Anna of the Gods
Some more reviews by Anna Claxton
BUDDY AND THE HUDDLE- Monument for John Kaltenbrunner
This album is allegedly the soundtrack to the book of the film that
was never made. If it ever was, it would definitely be directed by Baz
Luhrman or John Waters, as in it freaked me out beyond belief but its
irrepressible kookiness meant I ended up enjoying it regardless. A perfect
concoction of desperate sadness, humour and uplifting joy, Buddy and
the Huddle fuse influences of jazz, lo-fi rock, the ever-popular alt-country
and a whole other host of styles and instrumental accomplishments to
amaze and enthrall.
Once upon a time I wrote that Cambridge heroes The Mono Effect were
the little brothers of Foo Fighters and Biffy Clyro and so it shall
pass that, in turn, Eight Lives Left must possibly be Brand New's or
Thrice's. Although the singer has definitely been taking lessons from
Hundred Reasons. And they have obviously been to see Right Turn Clyde
many times and taken some of their melodic metal antics on board. Not
to mention that they have also provided live support to near enough
every up-and-coming punk or hardcore act which passes through these
here parts, which has got to have had some influence.
MONKEY ISLAND- Some of What You Need and Don't Need To Know
I think this short LP is the karaeoke version of Nirvana's "Bleach"
with a pretentious amateur dramatics student providing vocals, and the
added surprise of "Well, I've never heard a harmonica do THAT before!".
Sure, it cannot be denied that these art-school punks with the blues
have vast amounts of energy and pride themselves on being pretty much
unique but quite how rock and roll they actually are is, for me, debatable.
I don't know how much I buy the hype about the fact that they are strangely
taking garage rock to a new extreme, all messy guitars but still the
same old strut of those gone before. What's more, I scream with terror
at any mention of "urban poet" lyrical content. I don't want
to hear about the significance of cutlery. I don't think it's clever
singing about "Mussolini's Teaspoons". Give me a tune, for
crying out loud.
HIDING PLACE- At one time or another EP
Hiding Place have been likened to emo, prog rock and post-hardcore.
I believe this five-piece could actually be the next Silverchair. They
are only a little older than the Oz beauties when they began their career,
spitting attention-grabbing teenage angst at the world stage, and the
strong and rich vocals are particularly just as much to die for. Although,
swapping golden sands and surfboards for the gritty streets of Glasgow
means that they have significantly better lyrics.
It has been a good couple of years for Kerrang luvvies, InMe, and now
they release this, the first single from their acclaimed second album
which was produced in L.A. by Josh Abrahams (he's worked with Courtney
Love and Korn, to name a few). Selling out gigs left, right and centre
must mean that people can't get enough of this Essex 3-piece, loving
every minute of their melodic emo/post hardcore glory, as they deservedly
win award after award from the rock heavyweight press.
THE FEATURES- There's a million ways to sing the blues
Bloody hell. Franz Ferdinand have a lot to answer for. Because this
is yet more dark-Friday-night-at-the-disco indie pop. The problem is,
as much as I hate the fact it has taken over my life, not to mention
most of Britain, and there is nothing new to say about it because it
has all been done before, I do actually like it. There is no-one that
loves a good ponce around to some stomping, swaggering, jive-talking,
bottom-shaking tunes more than me. I am, in fact, hankering after some
massive platforms, emblazoned with silver stars, and this song justifies
why I should have them and this makes me glad.
FRIENDS OF DEAN MARTINEZ- Random harvest
Really something of an alt-rock supergroup and sounding pretty alt-rock
indeed, Austin-based Friends of Dean Martinez feature past and present
members of Giant Sand, Calexico and Naked Prey, no less, fusing together
their best bits (without vocals) to produce something which you could,
on first listen, mistake for a huge movie soundtrack, say James Bond
or something maybe slightly more obscure. With a little Godspeed and
Mogwai thrown in for the indie snobs, or at least what they both might
aspire to be, but just as trip-invoking all the same, not to mention
a bit sexy.
LILIUM- Short stories
The rhythm section of Denver-based 16 Horsepower have stolen other
members of dEUS and Morphine, to name but a few, to produce their second
release-on-the-side through Glitterhouse Records; a melancholy yet dreamy
saunter through all things predominantly alt-country, "Short Stories"
is at times sinister and haunting, at times heartrending, yet always
guaranteed to make you sigh with wonder at its simplistic beauty, although
is definitely not, I repeat NOT, to be used when operating heavy machinery.
But in a good way. Or, for that matter, if you have just gone through
a particularly messy break-up. The lyrical content alone will make you
blub with despair into your lonely microwave meal for one.
THE CREEK DIPPERS- Mystic Theatre
Well, slap my thigh. You don't really get more country than this. Don't
worry; we're not talking Dolly Parton, but further up the hill and into
the woods, where the people smile at each other with blackened teeth
and it is not considered strange if you are still slightly, er, furry.
Apart from when Burt Reynolds calls to tea. But, be not afraid, as there
will be no squealing here, much as you may shiver at the sound of the
much-used banjo. Because Mark Olson (of the legendary Jayhawks, don't
you know) and his mismatched family are just too kooky and laidback
to lift a finger to harm you. Either that, or they're simply busy entertaining
by showing off their infectious cotton-picking hillbilly style, set
against an admirably melodic blues and folk backdrop. Which is a relief,
as I dare say they may hum a bit (refer to the playful ditty "Bath
Song" in which Mrs. Olson, AKA Victoria Williams, declares that,
even though everyone wants her to have a bath, she simply won't). Perhaps
best if you don't get too close then.
JET JOHNSON- Death Song
Apparently this, Jet Johnson's second single from critically acclaimed debut LP, Micropolitan, was inspired by TV coverage of a woman losing the top of her head in a train crash. So you may be forgiven for assuming that it would be macabre and slightly sick sounding. But I think that this song was written to gently lift that woman up to heaven because it is, quite simply, beautiful and angelic. It lolled me into a trance; at times psychedelic, this band fuse together Sigur Ros, Emiliana Torrini, Lamb and the laidback Brit vibes of The Sundays, to provide the perfect fluffy lo-fi antidote to the recent influx of same-old-same-old guitar bands. Music that seems to put the world to rights, this is great for those lazy summer days when your neighbours think that, with warm weather, should come DIY. And breathe. And relax.
CATHY DAVEY- Clean and Neat
I should really hate Cathy Davey because, at only a year older than
me, this Dublin girl has already toured with old faves Supergrass, is
currently touring with the luscious Mr Graham Coxon and has doubtless
other things up her sleeve. Grrrrr. But, as expected, this is unfortunately
good stuff. Claiming to be influenced by the likes of Kate Bush, I hear
more PJ Harvey without the sinister edge, although still bearing the
hallmark of stamping-feet-at-men shenanigans, just slightly sedated
with a cup of sweet, sugary tea and a shoulder to cry on.
This is German punk. Sung in German. Personally, I think that says
enough. For those of you who have made a choice to successfully avoid
German punk at all costs, you know what I'm on about. But for those
who may not have heard any, I'll give you a little bit more to chew
on. First thing's first, I have often misjudged Germans. I feel they
often seem a little uptight about something, bless 'em. This was before,
of course, I heard Syph. Now I completely understand as, after enduring
their awful musical torture for 25 years, then I too would feel a little
angry at the world. So now I'm not surprised. This surely can't be what
they call music.
TERRA DIABLO- Terra Diablo
At first glance, Terra Diablo could be mistaken for a Glaswegian hardcore
outfit, so hardcore that there is little doubt that all five members
do not wear anything under their kilts. What's more, their name means
"Devil's Earth" and they're playing the mighty metal fest
that is "Download" this summer. Scary. And then you listen
to this, their first album release through Zuma Recordings, and breathe
a sigh of relief that you were wrong all along. Because this is better
than that. I should have known; they can't be metal because they supported
Snow Patrol. Silly me. What they begin as, ignoring the fact that, during
the first couple of tracks, the singer has the slurred drone of Liam
Gallagher after a heavy night on the bottle, is the energetic indie-esque
nemesis of Foo Fighters. Sure, I may be talking later Foo Fighters (and
without the dreaminess of Mr. Grohl's vocal) but the sing-a-long harmonies
and catchy melodies remain the same, not to mention the unmistakable
distortion which heralded the dawn of all things post-grunge.
MODEY LEMON- Thunder and lightning
Can I make up a new phrase to describe this band? Yes? Alright then.
They are most certainly Retro Slinky. Which means that, although claiming
to be uninfluenced by definitive rock and roll, I beg to differ, because
I can definitely hear some of the best bits from the last four decades
in this, their first LP release for Mute Records. And they're slinky,
slinkier that Sheer Khan in "The Jungle Book", slinkier than
a "Slinky" (one of those springs that walked down the stairs;
admittedly, this wouldn't be hard because they never worked). Shoop,
I'll get on with it.