Hip-ometer Rating ~ 7.6
Chrysler - "Failures And Sparks" The first time I ordered this it was the only thing in the order that did not come. What's more, what did come was a note that said it might not come back in again period. I was not happy. Some time later however, while browsing a new order, I saw it listed again and added it, and this time it came. After spending some time with it now however, perhaps I should have left well enough alone. The first two tracks, What I Must Keep With Mine and Holy Holy Holy are laid back, delicate, and touching melodies that reach out and simply take you. After that however the music gets more and more minimal, and more and more subliminal, and the vocals just go, for lack of a better term, to shit. I know during one session of listening to it, (I was reading a magazine while listening) I became aware my subconscious was was very annoyed. I snapped to and listened....."Good lord, someone take this damn thing off! Oh, I'm alone...OK, I'll do it...." If we set the hyperbole aside, is it really that bad? No. There are a few really nice tracks, and some good ones too, but the remainder is a tough chew, making this sort of a 50/50 proposition. So is it worth it for the good tracks? In this musical climate, .....no. There are more worthy worthies for your pop pennies. However, if the clip grabs you, you may wish to consider taking the plunge.
Label ~Flora And Fauna , 10 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.6
Chrysler - "Cold War Classic" This bands last album got raved up, I bought in and bought it, and found it to have had promise but ultimately fail, and therefore it was a bit disappointing. So when a new album reared it's head so quickly after that one, and again with the same exaltations, I was somewhat remiss about taking the plunge with my hard earned cash once more. However, chump that I am I dove in head first anyway, but mark your calander kids, this time it paid off. While the last one started fairly good it soon began faltering until I found it staggering along. This however delivers the goods from front to back. It is well recorded and infused with bitter sweet melancholy, yet it still retains it's pop sensibilities. If it finds itself creeping too far one way either a ray of joy or a strain of despair will cut thru to edge us back toward the middle. While musically rooted in various early 70's shadings, there is a lot of variety and it is hard to label it, or dislike it, even though that period is not a personal favourite of mine to say the least. For example a track like Blue Gold which has that Hermans Hermits marching "vibe" is none the less recorded so well and so full of unique layerings that it rises above comparison to the point that even a bastard like me finds he likes it. This is just a lovely recording for late night or rainy days while you are curled up with something good to read. (if you are a Gemini like me who can read and listen at the same time without losing anything from either) Many try to walk the tightrope that is this kind of album and usually fail at it (including this band itself) but this time, this one's a winner.
Label ~ Flora & Fauna, 12 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 7.2
Churchbuilder - "Patty Darling" All I can say is that for some reason this outfit reminds me of a slower, sort of lo-fi version of Heavenly, which is a band I personally don't care for. I keep trying to like this thing, but I'm finding it hard to. I can't honestly say I dislike it, and am having a hard time deciding which way the wind dost blow. I can listen to the songs and at times enjoy some of them, but it's the sort of thing I find myself chuckling to often because I find them absurdly funny. It's SO twee chick soft rock to the Nth degree that it almost parodies itself. Sob Sob is probably the best cut on it, and French Kiss Conspiracy isn't too bad either. This thing is the paramount of the Shelflife lo-fi american twee-chick genre. So if you dig that sort of thing, then this record will do whatever those kinds of records do for you people. For me, I can't help but laugh and not take it too seriously, one way or the other. Actually, I envision this type of music to be the kind of thing confused 16 year old girls listen to in their room while they're pondering if they're lesbians or not. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Since I don't have that problem perhaps it explains why it's not reaching me. Not that it's making any reference like that in the songs, it just comes across to me that way. Everyone has at least one bizarre interpretation of something, and this one must be mine.
Label ~ Shelflife, 9 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.6
Cinerama- "Torino" I will say now I thought our boy Gedges first Cinerama lp, Va Va Voom, was a brilliant masterpiece that to me seemed to go largely un-noticed in it's time. Nobody seemed to know about it or care. Now, in Nine Inch Nails fashion everyone is a fan. I was not fond of the second lp Disco Volante however. T got it and I heard it at his place and it left such a bad taste I never took it home or heard it again. So I approached this one with long tongs and thick gloves. Well, it certainly isn't as berift of direction and musicality as the last one was, but neither is it as grand as the first. This album sort of meanders, and doesn't have any real cohesion as it seems to come across more as an offering of Gedgedic musings. It's also questionable if there are even any timeless masterpieces on it, although Careless and Quick, Before it Melts come close. (just close) I suppose what it comes down to is how much of a fan you are and how bad you need it. If you don't know the guy, or your musical budget is limited, then go buy Va Va Voom should you not already own it. If you've been there, done that, and really like the guy you probably already own this. That only leaves the fence sitters,and I'd honestly encourage you to buy the new Brideshead LP first. After all, maybe you'll get this for Christmas. I think the talking outro to track nine Close Up speaks volumes about his current muddled state. Gedge is like Old faithful, and every so often he has an epiphany and a musical geyser of brilliance issues forth. This is just the bubbling before the next storm I think. I am being hard, but with people of his caliber I always am. He is one of the Olympians, and needs harsher judging, and for what it's worth this is far better than most of the hash getting done by others these days. Still, I expect and want more from him, bastard that I am.
Label ~ Manifesto, 13 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.4
Cinnamon - "Vertigo" I honestly am getting tired writing reviews about all these Swedish groups, especially as so many of them have so much in common. Again, we have a group with a female singer, in this case named Frida Diesen singing tunes with all the glam, pop glitz and disco chic anybody's going to want. It has all the production and pop hooks in the world as well as lots of strings which are conducted by the likes of Louis Philippe. Falling somewhere between a Swing Out Sister / Cardigans sound, if you like a nice adult glitzy glam sound with a disco flourish then park it here. Recommended for late night disco shagging? It is, so just buy it and I'll move on to reviewing something else.
Label ~ March, 12 Tracks, 1999
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.5
Client - "Client" A release like this is a rarity in todays scene, but it was a fairly stock in trade thing in the heydays of the 80's indie-alternative landscape. That being a wholly concept album, right down to the two members taking on identities and calling themselves Client A and Client B. (who work for Client F) Well, not to ruin it but Client A is Sarah Blackwood of the great band Dubstar and Client B is Kate Holmes (Technique/wife to Creation kingpin Alan McGee). Client F is Depeche Modes Andy Fletcher and they are the first band signed to his new Toast Hawaii label. Introductions aside, this is a techno-dancetronic pop album that's trying hard not to appear like a pop album. That's not surprising given the backgrounds of the people involved. A number of the songs do have a Dubstar feel to them, and a lot of that is due to the voice of Blackwood which is unique. The synths wander from kraut rock stylings to some hints at the Human League, but the over-riding feel is a heavier Depeche Mode which is perhaps no surprise. The single Price Of Love is a lot closer to her work in Dubstar, a sort of driving, rocket sled of a dance track that is very appealing. At other times they come closer to Ladytron as on Here And Now only where Ladytron have a bit of an Orwellian greyness this is a bit more black and white, and...angry, especially with Blackwood letting her Scottish accent have more free reign. This is quite good, and certainly refreshing both musically and visually with all the impersonal leg, torso and breast shots. It's not as overly brilliant as I had hoped, and it gets a little drawn out and techo vacant at the end, but it's a solid first release and I think a great starting point. At least they certainly were thinking, and we could use a whole lot more of that. Kudos girls.
Label ~ Toast Hawaii, 11 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.7
Client - "City" This the second long player from our dynamic girl duo. While I didn't mind the industrial angst on their first outing, I did find some remorse in the fact that Sarah Blackwood has a wonderful voice when she sings nicely like she did in her previous band Dubstar, and I do miss that. In that regard there is a measure of redemption here. While this starts off virtually in the footsteps of where the last one left off, as it progresses diversity manages to creep it's way in. The first occurrence is on track four, One Day At A Time where our Sarah sings; not intones, not threatens..... sings. It's nearly like Dubstar and I really like it. So am I saying I prefer Dubstar to this outing? Actually, I'm somewhere in the middle I think. Dubstar at times could have used more of an edge, and this could be a bit less sterile and cold. But they do indeed lighten up on here, as a number of songs feature her voice in a more relaxed and pleasing way like Don't Call Me Baby , and even on slightly edgy tracks like Pornography. Musically this still sounds a lot like late era Depeche Mode which is no surprise given Andrew Fletchers involvement, from thundering synth lines to the odd string ensemble piece. Of course very dance oriented songs are littered thruout, such as the catchy instrumental Theme or the chart happy Down To The Underground. Yeah, like this will see a chart.... Well, we know it won't, but it certainly deserves to. This is a good solid follow up, and I think it's a bit better than the debut. It starts a little hard but before we're done our toes are surely tappin and maybe even dancin. A solid sophomore effort, and a turn in a distinctly refreshing direction. A must for synth fans.
Label ~ Toast Hawaii, 13 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.7
Clientele - "A Fading Summer" This is a band that has garnered a lot of press, and I think mainly because so much of what gets done in the UK truly sucks these days when something doesn't it gets hailed as brilliant. This isn't brilliant, and it doesn't suck either. These guys have certainly put the LOW in fi, and do it to what at times is a very Beatles sounding affair. Nick Drake references get made but I think Belle & Sebastian sound more like Nick Drake. I'll say right off I don't care for lo-fi stuff usually, it tends to be dirge slow and all sounds the same. This does manage to escape that, and actually isn't too bad. If I was doped up in an adirondack chair watching the leaves turn color this might really strike home. Ok, ok, I'll be fair, I'll be fair. It isn't my meat really, but it is done pretty well. If you dig that lo-fi 60's/70's type of sound this will truly rock your world. I don't smoke doobers and chill, so I suppose this is wasted on me.
Label ~ March, 4 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.9
Clientele - "Suburban Light" First off, the UK edition of this disc contains 3 tracks from the Fading Summer EP above, but the US edition deletes these for other songs not on the UK version. This reviewed copy is T-Baby's and is the import so I cannot comment on the US version. This, the debut LP of these gods of the sublime and lo-fi is a hard nut for me. When the first track I Had To Say This starts, damned if it doesn't sound exactly like something else from the 70's to me, but DAMNED if I can remember what. All that I said about Fading Summer applies here. Countless times listening to this disc you will be startled into thinking you "heard that riff, line or vocal sound before". If you're old enough to remember 70's music you probably did. So if you dig that this will be quite nostalgic and welcomed. I pretty much don't, so it isn't. This LP is nice enough but I'm sure others will get more out of it than I do. I can't say it's bad (I rated it high) and it certainly isn't, only I have no desire to hear it at all. Such is life. The good thing is todays kids have worked thru the 60's and are now working their way up to ripping off mid 70's crap. So they should shortly be ripping off crap like the Cure and Smiths. Then I'll perk up.
Label ~ Pointy, 13 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Club 8 - "The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming" This is now the 6th long player from this band whos'output now spans a decade, and considering the superlatives that went before we might almost allow ourselves to become jaded and expect this to be great. On the other hand we might be inclined to expect it to be bad, because their decent to the ranks of mere mortals is inevitable, isn't it? (and we won't even consider the amount of other brilliant albums he's done as part of AHK or the Legends) After all, they can't just keep doing it forever can they? Apparently they can. Musically this is a return to their roots, with a more mature, almost at times jazz inspired musical line reminiscent of their debut album, while having the playfulness and brilliant melody of the second all wrapped up in a overall sombre tone which brings to mind their third album. In other words, I think they have finally distilled their past and come up with the true brew of what the core sound of this band is, and the result is simply breathtaking. From the get go this album put a cheshire like cat grin on my stupid face that doesn't leave, even when the album ends. At first all one can do is gape at how easily they manage to make music sound so beautiful, and then, you no longer care and simply allow it to engulf you. I sometimes say albums are no brainers and this one is surely one of them. If you are here looking to find something good to buy, and you don't buy this, then no power on Earth can help you. This is quite possibly the best Sweden, and in that regard the World, has to offer, and while all of their albums are sensational, this may indeed be the best of them all.
Label ~ Labrador, 12 Tracks, 2007
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Club 8 - "Nouvelle" One of the greats of the Swedish Malmo scene, Club 8 is a group near and dear to me. Comprised of two people, Johan Angergard, (who is also a member of the group Acid House Kings) and Karolina Komstedt. It was one of those boy meets girl in a club one night things, they got to talking and realized they had a lot of musical likes and aspirations, and like anyone would, decided to form a group. They were in a short lived outing called Poprace which I believe released only one ep. When it disbanded, they decided they wanted to make a softer, gentler type of pop music. Their first single as Club 8 was "Me Too" which had the pundits declaring them Astrud Gilberto goes indypop. It's a comparison I'm not hearing. That aside, they went on to record this their first LP, Nouvelle. Containing a very slight bossa nova slash jazz groove, the record is never the less a pop goldmine. Karolina has a golden voice, and sings like an angel. The entire affair is very soothing, very adult. Johan also sings on some of the tracks, and he has a pleasing voice as well. The style is a hard one to pin down. Swing out Sister without all the glitz? Too poppy to be folk, too heartfelt to be true pop, or cast aside lightly or considered "twee". The songs become immiediately familiar, and strike deep inside. I can't think of anyone making "lovelier" records than these two right now. Break your heart lovely that is. I'm enchanted by every track on this record a great deal, with Those Charming Men probably being my favorite. (Or perhaps Breakdown? Hmmm, maybe it's All Dressed Up and Shy...) What a beautiful record.
Label ~ Siesta, 10 Tracks, 1998
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Club 8 - "The Friend I Once Had" No sophmore jinx here. This, the second long player from probably my favorite group takes the sounds of the first LP to even new heights. It starts with Everlasting Love which is almost the penultimate pop song. It is followed by All I Can Do which instantly takes the mood down to a more subdued, light jazzy feel. What's most prononounced on this disc is how remarkably beautiful Karolina's voice is. It's a national treasure. I'm also amazed how well they sing and write songs in a language which is not their own:
"Lets sit down and talk,
for a while.
Or spend some time with friends,
and you'll be fine.
You never wake up in the morning,
you never go to sleep at night.
Try an ordinary lifestyle to see what it can do.
I'll help you in my own way.
Honey it will be allright."
All this to some of the most equisitly done music made in recent memory. These songs quickly become old friends. Both this and their first LP are the kind of recording you keep playing over and over and over, and in this case, for months on end. I've had both a long time now and I still put them on all the time. No one styles predominates, the songs running from synth influences to guitar, both electric and acoustic as well as piano. Think of them as a Spa. When their songs play, it's as if you're being covered by beautiful, sparkling waters. A true joy. Now, I love the last Starlet LP, and would have to say on an overall level it is better than Club 8, (even though they both ranked 10+).
But I listen to Club 8 more. It is absolutley essential to own at least one Lp by this group. I'd probably suggest this one as the place to start, but you really can't go wrong.
Label ~ March, 12 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Club 8 - "Club 8" Again we have a group near and dear to me who is putting out LP number 3. At this juncture Club 8 is close to being my favorite band, so I was particularly anxious about this release. And like Ivy, I wasn't knocked off my perch on my first listen. The sound was dark and lean, and Karolina's golden voice is overmiked or mixed with some sort of hush.
I was not really happy at first with all that, but then I realized I complain about bands like the Lucksmiths who put out a nice LP then make 5 more that sound exactly like it, so what was I mad about? OK, so I listened. That's a problem with bands I really dig, I'm too ready to be the forsaken lover nursing my broken heart, the old "you betrayed me! (that MUST come from my father) I'm not a blind follower like many, if anything I get more critical and tough to please
if I like you. But once I accepted the change and started to get inside this record, it became quite clear that the talent I knew and loved was certainly here. Where their last LP was very uplifting and poppy, this one revels in a dark secret place. Once in a while, like on Falling From Grace a moody (yet very groovy) track the veil will suddenly get lifted by a very poptastic chorus
that comes out of nowhere and is so full of hooks you find yourself singing it all week. This entire LP is a gleam of joy in a moment of despair. The butterfly alighting on the ruins of a broken dream, promising hope despite the darkness around us. Damn, it is a brilliant record, it really is. And again I'm made to look so much the worse for my mad dash to assumption. I was loath
to be rating so much new stuff so highly, but why complain about that. Let us feast, for lean times may be ahead of us. And as for Club 8, this is a band to watch. I'd hate to see them spoiled with success, I wouldn't wish that on anyone, but they truly deserve it.
Label ~ Hidden Agenda, 11 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.8
Club 8 - "Spring Came, Rain Fell" I've actually been sitting on this review for 2 months now as Johan did indeed send me a pre-release copy after my interview with him. I thought this wasn't coming out for a while yet, but saw it on Parasol already so lets talk about it. The first cut, We're Simple Minds starts this affair with a very Twin Peaks/ Julie Cruise gloom and doom bass line which I really like alot. The song is quite good and the only flaw I have with it is I wish they would have plummed that sound more on this disc, only they don't. Next is the title track which falls in line with what we've come to expect from this outfit and is very similar to the offerings from the last LP, and it is a nice song. There are a few very short (almost pointlessly so) well, I can't even call them instrumentals, lets say snippets on this disc of which cut 3 Spring Song is. It's only 20 seconds. I told Johan I didn't see the point, he told me to mind my own business. (I thought minding his business WAS my business?) Anyway, it's followed by the first track Johan actually sings since their first LP. It's a really GREAT song called Close to Me (not the Cure song) but it does have one effect that bothers me. It, as well as all the songs Johan sings on this outing (and some others) have some techno "space" type noises on them, of which I am not fond of as I think it would have been much better with that left out. When I told him this he said "What the hell do you know?" (He was joking. I think he was joking :) He went on to say that as this band is strictly for their pleasure first as it certainly isn't providing a real career for either of them they'll stick to what pleases them, not the masses. Hard to argue that point, so I didn't. It isn't like it ruins the song, or that the song is bad. It's quite great actually, I would just have liked it more sans space noise. As for the rest, there are some really titanic songs like The Chance I Deserve which is so great I'm beginning to really like the hush miked treatment they're doing to Karolinas voice. Again, it's followed by another odd song, I Give Up which comes in at 46 seconds. What makes this one really odd is that she actually does sing in it but she's accompanied by sound bites of the Marx Brothers. It's particularly funny when you hear Chico talk. I don't know why they did it. I guess they like the Marx brothers which is OK by me. I wonder if WC Fields is next? (I say, have you ever done any boondoggeling?) But again, it could have gone longer I think if they were going to do it. Anyway, of the latter half of the record the best song is probably another of Johans called Teenage Life which is really lush and heartfelt. The outing as a whole is, lets say laidback. It doesn't have the dark noir the last one did, rather it has a sort of melancholy with odd moments of bright playful surprises. Like a crocus popping out of a Swedish snowbank to say "don't give up, spring is almost here". Nothing really earth shattering is done here, but it's quite a nice album and they seem to do this so effortlessly anymore, I fear we'll soon take them for granted. This is their first LP that got less than a 10 from me, like a 9.8 is bad or something. Well, we can't expect a no hitter every appearance, and this ones a two hit shutout.
Label ~Hidden Agenda , 12 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.6
Club 8 - "Summer Songs EP" Usually I'm on the forefront reviewing Swedish stuff, however I'm late with this. It wasn't my recent fika which was to blame though, as I was waiting for Johan to send me a signed copy and as he's always on a fika it took him a while. (that's why there's writing on it in the pic) Anyway, I don't know if the content here was "left overs" from the last LP, or they actually wrote this stuff since then. The opener, Things We Share is upbeat and quite nice and is similar to the material from their last LP. The next track Mornings is a slow and very tender song sung like only Karolina can. The next track, You and Me reminds me of something that might have been off their first LP, perhaps a little jazzier, and it's quite nice. The next cut is an odd bird though. It's called Don't Stop the Night but the opening line is "You're caught in a trap" but the you're is a little blurred coming out first and you really think at first it's going to be a cover of Suspicious Minds, but then it isn't. (I hadn't looked at the titles yet) The sad part is that would be a great cover for them and you're sorry that's not what it is. However, it's a nice song in it's own right. The last cut is an instrumental called Sounds From the Gulf Stream which was the name of the recent Marine Research LP but he can be forgiven as it's nicer than anything from that album. I don't know how he manages such output of such quality, but that's to our benefit. If you're a fan, this is a must have. If you have nothing by them, go find their first LP and start from there. You'll eventually wind up with this.
Label ~ Labrador, 5 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.3
Club 8 - "Saturday Night Engine EP" Every spring a new bud blooms from this Swedish duo in anticipation of what seems their yearly LP. This is a 6 song EP which starts with the title track which really threw me when I first heard the clip for it on the Labrador site. As unlike them as imaginable, with Johan singing, and musically it is Sgt. Peppers meets the Stone Roses wrapped in MBV fuzz. It's actually a very interesting song and Johan is able to take a tangent like this so effortlessly (or at least it seems) and do it so well, you almost have to give him the nod as the most talented man in pop today. The next track is a bit slow and lifeless however, and while track three So Tied Up opens with some sultry sexiness and is good, overall it doesn't excite me. Track four Giza is only a 32 second long instrumental, which I don't understand as it's interesting and it should have been milked to at least a few minutes. Next is People Who Would Go For You which opens with a racey, very 80's synth line, and is about the most overtly dancy thing they've done in a long while and is a nice treat. They saved the best for last, as Sometimes I Felt Like A Loser is ambient, heartfelt, and has a 70's hook like melody to the lyrics which is done really well. So, is this worth getting? Only the title track appears on the new LP, and since track 4 is so short we won't consider it. That makes this total 4 unique tracks which I'd rate 8.2, 8.7, 9.7, and 10. That's a 9.15 or 9.2. (if you are planning to get the LP) If not then the other 2 raise it up to about a 9.4. So lets split the difference. If you are new to them, get the LP. (in fact, go back and start at the beginning) But if you love them as I do, you'll certainly need to have this.
Label ~ Labrador, 6 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Club 8 - "Strangely Beautiful" The artwork on this, their 5th long player mirrors the recent EP (And in fact was first seen on the last Starlet LP. Must find out who's drawing it). I was also not sure what direction this would take after hearing the EP, but the opener, When Lights Go Out is all moody sinister and lush, and is quintessentially them. Next is What Shall We Do Next which fits snugly with the first, and it begins to appear this LP is going to mirror somewhat their breathtaking 3rd and self titled lp, but with a little more up tempo play. The space effects from the last lp are gone as well, but they experiment with some things like a "rukka rukka" synth overdub that imitates an lp getting "scratched" which works beautifully, and this track is them at their best. The spell continues on I Wasn't Much Of A Fight which is as brilliant as it is lovely, even though it sounds like they ripped off the flamenco like guitar riff in it from somewhere. This is just a great LP, and it continues their habit of guest appearances, such as on This is The Morning which feature guest vocals by Christopher Sander and it's a really nice song. Well, that's about it. What does one say about what could arguably be called the best band in the world? They did it again? Is anyone surprised? I am, actually. This guy is in two bands, I'd have to actually go and count the number of LP's he's done, ALL of which are at least very good, and most better, and there seems to be no end in sight. I suppose there is nothing one can say. We should just be thankful we have them, and to show our thanks we should certainly support them. You should by all means get this, it is just wonderful.
Label ~ Labrador/Hidden Agenda, 11 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.2
Coastal - "Coastal" My aquaintance who runs the Words On Music label certainly has it in for the melancholic. Every time he hears a band that is so sad and poignant it makes you want to go in the attic and hang yourself he must say "Sign them at once!" This band is a quartet of expatriated Alberta clippers who now reside in Provo Utah, and they make a kind of very slow, less shimmery than ambient sort of music. Most of the songs have an etherial hum with slowly plucked bright guitar notes as accompanyment. Not bad for sure, but for me at least it's only fit for certain times and certain moods. The opening to track three Paris Radio was the first that caught me but I think that's because I'm certain the bulk of the opening melody was lifted off of something more well know that again I cannot place. (though I am sure unintentionally) Overall this is slow enough to be shoegaze, but it's ambient enough not to be. I wish I could hear it thru magnepans as it sounds like it's recorded well, but I am currently stuck without. Personally, if a band is going to go slow I need a bit more variety. Still, there are some nice songs here, only I can't do this whole LP by itself, or I would be looking for that rope. If it's your meat however, I think you might find a lot to like here, as well as the whole WOM catalog.
Label ~ Words On Music, 8 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.8
Cody - "Stillpoint Primer" I felt since I was about to review their new LP it's about time I did the first as well. I had put this off for a LONG time, as I couldn't tell if I liked it, didn't like it, or was too bored to care. This pretty much comes under the genre of electronic shoegaze and while I like electronica, I never felt it did the shoegaze style well, as it becomes a series of endless tones repeated, well, endlessly. It doesn't help when the lyrics are few and repeat over and over as well, like on the opener Never Expected More I can't say it's bad, and at times I do sort of like it, but DAMN it can also try the soul on all the other occasions. It's not all light and whispy though, as some songs like Ideas Are Allies are downright grungy sounding. (albeit not any faster paced really) Some of the melodies on this disc are quite beautiful, like on Sleepy Park Royal but overall the general sameness does wear the effort down. Individually many of the songs here are quite good, but taken together they sort of lose something, if that makes sense. Still, I think this recording does succeed in a number of areas. This disc also comes with a multimedia format which has it's pros and cons as well. You can't use a player on a computer to just hear the tracks as you can't bypass the media presentation, so you can't say TYPE A REVIEW and listen to it at the same time. The presentation is nothing more than a 2-4 picture slideshow that changes as the song plays. That means the picture changes about every minute. Yeah, not exactly invigorating but not unstimulating either. Kind of like this disc.
Label ~ Shinkansen, 10 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.6
Cody - "Distance Learning" This was one of the things Dino wanted for me to get him, and fortunately it came un shrinkwrapped so I could hear it. I had wavered on this bands first album (and only just reviewed it now as well) so while I wasn't overly eager to get this I was still curious. (and I'd certainly copy it for free if I had the chance) I found the first and aptly titled track Uplift a real eye opener, as it sounds nothing like they had sounded previously, and in fact reminds me an awful lot of Wire in their more playful moments. A disjointed and choppy melody with the lyrics playing against it in perfect harmony. It's a pretty brilliant song. The next, Share and Enjoy is also unlike their past stuff, with a great upbeat ambient guitar intro and it sort of reminds me of Ultramarine in some ways. This bands penchant for somnambulism does creep into the later half of this recording, but this is still quite a moving little effort. Not entirely perfect, but quite close, and I liked it a good deal. So much so I might just buy a real copy. Great for shoegaze fans and those of us who'd like a little melody with our misery. Top drawer for sure.
Label ~ Shinkansen, 11 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10
Lloyd Cole - "The Negatives" Yeah, this is old but both of us had forgotten about it. Well, T got it as I had been unhappy with his solo work for some time now and when T saw a reference to "former glory" etc.. he got it. Lets clear the air right away, this doesn't sound anything like Rattlesnakes, which was one of the most brilliant, fresh, musically innovative and lyrically brilliant records ever made. Lloyd set the bar on his first go so high he really had no chance to ever top that, and I think trying to is what hurt his sound for so long. While the sound here is certainly him, it's clean and light, and the songs are quite musical. Past perfect is a great start which is followed by the very sweet and wistful Impossible Girl which has that old Lloyd cowboy rockabilly tint to it and his trademark earnest singing. There's quite a lot to like on this album and my personal favorite I think is What's Wrong With This Picture which actually does sound like it could have been lifted from the Rattlesnakes period. (has it been 20 years?) It flows with a real sexy sensuality and is a very emotive song, like only Lloyd can do when he's on. So dip me in mud, the old SOB pulled one out of the air for us. I'm sorry I waited 2 years to finally get to hear this record, but better late than never they say. If you've liked Lloyd in the past you will certainly want this. POSTSCRIPT: After hearing this over time it has gone up even more in my estimation. It is really lovely, emotive, the arrangements are gorgeous, and it is SO him. It's really a titanic little record which melds the wisdom of his past to the music of the times. It would be hard to find something more powerfully adult, yet so engaging, and that has always been his hallmark. Pure brilliantine.
Label ~ XIII BIS, 11 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.9
Collette Carter - "The New Stroboscopic" I heard the "sweet clip" from this album on the Darla site (the song Wake Up Next To Me) and decided I liked it a bit so I took the chance and dove in despite being burned by that in the past. This album melds electronica with a voice as sad as it is poignantly beautiful. Lead singer Wilynda has a voice, (as well as this band has a sound) which reminds me of classic period 4AD type bands as well as others. In fact the track Silverlake reminds me of some of the early noises OMD used to make. This is, well lets not say a slow affair but rather I'd say the songs are "earnest", but it never gets tiring, and the songs often feature a somewhat unusual noise accompanyment to her voice but it all somehow comes together as on the song Everyday. It gets really easy to start digging this, and I'm quite sure it's the breathy and beautiful quality of her voice that makes it all possible. This band manages to capture alot of the sincerity that only a few groups such as Area have ever managed to previously. If you'd like something a little more touching and tender, and dare I say beautiful, then look no further.
POSTSCRIPT: One of my "fans" wrote me months back how my sites been "some" use to him, but he got this based on my review and he thought it was horrible, and I swear I almost thought he expected a reimbursement from me. After I told him to fuck off, I went back and listened to it more. The problem is when I hear 20 Lp's that really suck (and that happens) the first good one to come along sounds like manna from heaven. That's what happened with this. I still like it, but it was rated a little too high, so it's gone from a 9.8 to an 8.9. Perhaps I like it a little more than that, but one needs to be aware this is fairly slow and much of the pleasure I derive from it is based on my gear and it's recording quality. (I enjoy a good test record for that matter) So if you don't think either of those things applies to you, then don't get this.
Label ~ Darla, 11 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8
Confetti - "Confetti" Another retrospective from a group I should have heard of but for some reason didn't. T-Baby had this and I thought it was good enough to warrant getting. It is twee, and that is not a glass I drink deeply from, but while this band sounds something like the Carousel who to me are the archtypical Twee outing there is a slighlty more adult flavour going on here. This despite a lead singer named Virginia Aeroplane who sports a Betty Boop hairdoo and a Strawberry Switchblade dress. Not everything here is great, but it does have it's moments and if you like Twee you'll find this far above the norm I think. Good for late night listening thru good gear at the very least.
Label ~ Vinyl Japan, 15 Tracks, 1994
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.4
Consultants - "Work From Home" 1988 revisited. That should have been the name of this recording. That or perhaps the tongue in cheek "the Subway Tapes". I have read that this band is part of a sect or "scene" on the east coast with a penchant for playing this type music. Being out of the "scene" (that means I don't make 4 hour one way drives to see bands anymore) I was not aware there actually was a scene such as the one described. In any case this band certainly has so plumbed the sound of that era, and by that I mean late 80's UK indie labels, that to me it is both quite nostalgic, and slightly blase'. The songs are mostly good to very good, and as exhibited by the leadoff track Hollow Bodied Evening they can be quite catchy as well. As my room is down due to heat and some remodelling I only heard this on my stereo once sadly, and not under the best of circumstances, but the record quality sounded reasonably good as well. In fact the only caveat I could even hold against this is my own personal peccadillo of being slightly bored by this period. In other words, I've heard too much and am too old. My dementia out of the way there is nothing stopping you from getting this disc. I own almost all of the so called "coveted" records from this period, the Charlots, Flatmates or even the Groove Farm, and frankly this is FAR better than any of those bands. I don't know how Ed keeps finding them, but another job well done.
Label ~ Shelflife, 10 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8
Coral Sea - "Volcano And Heart" This has been getting a bit of press about being the next big thing so of course I had to find out what the buzz was about. After much ado, I think it might be about nothing. The first three tracks are fairly nice, with Cocteau like song structures and classical strains married to nicely emotive shoegaze speed tracks. Look At Her Face, the opener being without question the most accessible track on here, although the next two Under The Westway (which might be my favorite) and In Between The Days are also very good. After that the songs just start getting longer and slower, and eventually I feel the whole thing falls apart thru lack of direction. It had a nice feel at the start, had a purpose, but it slowly loses it so that before you even get to the end you're done. At least that was my feeling, and believe me I tried. I listened to this quite a bit but nope, before the end it develops a hump there's no getting over. This is one you'll need to investigate fully yourself, as you're only likely to hear the good cuts. Whether it is worth getting is hard to say but had I to do it over again...... probably not. I like the cuts I like a lot, but the rest is throw away. Still, I think potential rests here and I will be curious to hear any second effort should it happen.
Label ~ Hidden Agenda, 10 Tracks, 2006
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.3
Corduroy Utd. - "Corduroy Utd. EP" This is another of those things we can thank T-Baby for, cause I don't even know where or how he got this. This is a bunch of Swedish kids led by singer/songwriter Gustav Ågren, and when I say kids, boy, they look like they're about 15 on the cover of this, if that. T also pointed out that there are a bunch of "guest" musicians on this, implying that maybe they aren't even playing much of their own music. Well, I don't really care about that, it's the results that matter and when track one Behind My Back kicks this disc off it's a really great start. It begins in an almost Leslie like way and features some great and bright poppy trumpet. I normally get agitated about Belle & Sebastian comparisons as they get used too often, but this song quickly reminds me of a mix of them and some Sarah bands in style. It's uptempo, poppy and catchy as all hell. The next track I'm Growing, I'm Freezing is slow and heartfelt and done nicely. It's followed by Here Comes the Summer which features acoustic guitar and brushed drumming in a really nicely arranged "upbeat" twee like little song. Twee is another word I don't use much, but it would be hard for kids this young to escape that, however it shows a lot of maturity and is quite a nice little EP. I have no idea if or when an LP is due, and I don't usually recommend EP's being one who'd rather wait for the LP, but this is definetly one you might wish to check out. Young Sweden indeed!
Label ~ Summersound, 4 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Corduroy Utd - "Oh Eira" I had quite liked this bands first EP so I was looking forward to getting an album from them one day, yet in no way was I prepared for what I got. The simple, laid back and acoustic sounds of Here Comes The Summer are long gone. The opener here Daddy's Boy is an incredibly over the top pop song where the Mighty Mighty Bosstones play to a Blochin 81 cockney cut up type vocal. The ska beat mostly deserts the rest of the album for a more C86 type sound, but the english sounding vocals do not. There is a bit of variety on here, and some incredible songs.Elvis In Town is a jangly piece of guitar pop perfection that wears angst on it's sleeve and a wink in it's eye, and I completely love it. It's followed by the delicate and beautiful I Saw Love which features a vocal duet with Pauline Andersson and it's the kind of thing only swedes pull off with such incredible delicacy and depth of feeling. The whole album is great but I especially love the deliciously titled Kill, Mrs. Buckenhauer which you'll note by the position of the comma is an urging to Mrs Buckenhauer, and not a threat directed at her. From start to finish this is a wonderful little gem of a record, no less so for being so highly unexpected. This smokes, this rocks, this rules my world. One of this years must own albums, and dare I say it, LP of the year? Labrador, you did it again.
Label ~ Labrador, 11 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.8
Cranes - "Particles & Waves" This is not the first album from this US band but I am not sure how many they have put out. All I know it is this is the first one I own and that it has been some time since their last apparently. I bought it on the strength of the lead track Vanishing Point and the quirky, helium laced vocals of lead singer Ali Shaw. This is a very mellow affair, apparently much more so than their past work I understand and came across to me as sort of an avant garde new age Mazzy Star. Sonically it stood out for being recorded quite well, and for having a penchant for deep, rumbling percussive effects which will sadly be lost on all you kids and your MP3's and Ipods. For those that still own stereos you'll be treated to some deep impacts which fall off the back of the soundstage and others which go so low their location can't even be pinpointed, but the whole room is vibrating. That's great, but otherwise what's it like? Very odd. Some tracks go for some length before the vocals kick in, which lends some surprise when they don't. The bizarre nature carries thru the entire work, with Here Comes The Snow coming off like the funeral march for a dead pixie, and it is followed by the title track which I believe is sung in french but owing to her voice sounds like japanese french, or is that french japanese? In the end you're left with a work that is in essence a landscape of textures. Listening to it is akin to walking thru a knee deep mud swamp on an overcast day with handfuls of click beetles, and yes, there are those who would enjoy that activity I suppose. With a good stereo it is interesting to listen to at the very least, but I would only recommend this for those who know what they're getting into and revel in it. At times the songs go on a bit too long, and frankly even cool weird is weird in the final analysis. Still, from its' interesting periodic table packaging to the free four song dvd that comes along with it makes this an interesting side trip from reality if you are so inclined.
Label ~ Manifesto, 10 Tracks + 4 track dvd, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ NA
Crayons - "Spread The Love EP" This is another band trying to make beach boys albums at a carnival in the sixties. If I have not made my feelings clear about that enough already then I never will. This actually bothers me less than the National Splits did, but I still do not like it. I can't say it's bad. I think it is, but that's just because I hate the style, find nothing appealing in it, and I think the songs are idiotic. This is at times psychedelic but even that does not help it in my opinion. So there isn't much to say. I cannot fairly rate something I can't abide and to be honest I have to admit it is a matter of taste. I would give any Led Zep album a zero rating as well. If you're wondering why I bought it, I didn't. It got submitted and I have an obligation to review it. My honest opinion is this kind of music is not indie and should not even be on this site. If people are going to keep thinking really retro 60's stuff is indie, then unknown classic rock bands or C&W groups are indie etc... No, they aren't. I am serving notice that this is the last thing to appear on my site that fits this genre. It is not indie, I do not like it, nobody I know from the 80's who liked what I did would, and I will no longer waste the time reviewing them. If submitted they will go right in the Stinkorium from now on. Perhaps it's not fair but it's that or a zero anyway.
Label ~ HHBTM, 6 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.4
Crooner - "Heaven Airlines" I did not own this long EP 4 years ago when I first reviewed it when starting this website. I just borrowed it from T baby, but I have since purchased my own copy. In doing so I must amend my original review. I still don't know who this greek gentleman really is, as he just calls himself "the Crooner". (being Greek it's probably something like Popanoustefikoulafikas so he has my sympathy. I'd use Crooner too) Back then I bemoaned that the opener Billy Liar (bossa nova 1965) "carries us thru that late 60's jazz lounge portico" and mentioned an electric organ we had when I was younger (in my Joy Divison/Cure days, about 1979) that had a "bossa nova" beat key, and after hearing it I thought "Wow, who would use that in a song?" I rambled on a bit more and dismissed this as "Another slice off the Bacharach/David pie of pop." What an idiot. Well, as long as we can admit our mistakes there is hope for all of us. (note to ladybug transistor - don't hold your breath for your re-write) I have over the past 4 year since I wrote that come to enjoy this genre quite a bit. It tends to be recorded very well, is always melodic and pop driven and is usually never offensive. That is pretty much how I'd describe this now. It does not break any new ground or cause un-ending wonder in it's listener, but it does leave him or her relaxed and happy. And isn't that the point after all? I quite enjoy it and think you might too.
Label ~ Shelflife, 7 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.3
Crumb - "Evenings & Weekends" I'll admit it. Sometimes I can be tardy getting to stuff, but I'm only human and sometimes the bands don't send me things first either. However in this case I am so late announcing this that the only reviewer I'm coming in ahead of is the East Greenfield Shoppers Scout and Pet Guide...... oh wait, they did review this already..... All right then, so you all know everything about this already, how it is an Irish band that features members of the 80's indie band Hey Paulette, and that the songs on this disc sparkle like C86 pop diamonds. You already read it delivers songs of sweeping pop majesty and then takes things down to a tender whisper. The pop hooks and catchy melodies will come as no surprise either, you saw that someplace too, and how you'll be whistling cuts off it all week after hearing it. OK, I get it, you know all of it already! I was late again. But just because you know about it did you buy it yet? Or are you still playing the copy you got a from a friend, or worse, downloaded from a stranger? Well don't wait, you were told how good this is so get your own copy while the getting is good or you know you'll be sorry one day. The only caveat may be a lack of originality but for fans of the genre that's usually not a negative it's a plus.
Label ~ Disques Fridge, 10 Tracks, 2005