, Glasgow, Sat 26 Jun), so the hope is to release the music I create for that. Beyond that I have a few friends, complete unknowns who are incredibly talented but don’t have the drive or motivation to release stuff themselves, who I’d like to help out. The same thing again, small handmade runs available through the website (www.displaycopy.net) and shops like Mono and Volcanic Tongue.’ (David Pollock) ■ Konx-Om-Pax launches ‘Optimo Tracks’ at the Art School, Glasgow, Sat 29 May with Oneohtrix Point Never and Tomutonttu; Ivy Bar, Glasgow, Fri 4 Jun with Gescom and Guy Veale.
74 THE LIST 27 May–10 June 2010
the sound of a band settling into cosy middle age, undoubtedly accomplished and pure of heart, but a tad underwhelming given their previous heights. (Doug Johnstone) AMERICANA ROKY ERICKSON WITH OKKERVIL RIVER True Love Cast Out All Evil (Chemikal Underground) ●●●●●
This is an album to warm the heart for many reasons, not least because its composer once seemed to have dropped out of music and life itself thanks to bouts of severe schizophrenia and lengthy incarceration periods in mental hospitals. Roky Erickson, sometime singer with The 13th Floor Elevators, was a quiet tragedy to compare with Syd Barrett.
Teaming with Austin’s Okkervil River as his backing band, he’s created here a rather lovely alternative country album that’s more sober and pastoral (barring the ragged, noisy ‘John Lawman’) than his previous work. The consistent quality of the music aside, though, it’s the tender, concise insights into Erickson’s psyche that really affect: the desperate pleading of ‘Please, Judge’, the sad nostalgia of the title track and ‘Ain’t Blues Too Sad’. (David Pollock)
INDIE ROCK BORN RUFFIANS Say It (Warp) ●●●●● It’s hard, at first, to really know what to make of
Say It – the second album from Warp Records’ Canadian trio, Born Ruffians. Once you get past the grating eccentricities of Luke Lalonde’s vocals, there is an equally unhinged musical landscape to scour. The entire album puts focus on bright melody and often moves at an accommodatingly bouncy pace, but there are lingering and rather unique details ingrained in these ten tracks that make them interestingly odd. While it regularly
sounds like the band are invading the creative waters of the likes of Vampire Weekend, The Shins and Grizzly Bear – with all their sporadic, fiddly guitar licks and crooning vocal delivery – every instrument is subtly twisted and treated with a variety of sonic enhancements and effects, ultimately giving the album that ‘Warp’ feel. Despite sounding rather dry in its production overall, guitar lines sparkle, flitting in and out of focus, whilst the rhythm section is steeped in warmth, and altogether funky. Check out ‘What To Say’ or latest single ‘Sole Brother’. A bizarre summer classic. (Ryan Drever)
ALT POP ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI Before Today (4AD) ●●●●●
Ariel Pink’s early albums were nuggets of bedroom pop alchemy, inspiring a generation of glo-fi and hypnagogic pop artists. Illicit pop pleasures – soft-rock, blue-eyed soul, 80s MTV – shone through, but as Ariel ‘Pink’ Rosenberg always insisted, the lo-fi sound was merely the result of technical limitations. Before Today, his first studio album, may be ‘properly’ recorded with a band, but still sounds gloriously odd.
Psychedelic synths give a woozy, late-night LA quality, while his mildly deranged vocal tics are present and correct. ‘Hot Body Rub’ brings car horns and porno funk bass, and ‘Fright Night’ suggests a goth Hall & Oates, but it’s ‘Menopause Man’, a candid ode to gender confusion, that cuts deepest, its chugging synth-rock a surprisingly effective setting for Rosenberg’s poignant vocals. Inspiration abounds, from slap bass romps, epic power-pop and warped glam-metal. An experimental pop triumph. (Stewart Smith)
TECHNO POP SILVER COLUMNS YES AND DANCE (Moshi Moshi) ●●●●●
Electro champions Silver Columns fair know how to pack a punch. Their debut long-player is loaded with bold, wholehearted dance- floor pop that embraces Kraftwerk, Hot Chip, Underworld, Bronski Beat, Erasure and Homework-era Daft Punk. Silver Columns’ once- incognito protagonists – now exposed as The Pictish Trail and Adem – make for a victorious musical deuce: witness their melodic urge; their fluent command of the languages of dance.
‘Cavalier’ is a roguish tussle of homoerotic electro-rock; ‘Brow Beaten’ re-animates Jimmy Somerville; and the two-and-a-half minute mark of ‘Always On’ sees the duo hit euphoric gold. Disco- folk, techno-pop, call it what you want. It’s knockout. (Nicola Meighan)
CABARET POP CIBELLE Las Venus Resort Palace Hotel (Crammed Discs) ●●●●● Any album containing a cover of Kermit the Frog’s ‘It’s Not Easy
Being Green’ is probably not taking itself entirely seriously. This nuts concept album from a Brazilian Tropicalia star is packed with bizarre fun, as musical magpie Cibelle hops from unlikely genre to unlikely genre (James Bond-style epic, ’60s garage rock, loungecore, folk, torch songs and more) in a skewed pastiche of the club singing circuit. When it works, like on the icy Goldfrapp drama of ‘Braid My Hair’ or, yes indeed, that Kermit song rendered as touching, melancholic jazz, it’s irresistible, but that doesn’t quite happen often enough. (Doug Johnstone) RETRO ROCK DAN SARTAIN Dan Sartain Lives! (One Little Indian) ●●●●●
Following in the footsteps of fellow American retro- rockers Jack White and Jon Spencer, Birmingham, Alabama’s Dan Sartain decamps to London to record his latest LP at Shoreditch’s Toerag Studios under the guidance of producer Liam Watson.
Watson/Toerag alumni Pete Molinari, Fabienne Delsol and Ed Turner of Holly Golightly lend instrumental assistance and so, perhaps unsurprisingly, Sartain’s third label-released album comes off the press with the country hick/Mex rockerbilly of Dan Sartain Vs the Serpientes and Join Dan Sartain (three tracks of which were also recorded at Toerag) cut with the 60s garage racket that Watson specialises in. And that, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing. (Miles Fielder)